Guskey: The 5 Remy Martin plays from Kansas’ win against Texas Tech I’m still thinking about

·7 min read

LAWRENCE — As Kansas men’s basketball coach Bill Self talked postgame about his rotation decision late against Texas Tech, his explanation for leaving super-senior guard Remy Martin out of it wasn’t complicated.

Self wanted to put his team in the best position to be able to rebound the basketball. Self didn’t think it was the time to play “two little guards,” meaning Martin alongside redshirt sophomore guard Dajuan Harris Jr.

Whether you agree with the decision or not, the Jayhawks came away with a 94-91 win Monday in double overtime against the Red Raiders. Kansas improved to 17-2 overall and 6-1 in Big 12 Conference play. Self and company are now on a five-game winning streak ahead of a game Saturday against Kentucky.

►RELATED: Recap: Kansas men's basketball survives double-overtime thriller against Texas Tech

But as I think about Kansas’ latest victory, the fourth in the last five to be decided by three points or less, there are some plays Martin (four points in 22 minutes) made that still stick out to me. There are head-scratchers, as well as praise-worthy moments. They show just how electric of a presence Martin can be, and at times where there’s still room for growth.

Play No. 1: Remy Martin’s first drive for points

Kansas Jayhawks guard Remy Martin warms up before Monday's game against the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Allen Fieldhouse.
Kansas Jayhawks guard Remy Martin warms up before Monday's game against the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Allen Fieldhouse.

Not long after Martin entered the game for the first time, he took possession of the ball at about mid-court on a pass from redshirt sophomore forward Jalen Wilson. Kansas led 9-7 with about 13:20 left in the first half. Martin had Texas Tech junior guard Clarence Nadolny in front of him, ready to pick him up once he entered the half-court.

The moment Jayhawks super-senior forward Mitch Lightfoot comes up to set a screen for Martin, that leads Red Raiders super-senior forward Bryson Williams to switch onto Martin. Martin begins to attack the advantage he has on Williams given his speed. And thanks in part to the spacing provided by having teammates like senior guard Ochai Agbaji, junior guard Christian Braun and Wilson on the floor, not to mention the positioning Lightfoot gains, Martin can drive to basket for a layup.

Maybe, at times, Martin has been too deferential to his teammates. But this was a moment he saw a weakness in a defense and attacked it. It showed, with the potential national player of the year in Agbaji already on the floor with him, how much more dangerous Kansas can be offensively when Martin is aggressive.

Play No. 2: Remy Martin gives up an open 3-pointer to pass to Christian Braun

Kansas guard Remy Martin expresses his emotions during the game against Texas Tech on Monday at Allen Fieldhouse.
Kansas guard Remy Martin expresses his emotions during the game against Texas Tech on Monday at Allen Fieldhouse.

There’s been talk this season about Martin potentially being too unselfish, and Braun referenced it postgame while talking about Martin’s playmaking ability in the first half. Braun is praising Martin for making the extra pass, for being one of the most unselfish he’s ever played with, while also saying that they tell Martin to shoot more. Braun is saying people can tell Kansas is a different team offensively when Martin gets downhill.

The only 3-pointer Braun made against Texas Tech came with about 6:15 left in the first half. It came off a pass from Martin, who earned an assist for his effort. It put the Jayhawks up 26-20.

But if a play could encapsulate Martin making the extra pass, while also giving up a shot his teammates are likely telling him to take, this would be it. Martin was wide open when he caught a pass from Wilson on this possession before sending the ball Braun’s way. It’s a play that works out, because Braun hits the shot, but one that’d leave onlookers wondering what could have been had Braun missed.

Martin hasn’t taken as many 3s as Braun has this season, but has a better percentage in less time on the floor. Although, it is true, Martin (2-for-7 from the field) and Harris (2-for-10 from the field) would struggle to hit shots more against Texas Tech than Braun (4-for-13 from the field). Self wants to see a better combined shooting night than 4-for-17 from that duo.

Play No. 3: Remy Martin’s enthusiasm showcases itself

Kansas guard Remy Martin try to get the fans to make some noise during game against Texas Tech on Monday at Allen Fieldhouse.
Kansas guard Remy Martin try to get the fans to make some noise during game against Texas Tech on Monday at Allen Fieldhouse.

When Martin’s enjoying himself on the court, it’s not hard to spot. And with a little under five minutes left in the first half, one of those moments arises.

Martin’s just driven inside and passed the ball to Agbaji in the corner. After maneuvering around a defender, Agbaji hits a jumper to put Kansas up 28-21. And as the Jayhawks get back on defense, as the Red Raiders begin to bring the ball up the floor, there’s Martin at center-court waving his arms as he urges the crowd to get louder and louder.

►RELATED: 5 takeaways from Kansas men’s basketball’s 94-91 double-overtime win against Texas Tech

There have been times this season, especially recently, when Braun’s enthusiasm has showcased itself more than it usually does. There have been times when Agbaji has done the same. No one has matched what Martin’s brought, and sometimes when Martin’s not on the floor it’s almost as if Kansas is missing that.

What’s more, is that Martin doesn’t stop engaging with the crowd in that way until about the last possible moment before he has to get in his defensive stance. What’s more, is that Martin helps force a turnover on that possession as well.

Play No. 4: Remy Martin draws an offensive foul

Texas Tech Red Raiders guard Kevin McCullar (15) shoots a layup as Kansas Jayhawks guard Remy Martin (11) defends during the first half Monday at Allen Fieldhouse.
Texas Tech Red Raiders guard Kevin McCullar (15) shoots a layup as Kansas Jayhawks guard Remy Martin (11) defends during the first half Monday at Allen Fieldhouse.

Martin seems to hunt drawing offensive fouls at times defensively. It doesn’t work all the time, but it has worked out for him. It’s an example of the risk-taking he exhibits on both ends of the floor.

And with about 6:50 left in the second half, with Kansas leading 68-58, he went for one as Texas Tech super-senior guard Davion Warren drove against him without much help at all behind him besides freshman forward KJ Adams Jr. Martin succeeded, ensuring Warren would pick up one of the five fouls Warren would have before fouling out. Warren, the Red Raiders’ third leading scorer on the night, would eventually miss all of the second overtime after fouling out in the first.

Martin’s effectiveness defensively has left something to be desired, at times. But the potential for him to be a game-changer on that end of the floor is there, and evidenced by this play.

One may be surprised to learn that Kansas was actually +9 with Martin in the game against Texas Tech, and -8 with Harris in.

Play No. 5: Remy Martin, effectively, drives Kansas into a shot-clock violation

Kansas guard Remy Martin (11) drives the ball against Texas Tech. Kansas won in double overtime 94-91 on Monday at Allen Fieldhouse.
Kansas guard Remy Martin (11) drives the ball against Texas Tech. Kansas won in double overtime 94-91 on Monday at Allen Fieldhouse.

Martin made his final exit from the game with about five minutes left in the second half. It came during an offensive possession, not after or before. It came after Martin appeared to hunt for his own shot, be over-aggressive, instead of take advantage of a weakness defensively.

Martin caught a pass from Agbaji with about seven seconds left in the shot clock and Kansas leading the game at that moment 70-62. Martin then tried to drive on Texas Tech junior guard Mylik Wilson, who was quick enough to stay with Martin in this instance. Martin then tried to put up a layup with Wilson trailing and Red Raiders super-senior forward Marcus Santos-Silva in front of him, Santos-Silva having come over to help.

It’s likely the only reason Santos-Silva didn’t block the shot is because Wilson did first. Martin didn’t have the clear path to the basket he had earlier in the game. Kansas’ possession would eventually end in a shot-clock violation.

Overall, it came across as a moment when Martin got downhill without fully anticipating what might be waiting for him near the basket. It was an example of how his aggressiveness can lead to turnovers. How much that specific play went into the decision by Self to not put Martin back in, is unclear.

Jordan Guskey covers University of Kansas Athletics at The Topeka Capital-Journal. Contact him at jmguskey@gannett.com or on Twitter at @JordanGuskey.

This article originally appeared on Topeka Capital-Journal: Five plays that explain Remy Martin's situation for Kansas basketball

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