LaGerald Vick: The New Mr. Elmers

  • LaGerald Vick appears quietly on track to be becoming indispensable in the way so many glue men have become indispensable, invisible adhesives to Self teams before Self ramps up their roles and they blossom as impact guys.

    Glue men are the black matter that holds the basketball universe together in Selfian Basketball Physics.

    Even the role itself is denied to exist by many.

    Glue man, schmoo man, many say.

    We might not even talk about the “glue role,” and “glue men,” had not Basketball Einstein, Bill Self, not specifically defined it.

    Down through the years, the glue men of Bill Self are almost as memorable as the impact players. Some times the glue men are second tier players recruited specifically for their ability to glue. Other times, major recruits are assigned glue roles, because they ARE so good, and because they CAN fulfill the role.

    Brady Morningstar is emblematic of a lesser player recruited to glue. Brady at times seemed to have come down the birth canal gluing, even though he had been a high scoring player in high school. He was a gluing savant. He seemed to walk around the old athletic housing and squirt around basketball floor oozing Elmers.

    Travis Releford was a big time recruit with a game and tweener size that did not quite enable him to be the instantly dominant impact guard he seemed destined to become. Red shirts happened. Injuries happened. His game came in for a retooling. He acquired what Self called an “old man’s” game. The great leaper became the consummate horizontal player, or in @drgnslayr vernacular, a prince of the Y-axis moved to a lunchpail guy on the X-axis. TRel put in a season holding a team together. It was one of the greatest unsung transformations that ever happened in KU basketball. When he reappeared for his final season, he was an insanely well rounded basketball player. He could be invisible glue one game, and a dominant impact player the next, then back some where in between. It was like Self could set a dial for any game, or any half, anywhere along a spectrum from glue to impact, and the great Releford could give whatever the team needed.

    Tyrel Reed served arguably all his rotation seasons as a glue man, who happened also to be a dead eye.

    Tyrel in his own clipped, highly efficient coaches son from a small town English put it most succinctly about what it took to get on the floor of a Bill Self team: guard, help defend, protect, don’t let it stick, feed the post, make an open look on a kick out. No mention of French pastry. No mention of creating. No mention of trash talking. No mention of being good with the media. No mention of having a hot girl friend. Or a dad in the shoe business. Just the absolute basics of basketball.

    I paraphrase what Tyrel did as “give the team what it needs.”

    To do that you have got to have, or got to find within yourself, great generosity of spirit.

    The glue role is a great place to learn to give a team whatever it needs. The glue role is not scoped for anything but a floor game. You have to impact by not impacting. You have to beat your man by being the conduit to the man who does impact.

    I try to write about the glue role every season, because I believe it is the real secret of Bill Self basketball coaching. It doesn’t take much genius to know who can impact. It doesn’t take much basketball IQ to know that if you give BRush, Andrew Wiggins, Sherron Collins, or Marcus Morris, or BenMac, or Perry Ellis 15 FGAs in a 70 point game of take what they give us, well, most nights you are going to get serious impact production.

    But being able to pick which guy can be counted on night in and night out to play within himself and bring a floor game full of tangibles and intangibles that is “what the team needs” is a much more artistic than technical decision. Self has to pick a guy that has enough insight and sophistication about life and the game to understand even that there is such a thing as gluing for the greater good of a team. Young men from 18-22 are remarkable creatures in many ways and known for many things, but global insight is not an attribute widely attributed to the age cohort. There are a good many young men, regardless of talent and skill level, that would give a blank stare if offered the role of glue man on a team full of impact players. Its not that they would be insulted so much as they would be clueless as to what the coach was asking for.

    Self not only finds these sorts of players year after year, he finds exceptionally good ones. He finds the right qualities in guys that some times many are positive the player could not possibly play for a “KU” grade team. He finds the right qualities in guys that others grumble and say, “Well, he could do the role, but if KU has to has to rely on that guy by the end of the season, it only means KU won’t be competitive that season.” But each season, regardless of whether the glue guy was someone fans had no faith in, or someone the fans were confident in, or someone the fans were infuriated the player was not being allowed to do more, Self’s designated glue man, or sometimes glue men, over the course of the season become increasingly a defining factor in the team’s competitiveness and success.

    LaGerald Vick of the Three Gun reputation that preceded him, LaGerald Vick, the player that Larry Brown hoped to steal for his SMU rebuild, LaGerald Vick, the man of monofilament legs and tall hair, LaGerald Vick, the player destined to become a big time scorer for KU next season, or the following one, that LaGerald Vick is hustling around the hardwood cloaked in near invisibility oozing glue to senior players, junior players, sophomore players, freshman players. He is oozing inviso-glue to an OAD and to projects and to everyone in between. He is running around connecting circuits, guarding, helping, protecting, not letting it stick, feeding the post, and making an open look on a kick out. Devonte was doing the same thing early in his career, too.

    Vick’s minutes are rising each game, because Vick is giving the team whatever it needs. And Vick is still green wood at this role. We are after all only two games in. Vick is only scratching the surface of what he can give the team. But the important thing this early in the season is that Vick appears completely smooth and comfortable with the invisibility. He is moving around the floor and at the end of the game no one is quite sure what he did, or realizes that he was on the floor as long as he was. These are primary markers of a glue man. As the season unfolds, his steals will rise, his rounds will rise, his scoring will occasionally spike on a night when the team needs some extra outside shooting. But even then, it will be the invisible things that will constitute his real growth and contribution as a glue man. It will be the helps that prevent scoring opportunities from ever occuring and so needing to be defended that Self hand out kudos for during team video reviewing sessions. It will be the time he passes not to the first open guy he sees, but to the guy that can get it to the open guy underneath that Self will slap him on the back and say good job for. It will be seeing a teammate has blown an assignment before any other player does and him compensating with either coming to ball, or directing the flow of play away from the blown assignment before the defense can capitalize on the mistake. It will be running the floor to catch what seems a sure lay up by his teammate, but who misses it and Vick scrapes it off the rim and dishes it to someone trailing h him.

    Self has love affairs with his glue men.

    Vick seems on track be another of his sticky Valentines come February, the month when everyone is nicked up, and the impact players are finding it harder and harder to get up as high as they did in January and before. Come February there is so much video floating around on every impact player that every coach has found the impact player’s weaknesses and schemed ways to limit their strengths, and its then the glue man has to find a new way to make sure it gets into the post, find another way to get the ball to a wing so that he can do something despite the scheming, and sooner or later, come out of the invisibility cloak and have a few 20 point games when no one else can “get her done.”

    Welcome to the new Mr. Elmers: LaGerald Vick.

  • Vick has looked good in flashes so far, you can tell he’s still trying to get comfortable.

    His defense looks much improved.

    His 3 ball hasn’t really come around yet this year although I think he’s a very good shooter.

    Much like getting Jackson in spots to drive and use his athleticism, the same is needed from Vick.

    He is so long, I even saw him guarding the post against Duke.

    There are going to be some games this year where Vick is going to look really really good.

  • @jaybate-1.0 Glue=(BBall IQ+hustle+good attitude+skill) x unselfishness^3

  • Good thread. I think Vick will be our mvp in several games this year. He’s still playing with a deer in the headlights on offense somewhat, which is making him miss from 3. Once he settles in, he’s going to be a true force on both ends.

  • He played the 3rd most minutes against Duke, so Coach Self already is depending on him heavily, particularly when running the 4-1 scheme.

  • Vick will be much more than a glue guy.

    That’s likely his role this year because Jackson and Svi will consume a lot of the action on the wings, but next season, I could see Vick averaging 12-15 points per game. He can put the ball in the basket, and if his jumper continues to progress, he could be a very dangerous wing scorer, as well as a defensive stalwart.

    I am probably higher on Vick than most, but I see elements in his game that make me feel like he can be a collegiate star with a possible NBA future.

  • @justanotherfan

    “Will be” being the operant portion of your post .

    As in not yet.

  • @jaybate-1.0

    Likely next year. On this team, he won’t be because he won’t have the opportunity, although I do think he will have a game where he scores 20 or so at a very opportune time.

    But I think he will be a star in the future, so I do agree, not yet.

  • He reminds me a bit of Sexton. Looking forward to him flashing and slashing in the future!

  • @justanotherfan

    Do you see an opportunity for Vick to come on the last third of the season as Graham did, if Self stays 4-1 50/50 or more.? It seems if Vick can stay healthy by not going 38-40 mpg all the time, he could be the Trey shooter with the best shooting legs in March.

  • @jaybate-1.0 Before I finish your 500+ word essay on Elmers. I want to say that Trav Releford is my definition of a KU glue guy. And, yes that term stuck with me ( pun intended ) after Coach Self mentioned it.

  • @BeddieKU23 Every time Vick shoots it, I think its going in. Its just a little bit too short or a little b too long. Wont take long and most of those shots will fall.

  • @jaybate-1.0

    He could get going, but I don’t see him getting the minutes. He’s the fifth perimeter guy. I can’t see Self going with 4 perimeter guys more than about half the time. That means Vick will be getting 10 minutes a lot of nights.

    He will have a chance to do some damage in a few games, but not consistently enough (barring injury).

    But Vick’s star is rising. He could have a big game in the tournament that puts him in the spotlight nationally, but he will probably only average 5-7 points per game on the year.

  • @justanotherfan said:


    He could get going, but I don’t see him getting the minutes. He’s the fifth perimeter guy. I can’t see Self going with 4 perimeter guys more than about half the time. That means Vick will be getting 10 minutes a lot of nights.

    He will have a chance to do some damage in a few games, but not consistently enough (barring injury).

    But Vick’s star is rising. He could have a big game in the tournament that puts him in the spotlight nationally, but he will probably only average 5-7 points per game on the year.

    Vick’s minutes by game: 28, 31, 32. Now of course Josh has had foul issues which has contributed to this but still, I think Self would rather have Vick or Svi out there over a 2nd big most of the time.

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