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Friday, November 17, 2006

Searching for a silver lining

Players 'a step behind,' Self says; Towson looms

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Bill Self cringed when asked if it actually might be a good thing his Kansas University basketball team failed to squeak out a victory over Oral Roberts on Wednesday in Allen Fieldhouse.

"No, no, no," Self said.

He realizes players of KU's caliber don't need to lose, 78-71, to learn a valuable lesson. Just as much could have been gained from watching film of say, a close victory over the Mid-Continent Conference school.

"I never thought we were going to lose," Self said. "I knew it was a game that didn't feel right from the beginning just because our team was not together the way their team was. That was a hungry team we played. They played great. They played awesome."

The 1-1 Jayhawks didn't click offensively, totaling 15 assists against 19 turnovers.

Starters Julian Wright and Brandon Rush were not on top of their games, to say the least.

Wright scored six points off 3-of-10 shooting with six turnovers. He did grab 12 rebounds and block five shots with two steals. Rush scored 14 points off 5-of-14 shooting, missing four of seven free throws. He had two assists and two turnovers in 37 minutes.

"He never got into the game. He had opportunities to get into the game," Self said of Rush. "He had some easy shots, some ballhandling opportunities.

"Julian never got into the game," Self added. "He got rebounds, but never got into the game. It's not their fault. We were all a step behind, those two more than anybody."

Of course, KU didn't just lose the game. The Eagles won it thanks in large part to 6-foot-8, 255-pound power forward Caleb Green, who cashed 20 points off 7-of-16 shooting with 11 rebounds and eight assists.

"We did edit tapes of Caleb and Tutt (Ken, who made three of 15 shots)," Self said. "Our guys saw every good play he (Green) made in the last four games, going back to last year. They were aware how he did it."

Green's secret to success?

"It's just like NBA games. He has an old-school game," Self said. "When a guy posts 13 feet or 10 feet from the basket (like he does), that nullifies defensive pressure. You can't front a guy at 10 feet. He has such good vision. It's like guarding a Danny (Manning) after he catches the ball in practice. He can find guys, and he did that. They exposed us in a lot of ways with low-post defense tonight."

The Jayhawks did clamp down on Tutt.

"We actually did a good job on him. Of course, Vealy goes nuts," Self reflected on guard Marchello Vealy, who hit his first seven threes after making 1 of 13 all last season.

"We said he was a good face-up shooter," Self said. "We didn't anticipate him making seven of eight. After you make two, it seems you should maybe guard him. We didn't do it."

Things didn't flow smoothly offensively to say the least.

"We didn't finish any of them," Self said of fast-break opportunities. "Instead of making easy plays or focusing on defending or rebounding, doing things we are supposed to do, we were intent on making a great play.

"Making a great play is not what basketball is about. It's about making a bunch of good plays. We didn't make basketball plays."

As far as the intangibles, KU also failed to take the Golden Eagles seriously.

"Pretty much everybody. We can just start naming names," junior Russell Robinson said, indicating all players suffered from a lack of focus. "Coach always says it, always says, 'These guys are good,' tells us we better be ready to play.

"It's hard to accept just because coach has been stressing it over and over and over again. We got to the point we think we can turn it on and off. We've got to play hard every possession for 40 minutes."

The Jayhawks had an off day Thursday to reflect and possibly make sure lack of focus isn't a problem again.

"This is just one game early in season," Robinson said. "This loss definitely will help us, more than anything will help the freshmen realize how serious this is and help them get ready every game."

There will be plenty of games coming up. The Jayhawks will play host to Towson on Sunday and Tennessee State on Tuesday in 7 p.m. games then meet Ball State and Florida next Friday and Saturday in Las Vegas, returning home to play Dartmouth on Nov. 28 and USC on Dec. 4 with a game at DePaul on Dec. 2.

Comments

Alan Mills 13 years, 2 months ago

After reading this, it just becomes harder to believe there are people out there who would call for the coach's head after one loss. The article hits it all on the nose. We got outplayed. Our guys didn't take Oral Roberts seriously. And a different coach would have done what? Look what UNC went through against Winthrop. Basically the same thing. If we had won Wednesday at the end, would you have praised Self's coaching ability in pulling out the win against a motivated team? Let's try to understand the game of basketball a bit before we start ranting about the coach!

Neom 13 years, 2 months ago

I was watching the Bulls playing Rockets last night, the way the Bulls played in the last few minutes should be something KU's coaches and players can learn from, in terms of what to do if you are trailing in the late minutes. You should play hard defense (but not zone defense which allows the clock ticking against you), play fast (RUN to the other end instead of WALK), and shoot fast (instead of passing the ball around giving the opponent time to orgarnize defense). Both the coaches and the players did not know what they were doing Wednesday night in AFH. But if they sit down and reflect and learn from it (instead of finding excuses), then it will be just fine. Or be prepared to start looking for another job.

Saad Saifeddine 13 years, 2 months ago

I hate mentioning Roy Williams, but I do have to admit that I truly miss KU basketball under Roy. I miss the quickness, the cohesiveness of the players in the court, the constant scoring ability (compared to self's teams: playing in good then bad stretches almost every game). I know Self preaches good defense, but let's be honest here: Defense does not get u to the NCAA championship game. Defense-oriented teams are just not fun to watch. As much as I respect coach Self, I have to say that except a few really good games during his career at KU, I was never convinced that he could take us far in the tournament with his boring high-low offense. But what I'm concerned about the most is that no matter how much talent he brings to KU, it seems that he was never able to put together a great team. He is without a doubt one of the best recruiters in the country, but is he one of the best coaches in the country?? No doubt he 's a good coach, but can he become a GREAT coach?? The question is: Does ku need to be satisfied with a good coach, or does KU deserve a GREAT coach? This being said, I do respect coach self's hard work, his personality, and his concern for the players. I just miss that "magic" that we were used to watch in the past.

Rock_Chalker 13 years, 2 months ago

"Defense does not get u to the NCAA championship game."

Are you kidding me? Defense DOES win ball games and CAN get you to the championship game. Think about it...if your opponent can't score then you CAN'T lose (unless of course you don't score as well). If you recall we never won a championship under Roy either...so we got to a couple...big whoop! He still couldn't finish the job. Be patient and give Bill Self some time and let him coach his game.

Brent Cagle 13 years, 2 months ago

Quote: "We got to the point we think we can turn it on and off."

This statement from Russell scares the #$%& out of me. I thought Langford, Miles, and Simien took the "flip the switch" attitude with them when they left?

jared1426 13 years, 2 months ago

I agree with saad007. While we may end up winning some great games, and may even make it past the first round of the tournament someday, KU basketball is not nearly as exciting as it was to watch under Roy. I watch UNC play as much as I can now, because their team is fun to watch, the fast pace, quick scoring is much more fun to watch. And while yes, UNC had a rough time putting away Winthrop, the fact of the matter is that they DID put them away. That is a difference in coaching, not just playing. They came out in the second half with a different strategy that got them back in the game and ultimately won it. Self is a great recruiter, and a nice guy...but it doesn't feel like Kansas basketball, not yet anyway. It feels like the all the tradition has left the program. What happened to our hunger and drive to protect our home court at all costs??? I'd like to feel the magic again.

Michael Leiker 13 years, 2 months ago

The beautiful thing is that it doesn't count yet because IT'S STILL FOOTBALL SEASON. GO FIGHTING MANGINOS!!!!

jayhawkaloogie 13 years, 2 months ago

As long as we're comparing Roy to Self, how many times did Roy lose in the first round? How many times did Roy lose at home to a mid-major?

brahl 13 years, 2 months ago

Roy lost to Ball State in one of the first games of the season a few years back, and has lost to mid majors and worse before. Everyone has a bad day, no one is perfect, Bill is a good coach who is doing all he can and will continue to. Our players got lazy and were too preocuppied with their "paper clippings" to care about this team that obviously wanted it more. Until we learn to want it more than the opposing team, we are going to continue to have these setbacks. Thats why we beat teams like Texas last year in the big12 tourney, we were underdogs and had that whole "no respect" mentality which made us want it. Our players need to grow up and realize that they have more talent than anyone in the country, but that only gets them halfway.

bmkjayhawk 13 years, 2 months ago

I agree with several of the above comments. However, here's my own input.

Bill Self did not throw the ball away, miss FTs or open layups, give up offensive rebounds, travel with the ball, or bounce one off his leg after a key defensive rebound. All these things happened at horribly bad times, and the players were the ones who did these things.

He is not 100% responsible for this loss, or any loss for that matter. He can only do so much. No, losing is not fun, but had we pulled it out, yeah maybe he'd see all those things that went wrong (and emphasize them in practice) that made it a close victory instead of a blowout victory for the Jayhawks. However, if we'd have won it, would the players feel that way? Or would it have been "Whoa! Close win! Bring on Florida!" Because we lost, hopefully it will sink in with the players that their focus can't just come and go, that it has to be there all the time.

Go 'Hawks, how about a win not just Sunday but Saturday as well....

JayCeph 13 years, 2 months ago

There is no point in skewering Self or the players. The point is, the team lost a game they shouldn't have. Plain and simple.

I don't hear the team pointing fingers or making excuses. They are all owning the fact they didn't do their part in getting the win they were supposed to.

I hope they'll learn from this (and I suspect they will) but I am disheartened that the logic seems to be that 'its a good thing they lost so now they have an eye-opener.'

Great teams don't need to learn a lesson from a junky mid-major... they destroy them. Plain and simple.

I will reserve any judgement on Self 'till the end of the season. If we go one and out of the tourney (or anything short of the sweet sixteen), then I will be the first in line to raise the proverbial red flag.

TrueBlue92 13 years, 2 months ago

Anyone who mentions Roy should post it once then vanish from the message boards for the rest of the year.

Time to move on people; we've got a great coach and a great program in place -- the way they finished with the Big XII Tournament Trophy shows it.

This is young team, and losing this past game and in the first round last year shows it. They just aren't growing up as fast as we all (coach included, obviously from this article) want them to.

A great team is more than a collection of great players. Teenagers don't get it -- this is a surprise????

jayloco 13 years, 2 months ago

jayhawkaloogie-I think you have hit on a subject that most people have in the back of their minds. Bottom line is that Roy never lost in the first round and you probably would be hard pressed to find a lost to a Mid Major at home, although Long Beach State beat us one year that I remember.

TrueBlue92-Some people do post outlandish things like fire Self, but don't bash those that bring Roy into the equation. I think it is only fair to assess Self's performance 4 years in to that of William's regime. Bottom line is some people believe Roy would have willed his guys to win that ORU game much like he did the other night when they pulled out a close win over Whintrop.

I still believe this team has all the talent in the world and should have no problem winning a ton of games. I just hope for all of Jayhawk Nation that they make a nice run in the tourney. If you think the posts out here now are bad...

tomike 13 years, 2 months ago

Roy did not reach the level at which he is now when he was at KU.

hawker00 13 years, 2 months ago

You people neet to just get over the fact that Roy is not here anymore and support the team anyway. It makes me sick when someone says that KU isn't exciting to watch anymore, so they watch UNC as much as they can because they are exciting. Are you actually KU fan or just a Roy fan? Maybe you should go over to the UNC board. So what KU doesn't run up and down the floor like Roy's teams did. For me, it is exciting to watch KU anytime they win. No one was complaining that the team was boring to watch the first 3 games when they were scoring in the 90's.

And bottom line is, no matter how great Roy was during the season, and woopy he never lost in the first round, but it really doesn't matter if you lose in the first game or the 6th game; you still don't have a championship

DerekR25 13 years, 2 months ago

You know, I get kind of tired of people trying to compare what Coach does to how Roy Williams coached. In my opinion, what is more fun than than watching long, quick guards get after it on defense and make several steals that lead to fast break jams by Julian or Brandon. Then, pulling up and swishing the trey in transition. Do you guys forget all the games last year? Did you not see the NAU game last week? I'm sorry but if that's not exciting I don't know what is. This team will be plenty fast and very exciting this year. You also have to remember that without our best post defender, Robinson and Chalmers can't be as aggressive on the perimiter without the fear of getting burned.

If you want to compare apples to apples, how many of Roys' teams lost in the second round or sweet sixteen when they were expected to compete for, or thought to have a chance at, the title? I can think of a few so let's just enjoy what we have because it's been a very very long time since we've had this many high calibur athletes. I have faith our "Present" Coach will put it all together before long. One setback hurts, but it doesn't determine the season. Go Jayhawks, wake the giants inside yourselves and start being the players we all know you can be.

speedy 13 years, 2 months ago

there are times when you yell at players and even times to click their chin to get the message across that effot at free throws and defense is needed. and do not forget to speak softly and carry a big stick=the bench.roy used to sit the sarting 5 when effort was lacking. message got across. self did not coach well or have the players ready.....period

kcmostwanted 13 years, 2 months ago

True..hawker..i'm so sick and tired of these fake Jayhawk fans.... Win or lose if you're a true fan you gotta dust the dirt off and follow you're team... Obviously nobody wants to lose or go through hard times but let's face it, with Roy or Self there are going to be stretches where we struggle.. it's only 1 game of the season .. forget the past and lets support the team for future...hopefully this is only a result of being over confident...

and if you want to watch roy williams bball then keep watching UNC play and maybe you can move to the east coast while you're at it cause he aint coming back.... so accept what you have now and let's make the best of it!!

Rock_Chalker 13 years, 2 months ago

Seriously! Don't even talk about being loyal to a program and then start looking back when Benedict Williams was coaching the team. Bill Self is the coach now and he really is doing a good job. Coaches have different styles so let the man coach the way he knows how to coach. He's had a successful past so the man obviously knows what he's doing.

fansincewilt 13 years, 2 months ago

I remember the loss to Texas El-Paso and Roy talked about how much he hurt for the team. Yet, we always worried about whether or not he would leave the team. Why would we worry about that if we ever thought he would be loyal to his word and loyal to the team? I, for one, am sick and tired of hearing about Roy Williams. As far as I'm concerned he only used Kansas to get where he wanted to go. I'm glad he's finally gone and we can get on to better things. We finally have a quality coach that none or us are concerned about his loyalty. Bill Self will do more for Kansas basketball than anyone since the Fog.

paulatUI 13 years, 2 months ago

I watched Self's teams for three years at the U of I and found their performances to be very similar to what has been going on at Kansas. Self is a great recruiter, but a very mediocre strategist who does not seem to be able to get his teams to make changes when things are not going well. Also his teams lack physical conditioning and, thus, don't have that extra burst of energy that is needed at the end of the game when everything is on the line. You guys need to be aware of Bob Huggins at K-State. He is an even better recruiter than Self and has enough horses in the stable to compete straight-up with KU this year. My prediction is that he will sweep KU next year when he's got Michael Beasley.

justdoit23 13 years, 2 months ago

GO LISTEN TO THE PRESS CONFERENCES OF BILL SELF( NOV. 17)

IT MAKES SENCE!!!!

STOP CRYING EVERYONE!!!!

jaybate 13 years, 2 months ago

Here's Self's problem: despite everyone saying he's a great recruiter, there isn't one guy on this team that could hold the jock of Paul, Raef, Kirk or Nick. You don't go to the Madness and expect to win it without those kinds of players.

This team just isn't that talented. No post men who will ever start in the NBA, or even play big minutes. Nobody on this team could stop Paul on the wing. No one could handle Kirk. No one could stop Raef or Nick inside for a second.

Self's a decent coach. He's a take what they give you type of coach on offense. He likes to muscle in the half court on defense. In short, he coaches Eddie Sutton ball and he hasn't developed it, or advanced it one bit. Self's teams play exactly the way Eddie's teams played at Arkansas, Kentucky and Okie State. Eddie ball wins lots of games, because its always about being opportunistic and exploiting the other team's weakness. But eventually it always runs into another team without much of a weakness deep in the Madness and loses.

But Self's real problem still is that he's not near as good of a recruiter as he's hyped to be.

And look who's coming and who isn't next year.

Singler was the only franchise player Self even had a shot at and he went to Duke, when KU got slapped for violations and Giles wouldn't make his child support payments.

Anderson chose Okie State over KU! Okie State! Okie State never gets the cream ever. So: now we're losing the second tier wingmen to them. (continued)

jaybate 13 years, 2 months ago

We land Cole Aldrich, a guy Self himself compares to Scott Pollard. Sorry, but Scott Pollard was a good role player. His job was to complement Raef. Where's the Raef to go with Aldrich? Kaun? Hardly. Anyone coming in? Nope.

But wait, here comes guard Tyrel Reed from Burlington, KS--the guy Self didn't even want if he could have Singler or Anderson. In the end, none of the top five programs wanted Reed either after they had a chance to see him play against real competition. Roy was probably sandbagging saying he wanted Reed. It cost him nothing to say he wanted him. And saying it forced Self to have to contend with all the alums saying, why aren't you recruiting this Kansas kid that Roy wants. Roy probably did it as a favor to Reed's dad to increase the chance Reed would get a scholie to KU. But in the end, Self only gave Reed a scholie, because he washed out with everyone else he was trying for.

KU's talent level is trending downward quickly despite what the hype says.

Self can't recruit really good big men. And he can't make the ones he can recruit get better. And that becomes a vicious circle. Why come to KU, as a big man, if you're not going to get better?

Brandon Rush and Mario Chalmers are Self's two crown jewels. Neither one of them will EVER be as good as Paul, Raef, Kirk, or Nick.

Rush has great talent, but he's not a great competitor.

Mario Chalmers is a good college player; that's it. And you can only hire one guys Dad every fourth year or so. What does Self do in between?

Rush and Chalmers will probably get drafted, but then lots of guys get drafted. Jacque Vaughn got drafted, but he never amounted to anything in the show. And even Jacque would have made fast work of RR.

Paul, Raef, Kirk and Nick became NBA starters.

Nobody on this team is that kind of player.

justdoit23 13 years, 2 months ago

Jaybate!!!!!!

Kirk,Raef, Nick = four years of experience

Wright,Rush,Mario= one year of experience

Well said Jaybate!!!! you are an idiot!! How can you compare those guys!!!! unbelievable!!

Rock_Chalker 13 years, 2 months ago

Wasn't it a Raef/Pierce led team that coked in the 2nd round of the NCAA tourney? Hmmmm...it happens even to the "best" teams. I can't wait to see what we do this year that way we can silence the doubters. It'll be interesting to see if the doubters will be singing a different tune come March.

mr_lawrence 13 years, 2 months ago

I can't believe that anyone (a Jayhawker especially) would be so dumb as to start comparing players of different eras at different positions on different teams. It doesn't make any sense. Think of all the variables! Not to mention the stupidity of doling out judgement on a team and a coach in NOVEMBER!
Oh, and add my name to the list of people who are sick of hearing about Roy Williams. There were at least 2 - maybe 3 or 4 years - when he had the best team in the country and couldn't do it. Self, right now, may have the best team in the country; let's give him a chance. Seriously people, pull your swollen heads out of your dumb asses and get behind Self and this team.

By the way: Defense wins championships - not offense. The only reason Florida won the tournament last year was because they played great defense. Look at the numbers.

Jock Navels 13 years, 2 months ago

all this roy roy roy...wrong dude, bro's more appropriate to be comparing self to ted owens.

Leprechaunking13 13 years, 2 months ago

Self will whip this team into shape just like he did last year. The early exit last year was somewhat unexpected, however that bradley team was way better than anyone projected them to be going into the tournament, I believe they made it to the round of 16. Roy had lots of losses throughout the many seasons that he was here, Ball State is one or how about those Richmond Spiders a couple seasons ago? How about all the losses compiled by Roy when he played Missery when they still sucked just like now. One loss at the beginning of the season with a young team is nothing to to bunch up your britches over. Have some faith you fair weathered fans! Kansas fans shouldn't be that, bottom line!

Itsallaboutthehawk 13 years, 2 months ago

Laprec ... don't forget about that near debaucle in the Holy Cross game...Holy hijacking Batman.

To all ... an early loss is just that. To say that any team is in perfect form two weeks into the season is insane. This team lost veterans and picked up some great help. It's going to take a few games to let these guys get their legs (and shots) together. I'm of the mind that an early loss does not spell a short trip to the regionals (anyone who can predict NCAA tourney exit based on the ORU game has a better Miss Cleo routine than she had).

Perhaps, the team might benefit from the figurative wakeup call and respond with a healthy dose of whoopass. Are they a dream team...perhaps...but they look more like a group of gifted young men that are still finding a way to gell in the face of a No 1 ranking (which almost always spelled immediate loss when Roy was at the helm). Fans - hang on tight. It will be a great year for Bball in Allen Fieldhouse.

One thing for sure...I'll bet that 6 am practice sure helped them get their game face on. :)

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