During head-coaching stops at Florida State and DePaul, Towson University coach Pat Kennedy used a variety of defenses. He reached into his bag of tricks again during Sunday night's 87-61 loss to Kansas University in Allen Fieldhouse.
From the game's outset, Towson alternated between a 1-3-1 and a 2-3 zone defense to fluster Kansas' potent offense.
"We had to get them out of rhythm," Kennedy said. "If we dared go toe-to-toe with them, we wouldn't have had a shot."
During the first portion of the first half, the strategy slowed down KU's offense. But then the Jayhawks, who scored 33 points off turnovers, increased their 21-17 lead to 42-25 by forcing the Tigers into ballhandling miscues.
"The first 11 minutes, we hung in there with them." Kennedy said. "When you're not as good as your opponent and you give up runs on the road, it's tough."
KU reacted to the zone defense by having Russell Robinson and Mario Chalmers drive into the lane and kick out to open shooters, and the Jayhawks knocked down six of 12 threes in the first half.
"I don't think we responded to that very well," said guard Gary Neal, a preseason All- Colonial Athletic Assn. pick who led the Tigers with 17 points.
After hitting its perimeter shots, KU forced the zone defense to expand and then infiltrated the interior with 44 of its 87 points coming from inside the paint. Darrell Arthur led the post production with 26 points on 10-of-12 shooting.
"He's got good composure," said Tommy Breaux, a 6-foot-9 forward. "He's got a promising future."
The Tigers (2-1) showed promise with their smarts. Kennedy implemented the new defense during two days of practice, but his players have become used to soaking in new changes on the fly.
"Coach Kennedy is a coach that has a lot of systems," Neal said. "We're not really one-dimensional."
The Tigers, who finished 12-16 last year, had hope that Sunday's new defense would work after another mid-major, Oral Roberts, defeated KU, 78-71, Wednesday. But KU played much better against Towson than it did during that upset loss.
"Those kind of games can fake out the next opponent big-time," Kennedy said. "They just didn't get after Oral Roberts. They just let them hang in there."
KU, however, got after Towson, forcing 24 turnovers and limiting the Tigers to 41.1 percent shooting.
"They really worked defensively and took us out of everything we were trying to do," Kennedy said. "They seemed like they cranked this up to the level they had to be at."
And no magic defense could thwart the Jayhawks' energy Sunday.