Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Self: Great win, but :

Jayhawks have plenty to 'tighten up'


KU defeats Georgia Tech in second road win

Just over two weeks ago KU remained perfect after their first road trip to sunny southern California. Tonight, the Jayhawks looked for a repeat performance against Georgia Tech.

Audio clips

2007-08 Dec. 18 KU-GT Hoops

— Bill Self spoke so matter-of-factly it wasn't apparent in a 10-minute postgame news conference whether he was happy or displeased with the Jayhawks' 71-66 basketball victory over Georgia Tech on Tuesday at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.

Oh, he was happy, Self confirmed to inquisitive local media members upon exiting the interview room.

"I told them, 'Great win, but we've got a lot of things we've got to tighten up,''' Self said of his postgame message to his players, who saw a 13-point lead with 5:21 left shrink to one in the waning seconds.

"It was a great win. We've won three games now (Georgia Tech, USC, Arizona) that didn't go as scripted. 'Shady' (Darrell Arthur) played five minutes the first half. You tell me Brandon (Rush, 11 points, six boards in 29 minutes) is not going to have a good game and 'Shady' not play (six points in 19 foul-plagued minutes) and we win, I'd take that."

Is it better for his his team to learn how to finish games off now rather than later in the season?

"It is better now," he stated, adding, "You don't coach free throws. You've got to step up and make free throws late. If we did that in the game, other things would not be as magnified."

Robinson said his missing two free throws with :30 seconds left and KU up, 67-64, was unfortunate.

"It's not frustrating. There is concern. You've got to make free throws late," said Robinson, who scored 17 points with four assists and three steals in 33 minutes. "I missed those two, but I might make the next four. It's just a matter of getting them through the net.

"Finishing games," Robinson added, "we've had problems with that in years past. We won, so we can't complain too much."

Sherron Collins did swish a pair of free throws with 8.2 seconds left, boosting a 67-66 lead to three points.

"I was not too rattled," said Collins, who scored 11 points off 4-of-12 shooting and 2-of-2 free throwing. "We needed the free throws, and I made them."

Robinson, who chose KU over Georgia Tech in recruiting, had one of the key three-pointers in a game the Jayhawks made six of 17 to Tech's seven of 19.

He hit a 30-footer with 6:17 left, giving the Jayhawks a 59-47 lead.

"Shot clock was running down. It was at three, so I shot it. It was pretty far out," Robinson said.

He said the Jayhawks simply have to keep working at finishing off teams when they are down.

"We have to stay aggressive," he said.

Or as Mario Chalmers noted: "I would just say keep attacking the rim even if we got a big lead at the end. I think that's how they got back in in the end. We started making turnovers because we weren't being as aggressive as we normally are, so I think that's how they got back in the game."


Karen Mansfield-Stewart 13 years, 3 months ago

If not for more than our share of bad calls that went our way, we lose that game.

Timmay97 13 years, 3 months ago

Mario Chalmers hit the nail on the head with his comments at the end of this article. It's good see someone recognizes it.

When KU gets their huge lead, they try to run too much clock and it takes them out of their offense. They are a team that takes what's given to them. If you give them only 10 seconds (since the shot clock is down to 10) to try to score, they panic. There is no play they run, it's just panic mode. It drove me crazy last night.

Anyone else notice that when KU routes these smaller schools and they put their scrubs in, we still seem to score without a problem. That's what needs to be done with ANYONE we play.

Any win against an ACC team on the road is a good one nonetheless.

jagfar 13 years, 3 months ago

Timmay97 has identified one fly in the oinment of Bill Self's coaching. The other is the fact that he does not go deep enough into his bench in close games. KU will need the freshmen recruits to perform well come tournament time, which they will struggle with unless they see more court time during regular season play. Other than these two issues Self is pretty good at X's and O's and recruitment. Unless he overcomes his inability to relax a little in tight games or when the team has a lead toward the end... I do not believe he will win a National Championship...

John Strayer 13 years, 3 months ago

It seemed to be the strength of this team...the guards...kind of fell apart last night, once GA Tech cranked up some pressure...that was kind of disappointing to think KU can dish out pressure, but can't take late in the game. How many turnovers did the guards have late in the second half?

Kirk 13 years, 3 months ago

I remain unimpressed with our discipline and execution -- and our weak schedule. Enormous talent? Check. Smarts? Not so much.

beebe1 13 years, 3 months ago

I agree that we could have used Reed and Aldrich for a bit when the lead hit 13 points. If they don't maintain the lead, the attitude of the regulars would be better when they were put back in. May be a few others that ought to get more time in close games. Too often there is more of a 'shootaround' when we put the guys in late -- they need to play when the game is on the line!

bmcmich1 13 years, 3 months ago

Letting your foot off the gas with a lead is much like the prevent defense in football--most of the time it 'prevents' you from winning.

This is not always purely the fault of coaching, either. sometimes the players themselves get too complacent and lose that sense of urgency. Next thing you know, a 13 pt. lead has dwindled to 1.

As for Mario's quote, I'll use a line from Tommy Boy: "you've pinpointed it, next step is doing something about it."

Joe Ross 13 years, 3 months ago



Mr_Sandman 13 years, 3 months ago

KU needs to find the killer instinct that good teams always find. I think that with Rush and Collins getting back to 100% that this will improve. However, this killer instinct begins with the coaches preaching it in practice and implementing it come gametime.

jaypul 13 years, 3 months ago

You can't coach game situation free throws.

Joe Ross 13 years, 3 months ago

"game situation" huh? thats what PRACTICE is for. You rehearse in PRACTICE for what the "game situation" will be.

you can say that "game situation free throws" are not like practice free throws. Hey, jaypul...guess what. practice offense is not like game situation offense. practice defense is not like game situation defense. You havent really said ANYTHING at all besides the fact that a crowd exists in the gym to make it different; hence "game situation". But this applies to all facets of the game.

You CAN coach game situation free throws. You coach good mechanics. Those mechanics will be USED in the game situation, right? Then if youre coaching mechanics youre coaching for the game situation. Lining the elbow up directly under the wrist. Wrist snap on the shot, causing backward spin on the ball. Ive seen people hold up brooms to practice shooters' putting the proper arch on the shot. Looking at the center back spot on the rim. Follow through. Ending the shot on your toes. Correct alignment as you step to the line.

All of these preparations are made to facilitate proper shooting technique. This technique can not be accomplished except that it is done in practice in anticipation of the game.

You are WRONG. A coach DOES prepare kids for game-situation freethrows.

Bob Zielinski 13 years, 3 months ago

you guys need to calm down. KU's schedule is not weak, the team is impressive. self stated earlier in the week that the team wasn't practicing well (and never does) during finals period. some of you guys would criticize and dismiss a hot chick because her pubic hair wasn't combed in the right direction. settle down.

LIHawk 13 years, 3 months ago

I think it is easy for people to get worked up about HCBS's comments because free-throws have been a weakness for Kansas for a while and the quote makes it sound like he is saying "That's not my job! There's nothing to be done about it!" I agree that you can (and must) teach the mechanics of free-throw shooting, and I agree that free-throw shooting practice is very important, but go back and read the quote again. Maybe HCBS was simply trying to say that there is very little actual in-game "coaching" to be done regarding free-throw shooting strategy. 99% of the time the coaching advice will be "Just make the darn free-throws!" (not to minimize the importance of providing psychological support to the players).

tomlinss90 13 years, 3 months ago

hey jross - Just wondering if you have been attending the KU practice sessions, because you seem pretty sure that they are not doing anything like you have described in practice? Maybe you should call up Mr' Self and explain to him how he can coach free throws better.

I do not think you are interpreting what Bill was trying to say correctly.

hawk_bred20 13 years, 3 months ago

I would just like to know examples of players that are using poor mechanics on their free throws?

Free throw shooting is such a crazy aspect of the game. I've seen a lot of guys that, no matter how much you work with them, or how much they practice, just can't make them consistently in a game. And these are very good basketball players.

I'm pretty confident that, like most coaches, Coach Self has the guys shoot free throws after intense drills, and towards the end of practice because they are tired. The players just have to step up and hit them!

Joe Ross 13 years, 3 months ago


No I have not been to practice. But if a coach says he doesnt coach free throws, then a LOGICAL person assumes he doesnt.

you say I should call up "Mr Self" and explain to him how he can coach free throws better. He says you cant coach them.

You say you "think" I am interpreting what Bill is trying to say incorrectly. Okay, so how are you any better than what I am. In OTHER WORDS, you say there are error in my assumptions, right in the same breath that you make one of your own.

Hypocrite much?

smitty33 13 years, 3 months ago

I can't believe the negative attitude of you all... good grief, can't you enjoy a win??? We're freakin 11-0! Weak schedule??? HA! Look at N. Carolina's (and most of the top 10 opponents) if you need comparison. Arizona, USC, at G. Tech out of 11 games, weak?? Come on. Billhawk, you're the worst... saying the refs were the reason we won. Give me a break!

I thought our team played GREAT last night, especially on Defense. You greedy fans want a perfect game every game.... get back to reality. Smell the roses and victories along the way... we all know it takes an amazing run and LUCK to win the championship in March. That said, I'd love to see Brandon back to driving the lane with confidence, Shady hit some of those fade away jumpers, and less turnovers. As for free throws... nice job last night (Especially Sasha 5-6!!). It's also OK to run a stall offense with a few minutes left... as long as we hit our free throws. Robinson almost killed us last night with those 2 misses.

Joe Ross 13 years, 3 months ago


Ease up there huckelberry. No body is not enjoying the win. But neither should you say we should live in a bubble and bury our heads in the sand about what could be improved.

This IS a discussion board after all. If theres nothing to discuss, why are we here?

Think about it for a second or two. Itll come to ya...

Joe Ross 13 years, 3 months ago


who said we shot with poor mechanics? I didnt!

I said free throws were coachable, and I used mechanics to prove my point. Its dangerously easy to appear condescending when people cant accurately and validly respond to points made. Come on now...

ku98 13 years, 3 months ago

I once heard Dale Ellis, one of the great shooters in NBA history, mentions that, to become a better, more consistent shooter, you need to think BEEF! B-alance (both feet on the ground and facing the basket) E-lbow (pointing towards the basket) E-ye (on the rim) F-ollow thru (with the hand, towards the rim).

So, guys, I know we won the game, but let's face it, none of us want to go thru a remake of the 2003 title game, when we lost by 3, and shot 12 of 30 from the FT line).


Joe Ross 13 years, 3 months ago


"THANK YOU!" and "AMEN!" Somebody gets it. You HAVE to coach free throws. What's at stake is too important NOT to!!!!!!

jaybate 13 years, 3 months ago

Self coaches free throws, whether he knows it or not.

He coaches the players to make them at the end, when they count.

This philosophy is manly, but wrong.

It assumes free throws to win a game are more important than free throws early in the game.

The assumption is wrong.

Every free throw attempt and every shot during a game is crucial, because they all count the same when made. A game score is always about total points in 40 minutes, never about total points the last three minutes.

In fact, it should be argued with chaos theory and complexity theory, that because game outcomes are sensitively dependent on intial conditions, making free throws early can probably do more to influence the outcome of a game than making a game winning one at the end. Why? Because making them early is apt to create a dynamic in a game that leads to making free throws late in a game entirely unnecessary, because the spread is already decisive.

In football, every Tom, Dick and Harry knows that missing field goals and extra points early in a game comes back to haunt you. This year's KU Orange Bowl learned this the hard way vs. MU.

The same holds true in basketball.

Coach Self is a remarkably good coach, probably a great one, but as coaches tell players, you are never so good that you cannot still improve.

Coach Self could improve regarding his coaching and philosophy about free throws.

You should coach players to make every free throw they can any time they get a FTA.

Joe Ross 13 years, 3 months ago


Youre response to this thread is about as cogent as the following:

Coach's statement was shocking and, unless further clarified, is cause for concern. We've been bitten by poor free throw shooting and it "sounds like" we arent being coached on them. Furthermore the statement as laid out did NOT suggest that free throws were being coached in practice even OUTSIDE of finals week.

If your argument is that his words are taken out of context, then fine. If your position is that Coach may mean something other than what his words suggest, I can get up with that. But dont come kicking around this board with your clumsy feet saying that kind of statement should be poo-pooed without giving it consideration.

Joe Ross 13 years, 3 months ago


I can see you are at least taking a reasoned approach in your response (to your credit, it lacks certain tangential references to pubic hair...kudos).

I agree that the more you work on free throws, the less you have to work on something else. Here's my response, though. At a certain point in the season, the players are pretty well in-tune with the offense and how it is to be run. Youve got guys (except for 3 or 4) that have run this offense BEFORE. They already know it, so that by January everyone is pretty much on the same page. Yes, technique, form, game-situations, and all this are things to be worked on in practice.

But consider this. What percentage of game points come from free throws? 15%? Maybe more? That'd be an interesting statistic I wish I had at my fingertips. Due to the weight it carries, I don't know any team in the country that can justify lopping that off from practice--because it counts for so much.

I agree that free throw mechanics and form should be instructed, as you say. I have no doubt that this is in fact occurring because I remember when Sasha was struggling so badly a couple of seasons ago, commentators cued us in that the staff had been working with him.

Heres the thing. Free throws arent defensed and therefore they should be high-percentage shots. Furthermore you have an opportunity to set your feet, take your time, and knock down the shot. Again...NO DEFENSE!

In the military when I was learning to shoot the M16, we shot out of a prone position and from a fox hole. You got 20 rounds from each position for a total of 40. The drill sergeants would often say "Make your money in the fox hole", meaning that since it was easier to shoot from there it was absolutely critical to make the most of it; if you didnt your markmanship score would certainly suffer.

Its the same with free throws, and because of that it warrants practice time (which Im sure there is time given--what NONE of us knows is how much). I wont argue over the semantics, so Ill settle for your word and say we should not sacrifice practice time devoted to "instruction" of free throws.

kc_wildfire 13 years, 3 months ago

Stat Of The Moment (Possibly year if things don't change)...

KU Free Throw % = 64.2%...

Which puts us as the 275th best free throw shooting team out of 342 DI teams.

Behind basketball powerhouses such as...Sam Houston State, Quinnipiac, Northern Arizona, Fordham, Stetson, Colgate, Iona, North Dakota State, Cornell and Missouri.

KU basketball should never be ranked that low in any stat.

Joe Ross 13 years, 3 months ago


I realize that some people here may call us detractors from a team which stands at 11-0, and not see the reason that we are flogging a horse which appears to them as dead. You and I know better. Our concern for our poor free throw shooting is a symptom of our enthusiasm for these Jayhawks. We want it to improve because we realize that dropping the ball in any area of the game (no pun intended) can lead to failure at season's end.

We realize that being a fan doesnt mean that we are blindly ignorant to areas that need to be improved and the measures which must be taken to improve them. We realize that we have to shoot better! While I reserve praise--the highest praise--for Coach Self, and while I am enthralled with his presence on our bench as head coach, a change of philosophy is necessary if he feels free throws can't be coached.

He did it before with Sasha. Its time to overhaul the team, practice. But I also agree with Lebo too, that these guys must spend time outside of practice working on FTs as well. A change is not gonna take effect unless effectual measures are taken to effect it.

PRACTICE makes perfect.

ku98 13 years, 3 months ago

jross, I agree with a lot of what you said there, but not your last sentence. Practice does not necessarily make "perfect". Practice makes "permanent". If you play golf and you have a bad swing, you can practice all you want, you'll never play all that well. Same with basketball, if you have poor shooting mechanics (ala Kenny Gregory for example, whom I liked very much, but man that was ugly to watch), all the practice in the world won't improve your %. Ask Shaq! :) With that being said, in a roundabout way, I agree with you that Self's "you don't coach FT" is a questionable statement.

kc_wildfire 13 years, 3 months ago

What troubles me moreso than the overall team free throw percentage is the lack of one or key players (i.e. ball handlers) who are solid from the stripe.

Rush is hitting 78.6% but in a limited amount of attempts (11/14)

Robinson is at 71.4% (25/35)

Chalmers and Collins are both below 69% for the year.

Taking a quick look at some other top teams you can see what their key guys are doing...


Green: 89.7% (26/29) Ellington: 89.3% (25/28) Lawson: 84.6% (33/39) Hansbrough: 78.8% (82/104)


Abrams: 92.9% (13/14) Augustin: 82.0% (50/61)


Shipp: 85.0% (17/20) Collison: 83.3% (15/18) Love: 75.0% (63/84)


Douglas-Roberts: 72.7% (24/33) Rose: 71.4% (40/56)

If memory serves me correctly isn't it free throws that cost Memphis a tournament (post season NIT maybe) game a couple of years ago? I believe a guy was fouled shooting a three near the end of the game and he either missed all three or only made one and they ended up losing the game. So KU isn't the only highly regarded program with poor free throw percentage history.

ku98 13 years, 3 months ago

kc-wildfire, the Memphis guy you are referring to is Darius Washington, who missed 2 out of 3 vs. Louisville. As a result, they lost the conference title, and did not make the tournament... and he went undrafted, though he does play in the NBA now (Spurs, I think).

kc_wildfire 13 years, 3 months ago

Good point Lebowski

Just looking at main eight players (Kaun, Jackson, Arthur, Rush, Robinson, Chalmers, Collins, Stewart) the free throw percentage jumps up by a whole percentage point to just over 65%.

I went back over the last 10 games and figured how many more points we would have had had the team shot at a 71.2% rate (that would put us in the top 100, that is the only relevance of that figure) and just looking at that it wouldn't seem to make that much of a difference (20 more points total for those games)...

UMKC +6 Washburn +5 NAU +3 Arizona +0 FAU +2 USC +2 E. Wash -2 DePaul +1 Ohio +2 GT +1

But wouldn't it have been nice to have some of those "extra" points...specifically in the Tech game where that one extra point pushes it to a two possession game in the closing seconds instead of being able to tie with a three. The USC game would have been a little wider lead in the closing seconds as well.

I know a few of us keep beating on a dead horse but for those of us who have followed basketball for any amount of time knows how missed free throws can come back to bite you in the butt.

Someone mentioned it doesn't matter when you make or miss them (although obviously ones at the end of the game garner all the attention). If you make them earlier and stretch the lead it lessens the chance that ones at the end of the game will be needed.

BTW...thanks ku98. I knew it had something to do with them either losing in the tourney or something else just as important.

I've enjoyed everyone's can be critical yet still passionate about the team they love.

Joe Ross 13 years, 3 months ago

Coach Self also had Sasha Kaun in late in that game.

I couldnt make up my mind about that one. On the one hand, he was 5/6 from the line that night. But I also remember the aTm game last year when Billy Gillespie burned us for having Kaun in there. Simply employed the "hack-a-Shaq" philosophy and gave themselves a chance to win.

As much as we love them, coaches arent immune to bad decisions, gaffes, and the like.

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