Sunday, February 4, 2007


Keegan: Digger pinpoints letdowns


Digger Phelps, the old Notre Dame coach who was in town to do ESPN's GameDay show, isn't in his second profession to make friends. He's in it to say things that make him look smart.

Phelps, who made his name by knocking off the favorites over and over again, sat in the rented trailer/office parked by the baseball field and talked about how he had taken notes while watching Kansas University games all season.

Phelps said his notes from losses revealed the Jayhawks tended to make key turnovers and miss key free throws late.

As did his three co-hosts, Phelps picked KU to defeat Texas A&M;, so he can't take credit for calling it, but he does know what makes the Jayhawks lose.

And everybody knows what makes the Aggies win the close ones: their Acie in the hole.

In the decisive moments of the game, KU stopped itself more than it could stop Acie Law and lost, 69-66, on the loudest night of the season inside jam-packed Allen Fieldhouse.

Law's three-point shot from the right corner over Brandon Rush with 25 seconds left looked the same in the air as his other three three-point shots, all misses. It looked like a knuckleball, without the pretty rotation of those long shots Jeremy Case buries in warmups.

Law's shot looked plenty pretty falling through the bottom of the net to make it 67-66. He also slipped in a pair of free throws between misses by Mario Chalmers, the first a runner, the second a hurried three at the buzzer.

Those misses didn't cause KU to lose an 11-point lead with 9:55 remaining. Five turnovers after building that lead had more to do with it, and the final two were committed by Sherron Collins, who was magnificent most of the night.

Sasha Kaun's missed free throw with 1:28 left and a three-point lead didn't help. Marlon Pompey, the player who committed the foul, and A&M; coach Billy Gillispie both said it was not planned, surprising statements considering it was the second time during the play Pompey had roughed up Kaun.

Even so, it's worth wondering if Kaun (a 53 percent free-throw shooter) again will be in the game in a similar situation.

Audio clips

2006-07 Feb. 3 KU-TAMU Hoops

Russell Robinson, an athlete who has mastered the skill of never letting his emotions wander either too high or too low, was asked if he was nervous with Kaun at the line.

"I wouldn't say nervous," Robinson said. "I was prepared to block out. Put it like that. He's going to hit some. He's going to miss some."

Robinson stressed it wasn't that free throw that cost KU the game.

"We weren't able to make plays, and they made all the plays down the stretch," he said. "That's why they won the game."

Kansas State will visit Allen Fieldhouse on Wednesday night tied with Kansas at 6-2 in the Big 12.

"We're no longer in the driver's seat as far the Big 12," Robinson said. "We just have to continue to play hard, continue to grow and get better."

The way Robinson talked, it was evident he already had put the frustrating loss behind him and was training his considerable intensity on K-State.

"That's going to be a tough game," Robinson said. "That's why we've got to let this game go. We can't let this loss become two losses."


Thomomys1 11 years, 6 months ago

Classic Bill Self...what happened to Illinois' offense after he left. Enough said there. Bottom line...outside of Law, who among A&M's top 8 would get more than Jeremy Casey minutes playing for KU. Two coaches with IDENTICAL offensive and defensive philosophies. Self finds a way to lose at home with better talent. Blame the players all you want....bottom line the only guy willing to take a big shot (with the potential to fail) is a freshman under 6'. Not a good sign...Rush either lacks the motivation or the mental toughness to be the guy...apparently his mom has more influence than coach self. She tells him to drive to the basket and it gets done for a couple of games. NOT a good sign. With rare exceptions, no big man can match up with Julian Wright. Not a great shooter and probably never will be, but he creates good looks for himself and others who can handle a pass in traffic. Live and die with the 5 TOs while he matures. The Hi-Low offense is a TERRIBLE offense. It is easy to defend and takes away from athletic players. It works well at a Tulsa with limited athletes, but it sucked at Illinois and it will continue to suck at KU (despite the talent running it). Has Bill Self ever heard of switching players on offense (arthur) and defensive (Kahn) possessions? No, keep the limited player who is a 50% free throw shooter on the floor with less than 2 minutes left. Why was he in? Defense? Who on A/M was killing us down low? Who? Just running an UPTEMPO offense with superior athletes will win as many games as we are winning now...this team has Bill Self's stamp on's four years in. I am D.U.N. with him as head coach. I'm tired of ugly basketball that has NO chance for competing for a national championship.

David Black 11 years, 6 months ago

I really don't care for Digger Phelps...Go Hawks.

Eliott Reeder 11 years, 6 months ago

People that copy and paste their posts onto multiple articles are idiots. That said, I will comment on today's game: Pretty disappointing to lose that lead over the last six minutes. Out of all the literature and comments that have filtered out since yesterday, with people blaming Sasha, Self, Sherron's turnonvers, etc., the best point is what Russel says here. They just made more plays at the end. It was a close game. We should have won. But these losses happen from time to time. Acie was unstoppable at the end. Time to move on. These idiotic rants of hatred are pointless and serve no purpose other than to vent personal anger at the loss. There is alot of ball left to be played. People were committing fan-suicide left and right after the Texas loss last year and look what happened in the end. We still have an easier schedule to play than A&M and all the opportunity in the world to finish strong and win another Big 12 title. Hopefully there are still some fans out there who will support the effort... Rock Chalk.

Karen Mansfield-Stewart 11 years, 6 months ago

I fully support the hawks and have season tickets, but seeing record after record broken gets frustrating; like home court losses to Big 12 South teams as the most recent, gets old after a while. I've been a Self defender this year, but we simply got outcoached in the final 5 minutes. Can someone explain to me how we can never get a good look at the basket after a called time out (either right before halftime or the end of the game). Last night was a perfect example, both of the time outs before the half and the end led to a terrible shot that missed badly. What kind of offense are we running? High-Low? Motion? Pick-and-Roll? Doesn't really look like any of those to me. I'll continue to go and cheer. I love the Hawks. I'm just frustrated....

jayhawkryno 11 years, 6 months ago

I agree, last year after the Texas game I had serious concerns about our ability to compete. Happily, we went on quite a run after that.

This year, it isn't that after last night's game I don't think we can compete, it is that I don't enjoy watching the games like I used to. If we lose it b/c we make some bad plays, that is fine, but being clearly outcoached is not fun. I feel sorry for Sasha. He had to know he was going to be fouled. Self should have called a TO when he saw that they were trying to foul him before the ball even was inbounded - actually, he never should have been in. Point is, it is supposed to be fun to watch KU play and I am finding it less fun, even when we win.

jayhawker_97 11 years, 6 months ago

obviously, someone has too much time checking for new article to bash coach Self. with words of wisdom.. right, Thomomys1 ?? it's ok, man.. we all love to watch KU win, but we still love them if they lose to a ranked team!!

jayhawker_97 11 years, 6 months ago

oh, BTW, Digger is a big dig head!! cover your ears and go piss at him when he's in our FieldHouse!!

86finalfour 11 years, 6 months ago

I agree with what has been said in reference to Self's game coaching...It does seem apparent that Gillespie and Knight have outcoached a much more talented team. And yes, this high-low offense is not advantageous to the faster, quicker, more talented team. It slows the game and lowers the score. I couldn't help but think why Kaun was in there myself. Arthur has had his struggles, but I would rather have him on the line than Kaun...that's pretty obvious to me. Hindsight is always 20/20 but Self seems to miss details at the end of the game that good game coaches like the two mentioned anticipate. It's been a frustrating year...

DerekR25 11 years, 6 months ago

I'm frustrated just like everyone else, but I'm frustrated at other reasons. One of my good friends and future in-law watched the game with me. He's not even a big KU fan, but both of us were getting pretty upset and yelling at the officiating. Him being a DII official, he was able to really point out all of the blown, or missed calls. Not to mention the fact that the officials in last nights game were WAY to "noticable". Good refs are supposed to fade into the game and not be noticed. Last night that was not the case. Acie Lawless as I now call him, shouldn't have even been in the game to lead his team after pushing Russell 8 feet off the court to get an open look. Then, there was a blatent over the back/reaching in call that should've put Jo Jones out. Not to mention the really ticky tack fouls called on Collins and Wright during A&M's run that my friend said should've never been called in the last minutes of the game, epecially being the physical Big 12. Oh yeah, then their was the traveling call on Russell that clearly wasn't and several missed turn overs by A&M stepping on the baseline underneath. Anyway, frustrated the boys lost especially after leading, but even more frustrating seeing the way everything seemed to be handed to A&M rather than them taking it. We whipped them up and down the court all game long, and it was a shame to see the outcome affected so much by officiating. I hope we come out and absolutely EMBARASS K-State so that they know they have no place being tied for second with us. Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

William James 11 years, 6 months ago

Officiating did suck but we still had more than enough oppurtunity to win, we just choked. Gillespie is a good friend of Bill Self and is not going to try and embarrass him and admit they intentionally put Kaun on the line. I like Self, I think he deserved coach of the year honors. My point is Gillespie is full of crap saying fouling Kaun was a funny coincidence. I didnt see them throwing our good free throw shooters to the floor.

Craig Lang 11 years, 6 months ago

I said this after last Monday's game -- we needed two good halves to beat Texas A & M. We only got 1 1/2. Obviously, it wasn't enough.

That is one thing that has been fairly consistent all season: KU tends to lag in the last 10 minutes of regulation in each game (Florida being the notable exception). Even the games that are blowouts, KU tends to get outscored in those final minutes. I don't know what can be done about it, but I really worry that Self is not noticing that (and I am not by any means a Self-basher).

actorman 11 years, 6 months ago

I haven't been a major critic of Self, but I have to admit the Kaun move simply makes no sense. I found myself wondering at the time how he could possibly leave him in, KNOWING that they would be likely to foul him.

jaybate 11 years, 6 months ago

Even when I get to watch a game, as I did yesterday vs. A&M, I like to cornerstone on the statistics to start with.

Based on the stats, I don't see Self as being outcoached. KU simply shot a little worse from the field, a little worse from trey and a little worse from the FT stripe. KU also made a couple more TOs. A slight improvement in any two of these categories would have netted KU the win.

That said, KU found itself in the position it did, largely because it once again its bigs could not control its defensive glass. 10 defensive rebounds from 4 bigs was not enough to keep it running with numeric advantage. KU hurried, but never got the numeric advantage on breaks often enough to actually convert the running into increased point production on higher percentage shots. Instead it hurried up and then played half court. In fact, 10 defensive reebs by the bigs equals only .5 rebounds/4 minutes of playing time for all the bigs, which violates my rule that you have to get at least 1.5 rebounds per four minutes of playing time to run consistently with the numbers. KU was running constantly without the numbers and then hurrying shots in a half court game.

Fortunately, A&M could not control its defensive glass either, grabbing only 11 total from its bigs.

The irony is that both teams take what you give us strategies lead both into trying to run even though neither team could control the defensive glass sufficiently to run successfully.

Bottom line, both teams mirrored each other, neither one has good defensive rebounding capable of triggering a running game, A&M maybe tried to run a little less and so played a little more to its physical gifts, and in turn A&M shot a little better this game.

What should Coach Self have done differently?

Well, I hate to say it, but given our lousy defensive rebounding, we should have run alot less. All the effort expended hurrying the ball up the court without numeric advantage, and without a secondary break, just wore our players out without getting them any better shots and in turn our shooting percentage suffere slightly, just enough to be a little lower than theirs.

We're through the looking glass, people, when I am arguing we should have run less. But given the weak defensive rebounding, we should have expended all our energy on every possession working the full 45 sec. clock for the best shot we could get. Had we done that we almost certainly would have had fewer TOs and a higher shooting percentage. Two fewer TOs, or just two more made baskets and the game was ours.

Maybe that's why Coach Self told the interviewer at half time that we just needed to calm down.

Regardless, our bigs just have to become better defensive rebounders for us to have any chance at becoming a really strong team.

jaybate 11 years, 6 months ago

One other nagging problem that seemed like it might have gone away resurfaced for the Jayhawks. A good defensive team completely took away Brandon Rush's mid range game. He was 2 for 8 inside the trey stripe. This absolutely kills KU. Inside the trey stripe, you're supposed to shoot 50%. Here again, all KU had to do to have won this game was give Brandon's 8 shots inside the trey stripe to someone who could shoot 50% and KU wins by one. This has to be demoralizing to Brandon and to his teammates. Basically, if KU plays weak teams, Brandon appears to be competant inside the threy. But if KU plays a good defensive team like Agricutural and Mechanical, then his mid range game disappears. Coach Self has to do something he really doesn't want to do. He has to take the ball out of his stars hands against good teams, except to shoot the trey. Its going to hurt, but it has to be done.

canuckhawk 11 years, 6 months ago

On the bright side. It looks more and more like we are going to have a really good group of juniors.

86finalfour 11 years, 6 months ago

Dear Jaybate, What is player stats going to say about Self? Yeah, their FT % was a bit lower because he left Kaun in the game. Self's response to his decision to leave Kaun in the game, is that he went with his most experienced. My question for Self, then is why does Riley (and Phil Jackson) take Shaq out of close games in the ensuing minutes? Answer: Because everyone in the arena knows he's going to get Hack-a-Shaqued. This is a very common and basic element of the game.

wiltstilt 11 years, 6 months ago

Really? Everyone who reads this site absolutely knew they were going to foul Kaun? There was a minute and a half left in the game and A&M was only down 3. Most teams--at least those that aren't afraid they can't get it done outright--would go for the legit defensive stop before going to the foul approach and giving the other team free opportunities to extend it's lead.

Let's face it... if Sasha hits two free throws, KU wins and none of you have anything to say about being out-coached. It was a gamble by Billy G and it worked this time.

Self said he went with experience, and I can kinda see what he meant. When Sasha's in, he clogs up the middle and sets solid screens that give our perimeter guys (our strength) room to operate. He's also a solid defender who doesn't leave his feet on every single pump fake, like the rest of our team does. (Seriously, watch our guys... we're going to set a record for most pump fakes bit on this season.) That said, don't expect to see him in down the stretch of any close games in the future.

Anyway, if everyone really did see this coming, then well done gentlemen. I just feel sorry for Lew and Chancellor Bob if they ever let Self go... it's going to be tough choosing between so many well-qualified candidates.

wiltstilt 11 years, 6 months ago

By the way, I lost quite a bit of respect for coach Gillespie over this... not just that he went to that tactic (which in my opinion isn't very sportsman-like, even if intelligent), but the fact he's trying to deny that it was pre-meditated. Why else would that dude not only tackle Sasha at half court, but then repeatedly push and hack him 25 feet from the rim with no ball in sight until the whistle blew? I'm still not sure how this doesn't qualify as an intentional, but that's another debate.

86finalfour 11 years, 6 months ago

Wiltstilt and everyone else who wants to defend the Kaun move,

A&M wasn't a threat in the post all game, so why do we need Kaun at the end there. Also, if it was a good decision, then why did he finally pull Kaun after the second botched free throw and why are is Wiltstilt saying Kaun probably won't be left in the game in the future like that. I understand if Self didn't see it coming with the first missed free throw by Kaun around 3:00 min left. But I couldn't believe he left him in there in the final 1:30.

What kind of attitude is that? Gillespie is all class, and intentionally fouling a player at the end of a game when you're behind is part of the game. Maybe you're picking up on this team's mentality - one that lacks a killer instinct. KU blew this one.

86finalfour 11 years, 6 months ago

Also, the gamble was Self leaving Kaun in there. If Kaun, 53% from the stripe, makes em. Then, JHawks are just lucky.

truefan 11 years, 6 months ago

I have to say that Self made a some coaching errors down the stretch, but at the same time, I can't think of a single team in the country that doesn't have at least one loss. Great coaches like the great coach K at Duke just lost two games in a row against unranked opponents. NC who has our old coach just lost to an unranked SC team. No one is safe from upsets. Every once in a while teams AND coaches lose focus and make bad plays. We are still in the running for winning the big 12 which is more than I can say for Duke in the overrated ACC.

markespen 11 years, 6 months ago

Name one KU player that is a better basketball player now than when he first arrived on campus? Julian Wright? No. Sasha Kaun? No. Mario Chalmers? No. Russell Robinson? No. Brandon Rush? No. Darnell Jackson? No. The jury is still out on Collins and Arthur, but the point is that the team, along with the individual players, are not improving. Self reminds me of Steve Lavin when he was at UCLA - great recruiter but nowhere near a great coach. To all of those who belittle criticism of the basketball team and Coach Self, having blind faith does not make you a true fan. We all want Coach Self to succeed but it's not looking very promising at this point.

Chris Kurtz 11 years, 6 months ago

Hey Thomomys have you ever coached? I don't know what makes you an expert on the Hi-low offense. Illinois' offense went up, but you have to remember thier players were Freshmen and Sophomores under Self and were Juniors and seniors after Self left. Most players increase thier scoring and abilities in the last two years compared to the first two regardless of who the coach is.

Roy Williams was nothing but run and gun for years and no defense. All a team had to do was not turn over the ball and slow the game down. No half court game under Williams lead to losses all the time. ESPN had an article stating that the last 5 or 6 champions were ranked in the top 10 for Offense and Defense. It wasn't until Roy started teaching defense that he won a championship. He won with a score below 70 as well. A high-low offense can win a championship.

Also, as I have said earlir, if you don't want Kaun in at the end of the game then you don't want him playing at all. If he misses a FT in the first half it is just as many points in the second half. They all add up in a 40 minute game. Even after the FT we still had the lead but Law hit a 3 pointer. Coaches don't shoot FT's or 3PTS.

BigTrav 11 years, 6 months ago

LMAO, great post Lebow.

Too many times people are quick to bash a coach and want someone to pay the price for losing. Most of the time it's not going to be the players that take the blunt of the criticism.

My take on the game was this, KU was up 10 points in the second half and had several opportunities to run away with it, but because of poor execution or careless turnovers, a lack of focus by the PLAYERS, not the coach, KU let A&M hang around. Self leaving Kaun in the game did not lose the game for KU. I can tell you that KU had no intention of passing the ball into Kaun, he probably would have never touch the ball in that entire possession unless it was a rebound or he had a wide open lay-up. The fact that the A&M defender literally tackled Kaun intentionally deserved an intentional foul call that was never called. Kaun was fouled at least 3 times before the actual foul was ever called. Why even have a rule book if your not going to follow it? I'm not saying that lost the game for them, but it was at a crucial time. I'll also say this, Kaun missing the front end of a 1 and 1, it's a free throw, I don't care who's shooting and what % their shooting, step up and hit a damn free throw, and honestly throw in any other big man on KU's team and they could have easily just as missed it.

Bottom line is, KU let the game slip away not just because of 1 free throw, so quit looking for just 1 person to blame and if your intent on blaming one person, don't blame the coach or players, blame the officials like I do!


Martin Shupert 11 years, 6 months ago

There IS one other alternative. Teach players how to shoot a free throw. 99% of coaches out there will tell you that it can't be done. I have never understood that. There has to be someone who approaches it the same way a golf coach approaches the golf swing. Essentially, it's a simple stroke and it has more to do with a golf swing, a pitcher's delivery, or place kicking than most of the rest of the game of basketball. Why is a golf swing all mechanics and a free throw all mental. I just don't get it.

canuckhawk 11 years, 6 months ago

To be equitable, every nineteen times the Jayhawks win this message board should be swamped with as many calls to give Self a 10-year extension as there are calls for his head after the four times we have lost. I see a good seven calls for a 10-year extension left this season. Come on.

markespen. Russell is tons better than his freshman year, not even the same person out there. Chalmers in the first half of last year, a mess. Rush is now considered one of the top defensive talents in the nation, that didn't come from his AAU experience. Julian was flat out intimidated last year, he started shaking at late night and didn't stop until his way home from Detroit, he has come a long way. Collins has transitioned to the college game so smoothly it's like he's already in his sophmore year. What about guys that are gone, Vinson, Moody, Hawk...these guys became valueable roleplayers under Self's care. Just impossible to say he hasn't developed players. Maybe not to their full potential and maybe that is Self's fault but these guys have developed. Also, according to Keegan, Jeremy Case is going to be all-conference any day now (that's a rib, Keegs).

martyks. Golf swings, pitcher's delivery, shooting free throws, picking your's all mechanics when it's the other guy doing it.

calstones 11 years, 6 months ago

The players lack of focus is a direct statement about the would think that this far into the season they would be focused, especially for a big game. Lets face it, these guys have been here for a year and a half; is there any real improvement from last year to this year in ANY of the players? and for Kaun, someone said that "I can tell you that KU had no intention of passing the ball into Kaun" SO WHY WAS HE IN THE GAME. rebounding? in the last couple of games hes average about 1.5 boards and points wise only about 3 ppg.

Self is a great recruiter, but he cannot coach or develop players. He has an inability to adapt to game situations or the type of players he has.

BigTrav 11 years, 6 months ago

As I listened to the first 6 callers on Hawktalk last night, I kept thinking to myself, Self has to be thinking to himself and telling Bob off the air, man, what a bunch of jacka$$ fans we have. The 1st 6 callers beat the hell out of that dead horse on Kaun still being in the game. I'm so sick of hearing about all these wannabe coaches blaming Self for having Kaun in there. You know what, Kaun is a big boy, and it's a gaw dammed FREE THROW, if you want to blame someone, blame Kaun for his EXECUTION of it. The guy spends prolly more than half the day in the gym, able to practice shooting thousands of free throws. Get off Self's nutz plz and quit second guessing the man. Don't blame the players for blowing a 10 point lead by turning the ball over and playing sloppy. It's like Lebow says, you haters like to come out of the wood work when they lose a game or two and want somebody's head. As KU fans were spoiled and too many people expect perfection, wake up and join reality, were going to lose a few games. I wouldn't take any other coach in the world over Self. What I find amusing is that he's only been here for a few years and people are already labelling him as a coach that can't make it out of the 1st or 2nd round of the tournament. Jeeez, let the guy get at least 8 to 10 years under his belt before you pound him back into the dirt. Regardless of what you think, this team is still young and still learning the game, I like the toughness of our kids, especially Collins. I think come tournament time, were going to put together some of our best ball of the season. I think were going to also see a lot more minutes out of Jackson to help crash the boards more since rebounding seems to be one of our weak points right now.

BigTrav 11 years, 6 months ago

calstones, lol, you make it sound like the players are puppets and Self has his hand up their butts controlling their every move. Real improvement??? C'mon, your talking like a K-State fan, you know, like you'd been dropped on your head as a kid and now can't speak without slobbering on yourself. You might want to watch a game or two before you start talkin crazy talk.

calstones 11 years, 6 months ago

BigTrav, lol, you got me all figured out! by the way there is a comedy club up the street, how about you go audtion up there? (by the way, self does have his hand up there butts controlling their every move)

we dont have 8-10 years to start evaluating a coach at Kansas, and it shouldnt take that long anyway. Look at A&M..that happened in 3 years. I'm not saying that we should change our whole offense every year its about making adjustments in each game. an example, at the texas tech game, self wanted to pound the ball inside when all tech was doing was making sure that didnt happen. Self didnt make any changes

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