Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Keegan: Rush, offense clicking


— Right from the beginning of this, his sophomore season, Brandon Rush's jump shot looked different. It looked better than a year ago. It looked as if he had stepped out of one of those textbooks on basketball fundamentals. Great elevation. Released at the top of his jump. Beautiful follow-through. Balanced body. Everything was perfect, except that it wasn't going in all that often.

It's going in now. And it wasn't only going in during a remarkable two-man, first-half flurry he shared with fellow Kansas University sophomore Julian Wright on Monday night in the Devaney Center, it was hitting nothing but net.

It mattered not a bit whether he was tightly guarded or wide-open. Rush, guarded by smaller defenders, was taking target practice on his way to a 20-point night in a 76-56 victory against a Nebraska team that fell behind 43-8, but never stopped hustling.

Corner. Wing. Foul line. Swish. Swish. Swish.

Wright scored KU's first eight points, then Rush took over. In a span of 6:22, Rush scored all 12 of his first-half points, hitting a pair of three-pointers, a pair of jumpers inside the line and a pair of free throws. He cooled in the second half and finished 7-of-13 overall and 3-of-6 beyond the arc.

Rush and fellow perimeter players Russell Robinson, Mario Chalmers and Sherron Collins all have been shooting more accurately from long range in Big 12 play than in the nonconference portion of the schedule. The Jayhawks shot at a long-distance rate of .357 before conference play and .445 in the Big 12. Rush is shooting .455 on three-point attempts in conference games.

Audio clips

2006-07 Jan. 29 KU-NU Hoops

"I don't know why (the team is shooting better)," Rush said. "Everything's falling for us. We're taking good shots. We're not forcing any shots. We find the first man open to take a shot."

Making 50 percent of his three-pointers in conference play, Robinson offered his insight into the improved marksmanship: "We're taking good shots, making the defense move, and when the defense breaks down, we're aggressive, and we take advantage of it. Better ball movement, better shot selection, we're all on the same page."

It takes more than just shooters doing a better job to improve a team's shooting.

"I think we're running our basic offense real well," freshman post player Darrell Arthur said. "We're setting good screens and getting our guards open for good shots."

KU's hot first-half shooting could have been overlooked given how well the Jayhawks played defense and hit the boards during a Nebraska scoreless streak that spanned a remarkable 13:43.

KU shines on defense in rout over Nebraska

In a game that saw the Nebraska Cornhuskers go without a single point for over 13 minutes of game-play, KU earned another victory in the Big 12.

Kansas showed no signs of fatigue in its fourth game in nine days, though the defense faded, and the shots stopped falling in the second half.

"They played small today, so it was easy to shoot over them, and we could get easy buckets because they played small," Arthur said. "It was kind of hard to play them on defense. It was hard guarding them on the perimeter."

Wright was second to Rush in scoring honors with 17 points, despite watching the final 9:09 from the bench after his no-look pass resulted in a dunk at the other end of the floor.

It wasn't a perfect night, but it was another step forward for the Jayhawks, winners of 13 of 14.


mitch 14 years, 10 months ago

"I don't know why (the team is shooting better)," Rush said. "Everything's falling for us. We're taking good shots. We're not forcing any shots. We find the first man open to take a shot." It sounds like Rush does know why the team is shooting better. Go Rush! Go 'Hawks!!

Craig Lang 14 years, 10 months ago

KU played one great half. Honestly, that was it. I know I will probably get flamed for this, but KU got outscored in the second half by a weak Nebraska team, plain and simple. And the starters stayed in the game for all but the last three minutes!

KU needs two great halves against Texas A & M. I really worry that all this talk about how great they played yesterday will make them too confident going into Saturday's game.

r1ck_jayhawk 14 years, 10 months ago

Is it just me or do we as a fan base overlook the stupid stuff that Julian does when he scores more? I thought he would have learned his lesson about trying for the highlight reel after the debacle against Baylor. Last night, he had a break away and still tried a fancy dunk and got it swatted out. Now, he did get fouled and made both free throws (thank God), but wouldn't the easiest thing have been a lay-up (like Russell does), make it and get the bonus shot? Then he does the stupid pass (while he was bringing the ball up the floor instead of getting it to a guard)! I think he really needs to figure out that he isn't in high school anymore and this isn't the Happy Meal game. C'mon Julian, pull your head out! They don't give points for style in the Final Four!

r1ck_jayhawk 14 years, 10 months ago

Sorry, I meant the debacle against Colorado.

JayCeph 14 years, 10 months ago

lalawguy, that is my concern as well. Look at the Florida game... we owned that first half and then eased up in the second. They forced overtime (when we had it won in regulation) and we were fortunate to pull out the win. A good win. A well deserved and earned win. But a win that could just as easily have been a heart-breaking loss...

As for last night's game, I thought the second half was on auto-pilot and the starters were left in to stem any bleeding that could've resulted from their (NU's) momentum at the end of the 1st half. They ourscored KU by 7 points in the second half and a lot of those points came from wild 3s that kept falling. Nebraska had nothing to lose and just tossed up what they could.

Had KU played with the same intensity that they did in the 1st half, there might've been some really bad blood develped between the two programs (ala Kentucky in the early 90s). I think Self was just trying to manage the game and solidify the win without pouring it on.

97jhawk 14 years, 10 months ago

I say they should've poured it on. That's the mentality you have to have if you wanna win 4 straight games in mid to late March.

You have to develop that attitude at some point and there's no better time than now to become a well oiled machine at shutting teams down for 40 minutes.

As the great Alice Cooper song goes, "No more Mr. Nice Guy, No more Mr. Clean!"

dbgjayhawk 14 years, 10 months ago

what was the deal with the bad blood with kentucky in the 90s. i was pretty young back then, so i don't remember.

JayCeph 14 years, 10 months ago

KU beat the snot out of Rick Pitino's Kentucky team at Allen by about a million points. Pitino was so steamed, that he vowed Kentucky would never visit KU again (under his watch). That lasted for the duration of Roy's tenure even after Pitino left Kentucky for the NBA. Kentucky finally came back to KU under Self's watch and we beat 'em again. Only this time, it was more tempered.

chase353 14 years, 10 months ago

I have seen alot of post's on this team not having killer instinct, yet we want to crawl on Julian for showboating. There is a connection to showboating and beating the snot out of someone. Don't get me wrong I wish Julian would play under more control, but it is what is. In this day and age of the streetball game that is how the kids today keep there playing levels high, and is it not what us fans really want see. When a player crushes another player, and either puts our crowd into outer space or takes there crowd clear out of the game.

Christopher Johnson 14 years, 10 months ago

chase353, in a way I agree with you. The game has turned into being played that way (especially the NBA). But this is not the NBA. College ball is about playing a team sport to win. The NBA is all about which team has the player with the hott hand.

There is a time and place for showing a little sparkle. A fancy play here and there is great for getting a crowd going. There's no denying that. The thing about the NU game was that we were playing there . . . who is he gonna fire up at an away game?

I think "keep it simple stupid" is the most fundamental, most safe, and easiest way to build a lead. Its the smart plays that score points. All the other stuff is for the crowd . . . sometimes its nice to get a little extra noise, but the consequences are far worse and in most instances, not worth taking the chance.

chase353 14 years, 10 months ago

I agree hawk. What I'm saying it has become a part of the game these days, and when i really stop and think about how the game has changed I would not want to go back to Jack H K-State days of the 4 corner off. Man did that blow. So I think give em a break it is exciting, but if your going to do it FINISH it.

jaybate 14 years, 10 months ago

Regarding offense, KU's perimeter players from last year finally appear to be shooting back up to their averages of last season; this will be fun while it lasts. Any statisticians out there care to quantify when the tipping point will come that KU's trey shooting will begin the process of shooting back down to their average? Put another way, will this hot shooting streak extend through to the Madness, or will the tipping point arrive before then?

Regarding defense: it continues to be a big strength in 15 minute stretches, but, as Self said, it did let an absolutely awful NU team score 70+, a serious no-no in the Selfian approach to basketball.

Regarding defensive rebounding: littles outrebounded bigs again 20-19. Arthur's quote suggests it was because NU played "small" and drew the bigs away from the basket. Boy, that would be great, if it were true and the bigs have learned to control the defensive glass. The bigs, except Kaun, did meet my personal defensive rebounding minimum standard for bigs of 1 rebound per 4 minutes of playing time, which is a start. Now let's see if the bigs can average at least 1 rebound per 4 minutes of PT vs. TXA&M, a good, but not excellent team with some rebounders.

FWIW, I love these matchups (e.g., with Texas A&M) between teams that BOTH play take what they give us. It is always so interesting to see what each one does when each one wants to react to the other's reactions?

It usually puts each one in the atypical situation of choosing to dictate tempo at least briefly, because the other is willing to let them dictate tempo. In turn, they spend a bit of time at the beginning of the game doing something neither of them usually does: trying to run. Then they usually both choose to react back down to the same half court, 70 possession tempo they are comfortable with and then grind it out tactically doing the same things, but looking for little match-up advantages.

But sometimes, both recognize each is giving the other the running game to stay in control of the half court game (sending lots of guys to the glass) and a spurt of running ensues. Very interesting. And because they both keep reacting, the tempo then begins to bounce back and forth between spurts of running and spurts of half court. Game theorists could have a field day with this. Complexity and chaos theoreticians would of course be focused on the disorder in the transition from one mode to the other, from half court game to running game.

Ah, what a game! Enjoyable and engaging at so many levels.

b1afide 14 years, 10 months ago

I know many coaches yell and for some kids it motivates, but did anyone notice (I played it back on HD Tivo a number of times) how much Coach was laying into Mario? I thought he was going to pop a vessel. He was yelling "you, and you, and is all BS!". After ranting they put their hands in for the cheer, Mario looks away and goes at it again yelling ""I AM TALKING ABOUT YOU CHALMERS!", then proceeded to stare him down as he sat and then more. Not RIO, not Mario, but CHALMERS! All with Ronnie standing behind him with a pained Dad look on his face. I hope Mario is the type that likes to be yelled at. Reminds me of the time he screamed at Langford, "What the F are you doing Keith?". Bill screams all the time, but man he looked possessed. Brilliance or Temper?

JayCeph 14 years, 10 months ago

One attracts more flies with honey than with vinegar.

GIHAWK 14 years, 10 months ago

From what I noticed in the Nebraska time, Brandon was very patient with his shot and took his time...Hopefully that adjustment is permanent...

CMKUbLu304 14 years, 10 months ago


we let Colorado score 74. not Nebraska. they only scored 56. But Colorado is like last place in the conference, so technically thats worse...I think..

On another note...we better be ready on saturday. And pray the shots are falling because A&M has a very solid, very good Defense. We have to execute and not get ahead of ourselves...just play KU ball the way it's supposed to be played, and get a win.

kcmostwanted 14 years, 10 months ago

ah..who cares if J. Wright wants to showboat a little... now if the game was tight it'd be a different story and don't get me wrong, i do agree w/ those who say finish it but then again, it's not like he just messed up like his other dunk...The defender hit his hand and the ball flew out anyway....Because you all know if he pulled something brillant off, everyone would be saying.."did you see what j. wright did?.........etc..etc..."

jaybate 14 years, 10 months ago


a rift between Self and Mario would explain some of Mario's problems of late.

I hate for coaches to ever give the players the power over them of making them get into a confrontation. Its a false situation for one thing. The coach has all the power. Knight has been wasting all of his brilliant teaching skill and vast knowledge of the game all these years on these sorts of confrontations. You can't teach and communicate anything to anyone when you're nose to nose with a guy like a bull gorilla fighting over who's the bull of the herd. You're taking your player's minds off the game. Its a waste.

Self maybe getting to that point coaches get to in the middle of their careers where they've got the F-U money and they're sick and tired of having to cajole head strong young men who think they're great simply to do the most basic things. It must be a drag dealing with guys who can't even stay focused on playing hard, much less executing well for 20 minute blocks.

At the same time, Self ought to knock off that sort of Bob Knight stuff you're describing. Wooden didn't screw around. You didn't do what he wanted the way he wanted it done, he didn't discuss it. You got the cold shoulder and you sat till you came begging to get back in. One quarter. One half. One game. Several games. A season. It didn't matter. You had to change. PT is everything. Its the only currency that matters, especially to guys who want to make the L.

Coaches invest too much angry emotion in players, too much I'll show you who's in control.

Who's in control is who dictates the PT. Therefore, there is never any question about who is in control. There is only a question of how much inappropriate behavior is going to be tolerated of the one who is not in control. All Self had to do was pull Mario out of the game, send him to the locker room and forget him.

What I'm saying to Coach Self is that he needs to make the simple Coaching move, not the flashy one. Emotional confrontations are flashy. Good coaching is elegantly simple...always the shortest moves to get from A to B. Shouting at an 18 year old about who is in control? Silly. Tell him to leave.

b1afide 14 years, 10 months ago

jaybate - execellent points - thanks.

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