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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Gary Bedore’s KU basketball notebook

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— Southern Illinois forward Matt Shaw, who missed the second half of Friday's first-round win over Holy Cross and Sunday's victory over Virginia Tech, practiced Wednesday, but still is a question mark for today's KU game.

"We'll prepare as if he's going to play," KU coach Bill Self said of the 6-foot-7 junior from Centralia, Ill., who averages 11.4 points and 5.7 boards a game. "I know Matt a little bit from him being in high school when I was at Illinois. He's a tough kid. If he's not going to play, he's really hurt, because he's tough."

Junior big man Sasha Kaun added: "I don't think it should affect our preparation whether he's going to play or not. It's just an injury. You have to get ready no matter what."

¢New Ballard baby: KU administrative assistant Brett Ballard is back with the team this week. He didn't travel to Chicago for first- and second-round games last weekend. Instead, he was with wife, Kelly, as she at 8:30 p.m. Thursday gave birth to baby boy, Kaden.

Ballard indicated that Kaden wore a KU T-shirt during Friday's win over Niagara and Sunday's victory over Kentucky and would have a T-shirt on for tonight's game. Ballard kept Self informed about his new family addition through text messages all weekend.

¢Practice, practice, practice: The Jayhawks practiced an hour and a half at Bellarmin Prep School in San Jose, then held a 31-minute shootaround at HP Pavilion before maybe a few hundred fans. The Jayhawks cut short their workout with 19 minutes of allotted time remaining.

Reader poll

Will KU beat Southern Illinois tonight?

  • Yes 92% 913 votes
  • No 5% 51 votes
  • Undecided 2% 28 votes

992 total votes.

¢He's healthy: Freshman guard Sherron Collins, who has been slowed by a swollen left knee lately, said he's fine.

"It got hit in the Kentucky game. I'm OK now. It hasn't bothered me at all lately," he said.

¢Rush knows Tatum: KU's Brandon Rush is a buddy of SIU standout Jamaal Tatum, a 6-2 senior from Jefferson City, Mo.

"I played against him in AAU ball. He's really good. He can score from anywhere and plays great defense, too," Rush said.

Rush, who is KU's leading scorer at 14.3 points a game, is regarded as one of the squad's best defensive players, maybe the best next to Russell Robinson.

"I am getting a lot of comments about that," Rush said. "Some say I'm one of the best defenders in the country. I like to play defense. I take pride in it."

He has come a long way.

"When he first came here, I remember he was asked how to describe his game, and he said, 'Highlights, highlights,'" Self said. "He can score. He can play defense."

¢Not another Bradley, is it?: KU players are aware Southern Illinois went 2-1 against Bradley this year. Bradley, of course, ended KU's season a year ago.

"They kind of remind me of the Bradley team last year," Robinson said. "Also, Texas A&M is similar (to SIU) as far as having aggressive and athletic guys that can make the physical plays. It doesn't matter if it's SIU or Duke, we will come out and play hard."

"Losing to Bradley in the first round, that should be enough motivation," Kaun said. "A team from Missouri Valley, they play hard, they're just a great team. We have to match their intensity."

¢SIU coach Chris Lowery on KU: "Their ability to turn a long rebound into a basket in two to three seconds is amazing. We won't be tricked into playing the way we don't want to play unless we lose our minds and go crazy.

"Julian (Wright) is an exceptional passer. Brandon is the next NBA guy, who can shoot and run and defend. Mario's (Chalmers) confidence is sky high. Sherron ... you think they are going fast, and he comes in and they go faster."

¢Could this be key to game?: Self said, "Whoever defends the best the last 10 seconds of the shot clock ... their chances of winning the game will be enhanced. We need to exercise patience and be aggressive both."

¢The Stewart twins: Rodrick Stewart's dad, Bull, will attend the USC-North Carolina game Friday, not KU's game tonight.

Rodrick's twin, Lodrick, plays for coach Tim Floyd's Trojans and has no eligibility remaining after this season. Rodrick has one year left at KU.

"I had to talk him into it," Rodrick said of making sure dad watched twin brother Lodrick.

Comments

Mike Young 7 years, 7 months ago

Survive and advance. We had our bad game. I'll meet you guys in ATL.

jaybate 7 years, 7 months ago

Does anyone know how coaches prepare D1 teams for these two game weekends in the Madness? Obviously KU is preparing for SIU this week, because they play SIU today. But is KU studying UCLA and UCLA's opponent, too, in preparation for the second game this weekend? Or do they just spend Friday boning up for the second game?

jaybate 7 years, 7 months ago

Rodrick Stewart thought: I always have a soft spot in my heart for transfers. They come looking for a second chance to get squared away and have only a short window to fit in and achieve. Hence I keep my fingers crossed for Stewart.

Has anyone noticed that, despite Rod's scant PT and often unpolished play this year, his assist to TO ratio is over 2:1 (as good or better than RR and Collins) and he's shooting 45% from three? His overall FG% is only 33 though and his glaringly bad stat is FT shooting where he's 2 of 9. Still, good trey shooting, a good assist to TO ratio and his physique make me wonder if he might get more action next year. RR didn't play his first year at all either. Self must see something there, because he keeps giving Stewart what few minutes are to be had in the crowded backcourt of Chalmers, RR and Collins.

The crowd will get worse next year with Reed coming, unless Chalmers jumps.

Rod's going to have turn into a defensive beast and improve his FT shooting to get his chance.

Still, wouldn't it be nice to have another 40% trey shooter at our disposal?

jaybate 7 years, 7 months ago

Guards Mario Chalmers and Russell Robinson each have more steals than turn-overs this season; this seems a remarkable statistic, though I've never considered the comparison before. It indicates absolutely remarkable efficiency on their parts. It means net they generate more scoring opportunities than they cost you.

For context, Collins has over twice as many TOs as steals. Has anyone else ever considered the ratio of TOs to Steals? If so, does KU typically have guards do this?

For historical context,

Aaron Miles, Kirk Hinrich, Jacque Vaughn, Adonis Jordan, Darnell Valentine, all had nearly twice as many TOs as steals for their careers and none that I scanned quickly ever had a season where they had more steals than turnovers.

Stats are not available for Jo Jo White, one of KU's great historical steal artists.

Unless someone finds some stats to the contrary, I can only conclude we are watching something quite remarkable happen this year.

Why?

Clearly RR and Mario are gifted defenders who have the four essential ingredients for stealing. Their defensive fundamentals are terrific. They are fabulously quick on their feet. Their anticipation is exceptional. And they both have lightening quick hands.

But it at least seems like some of KU's other guards in the past might have had these 4 characteristics, so is there something about this particular mix of players, or Coach Self's style of play, that is contributing.

Probably having three combo guards has some effect. Mario and RR don't have to handle the ball as much, so they have less opportunity to make the TOs. But this doesn't explain why Collins numbers are typical of the historical average of KU guards having twice the number of TOs as strips.

It also seems that Bill Self, at least this year, just likes to play a brand of defense where guards strip rather than just defend. But this doesn't explain why Self's previous KU teams did not play this way as much.

So it seems to come down to this: Mario Chalmers and Russell Robinson may just be two of the most remarkable guards KU has ever had in its long history. These guys have redefined what it means to be an efficient, highly productive guard. They completely alter the equation for team efficiency and productivity, too.

To steal MORE than you turn it over, means you are net increasing the number of shots your team gets vs. the number of shots the opposing team gets. This literally skews the outcome of every game even more than just scoring a basket does. A basket just gives you two points. This net positive in steals to turnovers means you give your team a bunch of chances to score without giving the other team any chance at all to score. Talk about an unfair advantage. All season long KU is playing teams that have no guards capable of more steals than turnovers, while we have not one but TWO!

JayCeph 7 years, 7 months ago

This is more like it, jaybate.

Love the analysis.

Joe Ross 7 years, 7 months ago

I like the analysis too. I do think there's a lot more to being a guard than what's been mentioned though. It factors in a lot of variables (some of which have been mentioned):

  1. ball handling
  2. perimeter shooting
  3. mid-range shooting
  4. dribble penetration
  5. shot selection
  6. hustle
  7. clock awareness
  8. situational awareness
  9. assists
  10. low turnovers
  11. ball pressure/defensive skills
  12. speed and quickness
  13. ability to rise to a level of play at critical game moments
  14. free-throw shooting (very important for guards)
  15. attitude (being able to endure slumps and still shoot "unconsciously", ability to be the coach on the floor, etc.)

(and many others...)

I don't know how you compare them honestly. Chalmers and Robinson are doing well right now because they fit well into the overall situation of the team (but if you put Hinrich on this team would he do as well as Robinson? Maybe.). But while I recognize that's true, I'd personally be cautious in saying they might be the two most remarkable guards in KUs history, again because there are so many variables in defining great guard play and I'm not smart enough to decide which of those variables are most important. For example, if a guard scores 22 points a game with 3 assists and 7 turnovers, is that better or worse than a guard who scores 10 but has 9 assists and 1 turnover. Whoever you decide is better, suppose they are just a little worse defensively. After you've decided which one is better now, consider coachability. Unselfishness. Perimeter defense. Court vision. 3-point shooting, and so on. Throwing in more variables this way makes it difficult for me to compare, and I'd be loathe to try to assign ordinals to Vaughn, Hinrich, and others.

You mention Collins has twice as many turnovers as steals. Just for argument's sake (and I realize this won't reflect reality), let's suppose Collins has 4 turnovers and 2 steals...but drops 15 night-in-night-out. How do you compare that against a player that has 2 turnovers and 4 steals but only gives you 4 PPG? Is the picture any different if you keep the ratios but change the absolute numbers?

Two things are certain however. One, KU has been blessed with some pretty outstanding guards. And two, while I don't know where they rank, all of the current guards are pretty spectactular and they have great chemistry amongst themselves and with the team as a whole.

Craig Lang 7 years, 7 months ago

I don't think KU needs to focus on UCLA at this point. The Jayhawks will not even play the Bruins if the Pittsburgh Panthers get the best of them! Let's focus on beating Southern Illinois. Given the national attention that both the Bruins and Panthers have received this year, I am guessing that Self is already familiar with both teams, and he can spend Friday watching tapes of Thursday's winner once KU has advanced to the Elite Eight.

The fact that the Salukis remind this team of last year's Bradley and this year's A & M has me a little nervous. Stay focused, Jayhawks!

sajayhawker 7 years, 7 months ago

jaybate....what happens...is that Self and the Jayhawks focus on SIU and then assistant coaches sort of scout the other two teams...one assistant will watch some tapes of UCLA, and another will watch tapes of PITT....that way we will definitlely be prepared for the next game....nonetheless Self and the Jayhawks will be focused on SIU....no time to think about Saturday, cuz there might not be a Saturday.....

But i have faith....and i am too excited....i cant even read for my classes....

Rock Chalk Jayhawk....KU

Joe Ross 7 years, 7 months ago

BREAKING NEWS...

Tubby Smith's coaching career at Kentucky ends with a loss to Kansas. The AP is reporting that Coach Smith will be the next coach at the University of Minnesota.

Stupid, Kentucky...Stupid!

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