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Monday, March 2, 2009

Keegan

How did KU get this good, this fast?

The Jayhawk student section displays an enlarged and modified version of artist John Steuart Curry's "Tragic Prelude" painting, which features abolitionist John Brown holding a rifle, and in this case the 2008 National Championship trophy.

The Jayhawk student section displays an enlarged and modified version of artist John Steuart Curry's "Tragic Prelude" painting, which features abolitionist John Brown holding a rifle, and in this case the 2008 National Championship trophy.

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Kansas stomps Missouri with 90-65 victory

Less than a month ago, the Kansas men squandered a 14-point lead and fell in Columbia 62-60.

Audio clips

2009 KU-MU March 1

The secret to the remarkable success of the Kansas University basketball program under coach Bill Self isn’t much of a secret at all. The players improve so much during the course of a season that it stands to reason the team would, too.

But improve this much, this soon? Nobody had any right to expect that. Nobody had any right to expect that a team that didn’t return a starter from a year ago and relies so heavily on three freshmen would be able to blow out the nation’s No. 11-ranked team, Missouri, by a 90-65 score in a game that felt like an even bigger mismatch, to the delight of the loud Allen Fieldhouse crowd.

The freshmen didn’t look like freshmen on this day. Markieff and Marcus Morris, lazy and lazier when the curtain opened on their college careers, now bust it up and down the court, consistently hit the boards hard and defend with passion. Tyshawn Taylor, who used to send out a press release to the opposing defenses to let them know when to set up under the hoop to take the charge, now more often picks his spots wisely and knows how to contort his body in a way to avoid knocking over a defender when finishing.

Sherron Collins, not ready to trust teammates early in the year, scored 25 points, but needed only 14 field-goal attempts to do so. He ran the fast break masterfully.

The biggest symbol of this team in that he has been its most rapidly improving player from Day 1 is the team’s biggest player. The Cole Aldrich who threw down five dunks Sunday bore no resemblance to the high school kid who looked in over his head during the AAU scrimmage at Allen Fieldhouse in the summer before his senior year. The Aldrich who tallied 19 points and 14 rebounds looked nothing like the freshman who watched the aerial act of bigger, stronger, faster men dunking over him during Late Night in the Phog. (Aldrich, by the way, never has lost a game in Allen Fieldhouse).

All that improvement makes Self a worthy pick for National Coach of the Year honors.

The team that ran Missouri into a state of exhaustion resembled the one that lost to UMass in November about as much as the expectations for this team then resemble those now. They’re soaring again.

“I hope so,” Self said, sounding as aggressive as his team had just played. “To me, you have to put yourself under pressure situations because the NCAA Tournament has a different feel to it from a pressure standpoint than a regular-season game. I told our guys that, so this is good that we’re playing games under pressure that we need to win to win the league and that kind of stuff because if you remember back, when we tied for the league and won the tournament, we didn’t crack the Top 25 until right at the very, very end.”

That was during the 2005-2006 season that ended with a first-round loss to Bradley.

“I think it’s better that we’re at least in there, and people talk a little bit so now they feel a different type of pressure,” Self said. “I think pressure’s good, and we need to feel as much as we can, not in a negative way, going into the tournament because those are pressure-packed games.”

The Jayhawks are on the verge of becoming a trendy Final Four pick, pressure that won’t cause them to flinch if they follow their leader, which they have done so well so far.

Comments

Alex Wishart 10 years, 10 months ago

what about Brady and Tyrell? the Brady of this years squad is a lock down defender not a bench warmer. he's transformed into our best defensive player on the wing from a kid that we all hoped would hit a shot at the end of a blowout two years ago. he can get hot and hits threes with ease when he's not making crisp passes to the post. what a change. Reed has turned into a stud shooter and ball handler instead of turning his ankles. last year he couldnt stay healthy long enough for us to see him hit back to back threes or chase wing players through and around picks. if he's open it's in and he has a damn quick release. he may, in fact, live up to some of those Kirk comparisons after all. not to mention these are two kids living the dream of growing up in Kansas and playing for the hometown team. props to T and B!

AsadZ 10 years, 10 months ago

I agree. These two guys dont get rnough credit for what they do on the court. No way KU is 13-1 in the league without their solid contributions.

kansas22 10 years, 10 months ago

How did KU get this good this quick? Simply, Coach Bill Self... Self is on pace to be named the permanent mayor of Lawrence. This is probably his best coaching job of his tenure here at Kansas. He's got such a young team playing so well and if a couple pieces are still here next year, I'd almost say we'd be the favorites for another national title. As Self is "falling in love with this team," I am falling more in love with Coach. Really, anything is possible with the team this year. It's too bad we can't bring AFH with the team to the NCAA tournament, but this team is progressing so well it may not need that home crowd to win them games anymore. I call for a statue of Coach Self!!! Okay, okay, maybe just a little too early for that but he is solidifying himself as one of the best coaches in the game.

eastcoasthawk 10 years, 10 months ago

This is the type of season that endears you to the coach and players. Lowered expectations allows some fans to really be able to enjoy the ride. Credit to the coaching staff and the players for coming together so beautifully. Looking forward to seeing the finish.

63Jayhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

Bill Self is a great coach. Those of us who follow the team have seen the progression and expected the team to be very good by the end of the year.

Many of the media members around the league and country just haven't gotten it. I live in West Texas. Before the Iowa State and Nebraska games had been played, I was listening to Lubbock radio "sports personalities" discussing Big 12 basketball. They totally disrespected the Jayhawks. They talked about KU losing to Butler and Bradley and said that when we made it past the first round, we "happened" to make it to the national championship. They raved about Doc Sadler and said that Nebraska was capable of beating the Jayhawks and might well do so. I listened and thought, "you idiots claim to know basketball?". I will be in attendance at the KU-Texas Tech game. I wonder what excuses the local "sport personalities and basketball experts" will have for that loss.

Lone_salina_kufan 10 years, 10 months ago

I told my friends when Roy left, "If Self stays for 15 years I guarantee you he will win multiple championships." People who think Self didn't prove himself until last year kinda tick me off. He was the same coach 3 years ago. Most of us were still too busy pissin and moanin about Ol Roy (which is a dog food brand by the way) leaving. Self was better when he got here and still is. I think Self doesn't get enough credit for the foundations he laid early in the process, namely that playing at Kansas WILL mean you WILL play defense.

Chris Shaw 10 years, 10 months ago

I absolutely love the photograph in this article. That is awesome! My favorite plays of the entire game we're the aggressive plays. You could see a little tension on Self's face, but I don't think he minded the missed dunks from Aldrich, Taylor, and Morningstar. I think it definitely sent a message to Missouri even though KU didn't capitalize on those 3 possessions. I'm not an advocate of missing dunks, but at least in the two secenarios (Taylor and Morningstar) I wasn't disappointed at all with their agressiveness to attack the rim. There were defenders in the way so the fact that they tried to "flush it" in their eye made me proud. Good job fellas. Great game.

johnballa 10 years, 10 months ago

Don't just thank Coach Self. Danny Manning has turned Aldrich into a freak of nature.

AverageCitizen 10 years, 10 months ago

drgnslayr- I think it's too late to keep KU a secret. You say that we should not pat them on the back or over hype them but Self is stating a different philosophy:

“I think it’s better that we’re at least in there, and people talk a little bit so now they feel a different type of pressure,” Self said. “I think pressure’s good, and we need to feel as much as we can, not in a negative way, going into the tournament because those are pressure-packed games.”

If the team had been praised all year it might have gotten into their heads but I think Self knows what he is doing in trying to toughen them mentally now by more pressure. Bill is a master at getting his teams's heads right.

Billy Donovan at Florida experience what you are talking about his first season after his second NC but Bill is not. Donovan didn't make the dance and stated that his new players just felt like they could just walk into the locker room and win. He apparrently tried to get it into their heads what it took to be champions but to no avail. Florida may not even make the tournament this year so it points to what a great job Bill is doing. Man, did we luck out getting such a unbelievable coach or what?

jaybate 10 years, 10 months ago

KU got where it is now, because:

--Self can coach. --The players have talent. --The players work their butts off. --The players have gone through a long crucible of learning how to play D1 grade ball. --Each player has had a period of really stinking up the floor, which is a great learning experience, if you don't get disappeared for the rest of the season. --Self, as usual, has been a magician at hiding, or minimizing, weaknesses, until they could develop into strengths. --Bill's mastery of Eddie Ball: the opposing coaches still look like 8th grade science teachers who have just had a discussion with Dr. Richard Feynman and can't figure out how he reduces complexity to a deceptively simple and robust solution. They can't figure out how he uses what they do against them, if not the first meeting then the second one. Always remember the look on Roy Williams face ten minutes into the second half of the NCAA semis last year, for whether the spread is 25 points, or whatever, that is the look of an opposing coach baffled by Eddie Ball Version Bill.1.

Roy witnessed up close what Self had had his players do, but he had no freaking idea how they had done it. Was it just geeking them up? No, Roy had geeked his players up too. How had KU neutralized all of UNC's strengths to defeat them. How had KU taken everything UNC had given them that UNC thought did not matter and how had KU taken those givens and beaten UNC senseless with them?

jaybate 10 years, 10 months ago

Very few of the coaches really get Eddie Ball even when they study it, and even fewer understand how to counter it. You have to have gone to study under the master to have grokked it. You have to have spent some time on the razor's edge in the Dali Lama of Eddie Ball, or Eddie Ball Version Bill.1. You have to have been granted admission by one of the Okie Baller Sherpas. You don't get there by yourself. You have to have inner vision and the wisdom to recognize the shaman's (Iba) disciple (Eddie), who became his own dancing wu li master. You have to have genius in yourself, or at least a kind of genius, and a deep need to achieve basketball enlightenment. You have to have gone first to a false master--Larry Brown--before you can recognize a true master. You have to recognize in your lineage that your legacy calls you away from LB and Carolina ball to something waaaaaaaaay deeper in your roots. You have to remember the times you met Coach Iba personally as a player playing for one of Iba's disciples--Paul Hansen. You have to return home from the basketball mountain top of Mt. Oread you scaled once as a graduate assistant only to gain knowledge, but not true awareness. It was there to be gained at Mount Oread, the fountain of the game, but you were not yet ready for full admittance to it. You had to come home once to the remote Nepal of college basketball--the remote monastery in Stillwater--a place only the truely devout in basketball even have awareness of as being a place of any significance at all in college basketball. You have to return there understanding that the guy who is coaching there is not even a mentor, not even a master. You have to understand that that is part of the test; that somehow, someway, doing what seems exactly the opposite of what one ought to do--leaving KU for OSU--will eventually be the right move. You have to be spiritually connected on a deep level to the kharma and dharma of basketball, so that when all appears lost in your assistant coaching career, you are there at the exact moment when the improbable Dali Lama, a Bucklin Kansas kid with a monkey on his back, one who walked a similar path as you will one day walk, but hopefully without the monkey, returns to Stillwater.

jaybate 10 years, 10 months ago

There, Eddie Sutton, trying to escape his 86 proof demons in Lexington, comes to his alma mater, the remote monastery Okie State, the recent coaching dead end in the former Indian Territory developed into a state chiefly for oil by the Mellon Family. You have to be that kind of person to gain the insight to become a wu li master of Eddie Ball. And then you have to take in on the road to the most unlikely places. And you have to win everywhere you go and exceed your talent everywhere you go. And then when you have it really good, when you have all of Chicago to recruit from, you have to take the spiritual leap of faith into the seeming abyss of following a truly great coach--Roy Williams--at the father of all basketball programs. You have to do this, because you are not just destined to be a basketball coach. You have to do this, because you are on a spiritual journey, a quest to get to the very center of the yin and yang of the game. You have to connect yourself not merely to the monastery in the wilds of Oklahoma, but you have to connect yourself to the great basketball cathedral on the plains. You have to combine the two visions of the plains about how to play college basketball. You don't know why or how you will do this exactly. You just know that it is your destiny. You know:

"The sharp edge of a razor is difficult to pass over; thus the wise say the path to Salvation is hard." —Katha-Upanishad.

You have to be this kind of coach with this kind of trail of experience to gain the insight to be a wu li master of Eddie Ball. You have to be this kind of person to blend the Iba Tradition, as channelled through Eddie Ball, with the Phog Allen tradition, that you are taking on simply by becoming the coach of the greatest basketball program in the country. You have to know on some barely understandable level that it is your destiny to make it into Kansas Basketball Version Bill.1.

jaybate 10 years, 10 months ago

Something great has happened to Kansas basketball and to Bill Self. And it is not just the astounding win over MU. The fusion of the two traditions seems almost complete. And what is emerging from it is almost alchemical in its transformation into something new and yet simultaneously deeply connected to the legacy. It doesn't win every time. It isn't the only way to be great. Like other approaches, it still requires finding the right combination of component parts (recruiting the right players) to be put in motion most elegantly. It requires a scheme: y axis, x axis, front court, back court, whatever. But it is the unique kind of strategic judo that a lot of folks just don't have the mind for that distinguishes it. 70 point take what they give us fused with Kansas basketball. It is the systematic refusal to dictate anything strategically but m2m defense that makes Eddie Ball so infuriatingly difficult to beat. It is the systematic taking of what is given and then of beating the daylights out of another team with that given that makes it so inscrutable to other coaches...even to a lot of KU fans.

This is a different kind of basketball we are watching. I know a lot of persons still doubt this. It is not different at the level of execution, or at the level of offensive sets, or of fundamentals. But it is profoundly different at the level of how Bill Self decides to attack an opponent.

What Kansas attacks in an opponent and how they choose to attack it and with whom comes from a different philosphy of how to attack.

Ask Mike Anderson. He looked just like Roy Williams did. Mike has no idea how Bill and his boys did what they did. All he can think of is that MU didn't shoot very well. I've got news for you, Mike. Even if MU had shot well, KU would still have beaten MU by 15 points. Trust me, you learned at the feet of an able man, at times even an exceptional one in Nolan Richardson. And Mike, you are a darned good coach. But Eddie was a special case. Eddie was the aw shucks Wu Li master--the guy who played the Glass Bead Game on a higher level than most everyone else. And Bill Self is the new Magister Ludi. And KU is luckier than heck to have him for a while.

justanotherfan 10 years, 10 months ago

Why is KU so good so fast? Three simple reasons.

  1. Two legitimate NBA players on the roster. Yes, we had five guys drafted off of last years team, which left a HUGE hole in the roster, just like what happened with Florida. However, we retained two NBA quality players on the roster, while Florida only had one. Look at what happens when Collins or Aldrich is at the top of their game, or when BOTH on at their peak. It's scary what NBA quality talent does for a team. We have two guys that have that. That has covered up a multitude of other things for this squad.

  2. Great coaching. Self has gotten the newcomers and veterans to all buy into the system and work hard. He has them defending at a high level. He has them playing for each other. He has gotten everyone to understand that everything runs through Cole and Sherron. Almost every good thing that happens for this team happens as a result of those two, and while that speaks first to their talent, it also speaks volumes about coaching that everyone allows Cole and Sherron to do their thing and they play off that.

  3. Talented supporting cast. They aren't Robinson, Kaun, Jackson, Stewart, et. al., but they do their jobs. Brady and Tyrel particularly stay within their game. Tyshawn is starting to really learn his game and work within himself. The Morris twins are developing, but have become MUCH more consistent over the last month. That makes this team really, really tough.

Layne Pierce 10 years, 10 months ago

We should also give credit to Coach Self's development of his bench. Releford has improved greatly. Mario Little gives us a dimension that we need. It is no accident that since he healed up the team has really turned it around.

Also, as much as I like Eddie. Bill also studied with another Guru of Defense, Larry Brown. He has been schooled by masters.

I always liked the toughness of his teams, even when we were playing them. I was so happy when Bill came, I knew the potential to be even more consistently good than with Roy was there.

jaybate 10 years, 10 months ago

drgnslayr,

If the KU team is significantly triggered to play by Keegan editorials, then there is no doubt that you are correct. The news of KU's goodness is being trumpeted too quickly. But of course the players do not set their level of play according to Keegan's editorials.

Also, if the national news media gave even a whit about what LJW writers had to say, it would again trigger the national news media to look at KU fairly immediately, quit underreporting them, and then this would bring a groundswell of attention to a young team that would not be ready for it. But the national media pays as much attention to the LJW, as say, Ben Bernanke pays to the President of the Bank of Tonganoxie.

But I understand your concern. It is a strategic advantage to sneak up on an opponent.

The problem here is that KU players have enjoyed payback, that had one of those once a season shooting nights, they've got a record to be proud of now, and because they are young, they are going to have a big letdown and might well be upset by Texas Tech. I would almost bet that if KU goes out and shoots as poorly as MU did against KU when KU plays TTech, as KU is very apt to do after serveral decent shooting game and a spectacular one, well, KU's young players are ripe for the plucking. But...

Two things may save KU from this vs. TTech. First, it is hard to overestimate just how severely abused this KU team has been by opponents and by the media. Michigan State literally laughed at KU's team earlier in the season. Laughed at them! They held KU is such low regard that they Rizzo even had them quit roughing up KU the last 15 minutes of the game. I've never seen Rizzo do that before and I watched him closely for about four years during one unfortunate stretch of my life. Jordan Miller and Craig Brackins just humiliated Aldrich. They treated him like a 98 pound weakling at the beach. They kicked sand in his face. Nebraska, just a bunch of little street punks, actually beat KU up. They broke Coles nose. And then they kicked KU when KU was down. The Twins have been humiliated so many times it is not even funny. These guys are not going to forget the abuse that other teams heaped on them. They know just how lightly they were regarded for awhile. They know how much it hurts when teams decide you are just a bunch of sissies that can be kicked around like dolls.

And bottom line: each KU player knows MU had one of those horrible shooting games that sink any team.

Good news: they also know that KU played well enough to beat MU by 10-15, even if MU had shot well.

jaybate 10 years, 10 months ago

This will all chasten them as they play TTech. It is no fun getting beaten up and humiliated. You remember it. Long, long after it happens.

Next, they have been almost utterly ignored by the national sports media. And when they have been reported on it has always been with a belittling slant. This too is the kind of thing that players remember. They don't remember one article for there are always other good ones to offset the bad ones. But they remember that they worked their butts off and gave the best they could every game, and they remember that whenever they did play well they were ignored or underreported. It is the pattern of neglect that gets under players skins.

Sherron and Cole were apart of last year's team that got more (though hardly enough) respect in the national media. They know just what a crappy deal they are getting from the national media. They know you have to earn recognition in national media, but they also know how many times their victories are not even noted in the headlines on ESPN's website, and that whenever they do poorly, they make the headlines. This experience is searing to a young persons psyche and burned in for a long time into their memories. Again, it is a pattern of neglect that finally sticks in the craw of a team...and I believe in the craw of a coach, like Self.

He and they both have deserved better than they have gotten. They have decided to take what they were not given. Cole and Sherron know how far the path leads. The other players have begun to trust Sherron's wisdom about how tough the game has to be played. Cole now knows that being a dominant big man is carte blanch for teams to try to hurt you. The last two games he has begun to play with a fierceness that indicates he gets it; that he better come out strong and hard whether he is the better guy or not, because if he doesn't, it doesn't matter whom he comes up against, they and their teammates are going to try to hurt him if he doesn't.

Bad shooting will cause KU's next loss, whenever it comes.

But I suspect it will take more success than just one game to make this team forget they were once viewed and treated as 98 pound weaklings and pretenders.

ku_foaf 10 years, 10 months ago

I have to jump on the Brady and Tyrell bandwagon. Both of these guys are doing great.

I can't say enough good things about Brady. He usually makes very good decisions and is so aware of what is going on around him. He does have the ability to blow around someone very fast. I don't know if he has mentioned interest, but I see "coach" written all over him, much like Mark Turgeon when he played at KU. He has done nothing but improve all season.

I, like many, probably thought these two guys would play at first, then get beat out later. It doesn't seem like Tyrell gets as much playing time lately, but you certainly do not worry when he is in the game.

I still hope Cole gets to play against Blake. Blake is a quite a force, but he has likely never faced a big man that is the great defender Cole is! He will be an All American before he leaves KU.

Hawkish4bigM 10 years, 10 months ago

Love the John Brown modified poster by the students. Great win over the Slavers of Misery. Great Coaching, great playing, great fan support. We could very well win it all this year if everyone can play loose at tourney time. Yesterday's game reminded me of the rout of NC in the tourney last year. Great Win!

PAHAWK1 10 years, 10 months ago

Hey Jaybate, is your last name Sutton by any chance?

Did any of Sutton's teams held 67 consecutive opponents below 50% FG.

Let's face it, we are seeing Bill Self ball at KU. It is not Eddie ball or Larry Brown ball.

JayViking 10 years, 10 months ago

Jaybate, the bit about Sutton was a good read. ^_^

jaybate 10 years, 10 months ago

PAHAWK1,

Let's face it: we are not.

Bill Self coaches a brand of ball directly descended from Eddie Sutton and he would be the first to admit it.

And if you don't already see what a monumental step Eddie Sutton's contribution to the evolution of the Iba game was, well, then as an old geometry teacher used to say to me of certain theorems and proofs, I just don't think I can show it to you. :-)

I frankly don't see why it bothers people that Self coaches a brand of ball descended from Eddie Sutton. It didn't bother people that for the first 10 years of Roy's career that he coached a brand of ball virtually indistinguishable from Dean's. Eddie Sutton won 800 games at places where almost no other coaches could have won 800 games. Eddie was a giant. He was from Bucklin, Kansas. What is to be ashamed of? Bill Self appears on track to take Eddie Ball to another level the way Eddie took Iba's ball to another level. Bill Self has a chance to be the greatest coach of his generation. Because he lacks a monkey on his back, he is almost certain to eclipse Eddie in what he can do. He has already won a ring that the bottle stole from Eddie at UK. I doubt Bill Self needs to win 800, or 900, or 1000 games to be a happy man, though he probably could at KU. He is already doing things in basketball coaching that even his best peers cannot do. The question Bill has to answer is: can you take Eddie Ball (Bill Ball if that makes you happy) to the L and is he the one to do it? I hope he stays a long time, but someone has to take Eddie Ball to the L. Its ready.

Lance Hobson 10 years, 10 months ago

I read Self's book, it didn't seem like he and Sutton had a ton of interaction at OSU. He coached under him for a short time, but that was it. If anyone is a true Self mentor it is Larry Brown.

I love this team and want to jump on this bandwagon, but they are still young and prone to inconsistency. I just don't want to take this TT game for granted. Hopefully Sherron will have the guys fired up for a big effort so we can clinch a tie for the title.

Eliott Reeder 10 years, 10 months ago

Jaybate is a Dancing Wu-Li Master of the Glass Bead Game on the hardwood. A Stranger in a Strange Land on the Razor's Edge of KUSports.com...

farnamjayhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

Jaybate, do you have a job???? Someone who puts that much time and effort should be getting a paycheck for it.

And as far as the Sutton comparisons go, every coach is following in someone's footsteps and every great coach has their mentors. Every guitar player has the same chords at their disposal but not everybody can be Hendrix or Clapton. You still have to put the whole thing together and thank goodness we have a virtuoso running our team.

BigGuyDon 10 years, 10 months ago

I don't recall Sutton being anything close to the offensive tactician that Self is. I don't remember OSU ever running even a semblance of a structured motion offense. The defensive principles perhaps are Sutton/Iba. But I think Self gets credit for combining "fight against every basket" on the defensive end with surgical execution on the offensive end. It's what you get when you combine the best of Brown and Sutton.

PAHAWK1 10 years, 10 months ago

Jaybate, my point was that it is time to detach HCBS from the "Eddie Ball" label. You have been writing about it for the last few months.

It was okay to call it at his first or second job. He has rewritten the playbook. Get over it. Like the other posters said, it is his gameplan now. It is time to turn the page and call it Self Ball.

jaybate 10 years, 10 months ago

PAHAWK1,

He hasn't re-written the playbook. Get under it. :-)

But if it helps you to think this way for a little while while you process, its okay with me. :-)

The game plan is part of a legacy. He is now carrying it another step forward. It cannot be separated from the legacy. Declaring it is his now does not make it his now. It changes nothing at all of the facts that there is a continuity of legacy here.

Deal with it, as you might say. :-)

mandomax 10 years, 10 months ago

Bill Self has turned water into wine, and will continue to do so for many years. As for me, I'll keep drinking and cheering.

HAWKTOPIA 10 years, 10 months ago

I have to admit i love coach self, but his best attribute to success has not been using the ethos of ku basketball history to recruit top notch talent but his focus on the game's fundamentals. one of the biggest "subtle" changes has been the team's expectations, and ability, in converting free throws. (thanks to sherron and cole.) The other fundamental change has been eliminating stupid fouls and possessing greater bench depth to combat the fouls. These are simple changes, but also the most important. My hat is off to Bill. We can all count the games we lost on the line missing front ends and just plain missing FT shots.

Beyond this change it is my opinion that the next biggest (no pun intended) change has been the coaching of danny manning of the big men. quick offer danny a 10 year contract he can't refuse, because when he leaves we will be minus one of the smartest centers to ever play, and some other school will get a winner.

enough said, meet you in hawktopia!

jaybate 10 years, 10 months ago

HAWKTOPIA,

Gotta copy that on Danny. He has had to work with green wood this season going through major adversity this season. And they have survived and are beginning to prevail.

classicrock71 10 years, 10 months ago

I think you can give Coach a bunch of average players and by the end of the year He and Staff would have them ready for the Tourney!!!! Thats a fact!!

Kit Duncan 10 years, 10 months ago

Great comments all!

jaybate, that was one of the most thought provoking pieces you've written, and for the most part I believe, correct. You buried the part where you consider Bill to be the better recruiter, which is why I feel he has taken Eddie Ball to a higher level. At OSU Eddie just couldn't get the talent Bill is able to pull in at KU. Don't know about UK, but I would say the talent was there, the coaching wasn't.

Having watched Big Eight/Big Twelve basketball since the Ted Owens era, it seems to me the conference has changed very little in the style of basketball played within. Roy tried to change that with his up and down style and Travis Ford is trying to do some changing with his up-tempo/shoot-the-three style. Mostly Big Twelve coaches play a similar ball control, run when you can, defend IF you can, shoot the three often and hope the other team makes fewer shots than you, style of play. KU stands out as the best defensive team and one of the better offensive teams in the league, combining the two to produce the best team in the conference.

In my days at KU I felt the two best conference coaches were Ted Owens and Jack Hartman of KSU. Ted could recruit and Jack could coach the daylights of the talent he got. Put the two coaches together and you have Bill Self, a coach who can not only recruit but who recruits not necessarily the best players, but the quality of kids to match his style of coaching. Eddie had to coach what he could get, and that was not always what he needed. Bill's winning percentage, particularly at KU, is reflected in his ability to coach the exceptional talent he recruits.

Bill Self for National Coach of the Year!

jaybate 10 years, 10 months ago

NavyHawk,

We must be age similar. My recollections of Ted and Jack equate with yours. Jack was an Iba baller who evolved his own strain, which was beautiful, but he also was talent limited at KSU. Ted was a Bruce Drake disciple from OU. Ted's game was fundamentally rooted in Drake's philosophy plus what he added technically from Harp and Allen. People forget now that Ted played fast a few seasons. Roger Morningstar, Dale Greenlee, et al really ran the floor, when I was there.

Here is the critical Iba family tree that I have discovered so far.

--Iba (like Phog Allen, born and raised in Missouri)

--Doyle Parrott (key transitional figure with brief head coaching career at OCU sandwiched between long stints as Iba assistant; Parrott is crucial because he apparently was the first I have found who believed Iba ball could be played faster than Iba played it; tested it at OCU briefly then returned to OSU; Parrot was also a legendary high school basketball player from state of Oklahoma and one of Iba's stars, also)

--Don Haskins, Jack Hartman, Eddie Sutton, Paul Hansen (the first three were probably the best and most influential group of assistants ever produced by a single coach in the post 1950s era; add in Knight and Wooden claiming major but indirect influence by Iba and this is the generation of generations; there is room for argument whether it was Haskins or Eddie who actually developed what I call the Eddie Ball we see today; I say it was Eddie and if you watched Haskin's early teams and Eddie's early teams at Creighton and Arkansas I believe you would agree with me that Haskins was a half step from Iba's offensive philosophy to Eddie but not a whole step; you would say Eddie's '70 point take what they give us' was much closer to the game we see played today than even the remarkable Haskins style; Paul Hansen: Hansen was the least successful of these men by far in career terms, but Hansen coached Self and so I have included Hansen for historical insight and I believe that the more that could be learned of Paul Hansen the more one would ultimately discover the origins of Bill Self's game; Hansen was held in considerable esteem by Iba and so there must be a lot more there than meets the eye.)

jaybate 10 years, 10 months ago

--Note: Haskins: ring in '64, first all African American team to win ring, crucial influence on Bobby Knight, 719 wins, combined half and full court running game under Iba philosophy; Hartman: 589 wins, the guard post-up at the top of the key offense initiation that ought to be revived by Self, incomparable Walt Frazier, career probably cut short by heart disease by ten years; Eddie: the man who first expanded take what they give us philosophy to all aspects of the game and showed willingness to play half or full court game based on what was given; the Moncrief/Delph/Brewer Arkansas team that was the prototype for all the Eddie Ball to follow, 804 wins, 16 conference or conference tournament championships, two final fours at schools that could not attract first class talent, first coach to take four schools to the Madness, he likely would have won several rings had he not gotten bit by the bottle at UK.)

--Bill Self, Tim Floyd, Lon Kruger (maybe capable of eclipsing the previous triumvirate of Haskins/Jack/Eddie; only Self has landed at true Blue Chip program, while the restless Kruger and Floyd have jumped too much; Self plays the closest to Eddie Ball; Floyd plays the closest to Haskins; Kruger plays the closest to Hartman; but all three have converged very closely to what Eddie developed first at Central Idaho Juco, then Creighton, and then crystallized at Arkansas with Moncrief/Delph/Brewer into the game of Eddie Ball we witness today).

--Billy Gillispie, Norm Roberts, Russ Pennell (UK and St. Johns and interim at Arizona--each one struggling with black sheep--but x and o gifted--Pennell likely to disappear, Gillispie likely to prevail, and Roberts barely hanging on; this generation presently seems the weakest, but this could change substantially as Self continues to spin off coaches and if Gillispie adds to Buzz Williams with some from the UK factory)

Buzz Willams, Scott Sutton (Buzz taking Okie Ball to Marquette and having some initial success in the wake of Crean jumping ship, Scott laboring in the shadows at ORU, when he ought to be at a major already).

jaybate 10 years, 10 months ago

The clear sign is that this legacy seems to have hit a group zenith in Eddie's generation and that it seems to have hit an individual zenith in Bill Self in the following generation, though again Self, Floyd and Kruger as a group have a chance to leave a big imprint as well. It is also apparent that while there are a lot of Okie Ballers out there coaching today, Self seems to have advanced Eddie Ball to a higher level and seems closer to transforming it into a new operating system that can be said to be truly distinguishable from Eddie Ball.

Bill Self seems increasingly to be a defensive savant, where as Eddie Sutton was merely very good at defense.

Bill Self seems increasingly to be able to take the "70 point take what they give us" philosophy into so many dimensions of the game both rationally and simultaneously that Bill Ball Version 2.0 is emerging. I call it this, because Bill Ball Version 1.0 was so clearly a close copy of Eddie Ball.

We saw something similar occur with Roy Williiams. He played Dean Ball pure and simple for ten years until he was absolutely accomplished at it and until the officiating let the game get so rough that he had to evolve the Dean game, or get marginalized. He did so by moving Dean Ball philosophically and systematically in the direction of the earlier Paul Westhead and Abe Lemons experiments in turning basketball into a high scoring game in which a rising number of possessions favored the team that could get the most high percentage shots off primary and secondary breaks. Defense came to be less and less about stops and more and more about tricking opponents into shooting quickly from 15' and out and releasing quickly on the break. Roy won a lot of games this way, ran around the thug ballers, and finally won a ring playing this way. But the thug ball game and Ben Howland's hack'n'slap have overwhelmed the game with a vengeance these days; so much so that you can't really outrun teams who can shove you into the cheap seats and hack you on all your easy shots without being called for fouls. And then cometh Bill Self and the latest ascent of Okie Ball/EddieBall/Bill Ball.

We caught Bill in mid career. He was hard and seasoned wood when he reached AFH. He had been playing it Eddie's way for a long time. And those Illinois teams look almost indistinguishable from Eddie's great Arkansas team from way back...if it could have fouled at will the way todays teams can.

But Eddie Ball will play you (thug or not) however you want to play; that is one of the distinguishing characteristics of it. It doesn't dictate anything but m2m defense and generating transition out of that.

jaybate 10 years, 10 months ago

Eddie had already proven at OSU that you could play Eddie Ball as muscularly as anyone wanted to play and retain the advantage of the game. Bill was proving it at Illinois too.

So: Bill Self came to KU, retained the muscle, added even more recruits who could run the floor, thus opening up Bill's version of Eddie Ball to more running when that was the way the opponent wanted to play. And when you are muscling them mercilessly and you've got the bigs, they often like to shoot threes and run. And when they ran, Bill ran.

But Self really turned the corner into something new when he integrated the hack'n'slap into Eddie Ball. When KU's defense-first philosophy had not only muscle but hack'n'slap too, it produced a scheme of defense that has just proven almost impossible to shoot well against...ever. This is KU's great edge and it holds even against thug ballers, when KU has enough muscle and experience to push back, but not when not (to wit, MSU this year).

So: we are actually witnessing Bill Self skip the first ten years of Roy doing Dean. We are watching the last five years of Roy evovling beyond Dean. Bill Self is evolving beyond Eddie right before our eyes last season and this. He was even trying his first couple of years, but the guy had too many other things to think about to devote his full and dazzling basketball IQ to evolving the way he thought the game could be played. He was dealing in a turbulent transition and he rationally decided to stick mostly with what he already had.

jaybate 10 years, 10 months ago

But now the zebras have swallowed their whistles again. The game is changing almost by the minute into an increasingly violent spectacle. But also now the transition to KU is over for Self and now Self has contractual security and now the Basketball Animal in him is taking over. Now we are watching what 15-20 years of climbing the ranks and learning and absorbing every thing he could from one of the richest coaching legacies in the game post 1950 and from all the other possible encounters he could achieve (Larry Brown early,Larry Brown much later and so on) is about to let him do with the Eddie Ball he started with. Now we are watching what appears to be the supernova-ing of Bill Self into the next great influence on the Kansas game, probably on the college game generally, and who knows with this guy, maybe the pros, too. Again, the philosophy of playing anyway the opponent want, while taking what ever they give you and using it on them has never been tried at the pro level that I know of. Kruger and Floyd tried their variations of Okie/Eddie ball in the NBA and failed miserably. But as Tex Winter proved, Winter could fail with the triangle himself, but then come back much later and succeed through Phil Jackson and the talent Jackson could connect with.

Eddie Ball, or what now seems increasingly can be Bill Ball, eventually has to be given a try at the NBA level. Bill Self has shown that this philosophy is a remarkable way to play the game, regardless of what sets you run, and regardless of what access your team plays on.

So: Navyhawk, this is a lot of information and a lot of talk about legacy systems in basketball and the potential future path of the game. And much of it is a repeat of things I have said before, but I keep trying to refine it, clarify it, add to it, and pass it along.

Kit Duncan 10 years, 10 months ago

Outstanding analysis, jaybate!

I am not as familiar with the coaching connections. I do agree that we are seeing a phenomenal evolution in the way Bill Self is coaching this wonderfully exciting group of kids. Truly he is taking basketball to a new level.

I also agree Bill was constrained early on at KU during the transition from Roy Ball. Until he won the NC last year there was still a chance Lew could have been coerced by influential donors to dump Self for post-season failures. Foolish maybe, but not outlandish. With a Championship, Bill's long term survival at KU is assured, unless he falls on his petard (not likely).

I'm not so sure Bill Ball would translate to the pros. First, the shot clock forces a more up tempo game. Low scoring pro games are more the result of cold shooting than great defense. Yes, they do play defense in the NBA, but I'm not so sure Bill's style would win consistently. Second, egos are far different in the pros. The closest Bill has been to coaching pro type egos was last year with DA and B Rush. Still nothing like the real stars out there. Last, unless Bill has a desire to coach in the NBA, I really don't see him chasing that star. (He says with fingers crossed behind his back).

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