Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Feeding Aldrich in post a priority for KU

Kansas center Cole Aldrich screams in jubilation after getting a bucket and a foul Dayton during the first half Sunday March 22, 2009 at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. At right is Kansas forward Mario Little, Dayton center Kurt Huelsman and Dayton forward Chris Wright.

Kansas center Cole Aldrich screams in jubilation after getting a bucket and a foul Dayton during the first half Sunday March 22, 2009 at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. At right is Kansas forward Mario Little, Dayton center Kurt Huelsman and Dayton forward Chris Wright.


Fun-loving, easy-going Cole Aldrich, who often refers to himself as “goofy” in interviews, isn’t happy-go-lucky all the time.

“Try getting around him when he’s hungry,” Cole’s dad, Walter, cracked. “If he ever gets ornery, throw him a burger.”

Or the basketball.

Aldrich, Kansas University’s 6-foot-11, 245-pound junior center, must be fed for things to be right on and off the court.

“Cole definitely needs more touches. Cole told us that he is a good player and he definitely needs more touches,” KU sophomore guard Tyshawn Taylor said of the prodigious pivot, who took just two shots the first half and five the second en route to 13 points in last Tuesday’s exhibition rout of Fort Hays State.

He’ll be prepared to accept additional inside feeds in today’s 7 p.m. exhibition against Pittsburg State in Allen Fieldhouse.

“I don’t think he tells us as much as he should, but he lets us know when he’s not getting enough touches. Like the other day in the game, he was telling me a couple times, ‘Look for me more.’ We started to in the second half,” Taylor said.

Just a freshman, Xavier Henry noticed how much better KU’s offense flows on possessions the first-team preseason All-American touches the ball.

“He opens up everything. When people double team him it leaves people like me open,” Henry said. “When he gets it, he either scores it or he is a real good passer so he kicks it out.”

A year ago, Aldrich averaged 14.9 points a game while attempting 9.5 shots per game. He was 4-for-7 shooting and 5-of-6 free throwing against Fort Hays State.

“We’ve got to get Cole more touches,” KU coach Bill Self said. “When things are going well and other guys are making shots, a lot of times we can forget about the big fella. We don’t need to do that.”

Self likes those possessions in which the ball is close to the goal.

“I look at it as let’s get him touches more than shots ... touches in areas where he can shoot. If they take that away, hopefully he can become a better passer or better assist guy,” Self said of Aldrich, who had 36 assists against 56 turnovers his sophomore season. “It’d be great if he got double-figure (shot) attempts. Last year Sherron averaged about 13-14 shots a game (Collins averaged 14.9 shots and 18.9 points) and Cole probably nine. Sherron’s attempts should be comparable and Cole’s a little bit more (than a year ago).”

Aldrich can understand why the ball didn’t make its way inside much against Fort Hays State.

“I think early we struggled. That’s the first game,” Aldrich said. “That is kind of how it’ll be. We hadn’t been in front of everybody in six, seven months. We’re just getting back in the flow and figuring out what we need to work on, and different stuff like that is always good.”

The big guy is speaking up more this season, but hasn’t been raising his voice too much with teammates.

“I think pretty much everybody has stayed focused,” Aldrich said. “It’s always tough for us because this time of year we are practicing long. We’re going for a few hours. We’re running up and down the court trying to get our feet under us. At times guys can get tired and fatigued. You’ve got to fight through it, realize practice is hard, but it’ll also make the games that much easier.”

The Jayhawks will open the regular season on Friday against Hofstra in another 7 p.m. tipoff in Allen Fieldhouse.


ParisHawk 10 years, 2 months ago

“I don’t think he tells us as much as he should..." Taylor said. Maybe Cole should work on improving in that area.

I hate it when adjustments are made later than they could be. Why wait until half-time? Or why wait until later in the season? Cole needs the touches now, to get better now, not when the season is on the line.

More shot attempts and more assists are what he needs to be an All-American. That means getting touches all the time.

Robert Brock 10 years, 2 months ago

Taylor should figure things out by now and not have to be scolded by his 5-man.

Jeff Schartz 10 years, 2 months ago

If I were playing on a team with a POY candidate, I damn sure would get them the ball! That's a no-brainer.

TenaciousD 10 years, 2 months ago

Off topic, but a good article in the KC Star re: Coach Self over the weekend.

Steve Brown 10 years, 2 months ago

our mission on offense is to take the highest % shot and that usually comes after a few passes, at least one pass to the inside. in some of our losses last year we shot it pretty quick and guarded plus we weren't set for put backs and O rebounds.


jaybate 10 years, 2 months ago

"Last year Sherron averaged about 13-14 shots a game (Collins averaged 14.9 shots and 18.9 points) and Cole probably nine. Sherron’s attempts should be comparable and Cole’s a little bit more (than a year ago).”--Bill Self

Sherron taking comparable shots to last year, plus Cole taking more?

Looks increasingly like the plan is to duplicate last year's down-the-middle model with a get-to-the-rim 3 and more depth.

Coach Self is determined not to reinvent the wheel and not to rely on Xavier too much.

This should drive the anti-Sherronists into a foam-mouthed frenzy!

It also means Brady could be seeing major minutes again this year. Tyshawn feeding the post? Xavier feeding the post? Sure. And house prices have doubled in Riverside, CA the last two years!!

Joel Hood 10 years, 2 months ago

TenaciousD - thanks for the link. Great article from the Star - they can be hard on KU, but given their proximity to KU, KSU, MU & NU, that should be expected. When was the last time the LJW did that kind of indepth piece without adding some snide editorializing (excluding Bedore) ?

KUFan90 10 years, 2 months ago

jaybate - exactly who and where are these anti-Sherronists? Are you talking about KSU and MU fans? Unless I'm missing it I haven't seen any anti-Sherron KU fans...?

Also, I'd be willing to put money on the line right here and now that despite Self's comment Sherron averages less than 14.9 shot attempts/game this year.

jaybate 10 years, 2 months ago


If you visited the board last season, Sherron bashing was a major past time. It went like this:

--bad decision making --forces shots --stupid mistakes --tries to do too much --forces it to the rim too much --takes too many shots --takes too many bad shots --not good enough defensively --is too easily sucked into a one on one duel with other PGs that causes him to forget about running the team

And so on.

I forget some of the names of posters, but they will no doubt resurface soon and you will get your ration of them quickly.

Rock chalk!

Joel Hood 10 years, 2 months ago

KUFan & jaybate,

Sherron did do all the things jaybate listed above, but given the elements of last year's team, it is understandable. Many of those mistakes were due to SC being so tired from playing so much and him learning how to lead a very young team. I really expect most of those patterns will be rectified this year as SC learned from his mistakes and he should have more gas in the tank the tank with all our talent.

Kyle Neuer 10 years, 2 months ago

jaybate- I don't think much of anybody here, except the occasional MU or UK troll, is an "anti-Sherronist". But we are anti-boneheadist and when he makes boneheaded plays, we will, with love, call him on it. Nobody gets a free pass.

jaybate 10 years, 2 months ago


You express the essence.

Step 1: Get it into Cole. Step 2: Take Cole's kick outs and convert them to points.

Brady had no trouble getting the ball into Cole last year.

Brady's problem last year was that he could never reliably convert kickouts to baskets. He had to have wide open looks to get them off and make them. And he was not a credible get-to-the-rim threat, so getting open looks from treyland was infrequent.

Self clearly wants a 3 that can drain the trey, which Brady can do superbly, but he also needs a 3 that can give and go and one that can create off the kick-out, when the clock gets to 15, and the defense has decided to overplay Sherron.

But Self wants more still.

Self wants a reliable 12 ppg man (aka X) that can go inside, or out, AND he wants to be able to go big (Marcus), or small (Brady), when subbing with guys who can drain the open trey, while defending large or small opposing threes.

Self has a feminine side: he wants it all!!!

Now, you are right that tall wings, like X and Marcus, in theory, ought to be able to feed Cole better than short wings, but again, Brady IMHO did quite a good job of feeding the post. It was Sherron, Tyshawn, Tyrel, and Little that were post-feeding challenged, though Tyrel began to get the hang of it late in the season (and that and low TOs and a credible trey were why he began to eat into Tyshawn's PT).

The question is: can (will) X and Marcus feed the post?

What we learned last year is that feeding the post is more than throwing the ball into a tall guy with his hands up. The real key to post feeding is to throw it in when Cole can do something with it; this requires a kind of intuitive insight into the flow of play, angles on the basket, and a post man's strengths and weaknesses, that some players apparently have and some don't. It is not enough to be able to dribble with either hand, have a quick first step, be lightening quick, strong as a prison body, and springy as a super ball. IQ is not remotely crucial either.

jaybate 10 years, 2 months ago

But scoring high in spatial reasoning would help. Having an insightful personality that can empathize with and recognize the capabilities and weaknesses of others would help. Excellent eye hand coordination would help. Superb depth perception would help. The pattern recognition speed of Top Gun fighter pilot would help. Being a good pool player that can anticipate actions and reactions of things in the moment and a play or two ahead would help. Having a largely team oriented personality and being a guy with enough self confidence that he likes to see others do well would help. Being extremely unselfish would help. And being a fastidious, near perfectionist would help, too, and someone willing to practice tirely what seems a simple pass to too many. Nothing worse than a sloppy, ill-timed pass into the post. It is a recipe for a quick TO and a frustrated big man. At the same time, a true perfectionist could not stand the structural risk and error factor that is part and parcel of throwing a pass into crowded areas to a big man with a mind set entirely different from one's own.

Bottom line, Self needs a 3 that can know what Cole can and can't do with a ball at about 10 spots on the floor, has enough motor skill (and above related virtues) to consistently get it to him, and have the flexibility of mind set to switch in a matter of seconds from a person totally dedicated to making someone else score and get the glory, into an offensive artist with a predilection for beasting, when necessary.

Such 3s don't grow on every tree in the forest.

If X has the above ability, as Brandon did before him, it very well could be an undefeated championship season.

But if ifs and buts were candy and nuts...

So: despite the enormous talent and depth on this team, watching this team develop will be just as exciting and just as filled with question marks as with watching any lesser team do the same.

It is a fact of engineering and design that the more pieces you have, the more complex your machine, the more opportunities exist for failure and and more complex the interaction and the diagnosis of problems becomes.

Self is right to keep to his traditional approach.

Elegance, not oversimplification.

Elegance, not complexification.

A simplicity costing not less than everything.

Rock chalk.

Ron Franklin 10 years, 2 months ago

Thanks Jaybate-

Very well said. Those are all the sentiments I felt toward Sherron last year. I don't necessarily know that i makes people anti-Sherronists?? much as just pointing out his weakness. I hope Sherron reads your posts and gets freshened up on what not to do....especially.....especially....... having the depth behind him this year.

Joel Hood 10 years, 2 months ago


I actually hope Sherron has better things to do than read the postings from a bunch of message board gas bags like us. He might get too distracted by the All Stars Marcia Brazil popup advert!


I can't say for sure, but I bet HCBS has freshened him up pretty well on what to do and what not to do. But hey, I don't want to be the message board curmudgeon. There have been some good points made earlier. All good reads - good work folks. RCJH!

JayCeph 10 years, 2 months ago

jaybate, your latest post is probably one of the most cogent and adroitly penned perspectives I have ever read from you. Very nice. As you were defining the qualifications, I was thinking Brandon the whole time.


Derek Conway 10 years, 2 months ago

if you hate Sherron because of basketball related skills/performance, you have no clue what you are talking about. please take your crap elsewhere

Dirk Medema 10 years, 2 months ago

Jaybate - Thought the "anti-Sherronists" was a bit over the top, but appreciate the sentiment none the less. What makes your comment more valid (IMO) than those defending their right/obligation to point out Sherron's weaknesses is the lack of understanding that goes with the others comments.

Example: At the beginning of last year, Coach Self said in an article in the LJW that he expected Sherron's shooting percentage to drop from the previous year, because he expects him to need to force shots at times during the game. Coach Self said the team needed Sherron to force shots, and yet the bloggers/fans complain when Sherron does what Coach says he is suppose to do. Everyone agrees that Coach Self is great, so if something goes wrong, ...

This is not to imply in any way that I think Sherron is perfect. He does make mistakes, and he realizes it as well. Example: In the NC game, he took one of the Rose missed FT's and attacked as is his nature instead of eating clock. Fortunately, it ultimately worked out, but I believe this is the entire reason he was subdued in the post-game interviews. He was thinking more about a mistake he made than all the other great plays he made.

Sherron is definitely the leader of the team, and a great player. For that reason I believe he deserves to be address in a more respectful tone, which doesn't happen. Not sure it makes a person an "anti-Sherronists" or hater, just a bit too ignorant.

Dirk Medema 10 years, 2 months ago

JayCeph - Agree wholeheartedly regarding jaybate's latest post regarding the 3.

Jaybate - I look for your posts for that very reason; insights into how the game is played that don't get expressed elsewhere. Thanks. Though it was long enough that I started skimming parts - I know I have no place to comment on brevity, there is one perspective that I would add regarding the attitude of some players feeding the post.

I think some players could have the opinion/ego that says after a pass into the post and kick-out, "Well, I passed him the ball and he through it back out. He had his chance to make a shot, now it's my turn." Unfortunately, they fail to grasp the subtleties you mentioned, or realize that it could be as much their lack of execution as it is Cole's. Entry passes don't need to have the same success rate as shots, but rather should be repeated over and over again. Four yd running plays (footbal reference) are nearly as exciting as pass plays, but are needed in order to make the pass play more successful.

An article earlier mentioned how there are not as many traditional 5's playing the game any more, so to some extent it's not all the fault of the perimeter player. They don't have the opportunity to watch a great perimeter player play catch with a great post men, throwing the ball back and forth until they unbalance the D to their advantage. This use to happen much more often in the pro game. Maybe the grad assist video dudes can spend a bit of time with ESPN Classic and develop some video footage of the great perimeter players of the past feeding the great post men of the past. As you mention Jaybate, it is more subtle than x's & o's.

Steve Brown 10 years, 2 months ago

as a closet 'anti-Sherronist' due to all the points above, forced shots, driving inside when clogged etc. The facts are he is a winner. Who is best KUPG of all time, I would submit Jo Jo, Jacque & Valentine. Where do we rank Kirk?

if this year evolves as planned with a record of about 36-3 and a trip to Indy, then SC is a lock to make it to our top 3 all time guards. He already has career KU record of something like 91-15 or there abouts. My hats off to him, you may not like his style of play or decision making, yet he wins. He is a winner.

who at KU has brought us a better 4 year record, who has more final fours and at least one trophy? I'm a convert, hail SCollins. Who is your best ever KU PG?

cg1029 10 years, 2 months ago

Other then a injury this is the one area that I have been most concerned with since the addition of X... Last year we had a hard enough time getting the ball in the hands of Cole at the right time and we settled for to many jump shots... Now in addition to Collins we have another shooter who needs touches in X... I am glad to see how X remarked that the O runs better when Cole touches the ball... if SC can average 15 pts and 9 assits instead of 19 and 5 this could be a very special year.

Bill Klein 10 years, 2 months ago

Until CA can show he make more than a dunk shot, the numbers won't increase. As a Center being considered for some top honors, he has to do more than dunks, he needs to make the hook consistantly and the turn around from 10-15. If he can't and he continues to throw instead of shoot, flat shots, KU will need to turn elsewhere to make it to the elite 8.

jaybate 10 years, 2 months ago

I don't want to disappoint, nor did I mean to mislead anyone in my post above about anti-Sherronists, but I am Sherron Collins' greatest admirer. I already consider him the best point guard KU has ever had, despite Darnell Valentine probably having had bigger numbers sooner, and been a slightly better physical specimen.

The debate over best PG was had at length last season and once over the summer I believe. For me the case is closed. Jo Jo was not a PG and didn't win a ring. Kirk was the better pure shooter and defender, but he didn't even play PG early on, was never the first option scorer when he did play PG, and never had to carry a KU team on his back, as Sherron did last season. Finally, Kirk never won a ring, and he got to the finals with a team with superb talent.

Darnell Valentine did have to be first option much of the time and he did start out as a frosh being a dominant starting PG, the latter something Sherron did not get to be, because of injury and because Self had Chalmers and RR ahead of Sherron. But Self has been quoted as saying that Sherron was probably the best player on the team his freshman season and the implication of that quote was that Sherron could easily have started and dominated, but it wasn't the best thing for the team's chemistry.

Darnell Valentine and Sherron Collins are the two best PGs in KU history by a considerable margin, IMHO, and I believe Sherron's ring, and the fact that he has carried a second team deep into the Madness, and likely will lead a third this season, makes it beyond question that Sherron will be, barring further injury, KU's greatest PG in history at this season's end. His individual numbers will be among the best. His team Ws will be among the best. His advances in the Madness will be among the best. And he will have one, and perhaps two rings, which meets, or beats, all the other great KU PGs.

I have never worried about the negatives that the anti-Sherronists worry about. All of Sherron's negatives seem to flow directly from the enormity of the contribution Coach Self has expected of Sherron year in and year out. Sherron could easily cut his TOs to zip, juice his assists, and enhance his defense, if Coach Self gave him the year off as Coach Self's beast of burden, so to speak. If Sherron just had to play quarterback and get back as a safety on defense, virtually all of the negatives cited by the anti-Sherronists would vaporize. But, my god! Asking a player of Sherron's impact abilities to sit back and play quarterback would be like asking Muhammad Ali to be spend his career as a sparring partner.

Sherron is a once in 20-30 year talent at PG. He is just short and wide and so he is fighting through a lot of preconceptions about what a great point guard looks like and what a great point guard does.

Lost_in_the_Phog 10 years, 2 months ago

Kind of off topic, but does anyone know about what time the GA seats in the corner will be filled on friday's game against Hofstra?

FairgroveJayhawk 10 years, 2 months ago

TenaciousD - thanks for the link. Great article.

KU 10 years, 2 months ago

I know this is off topic, but DANG! Doesn't X have a sweet lefty stroke??

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