Wednesday, February 3, 2010

CU coach sees opportunity

Victory tonight would be biggest of Bzdelik’s career

Kansas guard Travis Releford pokes the ball loose from Colorado guard Cory Higgins during the first half Saturday, Jan. 17, 2009 at the Coors Events Center in Boulder, Colorado.

Kansas guard Travis Releford pokes the ball loose from Colorado guard Cory Higgins during the first half Saturday, Jan. 17, 2009 at the Coors Events Center in Boulder, Colorado.


Kansas basketball commands Big 12 standings

Kansas basketball holds a commanding lead in the Big 12 Conference. But will it be enough to hold off Texas?

— Third-year Colorado coach Jeff Bzdelik has the Buffs over the elusive .500 mark (11-10 overall, 2-5 in league) entering today’s 8 p.m. home game against Kansas University. His first two CU teams went 12-20 and 9-22.

“It’s a process as we build this thing,” Bzdelik told the Boulder Daily Camera. “I’ve been very fortunate that the administration and fans have been so patient. But I also know it’s about winning now. I feel good about the future.”

A victory over No. 1-ranked KU tonight would be the biggest of his career and one of the biggest victories in CU history.

“I tell our team every time we take the floor, it’s an opportunity regardless of who we play, especially when we take the floor against a Big 12 opponent,” Bzdelik said on this week’s Big 12 media teleconference. “More often than not, they (league foes) are ranked in the top 25 for example. It’s always been about us and how we play regardless of who the opponent is. Certainly with Kansas being ranked where they are, it is a special opportunity ... you have only so many opportunities in life. Take advantage of it, and have no regrets when you are sitting in that locker room after the game.”

Burks a big-time recruit

Alec Burks, a 6-foot-6 freshman sensation from Grandview, Mo., chose CU over Kansas State.

“I just loved it here (on campus visit),” Burks told the Daily Camera. “They had a football game (against West Virginia) on ESPN, and we won and everybody rushed the field. I wanted to be a part of that experience, so I committed here.”

Burks (left knee sprain) will be a game-time decision for tonight’s game.

The freshman, who has grown two inches since committing to CU, exploded on the national scene after averaging 23 points a game his senior season at Grandview High.

“I improved my overall game last year. I was just more aggressive and got better,” Burks said.

Top prospect hurt

Shannon Sharpe, a 6-1 freshman point guard from Corona, Calif., was injured five minutes into his first practice at CU and is out for the season following microfracture knee surgery. He should return to the court in April.

Stats, facts

The Buffs have lost 33 straight Big 12 road games. They are 1-9 outside of Boulder this season and 10-1 at home. ... KU leads the all-time series, 117-39, including a 22-7 mark in Coors Center. KU has won 13 straight and 40 of the last 41 versus CU dating to 1991. CU’s last win was a 60-59 decision on Jan. 22, 2003 at Coors. ... Since the inception of the Big 12, KU is 26-1 against Colorado — 25-1 in regular-season play and 1-0 in the league championship. ... CU has faced a No. 1-ranked team 12 times, the last meeting a 102-73 loss to KU on March 8, 2002, in Kansas City, Mo. CU is 0-5 against KU when the Jayhawks are No. 1.

KU, USC talk

KU and the University of Southern California are in discussions about a home-and-home series that would start next season in Allen Fieldhouse. KU senor associate athletic director Larry Keating said nothing has been finalized but the schools have discussed the series. The game would not be part of the Big 12/Pac 10 challenge. UCLA visits KU as part of the challenge next season.


FairgroveJayhawk 9 years, 11 months ago

Bzdelik sounds like a coach that hasn't won in quite a while and has no idea how to change it.

yates33333 9 years, 11 months ago

This is the first of two games in the regular season in which I do not wish coach Bzdelik luck and victory. Take notice of the margins of their losses and of their wins against division one teams. They are not the patsies of the past. Play hard, Go Hawks.

Carter Patterson 9 years, 11 months ago

I guess the USC game is to give our athletes a mini-vacation....which is all well and good. Better to be in Southern California in December than Lawrence...unless of course you are inside Allen Field House.

canuckhawk 9 years, 11 months ago

That was my first thought as well, raster. Turns out list three cali kids on the KU radar from the class of 2012: Norvel Pelle (5-stars), Angelo Chol (4-stars), and Josiah Turner (4-stars). There is also a kid from Oregon in that class (Kyle Whiltjer, 4-star). All but Chol are listed as having an offer from KU.

Jaminrawk 9 years, 11 months ago

Maybe Burks should have gone to one of the basketball games. The Coor Event Center is like a funeral home during games. I bet he walked in for his first game there and saw the crowd and immediately thought: "I've made a huge mistake".

Steve Brown 9 years, 11 months ago

Why not use the Big downtown LA arena for USC and the one in Omaha w/ Creighton, Saint Louis w. Memphis/Louisville then Indy for purdue etc. .. my point is the large city arenas for a few games annually gives us couple benefits:

  1. allows national fan base better access to see our games.
  2. gets team ready for march dance which today is almost always in 25,000+ venues.

jaybate 9 years, 11 months ago


When you talk, I listen, so...

What do you see in Bzdelik? Or in any of these Princeton ballers? I went negative on the Princeton cult yesterday, claiming they were producing sub par results, and made my case at treatise length...probably too long to hold anyone's attention. :-)

Well, here I go again. :-)

Perhaps today I can better distill the technical problems with the Princeton offense.

Distillation: the required timing and finesse of the Princeton offense are very vulnerable to disruption in an age of muscle.

(Note: recall how queer I am for the concept of disruption from my disruption statistic of "steals: TOs.")

The Princeton cult does not like to talk about this, but, for the Princeton offense to work, players have to be able to scroll through 6 or 8 sequential episodes of the offense during the 30-45 seconds they often hold the ball. It is not solely an offense of on-ball screens. The ball screens play out in a series of set ups that must scroll out no unlike what must occur in a more traditional and rigidly scripted motion offense.

Hence, players have to be able to get to their spots for the next ball screen episode, the next cut and the next shooting opp on time, else the offense gets out of sync and bogs down into just four or five guys too far from the basket to attack running around trying to reset.

Again, in a nutshell, the problem with the Princeton, in the age of muscle ball, is Princeton offenses can be pushed and shoved and hand checked so far out of their routines and timing that they don't generate any better shots (probably much worse on average I suspect) than hi-lo and pick and roll sets, even after running through the scripted routines for 30-45 seconds.

Another problem with the Princeton, and other more loosely scripted ball screen offenses is the cornerstone play, the ball screen on the right side wing holding the ball in which the wing can go left around the screen, but more often goes baseline right away from the screen toward the basket. The problem is this play basically delivers the wing, if he can shake free, into a confrontation with, say, Cole Aldrich, or Marcus Morris, or else into a 15 foot, two point jump shot, if Cole, or Marcus, decide not to challenge.

jaybate 9 years, 11 months ago

The uncontested 15 foot jump shot is made 50% of the time by a good shooter, but since he is rarely fouled (i.e., if wide open, which is I admit a rarity), three point play opportunities from foul shooting are minimal with it.

Now, compare the 15 foot floater, with taking a trey instead in a conventional offense. If a spot up three-point shot were taken in a conventional offense on a kick out instead by a shooter averaging 40% plus, say Brady, or Xavier, or Sherron (when he is playing the 2), the point payoff would be much greater than that 15 foot floater, over the course of an equal number of FGAs by both approaches in a game.

Of course, the wing in the Princeton could stay out and pop the trey coming off the left hand screen, or just fade right and fire, also, which they do sometimes, especially late in the shot clock. But both these options would be more or less contested three point attempts and so would likely generate a lower trey shooting percentage than a spot up trey shot on a kick out in a more conventional offense, where the defense has to sag to help on the low blocks and Brady can catch the kickout for an essentially uncontested, spot up jumper.

Now, the Princeton also features kick outs by the wing driver for threes back outside, but here is the problem with these. Because the Princeton post man spends most of his time camped high, perimeter defenders rarely have to sag off for help on the low blocks as much, and so they are always nearer these Princeton shooters at the trey stripe that are being kicked out to. In turn, the spot up trey on a kickout in the Princeton is usually more contested than in an offense such as what KU runs.

Further, when the Princeton offense does generate a high percentage shot, anywhere on the floor, in any of its series of options, there is so much fouling allowed against shooters now that the high percentage shot becomes a mid, or low, percentage shot, unless the Princeton offense can shake a player completely beyond the range of being fouled, which again is rare, in the days of muscle ball, because the timing of the offense is so disrupted by pushing and shoving, and because defenders don't have to sag to help inside and so are able to guard the stripe, deny most open spot up shots, and foul many of them without being called.

jaybate 9 years, 11 months ago

These are the reasons why I believe the Princeton offense is now contributing to such generally low winning percentages at rebuilding programs, while reducing talent rich teams, like Georgetown, this year (and recent years), or Arizona State, last year, to fall short of expectations.

(Note: I argue that Georgetown and Arizona State and Calipari's Memphis teams would probably have gone farther running conventional offenses than they did with their versions of the Princeton, or other ball screen offenses.)

Whether you date the Princeton offense to Pete Carril in the 1960s, or to Franklin “Cappy” Cappon in the 1930s, it was designed to be used against other ball control teams (mostly motion offenses trying to generate high percentage shots 15 feet and inwards) in the Ivy league. These were teams that were not at all physical, or particularly physically gifted, in their play, which is to say, the exact opposite of so many teams today, be they pure maul-ballers like K-State, West Virginia, Texas, Maryland, and Michigan State, or be they muscled up Okie Ballers like KU and Marquette and UNLV.

And only Carril has been fairly successful with the real Princeton offense for a long period, though John Thompson Version 2.0 has been doing decently with it for a few years now at Georgetown (though again I would argue he perhaps squandered some of the best big man talent in the country playing the Princeton). And John Thompson 1.0 claims he ran parts of the Princeton in his butcher ball years at Georgetown before his son.

The Princeton offense is in one respect only IMHO particularly suited to today's college game (let's not even talk about how foolish it has been to use it in the pros with 4-5 franchises--sorry Pritch in Portland). It starts with four guys on the trey stripe and tends to create a lot of three point opportunities. This is advantageous, if you are not big and strong enough to operate inside in the age of muscle ball.

jaybate 9 years, 11 months ago

But the steep and deep down side of 4 perimeter players with a high post is structurally poor rebounding position.

I can see why Bill Self always seems annoyed with and condescending towards ball screen offenses generally and the Princeton in particular. They are not IMHO really suited to playing to win in today's game. They don't structurally allow a team to trifectate, or rebound, optimally in today's muscle ball. It is like going into every game with two of three offensive hands tied behind your back (i.e., tied hand one--trifectation, tied hand two--offensive rebounding, untied hand three--mid range shooting), and hoping that if you keep the scoring low enough and the trips few enough, you'll get a conventional team out of its comfort zone enough to be close at the end and pop a couple treys and sneak a win.

In Bill Self's eyes, this approach is probably just not a manly (or strategically sound) way to play the game. The Princeton cult is trading away the chance to play the game systematically to win, in exchange for playing systematically to minimize deficits, i.e., the illusion of being in games, so as to achieve the chance to luck out with a couple threes late.

Self would logically scoff at this approach, because he has coached and won respectably at programs like ORU and Tulsa without great talent and with more conventional schemes. Self knows from his experience that one does not have tuck ones tail between one's legs and systematically play to try to sneak wins at the end from the outset.

So now I want to hear the other side of this argument, because a lot of smart basketball persons appear to see something virtuous in Bzdelik, and the rest of the Princeton ballers, and their offense.

The Princeton offense--leaving aside other ball screening offenses for the moment--tend to yield poor, or underperforming records (excepting the case of Calipari, where he apparently consistently coaches teams stacked with ineligible talent and still can't win rings), yet the Princeton cult seems still seems on the rise, even as Eddie/Bill Ball reaches a very, very advanced of development at KU presently, but wains elsewhere.

jaybate 9 years, 11 months ago

Eddie/Bill ball, which only a year ago seemed on the rise everywhere is suddenly in a sinking tide. Buzz Williams at Marquette now struggles in the Big East. Billie Gillispie got canned at UK in the SEC. Norm Roberts can't get St. John's to the next level in the Big East. Russ Pennell, never more than an interim coach, is gone in Arizona.

Even apostate Okie Baller Tim Floyd (apostate because he switched to the Princeton and to cash based recruiting) is gone from USC in the Pac 10.

Of the first degree of freedom Okie Ballers (those Iba descendants, who played, or coached for men who played and coached for Iba), only Kruger at UNLV, Janks at Illinois State, and Self continue to flourish and prove the advantages of contemporary Okie Ball.

Second degree freedom Okie Ballers, guys who played, or coached, for coaches claiming, or at least evidencing strong influence by Iba (e.g., Wooden and Knight in the past) flourish at Duke (Coach K), Temple (Dunphy) and Cornell (Donahue). They are the eastern strand of Okie Ball, the strand of ball descended from Knight (who borrowed heavily from Iba, while in his youth at Army) to Dan Dougherty (who followed Knight at Army) to Coach K (who followed Dougherty), to Fran Dunphy (who started coaching at Army under Dougherty), to Steve Donahue (who coached at Penn under Dunphy).

Finally, it must be noted that even the reigning grand wizard of the Eddie/Bill Ball version of Okie Ball, Master Bill Self, himself, has experimented a time or two this season with ball screen sets. Is this so he can go into recruits homes and say, "Yeah, we do some ball screen offense, too?" Or is Self starting the same offensive transition that occured to apostate Okie Baller Tim Floyd? If you can't beat'em join'em.

The difference between Self and Floyd, aside from Floyd's preference for cash-based recruiting, is that Self has beat'em conventionally and so really does not need to join'em...unless the Princeton offense really offers some underlying advantage that I have not yet discerned.

Some one explain to poor jaybate the virtues of Princeton offense; i.e., why it may be superior to other contemporary offenses, especially to Eddie/Bill ball, why Bzdelik ought to be thought to being doing a good job for CU, when he's in the cellar his third season, and why this Princeton cult continues to spread in the greatest game ever invented?

David Leathers 9 years, 11 months ago


I have to slightly disagree with you. Our team has gotten much publicity on the national level in recent years, especially this year. I don't know an exact number but I would say out of our last 15 games, 13 have been on ESPN or CBS(Tennessee game). Our next 6 are on either ESPN, ESPN2, or ESPNU.

As far as the 25,000+ venues for the tourny, they rarely fill to capacity until the later rounds. I believe that our schedule we currently have will get us ready for the tourny... Away games at Tennesee, Temple, Kstate, were all hostile environments(with slight exception towards Temple. The crowd was out of it once they realized they were gonna get blown out no matter how loud they were.)

Exposure isn't a problem, and the environments aren't either. Even in a National Championship game setting, with 25,000 seats, KU has access to half of those seats, which would make the opposing team with 12,500. Not quite as bad as Tennessee and KSU.

Studogg 9 years, 11 months ago

jamin- I thought the same thing when I read that comment! What a silly thing to base your entire college choice on.

Marcia Parsons 9 years, 11 months ago

Sorry, Jaybate. I can only see disadvantages. The greatest of these is that if you get behind you have virtually no chance to make up points when you play that slow.

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