Monday, January 25, 2010


Kansas’ key: ‘Just play’


Protecting the basketball against Missouri is not unlike trying to hit a baseball against former big league pitcher Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez. They come at you from so many different angles that if you let them, they’ll tie your brain in knots.

Hitters never knew whether El Duque would come from over the top, sidearm, three-quarters.

He messed up the hitters’ timing with a hard curve, a slow one and a slower one, then came inside hard.

Mike Anderson’s Missouri team applies so many different types of pressure the idea is to speed up the minds and bodies of the opponents, trick them into making mistakes that mushroom.

In basketball, the offense acts and the defense reacts, but when Mizzou is at its best, it turns the tables, putting opposing offenses in reaction mode.

The trapping Missouri does can look random, but according to the coach who faces them tonight, it’s not random to the Tigers.

“There is definitely a method behind the madness, but it’s hard for other teams to pick that up,” Kansas University coach Bill Self said. “... In a single possession, they may switch a ball screen, trap a ball screen, hedge a ball screen. They may guard it totally different three times on three ball screens that possession, so as a team, you go in saying we are going to trap ball screens this way. You never know if that’s the case. They have done a great job creating confusion with opponents.”

The best approach? Against El Duque, it was see the ball, hit the ball. Don’t let him put you in a state of mind where he has gotten you out before he’s gone into his windup. Same thing here.

“It’s best not to think,” Self said of facing Missouri. “It’s always best to go play.”

It’s also best to avoid drawing false confidence from double-digit leads. Anderson’s teams are famous for late comebacks.

Opposing coaches have a tough choice to make. Because of Missouri’s unconventional style, coaches feel the urge to have the players they most trust on the court as much as possible. Yet, the hectic style tends to make fatigue more of a factor than usual.

Sherron Collins, in the best shape of his life, played 38 amazing minutes against Baylor, looked fresh the whole time and lifted his team to victory on a night the Bears made spectacular shots.

As risky as it might seem to try to conquer Missouri’s pressure with Collins sitting on the bench, Self will need to find ways to give him ample rest coming out of media timeouts.

Collins and Tyshawn Taylor each had six turnovers, Taylor’s coming in 20 minutes, in a two-point loss in Columbia last season. Taylor had two turnovers in 30 minutes in the rematch, a 25-point KU victory. Interestingly, Tyrel Reed didn’t turn it over in a combined 40 minutes against MU.

Missouri, ranked No. 11 in the Sagarin predictor ratings — which blow away the useless RPI numbers — leads the nation in turnovers forced per possession, but doesn’t play well on the road. The Tigers commit borderline fouls, which tend not to get called as often at home, where the crowd support staves off fatigue.

KU’s a 12-point favorite, but Mizzou’s better than many think.


JayhawkRock 10 years ago

Take care of the ball and we will win big. I hope we apply just as much pressure on Mizzou...I am not against pressing this team until they can stop it. We need to start hitting shots as well. X needs to show up in this game, the last few I games has made me wish we had Releford...

Eurekahwk 10 years ago

I think Mike Anderson will be too smart to try Kansas in a running game in the Phog. That style works best on your court with a swarming press and insane crowd noise to cloud your thoughts. In Allen Fieldhouse, it is just a layup drill at the opposing team's expense.

Besides, it's hard to set it up it you can't score. Last year, Mizzou had an experienced team who could't hit a jump shot in the first half.

Andrew Ralls 10 years ago

speaking of jump shots and missou, it's time to break this one out of the vault:

Queen_Krenda 10 years ago

Tom, "El Duque" was a baseball player. He didn't play basketball. Thanks.

beawolf 10 years ago

I think Tom was trying to make an analogy about concentration. Not sure. The article is a long winded version of "Don't Turnover the Ball.

Uhjh 10 years ago

KU needs to play the game period. No Big XII game is a give me and if you show up no ready to play you will see the ugly L. This will be a hard fought contest and KU should win but they will need an A game effort.

Chris Shaw 10 years ago

aralls: That was great! Just what I needed on a Monday morning. I am literally rolling around on the floor laughing. "I'm Quin Snyder, maybe we start our own team." LOL!

jaybate 10 years ago

First, 100 explained the solution to the MU press, after the first MU game last season. {Note: the KU coaching staff came up with the same tried-and-true solution and it worked elegantly the second game.)

Slice the seams.

Run to receive a pass, or dribble if you have the ball, into open areas, then slice the seams forward. Nothing fancy. Just keep slicing the seams up court. The press becomes useless and MU loses its major weapon.

Clearly Anderson has learned from last season that he needs to have another trick, once the press is broken.

The trick is vary how you guard in half court defense. MU did some of this last year, but they are apparently doing more of it this season.

“... In a single possession, they may switch a ball screen, trap a ball screen, hedge a ball screen. They may guard it totally different three times on three ball screens that possession..."--Bill Self

This is just taking what teams do randomly, anyway, and systematizing it some.

Anderson probably has a fairly simple decision rule that varies the coverage.

There are least three obvious counter tactics and all of them involve not screening.

  1. Go inside and keep going inside. Let the big men work one on one, or dish to the open big man in double teams, or kick out for trifectation.

  2. Clear out the side for Xavier.

  3. Clear out the lane for Sherron.

A fourth approach would be to create some decision rules for offensive players, based on each coverage.

a. If switch starts, penetrate. b. If trap starts, reverse dribble and pass . c. If hedge starts, split the hedge and shoot, or pass.

But though these sound good, the offensive players are thinking more than playing, because there are many rules that have to specified and learned.


Dyrk Dugan 10 years ago

It's not a matter of NOT making turnovers....when the game is fast, up and down, you WILL make turnovers....the key is, to not make BAD turnovers....i.e., throw a lazy pass cross court or in the middle of the court that's easily stolen and then we witness a breakaway dunk shot.

when you play a team that wants to "speed things up"....your team needs to take adavantage of that. we have good athletes and a lot of athletes....let's get as many possessions as we can. but the pct. of quality possessions, needs to still be high.

and a pressure team, doesn't like to be pressured. so it definitely can work both ways.

In his whole career, Mike Anderson has one win vs. us as a head and that was last year, when we definitely flubbed it away in Columbia. we have multiple blowout wins vs his style of play. i'm not really too concerned with the TF40MIB.

Kettlesworth 10 years ago

My basketball intuition tells me that we should seriously consider the dribbel drive. And a ball screen for X.

Since when does being a good pitcher make you good at basketball?

Queen_Krenda 10 years ago

"Since when does being a good pitcher make you good at basketball?"

That's the question I already asked.

Mike Kendall 10 years ago


Finally got to access your youtube link that you pulled out of the vault.



Matt Bowers 10 years ago

Did I just make a Jaybate sighting? Wow...its been so long.

Rock Chalk

jaybate 10 years ago


Fell into a Cancun time warp. Just back.

jaybate 10 years ago

KU shoots back to average, slices the press, and alternates pounding inside, clearing lane for Sherronatron, and clearing side for Xavier. Brady leads the team in slicing the press. Brady takes five treys to ease Xavier's scoring burden.

KU by 15.

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