Sunday, October 24, 2010

Kansas men’s basketball team displays speed

Kansas head coach Bill Self laughs as he sits down for a chat with Texas Tech head coach Pat Knight and Kansas State coach Frank Martin following talks with reporters during Big 12 media day Thursday, Oct. 21, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

Kansas head coach Bill Self laughs as he sits down for a chat with Texas Tech head coach Pat Knight and Kansas State coach Frank Martin following talks with reporters during Big 12 media day Thursday, Oct. 21, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.



KU Men's Basketball Preseason Magazine

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One of the several hundred coaches at Bill Self’s annual Kansas University basketball coaches clinic appeared impressed with some fast-paced action Saturday in Allen Fieldhouse.

“They look more skilled than in the past,” the coach remarked while watching 40 minutes of full-court scrimmaging that concluded a two-hour practice.

The Jayhawks did exhibit speed, athleticism and a strong skill set in Friday’s and Saturday’s clinic practices — partly because of the squad’s makeup, also because a bunch of jitterbugs were all over the court with the team’s two biggest players on the sidelines.

Markieff Morris, 6-foot-10, and Jeff Withey, 7-foot, are out due to hernia and foot injuries, respectively. It leaves guys like Thomas Robinson, Marcus Morris, Mario Little, Travis Releford and red-shirt walk-on Justin Wesley manning the inside positions at 6-9, 6-9, 6-6, 6-5 and 6-8 respectively.

“I’m excited about this team because I think we’re different. I think it’s a different team than I’ve had to coach the last couple years. I really think we’re fast,” eighth-year KU coach Self said. “We throw it all over the place, but are fast, something fun to coach.”

While Withey and Markieff Morris should be available close to the time of KU’s Nov. 2 exhibition opener against Washburn, several team-oriented Jayhawk perimeter players don’t mind helping out in the paint in a pinch.

“I like to play as a guard, be able to create for other people, sometimes get my own shot and lock other players down,” senior Little said, “but it doesn’t really matter where they put me. I’ll play wherever I’m needed.

“I feel this team can get out there fast. We can switch defenses and create havoc on defense.”

Noted Marcus Morris: “We’re kind of low on bigs, so I have to stay down low and help us out. Wherever I am on the court is where I want to be. If I’m at the three, I’ll play the three. I don’t know how much time I’ll get at the three. When I’m there, I’ll make the most of it.

“We have a lot of versatile players,” Marcus added. “In the past, we’ve always had (true) guards on the wing. I didn’t have to play out there. I think coach wants to play with the cards a bit and get me out there for a couple mismatches on guys who are big like I am, but not as quick as I am.”

Self figures to use all sorts of combinations.

“Probably the four,” he said of how he sees Little this season, “but we’ll play him on the perimeter as a four man. What I see a lot is posting him and playing Marcus on the perimeter, so you get Marcus’ big man away from the basket, allow him (Little) to post a guard. I can see doing things like that.

“Marcus has not been on the perimeter as much (yet) because we’ve been so beat up with Withey out and ’Kieff out, we don’t have enough guys to practice. We’ve practiced Travis at the four and Mario at the four. It’s something we can do when we try to play small. Offensively, those guys are really good on the post.”

Self has been impressed with his squad — his skilled, undersized squad — at practice.

“Sometimes we think guys are working hard just because they are faster than others. I think this team does work,” Self said. “We’ve had a collection of guys that are good workers since we’ve been here. This ranks with as good a working team as we’ve had.

“I think we try hard. I think we’re fast. I think we’re fairly competitive. I don’t know if the competitive juices are to the point I’d like them to be. I think we’re pretty deep. I don’t know who our best players are. That could be a good thing. It adds to our practices daily. This is a less margin for error team, but a team that has a chance to be good.”

As hundreds of high school, juco and small college coaches saw for themselves Friday and Saturday.


AsadZ 11 years, 3 months ago

This team has the potential and pieces in place to be as good as 08 team and surprise a lot of folks. Rock Chalk,

Chris Shaw 11 years, 3 months ago

That 08 team didn't surprise anybody. I would compare this team a lot to the 07 team that just missed the Final 4 and lost to UCLA in the Elite 8. We know the talent is there, but how the pieces are going to be placed is still left to be determined.

Michael Luby 11 years, 3 months ago

That 08 team was underrated most of the season. They were underdogs compared to UNC and Memphis. I do agree though, this time around they compare well to the 07 team. They got some older more tested guys but they have quite a few new guys too.

Jacobpaul81 11 years, 3 months ago

It reminds me more of 1986. That was the best hawk team in history, and I think this team should surprise people the same way... defensive intensity, speed and quickness, etc. In my mind, Mario Little and Marcus Morris will probably be used very similarly to how Calvin Thompson and Ron Kellogg were used in 1986. Only, this time around, we are extremely deep at Point Guard. We don't have Mark Turgeon backing up Cedric Hunter, we have Selby, Taylor, Reed, Johnson, and Morningstar all who can fill those shoes if called upon. Withey is a Dreiling type and both Markieff and Robinson can fill the Danny Manning roll, particularly when it comes to rebounds and getting the ball back out to the shooters.

REHawk 11 years, 3 months ago

Is great to read that Mario and Travis are playing prominent roles, early season. They represented two VERY talented players, locked away on the bench last year. The one and done passage of Xavier worked out quite well for all concerned. X became a lottery pick and helped the team to a 33-3 record. Mario's leg healed; Travis worked diligently to improve his all-around game, shooting thousands of baskets. At this stage, those are two 5-star talents rejoining the team.

REHawk 11 years, 3 months ago

TRob the Beast, NOW is your moment. Work diligently to get your neurons aligned with the speed of that ball and those around you, and you will help deliver this team to another 30+ win record. And a Big 12 title!

Tom Wilson 11 years, 3 months ago

The Jayhawks show their speed. In the meantime, the NCAA continues to show off their total lack of making decisions (e.g., Selby). Not fair to the team, coach or the player(s) involved (KU is not the only school awaiting the "sleeping giant's" decision on "will he play or not"). At this rate, sometime during the calendar year of 2018, the NCAA will reveal whether Selby really was eligible or not.

REHawk 11 years, 3 months ago

I just read a Big 12 Media Day article in the KC STAR in which Marcus Morris delivered the words VENUE and LEGACY with the same dexterity in which he adjusted so quickly to Bill Self Basketball in Year #2. Not only a pre-season candidate for All-America and Wooden Award consideration, but a combo athlete/wordsmith.
I think the kid might actually surprise the basketball world with the versatility to spend time at point guard! Maybe if he commits to a 4th season at KU, Coach will guarantee him 5 minutes per game at the position. The next Kevin Durant of the NBA lottery....

Paul Brozik 11 years, 3 months ago

slow down rehawk. i can't tell if you are joking or not. kevin durant? just need him to be an all-american.

JHWK 11 years, 3 months ago

A great picture of these three coaches to lead off the article.
Interesting tidbit: Pat Knight was the batboy for my baseball team in Bloomington, IN when he was a little tike.

It worries me if Withey continues to be so fragile. Reading 'undersized' is not a good omen, regardless of team speed. You must be big and physical to make it, not only in our league, but in the Tourney. 'Keif will be just fine. He's a bull.

It could be that the NCAA is accomplishing some subversive punishment by just being slow. They can eventually (in mid to late November) have no findings of wrongdoing on the part of Selby or the others in limbo, but their pace serves as its own warning to other athletes not to tangle with sports agents, whether it is above board, or not. It isn't fair, but since when is the NCAA concerned about fairness?

Rock Chalk!

PAHAWK1 11 years, 3 months ago

No probelms. It was worth reading twice (especially on a slow day).

Dirk Medema 11 years, 3 months ago

Some place in between? I seem to recall Jaybate alluding to this.

Self-ball (/Jaybate) is taking what they give you, and the last 2 yrs was not adampt enough at doing that. The good news is that this year's team appears to be more so.

I have been excited since April at the thought of Marcus & Mario being an inherent 3/4 mismatch as Coach Self mentions. The comments from Newell's post last week about Travis being the best defender is all the more encouraging.

Tony Bandle 11 years, 3 months ago

Just back from Columbia where I spent the weekend with my in-laws [God, I must really love my wife!].

Anyway, as much as I despise the Tigggers, I left green with envy.......19,000 students in The Quad for ESPN Gameday, setting a broadcast record, 71.000 people jammed into their stadium with a continuous crowd noise that sounded like a jet taking off, a tremendous upset of a Number One ranked BCS team on National Television, the whole town crazy drunk after the victory [well, that happens to be every night in Columbia, but I'm sure you get the picture!!]

If these bozos in Missouri can do it, why can't we??

I say hire Mike Leach, baggage and all!!!!

jaybate 11 years, 3 months ago

Roared at "God, I must really love my wife!"

Women were put on this earth to live incredibly full lives, be smart and sexy, achieve equal pay with men, get better and better in whatever they choose to do, determine the spending of an asymmetrically large portion of the disposable household income, and create opportunities for loving men to learn to do things they would never have wanted to do had their loving men not met them.

And they know this. :-)

Brian Powell 11 years, 3 months ago

I just hope they're getting ready to play to the "fast/skill" strength. If I see any more slowing-it-down-halfcourt to wait for Cole to get in position.... I'll head for the fridge.

Let's get this team up and down the floor and throttle it!

REHawk 11 years, 3 months ago

sabd: Yeah, I was spoofing more than somewhat regarding Marcus becoming the next Kevin Durant. It will certainly be an interesting season if Coach Self actually plays him a few minutes at the 3 or 2 position. And will startle all of us and the opposition if he spends time at the point. But HEY, if Marcus says he can play any and all positions, I imagine that against certain styles of defenses, he just might pull it off successfully. He did a mighty good job off the dribble for a fast maturing sophomore. Also, I can envision his becoming a lottery pick if he is patient and continues to improve by the leaps we witnessed from his frosh to soph seasons. Now that his brother is the big man in the lineup, I hope to see Kief grab the brass ring and catch the notoriety that Marcus did last year. Would be a real joy to see both return for a fourth season!

hailtoku 11 years, 3 months ago

Bill Self is walking and talking like he knows something no one else in the nation knows...

I like it ...

ahpersecoachingexperience 11 years, 3 months ago

very true!

i've also heard the selby my be cleared by early this week. . .not really, just haven't seen anyone make that post in a couple of days.

David Howell 11 years, 3 months ago

At the end of recruiting last year, I kept saying that I didn't feel that -4- bigs were enough with foul trouble and injuries.

Hopefully I am not right, but this isn't a good start with our bigs. We all know they are foul prone and Withey, well Withey needs all the court time and work he can get. No one really knows how much, if any he can bring to the team this year. The Jayhawk faithful hope for a quality big, but I am not buying it just yet.

Michael Luby 11 years, 3 months ago

Im just psyched for the season to start. I love college basketball and KU is the best.

Tony Bandle 11 years, 3 months ago

Domino...I'm with you......and I like your pizza, too!!

Lindsey Buscher 11 years, 3 months ago

Is Wesley labeled in this article as a redshirt because he has already taken a redshirt year or because he is redshirting this year?

jaybate 11 years, 3 months ago

"IIM&IWIWF: In-a-Godda-Da-Vida Its Monday and I Wish It Were Friday"

~Ah, yes, speed and skill...the things one talks about in late October, when one lacks a dominant, proven post man and dominant, proven point guard, and when two bigs are injured. :-)

~It is remarkable, is it not, how much speed and skill can be acquired by the same players from one year to the next, when dominant, proven players at the post and point are lacking. :-)

~Mario Little playing the 4 from the 3 having become a "talking point" for Coach Self the last two days, begs one to analyze the this tactic's feasibility and motivation; i.e., could it be consistently effective and why is he suddenly talking about it the last two days?

~Could Mario playing the 4 from the 3, and conversely Marcus playing the 3 from the 4, be effective over the long hall? Certainly, if opposing teams do not play switching defenses and do not play help defense, it could trigger order of magnitude match-up advantage. But teams do switch and and help, and switching defense would mean no advantage inside for Little, and it would mean Marcus was 25 feet from the basket with a guy 3-4 inches shorter being helped whenever Marcus put the ball on the deck to go rim-ram. So: what does Marcus do with that height advantage 25 feet away? He has to shoot and make the trey...a lot! Is Marcus become death, trifectator of worlds, to rephrase the old Upanishad? Can Marcus nuke from Dubuque? Can he trey from LA? Can he bomb from Viet Nam? Is he bad from Bagdad? Can he fill the jar from Kandahar? The rim just big enough for two basketballs is in Lawrence, Kansas, in Allen Field House, a few feet off the baseline, ten feet above the wood. Marcus will be 25 feet away. For many shooters that is the equivalent of from Earth to Pluto. He must make 38% to 40% from Pluto, or KU cannot afford 4s playing like 3s and 3s playing like 4s. Can he?

~Conditional If-Then-Else Statement: If Mario Little's trey has developed to 38-40% accuracy, and if Marcus can shoot the trey at 38-40% accuracy, then KU will almost certainly win a ring, else problems.

~Why "almost certainly win a ring"? Because no opposing team in the country could stop a 3-4 combination like this one without excessive help defense that would leave KU's other weapons wide open and running wild on the back side.

jaybate 11 years, 3 months ago

~Why "Else problems"? Because switching and help defense can completely nullify this tactic, unless these guys can MIRV from the Federal Reserve. And that would mean our best big, Marcus, would be rebounding by correspondence course about half the time. And, as of right now, Self says TRob fouls everyone in sight, Kieff can't do any heavy lifting of even marshmellows, and Withey has peanut brittle for bones--all conditions that could easily go chronic, injuries and foul prone-ness being what they are.

~Why Is Self Selling the 3-4/4-3 game now? He seems genuinely excited about it. He sounds like any genius that has been treading traditional ground for a few years, because it has been rational to do so, but then suddenly gets the thrill of his own XTReme Creativity back as necessity becomes the mother of invention once again. It is as if a formerly fuzzy notion of 3-4/4-3 play that he has carried with him perhaps since his youth, as a possibility if the right players were ever on the same team, has suddenly become a clear concept with Kieff and Withey off the sacred cellulose.

jaybate 11 years, 3 months ago

~But there is another possibility: Self may be realizing that the injury-fates have dealt him his first truly small team in years, maybe as small as he's been since his Wayne team (maybe even since Tulsa), and its bringing out the defiant, hard scrabble, Okie Baller swagger in him early to compensate. The Iba-Eddie tradition Self inherited, like a DNA helix of a billion tiny basketball genes, was first recombinant in the shadow of Phog Allen's unparalleled career. It was born of "how do you compete with the guys who started the stinking game, who started the coaching of it, and who have all the advantages from tip-off?" The Iba-Eddie-and now Bill tradition has always been underpinned and suffused with an underdog mentality of the kind that says, "I'm an underdog. I'm going to take anything you give me and I'm going to bite you in the ass and kick you in the nose and find a way to beat you, even though it doesn't look like there is way, right now." 70-Point-Take-What-They-Give-Us is the basketball god's gift to the have nots. Self has just been proving lately that it works even better for the haves. It could be that Self realizes that for the first time in a few years, he and Okie Ball are going to have to get the team to 27 wins and not a bunch of bigs and a great point guard. It could be the young-old coach (Self is still only entering his prime, though he is experienced beyond his years) likes a good scrap from disadvantage to prove he's still got a pair.

~In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, Baby! An old Iron Butterfly song. And what I used to say to myself when leaving the huddle to go back out on the floor to defend some guy I wasn't sure I could stay with, but that I was going to go down scratching and biting and clawing trying to.

~And now a break for the 17 minutes that changed rock and roll for better, for worse, and forever.

(sound of jaybate humming as he amps up his legacy iPod--his cortical wetware in the brain box)

~In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, Jayhawks, don't you know what I mean?

REHawk 11 years, 3 months ago

O the lineup and matchup possibilities!

jaybate 11 years, 3 months ago


Self will give a long look in pre conference to Little, and Releford, but when conference comes and the treys have to start falling, as fast as the TOs must be eliminated, Brady and Tyrel are going to be there like the sun coming up. They'll be there defending, protecting, draining and seeing to it that the ball gets into Marcus' hands without being thrown away, and for Marcus to kick out to when he drives and is trapped by a hedge.

But, of course, all Little and Releford have to do is jointly average 40-46% from trey and average 1 TO per game, and defend on and off ball exceptionally well and the PT will all be theirs, because of their greater length.

But as much as I like Little (and I hugely like him) and Releford (I think he'll be a cornerstone next season) what are the chances of Little and Releford doing all that, really? Little was a juco star, not an limousine blue chipper. And Releford came without a stroke and few players really become top notch shooters after entering college, if they don't come that way.

Self himself says, while he expects Little to be in the rotation, he does not know yet if Little will be 5th, 6th, or 7th man. Translation: Little is still a 4 in a 3's body and can defend, rebound and score, but not from trey the way a 3 must be able to do in today's game.

Further, Self now only discusses Releford in terms of defense. Translation, 7th, or 8th man, if he can protect the ball, lower if not.

To me what is shaping up is Self signaling he will platoon Brady and Tyrel for trifectation and ball protection and steady defense, and Little and Releford for wreak havoc defense and rebounding.

This indicates all four players are going to see situational use in two groups of two.

jaybate 11 years, 3 months ago

Selby and Tyshawn start, if/when Selby gets cleared. Until then...

In real games (not exhibition games), Tyshawn and Tyrel start with EJ coming off the bench first to see if EJ can continue to play under control and hit the trey. Royce gets minutes whenever there is separation in the first and second halves to see if he can play, or gets thrown a redshirt. If Selby isn't cleared till second semester, or all season, Royce stays aboard regardless.

If/When Selby is cleared, Selby and Tyshawn start. EJ and Tyrel are first subs for both, unless EJ is out of control, in which case Brady and Tyrel become first subs.

At the three, Self wants to see a lot of Marcus and against cup cakes we'll see some of that, but Self won't be able to do that against any good teams until Kieff and Withey are healthy and productive and TRrob is under control and not fouling; then I think Marcus spends half his time playing 3-4/4-3 with he and Little, backed up preferably by either TRob--the beast, or Withey--the swatter, who are giving Kieff--the diversely talented cornerstone big--a blow.

So Little, until the bigs are healthy, and unless he and Marcus can average about 38-40% from trey (in which improbable case they each become 30-35 minute men), starts and Brady and Releford sub situationallyat the three--Brady for outside shooting and ball protection and team defense, Releford for wreak havoc defensive pressure and physical strength. With Little starting, and probably still not being much of an outside threat, Brady is often going to get first call, especially when Marcus is being contained by his man, because Marcus controlled means play through Tyshawn and Selby, and kick out to Brady to drain the trey.

Anytime an opponent goes zone, Tyrel and Brady enter, if they are not already in.

jaybate 11 years, 3 months ago

I think we'll only see three bigs play 20-30 minutes a game and one big be the ten minute man (if we're lucky)--5 minutes each half to give the productive bigs a situational blow, plus Little getting 5 minutes inside, in addition to his outside duties at the 3; unless the bigs just really come on like gang busters, in which case, Marcus goes almost full time at the 3 and Little becomes the man who spells him and nothing more, while Brady sees only very limited spot duty as a zone breaker. But the key word here is improbable.

So I see Brady and Tyrel getting about the same minutes they did last season, if Selby, Little and Releford can do all the basics in conference game pressure.

Less if not.

If Selby, Little, and/or Releford fail to protect the ball well and assuming none of them can shoot much better than 36-37% from trey (a reasonable bet), then Tyrel and Brady are going to see a lot more minutes than last season.

And while I expect Tyshawn to have a good, consistent season, he has a history of going wobbly for extended periods. Without Sherron to cover for him in all aspects of the game, and without Sherron to draw all the help defense away from Tyshawn, there is the chance that the heat could get too hot in the kitchen at times for Tyshawn and then we would see both Tyrel and Brady trending toward 25-minute men.

Actually, the guy I'm holding out the most hope for a nonlinear burst of development from is The Prophet. I really think The Prophet could be a god send, pun intended. He's got all the tools but the trey, plus size now, if he could just protect. But my guess is that if Self sees any signs of TO-itis on EJ's part, then EJ, because of the weak trey, gets thrown a red shirt to grow into his new body. Releford is already physically mature enough to do everything now that EJ will do next season. But if a miracle happens, and EJ finds a D1 trifecta, then I actually see EJ slowly, inexorably shouldering his way into a three -way rotation with Tyshawn and Selby, despite Tyshawn's experience and speed, and Selby's supposed greatness. EJ with two more inches just seems a monster waiting to happen, but it could just as easily have to happen next year. A guard growing a lot is particularly fitful for coordination.

Outta here.

jaybate 11 years, 3 months ago

Post Script to ralster: It all really comes down to which players complement Marcus the most. Self says Little really complements him well when they can play 3-4/4-3. But there will be other times when they do not do that. The real question is: who complements Marcus best from the 3, when Marcus is playing on the blocks. It is apt to be a heck of a good outside shooter; this much seems clear.

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