Monday, January 10, 2011


How good is KU basketball? Good question


Highlights: KU vs. Michigan

The Jayhawks defeated Michigan in overtime, 67-60 on Sunday, Jan. 9, 2010 in Ann Arbor.

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Michigan coach John Beilein

Michigan coach John Beilein talks to reporters following his team's 67-60 overtime loss to Kansas on Jan. 9, 2011.

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Bill Self

Kansas coach Bill Self talks to reporters following the Jayhawks' 67-60 overtime victory over Michigan on Jan. 9, 2011.

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— If not for an overtime in which Kansas University’s basketball team played like its confident, aggressive self, it might have been time to wonder just how good the Jayhawks are despite their undefeated record and No. 3 national ranking.

Some might still ask that question in the wake of Sunday’s 67-60 overtime victory in Crisler Arena against a young Michigan squad that can’t shoot straight.

After all, none of KU’s 15 victories has come against a team that now resides in the Top 25, and two of them came by a combined margin of three points against UCLA and USC teams that don’t beckon memories of the John Wooden/Bobby Boyd years.

Some will call the Jayhawks (15-0) overrated, but to do so would be to forget that Iowa and Minnesota both just gave No. 2 Ohio State fits.

This much is certain: Kansas wasn’t very good for the final 23 minutes of regulation, getting outscored 41-26 by the Wolverines (11-5).

The KU guards looked a little confused by Michigan’s 1-3-1 zone defense.

“We work a lot against the 1-3-1, and we meant to do different things than we did,” KU coach Bill Self said. “We reverted back and didn’t attack. Of course, we didn’t make shots, but certainly, that was about as bad as you can attack a zone.”

Kansas made just two of 20 three-point shots during regulation.

“A lot of it was them, and a lot of it was us,” Self said. “The more we missed and the tighter we got, the more compact their zone got, and we couldn’t play through our bigs as much.”

KU guards Tyshawn Taylor and Josh Selby have the quickness to blow by most guards checking them man-to-man. Experience tends to be as important as quickness working against zones, and Sherron Collins was a master at it by his senior year.

Neither Taylor nor Selby ran a college team until this year, and they’ll experience growing pains, particularly against zones.

It was a particularly trying day for Selby, who is so talented he sometimes makes it easy to forget he’s a teenager. He played like one Sunday and carried himself as a young player. As is the case with most freshmen, Selby’s body language tends to be more reflective of his own play than the team’s performance, as was evidenced by how disappointed he looked when the team had double-digit leads in the first half when he couldn’t find his shot.

Selby made one of 10 shots and one of seven three-pointers. Tyrel Reed didn’t shoot much better from long range, making two of nine, but did hit one in overtime.

KU will face zone defenses with increasing regularity, given how well it worked for Michigan, which is a good thing because the more experience the Jayhawks get, the better they’ll attack them. If it continues to rely on bombing away from long distance, KU will bury teams when it shoots well, underachieve when it doesn’t.

The Big 12 schedule awaits plenty of environments just as difficult as Michigan’s, an appealing one thanks to a spirited band that belts one of the coolest fight songs in the land and thanks to the seating of the students close to the court.

Far from an encouraging performance for KU, it still counts as a good win.


newtown 3 years, 3 months ago

looks like a team that chokes and could go down in the 1st round of the NCAAs.


actorman 3 years, 3 months ago

You mean the one that ended in the Sweet 16? Oh yeah, that one.


Ralster Jayhawk 3 years, 3 months ago

Dont get me started on Xa-vee-yay. That debacle is over. Selby already more valuable due to his attitude, willingness to learn, willingness to sacrifice his body, and his hustle on both ends of the court (already evident). Good for him to get humbled a couple of times early like he has in a couple of games. At least this 18yr old tried to penetrate vs a zone, and thankfully TT had better success vs. Mich to finish or draw a foul.

Disagree with the Self critique, as WildBill himself said they worked on attacking this very zone in practice, but "reverted back" during the game to the wrong methodology. People have posted "we have gotten used to (flat play stretches) under Self"--well by counterpoint, I dont remember any better juggernaut seasons under Roy than we have now under Self. For every reference to Bucknell, UNI, Bradley, you can reference some Roy-era Jayhawk upset as well, so quit it! (I dont get whatever point that is). And didnt it take years and years for even the 'vaunted' coach K to get back to the Final4 last year? No coach can win them all, every year...and even pro teams have chemistry and execution issues, and yall want it all ironed out in some minimum number of games with new Jayhawk team with a different playstyle, and integrating several new and redshirt faces...

I'll take my chances with WildBill...we may win or lose due to execution or inexperience, but the philosophies in every aspect of the game are sound. The recruiting is sound. Better than Roy (and just about everybody else). Develops talent too.

Frustrating to see people cling to 1-track beliefs. Try looking at the big picture, and consider where we are at looking back at 30yrs of KU bball...


hawksince51 3 years, 3 months ago

I generally agree with the article. One concern I have is that if we practice against the zone all the time and know how to play O against it, then why can't Self coach the guys up during the game to do so? I usually feel Self is a pretty good bench coach, particularly compared to Roy, but I was not impressed on Sunday. In the OT, we did run one very impressive play (the 5 pass one and layup by Marcus) but it was the 3's by Reed and Mk that assured the win.
Another observation is that Selby showed that he is a freshman and there have been very few OADs that you want to rely on heavily when the team is struggling. Hopefully, by March he will prove himself to be more valuable than X was but I remain in the "wait and see" column.


gongs4ku 3 years, 3 months ago

Keegan does his job. You're here reading, right? He isn't paid to be boring and say what everybody already knows and believes.


jhwk215 3 years, 3 months ago

All the more reason for Selby to stay at least a couple more years to practice that zone...


Christopher Johnson 3 years, 3 months ago

Keegan's run-on sentences can be quite painful too. They usually happen when he makes an attempt at an anology.


Joe Satterwhite 3 years, 3 months ago

can u guys just relax and get off keegan's back...we're 15-0 when nobody thought we would be and u guys are still complaining...and if keegan's writings are so bad, why would u waste your time reading it and then post how bad it was...keep it coming keegan.


kusully 3 years, 3 months ago

Hey guys, Sorry to burst your bubble but you're delusional if you think Keegan reads your posts. Most columnists never look at the fan comments. Just a gentle reminder that Keegs is not paid to write flowery columns for Jayhawk Nation. You wouldn't be content if he did. Don't be surprised if Self continues to schedule a tough non con away just before conference starts. I believe he uses the game as a reminder of what is to or lose.


jaybate 3 years, 3 months ago

Plenty good.

They just shot 16 percent, did everything wrong in attacking a zone, against a Princeton offense designed to capitalize on this sort of thing, and still won by 7 in OT, which is equivalent to winning by 17 against a non Princeton team.

This is a team with all the pieces. It is better than any other team but Ohio State, once it gets its experience. And Self is enough better coach than Matta, that KU will probably be able to beat Ohio State on a good night.

It is just inexperienced and still learning how to play in various situations.

No short cuts to experience.


jayhawkinnebr 3 years, 3 months ago

Keep Brady on the bench and we will be damn good. Everytime he came in, Ku loss its lead. Ku had a 11 point lead in the 2nd half, Brady came in for 6 mins, Bill finely pulled him out and the lead was down to 5. I don't know if Bill is getting a kickback from Brady's dad or what it is but, Brady needs to be bench and not play until the game is out of hand. What a loser and a dud. The rest of the team can't carry Brady out there. He can't play to this level, and we have new players on the bench that can product and they are the ones that need the playing time if KU is going to be sucessful. Doc Salder gets a big smile on his face when you mention KU. Keegan, keep up the good work.


SCHNBALL 3 years, 3 months ago

The seperation between a good team and a great team is simple.

A great team competes with itself on a daily basis, not the competition.

With as much talent as we have had over the past 2 years, we have not made it to that

level yet. Who knows if this team will ever get to the point , but offensively against decent

competition, this team struggles in stretches during games, something we have

become accustomed to under Self. We are no where near a rotation, which is ok,

but how did Withey play yesterday?

While this team struggled to close out the game yesterday and reminded us of last

years squad in doing so, the ceiling is much higher for this team in my opinion.

I am very anxious to see if this team can dominate tempo against a worthy opponent.

I suspect the Mayor and Iowa State will high pick and roll us all night, let's see if we

can step up the defense again.

Big 12 winner this year has a minimum of 3 losses.


gorilla10 3 years, 3 months ago

How good is KU basketball?.......The big12 will answer this question


Christopher Johnson 3 years, 3 months ago

The fight song sucks. It's a freaking scale.


SDSurferFan 3 years, 3 months ago

I thought half way through the first half..."damn, MU looks slow, and we seem to be running drills through what appears to be a JV Scout team." We weren't killing them, but we were running the offense methodically and obviously the D was great. I thought this is going to be a 25 pt win.

My only criticism is that we are way more athletic not to have killed this team. JayBate makes some good points and I will chalk it up based on his explanation, but what would Duke have done to this team? Hate to compare, but if you want to start talking NC then you have to.

Last year we had 30 wins entering the tourney, so 15-0....big deal.... just saying!


Woody Cragg 3 years, 3 months ago

My take is not much different-looked like they had never even seen a zone def before. TT continually walked it up the floor and lobbed passes to Reed or Josh & they just lobbed them back. Must pack the zone in tight to disfigure it on rapid ball reversal and this will create lanes by getting the zone out of shape. Personally I thought the passing was awful. Every coach in the conf will watch this tape. Really fortunate this performance came against a team of undersized underclassmen. But Mich Morris gets some credit also-real good passer & slasher & tough to defend. Defense definitely won this one, but a better shooting opponent will have a different outcome. Lots & lots to work on. Iowa State is always a tough place to play. Hope Relford is not too banged up to go. We're already lacking depth at the 4-5 spots.


Clarence Haynes 3 years, 3 months ago

Better execution of ball movement on zone defenses (as effectively as we do with man to man defenses) will favorably affect the perimeter shooting that was missing from the likes of Reed and Selby. That will also open up our inside game which was missing at times due to Michigan sagging in the middle. When this happens, our bigs have to go up strong (no finesse) for the score!


Joe Ross 3 years, 3 months ago

Here's the correct answer to the question Keegan poses. How good are the Jayhawks? Based on potential, they are right where they are ranked (somewhere in the top four). Practically speaking, however, they are still among the best programs in the country but they have considerably more company. Game by game, the Jayhawks show that there is a good bit of separation between them and the teams they play, and generally they start by opening up big leads. The main problem with the Jayhawks is that they can't sustain their good play after they've earned a lead. That and poor defensive lapses.


jaybark 3 years, 3 months ago

Bullseye on the assessment of the situation. This team is still very talented and will likely win at least a share of the conference title. An off night exposed some trouble areas that they'll now be able to work on more effectively in practice. Experience will solve the zone problem by March - hopefully in time for KSU on the 29th but that's more wishful thinking than anything. Selby is still a young player playing in a brand new environment and will adjust. That said, for being such a young player his maturity level is on par with or better than most seniors in recent memory. Our other guards will gain confidence driving the lane - heck, Reed's actually had some unanticipated success with this lately. The only thing I'm worried about in terms of our game is how Releford is doing. That was the worst part of the game for me, watching him go down like that. Hope all is okay.


Jacobpaul81 3 years, 3 months ago

A.) Travis Releford - We need him more than any other player. Size-wise, he's the only NCAA 3 (NBA 2) we have on this team. His ability to grab offensive boards and shot selection were both severely missed in this game.

B.) If Reed or Selby is not hitting, those are empty minutes. At this point, neither has demonstrated an ability to score inside the arc or to contribute with offensive rebounds. Neither has learned to attack. When you face a 1-3-1 defense, the defense is happy to give you 3 pt looks in exchange for better interior coverage. You've gotta attack the seems with interior passes and dribble drives. Neither demonstrated that in this contest.

C.) Thomas Robinson - When he sits, we don't get offensive boards cause our guards just stand around and watch. Michigan Guards hauled in 9 Offensive Boards. Kansas Guards? 2. We gave up 29 defensive rebounds. Marcus and Markieff saved our butts with their 9 offensive boards in this contest.

D.) 4-24. That was this teams three-point shooting against Michigan. 24 3 pt shots. We were 20-32 inside the arc. 4-24 inside it. While the 3 pt shot has it's uses (Primarily stretching a defense), we settle for them way too often. Especially when our best 3 players are Power Forwards. "We reverted back and didn’t attack." - Bill Self. I will call this the Sherron Collins effect. 2 years playing with a ball hog has turned the guards into a mess. They stand around outside and watch and when they get the ball they shoot it. When it bounces back, they stand and watch the opponent grab it.

E.) Keegan and his Sherron fetish. Sherron was no master. If he was lightweight, he couldn't drive. When he was heavy, he got called for charges. He had more charges than any player I've ever watched because he was completely unaware of his environment. Sometimes he'd get through and do something spectacular, but most the time, he was a foul machine. Robinson was much better at the dribble drive than Collins. He could break down starting guards better than anyone I've watched other than maybe Jacques Vaughn. Rush was also very impressive at breaking the zone. His two step jump shot was amongst the best I've seen. Step in 2-3 steps to the interior of the zone, catch a pass in the seem and pop it. These guys really need to watch Rush and Robinson.

F.) As Bill has said, right now, it would not be fair to compare these guys to the 08 guys. Every starter + Kaun was a well oiled machine and Collins and Aldrich were great role-players for that team. This team has gotta learn to do what they did. Create space and attack, don't overshoot the 3, don't underfeed the Forwards. The guards have GOT to get more active on the offensive glass... They can't leave it up to Travis and the Power Forwards. And someone has gotta find their inner Russell Robinson and quick. We need someone to divide and conquer and force teams to respect our outside dribble drive.


gongs4ku 3 years, 3 months ago

I think we're playing like a top 5 team, but only because there aren't a lot of strong teams this year. This team doesn't have the feel of one that's going to make the final four, but we're still pretty good. I'd be floored if we didn't win the conference, given that it seems like a down year for the big twelve (and college basketball as a whole).


Randy Maxwell 3 years, 3 months ago

The answer to the question is "Very Average" Tom


HAWKTOPIA 3 years, 3 months ago

Keeg's you squeezed water from a stone, and missed the point! To say we can't play against a zone is crazy and belies the first half of the game. Josh did have his issues and seemed uncomfortable with everyone scoring and the Hawks doing well. This game was about discipline and staying the course.

Bill Self is the culprit here. He left selby in to get him some points, probably hoping a little personnel change would shift him to a leadership shooting role. this kept the team from pulling away further and stalled our attack (we were up by 15). He yanked TRob when he got chippy much too quick. He played the twins when they were tired and didn't rebound or play D. I think he panicked a bit when releford went down, and should have put withey in because this michigan team collapsed every time we got the ball inside, and he needs the work. it couldn't have been worse than the second half really was. Bill did not get the correct personnel in the game to D-up and pass to the point. The zone breaking takes patience, and Bill showed none. He went back to a tired starting group that had lost the fire and fell to casual, lost focus play, and tried to look nonchalant.

We have to play winning ball, not waiting ball. Like golf, it's one swing with a dozen clubs. You have to play to win every time up the court, and every time on defense. there is no other way to play. Bill Self did not use his personnel to his advantage.


KU_FanSince75 3 years, 3 months ago

Better question Keegan----how good is Jesse Newell? He said KU would win by seven and what was the final score? Oh, yea----67-60. Of course, Jesse didn't predict OT, but still. . . . . . Keegan, I liked what you said in this article. Just keep jumping on your pony and enjoy the ride!


actorman 3 years, 3 months ago

You're right, KSA. Clearly if Morningstar hadn't played in this game, KU would have shot 55% and won by 25 points.


KSA_21_3503 3 years, 3 months ago

Keep Morningstar on the bench and KU is the #1 team in the country.


duanep5ku 3 years, 3 months ago

Kansas fans also need to remember that no other top 10 team is doing much better right now. Ohio St has had close games too and don't be surprised if Michigan beats them this week. Oh' another thing this Michigan team only lost by three at Syracuse.So why this win may not have been pretty,It's still a W and I'm happy with it. Oh' and lets not forget even the almighty Duke has had their fare share of close games too.


waywardJay 3 years, 3 months ago

Don't love the lovefest to the Michigan Band and Fight song, but Keegan's season long auditioning to leave award winning staff is no surprise.....

He cannot cut the mustard as a Journalist because of a pesky thing called Ethics. He's a marginally successful Editorialist, because he has opinions and has no problem bellowing or bellyaching as any blowhard should.

Otherwise, ( and like this article.... this post is largely slanted at the right angle, just a few quips that are a nuisances. ) you are right. No one knows what we are. I think Bill might have some Idea, but at this point It's gotta be frustrating to him too. Then again, We looked dismal in February 2008 in losing to Oklahoma State and Didn't lose another game that season.

We will lose in conference. We SHOULD still be best in the North. We still SHOULD win at least a share of the Regular Season title. We still SHOULD be in the COnference Semifinals.

28-3 (13-3 ) heading to the Big 12 tourney sound Unrealistic ? That woudl likely send us to the 2 spot in the Eastern region at WORST.


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