Saturday, March 26, 2011


Kansas defense reinvents itself



KU vs. Richmond

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Kansas defeated Richmond, 77-57, to advance the the Elite Eight on Friday, March 25, 2011 at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Bill Self

Kansas coach Bill Self talks to reporters following the Jayhawks' 77-57 victory over Richmond on March 25, 2011.

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— The edict from Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self to his players in preparation for Friday night’s Southwest regional semifinal game against Richmond was twofold: 1. No layups off back-door cuts; 2. No three-pointers.

Then Self and assistant coach Joe Dooley spent three days changing their players’ basketball brains, altering where they stood in relation to the player they were guarding. Basically, instead of playing between the ball and your man, players were told to play between their man and the basket.

Had a quick guard adept at driving to the hoop and finishing, a Tyshawn Taylor-type player, driven against that defense, he might have scored 40 points because he would have blown by his defender and nobody would be there to help onto him. Instead of playing “down the line” in a position to help on drives to the hoop, the KU defenders blocked the cutters’ path to the hoop by staying in front of them. It frustrated the life out of the slower Spiders, who couldn’t compete and lost, 77-57, in the Alamodome, where Kansas feels right at home.

The Spiders didn’t have that Taylor type of guard, and they don’t take that approach to getting the ball inside. They get it there with back-door cuts, a door slammed shut by Kansas players who in three days of practice changed their minds so completely they allowed just one bucket on a back-door cut the entire game, and that was late, after the outcome had been decided and Tyrel Reed surrendered it.

Three-pointers? Richmond shot 26, most of them rushed, even desperate. The Spiders made just four of them. That’s a .154 three-point percentage for a team that brought a .414 mark into the game.

Other than Michigan, Kansas didn’t play a team all year that plays close to that style, and still it was able to execute its defensive game plan to near perfection and led at the half, 41-22.

That says a few things about a team that is one victory away from its second Final Four appearance in four years. It says it has a coaching staff that knows how to communicate its message, has players who have learned how to concentrate, and at least for the moment eliminate distractions, and it says the players aren’t just mentally quick, they’re physically jets as well.

Even in building a 35-2 record, this team hasn’t always look like one of Self’s best defensive units, but as the stage has grown, the defense has tightened. In reaching the Elite Eight, Kansas didn’t play a ranked team. Even so, the defensive improvement can’t be denied. The three-pointer is the equalizer for slower teams, and Kansas hasn’t allowed any of its opponents to do damage with it three games into the NCAA Tournament. Boston University, Illinois and Richmond have combined for a .264 three-point percentage. Richmond was the toughest test in that regard.

“They’re such a good passing team and so well coached it’s hard to guard that, but I think we did a pretty good job,” said senior forward Mario Little, one of many Jayhawks who played well off the bench. “We had to change our whole mind-set. Coach drilled that into us, to not lunge at the ball, to stay with your man, don’t cheat over and try to fake at it because as soon as you turn your head, it’s over with.”

Self didn’t limit his coaching to practice. His face ablaze with intensity, the coach at times didn’t just scream defensive instruction, he demonstrated it, sliding his feet as he was challenging his players to do the same, only far quicker in sneakers than he did it in shiny shoes.

Self said the skirmish between the Kansas and Richmond players in the hall a few minutes before tipoff was no big deal, but it might have been a big deal in a positive way, given how the Jayhawks started the game with such intensity.

“It’s hard to say we wouldn’t have played like that if that didn’t happen,” Little said. “We’ve been watching TV. It’s kind of hard not to play like that when guys are saying we can’t play against a matchup, just talking about us like we weren’t 32-2 coming into the tournament. So we were all turned up and paid attention to detail. Everybody was tuned in. Everybody was focused, and it showed. We concentrated on locking up and had fun with it.”

Might Kansas be in the midst of becoming as efficient defensively as offensively?

“Our offense is so good,” Little said. “I don’t know if we can ever catch up to that. Defensively, we’re making strides. In this tournament, there could be a day we’re not making shots, so we have to lock up our man and do the little things to get us over the hump.”


basketball122009 10 years, 1 month ago

give bill self 5 days to prepare for any offense and he will come out with the victory

jaydeamin 10 years, 1 month ago

Defense is all about a mind-set and grit! Get in the other teams grill and D-up hawks and make a run to another NC!!

Michael Luby 10 years, 1 month ago

I get amped up for the next game on sunday just reading this post. Thanks Keegs! Boy, Im gonna miss these articles after the season is over, in a big way. I love it! Also, I said this on the last post but I'll repeat it here anyways.
Correct me if Im wrong fellas but over the past 5 years, all the teams that won the NC have been #1 seeds. Florida, KU, UNC, Duke. Now, there is just one #1 seed left this year...Just sayin.

Michael Luby 10 years, 1 month ago

Hey everybody, I just ran into this story on twitter. I lost this guys handle on twitter but here is his post and his email is in there too. Please for the love of the KU Jayhawk Gods and the best fan base in the nation, give this guy some major hell for this one. He deserves it bigtime! Post this link anywhere and everywhere you can. I want him to know the wrath of the Jayhawk Nation!!!

ancient_hawk 10 years, 1 month ago

And then, just hours later, turns in this tripe:

Apparently, during March, he takes time off of his day gig of writing about women's foundation garments to sit in bars, eavesdrop on drunken conversations, polish up the grammar a (very little) bit, and then offer the effluvia as original thought.

A Michigan State grad living in Houston Texas. "Nuff said.

benshawks08 10 years, 1 month ago

I actually kinda like this one. Our team definitely has a mean streak and I LOVE it! Don't think Barkley or anyone else is going to sit in his chair and call KU "soft" like North Carolina. We are tough, mean, gritty, and great. That tenacity may have been what was missing in previous years (not that any of the previous years have been that bad). I think more of it comes from TRob than the twins but that's just my observation.

Chris1955 10 years, 1 month ago

Lots of Jayhawks reside here in Houston. He may find himself being very sorry he ever dissed us.

I'm a NCAA volunteer for the Final Four next weekend. I'll be working as a information/answer person in the baggage area of Terminal B at George Bush Intercontinental Airport from 1-9 PM on Friday, April 1st. If any of you are flying in for the FF, stop by and introduce yourself.

youowethehawks 10 years, 1 month ago

You can email the author by clicking on his name, which is hyperlinked.

klineisanazi 10 years, 1 month ago

I guess the same could be said about his Sparties in 2001, which had a similar path to the Final Four.

TenaciousD 10 years, 1 month ago

Sound like he had $$$ on the Spiders to me.

Jared Grillot 10 years, 1 month ago

Even better than getting steamed at the article is going down to read the scathing commentary. Apparently nobody gives a rat's rear end about this guy or his opinions. As it should be.

Matt Lacey 10 years, 1 month ago

Stop posting this moron's articles and don't click on them. They thrive on page views. It's the same as the shoutcasts on cable news.

okjhok 10 years, 1 month ago

Wow...who at KU pissed that tool off?

Bryan Hurford 10 years, 1 month ago

Looks like some excellent fuel to dump on the fire! RCJH

lincase 10 years, 1 month ago

I suppose he would be happy if the championship were decided the way it is in football. He is missing the point of what makes the tournament great.

eway12 10 years, 1 month ago

Sounds like the tool was hired by the BCS

jayhawkintexas 10 years, 1 month ago

We have a chance to face either Kentucky or North Carolina for the National Championship and they play each other tomorrow!! Life can't get any better! If (when) we beat VCU, we will gain another game on either Kentucky or North Carolina. Then, if we face the winner for the National Championship, it will be a matchup we have wanted for a long time. This tournament is getting better and better!!!

Jared Grillot 10 years, 1 month ago

That dude has some serious Jayhawk-hating issues. Serious issues. Maybe he missed this very instructional and far superior article:

There. That should make him feel better.

Dyrk Dugan 10 years, 1 month ago

it really appears that our defense has went up some notches. more specifically, our adherence to scouting report D, has really improved.

i don't know how many times this year, that Coach Self said we didn't play to scouting report....i mean it was a lot. even the games we won, when we gave up 50% plus shooting.....we didn't have the discipline on D. now we're totally locked in.

same thing will apply on Sunday. VCU is living off the three...they hit 12 total vs. FSU....11 in regulation. 11 threes, and only scored 65 total points. half their points were threes. if we get after them like we did the first two opponents, we'll win fairly easily again.

Markieff didn't show up last night...and we still win by 20. Marcus-Markieff combined for only 18 points...and we still win by 20. if those guys show up on Sunday...a chance for the FF, and we play the good scouting report D, no way in the world we lose.

the only problem with all of this is, we are the only #1 seed left...and all the pressure will be on. but with at least UNC-UK and UCONN-AZ going to the FF...there are enough bluebloods there to get our juices going, if we get by the Rams. Congrats to the coaches and the guys, and Go Jayhawks!

Funhawk 10 years, 1 month ago

Enjoyed reading this fun article. Good job by the coaches and players exterminating the Spiders. Now to keep those ants out of the house, I mean Rams. Will miss Mario Little playing for the Hawks next year - one of the best Jayhawk zone busters of all time. The gist of this article is this -- our guys are smart, smart, smart!

Lin Rahardja 10 years, 1 month ago

KU offense can be very good... may be not “Our offense is so good,” If the guards didn't combine for 9 for 16 of 3 pt field goals, this would be a closer game. So let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Dale Kroening 10 years, 1 month ago

We have lead the nation in fg% all year. Just sayin........

waywardJay 10 years, 1 month ago

We should all thank the NCAA Tournament selection committee thusf ar, they have righted that error last year that allowed Northern Iowa to be a 10 seed, by giving us Boston, Illinois and Richmond thus far.

None as slight as Baldwin would suggest, but certainly not the murderer's row we have faced in the past to advance..... Arizona and Duke back to back to even get to the final four in 2003.

The truth is, We cannot help the fact that Notre Dame, Lousiville, and Purdue didn't do their work. We can only line up against the next team in the line up. Do we criticize them for not being able to beat mid-major teams, certainly not. We know, oh so well, how painful it is to lose to a team tat's seeded lower than you. Certainly by the time tourney rolls around next year, Louisville/Purdue/ anmd Notredame will be forgiven of their sins from the previous year. Yet every year we hear about Bucknell, Bradley, and Northern Iowa.

The other truth here is these teams keep on winning, Richmond not only beat Vandy but beat Morehead State. VCU beat not only Georgetown, and Purdue but Florida State also. If we get there and face Butler, that will be Butler after beating Florida, Wisconsin, Pittsburgh and Old Dominion. The longer these supposedly Bad teams hang around the more Chris Baldwin's points seem false.

addlime 10 years, 1 month ago

Did anyone else notice the defense Brady played before he got the block in the second half? I replayed that one possession several times. It was so beautiful, even before the block. Arms at his sides, he just moved his feet so quickly to cut off every angle the guard tried to take on the drive. Then when Richmond's guard tried to pull up for a J, Brady blocked it, and it lead to a fast break dunk. Better than textbook, I almost cried. :)

ancient_hawk 10 years, 1 month ago

I was also pleased with their textbook handling of the matchup zone. Go to about 12:50 in the 2nd half, if you still have the game recorded, for a perfect example.

After good rotation, ball ends up in Cus's hands on L block. D collapses. TT cuts to basket, no lane. Brady cuts for easy layup. If he would have been covered, Mario had already replaced him, and was in position for a third cut.

justinryman 10 years, 1 month ago

Brady got pushed a few times when a player would make a cut to the basket, not on a screen just the guy he was guarding. It was funny how he got in their heads and frustrated them, and then he let them know about it. WHOOOOPS!! I think the only reason that was a T was that the Ref had just talked to him and the Richmond player.

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