Wednesday, February 8, 2012


Defense polarizes programs

Tyshawn Taylor (10) puts up a floater under the goal in the first half of the Jayhawks game against the Baylor Bears. Taylor scored 19 points in the win.

Tyshawn Taylor (10) puts up a floater under the goal in the first half of the Jayhawks game against the Baylor Bears. Taylor scored 19 points in the win.


Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Bill Self

Kansas coach Bill Self talks to reporters following the Jayhawks' 68-54 victory over Baylor on Feb. 8, 2012.

Download podcast

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Baylor coach Scott Drew

Baylor coach Scott Drew talks to reporters following the Bears' 68-54 loss to Kansas on Feb. 8, 2012.

Download podcast

KU vs. Baylor

Box score

— As I watched both teams on the same court for the second time this season Wednesday night, a light flickered in a normally very dark place — my brain — and it became plain to see why Kansas keeps beating Baylor, even though the Bears win so many recruiting battles.

The Jayhawks make it no fun to play against them. They plant themselves in your face and stay there. The Bears have so many good basketball players, but nothing about them makes Kansas dread playing them.

Kansas defends against Baylor with the urgency of a make-it, take-it team playing from behind. The Bears defend in a way that calls to mind All-Star teams, as they settle into a passive zone that once solved tends to stay solved.

Kansas is a boot-camp basketball program, Baylor a summer-camp team, replete with a no-cussing policy implemented by coach Scott Drew, a magnificent recruiter and likable face for the once-disgraced program.

Kansas brings a football (ultimate team sport) mentality into the Baylor games, whereas the Bears look more like a track and field team (individual sport), showcasing most-impressive high jumpers and sprinters.

A shaky Kansas start and an oh-so-sloppy finish resulted in a deceiving score, a 68-54 victory that lifted the Jayhawks back into a first-place tie with Missouri and shoved Baylor into third place, one game behind the leaders.

That score doesn’t speak to the dominance Kansas displayed once it stopped tripping all over itself and started striking fear into Baylor. In a span of 11 minutes and 14 seconds, starting with a few minutes left in the first half, the Jayhawks outscored Baylor, 32-4. Those merciless meanies, bullying the poor Bears like that.

That stretch defined as well as any why teams that play aggressive man-to-man defense have higher ceilings than those that play a passive zone.

Why, the question was put to Kansas coach Bill Self, are his teams so good defensively, year in and year out?

“To be honest, I don’t think we’ve guarded for three weeks,” Self said. “I don’t think we have.”

He’s never satisfied, which is why his players don’t relax and in turn get better. But every year the numbers define Kansas as one of the nation’s strongest defensive teams.

“It’s what we believe in,” Self said. “It’s got to be the staple of who we are, and we take pride in that. We’ve recruited some good players, and those good players have all sacrificed to become that, so that’s more of a compliment to them than it is anything else. But it’s who we are.”

Tyshawn Taylor was asked the same question.

“I think that’s just his emphasis,” Taylor said of Self. “He always emphasizes defense, defense, defense, and he wants us to play high on the floor. He wants us to pressure as much as possible, and I think we try to do that the best we can. We play high on the floor, not letting them get easy passes, pressuring the ball when people are bouncing it.

“Our big guys do a good job of trapping the post when we set that up, and our guards do a good job of rotating and just helping each other out. We’re a good defensive team because we help each other out.”

Guard Elijah Johnson (five assists, one turnover) didn’t score a point, and neither did the man he guarded, three-point shooter, Brady Heslip.

“I didn’t see any reason to let him catch the ball,” Johnson said. “He’s not a threat if he can’t catch the ball. So I planned on not letting him be a threat.”

Defense always comes first at Kansas.

“That’s our team,” Johnson said. “That’s our program. Anybody can score. That’s why you’re in college basketball. But we can defend.”

It can be difficult for players to accept that because scoring is more naturally enjoyable than preventing someone else from doing it.

“I bought into it since the summer I got here,” Johnson said. “I definitely did because he knows something I don’t know, and I take his word for it.”

Baylor needed just 1:53 to score seven points at the game’s start, five of them scored by McDonald’s All-Americans Perry Jones III (dunk off a lob) and Quincy Miller (three-pointer). For the remaining 38:07, neither player scored a field goal.

It should be noted, though, that Miller played just 14 minutes. After Miller threw a vicious elbow into Jeff Withey’s chest, Drew benched him for the remainder of the game for playing too hard. Check that, for playing too roughly, not too hard.

“Obviously, Quincy should never have done it,” Drew said.

True, but Miller and teammates need to learn to play a more physical brand of basketball. On paper, they look like championship material, on the court, at least against Kansas, more like an All-Star squad.


Ralster Jayhawk 7 years ago

Wierd, strange coaching by Scott Drew-a-blank. Your teams are "soft!", boy. You got no prayer with your Failor-baylor team against any tough-ass Self team. Self's teams personify him--and he recruits players that have that tough swagger, from RussRob, Chalmers, Sherron, to Tyshawn, Twins, and TRob... Your player's pretend-toughness got him benched, the ultimate self-check. Pun intended. Why dont you recruit some more MickeyD's? And go watch some game tape of the 08Champs on how Self figured out years ago how to kill zones. Or just watch 2 Baylor/ku games from this season? See if daddy got any ideas for ya...stupid pretender forgot that conference play = big boy ball. You opened a can of "Zero", and Self keeps poppin cans of "Jolt" on u. Whatcha got for next year? Cuz, see this was just a "down" year for us...

hawksfan08 7 years ago

Can't say I disagree with one thing written here. Touche. This is the difference between John Calipari and Scott Drew. Seniors + great coach > talented freshman + great coach (calipari, like it or not his teams are well coached and defend) > talented freshmen + ok coach (drew, whose teams don't defend and try to get theirs on the other end).

Steve Reigle 7 years ago

Yea, but why should Calipari's boys try to win when they (should) know that win will be taken away in the end, anyhow.

Scott Oswalt 7 years ago

Why are you talking about John Calipari? He will NEVER win a National Championship, but if he ever does, it will be taken away because of recruiting violations.

Vernon Riggs 7 years ago

Here is the difference between Drew and Calipari: Calipari is deep down an X's and O's coach who can recruit. He learned from Larry Brown. Drew is a recruiter who doesn't bother with or doesn't know the X's and O's. Both bring in talent freshmen. UK players leave the program better than what they came in. Baylor players do not grow during their time at Baylor. Perry Jones III was projected the top 1, 2-or 3 lottery pick last year if he came out as a freshman one-and-done. Do you think he will fare as well after one more season at Baylor? Unless Drew can recruit an assistant coach that will coach during the games and let Drew take credit for it, they will continue to hang NIT and Sweet 16 Banners in Waco.

KU_Alumn_2000 7 years ago

Ralster - your feelings toward Baylor are similar to how I feel about Mizzcrap.

KU basketball team - don't celebrate this victory. Move on, stay focused, and let that Missouri game feed your drive for the rest of the season.

Let's win this conference outright...and send Missouri packing for the SEC in style.

ParisHawk 7 years ago

Imagine being tied with MU for the conference title on Senior Night, then sending them home with a big loss. Hold out the prize then snatch it from under their noses.

That would take the sting out of the loss at Columbia.

hotrodm 7 years ago

I agree and want KU and MIZZOO tied when they play in Allen fieldhouse. What an experience that would be. Stay focused and continue to win Jayhawks. Win the Big 12 outright.

lincase 7 years ago

Really? I am happy for Missouri to lose anytime.

KUbsee69 7 years ago

Me too! Old saying ... my favorite teams are KU and whoever is playing MU.

Eric Williams 7 years ago

Texas is Senior Night. Missouri is our 2nd to last home game.

Chuck Stones 7 years ago

BINGO - I'm afraid everybody thinks MO is the last game of the year. We still have to go to OkieSt and TX at home - ie Sr Night. Granted, neither one is very good, but either can be dangerous, especially if we think the season is over after we beat Mizzou. Don't fall into the "let up/down" trap!!!!

Ron Prichard 7 years ago

I love the thought, but KU plays Texas on Senior Night.

Ron Prichard 7 years ago

I didn't read far enough down. jhawk613 and kbacs beat me to it.

jaybate 7 years ago

Elijah has solved his shooting slump in an unorthodox way. He has stopped others from scoring, too.

Jim Roth 7 years ago

“I didn’t see any reason to let him catch the ball,” Johnson said. “He’s not a threat if he can’t catch the ball. So I planned on not letting him be a threat.”

Love that quote.

Sam Constance 7 years ago

EJ is channeling Kirk Hinrich with this quote. I believe he said something similar in relation to playing/stopping Dwyane Wade in the 2003 Final Four matchup against Marquette...

Scott Oswalt 7 years ago

I'll never forget that game vs. Marquette. LOVED IT!

XEPCT 7 years ago

we beat them pretty handedly, though, DWade still had 19 pts.

jhox 7 years ago

Every coach I've ever been around has talked about the importance of playing good defense. The best coaches demand it. The best coaches are willing to sit their best player on the bench if they're not playing defense. That's what separates the great coaches from the average ones. It is amazing to me how few coaches out there truly demand great defense. If you don't expect it, you're probably not going to get it.

If you look at, year in, year out, the most successful coaches, the very best demand great defense. Zone defenses are not all bad, but you better have long, fast athletes if you're going to play zone, and they better be able to cover a lot of ground and work their butts off (like Syracuse teams, or the Cheney teams at Temple.) Drew has the athletes to do that, but he's obviously not demanding enough of them. That's probably why so many elite players flock to him (that, and probably a little green thrown in as well) because he doesn't make them work hard. Players love to play for "players coaches", but player's coaches rarely win anything significant.

Mike Barnhart 7 years ago

Sure, Baylor is loaded with 5-star athletes but as Kansas has discovered with a few of it's recent 5-star signings not all hamburger all-americans are alike!

When it comes to 5-star recruits, only a few combine their immense talent with a strong work ethic. Coach Self now knows better. Let Baylor have the lazy 5-stars, we'll take the 4-stars that try harder them the "Avis All-Americans"!

Steve Corder 7 years ago

Danny Manning spent a lot of time in Duncanville, Texas trying to get Perry Jones to KU. We wanted Perry and he would probably be better prepared for the pros if he had followed Manning to Lawrence. It's his loss. I doubt he realizes that because it makes no difference now. But these prized recruits should pay attention.

KANSTUCKY 7 years ago

He could still transfer and walk on.

yates33333 7 years ago

Great column. I think Keegan is getting with the program.

Ron Prichard 7 years ago

I've noticed that he seems to be putting in a little more effort and phoning it in less. Props to Keegs, and I say that after having bashed him pretty hard a couple of times.

Benjamin Clay Jones 7 years ago

“I think that’s just his emphasis,” Taylor said of Self. “He always emphasizes defense, defense, defense, and he wants us to play high on the floor. He wants us to pressure as much as possible, and I think we try to do that the best we can. We play high on the floor, not letting them get easy passes, pressuring the ball when people are bouncing it."

Yeah, Tyshawn plays TOO high on the floor; pressures his man TOO closely. That's why Jackson was driving around him at will last night.

KU_Phogified 7 years ago

Umm, you may want to take a look at those pesky ball-screens there Mr. Speakeasy.

TT's defense was just fine.

Kye Clark 7 years ago

Screens are a part of the game. You can't always rely on the switch, sometimes you have to anticipate, go around/over/under/through them, and beat your man to the spot. I thought Tyshawn's defense was suspect at times. Once Jackson got away from him for a 3 in the corner in the first half. Tyshawn was 10-12 feet away when Jackson caught the ball.

Benjamin Clay Jones 7 years ago

Not talking about ball screens. Straight-up defense.

stm62 7 years ago

If you can absorb Baylors initial onslaught, as KU did. They'll quit.

NomadHawk 7 years ago

Agreed. I had a really good feeling at half-time when I saw the Baylor players walking into the dressing room. The body language was all negative - everyone had their heads down, some were kicking or punching the air, and not a single smile. And they were only down by 3!!! Instead of focusing on the positives, like Bill Self when we were down 10 early in the 1st half, Drew's squad got down on themselves and never showed up in the 2nd half. they just let us punch 'em in the teeth, then laid down and took a beating for the remaining 20 mins!

Rock Chalk!!

labbadabba 7 years ago

Sorta like King Hippo on Mike Tyson's Punch Out...

Clarence Haynes 7 years ago

For all of you recruits considering Baylor versus Kansas, the record of 7 (contending for an eighth) Big XII Titles and Coach Self's record versus Baylor speak for themselves!

KU_Phogified 7 years ago

Tremendous, spot-on article, Mr. Keegan. What you essentially did, was define the difference between a program that is legit (KU), and one that is superficial (Baylor). I don't care how many All-Worlders Baylor signs, they still don't play a demanding defensive style; which is never going to take them anywhere significant.

Guys like Self, who can get high-level and even marginal talent to play defense and share the ball, are the premier coaches. Perhaps the perception is that country-clubs like Baylor are more suitable for the easier, softer way into the NBA, but KU and Self cut no corners, and this scares off some of these high school prima-donas. Isn't it ironic, that our "weakest" team can hammer Baylor's best team ever!?!

Great job last night fellas. Keep up the good work.

Marcia Parsons 7 years ago

You wonder if some of those great recruits Drew brings in have never watched Baylor play. Maybe his big selling point is to convince the recruit that all the team is missing is them, and once they're signed up everything will be okay. Drew is still coasting on that zone defense he pulled out of his bag of tricks at the Big12 tournament several years ago--completely surprised everyone, including us, and won the tournament because none of the other teams had prepared for it. He needs to realize that everyone has now figured it out. Poor Perry Jones. He should have left last year.

april28 7 years ago

The announcers referenced a new big-time commitment to Baylor last night. For the life of me, I'm not sure why any big-man in the country would not list Kansas first.

7 years ago

I was at that first round tournament loss to Baylor in OKC. Brutal. I think MU went on to beat the Bears in the championship game though.

Mike Kendall 7 years ago

Yeah, I had tickets to the Championship game in OKC. I was so disgusted, that I sold my tickets to an O-State alumnus co-worker. It was Missouri & OSU in the Championship game that year.

Mike Kendall 7 years ago

Maybe it was Okie State in the Semi's. Sorry about that.

Jeremy Paul 7 years ago

I went to a University of Iowa wrestling camp about 20 years ago, and Dan Gable told a story about his team that was going for its 10th consecutive national championship (I believe it was 1987). Anyway, they had been completely dominant for 9 years and ego got the best of them and that year they decided to put a roman numeral "X" on their singlets. They ended up finishing 6th at the national tournament. And Gable said that it was because since they had become so good, their success was basically recruiting itself and all the best wrestlers in the nation wanted to go there. He said that all the 3-time and 4-time state champions out there--the ultra talented kids who basically didn't have to work too hard to be state champs--all came to Iowa. And they got complacent and didn't have good work ethic because they were, in their minds, already good. And so Gable vowed from then on he didn't care how many state titles a kid won, or how slick and talented he was on the mat; he was going to recruit guys who worked their asses off. That was all he wanted--guys who wanted to be the best and were willing to put in the work to make that happen.

I guess that's sort of a strange anecdote to have on a Kansas basketball message board, but I've always remembered that and it has always made sense to me. And I think Bill Self has the same philosophy. Baylor can have all the McD's all-american's they want--those dudes usually think they're great already and generally don't always have the best work ethic. Self would rather have a guy with desire to work hard every day and buy into his system of teamwork and attitude.

By the way, how do ya'll like the new pic of my daughter on here? We call her Cee-Lo.

Tony Bandle 7 years ago

Did Gable win any more championships? The answer is yes....six more!!!

Jeremy Paul 7 years ago

Glad there's another wrestler in the family Oakville!

Jeremy Paul 7 years ago

You can have your Lombardi and Wooden--Dan Gable is the greatest coach in the history of coaching.

kerbyd 7 years ago

Cee-Lo is a cutie! Love the shades.

Jeremy Paul 7 years ago

Thanks kerbyd. She's already a huge KU fan and Chiefs fan. And a Phillies fan. Chase Utley is her favorite player.

Brad Avery 7 years ago

And so Gable vowed from then on he didn't care how many state titles a kid won, or how slick and talented he was on the mat; he was going to recruit guys who worked their asses off.

Sounds like a pretty good way to put together a football program as well!

WilburNether 7 years ago

Keegan wrote: "...teams that play aggressive man-to-man defense have higher ceilings than those that play a passive zone.

Yeah, like when KU beat Syracuse in the NCAA Championship game in the 2003 Final Four.

Oops, wait.....

Ryan Shelton 7 years ago

Perhaps it had more to do with Carmello and that little jarhead that kept cashing threes along with KU's free throw woes. Believe me, it wasn't Syracuse's zone that won them that championship!

texashawk10 7 years ago

There's a reason why Syracuse has only made it past the Sweet 16 just four times under Boehiem. One of the safest bets in a bracket pool is Syracuse going out in the Sweet 16 or easier.

twistinside 7 years ago

Because if there's one thing a Roy Williams team is known for, it's their aggressive defense..

Clarence Haynes 7 years ago

We might have been winners if we had done better on the FT line.

Ron Prichard 7 years ago

If KU didn't go for a sub-50% from the free throw line, KU wins going away. Also, as twistinside stated, that was a Roy Williams KU team, and those teams were known for their offensive speed, but never as "agressive" teams, even if they were good defensively. Finally, I'm not sure I would refer to Syracuse's zone defense as "passive." Oh, yeah...remember some guy named McNamara going OFF from three?

Tony Bandle 7 years ago

Tom, this may be the best article of the season written by need to visit that very dark place in your brain more often, my friend.

Let me try to explain Baylor's recruiting success:

1] Playing a soft zone is easy...playing a tough man-to-man is hard. 2] If basketball was a dinner, offense is your meat, potatoes, gravy and dessert......defense is your vegetables. 3] No one plays defense in the NBA so why does anyone think elite high school players want to play defense in college. 4] Bill Self is Marine Drill Sergeant R. Lee Emery [Full Metal Jacket] 5] Scott Drew is Sergeant Ernest G. Bilko

DallasJay14 7 years ago

Scott Drew is an awful x and o's coach and HCBS makes him look stupid everytime they play. Thats all that needs to be said.

Go Hawks!

Scott Oswalt 7 years ago

Just the look on Drew's face during the 32-4 run was priceless. Play man-to-man bro!

mnhawk13 7 years ago

Said perfectly last night, Bill Self takes players and makes them pros.

Ron Prichard 7 years ago

I can't remember what game it was, but recently one announcer was commenting about how coming out of timeouts, KU was absolutely brilliant and scored almost every time. Absolutely a testament to Coach Self's coaching ability.

KGphoto 7 years ago

Good one Keeg party. Really good.

"The Jayhawks make it no fun to play against them. They plant themselves in your face and stay there." Love it!

"Make it take it" "Boot camp, Summer camp"

All great analogies.

mnhawk13 7 years ago

Found interesting after the game listening to college basketball live, and the question was posed do you credit Kansas or blame Baylor. The answer is, you have to blame Baylor. We played well, but they were terrible on defense again and wouldn't come out of the zone. Take T-Rob away at the post and all you do is run short corner and feed the low post. Basketball 101...taught my 3-4 grade girls that play last week.

Ben Kliewer 7 years ago

I didn't read all the comments, so if I'm repeating something, forgive me. I talked to some people who were talking about how, after we had that huge run in the middle of the game, we got lazy in the last few minutes.

I don't think that's lazy, I think that's exhaustion. Our bench is so thin that our guys, especially TT, are playing the better part of the 40 minutes. I think we just ran out of gas at the end, and since Baylor had played so much "summer league" ball during the game, they still had energy to put together a little run. It's not conditioning either, I think these guys are pretty well conditioned. Just lot's of game-time. Must've given Baylor some good rest letting KU go on a 35-7 run like that.

Speaking of TT, we have all seen his mistakes under a microscope because all we see is Kansas Basketball. We simply judge him against himself and what he "should" be doing. We pay enough attention that we can make note of all his mistakes, and all we see of other guards in the country are the highlights on sportscenter. But I'll tell you, I'm really beginning to buy into this whole "one of the best guards in the country" hooplah. I mean, Tyshawn has really been impressing me a lot lately. And I think he's working hard and taking it a lot more seriously at this point. I'm excited for Madness.

Ron Prichard 7 years ago

I couldn't agree with you more on KU running out of gas the last 5 minutes or so. It was clear TT was exhausted and a couple others weren't much better. The starters have to put in so many minutes and playing tough D all game takes it out of you. Hopefully that doesn't haunt us come tournament time when we have to play two games in three days.

gerseph 7 years ago

2013 5 star recruit Julius Randle attended the game last night. In addition to KU's dominance he also witnessed a large portion of Baylor fans leaving with about 12 minutes left in the game. I wonder what his thoughts coming away were. KU has offered him a scholarship as well.

HawkKlaw 7 years ago

I notice this year in and year out. At the start of the season, KU tends to look awful on offense and pretty decent on defense. Then, about mid-season, KU tends to start looking pretty impressive on both ends of the court. You can tell that Self's strategy is to always start by teaching tough team defense. I would argue that it is the key ingredient to Self's gaudy winning percentage.

Ben Simonett 7 years ago

I really thought the Big 12 was Baylor's conference to lose this year, the talent on that team is head and shoulders above the rest of the league.

My Mistake!

I will never again underestimate Scott Drew's ability to take talented teams and cut them off at the knees with poor coaching.

Tony Bandle 7 years ago

Coach of the Year:

1] Who in Division 1 has lost more talent [ 3 NBA players, 3 seniors, 3 2012 recruits] 2] Whose bench is ranked 293 out of 340+/- ? 3] Who is threatening to secure a #1 seed in the NCAA? 4] Who is in the drivers seat for an 8th straight Big 12 conference title? 5] Who has got, after the first five, just walk-ons and projects filling out the rotation? 6] Who will have played Top 25 teams 10 times this season?

You tell me!!!!!!!!!

Mike Kendall 7 years ago


Damn, you're good! Be my lawyer!

Eric Bernauer 7 years ago

I hope he paid particular attention to the development of PJ3 and TRob. TRob was not a McDonald's All American nor by any stretch of the imagination a refined player. TRob was a one trick pony who rebounded well by playing hard. PJ3 on the other hand was cream of the crop of the then high school players. Many thought he was a one and done. Now you should ask yourself Mr. Randle, who has developed more. PJ3 came in as a player at a very high level, but has he improved at all? TRob, the previous one trick pony, is now many peoples favorite for POY. How about Jeff Withey? Jeff came in as a top 50 player, but anybody who watched his initial forays onto the court could see he wasn't ready for much more than keeping the pine warm. Now he is a player. It is hard for me to believe that I actually catch myself looking forward to seeing him play next year because if he improves as much again as he already has, the NBA is in his future.

Playing close to home is nice. Setting your career on track is priceless.

JayHawkFanToo 7 years ago

As soft as Baylor plays, looks like they could use this player already enrolled at Baylor...

REHawk 7 years ago

Hey, if you wish to coast on your high school talent and attend a college where the coach guarantees a starting position,from the getgo, go to Baylor. If you seek the challenge of optimal development, watch a Kansas practice, and stop off for a visit in Andrea Hudy's training facility. Depending on your personal make-up, pick the program which best suits your disposition. Kansas coaches will be searching for the brightest, most industrious, focused, determined and flexible 4 or 5 star recruit.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.