Kansas defeats Oregon State, 84-78

  • 7 p.m., Nov. 30, 2012
  • T-Mobile Center, Kansas City, MO

Friday, November 30, 2012

Beaver fever: Self searching for answers on D after close win over Oregon State

Kansas head coach Bill Self puts his head in his hands after a Jayhawk turnover turned into a bucket for Oregon State during the second half on Friday, Nov. 30, 2012 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

Kansas head coach Bill Self puts his head in his hands after a Jayhawk turnover turned into a bucket for Oregon State during the second half on Friday, Nov. 30, 2012 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri.


Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Bill Self talks after win over Oregon State

Kansas coach Bill Self talks to reporters following the Jayhawks' 84-78 victory over Oregon State on Nov. 30, 2012.

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Travis Releford and Ben McLemore

Kansas guards Travis Releford and Ben McLemore talk to reporters following the Jayhawks' 84-78 victory over Oregon State on Nov. 30, 2012.

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Box score

KU vs. OSU

— A few more points here and there and Oregon State basketball coach Craig Robinson would have received a congratulatory call from the White House late Friday night.

Unranked and unheralded Oregon State, which hasn’t beaten a Top 10 team on the road in 36 years, threw a scare into Kansas University’s No. 10-rated Jayhawks before falling, 84-78, before 18,789 quiet fans in Sprint Center.

The Beavers of the Pac-12, who are coached by President Barack Obama’s brother-in-law, shredded KU’s defense in cutting a 14-point deficit to zero the first half and a 13-point deficit to three with under a minute to play in the game.

“It all comes down to this. They guard the guy with the ball better than we guard their guy with the ball. We couldn’t guard No. 3 period,” KU coach Bill Self said of guard Ahmad Starks, who scored 25 points off 9-of-20 shooting, 7-of-13 from three.

“That’s something that obviously has to improve, or we’ll have to change how we play. We’ll have to start playing some zone or whatnot,” added Self.

Zone? Yes ... you read right. He said zone.

KU’s 10th-year coach, who is a disciple of man-to-man defense, was left to ponder putting his Jayhawks in a 2-3 zone after a game in which KU hit 60 percent of its shots, yet only won by six points.

“We didn’t guard the ball,” Self said. “They didn’t score off their actions. They scored off us not being able to guard the ball, which is pretty important. We can’t blame it on our offense. We got the ball where we wanted it to go, we just didn’t do any good at stopping them.”

Elijah Johnson, who has been battling a knee injury the past couple weeks, had nine assists, four turnovers and six points in 28 minutes.

“You saw tonight. He got whipped,” Self said. “I hate to say that. The point guard on their team gets 25. Ours gets six. That’s not all on him. Different guys were guarding him.

“That’s what’s frustrating. I don’t know where we go from there yet,” added Self, who tried Naadir Tharpe (no points, two turnovers, one assist, eight minutes), Rio Adams (two points, one assist, one turnover, four minutes) and walk-on Evan Manning (no stats in two minutes) at the backup point position.

“We’ll try to figure a way to put us in a situation where the other team doesn’t feel so comfortable right now. He (Johnson) is doing some nice things, but he is not making plays on either end. That is frustrating. We are used to having some guys back there that can make some plays.”

On Friday, KU, which received 15 points the first half from Ben McLemore (he finished with 21), was bailed out by senior Travis Releford, who scored 20 points, 16 the final half.

He had four points in a 9-0 run that upped a 48-44 lead to 57-44. Then, when that lead had been cut to 64-61 (with 9 minutes left), Releford converted a bucket and assist in an 8-0 surge that again opened the lead to 72-61.

“He didn’t do anything in the first half,” Self said of Releford, who finished with seven rebounds and five assists to go with his 20 points. “We were almost playing four against five. I got onto him about it the second half. He drove the ball hard. That’s the thing with Travis. If he drives it, something good will usually happen. He drove it in transition. He also drove it in halfcourt. We got a lot of easy baskets because he was aggressive. That was good to see.”

Releford, a Kansas City native who was MVP of the recent CBE Classic in Sprint Center, said Self indeed got him going.

“Coach challenged me at halftime,” Releford said. “(He challenged) all the guards saying how we hadn’t been attacking the paint, stuff we’d been working on the past week. I noticed that, so I figured I should probably put pressure on the defense to help the team. It opened up for me.”

KU, which had a 33-19 lead evaporate at 37-37 the first half and a 57-44 lead drop to 80-77, didn’t put this one away until McLemore cashed two free throws with :13.9 left, upping the Jayhawks’ 80-77 lead to 82-77.

KU held off the Beavers, whose last road win over a Top 10 team was against No. 6 Washington on Jan. 17, 1976.

“They could have come back and won that game,” Releford said. “We had the lead and we could have closed the game. It could have went either way.”

KU will next meet Colorado at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 8 in Allen Fieldhouse.


EverRisingHawk 9 years ago

Wow, we need someone to step up and lead via intensity. Tyshawn and TRob were those guys last year. Their energy was a barometer for team success. This year we have a phenom in McLemore, but we lack that fire in a vocal leader. Time for someone to step up.

Woody Cragg 9 years ago

Hope the players read this one...Just the byline title should get a barometer to rise...Beaver Fever?! Clever IMO. As the wise man said.. "there's many a slip twixt the cup of the lip."

EverRisingHawk 9 years ago

Defense is a hallmark of Self teams, so I can't imagine how frustrating this is for him. I wouldn't want to be in the locker room after an unranked cupcake team scores 78 on our 10 ranked Hawks

actorman 9 years ago

I wouldn't exactly call Oregon State a "cupcake team." There's a reason that KU was only a 10-point favorite in this game. And imagine how good this OSU team could have been if they had their best player with them. It's definitely a team on the rise.

That's not to say that KU played great, but it's a little disrespectful to OSU to call them a cupcake.

EverRisingHawk 9 years ago

Yeah, you're right, cupcake team was the wrong word. However, allowing 78 by an unranked opponent in Kansas City is unsettling

gimmetheclaw78 9 years ago

The premature Rock Chalk chant was disgraceful. Please try to pay attention and Know the game, supposed Kansas fans. I hope whoever was sitting behind you slapped you in the back of your head. (Not that you'd be reading this...).

Curtis Stutz 9 years ago

I thought the same thing. You only need 4-5 rounds of RCJ at the end of the game, you don't start until it's definitely in hand, which in this case was pretty darn late.

actorman 9 years ago

Hear, hear! It was infuriating to hear it at that point. The only good thing about it was that it was clear it was just a few idiots doing it, and that most of the fans realized how stupid it was to be doing it at that point. But for f***k's sake, folks, there should never be the SLIGHTEST risk of having to rescind a Rock Chalk chant!

Beate Williams 9 years ago

Totally agree, I was sitting here watching the game and heard the chant and told my son that those folks apparently have never been to a KU game, maybe a basketball game period. So much could happen in the time that was left and they were into the chant. Agree, hopefully the folks behind them slapped them in the back of their heads and the ones in front slapped them across their face.

SaltLakeHawk 9 years ago

"Are you kidding me!?!!?? SHUT UP you idiots!!!"

That's what I was yelling at my TV when I heard those bozos start the chant.

I'm willing to bet, in all the years of KU basketball, there's never been a game where KU lost after the chant. That's because Kansas fans are generally intelligent about that game.

We easily could have lost last night. That would have been incredibly embarassing.


I've done a few things prematurely in my life, but a rock chalk chant will never be one of them.

Curtis Stutz 9 years ago

14 offensive rebounds for Oregon St. Have to improve the defensive rebounding, it's been the same thing every game. Releford needs to stay aggressive with the ball all the time, that's what this team is supposed to have going for it, 5 guys always looking to make a play. W wants the ball, Young wants it, Ellis wants the ball, BMac definitely does until crunch time, EJ wants the help, Releford has to want to be looking to make things happen when he gets the ball. Things haven't really gone EJ's way, but I've still got tons of faith in that young man and think he'll get better and better as the team develops. W showed some nice touch a couple times and started making FT's again, Perry Ellis played a little tougher I thought. Releford hit the glass better, best part of AW3's game is still the rebounding, good thing W was able to play 37 mins 'cause Traylor didn't play well in his limited minutes. Nice to see 'Rio get a little time in, just too bad he got the minutes based on Tharpe playing so poorly. I think a step was taken tonight towards Ellis starting and White being the first small off the bench, which was a bit of a surprise. AW3 looked pretty limited offensively though, would rather Tharpe or 'Rio step up and be that 1st small off the bench.

The CU game may not seem that big, but it's huge, not many opportunities to get decent OOC wins this year, so this has to be taken advantage of, 'cause OSU after they lost that game to Duke and with all the revenge on their minds is going to be incredibly difficult.

jhox 9 years ago

Speaking of Ellis, his minutes seem to continue to dwindle. I don't often question Coach Self. Obviously he sees what's going on in practice, etc., but Ellis is the most polished freshman big man he's recruited to KU. I can't help but think he's making a mistake not playing the heck out of him in the non-conference season. He's not going to get better defensively unless he gets more game time to improve. Offensively, he's light years above the other 4's, and I really believe we need him playing significantly more minutes.

I loved Ben's game last night. He's showing signs that he's not going to be another reluctant star, like Brandon Rush was. I wouldn't be at all surprised if Ben scores 20 plus, more often than not, the rest of the season. He seems to be starting to embrace the role of team star. I'm liking the consistency of Withey as well. Travis seems to be getting more offensive confidence...another positive sign for this team. We obviously need better play out of the point position, on both sides of the ball, but there are signs this team is moving in the right direction.

Curtis Stutz 9 years ago

I think some of what you've noticed just comes from Kevin Young's return jhox, plus he didn't play much his first 2 games back 'cause he still had the brace on his hand/wrist. I think your comments about W, BMac and Releford hint at what I'm getting at, everybody on offense has to think of themselves as a playmaker/scorer. Withey does, BMac does, Releford did in the 2nd half and did in the CBE classic, Young and Ellis both look to score it when they are in. EJ is playing decent at PG but Self was reaching for some decent backup play when he brought in Manning. EJ hasn't been the recipient of other people's efforts on the offensive end as much as TT was last year. TT could get a kickout from TRob and have an advantage on his man, if W gets the ball down low he's not kicking it out much but he also isn't drawing double and triple teams. Other guards aren't setting up EJ much as well. 9 assists though against 4 to's I'll take, but as Releford and BMac get more and more comfortable making things happen off the dribble I think it'll get easier out there for EJ. Also it'd be nice for him if he knew he had a solid backup when he picks up a couple fouls.

Michael Bratisax 9 years ago

Is HCBS starting to give up on Tharpe?

Russel Rob struggled mightily as a freshman but was one of the teams best players on both offense and defense his second year.

Tharpe did not make that type of improvement. Nice to see Rio out on the court last night..he showed flashes of what he can bring to the game.

Curtis Stutz 9 years ago

Hopefully it was just one game Self wanted to see if somebody else was going to bring more to the table than Tharpe. Tharpe had been showing some improvement I thought, and think he could be a key backup this year, but in the long run I think you're right and 'Rio has the potential to be pretty special for KU.

Brian Powell 9 years ago

Glad to hear the emphasis on driving the ball to the rim... Been waiting for that one.

From what I've seen, zone should only be the answer to a specific thing based on a specific opponent -- not based on your defense or lack thereof.

Guys that can't play effective Man defense usually can't play effective Zone. In a lot of ways, it's harder! Sure you keep guys outside the paint a little easier, but if they ANY shooters on the team - you're done.

Back to the ole Play D. Or Sit rule.

I like Rio, at least he has some hustle on D. It's a wash on O, because he makes bad plays and awesome plays, but at least he can guard the ball pretty well (for his first month).

Michael Sillman 9 years ago

Withey did not bail out the guards much tonight on defense. He was committing too quickly to going for the block letting the OSU players hesitate on their shot so they could put it up over him. Usually he has more patience while keeping his feet on the ground. In addition, he was not much of a force on the boards tonight with only 5 rebounds.

All of the guards including Johnson were going underneath the screens tonight. Piper was right when he said that we would play good D for 32 seconds then let that little guard get open for a three.

Hopefully it was a learning experience. A win's a win.

actorman 9 years ago

That's an excellent point, Jaylark. Maybe Withey has heard too much praise for blocking all those shots and was overly eager to keep blocking a lot of them instead of focusing on what got him those blocks in the first place.

I was surprised that they didn't say more about how often Withey was leaving his feet at the first move.

RJ King 9 years ago

Not sure what to make of your last paragraph. Tier 3 has to do with TV rights. Is this Sarcasm Font version 0.002?

RJ King 9 years ago

Still not sure what you are saying. First tier right holders grab KU all the time for national games. Second tier as well.

"No more being a Tier 3 school in the Pac 12?" That makes no sense. The Pac 12 network is all about third tier rights. And the verdict is still out on that organization, as they find their way.

The level of respect is subjective and fluctuates from year to year. But it's debatable which conference has more prestige in the sports world.

Michael Bratisax 9 years ago

And why do we always seem to struggle at the line? First Roy's team and now Coach Self's teams.

It drives me crazy!

actorman 9 years ago

I posted this elsewhere but haven't gotten a response so I'm still wondering:

Can someone explain what happened with Chris Piper? I thought he was going to be the regular KU analyst alongside Bob Davis, but now he's back doing games on TV again. I've always liked him so I'm glad to see him again, but I'm curious about what happened.

KEITHMILES05 9 years ago

He needed more time for his fulltime businesses and the TV suited better than radio.

Michael Gentemann 9 years ago

actorman Citing family reasons, Piper swapped spots with Gurley. The TV gig with Dave Armstrong is only a 6 or 8 game commitment while the radio stint with the great Bob Davis is every game. I think the travel schedule took him away from home too much.

Stan Unruh 9 years ago

Piper improves the broadcast with mediocre Dave Armstrong. Bob Davis and Gurley seem to be getting along fine. Bob could make any color analyst sound good... We miss Piper on radio

RJ King 9 years ago

Why does this team constantly need to be challenged?

jaybate 9 years ago

• Well, I'm really a minority of one this time, because I think this was a break through game. I think KU played a good game.KU played as a team. KU sped OSU's Princeton way up, and shot 60% from the field by shooting high percentage looks. We held this annoying Princeton offence to 45% from the field by guarding it hard. We stood up to all their muscling each time they fell behind ten and started hack'n'shove. We outrebounded them despite their weight advantage and Withey being forced to chase. We killed them defensive glass vs defensive glass. EJ got 9 assists and 2:1 assist to TO in a running game. Ben and Trav broke out each for a half. AW3 became viable option. Rio took a small step. Evan showed he could not suck in his first real taste of D1.

• This was really KU's second real game of the season. OSU was a big, long, solid team. They played rough. They run the Princeton. KU wasnt mature enough to knock out a Princeton team, but they were good enough to beat it.

• Princeton's make everyone look bad. A 6 point win over a Princeton = a 12 point win over a conventional system.

• Self could really only complain about EJ guarding on ball, no one locking down Sparks, team TOs, and losing the Disruption Stat and not keeping them off the offensive glass. Well, duh. EJ's got a bad knee. Sparks is good and scraping everyone off on Princeton picks. Self told them to run TO's rise, when u run. And the Princeton forces Jeff away from the basket so cuts his blocks, which was the only way KU has been winning the disruption stat, because...EJ is playing without a knee, and Trav and Ben have to help him so much they can't pressure either.

• If EJ doesn't heal, some zone is inevitable, as I suggested early on. And with Aw3 coming on finally, this team's perimeter length could make it a good zone team. And a zone keeps Jeff in the paint.

• Ben is so athletic that he makes a 1-3-1 feasible with him roaming baseline.

• But EJ is getting better healthwise, so it will be zone to keep Jeff in the paint.

• Self is really turning up the pressure on EJ to make the team rally around him. Its working.

• The whole team is starting to get how hard they have too play. This is great progress. A couple more games playing this hard and they will get the hang of playing effectively at this level, too.

• A good win against an underrated Princeton team.

KansasComet 9 years ago

I enjoyed reading your post, except for "AW3 coming on finally". He was finally given a chance to play meaningful minutes and produced in other areas when his shot wasn't falling. He can play, and will only get better as he gains more confidence with experience.

I thought it was a good win for us as well. Cannot wait until EJ is better, that awful fall certainly did not help.

jaybate 9 years ago


Part 1

I always enjoy when you and I are on the same side of any issue. And I am aware that we have interpreted AW3 quite differently so far.

His play last night allows us to both be happy about where he is now.

But as you rightly noted, we still disagree on how he got to this point.

Your position, if I understand it, is that AW3 has been solid enough to do this all along. Self had just decided to go in a direction that required him to sit and wait.

My position is, based solely on his performances in games, that he probably had it in Europe, then lost it until two games ago, and now he's found it again.

My position seems to fit his observable performances better than your position, at least to me.

But I am still not satisfied with my position yet either, because it does not explain why he had it, lost it, and then got it back.

I have only three hypotheses about what happened to him.

H1: He got involved in some kind of issue internal to the team and Self grew unwilling to invest minutes in him until that issue resolved.

H2" He got injured and it has taken this long for his injury to let him get back just to his baseline as a freshman, which in my opinion he played to against Oregon State; i.e., still prone to freshman mistakes (as he should be), but sharply more intense, athletic, aware of flow, and willing and able to explode out of his position to make a play here and there. (Note: he has been wearing almost as much of Granny Self's quilts on his legs lately as has EJ.)

H3: Temporary emotional funk from being far from home and/or issues of the heart and romance.

H4: Self speeding him up, force feeding him with the 1000 page play book in anticipation of using him early, and the step up to college level studies in class combined to unstick him from his highly disciplined routines he and his dad developed over many years and he slipped out of his game.

To me, AW3 has played not just increasingly sparingly until Peters departure announcement, but increasingly ineptyly. His intensity was not there. His feet were getting tangled up almost constantly on offense and defense. He seemed to lack awareness of the offensive flow. And it seemed to be so, whenever and for however long Self inserted him during the 2 exhibition games and the season games.

jaybate 9 years ago

And his two game trend line coinciding closely with Peters departure announcement has been adequate for a few minutes, to good enough for 8 minutes against a physical team like OSU. And his poor shooting in these two games, as is the case with all of KU players, is immaterial in the short term. Self doesn't pull guys he tells to shoot for missing. Slumps happen. What has changed IMHO is AW3's level of intensity, awareness, footwork and explosiveness, and it is hard not to notice that this sudden switching on of the light upstairs coincides with him changing roomates and Peters departure announcement.

I am not saying there is necessarily a causal link here. It could just as easily be coincidentally happening. We're 4 games in and he just happens to be starting to get it, as happens with freshman sometimes. Evan Manning last night, recovering from an injury, seemed to be about where AW3 was two games ago. Evan didn't do much out there, made a few mistakes, but didn't "didn't suck." He did no harm, as AW3 did no harm two games ago.

On the other hand, there could be some causal link between AW3 and Peters. And it does not have to be a negative one. It could be that he and Peters had grown close, as young guys do that freshman season and far from home. They both played well in Europe. After Europe AW3 was to be the first perimeter guy off the bench. And Peters was to be the first big off the bench. They were roomies. It is possible that as Peters had these terrible string of injury issues, that AW3 became swept up in the emotions and trauma of what Peters was going through.

Many things are possible with two young men at this stage.

jaybate 9 years ago

Part 3

I have also wondered if AW3's dad talking about 24 other programs wanting his son as his son's minutes were few and dwindling that this might have signalled a riff between the Whites and Coach Self. But beyond that one indirect newspaper reference there has been nothing else to support this, except for Self insistence on making explicit references to needing another perimeter player, despite appearing to be already well staffed up there, over recruiting accordingly, and then mentioning that he wasn't going to run anyone, but that transfers are always a possibility.

But suddenly, once the Peters announcement occurs and AW3 exchanges Peters for a new roomie, well, now AW3 gets stories and minutes, and we don't read more stories with quotes by Self about not running people and about transfers.

Joseph Heller once wrote a book titled "Something Happened." The premise was a guy spends his life trying to figure out what happened to put him in this situation, and afterwards still does not understand it, even though he knows.

This seems vaguely like where we are left in this situation.

Something happened.

We partially know what.

But we don't understand it.

In the end, however, what matters most is that both young men are okay and that get to make the best of their lives from here on, whether or not their circumstances were linked, or merely coincidental.

AW3 seems to you to be finally given enough time to show what he could have done all along.

I view it through a more complicated lens.

Neither of our POVs are necessarily right for there are other possible explanations.

The best news of all are these points:

Zach is going to get a chance to go home and put his life back together, and if his concussion syndrome recedes, which it should in a year, or two, he's going to be a very desirable second semester freshman for some D1 program.

And AW3, a guy who seems like a quality person, is now playing like a freshman able to fulfill his 4-star ranking in the usual fitful freshman way and become a part of the rotation on the perimeter that this team definitely needs.

Rock Chalk!

KansasComet 9 years ago

Thanks, that was quite an enjoyable read! I completely understand your point of view and you make some very interesting observations regarding Zach Peters.

AW3's Dad: For me, I find absolutely nothing wrong when a dad brags about his son. 24 other programs wanting his son, and it is quite an impressive list, that include Duke, Louisville, and Georgetown. AW2 should feel proud and shout if from the rooftops! I am happy that we got AW3.

AW3: I love watching him play! He is so smooth the way he can give a slight pump fake and free himself for an open jumper. He didn't learn that at KU, he already had that in him. His defense needs a little refining, but that's okay, he is not afraid to get in there and mix it up a little bit, and that, is what this year's team definitely needs. I believe it was purely a coaches decision to not play the young man. I don't believe that now he gets, I feel he already it. 4 star recruits don't grow on trees. I love the fact that he is a student of the game, and excepts whatever role he is given on the team with class. I am a fan. I still believe that he was deserving of playing time from day 1 and will only get better.

KansasComet and Jaybate: Don't always agree with each other, but we both want the same result, and that to me is more important than anything. To quote Charlie Sheen: "Winning!"

Again, thanks for a wonderful response!

mattiesdad 9 years ago

Less minutes, but Evan's D1 debut was more solid than Mario's. Remember, Bill said we would not be very good in Nov, and we are showing why. But the glimpses are emerging. We cannot feed the post. How many of our 17 TOs were from poor entry passes? Remove those, which are correctable by and large, + some wild Rio/Tharpe TOs and that game is not so close. A huge team vs. small #4s for us and we still out rebounded them, not bad. But we need to cut teams on the Oglass. We turned it up on boards; they were definitely ahead of us at one point. I agree, a good win over a team that will prove to be a decent team by March.

jaybate 9 years ago

Your analysis is better and shorter than mine. Props.

Alohahawk 9 years ago

Good analysis, Jaybate. While I was unable to watch the game, it's nice to read a few things which were positive, over and above a W in the win column. I remember thinking before the game this might be a tuff matchup because of OSU's height and their running the Princeton offense.

Withey's scoring seems to be coming along, especially since he did it against taller, stronger bigs, and not just a bunch of shorter bigs.

And Releford sure seems to enjoy playing close to home. I've said all along that he would start the season scoring more, then, once the newbies caught on to Self's sets, he'd probably drop off some and concentrate more on defense. Perhaps (I hope) he will continue to drive and keep producing the high point totals.

It's nice to know that the attendance was over 18,000, on what could be termed an away game. Being played on a Friday definitely helped.

And on a completely different note: THe KU's women volleyball team should be congratulated, advancing to the second round of their tourney, winning 3 -1 against Cleveland. They had a nice turnout in AFH. I think there were about 4,000 attending. KU will play Wichita State next, if I remember correctly.

jaybate 9 years ago

Thx and I agree that Withey's scoring seems to becoming more dependable, at least for stretches.

It had not occurred to me that Releford played better at home, but the evidence supports you.

A big crowd was important to redeem KC as a sporting town and KU as a team to play there.

Michael Luby 9 years ago

I absolutely agree JB. I was at the game and saw first hand how good 2-5 played. EJ, and Nadir both had hard nights. Both got burned on D by that guy. BUT in EJ's defense he took a very hard foul that shook him up enough to lay on the court for a few minutes and subsequently miss both free throws given to him. Bad knee plus getting a hard foul that could have been a tech foul for how hard it was, kept him from playing good at full speed. Self even had to put Manning in to spell him for a bit right after. But, he seemed to play well and keep him man from burning him in the couple minutes he was in. Those guys played well for about 30 seconds on a defensive possession then they get burned in the last 5 or so. Our bigs and our wings looked great too. I would have liked to see Jeff be a little bit more patient on D though. He left his feet too often and tried to force some blocks, that if he was a split second more patient on would have been solid. He would have gotten atleast 3 more blocks tonight. I really thought they looked great though and I was happy to see AW3 get some meaninful minutes. That Oregon state team is not even close to a cupcake. They were good and KU teams in recent memory seem to have hard times with the Princeton offense except for Colorado. But, they have a hole in their PG spot this year. I mean if Sherron was on this team right now, they would be unstoppable. Noone would beat them. Maybe Self is right to consider playing some form of zone. Both Ben and AW3 and Releford were our best defenders last night.

jaybate 9 years ago


Part 1

Very interesting to imagine this team with Sherron, since Self keeps holding Tyshawn up to EJ. And I agree that it could be devastating.

But I want to take a second and point something out about EJ and Self that a lot of persons may be overlooking and/or underestimating.

Self is human. He is vulnerable to being a prisoner of his own experience and expectation, maybe less than we amateurs, but still somewhat. Who wouldn't like being vindicated by Tyshawn the way Self was and who wouldn't like to have a guard that did what Tyshawn did. The Nets liked it so much he is on their team. And Self had Sherron before Tyshawn. That is one powerful series of PGs. Alpha guards when they found their games.

Self liked it a lot and his holding Tyshawn up to EJ implies he expected EJ to be the same kind of a guard. And maybe EJ can be once his knee gets heeled up. And maybe EJ needs to be spurred, because his tendency is to be too heady.

But there is another possibility.

I have said repeatedly that EJ is not only heady, but probably intelligent, also.

And he is a great athlete.

And he has been being groomed for this year for a looooooong time.

It is quite possible that EJ is already making the very best of the situation possible.

By this I mean, that it may be that the way EJ is playing point guard is EXACTLY the kind of point guard that makes this team work the best.

And it may be that hurt, or not, EJ is playing this way willfully and intentionally, not out of inadequacy, but out of how he thinks the team should be run.

This is a very dicey situation, because Self is so demanding and strong willed and cock sure about what is right.

But the team has only lost one game. The team has played two good teams--MSU and OSU--and two respectable mid majors in SEMSU and St. Louis, both of which will do very well in their conferences. True, KU has not yet played a Top 5 caliber team and that is a good thing, because they are only now growing close to being ready for that.

Self is not god. Self can set things in motion that evolve in directions other than he planned. One of his great virtues is that he often recognizes and adapts to unforeseen consequences rather rapidly and sometimes well before fans even recognize the problem.

jaybate 9 years ago

Part 2

But Self was a guard and he clearly has the guard mentality. Guards are supposed to be cocky attackers. Bigs are supposed to man-up and enforce for the cocky attackers. Self sees the world through a guard's eyes, just as John Wooden did, and just as so many coaches do.

The above makes Self prone to think he knows best about how a guard must play.

But Self groomed EJ to be the player he is for 3 previous seasons. Self picked EJ for his swag, and his athleticism, and figured he could turn the headiness into a strength. And it maybe that EJ, who is Mister Non Confrontational, Mr. Try to Work within the Program, just maybe morphing into exactly what this team needs, which may in this case be something Self was not anticipating.

Yes, EJ needs to get in the paint more. But I am increasingly of the opinion that when you have wings with the athleticism of Travis and Ben that it would be a ridiculous waste for EJ to be touching paint nine times in ten minutes.

There is no unwritten law in basketball physics that says every team has to run down the middle, only that that is a tendency and so a heuristic, not a law.

EJ, in part because of injury limitations, has had to de-emphasize paint attacks.

But its more than that IMHO.

EJ's approach to the PG is forcing Travis and Ben become more than the open-look wings that Self's down the middle hi lo had tended toward in the past. And Self's down the middle hi-lo has turned everyone from Brandon Rush, to Xavier Henry, even to Josh Selby, into defense stretchers and open lookers rather than awesomely dominant wing attackers.

Now, in the past, because of the kind of strength KU had in the paint, it made strategic and tactical sense to play heavily down the middle even with these great wings and future NBA players.

jaybate 9 years ago

Part 3

But this year, KU has one draft choice in the middle, Jeff, who is skinny, and a committee of guys at the 4 that are not yet ready to be draft choices.

EJ tried to play through Ben, Kevin, and Perry early on to get them up to D1 speed and they proved to be capable but efficient only at certain phases of the game.

So: IMHO, EJ has done exactly the right thing, and considerable courage it has taken, too.

He has taken the butt chewings and listened to his coach and said, "Yes, sir," when Self has raved on about how much more this team needs out of its PG, i.e., he has been the whipping boy Self has used to force the teammates to come to EJ's rescue and compensate for his injuries, but EJ has apparently taken this all a step further.

EJ has defied his coach and said I'm running this team the way I think it ought to be run, because, Coach, your crystal ball is a leeeeeeeeetle bit cloudy right now about what is truly feasible and best for this team.

Talk about walking out on an incredibly thin limb after giving Self a chain saw!!!!

EJ is saying with his words, okay, coach, but he is saying with his play, this is how this team has to play right now to win.

And EJ's way is winning.

It ain't pretty yet, but it started to show hints of majesty in transition and on the attack vs Oregon State.

Hell, no, EJ can't lock down a potential first or second team all league guard in Sparks with only one knee working.

But notice EJ on one knee took a serious blow in the OSU game and got up in the best Tyshawn style and kept running the team exactly as he knows and believes it has to be run.

Remember, even Self isn't out ON the floor.

Its the point guard that is on the floor and can feel and see what is feasible and what is not.

There is no unwritten law that the coach ALWAYS knows what is best. 99% of the time the coach knows what is best. But out in one tail of the probability distribution there are times when the PG knows best.

Remember the '88 championship game when Brown said the players overruled him and took off running. Brown said the players overruled him, but that was his pride speaking. Kevin Pritchard, his point guard, overrruled LB in the biggest game of all.

And LB picked Pritch exactly because he had that kind of right stuff; the same kind of right stuff that LB had as a player.

jaybate 9 years ago

Part 4

One of the spookiest, most psycho-mythical aspects of
basketball that few like to talk about is the point at which a great coach and his point guard, whom he picks for having the same kind of insight about the game that the coach has, arrive at a point when the point guard's great insight tells him to do something different than the coach's insight tells.

It happens sooner or later every season. Its a scary time for coach and point guard. Most of the time you want them both on the same page. Most of the time it doesn't happen till late in the season. But it always happens once or twice a season. And pity the PG that defies his great coach and then doesn't win. But it is like a built in inevitability that happens, because great coaches are predisposed to great point guards with deep insight into the game.

A mythical transfer of the force of Star Wars occurs in these moments.

Coaches, just like Yoda and Obi Wan, hate it and yet want it.

Players fear it and yet want it.

And both are predisposed to it.

So it happens.

Neither admits to it.

Both are too ferociously competitive and strong willed to ever admit they were wrong.

But the truly great coaches understand it as surely as Yoda understood it and accepted it in Luke.

Early on, as freshmen, Self must say to his future PGs with swag.

Yoda: Ready are you? What know you of ready? For eight hundred years have I trained Jedi. My own counsel will I keep on who is to be trained. A Jedi must have the deepest commitment, the most serious mind. This one a long time have I watched. All his life has he looked away... to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. Hmm? What he was doing. Hmph. Adventure. Heh. Excitement. Heh. A Jedi craves not these things. You are reckless.

As they go through the short hooks of early learning, Self must say:

Yoda: I am wondering, why are you here? Luke: I'm looking for someone. Yoda: Looking? Found someone, you have, I would say, hmmm? Luke: Right... Yoda: Help you I can. Yes, mmmm. Luke: I don't think so. I'm looking for a great warrior. Yoda: Ohhh. Great warrior. [laughs and shakes his head] Yoda: Wars not make one great.

By this he means, practice, and not PT are what make one great. Evidencing greatness makes one ready for war and PT, not the other way around.

As Self's PGs take on the burden of playing PG full time, Self must say:

Yoda: You must unlearn what you have learned.

And when the PG tries to unlearn what the mentor has taught him so that he can actually put it into practice, Self must say:

Yoda: Control, control, you must learn control!

jaybate 9 years ago

Part 5

And when the young PG thinks he is ready, which is always before the Coach thinks he is truly ready, this exchange must occur.

Luke: I won't fail you. I'm not afraid. Yoda: You will be. You... will... be.

And on the side line as Self watches the PG play through everything the coach knows a PG must play through, Self knows...

Yoda: Pain, suffering, death I feel. Something terrible has happened. Young Skywalker is in pain. Terrible pain.

And when it seems most hopeless, most like the PG cannot achieve what is expected, nor even survive, the coach says in some quiet place, some empty locker room, some corridor just outside the arena, some moment in an office...

Yoda: Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? Hmm. And well you should not. For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the Force around you; here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere, yes. Even between the land and the ship.

And some how the light goes on. The apprentice becomes the ally, the assistant, to agent, the actor in the action.

And in his ears echo always...

Luke: All right, I'll give it a try. Yoda: No. Try not. Do... or do not. There is no try.

This great coach and point guard relationship is deep. It is big medicine.

It happens as it must.

And neither coach, nor point guard can foresee how it will play out.

Nothing is written.

It does not have to be beautiful and loving.

It can play out almost anyway.

But play out it must.

Jack Wilson 9 years ago

jb: Excellent analysis. I agree with you completely on the positive of the pace of game.

But the zone stuff caught my eye. It's not a dirty word, though I think Self thinks it is. A 1-3-1 is my absolute favorite. Can morph easily into a half or 3/4 court press. Easy to trap corners. Back in my high school days, the point guard would many times run the baseline. John Beilein is the guy now with that zone in college, but he doesn't run much now. But I recall he did run it a lot at WV.

If we needed to play a guard type on the baseline, my personal preference would be Releford on the baseline. Better defender, less prone to the silly foul. Keep McLemore on the wing. Less opportunity to foul.

But really, what do you think about this -- Ellis on the baseline? He's quick, he's big. We then go McLemore, Withey, Releford across the middle. A touch unconventional with a "big" on the baseline.

We all recall the 3-2 zone in 2008-09. He used that with two 4s in the game, but also a bit with Kaun in there. Withey on one side down low would certainly make a team go the other way. I wonder if he'd consider a 1-3-1, or more likely a 2-3 in stretches. And that's where it could be effective. Three or four possessions here and there. I can't stand the 2-3, definitely favor a 1-3-1 or 3-2.

Of course, the main considerations running a zone is that it's tough to be good at it if it's not practiced a lot. Good teams slice up bad zones. And it is very hard to rebound out of, again if you don't practice it much. My theory on why the 2008 team ran it was because we had an experienced group where Self felt he could afford the giving up the practice time to work on it. Even if it is not practiced enough, showing it is small doses can help change momentum and flow of the game when needed.

Also, remember he junked it up with a triangle and two; box and one. He ran the triangle and two to stuff UNC last year in the tourney. He'll do what he needs to do to win. Would love to see a little zone -- and a 1-3-1 with Withey in the middle would be really cool to see. Good thought there.

KansasComet 9 years ago

I am all for the zone defense, especially when the situation dictates it.

Michael Bratisax 9 years ago

I think we would go with a 2/3 zone before any other. Syracuse has made a living with the 2/3 plus it's the easiest to coach and play.

David Black 9 years ago

I can't believe I am saying this but got it and it did not take a really long post! Rock Chalk

jaybate 9 years ago

I can't believe you recognized it, but recognized it and it did not take a really long riposte! Rock Chalk back at you.

Michael Luby 9 years ago

Oh yah, one more thing. Gary, the croud wasnt as quiet as you say though. There were quite a few roudy fans there last night, me included as I came away from that game without a voice. But the Sprint Center is more open than AFH so the noise gets muted a bit in there.

Jack Wilson 9 years ago

Jay - they were switching out top on screens to help stop the 3. My guess is he wanted height, but also quickness. I was puzzled why he chose Wesley over say Ellis or Traylor, but that "experience" word came to mind. If you are able to go back and watch, Wesley did a nice job closing out on Starks on that possession.

Kevin Studer 9 years ago

On another note, Conner Frankamp had a monster season-debut game last night at Wichita Northwest.

ParisHawk 9 years ago

Thanks for the link, cusack. For the lazy:

46 points on 25 shots.

10 rebounds.

three assists, two steals, a block and one turnover.

Talk about a nice stat line!

Jack Wilson 9 years ago

Yea, but Frankamp can't play D and Self will sit him ... just kidding. Maybe.

jayhawkeratheart 9 years ago

November is gone, and we have won Our guys did the job, and lost only one With new guys and new names, the games not the same But Bill’s getting the job done, with whatever’s his name Now some have been good and some have been bad But in the end the point total was not sad, For a win is a win, and you can bet on one thing That all of the guys are doing their thing, to keep up the wins And restore the pride, that has always been there stride after stride Rock chalk is the scream, and winnings the dream, C’mon big guys, keep looking up stream For the wins will come, and March will appear Then all can look back on another big year With EJ, and Ben, Withey and Young, Releford running The game will be fun, Tharpe and the bench will come alive As we all write our comments, and give out high fives

Jeremy Paul 9 years ago

I'd love to see Keegan rhyme a whole column.

Jeremy Paul 9 years ago

Some harsh words from Self toward EJ. I like it. Challenge him.

Releford is the most important player on the team, and he will bail them out more than any other player this year.

I think Rio is going to be a good one. Once the freshman jitters wear off, he'll be a huge asset.

Don't ever underestimate the ability of this coaching staff. The hallmark of good coaching is improvement throughout the season, and Self et al have proven through the years that they can coach and teach and their teams get better week by week. With all the youngsters this year and the loss of their two leaders, it will take their best coaching job yet. But there is a hell of a lot of talent on this team and I think when February rolls around, our Jayhawks will be rolling. Just be patient everyone and enjoy the ride. Rock Chalk!

Beate Williams 9 years ago

Agree with the analysis by Jaybate, but believe one thing is missing and haven't heard anyone mention it, i.e., Sparks got many of those points after getting a screen from a 300 pounder. Why is that important, it is difficult to move a three hundred pounder and you have no choice other than to go under the screen, therefore giving the shooter 2-3 feet of open space and if you noticed many of the shots Spark took were NBA 3s and thet's because the screens were being set so far out, pushing the shooter further out.

You don't want to be in that situation but we are not going to run up against many 300 pounders screening a shooter like Sparks. I think, at least in the second half, the runs that OSU made were always when Self was experimenting, testing his bench.

Haven't figured out why Withey's timing was off, that is the first time I have seen him repeatedly leap too soon. Maybe it is what a previous poster said, he was thinking about his press and was trying too hard. Anyway, I think it was a very good win. I am so thankful for ESPN3, can't record the game but at least I get to watch when the game is not televised nationally.

Redlandsjhawk 9 years ago

Agree re ESPN3. In case anyone doesn't know this all the Espn3 games can be watched on XBox free. I had ESPN fullcourt for about 12 years then my son told me he could get the games in his room! Now his xbox is in the living room hooked up to the big screen on game day.

RJ King 9 years ago

As a Comcast subscriber, ESPN3 is free for me. I think it's free for most, with just a couple of exceptions with certain providers.

Jack Wilson 9 years ago

Lots of great comments above.

First, Adams vs. Tharpe:

One item that I thought of as the second have started was who the first point guard sub would be for EJ. It ended up being Tharpe. But I was wondering. Self was obviously not happy with Tharpe. EJ couldn't keep up with Starks, but man, Tharpe definitely couldn't. Tharpe is small, but he isn't quick. That's a tough combo.

I hesitate to take this step -- but could we be seeing a changing of the guard here a bit? Could Adams be inching closer to displacing Tharpe?

For that to happen, here is what's needed from Self on that -- simply the same faith he placed in Taylor his freshman (and really sophomore) years, the same stomach for mistakes -- extend that to Adams. It is way obvious that Adams has more talent, defensively, taking it to the hoop, creating. I don't think I'm off base here.

There are two problems with going to Adams, and I hate to harp on the first one. Ball-handling. Adams just isn't as sure dribbling the ball under pressure. Tharpe is safer in that regard. The second one is obvious. Turnovers. Adams will lose us possession.

I said a few weeks ago that Tharpe is the better answer right now over Adams. I still have that feeling. But the defensive liabilities are huge. Tharpe is giving effort. But he can't guard the big guard, he's not quick, can't keep up with the little guy. Limits options on switching -- meaning it's hard to move Tharpe off the point because of size issues if Releford were to guard the point.

It seems to me that this is about upside. We've talked about it many times here. Does Self think Adams has more upside that Tharpe? If he does, can he suck it up and just go to Adams. Accept the downside. Take the risky move to attempt to make this team better in March. Give Adams that chance to learn under fire. But we know the chances of Self moving outside of his comfort zone to be limited -- we're seeing some cracks, though. It seems clear that he's not sold on Tharpe at all.

And this is not just about this year. It may be about a roster spot. I believe that Adams right now is the most likely transfer candidate, based solely on talent coming in and numbers for 2013. But if he overtakes Tharpe, Tharpe suddenly becomes that guy. If that happened, Tharpe's sitting there with Adams (a class behind him) suddenly being ahead of him, other point candidates coming in. That would be it.

I do like Tharpe. Decent shooter. Improved handling the ball. Steady in his role. But can you see him being our starting point guard for the next two years? That's more difficult.

Kye Clark 9 years ago

Agree 100% on Adams/Tharpe.

I can't see Tharpe being our starting PG the next 2 years, but if Adams can't overtake him this year, he'll almost definitely be our starting PG next year with Self's general distrust of freshman. And as hard as it is to envision a freshman (Frankamp, Mason) coming in next year and supplanting Tharpe as the starter, it is equally (if not more so) difficult to envision Self moving Tharpe out of that role as a senior. When has Self ever moved a returning upperclassman starter to the bench, even when there has been a younger player with more upside?

Jack Wilson 9 years ago

Only guy I can recall is Chalmers taking Hawkins spot in 2005-06, but Hawkins was a Roy guy.

Michael Bratisax 9 years ago

Adams over Tharpe by the end of this year is probable but next year is a different story. I'd give Conner the inside edge to start from day one w/Adams getting most of his PT off the bench as the #2. Tharpe and Mason can fight for the rest of the minutes. I hear you about Self and freshmen but Tyshawn and Sherron started in their freshman years as have BMac and Ellis.

BMac is not a true freshman, so that might not be a good example but I still think Conner will be our PG next year.

Michael Bratisax 9 years ago

I posted earlier that I thought maybe HCBS was possibly giving up on Tharpe being the #2 option.

Would Tharpe be willing to redshirt next year as I don't see him ever being the #1 option? If BMac stays (fingers crossed) another year, the competition for PT will only be even tougher for all guards and Tharpe may be left out.

Really good post HEM.

HawkKlaw 9 years ago

BMac is gone after this season. No way he passes up an NBA contract if he keeps playing the way he has been.

I don't see Bill Self redshirting his most experienced and best option at PG next season. The competition will be tough between Naadir, Rio and Mason (with Selden and Frankamp probably also taking on some point guard duties), but right now Naadir is Bill Self's best bet at PG for next season.

Michael Bratisax 9 years ago

HawkKlaw, I tend to agree with you that BMac will not be here next season. As much as I would like to see him stay, by the end of the season he will be ready for the NBA.

Tharpe will be the most experienced but to me at least, it seems that we really drop in offensive production when he is at the point. Adams looks much more polished at this point then Tharpe did at the same point last year. I think Adams will catch up to Tharpe sometime during conference play.

Of course it's difficult to know exactly how a freshman will do his first year but I think Connor will take over the point guard spot early next season.

HawkKlaw 9 years ago

I think you are on base with most of your points, however Naadir Tharpe is quick. He may not move his feet as well on defense as he should, but he's obviously quicker than most of his teammates (notably EJ and Releford) when they're on the court together.

Also, Naadir is better at driving to the hoop, ball-handling and creating on offense than Rio is. Adams is where Naadir was last year. Remember Naadir's 9 turnovers in what seemed like 5 minutes against Kentucky last year? That's the kind of liability that Adams is on offense right now. I don't think Self wants to re-live that headache just yet and our offense can't afford to take a break like that. Naadir takes care of the ball and helps facilitate the offense pretty well at this point. The reason he's getting so many minutes is because Bill Self trusts him with the ball in his hands. As much of a liability Naadir is on defense, he doesn't have a whole lot of issues offensively. He finds the open man, makes good passes, occasionally drives the lane (all the guards need to do this more, IMO) and he can hit open shots when he needs to.

It's true that Adams is a better defender than Tharpe, but obviously not by much. Bill Self is a defensive-minded coach who has plenty of offensive weapons at his disposal. If Rio was ready, Bill Self would throw him into the fire. But Adams is still learning how to guard without hand-checking (like Tharpe, he hasn't learned how to move his feet on defense yet), not to mention he's trying to figure out how to not turn the ball over, how to handle the ball, how to make good passes, how to hit open shots, etc. These are not good characteristics of your backup PG.

For all the fuss that's being made about Naadir's sloppy defense, I'm surprised that Elijah isn't brought up more. He is a complete liability on both ends of the court right now. His knee is clearly still bothering him, but if Self is giving a player minutes, that player has to perform. I would argue that AW3/Rio should be taking on more of Elijah's role right now while he's hampered, not Naadir's.

Naadir will be the starting PG to begin next season, but there's certainly a lot of talented guys behind him. If any of them can show Bill Self that they have the full package as a freshman (highly unlikely), they could take that spot. But right now it's Naadir's position to lose.

Kye Clark 9 years ago

I agree with Jaybate, to an extent. I was more pleased with this game than most others this season. Here is what I liked from this game:

  • Only 9 3-point attempts. I believe it's Oakville that preaches keeping those attempts down, and 9 attempts is pretty low.

  • AW3 getting some extended minutes. When he was in the game I watched him pretty close. His defense was decent, on offense he generally kept the ball moving and occasionally looked to be aggressive, and 6 rebounds was great. When his 3-pointers start falling more regularly, I think his confidence is going to go through the roof.

  • While Rio didn't get the same extended minutes AW3 did, I liked what I saw from him when he was in there. Loved his drives to the hoop. He scored on one, and had a perhaps ill-advised pass to Withey that resulted in a turnover, but both instances show he's looking to create offense when he's in there and not meekly passing the ball around the perimeter. I saw glimpses of Tyshawn in Rio's performance. I am really stoked about both AW3 & Rio's ceilings.

  • Mclemore in the first half, Travis in the second. We definitely need one of the two to be carrying the scoring load for us, especially until Perry develops into that reliable post threat.

  • Speaking of Perry, I am glad to see the minute distribution between him and Traylor being the way it was. 15 for Perry, 5 for Traylor. I would still like to see Perry's minutes increase to 20+ (although it's hard to argue that Young is better right now), and he's got to be able to get more rebounds while he's in there, but just in terms of his playing time in relation to Traylors', this was better than most other games this season. At this point, Traylor still looks like a project when out on the court. I think his physique (and the stories about him & TRob "going at it" everyday in practice last year 2nd semester) lead fans to mistake him for a superior rebounder & defender, but really that hasn't been the case yet.

Sure there were times I threw my arms up in the air during the game. McLemore's foul trouble clearly threw him off rhythm. Wesley entering the game late was a head-scratcher. And the biggest concern is the offensive droughts and suspect defense at times that let big leads disappear, but there were plenty of positives to take away from the game.

Jack Wilson 9 years ago

Good comments there .. The Traylor thing did stand out to me. In a game where they had big guys, Traylor sat most of the game. Not sure why he started the second half, but you've got it right on the PT distribution.

You said "At this point, Traylor still looks like a project when out on the court. I think his physique (and the stories about him & TRob "going at it" everyday in practice last year 2nd semester) lead fans to mistake him for a superior rebounder & defender, but really that hasn't been the case yet."

Couldn't agree more. He's not a mini-TRob. He's not the same size (TRob was physical monster), not the same skill level as a freshman (TRob was just out of control, playing too fast) .. kind of unfair for folks to throw that on him. He is active, has bounce and energy. He is definitely a project.

And I think we're in absolute agreement on White.

Kye Clark 9 years ago

Perry's aversion to it? I don't think he has an aversion to contact at all. It may appear that way because he is not a "banger" and doesn't have the body to do so at this point, but watch Ellis (and Traylor for that matter) with this comment specifically in mind. He doesn't shy away from contact. He gets into the paint and doesn't fade away. Really think you're off-base with this comment, which I suspect is due to the same issue I described in my post regarding Traylor: you see the physique - rugged in Traylor's case and thinner/wiry in Perry's case - and you assume one is physical and the other isn't.

I also think any advantages Traylor has over Ellis (steals? a 6-4 edge) are marginal at best and aren't enough to justify minutes in place of Perry.

I like Traylor. I think you're probably right that he could be, in two more years, as good as Quincy Acy. And I think he does need some minutes to continue to develop, because next year the cupboard could be really bare in the post. Next year we could possibly have the least talented collection of post players in the Self era, so Traylor's improvement is needed. However, this is also the same reason why I think it's vital that Perry see major minutes, 3-1 over Traylor at this point. If things remain the same and Perry & Traylor get comparable minutes, will Traylor be a guy you can throw it to in the post next year to get you points? No. Quincy Acy-type remember? Yeah that's nice to have, a "garbage man", but can Self's offense even function without a serious, half-court post threat? We're getting by this year with Withey, and to his credit he has done a better job than I expected thus far, but even he isn't a true post scorer, and we can see how the offense sputters at times without that as our bread & butter. So Perry developing as much as possible is crucial to next year's success, and it could be the difference this year in how far we advance in the tournament.

Kye Clark 9 years ago

We'll have to agree to disagree I guess. Because I've watched the Oregon St. game twice now, and while Perry didn't take many shots, I felt he was aggressive and not shying away from contact.

To the steals, I think your point about being only 7 games into the season is a good one. Maybe the gap widens as the season grows on. But right now, 4 steals to 6 is not a significant sample size, nor is a significant number to say it's a meaningful difference. If Traylor had played the same amount of minutes as Perry to this point and had gotten steals at his current rate, he'd have 7.22 steals on the season. So 7-4. Still not enough for me to care at this point.

And lastly, Traylor may have gotten the start in the second half, but what did that gain him? He still finished with 5 minutes played in the same game we shot 60%. Just wondering if throwing that out there was supposed to prove something. Like "see! He got the start in the second half! He must be better defensively." It's like saying "Evan Manning finished the first half I suspect because he has better defense than Adams or Tharpe", and ignoring the fact that was his only playing time.

Kye Clark 9 years ago

On another note, I'm hoping Self's zone comments are a bluff, or simply said out of frustration, at least at this point. I've long been a proponent of us playing some zone in stretches, but just as something to have in your bag to slow down hot offenses or to make up for defensive deficiencies created by foul trouble or injuries. I've said this before regarding zones, but they are only effective if you practice them extensively and are comfortable in the individual responsibilities. It's not simply "go guard this space." If you're team isn't proficient in executing a zone defense, it will lead to more fouls, more open looks, and obviously poorer rebounding. With this many young players seeing minutes, if they aren't good enough playing M2M defense, how good can we honestly expect them to be at executing a zone?

The fear is that EJ's knee is worse than feared and isn't going to get better anytime soon; maybe it won't improve all season. And if so, Self's comments could be a sign of his acknowledgement of this and realizing to keep him on the court he is going to have to get creative to hide him on defense.

Boouk 9 years ago

We used it last year against Purdue and UNC because they only had two players who could beat us from 18+ feet. We probably won't see it until KSU when Shane Shouthwell's in the game or some other team with a guard that can't shoot.

Jack Wilson 9 years ago

Andrew White:

Here we go. He did miss some shots, missed a bunny underneath. But regardless of whether he missed shots or not, Self proclaimed him the most effective sub. Could we be seeing a PT shift here?

First, the dude is long. No, not the kind of long that would please your wife .. the kind of long that rebounds the basketball. His wingspan is every bit what Withey brings to the table. He will get boards.

Second, his defense was acceptable. I didn't say good. Acceptable. He didn't have any big mess ups. Oh, and believe me, I was waiting for that. But he did fine. Actually was pretty good in stretches. The fouls are a product of experience. Like McLemore's I think. Heck, White should have had another foul they didn't call on the baseline where he reached in.

Third, his shooting. Don't worry. Once he gets acclimated, he'll bang down threes better than anyone we have out there. We do need that. I bet Self will tell him when he gets the guy on the pump fake, not to move two feet inside the arc. Get behind the arc. The worst shot (risk/reward) is the shot just inside the arc.

Fourth, he is active. Not afraid to drive the ball. He did that, got to the line.

Fifth, Self's lack of faith in Tharpe increased White's PT (I think), not McLemore's foul trouble. Previously, when McLemore was out, Self woud go EJ, Tharpe, Releford. Not last night as much. He shifted Releford to the 2.

Sixth, he must be earning it in practice. He got 16 minutes. Under the "earn it in practice" theory, we must be there.

Our team will be better with AW3 getting regular minutes, and once he gets his shooting legs underneath him. Hope this is the start of that.

Boouk 9 years ago

As disappionting as our perimeter defense has been so far, I think this team has the potential to be as good as last years team defensively, and Self will get us to that level by March. McClemore can be better than Tyshawn Taylor defensively with his size and lateral quickness. Andrew White is a better defender than Teahan and probably as good of a shooter. This team can make a Final 4 run, but our perimeter defense must improve for that to happen.

Jack Wilson 9 years ago


This is easy. Assert yourself, young man. I've said it now for what seems like a lifetime. The second half was an absolute thing of beauty. You can do that all the time. Take what you want. Don't take only what is given. You have an absolute, undeniable skill of getting to the rim. Make the three point stripe a secondary consideration -- slash and mid-range game. Bread and butter. All it takes is "want to", as one fine coach used to say. And this team needs you to "want to" all the time.

leonard 9 years ago

-- KU sped OSU's Princeton way up -- jaybate

No, we didn't speed them up. They no longer run the pure "Princeton offense".

They average 76ppg...and they got to us for 78. They average 46% from the field...and we held them to 41% They average 14 off rebounds per game...and they got 14 against us. They average a 42-37 rebound margin...we outrebounded them 35-32 but they were without the 6-10 senior, Angus Brandt (11 pts and 8 rebounds per game). They average 15 TO's per game...but only had 12 against us. Starks averages 3 treys per game...and he torched our guards for 7-13 (becoming a recurring theme).

All in all...a nice but very average performance overall. We are now going to be playing about 1 game per week prior to conference start in January. With all the quality practice time looming I look for the Jayhawks...collectively and be much improved 5 weeks from now.

Kye Clark 9 years ago

Good point about the extra practice time. We definitely see Self teams improve by leaps & bounds during this time

RJ King 9 years ago

good "stat test" vs "eye test" post

Jack Wilson 9 years ago

Dakari Johnson news .. sounds like we're not near the front on this one due to the Embiid signing.

jaybate 9 years ago


You brought into focus what I could only nibble around the edges of.

That's the essense of why I doubt this coach's agenda.

jaybate 9 years ago

I read this as Dakiri's high school coach sees a gravy train angle with WWW. Period.

But as we learn each year, the UK Octopus is limited in what it can grab and hold with suction. Its limit appears to be 6-7 OADs in which 4-5 really do jump after a year 2 sticks a second year.

It will take much of the rest of the season to know how many Wildschats jump.

Right now, it looks like less rather than more will play well enough to jump.

So: just because a high school coach is hustling for the WWW soiled luv, doesn't mean he gets it.

Also, the moment I read the words "he's not so explosive, but he's strong," or something approximating them, I knew this guy would not be numero uno for Self. Self would take him in an eye blink, because he needs some XTReme Muscle on the blocks, but Self likes guys that are not just strong. He likes bigs that can go make a play. Even Sasha Kaun, before he wrecked both knees, and had to learn to play horizontal, could go make a play.

Dakiri better tell his high school coach not to queer it with Self.

Not a good way for a high school coach to talk.

Kye Clark 9 years ago

What's funny to me about that article is you have his coach saying he would be starting right now for any school recruiting him, but his mom has question marks because we've signed another center in that class not even on roster yet. So...which is it? How good is he?

(and yeah I know the quotes/comments came from two different people).

Regardless, it appears that all the people influencing his decision care about is immediate playing time. We will definitely have that next year, but if Embiid is enough to scare him off, either Embiid is going to shoot up the rankings and be as good as the optimists think, or Johnson isn't as good as advertised, and in either case he thinks he can't beat Embiid out for minutes.

RJ King 9 years ago

I thought Embiid and Dakari were playing on the same team, for the same school, with Embiid behind Dakari on the depth chart. Embiid transferred out to get more court time and develop the game he just took up.

If Dakari is now concerned about being back on the same roster with Embiid, what does that say about the rate of development in the two players? Have to think it's a great sign for Embiid and Kansas.

jayhawkintexas 9 years ago

We are going to have to defend the perimeter much better to beat Baylor and Okla. State. Both of those teams have great outside shooting. Step it up, guys.

jaybate 9 years ago

As I wrote soon after last season, Ben was a lame duck. I said the UCLA AD was going to keep Ben until Ben got Shabazz and the other recruits inked, and from then on it was going to be a matter of time before the AD shed Ben. I still think that.

Ben Howland at UCLA is like Mark Mangino at KU. When things go well, they can be popular. But when they begin to struggle, they don't pass the "eye test" of the culture they are in.

UCLA, despite midwest impressions, is very smooth and refined in the same SoCal cultural way that KU is to Kansas culture.

UCLA people like to see themselves a certain way. John Wooden re-made himself into an acceptable southern Californian of the conservative, dignified ilk, at least in public. A UCLA coach is supposed to me dignified, and slightly cool and smooth. Denny Crum would have been a good fit, but he was too entrenched at Louisville to return. Bartow was wrong. Gary Cunningham came close, but he was burned out on coaching before he started. LB fit the bill. Hazzard was too abrasive. The former UCLA forward that coached them for awhile had the look and style, but wasn't an exceptional coach. Harrick was all wrong. Lavin had the look and style, but he got on the wrong side of the AD. Its even more political than KU. Howland was always only loved because of the 3 final fours and the talent surge. He was a Socal guy, but not a UCLA type. Frankly, the guy at Pitt Jamie Dixon, would be a great UCLA coach, but he's a Ben disciple from Socal, so he might have to wait for one more coaching change.

But I think UCLA will make a change soon.

Kontum1972 9 years ago

they have lost the Spark...sometime ago....i gave up watching them 2 years really have to want too win...!

SaltLakeHawk 9 years ago


Was that stream of consciousness?

jaybate 9 years ago

"Jamari, Kevin and Perry"

Of all the players, Jamari's trend line is most worrisome to me.

He went out and made a lot of contact in his 5 minutes, as he was apparently instructed to do.

But Jamari clearly wants to be more than an enforcer.

And the blankness of his expression made that clear.

Jamari appears not to be sure what has happened to his minutes.

KY played very, very well, and Jeff played a long time, and Perry picked up his edginess factor enough to get his 15 minutes.

And Jamari seems to have let his dobber get down, as coaches in the last century used to say, without ever specifying exactly what a dobber was. :-)

Maybe Jamari had a down day emotionally.

But he started out as incredibly active and explosive and his face showed lots of emotion and joy at playing.

Now, his face is a blank.

Never like to see that trend.

Jam Tray, you are sweet and you will see time. Keep after it.

You are more than a 5 minute man, but you've got to keep lighting the candle when you get in.

Jeff can't possibly play 38 minutes too often.

Keep after it.

Kevin really, really looked comfortable out there. The first half he was a big factor. Less so the second half. And he was doing this against strong and longs, so it counts. And Self noticed because Jelly was in at the end. When you start and finish, it means Self says you've got the right stuff.

Perry: his edginess is up to required levels, but he hasn't figured out how to stay efficient at this level. He will. It will come. But I thought he had the least effect on this game of any this season. He still hasn't figured out how to get into the flow. This is not surprising, because Self has changed from trying play through him for his scoring, to reform him into a garbage 4 of the kind Marcus was his freshman year. This could be very good for Perry in the long run, if Jeff can pick up the slack in inside scoring that results from retasking the 4 as a garbage 4, and less of a TRob 4.

KULA 9 years ago

Saw some good things last night despite allowing a big game to the opposing guards again and not putting away an overmatched team. Seniors stepping up big time. Jeff had another good game, this time against pretty solid bigs. Releford becoming more assertive offensively, pushing it to the hole, with great results. Kevin growing more confident offensively and pushing the offense, going to hole, a couple of great assists and his first double digit game this year. Great assist game for EJ, but still needs to create his own shot more (if he can...). Fine showings by AW3 and Rio, and a great job by Bill, letting the two play through some mistakes, instead of the quick yank. Looks like they're both ready to start contributing more. Also glad to see Jeff (for several games now) not going above the 3pt line to pick up a guard. I'll take my chances any day with Jeff staying in the post defensively.

KULA 9 years ago

Almost forgot to mention Ben, looking more and more like a natural out there. Better enjoy him while we can.

Brian Skelly 9 years ago

Self unloading on several guys individually and openly is rare. So my guess is, even what we heard at the presser was guarded. My guess is EJ and Relaford were really getting an earful behind closed doors.

I agree with the PT ideas here, but I'll point out that the reason that happens more often than not is simply that Self doesnt trust those guys yet. Now maybe he should -- I'd play Ellis and Traylor far more than they are getting now. But its obvious he trusts Young and Withey so much more that it is hurting the freshman big guys. At this point, you'd HOPE things change, but if those two arent getting 18-25 minutes per game (on average) come Big 12 time, there is a problem.

Im quite sure Self would prefer the freshman take PT from Young, but until they prove they can its hard to see them getting a ton of time out there.

I also just never bought into the idea that E.J. is a point guard. He isnt. He's a 2 with decent ball handling skills. He does have better than average vision out there. But my guess is part of his lesser performances we've seen is the fact that he's being asked to infinitely more than he's had to do before. You know... like run the KU offense? He didnt go to the rack at all last year, and if he's supposed to 'distribute' more that isnt going to improve unfortunately.

We're talented and young and fun to watch at times. Other times not so much. If we win the conference its on sheer futility of the conference, not our greatness. At least not.

Jack Wilson 9 years ago

I mentioned this last week .. ever though how EJ might have developed if he would have just been given the 2 spot as a sophomore and left alone?

Speculation, but I say the VCU loss never happens.

KansasComet 9 years ago

We will always be in complete agreement on that one. I think that VCU loss still eats away at you as it does me. Kansas should have destroyed VCU. The combination of Tyshawn and EJ helped us get to the Title Game the following year. EJ was clutch for us and seems to like the big moments.

KULA 9 years ago

EJ getting some PT a year earlier and the Northern Iowa loss probably never happens either. I still feel like Bill screwed up EJ's career. Wasn't he about the #3 ranked guard coming out of high school, behind Wall and Bledsoe. Anyone think EJ's still in that class?

KansasComet 9 years ago

Alright, someone had the "you know what" to say it! He looks nothing like the player he was when he got here. He was a 5 Star recruit coming out of High School. I concur!

Kye Clark 9 years ago

He was the #4 rated PG coming out of high school, around #24 overall (Rivals rankings). Comparing him to Bledsoe, who was #23 that year, is one thing. But comparing him to the #1 player that year...EJ was never in that class, let alone "still".

Regardless, I know that wasn't the point. But looking at what the scouting services said about him is telling: first, he was in fact a PG coming out of high school. People complain about him not being a PG and that he should have been left at the 2, but the point was his original position. Also, guards know that coming to play for Self you likely need to be able to play both guard spots. Bill's infamous "combo" guard role. Second, he was described as an athletic, "slashing" guard coming out of high school. Have we ever seen that from EJ regularly? Not really. Is that because Bill doesn't want him slashing to the hoop, or is it because many high school players (at any school) find it much more difficult to slash at the next level and simply never develop that skill? Probably the latter.

KansasComet 9 years ago

We may never see him going hard to the basket again after that awful fall he had on Friday night! I can appreciate your point of view.

brooksmd 9 years ago

News of the day, Baylor 64 and Kenstinky 55, ending 55 game home win streak at Rupp.and 2nd loss of the week for Kenstinky. Love it.

FarSideHawk 9 years ago

Rick Majerus has passed away.

Rest in Peace, Rick. You will be missed.

Jeff Kilgore 9 years ago

Some of the shots that the OSU player made were just ridiculous. Yeah, we're not playing as well on D, but it's hard to make those shots unguarded. We won't see another performance like that week in, week out.

Self does seem to be struggling with this team. We're 6-1. That's how KU struggles. Check out UK.

Jack Wilson 9 years ago

I might suggest that a young team like UK will certainly struggle early. And they might late. But we have 4 senior starters.

If we compare to Kentucky, literally, they have a ring last season and we don't.

Robert Murphy 9 years ago

If this team goes anywhere we must get considerable minutes from white, Ellis and Adams. If these three develop as they should they will be very much better by the end of the season and so will the team. Ellis especially is playing way below his potential. Look for Perry to have a break out game soon. I thought Jaybates comments on white were very interesting. Jaybate really had some great posts today and many others have as well. This site is improving just like the basketball team. We always learn more not less. This is a great thing for it means whatever needs to be done can be done. Making money and making sense are mutually exclusive. Global warming and all makes it imperative to start making sense. I like basketball but I am distracted by the many issues we need to address if we are going to be playing basketball in 50 years. As a game it was great as it was designed and with a few tweaks the modernized version is better, except for the violent way it is being played. Do we have stand your ground laws in basketball. When is it OK to knock someone to the floor without a foul being called? Is it any wonder so many young people are getting injured? We need to rethink why we play sports.

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