Kansas University’s basketball rotation players work on attacking the zone defense regularly at practice.
That just hasn’t been evident in the past two games — Saturday’s 75-72 loss at Colorado and Tuesday’s 67-61 setback at Florida — in which the Jayhawks labored offensively.
“We spent a lot of time the last three days going against the 1-3-1, a lot of time,” KU coach Bill Self said on Wednesday’s Hawk Talk radio show. “It looked like we never have (worked on it) because you can put Justin Wesley on the point (of scout team zone defense). He can simulate being like (Florida’s) Will Yeguete or whoever they had at point.
“We can’t simulate a lot of the other things in practice the way Florida did it yesterday.”
KU (6-3) suffered 16 turnovers the first half and 24 for the game against the Gators (7-2).
“I don’t think it’s that complicated,” Self said of attacking zones. “In the past, as a team went zone we basically said, ‘Hey, they (opponent) have given up. They are admitting they can’t guard us. Now it’s a H-O-R-S-E contest. Get the ball moving.’
“We always use the word ‘hot potato’ because the ball does not stick against the zone. It moves side to side, in and out.”
In KU’s three losses, the passing hasn’t been crisp against zones.
“The ball sticks now. Guys are indecisive,” Self said, noting, “we haven’t reacted very well. The best zone offense I’ve ever seen is to have really good shooters and we haven’t shot the ball well against zones yet. We’re better shooters than this (5-20 threes vs. Colorado; 2-11 vs. Villanova; 8-19 vs. Florida).”
Self said a “big key” going forward against an assortment of zones will be the play of junior point guard Naadir Tharpe.
“He has to get in there and make plays,” Self said. “He’s the only one that has any experience that knows how to attack certain situations. He has to do a really good job for us to look good against a zone because we’ve got a lot of guys out there just trying to figure it out.”
Self explained the differences in attacking a man defense and zone.
“You can run plays against a man,” Self said. “You can run some zone plays but for the most part you’ve got to get in gaps because the zone distorts and takes different shapes. You’ve got to get in the gaps and learn how to play. Right now we look like a team that is very young in learning how to play against that.”
He gave a Hawk Talk caller another lesson in attacking zones ... “If you are going to play against a 2-3 zone, the perimeter players have to make the four defenders guard them,” Self said. “Right now we are allowing two defenders to always guard our three guys. You have no advantage at all. Our guys know that and understand that.”
Little slump: Freshman guard Wayne Selden has one assist against 11 turnovers the last three games. He played one minute the second half vs. Florida.
“Well, Wayne was laboring,” Self said on Hawk Talk. “I was wanting to give somebody else the opportunity to play. Even though the production wasn’t unbelievable I thought Brannen (Greene, five points, 14 minutes) gave us some energy, better than a majority of guys we had in the game.
“Wayne was in the office today. He is competitive and a stud and really good player,” Self added. “Wayne wants to be aggressive and help make plays. The last three to four games he’s not making good decisions. Easy plays become hard plays. He’s trying to do a little too much. He’ll get there. All he needs is a good week of practice, see the ball go in the hole and he’ll be fine. He’s a good player.”
Utah on schedule next year?: The Salt Lake Tribune says Utah will meet KU next season in Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. It’ll be a one-year deal with KU not returning the game the following season. KU officials had no comment on the report. KU generally does not confirm future matchups until contracts are signed. KU will play its annual game in Sprint Center on Saturday. The Jayhawks will meet New Mexico (7-1) in a 6 p.m. tip.