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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Keegan

Opinion: Field-goal droughts should be history with McLemore on team

Kansas fans reach to slap hands with Ben McLemore as he exits the floor after a 33-point performance and a game-tying three that send the game into overtime on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas fans reach to slap hands with Ben McLemore as he exits the floor after a 33-point performance and a game-tying three that send the game into overtime on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Bill Self talks after win over Iowa State

Kansas coach Bill Self talks to reporters following the Jayhawks' 97-89 overtime victory over Iowa State on Jan. 9, 2013.

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Ben McLemore, Travis Releford and Jeff Withey

Kansas players Ben McLemore, Travis Releford and Jeff Withey talk after the Jayhawks' 97-89 overtime victory over Iowa State on Jan. 9, 2013.

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Box score

KU-ISU

We never would have seen just how impressively Kansas freshman guard Ben McLemore can take over a basketball game if not for his team’s second-half stretch of longer than nine minutes of game clock without a field goal.

Now that McLemore showed what he can do when his team needs somebody to take the game by the throat, look for the days of long field-goal droughts to be a thing of the past for this Kansas team.

Defended well and going without a shot for long periods, McLemore still managed to score 33 points in leading Kansas to a 97-89 overtime victory against Iowa State in Allen Fieldhouse.

He couldn’t have scored during the field-goal drought that lasted 9:18. Know why? Because he didn’t attempt a shot during the stretch in which Kansas went 0-for-10 from the field and had five turnovers. Elijah Johnson took four shots and had four turnovers. Kevin Young took two shots and turned it over once. Naadir Tharpe and Jeff Withey put up two shots apiece.

McLemore sat for 2:36 of the drought and played the rest of it. And thanks to a 14-1 Iowa State run that gave the Cyclones a lead, we all were afforded the treat of seeing how McLemore plays when his team plays under a scoreboard that spells out long odds.

Kansas was down six with 4:01 left, down four with 1:10 and again with 27 seconds left and down three with eight ticks remaining. He made key play after key play to push KU’s record to 13-1 overall and 1-0 in the Big 12.

McLemore scored 13 points in the final 6:49 of regulation and five in overtime, bringing Kansas back from a six-point deficit. Remarkably, he attempted just 12 field goals and made 10. Showing phenomenal range, he made all six three-point shots and didn’t miss from the line, where he scored seven points.

“He’s very efficient, but it’s kind of sad,” Kansas coach Bill Self said after the thrilling victory. “I mean, this is coaching, but we’ve got to do a better job. When a guy gets 33, that’s impressive. But when he does it on 12 shots, we’ve got to get him more shots.”

McLemore holds his veteran teammates in high esteem, which can lead to him deferring to them, so getting him more shots will need to be a group effort.

“I don’t think he does a great job at all of plugging himself into the game, and I don’t think we do a great job of looking for him like we should,” Self said. “It’s one thing for guys to play the first 35 minutes of the game. It’s another thing for a player to make plays the last five minutes of the game. That was something we hadn’t seen. So that was great to see.”

Kansas survived stiff challenges in Allen Fieldhouse from Temple and Iowa State in a four-day span, which might cause uneasiness in some circles, but consider this to ease the anxiety: The player who looked as if he has the most room to improve from today until the end of the season is the same player who scored 18 of his 33 points in the final 11:49 of a pressure-packed game.

McLemore knows he needs to look for shots more often and in more ways, and Johnson said after the game he needs to “plug” McLemore in the game on a more regular basis.

In the first half, McLemore passed up a shot and gave the ball to Perry Ellis, who was fouled and had to earn the points on the line. Self hollered his name, and McLemore instantly knew what message he was about to hear. The freshman from St. Louis mimed tossing an underhanded layup and Self nodded affirmation. A shot, not a pass, was the right call, even if McLemore’s heart was in the right place.

McLemore’s an eager pupil, and this thriller of a game sent into overtime by a rare off-target McLemore shot, a three-pointer that banked in with one second left, serves as a good lesson for the entire team. Two stretches taught two different lessons. McLemore didn’t take a shot in the first stretch, won by Iowa State, 14-1. He made two of three two-pointers, two of two threes and three of three free throws during the deciding stretch won by Kansas, 40-26.

Comments

Billy61 1 year, 3 months ago

Thoughtful analysis jaybate, luck does matter

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jaybate 1 year, 3 months ago

"On Luck, On Toughness: Why Self's Teams Seem to Win A Lot of Close Games"

• When Ben made the lucky bank to beat the Iowa State Hoiclones, my first response was to discount it and KU's win as merely lucky, as if they didn't deserve it.

And that made me think about luck in hoops.

And that made me recall that lucky plays happen through out games. And I have never heard anyone complain about not deserving a win because of a lucky bounce on a free throw five minutes into a game.

What does it matter that luck happened on Ben's last second shot, versus a lucky bank 3 minutes in?

None.

The more I think about it the more I think a basketball game brims with lucky plays.

Shots and FTs bounce around the rim in ways shooters don't plan and then fall. Luck.

Rebounds come off one way and not another in unplanned ways and so are rebounded unexpectedly. Luck.

Guys trip, or slip, or get injured, unexpectedly and you get an easy bucket, or an easy MUA. Luck.

You get a draw in the Madness with teams you match up well with. Luck.

There is so much luck to be had in basketball that one has not only to be good to win big, but one also has to be lucky.

At least a quarter to a half of possessions evidence some luck. Maybe more.

And the luck seems widely distributed among both teams.

So why do some teams seem to win so much more?

Is it talent and skill or luck that leads to asymmetric winning?

It both. No. Its three things.

More talented teams seem to win more. So recruit more talented players.

And luckier teams seem to win more. So recruit more lucky players.

And teams with players that respond well after the event of luck seem to win more.

That last one is Self's least understood edge.

His players not only get luck, good and bad, but then they play better after the luck than others.

How?

He recruits players with swagger, the kind most likely to exploit good luck afterwards, or to play through bad luck well.

And he fills swaggering players with the word "believe."

Talented, coached-up, swaggering players that think next and believe are not only more likely to hang for luck to happen, but more likely to seize the moment after it happens.

British military strategist and historian Lidell Hart noted that the way battles and wars are won is not by destroying armies of an opponent, but rather by destroying the hope of an opponent, primarily the opponent's leader. Leaders without hope surrender. Leaders with hope keep fighting and looking for the next luck to exploit.

I cannot say for sure, if Self's teams are more lucky. But it is increasingly clear that Self's teams hang on for luck as well as any, and exploit its aftermath better than almost any.

Two memorable cases do not prove my point, but exemplify it.

Memphis in 2008.

Iowa State in 2013.

In both cases, it isn't just that they hung in and got lucky.

Look at what they did after the luck!!

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JHAWKSWAG 1 year, 3 months ago

Has anyone else noticed Elijah playing terrible lately? Absolutely killing me lately.

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Joel Thomas 1 year, 3 months ago

Love McLemore, obviously. Next in the pantheon of KU greats. However, as John Wooden said, "The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team." Good win boys.

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midwest_muser 1 year, 3 months ago

Whats worse? Reading a bad column or having the columnist argue with you that its good?

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wildjayhawk 1 year, 3 months ago

It appears that KU will have a difficult time winning the conference this year as the team last night seemed to be missing in action except for Mac. Ku can't count on Mac everytime.

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Steve Brown 1 year, 3 months ago

Is there an inverse shot percentage rule of pyshics that the more BMac shoots great the other guys feel 'lesser' in some way and fall down to average?

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Tony Bandle 1 year, 3 months ago

WOW!! I forgot that maybe the greatest basketball player of all time not named Wilt was a three year guy!!!

Can you all imagine the incredible Division 1 college teams we'd had if all the OADs had all stayed three seasons??!!!

My new anagram for the NBA...Nothing But Avarice!!!

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ManCrushOnCaptainKirk 1 year, 3 months ago

Here's hoping BMac realizes the difference in being a lottery pick and playing for a huge second contract. Being featured as "the man" in college rather than being one of the guys averaging 6-9 pts/game in the NBA has an enormous upside for developing him into the kind of player who, one day, commands respect (and a bigger payday) in the NBA.

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Tony Bandle 1 year, 3 months ago

It would be interesting to conjecture what the tone of the posts today would be if BenMac's buzzer beater bounced off the rim, no good.

Bill Self is a lousy coach, the seniors choked, the refs were horrible, the crowd didn't show up, KU was complacent, the 6:00 start threw everyone off, ISU played the game of their lives, the odds were finally against us, Releford and Johnson took turns being horrible, the freshmen outside of Benmac were deer in the headlights stunned, the season is over, it's Turner Gill's fault, etc., etc., etc,.

Sometimes happiness is a matter of a fraction of an inch!!

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offline 1 year, 3 months ago

This team is shakey, they have a long way to go and it looks like they need to get their heads in the game.

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Vic Janeway 1 year, 3 months ago

I am getting somewhat frustrated that the top of the paint is being left open by the opposition, thats like taking a freethrow shot. .Tthey keep backing down to double cover Withey so why cant the top posts learn to shoot a freethrow or jumpshot from there and get points? That should be a high percentage shot for Self to approve, confidence must be a high factor in this decision not to shoot from there. Wassup Coach!?

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Jason Roberts 1 year, 3 months ago

This goes down as an immediate Top 10 individual performance by a Jayhawk, if not Big 12 History. More impressive are the facts that 1) McLemore is a freshman, and 2) He only took 12 shots from the field. I haven't seen a freshman take over a game like this since Durant at KU a few years ago.

Elijah Johnson apologized to him during the game for not getting the ball to him enough. This won't be a problem from here on out this season for the 'Hawks. McLemore may start commanding double-teams that will open things up for the rest of his teammates which will spell double-trouble for opponents as KU has historically displayed a knack for being a great passing team. Open looks for everyone!

ROCK CHALK JAYHAWK!!!

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Jonathan Allison 1 year, 3 months ago

I think that what Keegan means is that the next time KU shows the early warning signs of an offensive drought, Bill Self needs to call multiple sets in a row for BMac, and insist that BMac put some shots up.

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akgjenkintown 1 year, 3 months ago

KU consistently wins because of great defense. Self had indicated before this game that their defensive statistics were an annomally because the previous teams missed open threes. All it takes it is a team like ISU who shoot well from outside to exposure this year's team's biggest weakness. Hope it will improve otherwise the second season will be a dog fight to the end and the third part of the season, March Maddness will be a big disappointment. Thank the heavens for a level headed, talented freshman to complement the senior class, but KU wins more games by holding their opponents below 60, not scoring in the 70's, 80's and last night 90's.

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FearlessJayhawk 1 year, 3 months ago

Gary Player once said, "The more you practice, the luckier you get." When someone is as talented as McLemore, it's doubly true. I think Bill Self should go back to the drawing board and build the Jayhawk offense entirely around BM. If he scores 70 points in a game, great.

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ccarp 1 year, 3 months ago

Was great to see Ben step up, and I also enjoyed watching the team keep a tight huddle and play defense when the shots weren't going down. We keep our composure and played both ends of the court. Season 2 is officially underway! Rock Chalk!

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Robert Rauktis 1 year, 3 months ago

So now after the Big XII trophy is mailed in to Lawrence next week, there isn't any point of four players scoring?

The only thing worse than the English is the thought process.

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Ronald Cox 1 year, 3 months ago

Where was Ben for the Temple game?

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Allen Shepard 1 year, 3 months ago

This was actually one of Keegan's better articles...

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Michael Luby 1 year, 3 months ago

quit complaining about the articles people, just enjoy the ride.

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Ferd Magellan 1 year, 3 months ago

I haven't had a problem with the KU offense at all this year. Sometimes the ball sticks too much with the guards, but they're usually taking good shots. Our worst games this year were due to piss poor defense. The defensive gameplan against ISU was miserable, and this team was obviously fortunate to make it to OT. Not many teams have as many shooters as the Cyclones, but there are plenty around the country that have better shooters. KU will see those teams in March (Michigan a possibility), so they'll have to figure out a way to make Withey more of a factor on the perimeter or play less of him against teams that rely mainly on the three.

I do agree that McLemore and EJ should ease all fears when it comes to needing big shots.

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Bob Forer 1 year, 3 months ago

NO luck involved. Ben called the bank.

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FlashyThundercat 1 year, 3 months ago

Keegan, let me edit your articles. I won't charge much. I can compact these and make them easier reads.

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Phil Leister 1 year, 3 months ago

So you're saying we'll never see a FG drought again because McLemore is capable of pouring it in? Well, no one was stopping him from attempting a shot during those 9 minutes. The premise of this article is very strangely thought out.

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FlashyThundercat 1 year, 3 months ago

That first sentence...you could've cut like 5 words out of it AT LEAST and gotten the same meaning across.

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