Wednesday, January 9, 2013


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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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


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.


FlashyThundercat 9 years ago

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

Phil Leister 9 years ago

That's Keegan's style: verbose and ambiguous.

KUfreebird 9 years ago

Why do you even read Toms articles if your just going to hate on him, is that what you spend your whole day doing. Hating on people.

mhughes1 9 years ago

"Why do you even read Tom's articles if you're just going to criticize him? Is that what you spend your whole day doing?"

fixed it for you.

Phil Leister 9 years 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.

Tom Keegan 9 years ago

HawkOverseason, My premise was that two things that happen in the game — the drought when McLemore didn't shoot and the comeback when he did — will reinforce the need for everybody from teammates to McLemore to make sure he gets more shots.

parrothead8 9 years ago

But he already shoots more than anyone else on the team this season. If you go by field goal percentage, the guy they need to shoot more is Releford.

LAJayhawk 9 years ago


BMac scored 33 points on 12 shot attempts. That's ridiculous, but it also suggests that Bill Self is absolutely correct: he should have taken many more shots. He's BY FAR the best scorer on the team. While Travis has been shooting fantastic, his average has gone way up because he picks his shots. Our offense can't work on waiting for him to get the right shot. When the defense clamps down, we need someone who can just go find a way to score. That's BMac.

Bill Self and Tom and both right: he needs to shoot a lot more.

FlashyThundercat 9 years ago

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

towns 9 years ago

I liked the opening sentence. There's nothing that says you have to write curtly.

David Leathers 9 years ago

I think you need some reading comprehension classes... His style is different. I'd bet that he spent the first 20+ years of his career writing how other people wanted him to write. Now that he's the sports editor, he can be himself.

Besides, who are you to criticize? You have the word "cat" in your user name.

+1 Keegan. Nice article.

FlashyThundercat 9 years ago

Cats are awesome. You take that back.

KUfreebird 9 years ago

Same goes here if you have nothing nice to say then keep it to yourself. Do you really thing Tom cares at all what you have to say about his articles.

FlashyThundercat 9 years ago

If he was a good writer then he would.

Bob Forer 9 years ago

NO luck involved. Ben called the bank.

Kevin Huffman 9 years ago

Yes, regarding bad defense on ISU. I mean 38 of their 73 FG attempts were 3's. And Self I think wants our D to be able to limit our opponents to 30% or worse from 3. For those 38 attempts they made 14 (good for 36.8%). by Self's definition, limiting them to 12 would be ok, 11 or less with that many attempts is what you would aim for.

Michael Luby 9 years ago

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

Allen Shepard 9 years ago

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

Ronald Cox 9 years ago

Where was Ben for the Temple game?

kgreg01 9 years ago

5-12 FG 1-4 3PT 2-2 FT for 13pts. I think their would be diminishing returns giving him more 3 PT attempts v. Temple. He wasn't as hot like last night. You can't look at last night to solely suggest BMac should carry a bigger load but rather look at stats for the entire season. I loved his diversity in driving to the hoop last night for easy 2s in the paint. We need more of that from him with steady 3 PT attempts.

Robert Rauktis 9 years 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.

Tom Keegan 9 years ago

Good analogy, which isn't to say McLemore's as good as Jordan. McLemore's a freshman-and-a-half.

ccarp 9 years 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!

FearlessJayhawk 9 years 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.

Tony Bandle 9 years ago

Fun thought but it won't happen....maybe a few less shots for Kevin and a few more shots for BenMac.

A possible solution may be for Ben to pump fake the three, draw out the defender and then drive the basket more, then if the defender stays back, pop the three.

A more realistic solution is to have Elijah and Naadir get him more opportunities.

Reuben_J_Cogburn 9 years ago

No. Ground yourself for a moment.

What McLemore did last night is nothing short of incredible. But we cannot depend on him to do that every night...or realistically, ever again. Don't get me wrong...I would love it if he scored 33 every night. But it's not going to happen.

Self's teams are strong because there is never a "Go-To Guy." When it's useless for your opponent to focus on shutting down one player, you've got a perfect plan in place. Never make scouting easy.

Look for the response from the other players on Saturday, and hope that McLemore is not the star of that game. We want the star to be McLemore, Withey, Releford, Young, Johnson or Tharpe in any given game. Keep 'em guessin'.

Paul James 9 years ago

I like your last paragraph, Reuben, but disagree that McLemore won't do that again. Ben needed a game like this to realize how good he actually is/ how good he can be. Self also needed a game like this to know that he can rely on Ben and to realize that McLemore needs to shoot more. You're right that we can't depend on him to do that every night, nor is there a reason to; our team is good and it's exciting not knowing who the leading scorer might be. However, Bill's teams have had Go-To Guys in the past and those types of players are needed. That doesn't mean that the offense is run around Ben, or the other Go-To Guys, but that in pressure situations, we have someone to give the ball to that we can trust to put up a decent shot: Chalmers, T-Rob, McLemore..

justanotherfan 9 years ago

Do I think Ben goes for 30 in a game again this year - Probably.

Do I think he does it on only 12 FGA? No. That's incredibly efficient. You're doing well if you average 1 point per attempt. He averaged nearly 3 points per FGA. That's a level of efficiency that you just don't see very often.

Reuben_J_Cogburn 9 years ago

When I said we may not be able to depend on him ever doing that again, I was really referring to banking in a 3 with 1 second to send the game to overtime. In other words, I have no doubt he will score 30 again, just not in that fashion or with the incredible efficiency in which he did it.

But he will put up a couple more monster games in a KU uniform.

RJ King 9 years ago

He'll do it again, just like Pierce did when he averaged something like 26 pts. But only surrounding Pierce with Allen and KG brought rings to the Celtics.

And even Danny had his Miracles.

Ben Fletcher 9 years ago

miracles indeed. Scooter. Freakin'. Berry. What game was that in the 88 title run, the Kansas State game? Truly can't remember, as the Hawaiian sun has had ill effects on my memory (yeah, that's the problem). but i seem to recall Scooter carried us for a stretch in a game where nobody else would(could). i remember thinking we don't advance without him (that day).

Kevin Huffman 9 years ago

Just my guess, but I have a feeling that it's going to be Relly in the Tech game. He kind of seems "due" again.

Andy Godwin 9 years 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.

Jonathan Allison 9 years 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.

Jason Roberts 9 years 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!


Vic Janeway 9 years 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!?

Tony Bandle 9 years ago

Young = or > energy, hustle, defensive mayhem, put-back chippies, dunks.

Young < high proficiency offensive moves, 10'-15' jump shot, precise consistent passing.

If he had a mid-range jump shot, he would average another 6 points a game. He is who he is, so someone else needs to fill that foul shot area void when Withey is doubled low.

Reuben_J_Cogburn 9 years ago

Thought it was going to be Ellis, but that could be a while.

HawkKlaw 9 years ago

Yeah, KY is not "that guy." He put up a couple ugly ones from that range early. I think Bill Self told him to stop shooting from there because they were basically daring Kevin Young to make a jump shot, which he couldn't. I agree with Rueben, it was supposed to be Ellis doing that this season. He has that ability, he's just not that comfortable in Self's system yet. I'm sure Bill Self will get it figured out though because every team in the Big 12 is going to use that strategy against KU this year.

Who knows, maybe next time that happens Self will sub AW3 in for Young. That might solve the jump shooting problem at least.

zsn 9 years ago

KY needs to practice and master the "Turnaround Freethrow Jumper" - very often he's left open on the FT-line, and he ends up passing to the wing, and sometimes to Withey, low. I would imagine he would be a bigger threat if he could consistently hit that 15-footer, ie. a free-throw, a jump-free-throw, to be fair. This would also inject a greater potency to the high-low offense.

Also, in fairness, I am beginning to see (in my almost-30-years of following CBB) that fewer players seem willing, and able, to pull the trigger at the FT line in a half-court set. If you believe that most players, even casual players like the inhabitants of this site, are about 67% FT shooters, that is a VERY high percentage shot in a game situation!!

HawkKlaw 9 years ago

Yes I agree, I don't know what's so hard about hitting shots from that range!

offline 9 years 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.

Tony Bandle 9 years 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!!

ManCrushOnCaptainKirk 9 years 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.

JayHok 9 years ago

Michael Jordan always said he wouldn't have been half the player he developed into in the league without Dean Smith along with the three years he matured in college. The fact that he was a gym rat allowed him to work on his game outside of practice perhaps in a more isolated way than he ever could have his first couple years in the NBA.

Tony Bandle 9 years 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!!!

theend 9 years ago

Yes, Oak.....And remember.....In Wilt's day......Freshmen did not even play varsity. I heard the freshmen team with Wilt used to beat the varsity.

Steve Brown 9 years 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?

wildjayhawk 9 years 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.

theend 9 years ago

You can't predict based on one game. If you're going to look at the also have to look at the good.....and look how well KU played against Ohio State on the road. My advice? Just enjoy the ride.

texashawk10 9 years ago

Don't feed wildjayhawks. It's kinda like feeding a gremlin after midnight, not a good thing.

Joel Thomas 9 years 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.

JHAWKSWAG 9 years ago

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

jaybate 9 years 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?


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.


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!!

Bill Kiekel 9 years ago

Thoughtful analysis jaybate, luck does matter

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