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Sunday, January 13, 2013

KU men wary of Baylor PG Pierre Jackson

Baylor’s Pierre Jackson, front, is fouled by Texas Tech’s Daylen Robinson during their game Tuesday in Lubbock, Texas. Jackson, who leads the Big 12 in scoring, and the Bears will meet KU at 8 tonight in a Big Monday showdown in Allen Fieldhouse.

Baylor’s Pierre Jackson, front, is fouled by Texas Tech’s Daylen Robinson during their game Tuesday in Lubbock, Texas. Jackson, who leads the Big 12 in scoring, and the Bears will meet KU at 8 tonight in a Big Monday showdown in Allen Fieldhouse.

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Associated Press

Baylor’s Pierre Jackson, front, is fouled by Texas Tech’s Daylen Robinson during their game Tuesday in Lubbock, Texas. Jackson, who leads the Big 12 in scoring, and the Bears will meet KU at 8 tonight in a Big Monday showdown in Allen Fieldhouse.

Pierre Jackson, the starting point guard on Baylor’s 2012 NCAA Tournament Elite Eight team, certainly has lived up to expectations after arriving in Waco, Texas, as national junior college player of the year.

The 5-foot-10, 180-pound Las Vegas native, who led College of Southern Idaho to a national title his sophomore year, earned second-team All-Big 12 and honorable mention All-America acclaim last season. He was voted Big 12 preseason player of the year prior to the start of this, his senior campaign.

“I would have voted for him for preseason player of the year. He’s leading the league in scoring by a large margin. He’s first or second in assists,” KU coach Bill Self said of Jackson, who has averaged a Big 12-leading 19.2 points and 6.3 assists per contest. KU’s Ben McLemore is second in the league in scoring (16.4), while Jackson is in a dead heat with Texas’ Javan Felix in assists (6.27 for Felix to 6.31 for Jackson).

“He’s fast, and he’s got bounce, but he’s not their only weapon,” Self added in previewing a Baylor team that takes an 11-4 record and 3-0 league mark into today’s 8 p.m. Big Monday showdown at KU (14-1, 2-0).

Baylor also has double-digit scorers in 7-foot-1 freshman Isaiah Austin (14.6 ppg, 8.4 rpg) and 6-9 junior Cory Jefferson (14.3 ppg, 8.4 rpg), as well as long-range bomber Brady Heslip (30 of 84 threes for 35 percent).

Jackson, however, is the player who runs the show.

“I think when Baylor is playing its best, Pierre probably controls the game. He doesn’t have to score to play well, but usually when they do play well, he scores,” Self said.

KU point guard Elijah Johnson and Jackson both call Las Vegas home.

“Same city but different sides of town,” said Johnson, who attended Cheyenne High; Jackson attended Desert Pines. “We’re cool. That’s my boy. We’re cool people.

“I always said he was good. People kind of underestimated him,” noted Johnson, who averages 9.8 points and 5.5 assists for the Jayhawks. “It didn’t surprise me where he got to, at all.”

Asked about today’s match-up against Jackson, Johnson said: “It’s nothing but a good thing for the city (of Vegas).”

Jackson is 1-2 versus KU. The Bears fell to KU, 92-74, in Allen Fieldhouse and 68-54 in Ferrell Center a year ago before prevailing, 82-71, in the Big 12 tournament semifinals in Sprint Center.

“We know what kind of environment we’re going into, and I think we’ll be ready for it. I remember how loud it was,” Jackson said of last year’s game in which KU put an end to Baylor’s 17-0 run to start the season.

“They have a great fan base, and if you let them get any momentum at all, the crowd will let you know about it. We have a little saying that we say, ‘It’s just us.’ There will be really no fans up there for us. We’ll be ready, though,” Jackson added.

BU coach Scott Drew vividly recalls last year’s game in Lawrence.

“We were 17-0, and there was a lot of hype going into the game. I think it will help the guys that were there last year. Unfortunately, we led to it getting loud by missing easy buckets and turning the ball over. So we have to do our job to keep it quiet,” Drew said.

The victory in the Big 12 tournament might provide the Bears some confidence heading into tonight’s game. KU is 10-2 versus the Bears during the Self era.

“I think coach (Drew, 2-10 vs. KU) will show what we did against them last year and try to use that against them this time,” said Jackson, who had 11 points and 11 assists in the game in Allen, 16 points and four assists in Waco and 13 points and seven assists in Sprint Center.

Drew is confident in his team in large part because of floor leader Jackson.

“Pierre can score in bunches, and when you get somebody who can score in bunches, you’re always a few seconds from a great run. That’s what you love about Pierre because in a minute he can do three or four spectacular things,” Drew said of Jackson, who has scored in double figures in 23 straight games, averaging 18.6 points and 6.3 assists per game during the streak. He has made a three-pointer in 27 consecutive games, and with one vs. KU, he would tie the third-longest streak in program history.

BU’s coach is well aware the Jayhawks have a lot of players to counter the Baylor attack.

“It’s rare to have so much experience in college basketball these days,” Drew said of KU’s senior-laden starting lineup.

KU senior Jeff Withey realizes it’ll take another great effort to stop the Bears, picked to finish second to KU in the preseason Big 12 coaches poll.

“They are a great team. They have been the last few years. It’s going to be a fun game. It’s Big Monday,” Withey said.

He was asked if the game could be billed as a Withey-Jackson showcase since the two are battling for Big 12 Player of the Year honors.

“Uh, no,” Withey said. “He doesn’t play my position, so I can’t guard him. He can’t guard me. It’s all about our team. As long as we keep winning, I’m happy. He’s a great player. He’s so fast. He’s really a good point guard, but we have a really good point guard, too. I think Elijah will play great on Monday. He has a big challenge. He’s going to be able to show his talent off and make it be known he’s a real good point guard, too.”

Huge game: Self on the significance of the game, considering BU is 3-0 and KU 2-0 in the league: “It’s a big game. Anytime you play at home, you need to try to hold serve. This is a big game, without question. It’s one our guys will look forward to playing. Baylor has had great success the past few years, and we’ve had some great games against them. This is a big game.”

Drew returns: Drew returned to the bench for Saturday’s victory over TCU. He had served a two-game suspension to open league play as part of self-imposed sanctions for NCAA rules violations announced last April. Drew was cited for rules violations involving excessive phone calls to prospects. Assistant Jerome Tang directed the Bears to victories over Texas and Texas Tech.

Self on BU’s Austin: “He is a 4-man (with) almost 3-man skills. He can shoot the ball (52 percent). He’s tall. He can shoot, block shots (15), post. He is a force. From the outside looking in, he’s getting more confident as the season goes on.”

Jefferson quite the dunker: Self was asked if BU’s Jefferson is underrated: “Yes. He’s shooting 70 percent from the field (actually 63 percent). He dunks everything. He is Blake Griffin of the Big 12. He does kind of replace Quincy Acy in that regard dunking everything. He’s good player.”

Cory Jefferson on being a big factor this season after being a role player in the past: “It’s a lot of fun. I’ve been waiting all that time, sitting out there watching everybody who was playing. Now I’m out there on the court. We’ll try to get a win up there,” he added. “We know it will be tough, but we’ll have a game plan and stick to it. I know it’s a tough place. They have one of the best centers in the Big 12, so I think it will be a good match-up”

Stats, facts: KU leads the all-time series, 18-3. BU is 0-9 in Allen . ... The closest game between the teams in 10 meetings in Lawrence was BU’s 81-75 loss to KU on Jan. 20, 2010. Baylor lost by at least 10 points in every other road game against Kansas. ... Baylor has played nine times at Allen Fieldhouse (0-9), and the Bears have lost by an average of 17.0 points in those games. ... Baylor held TCU to 40 points on Saturday, the fewest the Bears have allowed in a Big 12 game. ... Baylor is 18-24 in Big 12 road games over the last six seasons after going 8-80 in road games over the league’s first 11 years. ... Through 15 games, Baylor is averaging 37.7 points in the paint per game and holding opponents to 28.3 PIP. Baylor’s leaders are Jefferson (10.0 PIP/game), Austin (9.1 PIP/game) and Jackson (5.7 PIP/game). ... Heslip has made a three in 48 of 52 games in his career. He has 34 games with two-plus threes and 22 with three-plus threes.

Comments

Reuben_J_Cogburn 1 year, 3 months ago

Is it just me, or did we rebound horribly against Tech?

Not sure if the numbers indicate it, but we definitely looked out of position and had trouble grabbing the ball often.

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Sam Constance 1 year, 3 months ago

I love Coach Self, but... isn't Blake Griffin the Big 12's Blake Griffin?

Also, I'm far more worried about what might happen if we get lazy in defending Brady Heslip than I am about Pierre Jackson. If Jackson really starts to make us pay, then slide Releford over onto him and I think we'll be fine.

But if we let Heslip get some of the open shots we allowed to Iowa State, then tonight will be a dogfight. Especially if Heslip gets on a roll.

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Brian Powell 1 year, 3 months ago

I was just about to post that... EJ's height is not an advantage here (on D,,and maybe not on O either). Jackson is quicker than EJ has been playing (not his quickest).

On D, I'd rather see Tharpe on him. Even Rio.

On O, we could see more turnovers by EJ if he's not careful.. gotta keep his head up when Pierre's around, then he's ok to drive or dish. As much as I'd too like to see him post up, we won't see that from EJ. Not part of his game and not part of Self's either!

**The more intriguing matchups are all inside. Our slashers like Ben and KY and Travis will get theirs, but the rebounding and post play (along with who gets to the FT line) will be the biggest factors of the game (assuming no one lights it up from 3 like crazy).

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William Blake 1 year, 3 months ago

pg 3

Jeff Withey is becoming a phenom in Z-axis defense (defending against the shot). It may be enough to get him to the next level of basketball. If he wants to earn lots of NBA playing time he will learn the Z-axis in other parts of the game, like on the offensive end. Too much focus in either X or Y access makes players predictable and directionally-stiff. Sound familiar when Jeff gets the ball in the post? He's a legitimate "footer" but has a huge percentage of his own shots blocked! Jeff has spent his KU college days mastering the block.

Timing is a big part of the Z-axis, because no one can be successful with a Z-angle for long (before a defender sniffs out the Z). Quickness is more important than speed in the final moments before a shot is delivered. Speed is important before coming to the final moments to make up large broad spacing.

I've become a big Naadir Tharpe fan. I think he's on the edge of getting it. Little guys have superior body design for executing quick movements on the court (change of direction, bursts of speed, quick fakes). Granted, they have a lot of territory to make up for, but the possibilities are there for them to dominate the game. Their biggest problem is that taller players are honing their X and Z. That's why the NBA is becoming taller all the time. Players like 6'11" Durant are redefining the game. But that is the NBA... and we are D1. The college game is a long ways from being over-run by skilled big men at the perimeter. Even Durant has limitations. He's just found a successful Z-axis to dominate within. But so has other greats... like Rondo and Rose.

All of this "muckery" is the extremely long road to addressing Jaybate's statement: "Where else on the floor does KU hold a 6 inch height advantage on offense?" My bloated post isn't an attempt to totally explain basketball. Just a big part of it.

In this particular case, I don't see EJ's extra 6 an advantage. If EJ was the EJ from two years ago, I'd go along with it... but he's been banged up and he's reduced his Z-axis potential because he can't cut like he once did (or twist and distort). He still has the X and Y working for him... but that only really gets to shine in open court breakaways. EJ's struggling with a Z-axis deficiency, brought on, no doubt, from his injuries.

For this game, I'd trade every inch of EJ's height advantage for more lateral movement!

I apologize to all for being so windy today. I like to keep my posts "light."

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William Blake 1 year, 3 months ago

pg 2

So what is Z-axis, and how can players develop their Z-axis skills? Z-axis is any direction besides the fixed X-axis or Y-axis. Z-axis can be as horizontal as X-axis, just in a different direction. Z-axis can be as vertical as Y-axis, just by moving floor position before going straight up. And, of course, Z-axis is most-effective when it angulates from a combination of X and Y movement.

Simply put: Z-axis represents the place in space where players will find a successful path to shoot the ball successfully (or drive or pass). Successful defenders are those defenders who know how to predict where the offensive players Z-axis is going to be and interrupts that path to create a stop, whether it be defending on a shot or a drive.

So how can players up their Z-axis performance? There are so many things that help players create the space they need to get the job done. Speed and leaping ability are key factors (enhancements), but will not get the job done by themselves. This is something both Tyshawn and EJ have had to learn the hard way... waiting until the end of their college careers to work on their Z-axis. Both of these guys started their careers using a "brute force" mentality to driving the basketball (out-of-control play with too much speed). TT finally figured it out after a coaching session with John Lucas. I don't know how many of you watched Lucas play in the big boy league.. but that little guy had no problem at all scoring the ball in the paint against the largest trees. Lucas was a master of Z-axis basketball. Another great Z-axis player was Larry Bird. The guy looked more like a plumber than an NBA All-Star.

Some other key enhancements are: ball control on the dribble, good stop/go ability, good directional-shift ability, good prediction of where the defense will play the Z-axis, all kinds of faking (ball, shoulder, head, directional, speed, etc etc etc). It is better to be a "quick leaper" than a "sky leaper"... It took me forever to understand that. Quick leapers rely more on timing, instead of using brute height leaping ability.

There is no better advantage to have than the ability to see the game, and quickly predicting the Z-axis opportunities in real time!

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William Blake 1 year, 3 months ago

In response to Jaybate's post above:

Basketball is more than a game of X's and O's... It is actually a game of dimensionality and is expressed in X's, Y's and Z's.

Success in basketball is all about the Z's. Let's say X relates to the horizontal directional line going straight forward. And Y relates to the vertical directional line going straight up.

Strategies in the post are different from strategies on the perimeter. In the post, height becomes more important for several reasons. Taller players tend to have longer arms, too. So players who can reach higher have an advantage on the Y-axis. Without jumping they cover a longer span of the X-axis. Being good leapers also helps extend their X. X-axis is important in the post, because as players get closer to the goal, the goal angulates higher into space, creating a need for more X-axis range. Guarding, shooting, rebounding... all become impacted more by the X-axis range. Another factor is spacing. Post play is crowded, reducing possible extensions of the Y-axis. So when the player spacing is compressed, it (once again) favors X-axis range.

Perimeter play is a different story. Two factors are key: first, the players tend to have more horizontal space. Second, the angle from the standing player to the goal also becomes more horizontal and the distance longer. So on the perimeter, the Y axis range becomes more valuable than it is in post play. I'm not saying height isn't an asset on the perimeter, it just doesn't have the same weight as in the post, because horizontal ability becomes crucial at the perimeter. If a player is blessed with both (ie BMACulate) he has an easier path to finding successful Z-paths.

Both X and Y are only parts of what makes "basketball success." You can go to any mall in America, and if you stand in one place long enough you will witness someone walking by who has extreme height (maybe 7' or so) and you know that person isn't playing in the NBA. Height alone doesn't make a basketball player. And you can go to any track meet in America and watch athletes run far faster than anyone running on a basketball court.. yet.. you don't find many of these people in the NBA. The successful players in the NBA understand that the game is successfully played in the "Z-axis."

The formula works to a T in the NBA. Players are of all sizes and shapes, and at all positions, but using height alone to determine success just doesn't work. Height helps in most positions if there is enough basic X-axis available to create the right Z-axis, because the eventual goal is to score (or prevent scoring) and the goal will always be weighted by the Y-factor due to it's fixed position of 10'. If, suddenly, we all become radiated to the point where our offspring grow to 20', the game will obviously change to be a X-axis dominant game if the goal remains at 10'. Nothing illustrates this better than soccer. How many "footers" play soccer?

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wildjayhawk 1 year, 3 months ago

Drew is one heck of a good coach, one of the best in the league. Ku better play better then they have the past two games or it could be a long night for KU.

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jayhawkinATL 1 year, 3 months ago

All I can say is that we won't have "a snowball's chance in hell" if we play like we did the past two games.

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HawkKlaw 1 year, 3 months ago

For KU, this game is going to come down to passing and protecting the ball. Passing is probably the biggest weakness of this KU team. Elijah, Naadir, Travis and BMac all need to drive the paint and make good passes out to open perimeter players. Elijah and Naadir need to make good entry passes to Withey and Young. And most importantly, we need to protect the ball!

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jaybate 1 year, 3 months ago

"Some Conditional Things You Can Expect After the Game"

~If Faylor loses, Drew will hurry past Self in the handshake line.

~If Faylor loses, Drew will make excuses.

~If Faylor wins, Drew will want to linger in the handshake line with Self.

~If Faylor wins, Drew will not compliment KU.

~Whether Faylor wins, or loses, Drew may run off the court and make inappropriate recruiting calls, because getting away with a two game coaching suspension is a small price to pay for getting a recruit for 30+ games, and one, two, three, or four seasons.

~If the game comes down to coaching, Drew will lose.

~If Scottie pees in his pants during the game, his expression will look the same as it does when he does not pee in his pants.

~If the game gets close, Scott will probably be taking his cues for moves via texts from his father, Homer.

~If the Presbytery were on its constitutional game (note: the USA Constitution was based on the Northwest Ordinance, which was in turn based in part on the Presbyterian constitution, or so a Presbyterian once told me), they would perhaps have Scott Drew stand up in front of the deacons and say something like, "Much of my success, so far, has been a product of taking unfair advantage of recruiting rules, and because you have insisted that I recruit fairly now, I want you to understand that I may have even more problems beating KU." :-)

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Jack Wilson 1 year, 3 months ago

Self mentioned after the Tech game that neither McLemore nor Releford drove the ball.

For all this talk about point guard play, personally, I think our wings getting into the paint and utilizing their driving abilities is even more crucial to propelling this offense.

Releford and McLemore are the keys to our offense. They both are gifted slashers. Different styles, but both gifted. The offense has its greatest potential when it flows from them. Both of them have many opportunities to get the ball to the basket, but they decline, and pass the ball around the perimeter. I would add that EJ is pretty darn good step in shooter from three, and either of these guys kicking to him is a good thing, too.

Coach Self's system, I think, in part a cause. You hear him over and over .. don't let the ball stick. Sometimes, the offensive player needs a moment to assess his options. I see both of these guys passing the ball many times almost immediatlely after they get it (in the normal offensive flow). The idea is to get the ball reversed, but you are reversing it from a potential scoring opportunity many times. Although I tend to watch Releford's opportunities slip by more than McLemore, both decline opportunities to drive repeatedly.

Both have to drive the basket more to maximize our offensive potential. It starts with Releford. All it takes is to do it. To look for it. To make it happen.

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jhawkrulz 1 year, 3 months ago

Last year K. Young was the zone killer. We'll need his bunnies in the paint.

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leonard 1 year, 3 months ago

Typical Drew/Baylor squad...a glossy but thin veneer.

Losses at home to Colorado, Charleston and Northwestern...and Saturday's lackluster win over TCU in Waco.

Per usual, their roster looks great on paper...not so much between the lines.

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FearlessJayhawk 1 year, 3 months ago

BU can be very dangerous. Our guards are going to have to be on Jackson like stink on a monkey. Also, Jeff is going to be tested in the paint by Austin. The main thing is to take care of the ball, think, don't get rattled and defensively take control of the game..

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jhox 1 year, 3 months ago

Self needs to start letting Ellis play through some of his mistakes because we need the offense from that position that ony he can offer. I love Young's energy, but Perry has offensive skills that Kevin doesn't have.

I see Self treating Perry a bit like he treated Tharp last year. He's on a very short leash. This year he's had no choice but let Tharp play his way through mistakes and he has become a productive guy for us.

We're going to need Perry's offense as the season goes on, so I hope Coach can ease off him a bit and let him gain some confidence.

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bradynsdad 1 year, 3 months ago

I've watched almost all of Baylor's games. The scouting report is pretty simple. Keep the ball out of or just control Jackson, don't let Heslip shoot and don't give Austin the trailor 3. He likes shooting that 3 the way Marcus and markieff used too. In all the games they have lost Jackson was MIA. Our guys will be pumped though.

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Bob Thompson 1 year, 3 months ago

I have absolutely no respect for their coach. After that stunt that Drew did pulling his team off the court when KU was introducing their players. Then later recanting saying he didn't mean any disrespect..... he will always be on my sh?? list, and I can only hope that we beat them and beat them by a lot.

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Jayhawk470 1 year, 3 months ago

Kansas can beat Baylor's "Slamball" style pf play if they simply put forth the necessary effort to do so. They did it twice last season but failed to give the needed effort in the third game. It's all about effort, something that has been lacking for the better part of the last three games.

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jaybate 1 year, 3 months ago

Pierre Jackson 5-10

Elijah Johnson 6-4

Where else on the floor does KU hold a 6 inch height advantage on offense?

If Withey held 6" advantage would Self have them throw it into the post most of the time?

If Self refuses to post EJ, whenever Faylor goes m2m, I will scream.

I am preparing to scream.

If Self doesn't run a 2-3 zone part of the time and use 3 bigs to shut off Faylor's inside game, I will scream.

I am preparing to scream.

If Self doesn't use Trav to bring the ball up the floor, I will scream.

I am preparing to scream.

Etc.

But Self will find a way within the system to attack, while playing anyway Faylor wants, and then my screams will be wasted and KU will win.

:-)

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William Blake 1 year, 3 months ago

This game will be decided by our perimeter defense. If we put the pressure on (and keep it on) Baylor will collapse and we'll cruise to victory.

If our perimeter defense fails, it will be a race to the finish line...

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