Thursday, September 26, 2013

And so it begins: Freshman Wiggins, Jayhawks set for season

Media members crowd around the highly-touted Kansas freshman, Andrew Wiggins during Media Day on Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse. Nick Krug/Journal-World Photo

Media members crowd around the highly-touted Kansas freshman, Andrew Wiggins during Media Day on Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse. Nick Krug/Journal-World Photo


Sitting on a raised chair, facing dozens of reporters, a weary Andrew Wiggins held court with the media for 30 minutes Wednesday afternoon in the southwest corner of Allen Fieldhouse.

The 6-foot-8 Kansas University freshman shooting guard, who has been under the weather the past couple of days — “I don’t know what I’ve got,” he said — never considered calling in sick with so many local, national and international (one TV crew from Canada) media members in town to meet with the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2013 on men’s basketball media day.

“I kind of forget about it when I’m practicing, but after that it hits me,” said Wiggins, his eyes watering because of a bug that’s had him chugging a lot of orange juice of late.

Even at less than 100 percent, he said he found all the attention flattering and humbling.

“It’s cool. Any kid would like it. I think I’m just blessed to be in this position,” Wiggins said.

Wiggins, who is expected to be the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, told the media he’s not thinking about that much right now.

“I like college a lot. I’m having fun. A lot of people say college is when you are having the best time of your life,” Wiggins said. “It’s been great. Classes have been going well. Practice has been going well, so I’m enjoying it. Lawrence is a nice place. It’s a small town. The people show a lot of love, appreciation,” added the Thornhill, Ontario, native.

He was quick to speak of the big picture when asked his goals for his almost-certain one-and-done season at KU.

“I’ve got a lot of expectations for the team,” Wiggins said. “We’re a young team, but I know we can do a lot of damage. Play hard, win the Big 12, just win it all.”

Wiggins — who averaged 23.4 points and 11.2 rebounds last season for Huntington (W. Va.) Prep (30-3) — says he’s not bothered by being called the best high school player since LeBron James.

“There’s pressure. Everyone thinks about it, but I try to block it out,” Wiggins said. “I know I can’t please everybody, so I just try to please the people around me that I know — my family, friends. This year when I have bad games or good games, people are going to love me, people are going to hate me, but my family (including brother, Nick, a Wichita State senior) is going to be there regardless for me every time.”

Asked by a Canadian reporter specifically about James and Kevin Durant, Wiggins said modestly: “They know of me. That’s interesting. That’s a blessing, too — to have the best players in the world know about you.”

There’s been talk by some NBA writers that teams might “tank” this season in order to get a shot at Wiggins atop the NBA Draft board.

“I don’t really think about it too much,” Wiggins said. “I know no NBA team will just give the season up to get somebody, because I know people in the NBA. You can’t tell the players not to play hard against somebody. They are going to play hard regardless because they want to win. It’s every athlete’s nature. We want to win.”

Wiggins has the skills to lead the Jayhawks to a lot of victories.

“All he has to do is jump. He’s skying over everybody,” senior Niko Roberts said of Wiggins’ performance in pick-up games. “He can do a lot of things. I think people will be surprised at the things he can do.”

“He’ll make some moves in pickup where you are just kind of, ‘Wow,’ where he shows off his athleticism,” sophomore Tyler Self noted, “whether on the fast break, catching alley-oop passes or getting offensive rebounds. What is showing most so far is his athleticism.”

As far as off the court ...

“He is probably the most uncocky, smartest player I’ve been around, especially for somebody who has the talent level he has,” said point guard Roberts, who roomed with Wiggins at Jayhawker Towers during June and July before moving off campus for his senior year. “He doesn’t really talk a lot. I’d walk into his room, and he’d just give me a big smile.”

Wiggins’ current roommate, Tyler Self, added: “He’s kind of a quiet guy. I think he has to be comfortable around you before he lets his personality show. It’s fun being his roommate. He’s pretty normal I’d say. He plays a little Xbox, makes some food. He’s real laid-back, modest. He fits in very well with this team.”

Bill Self, rates Wiggins a “10” on coachability.

“All of our young kids have been 10s,” Self said. “This has been a great group to work with, and if there is stubbornness, it has been strictly from a competitive standpoint, which I find to be pretty attractive. There hasn’t been any stubbornness from a wanting-to-learn standpoint.”

Self said Wiggins simply needs to bring it on every play.

“One thing with Andrew (Wiggins), he showed flashes of dominance in high school, but he didn’t do it on a consistent basis. He’s a guy that relies on athletic ability and turning it on when it needs to be turned on,” Self said. “But when you get to this level and even at a very high level of high-quality ball, you have a lot of guys who play that way and you will never get it turned on. And so he has to become a consistent guy who needs to impact every possession in whatever way, shape or form he can. He’s got to learn to compete in order to win every possession.”

Wiggins, who said he’s noticed “everybody is bigger, faster and stronger in college,” tries to be a sponge around Self.

“He is a players’ coach. He’s taught me a lot since I’ve been here, on and off the court,” Wiggins said. “It’s been a joy playing for him so far.”

And a joy being around his 17 teammates.

“This team ... we all roll as one unit,” Wiggins said. “Everybody is cool. Nobody is left out.”


Tim Orel 8 years, 3 months ago

For some reason that "video isn't available in my region". I enjoyed the one that followed, which was a 1on1 interview with Wiggins. Don't know why one would be available and one wouldn't, but maybe it's just crazy Canucks.

MinorThreat 8 years, 3 months ago

Same here, but funny the commercial prior tot he clip will play, lol.

LaFriends 8 years, 3 months ago

Tyler Self and Niko Roberts are impressed.... :)

Dan Pawlowski 8 years, 3 months ago

Hey they have at least two things going for them; 1)they have been around enough of the elite talent Kansas has had to be able to evaluate Wiggins and 2) They are on the University of Kansas Basketball team and you're not.

Cmill1221 8 years, 3 months ago

Does anyone know what the deal is for Late Night? Last year I came home that weekend and was late getting up there and at the door they told me I needed a ticket. I was like WTF!?!? Anyone know what the deal is w/ that or what I will need to get in this year?

Dirk Medema 8 years, 3 months ago

I think it was at the tailend of an article earlier this week. (No ticket, but bring food to donate?) Have you checked the KUAC website?

Cmill1221 8 years, 3 months ago

I've been looking and have t seen anything. We were late getting there and they asked if we had "reserved seating". It was strange, we knew about the food item but not reserved seating. I'm sure it was b/c GA was filled but I didn't even know you could get reserved seating. Just don't want a repeat of last year

Dirtyphog 8 years, 3 months ago

No reserve seating either, my friends sat mid court 3rd row, some sat in the yellow chair back seats.. Maybe reserve seating is along the baseline? Sideline?

wrwlumpy 8 years, 3 months ago

For KC folks that don't have Time Warner and are glad they have Direct TV like myself, the takeover of everything KU by TWC means that there might be up to 6 KU games that we will be unable to watch. Jayhawk Digital Passport will allow you to watch all things KU on your computer for $6.95 per month including all 3 hours of Late Night. With the right cable, hook it up to your big screen and presto. By the way, DTV offers the AX channel for free which will be broadcasting the entire Bahamas' tourney. I used to have TWC and loved it until they doubled my bill after my contract expired. I already re-upped a 2 year subscription to DTV before the TWC/KU merger took place.

Dirtyphog 8 years, 3 months ago

Last year they handed out "tickets" just to keep track of the amount of people. We got in line 3 hours early and got lucky but some of my friends didn't get in because of max capacity. But there's no tickets

nuleafjhawk 8 years, 3 months ago

Were you wearing a Mizzou shirt ? ( just kidding! )

Dan Cook 8 years, 3 months ago

Actually there are reserve tickets. When you arrived it's likely the building was full so the only folks being let in we're those with reserved seating. Employees, families, recruits, big donors, etc, have reserve tickets.

Cmill1221 8 years, 3 months ago

Probably a ticket I can't afford yet! Haha.

John Fitzgerald 8 years, 3 months ago

I like how Wiggins is humble. It really shows his character and I think it's going to make him shine even more. I also think it's great that he's staying close to Self and learning from him. I don't think Calapari's kids care to learn much from him, they just know they can play their game and get paid under the table. Wiggins also mentions "This team ... we roll as a unit." That means Self has done an extraordinary job of bringing this team together. I'm optimistic about this team but also know we're going to witness a few growing pains. Either way I think the outcome will be nothing less than fantastic. RCJH!!

Alex Peekeaton 8 years, 3 months ago

"I don't think Calapari's kids care to learn much from him, they just know they can play their game and get paid under the table."

Yeah, kids like Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Terrence Jones know everything about the game of basketball at age 18 & 19 years old and that is the reason Kentucky has been to two final fours with a National Championship in the past 3 years. Don't you see jmfitz85, the key to recruiting is to sign the high school players who already know everything and FFs/NCs will follow!

John Fitzgerald 8 years, 3 months ago

Is this guy for real? Hey Mr Tait, can you permanently delete this trolls account? He seems to have an incurable case of the hee bee gee bee's.

Alex Peekeaton 8 years, 3 months ago

drgnslayr, there aren't charts high enough for the potential of this year's UK team. I don't recall a team ever having as much size, length, athleticsm, and skill as this year's squad - but they are inexperienced and could be caught early on the road (Mich Stat/North Carolina). An extra two weeks of practice is only going to help and Calipari just recently stated this year's team is way ahead of the 2012 team. Jay Billas, Seth Greenberg, and others have watched the players practice and will let you read their comments.

Joe Baker 8 years, 3 months ago

No thanks. I really don't care to read anything uk. I really don't care to read your crap either. Thank you anyway and good luck on another NIT season.

Alex Peekeaton 8 years, 3 months ago

Do you always reply to posts solely intended for drgnslayr? Just for the record, drgnslayr had a legimate question and I tried to answer it to the best of my ability.

Joe Baker 8 years, 3 months ago

I think it's great that BBall has to come to a Jayhawk board and defend his peeps. It shows his insecurity with uk bball.

BringBackMark 8 years, 3 months ago

Everything starts with Bill Self. Amazing how we can have such a class act in basketball and, well, what can you say about Weis. Anyway, this is going to be a great year to be a Jayhawk hoops fan. Even if we lose a few during the growing period I can't wait to see this team hit it's stride.

Dan Pawlowski 8 years, 3 months ago

Not sure what your issue with Weiss is as far as that class remark. He ran off the guys who were trouble on and off the field and has shown he is willing to discipline someone regardless of ability (See Sims 3 game suspension last year).

Mick Allen 8 years, 3 months ago

If you are going to defend the man learn how to spell his name.

Ethan Berger 8 years, 3 months ago

Yes because on this online forum, most important aspect of life, the spelling of his name matters most.

nuleafjhawk 8 years, 3 months ago

I guess I haven't been CW's biggest fan so far, but last week I did look up his record as a college head coach to Bill Snyder's record after the same time frame and they were very, very close. CW's record is 38-39 and Snyder's was 36-31-2 (maybe there was only one tie - don't remember for sure). There's only so much a coach can do. The linemen have to block, the QB has to be on target, the receivers have to catch what's thrown to them, running backs can't be arm tackled, on and on. Thank goodness for a VASTLY improved kicking game (in all areas).

rockchalk_dpu 8 years, 3 months ago

Don't forget the turnaround Weis has shown in grades for this team. It certainly isn't factored into his win-loss totals, but if his players are graduating, it opens up so many options for them after football.

nuleafjhawk 8 years, 3 months ago

Kingfisher, thank you for clearing that up. I always thought he was talking about Mark Turgeon.

Titus Canby 8 years, 3 months ago

I thought he was talking about Pekka Markkanen.

jvhawk22 8 years, 3 months ago

People who have season tickets get tickets to late night so they don't have to wait in line all day. Got lucky last year and got some tickets and we walked up right before late night started and got in. I know it made some people mad! There was plenty of people still trying to get in

Jayhawk444 8 years, 3 months ago

not sure about this. I have had season tickets for years and I've never had tickets to Late Night. Maybe simply because I just haven't asked for them? but it certainly isn't automatic or part of the season ticket package

gneiss 8 years, 3 months ago

I'm with you, I've had season tickets for three years and never heard of such a thing. I wish it were true that season ticket holders got automatic admission into Late Night, but that's not the case.

ParisHawk 8 years, 3 months ago

Coach Self has given Wiggins his most trusted team members as roommates. Now he has a Tyler Insurance policy on him.

All of the quotes in this article are like honey butter on an English muffin: so good you are enjoying the first bite and already thinking about the second.

Dirtyphog 8 years, 3 months ago

Get health and stay humble young fella, great ambassador for KU basketball.

hotrodm 8 years, 3 months ago

This team needs to stay humble and not be like one of Kentucky's teams that lost in the NIT. Being great recruits helps, but there is no guarantee for success.

jaybate 8 years, 3 months ago

No one mentions outside shooting in a positive way.

AW3 is getting strokes.

Inference: WIGS HAS TO HAVE A DEFENSE STRETCHER ON THE OPPOSITE WING to maximize his "athleticism, because at this stage of development, Wigs is not BENMAC from trey, and Selden is not as far along as Self expected.

AW3, your rendezvous with destiny is now.

Jonathan Allison 8 years, 3 months ago

I was thinking along the same lines. All I keep hearing is about his athleticism. But not very much about his shooting touch. I have a hard time believing that he'd be the far and away #1 recruit if he couldn't shoot, but at the same time I worry that teams will just gameplan to give him lightly contested outside shots and muscle him up when he steps inside. Though if he were the next Lebron then he would be strong enough and skilled enough with the ball that there's no degree of muscle that could stop him from getting to the rim. However, I don't think that Wiggins has that strength yet.

wrwlumpy 8 years, 3 months ago

Thanks for the FDR quote from the 1936 Democratic national convention.To paraphrase Churchill, "Never have so few words uttered by a coach been dissected by so many."

Jack Wilson 8 years, 3 months ago

If you listen to coach Self, there is a lot there. Some of it may not be precisely stated, but here are some conclusions I have come to (and my positions on these topics haven't really changed at all):

1] Tharpe - He is the definitive starter at PG. Self had said on the radio at halftime of the football game that Tharpe had a "great offseason" and cited him as having the best offseason. He's the man. The chatter about Mason pushing him for minutes is simply further notice to Tharpe not to slip.

2] Mason - He is in the rotation as the back-up PG. No mention of Frankamp as that next option. It is a two horse discussion. Selden is referenced as "emergency" only at PG.

3] Rotation - Self says a solid 9. So not 10, or 11. I have said 8+. I still believe that there will be a 9th guy that is treated like Traylor was at the end of last year. Not part of the rotation, but 7-10 minutes. Tharpe, Selden, Wiggins, Mason -- solid 4 perimeter. Black, Ellis, Embiid -- solid 3 in the post. Battle between White/Greene/Frankamp for last perimeter spot, and likely Traylor for the last post spot (and likely guy for the "+" minutes come conference play). I also believe that Self intentions for 9, and my prediction of 8+, could tighten even further at the end of the season. The key is separation between guys at the back end of the rotation, and the starters ... Self's trust level.

4] Redshirts - Self says likely one. Obvious, isn't it? White, Greene, or Frankamp. Betting now that it is Frankamp. There is reference Self wondering if he can get his shot in game situations .. I'm sure he can. But it is an interesting comment. Self says it could be two redshirts-- has to come from these guys. Some suggested Mason, but back-up PG finds the rotation.

5] Lucas - Self's comments on Lucas are not "he's a monster", or "no one can handle him." It's that Lucas is farther along than he expected. And that he's going to be a solid player. Not, "he will play a lot this season." I think he's the odd guy out on the big man front. But he's only a freshman, low ranked.

6] Embiid - I have to point this out. Embiid's feet are something we discussed here, based on youtube videos. As I've mentioned, watching video of big guys can be much more helpful than smaller guys. Not the dunks over the 6'4" tuba player inserted at center, but the use of left and right hands, the athleticism, the dexterity, the footwork. I contrast that with what we saw of Traylor on videos. Really, just saw pure athleticism. No real "skills." With Embiid, you see "skills."

Mick Allen 8 years, 3 months ago

Once again HEM your man love for Tharpe is apparent. Keep writing Mason off as just motivation for Tharpe. We'll revisit this during the season. Tharpe will definitely be the starter for the first semester, then will see.

Hawk8086 8 years, 3 months ago

Baby, I hope you ar right, because that would mean we have 2 good to really good PGs. But, I don't see Mason unseating Tharpe based on the history of experience counting for so much in Self's system. Mason earning more than backup 5-8 minutes at the point? Sure, that is forseeable.

Hawk8086 8 years, 3 months ago


I agree with your playing time assessment. Logical. I can for sure see the rotation tighenting up as the starters become far and away, the ones that Self trusts the most.

joeloveshawks 8 years, 3 months ago

I fully agree with the exception of Traylor. I think he will see more of the court than that. He has been in the system for 2 years and was making strides at the end of last season. Should be really interesting who gets the redshirt. I'd currently bet it is Greene as he is essentially the same player as AW3. I have thought this all along.

Jesse Johnson 8 years, 3 months ago

If what's on paper is all that counted, I would agree with you regarding your assessment of the Greene/AW3 situation. They play the same position, are about the same height, were ranked similarly in high school and are both supposed to be 3 pt specialists.

It's what's not on paper that makes me disagree. From an eyeball standpoint, AW3 was not very impressive at all in his limited playing time as a freshman (IMO). In fact I remember Releford appearing more impressive as a freshman. Greene on the other hand, again from an eyeball standpoint, seems like a player who is ready to contribute. Watch him confidently sink shots against experienced KU players from a scrimmage this summer:

Also, somebody pointed out on the other article from today that Self usually likes to RS sophomores so that they have time to get their feet wet and see what their weaknesses are in D1 BB to know what to work on their year off. For these reasons I think AW3 gets the nod for RS this year over Greene. But we'll see what happens.

joeloveshawks 8 years, 3 months ago

Good points. I know either way we are in good shape. A nice problem for us to have as fans.

chriz 8 years, 3 months ago

I think it was the reporter who brought up Mason, wasn't it? Did you listen to the press conference? If I recall, it wasn't like they asked him about Tharpe and he changed the topic.

Besides, when he says challenge for minutes, that means taking 7 minutes from Tharpe instead of 4. I think we all know deep down that Self is trying to keep Tharpe motivated. This isn't like football where you say that the QB is definitive. Self can say all he wants, but he knows that we can read between the lines and that Tharpe will stay motivated. And judging from his comments about Tharpe, I think it's working.

chriz 8 years, 3 months ago

Huh? If anyone didn't have all of last year it was Tharpe. Self pigeon-holed himself with B-Mac into playing Elijah out of position. He wasn't gonna sit Elijah for Tharpe no matter how well Tharpe played. Don't get me wrong...Tharpe want a world-beater. But he did learn the offense over the two years he's been here, which should be enough to stop the conversation about him losing significant minutes to a freshman.

Ron Prichard 8 years, 3 months ago

Love the analysis, HEM. I do think Lucas could be the unexpected player to get some minutes (7-10 per). I also think one of the three you pencil in for a possible redshirt (Greene, White or Frankamp) may emerge as a solid contributor. I do agree that one of them may take a redshirt, but I really couldn't even begin to predict who at this point. As a fan I want them all to be monsters right away but that clearly won't happen. I would have to pick either Frankamp or Greene as a possible redshirt, but that may be just because I haven't seen either one of them play against college level competition.

I'm not so sure Mason will be ready to push Tharpe right away, but I don't think he is a redshirt option as he is the second point guard and I don't think there are a lot of other options. Barring injury, we may see Tharpe go 25-30 min with Mason being the player going 7-10. That could open up more minutes for Frankamp/Greene/White.

I'm also not sure where I place Traylor in the mix. I think when Ellis is in, Self will want an "enforcer" opposite him to guard the opposing center and keep Ellis out of foul trouble. That's why I think Black will be a major factor and will start. The question for me is whether Traylor or Lucas is the back-up enforcer in that scenario. We may see Embiid come in for Ellis and Traylor/Lucas for Black even if they technically switch positions. Traylor and Embiid would make an interesting combination. I also think it would be interesting to see Ellis and Embiid on the floor at the same time. That may only work if we are playing a team with finesse bigs, but that could definitely pose matchup problems for teams.

The great thing about this team is also its biggest downside for us as fans. There are so many interesting and talented players that someone will likely be left out of the rotation this year. I hope that doesn't lead to a transfer down the road.

ParisHawk 8 years, 3 months ago


Nice post. Agree on all but the first part of 3). Self says a "solid 9", but not necessarily the same guys every game, so there is some hope that we will see more than 9 play, though not more than 9 per game.

When I say "play", I mean meaningful minutes, even if only 10.

As I said in another thread, you need a rotation and insurance : 9+2 = 11. The last rotation guys might trade places with the insurance guys from time to time, for awhile.

The 12th man might as well redshirt. He's not a big and not a PG. That leaves White, Greene and Frankamp, just as you say.

I'll say Greene, just because he and White are the ones with the most similar profiles, and if you redshirt White they'll be battling each other for minutes for the rest of their careers. Redshirt Greene and you separate them by two years and both might be successful upperclassmen.

Jack Wilson 8 years, 3 months ago

Appreciate the replies .. all excellent comments and discussion.

A few things

1) I really like Tharpe, but quite a bit short of "man love" .. I mean way far away from that. But perhaps I'm in denial. My point really is not how much I like him, but more how I think Self views him related to the rotation;

2) Further on Tharpe, I've tried to read Self on this. If you heard him on the radio, he singled out Tharpe in a real positive fashion. This was definitive for me. Tharpe's a junior. Self loves experience. And yes, I'm sure he's trying to push Tharpe;

3) That's no knock on Mason. He is an unproven, lower ranked freshman. We need to be patient. I think this is Mason's team starting his junior year, but for the continued OAD drama that lurks. His redshirt possibility is eliminated because it's obvious now Frankamp isn't in the PG discussion. Really, it would be pretty exciting if Mason was a stud from day one. Odds are against that. But don't we deserve a Trey Burke?;

4) I think it's White in the 5 man perimeter rotation, with Frankamp or Greene (or both) redshirting. Sophomore over freshmen.

5) Paris - The idea of playing 9, with some different guys getting the back end minutes, I really view as remote solely because that just isn't coach Self. It sounds good when he says it. It will sound less attractive to him down 3 with 15 to play at ISU. You really think Self won't just go with the guys he trusts as Hawk8086 says?

6) Rap - on Lucas, did you find Self's lack of positivity there curious though? No comments really on his game? I struggle to see a scenario where he's getting real minutes, unless there is an injury.

7) Joe .. not to rehash some of my prior posts, but how exactly did Traylor progress from game 1 to the last game? I interested in your thoughts there. I saw an unskilled guy who was still unskilled. The offseason may have changed that.

And by the way, again, no knock on Mason for you Masonites out there, but Self said he "begged" Mason to sign. I bet he did .. since his top 6 PG choices went elsewhere. Beg? He knew he needed another ballhandler, and the recruiting shelf was thinning.

ParisHawk 8 years, 3 months ago

On your reply 5) to me: "You really think Self won't just go with the guys he trusts as Hawk8086 says?"

No, I don't think that and I didn't say it. I said he may do what he says "for awhile", say until Christmas break. As the stakes get higher, he could get down to 7.

Self has played at least 9 deep in the past - early. He has always tightened the rotation as the season progresses, and I expect him to do the same this year.

So don't take what I say for November and apply it to March.

In other words, we don't disagree; I was just pointing out that things evolve during the season - or does the season still start in March for you? ;)

texashawk10 8 years, 3 months ago

HEM, one thing on your #4, what has historically been Self's history with redshirts? Lucas was the first first year player under Self to voluntarily redshirt. Every other voluntary redshirt that has occurred at KU under Self has been by a second year player. Brady, Travis, Little, and I think I'm missing someone before Brady, but all of those guys got their feet wet as freshmen and then took the redshirt their second year so they could work on the weaknesses in their game and become better players because of it. Brady doesn't become a 2+ year starter without his redshirt, and Travis doesn't become the defensive stud he was without his redshirt. I'm not saying it couldn't be Greene or Connor, but Self's history says White may be the strongest candidate to redshirt right now.

joeloveshawks 8 years, 3 months ago

Honestly I don't have a great answer to why I think Traylor looked better towards the end of the year. Sort of more an eye test. He appeared to be a deer in the headlights at the beginning of the year and by the end of the season seemed more aware on the court, especially on D. He had some monster blocks in the last few games. I don't ever expect him to be an offensive playmaker but I do think he can play really solid D, grab boards and throw down oops. Also, I saw a video of him on instagram a few weeks ago practicing his shot alone in the gym and it looked much improved. I know it is easy to swish a bunch of jumpers with no one guarding you but his form looked improved and I feel he could be special this year. If I am wrong that is probably good as it will mean the guys getting minutes in front of him are better and that is scary to think we are this deep.

Woody Cragg 8 years, 3 months ago

Hope you're right jb, AW3 left us salivating for more of everything last season. More minutes, points, & D. And we all know that D is the key to everything else for Bill. Quicker, much smeuoooooother footwork to keep his guy in front will have to be the biggest improvement for the "Chief's" ringer. I can already imagine how much difficulty some of the more excitable broadcasters will have with 2 Andy's on the floor at the same time. Is a given they won't be the only ones either.

jaybate 8 years, 3 months ago


Part 1

One can only play hunches this time of year. And Self probably shot my hunch out from under me in the other story today about the incoming class. He made pretty clear Selden was ready to play Self defense out of the box. I had not read that quote, when I hunched about AW3. If Selden and Wiggins have starting on the wings locked, then one of AWIII and Brannen Greene has to think long and hard about a rouge smoking jacket this season.

Why not Conner Frankamp? Simple, Conner offers something that neither AWIII, nor Brannen, offer. Conner offers Self the option of going small at the two (and or 3), when we run into three guard teams starting 2-3 pony guards. Redshirting either AWIII, or Brannen, leaves Self with that option, while also being able to stay long at the wings, with say, AW3, when giving Selden, or Wigs a blow.

But having said all of the above, I think one other remark Self made about Conner in the same story is very revealing. He said Conner was maybe the best shooter he and his staff had ever had since they've been in Lawrence...IF he can make the shots in games that he has in practices so far. That "if" is critical. It means Self remembers that guys like Conner Teahan, and Elijah Johnson, were great, great practice shooters that never translated into great game shooters. What I take from Self's comment is this: if Conner can pot the triceratop regularly the first three weeks of the season, against the stiff competition he is going to face, then Conner is in the mix for this season, at least for those times when going small makes sense. But if Conner can't prove to Self and staff that he can "make shots" early on, then it means that Conner gets the rouge smoking jacket, because Self would rather be long on defense, than short, other things like shooting being equal.

One more subtlety cascades from this chain of logic.

Why might Self prefer to stay long on defense even against short guards?

I suspect Self is going to use zone more this season than ever before and he's going to do it for two reasons.

First, playing lots of green wood means they are going to have lots and lots of fouling problems despite the long bench. At the bare minimum, zoning helps a team limp through foul problems. But plaing a zone does something perhaps even more important. It reduces the number of foul shots an opposing team will get in comparison with playing a young man2man defense. Think about it.If KU is as long and athletic as reputed, then the last place Self wants the opponent shooting from is the foul line. He wants the opponent shooting into the face of that athleticism.

Second, as 100 used to say, and as Boeheim generally lives by at Syrexcuse, you need to be physically long and have a long bench to play zone. You actually burn more energy playing zone properly than M2M played properly. Why?

ParisHawk 8 years, 3 months ago

jaybate, this is not the first time you have said the beginning of the season will be a sort of tryout for Conner; if he fails he will redshirt.

Have the rules changed? Up till now, if you play in a regular season game you cannot redshirt.

Conner's tryout will end after the last exhibition game, not after three weeks.

jaybate 8 years, 3 months ago

Part 2

Because to play zone properly you have to continuously chop your feet when you are not sliding so that you will be ready to slide when some one comes into your zone. Self has long bodies and lots of them. They are green. They almost certainly will get in lots of foul trouble in M2M and may not learn to both pressure AND help until near the end of the season. So: zone is the logical bandaid for this situation.

But there is one more reason Self, the defensive Dancing Wu Li master, may be starting to think about playing more zone. Teams basically don't have to prepare for a KU zone, because KU almost never runs one. And when they do, it is usually some junk zone that the opposing team just keeps running its same offense against, regardless.

In fact, Self and KU tend to run the same hi-lo offense against man and zone defenses, too. Pick and roll, and ball screening options, weaves, occasional triple post plays, and bits and pieces of the shuffle and the motion offense, tend to be run against man defenses only, if my eyes and mind are reading what KU does correctly, which at times is hard to swear to, because Self and staff clearly try to mask what they actually are doing.

Having recently been reading Dean Smith's book on basketball offenses and defenses, it is clear why Self hasn't run zone defenses a lot in the past. Unless one is really long and deep, then the way most zones are played (stretched to guard the trey stripe with bigs hugging the lane leaving an in between game), an opponent may as well run the same man offense against the zone.

According to Dean, Larry Brown learned Hank Iba's hi-lo offense while on the 1968 Olympic team. Brown joined Smith's staff as an assistant coach and told Dean about the offense. Dean liked it so much, he decided to start using it against both man and zone defenses, so that: a) his players had fewer offenses to learn, and b) because it allowed players to use more of their athleticism. Dean and Brown reputedly added a number of options from the many offenses Dean had experience with (certain free lance plays from Phog Allen days, certain cuts off screens from the Bruce Drake Shuffle offense Dean had learned from his Air Force head coach, and a wrinkle here and there from the motion offense that Dean had studied. (Note: the first few years Dean was at UNC, he ran the Bruce Drake Shuffle offense as taught to him by his mentor from the Air Force Academy). If I recall correctly, often underestimated Ted Owens, who played for Drake, used both the shuffle and the high-low over the years at KU.)

jaybate 8 years, 3 months ago

Part 3

Dean changed the name of the hi-lo to the Carolina Passing Offense. The name passing offense was added to emphasize to the players that it was not a free lance offense that players dribbled in isolations to create scoring, but rather a "passing" offense designed to find players off the ball in open spaces, where they could use their athleticism to create a score, once they received the pass.

The key thing to take from Dean Smith is this: prior to his head coaching career, coaches and their offenses had tended to fall into one of two categories according to Smith. The first was the "Free lance approach" long adhered to by Phog Allen, where in each game a coach largely crafted plays among a few players where clear MUA existed and tried to run those plays in half court, when ever one could not get a basket on a break. They could even be invented in the huddles. And when the play failed it was up to the players to break into the open, receive a pass and create a score.

The second category of offense in Smith's opinion was the "rigid offense." By this he meant it was a set system of plays that were run every game. Such offenses were The Shuffle, the motion offense, the early Princeton, etc.

What Dean did was split the difference with his Carolina Passing offense. He tried to use a set offense with lots of options to free up scorers to free lance, if you will. He liked the concept of making a team have to defend both and to not know exactly which was happening at any given moment.

Sound familiar? Larry Brown come to mind? Larry of course had such a fertile mind that he tended to push things quite a ways in the direction of custom crafted plays.

Bill Self seems to lean more toward set action, with special plays to just before and just after game starts and stops.

So: what has this digression to do with Self playing more zone?

Simple. Self is a man who embraces opposites, not just boths. And one glaring place that he has resisted the temptation is his monomaniacal devotion to man2man defense.

His traditional excuse is why play zone if it doesn't make an opponent really have to change offenses to play against your zone and man?

jaybate 8 years, 3 months ago

Part 4

I suspect that he is moving toward the insight that once could, if one had the length and depth needed, one could devise a kind of zone and a way of playing that zone that would force an opponent to have to bring two offenses. And that, with length and depth, could be a very cruel both for an opponent to have deal with. That would allow Self yet another way to pla it any way they want and make them pay for the choice they make.

If they want to play zone, fine, then KU will play zone, too. If they want to play man, then KU will play man, too. If the want to get down and crawl on their bellies like reptiles, then KU will do that, too. The man is driven to playing it any way they want almost to the same extent artists are driven to their styles and themes. It not only works, it becomes who they are. Self is both. Self embraces opposites. You, as an opponent, better be able to put up with stress and confounding effect of a coaching opponent that will both mirror you and do the opposite of what you try to impose, for the better part of 40 minutes, or you best not show up.

But I have been wrong about Self exploring zone before and I certainly could be again.

But there is just something so striking about him not playing zone that sooner or later he has to confront this one hold out in his philosophy of playing the game. I am just taking a wild guess that if he really discovers that he has 9-10 capable players, that now is the time in the arc of his career to really take the game off in a weird new direction with a weird new zone that most think of looks pretty normal on the surface, but which is driven by a number of unconventional rules.

Even if I'm wrong, its tantalizing to think about.

Rock Chalk!

Woody Cragg 8 years, 3 months ago

My reply is a simple vintage Bill Cosby line... And I quote, "Say what!?" Amazing, just amazing.

FearlessJayhawk 8 years, 3 months ago

If there is one thing I would tell Wiggins and the entire team: enjoy the ride and make the most of every moment because it will be over so quickly. I hope they enjoy it so much they will all want to do it again next year.

jaybate 8 years, 3 months ago

Dear online editors and web master/matrix,

Using new iphone OS7 and link to desktop version of site no longer works.

Otherwise, still the same great site and ease of use!

Tony Bandle 8 years, 3 months ago

HUH??? Maybe someone cut the string to the can?? :)

jaybate 8 years, 3 months ago

Keen observation that I have already begun working on this afternoon. I am throwing away all of my crappy blue tooth connections and replacing them with can-and-string links. This very post is being accomplished by dictating into a Van Camps Pork and Bean can with a string attached to the microphone jack on my desk top. It is coming out clear as a bell!!!!

Nicola Tesla lives!!!!!!!!

Marvin Blackburn 8 years, 3 months ago

A 3 line comment from jaybate? Are you feeling well jaybate?

REHawk 8 years, 3 months ago

Scary photo, a freshman surrounded by so many reporters and microphones. Wiggins is blessed with the capacity to hold up to such scrutiny with extremely wise statements, for extended media time even when he is not feeling well. Flip side, of course, will he be able to handle such attention well, introspective down moments after lackluster performances or team losses? The mics will always loom ominously near. His recruitment and subsequent collegiate play should certainly draw or affect the attention of topflight high school players to the Jayhawk program for several seasons.

Tony Bandle 8 years, 3 months ago

Check out the small photo and look at the guns on Perry. Somebody spent a lot of time in the weight room.

Put me down on the record right now that, for all the hype for the new guys we are getting and justifiably so, however, come February, we'll all be talking about Perry!!!

Jonathan Allison 8 years, 3 months ago

Love that they put Niko and Norm together in the team photo. Can really see the family resemblance when they are side by side.

Hawk8086 8 years, 3 months ago

Oak, I noticed the same and I think you are right.

Lance Cheney 8 years, 3 months ago

Tyler Self is Wiggins' roommate? I'm guessing that is no coincidence. I'm assuming he is going to be an extension of Coach Self and do his best to keep Wiggins (and consequently, our university) somewhat protected from the shady underworld of college sports.

Michael Luby 8 years, 3 months ago

Wiggins' hair in the group photo is absolutely priceless!

Ryan Houston 8 years, 3 months ago

I speculate that running Point guard will be much easier this year. To start, we have more offensive threats that can draw double teams, such as, Wiggins, Selden, and Ellis. Not only that but we have more ball handlers. It has been said a number of times that Selden is capable ball handler. Also depending the rotation you could have two to three really good ball handlers out on the court. Which makes Thorpe’s Job a ton easier. With sharp shooters like Frankamp, Tharpe will not have to put up such bad shots. I think everyone on this team is pretty efficient on the offensive end. But mostly that is just speculation, and there will be times Tharpe makes bone head plays. But if he has improved at all during the off season, then I would bet we are light years better at point then we where last year.

seventytwohawk 8 years, 3 months ago

Have been thinking about last season lately and have come to the conclusion that ball handling was a major factor in the success of the team. For CS to win 30+ games again with a team on which no one could really handle the ball well for his position, was superb coaching and game management. The fact that we were able to hide the deficiency and keep teams with quicker guards from pressing us with sustained success was a fortunate in the extreme. In watching the development of Tharpe last year, I was impressed with his handles and with the improvement in defense and maturity feel point guard is in good hands. As much as I enjoyed the athleticism and vibrancy of BMac, he could not dribble in traffic, and that was also the only real flaw is Travis' game also. Selden, at least in the all-star games we have seen looks like a much better ball handler than BMac and Wiggins also does not seem to have trouble dribbling among players. Perry was improving significantly at the end of the year in all areas and did not turn the ball over with charges, etc. as earlier in the season. I don't have a clue about Black's skills, but the center should not have to worry too much about dribbling in space and can use positioning to protect the ball around the basket. Of course there are other issues in basketball; aggression, shooting, composure, etc., but with the ball handling skills of this team, CS will at least have an opportunity to utilize plays in which the 2008 team excelled (alley oops, drives and dishes, etc. Really looking forward to this season!

Harlan Hobbs 8 years, 3 months ago

All of the Jayhawks seem to have great attitudes. What a blessing it is for us to have Andrew Wiggins, even if it is only for one year. I just hope that all of the players will be able to fulfill all of their dreams in life, whatever they may be.

Tony Bandle 8 years, 3 months ago

My dream is to drive through Columbia, Missouri and spit out the window, flip the bird and moon the campus....oh wait.....I've already done that!! :)

jaybate 8 years, 3 months ago


It is confession time. I am riddled with shame and guilt. Cast me out.

I have long fantasized about wearing a tight night camouflage latex Navy Seal suit, and a Zorro mask, driving to Columbia with the Jayhawk equivalent of a Navy SEAL team of similarly clad fans (whose identities I do not know), using telephone pole climbing belts from a Wichita Lineman (preferrably Glenn Campbell, still on the line) and boots modified for the cheap masonry of the MU columns, climbing to the top on a moonless night, and all members of the team defecating on the tops of the columns, then cleaning themselves meticulously with contractor grade pressure sprayers carried in black back packs, then repelling down to a HUMVEE full of incredibly hot KU women waiting in night camouflage lingerie and black Zorro-ette masks and making our group getaway down to a giant black cigarette boat on the ebonite Missouri River and speeding west to the Port of Kansas City while making mad passionate love all the way; then to be picked up by a long black 1972 Lincoln limo and being driven to the Campanile, where we all have by this time changed into chic tuxedoes and black ball gowns and all make a toast to vow never to divulge our secret, scatological adventure, after which we throw our glasses against the walls of the Campanile and scatter never to know or see each other again. The next morning, Tom Keegan writes of a vulgar vandalism of the Columns reported in a Columbia fish wrap, plus the mysterious discovery of broken wine glasses at the Campanile, and wonders if there is some connection, but concludes instead that Charlie Weis has turned the corner.

(Note 1: not only was this all fiction and sans malice, it was also penned expressly for Wissox, who thought all I wrote was satire and who was so very close to the weird goings on of Mardi Gras himself.

Rock Chalk!

(Sub Note 1: this confession was extracted from me under delicious torture after rendition by the dreaded secret, debauched Order of E.L. James' 50 Shades of Pauline Reage.)

Reuben_J_Cogburn 8 years, 3 months ago

You know the best part about all of this hype?

Perry Ellis.

I love that he's getting lost in the fray, because he's going to be the surprise killer on this team. The kid is primed for a tremendous year, and it will work to his advantage that teams will be keying on the likes of Wiggins and Embiid.

Jake Waddle 8 years, 3 months ago

Please tell me those are just practice jerseys......

Tony Bandle 8 years, 3 months ago

1 is the loneliest number...

I just love this Land of the Giants type face!! :)

Tony Bandle 8 years, 3 months ago

HEY, what happened??? Don't tell me they fixed that!! Damn!

Chris Shaw 8 years, 3 months ago

I haven't read all the posts, but Wiggins seems to have some "Brandon Rush" like personality to him with far superior athletic talent and skill.

Tippyhawk 8 years, 3 months ago

Can anyone direct me as to how to bypass or eliminate the Google survey. PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!

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