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Saturday, January 4, 2014

Jayhawks stress defense in lead-up to Aztecs

Kansas players Jamari Traylor (31) and Andrew Wiggins battle in the paint for a rebound with Toledo center Nathan Boothe during the second half on Monday, Dec. 30, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas players Jamari Traylor (31) and Andrew Wiggins battle in the paint for a rebound with Toledo center Nathan Boothe during the second half on Monday, Dec. 30, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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Defense, as one might expect, has been the focus of Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self since Toledo torched KU for 83 points Monday night in Allen Fieldhouse.

“It’s been all defensive drills in practice the last couple days,” KU forward Jamari Traylor said before Friday afternoon’s workout.

Well, perhaps that’s a slight exaggeration.

“Ten percent, maybe 15, 20 at the most,” Traylor said, estimating the time the Jayhawks have spent on offense since allowing the most points in a nonconference game since January of 2009, when Siena hit for 84. “(It’s been) 80 percent defense at practice.”

Traylor gave an example of a popular defensive drill.

“We’ve got ‘shell drill’ — four guys out there on offense, four on defense,” the 6-8, 220-pound sophomore explained. “We guard pick-and-rolls, handoffs, fade screens, back screens … about every offensive set you can probably throw at us. (When) we get used to that, there’s not too much teams can throw at us we wouldn’t be ready for.”

The No. 16-ranked Jayhawks (9-3) on Sunday face a No. 21-ranked San Diego State team (11-1) that averages 76.7 points a game while allowing 53.3. Tipoff is 3:30 p.m. in Allen Fieldhouse.

“We’ve emphasized it (defense) all along. We’ve probably put more an emphasis on it the last several days,” Self said. “The emphasis has been defense for sure.

“There are a lot of things that are correctable that we can do. I don’t think it’s as much from a positioning standpoint as it is a reckless-abandon standpoint.”

Of KU’s defense, sophomore forward Perry Ellis said: “When we are playing freely defensively, I feel like we’ll have it (down). It’s what I went through my freshman year, being worried about messing up. When you don’t worry about that, you press through that, and good things will happen.”

Free to shoot?: The 6-8, 225-pound Ellis has made three of six threes this season after making two of three his freshman year.

“I never told him whether it’s green or not,” Self said, asked if Ellis has the green light to fire away. “I do want him to shoot because he can shoot, but I don’t want him to think that’s how he needs to earn his money, so to speak. I think he needs to pick and choose. It wouldn’t disappoint me if he starts averaging a three or two a game.”

Home and home: KU will return the game to San Diego State in the 2015-16 season. Self was asked by a San Diego writer if he scheduled the series as part of “reconciliation” for KU’s landing Kevin Young in recruiting in the summer of 2011. Young changed his mind and played for the Jayhawks after committing to Steve Fisher’s S.D. State program.

“I would not schedule a guy, and he (Fisher) would not schedule a guy to try to kiss and make up nor because you feel sorry for the other guy,” Self said. “Everybody does what’s in the best interest of their program. Certainly we both feel that’s the case with this.

“I think our fans will enjoy a trip to California. He (Fisher) has done such a great job there. It’s obviously a good game that brings national attention. It would not be on CBS if it wasn’t (that type of game).”

Self indicated KU did not start recruiting Young until he had decommitted from S.D. State.

“If you are in the business long enough, things like that happen inevitably,” Self said. “Certainly it happened between him (Fisher) and me. That does not in the least way, shape or form affect our relationship. If it does, then obviously we didn’t care much for each other to begin with. I think he’s a first-class guy. He’s an unbelievable coach, done an unbelievable job at San Diego State.

“I’m not saying that at all ‘cause I’m trying to get back in good, so to speak,” Self added, with a smile. “It’s a fact the guy is good and been doing a great job a long time.”

Besides ... “They got Malik Pope this year, so everything is fine,” Self added.

Pope, a 6-8 forward from Laguna Creek, Calif., who is ranked No. 17 nationally in the Class of 2014, chose S.D. State over KU and others.

Praise: Fisher at his Friday news conference returned compliments to KU coach Self.

“What about Bill Self’s record? This is unbelievable stuff,” Fisher told the California media. “How long has he been at Kansas? Eleven years. How many conference championships does he have? Nine. How many home losses does he have? Eight ... eight home losses in his career,” Fisher exclaimed. “He’s won more conference championships than his home losses. He’s 166-8 at home. That’s pretty impressive.”

Asked about highly publicized KU freshman Andrew Wiggins, Fisher said: “If (Wiggins) was the only person I had to worry about, I think I’d be OK. How about (center Joel) Embiid? He’s not too bad, either. Or (sophomore forward) Perry Ellis? I thought that was just a clothing line or something else. He’s tremendous.”

Here before: S.D. State’s Winston Shepard, a 6-8 sophomore forward from Houston, was asked if he had been to Kansas.

“Numerous times. I actually took a (recruiting) visit to Kansas. What a lot of people don’t know is my mother signed to play basketball at Kansas, but unfortunately my grandfather passed away, so she played at Texas,” Shepard said. “So I’ve been to Kansas a lot. I know the atmosphere, so it won’t be anything new for me. It’s a great facility. They’ve got numerous NBA players and hall of famers that have come from there. It’s pretty much like a basketball heaven. I’m looking forward to going in there.”

Senior guard Xavier Thames, 6-3 from Sacramento, Calif., has played in Allen before.

“Yes, I went there for an AAU tournament, the Jayhawk Classic. I’ve seen the facilities and the campus and everything like that. I just haven’t played there when it was packed, so that will be nice,” he said.

Comments

Jesse Johnson 8 months ago

Is it just me or would this paragraph have been just as easy to read, if not easier, if left alone?:

Asked about highly publicized KU freshman Andrew Wiggins, Fisher said: “If (Wiggins) was the only person I had to worry about, I think I’d be OK. How about (center Joel) Embiid? He’s not too bad, either. Or (sophomore forward) Perry Ellis? I thought that was just a clothing line or something else. He’s tremendous.”

i.e.:

Asked about highly publicized KU freshman Andrew Wiggins, Fisher said: “If he was the only person I had to worry about, I think I’d be OK. How about Embiid? He’s not too bad, either. Or Perry Ellis? I thought that was just a clothing line or something else. He’s tremendous.”

Aside from that, keep up the good work Gary on keeping all of us rabbid fans fed with the latest on the team.

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Jeffrey Nelson 8 months ago

He's just covering his bases with that one, as if this will be read by more than just people who love the KU Jayhawks and know who these people are.

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Jeffrey Nelson 8 months ago

He's just covering his bases with that one, as if this will be read by more than just people who love the KU Jayhawks and know who these players are.

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Ashwin Rao 8 months ago

I agree with you. It makes the statements much harder to read. This is not an English class, and the "fill-ins" are not necessary there, and elsewhere in the article.

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Jack Wilson 8 months ago

An interesting link below on the KY/Merv Lindsay connection. Perhaps provides a bit more info on the Fisher/Self "issues."

And with that, I learned something -- an explanation of the otherwise inexplicable Merv Lindsay signing. Why would this guy come to a place he would never play? Many of us asked this question at the time (with some of those lovely responses here at kusports.com - "Self has an eye for talent"; "diamond in the rough"; "he wouldn't sign a guy if he didn't see something in him" ). The quote from the San Diego paper is at the bottom.

So, KY and Merv had the same AAU coach, a guy named "Kool-Aid." Merv had no D-1 offers. Kool-Aid brokers the deal. KY switches from SDSU to KU, and a week later Lindsay comes to KU -- Lindsay's basketball value gets "laundered" so he is suddenly more attractive to other D-1s (having been a part of the KU program). Setting up the transfer.

Slimy underbelly of college hoops on display.

However, think about how important that KY signing was? He was our first big off the bench in our 2011-12 championship game season. Without him, it would have been Wesley. The KY signing was crucial.

We were desperate with a capital "D". When we talked about Self "scrambling" that spring, we weren't blowing smoke there. Grabbing whatever he could get his hands on -- Traylor, Anderson, KY -- and if you had to tamper with a committed player and take a Merv Lindsay in a deal with an AAU coach, so be it. After that experience, and the "all in" experience with Kaleb Tarczewski, doubtful Self gets "surprised" again.

As I've mentioned before, we want coach Self on that wall, we need coach Self on that wall. He did the job that had to be done. Absolutely no qualms with it at all.

Here's the quote from the SD article:

"There also was the suspicious signing a week later of Mervyn Lindsay, a guard who reportedly had no previous Division I offers but conveniently had the same Southern California AAU coach as Young, Elvert “Kool-Aid” Perry. The conspiracy theory: The man named Kool-Aid brokered a package deal with Kansas, which was short quality players but had multiple scholarships available after the Morris twins left early for the NBA. Lindsay, the thinking went, would go to Kansas for a year and have his basketball value “laundered,” then transfer elsewhere. And sure enough, on cue, Lindsay transferred the following year to New Mexico (where he remains buried on the bench)."

http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/Jan/03/sdsu-basketball-fisher-self/?#article-copy

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Brett McCabe 8 months ago

I don't see anything slimy about it at all - if it's true - which is a big if.

New Mexico owns its scholarships and it's their responsibility to steward them, that's not our job.

As far as the package deal? It's so common it's not even worth mentioning. Kevin Young certainly had every legal and personal right to play where he wanted to play, and it turned out okay for him.

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Suzi Marshall 8 months ago

I also read that article and was puzzled what the point they were trying to make. It all seemed rather trivial details for Self.

KC looking good but Indy trying to come back.

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J.T. Even 7 months, 4 weeks ago

Are you implying that Kevin Young would only play for KU if they signed his buddy Lindsay? Man he's got some balls.

Actually, my theory on some of these kids is that Bill Self offered a scholarship to be on the practice squad. From there the kid has an opportunity to earn another scholarship for another year. Worst case scenario, kid gets coached up by a Hall of Famer, gets a year in one of the best strength and conditioning programs, and gets to tell his kids and buddies about the time he played a couple minutes in Allen Fieldhouse and with future NBA players. Not bad for a guy getting no D1 offers.

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Tony Bandle 8 months ago

OAKVILLE ODDITIES:

1] Chiefs beat Colts today, much to the chagrin of the networks.

2] Nice English lesson from Jesse....Gary, count to ten and exhale...we're all with you.

3] SDST is very good but, like many of our future opponents, have no answwer for Jo Jo!!

4] Jack's comments are right on. Actually, I have a friend in the AAU and you would not believe what goes on that is considered " acceptable procedures". Let's just say, it makes industrial espionage look like a game of CLUE!!

5] KU 73 - SDST 62...defense returns to Allen!!

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Michael Sillman 8 months ago

I suppose that it's possible for there to be an AAU connection in the Kevin Young signing but I don't understand what would be in it for Young.

Is there any indication that Young had any special connection with Lindsay? Are they related?

It seems likely to me that Self would not have needed any help from an AAU coach to get Young to give up being a coach's helper to come to Kansas.

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Suzi Marshall 8 months ago

SDSU has shown a phenomenal defense against intense competition. They have held opponents to under 40 points in 3 (Southern Utah, McNeese State and St. Katherine’s) of the last 4 games. Two other powerhouse teams only scored 41. Against St. Katherine’s, SDSU showed their full game with a 118-35 win.

If what Self’s says about schools scheduling teams to meet their needs, it makes one wonder what drives SDSU. What's the point?

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