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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Red-hot Sooners welcome Jayhawks to Big 12 play

Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger talks to his team during a timeout in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the BB&T Classic against George Mason, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013, in Washington. Oklahoma won 81-66. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger talks to his team during a timeout in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the BB&T Classic against George Mason, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013, in Washington. Oklahoma won 81-66. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

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— Silver Lake native Lon Kruger, who both played and coached at Kansas State, has kept a close eye on Kansas University most of his 61 years on the planet.

“They look very good, just like always,” Kruger, third-year head coach of the Oklahoma Sooners (12-2) said of the Jayhawks (9-4), who travel to Noble Center tonight for a 6 p.m. Big 12 Conference battle versus OU.

It’s the league opener for KU, while OU is already off to a 1-0 start, having won at Texas, 88-85 on Saturday. “They are big, athletic, do very well on both ends of the floor,” Kruger added, noting KU also has an intangible on its side today.

“Coming off an unusual, disappointing loss, I’m sure, at home to San Diego State, they’ll be ... they are always focused and play good basketball.”

He didn’t complete his thought, but the implication is the Jayhawks, who have won four of their last eight games — OU has won eight of nine — will be steaming mad and ready to take the court just three days after suffering a rare home defeat.

Oklahoma, which defeated the Jayhawks, 72-66, last season in Norman after falling to the Jayhawks, 67-54, in Allen, has been a pleasant surprise, bouncing back nicely from the loss of standout players Romero Osby, Steven Pledger, Amath M’Baye and Andrew Fitzgerald.

OU, in fact, is off to its best start in five years and second-best start since the 2004-05 season when the Sooners shared the Big 12 regular season title with KU. The Sooners rank fourth nationally and first in the Big 12 in scoring at 87.3 points per game.

The last time they averaged more points for an entire season was in 1993-94 (87.4), which was the last season under coach Billy Tubbs.

“OU is a scary team. They can stretch it from all spots,” KU coach Bill Self said. “They can shoot, score, are playing with a free mind offensively.

“They score easy,” Self added. “They have five guys that have all made as many or more threes than our starting 2-guard, Wayne (Selden, who is 12-for-32).”

Cameron Clark, a 6-7 senior who scored 10 points versus KU last year in Norman, averages a team-leading 17.7 points and 6.2 rebounds a game. He’s 18 of 38 from three for 47.4 percent. Buddy Hield, a 6-4 sophomore native of the Bahamas who played at Wichita’s Sunrise Christian Academy, averages 16.3 ppg with 27 threes in 74 tries (.365). Jordan Woodard, a 6-foot freshman, averages 12.2 points and has hit 10 threes in 28 attempts (.357). Ryan Spangler, a 6-8 sophomore transfer from Gonzaga, averages 11.0 points and 9.2 rebounds. Isaiah Cousins, a 6-4 soph, averages 10.9 ppg with 15 threes in 33 tries (.455).

As a team, OU has made 109 of 284 threes for 38.4 percent. KU has made 65 of 198 for 32.8 percent.

“They are clipping off shots. Everybody is shooting threes on the team. Cameron Clark always has been a slasher. The dude is shooting 47 percent from three. He’s playing the 4 now. He’ll be a hard matchup for Perry or Jamari (Traylor) or whoever is guarding him,” Self said.

The Sooners also give up a lot of points — 78.3 a game compared to KU’s 68.2.

“There’s parts of the defense we have to shore up,” said Kruger, who has a 6-13 record as a coach versus KU, 1-3 while at OU. Self is 11-4 versus OU, 11-2 while at KU. “We do not cover people as you have to. We are not doing equally a good job on the other end of the floor. Once you get into conference play, scoring goes down quite a bit. It probably won’t be any different this year.”

The Sooners have grabbed 562 rebounds to opponents’ 510. KU outrebounds foes, 500 to 418.

“Not being very tall, our guys have understood all year our perimeter guys have to go back there and get some loose balls, get some long rebounds,” said Kruger, whose tallest starter is Spangler at 6-8. “Ryan Spangler has done a really good job at the core of giving us a good rebounding effort and numbers every night. After that, guys on the perimeter and outside get in there and get you some balls, too.”

The Jayhawks, who today begin their quest for a 10th straight league title, return home to play Kansas State on Saturday, then travel to Iowa State Monday before playing home games against Oklahoma State and Baylor.

“The first 12 days of our league schedule is probably as tough as you can play with OU, Kansas State, Iowa State, Oklahoma State and Baylor,” Self said. “There’s other good teams in there, too. That will be a pretty tough start.

“We can get off to a great start or we can play catch-up. It’s important we play as well as we have all year early in our conference season.”

The Jayhawks have had an extremely difficult nonconference schedule, losing to Villanova, Florida, Colorado and San Diego State.

“It’s been a good schedule,” Self said. “We have learned in certain ways how we’ve been exposed in certain games. We’ve learned we will not always play great. When we are not playing great, we’ve got to make sure we make other teams play bad. We have to do the things tough teams do in order to win last-minute type games or last-couple-possession type games. Certainly this has been an eye-opener to what can happen when you are off just a little bit.”

Tharpe OK: Junior point guard Naadir Tharpe, who has been slowed by a left ankle sprain, will definitely play tonight, coach Bill Self said Tuesday.

Notes: KU senior Tarik Black enters today’s game with 998 career points, just two shy of 1,000. He scored 949 points in three years at Memphis. ... KU leads the all-time series against OU, 139-65. KU has won 10 of the last 11 meetings. ... KU is 49-41 against OU in games played in Norman, and holds a 17-16 edge in contests in Noble Center. ... KU has won four of the last five meetings against OU in Noble dating back to the 2007 season. Since the inception of the Big 12 Conference, KU is 18-5 against Oklahoma; 16-3 in regular-season play and 2-2 in the Big 12 Championship. ... KU signees Cliff Alexander and Kelly Oubre have been nominated for the McDonald’s All-America game. Selections will be announced in coming weeks.

Comments

Alex Berger 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I don't think we need to be as worried about OU. They win by their transition game and lots of offense. That's where KU thrives. The teams that have stymied KU are good defensive teams with experience.

With that said OU is good and it's at their homecourt. That's always a combination for a potential loss no matter how good our team is. Our weaknesses won't necessarily be pressed as much in this game. Embiid and Ellis will have great games.

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Rodney Crain 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I am not sure what you are trying to say. We have shown we have trouble with a lot of things and it does not look like we have been able to fix much since our first loss.

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Priest Fontaine 6 months, 3 weeks ago

We got this! Keep your heads up!

I'm sending some copies of 'Floor Burns' to the youngsters: http://www.amazon.com/Floor-Burns-Inside-Kansas-Jayhawk/dp/0965839214

We should be better in no time.

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Steve Zimmerman 6 months, 3 weeks ago

“We have learned in certain ways how we’ve been exposed in certain games." - It's not that hard to figure out HCBS style and how to suppress the offense. Nothing new (progress) that I could observe against zone-d. - Against more athletic teams, they tend to double team our bigs, and get away with steals because of the football passes, etc. etc. - The other teams move a lot, screen a lot; drives a lot; pass a lot; shoot jumpers, box out... Our team? side-to-side passing, stand around and wait till the bigs either pass or shoot, PGs drive but get jammed instead of throw lobs or pass to the bigs, afraid to get yanked if making mistakes.

"When we are not playing great, we’ve got to make sure we make other teams play bad. " - We should be making those shots to be called playing great, not just good defensively. I can't recall if we played great in more than 2 quality games, btw. Besides, those teams play bad - they still win eventually.

"Certainly this has been an eye-opener to what can happen when you are off just a little bit.” - True. Our losses have been single digit deltas, but they become regulars.

Maybe it's time for HCBS to think about how to attack the baskets from all direction instead of relying so much on hi/low post-plays; side-to-side passing. It's time to do like '07 team with the hi-flying lobs, dunks, confidence in shooting jumpshots, 3s. Perhaps our team needs to watch '07-08 plays instead of the Miracles. I love KU basketball, but it's been frustrating watching this year's team. I hope I am not the only one.

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Benz Junque 6 months, 3 weeks ago

If it's "not that hard" then how the heck has Self managed to win 300 games in 10 years?

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Mike Riches 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I'll be at the game tonight, I hope our fans show up strong! As of yesterday, there were still a handful of open seats...

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Lance Cheney 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I'm not allowed to go to anymore games this year, as I've been at both the Florida and SDSU games...

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Yonatan Negash 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Crucial game tonight, in my mind it’s a must win.

I’ll give you couple reasons why:

  1. First game sets the tone for the remaining conference play.
  2. Confidence builder for these youngsters (much needed)
  3. This games is one of their easiest game (KSU, Oklahoma State, Iowa State and Baylor all ranked are coming up next)

If we lose tonight’s game, there is no doubt in my mind we’ll end up with at least 10 loses for the year.

I’d have to say this is a defining game for several of these so called OAD players we’ve got.

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Kent Richardson 6 months, 3 weeks ago

If tough losses build character then we will see if the SDSU game has any impact. Perry should have a better game against like sized players. We have been a long way off at the offensive end. If we scrap like we show we can at the end of games for an entire game we would probably improve quicker but again that has not shown up yet. It's just not there yet. I can see 7 or 8 losses real quick and more if we don't get it together during that stretch. With this team, if you go with what you see then it's gloomy. If we bet on the come then it's not so gloomy. Your assessment is spot on.

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Ken Sedgwick 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Pretty simple, if OU defends with some form of zone we will struggle. If they are stubborn enough to try man to man, we win.

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Bryce Landon 6 months, 3 weeks ago

In my mind, OU will always be the Evil Empire. I hate OU.

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Mark Lindrud 6 months, 3 weeks ago

With adversity comes true character. It's conference time, and time to take the next step of improving. The Big 12 is gunning to end our streak and it's stronger than it has been in years. To be the man you've got to beat the man.

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Robert Brown 6 months, 3 weeks ago

This is hardly a must win since it is a road game at contender's home court. It looks like there are six contenders between KU, KSU, ISU, BU, and the Oklahoma schools. In my opinion, the team that wins the conference goes undefeated at home and wins road games at two of the five contenders.

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Beate Williams 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I think this is right on. The Big 12 is going to be tough this year, tougher than it has been in a long time. Protecting home court will decide the winner.

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Benz Junque 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Of the contenders, the team with the best road record in conference will win the conference title. KU needs to win as many games like this, where OU is a team that KU "should" beat.

Like I have said, KU played like crap against SDSU and still was very close. I don't think OU is nearly the team that SDSU is and I hope it isn't possible for KU to stink that bad in two straight games. OU already has a home loss to Louisiana Tech, so they aren't a monster at home. Ku just needs to get back to rebounding and get some of those bunnies they missed to drop and they should be OK.

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Bryce Landon 6 months, 3 weeks ago

We thought it wasn't possible for KU to suck so bad in two straight games last year after they lost at home to OSU. And then they laid that goose-egg against TCU and lost at OU.

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Theodore Thadogweadore 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Leaving for Norman in a few hours. Rock Chalk!!!

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Rob Bedford III 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I hope I am wrong but I see KU losing 4 out of the next 5 games.

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Titus Canby 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I'm with you Rob. These first 5 games are killers.

I've been accused many times of being a pessimist, but I'm going with what I've witnessed so far from this team. I see us going 9-9 in conference this year. We'll beat the bottom feeders TCU, TT, and WV home and away, and find a way to pull off 3 miracle wins at home against the others. I really hope I'm proven wrong.

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Rob Bedford III 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I also have KU with 9 conference losses. I hope we are both wrong on this.

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Benz Junque 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Good grief, people. Come on. the sky isn't falling. It's really amazing to see the massive shift after ONE GAME. Everyone thought we were looking better after the Gtown and New Mexico games.

Do you really think we'll play as bad in every game for the rest of the year as we did against SDSU?

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Bryce Landon 6 months, 3 weeks ago

9-9? Come on, we've not been burning up the boards, but we are not going 9-9. At worst we'll be 12-6.

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Jason Keller 6 months, 3 weeks ago

4 of 5? Wow, I would take that bet any day. We will not lose 4 of 5, bud.

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Yolanda Gay 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I agree. From what I've seen so far this year. They aren't good at defense, no outside shooters. They aren't aggressive.

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Terry N Tom Denner 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I think that after his first year Mr. I'm jumping into the NBA is the Biggest let down and he is the throne in the teams butt that will continue to fester and cause the team to rot until he leaves. He should of chose Kentucky to play his one and out BS !!

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Phil Leister 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Nothing like a few losses to bring out the idiots. And it's "should have", not "should of". Basic stuff.

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Bill Anthony 6 months, 3 weeks ago

And the metaphor would usually be "thorn in the butt," though I suppose it is possible to have a throne in the butt.

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Kit Duncan 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Also, it's THORN in the butt, not throne. :-)

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Armen Kurdian 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Well, both would probably really hurt anyway.

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Yolanda Gay 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I keep hearing 'be patient, they will get better'. When. We are starting league play today. I would have thought they would have gotten better each and every game. I don't see that occurring. If we're patient any longer, the season will be over.

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Benz Junque 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Compare non-con seasons (stats only for non-con):

Season A Non-con record: 10-3 Kenpom non-con SOS: #61 fg%: 48.06% 3pt fg%: 33.7% ft%: 68.6% rebound margin per game: 38-30

Season B: Non-con record: 9-4 Kenpom non-con SOS: #10 fg%: 50.9% 3pt fg%: 32.8% ft%: 68% rebound margin per game: 38-30

As you likely guessed, Season A is the 2011-2012 season in which KU won the Big 12 conference and played in the national title game. Season B, with virtually identical stats against a much harder slate of opponents, is this year in which people are now bracing for a middle of the pack conference standing and possibly missing the ncaa tourney altogether.

Let's have some perspective, people. We shot a little better from 3 (not much) in '12, worse from the floor overall, rebounded at the exact same rate but against inferior competition, shot the same from the free throw line, etc... The defense held teams to lower fg% and points per game and that is the difference and should be the difference when playing crappier teams. As expected, we just have a little smaller margin of error this year with so many young guys who, as all young players do, make more mistakes on defense typically than more experienced players.

Let's not assume that results to date doom us to a certain future path. Everything is still out there for KU and they have a track record of putting every type of non-con season behind them to have good runs in conference and in the tourney.

4

Alex Berger 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Great post Benz. I'd be interested however to see the difference between these teams' defensive stats. I bet the scoring defense for the '11-'12 team is significantly better.

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John Strayer 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Great analysis...except your completely ignoring the defensive side of the ball...which is where this team struggles. So far this year, the team hasn't shown an ability to get a defensive stop when needed....so KU is left trying to outscore opponents. That hasn't turned out well IMO.

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Benz Junque 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Great analysis...except your completely ignoring the defensive side of the ball..

So did you only read HALF of what I posted? "The defense held teams to lower fg% and points per game and that is the difference and should be the difference when playing crappier teams."

Here's the stats for you: 2011-12: 60 ppg allowed, 37% fg allowed 2013-2014: 68 ppg allowed, 41% fg allowed

Not really a huge difference when you consider that Kansas played a game against a ridiculously terrible Howard team that shot 12-54 for 34 points. That game itself dropped their scoring defense a full two points and their fg% defense a full 1.5%. Howard finished the year 10-21. And the Towson team that KU beat in Game 1 in 2012 holding them to 54 pts and 35% fg shooting? Finished 1-31. Yes, that's ONE AND THIRTY ONE on the season. Florida Atlantic finished 11-19 on the year. So were they really THAT much better on defense or did they play a bunch of garbage teams and not as many really good teams?

This year's team got the luxury of no such games.

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Gerry Butler 6 months, 3 weeks ago

OMG, I think its time for some of the closet, bandwagon fans to jump off, the world is coming to an end. I surpose these people would of rather seen the hawks play one of these cupcake schedule where we never had a road game, played a lot of directional schools huh is that what you all are sayin? give me a fricken break. you get to be the best by playin the best. was it a very ruff non-conf? hell ya, did we under achieve? possibly, probably, but to say we are goin 9 and 9 in conference play? REALLY, SERIOUSLY? then maybe you just need to find another bandwagon to jump on there is NO WAY NONE WHAT SOEVER is this team goin 9 and 9 in conference play. I think I've heard it all now OMG unbelievable people who ACTUALLY do know a little about basketball still see ku as a very very good basketball team a very dangerous team exp jay bilas don't surpose you happen to see what he had to say did ya? agreed true there a lot of spots that we ned to get better, but I promise you the non conf schedule will pay off for us in the conference season if you remember we had the nu 1 schedule in for toughness self will never back away from competition. if you wanting a lofty record go cheer for Syracuse or someone like that. I know your the ones who think we should never get beat right? do you remember we have like the 297th youngest team in college basketball? bottom line take a chill pill don't get you britches in such a tight bunch things will be all right. if not then maybe if you think you can do better, MAYBE JUST MAYBE YOU OUGHT TO SE IF YOU CAN TAKE OVER FOR COACH SLEF I'M SURE YOU CAN DO BETTER RIGHT? go hawks 9 AND 9? DAMM UNBELIEVABLE

1

Benz Junque 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Preach that $h!t, Gerry!

I agree, let's not all freak out. As I stated above, KU's non-con stats are virtually identical to the '12 team that won the Big 12 and played for the title. We just need the guys to rally together and rachet it up. Play fast, play hard, do your job and have some fun.

First of all, for those of you that are concerned about multiple conference losses, KU WON the conference with four losses last year and the league wasn't as strong as this year. I wouldn't be surprised to see this year's winner have five or six conference losses.

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Mick Allen 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Great post.We actually have the 339th youngest team out of 341. The gloom and doom bunch is predicting a 9 and 9 conference record. That will not happen.As has been previously stated all 4 of our close losses have been to teams all currently ranked in the top 15 with a cumulative won loss record I believe of 46 and 7. Our fans are as spoiled and impatient as any fan base in the country. Roy was aware of this when he labeled us the whine and cheese bunch. Look at the records of similar high profile programs with youthful squads i. e. Kentucky, 3 losses, Duke 3 losses. Are their fans questioning John and Mike's knowledge of the game like some of our fans question Bill's ability to turn this around? As I've stated before the jump from being a McDonalds all american to being a productive player at a division 1 prominent program like ours is just as big a leap as from college to the NBA. To count a Self program out in January is ludicrous. I acknowledge there are certainly areas of concern that have been discussed ad nauseam on these articles. I remember last year after losing 3 straight many of our"loyal' fans thought there was no way we would win our 9th straight conference title Certainly Self's history and record justifies withholding judgment on our success, or lack thereof this year. This dooms day mentality is very premature and unproductive. This coaching staff and this program deserve better.

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Benz Junque 6 months, 3 weeks ago

"Look at the records of similar high profile programs with youthful squads i. e. Kentucky, 3 losses, Duke 3 losses. Are their fans questioning John and Mike's knowledge of the game like some of our fans question Bill's ability to turn this around? "

I don't know about Duke, but many folks on the kentuckysportsradio site are doing exactly that. Granted, message boards are typically only used by the extreme ends of the fan base so it's hard to really know what the middle thinks.

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Kit Duncan 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I was a freshman at KU when Lon Kruger was a senior at K-State. He was a great ball player then and is a great coach now! I wish him well except when his Sooners play KU.

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Suzi Marshall 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Same here. Did Owens recruit Kruger? He had Kivisto and Nash for the first couple of years but when they left, Kruger ate our lunch.

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Suzi Marshall 6 months, 3 weeks ago

It will be interesting to see what Self comes up with tonight. I have a feeling he's going to try some drastic changes to get shooting in the line-up.

First - Selden is "Seldom." Our "Shooting Guard" spot has been a black hole. Seldom is the best defender for that spot but he is nowhere near what he should and can be. Since Self needs offense , perhaps we might see CF with enough PT to get off 6 or 7 threes. From what I have seen CF's D is only marginally below Seldom and appreciably better than Mason or Tharpe when they are playing the 2.
Second - Wiggins is killing the team in our set O from the 3 spot. He doe not have the shot to pull the D out of the lane. Wiggins is much better off at the 4 but we have Ellis down there. I expect we might see Wiggins, instead of Traylor, as the sub for Ellis. That would open the 3 spot for AWIII to sub. Self has given Greene enough of a look to know AWIII should be the man for the sub 3 role. MJ was a great 3 with a poor J, especially his first few years up, but made up for it with relentless drives ending in monsterous dunks and a ton of FTs. Wiggins does not have that kind of personality as demonstrated by his reluctance to drive and "dipsy doodle" finishes. Self will need to keep Wiggins on the floor for +35 minutes to guard Cameron Clark. Wiggins needs to stay out of foul trouble be nobody else on our team can guard Clark. This would mean Self will go small when subing the 5 spot with Ellis or Traylor. Since OU is small in the post, we should be ok with that.

Third - With the need for shooting, Mason's role might be solely to back up the point, i.e. 10 minutes PT. OU's Woodard likes to drive the ball to draw fouls. If Tharpe needs to sit brining in Mason for exteded PT, OU will zone.

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Jason Keller 6 months, 3 weeks ago

What? If we need shooting, wouldn't we want Mason out there? He's the only one who can make a shot. Get Tharpe out of there! He is a junior that still fouls 3 point shooters. He's made no mental progress since he's become a Jayhawk. I was a big fan of his last year but was expecting more this year. He can't even stay in front of his man for crying out loud.

As for Wiggins, he needs to drive every time he touches it. He is a good FT shooter and draws a foul every time.

Seldon. People thought he might leave early? lol he's coming back next year. Heck, this guy might stay long enough to graduate. He should be splitting minutes with AWIII or Green. Either way, he has basically been non-existent since the season started.

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Mick Allen 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Suzi what have you seen in his very limited minutes, that allows you to arbitrarily conclude that Frankamp's defense is "appreciably better than Mason" Your earlier criticism of Tharpe's defense is more easily documented and justifiable. Frankamp is neither as strong or as laterally quick as Mason. Strangely strength and quickness are assets that prove beneficial in playing man defense. Your second point about subbing Wiggens occasionally for Ellis, instead of bringing Traylor in for him makes some sense in light of Oklahoma's relative lack of interior size. I see Greene not White as being the first option however. White has had more time[ his playing time last year] to establish himself as a knock down shooter than Greene, whose shooting mechanics and technique I believe are the most sound of anyone on the team. Obviously whether it is White or Greene, we will suffer some defensively.

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Suzi Marshall 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Mick....you are right to question my CF defense comments. CF has alot of growing to do. Last night we went over all the minutes CF has played this year and the flaws show up big, however, he does make an effort to guard and is always on the balls of his feet. The whole idea is to get shooting on the floor. When thinking back about the Bulls with MJ, who shares much with Wiggins, those teams always needed a strong outside threat on the floor (John Paxon and then Steve Kerr for the two spot) to cut down on the lane clogging so Jordan (and Scottie) could drive. I saw countless games where MJ went 1-7 shooting from the field but ended with 38.

Gerry, Benz, Mick....Per the earlier comments it seems clear that the current line up is not working. We have a couple of guys out of position and no shooting on the floor. AW plays more to a 4 and Selden is not a 2. My personal preference would be to put Selden at the point, which I feel will be his NBA position. Tharpe needs to be in the line up because he is best at running the O by a long shot. Again, I wish Self had tried Selden at the 1.

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Mick Allen 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Suzi Selden is a good passer. Whether he has the handles to bring the ball up against pressure is what I would question.I find it interesting that you state he is not a 2, but is a 1 which all things considered is the toughest position on the floor. White does not handle the ball well enough to play the 2.Tharpe might be the best currently at getting us into our offense, but when the offense is stagnant which it unfortunately has frequently been, you need someone who can initiate and make a play. We had hoped that would be Wiggens, who on occasion has provided this, but not on a regular basis. He is most effective taking it to the cup, but his inability to consistently hit a jump shot is now jeopardizing this as his defender is now dropping off daring him to hit the jumper while sliding to the paint to impede the drive. I certainly don't argue with your assertion that we need to get more shooting on the floor I just don't want to see it at the expense of ball handling or defense. Wiggens shooting fundamentals are not good. The ball seems to come out of his hand like a knuckle ball. His father was a good shooter so I am somewhat surprised his stroke is not more refined. His release at the free throw line is more precise and his free throwing is good and appears to be getting better. We all get into these discussions because we want to see the boys play to their potential and our program retain its prominence. Like it or not KU athletics currently are a one trick pony and that imposes even more pressure on the program to not just be good but to continue to be 1 of the 3 top programs in the country.

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Ethan Berger 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I watched the BU vs Iowa st game last night. For all you who think we have no chance because of our 4 top 15 loses, might want to watch other team a in our conf. They are good but very beatable. Quick shots, average defense and poor rebounding were issues I saw last night. Calm down before we act like we played a equally tough SOS as everyone else (hint: we were far away at the top and that's sportswriters opinion).

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Benz Junque 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Baylor might be the softest team on the planet. KU should eat them alive in the post. Iowa State will be tough to beat because they can hit threes from anyone at any time from any spot and are aggressive on the boards. But I agree that neither was looking invincible last night.

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John Fitzgerald 6 months, 3 weeks ago

The expectations for this team were completely unrealistic at the beginning of the season. We have to understand Self has never has a team this young and is probably not used to coaching as much as he has. Aside from Calipari's national title team not many young teams come in and dominate right away. What I'm not worried about is the margin of our losses. All of those games we played horrible but still stayed in the games with the other teams playing extremely well. It's a good sign that we can be on the road playing sloppy and still be in the game. I think eventually we will be on the right side of those close games. What does worry me is Self doesn't seem to know how to get these guys to communicate and play with passion. Selfs game plans are remarkable and his defensive strategy is ideal with the type of players we have, but they just aren't committing themselves. I can't blame Self because I would have no idea what to do. I honestly think first and foremost they should stop focusing on the conference title business and just go one game at a time. If we do that and focus on winning every game then the title will come. We have to keep these guys focused and make sure they understand glory doesn't come without hardwork. Anyways, this team will come together, and when it finally does we will be left satisfied and possibly even impressed. When faced with adversity big stars always step up, and we're loaded with stars. RCJH baby and here's to a strong conference season!

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Ludwig Supraphonic 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Many folks believed our early exits in the NC tournament at the hands of mid-majors were the result of a weak non-conference schedule and a weak conference. Folks thought Self was too focused on winning every game, and winning the conference, and that we were unprepared for the dogfights, physicality, and tempos of Mid-majors, Big East, and Big Ten teams. Now we have played awkward games with a variety of styles and tempos with a young team and lost a few. We have a conference with teams that can light it up and be very physical. Now the complaint is we're not ready?

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Benz Junque 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Welcome to a glimpse of the KU fan base... People will complain about anything that doesn't end in a national title and will even complain about every loss IN a season that ends in a national title. Thy only way people are fine is if they run the table and go undefeated. Even then a few would see a less than ideal fg% in a win as a "sign of impending trouble".

It's called guarding yourself from disappointment. Some people don't want to get their hopes up too high only to see the team lose a game they weren't expected to lose. If they can say "I knew this was going to happen all along" then it might make the sting of the loss a little less.

The nice part about this season is that the entire team seems to be made up of good kids that represent the school and the team well. We don't have a bunch of big mouth inner city thugs running their mouths and throwing cheap elbows and we don't have a bunch of mentally careless knuckleheads that seem to just want to add stuff to their NBA tryout highlight reel.

Like last year, I like this team and I want to see them do well in part because they are made up of people that seem to have their heads on straight. I want them to play better and I think they CAN play better. Regradless, I will be rooting for them to have great success and see no reason why they cannot ultimately have it.

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Tony Bandle 6 months, 3 weeks ago

OUCH!!!!

I think a piece of the sky just fell and hit me!!

KU will not lose a home conference game and will certainly beat TCU, TT & WV on the road. Let's say you split the rest on the road, [win at the Octagon of Dumb, OU, Baylor-remember who coaches them, lose at OSU, ISU and TX. That's 15-3 and even if they blow another one, that's 14-4.

REMEMBER..all these great teams have to play each other besides playing us and someone has to lose each time!!

What I do think is a strong possibility is this season will lend itself to multiple conference champions, maybe as many as four!!!

Relax, the most important season is the third one..and that doesn't start till March!!

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Jack Wilson 6 months, 3 weeks ago

The sky is not falling.

Benz' post above regarding the comparison of stats to the 2011-12 team should cause us all to reflect a bit.

Remember, this team does not require a seismic change to get better. When has this team been blown out? Hasn't this team shown character when behind?

This is truly a young, inexperienced team. It's like a Rubik's cube. It seems like a mess ... until it isn't. Just have to know which colors to rotate, and which way.

Coach Self is figuring out how much coaching this team needs, and in what areas. And he's figuring out how best to fit the pieces.

The players are adapting, surviving, and learning how they need to fit in this puzzle. And many are adjusting to playing at this level. The talent is there.

When it comes together, it has the potential to be quite amazing. Of course, it may not come together.

But ask yourself this, when has coach Self failed in getting the pieces to come together? History tells us to be optimistic.

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Bryce Landon 6 months, 3 weeks ago

"When has coach Self failed in getting the pieces to come together?"

2005 - Not only did the pieces not come together, they came apart. Lost 6 of their last 9, including one of the most humiliating losses in school history at the hands of Bucknell.

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Jack Wilson 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Well, two of those losses were in OT. We weren't playing horribly. And lost by 4 to MU and 3 to OSU.

Ok, if we grant you that ... then in 10 seasons, one team imploded down the stretch.

History says 90% chance that we get our act together. Didn't you make my point?

Best parallel is 2005-06 .. lots of freshmen. We won 15 of our last 16 before the Bradley flameout. So hopefully we'll have a better run this year in the tourney. But Self got that team's act together after a rough early stretch. We had 6 losses that season by January 16.

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Benz Junque 6 months, 3 weeks ago

And I can't stress enough how much of a hit it is to a team to not have any cream puff games to gain back your confidence. Shooters need to see the ball going through the net, even if it was only because the guy guarding them was 5'7". Bigs need to get their rhythm in the post, even if it is because they are bigger, stronger and faster than the guys hacking away trying to keep them off their spots. they simply have not had ANY of those games since about Game One.

It's hard enough to gain confidence as a young player, even when you are given the opportunity for false confidence by a cream puff opponent. When you play every game against a decent to good to great opponent, your confidence takes a beating. Needless to say, Self will never put together another schedule like this one again. I'm all for taking some lumps to improve long term but this has been brutal. Too much of a good thing is no longer a good thing.

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