Sunday, January 12, 2014


Column: Defense will be tested by ISU


In a baseball game played in front of a savvy crowd such as the one that packs Yankee Stadium, a triple triggers a much more interesting roar than does a home run.

The home run explosion happens all at once and then fades. With a triple, the volume of the crowd mounts throughout the play, peaking when the runner slides safely into third base.

Similarly, in Allen Fieldhouse, where Kansas University always has a steady supply of quick-jumping athletes attacking the rim with a fury, dunks juice a crowd that reacts with an explosion that eventually fades.

But the dunk isn’t necessarily the play that gets the most interesting, longest-lasting rise from the 16,300 paying customers who manage to squeeze into the cozy venue.

Nothing in the fieldhouse beats the crescendo inspired by a defensive possession that ends with a shot-clock violation. As with the triple, the noise precedes the completion of the play. It doesn’t, as with the home run, start when the play ends.

And far more so than the triple, the crowd actually can play a significant role in making the play happen. The fan support fuels the defenders with adrenaline, staves off exhaustion and sharpens their focus. It incites them to hang tough until the horn hollers. Once it does, coach Bill Self punches the air, more pumped even than he becomes when a perfectly executed lob play draws an eruption.

K-State’s shot-clock violation Saturday seemed to trigger the mutually beneficial athlete-spectator energy exchange in a more noticeable way than any play this season. It was the seventh shot-clock violation forced by KU’s defense, compared to three 35-second Kansas possessions without a shot.

It’s dangerous to read too much into one play, but the shot-clock violation and how excited (proud) it seemed to make the players could be a sign the newcomers are beginning to appreciate why their coach puts such a premium on that end of the floor.

K-State coach Bruce Weber credited KU’s length with bothering star freshman Marcus Foster and said KU “stifled us.” He also offered a candid opinion of how this KU team that starts three freshmen, a sophomore and a junior stacks up defensively with last year’s Jayhawks, who started four seniors and a freshman.

“They’re good, there’s no doubt, but they’re nowhere near defensively what they were a year ago,” Weber said. “Those guys were so good defensively. So old, mature physically. We put sets in that they had never seen, and they would take them away.”

An argument could be made that Ben McLemore was the only starter last season who was better on offense than defense. Conversely, it could be said Andrew Wiggins is the only current starter who has been better on defense than offense. Considering Wiggins leads the team in scoring and erupted with 17 second-half points Saturday, even that’s debatable.

The two charges reserve center Tarik Black drew Saturday were the team’s first of the season, partly a function of the change in the way block-charge has been called this season — almost always a block — but also a hint at a need for a tougher edge.

With our without second-leading scorer DeAndre Kane, Iowa State, ranked sixth in the nation with 86.7 points per game, represents a monumental challenge for the young KU defenders tonight in Hilton Coliseum.


Jeffrey Nelson 5 years, 2 months ago

The beginning of the last sentence in this article has me confused.

Thomas Michaud 5 years, 2 months ago

Jeffery, I'm guessing the beginning of that last sentence was meant to not have ~~With our~~ and start the sentence with "Without"

"Without second-leading scorer DeAndre Kane, Iowa State, ranked sixth in the nation with 86.7 points per game, represents a monumental challenge for the young KU defenders tonight in Hilton Coliseum."

Totally agree that the "D" will be tested ... I do like our length to challenge outside shots. Rebounding (boxing out) will also be key to making sure that ISU is limited on second shot put-backs (things that allowed KSU to not be blown out by 40).

If Seldon and Wiggens keep going the way they have over the past couple of outings, ISU will have their hands full—by helping the post not to be double and triple teamed.

Jonathan Allison 5 years, 2 months ago

It's "With or Without".

As in, whether Kane is 100% or doesn't even play, ISU will still be good on offense.

Aaron Paisley 5 years, 2 months ago

This is a group of players who play their best when they are able to get out and run like they did against OU. When it finally clicks for them that playing more aggressive defensively will lead to a lot more easy run outs, this team will become true national title contenders instead of an Elite 8 type team that they are now.

Suzi Marshall 5 years, 2 months ago

Major Problem: Embiid being pulled 20' from the basket covering Niang (6'7") or Hogue (6'6"). Rebounding and foul trouble are the likely results.

Kansas D:
Triangle and 2 when Kane is out. Wiggins (6'7") and Selden (6'5") covering Niang (6'7") and Eljim (6'6") , respectively. When Kane, Niang and Eljiim are on the court together, I have no idea what tricks Self can get our guys to perform. .

Kansas O: Since ISU is alot like SDSU in terms of athletic sizes expect them to similarily clog the lane and double the post. We need to hit 3s from the corner and the wing. Embiid and Ellis need to hit the15-17 foot Js from the elbow. Look for the weak side lob dunk all night.

Aaron Paisley 5 years, 2 months ago

Niang is shooting 30% from 3 this year, sag on him to prevent him driving and if he gets hot from 3, so be it. Make ISU beat Kansas with a weakness and the odds of winning go up and Niang shooting 3's is something that KU wants since he's not shooting very well this season.

Suzi Marshall 5 years, 2 months ago

If Niang is not hitting then Selden covers Kane. If Kane is out and Niang is not hitting then through a box-and-on at them with Wiggins, our best defender, on Eljim. I can't see us playing much man allowing them to pull Embiid away from the basket.

Aaron Paisley 5 years, 2 months ago

When has Bill Self ever played mostly zone in a game? KU will play man defense, Embiid will be on Niang and likely sagging off of Niang until Niang shows he can consistently make 3's. If Niang does start hitting 3's we may see a junk defense with Wiggins on him and if Niang is too quick for Embiid to stay in front of him, Jamari Traylor will get a crack at Niang. Or we may see Self play Wiggins at the 4 like we've seen him do a few times this season and go small ball to better match up.

Suzi Marshall 5 years, 2 months ago

Perhaps so. Tonight is a tough defensive match up for us. We will see because tonight's game is somewhat like a SDSU redo and provides Self a forum to show his coaching skills. If we do go with mostly man, how do you keep Embiid around the basket? Sagging offa 6'6" Hogue(58%) is not likely. Embiid will never guard Eljim or Niang.

On O, we present a nightmare for ISU. IF we can put some D on them, we can blow then out.

Jonathan Allison 5 years, 2 months ago

ISU has lots of weapons, not just Kane, Ejim, and Niang. I think that Wiggins will cover Kane early. If Kane proves to be severely hampered by his ankle sprain, then perhaps put Wiggins on Ejim. If Kane is slowed, then Ellis should be able to hang with him. Bigs should sag on Niang.

If Niang and ISU are hot from three then the T & 2 defense is an option, but it's only ever been used out of necessity and has hardly, if ever, been part of Self's intentional game plan. It's a junk defense and if it's recognized then it's easy to beat.

Suzi Marshall 5 years, 2 months ago

For sure Sell will mix things up to keep them off ballance. In addition to the T & 2, he'll put in a B&1, 1-3-1 (maybe a 2-3) to trap the 3. Long (.457 on 70 attempts!) and Thomas (.339, 65 attempts) need to be pressured. Because he is Bill Self, the Hawks will play some man. Self will through 3 or 4 different looks on D at ISU. The two near constants being 1) Wiggins almost always on man and 2) Embiid remains near the basket.

Bob Bailey 5 years, 2 months ago

What has happened to JW recently?

Ever hear the saying "shirt sleeves to shirt sleeves in three generations"?

Dolph Jr.'s grandfather went to our church including 1936 and everyone knew he was a community leader (including me). His dad got married a bit earlier to a girl a little hifalutin in the church's social status. Dolph Jr was born around then, plus or minus a couple of years. Never saw his mother, but they may not have been similar body types (a la Weis and Mary). John was younger and was small in size. He went to KU Med School. Dolph Jr. was pretty good size -- he played fb guard at KU. Dolph Jr. probably got his competitive juices flowing at fb. His dad taught him everything he could, but Dolph Jr. lived thru 40 - 50 years of extreme technical change. He ran the paper from a desk located in the lobby, accessible to everyone. He made a multi million dollar company out of a newspaper that served a 'small' community.

The last 3 or so weeks have changed things at JW. Personally, the 'executives' are incompetent compared to Dolph Jr. JW spots articles and 'comments' were probably unique in the 'college' world. No one had anything like it.

What happened to 'Jaybate', LAphoto, the guys from Chgo, St.Louis, even local commenters who had direct or indirect info from the coaching staff?? All were people who knew the game, and gave it deep and serious thought. Yes, there were people who didn't know enough to be sensible. And the comments multiplied to the point it would take all day to read them.

Nobody wants to sign up for the junk on the public channels, and some may have valid reason not to comment publicly, like Jaybate and others.

They have put us back in the 'also ran'. Your articles are good, but there is no reason to read the comments.

And you are good enough writers not to be ashamed to go to another market!

Suzi Marshall 5 years, 2 months ago

Very True. I personally know several others, who always provided great insight, that will not post with their real names. Before the policy change, an article such as this about the D tonight, would have brought out +90 comments with extensive logic.

Perhaps too much "insider information" was being leaked and the KU Athletic Departmant put some heat on the LJW. They could have treatened them with restricted access. I hope the LJW rethinks their dreadful policy.

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