Friday, March 14, 2014

Notebook: Andrew Wiggins remains confident Kansas can win NCAA tournament

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins pulls up for a shot against Iowa State forward Daniel Edozie during the first half on Friday, March 14, 2014 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins pulls up for a shot against Iowa State forward Daniel Edozie during the first half on Friday, March 14, 2014 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri.


Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Bill Self, Perry Ellis and Tarik Black react to KU's BIg 12 semifinal loss to ISU

Kansas coach Bill Self, as well as post players Perry Ellis and Tarik Black, react to KU's BIg 12 semifinal loss to ISU, and discuss how the Cyclones broke down the Jayhawks' defense to reach the Big 12 championship game.

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Bill Self on KU's Big 12 semifinal loss to ISU

Kansas basketball coach Bill Self meets with media outside the Jayhawks' locker room after KU's 94-83 loss to Iowa State in the Big 12 tournament semifinals.


Box score

— Kansas University freshman Andrew Wiggins, who has yet to play in the NCAA Tournament, has heard there’s a significant difference in a team being a No. 1 or 2 seed.

“It’s always a factor.  A one seed ... you are playing the easiest route,” Wiggins said after the Jayhawks’ 94-83 loss to Iowa State in a Big 12 tournament semifinal on Friday night in Sprint Center.

The (24-9) Jayhawks, in coach Bill Self’s words, stand “no chance” of being granted a one-seed on Selection Sunday, more likely a 2 or 3.

Not that it matters.

“We don’t fear anybody,” Wiggins said after scoring 22 points off 7-of-21 shooting (7 of 10 from line). "We don’t care who is in our path. We are in it to win, you know?”

He said he’s confident his team can win six in a row and the NCAA title. Asked why he feels that way, Wiggins said: “My team, my coaches and the fans we’ve got. We are all competitors. Everybody on this team ... we know we are capable of beating any team on any given night.”

Of Selection Sunday, Self said: “We’re not going to be disappointed with whatever happens. But certainly I don’t know if there’s any magical thing right now that we’ll definitely be in this region or anything like that. Right now I don’t know. A lot depends on what happens in other league tournaments.”

Backdrop talk: Self had a slight problem with the backdrop for his postgame news conference outside the Jayhawks’ locker room in Sprint Center.

“Do I have to stand in front of that damn Iowa State deal?” he said with a smile, looking at the Cyclone logo directly behind him. “I’ve seen enough of them today.” He scooted over to stand in front of a Jayhawk.

Fatigue: Self said the Jayhawks would forget about this game by Sunday.

“We played like a team — this isn’t an excuse because they played yesterday, too — we played like a tired team defensively,” Self said. “When you are not playing with unbelievable energy and fatigue has set in a little bit, it usually doesn’t hurt your offense as much as your defense. That was the case tonight.”

Different halves: Perry Ellis on scoring nine points the second half, after 21 in the first.

“I definitely could tell they clogged the lane a lot more off their shooters,” Ellis said. “We definitely had to drive more. That was the key thing.

“I felt like we were on our heels defensively throughout the game. I felt in the first half we did a lot better than the second half. We left too many straight line drives to the basket in the second half.”

No pressure: Senior forward Tarik Black on if he feels pressure on the defensive end with Joel Embiid out of action.

“He’s a big piece of our team,” Black said. “So everybody on the team has to make up for his absence. We have to rotate on defense as a team because we’re missing our shot blockers on the floor. On the ground defense has to be better. On offense we have to play with one another and the offense has to move smoother without him on the floor. The whole team takes up their pressure.”

This, that: Ellis’ 21 first-half points tied his own mark for the third-most points scored by a Jayhawk in a single half (21, 2nd half vs. TCU, 2/15/14). Since records started being kept in the 1988-89 season, only two Jayhawks have scored more points in a half (22 by Sherron Collins at Oklahoma, 2/23/09; 24 by Andrew Wiggins at West Virginia, 3/8/14). ... Wiggins missed his first six shots. His first point came from the free throw line with 11:50 remaining in the first half. Eight minutes later (3:51), he connected on his first field goal. ... Wiggins now has 574 points. He now only trails Ben McLemore (589, 2013) as the all-time freshman scoring leader at Kansas. ... Wiggins passed Ben McLemore (400, 2013) for the top spot on the freshman field goal attempts chart with 403 after shooting a career-high 21 times on Friday. ... Naadir Tharpe dished seven assists and no turnovers in the first half and ended his night with nine assists and two turnovers.


Jack Jones 6 years, 11 months ago

"Since the record started being kept in the 1998-89 season"?? First of all ~ '1998-89' doesn't make any sense ~ you probably meant '1998-99' ~ right? Sloppy work. Second, and even more inexplicable ~ Seriously??>> Not until 1998?? What happened? ~ Did someone throw away all of those box scores prior to 1998??

Rodney Crain 6 years, 11 months ago

Jack you can just point out to Gary the typo and he will fix it like he did already. It is called a mistake, humans make them Jack, try being one for a change...

Gerry Butler 6 years, 11 months ago

agree 100% Rodney Crain, I mean REALLY? you gotta be joking right? check this out Jack will probably be double checking our comments for punctuation mis givings I mean REALLY? is that all you have to do? we all know what he meant.

Walter Bridges 6 years, 11 months ago

Jack - does your middle name end with *ss? My guess is yes.

Andrew Washington 6 years, 11 months ago

How are we supposed to win games if we can't score? Year after year we have several of THE most talented and athletic players in the country we should be able to score more than anyone else in the country no excuses. There's no reason why self's teams can't score 90ppg or higher. It frustrates me so much because it seems that we let other defenses set while we never or rarely attack in transition. We should get the ball to our freaking guards like Iowa state did. Get Selden the ball more and let him DRIVE. At some point you gotta stop passing and freaking learn how to go for it! Just saying. Come on KU get it together!

Erich Hartmann 6 years, 11 months ago

Sorry, Andrew, my fellow Jayhawk...but you've got it totally backwards. The lesson here is twofold:

  1. We scored 83+ pts twice in the last week, yet LOST both games because the other guy scored 90+.

  2. Getting into a Roy/UNC style trackmeet game only works if your offense is working...if you start missing shots, and the other team keeps scoring, stick a fork in us.

Didnt you see that stat that 94pts scored against KU was the MOST scored against a Bill Self KU team in the past 10yrs.

Can't you see that our defense is THE major problem???? Wiggins scores 41, we lose. Ellis scores 30, we lose. We cant stop anybody.


If anybody has been watching Bill Self's teams x 10yrs, they know this team's almost fatal flaw is lack of defense, not offense. Roy-era ended 11yrs ago.

Rodney Crain 6 years, 11 months ago

I love the aggressive Wiggins, we are going to need all 110% of him to go anywhere in the postseason. Looking forward to selections Sunday, hope we get some good match ups. I think we are going to need some help to get past the sweet 16, who knows what can happen right?

John Fitzgerald 6 years, 11 months ago

I love this optimistic Rodney! You're right, anything can happen good sir.

Ben Schwartz 6 years, 11 months ago

Definitely going to need a little (lot) of lady luck and a whole lot of Wiggins. Great to see a "homer" post from you Rodney, it goes nicely with your critical analysis.

Rodney Crain 6 years, 11 months ago

Ben it's not a Homer post to me, I am not telling anyone to get behind the team and quit being negative. I am not saying even though we have huge issues forget about them and just get behind our team or you are not a true fan. I am not saying that we will go all the way cause we are the Jayhawks.

John is right just hoping we get some luck cause I think we are going to need a lot of it.

I say all kinds of things on here. Doubtful anyone on here would think I was a homer.

Ben Schwartz 6 years, 11 months ago

Being a "homer" is being optimistic and loyal to your team in spite of stacked odds. Nothing more, nothing less. I am not declaring you a homer, your post just had an air of optimism for a change. I am not attacking you or degrading your opinion. Please take it easy.

Rodney Crain 6 years, 11 months ago

lets agree to disagree. I see a Homer as someone who shows blind loyalty to a team or organization, typically ignoring any shortcomings or faults they have. From the Urban Dictionary.

Walter Bridges 6 years, 11 months ago

How many times did Wiggins simply lose the ball when driving to the basket? I agree he is at his best when aggressive but the amount of turnovers is simply too high.

Jack Wilson 6 years, 11 months ago

How do we best attack the NCAA tournament? 1) Coach Self relies upon strong man to man defense as his philosophical center point. This season, the team’s defensive inadequacies threaten that philosophy.

2) This team is now ranked 189th in points per game allowed. That has gone up since we lost Embiid, but even with Embiid, our points per game allowed ranking was significantly more than normal -- 51, 35, 69, 62, 106, and 21 in past years, with the #21 being the title season.

3) Coach Self made the decision to continue to try to make this team a good man to man team, even when all signs early on pointed to personnel issues impeding that progress.

4) As a few pointed out after Atlantis -- this team would have been better off shifting to zone as its base defense, given personnel attributes and limitations. That was my position.

5) Self commented on Hawk talk that he considered that, but felt focusing on getting better at man to man was the best choice.

6) We now have a pretty horrific defensive team by comparison, magnified by the loss of Embiid. This team is not going to magically become good defensively. Tharpe and Ellis are too big of liabilities, and Traylor just can’t guard skilled post men. That’s ½ of the six players that usually play big minutes.

7) The comments about a "hot shooting team" in ISU are a bogus diversion. There are hot shooting teams in the NCAA tourney. We have lost 9 games now. We got beat vs. WVU. ISU just beat us. At some point, we have to stop making tailored excuses for each loss. This is a macro issue. We can’t guard.

8) With this team now, there is probably no way that we can competently shift to zone defense. It's too late. Late November, sure. Now, only as a change up.

9) As I mentioned before the tournament, we have to find a different way to win, and focus on a potent offensive lineup; caring less about how we match up defensively. It’s not that you don’t care at all about defense. Rather, defensive issues are not the focus.

10) We need only look to UNC and our beloved coach Roy for guidance. He has won with poor defensive teams. In Roy's 2005 title season, UNC ranked 203rd at 70.3 ppg. In his 2009 title season, UNC ranked 272nd in ppg, 72.0. He won by focusing on the type of approach I'm suggesting. We're quite familiar with it -- coach Roy windmilling his arm to get his team to move quickly.

11) There is a specific method to playing this way -- play urgently, push the ball, shoot early in the shot clock, don't worry as much about turnovers, increase possessions (which make each turnover mean less), take some risks on defense, use pressing and pressure regularly, constantly attack, and structure your personnel for scoring. On a made basket, have the closest guy to the ball immediately inbound the ball and then go.


Jack Wilson 6 years, 11 months ago

(continued from above)

12) A staple of Self's system is working to get a good shot. You see three point shooters, except really for Wiggins, turn down three point looks early in the shot clock (or face a quick benching). If the shot clock gets below 10 and you haven't shot, the approach I'm suggesting might send someone to the bench.

13) As part of this approach, we should focus highly on Wiggins with the ball in his hands. If he scores 50, so be it. We don't need to share the ball. Set up situations to isolate both Wiggins and Ellis. Self really doesn't do this, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

14) Another part of this approach would be to implement Mason's attacking style more often, and when Greene is in, give him the green light to just shoot the three. Permit Selden and Tharpe to gun away, away as well. But when you do this, guys down low are not necessarily only looking for the ball. They are looking to gain position to rebound. It's a subtle but important item.

15) Playing small is a of course an option, but not a necessity. It's match up by match up in how we can simply outscore the opponent. Part of that is actively spreading out the defense and posting up our non-post players as match ups dictate.

16) Most of this runs directly counter to coach Self's guiding philosophies. But we are likely unable to switch to an effective zone defense at this point.

17) Do we want to win, or do we want to follow a specific philosophy? Most of the time, coach Self's philosophy equals winning. But this season, our defense isn't up to par. To win the NCAA tournament, the status quo isn't going to do it.

18) Many folks want to give coach Self a complete pass and blame the players. For example, a lot of disdain for Tharpe’s and Ellis’ defense. But as a coach, you have to adjust to what you have. They aren’t changing now. Do you continue to beat your head against the wall, or do you put your team in the best position to win in spite of their deficiencies.

19) There is more than one way to skin a cat, and coaches many times are resistant to change. They got where they are by doing it their way. They win their way. They are arrogant. But it is that arrogance that many times limits their ability to recognize when they do need to adapt and change. It is a common flaw in leadership in all walks of life.

20) The question is then, what are the chances that this team will win the national championship doing things the same way we have been doing them this season? If your answer is “remote” then we have to change. There is no doubt. Change is risky. But risk is how greatness is achieved. My humble opinion is that the above method is our best opportunity. And if Embiid returns, so do options for coach Self.

Suzi Marshall 6 years, 11 months ago

The Hawks should be a much better man defensive team. The past few games they have been pretty good for long stretches. Against OSU, they were very good and played the passing lanes much better, i.e. we had several steals, led by Wiggins. Selden has been coming on strong showing his defensive potential. The major breakdowns are well documented due to the problems with Tharpe and Ellis. Ellis, to me, has been a huge unpleasant surprise since he runs well and has good quickness, especially for a 4. I don’t recall him being such a liability last year. As for Tharpe, since this is his third year with Self, I expected him to be a defensive leader. I recall the post, including mine, early in the season expressing extreme disappointment with Tharpe, especially after Atlantis. Nevertheless, I expected Tharpe and Ellis to come along when the Big 12 season commenced.

I’m optimistic about the team and our D for the tournament, especially if we can get through the first two rounds. If we can reach the Sweet 16 and get Embiid back, we’ll be able to have a team with 3 top of the line defensive man to man players….Wiggins, Embiid and Selden. Additionally, Black would be able to play to his aggressive max without holding back with foul concerns. Ellis will come through for us, including his D.

My lone major concern, not counting Embiid, remains with Tharpe, who to me shows a very low basketball IQ. I’m really disappointed that Frankamp has not shown the ability to know down game time shots because he appears to me to be the steadiest ball handler and the best defensive PG. My unjustified hope is for Frankamp to knock down 3 or 4 long balls in the first round and gain some confidence with his shot.

We can win it.

Jack Wilson 6 years, 11 months ago

More evidence, in the past 10 years, here are the points per game ranks of national champions:

-Louisville: #15

-Kentucky: #23

-UConn: #90

-Duke: #22

-UNC: #272

-KU: #21

-Florida: #38

-Florida: #49

-UNC: #203

-UConn: #51

See what stands out? The only team to win a national championship with a defensive PPG ranking worse than 100 was UNC. And they did it twice.

It would thus make sense with our #189 rank to play like UNC did.

Suzi Marshall 6 years, 11 months ago

Interesting research but that is not the identity of Self and Kansas BBall under his leadership. The Hawks are ready, especially if we get Embiid back. My pick for the Final Four are: UF, ISU (if they go East or West), and Kansas. Perhaps the Big 12 might get a 3rd in the Final Four if the matchups work right. An interesting fourth would be KY giving us two Big 12 and two SEC teams.

Rodney Crain 6 years, 11 months ago

Regardless of who ends where I think we can all agree on one thing, Warren Buffets money is safe this year... :)

Joe Baker 6 years, 11 months ago

Wigs it appears you'll have to pick up and lead. It doesn't appear the pg of the team is willing or wants to lead. You need to get the guys fired up and jump on board to win the NC. This is the last piece of your commitment to KU. You said to win NC and go to the NBA. We all know your going to the NBA, now let's get first things first. Let's get that NC.

Rock Chalk

Walter Bridges 6 years, 11 months ago

"Kansas University freshman Andrew Wiggins, who has yet to play in the NCAA Tournament, has heard there’s a significant difference in a team being a No. 1 or 2 seed."

Problem is that we will get neither. We will be a 3. Losing 3 of your final 5 games is not the trend the selection committee is looking for.

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