Sunday, November 16, 2014

Can Kentucky run the table? ‘I don’t know’

Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari directs the top-ranked Wildcats in their 71-52 victory over Buffalo on Sunday in Lexington, Kentucky. Tuesday, Calipari will coach UK against No. 5 Kansas University.

Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari directs the top-ranked Wildcats in their 71-52 victory over Buffalo on Sunday in Lexington, Kentucky. Tuesday, Calipari will coach UK against No. 5 Kansas University.


There was much talk of John Calipari’s Kentucky’s basketball team going undefeated during the 2013-14 season.

As it turned out, UK dropped its third game of the year to Michigan State in the Champions Classic en route to a 29-11 record and NCAA runner-up finish.

The undefeated talk is back again this preseason, into the regular season, with none other than SMU coach Larry Brown saying his former assistant, “coach Cal,” should lead his talent-laden team to an unblemished 45-0 mark. Indiana is the last team to win all its games, in 1975-76.

What does Kansas University junior forward Jamari Traylor think of all that undefeated chatter?

“I don’t know,” Traylor said Sunday, two days before Tuesday’s Champions Classic game between UK (2-0) and KU (1-0). Tipoff is approximately 8:50 p.m. at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

“We’re trying to end that quick this year, so ...” Traylor added, not completing his thought.

KU coach Bill Self, who like Calipari is a former staff member of ex-Jayhawk coach Brown, on Sunday said, “That’s coach Brown being coach Brown,” when asked about his mentor’s comment.

On Friday, after KU’s season-opening 69-59 victory over UC Santa Barbara, Self acknowledged the Wildcats probably will be favored in every game and that they’d wind up with a “terrific record, that’s for sure.”

Crazy thing is, Kentucky, which whipped Grand Canyon, 85-45, in Friday’s opener, actually trailed Buffalo, 38-33, at halftime Sunday in Lexington, Kentucky, before rallying to a 71-52 victory.

“I watched the game today. They’ve got 10 pretty good guys they rotate in and out,” KU sophomore Wayne Selden Jr. said of UK’s platoon system which has (6-foot-11) Karl Anthony-Towns, (7-foot) Willie Cauley-Stein, (6-8) Alex Poythress, (6-6) Aaron Harrison and (6-6) Andrew Harrison playing as one unit and (6-9) Marcus Lee, (6-6) Devin Booker, (5-9) Tyler Ulis, (6-10) Trey Lyles and (7-foot) Dakari Johnson entering as the other. Things get mixed and matched when there are foul problems.

Asked if he’d ever faced a team with as many good players — only Olathe Northwest grad Cauley-Stein was not a McDonald’s All-American — Selden replied, “We’ve played against teams that don’t have that many good guys, but have teams just as good.”

Traylor also watched the UK-Buffalo game on TV before Sunday’s practice.

“Some of the first half of the game, that’s about it,” Traylor said. “They go after the glass. They get a lot of second-chance points and opportunities. We have to limit that.”

Of course, Self watched Sunday’s game with pen and notepad in hand.

“That wouldn’t be different. That would be the way I watch all the games,” Self said of games involving upcoming foes. “If we’re scouting a team, I always take notes on what is going on.”

What’d he notice in the Buffalo game?

“I missed a few possessions, but we’ve got it on tape,” he said. “Buffalo obviously played great the first half. That was a beatdown the second half (UK outscored Buffalo, 38-14). Certainly their defense was terrific.

“They are extremely talented, a lot like they were in 2011-12,” he added of the year UK beat KU in the national title game and also in the Champions Classic. “They are so long, so big. They can all move. They switch a lot of screens. Their big guys for the most part are agile and active. They have all the pieces to have a great team, obviously. We are going to have to be smart. We’re going to have to attack pressure. We’re going to have to do a lot of things. On the flip side, hopefully we’ll be sound enough we can create some problems for them, too.”

Lots of wins: Kentucky and KU rank 1-2 on the all-time wins list with 2,142 and 2,127, respectively. North Carolina is third with 2,116.

“There’s a lot of history in these two programs. It’s going to be a fun matchup,” Traylor said.

“Their program is so tradition-rich. It’s the blue bloods. Ours is right with them,” Self said. “They’ve got a big part of their program from the University of Kansas, obviously, with coach (Adolph) Rupp having played here for Dr. (Phog) Allen. It’ll be fun. There’s a lot of history there. I don’t think kids today think about that too much. I think they are just worried about playing guys they got to know on the AAU circuit and playing for pride as much as anything else.”

The lineup: Self said he would go with Selden, Traylor, Perry Ellis and Frank Mason III as starters Tuesday. The fifth spot is undecided. Brannen Greene started the regular-season opener with the other four, while Devonté Graham and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk started one exhibition game apiece.

Calipari after Sunday’s close game: “For us to be able to have a game like this, this was a big-time game for us. We needed this. We needed a team that could beat us on the dribble, that wasn’t afraid, that played physical, that had an inside presence. And this is it. I mean, now we go to Kansas. It’s the same thing. We probably need another hit in the mouth. See where we are. There are no excuses. Well, if I played more, I would really be bad. Really? There are no excuses. You either perform or you don’t.”


Rodney Crain 6 years, 7 months ago

Any team can be beat. Buffalo had a 5 point halftime lead... then lost by 19 to KY on Sunday. I think someone will beat them, why not us?

Make sure to watch the game cause if we beat them it will be a miracle, how often do you see one of those?

ps- being undefeated is a large heavy chain around your neck, ask Wichita State...

Lance Cheney 6 years, 7 months ago

"Make sure to watch the game cause if we beat them it will be a miracle..."

Wow, way to have faith in your team.

Allison Steen 6 years, 7 months ago

"Any team can be beat." "I think someone will beat them, why not us?" "If we beat them, it will be a miracle."


Joe Ross 6 years, 7 months ago

I dont get it either. When one's grammar is poor and they make no sense, how can he expect to be understood? Rodney, what's going on buddy?

Rodney Crain 6 years, 7 months ago

"methinks the lady doth protest too much"

Len Shaffer 6 years, 7 months ago

Actually, Rodney, it didn't make much sense to me either. Perhaps your English skills need some work.

Rodney Crain 6 years, 7 months ago

Let me try to help you and Joe, sigh... On paper we do not match up, there is no wayyyyy we should beat KY. They will play 35-40 teams this season, as they showed Sunday they can come out flat, or be disinterested. Someone will beat them I think, could be us, we play them we have a chance just like anyone else, its not a big chance but it is a chance.

You watch the end of the 2008 championship game? There is no way we should have tied that game. Every single thing had to go wrong for them and we had to be perfect. That happened, 999 times out of 1000 we lose that game, it was a miracle we tied it.

Who knows even though we shouldn't win, we could, but it would be a miracle, like the end of the 2008 NC game. Hope that helps you two.

Joe Joseph 6 years, 7 months ago

Considering Chalmers shot 47% from beyond the arc that year, I'd say your "999 times out of 1000" prediction is a tad off.

If we just consider Chalmers' percentage, that, alone, gives KU a 47% chance of tying the game.

Let's say that the degree of difficulty decreases his chance of making that particular shot by 10%. Now KU has a 37% chance of tying the game.

Let's now assume KU has a 50/50 chance of winning the game once it goes to overtime. (Not taking into considering momentum, etc)

If my understanding of math and statistics is on par, that would give KU approximately a 18.5% chance of winning the game. Which means KU loses that game only 815 out of 1000 times.

Which is a far cry from 999 out of 1000.

Rodney Crain 6 years, 7 months ago

Mercy...this is so much harder than this has to be... My post only talks about tying the game not winning the game. It was not as if Chalmers can make the shot, it is getting to the point where he gets a chance to make the shot to tie (I thought he could make it if he got the chance). All the things Memphis had to do, or not do, the missed free throws (they missed 3), the missed shots, our ability to hit every shot we needed (SC's 3 was off balance falling out of bounds, I think it was him), every single aspect of those last 2:09 that had to happen for Chalmers to even have a chance to tie it. If you factor everything in, our chance to win at 2:09 had to be less than 5%. Probably 1% or less. Think about it, like 7 or 8 things had to happen in order for us to score 9 points including running a long developing play within the last 9 seconds or so when the ball was touched on the in bounds. Do you remember Collins almost fumbling the pass to Chalmers? Dude that was a miracle finish. Self in his book said no one gave up to our credit, but there is no way we had a 18.5% chance to win at the 2:09 mark. Your math is off.
To tie the game, like we did was unrealistic. It was possible due to their poor free throw shooting but it was highly improbable.

It was not a far cry from 1 out of 1000, but it was no more than 5 out of a 1000.

btw Once it went to overtime, with their big guy out on fouls, we had a better than 50% chance to win after that.

Walter Bridges 6 years, 7 months ago

Although it is not the play most people remember but Collins stealing the inbound ball, passing it into Chalmers, stepping back behind the three point arc and knocking it down when Chalmers passed it back was the most improbable play of the game.

Chalmers three point shot to tie it up was the most exciting play of the game.

Rodney Crain 6 years, 7 months ago

So right, it was unreal to watch it happen. If I was in need of a lift I would rewatch those last few minutes for months after we won. Just amazing.

Len Shaffer 6 years, 7 months ago

Sorry, Rodney, I should have read on before posting. You make a lot more sense in this one.

Chayse Patrick 6 years, 7 months ago

Yep WSU was a good team but not a great team AND they played in a Missouri Valley league which is a far cry from the Big 12, Big Ten, ACC or the SEC!!!

Walter Bridges 6 years, 7 months ago

Doesn't seem too hard to understand your meaning although I don't think we need a miracle to win. If our starting five can play up to their potential and we stay out of foul trouble, I think we have a realistic chance. I wouldn't bet the house but this early in the season, anything can happen.

kellerman411 6 years, 7 months ago

I'm sorry but Brannen Greene can't start. Nothing against the kid, he just shouldn't. Quite frankly, he needs to work on dribbling, catching and passing.

Suzi Marshall 6 years, 7 months ago

Wouldn't hurt for him to work on boxing out on the boards.

Greene earned the end of the bench for not doing this. With KY being so good on the glass, my bet is Self is concerned about playing Greene much. Although, we do need his shooting.

Erich Hartmann 6 years, 7 months ago

Agreed. Brannen Greene came to KU to be a basketball player. He has NBA "size", and we think an "NBA" 3gun...but that's about it. Dribbling, rebounding, positioning, ball-protection, passing (there are many things a good basketball player needs to be able to do). If he has any swagger, why cant he turn it into a positive competetive fire that makes him better. I'd like to see more agility out of Greene as well. Come, on, Brannen--> sky's the limit! Do work!

Joe Baker 6 years, 7 months ago

I'd like to see more of Greene. I like his talent, shooting, size, and physical toughness. All the other issues can be worked out by Self. Don't forget that Self says Greene will play in the NBA.

Let's just say, I'd like to see him in the UK game a lot. I'd like Svi to have a breakout game too. We need Greene and Oubre to deliver in games like this against the UKs.

Rodney Crain 6 years, 7 months ago

Agree Jason. Greene seems out of control still. If he is the 5th best guy on our team, we are in trouble. Maybe Self is just trying to keep the nerves down with Svi, Cliff, and Moonlight Graham.

Suzi Marshall 6 years, 7 months ago

Every time Indiana's 45-0 record in 1975-76, it should be noted they were very lucky. Early in the year, in Allen Field House, Donnie von Moore missed an open 10' baseline jump shot, (he hit an identical shot a minute earlier) at the end of Triple OT to lose the game by a point. One of Owens best games in preparing the team.

With regards to KY, the Hawks match up very well, except possibly in the post. I like our guards on the Harrison's especially with Mykailiuk at the 2. Selden could provide a nightmare for Poythress at the 3. Ellis did great in the UCSB game and looked extremely "comfortable." It looks like the highly intelligent and talented Ellis has warmed to the idea of being a team leader by performance. This game provides a national stage for Ellis to show.

That leaves the 5 spot. We have two undersized guys (Traylor and Alexander) from The South Side of Chicago ... the toughest part of town. You don't pull on Superman's cape. When it comes to toughness and hitting guys in the month, I'll put my money on those guys. Playing in Indianapolis, which is just beyond the Chicagoland area, will surely draw a large Kansas supporting crowd of families, friends and Alums. Not to be forgotten is Lucas, who grew up in the land of The Samurai.

Kansas 65 - Kentucky 59.

Tyson Ailshie 6 years, 7 months ago

My concern is in the post as well. I like Traylor a lot, but think he will just be over matched. Their size will be the difference on both the boards and the score. I agree about the guards. Our greatest chance will be "cutting the head off" their team. Maybe if we do that well enough, we could pull out a win> BUT, we will have to shoot a helluva lot better than we did in game 1. I'm not really sure where this team is offensively, but it feels like we are going to struggle from the field at times this year. All of that being said, do you think HCBS goes with Mason and Graham in the back court starting line up with Selden at the 3?

Suzi Marshall 6 years, 7 months ago

My bet is Self will be looking to exploit matchups, which favors us at the 4 with Ellis. My opinion is Mykailiuk will be able to handle Harrison at the 2 with his size and defensive skills, which would open the 3 up for a favorable Selden match-up.

The 1 and 5 are my biggest concerns. Since we have 10 fouls (Mason and Graham) to use at the point, both guys should be very aggressive.

Rodney Crain 6 years, 7 months ago

I agree to go undefeated is very hard. Just some things to also consider; their talented depth, length and experience is going to be very hard to compete with. Their guards are tall and experienced, ours are not. Their wings are taller, deeper, experienced and play better defense (speaking solely about Perry Ellis regarding defense. He will get a lot of PT in this game). They are deeper at Center, and taller. Cliff and Traylor will be the toughest two players on the floor for either team, but if they get into foul trouble, a real possibility due to being shorter, they might be sitting more than they play. This will be KY's third game in 5 days so they will not be at their best though so we might have a chance. It will be our toughest game this season. We will need to play a great game to win, I just am not sure we can this early in the season. KY 82 KU 69

Mike Riches 6 years, 7 months ago

That's fair perspective on Indiana's undefeated team, but the fact that their perfect record includes a win in Allen Fieldhouse makes it that much more impressive.

Rodney Crain 6 years, 7 months ago

Yeah, where did 45 come from Larry? I think the most games played was 40 a season.

Walter Bridges 6 years, 7 months ago

Agree Suzi but I think luck plays a role in any team going undefeated. I think we will need Lucas to play big for us tomorrow night and we need our three point shots to start falling.

If we were to win tomorrow I think the score will be very similar to your pick. If we go on to lose then I think Rodney's score is more probable. Basically, the lower the total of points are favors us but a higher point total favors Kentucky.

Dave Coen 6 years, 7 months ago

I just checked the 1975-76 Indiana Hoosier schedule and they did not play K.U. that season.

Suzi Marshall 6 years, 7 months ago

I just looked it up. The KU-IU (70-74) was played in Lawrence on Dec. 10, in the '74-'75 season. IU still played May, Benson, Buckner, Abernethy but did not win the NC that year. Sorry about the mis- information.

Foster Coburn 6 years, 7 months ago

The laughable part about the idea of Kentucky going "45-0" is that it is impossible since they won't play 45 games. I haven't looked at their schedule to know the exact number but it is likely 40. Indiana's perfect season was 32-0.

Robert Brock 6 years, 7 months ago

Can the Hawks handle traps and perimeter pressure? Ulis will cause us some problems IMO.

Will KU make some threes? Might be a good time for Selden to wake up. Svi too.

Does Self take a chance and play Kelly (where am I?) Oubre? Man up, KO!

Obviously, this will test the Hawks inside. Can PE handle it?

I think Kansas struggles to score. UK 68. KU 55.

Erich Hartmann 6 years, 7 months ago

Oubre is, by all reports, on a steep freshman learning curve. He has some stunning intangibles and athleticism, but lets face the Fact: This is Bill Self's system-ball, which takes every single freshman time to master. We will see KOubre, but in limited fashion.

Walter Bridges 6 years, 7 months ago

I don't understand why Svi seems to be picking up coach Self's system faster than Kelly Oubre has especially when considering how much more time Oubre has had to learn it.

I really don't understand why Greene is still struggling so much. I think his potential is enormous but he needs to get some confidence and get his head in the game.

Erich Hartmann 6 years, 7 months ago

Traylor, Ellis, both 6'8. Hope this isnt a Stanford redux. Adding some attitude and swagger and a Cliff...should help our postgame. Kentucky > Stanford. (My whole point with this comment is curiosity about how Ellis + Traylor handle another taller team.) At least Ellis and Traylor have more help this season with BigCliff, BigLL, BigboreHunter, and a slew of 6'7 guys to gang-crash the boards (Svi, Greene, Oubre). Okay to send low-time inexperienced guys on a single-minded missions (rebounds or put-backs)...

We'll see how it plays out.

Golden Question: Do the young Jayhawks have "enough" Self-material installed to allow Self to 'outcoach' Calipari? Or will this turn into an AAU/McD-type game?

Erich Hartmann 6 years, 7 months ago

Can Graham (in his frosh crusade), Masonry, and Selden stop the HarrisonTwins? Evidently the Harrison Twins lost 20lbs apiece. Im not too worried about Selden, as 1 Wayne Selden is > 1 Harrison, but there's 2 Harrisons...

Erich Hartmann 6 years, 7 months ago

Self probably said the best reply about Larry Brown's comment: "thats just LB being LB". On the face of things, though, this has to be a proud moment for Larry Brown, to have 2 of his proteges (HCBS+HCJC), in a battle of top5 blue bloods. Count on Self to say the right things, of course. Calipari has said similar things, too, with the usual thinly veiled undertone of you-came-with-the-top-rank-now-produce!

To quote Bill Self: "should be a great game".


Erich Hartmann 6 years, 7 months ago

Self's pre-KY game speech tomorrow night in the locker room: "You came to K.a.n.s.a.s. to play in this level of game...but I didnt come to K.a.n.s.a.s. to coach an 'AAU/MickeyD highlight' game..." (lol)

Rodney Crain 6 years, 7 months ago

Some great posts Erich! It should be a great game.

Doug Cramer 6 years, 7 months ago

I really think KU has a shot to beat Kentucky tomorrow night.

John Fitzgerald 6 years, 7 months ago

I think I can confidently say that KU fans could give a rats bottom about UK going undefeated.

Aaron Paisley 6 years, 7 months ago

I do care because KU plays Kentucky this year and I don't want UK to go undefeated.

Mike Riches 6 years, 7 months ago

Win or lose, I trust Coach Self to turn this into a positive experience. I just hope we get to play Kentucky again this year, because that will probably mean we're playing in April...

Mike Riches 6 years, 7 months ago

If Graham keeps playing anything like he did on Friday, I don't see him coming off the bench for long. A lineup of Graham, Mason, Selden, Ellis and Alexander may be what Self settles into as we get into December. I would hope for a bigger lineup as we get into conference play (with KO or Svi starting at the 3) but it would be hard to bench Mason or Graham...

At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter who starts, it's who's on the floor at the end of the game that matters. And with this team, that could be a different set of guys every night...

Walter Bridges 6 years, 7 months ago

I think it will be either Graham or Mason starting with Selden being the other guard then either KO, Greene or Svi on the wing and Ellis and Alexander.

If both Graham and Mason start, I think height will become an issue.

Curtis Stutz 6 years, 7 months ago

KU couldn't keep UCSB off the offensive glass, UK is going to be so much more difficult. Sure they haven't looked dominant thus far, but they haven't played on a big stage where they care as much either. This could get ugly, hopefully the refs at least keep it clean and don't let them jump on our players' backs when they do get good box outs. Selden needs to go for it in this game. Maybe Ellis can use his quickness if he isn't being guarded by Poythress, but I think Selden needs to get going and force the action for KU to stay competitive.

Jim Stauffer 6 years, 7 months ago

Wayne Selden is the key to this year's team. Traylor, Ellis and all the others' performances will be predictable each night. Wayne is the question. He has to take over games and I have not yet seen that in him.

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