Wednesday, February 11, 2015


Column: KU playing with fire while shooting lights out

Kansas guard Brannen Greene (14) shoots a three-point basket against Texas Tech during the first half Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015 at United Supermarkets Arena.

Kansas guard Brannen Greene (14) shoots a three-point basket against Texas Tech during the first half Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015 at United Supermarkets Arena.


— Nobody has to tell this season’s Kansas University basketball team to make itself comfortable. It needs no help with that. Make a few threes, build a double-digit lead, and let it amount to the equivalent of a little something to take the edge off the moment.

Then the other team catches up, which is usually what happens when one team plays with a sense of urgency and the other does not.

Thanks to a terrific second half, Kansas got away with it Tuesday night and defeaatd ninth-place Texas Tech, 73-51, at United Supermarkets Arena, but not without a stretch of weak basketball in the first half that could have had a greater impact against a more competitive opponent.

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Bill Self assesses KU's poor 1st half, strong 2nd half at Texas Tech

Kansas basketball coach Bill Self speaks with media members following the Jayhawks' road win at Texas Tech.

Download podcast

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Brannen Greene on KU's blowout win at Tech

Kansas sophomore wing Brannen Greene answers questions from the media after Kansas blew out Texas Tech Tuesday night, at Lubbock, Texas.

Download podcast


Box score

Obviously, winning a Big 12 basketball game by such a wide margin requires doing many things well and Kansas certainly did. For one, the Jayhawks again drained three-pointers at a high rate of accuracy (55 percent). They also defended pretty well and moved the ball with great efficiency in the second half.

But first they had to get their too-cool-for-this-Texas-school chill period out of the way.

Three three-pointers into it, Kansas blazed to a 15-4 lead. Texas Tech stormed back to tie the score, 20-20, before Kansas took a 27-22 lead into the locker room on Wayne Selden’s third three of the half, just before the buzzer.

Kansas turned it over eight times in the first half and made just 5 of 14 two-point field goals. At that point, KU had 16 two-point field goals in its past 60 minutes of game clock, including both halves of the Oklahoma State loss.

The curtain came up for the second half and Kansas demonstrated ball movement that called to mind the 2008 national championship squad. The same team that struggled to score 27 points in the first half, even when shooting a decent 5 of 13 from long distance, rattled off 46 points, shot .727 from the field and made 6 of 7 three-pointers.

“Fools’ gold,” Kansas coach Bill Self again called relying on the three-point shot to win games. “You can’t bank on making 55 percent or 50 percent of your threes. You want to, but if that’s what you play to, then you’re not going to be able to hang your hat on that. You play a team that  takes away the threes and forces you to score inside, you’ll end up going home sad. That’s what happened Saturday. We had no low-post game.

“You can score it inside off the bounce. You can score off the pass. You can score it in transition or whatever, but you’ve got to be able to score points close to the basket. That’s the name of the game, in my opinion, is getting easy baskets and eliminating easy baskets. And we’re not doing near a good enough job of doing that inside.”

That’s a tough message to preach when the team so often does it and gets away with it.

But 20 minutes of game from Tuesday’s tape back up Self’s contention that the best path for this team to make the most of its potential lies with playing inside-out basketball.

“We had no low-post game at all the first half, but the second half we actually threw the ball inside, guys made some plays and we looked a lot better,” Self said. “You’ll shoot it better from behind the arc if you can play inside-out.”

For shooters as hot as Wayne Selden Jr., Frank Mason III and Brannen Greene, wide-open threes are easy shots, so the more of those that are created by forcing the defense to collapse inside, the better long-distance marksmen will shoot. That sort of balance makes Kansas a potentially dangerous team.

“I think there’s a lot of room for improvement. I don’t feel real comfortable with how things have gone lately,” Self said. “You guys might not agree, but when you rely on making shots, that can easily go the other way. We’ve got to rely on making people play poorly and rebounding, defending, ball-moving, things like that. I think we’re probably average at those things and we’re kind of relying a little too much on making shots right now.”

There was nothing average about the way Kansas did all those things in the second half, including making long-range shots, and the result was a second-half blowout.

More news and notes from Kansas at Texas Tech

By the Numbers: Kansas wins at Texas Tech, 73-51

By the Numbers: Kansas wins at Texas Tech, 73-51


Reggie Flenory 6 years, 11 months ago

what we really need right now is for cliff Alexander to get really comfortable scoring with his back to the basket and I mean to the tune of 10 to 15 points a game and at least 8 or 10 field goal attempts inside the Ark because with our outside shooting being so good all that we are missing is consistent scoring inside from him or Perry

Benjamin Clay Jones 6 years, 11 months ago

Reggie, wouldn't it be kind of dark inside the Ark since it had no windows?

Rodney Crain 6 years, 11 months ago

But our TWO point percentage might rise with so many pairings...

Walter Bridges 6 years, 11 months ago

Are you sure there were no windows? Smell would have been horrible...

Walter Bridges 6 years, 11 months ago

I hear you about voice text but not much choice for me.

Mike Barnhart 6 years, 11 months ago

Perry's gonna' get shots at the rim...and make about half of them! So, our post-season success really hinges on one man - Cliff Alexander! That just might work!

Arthur Ankeney 6 years, 11 months ago

I would say it hinges more on Mason, Seldon, and Oubre getting to the rim (in transition or in the half court) and finishing (be it themselves or dropping the ball off to big men for layups/dunks).

Mike Riches 6 years, 11 months ago

Could not agree more with this article. Playing this way can lead to a good over-all season, even another conference championship, but it's scary going into a single-elimination tournament relying so heavily on outside shooting. Cliff has the potential to be a great post scorer, but we'll probably see more of that his sophomore year. Landen has improved down low and had a couple good baskets last night. I'm sure those kinds of baskets are exactly what Self is looking for. Nice to have so many options!

Walter Bridges 6 years, 11 months ago

I would like to see a stronger push for transition points. I believe our team is much more athletic than Iowa State and we can go 9 deep.

Mike Riches 6 years, 11 months ago

Totally agree Walter. I felt the same last year. This is a very athletic squad. It does seem like Mason always takes his time bringing the ball up...don't know if that's the way he likes it, or if that's coaching...

Jerry Collins 6 years, 11 months ago

I wish we would quit looking at the "3''s" as a bad thing. I've been following KU basketball since 1957 and this is the first time I've seen any of our coaches allow a player to put up a 3 and not immediately pull him if he missed. Because of this Wayne has been able to shoot and gain confidence from beyond the arc. We have 5-6 players that can hurt the opponent with the outside shot and as this continues it will open up the lane and the inside. I've seen too many times during post-season we have been down near the end of the game and the other team just collapses because they know we will only try to force the ball inside. Not this year. It's a valuable asset to have this ability. Keep taking advantage of it.

Reggie Flenory 6 years, 11 months ago

I totally agree and at least we have an identity at this point

Steve Zimmerman 6 years, 11 months ago

BAM! BAM! BAM! bullseye hit.. 4 thumbs up!

Aaron Paisley 6 years, 11 months ago

Here's how that plays out in the tournament though. KU ends up having a bad shooting night from outside (it will happen at some point over a 6 game span), the opposing coach realizes KU is having an off night and switches to a 2-3 zone and keeps KU from interior scoring. KU is out of the tournament. This is why Duke struggled so much in the late 2000's, those teams were built around perimeter shooting and struggled with scoring in the paint.

KU absolutely needs to be an inside out team to go deep. This doesn't mean necessarily that the post players have to step up their scoring, though that would be much more ideal. It just means that KU needs scoring from the paint whether that comes from Mason and Oubre getting lay ups or Ellis and Alexander scoring from the interior. You get penetration into the paint, you end up with open shooter on the perimeter.

Bill Self never said he's opposed to the outside shooting being the primary threat, he doesn't like it being the only threat which was the case against OSU and the first half against Tech. Bill Self just wants inside scoring to be a big enough that KU can get baskets to set up the 3 and to having reliable scoring when the 3 isn't falling.

Walter Bridges 6 years, 11 months ago

Look how well Davidson did with Stephen Curry. We have several shooters w/range and an inside presence.

If the long ball gives us the best chance to win then embrace it.

Ashwin Rao 6 years, 11 months ago

Unfortunately none of ours is Stephen Curry...

Jonathan Allison 6 years, 11 months ago

They were out in the first round in 2007, made the elite 8 in 2008 and missed the tourney in 2009.

Jonathan Allison 6 years, 11 months ago

interesting though that had Steph played a senior season, and matched his Jr year production, he would have been within ~60 points of the NCAA all-time career scoring record held by Pete Maravich (he also would have played in about 60 games more than Maravich did and made about 550 more three pointers than Pistol Pete).

Joe Joseph 6 years, 11 months ago

One of the biggest problems with this team is that none of its low-post players are particularly good at passing out of the post and, especially, passing out of the double team.

Benz Junque 6 years, 11 months ago

"You play a team that takes away the threes and forces you to score inside, you’ll end up going home sad. That’s what happened Saturday. We had no low-post game."

No Bill. What happened Saturday was the team was careless with the ball and played with no fire. And sorry, but Ellis simply doesn't have the mentality or the game to win the game on the post. Too often, the KU post players do not fight to win the battle for position down low and KU is left with no other option but to shoot a three. The KU perimeter players are good enough shooters and have the confidence that they can knock shots down if it comes to that and it too often comes to that.

The answer isn't simply too shoot less threes. Why they aren't running plays to get Brannen Greene six threes a game is beyond my comprehension right now. The answer is to win more battles in the post so that you don't HAVE to shoot as many threes. I have watched a number of elite KU bigs over the year that would win their battles before they ever got the ball so that once they received the ball a basket was basically guaranteed. I rarely see that this year from any KU big.

Cameron Cederlind 6 years, 11 months ago

This article is backwards. The reason Cliff started making shots inside is because we were shooting well from 3, not the other way around. We have no size inside and we saw how the early double team worked against our big men. Once we started hitting 3's, they were drawn outside, leaving Cliff and Perry 1-on-1 with their man. The biggest concern I saw the entire night was a complete lack of driving the ball inside. Guys like Oubre and Selden should be looking first to drive the lane and draw fouls to create offense and they're settling for shooting 3 pointers first.

Steve Zimmerman 6 years, 11 months ago

Good observation, CC. Couldn't agree more with you..

Shannon Gustafson 6 years, 11 months ago

No way would I ever suggest Selden should be driving rather than shooting 3's. He's horrible at making 2's (even layups) since he's in the 28% range on 2's but he's shooting north of 40% from 3 (and over 50% the last 5 games) so it make NO sense to suggest he should be looking to drive to the basket first.

Robert Brock 6 years, 11 months ago

Nice soft game. Can't get it inside? Meh. Just jack up something. Easy money.

David Robinett 6 years, 11 months ago

At times we had zero ability to score inside. Is it just me or does anyone else think that putting Lucas and Mickelson in at the same time would result in more height and rim protection? I think Mickelson is better than Lucas offensively and he has done a decent job protecting the rim when he's had his few minutes.

Don Papst 6 years, 11 months ago

I am with you on Hunter getting more PT. The only problem with playing both he and Lucas together is we then do not have much of a scoring threat inside. I have not seen either of them show they can hit from 10-12 feet very well at all. Most of their points come from right at the rim, and not nearly enough. I would like to see Hunter get some time with Perry or Cliff to see what happens.

Clarence Haynes 6 years, 11 months ago

This UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS (I have a disdain for the way Kansas University has been used in recent articles) team is just plain different! We just don't have the inside game that we are accustomed to and this this UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS team has reverted to perimeter shooting which for the most part have been threes! I think that this UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS team has not tried as much higher percentage perimeter shooting including floaters, inside the three line. Instead, if not shooting for threes this UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS team it tries for shots under the rim and opponents from Kentucky on have been prepared to defend against KU inside men. Those inside perimeter shots might loosen up the defense and allow us to more readily hit those "bunnies" at a higher rate. My sense is that our offense is evolving but this UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS has to speed up this process if it is to be a contender in March.

Walter Bridges 6 years, 11 months ago

This battle has already been can see the results.

Clarence Haynes 6 years, 11 months ago

I know. It is as if someone would pronounce Marquette University as Markwette.

Joe Ross 6 years, 11 months ago

"KU" is here to stay. Firstly, it's not a big deal to >99% of fans. Secondly, anything we can do to distinguish ourselves from UK is worth it.

Toe-may-toe, toe-mah-toe.

Clarence Haynes 6 years, 11 months ago

My last remark on this, saying/writing KU is way different from saying/writing Kansas University.

Tom Richmond 6 years, 11 months ago

Tech players lost last night's game because of their, "fat little girlfriends". Thanks Mike, a classic.

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