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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Keegan

Column: Jayhawks’ problems not too difficult to explain

The Jayhawk starters come together before tipoff on Monday, Feb. 23, 2015 at Bramlage Coliseum.

The Jayhawk starters come together before tipoff on Monday, Feb. 23, 2015 at Bramlage Coliseum.

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The tendency when it comes to basketball, more than most sports it seems, is to search for psychological reasons for a player’s slump, an underdog’s upset, even a team leading a race and falling back to the pack.

Sometimes the answer does not dance in the mysterious realm of intangibles. Sometimes it’s standing right there in the center of the room.

Has it ever occurred to anybody that maybe, just maybe, this Kansas University basketball team doesn’t have enough talent to win the Big 12 title?

By that I don’t mean talented potential. I mean players good enough to compete well in the Big 12 right now.

KU doesn’t have a defender equipped to keep quick point guards, of which there are so many in the Big 12, from getting to the paint. And those quick guards don’t hesitate heading there because unlike in most years, a shot-blocker isn’t standing there waiting for them.

Even a non-shot blocker in the mold of Sasha Kaun, leaning on guys, defending them before they catch the ball, would change this team in such a big way. Kansas doesn’t have that player and Cliff Alexander doesn’t appear nearly developed enough to become that guy any time soon.

Might a lineup with Perry Ellis at center, Frank Mason at point and wings Brannen Greene, Kelly Oubre and Wayne Selden be the the way to go against some lineups? The mere fact that I can ask that question without in any way joking shows how much KU lacks at the post position opposite Ellis, even more so offensively than defensively.

Alexander, Landen Lucas and Jamari Traylor all have had moments that contributed to victories, but they all have limitations. In Monday night’s 70-63 loss to Kansas State, that trio played a combined 42 minutes and totaled three points, four rebounds, no assists, one turnover, no blocked shots and seven personal fouls. In other words, the same number of fouls as points, rebounds and assists combined.

A point guard, three wings and Ellis would pack a better scoring punch, maybe even rebound better, but it also presents opponents with an obvious strategy: Pound it inside and draw the Jayhawks into serious foul trouble.

No easy answers present themselves for a Kansas team that doesn’t have as much starting-five talent as Oklahoma and doesn’t quite measure up to Iowa State’s depth and experience.

One game ahead of Oklahoma and West Virginia and a half-game ahead of Iowa State, KU has a tough road ahead because those are the only roads in the every-bit-as-powerful-as-advertised Big 12.

Comments

Tyler Capone 3 years, 11 months ago

Great article, pretty much sums up this team. No guards can defend well, and no "bigs" can protect the rim well leading to easy points.

Dirk Medema 3 years, 11 months ago

I'd agree with you up to the last bit of optimism. I'm not optimistic about our chances in Norman against a team closing out their home court with a chance to tie us. Odds are m most definitely in favor of ISU at this point.

Aaron Paisley 3 years, 11 months ago

If OU is playing for a share of the title when we go there, that likely means they beat Iowa State in Ames and it would likely be for a 3 way tie for the league title.

John Pritchett 3 years, 11 months ago

I think that'll be the turning point for this team. If they seize the Big 12 title in that game, which, as you say, will be a difficult test, then I like their chances in the NCAA tournament. If they go out with a whimper and accept the first second-place conference finish in more than a decade, I don't expect much.

I'm hopeful. I've seen what this team can do when it all comes together. It's not a typical Bill Self team, but they are a good team.

Walter Bridges 3 years, 11 months ago

"Ironically, the idiocy of the kitty-cats will help galvanize the resolve of our young team, we will win-out and we'll be champs again."

I think I heard that after Iowa State, Oklahoma State, West Virginia and now Kansas State. Maybe making some actual changes will be more successful.

Joe Ross 3 years, 11 months ago

If this article had been written two days ago, I would have agreed about the weaknesses of the team but chosen Kansas to win the Big 12. Now Im not so sure. The fire seems extinguished. The effort is gone. I was just thinking about this today. How does a team who has everything to play for in the conference race go to Manhattan--losers of 6 of 7--and lose a game they had in control? I hate to reverse course on a prediction made as recently as three days ago, but Kansas wont sniff the second weekend of the NCAA tournament playing like this, and they are certainly vulnerable to having their conference streak come to an unceremonious halt. But I dont think its for lack of guys wanting to. They just dont seem to have the stuff. You cant MAKE Jamari Traylor a Darnell Jackson or a Frank Mason Sherron Collins. They are who they are. Ive never in all my life seen a Jayhawk team with holes in so many areas. Defensively, offensively...inside, outside...it doesnt matter. We are sinking. Im not trying to be a dark cloud but at this point the most exciting thing on the horizon for me regarding this basketball team is not the conference race or the NCAA tournament (I dont think Ive ever said that at this point in the season); rather, I am most interested in seeing which recruits we might bring in to fill these holes.

Steve Corder 3 years, 11 months ago

Hard not to agree with Joe. Something more than talent is going on with this team. This edition of beloved Jayhawks is regressing, a most perplexing thing to watch given examples of Bill Self teams of the past. The conference race issue is dead.

Tom Jones 3 years, 11 months ago

Can't share your pessimism.

If someone had told me we'd have a comfortable lead going into the last two weeks, I'd have said they were probably nuts. We're exactly where I thought we'd be...losing tough road games in the final minute and in a dogfight for #11.

Sure, we have holes, but we knew this. Our hole inside is bigger because Cliff has struggled so mightily, but it will be nice going into the tourney being a hunter instead of the hunted. I expect them to have a chip on their shoulder and surprise some folks.

Will I be shocked if we bow out in our second game? Depends on the matchup, but...probably.

Will I be shocked if we don't win three? Nope. That's where we'll likely be seeded...just depends, again, on matchups.

Oh, and shooting (the real reason we lost to KSU...not attitude (IMHO)).

Tom Jones 3 years, 11 months ago

Sorry, my second sentence was supposed to include "before the season".

Dirk Medema 3 years, 11 months ago

KU will always be hunted.

It would take a multiple decades of irrelevance to change that. Not making it to #11 won't change that.

Tom Jones 3 years, 11 months ago

True, but there is always extra pressure with being the one seed. And KU has a worse record than just about anyone as a one seed.

Dirk Medema 3 years, 11 months ago

Jamari can make himself the latest iteration of developed big man. Darnell didn't come in with some sort of fabulous expectations. He just consistently gave the effort to develop himself into a consistent contributor. Even when he was forced to sit out the 9 or 10 games, he invested the time to improve his FT by 20%. It might have helped that he had other, more talented, multiple bigs contributing around him, but there is nothing that tells me Jamari does have the talent to play like Darnell.

It wouldn't be the first time that the master has gotten into the heads of his players and motivated them to play with the intensity that they didn't think they could produce. There is another level of intensity that this team has not reached. It most glaringly shows itself on D and the boards. Those areas are so much about intensity, and so much less about talent.

Benz Junque 3 years, 11 months ago

"Playing like this" the last week of February does not guarantee that KU will play like that in the tourney. Could they lose their first game? Sure, anything is possible. Could they make a run to the Final Four? Sure, anything is possible.

Joe Ross 3 years, 11 months ago

Among the possibilities, what is most probable in your estimation?

Walter Bridges 3 years, 11 months ago

"they are who they are"

Careful Joe or I might start thinking you are channeling Dennis Green.

In all seriousness though, you are obviously correct in that Jamari Traylor will never be Darnell Jackson but let's not forget that Traylor has his own set of skills that until recently were making positive contributions. For some reason, Bill Self is not getting the best from his players. No blame, just stating facts.

Recently you had written what I thought was a really good analysis of our chances of winning #11 but there's no way to predict a team stumbling to finish games and losing to a very mediocre Kansas State. Clearly, Iowa State is in the driver seat for the conference championship and maybe the favorite for winning the postseason for the second straight year.

If Coach Self can once again (and I believe he is the best at doing it) get the maximum positive production from his players then I'm not ready to write this year off just yet. Maybe a lineup change or using a zone for short periods or anything that will get his players focus back where it belongs.

Dale Koch 3 years, 11 months ago

he tried a box and 1 against KSU and it didn't work.

Dirk Medema 3 years, 11 months ago

But that was a rather silly D considering the opposition. They don't have 1 player that is so fabulous that have to design a D around him (Box & 1, or Triangle 2 if there are 2 players). And no, Nigel going for 20 does not warrant it. He just needed to be guarded period vs. leaving him alone to shoot uncontested 3's and send his confidence through the roof.

Micky Baker 3 years, 11 months ago

Well, Frank Mason is better than Sherron Collins in just about every statistical category comparing both of them as sophomores.

And by the way... Darnell Jackson wasn't really a force until he was a senior and that was with Arthur, Kahn, Aldrich, and company.

And Iowa State lost to Baylor.

Michael Sillman 3 years, 11 months ago

If we accept the premise that our guards can't cut off the quick silvers of the Big 12 and we don't have a rim protector inside, then isn't it logical to throw a 2-3 zone on the court as a change of pace to clog the driving lanes.

I know that Self hates zone defense but isn't it a coach's job to find a way to cover up for his player shortcomings?

On the offensive end the strength of this group is 3 point shooting. How about changing the role of the unproductive bigs to setting screens for the 3 point shooters so we can get off more open long range bombs.

West Virginia got off 25 more shots than the Jayhawks in that road lose. Let's try the Billy Tubbs 50 shots a half strategy.

Cedric Spire 3 years, 11 months ago

Amen brother Self should adjust to the players abilities!!! Zone may be required. If Self zones the last play against WVU we still have a 1 game lead. It's not that we don't have talent as good as the other teams!!! We are still tied for the lead in the conference. If Self doesn't always put his tail between his legs when we play at OSU maybe we have a 2 game lead.

Agree on the offensive end we should go small with Ellis the one big with Oubre, Greene, Graham, Mason, and Selden when he is playing well. Villanova and ISU good examples of teams that play with 4 smalls/mediums.

Benz Junque 3 years, 11 months ago

STOP! This is so dumb. How did Kansas beat Utah and Iowa State and Oklahoma and Texas and Michigan State and Georgetown? They played hard and smart and executed their game plan. We aren't suddenly some short handed team that needs to start throwing a bunch of new stuff out there the last two weeks of the season. If Kansas was playing as hard as possible and still couldn't get a win then yes. But that isn't the case.

KU simply needs to get back to playing aggressive and moving both the ball and themselves on offense and get back to playing sharp, aggressive defense. They are playing too careful.

Cody Riedy 3 years, 11 months ago

Shoot more 3's isn't an offense. A simple on-ball screen outside the three-point arc isn't going to create a bunch of open threes. Defenders will just switch and hedge. On-ball screens are only going to result in more threes if the player with the ball and the player screening can both shoot threes. So are we going to play small ball? Ok, well only Graham and Mason have shown themselves to be good ball-handlers. Selden is ok. Oubre is ok, but a little awkward. Greene has a poor handle. So you put all these guys in and have a bunch of weaving or screening up high with all your guards, because not enough of them can handle the ball, the opposing defense will just press them and end up pushing our offense to being ran 30 feet from the basket. And in any case, since as everyone has pointed out, our man to man defense is terrible, the small lineup would be half fouled out in ten minutes. Go zone? I think fans mistakenly assume that playing an effective zone is easier. Effective zones require a lot of hustle by perimeter players as the zone shifts (creating fatigue which is going to hurt outside shooting), good communication and court awareness (not strengths of this team) and good rebounding (not a strength of this team). The best way for this team to create open three's is to run Self's offense - move the defense by moving the ball side to side, inside to out. Also, again, getting inside doesn't mean just passing to the post, it can mean dribble penetration. And besides all that, Perry is by far our most consistent scorer, I'd rather him take 20 shots from within 4 feet than Oubre, Selden, Greene, Mason, and Graham, jack up guarded threes all night and hope they are hot.

Aaron Paisley 3 years, 11 months ago

I agree with Self needing to implement some kind of zone. This team has players with long arms that can run an effective zone. I agree with shooting more 3's but your way of doing it isn't the way to go about it. KU still has to play inside out to be successful. Perry Ellis is a good enough player to draw double teams. That means a perimeter shooter will be open. That's how you get Selden and Greene their looks. And if Ellis is making shots like he was against TCU and the first 30 minutes against KSU, you keep pounding the ball inside. That's how you play through your best offensive player who is Perry Ellis and if the rest of the team did that consistently, the offense would be sso much better this year.

Also, WVU got off so many more shots than KU because they got over 50% of their misses and their second chance points are the single biggest reason why they won.

Aaron Paisley 3 years, 11 months ago

Yes Brett, a zone defense. Good teams use zone defense. Duke this year has used a lot of 2-3 zone. Baylor has had a couple of deep tournament runs running primarily zone defense. KU can't guard man to man and has the length to run a decent zone. Doing the same thing over and over an expecting a different result is insanity and KU's has been very ineffective this year so why keep doing something that clearly isn't working or getting better?

Dale Koch 3 years, 11 months ago

he tried a box and 1 against KSU. Weber laughed at it and it didn't work

Dirk Medema 3 years, 11 months ago

He laughed because it was a zone that in no way fit the situation, but that and a triangle 2 are the zones that Coach practices for very specific situations (Memphis with Rose & CDR for a bit in 2008).

Coach was grasping in desperation at that point, because the players apparently haven't heard that great D requires great effort. Greater than they ever realized they could exert.

Elden Davis 3 years, 11 months ago

Agree with Michael. Occasional zone and play to the strength of this particular team, i.e. three point shooting. The ball still has to find the paint but not with the same purpose of prior years. Also, if Selden handles the ball on a fast break, he has to get under control. His effort is superb but it exceeds his ball handling skills. We can't waste numbers on a break. Those possessions have to result in points.

Jerry Collins 3 years, 11 months ago

I believe Coach Self has abandoned the 3 point game. He just can't help himself. Even though we were having success and becoming one of the best in the nation at it he couldn't stand that we were not getting enough inside points. I think he has went back to his habit of taking any player out if they miss one. That is the only explanation for players passing up open shots from outside the arc (even Greene) during the K-State game. I'm not saying this will make up for our lack of defense and rebounding, but we were being pretty successful when the team was allowed to take open shots. Coach Self reverting back to "The only way to win is to force the ball inside" thinking is the only explanation for the awful shot attempts from 3 that did not come close to going in. Pressure from the bench to not miss will do that. Coach Self knows more about coaching in his hangnail than I do, but if I'm an opposing coach I am going to double Perry every time the ball goes inside because he is our only inside scoring threat. Let 'em shoot coach.

Paul Christiansen 3 years, 11 months ago

Lets face it. As scary as this may seem, some of the other teams in this league (most notably Iowa State) are recruiting players that are really capable of making big shots in this league. Also Staten (WVU) don't forget killed us. We don't exhibit good offensive shot selection late in games and are killing ourselves with empty possessions. It's still a team effort regardless of the talent but we need more and better shots on goal late in the game. And the ability to run plays.

Joe Joseph 3 years, 11 months ago

I apparently woke up on the right side of bed this morning and have decided to take a different stance regarding Monday's loss at K-State.

K-State simply played very well by its own standards (which included an individual career-high performance from Nigel "I average 4-points-per-game" Johnson) and KU simply had a poor game by its standards. KU wins that game if it merely plays average.

Think about that. That was K-State playing one of its best games of the season (or, at least, one of its best halves of the season) and all KU had to do to win that game was play average. Average.

KU had not shot that poorly from deep the entire season (15.4%). Not even against Kentucky, when KU still managed to shoot 20% from behind the 3-point line. If KU shoots its season average from 3 (40%), KU wins.

Teams are due to have poor shooting nights. I believe this loss can be chalked up simply as a result of that - a poor shooting night. While the concerns about KU's front court and defense are legitimate, Kansas still wins this game if it simply has an average offensive performance.

Dirk Medema 3 years, 11 months ago

Nigel doesn't score 20 because we had a poor shooting night. That was a lack of D (effort), which quite frankly was probably a bit of the issue on O as well, when KSU D effort took us out of what we wanted to do. There are levels of effort in competition, and this team for the most part has not figured out what that next elite level of effort is. Level of effort is most often exhibited on D and R's - which just happens to be the consistent shortcoming of this team, though we did win the R's this time. Some of that could be them shooting good and us shooting bad (# of Opps).

Joe Joseph 3 years, 11 months ago

Nigel scored 20 because he had the game of his life. You realize that Nigel "I-scored-20-only-because-KU-didn't-guard-very-well" Johnson had made a total of THREE three-pointers in his previous TEN games. In fact, those 3 three-pointers came during ONE game. He was a combined 3-13 his past 10 games and was shooting a shade over 30% for the entire season.

Nigel Johnson completely bailed K-State out on Monday. He had a career game and deserves props for that. Kansas surely did not do a great job guarding him. But the fact of the matter is this: KU shouldn't have needed to guard him because he's not any good.

Look, I get what you're saying. KU's defense was far from being on point Monday. Bill Self prides himself in his teams finding ways to win when they don't play well offensively. KU definitely didn't do that.

But it's still about averages. Everybody and every team is entitled to have off nights. I'm choosing to chalk this up as simply an off night, which unfortunately came at the same time of Nigel Johnson having a career night.

Micky Baker 3 years, 11 months ago

Dirk, I don't agree with that. He threw shots up from 26 or 27 feet(that's not their offense). He just threw it up. They went down. It wasn't because we didn't play good defense. He had a better shooting night than he will ever have again.

Dirk Medema 3 years, 11 months ago

I don't recall the shots from 26 or 27 feet, but I do recall the shot in the 1st half (I believe he had already made a couple) that he took from right in front of the KU bench, - 1 foot beyond the arc. He stood there holding the ball waiting for a defender. Self stood just beyond him wildly waving for the defender to close out on him. Nothing. Uncontested shot with predictable results.

You can disagree with it if you'd like, but at least part of it is historical fact, though you are probably right about some of it as well.

Micky Baker 3 years, 11 months ago

There were a couple from the top of the arc, and the kid averaged 4 pts per game going in. He isn't really that good of a shooter. Sometimes a guy has a good game though. It happens with guys on our team as they develop too.

Michael Lorraine 3 years, 11 months ago

If we were to win the conference in a year where we are so beatable, what does that say about our conference.

Doug Cramer 3 years, 11 months ago

How resilient will this team ?

Will this team build from this adversity ?

Handle adversity + resiliency + talent = fireworks in March and April

Just wait, this team will bring some serious excitement in the post season.

Believe in Self...Believe in Self. There isn't a single team, including Kentucky, that this team can not beat on any given night.

ROCK CHALK JAYHAWK !!!

Dirk Medema 3 years, 11 months ago

Where's the dam sarcasm font when you need it.

Roger Hoff 3 years, 11 months ago

Wow.. Based on the comments here I change my mind on the intelligence of Jayhawk Basketball fans. The team sucks, the coach can't coach.. maybe next year etc... I think Coach Self said early in the season that the team who wins the Big 12 could have five losses in conference play. What did all you naysayers think was going to happen this year? The over the top expectations for this team are what causes people all this anxiety after a hard loss. I am no KU basketball expert by any means, but I did watch Danny Manning play as a freshman when I was a student so I have been watching for many years. These are very young players who are tremendous atheletes and play under tremendous pressure. How many kids have to go play a game with people standing on the sidelines with signs saying "I hate you?" Even if they don't win the Big 12 so what! Ten in a row isn't good enough? People continuously write here that the kids aren't good enough, or not focused enough, or tough enough..whatever. I guess they aren't good or tough enough fans to deal with losing a few games. I hate losing as much as anyone, but quit throwing these kids under the bus because you can't deal with a tough season.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 3 years, 11 months ago

Wow!! There is a lot of comment here. Interesting.

But the only thing I see is that when the team is winning, everyone is a hero. When they lose a game or two on the road, the panic sets in.

As a disinterested observer I watch the games plus others for the entertainment, not too much for the one-upmanship stuff.

So what is wrong? Well as I see it , not much. Other teams have their problems, and difficulties, but it always seems when KU starts to lose a game or two to other very good and talented teams (as most in the Big 12 are) it is time to call out the marines and hire a lawyer. Not too intelligent, I think.

You win a few, you lose a few. A few might get rained out (but this is an indoor sport)

You might consider in your wringing your hands and knashing of teeth that other teams might just be as good as KU and that there really isn't much wrong to find with the home team. These are kids a year out of high school and really, we need to consider that before starting to pick them apart. I am sure that the NBA will do a lot of evaluation to their requirements. Give it a rest and support the kids.

Rodney Atkinson 3 years, 11 months ago

Roger, well said. I'm no expert either and have been watching and going for a very long time.

When I arose this morning and went outside, I did not notice the "sky was falling".

Are we spoiled? Hell yes!

What other fan base would trade for our position?

I am a FAN, I support this team, win lose or draw. These are very young men, playing for a BLUE BLOOD program. They didn't just get off the bus from the summer league, pick up game at the park.

It's tough to take a defeat. How do you all think these kids feel? Jesus lighten up.

'

Walter Bridges 3 years, 11 months ago

I was wondering about all the blue spilt on the court in the closing minutes..

Thanks for helping me clear that up.

John Pritchett 3 years, 11 months ago

Let me throw logic at your premise. If this team lacks the talent to compete and even win the Big 12 this year, then why have they been comfortably in the lead of the Big 12 for most of the conference season while playing up to their ability, then struggle for a few games and drop back to a TIE? What, we've been winning on luck and our luck finally ran out?

It's a slump. Get some perspective. We have a slump every season.

John Pritchett 3 years, 11 months ago

Oh, I'd also like to offer a counter-explanation for this slump, one that I mentioned in another post. Coach Self is going through a correction period with the team, trying to focus more on interior play and less on perimeter. This team was scoring a higher percentage of shots from the outside than inside, and that's not what Coach Self wants out of a team. In recent games, the team has relied more on Ellis, and he's performed very well. But Selden, Green and Mason have seemed disoriented. They're adjusting. Teams play best when they're playing on instinct. These guys are thinking too much right now. Hopefully there's time for them to get back to a rhythm and just play.

Joe Joseph 3 years, 11 months ago

Self has been trying to stress interior play the entire season. I don't think this is a new thing.

Rather, I think Perry's resurgence has been the result of a combination of things. Perry has had a restoration of confidence and Bill Self has allowed Perry more freedom to play face-up to the basket and has stopped trying to force him to be a post player (which he's not).

Dirk Medema 3 years, 11 months ago

Agreeing with Joe, but even Perry playing with more freedom away from being/attempting to be a low post anchor is a fairly new concept that they still seem to be adjusting to. And the remaining post players are lost in the process. Jamari had been in that role to some extent for a while. Perry and the others as perimeter plays need the 5th player/big to be a threat, and as mentioned above that hasn't been happening. Without the 5th player being a threat from some where on the floor, there is so much less forced help that an O exploits to create good looks. It's the reason (along with extra effort) KSU could stick with and keep our perimeter players from having the open looks we have exploited to ridiculous 3pt%.

John Pritchett 3 years, 11 months ago

I'm definitely not saying that Coach Self hasn't been pushing for more interior play all season. I am saying that lately we've really cut down on perimeter attempts and are forcing it down low more, and we're struggling with that. If we can get both inside and outside play going smoothly, it'll have been worthwhile.

I think a lot of slumps happen when coach makes a correction during a season. But he knows what he's doing.

My main point is just that it's not necessarily a lack of effort, heart or skill, and I stand by that point.

Dirk Medema 3 years, 11 months ago

Coach has talked all year about the need for this team to play with great energy (effort?). It shows up on D, like when mediocre teams shoot almost 50%, and it shows up in rebounds, like when mediocre rebounding teams own the boards. That is effort/energy, and was part of the problem Monday night.

Definitely agree with you about heart and skill.

Walter Bridges 3 years, 11 months ago

Yup, we do have a slump every season but this is a particularly bad time for it. Going into March Madness and beyond is when we should start peaking as Iowa State is currently doing.

I would really like to get past the first weekend of the NCAA this year.

John Pritchett 3 years, 11 months ago

I can remember at least one season where we were down in the conference title standings at this point and had to get help from another team to finish with a tie. But obviously I'm talking about winning the conference as my definition of success this season. Sure, I'd like to see them get deep into the NCAA, but I'm certainly not expecting a title out of this team.

Aaron Paisley 3 years, 11 months ago

Quite frankly, the single biggest issue with this team is lack of leadership. There is no player taking over the huddle in late game situations, there is no player barking out orders with authority, only the PG calling out the set. We haven't heard about a players only meeting in awhile which is also a concern giving the state of the team right nkw. I could be wrabout the players only meeting, but Keegan or Tait usually have an article that mentions there being one.

Lack of leadership was an issue last year as well so this isn't a new issue this year. Tyshawn Taylor was a leader, Thomas Robinson was a leader, Sherron Collins was a leader, Russell Robinson was a leader, Wayne Simien was a leader. KU has not had a leader the past two seasons and likely won't have one at least next year either. The biggest thing that came out of Boot Camp was that KU did not have a natural leader. A natural leader is the biggest recruiting need KU has with their 2 scholarships right now.

Jack Dodd 3 years, 11 months ago

Completely agree, hard to watch game in and game out, I tell myself the hawks will play with intensity and energy this game but the same result every time, sloppy turnovers, empty possessions, terrible defense. The past 2 years have been tough to watch. This team needs Manning back as an assistant coach, to develop Cliff and everyone. Lucas can't do s--t Mari is a turnover machine. This team looks the same as in November to be honest. Not a lot of growth. I try to be positive but it's really hard with this team.

Dirk Medema 3 years, 11 months ago

The leadership that is there is laid back. The other players need the leader to show the intensity to motivate them to give the extra, next level effort. It isn't nearly as important that Perry be excited for Perry, etc., but that he SHOW the intensity to lead the others to the greater intensity/effort they need. Tyson had a little of this, more than Mason, but Thomas' effort was the motivation that got the others exerting more than they thought possible. It led to Thomas dominating with pets and R's, but also pulled everyone else along in the process. Perry does seem to be getting this more, but as a team we still have miles to go.

Who can be the most intense player? Frank could stand to learn from Perry's increased intensity, but it has also been a while since we've seen Wayne chase a ball into the stands. We've been decent at diving after lose balls, but there is still another level of effort needed.

Sam Walters 3 years, 11 months ago

The sky is not falling. This is the same team we've been watching all year. The kitty cats were motivated and the crowd was jacked. Does this team have weaknesses, glaring ones at that? Yes, but we have one of the best coaches in the country and the potential to hit buckets from three like no KU team I can remember, so we'll be fine. The potential for a final four run is still there. Like Aaron Rodgers said, relax.

Yolanda Gay 3 years, 11 months ago

Is Hunter really that bad that he can't get on the floor. I thought he was supposed to be a shot blocker.

Michael Bennett 3 years, 11 months ago

I was thinking the same thing. I would try more lineups with Mickelson at center before playing Perry at the 5... In the huddles on TV he looks a good 2 inches taller than Cliff (not surprising given their listed heights, but still). Have him focus on rim protection and rebounding, see what happens.

Cody Riedy 3 years, 11 months ago

I think he shrunk 2 or 3 inches when he came to KU. Maybe I'm misremembering, but I thought when his transfer from Arkansas was first announced he was described as a 7 footer. The little we've seen of him, it looks like he might have some skill, but lacks athleticism. Watching him and Lucas go against each other in practice probably looks slo-mo.

Michael Bennett 3 years, 11 months ago

You're probably right but Self has said it himself, sometimes players play better in games than they do in practice and vice-versa. Withey didn't even get decent playing time until the coaches had no choice but to play him due to lack of post players on the depth chart. Before that Self had him behind 6' 5" Mario Little on the "big" depth chart. In fall 2011 there was nobody else other than Justin Wesley (and Kevin Young?) to play at the 5, so he finally became a rotation guy. That worked out well for everyone in 2012, and he emerged as a star in the Big 12 in 2012-2013. Sometimes Self just refuses to replace his undersized musclemen, but it's worth a shot (without yanking him after 2 minutes).

Joe Ross 3 years, 11 months ago

Poor Hunter. But really he shouldnt see the floor in a Jayhawks uniform, except in mop up time that is.

Terrence Cernech 3 years, 11 months ago

There is a lack of confidence on this particular Jayhawks team. First off, let's all acknowledge that it is a vary young team without the support of 4th and 5th year players to show the youngsters the way of Jayhawk basketball. HC Self is trapped a bit by the current culture of basketball in the USA. The effect of AAU basketball, the shoe companies and the one-and-done phenomenon, all come into play. But that is the big picture and not something that has occurred overnight and won't be fixed overnight. In his defense can you even imagine the reaction of Jayhawk nation if Self didn't pursue the one-and-dones (OAD). For a myriad of reasons, the primary one being playing time, several highly touted not-ready-for-primetime players have tranferred undermining the depth.Thus the team is subject to the vagaries of inexperience and youth. In reality the best course of action is something that I believe Coach is trying to accomplish but it is a tall order and certainly not something that Jayhawk Nation for the most part can understand or tolerate. This team needs seasoning and only time and experience will bring that. It is a very talented team. but it's most experienced talent is not a vocal presence; basically because that is not in the basic nature of those particular individuals. They are good, talented and humble people. The Hawks program under Self are on a historical run of Conference championships. It is historic because it doesn't happen very often. That kind of consistency can only come from a structure and system. That system isn't broken, it is just missing some integral parts. Ironically the missing parts are the ones that fly under the radar and are mostly ignored by the crowd, the bandwagon fans who are on occasion the most vocal of the Nation. Self has been playing a lot of players and is disciplining them with their playing time as he is attempting to season his team.His success in those endeavors won't be apparent until next season and after the off-season. If he can retain the current roster and not lose impatient players to transfer then the ship will be righted and back on course. Be patient!!!!!!!

Mike Riches 3 years, 11 months ago

"Has it ever occurred to anybody that maybe, just maybe, this Kansas University basketball team doesn’t have enough talent to win the Big 12 title?"

Are you serious?? Not enough TALENT?? We are TALENTED enough to have already beaten every team in the Big 12 except for West Virginia, and I'd bet my 401k that changes next Monday! Yes some of those wins were at home, but TALENT doesn't change on the road or at home. Half of the projected first round picks (draftexpress) in the Big 12 play for the University of Kansas! We are TALENTED enough to be at the top of the Big 12 with only three games left!! We have had enough TALENT to be at the top of the Big 12 since our very first game!!

This team has been far from perfect in winning 22 games so far. We have a tough three game stretch ahead of us. I still believe Kansas will win #11, even if we have to go 3-0 in these final regular season games. But if for some reason we derail, and our streak ends at 10 consecutive conference titles; if we are unable to close it out, it will not be because of lack of TALENT!

Micky Baker 3 years, 11 months ago

It may have occurred to some, but it's not the case.

You're right, it won't be because of the lack of talent if we don't win the 11th in a row. We are in the toughest conference and KU has played its toughest schedule in 35 years. Those things certainly have something to do with it. Keegan threw out some red meat here for these responses, and by the way, if we do win, you can bet most of these who haven't posted all year won't be around to post. I question some of their motives.

John Fitzgerald 3 years, 11 months ago

All I care about is the 19th - 22nd. I have all of those days off for the first time since I've been an adult. If KU decides to show up or not isn't my issue, I'm still going to enjoy 4 days of unbelievable basketball. And a few dozen beers of course.

Kristen Downing 3 years, 11 months ago

It's occurred to me all season. We definitely need help from the likes of Baylor and KState to win it this year. Now, I am just hoping the Big 12 has a good showing in the tournament and anyone but Kentucky!

David McNickle 3 years, 11 months ago

I don't really think the talent level is any less than the past couple of years, it's just a different talent. The combination of Embid leaving and not landing Turner has no one in the middle. For offense or defense. Our guards have been getting burned since 2009 but we have always had someone in the middle to cover our mistakes. But on the other side, despite Monday's game, Mason has been the best point we have had in three years. And for everyone yelling about a zone, listen to Weber's halftime comments about having to adjust to the triangle and two. It's a hybrid, but it's still something different than straight man to man. Gipson would've scored 40 if we tried to play him straight up. Foster wasn't hitting outside shots and some kid shot lights out for them. It's a trade off, let someone beat you, you know is good, or let someone shoot it from 25. IMO, offense is our problem. Opponents overplay the pass because no one will back cut mainly because no one can finish at the rim. Take the three away and run double teams at Ellis and we're done. Ellis and Mason have to play well every game for this team to succeed.

Dirk Medema 3 years, 11 months ago

Your 2nd to last sentence is right on wrt Monday night. The reality is that others, beside Mason & Ellis, need to step up more.

Ben Simonett 3 years, 11 months ago

Remember when the minority(ie well educated basketball fans) were trying to bring light the fact that Self and his staff had a recruiting slump over the 10-12 classes? all the blind fans kept regurgitating the same platitudes: "self's system doesnt need OADs", "i cant believe you;d think Self can't recruit", "6-7-8 straight conference championships, self knows what hes doing". Well the chicken has finally come home to roost!

recruiting has a lagging impact on a program and anybody with some common sense could see that 3 straight years of missing on the recruiting trail was going to have a big impact on team performance a couple years down the line.

lets take a quick look at those classes that all the kool-aid drinkers thought were Self recruiting like usual:

2010 commits (National rank) PG Josh Selby (1) SG Royce Woolridge (120)

2011 commits (National rank) SG Ben McLemore (34) PG Naadir Tharpe (92) PF Jamari Traylor (141) PF Braeden Anderson SF Mervyn Lindsay

2012 commits (National rank) PF Perry Ellis (24) SF Andrew White (51) SG Anrio Adams (98) PF Zach Peters (137) C Landen Lucas

Over a 3 year period, the program brought in 12 players. 7 didnt even make it through the program to graduation/NBA. Of the 5 that stuck around, 2 of them are the leading cause of the current teams lack luster front court (Traylor/Lucas).

Its quite impressive Self was able to pull out conference championship 10 last season with that recruiting stable(thank you wiggins/embiid). This year is just what should be expected from that kind of recruiting.

On the bright side. the staff seems to have refound its mojo on the trail the past couple of years so the talent void created by the slump is getting refilled. Next year might be a struggle as well but if the staff can bring in a couple more guys this spring, and another big class next season the program should be back to the level expected of it.

John Pritchett 3 years, 11 months ago

The secret to Coach Self's success has never been entirely about recruiting. It's been his ability to bring in talented players and also bring along the four year guys. How does a guy like Jeff Withey fit into your analysis? Would he be one more example of poor recruiting?

I don't get this assertion that somehow KU had stellar recruiting before and lately we don't. It's always been like this. It's only recently that we've been getting top picks, and I'm not convinced that's made our teams better. I like the consistency Coach Self has been able to get out of a high but not top-level group of players during his time at KU.

Brandon Dey 3 years, 11 months ago

Withey = Danny Manning helped him along quite a bit?

Dirk Medema 3 years, 11 months ago

Witney was #32, and would have been one of the top 3 players listed above.

Micky Baker 3 years, 11 months ago

No, the chicken's aren't coming home to roost, but at least now everyone knows your intentions.

One and dones don't get it done by the way. We've had them for almost every year you're complaining about. If we had Embiid this year along with McLemore with the extra experience along with Selby now it would be a much different story. If it wasn't for the one and dones(unless we had 5 studs recruited every year with 6'8" as the smallest guy playing point guard), we wouldn't be here. It's the one and dones that killed us. The one and done thing isn't working.

Aaron Paisley 3 years, 11 months ago

Selby would be gone. The 2010 class would've graduated last season barring redshirts.

Micky Baker 3 years, 10 months ago

Yeah, you're right about that. Nonetheless, that doesn't really weaken what I said any. The one and dones have left us without experienced depth.

Joe Ross 3 years, 11 months ago

Wow, Ben! Insightful comment. Only two of those 12 players have been impact players. At KANSAS! That's just a very telling statistic that I hadn't considered. Ill tell you what, though. Recruiting has picked up quite a bit, so Im glad to see we're headed in the right direction. And yet you have convinced me that some of our woes have been due to recruiting "misses" during the three-year span youve isolated. Outstanding.

Ben Simonett 3 years, 11 months ago

Jeff Withey was a top 40 prospect who stayed to his senior season and got drafted. He's the epitome of what a good self recruit looks like. contrast him to all the guys in my above list who were unranked or near the bottom of the rankings

Micky Baker 3 years, 11 months ago

Ben, Jeff Withey wasn't recruited by Kansas and didn't start his career at Kansas.

Ben Simonett 3 years, 11 months ago

transferred as a freshman, red shirted and spent 4 years on campus.

Micky Baker 3 years, 11 months ago

He lost a year of eligibility because he transferred so he was only eligible for 3 years and he didn't play much at all his first year that he was eligible here.

Aaron Paisley 3 years, 11 months ago

Jeff Withey played 3.5 seasons for KU. He enrolled at Arizona in fall of 2008, transferred to KU for the spring 2009 semester. He became eligible at KU for the spring 2010 semester as a redshirt freshman and barely played that season. He also saw limited minutes as a RS sophomore. He then won back to back Big 12 D POY awards as a junior and senior. So Withey played 3.5 seasons for KU.

Micky Baker 3 years, 10 months ago

No kidding sherlock. Pull your head out.

Aaron Paisley 3 years, 10 months ago

Why the condescension? You made a statement that that was inaccurate, it was corrected. Move on and don't get so butthurt about being corrected.

Micky Baker 3 years, 11 months ago

Final score in Ames: Are you ready for this?

Baylor 79 Iowa State 70

WOW!

Micky Baker 3 years, 11 months ago

I was being sarcastic somewhat. A couple of weeks ago I said that Iowa State was going to have a tough end of the season. That game against OU Saturday... OU is better than Baylor. Iowa State has a ton of pressure on them. Baylor just flat out took the game over in the last 5 minutes. They exposed Iowa State's defense and how to beat it. Drive and dish. Baylor is the 2nd best 3 point shooting team in the Big 12, and they showed why last night. They hit 5 threes in a row down the stretch. It went from being 9 points down to 6 points up and Iowa State was stunned.

Allison Steen 3 years, 11 months ago

Remember when I said Iowa State doesn't have an easy stretch and aren't invincible?

Yeah, me too! BACK ON TOP

Jim Poage 3 years, 11 months ago

Kansas has not done well when the referees allow the game to be physical. First example was Temple; then OSU, WVU now Kansas State. I'm not saying the referees are at fault, it's just that our young players are not developed sufficiently to overcome the checking and Ellis and Traylor are not strong players to assert themselves in the lane offensively or defensively. When the refs call hand checking and running over screens, KU gets lots of open 3's and Mason gets into the lane. When the perimeter defense can push our guardsback, our offense goes to pot. It isn't a matter of sklil; it is a matter of strength, toughness and experience Right now we can only hope for closely called games, good coaching and a little luck. Another year they will be stronger and smarter .... that was a triangle and two at K-State.

Aaron Paisley 3 years, 10 months ago

I believe John Higgins has reffed all 4 of KU's Big 12 losses.

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