Friday, March 13, 2015


Column: Jayhawks back to winning games with rugged defense

Kansas forward Landen Lucas (33) collects a rebound in the Jayhawk’s 62-52 win over Baylor in the semi-final of the Big 12 Tournament Friday at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, MO.

Kansas forward Landen Lucas (33) collects a rebound in the Jayhawk’s 62-52 win over Baylor in the semi-final of the Big 12 Tournament Friday at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, MO.


— When a young basketball player starts to talk like his coach, applies his standards, sees every blemish in the mirror, that usually is a sign of better days on the horizon.

It means a team knows what it is and isn’t and knows what it will take to get the job done.

Kansas University’s basketball team, regular-season champion in the Big 12 and playing in Saturday’s conference tournament title game, didn’t reach those goals with offensive artistry, overwhelming explosiveness or an abundance of basketball skill.

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Self, Selden and Ellis discuss KU's semifinal win over BU

Kansas basketball coach Bill Self and Jayhawks Perry Ellis and Wayne Selden Jr. discuss KU's 62-52 win over Baylor in the Big 12 Tournament semifinals. Kansas won with defense, a big night from Selden and the return of Ellis.

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Box score

The Jayhawks didn’t play beauty-pageant basketball in defeating Baylor, 62-52, Friday night at Sprint Center. They seldom do. They won by running the Bears off the three-point line, where Baylor never became comfortable and shot .182, and by playing intense man-to-man defense that resulted in 17 turnovers for Baylor, which in the first half made 5 of 25 field goals and 1 of 10 three-point shots.

Yet, after the game, when Kansas sophomore point guard Frank Mason III was asked to give the team a grade for the defense it played, he didn’t do any bragging.

“Defensive grade?” he repeated the question. “Maybe a B-minus. We were awful in transition defense and that starts when you forget to protect the basket well. People made a couple of mistakes that way in transition.”

Nice. He led with what needs to improve after his team limited the Big 12’s No. 4 seed to 52 points.

“Our first-shot defense was pretty good,” Mason said, then shifted the car back into reverse. “We let them get too many offensive rebounds (14).”

Mason gets it and so do his teammates. They know they’ll have good shooting days and bad, smooth offensive performances and choppy ones. The defense can’t follow the same unpredictable path or KU is at great risk of another one-city NCAA tournament.

“Defense has to be there every game,” Mason said. “If you can’t get shots to fall, we have to be able to play defense and make the other team play bad to have a chance.”

If KU can deliver defensively it even can survive those days when one or all three of its toughest scorers — Perry Ellis, Mason and Kelly Oubre Jr. — have an off day, especially if a big-scoring game comes from an unexpected source. In this one, Wayne Selden Jr. was that source.

Selden took a puzzling .338 shooting percentage from inside the three-point circle into the Big 12 Tournament. Two games into it, Selden has made 10 of 12 two-pointers, including 7 of 7 Friday.

Consistently driving hard to the hoop and drawing fouls, Selden totaled 20 points, eight rebounds and three assists. 

“It’s good to see,” Oubre said of Selden’s big night. “When he’s shining, he gives us all a boost because he has such a great attitude, even when he’s playing bad. Tonight it was a different Wayne out there. It was the original Wayne.”

And it was old-school, rugged Kansas man-to-man defense, a winning combination.

More news and notes from Kansas vs. Baylor at the Big 12 Tournament

By the Numbers: Kansas beats Baylor, 62-52, in Big 12 semifinal

By the Numbers: Kansas beats Baylor, 62-52, in Big 12 semifinal


Doug Cramer 5 years, 7 months ago

I've said all year that we would win this conference, and this team would have a shot to go deep into the NCAAs.

A lot of nay sayers this year because it hasn't been pretty.

Well this is Bill Self basketball, and it wins a lot of games. Scrappy rugged defense and solid rebounding comes before anything...including offense.

Even with that said, I believe our offense is underrated. Love the fact that we have a point guard we can depend on.

This isn't anyone's favorite KU team, but the sky is the limit for this team, and I think we have what it takes to muddy up a game vs. Kentucky and pull it off.

Well done Coach Self. Well done boys...great game !

Suzi Marshall 5 years, 7 months ago

I have no doubt our shots will start to fall.

After watching Duke/ND, VA, Nova, Maryland as well as all the Big 12 games, we can beat anyone if we play with the grit shown almost all year. We are going to need to fight like a junk yard dog but we can do it.

Jonathan Briles 5 years, 7 months ago

People nay say because this is not a typical Bill Self team. We don't have a rim protector, we don't have a center to run the high low offense through, and we don't have the scrappy rugged defense we have had in the past. This team has a high ceiling, but this team has a deeper basement than most teams under Self as well. Tonight we showed that we have the ability to play scrappy rugged defense and this was the best I have seen us play in a long time. If we play like that through the NCAA tournament we can make a really deep run. Especially if our shots start falling on a more consistent basis and we start knocking down our FT's again. It all starts on the defensive end though and if this team has finally realized that then we have a decent shot at a deep run, but if we resort back to how we have played most of the season we will be making an early exit. Its all up to the players. The coaches can preach it as much as they want so now its finally time for the players to fully buy in.

Bryce Landon 5 years, 7 months ago

If KU should go to the Final Four this year, it might become one of my favorite KU teams.

Claudia Obenhaus 5 years, 7 months ago

I don't believe I have ever had a favorite team, but if I were to choose one, it would be this one. I can't even pick a favorite player, because I love them all.

Bryce Landon 5 years, 7 months ago

Winning the Big 12 Tournament would be awesome; taking down those thuggish Cry-Clowns to win it would make it even more awesome!

Aaron Paisley 5 years, 7 months ago

Pay no mind, Bryce is immature and shows no respect to anyone and goes silent when called out for his immaturity and disrespectful comments.

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