Saturday, March 26, 2016

Villanova game-planned to stop Perry Ellis

Kansas forward Perry Ellis (34) has a shot contested by Villanova forward Daniel Ochefu (23) during the second half, Saturday, March 26, 2016 at KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis (34) has a shot contested by Villanova forward Daniel Ochefu (23) during the second half, Saturday, March 26, 2016 at KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky.


— Although it looked at the time like No. 2 seed Villanova was on the verge of melting down, Wildcats coach Jay Wright said an early timeout his team took after a hot second-half start by Kansas might have been the best thing that could’ve happened.

Instead of having to adjust on the fly to KU’s new plan to get struggling senior Perry Ellis the ball, Wright and his coaching staff calmly explained things during that timeout and the instruction ultimately helped the Wildcats (33-5) pull out a 64-59 slugfest victory in the Elite Eight at KFC Yum! Center.

“As soon as we started the second half, bang-bang, they got (Ellis) inside differently than they tried to get him in the first half and that got us,” Wright said after the victory. “If we didn’t turn that ball over and they didn’t score and we didn’t call timeout, I don’t know if we would’ve been able to adjust, so it actually helped a little that way.”

Limiting Ellis to four points on 1-of-5 shooting in 34 minutes was by far the biggest factor in Villanova knocking off the tournament’s top overall seed and ending Kansas’ 17-game winning streak.

But Wright said his team’s effectiveness against a player who entered the game having scored 20 or more points in seven of his last eight games was not the product of some genius defensive scheme.

“We were very aware of trying to limit his touches,” Wright said. “We played him mostly straight. We played zone. We played man-to-man, but we mostly just tried to find where he was. We really didn’t double him too many times. I don’t know if we doubled him once.”

If they didn’t, it sure looked like it. Because every time Ellis caught the ball, and even during a few possessions when he didn’t, there were two or three Villanova jerseys within reach of KU’s leading scorer.

Nova big man Daniel Ochefu said stifling Ellis was “completely a team effort,” and something that began long before Saturday night.

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

After season-ending loss, Self, Ellis and Traylor describe what went wrong vs. Villanova

Kansas basketball coach Bill Self, as well as KU seniors Perry Ellis and Jamari Traylor, describe the issues that came up for the Jayhawks in a 64-59 loss to Villanova in the Elite Eight. The loss, one game shy of the Final Four, ended KU's season, and the careers of ...

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“From the day we found out we were playing Kansas, everybody on the team just locked in,” Ochefu said. “We knew he was the No. 1 guy on the scouting report. Everybody just rolled to him, making plays on him, being aware of where he was, team defense, just knowing where he was at all times. Our communication was great.

“We all know he’s a special player and for us to be able to do that talks a lot about how we defended.”

As if qualifying for the Final Four already wasn’t sweet enough, Wright said getting there by going through a team like Kansas (33-5) made it all the more meaningful.

“That Kansas team is a championship team,” Wright said. “That's a national-championship-caliber team. They made every single correct play down the stretch. They hit the three, they got the layup, they fouled the right guys. We made the foul shots. They kept coming until we got a steal at the end. That's a great team. Never went away, made every right play. I have all the respect in the world for Bill and their program. And, specifically, this team this year.”

— See what people were saying about KU's Elite Eight loss during's live coverage

More news and notes from KU’s Elite Eight loss to Villanova

By the Numbers: Villanova 64, Kansas 59

By the Numbers: Villanova 64, Kansas 59


Daniel Kennamore 5 years ago

Why couldn't Self adjust when it was obviously their game-plan?

Kristen Downing 5 years ago

Man, it would be easier to be mad at them if they were less gracious. Still, teams tried to stop Perry all year. What was different this game? Oh yeah, it worked.

Dirk Medema 5 years ago

What seemed different to me was to not see Perry initiate the O from the perimeter at all for the entire game. I've thought that was part of what made him so much more effective, especially lately. Instead, it seemed to be the old low post survive the swarming where he generally doesn't show the strength to fight thru for baskets, and unfortunately wasn't drawing fouls last night either. It did seem that he shrank a bit.

Was afraid that Wayne was going to also shell up after how badly he missed the first 3, but to his credit he fought thru.

Michael Sillman 5 years ago

I have to give credit to Wright for picking out Ellis as being the weak spot despite his great play. By taking him out of the game completely we had no one else to put in as an alternative for a scoring forward.

Traylor can't create offense and neither Bragg nor Diallo were developed enough during the season to use in the tourney.

If you look at the minutes played it came down to 5 against 8. To get back to the Elite 8 again next year, Self will need to find multiple scorers for the 4 and 5 slots.

Dirk Medema 5 years ago

Perry is far from the weak link, even if he does play so much more of a finesse game than the others. Switching players is far from the answer - on this team or any other. Moving him to the perimeter to initiate the O had been effective, but was absent in this one.

Suzi Marshall 5 years ago

It wasn't Nova alone that sopped Ellis. Ellis had a lot to do with stopping Ellis. When he missed a couple of easy looks early on, he got rattled, turned it over and pulled into a shell.

Very sad for him. He is a great kid but afraid he'll be reminded for the missed last second layup last year and the vanishing act in this game.

Robert Brock 5 years ago

Nova knew how to defend the Jayhawks. Their game plan was executed to perfection.

Dirk Medema 5 years ago

It amazed me that after all Coach had brought this team through to become tougher, that they got out toughed.

His post-game comment (couple loose balls, couple free throws, couple TO's are difference in the game) should be a huge teaching tool for at least the near future. Those are all totally controllable, mostly effort parts of the game.

Jay Beakum 5 years ago

Am I the only one who thought he was being mauled? He got a ticky tack foul against him in the opening minute, then Nova seemed to be as physical as they pleased with him.

Robert Lofthouse 5 years ago

It was an off-night and the team didn't give up even in the final seconds. The dream lives on. Thanks for a great year of memories. Too bad that January 4th effort didn't show up last night but Perry, Wayne, Landen, Frank, Devonte, Mari - ya'all did good! Thirty-three wins over the schedule you played is a terrific accomplishment!

John Kelley 5 years ago

As usual a great regular season but a big disappointment in March Madness not making it to the final four.

Rae Bricil 5 years ago

KU reminds me of the Atlanta Braves of the 1990's and early 2000's. A lot of talent, games won, and the opportunity to win the big one but ultimately falling short almost every time. The Braves won 14 division pennants and only one WS.

Barry Weiss 5 years ago

what is amazing is that even with Perry having an off night, particularly with the Nova well played defense, this was a 2 point game under two minutes. So to only get 10 points or less out of Lucas and Ellis and still be in the game was good.

Rae Bricil 5 years ago

Agreed KU's defense was solid especially given how Nova had been playing as of late.

Brian Wilson 5 years ago

I love my Hawks. To me they are Champions! However, this happened as I foretold. As much as I love watching them, Ellis and Selden should never have been playing out of position for KU. IMO, KU is a top program that develops for the NBA. The job of a top program in a college is to prepare a kid for real life. With that objective in mind, Ellis is too small to play Power Forward, and Selden should not be playing the 3 spot. Ellis will have to play the 3 spot in the NBA and Selden will have to play the point. IMO, KU should not be recruiting players to playing out of their respective NBA position. Ellis and Selden got beat by a talented Villanova team with players that are Pro prospects at their respective positions. Taller, bigger, and athletic ability they manhandled a smaller Ellis and Selden got pushed outside and struggled to shoot from the three where he has struggled in the past. Combine that with great free throw shooting and it was too much for Lucas, Graham and Mason to make up the difference. So,I hope Selden moves on. Selden needs experience being the ball handler to make the NBA and the only way he will get the chance is in the D league. Moving forward I hope KU chooses to never invest in players that fit that description again. Especially at two positions simultaneously and basically promising them their positions for over three years. I can’t wait to see next year’s lineup. Some of these may also not be back but at least we will have a true Center, PF, SF, and two guards, playing BS's Twin Post.....these are their respective positions as noted by Scout, ESPN or Rivals:
Guards: Mason, Vick
SG: Graham, Svi, Self
SF: Greene, Clay Young, and maybe Josh Jackson
PF: Diallo, Lucas, Bragg, Lightfoot, Coleby and maybe Thompson
C: AZ and maybe Thon Maker, Allen, or Bolden

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