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Self: KU needs Tharpe to be irreplaceable

And Perry has to basically put the team and all of Jayhawk nation on his back, even though they have been loving on Selden and Wiggins.

"Do not foresake me oh my darlin..."

And Perry's gal comes to the game after saying she wouldn't come, saying she didn't ever want to speak to him agains, and she comes walking into the arena and stands down near the baseline where he has to do his duty.

"Do not foresake me oh my darlin'..."

Do not forsake me, oh my darling

On this our wedding day

Do not forsake me, oh my darling

Wait, wait along

I do not know what fate awaits me

I only know I must be brave

For I must face a man who hates me

Or die a coward, a craven coward

Or die a coward in my grave

Oh, to be torn twixt love and duty

Supposin' I love my fair haired beauty

Look at that big hand movin' round

Nearin' high noon

He made a vow while in state prison

Said it would be my life or hisn'

I'm not afraid to die but oh

What will I do if you leave me?

Do not forsake me, oh my darling

You make that promise as a bride

Do not forsake me, oh my darling

Although you're grievin', don't think of leavin'

Not while I need you by my side

Wait along, wait along

Wait along, wait along"

It could be a game against Kentucky--against Randle. The game you have been foreshadowing, slayr.

And Perry straps on his guns and starts blazing and dunking away and steals victory from the jaws of defeat and when the buzzer sounds, and the crowd goes wild, Perry finds his Grace Kelly, wraps an arm around her, and looks at the crowd knowing that sometimes the crowd is fickle, sometimes a man just has to do what a man has got to do, sometimes a hero is not appreciated, or recognized, until...

High Noon.

Go Perry, Go!!!

October 9, 2013 at 5:20 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Self: KU needs Tharpe to be irreplaceable

I think Self knows he needs a Swiss Army knife on this team. I think Self knows Selden and Wiggins can create highlights till the cows come home. I think he knows that Tarick can control the lower blocks by himself. I think Self knows Naa can get it done both ends now. I think he is lining up all these guys in a circle and he is letting it slowly creep into Perry's mind that Perry is the daddy even though he doesn't feel like one. I think after a couple of losses, or close games, when the team seems to lack a bulwark type, a hub for all the spokes, Perry is going to look around matter of factly and say, I guess I gotta do it. I guess there is no other choice. I guess if I don't do it, you know nobody else will.

There is likely a high noon moment in Perry's future. There is likely to be some team no one thinks KU can beat. Some team where all the super talents suddenly come up against opponents that athleticism won't overcome, because of the referees, or something. Its probably going to come up when some other guys are slumping, and the bad guys are due in at the train straiten any minute. And everyone looks around and says, "I hope someone else takes care of this for us." It will come after the towns people have thrown their fickle love onto Selden and Wiggins and have been kind of saying Perry is a third wheel. It will come when Perry has probably been in a slump himself. A Will Cain kind of moment. A moment when no one is sure that Perry can handle it and no one is really feeling froggy about jumping either. A time when Perry's girl friend is not sure she likes him as much as she did and is tired of him having to put her second after basketball. A time when I, jaybate, begin singing, "Do not forsake me oh, my darlin'..."

And the clock in Allen Field House is ticking down. And the season hangs in the balance in late February. And Perry has to go it all alone. Wiggins is fouled up. Selden is having an off night. Tarick is being kind of hand cuffed.

"Do not foresake me oh my darlin'..."

And the whistle blows and Selden gets a fifth foul.

"Do not foresake me oh my darlin'...."

And Perry's got to walk down the middle of the court alone after a huddle when Self pulls him aside and says, "Its all on you, Perry, believe."

October 9, 2013 at 5:18 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Self: KU needs Tharpe to be irreplaceable

I will second that emotion. I forecasted a 6-8 loss season late last summer and again recently. Given how far they have to go defensively, they could lose 10 even without injuries. But once they get it they could run the table and take everyone down in March. The prospect is there. It is a great bunch of players, and if everyone will resist the panic button and resist the temptation to say they are failing, then this team has the kind of players with the kind of character needed. B

That said, Self has an interesting challenge, how do you build a team around the least talented guy on the floor, but who probably has exactly the kind of character and skills needed to glue the team together. And how does he fit Mr. Silent, Perry, into being the guy that is the foreman that makes three guys--Wiggins, Selden, and Embiid--that he may not be able to score on in practice, fall in and follow his lead on toughness and intensity.

Just between you and me, Slayr, after ruminating a bit more, I think Self may be pulling yet another of his masterful indirection moves regarding chemistry.

I believe Self has probably recognized the same problem I have just described probably from the minute he finished signing the freshman and Tarik.

I believe Self is lining up everyone around Perry without saying that is what he is doing. I believe all the emphasis on Naa's role, which is really just mastering the obvious about what Naa will be expected to do, is making everything indirectly be about creating a vacuum at the center of the team that Perry has to decide to fill by force of will.

Right now, already, Tarik can play his role, Naa can play his, Selden and Wigs can play their roles as impact wings, but that leaves a great big hole in the middle of the donut. Someone has to be the bulwark of the team, the guy who makes everyone better, the guy who goes and fixes things. The team needs a Brandon Rush--a quiet man who simply goes and does whatever Self needs--a man who becomes the guy all the scoring and all the defense revolves around. Selden and Wiggins can be spectacular scorers, just as Mario Chalmers was. Selden and Wiggins can become exceptionally gifted in all aspects of the game, as the guys became around Rush. But at the center of the legendary '08 KC Kool Jazz Quintet was Brandon Rush, the man that held MUA most games.

Recall that Rushes last season Self crafted a donut with a hole to be filled by Rush once he rehabbed his knee sufficiently to play. Yes, they spread the scoring around, yes, Mario sometimes made bigger impact players, but at the center of that team was the quiet, sleepy Brandon Rush. Can't control someone on the perimeter. Send Brandon. Need some scoring outside. Send Brandon. Need some scoring at the rim. Lob to Brandon. Need help on troublesome big. Send Brandon. Some guard is heating up? Send Brandon. Brandon was as dependable as the sun coming up. He was the Swiss Army knife of Shooting Forwards.

October 9, 2013 at 4:39 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Self: KU needs Tharpe to be irreplaceable

Part 6

Post Scripted Memo to Self about Tharpe: When Self said "“I need Naadir to be our most valuable player,” Self focused board rats' attentions on his offensive performance. But I would like to add that Naa has to be an excellent defender to be that MVP. Naa has got to guard hard and effectively. If he cracks on defense, this team absolutely lacks a pret a porter Jeff Withey to swat away mistakes for 30 minutes a game. Naa's defense is really the only thing that matters with Naa. We already know he can dribble decently and pass it around. We already know that even if he can't get in the paint regularly, we have guys on both wings that can. And though Wigs would be vastly harder to guard if Naa became a credible trey shooter, what we need most from him is to be able to make 80-90 % of his FTs to keep the defense off him down the stretches of both halves. But even if he slumps some at the line, and throws bricks from 3, we can get buy if he can guard. Guard, guard, guard, has to be Naa's mantra. If Naa can guard, the crazy length of the rest of the team can be taught to guard by seasons end and a tenacious team defense--maybe Self's best yet if defensive insight can be gleaned in a single season--will trigger all the offense KU needs. It will be a recipe very near UK's great team two years ago. If Naa can just defend the point even up, the crazy length everywhere else can strangle an offense...if the newbies get the insight thing cooking.

October 9, 2013 at 1:42 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Self: KU needs Tharpe to be irreplaceable

Part 5

Grinding it out sooner or later involves finding a way to beat teams with more talent at certain positions, maybe even all positions, when other teams would just give up and take their beatings.

There is, I believe, one key driver to Self's incredible winning percentage. His guys win more of the time on the bad nights. His teams find ways to win, when they shoot less than 20% from trey, or 40% from the FT line, or when the point guard has only one working knee and looks like your grandmother's beadspread below the waist, or a fireplug point guard loses his explosiveness the last two years of his starting career, or when a future draft choice has to play on a rehabbing knee till mid January, or the team slips into a deep funk that might break most teams, but Self's teams find a way out after only a 3-4 games.

Self, Naadir and Perry are really going to have to start cracking the whip. They are going to have to have a fateful conversation with the freshmen very shortly. Its going to have to go something like this:

"You young guys may be OADs, and you may be gone after this season, and you definitely have more talent than we have, but from here on out, you ain't shizz to us until you man-up and take care of business. We will play without you if we have to. We have set OADs before that didn't get it. Self is going to start sitting you more and more if you don't wake up. We're here to win. We are here to win any way we can. We think we can win more with you, IF YOU EVER GET IT, than without you. We have already been where we are going. You haven't been there yet. And we're going there with, or without you. So: get serious--get ready for prime time. Self is a player's coach. The best performers play. You gotta earn his trust. You gotta earn our trust. Now start earning it, or we're not passing you the goddamned ball."

But the scariest part of the scrimmage for me was that Self has apparently been concentrating on the offense and in the scrimmage it appeared there was none, unless Self has hatched up a new AAU offense.

Ah, but I will stop pinching my own hemorrhoids.

Self is a genius. He will find a way inside their brain cases. He always does.

But IMHO this most talented team is far, far and away his greatest challenge just to get it to play decently.

October 9, 2013 at 1:26 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Self: KU needs Tharpe to be irreplaceable

Part 4

Last year's UK team in contrast, never really played with enough intensity to offset their lack of experienced toughness.

So: last year's UK team proves that lack of seriousness of purpose and lack of intensity are cancers that can easily metastasize on very young teams loaded with vast athleticism and talent.

Self and his players have to view and respond to this issue with earnest commitment. Sherron is a good MO-FO to have around this team. Sherron might lack insight about Big Macs, but Sherron seemed to come down the birth canal with his sleeves rolled up and ready to take care of business. Sherron actually seemed older in this regard as a freshman than did some of the seniors on the great teams he played on his freshman and sophomore years. And that was saying something because that team was by then loaded with some insightful, tough, upper class MO-FOs.

To try to see the glass at least a third full for a moment, I suppose much of the above simply means that Self has worked incredibly hard at teaching offense and at building a sense of team and mixing up good chemistry in terms of loving and sharing. Good. My heart is all moist about that. Those things are important in a long season for any team, but especially for this young of a team.

But I am inclined to infer that these virtues have come at the expense of the older guys setting standards that have to be met to be admitted into the core of pride and self respect that Self teams must have in order to do more with less, in order to be mentally tougher than the opponents, and in order to muddle through on the 1/3 awful games that Self teams traditionally find a way to grind it out a win in.

Grinding it out involves taking pride in what you can control--defensive effort and tenacity--when the shots aren't falling, and you don't have any rhythm, when injuries are hampering your best players, and when people are sick, or depressed, or suffering losses of loved ones.

October 9, 2013 at 1:25 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Self: KU needs Tharpe to be irreplaceable

Part 3

Right now, the biggest crisis this team faces is its green wood discovering what it doesn't know it doesn't know. It doesn't know it doesn't know about Self Defense. Playing AAU ball and loving each other may have landed Kelly Oubre. It may land some other OADs. And maybe that is exactly why Self sent them out there that way. They were infectiously fun to watch, because they were all having SO MUCH FUN!

Perry was the only one that seemed to understand the gravity of the situation; that seasons are sensitively dependent on initial conditions; that taking things in at least a business like way from the start gets the emergent complexity cascading in one's favor, rather than pushing one up shizz crick with a tooth pick for a paddle.

Self players are always supposed to be able to do both. They are always supposed to have swagger and fun, while also taking care of business. They are supposed to be in skits and then go out and guard. They are supposed to be articulate in interviews and coldly calculating assassins on the floor. None of the freshman, save maybe Selden, were capable of both. Warning. Warning. Danger. Danger. We truly and most definitely are NOT looking at one of Self's typical team; this team is different...totally different in its make-up.

All of the above is IMHO terrible news for this incredibly talentened young team. It suggests Perry, Tharpe, Traylor, Lucas and Black, who all at least grasped the importance of things, are already unable to set standards and make them stick.

It means the freshman have no clue about how the game has to be played in terms of Self Defense, and in a broader sense, in Self Ball. They do not yet grasp the tenacity of commitment to sustained, serious focus Self teams have relied on to do their often seemingly impossible accomplishments.

Are we to expect some fall off in this regard due to youth and the number of guys that will only be around one year? Yes. We have seen some of this with UK's young teams early. But until last season, UK's young teams made up for what they lacked in know how and and insight about standards with XTReme Intensity. Anthony Davis set the tone for their great team. He may not always have known exactly what he was doing, but he was from the beginning of the season an absolute fanatic about intensity. He was doing it as hard as he possibly could. In that respect, though I hate giving any credit to UK for anything until they start doing it the right way, Anthony Davis was almost a contemporary Bill Russell. HE PLAYED HARD FROM THE BEGINING. When he jumped he jumped as high as he could. When he ran, he ran as fast as he could. When he played to his strengths he played to them as strongly as he could.

October 9, 2013 at 1:24 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Self: KU needs Tharpe to be irreplaceable

Part 2

The fundies just were not being applied by any of the freshman. Among the upper classmen, Black played some. The returning guys played some, but not consistently. Black and the returnees finally just seemed to join in the "fun" and go AAU, too.

What this means is that the returning players and Black are not influential enough to set a standard of play and make it stick among the freshmen. The freshman are for now, anyway, the gravitational center of the team. And the freshmen don't apparently know diddledy spit about defense, and apparently don't know they don't know.

I dont' care what anybody else says about Late Night just being a scrimmage for show, guys that don't even get down and stay with their man, and then enjoy themselves abundantly, lack insight. Lacking insight means you don't know what you don't know. When you are told what you are not doing and what you need to do to do it right, if you lack insight you really don't know how to give the coach what he wants.

And, unfortunately, insight is a hard thing to teach. Learning insight is a long, slow process. It can take years of quick hooks. But this team does not have "years." It has "year."

Self's experienced teams ooze insight. Though his experienced teams have often eventually been outmatched by talent, or XTReme conditioning, or by some decisive match-up, tey almost never crack, because they almost always get what is going on, get how you have to play to win, how most other teams can be cracked with enough pressure, enough relentlessness, enough searching for the weakness on defense, and on offense, until the defense triggers offense.

October 9, 2013 at 1:24 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Self: KU needs Tharpe to be irreplaceable

"Late Night Defenselessness or Not Knowing What You Don't Know"

Part 1

OADs or not, there is more to basketball than athleticism and "talent."

And not all young teams are created equal in the intangibles and fundamentals of the game.

Some young teams are composed of players with high seriousness and ferocious competitiveness. Some young teams have a few seasoned veterans with enough force of personality and level of talent to impress upon the newbies that young, or not, this is how things have to be done. You load up your lunch pale, or your iPod, you roll up your warm-ups and you go to work with an eye to being a craftsman, or a professional, even though you are not at that level of polish yet. You get it.

Other young teams are composed of players that lack the above.

I tried to tell board rats after the scrimmage that the defense just wasn't there; that its absence was not just "normal" for this time of year; that it signaled a basic lack of comprehension on the part of the players about what Self Defense--about the ethic of Self Defense--about the manly part of it. That was AAU ball out there, not even UK's version of AAU ball, and certainly no where close to even rudimentary Self Defense.

In a scrimmage like that you are not looking for green wood to show maximum aggression and polished help and hedge defense, but you must see the fundamentals of defense being applied. Guys have to slide. They have to stay in front of their men, when opponent 's got the ball. They have to maintain proper pressure defense position off the ball. They have to turn and burn when blown by. They have to get after their man. They have to run to get back to play defense. They have to at least get that they are supposed to take some pride in their defense, even if they don't know much about the fine points of how to play good defense.

October 9, 2013 at 1:23 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Self: KU needs Tharpe to be irreplaceable

Frankamp has entered the mix for two reasons:

1) Mason can't make the reads or treys;

2) Frankamp can; and

3) Wigs trey is not credible.

But Conner can't have any more 0-6 stretches, or he might as well buy a seat cushion.

October 9, 2013 at 9:01 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

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