Top 10 Weaknesses Kentucky Exposed in Kansas


It's not often we see Kansas get completely dominated. In my mind, Kentucky justified it's number 2 ranking as Calipari's freshmen boys grew into full grown men in a matter of minutes. The first few minutes of the second half to be precise. Knotted up at half-time, I really believed Kansas might pull it out, except that the run Kentucky opened the second half with exposed some fatal flaws in the Jayhawks' game. It's bad news for a Kansas team that is not likely to live up to the performance of recent years' teams...and some of it is REALLY bad news...

  1. Recruiting misses and early departures have really hurt Kansas.

  2. Kansas might need to rely more on one-and-done players in the future to remain competitive against other top programs. At times Kentucky looked like an NBA team.

  3. Tyshawn Taylor does not have it in him to be the leader of the team. He scores some, but he makes too many mental mistakes and at crucial points in the game.

  4. Lack of depth will hurt Kansas, especially over the course of a long season.

  5. The Jayhawks execute poorly in the half-court against tall teams.

  6. Kansas doesn't have much of a transition game. Makes me miss 2008.

  7. The defense is suspect. It breaks down especially with quick passes around the perimeter. It only took a few minutes at the start of the second half for KY to race out to a large lead.

  8. Connor Teahan IS the three-point shooting. Period.

  9. Thomas Robinson will struggle against double-teams. It's a new look and it's going to take him some time getting used to it.

  10. Kansas sorely needs a talented true center. Withey isn't it.


justinryman 6 years, 5 months ago

8 EJ needs to shoot it, he is capable. But I agree Connor I what we have. Makes one miss Reed and Morningstar.

2. The one and dones have hurt KU with Henry and Selby leaving it has taken away the combo slash/shooting guard. And now we have no one to play that spot consistently.

I do agree with just about everything else whole heartily. We just have to remember its Mid-November and no one will even know how they played as all espn will show is Coach "can I buy a vowel" and his record.

Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

Joe Ross 6 years, 5 months ago

Yes, it is early in the season. We need to really get solid on a lot of things as the season progresses. If Robinson comes back next year, and that's a big "if", we will have the nucleus of a team that could really do some damage. I worry about the holes in the post, though, even more than holes at the guard positions.

MGJayhawk 6 years, 5 months ago

Joe - I will disagree on some points. In all due respect.

3 - TT DOES have it in him. It depends which TT shows up. 2nd half was his. He kept us in it. Nobody else would step up. We need him to do EXACTLY what he did all game (penetrate, dish or score)

4 - I don't think we lack depth. We just don't know what that depth looks like yet. Tharpe, Teahan, Wesley and Young will be the main rotation. They will be solid b/c they are athletic.

11 - I'm adding this. We give up too many 3's and second chance points.

I'm not worried yet. UK is really good. They will be in the Final Four. They have 6 legit NBA players that could go now if the NBA existed. We are still identifying ourselves. Give it time. It's only game 2 and I was actually a bit impressed. We held our own for a while. We'll get better.

Good analysis Joe.

Joe Ross 6 years, 5 months ago

Thanks. And I agree with your point. Our perimeter defense needs to be shored up.

Robert Brock 6 years, 5 months ago

Taylor is the one reason KU didn't lose by 25. However, if KU is to resort to him driving wildly to the basket to score this year, that is a sign that we cannot produce points by running the offense - that is scary.

Who are the proven shooters this year? If Taylor and Releford can hit consistently in addition to Johnson and Teahan, we could be fine. We just don't know if Releford is capable of that yet. Taylor has not shown tremendous shooting range in the past. He's due.

Robert Brock 6 years, 5 months ago

Dead on. Depth and talent likely will be the ultimate deal-breaker for this KU team and possibly teams in the near future. Self will have this team playing competent, cohesive basketball by March but we are going to watch some true growing pains and especially early, with such a difficult non-conference schedule. Even some of the more talented and seasoned Self teams looked spotty early in the season. I'm fascinated how Self will shape this group by year's end.

Taylor makes me pull my hair out at times - I hope he can finally just let the game come to him, but that certainly did not seem to be the case last night. I know he and Johnson have shown flashes of brilliance - executing and putting it all together may take time. Many of the lineups Self puts on the floor are going to struggle putting points on the board - the key on offense this year will be ball movement and patience, feeding the post and moving it around, getting open shots. Self has been great the past few years getting teams to buy into this. I hope we don't resort to Taylor driving desperately to the basket regularly this year if we are struggling on offense.

There is obviously a talent shortage and when you miss on nearly all your top prospects for a couple of years, it's going to catch up. It happens. See UCLA now, see UK under Tubby in the later years. Self has been masterful in pulling in late commitments basically out of no where - Morrii, Taylor, Selby, Henry, etc. and he needs to land a great 2013 class. A lot of the posters on here seem to think that a roster full of blue-collar top 150 prospects will have KU competing with UK, UNC, Duke, and other elite schools on a regular basis. That's just not the case. "Anything can happen in March" and "Danny and Hudy make a pro out of minced meat" are nice slogans, but you have to have real difference makers to regularly compete for a championship, i.e. Chalmers, Rush, Arthur, Collins. And elite does not necessarily mean "one-and-done" either, though you can't stop going after those guys.

We have been spoiled for years with Self's ability to reload and avoid rebuilding and overhauling teams even after losing Rush, Chalmers, Arthur, Collins. We may have to temper expectations a bit, but this year could be fun.

MGJayhawk 6 years, 5 months ago

I disagree with almost everything you are saying here.

Tyshawn is the ONE player that will keep this team relevant. As he goes - we go. Bottom line. He has never been "the guy", so it will take some time to learn that role. Same with T Rob.

You cannot blame recruiting on anyone or anything. It's a cyclical deal. When you have Morri, Tyshawn, EJ, Xavier, Selby, T Rob, Travis, Withey etc., on one squad at any given time, it's hard to sell a guy that he will come in and make an impact early.

Anything CAN happen in March, look at Butler. They don't get blue chippers or 4 star guys. They get guys that can play as a team and fight. That's what Self got with Chalmers, Jackson, Rush, Russ Rob, Sasha, Sherron. Some just happened to be blue chippers.

This current team is good. They haven't molded yet. They will. Enjoy the ride.

Joe Ross 6 years, 5 months ago

I always enjoy watching the Jayhawks or lose. However, we can't just simply say that recruiting can't be tied to anything. If that were the case, Calipari wouldn't have gotten a lion's share of them at Memphis, and now at Kentucky. Is such an avalanche of blue chips completely accidental? Is it even the case that Calipari and his recruiting machine count for only a small part of the kids' decisions? No. There is a reason for it, and it all has to do with how the program and their chances of making the pros are sold. I guarantee you most blue chips would sell their preferences to buy a better shot at the NBA, so its not just about where they want to go. It's about what they think the program can do for them (let's face it, we're all selfish), so they will go where they perceive they have a good chance of making the pros. Many blue chips don't go to Kentucky, Duke, or North Carolina obviously (though looking up and down their rosters it would be hard to know it), but other lesser well known programs have different ways of making this sell. For one thing, if a player can stand out when there is a capable supporting cast, if he ends up elevating that team his stock will rise in the draft. Consider your own Danny Manning. For one-and-dones as well as other highly touted players, their chances of playing for a well known coach in a high visibility program that increases their chances of making it to the NBA is their foremost consideration. As a recruiter you have to sell this to get these kids. No doubt about it. Personnel does make a difference.

Robert Brock 6 years, 5 months ago

Tyshawn is probably the one player that can keep the team relevant - he will be handling the ball in crunch time and will be asked to make critical plays. He has never been "the guy", but he is a four year starter and we should expect that at this point, he knows how to run the offense and execute. We'll have to wait and see - I have confidence in him, but he has been extraordinarily inconsistent over the years. We indeed need to give it time.

Anything CAN happen in the tourney. There are a multitude of factors other than talent – heck, luck is probably more important than talent in the tourney. Yes, look at Butler, look at George Mason. The landscape of college basketball is different now. But, would you rather take your chances to win a title as Butler or as UNC? The goal is to compete regularly for championships and unfortunately most years there will be some sort of road block. Maybe you win a title one year and you just happen to have some elite players (ridiculous notion BTW), but if you want to put yourself in position to win multiple titles, you need ringers, especially on the perimeter.

justinryman 6 years, 5 months ago

Speaking of down years, UNC had a couple before and after Roy got there. Duke as well. Syracuse, Maryland and Arizona to name a few more. Just to addd to the ones already mentioned.

Wheres Florida? Oregon? Oklahoma? Tennessee?

I am sure we may have a down year this season, but that will not translate into a sinking ship. Coach Self will not allow that to happen, not on his watch.

We are...KU!!!

Rock Chalk Jayhawk

Sam Constance 6 years, 5 months ago

Respectfully disagree on a few points, and on even the points I agree with, I have a hard time putting too much stock in these sweeping evaluations based on a very, very limited sample size. I know in years past KU has come out of the gate firing on all cylinders and looking close to a "finished" team even this early in the year, but I think we can all agree that this will be Self's most difficult coaching year. The lead time to us becoming a cohesive, successful team might be a bit longer than we are used to.

Onto the specific disagreements:

1) This falls under the "too soon" line of thinking that I mentioned above. Certainly Tuesday night, against the standard-bearer of teams with one-and-done talent, KU looked overmatched. But keep in mind that the difference on display was more than just Rivals rankings and raw talent. Kentucky returned more minutes from a Final Four team than KU returned from an Elite Eight team. Everyone wanted to give KU the "experience" nod leading into the game, but that was just wrong. Minutes as the primary contributors on a team are more relevant to success than the class or age of the players.

2) The jury is still out on this one. Yes, at times Kentucky looked like an NBA team, but at other times, they looked like an AAU team. If not getting "one-and-done" players is the price we pay for having a coach that doesn't just say "yeah, you'll get your minutes" instead of the "if you work hard and put in the effort, you'll earn your minutes" that I suspect Self tells them, then so be it. In the long run, we will be best served by having talented, hard-working players that want to be here to help themselves develop, rather than talented players who need a place to "showcase" their "NBA-ready" talents.

3) I think he has it in him. He's shown flashes of it before. The trick is doing it consistently. This is the first season that his consistency will make or break the team. It may take him a few games to truly internalize this fact. Honestly, that point--that none of the players have had to play the role they are playing on this particular team at anytime before in their college careers. The learning curve will be steeper this year than in any recent years.

4) Agree 100%. Depth might become an issue. Of course, having a shorter rotation of dependable guys can also be a benefit, if long-term injuries don't become a factor. Playing with a shortened rotation can also increase stamina over the year, and when it comes to tourney games, the number of TV timeouts really renders player conditioning almost moot.

5) Again, we have one sample of this. It's true that KU executed their half-court offense poorly. Bad ball movement, poor decision making and too much attempted one-on-one. Whether that is due to Kentucky's length, or KU's first test against a team with as much athleticism as the Wildcats is impossible to say.

(to be continued...)

Sam Constance 6 years, 5 months ago


6) Transition is something that will have to be developed with time. Granted, the 2008 team was better by a longshot, but... A) they had been running together as more or less the same group of players for three years, and B) I doubt their fast break looked as good in Game #2 as it did come tourney time. Let's see what this team can do with some learning and development.

7) I saw a couple of players who looked clueless on defense, making the entire defense look suspect when it was really just a couple players' issues. Teahan is too slow, and Releford looked like he wasn't sure what he should be doing on a couple of possessions. Obviously you can't teach Teahan speed, but Releford can and should get better. Throw in a zone every once in a while when Teahan is playing and the defense gets much better. Plus, not a lot of teams are going to have the skill at rotating the ball around the perimeter that Kentucky did on Tuesday. Heck, Kentucky couldn't even do it consistently for an entire game.

8) We'll see. Johnson has a reputation as a solid shooter, Tharpe as well. Releford shot pretty well in limited action last year. Tharpe's 0-2 was due mostly to shot selection. And even decent shooters are going to go 1-4 from three every once in a while (Johnson). Taylor was 1-2. This won't be the best long-range shooting team, but it's not as dire as you think.

9) I have a feeling he'll learn--under Danny's tutelage--how to handle them better than he did against Kentucky. I think we will also start utilizing more players that are designed to take advantage of a defense's agression in terms of guarding Robinson. Plays that feign Robinson as the first option, but are really designed to go to a second option.

10) What are you talking about? No, really. For starters, I'm not sure what you mean by "true center", but regardless, how anyone could see Withey's position as sorely needing anything after Tuesday is baffling to me. Withey can certainly improve, but he was one of our most confident and toughest players against a team full of NBA prospects. If people are still not convinced of Withey's potential (that I have been shouting about for 2 years now) after that game, then there is nothing he can do to convince them. He will always be the next Chenowith.

In general, did anyone else notice that KU didn't run a lot of it's typical offense against Kentucky? I saw almost zero hi-lo offense, which would have been a great idea, given Kentucky's agression on defending Robinson. I can't help but think that Self may have been setting his team up for some long-term lessons. He didn't throw the game, but he let them go out and play and get a taste for just how difficult this season is going to be without some big time work and effort. I don't think I've ever seen Self as positive about a loss as the one on Tuesday, which makes the overreactions and hyperbole from so many KU fans that much more amusing.

Joe Ross 6 years, 5 months ago

Very thoughtful rebuttal! Well done. On some points we agree, so I'll not address those. And like you, even where we disagree I dont disagree with you vehemently on a lot of things. But a couple of quick hits. First, you say at times KY looked like an AAU team. Well not in the second half they didnt. Freshmen on the biggest stage might take a while to get going, but their talent took over in the second half after the jitters were gone. Secondly, on Withey. Sure he is a 7 footer, but shorter players on Kentucky played "longer" than did Withey. I'm not saying Withey is not good and is not improving, but while his presence inside was needed and I grant he made a contribution, he did not alter many shots once KY got going. Neither on the offensive or defensive end could he utilize his frame to alter KYs will. Too much burden fell squarely on Thomas Robinson, and he could not shoulder it alone. Again, Im not saying Withey was not effective, but clearly he was not nearly effective enough. At Kansas, if you expect to win titles you need a more dominant presence in the paint. I share your hope, however, that as the season progresses some of these problems will iron themselves out. I guess we'll see.

Robert Brock 6 years, 5 months ago

Withey looks good at times blocking and altering shots. However, this leads to him sometimes being a mediocre factor on the defensive glass. He will improve over the year, but has to pick his spots - he takes himself out of position a lot. He does not have to or need to be asked to score significantly, but he has to be a force on the boards.

yovoy 6 years, 5 months ago

One thing that hasn't been mentioned is that we left lots of points on the floor in the first half. We missed 6-8 (maybe more) "bunnies". T-Rob probably missed 4 by himself. A game is going to be called the way it is called, and some of their blocks were clean, most of them were, but I don't remember any of them being whistled in the 1st. Those things considered, we could've been up double-digits at half. That sort of thing goes far in discouraging young, elite basketball players like Cal always seems to have. Confidence is the fuel for teams like UK, and a 1st-half thrashing can really go far in keeping their tank on "E". We didn't do that. They got 5 dunks to start the second, and their tanks got filled, and they went from there.

When coaching is equal, the team with the most talent is going to win. A weaker team can beat a slightly stronger team if the weaker team has a better coach. I'm not saying that we're slightly weaker than UK: we're not slightly weaker, we're much weaker. We are going to win games because we have a great coach, but we don't really have that much consistent talent. TT, EJ, Releford, Withey, T-Rob (vs. UK) tend to be inconsistent. Beyond them we really aren't loaded with talent. This team is going to lose some games this year. It is my guess that it will be nearly 10, and at least 7. I'm not worried, because next year, we should have the talent on board to challenge anyone: that is if the NCAA can keep their fingers out of our pie.

I don't care what anyone says about TT. Neither should anyone else. He's what we've got, and he's the one that's going to play. Same with the rest of our team this year. We're going to lose more games than we're used to, but we will have a pretty developed bench by March. That's sort of the silver lining in my opinion.

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