What's up with Lagerald Vick, how long will Dotson stick around, the Chiefs in the Super Bowl and more...
It’s been an interesting few games for the Kansas men’s basketball team that included three games where the Jayhawks were pushed hard by programs that many fans might not have expected to see that from.
Is this a sign of things to come, early growing pains or is it just a momentary blip during a long season?
We’ll probably better be able to answer that question in a couple of weeks, but, right now, the bottom line is that the Jayhawks are finding ways to win.
What’s more, they’re doing it without feeling overly thrilled about it. KU coach Bill Self talked for several minutes after Saturday’s win over New Mexico State about areas in which KU could improve and the players themselves, though happy to be winning, seem to realize clearly that they can — and, in the eyes of the coaches, should — be playing so much better in so many areas.
That’s a good thing and ranks high on the list of why this season is still full of so much potential for this young, new-look Kansas basketball team.
With that in mind, let’s get to today’s “Ask Us Anything,” which features a couple of high-quality KU hoops questions and a couple of other fun things, as well.
As always, keep the questions coming either in the comments below, by hitting us on Twitter at @KUsports and with the hashtag #AskKUsports or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Let’s get to it!
This is such an important question for this team because Vick had been so good for the first five or six games of the season.
What happened? Great question. And, in many ways, the Jayhawks may have been playing with fire a little bit. No. 1, there’s no way Vick was going to keep shooting 60-plus percent from 3-point range. No. 2, based on what we’ve seen throughout his career, it was hard to imagine him staying so positive and full of joy for the long haul. That’s not a knock on Vick, just the reality from a player who had rarely shown that side of himself through his first three seasons at Kansas.
The belief held by some was that Vick was a different player and person now and that being a senior had unlocked something in him that was a heck of a lot of fun to watch. Maybe it had. But it’s hard to see a guy changing who he is entirely in such a short time.
Vick’s still an incredibly important part of this team and will still have some big games and important days ahead. Kansas will need him to if the Jayhawks want to win at highest level and Vick will need to deliver if he hopes to build his resume for a pro career.
Before Vick’s mini-slump here, I saw some odds for national player of the year and his name was nowhere to be found. It made sense on one hand because nobody was talking about him in that light before the season began, but was also curious on the other hand because he plays at Kansas and was as hot as any player in the country.
Evidently, the oddsmakers knew something the rest of us didn’t, because Vick has cooled off, fallen into a funk and now may be fighting to get out of it.
When Vick first came back, I thought he would be on a bit of a zero-tolerance policy, with KU coach Bill Self not willing to put up with any issues of any kind. But I think that changed given the fact that Vick was so good for so long and had a great attitude, put the team first, was a good leader and, of course, started the season off in terrific fashion.
So my guess there is that all of those moments when Self talked about Vick being “a 10” built up some good will and have the KU coach more willing to work with Vick through these rough patches.
They can’t last, of course. And Vick needs to get it straightened out, both for his sake and for the sake of this team. Kansas is so much tougher to beat when he’s playing with the confidence he showed earlier this season. But the slump, should he be able to pull himself out of it, might wind up being good for KU in the long run because it serves as a reminder to the rest that they can’t just sit around and wait for Vick to take over.
It’s going to be interesting to watch what happens from here, but a big game like Villanova in a friendly environment like Allen Fieldhouse just might be what Vick needs to break out of the funk. Of course, there are a few days of practice and such before game day arrives, so it could be a trying week.
I love this question and, if you’ve been following me on Twitter or in our KU Sports Ratings after games, you know how much I love the player, too.
Dotson has been sensational for the Jayhawks in the early going and only appears to be getting better. He’s so strong with the ball, so tough when he attacks the rim, so fearless in both areas and plays with real passion and a smile. How can you not like those things?
With that said, he’s still not the jump shooter he needs to be and that could be what keeps him around Kansas longer than the rest of his talent says he might.
Coming into the season, I thought he was a 2- or 3-year player, with the outside chance of leaving after one if he tore it up this season and led KU on a monster NCAA Tournament run. We’ll see if any of that still happens and this start certainly makes it a question worth asking.
But he’s a smart kid, with a good support system and will take full advantage of everything KU has to offer while not rushing into anything at the next level. The goal is not simply to make the NBA but to stick once you get there.
And I think two seasons at KU will give Dotson the best chance of doing that. Ask me this again in February or March though and the answer could be much different.
The guy’s talent is off the charts and he’s got an incredibly high ceiling, in college and beyond.
We’ll skip the Udoka question for now given his injury and focus just on the weave.
Like everything Self does, it has a million options and is a strategic plan to incorporate base principles of offense into what the Jayhawks do on just about every possesion.
Those base principles include three key things:
A - Motion. Teams are so much easier to defend when they’re standing still and the weave forces motion from side to side and gets the defense moving, as well, which can put them in a vulnerable position when trying to switch, help, recover and keep up.
B – Spacing. Spreading the defense out like that opens up driving and attacking angles for KU’s perimeter players, who can turn the corner and attack out of the weave at almost any point and generally have the freedom to do so.
C – Options. If you watch the weave closely, you’ll see that even with all of that action up top and the goal being to turn the corner and attack, the Jayhawks do not give up any of their options. Even during the weave, shooters fan to the corners and spread the floor while becoming options to score. A post player generally stays on the block, where he can catch a lob or slip pass for an easy bucket off the drive. And, most often, someone from the weave — usually off of the third pass — is able to turn the corner and get to the rim.
It obviously looks like a pretty basic set but is kind of college basketball’s version of the old college football option run to perfection by teams like Nebraska. Everyone knew what was coming, but stopping it was such a tougher challenge because of (a) all of the wrinkles Nebraska could run based off of reads and (b) the Cornhuskers’ superior execution.
Nice! A little fun before we dive back into the more relevant stuff.
The instant answer for Part 1 here was “ELF” but I know that’s not a classic. Still, I freakin’ love that movie and laugh my face off from start to finish.
As for the classics, I love It’s A Wonderful Life and the Grinch Who Stole Christmas (cartoon version). But I’ll watch any of them, including Home Alone, Christmas Vacation, Rudolph and any version of A Christmas Story.
It’s such a great time of year. Happy Holidays to you and all of our loyal and entertaining KUsports.com readers. We appreciate you guys more than you could ever know and enjoy the day-to-day interactions we have with all of you.
Yes, all of you.
As for the Lawson part of the question, if his numbers keep coming like they have, he’ll definitely be in the conversation, particularly if KU keeps winning.
These awards are so numbers-driven that I don’t think Lawson will be penalized for the way he gets his stats. Right now he’s on pace for roughly 25 double-doubles this season. If he delivers that, his averages will be insane and he’ll be right there when the voting goes down.
There’s still a long way to go but he can still get so much better, too.
As for the Chiefs... Anyone who knows me or even has just been paying a little attention knows that I’m a Denver fan so this has been a hard season for me. Ha!
Mahomes and company are incredible to watch and that Rams-Chiefs game (not to mention yesterday’s wild win over Baltimore) was so enjoyable.
In the interest of full disclosure, four or five weeks ago I told a good buddy of mine, who’s an enormous Chiefs fan, that Baltimore would be the team that ends KC’s season. Yesterday made that prediction look pretty good but the Chiefs still got it done. For now.
I’m a big believer in the fact that defense wins Super Bowls and the fact that KC’s defense has been so shaky all season is what keeps me from having nightmares about a Kansas City Super Bowl win. It’s sort of like that Peyton Manning Broncos team that set all of those records in the regular season and then got rocked by Seattle in the Super Bowl.
But can the Chiefs get there? You bet. The AFC will be no easy ride, though, with Pittsburgh, Baltimore and, of course, New England all more than capable of winning any game anywhere. And don’t sleep on the Chargers either. Scary team flying very much under the radar.
The AFC and NFC are both wide open in my opinion and it’s going to be a fun postseason. Enjoy the ride, no matter what happens!
I haven’t caught up with Stanley’s family in a while but I plan to soon. The whole season starting and KU playing close games every week kind of got in the way of some of our recruiting coverage.
Happens every year.
With that said, I know Stanley very much enjoyed his visit to KU and I know both he and his father are big Bill Self fans. It’s easy for them to see how much Stanley could improve in Self’s hands at a program like Kansas.
Many say getting him off the West Coast will be tough, but I don’t know if that’s the biggest factor here. I think it’s all about opportunity and playing time. If Stanley believes he can come here and make an immediate impact, I think KU has a great shot at landing him.
And with Lagerald Vick on his way out, it’s easy to see how the young man could slide right in, regardless of what Dotson or Quentin Grimes end up doing after this season. Beyond that, who wouldn’t want to come play with Dotson if the KU freshman does return for a second season?
I think KU’s chances of landing Stanley are strong and I think he continues to be a player they prioritize more and more as his recruitment goes on. At this point, he’d be a huge get and easily would be one of the prized pieces of the 2019 class.