Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Bill Self: Kansas ‘thinks it should win’

Kansas guard Travis Releford finishes a dunk against Kansas State during the second half on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013 at Bramlage Coliseum.

Kansas guard Travis Releford finishes a dunk against Kansas State during the second half on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013 at Bramlage Coliseum.


So far, the 2012-13 Kansas University men’s basketball team shares an important trait with last year’s NCAA runner-up squad.

“The biggest similarity is last year’s team thought it should win, and this year’s team thinks it should win. That doesn’t mean we are a really good team by any stretch. We get in certain situations, and they enjoy that,” KU coach Bill Self said on Wednesday’s Hawk Talk radio show.

“Hopefully that will continue to be the case. Although we can’t live on borrowed time all the time, guys have played well when it has counted the most.”

The Jayhawks — 17-1 overall and 5-0 in the Big 12, compared to last year’s 15-3 and 5-0 at the same point — have had a batch of nailbiters, as they did a year ago.

KU, which clipped Kansas State, 59-55, on Tuesday in Manhattan, erased an 11-point second-half deficit to win, 64-59, at Texas on Saturday. The Jayhawks also led by two at halftime in a 14-point victory at Texas Tech and needed a last-second three-pointer by Ben McLemore to force overtime and ultimately win, 97-89, at home versus Iowa State.

Aside from that do-whatever-it-takes-to-win-mentality, “It’s totally different,” Self said of the two seasons.

“We don’t have a go-to guy. If you asked me right now, ‘OK, who do we run a play (for) that we positively want to shoot the last shot?’ I’d say it’s situational depending on how people are guarding us or what we need to do now in that situation. Whereas last year, hey, we were going to get the ball to Tyshawn (Taylor), and he was either going to do it or get it to Thomas (Robinson), and he was going to do it. We are different in that regard. We have a little bit more balance. Both teams defend well. We are getting better at rebounding the ball.”

The Jayhawks on Tuesday were able to remain the league’s only undefeated team while handing the Wildcats their first league loss.

“I thought Travis (Releford) was the best player in the game,” Self said of the fifth-year senior who hit five of six shots (two of three threes) and scored 12 points while holding Rodney McGruder to 13 points off 4-of-12 shooting (3-of-9 from three). “It means so much to him playing over here. He went 4-1 (at Bramlage Coliseum during his career). He did a great job on Rodney, who moves without the ball better than anybody in the league. We kept him out of the lane. It was team-effort guarding him.

“Travis was with him step-for-step,” Self added. “He (McGruder) got free a couple times. Over the course of 35 minutes that Travis guarded him, he didn’t get freed nearly as often as what he has been. He’s best when he can attack the lane, get in the paint and get to the free-throw line, curl screens, things like that. Trav played smart. He did a real nice job.”

The unlikely KSU culprit was Shane Southwell, who had 19 points, hitting five of 11 threes.

“We knew he was capable of making a (three-point) shot. He made 16 on the year,” Self said. “He was 5-of-11 to keep them in the game when I thought we defended all other aspects except transition. We were bad in transition the first half.

“It was an unbelievable win,” Self added, “a tough grind-it-out win. If we could just tighten up a few things ... we are not playing as bad offense as what some might think. We’ve played real good defensive teams. We’re just not making shots. We’ve got to get a little rhythm making shots, but defense and rebounding usually win on the road, and we were terrific in both areas.”

KU, which held KSU to 35.1 percent shooting and outrebounded the Wildcats 31-28, scored in the 60s four of the past five games, prior to the 59-pointer vs. KSU.

“The law of averages is you have games when you shoot 40 percent sometimes,” Self said, “but in games where people are well-coached and scout ... it’s like NCAA Tournament games where you’ve got to have guys make plays when it counts the most and play to principles. Our guys down the stretch believe they are going to win. It speaks to their toughness and experience.”

KU will meet Oklahoma (13-4, 4-1) at 3 p.m. Saturday in Allen Fieldhouse.


jakejayhawk 9 years, 6 months ago

Love the attitude. Not that we deserve to win by walking on the court but rather we have the ability and believe in ourselves if we give our best effort. And this team DOES have the talent to win. If we can find a way to lock down that small, quick, perimeter player we can handle the other positions defensively. The team is coming around and has incredible upside.

wrwlumpy 9 years, 6 months ago

CBS Sports plugged this web site that needs to be visited twice a day.

JayHok 9 years, 6 months ago

That's cool. Needs the picture of the ksu guy choking him.

Joe Baker 9 years, 6 months ago

Haircuts are cracking me up: Hollywood Military Dumb and Dumber GQ Fortune 500 Exec

LAJayhawk 9 years, 6 months ago

I still love those block-letter throwbacks with the red lettering and numbering we wore last year. Wish we'd bust those out more often.

AirCapJay 9 years, 6 months ago

Long-haired Jeff looks meaner than short-haired Jeff. He should add fake blood to his nose every game.

KULA 9 years, 6 months ago

Love it! I still say Jeffy El Jefe.

KawJayhawk 9 years, 6 months ago

If Elijah can hit some 3's they could have a real good chance at making another run a the final 4

Suzi Marshall 9 years, 6 months ago

Self said it best in that last sentence. This group of seniors have great experience from last year. tough as leather, and have supreme confidence in themselves. I think the toughest group Kansas has ever had. This is a group bound for glory ... great and willing to do whatever it takes to win.

LAJayhawk 9 years, 6 months ago

3 of the 4 senior starters are 5th-year seniors. How often do you see that?

Bill Skeet 9 years, 6 months ago

well, it's a bit more likely at a mid-major, but for schools in the big 6 conferences, it's got to be a rarity.

Robin Smith 9 years, 6 months ago

This team is unflappable. I like this makeup and mix of players A LOT.

Maybe someone can help me out. Does anyone know where to find a clip of that tip pass Young made on the break? I wanna watch that over and over again. Real heady.

Also, a sidenote: on some ESPN coverage of Miami smackin up Duke the analyst compared a Hurricane player to Kevin Young. Something like "a difference-maker, always in the right spots, hustlin". Good stuff.

funkitect 9 years, 6 months ago

that UM-Duke game was absurd. I only caught the last 8-10 minutes, but miami was making Duke look like little girls. It looked a bit like a Harlem Globetrotters game... behind the back passes, alley-oops and dunks every other play.

Jonathan Allison 9 years, 6 months ago

Did you look up how to spell coach K's last name?

I don't know which is worse, actually looking it up, or already knowing it off the top of your head...

Are you polish? If not, I hope that you don't know how to spell it...

all kidding, of course.

HawksWin 9 years, 6 months ago

Oh, that was funny. Got a good laugh, tx

Kevin Huffman 9 years, 6 months ago

That was Seth Greenberg the ex-Virginia Tech head coach who compared that Miami (FL) PF who went for 5 pts., 10 Rbs. & 4 Blks. to K. Young.

Eliott Reeder 9 years, 6 months ago

You can watch the whole game replay on I had to go back and look at that dunk attempt by EJ in the last minute. He went for the kill and it would have been legendary had he made it. Crossed over Rodriguez and just soared in to the rim, but came up a half inch short and bricked it... so close!

LAJayhawk 9 years, 6 months ago

I was actually rather pissed at EJ for that. If he just layed the ball in, it likely would have iced the game then and there. Instead he went for the highlight dunk (which, yes, would have been #1 on Top 10 had he made it), and allowed KSU a small opening by missing it. We closed out anyway, but that really wasn't the smartest play by the Prophet.

Robin Smith 9 years, 6 months ago

Thanks Kool Keith!

I also dug that dunk even though he didn't convert it.

Going for the kill indeed

KawJayhawk 9 years, 6 months ago

Thomas Robinson posted 12 points and 14 rebounds in a win over the phoenix Suns tonight.

texashawk10 9 years, 6 months ago

The biggest difference between the basketball and football teams (aside from talent level) is the mental toughness of each team. The football just didn't have the mental toughness to succeed in close games as a result, they failed to close out opponents in tough games and that's been the case for a long time. This years and last years basketball teams are two of the most mentally toughest teams I've ever seen. Last year's team had no business reaching the title game based on talent, but the mental toughness of that team propelled them far beyond where their talent level should've taken them. This year's team has a lot more talent than last year's team, but the same kind of mental toughness that makes them near impossible to beat. Bill Self has fully embraced Big 10 style basketball with these teams and it may make life miserable for us to watch, but a cold shooting night doesn't completely kill KU's chances to win a game. And as long as KU takes care of business at home on Saturday, they will move up to #1 in the coaches poll.

RJ King 9 years, 6 months ago

Are you predicting a Michigan loss to Purdue, Illinois, or both?

There will likely be shuffling in the top 5 spots over the next six weeks. I'll be very content with a number one seed in March. (Although, if UK is bubble-ish, I'd hate to look up and find them at #8 or #9 in my bracket.)

Jonathan Allison 9 years, 6 months ago

Kansas is #2 in the coaches poll. That's the one that TX10 was refering to

texashawk10 9 years, 6 months ago

We have a winner for reading an entire sentence.

NJHAWK 9 years, 6 months ago

What is a Big 10 style basketball? KU plays Bill Self style basketball.

texashawk10 9 years, 6 months ago

First one to 60 wins is Big 10 basketball. Michigan St. and Wisconsin played a game this week where neither team reached 50 and it's also customary for the Big 10 to have one or two games a year where neither team reached 40.

KULA 9 years, 6 months ago

lol, don't bet on it. If I know the pollsters, Duke will probably drop to #2, Syracuse will leapfrog us to #1 and we'll probably end up dropping a couple places

hotrodm 9 years, 6 months ago

I hope that Kevin Young gets back to playing his "A" game. He didn't play Southwell close enough on defense. Southwell was able to shoot too many wide open shots and kept K-State in the game. Kevin is such an important member of the team and when he is "On" KU is very hard to beat. Come on Kevin, take KU back to the final four.

Ron Franklin 9 years, 6 months ago

Kevins hustle will always go a long way, but a big part of his magic is gone. Through the first 11-12 games of the season he was able to draw a defender out and keep Withey open down low. That helped with floor spacing. Now that teams have realized Kevin can't make a bucket outside of 4 feet, they don't defend him and they sag down on Withey. This puts two defenders by the rim which is eliminating some of Kevins easy putbacks as well as clogging up Withey. Young is only good for hustle plays and energy. That's fine. Every team needs glue. Young is the new glue imho. Releford isn't glue anymore. He's a prime time player. He's go-to. He's skilled. And if I were coach, I'd be drawing plays up for him at the end of a game. I don't think I have ever seen him stopped when he gets to the rim. And now he has the confidence to go with his skill set.

We really need to see Ellis step in and provide a consistent mid range game for the Hawks. I think that that is the only way this team maximizes their potential.

Jonathan Allison 9 years, 6 months ago

I love Kevin too, but most teams have learned that they don't need to guard him. K-State guarded him instead of doing what Temple, ISU, TTU, Baylor, and Texas have done which is drift a defender off of Kevin toward Withey everytime Kevin sees the ball in the high post.

That's a big reason why we were in control against K-State most of the game, because it allowed Withey to keep getting the ball on the low block.

I may remember wrong but I only remember Kevin hitting 1 jump shot since New Year's and it was around the rim, off the glass, around the rim some more and then fell through.

He's gotta be able to knock down the 17 footer in order to keep the defense honest, otherwise Perry is gonna have to eat up his minutes. And I don't like that idea just because Perry doesn't have all of Kevin's intangibles.

Ron Franklin 9 years, 6 months ago

No, Rock: I tried to keep my tone positive. But with only one cup of cafe and at 6:30 am, maybe I come off like I'm bitching. I'm not. I'm just a realist. He's great for the role that he has, but the fact is that he can't hit a bucket and that helps opposing coaches in their gameplan. I'm not bashing Kevin.

Kevin Huffman 9 years, 6 months ago

Ummm, wasn't it not long ago at all that it seemed like Young was the ONLY ONE to really show up in that win at Tech?!?!?! Led the team w/ 16 pts. & 10 boards?!?!?! Yes, he had a REALLY BAD 1st half in that one, but he was FAR AND AWAY the best player from either team in the 2nd half.

bad_dog 9 years, 6 months ago

"Tech is the worst..."

And yet they beat Iowa St. in Lubbock last night...

I think TCU is the worst team in the league. They too lost to TT-@ home, no less.

AirCapJay 9 years, 6 months ago

I think Kevin, and the rest of the guys for that matter, are just tired. Winter blues. I see them getting more energy soon as we get closer to March.

Sam Constance 9 years, 6 months ago

If that was the gameplan, then that's just terrible strategy by Coach Self. I'm skeptical that was actually the plan, because why make such a focus on pinching the gap to prevent penetration when you have a guy who blocks so many shots--especially against small players driving the rim. And especially when the guy directly guarding MacGruder is KU's best perimeter defender.

Plus, even if it was the plan to pinch the gap, Young's job as the guy charged with that role is to pinch, but not so far in that he can't recover. His man should be his FIRST priority, with pinching the lane a secondary goal. He should never be pinching the lane at the expense of giving up wide-open threes on the perimeter. It's not like Southwell was some hack who shot out of his mind against us--before the game on Tuesday, he was shooting almost 50% from deep.

Don't get me wrong--I love what Young brings to our team, and he has probably been the reason we've won a couple games this year. But his defense against KSU was simply not good. I really don't think the way he executed defense was what Self and co. had in mind.

John Randall 9 years, 6 months ago

The actual plan Self and co. had in mind didn't include Southwell going unconscious from deep. Adjusting to that let MacGruder unlimber a few.

McLemore shackling Spradling and Rodriguez neutralized by EJ and Naadir for some reason hasn't been mentioned much. The defensive game plan was as good and worked as well as we could hope for against a very good 4G offense.

nuleafjhawk 9 years, 6 months ago

I do like the confidence that this team displays. What I like even more is the fact that they can show that confidence without trash talking and chest pounding. I've seen very little of that from this group and it's a credit to Bill Self and the coaching staff. I can picture Coach Self telling them, after a great play, "Act like you've done it before. Man up, show some respect and let your game do the talking for you."

Jonathan Allison 9 years, 6 months ago

get ready to see some serious chest-pounding and posing from Amath Mbaye and OU on Saturday...

that is, if they can score against KU.

Brad Avery 9 years, 6 months ago

Personally, coach, I'd rather have five guys who think they should win rather than a "go to" Thomas Robinson who the other team knew they had to guard. When Robinson had a so-so night, so did KU (e.g. Kentucky). This season, it's not on one guy but rather four seniors and one very talented freshman who can all score in the right situation, plus a developing bench. This team is a lot of fun to watch.

KansasComet 9 years, 6 months ago

I agree with the majority of your post, except for the comments on Thomas Robinson. 1st Kentucky game 11 points, 12 Rebounds, 2nd Kentucky game, 18 points, 17 rebounds, there is nothing so-so about that. Other than that, good post. Thanks.

Boouk 9 years, 6 months ago

We have a top 3 pick but no go-to guy?

clevelandjayhawker 9 years, 6 months ago

Not sure my heart can handle all these close games, could use a nice blowout win.

I like our team, but right now I dont feel we are that good. But apprently no one else in the country is that great either. I trust that over the nexdt six to seven weeks coach will get these guys to perform at their best on a consitent basis; if not we are a few made threes away from an earlier March exit then we would all like to see.

Joseph Kuebel 9 years, 6 months ago

Completely agree. We need to start smashing on the competition.

FearlessJayhawk 9 years, 6 months ago

There is similarity between great football teams and great basketball teams. The offense is what sells tickets but it's the defense that wins championships. That's why I feel good about this team. Great defense creates the opportunity to score. I think BMac has proven that he is the go to guy during crunch time. If he is covered, either Elijah, Travis or Jeff could do the job.

Kevin Huffman 9 years, 6 months ago

I'd hold off maybe 1 or 2 more gms. before affording Perry that luxury. Let's see him ACTUALLY MAKE those FT's first.

Robert Brock 9 years, 6 months ago

Perry is showing signs that he is capable of doing something but he is still dreadfully weak and mistake-prone. I like that he is struggling to get better and not allowing his weak play and errors to get him down mentally. He will be an important player next year. Good luck to the kid.

HawkKlaw 9 years, 6 months ago

I agree with you on Perry getting more minutes. I'm not sure I'd start him just yet though. I think, ideally, Self would love to start Ellis and bring KY off the bench. But Ellis' play hasn't warranted that switch just yet. If Ellis hasn't started any games by now, chances are he won't before the end of the year, but you never know.

Ellis definitely brings the skill set that KU needs at the PF spot. He just doesn't have the strength, confidence and experience yet. He'll get there.

Jack Wilson 9 years, 6 months ago

drgnslayr: Good info and thoughts. Your positivity is contagious.

Sam Constance 9 years, 6 months ago

This. So much this.

Especially as it relates to switching roles and having Ellis start and Young come off the bench. Ellis still has some work to do, but I think now is the point where you bolster his growing confidence and send a message that you appreciate his aggressiveness and hard work by giving him the nod.

Plus, Young, for all his great hustle and activity, seems to hit a wall when it comes to focus. The play where Southwell was barking in his ear after making yet another wide open three was sort of a microcosm for me--I like that Young doesn't stoop to Southwell's level and yap back at him, but I was also bothered by the seemingly indifferent attitude Young had about the fact that his man was torching the Hawks. I want a player to get angry and bear down when his man is lighting it up. I want him to take it personally that HE is getting embarrassed. Young just doesn't seem to do that, and I think that's what separates him and all of his fantastic energy and enthusiasm from the driven, can't-quit players like Thomas and Tyshawn, for example.

Let Young come in first off the bench and "own" the second unit, as it were. Giving him a little more ownership than just being the guy who's keeping Perry Ellis' spot in the starting lineup warm might re-focus his play a little bit.

The only caveat I have is that Ellis still needs a bit of work on the defensive end when it comes to pure execution. He's got the 'want' to play defense, but still struggling to find the 'exactly how'.

Almost forgot to add that your comment about Withey patrolling the paint surely guaranteeing another trophy gave me some goosebumps. They were so close last year, and while it breaks my heart to see two of my all-time faves get so close and try so hard only to come up short, it would be a great story to see the remaining upperclassmen put themselves over the top.

jaybate 9 years, 6 months ago

Jelly is going through what all first year starters, including Ben, go through. It gets harder, when they learn your weaknesses. But he and Self will find a work around eventually.

Next, Jelly has gone from Mr. Happy to Mr. Stern and from 15-18 ppg to 7-10 ppg suddenly; that always correlates with unannounced injury, or a change in offensive scheme. I don't see an injury but since the book on Kevin was never a poor shooter, I lean to injury AND scheme change. Jelly's scoring tracking down correlates strongly with Self announcing he would run more plays for Ben. Something more than scouting reports is at play here, and we will find out in a month or two. Reinjury of hand most likely.

Ron Franklin 9 years, 6 months ago

I don't quite have the time to back it up by looking at the numbers, but my gut tells me his points per game are dropping because he is missing more of his bunnies than he was during the first 10 games. His put-backs just are not dropping right now. Additionally, I don't feel like he is getting as many put-back opportunities because of sagging defenses keeping away from those easy offensive rebounds.

I don't know that I agree with you on the scheme change, because I don't think the offensive scheme was to ever go through Kevin-at all, so even a strategic change in offense shouldn't take away shots from him, should it? Maybe I'm not understanding your point, or maybe I'm not looking big-picture enough?

Also, I don't quite understand what you mean by 'slide off the spots' offense. Would you elaborate on that so I can watch for it on the next game? Thanks, Jaybate.

jaybate 9 years, 6 months ago


Part 1

First, you may well be right here and I may be wrong. I don't think you are missing a big picture. I just am probably not making myself very clear. So here goes another try.

As you and HEM suggest, Kevin was scoring a lot of bunnies on lobs and put backs. Now he's missing quite a few and anecdotally seems to be getting fewer bunny opps.

Why does one suddenly start missing bunnies, when one hasn't been? One game of missing bunnies is just random variance. More than one (and Kevin seems 3 games into missing bunnies) and it starts to hint at unreported injury.

Next, why does one suddenly start getting fewer bunny opps?

One game and its random variance. But its been going on for 3 or so games now. This points to:

a) unreported injury lessening his ability to get in position for bunnies;

b) scouting reports keeping him out of his bunny zone;

c) a change in the offense that is having an unintended consequence of Kevin getting fewer bunny opps;

d) match up disadvantages; or

e) some or all of the above.

I really cannot say with strong confidence which combination of these are drivers of this phenomenon.

But I can say that when Self increases the number of plays run through Ben it is entirely possible that an unintended consequence is fewer bunny opps for Kevin. Ben has tended to be a more efficient scorer than EJ, or Dir, and perhaps even Travis, and that is largely why Self decided to start running more plays through Ben. Greater scoring efficiency means fewer bunny opps.

Notice also that when Ben tends to shoot more free throws than our other perimeter players, which also means fewer bunny opps for Kevin.

Also, when Ben decides to pentrate off the various screens (curl, flair, etc.) rather than pop, he has a tendency to be forced to his left. When the screens are set out front, and he is being forced to his left, he is often penetrating on the same side of the lane that Kevin is located on, which means the rebound tends to come off the opposite side.

jaybate 9 years, 6 months ago

Part 2

Next, when Self elects to run plays through Ben, it implies he is not running lobs to Kevin coming off inside screens.

So: all these factors related to Ben can contribute to Kevin getting fewer bunny opps.

But the game is so rough, and Kevin started the season with a broken finger, and played a few games with a protector on his hand, that I am inclined to think we are also dealing here with unreported injury of some kind.

Further, it is just very conspicuous how much joy and exuberance Kevin has lost of late. Kevin is playing just as hard as ever in terms of energy expended, and he keeps making explosive plays on defense. But the joy of playing we saw the first month he came back has significantly diminished. To me this points to injury, or personal problems.

Finally, for about the first 6-7 games of this season, KU tried to run virtually the indentical offensive scheme as last season. Each player, but especially the bigs, tried to get on a spot and hold it, while trying to receive passes. They tried to make plays off that spot. It could be the low block. It could be the high block. It could be top of circle, etc. But the idea was to fight for position and then fight to hold the position.

Starting 7 or 8 games in, it became apparent that neither Withey, nor Kevin, nor Perry, could "stay on spots," a term Self used a number of times to describe how, say, Michigan State played physically and tried to "knock you off your spots."

Our bigs were too skinny, or not strong enough, or both.

What I began to observe after game 6 or 7 was that KU's bigs ceased trying to hold position on spots. Instead, they got to whereever they could and when the defender began to shove them they simply slid in the direction they were being shoved. And it was shortly after this started that we began to see a complete end to the normal inside out game, where the driving perimeter player was supposed to try to collapse the defense and kick out. Instead what I began to see was that the players were sharply increasing their spacing from each other and offensive scheme began to be geared toward player movements that sustained the broad spacing. The offense began to emphasize not driving to collapse the defense, but driving on one's man in order to get into the spaces and impact.

jaybate 9 years, 6 months ago

Part 3

Sooner after these changes took place KU went on its spree of blowing out opponents and some pretty good ones at that. Then it seemed to be working so well that Self then revised the weave not to try to generate cuts ever closer to the basket and ending with a player driving hard into the paint to collapse the defense, but instead cuts that kept getting farther away from the basket and resulting in a feint toward the lane that simply froze defenders, but did not collapse them, followed by passes to the wings or to the bigs down low. These guys then capitalized on the wide spacing and made impact plays.

Self even went so far as to complete abandon setting firm picks, because his slight big men couldn't sustain them even when they tried. Instead the picks were soft picks aimed only at increasing the spacing of the cutter and defender.

This offense seemed to confound practically everyone until Fran Dunphy showed up and came up with a remarkably simple counter measure.

Stop shoving and start holding.

Though KU beat Temple, the holding obviously gummed up the slide off the spots offense.

Self stuck with offense, though and each game since the holding has become more and more effective.

So: the last game or two, KU has begun to run its offense more like a "stay on the spots" offense." But with a logical, but still surprising decision rule.

(Notice: we even saw Self dusting off some pick and roll outside against KSU a few times, but it was this kind of weird half pick and roll where there seems to be an attempt to collapse the spacing as little as possible!!!! But I digress, so back to the latest apparent wrinkle related to spots.)

It appears to me that when the defender holds the KU player, he is supposed to stay on the spot and try to get better position by crowding the defender.

But when the defender shoves, he is supposed to slide off the spots.

First we had tumble weed buddhism philsophy.

Now we have tumbleweed judo on spots. If you are skinny and not as strong, then use whatever force they apply to you and turn it against them.

If any of what I am alluding to were in fact going on (and only the players and staff know for sure), this would be a neat idea in principle, but it wreaks havoc with our point guards trying to feed guys, because it can be very difficult for them to anticipate whether our guys are going to stay on the spots to collect the feed, or slide off the spots to collect the feed.

jaybate 9 years, 6 months ago

Part 4

(Note: Self said something very intriguing after the KSU game. He said KU wasn't playing as badly on offense as it may seem to some. He said we just aren't making shots. We just have to start making shots and keep playing to our "principles." Principles is a word I have never known Self to use with respect to offensive play. I think his use of it this season indicates that this offense IS being played a bit differently than previous seasons, and that what differs are some of the underlying principles that determine it.)

My hunch is that this is why EJ's pop tarts have been spiking again, and why Self has not been complaining about it. Its inevitable when one tries to play this way.

Another tell tale sign of Self doing a lot of subtle offensive tweaking (based on principles) has been Naadir's rapidly increasing amount of movement with the ball. Naadir is making frequent looping, arcing penetrations in which getting to iron is NOT the point. Yes, he will taken an open drive or shot if its there, but again that's not the point of the drive.

In fact, Self even said one time several games ago, when Dir appeared to still be trying to get the hang of what Self was asking for, he didn't want Dir taking it in with the big trees and shooting. He said Dir should be shooting treys. What he did not say was that he wanted Dir making these long, fast arcing dribble drives into the stretched, open spaces of the center of the floor to look to feed players outward with a kind of 360 degree perspective. It appears to be intend to put Dir in the center of the floor in a place where the perimeter defenders are not used to the passes coming from. It is a counter to defenses overplaying the point guard's pass to the wing. It actually dates back to Dean Smith's four corners offense. And frankly, at times, when KU is really sliding off the spots and the offensive spacing is really stretching out, KU seems to be running a hi-low "formation" version of a 4 corners offense.

Next, it all seems wrapped up inside a strategy aimed at playing offense in a way that allows KU to modulate tempo, and modulate spacing, rather a game where you play it anyway they want.

This year, Self actually seems to have his guards speeding up and slowing down tempo. KU decides to muddy things up for awhile, and then squirt out into breaks for awhile. It is a weird form of controlling tempo by altering the tempo so much that the opponent isn't sure what the hell tempo is being played. The opponent is thus frequently out of his comfort zone.

Know I could be wrong on a lot of this stuff, but this is at least what I think I am seeing.

Joseph Kuebel 9 years, 6 months ago

He got muddy water He one Mojo filter He say one and one and one is three Got to be good looking Cause he's so hard to see Come together right now Over me

Ron Franklin 9 years, 6 months ago

Nice reference, Cali--but muddy water is easy to understand when you speak the same blues trash rat a tat tat tat boom boom bash

Jack Wilson 9 years, 6 months ago

Uh oh, you said Jelly.

Actually, I think KY's statistical changes are likely a product of the ebbs and flows of the game. He is not of the skill and ability that will make him a good night in, night out scorer. He's next tier. Even the top tier guys fluctuate. Most of his buckets were garbage variety (which is a compliment to his hustle and work ethic). Plus, teams are defending him much better. It's a simple as dropping off of him when he's high, and Withey is low. Limits his passing and driving opportunities. And he's not there yet with the 15 footer "two out of three times" as Self said it needs to be.

I agree with drgnslayr. The time is approaching to add Ellis in as the starter, and have the best 6th man, energy guy, first off the bench.

jaybate 9 years, 6 months ago

Maybe, but I just don't see it.

Still, there is a rising chorus for Perry.

So maybe I haven't been watching closely enough.

Jim Roth 9 years, 6 months ago

If you plot Kevin's points per game against date, he actually has 2 peaks; early December and early January. You could almost fit a sin curve.

I predict an upswing!

Steve Quatrocky 9 years, 6 months ago

Note to BMac: Look at how McGruder moves without the ball and take notes if you want more good looks. Its not all on your teammates to get you the ball, you have to get open too and then they will find you.

Tony Bandle 9 years, 6 months ago

Congrats on your thirtieth grad annivesary...wait till you hit your 40th.

I was in Lawrence from 1966-1971. They say if you can rmember the sixties, then you weren't really there!!! :)

JJHAWK 9 years, 6 months ago

Then you remember the Student body collecting in Memorial Stadium for the Kent State debacle. And the fire, Jo Jo white, the great steal for a victory against K-State, the football victory over Mizery and our infamous 12th man in the orange bowl. And do you remember an 0-4 Kansas team beating a 4-0 Nebraska in Memorial stadium - partly on the toe of Bobby Bell and the quick kick that went almost 80 yards in that game. Interesting days.

jaybate 9 years, 6 months ago

Jack Mitchell making KU football respectable and then getting hosed.

Yes I remember Hadl's quick kicks.

Hadl, Coan, McClinton and the defeat of MU upended by MU turning us in for Coan.

Sayers making the 99 year yard run from scrimmage.

Sayers marching and picketing for civil rights.

Pepper doing round offs to lead the team out on to the field through the goal posts.

Bobby Douglas leading KU to victory in Lincoln and the SI headline of "Hawk in Cornfield."

Donnie Shanklin and Junior Riggins splitting time behind John's lead blocks.

KU's first really big offensive tackle: Keith Christiansen.

Zook at defensive end.

Pepper saying they needed speed at wide receiver and getting guys from the KU track team to come out. Was it Ron Jessie?

Karl Salb playing football.

Salb, Wilhelm and the other giant weight men dominating the weight events.

The National guard with bayonets.

The Jayhawk Cafe.

The overwhelming smell of pot on Ohio Street.

Endless vigils of the war ending and then it not ending.

Four dead in Ohio.

Oh, yeah, I remember it. Saw the early sixties as a child going to see games. Saw the mid and late sixties with an older brother and his friends as guides. Saw the 60s finally burn out in the early seventies as a student.

I was lucky. I was young enough and straight enough and yet adventurous enough to see and remember it.

Tony Bandle 9 years, 6 months ago

Joe's Donuts, the Red Dog Inn, Jolifffe Hall, Jim Ryan running at dawn, the Bierstube, the National Guard curfew, Vernon Vanoy, hoisting a hose fighting the Student Union fire, the raised court in Allen, the dirt floors in Allen, the original Beware of the Phog Banner in Allen, Draft lottery numbers [mine was 132...didn't have to go], in-state tuition was $200.00 a semester!!!

ParisHawk 9 years, 6 months ago

Mine was 126: the last number drafted was 125...

jaybate 9 years, 6 months ago

Don't forget burning the Student Union building. That was an event of some consequence. :-)

mejayhawk 9 years, 6 months ago

The Tan Man. William Burroughs. Toking Station # 9

Bob Thompson 9 years, 6 months ago

Ku has a chemistry with the 5 starters we have. I don’t think you want to take a chance and start Perry. I definitely think he should be playing more minutes, but this late in the season, stay with your starting 5.

Marcia Parsons 9 years, 6 months ago

We've played only five out of 18 conference games.Do you really consider it "late in the season"? Are we halfway? There are a lot of important games yet to go, so I guess it doesn't seem far in the season to me.

Allen Shepard 9 years, 6 months ago

It's almost exactly halfway. Played 18 and 40 is the max if we play in both championship games...

HawkKlaw 9 years, 6 months ago

As the number 2 or 3 team in the nation (depending on which rankings you look at), I would hope that KU thinks it should win!

As for the go-to guy, I think this year is similar to the 2007-08 season. That year almost anybody on the court could hit the game winner (Rush, Chalmers, RussRob, Collins and even Arthur). This year we have a similar situation (McLemore, Elijah, Travis, Naadir and Withey). It makes things so much tougher on opponents when they have to guess who is going to take the last shot, so I see this as a big advantage for KU. Even Naadir has proven that he has ice in his veins come crunch time, so opponents literally have to guard everyone.

Also, speaking of toughness and experience, this team clearly has both (a lot of these guys were on the Final Four team from last year). And with plays like BMac's bank at the end of the ISU game, this team also has luck on its side. KU is going to need all of these things to make a deep run in the tournament come March. The writing is on the wall.

Ron Franklin 9 years, 6 months ago

Thinking you should win is good and bad, depending on the egos that are involved. It's a delicate balance, similar to good stress and bad stress. If you let thinking you should win consume you too much just See VCU after the Morris Twins made their ridiculous pre-game comments.

Suzi Marshall 9 years, 6 months ago

This team seems to have a collective Michael Jordan personality. None of the players have it but the team does. MJ never talked about it, utill after the championships, he just went out and did it. He always played like he was trying to make the team and never gave up. How many times has this team been "dead" only to rise to win. Even when they don't win, like the N.C. game, they still have that spirit.

Tony Bandle 9 years, 6 months ago

From the Department of Nit Picking, wouldn't the word "we" been a better choice than "it" in the quote??

I think we have five go to long as his first name is Ben.

Perry's progress will place Kevin where he belongs......the shock troop coming off the bench to wreak havoc on our opponent.

Any morning you wake up and Duke lost the night before is a good morning.

Is it not apparent that the Elmer's Glue Award goes to Travis Releford this season???

Based on today: West - KU, Arizona, Gonzaga, Oregon / Midwest - Michigan, Mich.State, Indiana, Butler / South - Duke, Louisville, Florida, New Mexico / East - Syracuse, Minnesota, K-State, Ohio State [any resemblence between my guess and what it actually ends up, will be "monkeys flying out of my butt" luck!!! ]

mejayhawk 9 years, 6 months ago

Surely it depends, in part, on the kind of monkeys..

Ron Franklin 9 years, 6 months ago

Nope :) I don't think Travis is glue. If Travis is Glue, then so are BMac, EJ, and Withey.

HawkKlaw 9 years, 6 months ago

You're right. Travis has gone from maybe the best "glue guy" in the history of KU basketball to "star." He's now one of the lead roles and KU relies on him to do much more than just hold the team together.

As for a "glue guy" on this team, I don't think there is one. It's more of a "glue by committee" approach this season. We have a lot of seniors that keep this team on track and each player brings something special to the table.

PeterGriffin 9 years, 6 months ago

I have been saying it most of the season and I continue 'this team will NOT lose 3 games all season'. Also is my new homepage, sorry

Ron Franklin 9 years, 6 months ago

Here is an interesting stat: Releford has 25 less shot attempts than Elijah, but has 24 more free throw attempts. If EJ is supposed to be our PG and penetrator, I'd like to see his FT attempts go way way up.

Reuben_J_Cogburn 9 years, 6 months ago

Don't lose faith in Elijah. I predict he will have a breakout game soon, and start peaking right when we need him to.

Much like tourney time last year. He will get on track and become the weapon we know he can be.

Reuben_J_Cogburn 9 years, 6 months ago

And just to address any rumors I've seen on here regarding Kevin Young replaced out of the starting lineup....I don't foresee that happening.

Sure he had one of the dumbest minutes I've ever seen from a KU player. And I say minute because he crammed more insanely idiotic things into one minute of play than most do in an entire game....maybe even series of games. The triple foul on Southwell that finally got called, missing point blank shots, sloppy interior passes resulting in costly turnovers......and not to mention the greatest ally-oop pass of all time.

But I am going to chalk that up to a guy, who brings a lot of energy to a game, allowing that energy to get the best of him in an intense environment.

But he has done more things for this team that warrant his presence in the starting rotation. I believe Ellis is on the cusp of showing us just what he can do, but he is still a little too green to risk tampering with the starting 5 chemisty..

...and Mr. Young's Wild Ride the other night changes nothing in that regard.

Sam Constance 9 years, 6 months ago

"The triple foul on Southwell that finally got called"

LOL! See, KU fans don't complain about officiating that goes against us, we just don't like to see a job poorly done. For the record, I completely agree with you--when that play happened, I had two thoughts:

1) What the [expletive] is Young doing? He goes from sagging too far into the post and allowing wide-open three pointers to playing crazy jostling defense 5 feet behind the three point line.

2) Man, that took long enough for them to call that foul(s). KSU fans were right to be expressing their favorite word at that point.

I have a feeling you're right about taking the good with the bad with Young. I think part of what makes him valuable is his relentlessness and ability to forget the previous play when it goes poorly. Unfortunately, this type of mentality can also foster a looser sense of focus, which manifests itself as missed layups and crazy hail mary lob-shots. He's like a less intense, less raw talent, frontcourt version of Tyshawn.

Personally, I hope you're wrong about him not likely moving from the starting lineup to the 6th man. I think a player like Young has a place, but that looser focus and generating positive plays off of energy is better suited to a 6th man than a starter.

Reuben_J_Cogburn 9 years, 6 months ago

I agree entirely. I just don't see a better option right now.

However, if Ellis does erupt, I may be changing that standpoint.

KansasComet 9 years, 6 months ago

This team is talented, confident, and experienced. I like our chances. Before the season started I said this team in my opinion has a chance to be better than last years team. I stand by that. I am not sure how far they can go, but I don't see a glaring weakness on this team. Everyone on the team is athletic, and can run up and down the court. The young guys are only going to get better as the season goes on. Kevin Young makes mistakes, but he also makes up for his mistakes. I am glad he is on our team and is more of an asset than a liability. I enjoy watching this team, and when it all comes together, it is going to be something special. We lost one game by 3 points, and that was like the 2nd game of the season. We are truly spoiled in Kansas. A lot of KU fans are too young to remember some of the lean years. I always go back to 1978 when we played UCLA in the first round and had absolutely no chance to advance. I remember thinking "will we ever be a top 5 team again? Answer: Yes!!!!! So I appreciate every win that we earn and love every single moment that we are in the top 5. I cannot take it for granted, like some appear to do.

FarSideHawk 9 years, 6 months ago

This team is better than last year's because of the balance and length at every position. Luck has a lot to do with how far a team goes in March, because we could have easily lost in the 2nd round last year too and the team would have ended a lot less memorable.

Also this year, I don't see any team that is significantly better than others ala Kentucky last year. I really think this Jayhawk team has what it takes to win the title this year. But for that to happen, we'll need a couple of bounces to go our way...

ironhead80 9 years, 6 months ago

I like Young alot and he has made alot of hustle and garbage plays to keep KU in the games, he has not shown any skill to make shots when other teams defense plays off him. Those 12 to 15 footers should be practiced all the time, especially if other teams defenses are playing off you. I don't recall any Self teams thru the years showing an out right weakness were other teams are begging them to shoot it than this one with Kevin. Nor do I see KU trying to correct it in games, leads me to believe coach Self thinks that's not so much as a weakness. If Perry doesn't make the starting line up by middle of February or if he isn't playing in games at important times, this weakness of not making this shot will comeback in haunt them in the NCAA's. Will need another scorer from the 4 spot period.

Jeff Coffman 9 years, 6 months ago

The team is awesome, and you can see teams adjusting, I think this has also led to some people saying KY is performing poorly. In the early part of the season, Jeff withey was fed the ball, and KY would get the offensive board if necessary and put in the bunny.

In recent games, they have forced KY outside the FT line, and have doubled up on Withey. If KY could make those shots, it would be incredible, but when he misses, KY isn't in position to get the bunnies, and therefore his scoring average has decreased.

Ben the book on him is to guard the catch and shoot, and force him to dribble. He has had issues with charges and or being stripped. If he has a catch and shoot, everyone knows it is going in.

EJ now is being pressured to get rid of the ball out of his hands, that is where Naadir has come in nicely, it has allowed EJ to go back to the 2 and Naadir to dribble and kick out (usually to an open Ben). I personally think that Naadir's skills and Ben's skills match up together more than EJ's and Ben's.

With KY missing the open shots, Bill has countered with Ellis more time, because he'll aggressively drive in and score.

Withey nobody has figured that one out, only to launch threes like crazy and it just isn't working.

Tony Bandle 9 years, 6 months ago

2012/13 Jeff Withey > 2011/12 Jeff Withey.

2012/13 Kevin Young > 2011/12 Kevin Young but < 2011/12 TRob.

2012/13 Travis Releford > 2011/2012 Travis Releford..

2012/13 Elijah Johnson < 2011/12 Tyshawn Taylor.

2012/13 BenMac>>>>>>>>> 2011/12 Conner Teahan

2012/13 Bench>>>>>>>>>>>2011/12 Bench.

The secret is that there are a lot of >'s on this squad!!!!

texashawk10 9 years, 6 months ago

KU's best line up right now is Tharpe, EJ, McLemore, Releford, and Withey. That's the line up that's out there at the end of the game and that will be Self's go to line up down the stretch the rest of the way because Naadir has passed EJ at being a PG and Young's ineffectiveness on offense and poor FT shooting have made him a liability on the offensive end during late game situations. It would be great if Ellis got going, but even then, he still wouldn't be a good fit for a late game player this year because you would have to remove A) the best PG (Tharpe), B) the senior leader (EJ), C) the best player (McLemore), D) the best perimeter defensive player (Releford), or E) the best interior defensive player (Withey). I don't think Self needs to go more than 7 deep this year because this team is in great shape and we've seen him use White and Adams to spell either Releford or McLemore in the middle of a half near a TV timeout to get those two a couple extra minutes of rest for the stretch run, but those two didn't show the consistency on both ends of the floor during non-conference to justify more minutes now.

John Randall 9 years, 6 months ago

Our best lineup isn't the same for every opponent. Matchups determine the way to go. In some games, four guards would be a disaster.

Scott Smetana 9 years, 6 months ago

Perfectly said KU62. When they have 2 bangers in the game, we need a second big. What's nice about Tharpe is that we can rest 1 guard all game without losing one bit of talent on the floor. What we really need is for Ellis to continue to get more comfortable on the court.

texashawk10 9 years, 6 months ago

That's when you substitute offense for defense. Have Tharpe in there on offense for his scoring and play making and then have Young/Ellis in on defense for size if necessary.

jaybate 9 years, 6 months ago


You make a really good case, certainly the most persuasive one I have yet read about sitting Kevin. You may be right. :-)


The best line-up still seems to me to be the starting line up with Kevin and without Dir; i.e., the line up that plays the most minutes per game.

When up by a few a the end, Self has always loaded teams up with the best free throw shooters and ball handlers and that is what he is doing again this year.

Notice that if KU has to come from behind, Kevin usually plays at the end.

This tells me Self thinks his most competitive five still includes Kevin.

Kevin tends to sit at the end, when KU has a lead and Self is trying to turn it into a free throw making contest.

Further, I think Self is using EJ and Dir to do different things. No doubt, Dir is more mobile at cutting and changing directions, because his knees are sound and EJ's aren't. But its also true that EJ is still taller, a better defender and it appears a more adroit operator of the offense than Dir.

Self is using EJ as his main point guard--a PG with some mobility limitations and a PG struggling with his trey shot apparently because of his knees.

And Self brings Dir to rest EJ, and increasingly to bring more dribble penetration and movement in the center of the floor. He doesn't want Dir going to iron unless Dir happens to be wide, wide, wiiiiiiiiiiiiiide open, because Dir gets crammed inside and has not yet learned to draw fouls inside. Self wants Dir driving in arcing cuts through the center of the court in order to stress the defenders. They can't just keep crowding the perimeter when Dir penetrates, even though they know he's not going to go to iron. They have to worry about their man breaking past them without knowing exactly where Dir is behind them. Further, by doing this penetration-lite thing a few times every ten minutes, then the defense tends to respect his repeated feints to drive; this holds the defense, rather than collapses it, and then our wings, especially Ben, come off flare screens and curl screens somewhere on the transect from wing to wing, and so our best offenders--Trav and Ben--are impacting.

EJ appears to me to be distributing the ball much more evenly amongst the players than Dir. Could be wrong on this. But it seems to me that Dir is the guerilla ball handler that gets inside the enemies perimeter, disrupts, but does not go to the iron.

EJ is just kind of running the machine.

Or so it seems to me so far.

wildjayhawk 9 years, 6 months ago

Johnson over Tharpe any day. Tharpe coming off the bench and that is scary to think about. Tharpe is an accident waitting to happen. He looks a lot like sixpack Brady at times and we sure don't want anything like that.

HawkKlaw 9 years, 6 months ago

I bet Tharpe scared the crap out of you when he nailed those free throws at the end of the game in your hometown on Tuesday Night.

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