Friday, March 14, 2014


Column: Iowa State’s hot shooting too much for most defenses, including KU’s

Iowa State forward Melvin Ejim pulls up for a shot over Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins during the first half on Friday, March 14, 2014 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

Iowa State forward Melvin Ejim pulls up for a shot over Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins during the first half on Friday, March 14, 2014 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri.


Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Bill Self, Perry Ellis and Tarik Black react to KU's BIg 12 semifinal loss to ISU

Kansas coach Bill Self, as well as post players Perry Ellis and Tarik Black, react to KU's BIg 12 semifinal loss to ISU, and discuss how the Cyclones broke down the Jayhawks' defense to reach the Big 12 championship game.

Download podcast

Bill Self on KU's Big 12 semifinal loss to ISU

Kansas basketball coach Bill Self meets with media outside the Jayhawks' locker room after KU's 94-83 loss to Iowa State in the Big 12 tournament semifinals.


Box score

— Sometimes, it’s about the other guys, especially when the other guys play a brand of basketball as innovative as Iowa State’s under coach Fred Hoiberg.

When the Cyclones hit their shots, they’re tough to beat. When they can’t get them to drop, they seldom have the defensive personnel to walk away winners.

Armed with five starters capable of burying three-pointers and a coach who knows how to put them in the right places to make it difficult to supply help defense and still recover in time to prevent leaving shooters open, the Cyclones present a complicated challenge.

They miss those shots and they’re susceptible to grinders exploiting them defensively. That didn’t happen Friday night in Sprint Center, where ISU advanced to Saturday's Big 12 tournament title game by defeating Kansas, 94-83. No need to call the coroner. Everyone in Sprint Center and a national-television audience could identify it as a death by shooting.

The Cyclones made 8 of 12 three-pointers in a first half that ended with Kansas on top, 48-46, and made 11 of 19 for the game. Six different Cyclones made at least one three-pointer and first-team All-Big 12 point guard DeAndre Kane made 5 of 6 on a night he totaled 20 points, six rebounds, six assists, two steals and a blocked shot.

Unlike the way most basketball games are won, Iowa State established the outside game to open up the inside.

Center Georges Niang, who has burned Kansas in the past from long range, did his damage in the paint this time on a night he cobbled together a strange stat line: 11 of 22 shots, 1 of 4 threes, 25 points, two rebounds, seven assists and eight turnovers. One night after Kansas did such a terrific job of clogging the paint with strong help defense, Niang had his way.

When a team gets as hot from beyond the arc as the Cyclones did the first half, it can, at the very least, subconsciously take the conviction out of leaving your man to help on another. Couple that with the Cyclones being strategically spaced far apart, which lengthens the defender’s task in both helping and recovering, and it’s a tough blend to combat, especially without a shot-blocker.

“Everybody still has to give strong help and get back to close out on shooters,” Traylor said of whether playing a team like Iowa State requires changing the defensive approach. “They’re definitely a talented team, a tough team to guard. Those guys can really shoot it. They came out hot today and made a lot of great plays down the stretch.”

Even with 7-foot center Joel Embiid in the lineup, Kansas didn’t defend as consistently well as in most recent seasons, but they did throw Iowa State off stride in Ames to the tune of 4-for-25 from three for the Cyclones that night.

“They made shots tonight,” Kansas point guard Naadir Tharpe said. “I think we played much better defensively that night. Today they were shooting more open shots and we had miscommunication and that’s what hurt us.”

Said Traylor of the Cyclones: “So many shooters and everybody can score. Great coaching. A team like that, especially when they come out hot, rolling and ready to play, they’re a tough matchup for anybody.”

Tough matchups for Kansas became more plentiful once Embiid went down with a stress fracture of the lower back, an injury expected to keep him out of at least the first two games of the NCAA tournament. The Jayhawks are 3-2 without him.

Kansas played two tough teams in the Big 12 tournament and batted .500. After facing a lightweight in the first round of the NCAA tournament, it’ll face a tough one in the second round, a game that likely will be close to a 50-50 proposition. If the Jayhawks advance to the Sweet 16, another 50-50 proposition awaits and it involves the status of their gifted center from Cameroon. Will he or won’t he play? No point in worrying about that unless the Jayhawks survive for that long.

“Points are going to come,” Traylor said. “We scored pretty good today, but we definitely have to limit the opponents. How many did they have, 90-something? That’s too many. We’ve got to get that number down.”


Scott Smetana 8 years, 3 months ago

I like our chances a little better than 50/50 in the second game. I'd say 60/40. If ISU can play that hot for 6 games, they'll win it all. Unfortunately, no team can rely that heavy on the 3 that consistently. They lack a big man to eat up rebounds.

Alex Berger 8 years, 3 months ago

Markel Brown called it, if ISU is making their shots they'll win, and they did.

Joe Ross 8 years, 3 months ago

Correction: "Iowa State’s hot shooting too much for most defenses, ESPECIALLY KU’s"

Perimeter defense has been a problem all season. Don't take my word for it. Listen to Coach.

Michael Sillman 8 years, 3 months ago

Self's help defense will always leave us vulnerable to hot outside shooting teams. There will always be one shooter left open.

If we face a team like Iowa State with five outside marksmen, we stand a good chance of losing unless they go cold.

Against that sort of team I'd like to see either a full court or half court press to keep them out of their offense.

Joe Ross 8 years, 3 months ago

This argument is too simplistic. For one, just saying that we will get beat on the perimeter ignores the fact that we haven't been this bad in a long time guarding outside shots. Secondly, when screens are set the hedge minimizes the cushion for most teams (including Self's teams of the past) so that so many open looks aren't given up. Third, the rotation on the help defense is much slower for this team than any other Kansas team I can remember under HCBS. And finally, we may not be perfect against the outside shot (no one is), but you can not argue that improvement can not be achieved.

Walter Bridges 8 years, 3 months ago

First OSU, then WVU and finally ISU showed we are at the mercy of a good team that can hit the 3.

I think HCBS pretty much knocked the confidence out of Greene, White and Frankamp. They continually pass up open shots when they are on the floor due to the fear of being yanked.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.