Wednesday, December 9, 2015


Matt Tait: KU takes the good and bad with Brannen Greene

Kansas guard Brannen Greene (14) watches one of his first-half three pointers, Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Brannen Greene (14) watches one of his first-half three pointers, Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.


A five-minute stretch midway through the first half of Wednesday's 92-59 Kansas University basketball victory over Holy Cross at Allen Fieldhouse perfectly summed up the hot-and-cold career of KU junior Brannen Greene.

Best described by six simple words: Take the good with the bad.

And like it.

Greene's return to the lineup, unexpected as it was, given that it came one game shy of the six-game suspension he was slapped with for violating team rules prior to the trip to Maui, proved that Kansas fans are just fine with that idea.

When Greene was announced after checking in with 11:53 to play in the first half, the crowd roared, perhaps forgetting that just a few weeks ago this was the same guy many of them were moaning and groaning about on message boards for his inability to “figure it out.”

Like it or not, KU coach Bill Self may have to follow the lead of the fans, because there's no denying Greene's offensive impact when he's on the floor.

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Bill Self discusses Brannen Greene's return, win over Holy Cross

Kansas basketball coach Bill Self discusses the return of junior guard Brannen Greene (14 points) and the impact that had on the No. 2-ranked Jayhawks' 92-59 victory over Holy Cross.

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Here's a look at that delightfully maddening first-half stretch:

After picking up a foul 15 seconds after checking in, Greene responded with a picture-perfect three-pointer from the wing 70 seconds later.

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Greene, Selden and Diallo discuss beating Holy Cross

After Brannen Greene returned to the Kansas basketball lineup and the Jayhawks rolled in a 92-59 victory over Holy Cross, Greene, Wayne Selden Jr. and Cheick Diallo discuss the win with media members.

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After throwing a pass closer to Holy Cross coach Bill Carmody than his own teammate on another possession, Greene knocked down a triple from the corner after the ensuing Kansas stop.

And finally, after fighting a teammate for a rebound that landed in the hands of a Holy Cross player, Greene dug in, broke up a pass and sprinted out in transition for a tough, and-one bucket that pushed KU's lead to 32-20 late in the first half.

All of this in a five-minute stretch. And all of it in his first game back from a very public suspension that added yet another chapter of dysfunction to his rocky KU career.

Clearly, Greene's game is not always pretty. The shot? Sure. That is. Perfect elevation, form and release. But at times Greene's game has all of the warts and wrinkles of Medusa. He can be careless with the ball, rarely digs in defensively and is not afraid to let his body language reflect what's on his mind, good or bad.

But none of that matters when you can score like he can. On Wednesday night Greene poured in 14 points in 17 minutes on 5-of-6 shooting, 3-of-4 from three-point range. 

KU coach Bill Self said after the game that giving Greene too much credit for the confidence his team had shooting the ball would be misguided. He's right. After all, the Jayhawks shot lights out in Hawaii, and Greene wasn't even in the same state.

But there's something to be said for a guy who can be just as effective when things go well as he can when things turn ugly. And Greene is the poster boy for both.

Look no further than a sloppy possession in the second half that quickly turned from coal to diamonds for proof of that.

With the Jayhawks setting up their offense in front of the KU bench, Self shouted at Greene to get in the right spot. Once he did, he fumbled with the ball before throwing it to no one in particular near the top of the key. After a teammate scooped up the loose ball and quickly got it back into Greene's hands with the shot clock winding down, the 6-foot-7 guard blew by his defender and easily scored a flashy layup.

Vintage Greene. The good with the bad. On and off the court.

— See what people were saying about the game during’s live coverage

More news and notes from Kansas vs. Holy Cross

By the Numbers: Kansas 92, Holy Cross 59

By the Numbers: Kansas 92, Holy Cross 59


Bryce Landon 6 years, 6 months ago

I wonder what prompted Self to reinstate Greene a game early...?

Suzi Marshall 6 years, 6 months ago

When it comes to exercising complete control over ones area of responsibility, Joseph Stalin had nothing over Bill Self. Self was very clear in the post game interview that BG needs to get on his (Self) page...Self's way or the High way.

Darwin Dandy 6 years, 6 months ago

and he doing just that, he seemed really focus last night like I have never seen before. I hope this carries on thru the season

Jay Scott 6 years, 6 months ago

Still the best way to work with teenagers. Is there a successful NCAA hoops program where the players are in charge?

Suzi Marshall 6 years, 6 months ago

Self offers a better option, for those that oppose them that is, than Stalin ever did.

Jay Scott 6 years, 6 months ago

Suzi. We get that you hate Self. The 20+ million that were killed by Stalin were treated slightly worse than Brannen Greene has been.

Suzi Marshall 6 years, 6 months ago

Where did you get the idea that I hated Self?

Rodney Crain 6 years, 6 months ago

Maybe Bobby Knight would have been a better choice Suzi? Just me but seems kind of rough to throw Stalin out there.

I like a coach who values team above the individual. We hear all the time how players see our program as a family. BG put himself above the team, sounds like he humbled himself to regain his place and Self rewarded him by lifting his suspension by a game. Sounds like our coach.

Suzi Marshall 6 years, 6 months ago

Perhaps. Nevertheless, when Stalin was around nobody doubted who ran Russia. Nobody doubts who runs KU Basketball.

Jared Reeves 6 years, 6 months ago

Great article. Greene's benefits outweigh his costs. Offense is just as valuable as defense. If Greene = +6pts/game on offense and -4pts/game on defense, that is called a win!

John Boyle 6 years, 6 months ago

85% of all statistics are made up.

These are just made up numbers to make your point sound valid (which it may or may not be) but without true "numbers" we don't really know.

Jack Hoff 6 years, 6 months ago

Jared that logic is somewhat flawed. Because defense will always remain a constant. If you are good defensively that will never change. However offense can come and go even for someone who seems as automatic as Greene is right now. What happens On a night when Greene can't make a shot to save his life and nets 0 scoring contribution while giving up -4 on defense. That's a loss by your logic. Also flawed because defense is a team concept, one guy's +- won't dictate the outcome of the game.

Jared Reeves 6 years, 6 months ago

Jack, I disagree. First, defense is not a constant. You can give up more points to one team and less to another. Also, offense is not more random than is defense. Golden's State isn't just really lucky. Moreover, that is why in my example it was an average, so it takes into account game-to-game ups and down. Finally, one guy can affect the outcome. If we didn't play Perry Ellis, it would have a negative impact on the game.

Len Shaffer 6 years, 6 months ago

Jared, I don't know how in the world you can say that offense is not more random than defense. Obviously you give up more points to some teams than others, but that has something to do with the talent that you're going against.

Even the greatest shooters have bad shooting nights, while great defensive players can hustle and get in position consistently night after night.

As for your example of the Warriors, people often miss the minor detail that they finished first last year in both offense AND defense. It was their defense that was as responsible for them winning the title as their offense was.

Jared Reeves 6 years, 6 months ago

Len, I respect your opinion, but disagree. I agree there are many variables on offense, which means there is randomness (but there are just as many variables on defense). A team will score more or less, based in part on the opposing talent. (A team will give up more or less, based in part on the opposing talent.) A bad offensive night might be based on the offensive scheme, and how it matches up with your opponent (which is why coaches make adjustments). Shooting is part of offense, but there is more to it. Shooting isn’t just based on luck, even though you can have bad shooting nights. A good shooting night might be due to a player has more energy and is hustling more to get open, or the other team is doubling someone else. A bad night can be that the shooter is being guarded differently and doesn’t adjust, or the ref is allowing more contact, or the shooter is tired. There are many variables for a good/bad offensive performance for both a team and individual.

But, defense can be just as inconsistent, and based on as many variables. Defense is partially about hustle (just like offense can about effort), a team may have great hustle, but doesn’t know how to guard a back door cut, or the pick and roll. Diallo is the best hustler on the team, but he doesn’t know defense yet. Also, hustle isn’t always consistent--players get tired on defense (just like offense) and can have a bad defensive night. The refs can call more fouls, or the shooter being guarded can be hot. Finally, it can be based on the defensive scheme, and how it counters what the offense is trying to do.Defense can be inconsistent and random (just like offense), because there are an equal number of variables.

The difference is that there are more statistics for offense, than for defense, so offense is easier to quantify and chart, which is why most people think it is more random.

Len Shaffer 6 years, 6 months ago

Jared, you make a lot of good points, and I have to admit that I had not given much thought to the potential randomness of defense. I will also admit that the level of randomness is closer between offense and defense than I had thought. However, I will still argue that there is at least a little more randomness to offense, because while you could make the point that all of the things you listed apply equally to both offense and defense, shooting does not. The fact is that sometimes shots just aren't falling, even if all other things are equal, and I don't think there's anything quite like that on defense.

Micky Baker 6 years, 6 months ago

Len, there is. For example, even if you're playing great defense, the other team makes the shots any way. You can execute really well on offense and miss the shots the same way. When a team has no pressure (meaning nobody expects them to win) on them, they can jack up any shot they want with confidence.

Defense can always be good, or it can break down too much. It really is about matchups against certain opponents based on different factors such as length, height, quickness, etc. You get it. It's not a new thing in basketball at any level. If you have a team with a .500 record that has quickness at every spot, then they are going to be able to marginalize players with size, but not as much quickness to a degree.

Jared Reeves 6 years, 6 months ago

John, I was not providing statistics. Perhaps you missed my subtle phrase, "If Greene..."

Mike Tackett 6 years, 6 months ago

Really. The guy he is supposed to guard had a layup drill, even with help defense. Not sure where Jared got the +/- numbers. A number of our bigs picked up fouls trying to cover his man.

Jared Reeves 6 years, 6 months ago

Mike, my numbers were an example, not stats. Obviously I wasn't clear enough in my writing, since you are the second person who missed that. My mistake.

Jay Scott 6 years, 6 months ago

The moment that best illustrated the "bad" of Greene was when the ball was inbounded to him after a HC basket and he nearly took it across the baseline so he could inbound it again.

Micky Baker 6 years, 6 months ago

What players do you not have to take the bad with the good?

Last night, KU was switching when the shot clock got under 10 seconds to prevent the drive to the bucket and it caused a few turnovers. It's what happened the first 20 seconds that mattered last night, and Self figured that out. KU started to put on full court pressure to force HC to start their offense most of the time with just 23 or fewer seconds left, and that pressure also led to some poor shot choices by them and some turnovers that gave us easy buckets. Holy Cross didn't see that coming.

The way we play defense in man to man is pressure style, and that means we're going to get beat on the back cut. There was only one guy last night that was protecting the back cut because of his quickness and that was Mason. There were other guys that read plays well and got into the passing lanes, Graham was one and I think Ellis got a steal or two that way too. The scouting report was used by our guys last night and it paid off. Holy Cross didn't adjust... maybe because they couldn't because they didn't have the personnel to adjust. They kept packing it in during the 2nd half, at least early but because of the poor shooting and good defense by KU in the 2nd half, Holy Cross really only caught us off guard for the first 4 or 5 minutes of the 2nd half. After that, KU's defense woke up and it was over.

Didn't we also end up shooting 100% from the freethrow line? We didn't get as many trips to the line because we made a lot of shots outside the paint, and hey, when you're wide open and it's in the flow of the offense either in transition or half court sets, we should be taking those shots if they're going to give them to us and we have the guys that can knock it down. That doesn't mean we take shots if there is another guy that can get a better shot from the same distance or somewhere closer.

Mo Meza 6 years, 6 months ago

Brannen is a good kid. He is a great shooter and could make to the next level (NBA). He just needs to follow rules and instructions given to him. I trust he will be fine from here on. Stay out of trouble.

David Robinett 6 years, 6 months ago

Like Gollum, Greene could lead us to the goal at Mount Doom. But it's 50-50 whether the ring goes on the lava.

David Robinett 6 years, 6 months ago

I.e. makes a 3 for the NC, or is the goat for a bonehead play.

Humpy Helsel 6 years, 6 months ago

I hate it for Brannen. He is a kid. One that struggles with maturity. There are bunch of them at this age, regardless of their talents. It will be important for him to have an uneventful off the court season from here on. More trouble, and you start to get into "head case" label territory, and the professional ranks can't afford draft picks with that label any more. Anyone who can shoot the ball like he can, can round out the other aspects of the game, and handle himself off of the court, can make a lot of money at the next level. But the ability to shoot isn't enough, even at KU. Come on, Brannen. We need you. And you need KU.

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