Saturday, January 24, 2015


Column: Jayhawks should channel energy

Kansas forward Cliff Alexander (2) celebrates after a dunk against UNLV during the second half on Sunday, Jan. 4, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Cliff Alexander (2) celebrates after a dunk against UNLV during the second half on Sunday, Jan. 4, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.


— Kelly Oubre Jr. throws down a rim-rattler, stands in frozen admiration of his creation, and the other team is off to the races, five-on-four. Brannen Greene barely moves the net after rising up from 22 feet. Just in case the audience forgot the rule that has been in place for more than a quarter-century in college basketball, Greene lets everybody in the building know that the shot was worth three, count ’em, three, points.

Tune in a college basketball game on TV, and you’ll undoubtedly see more of the same. In some games, much, much more.

Is it just me, or are teams hurting themselves by calling attention to their fabulous feats now more than ever?

“I don’t know if more of it’s going on, but it certainly feels like, at least in our program, I don’t think our guys ham it up, but we ham it up more than the ’08 team,” Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self said.

The 2007-08 team, the gold standard for 21st century Kansas basketball. It seems a great model to follow since the team won a national title by playing with such efficiency and unselfish play.

“I’m not saying that’s bad because I think energy, sometimes that’s a good thing, and I think guys have different ways to pump themselves up, but you know, the bad boys don’t do that,” Self said. “That’s one thing that I think we can be better at and act more mature in a lot of ways because when you’re playing with freshmen, I think sometimes the emotion of the moment can get the best of you.”

This year’s team’s nine leaders in minutes played is made up of four freshmen, three sophomores and two juniors. Four seniors, two juniors, two sophomores and one freshman (Cole Aldrich, ninth) were the title team’s nine leaders in minutes.

“It’s amazing to me with that ’08 team, no matter what, you’re down, you’re up, didn’t matter,” Self said. “You weren’t ever going to be able to look at them and tell what the score was because they always had the same disposition.”

Not so with this young team.

“I think that’s one thing, our body language, that our team can do better,” Self said. “When we’re good, sometimes we’re a little bit too hyped, and when we’re down, sometimes we’re too low, and I think that’s pretty much the way it is across America.”

Today’s game against Texas, which brings so much size, would be a good time for Kansas players to start turning the adrenaline manufactured from great plays into running faster in transition in both directions, instead of pausing to pose.


Rodney Crain 7 years, 6 months ago

You know Tom Barry Sanders was such a joy to watch. He would fake you out of your shoes, score a TD, hand the ball to the ref, hustle back the bench get some water and sit down. Emmit Smith too.

I get its about the celebration now, who could forget Jordan holding that pose when he hit that jumper against the jazz for a championship. But it does get a bit much now sometimes.

Our team this year can look beaten or down on itself. At other times they can rally or give away a lead with the best of them. We lack that one player who can reset the team, get a bucket or a stop and reverse momentum. Still so much room for growth and maturity it has been a interesting team to watch play this season.

Steve Zimmerman 7 years, 6 months ago

Energy without speed is nothing. This team has to play faster, especially the PGs. They have to look for pick-n-roll situation and make a quick pass. We're so damn slow we will end up settling with 3s. If we're lucky, then we'll make a bunch of them. We have kids that can leap, but they have tendencies to wait until the defenders come to them, then they kick the ball out again. I haven't seen much of good lobs %. Our PGs have to be able to penetrate and use our bigs to catch (hopefully they're alert at all times) and slam. Attack, attack and attack. UT will dismantle us with their quickness, otherwise. I have hope Cliff will take care of business this time.

Jack Jones 7 years, 6 months ago

Ahh, the foibles of youth. Maturity, and in this situation, the lack thereof, is revealed in multiple forms ~ physical, intellectual and emotional. It is not difficult to connect the dots when we see the dramatic ups and downs this team has experienced this year ~ and, the on-court gestures and behavior mentioned in this piece are examples, as well. As this team gains from experience, and quite naturally grows in maturity, I am convinced that we will see continued improvement, on the court and in their ability to "act like they've been there before." Besides, Coach Self will see to that.

John Randall 7 years, 6 months ago

"Act like you've been there before" is what the guys do who are most likely to "Do it again and keep doing it."

"Look at me, see what I did!" is what you get from the guys who only do it once in a while.

Taking time and attention, even for just a few seconds, or fractions of a second, to celebrate and gloat means that much time, effort and focus is being stolen from the TEAM for selfish, freshman (childish) purposes. I see that as a primary difference between true champions and other teams just as 'good' who piss greatness down the drain.

Elden Davis 7 years, 6 months ago

It's been said this team lacks a "killer instinct." I wonder if that's a relative of the in-the-moment celebratory issue.

It is both self-congratulatory and taunting. Best leave both alone. If a particlular play is good, the crowd, coach and viewers will know. And why show up an opponent? Sometimes teams come back, as this KU team should know by now.

Robert Brock 7 years, 6 months ago

Today's young players derive their squirrelly narcissistic expressions directly from their NBA idols. Pathetic.

Mark Lindrud 7 years, 6 months ago

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Joe Joseph 7 years, 6 months ago

I've said this before. Bill Self might be better off if he never recruits another top-10, OAD-type athlete. Self's best teams have been teams loaded with talented and experienced juniors and seniors. Most teams that cut down the nets are built in a similar fashion, with the 2012 UK team and 2003 Syracuse teams as about the only exceptions in the 21st century. Have teams won with talented OADers in their lineups? Sure. But those teams typically don't depend on those freshmen.

Evan Calipari's model of top-heay, blue-chip-only recruiting has proven inconsistent. UK completely missed the tournament 2 years ago and nearly missed the tournament last season, which people are quick to forgive and forget due to its runner-up finish in the tournament. The success and dominance of this year's UK squad? Largely the result of several of the OAD type players from last season returning to play as more experienced sophomores. If that doesn't happen, UK is nowhere near as dominant, and - due to a relatively weak freshmen class nationally - probably isn't dominant at all.

The script is yet to be written on this season. Kansas could easily catch fire and make a deep run. It could also get bounced early. Next season will be the biggest test to this thesis, as Kansas will return all of its contributing players, save Oubre. (I can't imagine Alexander leaving unless he really turns it on down the stretch...) Self will most likely start 2 seniors and 3 juniors to begin the season.

Walter Bridges 7 years, 6 months ago

I wonder how many comments would be left unchanged if made AFTER KU beat Texas? Would we really better w/o KO and Alexander Joe? No killer instinct? "squirrelly narcissistic expressions" LMAO

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