Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Ball security could secure win at WVU

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) is fouled on his way up to the bucket by Texas Tech center Norense Odiase (32) during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) is fouled on his way up to the bucket by Texas Tech center Norense Odiase (32) during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas.


— Kansas University junior Wayne Selden Jr., who has experienced two losses the past two seasons at energized WVU Coliseum, knows what it will take to finally beat the No. 11-ranked Mountaineers (14-1, 3-0) in their 14,000-seat arena.

“Just taking care of the ball, letting Frank (Mason III) and Devonté (Graham) take care of all that,” Selden said with a smile, fully aware all members of KU’s No. 1-ranked team (14-1, 3-0) must secure the ball against a squad that is ranked third in the country in steals (170 in 15 games, trailing only Omaha and Gardner-Webb) after leading the nation in thefts in 2014-15.

“West Virginia is going to pressure. We know that. The past couple years, we went there and caught L’s. We’re trying to change that this year,” added Selden, who says he’s looking forward to today’s 6 p.m. road game.

The Mountaineers, who are 1-4 in WVU Coliseum all-time against teams ranked No. 1 in the AP poll — the only win came against UNLV on Feb. 27, 1983 — plucked eight steals while forcing 14 turnovers in last year’s 62-61 victory over KU in Morgantown.

In 2013-14, West Virginia, which had not yet implemented its all-out pressing attack, had seven steals in forcing just 11 turnovers in its 92-86 victory at WVU Coliseum.

KU in both instances entered with a No. 8 ranking, the fans storming the court after both wins. WVU was ranked No. 23 at the time of the game last year, unranked the year before.

“I think they may be doing it (pressing) better this year than they did it last year,” KU coach Bill Self said. “A lot of people initially thought with the rules emphasis (calling fouls when players put their hands on opponents), it may cause them to back off a little bit. It hasn’t at all. They are doing a good job of playing and for the most part, without fouling,” Self added.

West Virginia, which leads the country in forced turnovers (20.8 per game), has an average margin of victory at home of 36.7 ppg. The Mountaineers force opponents to turn it over on 27.5 percent of their possessions and average 26.6 ppg off turnovers. West Virginia has forced 30 or more turnovers in three games and has at least seven steals in every game.

“They are in attack mode all the time on both ends,” Self said, “and they have so many interchangeable parts. They are a very deep team. I don’t think anybody is surprised at the success they’ve had this season, but I will tell you this, I was nervous for our team, a lot of coaches were probably nervous, ‘How are we going to guard’ with the rules emphasis. Their players have done a great job of adjusting and still keeping pressure on folks.”

Junior forward Devin Williams leads WVU in scoring (14.5 ppg) and rebounding (8.6 rpg). Sophomore guard Jevon Carter averages 12.7 ppg. He’s tied for the team lead in threes made (25) with senior Jaysean Paige who averages 12.6 ppg in a reserve role. Sophomore Daxter Miles averages 12.1 ppg, while senior forward Jonathan Holton averages 7.3 boards and 9.7 ppg. Freshman forward Esa Ahmad averages 4.8 points, while rotation players Tarik Phillip and Elijah Macon average 7.7 and 6.4 ppg.

“I think we’ve got good guys. They want to win,” said WVU coach Bob Huggins. “They enjoy being around each other. We don’t have cliques. We don’t have those kind of things that sometimes you have. They’ve been a lot of fun to be around. They like being in the gym. They are enthusiastic about practice, enthusiastic about games for the most part.”

And they love playing pressure defense.

“I think we’ve done a pretty good job with our fullcourt pressure,” Huggins said. “We need to be more consistent offensively.”

Huggins respects tonight’s foe, No. 1 KU.

“They’ve shot the ball so well. Obviously you’ve got to try to figure out a way to guard them,” Huggins said. “They are so good defensively. We’re trying to figure out a way to score. I think this might be Bill’s best team he’s had since we’ve been in the league. I think they’re really good.”

Rolling without Staten: West Virginia has done a nice job replacing Juwan Staten, who now plays in the NBA Developmental League.

“They lost a great player in Staten. Of course he was a terrific guard,” Self said Monday. “The way they play is a tribute to him (Huggins). The Spurs are the greatest example of the ‘next man up’ concept in basketball. Regardless who you put out there, the system allows you to be successful.

“That’s what West Virginia has done, the way their kids play, how athletic and quick they are and aggressive. The parts become somewhat interchangeable on the perimeter or on the interior.”

Ratings: KU took over the top spot from Oklahoma in the USA Today coaches poll on Monday. West Virginia is 10th. KU is No. 1 for the second straight week in the AP poll, West Virginia 11th.

KU-UK time: Game time for the KU-Kentucky game, set for Jan. 30 in Allen, has been set at 6 p.m. Central time. It will be shown on ESPN.

The series: KU leads the all-time series with WVU, 4-2. Last season’s second meeting was a 76-69 overtime victory by KU in Allen. ... Self is 4-2 against West Virginia, while WVU’s Huggins is 2-8 all-time versus Kansas (2-4 while at WVU). ... A win tonight would give WVU its best start since the 1981-82 team went 24-1. ... West Virginia is 3-7 all-time against No. 1 teams in the AP. WVU is 1-4 at WVU Coliseum vs. No. 1.

Self on deciding which big men to play meaningful minutes on a given night: “I do think there’s certain things from a depth situation that has made it difficult because a lot of times we don’t know who to play. I know that sounds like a lot of coaches should know. I don’t think that’s necessarily true. A lot of times we play based on scouting report. I haven’t done that in many years,” Self said. “Against West Virginia, it could be best ball-handling bigs for obvious reasons. Against a low-post threat it could be your heaviest big who is the best low-post presence. Against a pick and pop big guy it could be your most agile, best perimeter-defending big guys. It’s nice to have some options we can run people out there. It’d be better if you had one guy who could do it all. Certainly in our situation we’ve kind of done it by committee in that other big spot (next to Perry Ellis).”

Kansas University vs. West Virginia

Probable Starters

KANSAS (14-1, 3-0)

F — Perry Ellis (6-8, Sr.)

F — Hunter Mickelson (6-10, Sr.)

G — Frank Mason III (5-11, Jr.)

G — Wayne Selden Jr. (6-5, Jr.)

G — Devonté Graham (6-2, Soph.)

W. VIRGINIA (14-1, 3-0)

F — Jonathan Holton (6-7, Sr.)

F — Esa Ahmad (6-8, Fr.)

F — Devin Williams (6-9, Jr.)

G — Jevon Carter (6-2, Soph)

G — Daxter Miles (6-3, Soph.)

Tipoff: 6 p.m. today, WVU Coliseum, Morgantown, West Virginia.

TV: ESPN2 (WOW! channels 34, 234).



0 — Frank Mason III, 5-11, 185, Jr., G, Petersburg, Virginia.

1 — Wayne Selden, Jr., 6-5, 230, Jr., G, Roxbury, Massachusetts.

2 — Lagerald Vick, 6-5, 175, Fr., G, Memphis.

4 — Devonté Graham, 6-2, 175, Soph., G, Raleigh, North Carolina.

5 — Evan Manning, 6-3, 170, Sr., G, Lawrence.

10 — Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, 6-8, 195, Soph., G, Cherkasy, Ukraine.

11 — Tyler Self, 6-2, 165, Jr., G, Lawrence.

13 — Cheick Diallo, 6-9, 220, Fr., F, Kayes, Mali, Africa.

14 — Brannen Greene, 6-7, 215, Jr., G, Juliette, Georgia.

15 — Carlton Bragg, Jr., 6-9, 220, Fr., F, Cleveland.

21 — Clay Young, 6-5, 205, Soph., F, Lansing.

22 — Dwight Coleby, 6-9, 240, Jr., F, Nassau, Bahamas.

31 — Jamari Traylor, 6-8, 220, Sr., F, Chicago.

33 — Landen Lucas, 6-10, 240, Jr., F, Portland, Oregon.

34 — Perry Ellis, 6-8, 225, Sr., F, Wichita.

42 — Hunter Mickelson, 6-10, 245, Sr., F, Jonesboro, Arkansas.

Head coach: Bill Self. Assistants: Kurtis Townsend, Norm Roberts, Jerrance Howard.


0 — Teyvon Myers, 6-2, 170, Jr., G, Brooklyn, New York

1 — Jonathan Holton, 6-7, 220, Sr., F, Miami, Florida.

2 — Jevon Carter, 6-2, 195, Soph., G, Maywood, Illinois.

3 — James Bolden, 6-0, 160, Fr., G, Covington, Kentucky.

4 — Daxter Miles, Jr., 6-3, 195, Soph., G, Baltimore.

5 — Jaysean Paige, 6-2, 210, Sr., G, Jamestown, New York.

11 — Nathan Adrian, 6-9, 240, Jr., F, Morgantown, West Virginia.

12 — Tarik Phillip, 6-3, 200, Jr., G, Brooklyn, New York.

13 — James Long, 5-11, 190, Jr., G, Charleston, West Virginia.

15 — Lamont West, 6-8, 215, Fr., F, Cincinnati.

20 — Brandon Watkins, 6-9, 245, Jr., F, Decatur, Georgia.

21 — Logan Routt, 6-11, 250, Fr., F, Cameron, West Virginia.

23 — Esa Ahmad, 6-8, 225, Fr., F, Cleveland.

30 — Richard Romeo III, 6-0, 185, Sr., G, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

41 — Devin Williams, 6-9, 255, Jr., F, Cincinnati.

45 — Elijah Macon, 6-9, 235, Soph., F, Columbus, Ohio.

Head coach: Bob Huggins. Assistants: Larry Harrison, Ron Everhart, Erik Martin.


Joe Ross 6 years, 11 months ago

One thing that I'm pleased about this season is that the team is realizing it has to bring it every single game. There is no let up. As long as Kansas stays focused and has the right mentality before games they will be competitive because the talent and experience are both there.

And it may be wishful thinking, but it'd certainly be nice to have one thread on this board be free from drama and just focused on the article/basketball.

Cam Shef 6 years, 11 months ago

I agree, from a physical standpoint this team has everything they need to have an amazing season. The two things I worry about is the lack of focus in game where they go 3 or 4 minutes on scoring droughts and the lack of step on their throats and don't let them breathe one breath of air killer instinct. It would be nice to see a 10 point lead grow to 20, and then 30 without the outcome ever being in question.

Jay Scott 6 years, 11 months ago

Haven't you just brought "drama" into it?

Brett McCabe 6 years, 11 months ago

Full disclosure: I really liked that song. The guy had a great vocal tone. One of what seemed like a million one-hit wonders from England in the 80's.

Joe Ross 6 years, 11 months ago

Bro you gotta listen to "Tell Me" and "Sun and the Moon" from their album Indian Summer. Live versions suck, but the studio tracks make these guys eligible for coolest white men on the planet.

Eliott Reeder 6 years, 11 months ago

Really?!?! You have terrible taste in white men, Joe... ;)

Joe Ross 6 years, 11 months ago

Thank God! It's not really something I want to be known for!

Tom Jones 6 years, 11 months ago

Had never heard that song or that group before.

And I'm ok with that. ;)

Rodney Crain 6 years, 11 months ago

Ever the optimist. :)

Not sure that is going to happen... As you can see.

Mike Riches 6 years, 11 months ago

It would seem that the change to have Mason and Graham both starting in the backcourt, would have as much of a positive impact on this game as any. Our three starting guards have an Assist/TO ratio of 2.98 for the season, which is phenomenal. I'm a little nervous about what happens when Greene and Svi are introduced into the mix, but overall I think we'll be ok. The best thing that can happen in my opinion to their press is to beat it several times in the first 5-6 minutes for easy buckets. That may ease the tension a bit.

The greater concern may be rebounding. We've got to be more active on the boards tonight than we've been in other games. If we can keep them off the offensive boards and not lose our cool against the press, this could be a double digit win. If not, it could be a double digit loss. Personally I think our guys have it in them. The sting of losing the last two there, and nearly blowing a 15 point lead three years ago, is all the motivation they need.

Jay Scott 6 years, 11 months ago

Svi is a solid ball handler. A little inexperienced but seen by many as a combo guard in the NBA. Greene handling the ball is indeed an adventure.

Eliott Reeder 6 years, 11 months ago

I was going to question your assertion about Svi's ball-handling but I looked it up and he's only had 1 TO in the last seven games! He had 1 or two in each of the first few games of the season. Looks like he has tightened it up and made that a focus. It will be key tonight. Greene had 3 TO's against tech, but hadn't had more than one in any game so far this year prior to that, which surprised me.

Mick Allen 6 years, 11 months ago

  1. Be strong with the ball, both against their press and on the boards; 2. Score against their press. Don't be satisfied just getting the ball across mid-court.Think the first half of the championship game against OU in 1988; 3. The way the game is officiated, as always will have a big impact on the game. Call the grabbing, holding and contact on the press. No Higgins, he thinks people pay to see him officiate, and hopefully no Paul Janssen[sp.?] either. A lot of pressure on Frank and Devontae to perform.

Brianna Zaleski 6 years, 11 months ago

No, Jay, you did... again. You are a bad version of the movie "Groundhog Day".

Jay Scott 6 years, 11 months ago

So by that logic, when someone brings up that it's nice that the Chicken Littles haven't appeared, and someone else replies (has a meltdown), it's the person who responds who is at fault? In that example, we're agreed! Is that how it works? I'm just asking. I make it a policy never to argue with an attractive woman.

Brianna Zaleski 6 years, 11 months ago

Jay, well then, pretend everyone on here is an attractive woman, and stick to the basketball discussion... This gets really old getting on this site and finding a thread has morphed into a playground melodrama... And it's not just you, I'm aware. You have plenty of willing participants... I've read enough of your posts to tell you, honestly, they can stand on their merit alone. You don't need to attack someone to make your point. If it is a good point, it will stand up on its own.

Jay Scott 6 years, 11 months ago

You are indeed beautiful. Nicely worded.

Tom Jones 6 years, 11 months ago

"Jay, well then, pretend everyone on here is an attractive woman, and stick to the basketball discussion..."


William Daniels 6 years, 11 months ago

What's the deal with CS reference to the Spurs? I never like when I hear Self making NBA references. Then I saw this old-ish article and I stopped worrying:

Aaron Paisley 6 years, 11 months ago

Self is best friends with RC Buford (Chase Buford was a walk on for a couple of years here) so Self should be prtty familiar with how the Spurs do things.

Rodney Pain 6 years, 11 months ago

If it were last year's team or the 2013, then this press would scare me, but Frank and Devonte have been so good with the ball that I actually think it could work to our advantage rather than our detriment. Obviously they're better than Tech, but the press that Tubby tried ended in a Lucas to Ellis alley oop. I'm expecting to see more of that if they press hard. The thing that concerns me is that WVU has a bunch of good rebounders and strong bigs that will feast if given 2nd and 3rd chances and we haven't been great at boxing out on the perimeter either.

Jay Scott 6 years, 11 months ago

I'm disappointed in all the drama that Joe and Brianna have stirred up. Can't we stick to basketball?

Joe Ross 6 years, 11 months ago

Good idea. Three games into the conference season, who's your first and second teams?

Jay Scott 6 years, 11 months ago

All Big12 Conference?

First - Mason. Hield. Selden. Niang. Gathers.

Second - Morris. Woodard. Prince. Ellis. Williams.

Joe Ross 6 years, 11 months ago

I gotta put Perry on the 1st team. Scores 2.5 more ppg than Mason, has a higher field goal percentage from 2 and from 3 (imagine...a big having a higher 3pt fg% than a guard), and his scoring is higher despite playing less time per game. But beyond the stats I think you have to look at the value. With Mason out of the back court, you can shift players around. You get some drop off, yes...both offensively and defensively. But if you get rid of Perry Ellis you decimate the front court. You can't count on production from anyone. Ergo, Perry's value to the team is greater. This is NOT saying Mason is not valuable. In my estimation he is second in the Big 12 in terms of a guard's importance to his team, second only to Buddy Hield. But there is no replacing Perry Ellis. Stats and the eye test make Ellis more deserving of the first team than Mason.

Jay Scott 6 years, 11 months ago

Different positions. I did mine by position. No way Perry beats Niang.

Jay Scott 6 years, 11 months ago

Ridley was a tough omit. Some bigs just on the edge of being really good. Karviar Shepherd.

Tom Jones 6 years, 11 months ago

Not sure why he's a tough omit since he hasn't played at all?

Jay Scott 6 years, 11 months ago


C Ridley 11 26.0 12.7 10.0 0.5 0.5 3.4 2.5 .632 .392 .000

Until he was injured.... I'm pretending you're an attractive woman.....

Tom Jones 6 years, 11 months ago

All Big 12, big guy. Hasn't played a Big 12 game.

But thanks for trying the visualization thing, at least! (Thanks, again, Brianna)

Jay Scott 6 years, 11 months ago

I'm looking at your posts and guess what? No ideas of your own except to mock others, even their musical tastes, or, most comically and pathetically, to applaud those who criticize someone for doing exactly that. You weren't likely attractive as a man or a woman.

Cam Shef 6 years, 11 months ago

Tech has the potential to grow into what Oklahoma is today if they can keep their nucleus together. They are a young bunch. Watch out for them next season and the season following. I was very impressed with their effort and confidence on Saturday

Jared Reeves 6 years, 11 months ago

I am looking for Selden to have a big game. Mason and Graham will be in attack mode, so if Selden can duplicate that, like he has done several times this year, I think we have a great chance. I think Selden's production overall is the biggest X factor in determining how far we go this season.

Mick Allen 6 years, 11 months ago

Two things. Cam, I agree that Tubby has made them better and they are quite young. I can see them becoming a player as to whom finishes second in the Big 12. The main topic of the article is "ball security". Something all guys should be concerned about.

Rodney Crain 6 years, 11 months ago

This is the game that two PGs should pay off. Now can we take advantage of that?

Keys this game Low Turn Overs, Rebounding Edge, and Defense. If we control the boards this will lead to more run outs in transition instead of trying to bring it up the floor against a press.

I look for Mason, Graham to have big games and for Perry to get his.

Turnovers - less than 12 Rebound edge by 10 WV shooting less than 40%

KU by 6

Tom Jones 6 years, 11 months ago

"This is the game that two PGs should pay off."

So was pretty much every other game KU's played this year.

Mick Allen 6 years, 11 months ago

Well thought out Rodney. If we have less than 12 turnovers, out rebound them by 10 and hold them to less than 40% shooting we will win the ballgame. Of the 3 areas you have listed, winning the rebound battle by 10 will be the most difficult to accomplish, as we all know they are very physical and tenacious on the boards. They do not shoot the ball well and if you can keep them from scoring off turnovers on run outs, holding them to less than a 40% field goal percentage is doable. Wayne will occasionally have to help Frank and Devontae against the press. When Svi or Brannon are in for Wayne, they will have to occasionally help against the press. More confident in this regard with Svi more so than Brannon. Both will play and often times against a press there will be open 3s before they set up their half court defense.

Darwin Dandy 6 years, 11 months ago

I can see this being a big assist game for Frank or Devonte if we have success breaking their press or at least getting that rebound monster Devin Williams in foul trouble early

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