Friday, December 8, 2017

Kansas basketball coach Bill Self searching for ‘dogs’

Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (2) flexes after a bucket from reserve guard Chris Teahan during the second half on Friday, Nov. 24, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (2) flexes after a bucket from reserve guard Chris Teahan during the second half on Friday, Nov. 24, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.


Kansas coach Bill Self is in search of a dog.

But not because he lost the family pet or is trying to get rid of pesky cats in his neighborhood.

Instead, Self is searching for dogs because the longer the season goes on and the more difficult the competition becomes, the more Self and the Jayhawks (7-1) realize that they need someone to replace the don't-care mentality possessed by Frank Mason III, Josh Jackson and Landen Lucas a season ago.

“Let's just call it like it is,” Self said after Friday's practice. “You're replacing Frank with somebody who's not near as competitive as Frank. You're replacing Josh with somebody who's not near as competitive as Josh. And you're replacing Landen with somebody that doesn't know how to be competitive yet. Those aren't negatives. Those are just facts. I mean, we had two-and-a-half dogs last year, and Landen was close to being a full one.”

While identifying and developing a couple of hellacious hounds has been a goal of Self's since the offseason, the true need surfaced only recently following KU's Wednesday night loss to Washington.

“(With last year's team), bad play wasn't as big a deal because the goal every night was to make the other teams play bad,” Self explained. “This team, right now, we don't approach it as we have to make somebody else play bad. We approach it as we want to play better than them. Well, you're not always going to play well. So I think our mindset can improve there. I think it will.”

While none of the players on this year's roster appear to be born mutts like Mason or Jackson, Self said the mindset was one that can be obtained the same way one develops any other skill — through hard work and practice.

“We've got some really nice young men,” Self said. “And I don't know that anybody, the first thing they saw after playing Josh or Frank was, 'Hey, those are some nice young men.' I don't think that was what they said normally.”

So who, then, does Self believe can take his personality from poodle to pit bull?

“I think Lagerald (Vick) could, without question,” the KU coach said. “He's not yet. I think that Devonté (Graham) can. He's close, but he's not quite there yet. Svi (Mykhailiuk is) not, but Svi's a lot tougher than he was last year. I think Marcus Garrett can.”

The best way for any of them to make the transformation, according to Self, was to get comfortable being uncomfortable. Only then, Self said, can the individuals on this year's team truly embrace the program's slogan that states, “Faces change, expectations don't.”

“In order for expectations not to change, then there have to be some guys get out of their comfort zones,” Self said. “Isn't that the way it is in every sport? Don't you want a reliever that can come in with runners on second and third and that's when he's at his best? Or a quarterback that's thrown three picks like (Atlanta Falcons QB) Matt Ryan did (Thursday) night, but still take them down the field at game point and score? Isn't that what competing is? We have to learn to do that.”

While Self believes the conversion is a work in progress for this year's Jayhawks, he takes comfort in remembering where Mason was when he was a younger player.

“Hey, as good as Frank was, he wasn't exactly all that when he got here,” Self said. “So there's a little bit of a learning curve with that, as well.”

Vick sits out practice

KU junior Lagerald Vick missed Friday's practice while dealing with the affects of an absessed tooth. But Self said the starting guard and KU's leading scorer was expected to return to practice Saturday and anticipated he would be fine in time for Sunday's 1 p.m. contest with Arizona State at Allen Fieldhouse.

"He was out of it today," Self said of Vick. "His face was all swollen. He should be ready to go by (Saturday)."

Arizona State transfer Sam Cunliffe, who remains out and is expected to be eligible to play his first game as a Jayhawk on Dec. 16, filled Vick's spot in the rotation in Vick's absence at Friday's practice.

"We'll start doing that," Self said of easing Cunliffe into regular reps with the rotation guys. "I don't know, depending on health and a lot of things, how much he'll play right off the bat. But it'll certainly be nice to have another body we can go to."

No extra day advantage

While the Jayhawks get three days to prepare for their Sunday showdown with Arizona State — that's two more than the Sun Devils, who played St. John's at Staples Center Friday night in Los Angeles — Self said he did not see that as a significant advantage in this one.

“I would think not,” Self said. “Because they'll be excited to play for sure. I would think they'll be jacked and ready to play. You know, it's an early start, so 1 o'clock for us means 11 o'clock for them. I wish we could've played at 10 a.m. and then that would've been an 8 o'clock start for them. Maybe that would be something that would help us a little bit.”


Steve Zimmerman 4 years, 8 months ago

Perhaps, coaching staff needs to invite 'the Bulldog' BIFM from CA. Boy, I miss his no-fear dribble and drive - doesn't matter if it's against zone, full-press, man D, he keeps penetrating, driving, getting fouled.. I also believe our guards can be more proactive, not just keep passing the ball around, but try to fake shots, penetrate and lobs inside. Our team is just as capable as other top-25. One thing they can learn from Mason is to use the other hand to extend his left arm separating him from his defender when dribbling with the other hand. It's definitely legal.

Layups with controlled but with speed. Our guards need to learn how to shoot from mid-FT, aka floater - Mason, I recall, started doing that in his senior year and he looks really good doing that in the league now. We need to groom our guards quick - el rapido.. Time is running out. Please don't say we're only 7-men rotation. Look at ASU. Let's go Jayhawk!!!!!

Allan Olson 4 years, 8 months ago

Until reinforcements [ more bigs ] ever show, how about playing SOME zone defense during games. Our quick guards would seem to be great for the perimeter and it may help the two bigs get more of the opponents' offensive rebounds. And, not have to expended so much energy guarding/chasing away from the paint. Maybe its times to slow the other teams down, even it we sacrifice fast break points. Thoughts?

Pius Waldman 4 years, 8 months ago

No zone Allan Coach calls that crappy. If you don't practice zone probably wise not to use it during games.

Marius Rowlanski 4 years, 8 months ago

Self has used the zone several times although not the 2/3. He's used the 1-3-1 and the box and one and has been successful with it by switching for short periods of time to throw off the other teams offense.

I don't ever expect us to go to the zone as our primary defense.

Robert Brock 4 years, 8 months ago

It would also help if our perimeter personnel played some lock-down defense. Hasn’t happened yet.

David Conrod 4 years, 8 months ago

I've seen videos of KU practice on YouTube where Coach Self is running shell drill. He teaches 1 pass away to deny the ball and two passes away to help. He says in the video it's the most important drill they run. Yet it seems like most of the time we let the other team's perimeter players catch the ball wherever they want it. Our perimeter players seem content to try to outshoot the opponent rather than do the hard work of off ball defense.

Barry Weiss 4 years, 8 months ago

Frank made a big jump from junior to senior year as far as REALLY using his body to draw fouls. Its pretty hard to expect any guard to fill his shoes, guys like him don't come along very often, but he is a nice goal to achieve. Josh, again, have not seen an alpha dog like him in a long, long time. Lucas, not much of a dog to me, great quality 4 year man, but DOK already attacks much more ferociously. Dok's numbers are probably equal to any Lando put up.

I don't know about anyone else, but this game tomorrow is big to me. It will show whether the Washington game was an anomaly or an indication we really are not top 10 material.

I'd say Vick is out closest thing to an alpha dog, he just needs to let himself go a bit more, I mean really unleash the beast!

Roger Ortega 4 years, 8 months ago

Sounds like coach's words, as usual, were carefully selected and targeted for a reason. He knows the team will read this and rise to the challenge. I agree we need reinforcements but mainly in the form of athletic bigs. I think once, and I do believe he'll be back soon, Preston is back he will eventually be that dog that HCBS is talkin about. Tomorrow IS a big game for those exact reasons Barry! ROCK CHALK!

Steve Zimmerman 4 years, 8 months ago

Garrett is our Alpha in defensive area. Mitch can be scary good as a swatter. I'd rather him and Dok stay inside rather than helping out on the perimeter. Lots of times they can't get back in time to low post and causes a SC highlight for the opponent. It's ok if they have length and quickness like Embiid. Our rebounds # is not that impressive. White vs Dok!!

Steve Johnson 4 years, 8 months ago

Mitch is a nice young man but far from scary in anything. He gives his best effort but the more minutes he gets means things are not going well for the Hawks.

Steve Zimmerman 4 years, 8 months ago

c'mon vs cmon vs common vs come on..? capital

Harlan Hobbs 4 years, 8 months ago

Just a little clarification. If the game is at 1 p.m. in Lawrence, that is noon here in Arizona. We are back to a one hour difference since we don't go on Daylight Savings Time in the summer.

That aside, I always like the way that Coach Self approaches things philosophically. His goal to "make the other team play bad" is very insightful and a key to the huge success that he, his staff, and the players at KU have had. If defense and rebounding are there every game, it is tough to lose, even when you have an off night offensively which everyone has now and then.

Marius Rowlanski 4 years, 8 months ago

I hope he is looking for BIG dogs. We don't need any Chihuahuas.;

Ross Hartley 4 years, 8 months ago

I'm glad they don't play until Sunday. Their reaction times were not good like a tired team.

Harlan Hobbs 4 years, 8 months ago

You may be right, Ross. For whatever reason, KU simply got out hustled against Washington.

UW's zone got most of the credit, but our rebounding and defensive woes were the main contributors to the loss.

Bryce Landon 4 years, 8 months ago

I would also say Bill Self's coaching was a big factor. He just sat there on the bench like a bump on a log and made absolutely no defensive adjustments when UW carved up our man-to-man.

To anyone we face in the NCAA Tournament this year: If you want to know how to beat us this March, watch tape of our loss to UW and do the following: Play a 3-2 zone with emphasis on the perimeter. Shoot the 3-ball well. Rinse and repeat and don't worry about us making a comeback because Coach Self won't change the defense to adapt to what's going on.

Justin Kruse 4 years, 8 months ago

I think it's gotta be Vick and Udoka. Feed the big dog!

Steve Zimmerman 4 years, 8 months ago

How? Pass it to Vick, he'll take a mid jumper if he feels comfortable, if not? He'll try to get closer to basket, either get swatted or IF he sees Dok, he could bounce pass and Dok will flush the basket. That's a BIG "IF". The more effective way is for guards to penetrate IF they've got guts like BIFM and throw lobs on the move for Dok to work the rest. That's another BIG "IF".

Justin Kruse 4 years, 8 months ago

This article is talking about personality and attitude. I guess those are the two guys that I see taking on the "dog" mentality. I think Mitch brings a little bit of that when he's in there. For a bit, I thought it was going to be Malik, and maybe it still will be? Like coach said, "we've got some really nice young men." I just think Vick and Dok have an edge to them.

Udoka has done great when our guards have fed him the ball. He's still pretty raw, but he's patient, powerful, and shifty. I like it when Mitch is in there with him. I know we're short on bigs and heavy on guards, but I like when we play with two bigs.

Layne Pierce 4 years, 8 months ago

Totally agree this next game is big. This team has got to do something very important and that is started acting like a team, so far this year basically we have lived off individual offense,and the occasional pass to Azu, but we have lately been selfish with the ball, and we have not played the kind of defense that wins games. We are not taking charges, we are not stopping the drive to the basket. We keep it up, we are going to have major problems. Same goes for rebounding. We do not rebound with the ferocity, the mean dog attitude that it takes to win.

Part of it is I think the long term effect of such a thin team, but ultimately that can't be an excuse to not do things the right way. Yes, it could be Vick, but it needs to be everyone.

Rock Chalk

Steve Johnson 4 years, 8 months ago

As mentioned earlier, Preston has been a huge distraction and bad for the team. They won't put out any information but his or his families actions have to be severe. Expect to read that he is moving on any day. We would have been different team with him and it took 7 games to expose the weakness of the team. The Big 12 is stacked this year and every game will bring the opponents best effort which will wear this team out. Not liking how this is shaking out.

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