Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Fun returned to Allen Fieldhouse during Tuesday’s 83-78 KU win over Iowa State

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) raises up the Fieldhouse as Iowa State guard Nick Weiler-Babb (1) brings the ball up the court during the first half, Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) raises up the Fieldhouse as Iowa State guard Nick Weiler-Babb (1) brings the ball up the court during the first half, Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018.


Quick. Think back to Tuesday night’s 83-78 Kansas basketball victory and count up all of the times you saw Bill Self’s Jayhawks having fun on the floor.

Now think back to how many times you saw those kinds of images in the handful of games that came before Tuesday.

See the difference?

The fun factor certainly was back inside Allen Fieldhouse during 12th-ranked Kansas’ latest victory and both the home crowd and the Jayhawks themselves fed off of it.

“It has been missing,” said sophomore guard Malik Newman, who tallied a career-high 27 points and was responsible for some of the Jayhawks’ most enjoyable moments on Tuesday night. “We were discussing it before the game and even in shoot-around. The last two times we played in front of our fans, we hadn’t been great. So tonight we wanted to come out and give them something to cheer about and have energy for and just feed off those guys.”

Newman often filled his role by draining outside shots that did in the Cyclones. After one such jumper, the sharp-shooting Mississippi State transfer retreated to mid-court, waving his arms in the air to get the crowd even more into the game than it already was.

On two or three other occasions, it was senior point guard Devonte’ Graham, whose big-moment reaction was the picture of emotion and fired up the building and KU’s bench.

But while Newman and Graham each had their moments of fun, KU coach Bill Self said he thought the rest of the roster would do well to follow in their footsteps a little more.

“I think about five of them did,” Self said. “I think there was still a couple or three that didn’t. Svi (Mykhailiuk) and Devonte’, they’re seasoned. They’re tough. Without question. But we have some mood swings with our other players and that’s got to be eliminated or you’re never going to max out. But I do think that was better (Tuesday night).”

The way Self sees it, having fun and bringing energy to the floor never should be a problem for the Jayhawks in their home building, particularly the younger players.

“I would think it would be harder for Devonte’ and Svi to be geeked up than it would be a young kid,” Self said. “You know, if I’m a young kid and I get to play in that atmosphere, I would be so excited each and every time. And I feel like Marcus (Garrett) and Udoka (Azubuik) and certainly Lagerald (Vick) and Malik can do a better job of playing to that.”

“I think that we play cool to often and I don’t know that it’s intentionally. I just kind think that’s our personality.”

By playing to that, Self’s not talking about hamming it up for the cameras after every shot. He’s talking about playing with fire and passion and squeezing every drop of momentum and juice out of every play that creates it.

“I remember when I played, and if I was a freshman and I got to play in anything like that I would be so excited,” he said. “You’d jump a little higher than you normally do, you’d definitely be quicker than you normally are and I don’t think we’re quite there with all eight of our guys yet.”

One of the bigger offenders is Azubuike, whose rim-rattling dunks often fire up the crowd but rarely get the big fella going.

Asked if he would like to see more external reactions and demonstrations of fire from Azubuike after those big moments, Self responded with a simple, “Sure.” He then joked that, on some occasions, like and-one free throw situations, Azubuike, might not be feeling to overjoyed because, “he’s probably thinking about the free throw.”

“I do think that I would like to see maybe some more of that,” Self added. “I would like to see him rebound, though, too.”


Bryce Landon 4 years, 7 months ago

Isn't there a stretch every year where the team plays and isn't having fun? Even in 2008, there was a 7-game stretch where KU went 4-3 and didn't look good or like they enjoyed it at all.

Tom Horner 4 years, 7 months ago

Would someone please teach Vick and Svi two things; 1. When someone is standing in a spot on the floor, you cannot just take the ball and run into them. It is called "charging" and is a foul on the offense. Notice how many times this has been called on these two this year. 2. When the man you are guarding is outside the 3point line on the side of the floor, you cannot guard him from inside the key. When they throw him the ball, and they always do, you will not be able to get out to him quickly enough to interrupt his 3 point shot. This seems to happen too often to be an accident. Teach them to pay attention. The 3 points are much more of a problem than any help they may be able to give in the lane. Watch the tapes. It is there. p.s. others might pay attention too.

Kelly Pierce 4 years, 7 months ago

You obviously do not understand the rotations that KU is using. With ball screens, the weak side is covering up the post as Udoka hedges the ball screen. This creates a long rotation for Svi and Vick, but it is how Kansas is defending the ball screen. On post entry when Udoka is not the primary defender. Kansas doubles from the other low block and the weak side guard rotates to cover opposite block. I felt that all the players were rotating properly. Sometimes they were not able to close back out on the shooters quick enough. These rotations are being used because we only have one big man. If you watch the game closely, all of the players are performing these rotations the same, Svi and Vick just happen to be the wings that are in this position most often.

RJ King 4 years, 7 months ago

Excellent explanation Kelly. Our players are well-coached, well intentioned, and pretty darn smart. I observed these instances, and knew it must be a deliberate defense. Like many things, you're damned if you do, damned if you don't. Odds (and personnel) surely dictate the strategy.

Jerry Walker 4 years, 7 months ago

The 3 points are much more of a problem than any help they may be able to give in the lane. --Tom Horner

Since the advent of the 3pt line that's always been a basic principle - do not help to the middle and leave a shooter uncovered in the corner. I agree that we're not very good at it.

Kelly Pierce 4 years, 7 months ago

I do not disagree, but the players are performing the defensive rotations as they have been taught. If you hard hedge the ball screen, someone must cover the roll or it is a dunk every time. It is pretty clear the players are trying to execute the long rotations taking place with our defensive philosophy. Also, by not having another big, we are having to double the block from the weak side. If we would not do this, Mitch, Svi, and whoever is guarding that post would not only give up easy baskets, but they would constantly be in foul trouble. Most observers will not realize that our lack of depth in the post is the primary factor in us giving up so many 3's. These other teams have players on scholarship as well. We make over 11 3's a game. We are not the only team that struggles in giving up the 3 point shot.

Marius Rowlanski 4 years, 7 months ago

Re-watching the game, I only saw one charging call on Vick and Svi. They were both called for blocking one time each.

Michael Sillman 4 years, 7 months ago

I would agree that the fun came back into the Fieldhouse during the last few minutes of the game. Up until that point however there was a tense angst in the air with the crowd wondering if they were about to witness another home court upset. The number of bone headed plays committed by the Jayhawks must have set some sort of record in what turned out to be a home victory. I’d sure like to see the team stop playing scared at home.

Jim Stauffer 4 years, 7 months ago

Wasn't there so am wondering if the crowd sat on their hands like Clinkscale and Keitzman said on radio or if it was alive like Leif Lisec and his sidekick on TV said.

Layne Pierce 4 years, 7 months ago

Next home game is crucial also. We are getting better, and we must get even better to compete for the conference. I do not expect to win at West Virginia, but it is always a possibility. To do so, Everyone must have a good game. I think a plus is that Newman seems to have busted out. If so, look out!

Rock chalk Jayhawk

David Robinett 4 years, 7 months ago

Kelly, right, I do not understand why it’s OK to leave three point uterus wide open especially when they are drilling them continually.

Kelly Pierce 4 years, 7 months ago

I do not disagree, but I do not think it is all on the players. I am just trying to state that from my experience as a coach, the players look to be trying to perform the rotations they have been taught. I really think this team needs to play more zone. Will still give up some perimeter shots, but the more they play zone the more comfortable they would become at morphing the zone to match-up with how it is being attacked. If you only use the zone as a last resort, your players will not play it effectively.

Jerry Walker 4 years, 7 months ago

Well said.

For whatever reason, Self has not been able to find the key to getting this group of very athletic guards to buckle down and prevent the blow-by drive to the hoop.

David Robinett 4 years, 7 months ago

Wow, Thanks AutoCorrect. That’s three-point shooters.

Tony Bandle 4 years, 7 months ago

David, I like the first version conjures up a very interesting mental image!!!!!

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