How a fingertip, a late rotation and a great player contributed to Michigan's frantic comeback over KU


So much goes on in a basketball game that is hard to pick up on first glance.

With that in mind, I had a college basketball coach go through video with me — video of the final 2:30 of regulation during KU's 87-85 overtime loss to Michigan in the Sweet 16. At the time, KU led, 72-62, with the ball, which according to Ken Pomeroy, gave KU a 99.4-percent chance of winning the game.

With help from the coach's eyes, here's some of what went on in the final minutes that you might not have realized.

2:30 left: KU 72, Michigan 62

In transition, KU is a team that likes to have its point guard get to the elbows in transition before attacking the paint. Then, KU has players on each wing for the point guard to pass to.

Elijah Johnson finds trouble when attacking the elbow.

On this play, he's supposed to look at Kevin Young, which he does for a second. Ben McLemore cuts down the middle and is actually open for a split-second, but at the time, Michigan's Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway are on Johnson's arms.

The next step in Johnson's natural progression is to find Jeff Withey, which is the correct read. Johnson just doesn't see Michigan's Glenn Robinson III, who elevates to tip the pass.

It's a dangerous play by Robinson, though.

If Robinson misses that, he takes himself completely out of the play. Withey could follow by taking one dribble ahead, which would force Mitch McGary to step up to help. That would open up a pass to Kevin Young, who most likely would have had an opening for a dunk.

Instead, Robinson's fingertip saves Michigan.

2:12 left: KU 72, Michigan 64

Michigan is pressing at this point, but the Wolverines are not trapping KU. This shows that UM, more than anything, is trying to get KU to speed up its tempo rather than turn it over in the backcourt.

Johnson takes a while before trying to get upcourt, but when he does make that effort, Burke sticks out his right arm across Johnson's body to go for a steal that completely stops Johnson's momentum.

Johnson should have been more aware of the shot clock, but it's hard for him to make up for time when he's jammed in the backcourt. Obviously, officiating depends on how the entire game has been called, and in this contest, both teams were allowed to play aggressively with just 29 combined fouls in an overtime game. Keep in mind also that Michigan is one of the best teams in the nation when it comes to avoiding defensive whistles.

Whether it was a foul or not, Johnson simply can't get by Burke, which results in the turnover.

2:00 left: KU 72, Michigan 64

We get to a high ball screen in this play, and this is a tough play for KU to defend with its personnel.

Here's why: KU can't have Withey hard hedge (or come out hard on a ball screen to cover Burke on the perimeter) because it's not going to be easy for him, as a 7-footer, to extend that far defensively.

What KU does instead is sits Withey back about 15 feet on the ball screen, which also is what NBA teams do with their shot-blockers.

Withey soft hedge

Withey soft hedge by Jesse Newell

This way of defending screens, called "soft hedge" or "pro style," forces Burke to either take a contested mid-range jumper or try to drive and finish over Withey.

The only KU player that "soft hedges" defensively is Withey, and the reason for that is twofold: 1. He might not have the athletic ability to get out in space to hedge or trap ball screens; 2. Putting him that far on the perimeter takes Withey out of position to block shots and rebound, which are his best skills.

Michigan is smart with its high ball screen, running it on the same side of the floor of its best perimeter shooter (No. 11, Nik Stauskas). That's one less KU defender that can help, as if McLemore rotates on the drive, Burke makes an easy pass to the corner for an open three from a 44-percent three-point shooter.

KU plays excellent defense on this first ball screen. Withey soft hedges and does a nice job here, keeping his feet even with the three-point line while maintaining quality spacing against Burke.

Burke realizes KU has defended the ball screen well, and because of that, he backs up with the dribble.

Though we can't know exactly how Johnson was told to play the ball screen by KU's coaches, it's interesting here that he never squares Burke back up to get directly in front of him. Instead, Johnson stays on one side of Burke, which means he's still dependent on Withey to help defend the UM point guard.

Johnson not square

Johnson not square by Jesse Newell

Because Johnson isn't truly squared up, the Michigan guard is able to drive.

Still, after a few dribbles, KU has Michigan exactly where it wants it.

Burke in trouble

Burke in trouble by Jesse Newell

Burke is driving into Withey with Johnson trailing him. Burke leaps into the air and has very few options.

KU only needs to do one more thing: rotate its bottom defender, or as you might often hear, "Help the helper."

We don't know KU's specific rotations, but the help defender here would be either Releford or Young. Also notice that Michigan is doing KU a huge favor: Hardaway and Robinson are bunched on the perimeter.

There's almost no chance Burke can make the pass in congestion to Hardaway or Robinson, who are five feet from each other with poor spacing. One person (in this case Young) should be able to guard those two by himself.

If Releford rotates to the weakside big (McGary), KU has this play completely covered.

One thing to consider: Late in the game, sometimes guys can be tentative to help, especially with a lot of shooters on the floor. No one wants to be the guy who has his man make an open three.

Releford appears to be a bit tentative here. Burke gets the pass to McGary, Releford is late on the rotation, and McGary's layup trims the lead to six.

1:27 left: KU 72, Michigan 66

Out of a timeout, Coach says Self calls an effective play — an iso for Releford.

KU cuts Withey underneath, and Michigan's Mitch McGary trails him, which clears out the lane.

McLemore is placed in the weakside corner, as he's KU's best threat to shoot. Just like Michigan's previous play above, KU will run the play to this side, as it'll be tougher for Michigan to help off of KU's best perimeter shooter.

Johnson tosses to Releford, then rubs against Stauskas, who runs straight into Johnson.

KU gets exactly what it wants: one of its best finishers (Releford) isolated against one of Michigan's worst defenders (Stauskas) with McGary out of the lane.

If Releford would have missed the layup, notice also the McGary rotation left Withey all alone for the offensive rebound.

1:18 left: KU 74, Michigan 66

Releford is now guarding Burke, and it's tough for him to get through the ball screen.

Early ball screens are tougher to defend not only because Burke is in a full sprint, but also because it's tough for Releford to know it's coming. It's also more difficult for Releford, at 6 foot 5, to try to squeeze his way over the top to get through.

McGary sets a solid screen, but it still appears Releford could have done a better job of going over the top.

Then, for whatever reason, Releford isn't quick to recover on Burke, and though we don't know if KU was switching all screens at that time, it's unlikely because Withey was still on the floor.

With all that said, Burke still has to hit an NBA three over a 7-footer.

He does. The lead is down to five.

00:45 left: KU 74, Michigan 69

This is another well-executed play for KU after a timeout.

Johnson attacks towards McLemore, which forces Hardaway to help. Right after this, Releford sets a solid flare screen on Hardaway.

Michigan's Caris LeVert steps over to help, but he goes a step too far. McLemore drives baseline but can't finish the short shot in the lane.

00:38 left: KU 74, Michigan 69

The biggest breakdown here for KU is its transition defense.

The Jayhawks not only allow a quick open three to Hardaway (that he misses), but they also are not set defensively. It's much tougher for defensive players to rebound when they aren't in a set position.

When the shot falls off the rim, KU's players scramble but can't grab hold of the 50-50 ball. Keep in mind that KU also had the possession arrow, meaning if the Jayhawks simply fell on the ball like a football fumble, they would have maintained possession.

Robinson comes out of the scrum with it, then puts in a layup over Withey, who was trying to get the loose ball a second earlier.

00:19 left: KU 76, Michigan 71

It's hard to fault KU's defense on this Burke drive for a layup.

The main objective in these scenarios — from a coaching perspective — is to not foul or give up a three. And, Burke is pretty hard to stop one-on-one in this situation.

Burke attacks the rim, and he does so slightly out of control. With this time and score, if Burke is grazed at all by a defender, it's likely to bring a foul call, which would give Michigan a chance to score with the clock stopped.

Burke drives by Johnson for the quick two, but KU avoids a foul and still is ahead three.

00:09 left: KU 76, Michigan 73

After Johnson misses the front end of a one-and-one, this is Michigan's final chance.

You can hear Self clearly on the TV broadcast screaming to his team before Johnson's free throw: "Switch five. No threes."

Self has taken Withey out of the game in favor of Naadir Tharpe, which gives the coach a defensive lineup that is able to switch every ball screen. The intent is to not allow a good look from three.

Without a timeout, Michigan sets two screens to try to confuse KU. Notice that Johnson is doing everything in his power to still try to get through McGary to get back to Burke, which includes barreling right into the big man.

As you see, Young is a second late to switch out to Burke.

Young on Burke

Young on Burke by Jesse Newell

Though Young recovers, Burke still is able to get a clean look.

Young recovery

Young recovery by Jesse Newell

Here's what Self said after that game: "I'll look back on that one, what were we doing, not to switch up. ... That was not that difficult a switch, and don't give up a three, and we let him come off naked and shoot it. It was from 27 to 30 feet, but still it was a great play by a big‑time player."

Self's assessment on the switch is correct.

Young could have jumped out and switched it harder. For many coaches, an often-repeated phrase when switching on ball screens is, "Switching only works if you switch aggressively."

In this case, Young needed to aggressively jump out, almost like a hedge, and switch it hard.

It's still not hard to know what Young might have been thinking in this situation. With Burke out around 30 feet, Young could have thought, "Well, if this guy takes a shot behind the hash-mark, I don't know that's the shot we're going to lose to."

In the end, it's just another example of Burke making a play. By sagging off a bit, Young is playing the percentages, as Michigan's hopes are hanging on a 28-foot shot with a hand in the face.

Though Young could have done more to prevent the three-pointer by switching it a little bit harder, this isn't a horrific mistake — and probably is not even as severe of a miscue as the missed weakside rotation that KU had earlier.

The final takeaway? Though KU could have won the game by making one of a few critical plays, this also was a lot about Burke making big plays at the right times.

After KU held him scoreless in the first half, Burke found a way to make the Jayhawks pay for numerous small mistakes down the stretch — mistakes that might not have cost KU the game against any other guard in America.

More from Jesse Newell

  • Five plays that show how Releford shut down Bullock — and how KU’s ‘D’ forced UNC into ‘one bad shot’
  • KU players' tattoos tell life stories
  • Amazing grace: Jeff Withey made late grandmother proud, proved to coach he belonged
  • How a missed blockout and a lucky carom helped KU take down Purdue in 2012 NCAAs
  • Comments

    nuleafjhawk 9 years, 8 months ago

    That was a great breakdown and analysis - that I wish I hadn't looked at. BLAH.

    flloyd 9 years, 8 months ago

    We're still lamenting over this game? Come on folks, Michigan is a better team than us THIS year and deserved to win.

    Jeremy Wilhelm 9 years, 8 months ago

    They were better than us in the last 5 minutes of one game, which is all that matters. I think KU would come out pretty even if those two teams played 10 times, but we only play em once, and we live with the results.

    Kevin Huffman 9 years, 8 months ago

    better team than us?

    Did you see the graphic on the first replay?!?!?!?

    We had a SEASON HIGH for points in the paint!!!!!

    Their defense was pretty lousy.

    Mike Barnhart 9 years, 8 months ago

    We took an offensive juggernaut out of their game for 35 minutes. Then, they got what they wanted for 5 minutes.

    With our offensive limitations we needed 40 minutes of defensive dedication and discipline against a teams like Michigan and Louisville, we rarely did that this year.

    DanR 9 years, 8 months ago

    I really tried, but I couldn't even finish reading/watching this.

    hawk316 9 years, 8 months ago

    DanR, like you, I started to read this article, but decided I didn't need to inflict myself with this kind of pain. And what about this quote to make us all feel rosy:

    "At the time, KU led, 72-62, with the ball, which according to Ken Pomeroy, gave KU a 99.4-percent chance of winning the game."


    741hawk 9 years, 8 months ago

    Agree. It is still just too painful. One of those things . . . like AZ in'97 and 'Cuse in '02 . . . games we could have and should have won . . . that 'll always remember. The day I don't remember is the day I die! RC

    dylans 9 years, 8 months ago

    Warrick you son of a gun. Glenn Robinson (Purdue) whooping KU almost single handedly really hurt too.

    I just get sick when I think about the wasted opportunity this year, 2003, and 1997 all should have had great endings with banners hung.

    RJ King 9 years, 7 months ago

    Love the analysis and agree completely with what was lacking this year. I was always a huge Tyshawn fan because you can't coach what he brought - his mouth and his fire. Obviously he took risks, but they paid off way more often than they cost the team. Playing mindless basketball is sometimes just what the doctor ordered.

    Yes we need to recruit attack-dog style guards. Here's where the process becomes tricky. Self loves to recruit "good kids" (EJ, Reed, White, Lucas, Travis, Naadir). Kids who are coachable, polite, intelligent, good teammates, etc. Trying to find a little pit bull in this breed is difficult. Not impossible, just rare. Hinrich certainly had it. Russ Rob. Sherron pretty much. Hopefully Frankamp and Selden are this same mixed breed.

    otaKU 9 years, 8 months ago

    Great breakdown. Thanks for reopening the wound.

    Jace FitzGibbon 9 years, 8 months ago

    so basically KU just got rattled by the situation. great playing by burke though.

    its depressing to watch and to know that if KU makes 1 more play that theyd be playing for the natty tonight for 2 years in a row.

    webmocker 9 years, 8 months ago

    STLJayhawk10 38 minutes ago "...its depressing to watch and to know that if KU makes 1 more play that theyd be playing for the natty tonight for 2 years in a row."

    Slight correction: One more play AND winning two more games and KU would be playing for the championship tonight.

    HawksWin 9 years, 8 months ago

    Indeed MI rattled KU, and that was their strategy. Stay with KU, make'em think they're gonna win leading the entire game, and MI was just waiting to make a push at the end, and they did. And KU got rattled! MI knew there'd no free points for KU with no fouling, and MI used the time clock to its advantage. Don't know, but how many close games did KU win with the free throws? MI scout report may have the number on this. Anyhow, I'm rooting for Louiville because MI's strategy left a bad taste in my mouth. And don't care for that Mitch kid either.

    Jason Sinclair 9 years, 8 months ago

    Thanks. Now I'm pissed off again.

    It's disappointing how many of those individual plays we appear to have been out-hustled. An example is B-Mac's missed drive. Burke hustled in from the 3-point line to get "under" Withey just enough to knock him out of position to (likely) get the offensive rebound.

    In defense of EJ's 10-second violation, Burke's initial jab at the ball was as clear a foul as you will see without a player getting knocked to the floor.

    Great work, though, as usual, Jesse!

    Steve Jacob 9 years, 8 months ago

    I have seen Michigan all year, and I think with playing so many close games in the Big 10, winning and losing, they where prepared.

    Kevin Huffman 9 years, 8 months ago

    Ummm, KU didn't have plenty of close games too?!?!?!?!

    Losses at TCU, OU, home loss to OSU, road win at OSU, both wins vs. ISU (in the reg. season), neutral loss to MSU, road win at WVU

    We had some INSANE record of success going into overtime to - like 10-2 in our last 12 or 10-3 in our last 13 or something like that.

    Tony Bandle 9 years, 8 months ago

    I am pulling a "Bill Self" and refuse to watch any videos, scan any of the story or read any posts regarding this article!!!!!!

    I would akin reading this article and watching the videos similar to being conscious and under no anethesia while being forced to watch your own appendectamy!!!!

    Kevin Crook 9 years, 8 months ago

    The official eating his whistle on Burke's fouls on EJ in during the 10-second violation was even bigger than the no-call on the collision between EJ and McGary on Burke's 30-footer to tie. How was there no foul there? One second he's defending the next he's flat on his face? The refs are human, but they clearly got caught up in the momentum of the moments too. But we needed to do a much better job of dealing with McGary's massive ball screens on the top of the key. The hedge was slow or not even there.

    Kevin Huffman 9 years, 8 months ago

    When that 10-second violation occurred I was about 99% positive they were going to call Burke for a foul!!!

    discgav 9 years, 8 months ago

    Watching wsu play ohio state, when it appeared they may collapse, there was a similar situation where it looked as though wsu would get a 10 second call. In this situation marshall calls a time out at 8 seconds when his player gets jammed. At that moment I am screaming "why did our coach not do this!!". Why would Self not watch the game and learn from this?? Calling a time out would have prevented a possession to Michigan that lead to another basket. More importantly I will never understand why Self didn't pull Elijiah out when he was making horrible passing decisions. Lastly on Michigan's last play, in regulation, Withey is not on the court. I would like to have seen Burke's shot if Withey would have been on the perimeter. Burke would have had to adjust the height of his shot and you would have seen a big ol air ball.

    Ron Franklin 9 years, 8 months ago

    Is there a reason the collision between Elijah and McGary isn't called a foul? It is technically a foul, right? Offensive or defensive....looked like an offensive foul to me.

    Why wasn't something this blatant called?

    Steve Gantz 9 years, 8 months ago

    I thought I would do us all a favor and go to church that night instead of staying home and God punishing me for watching a game instead of going to church. He must have punished me for something else, and part of that was having to read this article. So many what ifs.

    Ron Franklin 9 years, 8 months ago


    Those incredible odds to overcome.

    Almost unbelievable.

    Phoghorn 9 years, 8 months ago

    So, which was worse?

    A. Arizona

    B. Bucknell

    C. Michigan

    D. UNI

    I am going to vote for C.

    nuleafjhawk 9 years, 8 months ago

    I think you should add an " E. All of the above ".

    In my book, they all sucked about the same.

    Boouk 9 years, 8 months ago

    I think the VCU loss cost us a title in 2011.

    Kevin Huffman 9 years, 8 months ago

    Still....was in the Elite 8. Have to say losing to UNI 2 years earlier with what MANY would regard as an even better team - had S. Collins & Aldrich & Xavier in his time with us was better than Selby.

    Michael Luby 9 years, 8 months ago

    Yep, VCU loss most definitely. This year? Had we beat Michigan, we would have been in the final 4. Would have stomped Florida. Could we beat Louisville? Its doubtful, but maybe.

    nuleafjhawk 9 years, 8 months ago

    Just curious why you say that it's doubtful that we could have beaten Louisville.

    Wichita State was up by 12 fairly deep into that game. We don't ALWAYS have our heads up our rears when we get a big lead.

    I think with our interior presence and defense and Louisville's relative lack of 3 pt shooting, we would have had a VERY good chance against them. Just my opinion.

    741hawk 9 years, 8 months ago

    Interesting to note that last year's Championship loss is not listed and should not be . . . because those guys overachieved and played as well as they could.

    I vote A or C because both losses were the result of excellent coaches (not the players) either being arrogantly stubborn or momentarily lost good judgement.

    Ron Franklin 9 years, 8 months ago

    C. Not because it is Fresh. But because it was an epic meltdown. Was living in Mexico in 2005, so I didn't get to see the Bucknell game--can't chime in on that.

    Phoghorn 9 years, 8 months ago

    Ralster: I am a KU grad, and have rooted for KU all my life. I don't know why you want to call me a troll for asking a question about which loss hurt the worst. Look at my posting history. I am definitely not a troll.

    Phoghorn 9 years, 8 months ago

    Fair enough. No worries. Keep bringing the good comments.

    Steve Gantz 9 years, 8 months ago

    In my book Syracuse in 03 is the worst. All of those other games required us to win more games after it to win it all.

    Kevin Huffman 9 years, 8 months ago

    '03 has a bit of '12 in it in my book though.

    Many thought that we'd be down in '03 after having been to the Final Four in '02 since Gooden left early.

    Then we're happy & excited about the play of Simien but then he goes down with injury and we know that he won't be available.

    I think that same tournament in the opening round we BARELY beat Holy Cross (very similar to Gonzaga's struggle to win this year) and everyone was worried that Hinrich might not be available for the 2nd round game against Stanford (either that or my memory of this stuff is from '02 & not '03, but I'm failry certain it was '03).

    Basically, I'm arguing a LOT of people did NOT think that we would make it to the championship in '03. I think we were a 2 or 3-seed too....not a 1. Texas was a 1 though.

    Phoghorn 9 years, 8 months ago

    Yeah, that was painful mostly because we could have won if only we could have made a damb free throw.

    Kevin Huffman 9 years, 8 months ago

    A or D.

    Regarding B, I don't even think we were regarded as a "great" team that year...what were we? A 3-seed losing to a 14? Eh.

    But that loss to Arizona? Sorry, but that '97 team was one of the best I can remember seeing...and that includes teams BESIDES KU!!!! Still swear that they let Simon, Bibby, Dickerson get away with SO MANY HACKS to get more steals than I've practically ever seen!!! :(

    UNI.....Ugh, ugly, and have to ALWAYS be reminded of it in that 1) my wife's from UNI & 2) I was at that game down in OKC! :( Worse yet, got to see K-State fans celebrate a pretty good win over BYU right after our game.

    Had to drive from Tulsa to OKC in what was basically a snow storm both before and after the game as well.

    Tony Bandle 9 years, 8 months ago

    E. 1966 Texas Western..Jo Jo was NOT OUT!! We go on and beat old Adolf!!

    Armen Kurdian 9 years, 8 months ago

    Though recent memories always seem fresher, Arizona was absolutely the most painful of all. UNI comes a close second for emotional distress. VCU? I was just absolutely in a blind fury for weeks after that one. No sadness. Just seething anger there.

    Brandon Pope 9 years, 8 months ago

    You always do such a great job with these breakdowns. I am sure this piece is fantastic as usual. Sorry, just cant read it.

    dylans 9 years, 8 months ago

    Don't feel too bad, Bill won't either.

    milehighhawk 9 years, 8 months ago

    That 99.4% figure is the one that stings the most.

    REHawk 9 years, 8 months ago

    Yep. Blown posted the right words: epic meltdown. Most of those other tournament losses still rankle, but the tremors from this one will never go away. Statistically, a 99.4% chance to win when leading by 10 points at the 37.5 minute mark? A very strange epic meltdown.

    Phil Leister 9 years, 8 months ago

    Don't care. Can't care. Still hurts.

    It will always be too soon.

    AirCapJay 9 years, 8 months ago

    I'm trying to decide if I'm going to watch Michigan cut down the nets tonight.

    JayHok 9 years, 8 months ago

    Watched the 2012 championship over the weekend. I hadn't realized how close we were to winning that one. Several missed dunks and layups and we still almost came back. Also anyone questioning EJ over the 2013 season that game footage from the KU-UK championship game is worth watching. He was a supreme athlete and a great player who had knee problems in high school. His off season knee surgery last summer after the championship game affected him the entire 2013 year. He'll probably fully recover this summer. That Michigan game in the last five minutes was the epitome of EJ's ongoing recovery. Many more factors than just EJ but it's amazing to consider if he would have just blown by his defender like he would have in 2012, that would have been the game instead of the ten second call. Credit to EJ for playing this year.

    Steve Gantz 9 years, 8 months ago

    I think if the knee problem affected the brain then we can blame the knee problem, although most would say EJ's 2013 problems were more mental than physical.

    JayHok 9 years, 8 months ago

    I'm not happy about the last three minutes either. To EJ's defense there was an entire article earlier this year about the need to essentially have his trainer play sports psychologist. The tape of the KU-UK game is on YouTube, take a look. With a knee needing surgery last year he still looked spry as a fox. Had we pulled off that comeback against UK, EJ would have been one of the main reasons we even got passed the 2nd round. Looking back at that UK game, we had them worn down. One steal away and we almost got it at mid court. Looking back at that game I was wrong. KU was the better team than Kentucky.

    Ron Franklin 9 years, 8 months ago

    Time to delete all the dvr'd games, put em on disc and pull em out....never again!! Actually my 8 year old has been home two weeks post-surgery. He's watching KU game after KU game!! Special thanks to you Ralster!

    Steve Gantz 9 years, 8 months ago

    Good post Ralster. I would say in 08 we didn't make all the plays late in regulation. We had to overcome Sherron Collins boneheaded fastbreak with (correct me if I'm wrong) us down by 2. It was boneheaded because he didn't have a clear path to the goal. Then the ensuing FT's Memphis made one and missed, but we couldn't get the rebound. There's two plays we didn't make down the stretch that I can recall. Of course Memphis made zero plays down the stretch except for a couple of FT's in the last minute.

    Kevin Huffman 9 years, 8 months ago

    The one that went from 74-66 to 74-69....Jesse says, "For whatever reason, Releford's unable to get out to Burke".

    Ummmm, looks to me like McGary's pushing him HARD with an extended arm, like a stiff-arm in football!!!!

    Would've been virtually IMPOSSIBLE for him to get to him!!!

    Joe Joseph 9 years, 8 months ago

    Well. This makes me want to hang myself.

    DanR 9 years, 8 months ago

    As I started reading and felt progressively sicker, I thought, "man, I sure hope stupidmichael doesn't click on this story."

    namohcan_99 9 years, 8 months ago

    The game was more decide because of the turnovers late. This is one, but more so the half court 10 second call violation was pretty bad. We could have kept the win just getting the ball across half court.

    Kevin Huffman 9 years, 8 months ago

    THAT one I thought was LESS of a decision and MORE ON the ref. How much more contact do you need than that to call a foul?!?!?!?!?

    Kristen Downing 9 years, 8 months ago

    I was glad to see this as it helped me realize it was not just EJ's errors. I do wish some coaching decisions were discussed in the article such as, why no timeout for his senior before the 10 second call, why not mix up the defenses to cool off a hot shooting player? I don't like Pitino, but his constant switching of defenses kept throwing WSU off. You probably also saw what Syracuse's zone did to Burke. I think a young Michigan team will have trouble with the Card's many defensive options. I would like more explanations from Self. Hopefully they will follow when he decides to look back, if he ever does. Spare me the "Saint Self" follow-up comments. I've read enough of them.

    AirCapJay 9 years, 8 months ago

    The basketball gods were not very nice to the state of Kansas. Think about it... the final tonight could very easily be WSU-KU. Both teams lost by not holding double-digit leads in the second half to the two very teams that will play tonight. If that would have happened however, the president of CBS probably would have shot himself.

    Michael Luby 9 years, 8 months ago

    Im sure I'll catch flak for this but I still think Elijah lost this game for us. Jesse's description of the last few minutes had EJ making many more errors than the rest of the team. This loss is on him and Im glad he wont be around to lose more season ending games for us.

    Sam Constance 9 years, 8 months ago

    I don't know about flak, but you are wrong.

    Personally, I'd prefer to remember him for the fact that we wouldn't have appeared in the national championship game last year and we wouldn't have a 9th-straight Big 12 title to celebrate without him.

    But I'm also not one to put blinders on when it comes to how a game was won/lost, so there's that.

    jgkojak 9 years, 8 months ago

    I'm not putting the game on Elijah. As this clearly indicates, errors were made by just about every player on the floor, any one of which would have sealed the deal - BMac's bunnie that didn't fall; KY's late screen on the final basket.

    I put this on coach Self. After the 10 second call, it should have been clear that Tharpe should have the ball or EJ and Tharpe should share.

    I'll even say that, in the final play of the game... who do you give the ball to... you Sr, or the #1 draft pick?

    You give it to the #1 draft pick and tell him to make a play.

    DanR 9 years, 8 months ago

    Aren't we about due for an Anrio Adams update to take our minds off of this?

    Shane Garrett 9 years, 8 months ago

    AirCapJay: not only would CBS president jumped out a window, but all of Los Vegas would have imploded. WSU was 16:1 with 10 points. I am not saying the above statements would have any impact on how games are called.

    bradynsdad 9 years, 8 months ago

    Rio Adams is transferring. He posted it on Twitter about an hour ago. Self must have told him to move on.

    Tony Bandle 9 years, 8 months ago


    I guess that means Wiggins is a Jayhawk!! He was just waiting to see what Rio was going to do. :) = smiley face is international symbol for sarcasm!!

    Sam Constance 9 years, 8 months ago

    As sickening and painful as it was for me to read this, I'm glad I did. It's pretty clear to me that anyone who decided that this game was solely on EJ (cough cough Tom Keegan cough gutless cough) is either out of touch with reality, consumed by their desire to scapegoat someone for an easy target, or some combination of both.

    EJ's mistakes in that game were no more egregious than anyone else's--and if you look at the 2 plays that were the most popular to blame on him (TO pass to Withey and 10-sec violation), it's pretty obvious that they weren't as bad as people wanted to believe. EJ made the right read on the first play and simply couldn't see the 3rd defender between he and Withey while being draped by 2 defenders. A mistake, but one that happens. And on the 10-sec violation, while he could have had more urgency before there were only 4 secs left, it is ALWAYS a foul when an on-ball defender places BOTH hands on the body/arms of his defender while that defender is trying to make progress. I remember at the time thinking it was going to be a foul on Burke and almost broke my TV when they called 10 secs.

    But really, my takeaway from this breakdown is that it takes a cocktail of mistakes by the leading team, great plays by the trailing team, luck by the trailing team, and terrible officiating whiffs to overcome a 99.4% chance of winning a game.

    (to be concluded)

    diegohawk 9 years, 8 months ago

    EJ could have called a timeout in both circumstance. His turnovers were squarely on him and Self. Yes KY should have stepped out further and harder. Yes Trav should have helped the helper and yes they lost as a team. EJ as part of the team has his part of the blame. Complete team failure including the coach. Fun season and even game to watch however the end will be as painful as any over the years to forget.

    Sam Constance 9 years, 8 months ago

    I don't know about EJ calling a timeout on the play where he was double-teamed. Yes, he could have called one, but that will ordinarily be viewed as a wasted timeout. Obviously, in hindsight, we'd take the timeout instead of the turnover, but when he made the pass, he clearly didn't see Robinson, so he was making a pass thinking that he was breaking out of the double-team.

    But yes, I agree with everything else you said.

    Sam Constance 9 years, 8 months ago


    If Michigan is called for just ONE of the violations that these breakdown plays seem to suggest (Burke's foul on EJ, McMovingscreen's 103rd moving screen & forearm in Releford's chest keeping him from recovering on Burke's first three, or McMovingscreen's final moving "screen" of the game that allowed the tying three--no, he didn't have legally-established position when EJ plowed into him.), then the game is just out of reach.

    If Michigan fails to get one 50/50 ball, the game is out of reach.

    If Kansas successfully converts one of its mistakes (Ben's missed layup, Withey allowing Burke to box him out on Ben's missed layup, Kevin switching aggressively, EJ not waiting to show urgency coming up the floor, etc.), the game is out of reach.

    And of course, if Michigan fails to hit one of several really stellar plays, the game is out of reach.

    I originally was going to root for Michigan to win tonight since they beat us. But having watched them play through the rest of the tourney, I've changed my mind. I'm not sure what it is about Beilein that gets him such a benefit of the doubt from officiating crews, but his teams don't play like the least foulingest team in college basketball. They set illegal screens all day (the only reason EJ was able to tap McGary in the midsection is because McGary was busy using his forearms to push Johnson's torso illegally), they smack and hack with their hands, and somehow don't ever get called for fouls.

    And in their FF game against Syracuse, the Orange comeback was stifled by more Michigan moving screens and a TERRIBLE charging call against Triche. I have a philosophical problem with a team whose MO is "we don't foul that much" in a game that has become the physical brawl that college basketball has turned into.

    BCRavenJHawkfan 9 years, 8 months ago

    I can't believe this.

    I read every post, every sentence in every post, every word in every sentence in every post and no one asked Jesse who the coach was.

    Let me refresh for all: " I had a college basketball coach go through video with me"

    Please Jesse, do tell, who was the coach?

    Jason Sinclair 9 years, 8 months ago

    I'm sure he's going to tell us. Probably fully intended to in the original article, but just forgot...

    AsadZ 9 years, 8 months ago

    Jesse, I wish this article was not posted at this time. Reading it put more salt on the wounds.

    I can now understand why HCBS does not want to watch the tape. It is brutal, a real kick in the gut.

    Michael Luby 9 years, 8 months ago

    I'll reluctantly concede the point that this loss wasn't ALL on EJ, but he did have more than his fair share IMHO

    AirCapJay 9 years, 8 months ago

    Agreed. However I will add that if EJ were ejected for the flagrant foul (whether it was or not) we would have won the game. EJ was just off and trying too hard. Coach Self should have seen that and made adjustments. He did not. Self deserves the most blame for the loss.

    Sam Constance 9 years, 8 months ago

    "However I will add that if EJ were ejected for the flagrant foul (whether it was or not) we would have won the game."

    That's just idiotic.

    AirCapJay 9 years, 8 months ago

    That's my opinion. Are you saying that by Self leaving EJ in the game, after seeing the way he was imploding, was the right thing to do to get the win? You must not have watched the game.

    Sam Constance 9 years, 8 months ago

    Yes, it is your opinion.

    And no, I'm not saying whether leaving EJ in was the right or wrong thing to do. I'm saying it's idiotic to presume that you can know how the game would have turned out with such a significant change in how it was played.

    You do remember that Johnson contributed 13 points on 50% shooting (including 2-4 from three), right? And that all 13 of those points came after the flagrant foul, right? So it would be just as accurate as your suggestion for me to suggest that without EJ in the game, maybe we don't even have the lead to blow at the end of the game.

    Of course, I'm not suggesting that, because it would be absurd, since we have no idea how the game would have played out if one of our starters was completely absent from the game. It's the same rationale that everyone who thought Tharpe should take the starting spot from EJ during the three game losing streak. Tharpe coming in and providing solid backup minutes is wholly different than being asked to be THE ball-handler for the bulk of the game, and different again than being the ONLY ball-handler because Self decides to bench his 4 year senior (that has at times single-handedly won games for us) on a whim.

    I'd hazard a guess that part of what makes Bill Self such a good coach is his refusal to bow to silly notions like permanently removing a good player from the game because of a couple of bad (really bad) plays.

    One idea that didn't really get enough attention in the rabble to pin this loss on EJ is this: what happens next if you are right and KU wins the game after Self benches EJ? Do you think EJ is of any use in the next game at that point? I'm highly skeptical--I imagine it's pretty hard to be essentially told your team is better off without you and then come back the next game as if nothing happened. The problem is the fact that fans call for decisions like this based on their frustration and anger rather than it actually making sense as a tactic.

    Scott Smetana 9 years, 8 months ago

    I couldn't agree more. We had Michigan beat until EJ tried to take over with Tharpe on the bench.

    Michael Luby 9 years, 8 months ago

    This loss hurt, aint no mistake. But, I was outside running this afternoon and thinking about KU basketball. This car drives by with a Baylor sticker on it and as it passed me I remember that Baylor just won the NIT. The NIT. There was a mention of Baylor being the first big 12 school to win it somewhere, if I recall correctly. With that in mind, when was the last time KU was even in that tournament? When, aside from '89, has KU not been good enough to get to the NCAA's? Its got to be at least 30 years, not counting the above.
    My point is, KU is almost always one of the best teams in the league. They win on a scarily consistent basis. But they also lose some stingers. It happens to all the great teams. KU will be back in the final four again, and I honestly think they could have another title some where in the range of 2 - 4 years. #RCJHGOKU!

    AirCapJay 9 years, 8 months ago

    I think coach Self has left 3 NC on the table since 08. The two years we were overall #1 seeds with the Morris twins should have been NC. This year shouda, coulda, woulda. I think Michigan will win the NC.

    diegohawk 9 years, 8 months ago

    There are many games over Self's tenure here during his postseason performance that I think we could look at and say if they were managed better we could be looking at a different result. I love that we win our conference every year however I would easily trade half or more of those championships for a win vs Kentucky, VCU, Michigan, UNI, Bradley, Bucknell, Michigan State or others. His regular season success sets the bar so high for the post season. Unfortunately many times I don't think we have hit that bar.

    Sam Constance 9 years, 8 months ago

    Talking about national titles in this manner ("should have") displays a complete ignorance of just how hard it is to win 6 games of increasing difficulty in a single-elimination format.

    Just look at Rick Pitino--a coach I think most people would agree is one of the best of his era. He's been to the Final Four seven times and come away with TWO titles. That's a pretty terrible record, and it's with only 2 games left to win.

    Or look at it another way: if you really think Self has left three on the table, that means you think he should have four titles in 10 years at KU. Does that seem like a reasonable expectation to you? Do you realize that four titles in 10 years would put him in "best coach ever" territory?

    I realize it's easy to see the way in which various tourney years have played out and be fooled into thinking that we left one on the table for the taking, but the simple truth is that the NCAA tourney doesn't work that way.

    There's a reason no school has won with that kind of frequency since the field expanded to 64 teams.

    AirCapJay 9 years, 8 months ago

    For someone who makes $5 million per year to make it happen, has the number one overall seed for two of those years... yes that is my expectation. Thanks for the lecture by the way.

    Sam Constance 9 years, 8 months ago

    That's an ridiculously unrealistic expectation. You "expect" Self to have won as many titles in the last 10 years as Adolph Rupp and Coach K have won in their entire careers (42 years for Rupp during a time when fewer teams competed in the NCAA tournament and 38 years for Coach K), and more than every coach except those two and Wooden have won in their entire careers.

    Maybe thinking of his duty to bring you national championships as a function of his paycheck is a silly way to go about it. That $5 million salary isn't a "payment for national titles", it's payment for the host of benefits he brings to the program. Like the value of our basketball program, or the consistent success unlike any other program in the country enjoys.

    You're welcome. I'm more than happy to lecture away at fan attitudes that I find rather pathetic.

    thmdmph 9 years, 8 months ago

    Regardless of how we look at it, Michigan ONLY did what they needed to do to put themselves in position to win. They didn't win it. WE LOST IT. We did absolutely nothing right at that junction on except a 3-pointer by EJ. The last possessions of regulation AND OT lead to our loss more than Michigan doing anything in particular to win. Yeh, Burke was money, but they still wouldn't have won it if KU had not done so many thing wrong.

    AirCapJay 9 years, 8 months ago

    Exactly! That's why it will be so hard to watch Michigan cut down the nets.

    diegohawk 9 years, 8 months ago

    I don't understand why we thought a 3 pointer by Naa in regulation was better than running him or EJ off screens in the back court to give them 4.5 seconds of steam at the hoop. Tyus Edney had a second less time and got all the way to the rim. Correct me if i'm wrong but Michigan doesn't shoot free throws on a player control charge against us if it happens. Mentioning MIzzwho's failure always makes me feel better.

    diegohawk 9 years, 8 months ago

    Question for anyone who can or wants to answer it.

    In Selfs 10 years here what has his NCAA tournament seeding been and what has the result been? Curious to see how often we reach the result we were seeded for or better.

    Also curious what other top programs have done during this stretch. I have a feeling the result will be somewhat depressing but I would love to be surprised. Self is a great coach and I wouldn't trade him for anyone however he seems to overachieve during the regular season and underachieve in the post season fairly regularly.

    Maybe I'm a fair weather fan. Maybe I just care too much. Maybe a little time away to recharge the batteries after yet another post season shortcoming is what I need. This article has reopened the wound a little.

    eastcoasthawk 9 years, 8 months ago

    Ouch. The wound still hasn't healed. Couldn't watch the whole game last night because of the woulda, shoulda, coulda's. But Louisville showed us how to close out a game. We had a good year. Let's start again all over in the fall. Rock Chalk!

    Scott Smetana 9 years, 8 months ago

    40% EJs fault. Driving the lane with 25 seconds on the shot clock, repetitively getting behind Burke, missed FT, 5 turnovers, flagrant foul, bad shots in OT, etc.

    40% Selfs fault for putting EJ in the leadership role with Tharpe on the bench. EJ was a terrible PG all season.

    10% team not getting 50/50 ball and switching faster.

    Obviously I'm still bitter.

    Greg Lux 9 years, 7 months ago

    It's hard to blame one player but in this case EJ is the fall guy. He made so many mistakes in the last 2:30 or regulation back court call, stolen pass, MISSED FREE THROW (if he maked the first one the game is over with a 4 or 5 point lead and about 12 seconds left in regulation) and the last play of overtime was unbelievable.We have a top 5 draft pick and we get him the ball once in the last 2:30 of regulation. Plus he is our best free-thrower and we make no attempt to get him the ball on a sure foul situation. To many mental errors were made by a team that should be so much better then that. As you can see I am still hurting and I guess I need to blame someone. Sorry EJ but this time your many turnovers cost us a chance at another NC.

    Rock Chalk always a Jayhawk

    ollerfarm 9 years, 7 months ago

    EJ is a bum and Bill S is too for having him in all of the last 2:30

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