A quick look at Overreaction Wednesday and what it means for Kansas basketball


Kansas coach Bill Self shouts to his team during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Duke on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Kansas coach Bill Self shouts to his team during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Duke on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger) by Associated Press

Well that sure was wild.

For 40 minutes inside one of the greatest basketball venues on the planet, two of the shiniest college programs ran up and down the floor begging each other to take control of the game.

And while both Kansas and Duke did just that after different junctures in the game, only the Blue Devils did it when it mattered most, coming away with a sloppy and somewhat spectacular 68-66 victory over the Jayhawks at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night.

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said after the game that he thought his team earned the victory. In the same breath, Coach K said he thought Kansas would have earned it, as well, had the Jayhawks came out on top.

Sometimes earning it simply means surviving an off night and grinding like mad when you’re not at your best. Both teams did that throughout Tuesday’s affair, but only one walked away victorious.

Luckily for Duke, that meant that the majority of the national media and the Blue Devils’ fan base could spend Wednesday overlooking the areas of the game that didn’t sparkle for the Blue Devils.

Field goal percentage, turnovers and shot selection were all issues for Coach K’s crew. But 68 is more than 66 so those issues were less glaring than the ones being talked about in Kansas circles today.

With that in mind, here’s a quick look at the four biggest overreactions to KU’s two-point loss to No. 4 Duke that I saw in the world today, some of them warranted but all of them completely over the top.

• KU’s turnover problem is a major issue

You’ll have to excuse me on this one, but I just don’t see that being the case. There’s no doubt that it was a major issue last night, but I think that showing will go down as more of an outlier than anything else when the season gets rolling.

A year ago, a very different looking KU squad averaged a shade over 13 turnovers per game, with season highs of 24 in a loss at Iowa State and 23 in a loss at Kansas State.

Although this is a different squad, one that does not have Dedric Lawson as the anchor of its front court, it returns nearly all of its backcourt and those players are plenty good enough to correct the issues that cost them the Duke game on Tuesday night in New York.

I have to admit, I was surprised to see Devon Dotson and Ochai Agbaji struggle so much with the ball against the Blue Devils. But I’m willing to chalk up their combined 11 turnovers to the idea that both wanted so badly to make a big splash in the season opener that they pressed too hard and were just wound too tight to get it under control.

That won’t be an issue going forward. For one, because I think both are too talented to play too many games like that. And, for two, because, if nothing else, you can bet giving the ball away at the alarming rate they did against Duke got their attention like nothing ever has before.

Mistakes happen, but I wouldn’t be surprised if both players are turnover free on Friday night against UNC Greensboro.

• Devon Dotson is not a true point guard

There might be some merit to this claim, but a huge chunk of how you see it depends on what you value from the position and how you define it.

If by true point guard you’re talking about a Jacque Vaughn/Aaron Miles type who would prefer to set up his teammates a million times over before looking for his own shots and points, then you might be right here. Dotson is an attacking point guard who likes to force the action, put pressure on opposing defenses and make opponents uncomfortable. Finding the open man or dishing to spots and zones isn’t always at the top of his list.

However, if by true point guard you’re talking about a player who can handle the ball, run the show and dictate the way the game is played, Dotson is that guy.

There’s no doubt that Bill Self and company — no to mention the NBA types who are paying attention — would love to see Dotson distribute as well as he scores. Setting up Udoka Azubuike for an easy deuce after drawing the defense is worth the same amount of points as racing full speed to the basket, colliding with a defender and getting the shot to fall through some nifty english and pure toughness.

Dotson’s smart enough to know that and sane enough to know that the less his body gets beat up the better off both he and the team as a whole will be.

There’s not a soul on the planet who would tell Dotson to attack less. But there might be a few out there who tell him to keep an eye out for teammates who might be in position to make an easier play.

Still, if you’re talking about a lead guard who can put your team in position to win each possession, there aren’t many in the country who are better equipped than Dotson.

• Isaiah Moss fixes everything

Had he been fully healthy — or, more to the point, had Tuesday’s game actually meant something — Moss probably would’ve both played and helped last night.

But to say that the Iowa grad transfer’s return to the lineup will suddenly take care of all of KU’s issues is a little extreme considering you’re talking about a player who has yet to play a single meaningful minute for Bill Self.

Based only on last night’s efforts, it does appear that the presence of a knockdown shooter on the floor and a four-guard lineup would be KU’s best strategy as of today.

You put Dotson and Ochai Agbaji out there in the backcourt with Moss at the 3, Marcus Garrett at the 4 and Azubuike at the 5 and let the Jayhawks spread the court, attack driving lanes and kick to shooters.

But, again, Moss is brand new here. Yes, he’s played a lot of college basketball during the past three years, but it’s not as if he was an all-Big Ten, All-American type talent. He was solid. And he’ll help the Jayhawks a lot whenever he’s healthy.

But his presence will not automatically erase KU’s other issues or make it any easier for the Jayhawks to figure out how to play Silvio De Sousa or David McCormack with Azubuike at the same time.

• KU can’t play two bigs at the same time

Speaking of that last part, I can see why Jayhawk fans are willing to abandon the two-big approach already. It looked awful last night. And there’s no doubt that KU does not have a center and two power forwards on its roster; it has three centers.

When you think of the ideal 4 in the modern day Bill Self offense, who comes to mind? Perry Ellis? Marcus Morris? Josh Jackson?

If any of those three were your answer, you hit it on the head. And what did all three of those players have in common? They all could make plays off the dribble, with the pass or by creating their own shot.

McCormack and De Sousa can’t do that yet. And Azubuike’s not even close.

But that doesn’t mean you have to abandon the idea altogether. At least not yet.

Those three players are big time talents who, if given the opportunity to play to their strengths and in their natural positions, could give the Jayhawks a big time advantage down low against just about every team in the country.

Why give up on that idea without at least toying around with some ways to make it work.

Yeah, the game has gotten smaller and the 3-point shot is more important today than ever. But Self and his staff have been at this for a long time and you can bet they have some ideas and some tweaks they'd like to explore before giving up on the idea altogether and taking three of their most talented players and limiting them to less than 20 minute per game apiece on average.

If we’re still having this debate/conversation after Christmas, you can probably punt the idea of playing two bigs and expect to see a bunch of four-guard lineups throughout Big 12 play.

But for now there’s still time to see if something can be cobbled together. Besides, being patient has two possible advantages — 1: They might coach their way into something that works. 2: Even if they don’t, they’ll give guys like Tristan Enaruna, Jalen Wilson, Christian Braun and Moss time to get more comfortable before taking on bigger roles.


Dale Rogers 2 years, 10 months ago

On the bright side, Dok made 2 out of 3 freethrows! As for our back court, I'll take Devon, Ochai, and Marcus any day of the week. Every day of the week. I suspect Devon read a little too much of the hype about whether he or Tre is the better point guard. Other than that, I think playing such a tough and high visibility game this early was a detriment to the performance of both teams. Both tried too hard. This is going to be an awesome team and before too long this loss will be forgotten.

Brad Avery 2 years, 10 months ago

On November 21, 2011, KU played Kentucky in Madison Square Garden and got drilled in the can, 75-65. They lost to Kentucky again that season, but it was in the National Championship game. So relax, paranoid KU fans, of which I am one. Self is still at the helm and we will improve significantly and be fine.

Blake Brown 2 years, 10 months ago

I definitely overreacted to KU`s play in the game. It was like the players were going through the motions and running everything as if it was done in practice. Duke overplayed the passing lanes as well as double teamed the post and that requires moving the ball quickly with sharp passes to breakdown the defense. Self even said they practiced against that strategy a lot. They rarely exploited it with any consistency. Big Xlll teams will do the same to us until we learn to make the correct pass at the correct time.

If Duke hits a few of the open shots, the outcome isn't even close.

Dok still is making way too much body contact on D and still getting into foul trouble. He fumbled the ball many times when it hit his hands when boarding and just could not get a handle on it as has been a pattern. Come on, this has to get fixed

I still think we are a better team than Duke at this stage and should have won the game.

And what about Jalen Wilson? He comes in super hyped as our top recruit and has 3 minutes of bad on court presence and little else.

OK, I know, it's one game and the season is just now underway. Bad passes, poor ball handling, too much dribbling, mediocre defense, poor free throw shooting as a team........ Yes, I overreacted.

Rock Chalk!

Len Shaffer 2 years, 10 months ago

It's funny that you exhibit the exact type of overreaction that Matt is talking about.

"If Duke hits a few of the open shots, the outcome isn't even close." Seriously??? You could just as easily say, "If KU makes a few better passes, the outcome isn't even close." As Matt pointed out, EACH team had its good moments and its bad moments.

The fact is, it was the first game of the season. They'll be fine.

Robert Brown 2 years, 10 months ago

As hyped as the Champions Classic is, we need to remember that it is November basketball, and this game borders on irrelevance in March.

Dale Stringer 2 years, 10 months ago

Well if you don't shoot the Three, then then the other guys don't have to guard the Three. We only put up 9 attempts all game (and made 45% of them). This helped Duke bunch up inside and double team our bigs all game. Duke shot 24 and made only 33%, but it made us go out to guard them and that opened up the floor. We out rebounded Duke overall and recovered 35% of our misses - even with them bringing their defense in.

I couldn't believe all the open shots our guys passed up on to drive into four defensive players. I'll chalk it up to wanting to impress all the NBA scouts in the audience with an awesome basketball move. Same with half the turnovers trying to make the fancy pass.

So start shooting the open outside shot, pull the defense out, give our bigs more room to dominate the glass and stuff it in the basket.

Curtis Blankenship 2 years, 10 months ago

IMO, they looked like a team that had played Fort Hays and Pitt, then got a wake up call in the first half. Once Duke figured it was an in-out game they countered by collapsing on Doke and McCormick and didn't allow us offensive boards. Interior defense needs to collect less cheap fouls, which teams will attack all year. Tons of talent on this team, just need more time together. Very exciting.

Also, don't say this doesn't mean anything, its Duke.

Pius Waldman 2 years, 10 months ago

Man I hope I'm wrong but Dok is over rated. Yes he can dunk but unless he is very close to the basket his play is questionable. His dribbling is (well he doesn't do it generally.) is questionable. As for earning all conference a big stretch. Why do I say this long time basketball watcher. If I'm wrong hey I would be happy

Jeff Kallmeyer 2 years, 10 months ago

Way too many excuses by everyone, including Self. The bigger problem, and it's the same one we had last year, we're too soft and we usually get out-hustled, out-muscled and out-coached!

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