Bill Self VS The Rolling Stones
1971 was a long time ago. But a few things still stick in my mind from that period. And one of those sticky memories involved the British invasion, in particular, The Rolling Stones and their new release “Sticky Fingers.” Hard to believe, but I have managed to stick on to that album all these years, and the zipper remains functional.
So when Coach Bill Self starts preaching from his Bible about not letting the ball stick, I can’t help but think about my zipper album and the 10 songs that caught fire around the world back in '71.
Self made a statement last Monday on something that stuck on him concerning the game of basketball. He (like the rest of us) was impressed by the team effort and ball movement of the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals. I can’t recall (in my lifetime) a better example of both team play and team passing from any past NBA Finals from all those great teams that performed in it. Every player on this Spurs team passed the ball well and padded their assist stats.
““That was a true team and they did so many great things. To see how three Hall-of-Famers (Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker), the three best players on the team, how excited they were when (Kawhi) Leonard won MVP, it makes for a pretty special situation. What Pop (coach Gregg Popovich) and the Spurs have done will make it much easier for college coaches to coach,” Self added, noting he would point out to his players how the champs moved the basketball without it sticking to hands.”
Imagine for a second, that a college basketball team could grasp the ability to play and pass anything close to what the Spurs did in the Finals. How bad would that team spank the entire college basketball world? I would imagine even far worse than the Spurs spanked the Heat. We all typically criticize NBA defense, but the Finals usually brings out every team’s best defensive effort. The Heat did their best to ratchet up the pressure (especially in Game 5) but they were eventually beat down by the persistent effort of the Spurs.
I may actually receive my recent wish, which involved Self showing NBA Finals game footage to his troops in hopes they absorb how effective the Spurs played and commit to focus a season-long effort to achieve as close to that level of play as they can.
It’s summer (almost). We need something to dream about for a few months to tie us over until that first fall jump ball. Why can’t the dream include an unselfish Jayhawk team that made crisp passes soaking in PAM (non-stick) to targets that worked their butts off away from the ball to get open and complete the scoring process (at a high rate of effectiveness)?
I want to hold on to that dream. And in the process, I want to flush away all the nightmare dreams from the past where Kansas gave away games because of either clusters of bad TOs or running an offense that “stuck” and didn’t produce enough points to win.
We still have a young team, but there is a bright side to youth; they should be able to learn much faster than players older than them. Just look at the NBA. It is a league full of top-notch talent that is older than players wearing a Kansas uniform. No other team in the pros ran an offense even close to what the Spurs did in the Finals. Coach Popovich does not hold any secret weapons or strategies. There was nothing in the Spurs playbook unique to professional basketball. The Spurs just learned how to execute to the level of success they performed in the Finals. It was not a case of a team simply getting hot.
I can’t wait to experience the rest of my summer. It will involve picking vegetables from my garden and having ripe dreams about a Jayhawk team that will perform to a legendary level this coming season.
Bill Self finally made his point stick about not letting the ball stick. He now owns several game tapes showing what he is reaching for… can his vision stick into his players’ heads? The answer sticking into my head until fall is “yes!”
I didn’t watch UCONN closely, but based on what little I saw, they were successful largely because of the way they passed and found the better shots. Of course, there are a lot of other things that they had to do well… but, from what I saw, they were a better unit-- better at moving the ball to break down the defense.
I too suggested that Self show his team tape of the NBA finals, after game 3 and their historically efficient first half of that game.
I hope Self watches the tape willing to learn things too. The first thing I’d point out is that maybe the Spurs offense was so functional because they weren’t firmly entrenched in a high-low scheme. I don’t think even at it’s most well-oiled and with the most proficient of passers that Self’s offense could look near as good as the Spurs did.
Obviously Self doesn’t need to massively overhaul his system. It’s worked to great success. But especially this year more than some years past we will be stronger on the perimeter than in the post. Having more of a motion offense and running plays for those guys, as opposed to always looking to throw it inside or just moving it around the three point line, would prove advantageous I would think.
And again while not needing to make a massive overhaul, I hope Self will look at Popovich’s willingness to adapt. As @HighEliteMajor would say, to free his mind. Last year the Spurs came up just short. It would have been easy for Pop to maintain the status quo; he still had HOFer Duncan in the post. Just keep running much of the offense for him via post entries or pick & rolls. Instead, they made the necessary adjustments. He moved Ginobili to the bench. And against the Heat, even with Parker, Duncan, & Ginobili, they were running offense for eventual MVP Kwahi Leonard. Pop changed his line-up to maximize match-ups, unclogging the lane and moving Tiago Splitter to the bench and replacing him with Boris Diaw.
Lastly, something I’d like Self to learn from watching the Spurs is the willingness to give a green light to the shooters. This includes the bench, without worry of a quick hook because they miss their first shot. Patty Mills? Um, yeah. I think that guy is still raining shots down on the Heat. Have confidence in your shooters Bill!
I know Self said the Spurs just made it easier for college coaches, I only hope he doesn’t watch the tape thinking only about his players. A little introspection here could go a long way.
Ginobile has been coming off the bench for 3 years now and has been getting votes for 6th man of the year ever since; he did win the award in 2008.
The main reason San Antonio plays so well is because the main players have been together for a long time, and the players they have recruited are the type that fit the system and fully embrace it. Together, Duncan Ginobile and Parker have now more playoff wins than any other trio in NBA history having broken the previous records held by Kareem, Magic and Cooper in the last playoffs. Look like having your core of players stay together for a long time is the key to success.
@JayHawkFanToo Well…OK. But at some point, he moved Ginobili to the bench. Just didn’t happen last year.
And yes, obviously having a core of players is A key to success. But you can’t deny the Spurs make adjustments. To fit their personnel, to fit the competitive nature of the league. They aren’t the same team as last year, just like they aren’t the same team that won their previous title in 2007. If they were the same, if they just stubbornly did things the same way, we wouldn’t have seen such a drastic difference between last year’s finals and this year’s. Obviously the Heat, although the same opponent, were not the same team and that factors in, but you don’t go from a nail-bitting 7 game series to blowing out the two time defending champs by 15 points every game without adjustments. They specifically mentioned in the telecast of game 5 that Popovich doesn’t like the 3 point shot, but he realizes what a weapon it is and has adapted. He changed the way his offense works. Again as I said, it was not so heavily just pick & rolls with Duncan this year as it has been in years past. Again as I said, they leaned on Leonard more. Do you deny that the key for success this year was heavily reliant on the adjustments they made?
I stand by pretty much everything I said, in that the Spurs made adjustments and that netted them an NBA championship this year, whereas adhering to the status quo would not have. If simply having the same core group was all that they needed, they would have won it last year, and pretty much every year since 2007 by that logic.
“The first thing I’d point out is that maybe the Spurs offense was so functional because they weren’t firmly entrenched in a high-low scheme. I don’t think even at it’s most well-oiled and with the most proficient of passers that Self’s offense could look near as good as the Spurs did.”
I believe you hit it right on the head.
The Spurs ran so many different sets and their goal was to penetrate and force weakside help into the post and then they would feed it back out. That either created a quick trey shot or that player would continue to move the ball, like to another perimeter shooter for the trey or even back into the post for a finish at mid-range or at the rim.
Sometimes the ball moved so quickly it was even challenging to keep up with it through a compressed television screen.
I would love to see us run broader set variations… clear outs, pick and rolls, feed the low post, back out back in… take advantage of match-up advantages created by off ball screen rotations.
I know it is tough to expect too much from a young team, but heck… we’ve got the extended shot clock (compared to the NBA 24) and we have plenty of time to get something to work. Sometimes college ball looks so slow on offense… it only takes one or two offensive players standing still being a spectator to make offenses sluggish. I’ve always hated it when we put 3 perimeter players out sitting on the trey line passing the ball back and forth. There is this idea that if we throw it back and forth fast enough, eventually the defense won’t shift with it.
“And again while not needing to make a massive overhaul, I hope Self will look at Popovich’s willingness to adapt.”
Again… you nailed it. We need to adapt our play and be able to do different things in a single game.
@bskeet - I thought a lot of what worked for UCONN came from their perimeter defense. They were able to win the TO battles with all that pressure which also made it tough for most teams to run an effective offense because their perimeter ball handlers were under such heavy pressure.
@drgnslayr thanks for the analysis! This has been a great thread and I do hope that Self can explore some of Pops adjustments and see what works with our team. I learned a lot from all of you!
Wouldn’t it be interesting if Popa consulted his brain trust of LB, Self, etc., and listened to Self about beating the Heat by keeping the ball from sticking?
What if Self, the old pick and roller and man of many sets and actions and 1000 page play books, when he isn’t limited to freshman, shared his no-stick secret with Popa and said, “Popa, listen, after you get them playing no-stick, here is a wrinkle I am going to add next season. It’ll work. MASK THE DOUBLE POSTS.”
It all sounds so Self: mask and don’t let it stick.
Absolutely. Like all coaches, he adjusts, changes and tweaks strategy constantly based on the available personnel, obviously not in the areas that you think he should, but the results speak for themselves, wouldn’t you agree?
I did not disagree with what you said and I do agree that Pop has made changes to exploit the strengths of his roster, much like most every other coach does; he simply does it better.
As far as Ginobile, except for the 10-11 season, he has come from the bench for the last 8+ years; in fact, coming off the bench has been his trademark. In this particular ranking he is listed as the the 5th best all time sixth man in the NBA…
Many great players performed better, at certain stages in their careers, coming off the bench; McHale, Walton Manning and Harden come to mind.
@JayHawkFanToo I gotcha. I just remember them talking during this year’s Finals (I think with him personally in one of the post-game, on-court interviews) specifically about his move to the bench, and that initially it was a bit of a blow to his ego but eventually he embraced it; how he’d come off the bench and Duncan & Parker would go catch a breather so the offense was actually designed for him when he’d come into the game. Admittedly I don’t watch much NBA throughout the year so the way they were talking it sounded like a recent development.
It is my belief that Coach Pop is the most-respected coach in the league (by players, coaches, management and fans).
Surely that counts when he is trying to get his players to buy in to his strategies.
I know he has me convinced and could sell me a set of snow tires in Hawaii (if only I was lucky enough to live there).
One other thing you have to recognize with what the Spurs did is how they have embraced smaller lineups. They played a lot of minutes with only one traditional post player in the game, and even with those lineups, they would position that post player above the foul line offensively. They were effectively playing without a post presence for large stretches of the Finals. And this is even with an all time great like Tim Duncan at his disposal.
Self has been very hesitant to stray from having a traditional two big, three perimeter lineup. Even when he has had limited interior talent, he has been very cautious about going away from a traditional set.
For instance, KU could, I believe play a very effective lineup featuring Ellis as the lone big playing above the FT line, along with Oubre, Selden, and two of the Mason/Frankamp/Graham trio.
He could similarly find minutes for Greene in that same lineup instead of either Oubre or Selden. He could also utilize Mickelson in that lineup in place of Ellis.
It just takes some creativity.
@justanotherfan I think he tried Greene at 4 and Mari at 5, great pressing 5!
@drgnslayr Look at tape of KU’s 2008 team. Every time I watch those games it amazes me how quickly the ball moved around the perimeter. The ball didn’t stick and I think the current team could learn as more from watching that tape as it’s the offense KU runs. However, watching the Spurs may be the easier way to beat the message into their skulls.
I think this is why Bill wants three ball handlers (lead guards) in the game at once. This is how KU won the NC. Now I don’t think Rush’s handles were real solid, but he was capable of dishing/slashing with the best of them. The tandem of Robinson and Chalmers reeked havoc on the defensive end as well!
I also think the current bigs need to watch the way Cole Aldrich outlet passed the ball. He was looking for a streaking 'Hawk the instant he got the ball, whether he was pulling it thru the net or grabbing a rebound. Cole’s outlet passes led to instant offense and kept the defense on it’s heels allowing for easier defensive rebounding opportunities (since the whole defense was streaking back on D).
Right on! Chalmers and Robinson had the same impact Napier and Boatright had for UCONN. They didn’t turn the ball over much and they created turnovers. When you get that out of your perimeter, and then add KU’s always good rebounding in the post, you will come out ahead on possessions every game. Then a team has to totally out shoot you to win, and that isn’t easy to do because if you are winning the TO battle you probably play decent shot defense.
On offense, our perimeter guys need to know how to create shooting space. When you can do that comfortably and you practice enough reps to where your final move against your defender and your shot all come off as one big fluid motion, you’ll become an effective shooter. This is where college ball needs to improve and tighten up on to be more similar to pro ball. We are very guilty of this… have decent trey shooters but they can’t create their own shot so they perch on the trey line and keep whipping the ball around until one of them gets wide open. Come March, many teams you face will never leave these guys open on a “stand and shoot” opportunity.
But, heck… why am I talking about it when I can show one of the best guys ever to play the game when it comes to creating his own shooting space: