This could explain a lot...

  • @rocketdog

    Back in the 1970s my high school won something like ten straight state championships in football without hardly any great players, just lots of well drilled good ones. By the mid point of the season the practices were so easy it was ridiculous. All the team worked on was repetition of play execution against blocking dummies and quickness drills. Wednesday and Thursday practices people barely broke sweats. Once in a great while the chin straps were buckled and contact was initiated, but not unless it was absolutely necessary to work on contact itself. Practices were always short and crisp. Guys went into games so focused on what they were going to do there was never time to be stressed about the game. The coach always found one, or two plays that were going to work against a particular opponent, but otherwise it was just we do what we do and let them worry about what they do.

    Next, Wooden’s UCLA way was entirely about convincing his teams they would become the best conditioned team in the country and after that focusing entirely on what UCLA was going to do. UCLA reputedly often never practiced against what the opposing team was going to run. The focus was entirely on what UCLA was going to do. The practices were short but incredibly densely packed with drills. Players never paused for lectures from the coach on the wood. On the wood, every thing was about focusing on how to do things the UCLA way. The practices were designed to develop players ability to focus on execution for an hour and a half. Period. Practices never went longer or shorter. Wooden operated with the practice outlined in 1-2 minute blocks of times on 3x5 note cards. The idea was to see how quickly, not how fast every drill could be done. The short duration of each practice component of 1-2 minutes eliminated trying to do things fast. There was no way to finish the drills faster than the short time allowed, so all focus was on quickly executing to perfection.

    Both approaches created phenomenal levels of warranted self confidence–the confidence of knowing that one knows exactly what is supposed to be done and how it is supposed to be done and at what tempo.

    My guess is that if the KU researchers had done this study on either my high school’s football team, or UCLA, that the players on both teams would have had troughed cortisol and peaked testosterone almost every game from mid season on and with UCLA probably every game all season.

    I hope this research convinces Self to abandon the one third/one third/one third distribution about performance. Whether it is true or not, proper practice routines, pre game routines, and clarity of purpose during games can raise the base line of the one third bad games, one third middle games, and one third great games so high that the one third bad games are at a very high level of performance.

    Only a few coaches can organize activity so as to exude the zen confidence that is contagious that I believe lowers the cortisol and raises the testosterone levels.

    So much of what the KU researchers were measuring is a product not just of levels of exertion, but of how the team is conditioned and programmed so that they pass optimally through the stress of exertion.

    I met my high school coach many times, though injury and modest talent prevented me from playing for him. But though I never played for him, I got to know him and he was the greatest coach I ever met until I met Wooden. My best friends did play for him and won three of his ten titles and I am sure they would agree that he was the best they ever saw, too.

    I spent three days with John Wooden once, as I have repeated so often in posts. I repeat, because it is important for players, former players and fans that never met him to understand what great coaches are capable of. Today’s coaches are not scratching the surface of what Wooden tapped into. He must never be forgotten. His ten rings are not important, except as results of what he tapped into. It is the mother lode of player performance that Wooden tapped into and left behind his pyramid of success as a bread crumb trail pointing the way, but not the how. Until someone meets and gets to know one of these persons, even briefly, one cannot really begin to comprehend just how far most of us fall short of them, yet how far we can develop ourselves down the path that the trailblazer of human performance ventured down.

    These two coaches I was lucky enough to meet and who both approached their games through focusing on what their teams were going to do and minimizing the emphasis on what the opponent was going to do, had something else in common. When they looked at you it felt like they could see all the way through to your soul and you knew they weren’t going to hurt you, or ask you to do anything stupid, anything that wasn’t completely logically worked out. They were both quiet men of few words with great clarity. Wooden was a ferocious referee needler in games, but I have heard that his harshest criticism of players was goodness gracious. The other man was the same in practice as in games. But in practice, both were about the same based on what I have been able to learn. You never feared what furies they were going to unleash on you, because they never did unleash furies They just saw everything wrong and right you did and what you hated was when they looked at you and said it was not done right. It was something terrible not to do something right for these men that distilled the game to its essence and never asked you to do more than you could do. Each player was treated as an individual. To know that the coach had worked it out and put you in the role you were in precisely because he knew you could do the job, made failing for him feel a thousand times worse than all the severe tongue lashings and verbal abuse I had heaped on me by other ordinary coaches. I was only with Wooden three days and all he had to do was look at me once as I had said something that was less than what even a common college kid should have been capable of, and I wanted to go somewhere and practice until I said it right.

    The interrelationship of cortisol and testosterone are going to be more complicated than just the extent of exertion and rest. It is going to be about how do you get guys to focus on what needs to be focused on in order to operate at such intensely purposeful levels that the level of exertion has far more favorable impact on the biochemistry of the player.

    But the level of cortisol and testosterone are going to open a feed back loop for exploring that capacity of coaches with an order of magnitude more sensitivity.

  • @jaybate 1.0 Thanks 1.0 On the road and checking in (in Wichita no less) enjoyed the read.

    I saw Wooden in LA at a quiet spot on a lunch break but didn’t bother him (I never bother celebrities have a meal-but I’ve done it twice on airplanes.). I did get to meet him signing books at his camp my kids attended when we lived in LA and spoke to him via a radio interview after he released one if not possibly his last book. Wooden will always be one of my favorites-in the book his commitment to the west coast came because he didn’t hear from a Midwest team he loved-and did not know the phone lines were dead because of a storm. When he committed to the West coast he soon learned about the lines down preventing the phone call he wanted-but he had already given his word. He could not go back on his word.

  • @jaybate Great synopsis about how some coaches have figured out maximal extraction. Maybe its because they tried and found out how. Maybe Self tried, and his system cannot get past the Rule-of-1/3rd’s? Maybe that’s why he wants that swagger and toughness, as that’s how you win an ugly grinder game. So we win 2/3rds…and even a bit better, with Self clocking in at over an 80% win-rate at KU.

    We’d all like to see if he can extract even better out of his system, or adjust what he does in some way. Maybe this KU study is his brainchild? Or, maybe conversely, it is Zenger’s or somebody else’s brainchild, designed to help Self (& Weis)? Think about this: It is well-known how meticulous with drills and repetition Bill Snyder is, and he achieves a bit more than the talent he gets. That is the only point I can make, and with Zenger sharing a common thread as he comes from a football background, and has a unique perspective on both Kansas schools. Where my cursory analogy breaks down, is that Snyder has NOT won a NC, like Wooden won so many…or as Jaybate’s high school football coach won so much. Snyder cannot consistently win the BigXII. Talent is an important part of the equation: OU and TX get top20 talent, and are top20 teams. Stoops is an on-par coach. Mack was underachieving lately. Snyder slightly overachieves, but only in-conference, but still has problems beating top-talent teams. I’m not comparing Snyder and Self necessarily, as they both are known as quite regimented in their drills & philosophy. One thing anybody can say about Self, is that he is a top3 Div.1 college recruiter…something nobody can say about Snyder.

    Bill Self didnt start generating non-stop 1- and 2-seeds in March until he started landing blueblood-level talent. But can his system extract more for March? Thankfully, we dont have to ask if Self can extract more from OADs, as that big problem for college ball is about to soon go away. No fun going to war with shaky-foundation teenagers (ask Bill Self about the '13-14 season, but stand out of arm’s reach…)–laying a 1yr foundation, even if the kid had to start & learn on the fly (like Selden), makes for a much more productive Yr2. Which is why most Div.1 bball coaches are in favor of a 2AD rule. For example both Self and Calipari know exactly what experience can do for highly talented recruits…(watch both KU and KY this year).

  • Or, on the other hand, we could have simply fouled Burke before he shot, right?

  • @HighEliteMajor …yep, or EJ could have hit his 1 FT. Or BMac could have hit his point-blank baseline layup. Or Withey and KYo could have collected that “50/50” loose ball that Mitch McGary turned into a quick layup. Or EJ could have drove hard enough at the rim and actually try to finish a layup to at least earn a FT att or two (and have a shot at in-game redemption from his earlier miss)?

    But these are only questions the losing team’s fans ask, post-facto. Like Memphis08 fans, Davidson08fans, KU11fans, and KU03 fans…

    But maybe we dont have to ask these questions if: (pick your favorite Selfism: “step on the throat”, “close out a game”, “learn to finish”, “be a goto guy”, “be a leader”, “wants the ball in that situation”…).

  • @ralster Yes, but as the clock gets shorter, game decisions, missed shots, etc., are magnified. I always love the referees/officials, or their apologists, who say, “one call doesn’t decide a game.” Yes, one call can – if it’s the last one. Everything that has been done is already in the books. It can’t be changed.

    If Self directs his team to foul before a shot is attempted vs. Michigan, our chances for victory skyrocket. What we do know for sure, is that the wrong decision was made. Burke made the shot, we ended up losing.

    I do not understand the mindset that gives Self a pass. Ever. As if he only contributes to the positive outcomes.

    Against Michigan, it is very hard to fault any decision making during regulation except the fateful decision not to foul.

    But against Stanford, Self flat lost us the game. He was out coached. Out schemed. Out strategized. Rudimentary, basic adjustments to scheme and approach were obvious. Some changes were late, others never came. But we’ve been over that.

    Self has clearly won us many games due to strategy, scheme, etc. And really, many, many more than he’s lost.

    Self winning us massive numbers of games, and losing us some crucial games, can co-exist.

    I am most curious heading into this season if he tries to fit a square peg into a round hole, like he did last season. Maybe this team is more of the round peg, and will fit.

    But can anyone deny that we did not get near the maximum out of last year’s team?

  • I’m envious of all you guys who had the opportunity to meet Wooden! Meeting him or going to one of his clinics remained an illusive dream of mine through my youth and my summer days in Southern California.

    I like the idea of performing more research in this area. I just think we are light years away from getting to the real answers. We may find some tweaks that will give us a competitive edge in the short run.

    What bothers me (and has for years) is the total neglect all these people have towards nutrition and the development of nutritional planning for performance goals in the long run and up-to-the-minute needs.

    Many of these kids are putting so much effort into their sport and making gigantic sacrifices and risks, but yet they’ll munch down on candy before games. I remember reading that on KUsports a few years back. Munching candy before a game will create nasty blood-sugar spikes that will lead players to poor physical performances and mental crashes. They simply can not focus during a blood-sugar crash.

    I look at the obvious here and it makes me back up and become more critical about some of these studies and their results. This subject matter is so complex that researchers can easily form a conclusion and work backwards to find the ‘proof’ they are looking for.

    Over the past 10 years I have focused more of my energy towards nutrition, and I’ve shared some of my results in here. But also, in recent years I’ve had conversations with other retired athletes concerning nutrition and the guys who started practicing better diets all agree that if they could go back and replay their youth, they would put a great amount of focus on their diets. I definitely fall into that category and wonder what heights I could have reached had I put down the sugary energy bars, Gatorade and other junk.


    I love the fact that KU continues to help innovate the game in the 21st Century…

    This is true leadership and it makes me proud to see the great cross-disciplinary efforts within the staff. We (the program and the university) will reap benefits from this for years to come.

  • @ralster

    I appreciate you weighing in on Self’s behalf here. Re-reading what I wrote it comes off too negative towards Self. I really don’t want Self to quit doing it his way at all. Self is the only guy in my opinion that has advanced the game since Knight did. Self IS the most important coach in the game from the point of view of advancing the way the game is coached and played. And he is just now at the point that Wooden was in his career when Wooden started winning rings by the bushel. Self has even won a ring early on that Wooden did not and his winning percentage is higher than Wooden’s until the season before Wooden had a bunch of undefeated teams and ten rings in eleven years or whatever. (Dwell on that: a bunch of undefeated teams.)

    Self is a genius. He could well be on the threshold of a stunning run of championships to add to his stunning run of 82% winning seasons and ten conference titles.

    I have my opinion about the disadvantages of this normal distribution assumption of performance, but if Self sees the path through the forrest requiring this assumption being central to his getting better, then I would be the first person to shout, “Bill stick to it. You know best. You are the trail blazer. You are taking the game to the undiscovered country.” And he deserves this curtesy and respect always, because he is a genius and because he has already accomplished some things no one though would be done. .82 for ten seasons is insane in this era. Period.

    So: thanks for wake up call.

  • @HighEliteMajor


    For the record, and my increasingly crappy memory, has Self said he told the players not to foul Burke?

  • @drgnslayr

    Copy and paste on nutrition.

  • @HighEliteMajor my only question at the end of michigan game would be, why didn’t we call time out on the 10 second call! And, was it 10 seconds? Really tired of hearing about the Stanford game, wish you had time to talk to a KU coach about their decisions on that game. Jmo!

  • But can anyone deny that we did not get near the maximum out of last year’s team?


    IMHO Self completely maxxed what last year’s team could do and here is why.

    First, its my hypothesis that Wiggins was never going to play full out the entire season, except in a four game run to the ring, where the exposure might help his endorsement contract. Its only a hypothesis, but so far it fits the data better than others I have considered. Again speaking hypothetically, his job was apparently to stay healthy, and put up decent numbers, light it up one game for PR value, take the other games to show case one aspect of his game at a time, so the GMs knew he could board, get to the rim, guard, etc. IMHO, and based on what I can recall now, there was never an indication that he was going to carry the team on his back for a season. Self appeared to put it on him and he appeared to discreetly decline the role very early. Embiid got the job by default. It was apparent that Wigs could score 40 ppg most any game, get boards, and guard the best perimeter guy on the other team from the beginning, despite being one handed, not much of an assist guy, and a average trey shooter. He was that phenomenal of a physical talent. But he only did it once or twice and then it appeared mostly to make sure his draft rank didn’t fall further.

    So: if you hypothesize it about it the way I do, then Self winning a ring with a bunch of freshman starting and a largely incompetent point guard and an experienced four that folded against long and strongs, how Self EVER won a conference title with his star player playing far within his envelope, another star player playing most of the season on one good knee, and a final star player playing sporadically and with serious injury the last month a half of the season, Self winning a conference title is one of the greatest magic acts ever performed in Division 1 basketball history.

    It appeared against Stanford that Self essentially put the team out of its misery. As I have hypothesized before, my best guess is that it became clear that Embiid wasn’t coming back, even if they beat Stanford. And so it appears as if Wiggins organization decided that he was to eliminate injury risk as much as possible against Stanford. I mean how does a guy capable of going of for 40 plus and a Number One draft pick, go off for 4 against Team Draft Horses from the Farm–Stanford? Again IMHO, Self appeared to try to win the game without Wigs and Embiid; that is not a sign of going all out to me. He just seemed to coach everyone but Wiggins, as if it were a game, and left Wiggins alone to do what he did. The loss put an end to the season and that meant no further games of watching Wiggins stand outside the trey stripe watching the action, while an undermanned KU team struggled without the man power to win.

    So: yes, I do think Self got the most out of last year’s team. In retrospect, I suspect he went all out for the title, because he decided that was the most last year’s team could accomplish with some luck.

    I know it is uncomfortable for board rats to think about the D1 game being played the way I am describing, but let’s face it, Wiggins did not perform like a Number One draft choice, yet he was taken Number One without much hesitation. This leads me to infer the GMs understood that Wiggins was not to be judged based on his D1 performance.

    Just as you rightly say above that Self can simultaneously be the kind of coach that can win a higher percentage the last ten years than any other coach and be prone to late game errors and late season poor play, board rats perhaps may have to learn that a great player can play much under his potential an entire season, put up good but not great numbers, and win a conference title, while at the same time shut it down to minimize injury risk late when the team has insignificant chance of progressing. Perhaps we are through a looking glass.

    Big money appears to make major performance decisions at least partially strategic calculations of whether or not injury risk is to be borne, or allayed.

    But of course, it is all just a hypothesis on my part.

    No one that is not inside can know what really happened.

  • @HighEliteMajor Man, great points. Especially about the “one call can change the game if its the last one”. This was true in the next-to-last game at Mizzou (TRob called for charge)…then the final Mizzou game, where almost payback no-call on if Pressey was fouled by TRob on the epic monstablock. Both games were decided by a “call” and a “no-call”.

    I guess my point, in a more abstract sense–> goes to the heart of the “percentages”, which is at the foundation of Bill Self’s beliefs. (Note: I’m not defending Self here, just reporting on his philosophical constructs behind his ‘system’…). IF KU had finished on a couple of 70+% looks (the missed BMac bunny and EJ’s lifetime 70+ FT% on his 1-for-2 FT trip), it would have made TreyTrey irrelevant. Things happened to create that opportunity for Burke. I agree fouling Michigan prior to Burke’s shot was the right call, just like Calipari should have fouled Sherron long before he handed off to Mario in '08, or maybe Sherron was just that fast as a soph…(which, as an aside, is the yardstick by which we measure our PGs now, not the injured version of Sherron that we saw against UNI.)

    Regarding Stanford: Our high% inside-out plan was thwarted by poor finishing by Ellis and Traylor (who threw us some fool’s gold vs. EKY, where if not for Traylor’s 17/14, we get mercerized by EKY). We actually shot decent 3%, and played decent D, and only had 13 t.o’s–right to our season %. But our highest%foundation actually failed us. This is why Ellis is working so hard on his finishing against physicality and size–he’s got to.

    I dont think Self will deviate from his inside-out mantra (based on his own philosophy)–> BUT, I think he may use a legitimately strong 3pt shooting team we may have this year to “open up” opposing defenses, thus giving Ellis and Traylor more room to work.

    This may sound like a homer/Self-lover comment, but I personally lay the blame on circumstances peculiar to this last season: team only has 5 mos together–> Not enough time to duplicate the 08guys, the '11overall-1-seed, or the '12RunnerUp run. It takes reps and chemistry.

    We were “wrong” to downplay the Tyshawn/TRobHawks, as they were Self veterans+blossomed Withey.

    We’d be “wrong” to expect a deep run in this last Tourney due to following “signs & symptoms of dysfunction”:

    1- Got beat in AFH by a middling west-coast-team.

    2- Got humiliated by FL on the road. There’s less than 5 blowout losses by KU in the whole Self era, and that’s a sample size of over 300+ games to judge his ‘product’, with several different sets of players. Yes, Tourney efficiency could be an emerging trend, considering UNI, VCU, and Michigan…but not Stanford.

    3- Black was destroying Stanford offensively, but poor perimeter D by KU gets 1 or more extra fouls on BigBlack (recurring theme), he fouls out, and the game slips away.

    4- Unique talents of Embiid emerging, gives team hope, erases bad perimeter D, then he’s lost to injury and team chemistry again muddied.

    5- Not sure if Wiggins sandbagging or not as jaybate insinuates, but him trying to penetrate 6 or 7 times (what he did best, usually high% for Wiggins) and getting stripped, foul-but-no-call, or getting a charge-call when airborne trying to finish…was also a game-changing story within a story. Yes, credit Stanford for gameplanning Wiggins (“3 guys everywhere I tried to go”…), but giving it to Wiggy wasnt Self’s only horse he brought to that fight.

    6- Again, unique to '13-14 Hawks, is the underperformance against size/physicality by Perry Ellis. He was 1 of 2 returnees. That in of itself is an issue, which privately (now publicly) I’m still hot about. He’s got to fix it, he’s a MickeyD who mans the TRob position, and all that implies.

    7- Another major, major problem with the '13-14 Hawks (to the highest chagrin of Bill Self) was the performance of his junior PG. What was going to be a wide-open PG battle, turned into a uniform-stripping dismissal of a Jayhawk player, once Tharpe gave Self the ammo of the social media selfie indiscretion. Tharpe could have been the rock, yet was not. This was HUGE and also unique. So after 2 yrs of “point guard” issues (EJ then Tharpe), Tharpe came up short in all the ways you can think. Sitting next to his coach, as his headless team goes down in flames, is soooo, SOOO symbolic of why Tharpe is on this list of reasons why '13-14 cannot be considered a typical Self product.

    8- None of this is meant to “cover” for Bill Self. Dont have to, he’s a big boy earning big $. He knows what his squads were and werent doing right…Personally, I saw, and it should be PAINFULLY obvious this team was incapable of running all the stuff that past Self teams had in their arsenal. 5mos together with 4 frosh starters/heavy mpg players just isnt going to give you the 08champs and their 2-3yrs of reps and 55set plays in the halfcourt offense and defensive competency, not only individual D, but team D concepts…and do we even want to bring up the zone-busting that Self’s teams usually excel at? He has 2 out of 6 coaching DVD’s devoted to zone-busting and press-breaking. So what’s Bill Self going to go to in all those timeouts he took during the Stanford game? Not much in the bag with Ellis + Traylor misfiring, Black out, Embiid DNP, Wiggins gameplanned and officiated to the point of ineffectiveness, and Jr. PG on bench, Selden not 100%, we know now… How many wheels we gotta take off the car before people realize this team was going nowhere. Yes, even in the Stanford game–> I counted 7. Who on the bench is going to execute when their reps are even less than the dysfunctional starters?

    9- Historically BAD defense. Needs no further elaboration, as Selfian discipiles know what domino effect it has on all of Self-mantra statistical categories. Gotta stop the other guy, make his game ugly. We didnt.

    Overall, I am starting to be more in-season analytical with losses–Each season’s team has particular strengths/issues/weaknesses/chemistry issues. Syracuse03. Bucknell. Bradley. UCLA. MichState. UNI. VCU. KY’12. Michigan’13. Stanford’14.

    And regarding “trends”, I do agree with the UNI + VCU results as suggesting a Tourney-prep flaw/issue. Maybe Michigan is the same flaw, or maybe it was just a bad meltdown. But the other “theme” from those 3 losses by experienced Self-rosters, is that we had to do several things ‘bad’ in the same game to lose. Usually a combination of shot ourselves out of the gym, and not play D, and we lose.

    Finally, a corollary to any grass-is-greener-infatuation with Hoiberg’s outside-in (3pt shooting): Notice that when KU loses with veteran teams unexpectedly, we shot dastardly from 3 (UNI, VCU, KY early hole). To quote D.Jackson, that isnt who we are.

    Cliff Notes version of this whole post: How developed and rehearsed was this '13-14 team? Not very. Comparing it to past veteran teams is apples/oranges. The fact that there were 2 top3 NBA picks on it drives people nuts, but has NO bearing other than reinforcing my point about greenwood not being able to execute. And didnt Calipari take a pretty talented KY team of frosh (minus Nerlens Noel) to a grand NIT-experience? KY’12 actually played as a team. And when KY’13-14 played as a team, they actually made a run.

    Final point: KU vs. EKY (1st Tourney game) was a 1 possession game with 3min left in the game. Like the comedian says: “There’s yer sign…”. Except it aint funny. But it was the reality of a too-green squad. 10-loss season. Shouldnt be a surprise, considering the dysfunction we saw all season long. Right?

  • @ralster “Not sure if Wiggins sandbagging or not as jaybate insinuates…”

    Hypothesizes, not insinuates. 🙂

  • @rocketdog After much intense study, I have decided that you and @DoubleDD need to have your avatars switched.

  • @rocketdog

    Do you have a moving gif version of that avatar?

    Inquiring minds want to know!

  • @ralster

    I agree with most of what you wrote except perhaps with number 2.

    Keep in mind that it was KU’s second road game of the season and it stared 4 freshmen and 1 sophomore against a veteran Florida teams starting 4 seniors and 1 sophomore that was playing at home and had already played on the road against Wisconsin and Uconn, teams that made it to the Final Four and UCon won it. Obviously with a lineup that inexperienced it dug a deep hole of 15 point at the half. It settled down in the second half and actually won the second half by 9 points and got within 4 point and Florida had to hold on to win. Yes, it was loss, but I would not say that in the overall game KU got humiliated by Florida. I believe most of us had pegged that game as a loss anyway, Wouldn’t you agree.

  • @drgnslayr

    Google “KUBoobs” and you can access the Facebook and Twitter versions, although KU has been trying to shut down the later.

  • Anybody see that Mudiay is gone … going overseas … skipping SMU?

    Seems like the college scholarship and the claimed lack of choice is not the indentured servitude some might suggest …

  • @HighEliteMajor bad deal!

  • @HighEliteMajor

    Sound like there are major issues regarding eligibility that are just surfacing. In any case, a big set back for SMU and Coach Brown.

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