Posting Up Perimeter Players: Cant or Not Cant?

  • William Self has things he likes the idea of doing on a basketball court, but then rarely does.

    Self’s recent comment about his current team having the least standing height since 2008, also carried within it a remark that he might compensate for this lack of standing height inside by posting some of his perimeter players. The inference was that these perimeter players might have some MUA in standing height that his bigs lacked. Posting up perimeter players falls into the category of things Self likes the idea of, but rarely does.

    Other items in this category include:

    a.) wanting to run more and then not running more;

    b.) holding down turnovers, but then requiring constant entry passes to the blocks that trigger more turnovers because opponents anticipate the frequent entry pass attempts;

    c.) stretching defenses with more 3-point shooting only to reduce 3-point shooting and go inside again and again;

    d.) swapping 18 for 23 with redshirting so that a player can become an impact player, only to find that more often than not redshirted players come off the bench as 6th, 7th, and 8th men at age 23, or start as glue men, because of the talented freshman that Self signs each season;

    e.) move a good trey-shooting 3 to the 4 to stretch a defense, only to try it once or twice and then never again;

    f.) etcetera;

    g.) etcetera; and

    h.) etcetera.

    Self once talked about posting up Mario Little, because Marcus Morris could credibly swing outside to the perimeter in such a circumstance. But it was tried and then not done again.

    Just last season, Self mentioned posting Andrew Wiggins from the 3 inside and he did a few times, but mostly if he wanted Wiggins posting inside (which in fact he did less and less as the season wore on), he simply moved Andrew to the 4 and brought in someone at the 3.

    Even Brannen Greene was moved to the 4 to stretch the defense two games, rather than posting a perimeter player outside to accomplish it, and then, after one or two games, it was never done again.

    Two questions arise as this season inches closer.

    First, will Self actually post perimeter players up this season, or is it just more cant?

    Second, why does Self seem to indulge in this seeming cant?

    I’ll take a swing at the second question first, because doing so makes the second one easier to answer plausibly.

    I suspect Self engages in all of this not seeming-cant, but actual-cant, for two reasons:

    a.) it keeps some of his players from getting stale by giving them some new possible role to think about; and

    b.) it gives opposing coaches something else to worry about and prepare for.

    With the second question answered thusly, then the first question becomes rather easy, doesn’t it?

    The probability is: there will be very little posting up by KU perimeter players this season after a few early attempts at showing the possibility.

    The only reason to suspect (hope?) otherwise would be if Wayne Selden’s strength advantage over many 2s he would face makes taking them inside make sense, if Lucas and Michelson really don’t pan out, and if KU really does have to play small in the paint. If KU were to have to play small inside, it would mean there would be no big loss to clearing our mini-bigs out and letting Wayne work inside.

    But, but, but…

    Self had mini-bigs in his own words in 2008 with DBlock and Shady and he had a 3 in Brandon Rush that would have been the ultimate post up type 3 and…

    Self did not post Brandon up inside.

    So: to build on some mongrel doggerel Monty Python once used in a sketch…

    Immanuel Kant is little piss ant,

    And posting up perimeter players

    Is a bunch of Self cant.


  • Posting up a perimeter player requires two things.

    First, it requires having a perimeter player that can hurt the opposition in the post.

    Second, it requires having post players that can hit shots away from the basket so the defense can’t simply switch a big man onto the posting perimeter player to negate the advantage.

    Let’s take these one at a time.

    From my look at the roster, there are four guys that are potential post threats on the perimeter for KU - Selden, Svi, Oubre, Greene. However, I don’t know that any of them can actually be a dangerous offensive player in the post. In order to do damage in the post, a player has to be strong in the third quartile - the area from the knees to the waist. Post play requires lots of position work, and that work cannot be done with the hands, arms and chest. It has to be done with the butt. Moses Malone was one of the best ever at this. Charles Barkley made a career out of it. You have to be able to get into position and then use your hips to knock your opponent off balance without bulling them over.

    Selden has the type of build that suggests he has that type of third quartile strength. Svi has lots of length, but he’s still a bit on the skinny side, so there’s no telling if he can actually get on the block and establish position against D1 players without resorting to using his upper body and getting called for fouls. Oubre is also on the tall/skinny side, so it’s unclear if he can post. Greene is kind of in between. Not as bulky as Selden, but not as skinny as Svi.

    The second question with the first issue is whether any of those four can actually score in the post. Perimeter guys are used to either handling the ball out front or catching the ball facing the basket. In the post, a lot of perimeter guys get disoriented because they are not facing the bucket. This messes up their entire offensive game - footwork, shot selection, ball handling - because they are literally turned around. Do any of these four have some moves they can go to in the post quickly before help arrives, knowing that there will be a helping big that will be cheating back towards the paint anyway? Anything a guard does in the post has to happen quickly, otherwise the help will clog it all up.

    The second issue is having big guys that you can’t leave. Posting up perimeter guys seems like it would work best when Ellis and Mickelson play together, as both of those guys have range out to at least 15+ feet. With Alexander, his man would sag off him more and clog the area. We don’t want Selden posting up and some 6-9 guy coming over to defend without Wayne being able to swing the ball to a wide open Perry Ellis to can a 16 footer.

    The whole point of any offense is to create a bad defensive matchup that forces rotations. But if you end up putting offensive players in spots where they aren’t particularly dangerous, you can’t force those rotations. I think this has always been Self’s hangup. He was hesitant to move Wiggins into the post last year because it would mean either taking one of his bigs off the floor or moving a big away from the basket. He has that option with Ellis because of his shooting touch. It’s just a question of whether or not he uses it.

  • I agree that Ellis makes this a real option.

    Ellis made it a real option last season, too.

    The Morri made it a real option when they were twinning in the hi-lo.

    And I agree its just a question of whether he uses it or not.

    The answer, if past were prologue, is that he will talk about it and then decide not to use it.

  • Let’s remember, as well, that posting up any player can be done for the sole purpose of passing to the cutter. There are many set plays that can be run where the ball goes to the block area where the better scoring opportunity is on the dish.

    That said, posting up a guy that is presumably a better passer (perimeter player) than a true post player can lead other scoring opportunities. Sure, it would help that a post guy could make the defense pay by hitting an outside shot. That’s true. It helps keep the post player’s defender away from the basket.

    But I also think that posting up a perimeter player can lead to other opportunities even if the offensive post player is not a threat outside. If the defender tends to slack off, it will create a greater opportunity for the offensive post player to slash and look for the pass. The further the post player’s defender is slacking off, the harder it is for the post defender to account for him, and very importantly, the harder it is for him to block him out on an offensive rebound. It actually can create a favorable offensive rebounding situation.

    Remember our discussion after we were smoked by SDSU? They doubled on the post. We couldn’t pass out of it. We had no slashers to the hoop. Self said on hawk talk that we weren’t really prepared for that as well as we should have been. Later in the year, we saw more slashing on double teams in the post. Better passing out of those doubles. Perimeter guys posting up can do that if there is a double.

    The size issue (skinny vs. bulky) is really unimportant in my opinion. I think what is more important is the match-up, and how it can be exploited. And that to me is the key. What can we do on offense to exploit advantages and score. Smaller guys can split a double easier.

    For sure, posting up perimeter players is an offensive weapon that we have failed to utilize. No one can deny that. We just don’t do it. Further, we see other teams routinely employ this weapon.

    This is one of those elements that we wouldn’t use all the time, or 1/2 the time, or 1/4 of the time. But it a weapon that could be used randomly. And then if we see, for example, that ISU can’t match-up with Selden on the block, we keep going to it until they do.

    Until we see it, it is all talk.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    Copy and paste.

    Add: the untried option I want added, when Selden has MUA is: when the wing dribbles baseline to throw it cross court under the basket to the other wing, instead of arcing out of play then to the corner for a quick catch and shoot from the corner, I want Selden to dribble base line. make the cross court pass to the opposite wing, the low post clears up to screen for the high post, while Selden fakes corner but instead posts up on low block for quick return pass from opposing wing, and has option to turnaround J, or dish to high post cutting to rim, or turn and follow high post to rim like an I-back following a fullback and cram it. And if Selden opts to dish to cutting high post, Selden follows to finish any miss by the high post.

  • @justanotherfan and @HighEliteMajor

    Good posts!

    @justanotherfan - you really nailed the details of how it works.

    @HighEliteMajor - you gave us the Mayor (ISU) NBA philosophy… take advantage of mismatches.

    Scoring in the low post really is a unique skill set. Size can be a factor, but it is more about the skills of the player. Some guys are really good at scoring in a one-on-one situation, regardless of where they are on the floor. I believe Svi will (eventually) be one of these players. I’m guessing he will need a year of college ball (and Self) seasoning… and, of course… he needs to be “Hudy-ized!”

    Some guys can score with their backs to the basket, some guys can’t.

    I just think we are a distance away from making these situations work. We never seem to get far enough with some of the basic execution of our offense first, before utilizing twists like posting perimeter players.

    I’d first like to see our perimeter players learn to create offense. We have too much of a “team offense” based just on basic plays (that are known by everyone). We always lead the world in assisted scoring. That sounds great, and it is great (from a team perspective). But at some point, when the team play isn’t working, someone has to be able to step up and take his man. We continually get further and further away from players being able to create for themselves.

    If I was a big-time scoring guard I’m not sure I would consider coming to Kansas. What would be in it for me? Where is the proof that my skills would be utilized well for the team and for my own advancement to become a high draft pick in the league? Sure… Wiggins went #1. Did that have anything to do with how he was utilized at Kansas or was it all Wiggins? I believe the later. Granted… it is a rare deal when a freshman can come in and create his own offense in D1.

    I’d like just a bit more of a Wooden philosophy… force my players to be accountable to produce, not only within the team concept, but individually.

  • @jaybate-1.0

    Ginobile had several of those in the playoffs against Miami, but then, he is a superior passer.

  • @JayHawkFanToo

    Fingers crossed for big Wayne to find his passing gene.

  • Here’s hoping the whole team finds it’s passing gene.

    Not sure how others saw last year’s team, but I feel like the team didn’t have great anticipation or vision and just didn’t tend to make plays happen through passing. They relied on superior athleticism (quickness, size, strength…) and superior shooting for their offense.

    When I reflect on the great teams of the past 20-30 years, a big part of the success was the cunning, opportunistic kind of play… Those kinds of plays are often spirit-breakers because they exploit a mistake and just the right moment.

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