Why I believe in pressing

  • The transition zone of a basketball court is like the ocean between continents. It is cheap to control with a zone press and it has pinch points where access can be suddenly and decisively and surprisingly shut off. Therefore, one is foolish not to take control of it and fight battles against an opponent ill prepared to fight there. Hegemony anywhere on a floor is advantageous. If one cannot control the half court, one should try to control the approach zone, I.e., the transition zone.

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  • I watch a lot of club basketball down here. Most of the best teams have two top guards getting a,ton of layups off a full court press.

  • @JayhawkRock78

    A good guard will slice and dice a press like a sharp blade in a kosher deli. Remember in 2004, Mike Anderson;s UAB team and the “40 minutes of hell” had just taken down top seed KU and the talk was that it would do the same to KU. With superior play from Aaron Miles KU completely ran around the press and demolished UAB. Miles finished with 10 assist and the main beneficiary was the Big Dub who finished with 30 points, 9 rebound and 5 assist himself, while shooting a record 18 free throws. Anderson was so frustrated that got two technical and was ejected. Final score was 100-74…and it was not even that close. I believe that was the beginning of the end for the “40 minutes of hell” or “fastest 40 minutes” as the solution to the press became apparent. I believe the only teams that still play that style are Arkansas and VCU.

  • @JayHawkFanToo

    I agree that M2M full court presses are stupid; that has been proven time and again.

    But Wooden proved ten times in 11 years that a 2-2-1 3/4 court press makes a talented team almost unbeatable. No one would have a prayer against Nike stacks at UK and UA, if Cal and Stumpy had enough sense to pour urine out of a chapeau and press 2-2-1. It extends the advantage of superior athleticism and the element of surprise to every square foot of the court.

  • @jaybate-1.0

    Wooden coached in a different time when a few team dominated college basketball and the talent he had was so much better that they could mail in the results most of the time. I am not sure that in today’s environment and with the parity that exist in the game Wooden, or any other coach for that matter, could replicate the results. If nothing else, this is why KU streak of Conference Titles is so impressive.

  • @jaybate-1.0 You are exactly right (but you knew I’d say that based on past posts, I’m sure). I’m a big fan of the 1-2-1-1 3/4 court press. And a big fan of the 2-2-1 3/4 court press. The key distinctions 1) zone vs. man press, 2) 3/4 court vs. full court and 3) employing the press wherein the passes are not denied, but rather invited, to the trap spots. But also key in my opinion is using such a tactic in measured doses.

    The “measured doses” – say one out of 6 possessions, and even attacking in press mode off a missed shot in appropriate situations. And I have no problem with even springing a full court, full denial zone press a couple of times a game. I’m not personally a fan of denial presses, but a few times here and there in a zone press scheme is fine. This is where man presses fail in my opinion, because many include denial of the ball. That permits the excellent ball handling teams to really destroy it. In a zone scheme that flexes, and targets rotating trapping spots, the ball handling aspect can be significantly mitigated (though it is still a solid weapon in defeating any press).

    The surprise of it alone can create a turnover. Guys get caught out of position and guys panic. Heck, we saw Selden pitch the ball in the stands a few times just making a basic cross-court pass against the press.

    I would also toss out that a strategy I absolutely love at all levels of the game – the periodic/sporadic aggressive trap. Basically, picking times to randomly trap guys all over the court, looking for a quick turnover. Maybe just one every other possession.

    One other thing I love about the press is that it can dictate pace. It can speed teams up – teams that attack the press. Or it can slow things down – teams that methodically break the press (like we do). The regular use of the press will cause teams to be more methodical. The sporadic use, though, has the better chance of speeding teams up, causing panic, catching guys out of position. I have used the Texas Tech game last season in Lubbock as an example where Self was completely outcoached … Tubby Smith brilliantly controlled pace. And we permitted it. We played their game. We did nothing to at least try to increase the pace and cause panic.

    But we know why teams don’t press more. Coaches get conservative. The better teams like KU, UK, MSU, AZ, Syracuse, Duke, UK, etc. don’t feel that they need the added risk to win the game. And most of the time they are right. Self sees a few times where teams get easy buckets and then gets skiddish. All coaches do sometimes. Teams lower on the totem pole seem to employ the strategy more out of perceived necessity.

    But a comprehensive game plan employing the strategic and pre-planned use of various presses is a no-brainer in my opinion. It is simply getting the most out of your talent.

    A great example was the Stanford game. Ugh … I hate that game. But Stanford had no solid ball handler. It was mentioned many times. Yet we didn’t pull the press out until it was panic time. And it did work very well in gaining possessions (though we failed to convert a few too many times). We were missing Embiid, yet we took our normal approach in all phases of the game. Plainly, Self felt that status quo was the best approach.

    Question - does anyone think that we lose to Stanford if Self employed the 2-2-1 3/4 court press @jaybate has identified for half the possessions?

  • @HighEliteMajor so sick of hearing about the Stanford game! Our press was nice, but w/out black we couldn’t score! I love all kinds of presses, but w/black in trouble we couldn’t do it- foul trouble! Perry and Mari had really bad games!

  • @JayHawkFanToo

    You are too easily sickened regarding HEM’s take… 😄

    And regarding Wooden, as persons claiming what you do force me to analyze it, it was probably tougher to do in Wooden’s time what he did. His first two ring teams were vastly less stacked with talent than the top teams of those years. When was the last time a less talented team with no one over 6-5 won a ring in the modern era? Fouls were called in those days. The rules were enforced. The dunk was outlawed, when he had his only two great centers. Gambling scandals of the 50s and 60s mean more games were being decided by something other than talent than today, when many (not me) believe Big Gaming no longer tampers with outcomes. And only 5-6 of his ten ring teams could be argued to have had sharply better talent than other top teams. So he won 4 rings without being stacked Nike style like the way Cal and UK HAVE BEEN ALL CAL’s UK SEASONS. Frankly, talent is way more asymmetrically distributed now every season than it was during Wooden’s first two ring seasons without any super players. Further it was much tougher to get in the tournament in those days. And population for recruiting was much more concentrated in the east in those days. You have to win 6 instead of 4 now, but the first two today are way easier than the first two then. There were only 2 cupcakes pre conference, not 6 like today. Same number of tough preconference opponents. You had to win your conference to get into the tournament, not finish second, third, or fourth. And so on.

  • @Crimsonorblue22 Ah yes, the point exactly … we were undermanned inside, really even with Black. This was a “known” prior to the NCAA tourney. We didn’t have Embiid. I did a rather long post before the tourney on playing small, pressing, pushing the ball as our best chance to win six games without Embiid. So I guess I understand when you say Black was out with foul trouble, and Ellis and Traylor had bad games, but the idea that our post play was deficient wasn’t entirely unpredictable.


  • @jaybate-1.0 not if it’s been over and over and over and over…again!

  • All real learning involves repetition. 😄

  • @jaybate-1.0 SA! My new abbreviation. Jk of course!

  • @Crimsonorblue22

    “…but w/out black we couldn’t score!”

    That’s why we need to reduce some of our “team offense” concept and start looking at NBA-style isos and plays where one of our best scorers has a match-up advantage and we offer up something else to score from besides our set “team” offense.

    I don’t care who we play, or if we are all healthy or not. At some point these rigid team offenses go south and you need a backup when it does. Better yet… don’t consider running isos (etc.) just as a backup. Mix them into the regular offense to keep defenses off-guard. The predictability factor drops off and teams will have a much harder time preparing to play us if we run more variations.

    We never really successfully ran effective isos with Wiggins. First… he wasn’t really a good ball handler and he had trouble with his finishes. Remember how the ball always slid through his hands without being fouled?

    He should have focused on a couple of key midrange pull up areas on the floor. Quickly master scoring from there and then run off that to create other opportunities. It should have been very basic and simple. Something he could pick up quickly. He had the athleticism to get the shot off even if teams scouted it out.

    Instead… he was either forcing 3s or forcing drives to the hole. It was clear he had ball handling issues… even more than that, he had anxiety issues driving it all the way to the hole. That’s why his focus wasn’t clear and he lost the ball almost every time. He wouldn’t have done that if his move was to set up a midrange jumper… something with little risk of injury and body bashing. We just asked too much from a young Andrew and we didn’t focus on what he could really bring on offense.

  • @approxinfinity

    Some how I have deleted my own post and moved it to the bottom. My ineptitude has reached herculean proportions. 🙂

  • @jaybate-1.0 just weird!

  • @Crimsonorblue22

    Weird it is, then. 🙂

    I am actually loving the resurrection of the word “weird,” also.

    It fell into disuse for a decade or so, after the 80s. Now it seems to be enjoying a resurrection. Its weird about weird.

  • @jaybate-1.0 I always thought weird was the best way to describe me.

  • P.S. I am frequently juiced and rejuvenated by the return of words, so long as they are not loaded with racist and sexist, and other prejudicial baggage.

    I never liked it when African Americans resurrected the N-Bomb, as we were trying to extinguish its use among Caucasian Americans, even though I instantly got the point of it.

    We all have a responsibility to keep the language lively and alive and evolving, but also ought to continually prune out the prejudicial and the insensitive, pointlessly vulgar stuff.

    I am not perfect at this. Neither is anyone else. It is an objective to pursue in hopes of pushing us closer and closer to our goal of being a country that lives up to the greatness of our Declaration of Independence.

    But I am not a prude about this stuff, nor am I an advocate of language police, or language vigiliantes. I like individuals to have a pair about it and do it themselves. But if they insist on saying stuff that contributes to keeping people down a notch, I am fine with political correctness enforced within the limits of our first amendment.

    I used to be more hard line on free speech. But as I have aged, I have come to have no fear at humans finding creative ways around Big Brotherism in speech. What I have found intolerable is a single individual just trying to go to school and being called a slur day in and day out. That kind of language abuse just can’t be tolerated in a free society seeking to educate citizens equally to think lucidly and to speak their minds.

    If everyone calls you a white devil all the time at school, when our society gives you no choice but to be in school at an early age, the epithet becomes a form of verbal hitting that one can only defend one’s self from for so long before one begins to loath one’s self for not fighting back. We cannot have our fellow citizens subjected to this. We owe each other common curtesy in our schools and our work places so that we can focus on pursuit of becoming the best we can be.

  • @jaybate-1.0 said:

    Some how I have deleted my own post and moved it to the bottom. My ineptitude has reached herculean proportions.

    I’ve restored the lead post…

  • I think the main reason we lost to Stanford was the injury to Embiid.

    It wasn’t the fact that he was out of the lineup. It was the chaos circling his injury and it was the big news of the tournament.

    A big part of why we lost was the chaos that surrounded that super young team. Remember back to all the media.

    First… there was Wiggins. He seemed to never achieve enough for most people. And would he become the #1 pick? Let’s not forget the Wiggins/Parker/Randle comparisons.

    Then… Embiid. Blah blah blah… look at how much he has improved and his stock is skyrocketing. Oh no… he’s injured. Will he play in March? What does that do to his lottery position? Will he come back for another year? Wiggins and Embiid… 1 and 2?

    There was too much chaos around this team. Same thing happened at Duke. Parker this and Parker that.

    I’m still amazed Kentucky got as far as they did… but let’s face facts, they had as much talent as any two other teams combined.

    The pressure… the chaos… the energy… it’s all too much on these kids, especially when they are only 19 years old.

    Just one more reason to support @jaybate-1.0 and his press. Keep these kids in a gauntlet of heavy lifting so they can do nothing but focus on execution. I believe we’ve been backing off the kids too much as March approaches. It seems logical that it would help them execute in March, but I don’t think that is the way it works. That study involving Hudy is revealing what works. These kids need to be pushed the right way in order to perform best in March. We have to figure in all the chaotic media because that is a part of Kansas basketball.

    So how do we keep these kids focused on ball and not on Sports Illustrated covers? I know what worked in my day. Players were thrown in a dungeon of heavy lifting with unreachable goals to keep their focus on ball. But who knows exactly what works best. I believe we will learn a great deal with the continued efforts in that study.

  • @drgnslayr

    Losing Embiid is the equivalent of losing Withey or Aldrich in previous years, they were all superior rim protectors that no amount of planning can compensate for the loss. After losing Embiid, KU went 3-3 the rest of the season and two of the wins were against Texas Tech. and Eastern Kentucky and the third was an OT win against OSU at home, thanks to a 30 point effort by Wiggins. The team just was not the same.

  • @JayHawkFanToo

    I agree… but don’t you think the chaos around it also piled on to the struggle? I remember all the “what is Kansas going to do now?” media stream.

    So we lost our big guy and we also were smeared with over-the-top attention when we needed to adapt our game. Tharpe seemed to be devastated by the pressure… as well as all of our young guys.

    Look at who won it all. UCONN… with seasoned guards and bad record, making them the perfect sleeper team. Their execution was remarkable when considering their talent level and having to beat the all stars at Kentucky.

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