First Exhibition: Mason Was The Star

  • Exhibition #1 is in the books … some quick takes. I was able to see the game, but without sound. Buffalo Wild Wings had the sound on, but impossible to hear. Probably better off not hearing Dave Armstrong -

    1. Frank Mason: Any questions? Clearly the star of the exhibition. Penetrated at will, good passing, was able to score, looked good from three. KU fans, your new point guard. Looked the part. It’s his job.

    2. Cliff Alexander: Uh, start him now. Active, strong, nice touch, tough. Nice compliment to Ellis. Keeping him on the floor will be the challenge, but he did seem under control. He did a nice job going vertical a couple of times.

    3. Svi/Oubre/Greene: Was it just me, or did Svi make an impression? Active, quick, can handle the ball. Oubre looked fine. But if I were to project the player with the higher ceiling, I’d bet on Svi. The question is whether Svi can mature quick enough this season to get playing time. I’d also put Svi ahead of Greene by a touch right now. Self said after the game that he intended to start Greene, but Greene’s defense was poor in practice yesterday, so he went with Graham. The battle is on here. Hard to project where things shake out by February, but I’m impressed with Svi.

    4. Point Guard: We saw Selden at PG for less than 2 minutes in the first half, and for 3 minutes in the second half. Big lineup. I could see that being used 5 or so minutes per game. I don’t like it at all. Just looked slow. It goes to Self’s point that we’re better with playmakers. That seemed obvious.

    5. Ellis: Sorry, he’s the same guy. That may be fine. But he’s not more aggressive. He was really pretty timid on the boards. He’s a scorer, but the rest of his game will be the question. Alexander next to him works nicely, and may be a perfect match.

    6. Traylor/Lucas/Mickelson: Traylor, first big off the bench. That’s his role. Starting is temporary. As for Lucas and Mickelson, I go with Lucas right now. Self seems to have that pecking order, too. I don’t see much negative in Lucas.

    7. Best Lineup Right Now: Mason, Graham, Selden, Ellis, Alexander. I do like the two small guards in the game.

    8. Selden/Mason: Two offseason coaching projects. One was obvious, the other not. Notice how Selden has stopped pulling the ball back over his head on his outside shot, setting it more conventionally in front? Well see how that works out. The other, Mason – supposedly they worked on getting the ball off his palm, more into his fingertips. Seeing him warm up, it didn’t look like it. But it might have been too subtle to see.

    Would love to hear everyone else’s thoughts.

  • @HighEliteMajor agree about most of your pts. Mason is for real! I think it’s his team. Same old Perry. Little disappointed w/Selden, but I think that won’t last long. I’m not ready to move Svi above oubre and Greene yet… Cliffs a beast, played under control. Thought we could have blocked out better. Big guys were pretty good this game. I know it’s against Washburn, but nice to see what they can do against another team. We have some depth!

  • jaybate 1.0’s replay

    I missed it tonight, so am now watching the replay on ESPN3 as I type.

    Piper now has statistically insignificant hair on his head AND he appears to be losing his eye brows!

    Really a teeny starting lineup: Mason, Graham, Selden, Traylor, and Ellis.

    Traylor can’t control tip.

  • jaybate’s replay ongoing…

    Playing high-low.

  • jaybate 1.0’s replay…

    Defensive pressure looks the same as last season.

    Traylor takes a high post miss.

    Passing is crisp, but everyone is playing about 2/3s D1 speed.

    KU appears to be into a Sampson grows his hair thing.

    Team is taking on Selden’s temperament–a step slow.

    Oubre’s entrance brings me energy.

    Graham gets in a passing lane and shows why he is playing.

    During time out, we see XTREme hair asymmetry on the Jayhawks. Traylor/Oubre/Selden go XTReme Protein, while Mason and Ellis go short.

  • jaybate 1.0’s replay…ongoing…

    Physically, KU looks almost indistinguishable from Washburn, except for generally longer arms.

    This is not a fiery KU team at all. Its personality seems very methodical on offense and on defense it is all about guarding the stripe with a leg back always ready to help inside. But they do have the arm length to get in the lanes situationally.

  • jaybate 1.0’s replay…ongoing…

    with 15 to go Alexander enters. Alexander makes KU look like a D1 team, albeit a small one like Ohio State was with Sullinger.

    With Alexander in, the defense pressures the perimeter more.

    The high low turns completely 1-3-1 with Alexander in.

  • jaybate 1.0’s replay…ongoing…

    At 12 to go, KU has Greene in and KU has squirted to 18-5 lead. Ellis and Mason sit. Mickelson is no where.

    Svi enters and looks like he is still struggling with time zone differences and culture shock.

  • Withjaybate 1.0’s replay…ongoing…

    a Time Out, the team looks very methodical. Not many errors for a new group playing together. It is a quiet team taking on the quiet expressions of Selden, Graham, and Ellis.

    Svi is playing to a much faster cadence than the rest of the team. If Self wants up tempo, Svi is the guy to get it going.

    Svi has a Larry Bird like presence on the floor. Wreaks intensity and focus. Shuffles when he runs. He can alter tempo which ever position he plays.

    Brandon Greene on one wing and Svi on the other could be the defense stretch the team needs. With Oubre active at the four and Lucas, or Alexander down low, this line up has real potential.

  • jaybate 1.0’s replay…ongoing…

    At 8:30 to go KU’s got a big lead, and Self shows Mickelson.

    Mickelson’s facial expressions and body language do not signal a happy camper. Dark circles. No spring in the legs. Positions well though. And keeps his feet moving. But he apparently knows he’s no match for Alexander and it appears to be getting him down.

  • @jaybate-1.0 sounds like psychic Jaybate

  • jaybate 1.0’s replay…ongoing…

    Greene is still looking like he is playing a game that the other teammates are not really a part of. But man is he athletic. If he can ever get in sync…

    Mickelson gets a follow and finally smiles. Mickelson goes with a hook. Totally weird but goes in.

    At the other end, Mickelson gets active, but the Self pulls him and gives him no love. Mickelson may be in the toughening box.

    Greene is clearly not in sync. He is like Releford and Johnson their sophomore seasons. But that means that at the 2/3s point of the season he will probably get it the way they did.

    With 5 to go, Mason cans a trey.

    Alexander is a MAN.

    But he is crying out for big 5 to play with, which KU lacks.

  • jaybate 1.0’s replay…ongoing…

    Graham is going to have real problems with guarding ball screen offenses. He is just so light. He slides well, and has long arms, but he cannot fight through.

  • @Crimsonorblue22

    Finally getting it… 🙂

  • Avi gets a look a three and a half to go.

    Oubre got in the paint, but he had no spring from a sergeant jump. Combine that lack of clearance with a pair of knee wraps and infer the knees are already sore.

  • jaybate 1.0’s replay…ongoing…

    Self wearing one of his old suits and ties.

    Lucas not only has fx issues down low, but a sore wing.

    This team has seriously dead legs.

    Looking at all the wraps and bumps and the dead legs and the practices must have been brutal up to this point. Self is definitely not worrying about whether this team peaks early or not.

  • jaybate 1.0’s replay…ongoing…

    As the first half ends, Greene looks more comfortable pulling the trigger.

    Self does not look happy with a 42-13 lead.

    The team has not shown anything but absolute basics. The team’s legs are so gone and they are playing so basic, opposing coaches will have to be very afraid of how explosive KU might be with rested legs and a few wrinkles.

  • jaybate 1.0’s replay…ongoing…

    After a half of this, it is time for jaybate 1.0 to get his beauty sleep.

    Methodical teams that do exactly what the coach schemes without French Pastry, always show well early, especially in exhibition games.

    The big question about this team is: can it stay methodical when it runs into the blue meanies that are bigger than this team at most positions?

    The team is not only methodical. It is playing an entirely X-axis game even against a team it could completely sky over; this signals that @drgnslayr guessed right about what Self would do this season.

    Its a strange team. It already has a personality in its first exhibition game. Last year’s team never really did develop a personality.

    The strange part is how neutral and business like the team is. Even Snacks is strictly business on the bench. The team has a subdued, purposeful, demeanor.

    The guys look like coach has told them we can be the most efficient passing team in the country this season and so that is going to be who we are. Our defense is not going to be splashy. It is going to be sticky. People are going to be able to move the ball, but not in and out. People are going to be able to stop our drives, but not our passes. We are not going to turn it over, and we are going to make each pass count to getting into better scoring position. No more just passing it around the rim.

  • jaybate 1.0’s replay…ongoing…

    Mason has bought into this concept more than anyone. All of the after burner stuff, all of the through the legs and shuffles in place are gone from his game. It is like Mason went to efficiency school over the summer.










    Perry Ellis is a something of a let down, if one were hoping for him to become an explosive firebrand.

    But Perry Ellis has always been efficient. Quiet. Elegant. Economy of motion.

    Self has quit trying to change Perry and instead he has built a team of Perry Ellises.

    I don’t know how this team will play against a bunch of Michigan State thuggers, or against a bunch of leaping, flying gazelles, or against Slick Rick’s running, pressing hyper actives, or against Calipari’s “long cats.”

    But I can tell you one thing.

    Opposing teams are not going to have seen a team like KU until they play KU.

    This kind of controlled, contained, playing within-itself style of basketball went out of style about 25 years ago.

    The X-Axis lives again in Lawrence, KS

    Buenos noches.

    Good night Mrs. Calabash,where ever you are.

  • @jaybate-1.0 a team of Perry ellises? Not seeing that! (don’t have psychic powers) I really don’t want that either.

  • One look at Graham and Svi and I see why CF transferred. It’s not a knock on Conner as he remains one of my favorite players to watch. He just needs to find a school that would give him a role like J.J. Redick had with Duke years ago. Volume shooter and the ball touches his hand nearly every possession. I think he will do fine wherever he goes and I wish him well.

    When Graham stole the ball and made the uncontested layup in the first half, I got goosebumps. That’s what we have been missing since since Chalmers and Russell Robinson. Absolutely loved it. Svi hustles, keeps his head up, and does not allow the ball to stick in his hands. These are Coach Self kind of guys.

    Not worried about Ellis, he is more than capable of getting double-doubles. Traylor brings hustle and intensity. I cannot wait to watch this team run.

    What impressed me the most about this year’s team was the defensive pressure in the first half. I believe that will be the staple of this year’s team. Coach Self wouldn’t want it any other way.

  • Good to get the first one in the bag. Loved the energy from Cliff. Glad to see Landen wasn’t as dinged up as we had assumed and he made the most of his minutes. Will be important if Jam Tray racks up the fouls like he did last night. My favorite player before the season began and still is the Lefty - Oubre. I expect him to progress each game.

  • @KansasComet Dynamic potential. Frank looked the best I’ve ever seen him. Devonte, Cliff, and Kelly all looked very good to me ( although I didn’t get the Oubre 10 minute wait to get in the game.) Ok, where the hell was Wayne Selden? Where was that team leader from the Red/Blue exhibition game? And holy smokes …did Coach Self have Roy teach our guys how to make free throws? I thought it was 2003 for a while there .

    I think we have a national title contending team. Great defense, A much quicker, more active team than last year.

  • I see Svi for Three! The kid has a beautiful stroke!

  • I’m not crazy about a few of those “look at me” haircuts.

    //grumble grumble, shakes fist at cloud.//


    It appears Oubre is battling sore knees. Self seemed to play him as sparingly as he could, while still getting him tuned up a bit for UCSB coming after Emporia State Fighting Emporiums.

  • @DanR OH!

    I thought those were " WHOOPS! " haircuts.

  • @jaybate-1.0 Nice summary … my only quibble would be “Self has quit trying to change Perry and instead he has built a team of Perry Ellises.” I just didn’t see that last night. I could be wrong. I saw a team with a little tenacity. Cliff sets a nice tone with his aggressiveness. I’m just talking attitude.

    Don’t mistake quickness, and speed, and flow for finesse. The 2008 team was much the same way. Guys were scrappers, But they were basketball players. Of all of our teams since 2008, this has the same “look” of our 2008 team.

    Not to get too optimistic on this, but Svi seems to have the entire package here. What I was most impressed with was his activity and his ball handling. He is energy. Now, I was a little worried that I’m too giddy … but here’s what @jaybate-1.0 said, “Svi has a Larry Bird like presence on the floor. Wreaks intensity and focus. Shuffles when he runs. He can alter tempo which ever position he plays.”

    He’s right.

    Svi has Greene beat. Greene has to respond. Greene can respond. Will he? If not, Svi will play. Oubre better watch out, too. Why?

    Self wants ball handling. The third best ball handler on this team is Svi.

    Then again, maybe I’m just giddy.

    Svi seems like our classic case of a guy who will just get better and better playing.

  • @DanR

    CDC in Atlanta (a private not for profit, not a government organization at all) indicates the viral hair growth is attributable to Louisianan via Lost Vegasian Kelly Oubre introducing the team to java spiked with something called Creole Hyper-Chickory.

    CDC informs that it IS NOT, REPEAT IS NOT an Ebola Outbreak!!!

    Certain team members were particularly susceptible to the virus carried in the root of Chickory grown in the northern hemisphere (Oubre and Traylor), while others like Mason and Ellis, though less susceptible, must still fight the spread of the XTReme Symptoms with sheep sheer cuts four times a day.

    Selden and Svi appear to be succumbing next.

    CDC says their interviews with Bill Self indicate the KU coach sees it as a plus, making the team appear taller than it is.

    Said Self, “You should have seen us before the outbreak. We looked like a bunch of pygmies in silks.”


  • I’m kind of giddy about Svi too. Smooth all around. Beautiful passer–catches and redirects it as if the ball never changes speed. He looked comfortable and moved effortlessly, whereas Greene still seems to be out of control. Figure skater vs. hockey player.

  • @globaljaybird Was the Hornets when I was there

  • I was at the game in the cheap seats, up high and out of breath.

    • We have a point guard this year.
    • Cliff is an explosion in a sea of calm.
    • I thought Hunter played better than Lucas.
    • At whatever height Svi is, he is a better ball handler than Greene or Oubre.
    • Traylor is Self’s favorite player.
    • Small ball is better this year.
    • Seldon needs to find a position.
    • Playing in the World Games, Svi was the least nervous 17 year old on on the court.
    • Listening to the wrap up on the way home, Norm Roberts was asked about the great shooting technique of Svi, Norm said, “we like how he handles and distributes better.”
    • True fans were there last night with the Arena packed except for the Leather chairs in the middle. Well, just an exhibition.

  • @jaybate-1.0 There you go…makes sense about Oubre. Let me ask you this- did Wayne look much slower to you than in the Red/Blue exhibition game? Where was this human dynamo we saw last game?

    @HighEliteMajor** “Don’t mistake quickness, and speed, and flow for finesse. The 2008 team was much the same way. Guys were scrappers, But they were basketball players. Of all of our teams since 2008, this has the same “look” of our 2008 team.”**

    Hubba, hubba. Music to my ears. Can’t wait to see the look on crybaby’s ( Harrison twins) face when he’s matched against a 6’8" guard on the perimeter.

  • When Svi signed, my concern was that we could lose White and Greene due to Svi’s presence (The timing was obvious with White), and that Svi, being from overseas, was a greater risk to bolt after one season (home sick, Euro or other pro ball). Looks like Svi might have had just a little to do with CF’s departure, too.

    Seriously, Svi threatens Greene’s PT and thus his presence on this roster. That could twist Greene’s nose a bit. A situation to watch for sure, but is that being too dramatic?

  • @HighEliteMajor yes to dramatic!

  • I was not able to see the game last night but from what you guys have said, Self has done a good job of teaching the x axis to the team, which certainly bodes well for the season. Definitely looking forward to watching the replay.

  • How much do you guys read into the starting lineup from last night? I know it is super early and the starters will change a lot throughout the season but does it seem like these may be the starters for the UK game? That is only 2 weeks from today. Honestly, I know it is only one game and it was against Washburn but Cliff looked like a starter to me. I would like Jamari’s hustle and energy as the first guy off the bench. That would be the one change I would make even after only watching one game.

  • Unfortunately I was only able to listen to the game on the radio since a lot of the on-line streams have gone out of business and the only ones left seem to be way to dangerous to use and I did not have the inclination to do what I have in the past; I simply went out to the decks and cursed Sheahon Zenger loud enough for the entire neighborhood to hear. I thought I heard other neighbors do the same thing.

    Below is a good summary of the game and the after game interviews.

    Game summary and interviews…

    The things that I got from this game.

    1. Mason is the starting PG and played well. Graham is a very capable PG with a high ceiling. Overall, the PG position is much improved over last year.
    2. Selden playing PG is not something we will see often; coach Self did not think it worked well.
    3. Cliff is coming along nicely. Washburn did not have height inside to stay with him, so we don’t know how well he will do against better competition. While he only had one foul, it appears that fouls might be an issue going forward.
    4. Svi is the real deal. He moves the ball quickly which Coach Self likes.
    5. Greene apparently still not playing enough defense and this is why Graham started in his place. He better shape up quickly or he will be the next man out.
    6. Like I predicted, Lucas is now ahead of Mickelson although I can see where the situation could reverse down the road. I see them both playing substantial minutes until one pulls away.
    7. Perry and Jamari had quiet games and I cannot really draw any conclusions yet.
    8. Selden will be solid and he will be part of any line up big or small.
    9. I wish Coach Self would emphasize the positive more than he does the negative, but then this is and has always been his style and gives us more ammo for comments. You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar…but then, you can catch even more flies with a pile of steaming $hit. His method obviously works motivating players, or at least most of them, but as Alexandre Dumas would say…nothing succeeds like success…so it is hard to argue with him.

  • @joeloveshawks

    Coach Self said that he was going to start all returning players but Greene did not play enough defense in practice so he was replaced by Graham. I am pretty sure this will not be the starting lineup for long and it will be several game in the future before we see coach Self settle on a starting five.


    The combination of the-will-to-efficiency scheme of play and Self practicing them into the ground (they looked like they had had a full practice the day of the Washburn game), plus all of the wraps this early the season, explains the step-slow appearance of Selden and of all of the guys.

    Self and staff must really be bearing down on these guys. He has committed to getting them ready not just for UK, which they probably can’t beat unless UK shoots it very poorly, but to try to give this team the best possible shot at beating UCSB, which has a big man and a maturity that is going to give this young, undersized KU team problems IMHO.

    Self correctly perceived that this team’s only hope is efficient passing constantly trying to get the ball into scoring position, not just into impact position. Frankly, this team appears most closely patterned off some of Bobby Knights lean-talent teams. They reminded me a hole lot of Knight’s last 4, or 5, Indiana teams. Strictly business. Told from the beginning that their only prayer is toughness and efficiency. There is not a schred of ebullience and celebrating out there, even though several of these guys were joy juicing smiley face types last season along with joking Joel and easy going Andrew. This season? It is all grim focus on business.

    Selden, ironically, is having the most difficulty hitting perfect pitch among the starters. But, again, I think that’s because of tired legs and because Self is ramming this team into an efficiency form language starting with Ellis and Mason.

    Ellis plays this way naturally, whenever he isn’t going against tough defenders that send him into finesse spin mode. Self has clearly told Perry to cut back on the spin moves and cut straight to the score. Self is saying in essence, “Perry, you are my man. If you can’t learn to be an extroverted razor edged fanatic on a team of exploding athletic freaks, then I am going to ram earth this team into a form of stoic, methodical, Perry Ellis walls of focus and hard work.” To rob from “Chinatown,” as I so often have lately, Perry, if we cannot bring the water to LA, we’ll bring LA to the water, which is another way of saying if we can’t bring Perry to the team, we’ll bring the team to Perry. Perry’s scoring is the water. Every team needs water. But Perry himself has to be rammed into the wooden team form as well, because Perry tends to stop playing this way, i.e., to his own strength, whenever someone, even some scrawny Ichabods muscling cause him to jump out of the ram earth form Self has rammed him into, and start spinning and finessing. But Perry is doing better at being Perry, something he has never been given a chance to get better at, as Self spent Perry’s first two seasons taking him not just out of his comfort zone, but out of Perry’s known universe.

    And the cool thing is: ram earthing this team of hyper athletic freaks like in no particular order Mason, Oubre, Alexander, Traylor, Selden and Greene, is like connecting a bunch of coil springs together and then compressing them in the a wooden form of a highly efficient team that will, once Self eases up on the practice load, and pulls away some of the forms, be extremely efficiently formed to then begin exploding out of the form. It is a paradoxical approach to crafting a team, only to the extent Self is taking it, but Self is paradox in sneakers, so what else is new. He is the Tumble Weed Buddha. He is the Red River Vishnu restoring the Eddie Ball Order that he got too far away from last season. But frankly he is going beyond Eddie Ball here. He is going beyond Bill Ball here. The ghost of Henry Iba is lurking in this zealous, fundamentalist quest for un-ornamented efficiency.

    (Note on the ram earth metaphor in the midst of all the metaphor mixing I am doing and about to take outside the envelope: just got done reading an arcane book on building the old ways with adobe brick and ram earth forms, and so that is where this ram earth form metaphor is bubbling up from for what Self is doing with this retro-team thing. For the uninitiated, ram earth building is setting up a wooden form of a wall space to be filled and packed and filled and packed with a sand/gravel/dirt mixture with about 10-20% clay content, so that when the wood forms are removed you have a strong, long lasting earthen wall that, if covered with a well drained roof with a 2-foot overhang and some stucco surfacing ought to outlast your own time on this mortal coil by quite awhile and meet building codes in some states, anyway.)

    So, @KUSTEVE , what we were witnessing last night was a team with only parts of its forms temporarily removed (enough to let the team practice playing a game), so that it could move a bit, while still being held tightly in place. We saw a fully compressed, not yet fully dried team that had has been being driven so hard into its forms that it had no explosion in its legs and looked a step slow, make that two steps slow.

    Mason gets what is going on and can do it, because it takes him completely out of his unconscious narcissism of using his awesome speed and afterburners first (the antithesis of being a point guard) and instead focuses him on the wholistic goal of running the team. Once the team cures fully into Self’s desired form of maximum efficiency in all things, and Mason’s habit of resorting first to his athleticism is permanently broken and reformed, THEN we will see Self have him begin to uncoil when appropriate. And when Mason begins uncoiling, so will the other players follow his lead.

    This is particularly good for Alexander, who would foul out immediately, if he were not rammed into the form right now. Alexander is a big talent with a big man presence and attitude that will eventually allow him to be very dominant, but right now it would just foul him up to let him operate form free.

    And though Oubre could benefit a lot from getting out of the form right now offensively, the fact is he is wearing the dreaded black knee wraps that signal sore knees in freshman stressed to unprecedented degree by learning Self Grade sliding M2M, after always getting by before with raw athleticism.

    And so back to Selden.

    Selden has a lackadaisical streak. He is naturally only focused intensely and coiled when he is about to do something and doing it. He has a problem with losing focus the minute what he is trying to do goes wrong. You can see his entire body language turn into an indifferent glide, instead of the intense uncoiling force that he was just a moment ago. Selden frankly needs this ram earth team form as much, if not more than the rest. And like Ellis he showed several times that whenever he comes out of the form and things don’t go right, he reverts to losing focus and gliding, just as Ellis reverts to spinning and finessing.





    These are the 4 E’s on the X-Axis this team must master to be able to then E-X-P-L-O-I-T athleticism on the Y-Axis at the D-E-C-I-S-I-V-E moments.

    This team has to make efficiency its theme and athleticism its variation.

    It aint sexy at AAU meat markets. And Cal will surely use it as a negative in talking to OADs (note: he seems not to have to actually recruit; that seems to be done for him, Cal is just a hostess seating players at his basketball restaurant that appear to have been driven their for him by a Nike bus. But I digress.)

    The immediate danger forming a bunch of A-type athletics into a T-type team efficiency mold is that they will reverse the ordering of those two concepts not long after the forms are removed.

    Why shouldn’t these A-Types rely on athleticism first, last and always?

    Because this group lacks the size inside, especially the dominant post man and rim protector, to get into a 40 minute campaign of athleticism vs. athleticism with any of the long and talented teams it will meet intermittently throughout the season. In terms of athleticism, it is a donut with a hole in the middle. It dare not play a style that emphasizes that hole in the middle. Instead, it must become controlled and highly controlling. It must confront teams with collective security, communal efficiency, so as never to expose the hole in the middle. And of course, being a Self team, it must also do so while being willing to play it any tempo the other team gives it.

    Yet, fast or slow, or in between, this team must never play reckless, gambling high pressure perimeter defense, even though almost every player is well suited to playing exactly that way. Why not? Because of the hole in the middle. Every step, every pass, every dribble, every defensive position and every defensive slide, must obscure and shield the hole in the middle, while every savvy opponent will be scheme to get exactly there–to the hole in the O in Oz.

    The great athleticism of the players must be turned to simultaneously guarding the trey stripe and the passing lanes, while at the same time masking the hole in the middle. Thus, you never want guys running and gambling on steals from over pressuring and over pinching someone far from the basket, unless the opponent has no big man. You want always to divide the great athleticism between stretching out and reaching backwards. This team is really going to play amoeba defense–stretching outward, but never breaking connection and the ability to flow backwards. Devonte Graham’s steals were the ideal of this form of Amoeba defense. He was not gambling. He was seizing the opportunity of the amoeba being stretched in the right position to simply step in the lane and steal the pass. He was not at all out of position to recover and flow backwards to protect the hole in the middle.

    This is no mean feat to pull off.

    To the players credit, they appear to be buying in…so far.

    And the guys that can do it best are playing most. Devonte Graham is not starting because he is a good distributor, or ball handler, or a great defender that can fight through D1 ball screens. He is going to have problems with all three of those things at D1 speeds against good D1 defenses. He is starting because the amoeba style of play is something he can do comfortably; that kind of fits his neutrally balanced court personality.

    And the guys that struggle the most with amoeba style, Greene and Mickelson, the most either or guys on the team, are bringing up the rear despite their considerable abilities that both showed variously in the exhibition game.

    Amoeba style is not for everyone. No style is. Pick a style and there are winners and losers. But everyone can learn to play a new style a little better all the time. It just may take some longer. Greene and Mickelson will get it.

    And then there is Selden and Ellis. Both get the amoeba style of play. Selden can play it, whenever he does not get lackadaisical about something going wrong, or the flow of play going elsewhere. Ellis can play it whenever there is no blue meanie.

    But things will go wrong, and play will flow away from Selden.

    And there will be blue meanies for Ellis.

    So: the real key to whether Self and this group can pull this style of play off, is whether Selden and Ellis can break their bad habits during their period of being ram earthed into the early season wooden form Self has erected, and just say no to their bad habits when he takes the wooden forms off and says, start uncoiling when its the decisive moment.

    There is never a dull moment with Self and his basketball.

    Now Self is going back to the future.

    God only knows how he is going to pull this off against really good teams. Everything in my experience tells me it won’t work against really good teams; that the team will not be able to execute this way when everyone is longer, stronger, faster, and without a hole in the middle.

    But persons thought the same thing about some past teams with holes in the middle that went on to become terrific teams.

    How long can he hide the hole in the middle of the doughnut; that is the question?

    Knight pulled it off once.

    Wooden pulled it off twice.

    What else is there to say, but…

    Go, Bill, go!!!

  • @HighEliteMajor

    If this were to come down to a choice between Svi and Greene, it might threaten Greene.

    But I don’t think it is going to come down to that choice.

    What I saw last night was a glimmer of what might be the team KU uses frequently against really big inside teams.

    I think Svi on one wing and Greene on the other wing, stretch hell out of an opposing defense.

    I think when you don’t have a legitimate big down low either to score, or to rim protect, against a big inside team, then the only counter is to be tall and good shooting on the wings.

    The key here is not just that they are good shots, but that they are both so tall!

    Opposing teams will have to double Svi and Greene standing on the trey stripe to stop them from taking the minimum distance trey, which either player could conceivably ding at a 40-45% rate, if the rest of their games’ permit them to settle down and shoot confidently.

    So: when the opposing team doubles outside to stop the short, high percentage trey, Svi and Greene float back a step and the double has to make a snap decision. To really shut off the long Svi and Greene, the double has to follow out. But to follow out means Svi, a terrific passer, especially, is going to pass it to cutter into the weakened middle, which is going to force the rim protector to commit quickly which will allow a dish by the cutter to a wide open man.

    This is really the way for this KU team to play UK, too: Svi and Greene on the wings, if both player’s defenses were good enough.

    They may not be good enough defenders early in the season, but I suspect they can get their by early February.

    Its not a starting pair of wings. Its a first substitution pair of wings, as the opponent resorts to shorter, less athletic backups of its starting wings. Capice? Or caprice? 🙂

  • @wrwlumpy

    What Svi brings this year is “THE WING POINT” that Self often resorts to by moving his point to the wing. He did this occasionally with Sherron, Tyshawn, Elijah, and Tharpe.

    With Svi, he can leave his speed demons out front, put Svi on a wing, and have his cake and eat it, too.

    Avi could wind up playing a lot of back up at the 2 and 3, depending on which wing Self wants to wing point attack from in any given situation.

    And as I said to @HighEliteMajor above, putting Svi on one with with both his trifecta AND his wing point ability, and putting Brannen Greene at the other wing, absolutely stretches the spandex to its breaking point–always a good thing in Self Ball, but especially good when the opponent has a rim protector and this KU team does not.

  • @jaybate-1.0

    I think it was you who said that Kelly had issues with his knees because he was wearing those “dreaded black knee wraps.” Looking at the pictures on the other site that will go unnamed, all of the other players except Landen, Perry, Svi and Hunter have the black stretch stockings on. If I am mistaken, please clarify. Thanks.

  • @jaybate-1.0 We get Swee for 2 years. How good will he be by the end of next year?

  • @RockChalkinTexas

    I meant to say he might be having issues, because he was wearing knee wraps. I have no insider knowledge, nor have I read anywhere that he is injured.

    About the other players, good eye and thanks for alerting me to them. I haven’t looked at any still photos of the players and that is one of the best ways to find out this sort of thing. Assessing the injury status of a team, when they are trying to conceal such, is one of the fun things to try to do as a fan, at least it is for me. Checking the still photos after the game, plus keeping your eye peeled for players favoring limbs obviously, but less obviously NOT doing things that they usually do, or should be capable of doing, in the videos of the games, often reveals quite a lot that is not being reported.

    I tend to think the more wraps you see, then the more guys are probably battling injuries; that the wraps are supposed to manage injuries. I know a lot of folks make the argument that players wear these wraps preventatively, and I suspect a few that have had prior problems do just that. But wraps to me are also often a tell that guys are actively battling some kind of leg problems. And I recall reading somewhere that players with one leg injured often wear two wraps to help camouflage which is the injured leg.

    My hypothesis is that there are costs to playing “tougher” and practicing “harder” and playing more “physically.” The cost logically should be increased wear and tear. And wear and tear involves, among other things, actual injuries. And a bunch of players wearing wraps this early in the season tells me one of two things:

    a.) practice intensity in terms of speed, length, contact, and loose ball drills is ramped up and wear and tear and injuries are spiking; or

    b.) players are not injured, but are trying to minimize the expected wear and tear occurring from the tougher practices.

    Of course, I can’t recall how many guys on last year’s team were wearing knee wraps in the first exhibition game, so maybe its the same number or less this year. This is where QA comes it. QA lets one support, or refute hypotheses like I am proposing.

    On a slight tangent, recall that the new six camera technology with proprietary software some pro teams are using allow them to track an incredible array of basketball statistical categories. I wonder if this technology would also allow a pattern recognition software designed to isolate and recognize a percentage probability of opposing players being injured in various ways and extents, so that you as a coach could then scheme to exploit those injuries? What a huge edge it might give.

    Rock Chalk!!!


    Seems like he could be the wing point hub of the team by end of next season, barring injury and his shot coming to full bloom. I don’t know if that makes him a super star, or the top scorer, or just the hub of our team that things run through. But he seems to have a little something extra.

  • We have to take this game for what it is worth… about 2 cents.

    What it exposed more than anything was the foot speed this team has. They get the ball up and down the floor fast, but what stuck out was their lateral quickness. This should be a great CS defensive team by the end of the year. I know… we are missing the big shot blocker. It would be nice to not need one to clean up bad guard defense for a change!

    Frank “the Mole” Mason is going to burrow through players and defenses this year and they won’t know how to stop him. Other teams really can’t mimic his play for preparation anymore than they can mimic a player like Embiid.

    I hope Svi can get it together this year, because he is going to be an outstanding player and very helpful when we need to find more offense. If he doesn’t stand out this year then he surely will next year.

    Cliff is a friggin’ beast. The comparisons are not fair with TRob unless you are comparing TRob’s final year with Cliff’s freshman year. Cliff is clearly the stronger of those two. I’m sure other teams will go at him and try to get him in foul trouble. He’ll have to play smart and aggressive. His teammates will have to help protect him from fouling by hedging the defense to stop the interior pass.

    Perry… I don’t know what to think. I’ve been buying in to all these improvements on his game and his desire to step up and lead this team, but it certainly wasn’t on exhibit in this exhibition. Well… Perry will be tested soon enough. He’ll have to earn his keep versus Kentucky. That will be the game that really shows us where he is (or isn’t). 1 rebound in 20 minutes. Are you serious? Perry had nerves to deal with his first year and now he seems like he may be too comfortable out there.

    I couldn’t recognize Wayne. His body has changed a lot. He is a lot more trim and cut. He moves so much faster than he did last year. His numbers weren’t outstanding in this game but I think he wanted it to be about our freshmen in this one. As long as he can stay healthy, he is going to romp some serious backside this year!

    I know we played nobody, but Lucas is for real. He’s steady and he has the best fundamentals on the team. He is going to have a productive year!

    Bam-Bam was a bit too psyched up. However, his energy was there and he is laying down the law that he will be our Kevin Young this year. He is going to have some big number games this year. He may not be the model of consistency, but he was a steal catch for us because he will definitely contribute big for us this year.

    Devonte is going to be outstanding. He’s the first real PG we’ve had in a long time… He showed us he is capable of playing above his age and experience level already.

    Brannen looked good at times. He still needs to lower his center of gravity and use his athleticism to a lateral advantage. That will free him up for wide open shots that he can bury if he does it.

    Kelly… he is going to be really something this year. I love his energy level and the kid can flat out ball!

  • @drgnslayr

    Just about the only things we can infer from this game is that Mason will likely start at PG and that SVI will be special. Other than that, there is not much else we can say. Yes, cliff had a good game, but considering the level of competition, that should have been the minimum expected; we will have to see how he handles himself against more talented and physical competition. I would guess that practice provide a much better competition and exhibition games such a this help you get acclimated to the court under actual game conditions. other than that, not much.

  • All these loooooong posts; must be “sweeps week” at KUBUCKETS… 🙂

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