Alexander/Oubre vs. Other Top 15 Players

  • Some useless info before we get into this terrific three game stretch this weekend. Just for comparison sake, here are the minutes and games started for the top 15 recruits:

    1. Okafer - Duke: 28.2 minutes, started all games.

    2. Turner - Texas: 20 minutes, no starts.

    3. Alexander - KU: 14.7 minutes, no starts.

    4. Jones - Duke: 26.4 minutes, started all games.

    5. Mudiay - China.

    6. Lyles - UK: 17.8 minutes, no starts.

    7. Johnson - Arizona: 26 minutes, started all games.

    8. Jackson - UNC: 24.3 minutes, started all games.

    9. Towns- UK: 18.3 minutes, started all games.

    10. Pinson - UNC: 14.7 minutes, started one game.

    11. Oubre - KU: 10.7 minutes, started one game.

    12. Looney - UCLA: 31 minutes, started all games.

    13. Russell - Ohio St.: 27.3 minutes, started all games.

    14. Whitehead - Georgetown: 26.3 minutes, started all games.

    15. Winslow - Duke: 28 minutes, started all games.

    I also looked at Vaughn a UNLV and Blackmon at Indiana, both guys we were interested in. Both have started all five games, both averaging over 30 minutes per game.

    Odd how our two top 15 guys just happen to be averaging the lowest number of minutes of all of those players. Great coaches, with top programs, play their top guys. I don’t know the answer this season.

    Self played Wiggins from the get go last season, but he was the chosen one. He played X. Embiid took over quickly. Heck, Svi is playing a lot. I bet Cliff starts very soon. Oubre is the outlier. It will be interesting to see if the next three games changes that dynamic.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    I don’t think you can draw too many conclusion from these numbers this early in the season. Don’t you think that it would heavily depend on the needs and available personnel at KU and the other teams? If Alexander and Oubre went to TCU instead, they would be averaging 30+ minutes and double figure scoring…at Kentucky, not so much. Also, there might be off-court issues that are cutting into playing time; once these issues are resolved and the rotation cut to 7-8 players I can see both player having much higher numbers. Once conference play starts, you will see the numbers leveling. Just my opinion.

  • @JayHawkFanToo I agree that it is too early to read too much into the issue. But…the other top players are at highly ranked, nationally prominent teams, and for the most part, competing against other good players. They seem to be fitting in just fine…again for the most part.

  • Oubre has very obvious talent. Once he learns a couple of the basic principles that Self is trying to drill into him, he’ll get the minutes. He’s too talented not to.

  • @JayHawkFanToo Really a stretch, at this juncture, to think of this squad in terms of “the rotation cut to 7-8 players.” If that happens before midMarch, we are likely to see Greene, Graham or Frank transfer after the season. Oubre had best step up soon if he is to cement his position as one of 8 or 9 key players by league play. (Did I just contradict myself re numbers???) No doubt, Kelly possesses the physical tools. But SOMETHING is holding him back as a dependable ingredient.

  • @ZIG Why is it that other teams seem to have those “basic principles” drilled into their top 15 guys? Oubre is way below everyone else in minutes. I never heard one hint from any “expert” that he was raw, or anything like that. He sounded like a plug-in starter from all reports. It’s just puzzling to me.

    That said, from what I’ve seen, he seems lost out there many times.

    @REHawk Here’s my speculation – his brain is holding him back. “Smarts” may not be his forte. Everyone knows he has talents. That would make perfect sense.

    Svi came to campus late, didn’t have the summer stuff, with English as his second language, and he clearly has figured out the mental parts of Self’s system. I don’t think it’s a stretch to simply lay it on Oubre’s brainpower right now. Heck, it could just be difficulty with certain aspects. Seems to be a plausible explanation.

    But that all circles back to the “system” thing. The other top 15 guys seem to be “smart” enough for their systems early on, and I’m betting there aren’t any brain surgeons among them. And despite the claim of complexities in our system, it can’t be that complicated – it’s just basketball.

    It just seems to be one of those things we may never be able to answer.

  • @HighEliteMajor Barring injury or offcourt infractions, don’t you suspect that Oubre will be earning his 20+ minutes by January? And thriving by February?

  • @REHawk I guess if I had to bet either way, yea, I would agree there.

    But part of me also remembers Josh Selby competing for time with Reed and Brady. And part of me sees Brannen Greene with a year under his belt as our best shooter. And part of me sees Svi as the best all around player on the team. And part of me hears Self say even yesterday that we’re better with Mason and Graham on the court at point. And part of me sees Selden as the anointed one. And part of me knows Self likes a tight rotation. And part of me can’t imagine more than 5 perimeter guys in the rotation.

    With that, the only paths I see for Oubre are 1) Self benches either Mason or Graham, or 2) Self benches Greene.

    Your thoughts?

  • @HighEliteMajor I think CF shook him up. I think Coach has a real good idea that Cliff and Oubre are OADs, and he is playing everyone else to limit potential transfers from the guys who’ve stuck around. By limiting the OAD minutes, he increases the chances they stick around( due to small numbers), and ensures those who aren’t OAD won’t transfer. Now, it also means the kiss of death for future recruits coming here if the current pattern holds up, so I don’t hold out too much hope we come in with a late recruiting bonanza, especially when the info from that graph you shared gets circulated among the remaining recruits.

    He’s walking a real fine line right now. He doesn’t want to give up his hi-lo, even when every freshman we get struggles with it. I was watching Stanley Johnson simply take over the game for AZ, and I contrast that with Oubre looking lost, and wow, what a difference.

  • @HighEliteMajor I think Oubre will play…one way or the other. 1) He’s so talented.2) To a lesser degree, over the long run, he needs to play a McDonald’s AA. I think the playing time comes at Greene’s expense.I think he will be inconsistent enough that his performance will not demand 20 mins. per game. Svi’s performance, I think, will demand 20 mins. (or so) per game.

  • @KUSTEVE I agree. The contrast is there.

  • @KUSTEVE I am particularly worried about Greene. It just seems that he’s the most likely to suffer if/when Oubre’s minutes go up. I could also see Self playing the Graham/Mason second fiddle, less --> 120 perimeter minutes, Mason 32, Selden 28, Svi 24, Oubre 20, Graham 18.

    That said, Greene can answer. Keep shooting. He’s at 50% now. He clearly can achieve greater than 40%.

    You’ve identified the dilemma – in a year when all of our eggs are in the Top 15 basket, when we have no commits, and when we have a Top 15 guy who is struggling to this point, does Self play Oubre more so that he has better cache with the 2015 recruiting class?

  • @Hawk8086 But what happens if Greene’s performance demands minutes? More precisely, doesn’t Greene’s unique skill set on this team demand time right now anyway (I mean, in a non-Bill Self type world)?

  • @HighEliteMajor Inquiring minds want to know. I have no idea who he will even start today.

    Btw, off the subject, did you happen to catch Malik Pope of SDSU? O…M…G. 6’10 playing the 2/3? Here is basically a center playing out on the perimeter for the Aztecs. It was like a freak of nature, as the guy has all kinds of skills. You should’ve seen McConnell’s eyes when he trying to pass over a 6’10 guy on the perimeter…lol…

  • @HighEliteMajor That will be a dilemma. I think Oubre will still play…maybe the minutes come out of a combination of Greene / Mason / Graham. The result is more “rotation” minutes. I know…8-9 is usually it for Self. I just can’t see Oubre not playing…one way or the other. At some point he’ll be given more leeway than most…not as much as Wigs, but some.

  • @KUSTEVE As I recall, at one point, we recruited him…correct?

  • @Hawk8086 I think we did. I know he has had two broken legs recently, so not sure if we backed off, and whether he just decided to go another way.

  • @KUSTEVE By the way, did you see McConnell make a kissing motion (several times) to the crowd as he was taken out of the game for foul trouble? Would like to know how hard he was being harassed.

  • @Hawk8086 McConnell has to be in the running for most obnoxious player ever. He did several great Marcus Smart flopping impressions against the Grapes. He plays arrogant, so not surprising he would get the business from opposing fan bases.

  • This weekend, playing three games in a row, our depth is going to allow us to apply a variety of pressure looks on defense. At least that is what I’m looking forward to seeing and how that will unfold. I’m less interested in the minutes in each game that a player plays this season than I have been in the past. @HighEliteMajor I like to map out minute projections too, it’s part of the fun in following, though it feels real different this year. I’m thinking about trends over 5 games and how the players are being balanced in relationship to how much pressure we can apply on D. We need to preserve our legs over the haul of the season, especially being so young, and it already appears we have plenty of depth to get after it on D.

    With lack of size and length in the front court, as compared to what Jayhawk fans are accustomed to looking at over the last couple of decades, KU must play their size and length in the frontcourt. Svi 6-8, Greene 6-7 and Oubre 6-7 with his crazy length all need to play-and I think they all will play. I do like the way Oubre exerts himself on the defensive end and I’m sure coach is noticing his effort. Ellis is only slightly taller than Oubre, and I need to look closer at that to confirm since there is the hair adjustment you have to account for. Even Ellis fits into this set of players from the defensive perspective with our ability to pressure, rotate, switch. Selden at 6-5 with strength and athleticism, skills and leadership fits with the group of super wings well.

    KU gets to apply more ball pressure on defense, suck up the oxygen out of the passing lanes, and they can change up how deep they want to apply pressure to keep the other team off balance. It’s nice to have Jamari Traylor 6-8 suddenly pressuring the ball on the in-bounds after a make. Perry Ellis 6-8 chasing to create traps at 3/4 to 1/2 court is just one wrinkle that you can throw at a team, something that will have to be digested in scouting and preparing for the Jayhawks. I think our depth is a big plus for this team as coach continues to evolve his defensive principles after last years rule change. Coach Self is already showing a more dynamic change-up pressure defense and this approach will help utilize our 10 deep for the entire season. It would be great to see this defense mature and develop even more and it’s the 6-5 to 6-8 guys that I see as being the most important in that development-though we’ll still need our point to cut the head off. The length, size and jump in the 2,3,4 spots on this team makes up for our loss of having one of the best shot blockers in the nation anchoring the defense. Traylor, Alexander and Lucas can anchor though none of them are Aldrich, Withey or Embiid.

    Then we have two small guards to handle, penetrate, cut the head off of the other team, make timely threes. To me this means Graham and Mason will most likely be splitting 40 minutes more and more. The exception on this is when we desperately need our best ball handlers due to match-ups and game situation. I also wonder how long Graham’s shoulder is going to bother him as we develop our team in the crucial month of December.

  • Here are Self’s reasons.


  • @HighEliteMajor

    Keep in mind that Svi has been playing on a pro-team in the Ukraine and he has been exposed to more advanced systems than the typical HS player sees in this country. I am not surprised that he has picked up Coach Self’'s system faster than the other players.

    Now, if he can get some consistency…

  • @REHawk

    Coach Self and many other coaches have always indicated that they favor a 7-8 man rotation and if you look at previous KU teams, this seems to the the SOP. Having said that, This year he indicated that due to the abundance of equal talent he might have a larger rotation; he has been trying different things of late so it is conceivable that he might end up with a larger rotation.

  • @HighEliteMajor Well, considering the tight pinch which Oubre faces right now, just imagine the clutter if Frankamp had stuck it out! If Greene’s shooting % remains high, and his focus and defensive effort remain on the uptick, Self will be more and more reluctant to seal him to the pine. So, every minute that Oubre can manage, he must lock his determination in to high caliber play on both ends of the court. Attitude and determination will eventually tell the tale (unless peer injury factors in). Brannen Greene has certainly paid some dues, waiting his moment. Self appears to be prognosticating that Cliff and Kelly will eventually see many more minutes. I’m hoping that they will believe in buying in to the process, and will stayed focused both on and off the court. They have signed on with a system which demands TIME for maximum adjustment. Regarding the impact of their bench minutes on current and future recruiting, whosoever declared that Bill Self was swaying on a high tightrope certainly painted an emphatic picture.

  • Selfball System is what is facing the MickeyDs that come to KU. Thats whats different. Some will get it (Sherron, Wiggins), some will need more time.

  • This is a troubling situation. I actually had a nightmare that Oubre transferred so obviously it is deep in my mind.

    I don’t have any idea what will happen. It will just have to play out. There will be injuries, there will be classroom issues, there will be guys who simply raise their play and guys who go into a funk. It is a long season and Oubre will be a part of it but it is hard to know if his role will be big or small.

    I don’t see Greene getting less minutes no matter what. He is unique on this team. He can shoot. Svi can supposedly shoot but we have not seen that yet in games. Obviously he has a pure stroke but he misses a lot of shots. This team needs Greene to stretch the D.

  • @joeloveshawks I wonder if Coach doesn’t start Cliff because of Kelly. Last game, it was abundantly clear that Cliff has earned a starting spot. It was also clear that Kelly is in mop up land. My thought is Coach is trying to let Kelly down easier by holding Cliff back some, until it becomes totally clear to all that Cliff needs to start. I know Kelly going to H-town during Katrina was a major step in his life, and so will toughening up, swallowing lots of pride, spending every waking second on getting better, and coming out of this major challenge a better player, and a better man. We’ll see if he does better than CF.

  • @KUSTEVE For what it’s worth, sees Kelly as a #8 draft pick - but in 2016, 4 places behind Svi. Selden is also seen as coming back for a year. Cliff is the only KU player projected to go pro after this season.

    Their projections go along with HEM’s prediction of a perimeter logjam next year, but:

    • Oubre or Svi leaving would be admitting defeat

    • Selden’s not transferring that’s for sure.

    • Hard to see Greene leave when he’s a crunch time player right now.

    • Mason or Graham? Probably guaranteed to split 45-50 minutes.

    Definitely a conundrum…


    I’m not expecting a lot out of Kelly until January (at the earliest). Kelly is in desperate need of the Christmas break, when players have more time to dedicate to the game. Kelly needs that extra time to “get it”… at least, get enough of the game where he can start translating his skill set to D1 ball (and Self ball).

    Right now, D1 basketball has swallowed up Kelly. He’s lost out there.

    He just needs more reps, more times of coaches pounding it into him during practice… and after that he’ll need some positive play on the court to lift his confidence back.

    He’s going to be a great player, he just needs time.

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