jBIA MEMO: Undercover Recon Completed...



    FROM: jaybate 1.0, D-jBIA

    SUBJECT: Undercover Reconnaissance Report

    As soon as yours truly discovered the recent Turkey Tournament would offer the Jayhawks no length test, I left the commentary, forecasting and analysis in the eminently capable hands of fellow board members and went undercover to Gainesville, FL, in order to embed deeply into Gator Basketball, where various paid informants of jBIA indicated consensus that diminutive (in a manly way instead of the pip squeak way of Travis Ford) Billy Donovan had assembled length that could test KU’s possible Achilles Heel of length. Before getting to what covert ops netted, let me just remark briefly on Frank Mason and KU-MSU.

    Frank Mason, or as I think he now warrants being called, KU’s “Old Brown Eyes,” aka “The Chairman of the Long Boards,” has, after the normal crucifixion by the basketball gods in his first foray to the Mt. Olympus, against UK, nearly completely vindicated @drgnslayr 's forecast for him, and nearly completely refuted my despair with him after the UK beat down. To grab 10 glassvacs from the PG position against Ratso Izzo’s Tire Iron Defensive Spartans, even in a down year for MSU, and even with a front court about as height challenged as KU’s, was nothing short of Medal of Honor stuff. Who was the last KU PG to grab 10 reebs against a major-major? Frankly, I don’t ever recall it. Surely someone can, but 10 reebs from PG has to be one of the most stellar pre conference accomplishments of a KU point guard I can recall.

    Next, regarding the VICTORY over Ratso Izzo in the MSU game: I saw it in rerun and it was as sweet as watching Ness get Capone, and about as bloody. As usual, Ratso brought a gun to a knife fight. He didn’t bring a lot else except a couple of guards and a bunch of club fighters with the fist and forearm equivalents of tire irons. It was the least talented MSU team I’ve seen in awhile, but it was Izzo to the core in terms of mean spirited, engineered roughness. It was the quintessence of the difference between the way the game ought to be played and the way Ratso plays it.

    It was also the quintessence of the way Self plays it: anyway you want. And KU took some and dished some without losing sight of playing to win. And that was the greatest news of all. They walked the fine line of absorbing blows, dishing them, and continuing to try to grind through. This is what Ellis, Mason and Selden can be. None of them is a thug. None a superstar. But each of them perseveres “through” adversity. Each one endures. They endure through severe beatings and having their heads handed them by a vastly superior UK team. They endure through a less athletic team with similar standing height, and enough black jacks to compensate for the athletic disadvantage. They endure through slumps. Through injuries. Through lost explosiveness. Through abandonments, through defections.

    “Who we are” has emerged. We are the team that endures; that keeps crawling on the X-axis in the face of towering mountains, on rushing floodwaters, blinding blizzards of offensive schemes, and below the belt jack hammering. We get the shit kicked out of us frequently but we keep coming.

    This is “who we are” if we can stand the filling rattling experience of being it.

    My father used to talk about his fellow Marines ofWWII this way: “We were hard to beat because General Vandegrift organized us to go after the enemy, and just keep going after the enemy until he was dead or surrendered. He didn’t send us in with any stars in our eyes about out finessing anyone. We came ashore right at them. If they wanted to fight in the jungle, then we went in to the jungle and killed them. That was “our” strategy. They wanted to fight at the beach. We fought them on the beach and killed them. They wanted to fight in caves. We went in the caves and killed them wherever we found them, or blew the caves closed and flamed them with napalm to make sure they suffocated–not just let them find another way out of their labyrinth of caves. Where ever they wanted to fight, we fought them there, and we killed them. Kill was the operant word. We went in to kill every last one of them. They wanted to fight on mountains. We went up the mountains and killed them there, too. We took casualties. But we found them, and then we killed them.”

    This approach seemed so obvious to me once, until I read about strategy and tactics until I was nearly convinced that there was always a way to outmaneuver the enemy. But then I came up against, as all serious students of strategy eventually must, the writings of the greatest, most versatile general of all time, and the rightful descendant of Scippio Africanus, and, as my father said, “a dog face general”–Ulysses S. Grant, from back in the US Civil War.

    “The art of war is simple enough. Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can. Strike him as hard as you can, and keep moving on.”–U.S. Grant

    This sounds simple, but to carry it out means you must be able to take blows, and dish blows, without becoming distracted, as you are finding, striking, and moving on.

    You can never stop, or you are beaten.

    Many can find them. Some can strike at him. Few want to keep moving on after the horrors and fatigue of combat.

    And, as usual, there was a corollary by Grant, also.

    “If men make war in slavish obedience to rules, they will fail.” –U.S. Grant

    Even Scippio Africanus, who defeated Hannibal, could not say it this distilled.

    Grant rewrote the book on military logistics, some say without even reading the first edition of it.

    But he never let his logistical brilliance get in the way of finding the enemy, killing him, and moving on to find and kill more.

    It was what he did. It was all he did.

    Grant was a real terminator, before there were cinematic ones.

    Lee knew how to fight war brilliantly.

    But Grant knew that, while that brilliance made Lee dangerous and hard to defeat, it was not the key to victory.

    Grant fought the U.S. War of the Rebellion, as he knew it to be called, every which way.

    Grant was inflexible about only one thing.

    Find them, kill them, keep moving…until the last one that wants to fight is dead holding his hands up without a weapon.

    To quote my father, again: “The difference between the Marines and other fighting forces was that other fighting forces focused on how to fight the enemy, which strategy, and which tactic, and what weapons, and what advantages would work best, and how to unnerve the other enemy. While they were thinking and doing that, we focused on finding them and killing them. Find them. Engage them. Kill them. Move on. We didn’t worry about how to kill them. We knew when we found them, the most effective way to kill them would be obvious. And if it weren’t immediately obvious, then it soon would be.”

    I want you to understand that my father was a peaceful man. He opposed war for the most part afterwards on the grounds that most wars were unnecessary. But, like Vandegrift, Holland Smith and Grant before them, and Africanus before them all, There was no question about the art of war once it was upon them.

    This KU team is not worrying about height now. It is not going to take a lot of steps to get around being short. It is going to shoot quite a few threes, and we are, as I argued before the exhibitions even started, going to play a lot of what amounts to a Wooden high post offense out of two formations: the high low 1-3-1, and the 1-2-2; that is about the only concessions to height this team is going to make. All that talk about moving Selden here and there, and pressing, and shucking and jiving, and so forth to try to make up for being short is like Vandegrift and Smith creating the Marine Raider Battalion and talking about diversions, and behind the lines ops and so on.

    After a few operations, Vandegrift and Smith basically turned the Marine Raider battalions into just another Marine battalion. The mission was find the enemy, hit them hard, and keep moving. It was a waste of time and man power to engage in any activity other than killing enemy wherever he was, in whatever numbers he was there, and despite whatever strength he possessed.

    Find them. Kill them. Keep moving.

    The only time you vary is once you get in a stalemate.

    Stalemates have to be broken.

    Tactics then become strategy.

    Take casualties to take real estate.

    Digging in takes time away from killing.

    Dig in just long enough to find a way to attack.

    Along the way, don’t fly apart, don’t lose your purpose, don’t EVER stop finding a way to find, kill and move on, even if the going is slow.


    Self did the right thing after the UK loss.

    He remembered what the Marines almost certainly taught him and his staff and his players.

    Find them where they are. Go destroy their strength with whatever you have. Then move on and destroy whatever else remains.

    The US Marine Corp: when it absolutely positively has to be destroyed tomorrow.

    Unless I see Self opting out of Marine mode, I am going to return to this theme repeatedly this season.

    Find the enemy each time KU comes down the floor. Attack where you find them. Move on.

    This is easy to say.

    But it takes nerves of steel and a reservoir of relentless focus on the business at hand, when the enemy is as good or better.

    Perry, who has seemed not very ferocious, not a rim rammer, is the perfect young American to be a KU Marine. He may have disappeared in the past, and may a few more times this season, but he now knows what he is. He is part of an outfit that doesn’t try to wow’em with ability, or smash’em with militaristic sizzle. This is about finding, attacking and moving on. It is the art of war for a serious young man. Same for Mason. This is no longer about dazzling anyone with speed. This is about finding the enemy, ganging up on him at a spot, and scoring on him…anyway we can. This is what it was like on the mean streets when he was littler than everyone else. Whatever it takes. Whichever way you can. When they are looking, or when they are not. No style points during the fight.

    Though there will be surprises and wrinkles, the finesse is all behind this team now IMHO.

    When the going got tough, Self went to his six toughest players THAT NIGHT.

    Who does not yet have battle fatigue will vary some game to game.

    Ratso, you want to reduce this to a six man tire iron contest, then we are going in to to it and we are going to get you.

    KU took some terrible beatings at times and made some really bad choices as all the non Marines in board rat-dom are quick to point out. The second half didn’t go well at all. But Iwo Jima went hellishly badly for a few weeks after Mt. Suribachi was taken the hard way. No success guaranties easy victory afterwards. Good can go bad. Bad can go worse. Worse can turn into a living hell. But you keep moving. T

    In the hell that was Iwo Jima, after Surabachi, the remaining Japanese went deep into the cave networks and machine gun nests of places on the other end of the island with names like Cushman’s pocket. Shrapnel from exploded ordinance on the airfield grew to waste deep, so deep you could not walk on the airfield without getting cut to shreds. But the enemy was in the craggy ravines and caves beyond the airfield and many months of naval and air bombardments and a week or two of mortar and ground artillery on shore had not cleared them out. The Marines never even hesitated once it became clear what needed to be done. They went hole by hole, cave by cave, and decided each moment whether satchel charges, or napalm, or 30 caliber lead, or something else was going to be the best way.

    And they took casualties.

    They looked bad doing it to the great brains of strategy in the US Army and the British Army and Lidell Hart and all the others that used strategy and tactics “so skillfully” to the point Germany and Japan had begun to see a real chance at joining their tyrannical hands in the Persian Gulf and cutting off the free worlds maritime trade and oil flow by 1942. Sage diplomacy, and savvy strategy and tactics had enabled two of the nastiest corporate-military dictatorships every to make two maritime empires–Great Britain and USA–look like chumps about to be subjected to the accomplishment of an indigenous EurAsian centerpoint hegemond.

    But by late February and early March, 1945, US Marines, who had for a couple of years found the enemy, where he was, fought him the way he wanted to fight, killed him mercilessly, and moved on, knew the barren island was needed for the fighters to escort B-29s to burn Japan to the ground, and invade it, if Tojo and his shogunate military junta that he hid behind, while calling the shots all along, proved utterly divorced from reality. And the Marines knew where the Japanese were. And they went where they–a little volcanic island that was a gateway to Okinawa, an island big enough to stage an invasion from, and began killing them. And they kept killing them by the thousands till early March until, to be blunt, there weren’t any left that had not been slaughtered, or sealed and suffocated in caves. Could Japan have been blockaded and besieged? Of course. Like Vicksburg was and many other parts of the South were besieged. But in the end, some one was going to have to take the real estate, not just lay siege to it.

    Remember, the art of war is simple enough. Sooner, or later, some where, or other, the killing and the taking have to occur, unless someone is willing to settle for a negotiated settlement.

    FDR and Churchill and the great fortunes they were agents of wanted unconditional surrender.

    So, sooner, or later, some where, or other, the killing and the taking was going to have to occur.

    The place was Iwo Jima. the time was 19 February to 26 March, 1945.

    The Japanese decided to show the Marines how many of them they could kill, if they fought without trying to win. The Japanese decided that if the Marines were willing to fight this way, then the Japanese would try to turn it against them. If the Marines were willing to go where ever the Japanese went and kill them, then they would go not where ever they could win, but where ever they could kill the most Marines.

    Marines that had fought many different ways from 1941 to 19 February 1945, and had gone where ever the enemy had gone, had found them, applied overwhelming force and moved on against an enemy trying to win, finally faced an enemy that meant only to kill as many of them as they could. It was the perfect counter strategy to the Marine way.

    My father said the Marines very shortly after D-Day, probably by D+3 or 4 understood what it was about. It was about finding out if the Marines were willing to “take casualties” to win a war that was already won. Were they willing to go where the enemy went, engage him, kill him and keep moving, when they had already won the war, and it was only then about the terms of victory. Would Marines keep fighting as they had, knowing their own casualties no longer meant the difference between victory and defeat–just between the kinds of victory.

    My father was there. He did not take his boots off for two weeks. He slept in holes with the dead. He watched friends cut off at the waist so that their legs stood a short while, before falling over. He ordered many in his motor transport battalion, already fighting because the combat was everywhere on the island, to reinforce rifle companies at whatever was the front, to replace rifleman where the casualty rate among rifle units was a 150-200%. They kept finding the enemy. Shooting him. Burning him. Blasting him. Suffocating him. Slashing him open with knives. Shooting him when he was down. Smashing him with rifle butts in the face and abdomen and testicles. Disemboweling him. Taking the gold from his teeth. Stacking him as human sand bags to be shot to pieces by Japanese machine guns. Blowing his face to goo at close range with 45s. Calling in naval fire that literally made hills disappear, platoons turn to gravel sized bits of flesh blown into indistinguishability with flecks of earth erupting skyward and falling commingled in volcanic ash.

    The Marines did not care that the Japanese had that was better, or worse. They did not care that the Japanese had the better strategic, or tactical position. They did not care that the Japanese could not win. Or that the Japanese could not reinforce their own troops, or that the Japanese were starving. The Marines did not care that the Japanese often had the shorter interior line of communication.

    The Marines were there.

    The Japanese were there.

    The Japanese had what the Marines wanted.

    The Marines found them.

    They killed them.

    And they kept moving sometimes only yards, but they kept moving.

    As I always warn when I talk about such things…

    Basketball is not war.

    We are, thank whatever god in heaven you believe in, not talking about killing, when the ball is tossed up by the referee.

    But there ARE strange similarities.

    There is no negotiated peace at the end of a basketball game.

    There is only an agreed upon end of competition, of sports hostilities, if you will.

    Two go in.

    One comes out…ahead. One behind. No ties.

    Play someone like Ratso Izzo, and he will try to beat you bad, if he has more talent. And if he does not have more talent, he will try to take you into a war of attrition, to see if he can make you give up from fear and fatigue. And if even at the end, it seems hopeless, he will still take every last risk.

    When board rats say they do not understand why Self left Jamari Traylor in at the end of the game to take and make the two free throws that iced the game, they do not understand the Marine way, or the Izzo way it was up against.

    Self looked at Greene and knew that–playing by the rules–Greene most certainly was the correct tactical move to take the certain foul and free throw.

    But Self knew that Ratso would not be playing by the rules; that the tire irons would surely come out if Self put a great free throw shooter in the game. Putting Greene in at that moment was the same as putting a red X on his forehead and saying, “Go ahead, Tom, send one of your guys out with a tire iron and put Greene out cold on the floor with a blow between the eyes.” Greene is a stick. Greene is a hot head. Greene has never slept in a car for six months or a year and had to try to stay alive when he was cold and hungry. Greene is from Georgia. Not Chicago. The only American place as tough as Michigan, at least the parts that Ratso Izzo came up through, is Chicago.

    Of course, Jamari Traylor had to shoot those free throws.

    Jamari Traylor was the only guy on the team tough enough to take what was likely to be dished out by Ratso’s boys and then still get up and go to the line and remember what he had come through in life to get to that line.

    It was a brilliant, rule breaking move by Self.

    “If men make war in slavish obedience to rules, they will fail.”

    Jamari Traylor sank not one, but two.

    Traylor will remember those two free throws the rest of the season, when sacrifice must be made, and for the rest of his life.

    The bad free throw shooter iced the win this bunch of belly crawling, X-Axis KU Marines had to have. They had been in the grinder for 40 minutes. Had they lost that game, their toughness would have been in doubt the rest of the season. It might have been permanently tenderized.

    No, they are not done yet–not fully who they are yet.

    They are going to take some severe casualties yet.

    Florida may take them apart the same way UK did.

    Florida has 6 guys 6-8 or over, and 3 of those are 6-10 or 6-11.

    Two of their 6-10 types are 245 and 266 respectively.

    Welcome to LengthandWidthville again.

    Inside and out.

    But not three footers.

    But they can muster quite a bit of length on the perimeter.

    And quite a bit of depth has Master Donovan reassembled from last years stacked remnants and new bodies.

    This is the kind of team that could give the KU Marines some serious headaches.

    They can play long or short inside, and long or short outside.

    It is a bad team for Wayne Selden to hope to come out of his offensive slump against, because they can put a lot of guys on him that are a couple inches shorter that will really make him slide, and they can put a couple of guys on him that are as long, or longer.

    Most all their guards are a little longer than Frank and they can try water bugs on him and they can put some muscle on him.

    And Svi may be the guy that attracts the most attention, because it looks like they could run quite a few forwards from 2 inches shorter to his own size.

    This looks like a team where Lucas may have to do more than buy The Big Red Dog some extra minutes.

    And the Big Red Dog is going to get another taste of looking up, as he does at Lucas and Mickelson in practice.

    But Florida just isn’t as talented as UK and so Florida could be a very, very, VERY good team for this bunch of short KU Marines to have a war game with and try to learn how to attack a long bunch head on.

    I should think KU would be a slight underdog.

    But this is the game the KU Marines are ready to go out and face a bigger opponent and learn how to learn to beat a big team.

    Notice I said, “Learn how to learn.”

    I think KU should lose this game by about 10-15 points, rather than be blown out. But this would be great progress. It would imply KU had learned how to hang around a long team, but then get into and lose a foul shooting contest down the stretch, rather than be blown out.

    I happen to think KU"s three point shooting is now suddenly being waaaaaaaay overrated.

    I happen to think Graham’s shoulder is in a bad way will get worse before it gets better.

    I happen to think Mickelson can’t bend over.

    I happen to think something is seriously wrong with Selden.

    I happen to think none of it matters with this bunch of KU Marines, because this was what they were prepared and built for.

    I happen to think that from that MSU game on, The KU Marine Raiders have been abandoned and the plain, straightforward KU Marines are taking over.

    They are going to take casualties learning how to beat taller teams.

    It may not happen now, or even in January.

    It may be late February before they figure it out.

    They are going to look great against mediocre teams, and courageous against tough teams with short man’s syndrome inside, as they did against MSU.

    But, short, or not, now, they are going where the enemy is regardless of his size, and regardless of their size. They are going to engage him on his terms where ever he wants to meet them. They are going to persevere and find him and bring as much force as they can to bear.

    Some times they may take awful pastings.

    But they now know “who they are” now; they are a team of small d democracy types–they are going to hang together, or they are going to hang apart.

    It is going to be ugly intermittently for awhile longer.

    But never count the KU Marines out.

    They are going to play through the games that would shatter the confidence of other teams.

    Self has now let experience convince them that there is no calvary coming. The fleet has sailed. Each game is an island and they are on it…alone…left to their own devices.

    All the geniuses are back in Pearl, or Washington.

    Out here there is just the KU Marines and the enemy waiting on islands with names like Gainesville, Ames, Austin, Norman and so on.

    Find the enemy, regardless of how tall he is.

    Attack him wherever on the court he chooses to play.

    Apply as much pressure where ever he is as they can apply.

    Take casualties.

    Kill whatever enemy they can.

    And keep moving.


  • @jaybate-1.0 Damn jB, you musta been savin up for this one ?! Whew!

  • @jaybate-1.0 Good stuff, jb. While you were watching Florida I was watching the Longhorns. If we are to survive and move on, this squad must become super proficient and efficient in dealing with height, length and tonnage. Bill Self and Co. issued a resounding statement to Ratso and crew. Reassuring win on the step back toward league dominance and national respect.

  • @jaybate-1.0 …and, yeah, Wily Bill stood steady at the stern at crunch time, leaving BamBam on the floor, telling him how it was going to go down…then walking tall toward the handshake line. Ratso staggering toward the press table where he could melt down to cast some whines.

  • I think we beat Florida. I think we beat Florida because of the way these last 5 games have played out. I was so crushed by the UK game that I had given up hope of us getting #11, or even a trip back to at least the sweet 16. What blew my mind and restored my faith was the second half defense played as a team. Jamari had a bad game against UT but when it came time to bend the knees and slide, when it came time to block out, he was playing Bill Self defense. The outside perimeter was defended, MSU got cold because we made them speed up to avoid quick double teams. The next KU/UK game will be scripted like the last KU/MU game. We’ll be on defense with a one point lead and Jamari will be put into the game to add full court pressure and he will enter the game like Kevin Young did - with a grin on his face. I was a doubter, but now, I’m a believer. Remember, Mari was grinning when he stepped to the free throw line.

  • @wrwlumpy

    Hope so. This is a chance for another great win. First MSU. Then Florida. At the turn of November and December. GOD I LOVE THIS GAME.

  • Interesting analogy using the Corps as a metaphor for this years team. As a former jarhead, your piece took me back to my bootcamp days when we were taught hand to hand combat. A DI was up on the stage and did a very impressive karate/kung fu demonstration and we all watched with our mouths agape dreaming of learning all these wonderful techniques! After the demonstration our instructor gave us the real lesson which I’ve never forgotten; in war when fighting hand to hand there is no fair. Bite him, tear his eyes out, find a cavity and rip, become enraged. War isn’t humanistic.

    But I digress. Think of Wooden’s 1963-64 first NCAA championship team. Tallest player was a Kansan by the name of Fred Slaughter who was 6’5"". They were known as the “Bruin Blitzes” led by Gail Goodrich and Walt Hazzard. They played Duke in the finals who had two guys over 6’10’’ and out rebounded the Blue Devils in the championship game. Yes, tall is a mind set and once this team finds it’s own identity as a blue collar fight to the death mindset, we’ll enjoy a satisfying season.

  • @sfboggsz

    Thanks for weighing in as the REAL thing.

    I absolutely agree that the way to understand this team’s potential and limitations is through other top teams that went far without height.

    Wooden’s 32-0 ring team you refer to that started 6-5 Topeka Central High’s Freddy Slaughter (who went to UCLA as a high jumper and only went out for basketball because Wooden was short handed) at center remains the definitive example. And I am massively grateful to you for posting that the UCLAN out rebounded Duke’s long bigs in the Finals. I had forgotten that fact. That UCLAN team also beat a helluva a good KSU team with some length, too, if I recall correctly.

    For what its worth, I have earlier called board rats attentions to Self’s 2000 Elite Eight team from Tulsa whom this year’s team resembles down to the single 6-10 reserve Self used to bring in for 15-20 mpg to his bunch of 6-7 to 6-8 Tulsa bigs. That Tulsa team is probably the real prototype for the current Jayhawks. It shot lots of treys, even though it had only one good trey shooter on the team.

    I had hoped Self would emulate Wooden’s high post and press, because I just do not see how a short team can get past the Elite Eight without pressing quite a bit.

    But the current logic is that without the trey stripe, Wooden’s 3/4 court 2-2-1 zone press forced teams to set up farther out than they otherwise would have and that lowered their shooting percentage and so made the press worth investing in. But the current logic adds that today the three point stripe actually incentivizes teams to set up far outside to take the trey, and so there is no need to expend the energy pressing to get the same distancing effect.

    But here is the thing: the full time 3/4 2-2-1 press also forced the offensive team to play the entire 90 feet–something opposing teams were neither used to, nor in good enough shape to do. And the 2-2-1 made the other team expend more energy working the ball up court that the defense did defending and back pedalling. And it made it so UCLA could apply surprise pressure over a much larger area of the point and so they were much more unpredictable. This put opponents on edge and on their heels most of the time. And since great opposing guards are at their best dribbling, when the pressure starts, the zone press denies them their main strength of the dribble, because the only effective way to stay out of trouble against a zone press is to pass. The amazing thing about a the 2-2-1 press is that it forces great dribbling PGs to pass and it exposes all the players on the team that are not good passers on the move. Over 40 minutes against a 2-2-1 sooner or later the opponent cracks at least 2 or 3 times and if your team is trained to score in transition off the cracks the other team not only loses 2-3 possessions, but also gets rattled and then makes a second succeeding mistake 1-2 more times. This means you get anywhere from 3-6 more possessions per game and probably get your zone broken for an easy basket 1-3 times a game. So: at worst your are net even and at best you can be net 3-6 possessions ahead. Almost no team can beat an opponent that is a tenacious defensive team that rebounds effectively and gets 3-6 more possessions per game–even on a bad shooting night. This calculus was why Wooden was able to go undefeated so many times in his career once he began to use the 2-2-1 whether his teams were short, or long at the post. In fact, as Wooden made clear, it actually works better when you are long at the post, because having a rim protector anchoring a 2-2-1 means you eliminate the broken play baskets the opponent otherwise gets against a 6-5 center like Fred Slaughter.

    But Self has decided that with the trey stripe requiring lots of pressure to defend well, he would rather expend all his energy budget on defending the trey stripe, rather than forcing an opponent to play 90 feet every possession.

    Self’s philosophy is NO EASY BASKETS. PERIOD! So no pressing, just guard the trey stripe and help inside.

    Regarding offense, Self is not technically going to a single high post offense as Wooden often did, but he is increasingly running his high low with different starting formations that will, I anticipate, increasingly involve Perry in high posting and shooting treys. Self is being coy about this migration, because if Perry turns out not to be able to make the trey, he doesn’t want opponents to discover it any sooner than necessary. Right now, opponents know Perry shot 40% from trey on low attempts last season, so they have to respect his step outs and assume he is in a bit of a slump. But if he goes 0-fer many more games they are going to just let go of him entirely when he moves beyond 12 feet. At that point, KU’s inside offense will be completely choked off and this team will have to depend almost entirely on the transcept scorers–Svi and Greene; this is why the loss of AWIII, CF, and the injury of Graham are so bad for this team. Unless Perry can be a 38-40% guy from trey, the team is so short inside that it has to default to transcept scoring (two wings shooting treys and a high post at the FT line shooting 2s), which is not nearly as potent as all three guys shooting treys.

    Because of how short the team is inside, you have to have two guys like Goodrich and, was it Erickson?, that can flat out shoot it from 25-28 feet in order to stretch it, so you can get it inside and score a tolerable amount.

    You can talk about going inside first, and then outside, but the bottom line is that if you are short inside, and you go inside, you are not a threat to score against rim protectors, so there is no sagging off of outside perimeter defenders achieved by going inside first. As a result, you are just wasting attack time going inside first, so what in effect happens is you are an outside-in team, whether or not you go inside first. And you have to pop your treys first to get any daylight inside at all. And you need at least one of your two quasi post men to step out and take the trey. Taking 15 footers really won’t draw the rim protectors away from the iron. They will let you take that 15 footer all game even if your making it and figure they will beat you with 60% inside on the other end, plus 40% treys which works out to an effective 50-60% on the other end from outside. They beat you every time this way. This has been the math behind Self’s phenomenal 82-84% winning percentage the last ten years. This year is the first time he has had to move outside that offensive model.

    By sticking to a half court game, what Self is proposing is that he can guard the trey stripe hard enough to reduce that trey rate to 20-35% with pressure and trapping (this is the basic Dean and Roy model of defense, which both learned over time that you had to increase the offensive tempo sharply in order to be successful statistically at playing), pick up 3-4 transition baskets off that pressure (Dean and Roy would try to pick up 6-8 in a faster tempo), while doubling bigs enough to force the kick-outs to the pressure trey attempts.

    Bottom line here is that Self is going off into uncharted waters (except for his Elite Eight Tulsa team) of Okie Ball by combining a slow tempo with a half court trapping and pressure defense hoping to win games in the 70s. Okie Ball has always thrived with the big men in the middle able to reduce an opponents shooting percentage to 35-45% and pinching the first two feet of the trey stripe, too. Self’s current approach has to stretch 4 feet beyond the trey stripe and do a ton of doubling down low. If KU is even a little inefficient on the defensive end, at a low tempo, they are statistically out of the game. This is why he has to play Selden all the time even though Selden is in an offensive funk. Essentially, low scoring percentage defense is the coin of the realm now more than ever despite how short our team is.

    My argument is and has been since before the season started that to play a trapping pressure half court defense, you have to ramp up the number of trips down the floor as Dean and Roy did, in order to compensate for the number of easy baskets that result from breakdowns from trying to both double in the paint and half court trap and pressure 4 feet beyond the trey stripe, all of which are necessary in a half court game to hold down the opponent’s scoring percentage.

    And this only works when you have long bigs on the secondary break that can make easy baskets inside to boost your own scoring percentage. KU lacks those kinds of bigs, so Self has opted to play a half court game. Logical as far as it goes.

    Against low talent, short inside teams with good guards, like MSU, this approach will work okay. It will produce close games that Self’s team can use its particular combination of perimeter length to go get baskets and free throws and win its share of close games.

    But I argue that Self has to do something like go to full court pressure defense to take the fight to the opponent against long teams like Florida, UK and UA, for examples, in order to force long opponents out of their comfort zones and into more mistakes. It is not enough to rely on the three point stripe to incentivize teams into long shots that you guard hard. A short team has to force the ball out of the good opposing team’s point guard’s hands and into other super players hands that are not such good ball handlers. And the only way to do that effectively is with zone pressing. Short players have some mobility advantage in the transition zone, and very little as the pace slows down to half court.

    To not try to compete in transition with a team with superior size and to let that team choose their best player to handle the ball and distribute is nuts.

    You have to find the opponent where ever he is that he is most vulnerable and you have to attack him there. My philosophy comes back to finding the enemy, where he is, attacking him at his weakest point with greater force and moving on. Zone presses “find” the opponent as soon as he enters the field of play. They concentrate defensive force and move on again and again and again.

    Guarding longer bigs in half court has to be done. But it is foolish to do it more than you have to. And trapping in half court is stupid, when you could be trapping at three quarter court. All the outcomes are better at 3/4 court than in half court. You are close to a score if you get a strip. And if you break down you have more time to recover. And you create a much longer struggle for the offense before they get to start running their offense to score. Man to man presses are for suckers. Zone presses are forms of offense. They are the way to find the enemy and make him bear your attack.

  • @jaybate-1.0 That was great. I’ve been interested in WWII history since I heard the word and I love KU Basketball. Good stuff @jaybate-1.0

  • @jaybate-1.0 You know what though? Now the enemy has to come to Our House, they have to brave the Phog. They will fear the Phog. Home court advantage plus a team that cut its toughness teeth.

  • @sfboggsz HOOYAH !!

Log in to reply