In Which Self Tries to Break His Team of Its Inferiority Complex Inside

  • Self took Utah and Krystowiak seriously enough to scheme a proper offense for his dwarf KU team to beat a solid Utah team that was strong in all the places that could trouble KU.

    And KU responded by beating the tar out of Utah the first half, thus giving Self the opportunity he needed to partake in a war of wills with his bunch of basketball Billbo Baggins.

    Team: Coach, we really like shooting the trey off action.

    Coach: That’s good to hear, but we’re not going to do any of that the second half.

    Team (hand wringing): But, Coach, we’re too short to win inside.

    Coach: Yes, you can, and you are going to. And you are going to today. I’m spotting you a 20 point lead. You’ve got to learn how to play against big men inside sooner or later.

    Team: No, Coach, please don’t make us try. PLEASE!

    Coach: You’re going to beat these guys inside, or you’re going to lose to these guys inside. Its up to you.

    Team: No, Coach, no!!!

    Coach: The coach giveth outside action, and the coach taketh it away. Now get out there and win one inside. I’m only asking you to win one half inside. And starting with a 20 point lead. Come on you big bunch of babies. Anyone can win outside with action and the trey. That’s not basketball. That’s sissy stuff. It takes real men to win inside against footers with dwarves at the post–with 6-7 and 6-6 at the post.

    Team: Please, please, please, Coach, don’t make us going out there without any action!! No action? No ball screens? No treys!!!

    Coach: Win it inside. You guys have to learn how to win inside before we get to Texas.

    Team: Texas? No, coach, no, you wouldn’t!

    Coach: Quit gripping your units and get out there. I refuse to be the coach of a team that can’t score inside against anyone. Scoring inside is part of who we are!

    Team: Please, pretty please, we will play defense as hard as you want us to. Harder. Well, help EVERYWHERE! But please don’t send us out their without any perimeter action. Don’t make us try to win inside. Please!

    Coach: My mind is made up. Now get out there.

    Self has titanium ingots in his scrotum.

    Self challenged his team to beat a footer with a good point guard inside…without any treys…without any action…just on sheer determination and going inside the trey stripe again and again.

    It was pathetic to watch, too.

    First they tried half heartedly. Then when the coach just sat there letting the lead evaporate, they started disappearing. You could see their nut sacks shrink almost in unison.

    “We can’t,” the team seemed to be saying.

    "You can, " said the willful coach.

    “We can’t.”

    'You can and you will."

    This game has to go in the “Best of Bill Self Letting’em Labor” gift set.

    KU could have beaten Utah by 30 points, if they had kept running the scheme from the first half.

    If anyone wonders how KU will beat some of the top teams in the country in March, the first half was a blue print.

    But Self didn’t care about that.

    He wanted to and did use the lead as an insurance policy from State Farm to make them reach down inside themselves and find the courage to beat long guys inside that they had developed a mental block about being able to beat.

    They just about didn’t.

    But in the end, the KU guys started playing defense with every fiber of their beings and kept getting stop after stop in the last minute and kept jamming it inside, when they feared they couldn’t and made a few free throws walked out with a W by the thickness of a triplicate copy of their state farm insurance policy from the first half.

    I have not seen Self this happy after a pre conference win since maybe his second or third season. Self was like a young coach again. He almost infarcted the last five minutes, but when the buzzer sounded and KU was ahead, he strutted around a like proud father that had just shown his son that he could do something he didn’t think he could do.

    I think part of the time Krystowiak had a hard time concentrating on his own team. I think Krystowiak was watching the coaching clinic by Self. I believe Krystowiak was flabbergasted that Self would even try such a thing, much less stick with it all the way to the buzzer.

    I know I was.

    Self let it all ride on red at the roulette wheel the second half.

    And the boys, as badly as they looked, and as obviously wracked with self doubt about what he was making them do, some how reached down way, way, way deep and found away not just to win ugly, but win inspite of being scared to death.

    Self is a genius.


  • @jaybate-1.0 jb, I just read a CBS article which mentioned that for 19.6 minutes of the second half Selden, Greene, Oubre and Svi shot a combined 4 pts.!!! I plan to watch the game again tomorrow; but it appears that you are onto something.

  • @REHawk

    First half perimeter action. Pick and roll. Ball screens.

    Second half no perimeter action.

    Krystowiak adjustments can’t make our guys stop trying to run the outside action entirely.

    Watch it, Coach. You will love it.

  • @jaybate-1.0 Is coach trying to hold this team back? Prevent them from peaking too early?

  • @KUSTEVE Absolutely not. We’re not near our peak.

    I have disagreed for years with @jaybate-1.0 on this topic. I do not believe for one minute that Self creates situations or permits his teams to “labor” with the risk of losing the game. The disagreement might just be a matter of degree. Sure, he might flop down in his chair a few times and say, “Fine, do it your way”, and sit there with his arms folded. That might last two minutes. But the premise that he scripted the second half flop to any degree is far-fetched to me, given the value of these non-con wins.

    Now, that being said, I fully believe @jaybate-1.0’s suggestion that Self is trying to create the inside-out team that he wants. I believe that he did all he could to get his guys to create scoring opportunities inside and feed the post. We saw that in the second half. And we almost lost the game.

    And guys, this is the greatest danger facing this team. I’ll address that a bit later.

  • @HighEliteMajor Yeah, I always have thought his theories on Self letting them labor was a bit far fetched, but I do think he’s right that Self instructed them to pound it inside. I’m just not sure why he didn’t have them go back to the outside - in game when going inside wasn’t very effective.

  • @HighEliteMajor I guess I also wonder if Self has learned anything about how to deal with Kentucky’s size. For example, there was not a noticeable difference in game plan between the two games against them in 11-12. Then a repeat of those games a month. I would have thought that he would have tried something different, unless he honestly thinks that pounding it inside against a taller and longer team is the answer.


    While it is an interesting question, my read is Self is both trying to finesse as many wins as early as he can, and whenever leads permit, force the team to work on learning to score inside. He is doing the former, because he knows the longer the season goes on the more weaknesses opposing coaches will discover (e.g., Svi’s susceptibility to ball screening and back picking) in his green team, and the more injury will reduce his already limited palette for painting what kind of team this team can be. He is doing the latter, because he knows if he sends this doughnut with a hole in the middle team of his out against very many more long and strong teams they are going to just guard the trey stripe exclusively and funnel KU inside and on any bad night of trey balling, KU is going to lose. Leaving UK aside, which is such a lopsided mismatch of talent that it hardly matters, Self has to have noticed that against Florida, Georgetown and Utah, KU would have been annihilated had KU not shot the trey sharply better than these three L&S teams. Self has to find a way to win a game against an L&S team inside, or this team has slim chance to win the conference and virtually no chance to go deep in the Madness.

    Though @HighEliteMajor and I agree this team needs to play Outside-in to be its best, we do not agree on what Self is trying to do when he spends an entire half in my opinion willing to squander a 20 point lead trying to run only scoring plays inside the three point stripe versus Utah.

    @HighEliteMajor thinks Self is trying to build an inside out team out of philosophy of playing inside out in the high-low.

    I, on the other hand, believe Self tipped his hand by scheming perimeter action the first half against Utah, that Self has thrown in the sponge on inside out, and is ready to play outside in. But he faces an acute problem that he was letting the team labor to try and fix. This team currently cannot even play outside in. It can only play outside against L&S teams. Even if it shoots 30 treys per game, it still lacks the skill (and Self would probably say self-confidence) to score inside against L&S teams, even when the trey shooting forces their perimeter players to stop helping inside. Self surely must realize that this team’s bigs, and its penetrating perimeter players, cannot yet go get a basket on L&S bigs yet.

    So: what I am saying in contradistinction to @HighEliteMajor is that even though Self has conceded that this is an outside in team (and probably always suspected as much), he probably never dreamed that these guys 8 games into the season still could not figure how to score inside against and L&S interior of an opponent even with hot trey shooting by KU!

    So: Self took the only opportunity he may have before conference starts–a 20 point lead against and L&S major–and obviously ordered his team to find a way to win at least a half with a big lead while playing inside the stripe. They can’t just practice this all season long and hope to miraculously be able to do it in a big game against Texas, or the L&S teams they will meet early in the Madness. Self is fighting a serious mental block here. This young team, but especially its ranking member, Perry Ellis, were badly scarred by the UK game. And it has showed every time they have since challenged an L&S interior. They disappear inside and hope to be saved by trey balling.

    Self had to get them some game experience that proved to them that they could successfully attack and defend an L&S major.

    They failed almost entirely in attacking the interior the second half.

    But they did labor and scramble and defend just enough to squeak by.

    And you have to start somewhere.

    He will keep repeating this every chance he gets until they learn how to play against bigger guys.

    I am quite sure Self would have loved for the guys to have attacked the Utah interior and to have beaten Utah by the 20 or so point margin they started with. Self would love to have walked around the locker room after the game and said, “See, you no longer have to fear Kentucky, or any other bunch of big goons inside.” But eeking out a nail biter after squandering a huge lead was the best this young team could do at this juncture. So: getting a win was at least something of a confidence builder. It was a place to start–to keep trying to learn how to play bigger guys.

    (Note: and little guys CAN learn how to beat bigger guys. It has been learned by a number of smaller teams. But it takes a lot of reps to learn to do something against top competition that you have bitter experience telling you you cannot do. A lot of reps and lot of courage.)

    I don’t think most fans realize how demoralized and intimidated this team still is, when it comes to trying score against L&S interior opponents.

    The truth is our bigs are like the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion and the Scarecrow. Self is trying to lead them through Oz to meet a man called the Wizard, who can give them the brains, heart and courage they need to take on something that seems hopelessly bigger than themselves–L&S bigs.

    Not one of KU’s bigs has really been able to operate efficiently inside for two halves against an L&S team.

    And yet they eventually have to be able to, whether KU is playing inside out, or outside in.

    It does no good to pull a team like Utah out with trey shooting if you cannot then make it pay for stretching out by attacking its bigs efficiently inside.

    And on the nights kU cannot make the trey, it will have no choice but to go inside sooner or later.

    So: no, I don’t think Self thinks this team is over confident yet.

    I think he knows he has a bunch of fraidy cats when it comes to going up and finishing against the big trees.

    And so Self has no choice but to throw them to the dogs inside whenever they open up a sufficient lead outside to let him.

    The guys have to keep practicing attacking inside, just so they CAN play outside in.

  • @jaybate-1.0 And Toto too.


  • @wrwlumpy

    Yes, but the positive embedded message in what I am talking about here is that in the metaphor, the Tin Man does find a heart, and the Cowardly Lion does find courage, and Scarecrow does find a brain and Dorothy does find her way home, and they all do overcome the Wicked Witch of the West, and her flying monkeys with the help of the little people (our perimeter players), the man behind the wizard (Self), and the Good Witch (some mythological combination of Cin and Andrea Hudy).

    This can be done. Each of our bigs has to realize finally that what they all need to act with brains, courage and heart against the L&S bigs is already inside them to begin with.

    They just have to believe and pull together.

    They have to click their heels together and jump up and finish no matter how fearsome and hopeless the task seems.

    It is the same lesson played out every season.

    In different ways.

    Rock Chalk!

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