Rock Chalk 'almost blew it' Hawks

  • KU was fortunate to win today’s game against Utah. But they have been fortunate to win a couple of games in the recent streak of consecutive victories against tough opponents.

    A loss today would have been one of the worst ‘blown games with a huge lead’ in the history of the program. But we did not lose and ‘almost’ does not count in the Loss column. Very good Utah team and coach!

    What happened in the second half against the Utes was the same thing that happened in the first half against UF, and all game long against UK.

    Bad news: We tend to panic when the shots are not falling and our offensive schemes are not sufficient with the players we have on the rooster this year to run the traditional Hi-Lo / Inside-Out which has been our staple since Coach Self has taken the reigns.

    Good news: we are tough and determined and team chemistry is excellent, especially this early in the season. Bravo to the coaches and the players to set egos aside and focus on team goals. Our defense is already good and will become excellent by February.

    We lack the dominate post presence and have no 7-footers. Our defense needs to stay in front of driving guards and wings: there is no second line of defense where we have been spoiled by rim protectors over the past few years.

    Our offense cannot penetrate by simply moving the ball around the perimeter to get angles for entry passes into the post. Even when the ball goes inside, against tall and long defenders, we are weak and ineffective.

    We need some new stuff - a variation of the dribble drive offense - and we have now moved past denial and have started addressing this issue publicly (re: Coach Self’s press conferences before and after this game).

    Landon is our tallest and heaviest player but he lacks the athleticism to compete at the highest level. Solid talent but limited this year on offense and defense and rebounding and rim protecting. Good sub!

    Cliff is our best pure post player but he needs to learn the game more to be effective. By year end, he will be our best player. Good potential but his on the ball defense is not good. Great rebounder!

    Jamari is the most athletic among the ‘bigs’ but is still a little awkward on the court. He has only played a few years of organized ball. If he can maintain focus, he will be a key contributor. Great energy guy!

    Perry is our most valuable post player and like the others is a great competitor. He has strong offense skills and has improved his defense and rebounding. We need him to average 15 and 8 a game, every game, which is key to having a great season!

    Kelly is coming on and I like his ability to guard and drive the ball to the hoop. He is starting to embrace the physical side of the game and will be a major contributor by conference play. Play him near the basket!

    Brennan likes to play and has (finally) understood that he needs to guard and rebound as well as shoot to see the court. What a pure stroke - let it rip every time he is open 3-5 three point attempts/game!

    Svi is young and will have his moments this year, but will not be able to compete in extremely physical games. Next year he will be a star!

    Wayne is our natural leader and has our back. He is strangely inconsistent but is a talent and already has an NBA body. We need him to score from the outside but especially to drive to score, and rebound. and defend with consistency to win. Key player - needs to be at least second team all-league to make the team great!

    Frank is a very tough competitor and his only weakness is his height and relative lack of experience (especially as a point guard). If Frank goes down to injury, we are toast. Let him play 38 minutes a game but not always be the one to initiate the offense. Phenomenal athlete!

    Devonte will be missed terribly. If he had played today, that very impressive comeback by Utah would have likely been nipped in the bud. His leadership and ball handling will be missed a lot. Come back soon!

    Hunter is out of the rotation and likely gone next year, and Conner is already gone. Two open scolies for next year (plus Cliff who is OAD).

    Now, to end on a few positive notes:

    Free throws! It has been a long time since a KU team has knocked them down like this group has done the last few games. To be continued!

    Defense! Out team defense is really good and could be/will be (barring injury) great by February. Watch the defensive rotations - very impressive progress from game to game!

    Rebounding! Although we lack a dominate center and have no ‘footers’, our team rebounding is strong, especially Alexander the Great, Mason and Oubre with Ellis and Traylor close behind as better than average.

    Guts! This team is tough and determined. They manage adversity well as we have seen early on. Good omen for conference road games and post-season play in March.

    Coaching! This year we will see how flexible our great head coach is with the offense. He earns the big bucks and is a Hall of Famer…in Self we trust…show us the innovative thinking and tweak us to better production!

    In summary: another great win for the Jayhawk nation against another strong opponent - Rock Chalk!

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