Want A National Title: Three Point Shooting

  • We have reached the precipice. We’ve been here before. Last season, after a rough stretch of games through early December, it was quite obvious that Self-ball and the lineup constructed by Self weren’t meshing. We couldn’t play defense, and the modified rules application didn’t help. We were soft. We were finesse.

    Everything we said about that team this time last December was true, and it played itself out over the course of the season, resulting in a March collapse. Embiid’s injury severely limited our options in March. Even then, Self refused to change our style of play, or modify the focus of our offensive schemes. It was pound it inside. The Self mantra – we do what we do.

    This season, we stand 8-1. Quite impressive. And we stand at 8-1 in large part due to better preparation, both by players and coaches. This team "fits’ with Self’s style of play much better than last season’s team. Everything looks better. And it starts defensively.

    But what has become obvious through the first nine games of this season is that we have an outside/in team being forced to play inside/out. We continue to ignore our offensive assets.

    It has never been worse than the second half yesterday. Self clearly instructed his crew to pound the ball inside. To work “inside-out” as he said in the post game interview. And it nearly cost us the game. In the first half, we were 5-8 from three, then just 1-3 in the second half. This team only shot 11 three pointers.

    And Self is wondering why we are offensively challenged?

    This season, Self has constructed a team that more fits his style of play. Defensively, they are dominant. I don’t toss that word around flippantly. Team wise, they are dominant. The impressive defensive efforts we have seen are without the vaunted (and perhaps overvalued) rim protector.

    But we are missing that one important element – reliable inside scoring. Of course, Ellis is good. And he can score. But he can be shut down. Long, tall, athletic guys destroy him. And when teams scheme to stop him, as it appeared Utah did after Ellis’ early flurry, he’s limited.

    Self diagnosed the obvious issue: “We don’t throw it to the post and score. We’re not very big. Then our two biggest guys have a hard time in there. They haven’t developed that yet. We’ve got to find different ways to manufacture points, and we’re not doing it off our defense and we’re not doing it in transition.”

    We have to find a way to manufacture points? This statement is astonishing from a coach whose team just shot only 11 three point shots (making six). “Manufacture points?”

    How about scheming to your strength?

    Here’s the ultimate issue: How does this version of the Kansas Jayhawks win the national championship? Of course, it is the only relevant question.

    How do we maximize our offensive pieces – not just to win conference, not just to succeed in Ames, or Waco – but to win the national title?

    It is painfully obvious. But is it obvious to Self?

    Self said: “What we’ve always done, whatever we’ve done, we’ve always tried to get a lot better at doing what we do,” Self said. “I don’t think it’s the kids’ fault. I think it’s something we’ve got to come up with a way to help them, more than us doing better at what we do. We’ll come up with something. It won’t be a major deal, but we’ve got to do some things to get them to believe (that) what we do works.

    We have hammered this since before the season. Maximize the skill set on your roster.

    The only reason we won at Georgetown was Brannen Greene’s epic performance. The power of three. Three pointers win games. Three pointers are critical when your team is so plainly deficient in its two point game.

    Self could rationalize the value of the two pointer – at 65% in the post, 100 shots would yield 130 points. To approach that, you would need to shoot over 43% to equal the post game. I get it.

    But that isn’t the 2014-15 version of the Kansas Jayhawks.

    This KU team should play outside/in. Play to its strength, which will also help open up its weakness. Outside/in means shoot a much higher volume of three pointers. Turn the boys loose.

    Here are some discussion points:

    1. Why Play Outside/In? – Fools Gold: Self is famous for using the term “fool’s gold.” He uses it to describe successes that really aren’t worth much, but create a false sense of security. That’s our inside game right now. Ellis can take it to guys that are not long, athletic, or tall. In the tourney, we’ll bump up against that type of team. We need to be able to beat that type of team to win the title. Does anyone envision any realistic scenario where we beat UK without a strong three point showing?

    2. Stats Back It Up: Read @Jesse-Newell’s article today on our two point rates. It hammers the point. We are making just over 50% of our shots at the rim, compared to prior teams making appx. 65%. We get 14% of our shots blocked, which is way above prior teams (at 9% or below). And here’s the big one – we are shooting just 50.3% on shots at the rim, and are ranked 288th nationally in 2 point percentage. In the Self era, all teams except one have been in the top 30, and that team (2005-06) was 69th. This is incredibly instructive.

    3. Compare 2 point % to Last Season’s Defense: Last season, our kryptonite was our defense. Remember the stats? Scoring defense was ranked in the mid-200s nationally, unlike really any other Self team. This season, it’s the 2 point percentage. And that’s because we can’t get good shots up. It is a rerun of the Stanford game.

    4. Cliff: Self refuses to rely on Cliff. He seems to favor Traylor, many times. This is concerning to me. Cliff is your best talent. However, he is still 6’8", and will still face the scoring challenges inside. He’s not a skilled scorer inside yet. That would come with more experience. But part of this equation is simply playing the guy 25 mpg. Best players on the court.

    5. Play Outside/In: This gets tossed around. But what does it mean? In this era, we’re talking about three pointers. It does not mean just jacking up three pointers. But what it means is scheming to get open three point looks. Your team focus is to get those looks. You move your big men; you toss in to toss out; you run your shooters; you drive to push it out to the shooter. Watch Creighton. Very importantly, as well you scheme your personnel to the three pointer. This could certainly include playing small at the 4 to include an extra shooter.

    6. Inside Game That Results: Assuming we shoot at a decent three point rate, this changes the dynamic inside, and logically, creates better looks inside. Defenses have to stop us. And if we’re scoring from outside, that’s the biggest danger.

    7. Preseason Three Point Shooting Bluster: Self talked in the preseason about shooting more threes. The talk is cheap. This season, we are actually shoot few three pointers per game than any team under coach Self. Through yesterday’s game, we’re shooting a paltry 14.88 three pointers per game. Our number of three pointers per game has declined steadily since peaking in 2010-11 (which was the epitome of the inside/out team). This has to change.

    8. Credit To Self: We are 8-1. We can give Self all that credit. But we have to look forward. As Self recognized, the loss of Graham changes the dynamic of the team. In any case, it appears that he is recognizing the need to create more offense. And that his team, as constructed, can’t score the ball inside.

    9. Concern With Self: In the quote above, Self finished the statement with the following - ", but we’ve got to do some things to get them to believe (that) what we do works. " That won’t work. That will not lead to a national title this season.

    10. Three Point Attempts: Iowa St. shot over 23 three pointers per game last season. We don’t have to become Iowa St. But 20 per game should be the target. This KU team has the skill set to shoot over 40% from three point range. Greene and Mason both appear to be guys that can shoot mid 40s; and from this point forward, I’m confident that Selden, Ellis, and Svi can be at or near the 40 mark. Oubre likely more in the 35% range.

    Three point shooting is the method to “manufacture” the points that coach Self is admittedly looking for. But as with other items that may benefit KU basketball, the question always comes back to Self – can he adapt? Will he even consider working outside of the box (and outside of his pound it inside philosophy)?

    I’m a skeptical pessimist (if that is a proper term) when it comes to Self changing anything. Thus, despite being 8-1, I am doubtful that a national title is in our future. I love this team, I love our players, but we are plainly not maximizing our assets on offense.

    As usual, Self is the one person most in control of altering determining our destiny.

    *As a complete aside, when looking at 2 point %, our 2010-11 team was ranked #1. Further, our 2010-11 team had the highest 3 point % in the Self era. And we lost to VCU. The title left on the silver platter.

  • In order for KU to become an outside/inside team would require a complete scheme change on offense. These kids would have to learn a whole new offense because it’s just not set-up for 3 point shooting in waves.

    I agree that we clearly need to become a more perimeter based team for the success of this season to last. A team like Texas is going to kill us trying to drive inside. And in the tournament the farther this team gets the bigger the teams we will face.

    The problem with a switch to a more perimeter team is we only have so far 1 consistent player, Mason. Nobody else has put 2-3 games together of production. Selden’s still trying to dunk the ball, Greene had 1 good game, Svi’s minutes have decreased, and Oubre has taken only a few outside shots. Graham was showing good consistent minutes but he’s wildcard to when he will be back playing.

    The likely hood that Self changes anything is extremely unlikely. These kids are just going to have to get better over x-mas break and figure out how to score inside. We might have to win a lot of “muddied games” because our consistent offensive production is so sporadic. Right now we have only 2 consisten offensive threats, Selden needs to be the third or road games in Big 12 season will be painful to watch. He’s the key to the season. You could say Alexander and Oubre are just as important but when we need it, Selden plays as many minutes as anyone and if he’s not consistent enough we will suffer.

  • Great post, HEM.

    Self deserves some of the blame (most/all?) for this team’s interior struggles simply due to some poor recruiting of the position the past few years. Bill’s recruited a number of under-sized guys at the 4 and some of his 5s are not panning out. It’s looking like Hunter Mickelson is going to end up being a whiff and Landon, while still a work in progress, lacks the athleticism to be an asset on either end. Obviously, Embiid wasn’t projected to be an OAD, so Self deserves a bit of a pass on that one. But if we’re being honest, Self has not recruited the center position particularly well the past few years.

  • @BeddieKU23 Unless the big guys somehow figure out how to score against much taller players, then the need to shoot more threes like what they have in the past, like what HEM references.

    Self does not have to change the whole offensive system - he just needs the right shooters to take more threes to open up the inside for the bigs and for Selden, Mason, and Oubre driving the ball.

  • @HighEliteMajor I agree with the vast majority of your post. However, I think you are misinterpreting yesterday’s game to make your point.

    Without re-watching the game (which I might have time for tomorrow), did we really “pound the ball inside” yesterday in the second half? Ellis finished with 7 shots, 4 of which were shot in the first half. Lucas with 2 shots, 1 in each half. Alexander with 2 shots, 1 in each half. Traylor with 8, 4 of which were in the first half. (all info gathered from the play-by-play on espn.com). That’s our post players, and that’s what I think of when someone says “pound it inside”. It’s true there were some drives by perimeter players - Selden, Mason, Oubre - that resulted in some misses at the rim, but I want that from our perimeter players (the drives anyway, wish they’d finish a few more. Ahem…Selden…ahem). I think most of us have lamented the lack of dribble penetration in Self’s teams; that we feel our perimeter guys have been too outside shot heavy (Xavier springs to mind with this criticism). I’m actually excited that we have some guys that can get to the tin and create offense off the bounce.

    I do want more 3 attempts and an offense designed to create those attempts, but I don’t think it was clear instructions to pound it inside that nearly cost us the game yesterday. Poor defense on Wright, not scheming more for Perry, and turnovers were all culprits I’d rank above trying to play inside-out as reasons for the near collapse. The defense part in particular was the single biggest reason, leading me to question your assessment of this team as “dominant” defensively. They’ve shown flashes, it’s true. But they had one guy in double figures. When one guy can almost single-handedly erase a 20 point lead, well it’s not dominance. Maybe just a bad half defensively by Wayne, but I’d also hope we could come up with something to stop that.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    “Watch Creighton.”

    Right friggin’ on!

  • @BeddieKU23

    “The problem with a switch to a more perimeter team is we only have so far 1 consistent player, Mason. Nobody else has put 2-3 games together of production. Selden’s still trying to dunk the ball, Greene had 1 good game, Svi’s minutes have decreased, and Oubre has taken only a few outside shots. Graham was showing good consistent minutes but he’s wildcard to when he will be back playing.”

    Very true… but maybe we should look at the glass half full instead of half empty. The real key is that someone steps up every game. That’s actually the best case scenario. So how does a team prepare to play us when they don’t know who will be hot and will be feed the ball frequently to shoot? The key is we realize who is hot and we continue to go to the well.

    And, eventually, we’ll have more perimeter players play consistently. We haven’t played enough games or practiced enough.

    Self has to change, and he has been changing over the past several years. When was the last time we saw 40 minutes of hi/lo? That is all we used to see.

    Self is playing poker and he is talking poker… bluff. This is not a hi/lo team, in any sense of what hi/lo is to past Kansas teams. Cliff has not shown back to the basket skills yet, and Perry is limited to who the competition is.

    I agree with HEM. Outside-in. Inverse Self ball. It doesn’t mean we don’t start a possession throwing the ball into the post. It just means we focus more on 3-pt shooting (to the point where we have to count on it). And we use the 3 to start opening up scoring in the post. Ellis hitting 3s is huge. He needs to keep shooting them when he is wide open. It creates a great diversion and forces defensive bigs to step out. We become a different team if Perry can start making a higher percentage of 3s. It’s a Perry thing, and he has to stay disciplined to only shooting the wide open shot when he feels it. I’m not saying he needs to pump up a ton of 3s… just keep it as a weapon and use it sometimes.

    The player that does need to play more consistent is Wayne. He gets off-focus and tries some ill-fated things, and sometimes it costs us dearly. He needs to stay focused on positive outcomes and not force his game. I’d like to see him learn to pull up on his drives.

    Big shout-out to Perry for using a great shot fake recently!

  • @icthawkfan316

    I think you have exactly right and Coach Self indicated that much…

    From KUAthletics.com


    Kansas head coach Bill Self

    On playing without Devonte’ Graham:

    “I don’t think that was a huge factor in us not playing in the second half.** It’s going to be a factor moving forward because our team is different than any other team we’ve had since I’ve been here, we don’t throw it to the post and score. We’re not very big, and our two biggest guys have a hard time in there, they haven’t developed that yet so we’ve got to find different ways to manufacture points.** We’re not doing it off our defense and we’re not doing it in transition. Now the guy (Frank Mason III) that can really create for you in transition has to play 36 minutes a game. So it’s going to be a situation where we’ve got to kind of redefine who we are. We won some games playing the way we have, which is fine, but the next three weeks we’ve really got to do some things to get better for conference play. But it’s too bad about Devonte’. We hope we can get him back. There is no guarantee that he’s going to come back, so we’ll just play it by ear and re-evaluate him in about four weeks.”

  • I wish we had more height. I wish we had more experience on the block. Oh well, we have to work it with what we have. What I miss is having big men (Morris Twins) that could step right into a 3 point shot with plenty of size down low for a rebound. Those days are gone. What we have now is a team with no fear. I look at this team during crunch time, and I don’t see anyone on the team, that I am praying doesn’t touch the ball. I see a lot of confident shooters. This thing can come together, maybe not the way we are accustomed to. I see a team that is good enough to keep tough games close, knock down a few timely jumpsuit and come through at the free throw line when needed. I still believe.

  • @BeddieKU23 Remember, this sort of stuff doesn’t take a wholesale change, it just takes adjustments and focus on portions of the offense that are already there. There are multiple times in their offense where they can screen to the shooter, or where the shooter can simply circle back. When a shooter in an offensive flow simply circles back, you can reset right from there. It’s as if the offense stalls for a moment and restarts. But what I’m talking about are simple things. Self’s offense has multiple sets and options for three point shots. Watch the set at 16:10 of the first half. Watch how we got Greene a nice three point shot. This was never run the entire second half. Not once. That’s all within what we do, if Self will let it happen.


    1. Singular Focus On Getting It Inside: I don’t think I’m misinterpreting at all. The second half was stagnation caused mainly by a near singular focus on getting the ball inside. I did rewatch the entire game. There are times when getting the ball inside works beautifully. But of course, opponents adjust. Against Utah, we tried mightily to get the ball in, and our offense stagnated. We played much differently in the first half than the second half. Ellis did not take one outside shot in the second half (see Self’s fool’s gold comment below), and we only took two legit three attempts (one was at the end of the shot clock) vs. 8 in the first half.

    2. Look At Our First Half Run: We were down 12-6. In those first number of minutes, Ellis scored twice inside, and then got two free throws. Those quick inside baskets accounted for two of our three inside baskets in the first half – where we led by 21. Greene got his one attempt three point attempt. Down 12-6. Then, guess what? Selden hits at three, Ellis hits a three, and Ellis hits a two just inside the line, and we’re tied 14-14, and off to the races. We hit 3 more three pointers, stretching the lead to 21.

    3. More First Half: Look at our scoring. Five three pointers = 15 points. 10 free throws = 10 points. Traylor jumper, Ellis jumper, Selden jumper, Greene a runner = 8 points. And just two Ellis buckets near the hoop, and one for Traylor = 6 points. In the first half run, we made 23 points from outside shots, and just 6 points from near the hoop buckets. (note: on the ESPN play-by-play, it shows Ellis’ second shots as a jumper, but it was the pivot, over the shoulder). Now, I don’t mind getting the ball inside. Ellis got two free throws, and so did Traylor inside in the first half. But Oubre had four free throws and Mason two in the first half run.

    4. Self “Fool’s Gold”: After the game, Self said, “sometimes that’s fool’s gold too when your best inside player is shooting jump shots”, referring to Ellis getting those early points. That’s unreal. He thinks Ellis’ three and then long two was “fool’s gold.” This is what kick started our run, along with Selden’s three. This after multiple attempts to get the ball in unsuccessfully to Cliff (blocked by the back board) and Lucas (misplays). When I look at what Self’s saying, he’s saying pound it in more. Again, he’s saying “we don’t play through our bigs enough.”

    5. Second Half Looking Inside: The second half was plagued by continually looking in to Ellis as he tried to post up inside. During the Utes run, nearly every offensive set involved looking inside. Self, in his post game, said that KU needed to play more inside/out — that is all we did. In the second half, we took three, three point shots. The first one, Mason’s, stopped the Ute’s first run. The second and third three pointers can on the same possession. Selden missed, and then after wasting much of the clock attempting to get the ball in, Mason missed a force three at the shot clock buzzer. That came before 10:00 minute mark. After the 10:00 minute mark, we did not shoot another three the rest of the game. For this team, that is a ridiculous waste of our skill set. We didn’t run one set to get a three point shot, like the one referenced above for Greene at the 16:00 mark of the first half.

    6. Ellis Plagued By Blocks: There were times when we did get some drives to the hoop in the second half. Ellis drove a few times. Turned it over, got it blocked. Mason drove on another possession, dished, and Ellis got his shot blocked again. Early in the half, second possession, we had a run out and Ellis got blocked yet again. He is not Marcus Morris. We don’t have that player (again, unless Cliff comes on).

    7. Mason To The Paint/Slashing: Self said in the post game interview that Frank needs to “touch the paint” and we need to get him “creating for others.” I agree. Rarely did that happen. In one instance he dished to Ellis who got blocked. Mason may not be the best at that. But I think more slashing to the hoop, as Oubre gets better, will help. Svi has a knack for it, too. **Outside-In is slashing, too."

    8. More Singular Focus By Self: Here’s what Self said in part to Fraschilla - “We were so stale offensively the second half.” He said “I wish our offense could get where we’re a bit more fluid, and could play inside-out better … we don’t play through our bigs enough.” That’s all we tried to do in the second half. We stagnated because we did that most of the time in the second half. Again, three, three pointers – and two of them came on one possession, and one of those a forced shot as the shot clock expired. Interestingly, it was a step in three from Mason that stopped a long Utah run in the second half.

    9. Real Fool’s Gold: The real fool’s gold here is when we do feed the post, and we’re able to beat teams with lesser bigs – and we think we’re getting somewhere. This group of bigs, unless Cliff explodes, can’t match up against bigger, more athletic guys, and still score with regularity.

    The Utah game is instructive. We gunned threes in the first half, made outside shots, ballooned the lead to 21. Five three pointers. Guys hitting jumpers, and guys getting to the line playing attacking the hoop.

    We need to recognize that right now. Make subtle changes to our offense to get more three point looks, and most of all, to encourage those shots. Again, I recognize the value of getting the ball inside. But so far, this team has shown it is wildly inefficient near the rim and much better away from the basket.

    The Fool’s Gold is that we will be able to win the national title playing inside-out this season.

    By the way, I’m sorry to deluge everyone with long posts here – but I am very passionate about this topic. This is the key to our national title hopes this season.

  • @HighEliteMajor Again, I agree with most of your point. I want more 3-point attempts. My only issue with your post was the characterization that our “pounding it inside” was what nearly cost us the game. In all of the points you make you neglect to mention that we gave up 21 points in the first half, 39 in the second half. If you were that impressed with us scoring 39 in the first half due to outside-in offense, you half to be equally disgusted with us giving up 39 in the second half.

  • @icthawkfan316 Well, you inspired me to add to the info. Thanks for that. How about, “trying” or “looking” to pound it inside?

    Ah, yes. I agree on the defense of course. I guess I’m extremely satisfied with 60 points total. Further, I"m extremely satisfied with the team defense from this team, given our personnel. There will be times when the other teams score. We have to match that. Hot shooting teams, big teams that kill us inside, etc.

  • @icthawkfan316 I had the same feeling that HEM had. It FELT like we were trying to pound it inside, especially after a few 3’s early didn’t fall. Maybe the stats don’t back that up as much as my feeling as you’ve pointed out, but still it felt like it was happening.

    It also felt like we got pounded inside by them in the 2nd half. Not sure if the stats back them up, but it sure seemed that way.

  • I was also hoping we would run and gun a little bit more. Some good old fashioned cherry picking. Getting a few extra buckets that way wouldn’t hurt. Mason could be a real weapon in that regard. Combine that with a few more 3 point attempts and who knows?

  • Ha! Good discussion, HEM. I knew from Self’s comments that he’s either contemplating some adjustment…or its a Selfian grand ruse to free up Perry.

    If I wear my cynical hat, I think by now even opposing coaches, especially BigXII coaches have heard these mis-direction phrases from Bill Self before. I’m thinking they’ll believe it when they see it. So far, the book on beating KU is what Stanford did. Not necessarily KY, as really only KY’s uber lineup could pull that off. But packing it inside to give KU’s 6’8 bigs some trouble IS the recipe. G’town had us scouted really well, I thought. They were ready for Perry’s spin move, just like Stanford was waiting for Wiggy.

    Now if I try to articulate why Self will keep hammering it inside: It could foul up key opposing players, thus affecting the opponent’s offense on the other end of the court…That’s one of the little ways that can impact the game, and that is the Eddie Sutton-grinderball that is as much a part of Self as is Larry Brown’s concepts. My guess if Self stays inside-out, is that he may feel we are letting the opponent off the foul-hook by just launching threes. Foul 'em up is part of what KU routinely does to foes. And recall Self lives to disrupt the opponent’s offense.

    Me personally, I think this is a NICE surprise to have a 3-shooting team do to foes, whats been done to us year after year, sometimes ending our season in the Madness (Mich, VCU, UNI). Man, Mason has improved, has a great 3 stroke and 3pt% so far. Greene’s time is now, as is Selden’s and Oubre’s. Did we also notice that Graham can drill 3s from Day 1? We need everybody healthy.

    One final thought, we are seeming to defend the 3 a bit better, actually blocking 2 or 3 attempts late vs Utah.

    Maybe Self’s gameplan will be a variable one: start by trying to feed the bigs, but have a 3-look designed in if we cant get our 1st shot? I know Self is keenly aware of our 2pt shot dismal %. Lets see what he works on in the Lafayette game…

  • @HighEliteMajor

    Self IS changing. You document that KU has been shooting fewer and few treys. He is just changing in a direction you disagree with. 🙂

    Seriously, I offered this another thread, but it bears repeating here.

    The team currently can play neither inside out, nor outside in, because it cannot score inside at all. Period.

    This inability has many drivers. Our good scoring bigs are short. Our good scoring bigs have not figured out how to score against guys bigger than them. Our other bigs long and short are not good scorers. All of our bigs got the piss beaten out of them by UK. They have never recovered their confidence and they have never learned how to score against L&S bigs.

    So; Self knows he cannot play effectively inside out, or outside in, unless his bigs figure out how to play against L&S bigs.

    And it is going to take a lot of reps in games.

    And it doesn’t do any good to let them get the piss beaten out of them again, so he is only playing inside against L&S teams when some separation occurs and permits it. The lead of course always shrinks, because they are slow, scarred learners.

    But the fact remains that Self has to play through his bigs as often as the score permits to try to develop this virtually nonexistent part of this team’s game.

    There is no longer any doubt IMHO that Self is preparing an outside in team for March.

    All that is happening right now is that he is trying to teach an unusually short and modestly talented group of KU bigs to at least be able to score inside when we do try to play outside in.

    The first half of the Utah game was Self trying to prove to his team that he could give them a perimeter action scheme of pick’n rolls, ball screens and fade curl actions that could get them all the open look treys they would need to play against any L&S major they would face the rest of the year.

    The second half was Self saying, “Now, I’ve bought you a 20 point lead, and shown you don’t have to live in fear any more. Now, we’re going to go back to work on the inside game the second half, because sooner or later, even in outside in you have to be able to score inside.”

    And that is exactly what Self and his team did. No more action in the second half. Don’t think for pico second that Utah kept KU from running action the second half. And don’t think for a second that Self wanted his team to suck at playing inside as badly as they did.

    Bet every last dollar you have that Self ordered them to stop running the perimeter action the second half and told them to go find a way to win the game inside the three point stripe. Period. Finito. I can just hear him thinking: “That’s what we’re going to work on boys. We know we can be awesome at the perimeter action game. We’ve known that all along. Our problem is getting over the scarring and self doubt and physical limitations we have against L&S bigs and proving to ourselves that yes, at least when we stretch them out by playing outside in, then we have a couple of guys that can finish one on one against some L&S bigs who get no help from sagging perimeter defenders.”

    Remember, @HighEliteMajor , if you just look at this without any frustration, which my transcendental basketball meditation lets me do, if you just see what there is to see, this team cannot score a lick inside against an L&S team, even when it is shooting the lights out from outside and stretching the defense to the breaking point.

    So: since this team cannot shoot the lights out from outside every game, it has to develop some ability to score inside. And even on the nights it is shooting well from outside, it has to make’em pay inside for stretching out to force our perimeter shooting to 27 feet, or more.

    This is what outside in is all about. Make’m pay inside once they try to stop our out outside action and shooting.

    Even in your skeptical pessimistic swelter, you have to admit that outside in requires that a team actually be able to play inside after playing outside. 🙂



    Self is just working on the inside game, so that the team can be ready to play outside in starting conference, or as soon as possible.

    But with these inside guys, and with Mason not a whizz at finishing, and with Selden having lost his pop, it is a long, slow and laborious process to even get these guys up to being able to score AFTER trey shooting has stretched the defense.

    For what its worth, transcendental basketball meditation is done twice a day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon, for about 20 minutes each time. You can use any mantra you like. I use @JayHawkFanToo as my mantra to try to help him/her feel self actualized about getting in my head. For some reason, he/she feels some need to, so, well, you know me, I try to comply by working with what I am given. 🙂

  • Banned

    Sad but true. Live by the three die by the three. I don’t care who you are sometimes those bombs just don’t hit.

    I’m a little discouraged with the last two KU games. I know they won but the ball seems to be sticking. This current KU team isn’t going to over power teams in the paint. Lets just be honest. However they have shown flashes of scoring inside when they play hot potato with the basketball.

    I’m not sure what the answer is but it’s just something I’ve noticed.

  • @jaybate-1.0 As a side note, I witnessed something more rare than a blue moon - I actually saw my first Perry Ellis head fake …and it WORKED. He got fouled, and made both freebies.

    I certainly hope that Cliff gets major minutes the next 4 games. Cliff could be the guy we need to provide muscle in the post.

  • I’m not entirely fluent in basketball speak but I think when we had strong inside post players our style of play is the safest bet. Bill Self wants the team to take a high percentage of shots at the rim where the shots are supposedly easiest to make, and additionally, you generally have a better chance of getting to the foul line if you drive it inside. So hi/lo is just basically a safe bet offense? Combine this with stellar defense and you’ve got a recipe for consistent success. However, as per the Newell article, if our 2pt shooting % is abysmal, then something needs tweaking!

  • image.jpg

    NBA rookie of the month.

  • @BucknellJayhawk3 I’m guessing Cliff is being tweaked as we speak.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    You’re right on the money here.

    I have said for a while now that this team’s greatest strength is it’s wings. I will continue to beat the drum that four of our best 7 players are wing players. Not only that, I would say 4 of our 5 best offensive players are wing guys.

    I know a lot of people on this site will hate me for saying this, but the best offense for our current personnel is the dribble drive motion. Can you imagine having Svi, Selden and Green all spaced around the floor with Mason and either Ellis or Alexander. That’s playing to your personnel.

  • @justanotherfan Agreed. Our best players are on the perimeter and 3’s are the answer to beating the big boys. Greene, Svi, Selden, Mason, Oubre…all of these guys can shoot and should be the focus.

    That said we have to have the big guys play better. Currently Perry is playing great basketball but he would be even better if the guy playing next to him was an offensive threat. Jamari played a great game against Utah but I don’t think he is a consistent scorer. He is on some nights and off the next. He has actually been off most of the year as we all know.

    To me this team has to play through Perry and Cliff to get the best looks for 3. Cliff needs to get minutes. Big minutes. Lucas is slow and does not pose a threat on offense and is not a good enough defender to make up for his lack of offense. I like Lucas and he is a nice kid and a good player but I can’t believe he starts. He should be behind both Cliff and Jamari off the bench.

  • @DoubleDD said:

    I’m a little discouraged with the last two KU games. I know they won but the ball seems to be sticking.

    Svi hasn’t been on the floor much the past two games. The ball flies around a lot better when he’s out there, IMO. Unfortunately it hasn’t been flying into the basket from his own hands often enough.

  • @joeloveshawks said:

    Greene, Svi, Selden, Mason, Oubre…all of these guys can shoot and should be the focus

    Exactly! Since when have we had 5 guys on one team that can shoot 40% or better from 3pt land?? I know, Svi hasn’t proven himself there yet but he can and will. You did forget about Perry though. He can drop some treys down and spread out offenses. Coach Self said he wanted to open up driving lanes? Thats a real good way. Having 4 starters out there who can bomb from long range.

  • @wrwlumpy Rookie? She looks like a pro to me…oh wait, are we talking about Wigs?

  • @HighEliteMajor. I don’t think Self is going to change his system. He keeps talking about throwing the ball inside and kicking it out if there is no shot. He will live and die with his system.

  • @jaybate-1.0

    For what its worth, transcendental basketball meditation is done twice a day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon, for about 20 minutes each time. You can use any mantra you like. I use @JayHawkFanToo as my mantra to try to help him/her feel self actualized about getting in my head. For some reason, he/she feels some need to, so, well, you know me, I try to comply by working with what I am given. 😀

    You can’t get me out of your head, can you? It’s like a nightmare, isn’t it? It just keeps getting worse and worse. 🙂


  • Great post, as usual, HEM. After routing Utah in the first half, Bill almost gave the game away by making the boys play ‘his’ game. NCAA Tournament deja vu all over again.

    Luckily, Brannen looks like he’s ready to step up and be a real scoring stud. I thought from the beginning of last year that he had the purest stroke of any of our shooters and now he’s starting to show it. And although I’m still a bit disappointed in his lack of movement on offense to get himself open, his confidence and body language on his free throws late in the game was almost awe inspiring. It was like the free throw was a forgone conclusion and he was already thinking about the next play. Gotta love that kind of confidence.

  • @KUinLA

    Greene is a scorer. When he first signed, I thought he would be more of a shooter in college, but after watching him more carefully, he seems to be a scorer. Unfortunately, sometimes he stands around waiting for someone to get him the ball rather than working off the ball to get into scoring positions.

    One of the things that I have always found amazing about great scorers is their ability to get easy shots when their other offense is not going well. I think back to Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, who, at their athletic peaks, were two of the best offensive rebounders among perimeter players. I look at a guy like Dwyane Wade, who is an elite cutter. Those guys all had great off the dribble talent, but when the defense walled up against them, they could still score because they did work off the ball to get them offense.

    Brannen is a tremendously talented shooter, and he can work off the bounce as well. However, he has to take that next step and either become a very good off the ball cutter or become a strong offensive rebounder so that his offense will come even when he isn’t shooting the ball well.

    I think Coach Self uses a strong post game as a security blanket. Think back to 2006. His best players were freshmen Rush, Chalmers and Wright. He made Wright a nominal power forward so that he could pound the ball into the post. That team got knocked out of the tournament in the first round. The next year, he landed a real PF in Darrell Arthur and went to the Elite Eight. The year after that - TITLE.

    In 2009 and 2010 he repeated this. His best offensive players in 2009 were Sherron and a young Tyshawn. In 2010, his best offense came from Sherron, Tyshawn and freshman Xavier Henry. And yet, both of those teams fell short because he wanted to pound the ball inside to Cole Aldrich, who was a much better defensive player than offensively gifted.

    In 2011 with the Morris twins and 2012 with Robinson, Elite Eight and Title Game. 2013 with Withey inside, but a legit NBA 2 guard in Ben McLemore on the perimeter, along with solid players like Releford and Johnson, KU lost in the Sweet 16. In 2014, with perhaps the best individual player he has had in his entire coaching career on the perimeter, loses in the round of 32 as we try to pound the ball inside to Perry Ellis, allowing Stanford to smother us with a zone.

    When we have a great, NBA level talent in the post, Self wins - 2004 (Simien), 2007 and 2008 (Arthur), 2011 (Morris twins), 2012 (Robinson). When we don’t, Self doesn’t win. And it isn’t a lack of talent. Wiggins (2014), McLemore (2013), Henry (2010), Rush and Chalmers (2006) are all NBA players. They were all plenty good enough to carry KU deep into the tournament. But the offensive gameplan focused on getting the ball to other guys.

    I’m hoping this year breaks that streak just because the roster is tilted so heavily towards the perimeter in terms of talent. We haven’t gone past the Sweet 16 with a perimeter heavy team since 1993 (Rex Walters, Adonis Jordan, Steve Woodberry, Darrin Hancock). And even then, the #2 scorer on that team was Eric Pauley.

    I say unleash Selden, Greene, Svi and Oubre and let them carry us as far as they can. Some may be surprised at how far that actually is. After all, it’s only 520 miles to Indianapolis.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    I think the changes maybe I’m thinking of require more of a complete change then what your referring with set plays. We’ve always had the set plays for 3’s but we rarely run them which I hate.

    If we are to focus more on the outside shooting, a set play 3 should be basically the first option down the court, and run secondary play based on how the d responds to the play. Either that or just give everyone on the court a green light like Iowa St, spread the floor and pass it around until someone is open for a good shot. I think we waste too much time dribbling, Mason is a big culprit of that but at least he’s excellent handling the ball. We let the ball stick and lose 6-7 seconds a possession not knowing where we think our shot is going to come from.

    I’m sure Self is already hitting the drawing board with a weeks rest and break coming soon. I hope he realizes that unless he finds a way to get Cliff more polished inside he has to change what he’s doing. We at least do a pretty good job getting to the line most of the time. Our FT shooting has so far been an asset and saved our butt twice already at least.

    He needs at least 1 more consistent offensive player and so far he doesn’t have it.

    Selden is hit or miss. His driving game isn’t there. Not sure why he isn’t posted up to take advantage of his physical gifts against 2 guards. He’s been mostly a spot up 3 shooter, and a jump shooter shooting statistically the worst shot in BBall. I’ve said it enough, if he can’t score more he’s hurting the team no matter the defense, assists, leadership he provides.

    Greene is 3 or famine. He earned the start last game, didn’t produce enough to keep it. What’s his ceiling? A few very good shooting games mixed with some off nights and 1 or 2 shots a game?

    Graham is hurt, was pretty consistent off the bench. I was starting to get excited about him and Frank playing more together.

    Lucas is non-existent on O.

    Svi has mostly been 3 or famine but his minutes are diminishing of late. I like seeing when he drives it but he’s trying at least. Still like his defense for the most part.

    Oubre could really be the x-factor if he continues to play hard and get comfortable. I could see him getting his ppg avg to 8-9pts with the extended minutes he could see. I say Start him Saturday and see what he does. I don’t think its worth wasting a game like we have Saturday if he can continue to get more reps.

    Traylor responded off the 1 game sitting but he’s also known to completely disappear. Which mari will see going forward?

    It’s clear it’s either a Freshman steps up or Selden has to. If we don’t I’m not sure what offensive improvement we truly make or what scheme change will make a difference. The true improvement for this team going forward is scoring more and turning the ball over less. Anything else is probably not going to happen.

  • @BeddieKU23 From a technical standpoint, playing outside-in in Self’s offense would really just takes some tweaks. It’s more of a focus, vs. any sort of system change.

    I don’t think we’re going to play 4 out, 1 in. Self won’t do that. I’m not suggesting that either. Wholesale offensive change is not necessary.

    We typically play 3 out, 2 in. Within our motion, there are multiple opportunities for kick outs – Ellis dropped one off for Selden vs. Utah. There are many times when the 4 screens across the top parallel to the baseline, most of the time to the wing. That can adjust to the top. This allows the PG to drive drawing the wing defender. Options like this are everywhere in our offense. Within the offense, we’ve seen the ball go to the post, from the wing, and then the wing slides to the corner for a three. We’ve also seen Self “run” a three point shooter. Every team has that set or sets. It’s used in late game situations. You’ve also seen KU run a 1-4 flat set – used most infamously for EJ’s failed runner vs. Michigan. But from a 1-4 flat, Self surely has a couple three point options. You mentioned set plays. One was at 16:00 vs. Utah where Greene got the open three – there are number of others in Self bag. We’ve also seen the pick and pop four (Andrew White vs. Belmont in 2012). Self likely won’t go small, with a three man at the four, but that’s an option.

    I guess what I’m saying is that to change attitude and approach, the outside-in “focus” is easily possible within our offense, and is part of our offense right now. I say this as an absolute certainty.

  • @BeddieKU23 What HEM is saying is comparable of the FB parallel of passing to run or running to pass. Very little difference in execution, just more so on focus. By successfully opening up one method of attack, the secondary option is readily more available…or at least that’s the way it appears to me. Either or, it keeps an opponent from preparing for the exact same offensive scheme all of the while.

    Also a big beef I have with strategies is that giving different defensive looks out of a TO is strategically & fundamentally advantageous as all hell for either changing or sustaining momentum. Like the box & one or triangle & two or plain old 2-3 or 1-3-1 zones. Yet I can’t recall the last time I saw the Hawks do this, Maybe in 2011-12 vs Purdue or NC Sate or Ohio State in March. That team played in the NC game for cryin out loud !! What’s wrong with that picture ?!! IMO, part of that run was squarely on the success of coaching. Key on one or two opponents offensively & get a stop or turnover. Confuse them-they’re not ALL valedictorians Don’t get predictable with it, just throw it out there so an opponent is befuddled or has to spend practice time preparing for it taking away minutes from other prep work. Maybe that is an aspect of our team that is different with our coaching carousel the way it’s become. Since then, rarely if ever, do we see Bill do this & is absolutely to a teams advantage, even if for only one here or there possession. One or two possessions can make all the difference in the world…of basketball that is. JMO

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