Dateline Khe Sanh: Self Says Again that Jamari Is a Combo Guard Option

  • Communication out of Allen Field House is beginning to sound a bit like that coming out of besieged Khe Sanh combat base in the Vietnam War between 21 January and 9 July 1968.

    Elements of the Third Marine Division and the First Brigade, Fifth Infantry Division of the US Army were strong enough to resist the siege by 2-3 divisions of NVA regulars, strong enough finally to break it, but not strong enough in new General Creighton Abrams opinion, to prevent another siege.

    Allen Field House is being besieged by a season of playing at a height disadvantage inside and the injuries from the siege, especially at point guard, where Mason is playing on a sprained ankle, and Graham is out with turf toe, and Conner Frankamp is out with an acute desire to be a point guard at WSU, leaves the KU perimeter as thin as Khe Sanh eventually became before a combined force of Marines and Army from outside Khe Sanh spearheaded an attack on NVA forces and liberated the combat base just in time for Abrams to “shut her down.”

    Self seems to be pulling together a force of Wayne Selden, Evan Manning and, yes, Self has repeated that Jamari Traylor is an option, to spearhead an attack to break the siege on the hobbled Mason.

    Self’s repetition of Traylor as a possibility could well give board rat @HighEliteMajor a pulmonary embolism, for @HighEliteMajor has already posited that serious consideration of such an option might be grounds for Self seeking psychiatric assistance involving therapeutic use of psychotropic drugs, or some similarly playful hyperbole . (Note: which is continuing to make me intermittently split a gut laughing hours after first reading it.)

    As yours truly grew up under the leadership and occasionally harsh tutelage of the can-do Marine Corpse spirit, yours truly has been sounding warnings since early on that Self’s call in of the Marines to counsel his team before the season started carried within it certain grave implications for the season this one might become.

    Few, I think, took me seriously.

    With the Marines, like anything else, you have to take the good with the bad. Their greatness is a sword with two edges. They can real estate with the best of them, and they can withstand sieges for sure, but there is something about the leatherneck spirit that can also lead them into sieges and slaughters in the first place. It is not so much that they lead themselves into them, but rather that leadership commits them to them, because the Marines will go.

    Khe Sanh was a good example.

    Likewise, if Self cannabalizes his bigs and orders Jamari Traylor into service as a point guard Jamari will most assuredly go into harms way as ordered. Its the Marine way. Run at the pill box with the machine gun firing and toss a satchel charge in to save your buddies? OK.

    And though @HighEliteMajor may be quite ready to insist that psychotropics are now in order for our beloved coach, I would remind him and others that what we are witnessing really is the Marine Corp way, scary and mad as it may sometimes seem to the Sempre Fi uninitiated.

    Recall that I have told folks in the past that in the Marine Corp tactics can suddenly become strategy at a moments notice; that any one, anyone at all, may suddenly be grabbed from the duty they are trained at, and be tasked with the most unlikely duty in the very heat of battle. Training? Instruction? Fuggeddaboutit. Just get her done. And though this sort of thing happens at desperate moments in other branches it is not necessarily a sign of total desperation in the Marine Corp, because…

    The Marine Corp trains for desperation. It assumes desperation is SOP. It indoctrinates its men to expect it. Nothing is impossible. Or as they endlessly repeat: the difficult comes easy, the impossible takes a little longer. The reason that is such a big epigram for them is that they are routinely asked to do the impossible. If there is a job no one else in their right minds wants to do, send in the Marines. They take a certain amount of perverse pride in it.

    The shock of of the idea of Jamari Traylor redeployed as a ball handling combo guard might be slightly relieved if I relate one old war story from my late father, then green Second Lieutenant of the Third Marine Division, 9th Marine Regiment, Company C, Motor Transport Battalion attachment, in the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, formed at Camp LeJeune, shipped out from San Diego, CA and reformed on Guadalcanal, shortly after Guadalcanal was secured. After some getting familiar, they were transported up The Slot of the Solomon Islands around 1 November 1943, and disembarked at Empress Augusta Bay, landing at Cape Torokina Point, aka Torokina Point, Bougaineville to take a third or so of that large island for an airfield, while leaving the larger Japanese force on the far side of the sizable jungled, swampy, and mountainous island essentially in tact. The airfield was for land based air attacks on Rebaul, the then stronghold of the Japanese Navy in that region. This operation came on the heels of success at Guadalcanal and many subsequent Naval and island actions, mostly small in the Slot thereafter.

    Second Lieutenant jaybate beta, father of @jaybate 1.0, was trained to organize trucks, jeeps, and a small number of bull dozers into a unit capable of creating a primitive road from the beach to Marines already a goodly distance into the jungle and engaged in some unexpectedly intense fighting that was depleting their ammunition and other supplies at an alarmingly fast rate. The Second Lieutenant came into his first invasion without combat experience and knowing only that there would be little resistance and a short road was to be graded through a grove of palm trees. The fire fight was well inland and danger would only be present once the trucks and jeeps carrying supplies had driven on the new trail a mile or two inland. The Second Lieutenant served under a green First Lieutenant and an old Captain with brief WWI combat experience and a notorious drinking problem.

    Coming ashore, the Second Lieutenant suddenly was confronted with news that maps did not indicate a quarter mile wide ribbon of swamp starting about an eighth of a mile into the jungle and stretching the entire length of the beach. He was also notified that the First Lieutenant had been injured in an accident descending the cargo nets and that the Captain, who had come ashore somewhere down the beach was suffering from the DTs.and from a flare up of malaria contracted during formation and training on Guadalcanal. This the Second Lieutenant,who was barely shaving at the time, and barely filling out his combat fatigues after having contracted and battled some dyssentary on Guadalcanal, was now in command of an element of a motor transport battalion attached to support a Marine Rifle company engaged in a fierce battle a couple miles inland across a swamp that in the prior 24 hours not one single vehicle of any kind, either tank, bull dozer, jeep, truck or otherwise had done anything but sink in. As the Second Lieutenant reconnoitered with his Chief Warrant Officer, and a Sergeant, the Second Lieutenant was informed by a runner and subsequently by radio, that at that moment it was imperative that the Second Lieutenant’s brand new trucks deliver ammunition and medical supplies to the front line of attack one way or another “immediately if not sooner.” When the Second Lieutenant informed his superior officers both on the beach and inland that an impassable swamp not on the map made such an order impossible to carry out, the Second Lieutenant was told in some of the most colorful and certain language he had ever heard that he would either find a way across the swamp, or be escorted to the Brig, and some mention of Portsmouth Naval Prison was also invoked. After conferring with his Chief Warrant Officer, who actually knew what he was doing, the Second Lieutenant concluded that threats were real and that the mission at hand had to be undertaken regardless of its seeming futility. In turn, the Second Lieutenant ordered jeeps and teams up and down the beach to look for the narrowest width of swamp. Shortly, this location was identified and the convoy, such as it was was assembled in a single file line without separation and in full view of any enemy aircraft, all in contravention of all prior training, and the Second Lieutenant ordered the jeeps to commence gunning their engines and driving one at a time head first into the swamp, then for the driver to get out of the jeep and stand aside while the next jeep was driven from a long running start into the half submerged jeep already mired in the swamp. Many privates, corporals, lance corporals, and a sergeant or two remarked that the Second Lieutenant seemed to be even dumber than they had believed him to be, and they had believed him to be barely above functional moron, as Marine noncoms and grunts are want to think about young, untested 2 Louies. Over the next few hours the battering ram process proceeded without interruption moving only progressing from jeeps to ten wheeler trucks. As the lead jeep was slowly rammed a few feet farther out by each impact, by the time it reached near the mid point of the swamp, the Second Lieutenant order the scavenging of steel cables from as many disabled, or abled but unattended vehicles with wynches on the beach not belonging to the Second Lieutenant’s outfit. Shortly, a rather long chain link of winch cables was strung from the lead jeep’s winch to the nearest palm tree cluster on dry land across the remaining swamp and the winch on the battered jeep was used to draw the pitifully beaten and swamped vehicle to dry land. The process was repeated agains and again until it was time for the trucks. Half a dozen jeep cables were attached to the long steel cable reaching from the truck to dry land and six jeep winches were used to drag the 10 wheeler across the swamp. With a ten wheeler across fast work was made pulling the rest of the trucks to dry land. And then a several trucks were used to help draw the bulldozers across whenever they bogged down. And then all the vehicles followed the bulldozers plowing through jungle the rest of the way to the front, where ammunition was dispensed amidst all hell breaking loose, after which angry Marines killed many Japanese and took no prisoners that my father recalled.

    To put the Marine Corp in perspective, there were no medals for this little act of get her done. No citations. My father actually said he did not even get a pat on the back or a job well done. It was just next.

    Why did he do it that way? I asked. Had one of the old Sergeants seen it done it that way before? No. It just occurred to he and his Warrant Officer to do it that way. It was the only thing they could think of at that moment. So they did it. And it worked. And that was what Marines were expected to do. One Major did say to him, “Well, you really fucked those trucks up, Lieutenant.” But other than that they just got on with it.

    My point here is that Self is trying to hold this thing together with whatever he can think of right now, and his guys know it, and his coaches know it, and what keeps them going is that that is what he is expected to do, and what they are expected to do, and so they just get on with it. This is the Marine Corp way.

    How do you get it done?

    Any way you can.

    Lance Corporal Traylor?

    Yes, Lieutenant.

    Yesterday, you were a 5.

    Yes, Lieutenant.

    Today, you are a 1.

    Yes, Lieutenant, what does a 1 do, Lieutenant?

    Hell if I know, Lieutenant, Chief Warrant Officer Dooley, who used to know once said, "You drive at the rim and if you can score you score and if you can’t you pass it to someone who can.

    But, Lieutenant, I only know how to dribble with one hand.

    As of now, Lance Corporal, you now know how to dribble with both hands. Now go get me some W’s Lance Corporal, and be quick about it. I am depending on you and know you will not let me down.

  • @jaybate-1.0 Once again, great analogy. Its true. The Marines are trained to say yes sir and just go do it. Me being X Navy, its not much different other than I spent most of my time below the middeck of the ship. Im actually glad that our boys got at least 2 days exposure to the military way. It will give them and has given them strength and the necessary intestinal fortitude to just get things done no matter what. No questions asked. I wonder though, why not use Ellis as an emergency PG option? Is Traylor a better ball handler than Ellis? At least Perry can shoot the treys pretty good. Speculatively, Mason grabs the rebound and in bounds it to Ellis who brings it up to initiate. The defense is set before he gets up court and there really aren’t many options to chose from in his limited exp with being a 1 guard. The D sags off him to clog the paint that almost certainly will get driven into and Perry just calmly drains a 3 from the top of the key or the right wing where his sweet spots are.

  • @jaybate-1.0 JB, I love your material, but I just don’t have the energy to read through that post…I’m sure its great, though. 🙂

  • @Hawk8086 Now and then you just have to scroll down when it comes to JB. While he is gifted he sometimes runs along. I member the reader’s digest in my grandparents bathroom, followed by a quote from Jeff Goldblume (sp) in “The Big Chill.” To paraphrase “Nothing in a magazine should take longer to read than the average trip to the bathroom.” That’s how I feel about an internet post.

  • @jaybate-1.0 Well, I make great habit of reading your entire posts and as usual, greatly entertained.

    Perhaps Jamari might react, though, as the national guard troops did in First Blood when asked to charge the mine – “I didn’t come here to get killed”, or something like that.

    On the other hand, the idea of Jamari initiating the offense might come to quick and abrupt halt when, say, Oubre and Svi, decide to improvise in practice and trap Jamari the minute he gets the ball – in the same manner in which a coach of significantly low IQ might figure out quite quickly.

    Of course, when a strategist extends his personnel beyond their capabilities, or too ambitiously, or acts arrogantly, unexpected losses occur – if Self really pursues this unwise strategy, we’ll perhaps note this as our Market Garden moment.

  • @HighEliteMajor if Mari gets trapped, what would you do? Who would be open?

  • @Crimsonorblue22 I don’t know, who would be open?

  • @Crimsonorblue22

    The only think I know is that he would be tall enough to throw it over the top of most point guards and into the post. 🙂

  • @HighEliteMajor depends what the D is doing, but I think we could get a quick uncontested 3. You?

  • @jaybate-1.0 or wings

  • To all, Self has no choice here but to move outside the box at least in terms of contingency thinking. If there is an injury to Frank Mason, and if I were an opposing coach I would be telling my guys to drive on Frank, scrape Frank off, pick him every which way from Sunday, back Frank down, post Frank up, on the offensive end, and then spend the entire defensive possessions kicking his ankle, stepping on his feet, shoving him all over the place and tripping him, and occasionally just putting him down. He is the only credible PG Self has in the team chain. Break the link and the team chain comes undone. Period.

    Almost no one could be expected to stand up to the kind of beating Frank is going to be given as long as Devonte is out…nobody. And Frank is being asked to do it on an angle that’s already sprained!!!

    This is real Marine Corp stuff.

    We are momentarily on a nice safe beach head after some previous tough battles. But now its time to go into the jungle and we’re going to have to go i without a full platoon. Think about what this team was supposed to have.

    Embiid. Gone.

    The Myles guy now at Texas. Not there.

    Selden with his pop back. Not there.

    Conner able to play 1 or 2 and gun 40% from trey. Not there.

    Oubre another Wiggins. Not there…so far.

    Cliff a dominating power 4. Struggling at the 5. Half there.

    Lucas with a credible post move and a 20 Minute man. 10 minutes and no post move.

    Mickelson a credible rim protecting 5. Totally NOT THERE.

    Svi a possible OAD, or TAD. First there then NOT THERE.

    Greene a Ben Mac grade gun. Not there for four games, there for two, Not there for one, there for one.

    Devonte supposedly our starting point guard by January. Maybe gone for the season.

    I say it again and again. No other coach in America could possibly be 8-1 with this.

    It is utterly incomprehensible how it has happened.

    Unless you buy into one of two things that JNew has argued.


    Or toughness.

    The only think I know is Self called in the Marines early and they are not called in for luck. They are called in for toughness.

    Every year when you think you’ve lost your mojo for KU basketball, because they haven’t got this, or you’ve seen all of that before, then the craziest things start happening and suddenly KU is caught up in a season as dramatic and unique as any before.

    I love this game.

    I love this team.

    The statistics are that it should lose two of its next three close games.

    The statistics are that this team should crash and burn in conference once the coaches get to study the perimeter action and the way KU is going to eventually create driving lanes.

    The statistics are you cannot win starting a 6-7 3 at 5 and a 6-6 3 at 4.

    But the Marines have always been about statistics only in the broadest sense. Don’t go in without 3 to one superiority, but once they are in, victory is always a horrific product of collapse and improvisation, of tactics become strategy, of the unforeseeable after being borne, then suddenly sifted through for the unforeseen path through the nightmare.

    Difficult comes easy.

    Impossible takes a little longer.

    Rock Chalk Jayhawk.

    Go KU!

    Rock Chalk!

  • @Hawk8086 and @JayhawkRock78

    The post two up was for you two.

    It will fit can time.

  • 'semper fi Jay(hawks)

  • @Crimsonorblue22 You are making the assumption that Traylor can effectively pass out of the strong double. I would caution you not to simply assume that Traylor can handle such pressure. And remember, when a double comes, defenders don’t simply stagnate. As part of the scheme, they move to defend the most dangerous players. How many times does Mason get an easy bucket out of a double? Very rarely and he is an incredibly skilled ball handler.

  • @HighEliteMajor you did say trapped by wings? Yeah, I’m assuming he can. You still didn’t answer my question what you would do.

  • @jaybate-1.0

    I’ve learned a lot from you and enjoy you posts- but I have to admit your bBall IQ along with HEM and a few others just leaves me in the dust.

    But I digress. RCJH

  • Sooooo has anyone considered hcbs may be pulling our leg?

    I feel like he’s said a few things over the years that weren’t remotely close to ever materializing.

  • @Crimsonorblue22 If I would ever put him in that position, I’d have him try to back dribble out and look for a quick bail out pass back to the PG. A trap on the wing or out top, is a much different animal than the trap on the block where you might have cutters coming at you that can score. What we didn’t do vs. SDSU, for example, and did better later in the year. With a skilled player like a point guard, you might try to step through and pass. Personally, I’d just be worried about Traylor hanging onto the ball.

  • @HighEliteMajor I’d be more worried if Greene was trapped!

  • @VailHawk

    Yep. If I understand @HighEliteMajor, he is pretty confident that that is what Self is doing, or maybe pulling the legs of other coaches, by giving them something else unorthodox to prepare for, that he will never use.

    @HighEliteMajor’s argument is essentially that Self thinks out loud some in news conferences about what-if scenarios–sometimes his thoughts, and sometime fed him by reporters. For a time, he thought the way to best use Selden was popping up at all positions on the floor, but then he didn’t do that. @HighEliteMajor probably thinks it was because it was just a fleeting notion. I think it was something he considered, when CF was still with the team, and he expected Selden to get his pop back. But CF left and Selden didn’t get his pop back, and so Self decided to let Selden and the team fall into more regular positioning. It is very hard to say which of us is right on this.

    But @HighEliteMajor has in his favor Self’s history of talking about trying unconventional things and tending not to try them, like moving Marcus Morris inside and Mario Little outside, and vice versa, depending on which one had the biggest MUA in a post up, or trying AWIII at the 4 and then abandoning it, and so on.

    The only example I have in my favor of saying Self is serious about these things, is Self playing the nation’s number 1 pg recruit Josh Selby at the 3 and leaving him their an entire season.

    So: as I frequently have to do with @HighEliteMajor because he thinks things through pretty clearly, I have to split some hairs to get where I am trying to get to while at the same trying trying retain the bulk of what he has soundly worked through.

    I think @HighEliteMajor is right Traylor won’t be a ball handling guard to a point–the point up to which Mason is playing satisfactorily and Selden/Evan are soaking up the 5 minutes blows each half that Frank will require. Up to that point, I think Jamari is a misinformation ploy to give other coaches something to think about.

    But beyond that point, say, if Selden gets fouled up, or Evan can’t stand the heat, or most ominous of all, Frank goes down for an extended period, at that point Self really has to begin to look at radical options of players playing out of position.

    Remember that Self has said repeatedly that right now Mason is KU’s best rebounder ON THE ENTIRE TEAM. If Mason goes down, it is not just ball handling and some trifectation that is lost, but rebounding, too. Whomever, or whatever committee, has to replace the rebounding too. Selden might be able to grab some. But Selden already grabs some at the 2. So if Selden slides to the 1, who can grab boards and guard at the 2? My hunch is Self is thinking that Traylor might be able to, if he didn’t have to handle the ball too much. But with Selden needing help handling the ball, who could help, since Traylor is not a sound dribbler? I reckon it will be Svi at the 3 that will pick up the ball handling slack with Selden at the point and Svi at the 3. Why not Greene instead o Traylor? Because Greene’s defense is just too sketchy to rely on him full time. Greene is the gun you bring in. Why not Traylor at the 3? Because the 3 is traditionally the wing initiator of the offense, and Traylor’s skill’s don’t seem up to that challenge, where as Svi’s, or Oubre’s might be by February.

    Which brings us to Oubre. Oubre is slowly getting better. Oubre has a crazy wing span. Oubre is probably an inch taller than Traylor. Oubre would be fine at the 3, but kind of wasted at the 2. But Svi can play the 3 and shoot the trey better than Oubre. And Oubre could actually be more effective at the 4 defensively than Perry, or Traylor. And Perry can start at the 5 and be a high attempt trey shooting 5, then slipover into the 4, and play tandem with Cliff Alexander. And when Perry could not score on an L&A, then Oubre could simply guard the 4.

    But doing all of this hinges on finding a way to utilize either Traylor or Oubre on the wing. And you seem to get more out of Oubre on a 4 that out of Traylor on a 4.

    So, yes, if Mason goes down, or more spookily, if there is already something wrong with Svi that has forced Self to marginalize him from the team’s future, then things really start coming down on Jam Tray’s shoulders to move out on the perimeter.

  • @jaybate-1.0 Perfect length! Great post!

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