On Genius in Basketball and Bill Self

  • (Note: This started out as a short response to 'slayr’s comment in another recent thread about some of the things Self is not coaching that 'slayr perhaps wishes Self would coach more of. It grew into this wide ranging beast of a meditation on genius, myth, basketball, great basketball coaches and Bill Self. Its long even for me. But there may be some kernels worth grinding for your own flour. Rock Chalk! )


    All you say is true about things Self is not coaching, but we are 8-1 with the second toughest schedule in USA.

    And our only loss is to a non D-1 endorsement holding tank team of 10 OAD/TAD reputed Nike Leans.

    The problem of having a genius for a coach is always that when the genius coincides with the fashion of the day, things are hunky dory, but when fashion passes the genius by, or the genius gets out too far ahead of fashion, then even though the genius keeps winning big, any stumbles he makes are sneered at as him being too this, or too that, or to old, or too young, or to focused on one thing, or too focused on another.

    Having a genius for a coach is never a guaranty of contentment among the fans once the fashions and the approach of the genius are not in synch. Quite the contrary, the genius frustrates everyone then, because he keeps winning in ways that are not stylish and not in ways that keep up with the coaching Jones.

    Most people say they want to be lead by leaders and innovators and pioneers that are brilliant and even geniuses.

    But that is not really true at all.

    They want to be viewed by others as appropriate, as just trendy enough, as in fashion, as safe, as secure, as in NOT an outlier that can be blamed for anything beyond the bad luck that plagues us all. In business I saw them all the time. They wanted persons to have confidence in them. They wanted to look like they knew the right suit to wear, and just the right amount of finesse in the tie. Not too much. It was especially noticeable at the high tech firms that were supposedly such great innovators. Most were actually painfully conventional in their new conventions. Casual, but not too casual. Always trying to be out head just the right amount. Always trying to copy not too far ahead, or too far behind, the next killer app. They want ass coverage above all else. They are into camouflage. They want to blend in with their surroundings. If they are conventional they want to blend in with convention. If they are part of a new convention, they want to blend in with the new convention. The number of unconventional persons in business is always exceedingly slim. The few you meet have to stay in the closet and try to blend in. Thinking outside the box, especially on the cutting edge of high technology, is almost unheard of except a very few geniuses. The rest of them are just clones with high speed processors–not innovative thinkers. When things go badly they want to revert to what works, but not move ahead to what works. They want to get back inside the parameters, not move the parameters, unless they are ordered to and then they move the parameters whether moving them makes sense or not. They would much rather be conventional in tough times, than unconventional in tough times.

    Self is a dead give away as a genius. He tries to force persons, including himself, outside his comfort zone all the time. He is also a radical in sheep clothing. He is the only kind of radical that matters too. He tries to make persons get better. This is the most radical path open to human beings. To get better at anything is fundamentally destabilizing to the status quo of any field. To alter the status quo introduces risk to those in power of that status quo. All power holders that are not geniuses themselves, are fundamentally risk averse. They only time they take risks is when they fundamentally misread the risk return matrix and believe they are taking no significant risk.

    To get better oneself makes others look less good; that’s the nub of it. You are making them have to work to stay up with you. By trying to get better all the time, you are making others work and change and there is nothing more feared and dreaded and resisted among many persons that having to work and change. It is anathema on a deep psychological level.

    Genius forces persons to change, or fall behind; this is why genius is at once marveled at and marginalized whenever possible. Sometimes genius that might give one an edge is exploited for a time, and then shunted off center stage into an R&D mode. Sometimes it is fired. But always it is viewed warily, and always it is “managed” by those that its getting better might impact adversely.

    Look at Steve Jobs. Conventional men that actually viewed themselves skillful managers in a “new” sector, literally kicked the only guy in the room smart enough to make them all rich beyond their wildest comprehensions out of the corporation. They almost did it with Henry Ford twice, before finally marginalizing him with his own family, the only thing his genius could not bring itself to outmaneuver finally. Henry Ford saved Ford so many times it is ridiculous. Bill Gates is a genius despite all the rightful criticism of him. Bill Gates built an empire out of nothing but a cribbed operation system. He structured it so brilliantly that it could be mismanaged for a decade into near mediocrity and still spit out more cash than anyone can rationally reinvest. The conventional men said he was all wrong, almost every step of the way. They hungered for him to step aside, so it could be run right. Now they have come back to him, because they really have no idea how he did what he did, and he does. And he is slowly retaking control of Microsoft in a way utterly different from the way he did it before his had successor Ballmer tried to manage it. Genius always does it differently; that is the essence of it. Not necessarily better, but often times, but always differently.

    Genius often starts as a dork noone wants to emulate.

    Have you seen pictures of Bill Self as a 2 guard at Okie State?

    But at a certain point in its career, its brilliance often leads to it being emulated and so becoming fashionable.

    But genius is restless and genius cannot do it quite the way others do it. Genius is great at cribbing. Genius is not great at pretending to be something cribbed. Genius takes and transforms what it cribs into its own, usually something vastly better.

    Self was really a paradox from he beginning–a near fundamentalist Okie sprung from the liberated 70s and 80s grown recruiting slic; he was an odd ball with a bad knee, who recognized genius when he saw it, having been counseled by one named Iba, to put one foot in the basketball sexy present of Larry Brown and another foot in the Okie Past of Iba and Eddie. He was too square and twangy for coasters and too frat boy for some Midwesterners, but he could produce Ws at out of the way programs and produce lopsided W&Ls at better programs. Then he won more than anyone for ten years and got a ring, so he had to be copied. Copied by the biggest and the best, by peers and by old guys trying to limp the last years to retirement. Copied. Borrowed from. Stolen from. And being a genius he was smart enough when young to know that you might as well make a big deal out of sharing it, because it was going to be stolen if he didn’t. Self has always understood the good old boy origins and tendencies of coaching.

    But outside the genius, the thing about Self is that he has such a traditionalist streak–a strong connection to basketballs storied past–and such a streak of genius for transforming anything he touches into something uniquely his, that he was never going to stay in synch with fashion. It was only going to emulate him and then move on as fashion does.

    Calipari is a guy with one connection to the basketball past–Larry. But Cal has only ever appeared to use that connection to further himself, not to continue a legacy. Cal is tied to the present. This is not a bad thing at all. It is just one of many ways human beings are. He morphs with the present. What ever can be done is what Cal does. Traditions, and ethics, and rules, are not continuities with the past to be built upon and extended, but rather constraints of present. Such coaches tell the present whatever the present wants to hear. They are unburdened by the past of the game. That was then, this is now. They act like they are not even sure why others care about the past. There is nothing wrong with this POV. In fact it is admirable to some degree, just as trying to connect with the past is admirable to some degree.

    Cal is certainly a genius too. His genius differs markedly from Self’s. But he is every bit as unique in my estimation. He is a genius of discontinuity. Self is a genius of continuity. Ask either to behave else wise, or try to copy them and beat them their own forte, and you are dooming yourself to failure, unless they are having an off season.

    Bill Self morphs with the times too, but, as I said, he is trying to create a continuity between his genius and the basketball past. Cal could care less about perpetuating such continuities.

    We are watching something very mythic play out between Self and Cal. Neither is probably aware of playing out a myth. They are simply living their lives and they play out to a certain extent on a mythic level of the game and on that level there is a certain mythic dynamic involving them. This happens from time to time in sports.

    They are, so to speak, mythic brothers born of the same coach–Larry Brown–but Brown himself was/is a complicated mixture of many branches of the Allen coaching tree and the New York/Frank McGuire coaching trees that have come over a century to dominate and define the way the game has come to be played.

    Brown is McGuire and Kansas McClendon/Smith filtered through North Carolina, which is both.

    And Brown came back to Kansas and begat Bill and Cal.

    In case you hadn’t noticed, this basketball myth I am describing is very vaguely (as myth is want to be) bearing some similarity to John Steinbeck’s novel, East of Eden, about two sons vying for the love of an aloof, defended father with high standards and an ex-wife that became a prostitute. Think of Brown as the distant father. Think of basketball itself as the thing of fallen virtue–the greatest game ever invented, become deeply, maybe irreversibly prostituted. East of Eden is a reworking of a biblical myth of brothers, Cain and Abel, and likely others I do not grasp; of brothers that love each other and hate each other, and compete with each other finally destructively for the rewards of a remote father, and in the case of Steinbeck’s novel, without the steadying effect of a virtuous mother to provide them the love and tolerance that their remote father is not up to supplying alone either. It makes their relationship volatile and conflicted, despite the surface appearances to the contrary. The brothers are in effect damned by the asymmetries between father and mother. It is a tragic myth–a warning to all parents and to all children that this mythic conflicted must be managed well, to minimize its great potential for destructiveness within families. It almost goes without saying that this is deep, deep, deep cultural mythos. Every brother that’s had a brother, and a father and mother with any kind of asymmetry and dysfunction between them at all, knows the Cain and Abel myth plays out in the strangest most unexpected ways at the most unexpected times to small or large effect. Its one of the bible’s most enduring stories for a reason, and is so, whether one believes in the bible or not. Whether you are Billy Graham, or Carl Jung, or just Joe Baggadonuts with a brother, this story resonates and persists in its significance. And if one ever takes the time to look deeply into it, makes one view one’s brother with more richness, wisdom and disturbance.

    As one’s sleeping dreams often attest, when one is caught up in a myth, one does not necessarily play only one role, nor is everything simple and easy to understand, nor entirely coherent.

    The realm of myth is a kaleidoscopic one, where meaning and meaninglessness form, transform and reform without inhibition.

    Hence, I don’t want anyone to take what I am describing too literally.

    Bill is NOT Abel. And Cal is not Cain. Or vice versa. They are both probably some of both, as my brother and I were, too, and as every pair of brothers I have gotten to know in my life were too. And as more than a few pairs of young Turks that come up together in any profession, or in parallel, were to some extent or other.

    Not everyone buys into mythology.

    Some buy into religion.

    Some buy into animal faith.

    Some buy into agnostic scientific rationalism.

    Some buy into pragmatism.

    Some buy into nihilism.

    I buy into religious faith in the existence of life playing out on both scientific rational realm and the mythic planes, some times so obscurely in the case of the latter that their outlines cannot be clearly grasped, other times starkly, but most times with a mixture of clarity and mystery, so that one cannot help but notice, but can only make out certain facets at any given time.

    I am someone that does not believe in myths.

    I find them.

    I don’t look or them.

    I find them without looking for them.

    They are just there, frequently informing reality in inexplicable ways and operational in the darnedest places.

    I am not an ideologue about their existence.

    I am not trying to convert you to believing in any thing.

    I am just sharing what I observe.

    I have noticed so many over the years, and read a few books about them, that I just consider them ordinary phenomena. Like patterns of ocean currents, or weather patterns, or evolutionary patterns, religious patterns, or what have you.

    I notice patterns.

    I have learned to use statistics to weed out the misperceptions among empirical phenomena.

    Myths, like strategy, and tactics, and love, and greed, and megalomania, and saintliness, are only partly captured by statistics however, and statistics often are not up to quantifying their causes at all.

    But myths are patterns IMHO.

    They are just there sometimes…operating.

    They are not right or wrong.

    They are not alchemical.

    They are just distinguishable patterns informing our world and our perception of it with certain implications.

    Nothing more.

    But nothing less either.

    KU basketball is not just a game with rules. It is not just team with fans. It is not just a sports program within a school. It is not just an enterprise formed of a constellation of contracts with a cycle of cost, expense and revenue yielding net benefit. It is all of these things to be sure, but it is something more. The more is NOT a religion, because no one really believes in anything about it in the way they do a god. Nor does anyone doubt it the way a god is doubted. What the more seems to me to be is a living myth. It is an observable recurring activity informed by a mythical dynamic among those involved that regenerates those that live it and in turn it becomes self-reinforcing.

    Though robust and persistent, it is hardly unbreakable.

    Kill us all and it will end.

    Poison the well of it enough, as power brokers seeking to control, or eliminate it, in search of bettering their net benefits, are want to do to such myths in history, and it will become poisoned and finally cease to be the good that it was.

    We human beings can and do destroy anything that we set our minds to destroy. Presently, the only things we have not figured out to extinct is the universe on the big end, and any number of small to microscopic pests. Outside that, we are become death, destroyer of worlds. And we could destroy the small pests, by destroying our world, but cannot yet figure out how to whack them without whacking ourselves. In time, no doubt, we will.

    This destroyer of worlds thing is why we have been such a pox on ourselves and our planet so frequently.

    Some of the worst of us in history have been incredibly nice to their family and friends. The destroyer of worlds thing seems to be at least a hidden gene in all of us.

    We have this fantastically, almost absurdly large destructive ability evolved, or perhaps randomly mutated, in us, that we can and do regularly, destroy the much of the very best we and the world have to offer. Some times all I can do to cope with it is just repeat its characterization in a kind of autism as self defense, which is after all, what autism really is, a self defense mechanism evolved by those most sensitive among us to protect them from the pain of too much, or too little stimuli.

    Myth protects us some this way. Or perhaps the recognition of it does.

    Regardless, on some much weaker and more vaguely perceivable level than the myth of college basketball, or the myth of KU basketball, there seems to me to be a basketball myth playing out right now between Brown, Bill and Cal.

    Trinities are as big in myth as in religion.

    I have no idea where its going. But I feel in my heart and mind that it is going to play out constructively rather than destructively or tragically. It is a small myth in comparison with the living myth of KU basketball. But it is big enough to be found–to be distinguished–by me anyway.

    It is a few eddies swirling downstream past Larry in the river of college basketball. It has some chaos. It has some strange tendencies. It plays out in emergent chaos. In time the energy that triggers and sustains it will slowly exhaust and the eddies will merge invisibly back into the current of the river of basketball. But I see it now. Unmistakably…to a degree.

    Which brings me back to Bill and how frustrated some are growing with him and his genius and his 82-84% W&L statements, and his ring, and his 10 titles, and his perhaps increasingly unfashionable way of winning at the game of basketball.

    Self isn’t stacking 10 deep with OAD/TAD PetroShoeCo leans yet. We don’t know if its because he cannot, or because he does not want to, or because the Petroshoeco he and his school are contracted with cannot produce 10 each season for him.

    Self is concentrating on defense and the high low, which by the way is still what he is operating out of, whether he is running the perimeter action, or the interior action, or what not. It is Iba’s high low developed for the Olympic team in 1964. It is Dean Smith’s high-low Larry brought to Dean from his stint with the Olympic team. It is the high low Larry and Dean renamed the Carolina Passing offense and infused with some McGuire actions and Bruce Drake Oklahoma Shuffle actions. It is the high low that Larry infused with Naismith/Allen acolite John McClendon’s ABA action from Denver. It is the high-low that Larry brought to Lawrence and that Self and Cal learned from Larry. And it is the high-low that Self learned an Eddie Ball variation of, that Eddie and Don Haskins and Paul Hansen were probably working on before Iba formalized it for the Olympics. The high low is a mythic structure informing the flow of almost unlimited varieties of action. Self’s playbook is reputedly 1000 pages. All of the dribble drive can be absorbed by it. The high-low playbook has no upper limit.

    Self is Magister Ludi playing Herman Hesse’s glass bead game on a level far higher than most.

    There is no other way to explain him being 8-1 with this year’s team against the second toughest RPI. Take off the hype lenses and really look at what he was working with, even before the injuries, but especially after.

    Think about him winning a Big 12 title with Naa Tharpe as his point guard and the next Lebron protecting the merchandise and a kid from Cameroon with great feet that knew next to nothing about the game, and his only other good player playing on a bad knee. Who could have won a league title with what he had last year with Embiid and Selden injured as long as they were?

    Looking back no one else could have gotten to the Elite Eight with Simien’s team. No one. That was the biggest collection of bailing wire and a money move on the blocks maybe of all time.

    No one still has a clue how they came back from 8 or ten down against Memphis and Derek Rose. Believe? If that were all there were to it Self could just say believe every game. Every coach could.

    And of course his greatest magic act of all, assuming this year’s dwarf team doesn’t win it all, is the 2012 runner up and conference title winner and 30 game winner. Not a single Mickey D on the entire stinking team. Not one. Zero. Zip. Null set. His flipping sixth man was Conner Teahan! There isn’t another coach alive that could have finished runner up with that bunch. I doubt there is even another coach in the history of the game that could have.

    Self is a genius.

    Just like Allen was.

    Just like Iba was.

    Just like Knight was.

    Just like Wooden was.

    And in each case, the game spiraled off away from them and the way they coached the game. Each was an anachronism well before the end of his career.

    People forget that the game was already changing away from its brief, unsuccessful emulation of Wooden five, maybe ten years before he quit. He was just lucky he kept winning rings with his full court zone press and his bank shooting, and emphasis on defense. The game went another way entirely. He was just such a genius that he could beat the game of basketball even as it changed and he went out of style.

    Remember, it was Knight that said you don’t play an opponent, you play the game of basketball.

    Knight was a genius and knew. Mortals play mortals. Geniuses finally have to beat the game itself, or try, for once you have beaten opponents long enough, it is no longer a challenge. You have to begin to play the game. The game copied him longer than most, but finally compare Duke’s play today with Knight’s ways. Not the same.

    Coach K I do not address here, not because he lacks genius (he possesses genius in spades), but because I don’t like his form of genius enough to have wanted to contemplate it…yet.

    Iba was outright disrespected and treated to his face as a dinosaur even as he kept winning way more than he should have with drastically inferior talent. There seems to be something deep in the Iba grain of coaching that eventually gets bored with winning with good talent; that can’t remain stimulated without trying to beat not just opponents, but the game itself with inferior talent. Knight did it twice. That is the really incredible and enduring legacy of Knight. Wooden only really did it once. Maybe that was the only way Knight could think of to eclipse Wooden.

    The coaches that recognized genius, though, they elevated and venerated the dinosaur Iba to the end. When someone was needed to figure out a way for amateur college kids to beat professional Russian teams, they turned to Iba, even though the college game had passed him by. Iba at that time had been coaching against the game of basketball instead of opponents for about 15 years at that time. It had been that long since he had bothered to go out and put together top talent.

    He didn’t look like a genius by the time I saw him coaching in the Big Eight Christmas tournament games, with guys that really weren’t good enough for Oklahoma Baptist, much less the Big 8. He looked like a craggy old bear growling on the sidelines. I didn’t get it then. Since Allen had been retired, most opponents probably bored him. Trying to beat the game with lousy players was probably the kind challenge required to keep him going.

    You see, in a business, which is what college basketball is, you get fired for being out of style. No one can win all the time. No one can win all the rings, not even Wooden. Style, keeping up with the fashion, in business ultimately counts for more than genius, or excellence. Genius and excellence are largely hated and disposed of in business, as soon as possible. Why? Because excellence sets too high of a standard that takes too much work to emulate, and because non-geniuses cannot adequately emulate genius by definition.

    Thus, genius tends to have a short fashionable shelf life.

    It burns brightly and then is jettisoned, or marginalized.

    Sometimes it marginalizes itself out of boredom with the old challenges.

    Think about the great geniuses of coaching.

    They rarely were at the top of their professions and held in high regard for more than ten years.

    They did not cease being geniuses.

    They ceased to be in fashion. The game evolved in ways they did not want to evolve in and their genius bought them the opportunity to not have to change with the fashion of times, but rather change in the idiosyncratic way they chose.

    Iba probably learned intricacies of the weave that no one else ever will. The weave finally was Iba’s glass bead game. For awhile, he got to the point where I don’t believe he even cared about anything else in basketball but the weave. Maybe defense.

    Self appears to understand exactly what I am writing about here.

    He always says he won’t be coaching for as long as some of long career types.

    He always says he is happy at KU and he will probably stay at KU as long as KU is happy with him with the implied constraint so long as he is not bored.

    But he knows genius is rarely popular for long.

    Genius can slug it out and use its genius to outmaneuver lessers for quite some time.

    But their welcome wears out long before their ability to outmaneuver expulsion.

    Phog Allen was obviously a genius, who used his wiles to stay on as long as he could. And he even found himself a second career to protect himself from the vissitudes of genius growing unpopular and viewed as no longer with the fashion trend. And he was thought of as an old embarrassment that needed to be forced out by the end, at only 65, even though those that knew him claimed he was as creatively and competitively innovative and driven as ever. God only knows how he would have further enriched the game with Chamberlain.

    Self doesn’t have his players do a lot of things that other coaches mostly do. It is the nature of genius not only to do what others do as well as they do, but to do other things they just don’t do.

    Self keeps telling folks as a younger coach he wasted too much time on things that didn’t win games; many of those things were what kept him fashionable, looking less like a genius and more like a cool, young conventional talent.

    Self is throwing away more of coaching than most other coaches ever know or retain.

    Self is doing things increasingly his own way and as one does that one begins to be increasingly unfashionable, increasingly hard for fans to understand, increasingly frustrating when things aren’t going as well as sky high expectations created by the media coverage of the genius might expect.

    No, Self doesn’t coach the head/body/ball/eye/shot fakes. I suspect he has decided they are superfluities, inelegant approaches to winning, uneconomical movements.

    No. Self doesn’t coach the pull-up shot, because he likes the higher effective shooting percentages of the short shot and the long shot, whether they are working in the moment or not. Heck, he probably is excited by the challenge of figuring out how to make guys that shouldn’t even be playing in the paint able to score inside when the opponent knows what’s coming. Genius is weird in what it embraces as a worthwhile challenge. Remember what I said about Iba growing fetishistic about the weave?

    No. Self doesn’t coach effective screens, pick-n-pops, and pick-n-rolls (though he did exactly this the first half against Utah, and ran pick-n-rolls with Cole’s teams, and the '08 ring team endlessly). People used to say he ran the pick and roll too much. Genius often does things too much in order to show that conventional notions of too much are not relevant to winning.

    Yes, Self hates screens because they congest space, rather than open space up for great athletes to impact elegantly within.

    No, Self does not crash the offensive boards, because he thinks releasing safeties get more stops and possessions than second shots on stick backs. Its the percentages thing. Don’t know if he’s right, but he wins 84% of his games thinking this way, so if he isn’t right, he is at least on the geniuses path of doing it pretty well in his own unique way.

    No, he doesn’t develop hot spots to score from 8 feet out to 23 feet out, but KU’s shots do cluster heavily 8 foot and in and 23 and out.

    No, he doesn’t focus on offense, because he has found a way to beat most of the teams by focusing on defense.

    Yes, he obsesses on defense, apparently because he is fascinated to see just how little scoring you can do without and still win 80% of his games. Its how genius is. Gotta have something to organize your thinking. Simply beating opponents isn’t enough any more after you win a ring. You’re playing the game, like Knight said. Not saying its right. Just saying that’s apparently what is going on.

    But the problem is the game is changing and moving more to offense again.

    And he is responding, but because he is a genius with FU money, he is responding with both defense and an idiosyncratic approach to offense.

    Of course he could press and beat more opponents and win more rings.

    But that’s been done by Wooden, and Wooden is “not who he is.”

    He is an Okie Baller.

    Gotta find a way to beat the game with Okie Ball, not opponents.

    Its the only way to connect the genius to the legacy through playing against the game.

    Or so it seems.

  • @jaybate-1.0

    Great read!

    I see Self as one of the top in college basketball. My reasoning isn’t based on the fact that he has won a NC. I’m more impressed with his 10 consecutive conference titles. That proves consistency. Consistency of coaching. He’s faced a lot on his plate in those 10 years and he has managed to outperform everyone in the league each and every year during that period. That is impressive, by anyone’s standards.

    Self’s focus is on defense, and I am a believer in good defense. If you can’t stop another team, eventually they will stop you or you will stop yourself with a cold streak, but defense should be something that can be applied with more consistency. Self knows it, and he focuses most of his energy on defense and gets results.

    Self will be the first one to tell you he isn’t an offensive genius. He tolerates spending some time on offense, but he looks for the best result with a limited focus on offense. I think because of this, he tends to get a lot of negative attention from fans because offense is so exposed. A lot of defense is not. Most fans don’t notice if guys are making their switches the right way and in position. Fans focus on offense, and blocked shots on defense… which is not a high percentage of good defense.

    In March, it is usually our offense that stutters and falls down. We don’t get run out of the gym in March. Games are fairly low scoring (in general) and we lose a grind out game. Most (or all) of those games we would win with a better offense. The problem is, what worked for us in conference play eventually sputters out in March. The rigidity of our offense could not adjust to the situation. Teams we face come jacked up with a lot of defensive intensity of their own, something we usually don’t see in conference play.

    I gripe a lot. I gripe that we should be doing this or that. Usually, I gripe about our offense. I used to gripe about our defense not running pressure in hopes to change the tempo and speed up opponents (something we are finally using sometimes). If I generalize it down to one complaint about Self it would be this: needing to balance focus on both sides of the ball.

    My favorite coaching philosophy separates the game into two games: offense and defense. I’ve always liked the coach that clearly does that, and even if they won the game, they are pointing out to one side of the ball he felt they lost. I do go with Self on emphasizing defense. I just think he doesn’t quite portion enough focus on offense. That’s why most of my gripes are about offense, and very basic offensive skills we usually lack.

    Conference is going to be tough this year… but I’m going to reach out on my limb and pick Kansas winning #11. I’m going to do that because of defense. This is a pretty good defensive team, and has potential to be a really great defensive team. Solid defense makes us almost impossible to beat at home, and puts us in several road games for victories. That is why Kansas wins every year. The road to the conference championship DOES go through Lawrence… largely because Self typically has a good defensive team.

    Just watch. Teams like OU, ISU and UT… might play great at home, but can they consistently win on the road? Can they win in Lawrence? Those are questions you have to have answered before picking any team besides Kansas.

    March is a different story. We will be playing talented teams turned up as high as they can go. One or more of those teams are going to come at us with a mountain for us to climb; they are hot from 3, we are cold from everywhere, we turn the ball over, they control pace… At some point we will need someone on this team to stand up and take control. Who will that be?

  • Only at KU Buckets can we appreciate the James Joyce and Dostoevsky of Basketball. The Offense is the right one when it is run properly, Self is a Genius and a disciplinarian. Half of us on this site Moan when Greene is taken out of a game, it is not because of a missed shot, it will always be because of Defense. If Svi is taken out, it is because he hasn’t learned something yet. If a player doesn’t play, it is probably because of what goes on or doesn’t go on in practice. I believe in Bill and he is not a God, but he is the coach who plays the toughest schedule and has the highest winning percentage in Basketball. Thanks again, both of you.

  • I really enjoyed the post, JB. Thanks for sharing.

  • @jaybate-1.0 Great post-can’t believe I scrolled through the entire thing with one thumb on my blackberry. Happy hour and two top shelf Margs might have steadied me.

  • Thx all.

Log in to reply