UNLV: Welcome To The Six Man Rotation

  • A beautiful game? No. But this was a game that we took control of, and it was a game that was instructive on the direction of this team. Certainly a nice finish to non-con.

    The most obvious change today was the 6 man rotation. Cliff got rotation level minutes off the bench, but Greene (8 minutes) and Svi (2 minutes), not so much. Svi wasn’t seen until the second half. Mickelson and Lucas were nowhere to be found. That’s the conference lead in. Welcome to the tightening of the rotation.

    The next big topic was the three ball. Shooting 5/8 in the second half, and 8/19 for the game, there is even more evidence that this is the formula for this team.

    But Self has made an adjustment that appears to be paying off – he’s sped the game up a bit. More transition baskets and a quicker pace have led to better offensive production.

    Our first 15 points came from the field (11) and transition (4). Even more pronounced was the lack of pure “feed the post” attempts. A number of times our post players got the ball in non-traditional post feeds. Coming off screens, flashing, scripted plays. Self mentioned this a few days ago and by and large, followed through.

    Look at the 10:05 minute mark in the first half when Cliff got the ball off a Greene screen; and then the 18:00 mark of the second half when Ellis flashed from the other side of the lane. Those are a couple examples of a creative approach to posting – vs. the stagnant toss it in from the wing.

    @Jesse-Newell mentioned in the pregame blog that Self installed a play called “forehead” – Mason signals to his forehead, and Ellis gets a shot from the outside. This was one of our first baskets. Ellis shooting outside still fool’s gold? Maybe. But Self is buying.

    The star to me continues to be Frank Mason. I offer a formal apology for tagging him “no rank Frank.” He’s shooting over 50% from three and continues to mature in all phases of the game. Not a classic creator, but he brings a diverse game. Seth Greenberg mentioned that he had a little Iverson in him. Yes, he does. But I think he’s just got a lot of Frank Mason in him, and that’s fine with me. He’s the Tyshawn Taylor we wish we could have had. More importantly, he is a national championship level point guard. He can lead us to the promised land.

    Oubre threw in another double-double. Not his best offensive night, but he does hit the boards hard. This is a big deal in my mind. He creates possessions. He just needs to keep shooting.

    We are going to struggle against length. UNLV was not “elite” length. Certainly not “physical” length. But we can beat length. Although I would have preferred our threes to total 25 attempts, we can slowly see the transformation of this team. Self is coming, kicking and screaming for sure, but he’s coming. @Jesse-Newell noted that Self shook his head after a long Selden three, but was clapping after a short jumper by Cliff. But 19 threes is the right direction, to be sure.

  • Other than the last part of the 1st half where they outscored us 13-2, we played well. Frank continues to be our best player. Props to Baby Phog for making the call on Frank last year. HEM, I think 25 3s may be too many, unless Greene and / or Svi play more. But, I guess it also depends on the situation (packed in defense, etc.). I’m not a big X and O guy, but certainly adjusting our inside approach based on our personnel, as well as the opposition, makes sense.

  • @HighEliteMajor nice to hear some positives about coach Self from you!

  • I’ll take the win, although if this was a road game, I’m not sure our shooting turns around the way it did. We shot classically like a team that would lose after that first half. When your at home and have that kind of crowd behind you its hard not to turn it around.

    I thought other than giving up timely 3’s our defense was stellar and really bothered Vaughn and Wood from impacting the game the way they had been.

    Selden for all the talking we’ve done on him had a pretty nice game. I will say 1 game don’t make a season.

    His floor skimming to save a ball and saving another from going out of bounds are exactly the plays we need from him. His early shooting was great, where was he for the next 15-20 minutes was beyond me. We need more 16 pt efforts and not the 7-8 pts a game we were getting.

    Mari is so maddening. Some nice energy plays mixed with some momentum busting turnovers or bad passes. Still don’t like him taking jumpers, not his game. Love the energy he had especially that dunk to start the 2nd half it seemed to become contagious.

    What more can you say about Mason. Just hope his ankle doesn’t become more of a problem because he fell a few times where he looked hobbled. 7 Assists and 18 big points have him squarely at team MVP so far. That dude could have ended up at Towson!!! So glad we have him.

    Let’s get ready for Wednesday. Going to need huge effort as Baylor isn’t playing for 0-2 start I can tell you that. The energy and shot making will have to be there to start conference play off right

  • @BeddieKU23 remember, the students are still gone too. Kip can speak more about the crowd.

  • @Hawk8086 Oubre and Mason are both shooting over 50% from three. Think of it this way, would you rather see them shoot threes, or Ellis and Traylor try to score inside? Now, I know that’s not the only trade off. I’m just more anti-stagnant post feed. I have great confidence in our three point game right now. If we shot 6 more today, we would have likely made 2 (which is below our season %). That’s six points. We don’t shoot 3/6 from two, which we’d have to do to equalize. We literally shot the same from two point range as we did from three point range today. The math is undeniable. I’m not suggesting to just chuck 'em up. Just work to get good looks as the priority.

    You mention Greene and Svi as contributing to the three game. Good point. But Greene played 8 minutes today and didn’t shoot a three. My question is, if Greene plays and doesn’t shoot a three, why not just play Svi? Stated another way, if Greene isn’t going to shoot threes, should he really play?

    If we are going to “free the three”, we have to get Greene some shots. If he’s hot, feed the monster. If not, no worries. Personally, Greene shooting four or five threes a game seems like the best use of his skill set.

  • @HighEliteMajor Well again, I guess it depends on whom we are playing and how they defend us. Wide open 3s are hard to turn down. Agree that Greene needs to shoot 3s to be effective. Svi does bring much more to the table in terms of total game.

  • @HighEliteMajor Self mentined Greene had neck stiffness in his postgame. Intensenity on the defense has made a huge difference. And Kelly (double double) didn’t quit on defense because his shooting was off.

  • @HighEliteMajor We also didn’t get into foul trouble, so that made it easier to shorten the rotation. All the starters had 1 or 2 fouls for the whole game, and Cliff had 3 from the bench. So, we didn’t see the 2-foul hook in the first half (I don’t think).

  • @HighEliteMajor Yeah I thought the 19 threes was very telling and I hope hope it continues. All of our perimeter players are capable trey shooters. Im a huge Mason fan, kid is like Sherron Collins light. A bulldog.
    Apparently Greene didnt play much because he has the injury bug. Unknown why Svi didnt play much. But it is that time of year when Coach whittles down his rotation to his best guys.

    Sick sick moments when, Traylor went coast to coast for the slam! Then another time on a hustle and assist. Then of course Mason getting the ball where ever he wanted. I liked our ball handling this game and our intensity. I just hope they keep it up cuz our boys will need it against every single team this year. Even TCU and TexasTech.

  • @HighEliteMajor Good stuff as always.

    I continue to be dumbfounded by Coach Self’s incessant belief that Jamari is a starter, or at least a serviceable starter. It seems clear as day that Cliff should be starting. Although Jamari has some good qualities, you have to take the good with the bad. And the bad comes with turnovers (really bad turnovers), and the good is like when he goes coast to coast for a nasty dunk. And another thing, I think Jamari Traylor would be the worst baseball player ever. He always lets the last play get to him. The bad sometimes can be a floodgate for Jamari. I’m not sure if Jamari’s reached his ceiling, or if he’s just making incremental increases towards getting there. The long and short is that there is not much more there than what we see now.

    As far as Coach Self being dragged kicking and screaming… Seems somewhat apparent that he’s finally coming around. There was one play where the ball was thrown into Perry, he waited for the other defender to come over, just for a second, and passed it right back out for an open three. Seems almost too easy. Perry wasn’t looking to score. He was looking to draw the defender to free up the shooter. This is fundamentals, sure. But it’s nice to finally see a move towards embracing our most potent attributes. As you said, just think if we could average about 20-25 trey attempts a game.

    And quite Frankly, Mason is just fun to watch. Sorry. Had to get that in there.

  • @MoonwalkMafia most posters know, I’m a huge Mari fan. I also realize Cliff has the most upside. Until we see practices, I trust Self. Mari’s hustle is unmatched w/other bigs. What he brings, is not seen in the box score. I think Cliff eventually will take the spot, but he’s got to play better D. Jmo.

  • I was surprised to see Jamari start, but I was happy the way he played–really, the best game that Jamari played , IMO, this season. Less moping when he screwed up. He missed a couple bunnies in a row in the first half and got worn out at one point in the second half, but he hustled his butt off running the floor blocking or trying to block shots. He picked off Perry’s defender a couple times inside opening Perry up for an easy shot.

    It seemed like Self had better spacing with the inside guys this game… or UNLV just didn’t double down with guards inside thinking their post height was enough.

    Not a bad game overall, but there is still a scary impotence about this team on offense that really bugs me.

  • I got a fever, and the only perscription is more transition 3s!

    We will have to get used to this team and how it goes on spurts. It will make us go grey but will be exciting when they make comebacks. Good game and like always, rock chalk!

  • @HighEliteMajor

    Good stroke.

    The test comes on the road when the first 6 treys don’t fall. If you won’t shoot the next 6 relying on the trey then you have not yet got the commitment.

    25 treys minimum.

    35-45 better.

    71 best.

    The key though is 5-8 more than the opponent…minimum.

  • My favorite play of the game was Jamari’s coast2coast drive and vicious LBJ-style dunk. Now we see what Self sees in practice. But think of the opposing coach’s viewpoint: that is a ridiculous amount of heavy pressure when the rebounding big actually just takes the ball and goes. Thomas Robinson did some of that. Marcus could do it.

    I do wish we would quit trying to put a lid on Traylor, as a fanbase. Really none of us know what he has shown in practice to Self’s eyes, unless he shows us in a live game. Sure he was an unranked kid. But athletes can be taught and can learn, provided they are motivated. I’d say Traylor is hella motivated.

    Personally, I love the Chicago-toughness that Cliff and Jamari bring. Its infectious.

    Notice that ALL 4 MickeyDs scored in double-figs, which suit quiet Ellis just fine, as I know he’d rather just be the silent assassin.

    Mason now is the next Sherron/Tyshawn. Yes, a compliment to Frank Mason. He is proving he is that good.

    And, maybe we should credit Connor Frankamp for being smart enough to realize the improvement in Mason, and know he cannot outcompete that…(or outcompete Graham)

  • Kelly Oubre did a NICE job of maintaining focus. He held former fellow Findlay prep MickeyD Vaughn to only 2 second-half points. He personifies the “Bill Self long-athletic” guard.

    Finally, there is nothing nicer than a vicious quick attitude-dunk as Jamari did and as Cliff did! Love that kind of stuff…

  • This was a huge step forward for Kelly. He didn’t shoot it well, but he played well. For a lot of young players, they struggle to cross that bridge. They only play well when they shoot well. Kelly gave a nice game yesterday even though his shot was absent.

    Frank is developing more and more into a big time PG. I am worried about his health and the pounding he is taking right now with all the minutes. I hope this doesn’t come back to bite us in March, but right now, there really isn’t an alternative. Just hope Devonte is ready soon because Frank can’t keep playing 33+ minutes (his season average, with 38 yesterday) on a bad ankle and banged up knee if he’s going to have anything left at the end of the year. Self really didn’t have much choice yesterday because we didn’t really pull away until pretty late in the game (lead didn’t hit double figures for good until the 5 minute mark, didn’t get to 15 until the 3 minute mark).

    Perry put together a solid game yesterday. I think this more and more shows how effective he can be when he is not the primary option, but more like the third or even fourth option. Ellis ended up taking the second most shots on the team, but Selden, Oubre and Mason all had 10+ shot attempts. I don’t mind Ellis getting shots up if they are coming in the extended post (where he is less likely to get shots blocked) off quick hitters and our perimeter guys are all getting their shots as well. That’s the ideal formula. Let Ellis get his 12-16 points while the pressure is on the defense to stop our perimeter scorers. That’s Perry’s ideal role and it was worked to near perfection yesterday.

  • @HighEliteMajor Speaking of threes, I read where we are 29th in 3pt FG% at 39.2, and 293rd in number of 3pointers attempted. I’d like to see 30 attempts every game from here on out, starting with Faylor, and their lame zone defense.

  • I was happy with the effort that they gave the second half. I was concerned that UNLV would extend the lead, but they came out with a lot of energy and never gave them a chance.

    Everyone lately has been thinking that Cliff doesn’t have a low post game. However, I saw a couple of pretty good moves yesterday against the trees of UNLV.

    The most important aspect of this game is something that has not been mentioned once except by Greg Anthony yesterday, who I think is a very good analyst and like that he is doing more KU games this year. For the first time since the UNC vs KU game in 08, we finally ran consistently for the ENTIRE game. Frankly, late in the first half, it was reminiscent of the San Diego State game: a lot of shots getting blocked and missing bunnies. Around the time it looked that game is when they stopped running and looking to push the ball up the floor.

    Last season, in ponderance of the team’s half court offensive struggles, slayr and I proposed a Roy Williams style run and gun offensive strategy in which Wiggins and Selden could use their athleticism to get easy points. If Self had done last season what he had them do yesterday, I firmly believe that the Stanford loss never happens and they play Florida in the Elite Eight.

    Let’s just hope that Self makes this a trend.

  • @JhawkAlum I have the same fever, but my prescription is more transition layups and dunks.

    and more Cowbell.

  • Taking more 3 point shots is really a red herring and it is a proposition that after a point has diminishing returns.

    Currently KU averages 55.5 shots per game and of those, 16 are 3 point shots. I think it would correct to assume that the majority of the 3 shots taken are at least somewhat open and by and large KU long range shooters are taking the shots when available. So how do you increase the number of 3 point shots from 16 to 30, 40 or even 70 as some have suggested? To do this you would have to take 15 more 3 point shots than the total number of shot the team currently takes. Logic tells you that the more shots you take, the more chance there is that the shots will not be open and will be contested since defenses will concentrate in stopping the barrage. and hence the chance of making them drops rapidly with an increase in attempts after, say 25-30 per game.

    The 2012-13 ISU team, considered one of the top (if not the top) 3 point shooting teams in college averaged 26.6 3 point shots per game. Last year’s Creighton team, the top 3 point shooting team in college basketball averaged 24 3 point attempts per game and averaged 10,.4 made shots per game for an extremely nice 0.421. To get to 70 attempts per game, KU would have to takes two and one half times as many shots as the 2012-13 ISU team and almost 3 times as many shots as the Creighton team. Completely unfeasible.

    I can see increasing the 3 pointy shooting to maybe 20-25 when the shots are falling, but anything beyond that is counterproductive and would result in rapidly decreasing shooting percentage. I would be interested in how other members would justify taking anything above 30 shots per game.

  • @JayHawkFanToo I would suggest that the number of three point attempts is not a red herring at all. It is an important, schematic, game-planning decision with this team. This team should work hard to get open three looks instead of other looks. This team can shoot 40% from three. The key, as you mention, are good looks. And that can be part of our current scheme quite easily. At half time of the UNLV game, on the cjonline blog, I mentioned when we were 3/11 to just keep shooting them and that 7/13 would have done nicely. I’ll take 5-8. But we should have still shot more – but no complaints with that half of basketball

    I know that it is not an exact trade off, but I’d generally (in most games) choose scheming for threes over scheming for the post feed with this team – except when we have the clear MUA inside. Clear MUA means 65% of shots at rim are made. That beats 40% of threes made.

    But also, if we’re getting good drives to the hoop, and transition baskets, we can have a very nice balance. On a normal day, we should shoot the 20-25 threes you metion to be at our best (I prefer closer to 25). We beat UNLV shooting 19 threes and pulled away late. The 5-8 was key in the second half.

    You mention diminishing returns – that does make sense. As we scheme to shoot them, teams will scheme to stop them. Thus a more outside-in game. By consequence, the defense will have to sacrifice inside.

    I feel the transition in our approach is in progress. Self praised our shooting yesterday. He’s sees it.

  • @HighEliteMajor There clearly were a couple of times that the side was cleared out for Cliff & he systematically sealed off his man to finish, once even with the big flush. I do think there will be ops for Cliff low with Perry or JT at the high post. Maybe only situational vs teams that don’t quickly double down, but Cliff’s tough authority & strength have me encouraged in this respect. Is too damn bad Perry’s ain’t hanging this high. Shame, shame, wonder if he ever dunked in HS? We could be some Xtreme MBers if Perry could learn how to finish this way. My fingers are crossed.

  • Life has kept me from being much of a KU follower lately, but reading these comments helps me figure out the way yesterdays game went.

    I’ve been trying to get a friend, college roomie, longtime pal, to come join us and it’s because of analysis like this that he needs to get his act together and join us.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    I believe that wee are saying the same thing…imagine that. The red herring comment was in reference to suggestions to increase the 3 point shots to as many as 70 per game, which I am sure you will agree is utterly ridiculous. In my post I mentioned 20-25 shots, the upper number when shot are falling, so I believe we are basically in agreement.

    By the way, did you notice that several time KU set up traps when Ellis or Traylor would come out and double team and isolate the UNLV PG near mid-court? It seemed to rattle UNLV and forced them to keep and extra player to set up icks and help outside and somewhat abated their height advantage inside. UNLV ended up collecting 7 offensive rebounds and KU 17…big difference.

  • @JayHawkFanToo It is odd that we agree … I might have to reassess. There does seem to be a “goldilocks zone”, so to speak, for three point attempts for each team. That 20-25 zone seems to be it with this team. One thing I will say is that even if they are struggling with it, like we were in the first half (3/11), we have to keep shooting them. It’s like pounding it inside with an inside-out team, gotta keep choppin’ wood. If a team takes our threes away by guarding the perimeter differently, that would be an obvious reason to deviate. But I think we can continue to get open looks. I like what Self did last game a lot.

    I did see that trapping, and I really like it … it helps with pace. I don’t like when we’d use Embiid or Withey to it (risk of fouls). I don’t want Cliff doing it. But the more mobile guys, I do.

    Also, I don’t know if folks read Self’s comments today on Svi. A bit concerning. Here’s what was at kusports.com:

    Self said Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk should receive a lift this week when his parents visit from Ukraine. The 17-year-old freshman’s mom is Inna, a high school biology teacher, and dad is Iurri, a college history professor. “Mom and dad will come see him this week. We’ll be excited to have them here, give him (Svi) a hug, and I’m sure he’ll be feeling a lot better,” Self said of Mykhailiuk, who Self said is “really laboring now.” He has scored five points in KU’s last three games. “I talked to him a long time after practice today,” Self said on his “Hawk Talk” radio show. “He is the nicest, sweetest young man you could ever be around. Add the fact he’s two years younger than everybody, add the fact his parents are 5,000 miles away, it’s not an easy deal for him. I still think from a prospect standpoint he may be as good a prospect as we have if you grade everybody at age 21. He’s in a phase where he was more confident against Kentucky and Michigan State than in practice. I think he agrees with me.”

    I have had the concern, really since his commitment, that a really young kid, coming half way across the world, would be a bigger risk to leave than a normal recruit. I do feel a bit better now, given his role. I read into these comments that Svi is struggling with the isolation here. It has to be hard. Seems natural to have difficulty like this.

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