Can We Win Another Big 12 Championship?

  • Can we win another B12 Championship?

    We’ve been hearing it for 10 years: “The road to the Big 12 Championship goes through Lawrence.”

    Well… it did. It used to.

    And it did because Kansas was the only B12 team that knew how to win on the road.

    How did Kansas win on the road?

    Bill Self focused on two key strategies:

    1. Tough Defense - Offense comes and goes but a team should always be able to play tough defense. If we play tough defense and our offense fails, we get into what Self calls a “grind game.” We’ve certainly won our share of grind games in the past.

    2. Hi/lo Offense - We have been fortunate to have a lot of great post players during the Self era. And Self took advantage of that by running our offense through the post. In turn, we always got our share of interior baskets.

    Now look at this year’s team.

    1. No shot blocker. We don’t have the big shot blocker in the post to erase all the bad defense played by the rest of the team. We don’t have the interior defensive presence to keep teams from trying hard to score easy low post baskets.

    2. No “back to the basket” type post player. We no longer have a player who can easily score with his back to the basket in the low post. Without this player, we can’t effectively run a hi/lo.

    Think hard about it, and you will see why Bill Self is a great coach, has won 10 consecutive league championships and is a lock down for future HOF.

    Playing tough M2M defense and going with an offense that is more conservative is bound to help win road games. It is proven… it is proven for the last 10 years. It is easy for teams to go ice cold from the perimeter, especially away from home when playing on unknown rims in a strange arena packed with fans screaming against us.

    This is a strange year. Kansas has plenty of talent, but not the same type we’ve typically had in the past.

    Can we win our conference emphasizing the 3-pt shot?

    Can we win our conference without a big shot blocker in the post?

    This will be Bill Self’s toughest test to date, and he’ll have to do it against a much tougher field than he is used to.

  • @drgnslayr yes!

  • @drgnslayr That makes TWO YES’s !!!

  • @drgnslayr As we speak OU has UT in the woodshed by 23 with about 4 & change to go. If we split with those 2 & ISU I say yes also.

  • @drgnslayr

    It doesn’t look good, but remember the 2012 Final team? Five deep plus Teahan! Tyshawn down with a scoped knee and then coming back in 10 flipping days. Remember Withey going in? lots of questions. Played in Africa with AIA, or something. Serious doubts about the big skinny. No one was sure if Travis and EJ’s wild hairs were still ingrown or not. But they had Thomas who grew into an absolute beast.

    Soon much depends on three things.

    1.) Do the players on this team have the kind of character and will to get better that those '12 guys had?

    Answer: This team is tougher mentally than we realize. They are a bunch of short cats that are fighting through getting their shots rejected all the time and getting sand kicked in their faces. But they are 11-2. What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger. They are not dead yet. And they are getting a little stronger all the time. They just started our really weak.

    2.) Can Magister Ludi find a way to play the glass bead game with a bunch of athletic trey pullers and no standing height inside that can dominate?

    Answer: If anyone can, Self can. And the UNLV game showed that Self is defying conventional wisdom yet again. Simplicity? We don’t need no stinking simplicity. He threw everything in the playbook plus the kitchen sink into the offense vs. UNLV. Most sets, most action, most tempo variation, most trey triggering, frankly overwhelming complexity. He even told them to stop blocking out and just go get the ball on rebounds. Big change and for the better. Opponents are going to have more to prepare for against KU than any of them will ever have to prepare for against any other team. Self is going to make the opponents think and beat them while they are thinking.

    3.) Can anyone on this team become a beast at any position the way TRob became one at the 4?

    Answer: Oubre. If his knee holds up, he will make us forget Wiggins. The guy is hyper-kinetic. Best hand on a 3 I can recall. I was down on him early, and he may not be able to get polished this season, but if the knee holds up, he can wreck opponents like no one I’ve seen since Kidd-Gilchrist.

    Perry is the weak link, only in the sense that he NEEDs The Big Red Dog to play like the Big Red Megillah. And Cliff is slowly starting to play more forcefully.

    But the key is the three.

    Self has to keep increasing the treys to 25+ to beat any really good teams.

    I just don’t know if he will.

    All the morphing is part of the glass bead game, but without taking waaaaaay more treys than the opponents, this team will never be able to cope with a bad shooting half from outside. If Self ever stops shooting treys in a game without a good cushion, then this team is dead in the water, morphing or not.

    My mantra is:


    KU is sized like a mid major, but it has elite talent.

    Gotta play like a mid major with that elite talent.

    Do that and the team can get hot and win a title early, or get hot and win a title late.

    Don’t play like a mid major and its curtains.

  • @jaybate-1.0 I agree, but Perry is figuring it out!! Dishing instead of getting blocked, shot faking,and getting boards!

  • From Austin American-Statesman paper last night:

    ##Kansas aims for 11th straight Big 12 title but faces tough competition

    Posted: 7:55 p.m. Monday, Jan. 5, 2015

    By Dave Skretta - Associated Press

    LAWRENCE, Kan. — There is a floor-to-ceiling graphic pasted outside the Kansas locker room, just beyond the tunnel leading to the hallowed floor of Allen Fieldhouse.

    The court itself forms the background. But stretching across the top are images of 10 rings, each encrusted with enough diamonds to make Marilyn Monroe blush. Together, they represent the string of Big 12 perfection that the Jayhawks have compiled over the past decade.

    Ten years. Ten championships.

    On Wednesday night, the No. 12 Jayhawks will visit No. 21 Baylor to begin pursuit of their 11th straight. That would tie Gonzaga for the second-most in major college basketball and move within two of matching the 13 straight Pac-10 championships UCLA won in the 1960s and ’70s.

    But Bill Self indicates this might be the most difficult yet. Given a chance Monday afternoon, the Kansas coach rattled off four other teams he thinks have a shot at the Big 12 championship. Texas could win the national title, he said. And given their unsteady nonconference performance, the Jayhawks — for once — might not be the favorites.

    “There’s multiple teams,” he said, “but the great thing about it is, from my standpoint, if you’re good enough to be considered in winning our league, you’re probably good enough to be considered a contender to make a great run in the NCAA tournament, too.”

    Not every year has been an outright title. Kansas (11-2) has shared the crown in five of those seasons. But not since Iowa State won the second of its back-to-back championships in 2001 has one of those glitzy rings not been delivered to each member of the Jayhawks.

    The dominance of Kansas during the streak is startling: 25 first-team All-Big 12 picks, double the number of any other program; five conference players of the year, most recently Thomas Robinson in 2012; and at least one first-team all-conference selection in each of those years.

    There are signs that the Jayhawks’ supremacy will continue.

    They are vastly improved from an early season shellacking at the hands of top-ranked Kentucky, beating Michigan State, Florida, Georgetown and Utah in succession. If not for a dud at Temple just before Christmas, that loss in the Champions Classic would be their only one.

    Key freshmen are starting to contribute, including swingman Kelly Oubre Jr. and power forward Cliff Alexander. Frank Mason III is stamping himself as a favorite to continue the run of first-team All-Big 12 players, and veterans such as Perry Ellis and Wayne Selden Jr. are beginning to provide some leadership.

    “I don’t ever go through and say, ‘We should win this one,’ or, ‘This is a coin-flip game,’ ” Self said. “But we weren’t ready to play with Kentucky, and we’ve improved a lot since then.”

    That doesn’t mean Self is content. Consistency has been an issue. Outside shooting has been spotty and interior offense hard to establish. Defensive intensity tends to wane.

    All of those things can cause problems in the Big 12.

    “It’s real different,” Selden said, “the intensity, the fans, the away crowds, the home crowds — everything about it is different.”

    Selden said that “some of us went in blind last year,” unaware of just how much the pressure builds in league play. A team full of freshmen wasn’t prepared for it, and it showed in some sloppy and embarrassing moments. But when the final week of the season rolled around, the Jayhawks had still risen to the top.

    Now, they hope another tough nonconference schedule will have them ready for the hardest conference — at least in terms of RPI — in major college basketball.

    “We played some tough games earlier this season,” Mason said after a win over UNLV on Sunday. “It’s definitely a big boost for us going into conference play.”


  • Man O Man, that drubbing of the Longhorns by the Sooners (and in Austin) last night serves to scream shrilly, THIS BIG 12 RACE IS IN FOR SOME TOPSY-TURVY OUTINGS! Not that the Sooners aren’t a serious contender; but the final score should be a wake-up call to the five or six league schools who think they have a serious chance to win or tie for the championship. Hitch up yer belts, Folks. This league is in for some wild rides!

  • Hey, jaybate! Ol’ “Butcher Barnes” got his butt paddled. Eh, what?

  • @REHawk I turned to game on at the half and could not believe 14 points for Texas at the half-at home no less. UT couldn’t dig themselves out of that hole. I will be in Austin to see KU on the 24th. I had penciled in an L for that game. Now???

  • @Crimsonorblue22

    “I agree, but Perry is figuring it out!! Dishing instead of getting blocked, shot faking,and getting boards!”

    I saw him use a shot fake twice in the UNLV game after he was getting smoked. He didn’t really know how to use the fake, but he did it well enough to freeze the defender.

    There is hope!

    Thanks everyone, for shining a flashlight in here!

  • I guess Rick Barnes didn’t read my post.

    The gist of my thread was that conservative, aggressive play wins B12 titles.

    Texas shot 21 3-pt shots and only hit 28% of those. They also only shot 8 FTs for the game. Not very aggressive play.

    What we have to pray for is Texas dropping several early games in the conference. Texas will play much better ball come February. And if they can already pretty much be out of contention for a title, they can do us some favors in February by winning some games from other conference contenders, like OU at OU and ISU.

    Rick Barnes never seems to have his guys playing good ball early in league.

    That is why we must go out and win those first 3 games in league. Get out ahead of the crowd.

  • @JayhawkRock78 good thing you used pencil!

  • @drgnslayr

    Texas should be pounding the ball inside with their size. Taking lots of threes is playing right into the hands of their opponents. I hope they take that many threes against KU because every three taken is a post opportunity missed for a team that has two very talented post players.

  • @justanotherfan

    Amazing, isn’t it? All that height and girth and they didn’t capitalize on it in the post. I guess we aren’t the only team capable of playing soft in the post.

    We all have to give OU a lot of credit. They should be the toughest team to beat in the league this year.

    Lon is a solid coach, and maybe Texas has more famed players but OU has more skilled talent.

  • @drgnslayr they are slow w/all that girth! Poor outside shooting too!

  • @drgnslayr

    I rated OU and Iowa State both down a little bit because I figure that since they both shoot lots of threes, they won’t shoot it well at least a couple times and get beat because of that. I may have to reconsider that OU ranking after last night, although this makes me believe even more that the Big 12 has five of the best 14-15 teams in the country with KU, Texas, OU, Iowa State and West Virginia (yes, I am very high on the Mountaineers).

  • Well here’s the nice thing … if we don’t win the Big 12, we still can win a national title.

    This team can win a national title. Whether this team can competently compete for that national title is up to coach Self, and how much he is willing to be flexible with his system, and adapt to his players. The signs are pointing in the right direction.

    The scary thing with this team is the apparent possibility of a complete no-show, like the Temple game. That does not bode well for a 6 game NCAA tourney run. But that concern can be eliminated if we compete each and every night in conference.

    I watched OU-Tex last night. Missed the last part of the first half. It’s kind of interesting. Self commented yesterday about KU’s poor shot % defense, citing that as a very important stat. Last night’s OU-Tex game was all about Texas’ poor shooting percentages. @drgnslayr pointed out the poor 3 %. Texas also shot just 30% on 2 point attempts. That seemed like the main item watching the game – Texas couldn’t get the ball in the hoop. They were really bad inside in that department too.

    Not sure if OU was really that good, or Texas just didn’t show up. Hard to tell, really.

  • @HighEliteMajor Barnes might have made a key misjudgment, depending on Taylor to get back in the flow so quickly and dependably after the long recovery, esp. vs. one of top teams in the league. Might have been more stabilizing to start Felix before testing waters with Taylor. But that is hindsight. In comparison to top echelon of Div. 1 coaches, Barnes has always seemed to be a solid “B” rated contender. My big fear is an injury to Mason whom I am now viewing as “38 Minute Frank.” Already coping with a sore shin, our point guard is cast into full stress parameters. If Frank goes down, Holy H. Moly! I do think Self is gradually bowing to flexibility. Will he out-think himself somewhere down the pike, reverting to his tried and true offense against a bottom feeder, then get whacked?

  • Oui, Oui, se puede.

  • @jaybate-1.0

    "Answer: Oubre. If his knee holds up, he will make us forget Wiggins. "

    Bravo! And correct!

    Oubre is the blue-collar version of Wiggins. He doesn’t have the showboat athleticism of the white-collar talent, so he works harder and makes full use of the great talent he does have. Notice how many hands he gets on the ball on defense? Wiggins, with all his physical attributes, just wasn’t the guy to get his hands dirty with steals.

  • @HighEliteMajor I am 100% with you that if Coach Self is flexible and allows this team to play to its strengths that we will go far in March. But to win a National Title someone is going to have to beat UK. Will it be us? Personally I think we have a better shot at winning the title if another team beats UK before we get to them. A team that only shoots 3’s and has an insane night shooting…like ISU for instance. I just don’t think we match up well with UK in any way and I am not just basing that off of the 40 point blowout that we suffered at their hands.

  • @Crimsonorblue22

    “they are slow w/all that girth!”

    So if we run the “Self Full-Motion Offense” we will have no problem beating Texas, In AFH or in cowboyland.

  • What is funny is how we are all totally energized off the Texas loss.

    We haven’t shown this much enthusiasm all year.

    I guess we have overplayed the invincibility of other teams in our league.

    Let’s not forget… we’ve won 10 consecutive B12 titles.

    Obviously WE deserve a lot of the credit for that, but a lot of credit has to go to the other teams in our league for blowing it!

    The B12 has enjoyed a solid RPI for a long time, but where are all the FF appearances from other teams in our league not named Kansas?!

    I know we all sometimes feel like Kansas chokes too much… but what do you think the fans from the rest of the B12 herd think?

    Texas blows… again!

  • @drgnslayr I think our speedier transition game will help wear them big ole boys out! Ya know, Mari bringing the ball up!

  • @drgnslayr Absolutely. Texas has a couple of losses including a blowout at home and we all come back to our senses and back to reality. The reality where KU wins the Big 12 and the other teams in the conference have to hope that “next year is their year”.

  • @REHawk

    Felix played 35 minutes and Taylor 29, so that was not really an issue. Texas had a bad shooting night

    I don’t think we can judge how good or bad Texas is based on last night game anymore than we can judge KU based on the Temple game. Texas is good but last night it played extremely poorly. Having said that, OU laid out a blueprint on how to beat Texas; they managed to out rebound the much taller Texas team by 42 to 37. I am sure all other conference coaches will be studying video of this game.

    I started this post 3+ hours ago but had to take a call from a potential client that went 3 hours, so most might already be obsolete. 😞

  • @JayhawkRock78 I’m going too!

  • @drgnslayr

    That’s Rick Barnes for you. He can’t game day coach out of a bucket.

  • @REHawk Just like last year when UT rested all its laurels on Myck Kbango coming back to save them. Long time UT season ticket holder I work with just doesn’t think Barnes can coach the talent he gets year in and year out. They’ve already had 2 guys leave the program. Does that say something about Barnes? He has a quicker yank of players (even when they are playing well) than most coaches. Think there was at least 9 different rotations of the 5 guys out there playing BEFORE half time. He sat by 2 Spurs scouts who were there grading the UT players. Jon Holmes - not aggressive. Taylor - wild shot and follows it instead of getting back on defense. Ridley - ???.

  • @RockChalkinTexas is that your question mark or the scout’s?

  • @Crimsonorblue22

    The scouts.

  • @RockChalkinTexas would guess that’s pretty negative!!! Enjoy the game!!

  • Can we win 11 in a row? Absolutely but it will not be easy as has been the case with the previous 10. We have had years in this stretch where we needed help from the likes of Texas A&M or Tech to upset teams in front of us. Coach Self seems to have that knack of ‘taking care of business’. On the flip side, these other teams are not used to being the ‘hunted’.

    Texas showed last night that they could perform the way OSU did last year. It was this time last year we had just lost at home to SDSU and OSU looked un-stoppable playing a softer schedule. We then started the quest winning at OU-an arena KU has always done well in.

    Coach Self will have this team clawing and playing ‘tough’ all year long. This current team will be frustrating at times but their toughness will be what wins out as the season rolls on.

    Winning at Baylor is not critical in the long haul but a W would give this young team some confidence. It will be hard to win this title for any team that loses at home. OU, WV, ISU and Texas will be difficult road games. If KU can win road games at KSU, OSU, TCU and Tech and go 2-3 against the other five, I like our chances.

  • @RockChalkinTexas

    That can’t be good.

  • I said before and I will say it again, The Big 12 might not have a legitimate top 5 team and maybe, just maybe a couple of top 10 teams, but from top to bottom there is no other conference nearly as competitive and tough as the Big 12. Conference teams will be battle tested (and bloodied) by the the time March Madness comes around…maybe this is the year.

    “Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride” (Thanks Bette Davis)

    P.S. Actually she said “bumpy night” but “bumpy ride” sounds better.

  • @RockChalkinTexas I am driving over Saturday with a UT grad. I saw a KU Alumni link that said there was a KU gathering at Scholz Garden two blocks West of the arena-I will talk to him about stopping by before or after. We normally spend the night and hang out at 6th street.

  • @JayhawkRock78 Enjoy !!

  • @JayhawkRock78 That’s where the Alumni Assoc. always hangs out and it is on their calendar. Cool place. Built 1866.

    link text

  • @drgnslayr Despite what Kenpom says, I still think KU can at least share the conference this year. Your points # 1 and 2 are great points for arguing against KU winning #11. My thoughts about why we Should win the conference for the 11th time in a row are thusly. We all know that conference play just ramps up the competition between the teams. Each team plays harder, tougher. This includes KU. So far KU has the hardest schedule of the bunch and has come out of it 11-2. Did Kenpom predict that? I dont know. What I do think is if Kenpom is right, we are supposed to lose to 8 of 9 teams on the road, or 7 of 9 and lose one at home. What ever the math is. So lets think, which teams will sweep KU this year? OU has a chance, Texas has a chance but Ive got Coach Self over Barnes all day long. Iowa St has a chance, West Virginia has a chance. Thats 4 just with a chance of sweeping KU. There are 5 more teams to go. DO we really think that TCU, Baylor, Kstate, Okiestate and Texas Tech have a chance at beating us at home this year? I dont. Texas has already shown its vulnerability by getting thrashed by OU at their place. Maybe we split with Texas, Iowa state has a great team again but I think they match up with KU very well. KU can at least split with them. Thats two losses so far. Baylor? Come on guys its Scott Drew against Coach Self. I agree Baylor is pretty good this year but no way they sweep us. So thats 3 losses for KU potentially. Okie state usually has our number at their place. Not this year they dont. West Virginia is doing things they havent done under Huggie bear. They are a threat for sure, but will they sweep us? Maybe. But then maybe they get beat by another team we sweep and its 5 losses for us. Or we split with WVU because AFH is KU territory. There is a reason why it is one of THE hardest places to win at. So, by my count, and Im purely speculating, KU has 4 maybe 5 conference losses heading into the tourney season, not 8. There is a great possibility that the other top 4 programs will have just as many losses. The Big 12 is the toughest its ever been, there are bound to be surprise wins and losses by every team. I think right now, OU is the biggest threat to beat us for the conference title. BUT, going head to head at AFH, Im giving the edge to Coach Self. Lets hope I am right. If I am not, then who ever wins the conference will absolutely deserve it. Sure it will hurt not keeping the streak alive but thats college ball in the Big 12. I still think KU can at least share the title and come out 14-4. Kenpom is all analytical and statistical but what has happened the last 10 years?
    KU has outright won it 5 times and Kansas (11-2) has shared the crown in five of those seasons. So far, I dont think it will end up any differently.
    Here is an interesting question. Is it possible this year for a 3 way tie?

  • @Lulufulu

    I play my own devil’s advocate constantly. I’m like a cat that chases it’s tail!

    I believe we will win #11… for no other reason than we know Self knows how to do it. Who else in our conference has won in the past decade? Right… none!

    I see some talented players in our league and I see some teams capable of playing good team ball. But I still don’t believe another school has the complete package to win more games in our league than us.

    I just think we’ll be doing it a different way this year. The formula Self used in the past will not work exactly the same way, but he will tweak it to work with what he has.

    We don’t have a shot blocker so we’ll fight harder on the perimeter to keep driving guards out of the post, and contest the long ball. We should definitely have more steals than we’ve had in a long, long time. That helps us with the battle for possessions… something that could be challenged if we don’t have our usual rebound margin.

    Actually, I think this can be a very good rebounding team. Since rebounding responsibilities will be shared this year, everyone will have to go after them.

    On offense… we should be a better long ball shooting team this year. And we just have to learn how to score from within the 3-pt line to help our shooting percentages remain constant. We know Perry and Jamari have to stay in motion. Those guys can score when they are moving through the lane. And Perry can learn to nail a high percentage of 3s. Our freshmen, Kelly and Cliff are improving on offense and starting to contribute.

    I think we will see constant improvement from here on out. At some point Svi is bound to find some minutes, too, and he offers a completely different style of play than the rest have.

    And let’s not forget our rock, Frank Mason! I don’t see a tougher PG in the league. He has ice water running through his veins and wants the rock at crunch time. We are in good hands!

  • @drgnslayr Seriously, Ice water, the kid is a stud. Just wait til we get Devonte back too. Hope he can return in decent time and in good form. If that happens KU shouldnt look back.

  • @REHawk

    Once again, Butcher was out maneuvered by an Okie Baller.

    I watched some of it and he seemed to not want to take the gloves off, because OU had that big load in the paint and a lot of physical guys elsewhere. Inference: he figured getting rough would have backfired. But that loss will make him take the gloves off next game.

    I haven’t made any predictions about the conference title. I wanted to wait and see some teams. OU and Texas I saw. ISU and OSU I saw.

    The OU win reminds me that the “toughest” team is going to win the title.

    I think OU is the toughest and has the inside track.

    But I think KU is going to find a way to tie with OU.

    I didn’t before UNLV, but that game made me think Self finally has an approach the guys can believe in.

    KU could easily go down to Daylor, because Mason and Oubre are due to flame out, but…

    I think KU will beat Faylor.

    Self showed so many formations, actions, tempos and moved the team between a block out rebounding bunch to a run and jump rebounding bunch that Drew won’t really know what to prepare for.

    Make Scott think too much and he is beaten out of the blocks.

    Self is particularly clever at getting out of the blocks with a W.

    If Self will keep letting the treys fly, but redistribute the shooting of them away from Mason and Oubre, and onto Brannen and Svi more, and keep Selden and Perry yanking the lanyards, we will separate from the outside each half and then go inside and break them.

    Outside in.

    Shoot the trey and transition when you can.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    Texas shot 28% from trey on 21 treys.

    Texas shot 30% from due on probably 45 2ptas.

    Hello, Rick, you should have shot 45 fewer 2 ptas and 45 more treys and you probably would have been in the game at the end.

    And if you had shot 45 more 3ptas you probably would have shot your way out of your 3pt slump and averaged something closer to 30-35% on treys. Bingo! You might have won.

    New rule: Never, never, never, never, never, keep shooting inside when your FG% falls below 45%. Oh, what the hell, I’ll be conservative. Say 40%.



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