• How to say this?

    When Bill Self sees a looking glass, his idea of a good time, at least eventually, is walking through it.

    Well, its not as simple as that!

    He likes to try what is supposed to work a good deal, whether it works or not.

    Gotta make sure its not just a learning curve obstruction.

    But at some point what separated Old 82% Bill from the other 82% coaches with Nike stacks (e.g., Cal and K) and the 75% coaches with and without Nike stacks is that at the moment that everything seems hopeless from having tried what is tried and true but NOT working, Bill (and his coach’em up staff) see the same looking glass every one sees—the one that says look here nothing is working and its because you just can’t do it this way—and Bill says, “Look here, fellas, the looking glass is a map pointer into NEXT.

    What Bill does that is so different from other coaches is that he creates some space around the looking glass, and then explodes into it. It looks like it would just break, but instead it turns out to be somehow porous, like a cell membrane, or maybe like clouds allusions Jonie and Judy and might recall. I know I’ve looked at clouds that way sometimes.

    Anyway, he passes through the looking glass, like some big broad shouldered, white Pukka with a whistle and Nike apparel, in Alice’s basketball wonderland (he’ll even go down a few rabbit holes if it will work) and when he comes out on the other side what appeared an insurmountable weakness is now a somewhat mystifying, but strikingly effective strength.

    To wit, when his standing height challenged, but nontheless still very athletic, team becomes the 98 pound weakling of college basketball by the start of the second week of the conference season, and derided by all for being blocked more than any team in the Self Era, Self after trying pretty much every other known remedy to being blocked in basketball history, finally says something approximating, well, being blocked isn’t so bad. It creates a situation requiring athleticism to respond to and our short guys are more athletic than their long guys.

    On first hearing, this sounds like someone saying, “Someone hitting your left hand with a hammer is not so bad, because you are better with your right.” It is just not what one is hoping for in the form of a solution. But damned if it didn’t work for our guys in this situation.

    They went and got nine, count’em, NINE shots smashed back in their faces, and played the best game of basketball I have watched a KU team play, against a talented opponent, for several years.

    Self’s Jarhead Jayhawks, as I increasingly like to call them, reacted a bit like Marines reputedly do, when encountering adversity. Well, they’ve got our asses pinned down here and were getting the shit blown out of us. Now we can kill the bastards.

    This is not war.

    But it is basketball.

    And teams do find themselves in seemingly impossible situations that they HAVE TO surmount if they want to survive.

    Self’s guys attacked.

    They attacked when the got blocked.

    They recovered and attacked some more.

    They didn’t stand their and exchange punches.

    They didn’t fight fair.

    They went on the move.

    They ran the floor like they had never run the floor before.

    Our bigs—the tiny Sherman’s of this season’s D1 basketball—lots of them, but thinly armored, small gunned, and with only speed, mobility and numbers on their sides—went against the big Panther and Tiger tanks of Texas, and out ran them and out attacked and out hustled and finally overran their enemies.

    The team began to view being blocked as a tactical weapon. You have to force them into blocking you into order to be able get them to leave the flipping rim uncovered for someone else. We’re not trying to get blocked. We are trying to attack the basket to force their rim protectors to commit so we can pass it to someone that can then get the satchel charge, er, ball into the pill box, er, basket.

    There is sacrifice involved.

    There is sharing.

    Through the looking glass is a “team” playing as a “team.”

    It is not an entirely rational process.

    Human individuals are not born sacrificing for team.

    They do not grow up sacrificing for team.

    They cannot simply be told to sacrifice for team.

    They cannot be made to understand strictly through words and video and practice that sacrificing for team is the only way in any collective activity.

    Great half time speeches, constant harping, endless repetitions, don’t really forge a team.

    Loving each other does not create a team.

    Teams are born through the crucible of adversity.

    Great teams are born through the realization that there is no other feasible path to where they as a group of individuals desire with every fiber of their being to go.

    Great teams do not necessarily have to get the snot beaten out of them and to become great teams.

    But many great teams with seemingly glaring shortcomings have required to get kicked around, humiliated, and driven to the breaking point before not only they, but their leader, are forced far enough outside their comfort zones that they finally find a feasible path, a critical path through the crisis of a band of individuals and into a team with a mission and a way to achieve it.

    Self finds looking glasses.

    Self walks through them.

    His players follow.

    Teams emerge.

    Great things are done.

    We are fortunate.

  • @jaybate-1.0 said:

    Well, they’ve got our asses pinned down here and were getting the shit blown out of us. Now we can kill the bastards.

    Nice line! And another good post too.

    We are a fortunate bunch 🙂

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