"Self" (and team) Assessment

  • This is a question for everyone and I hope everyone makes a contribution to this thread.

    I may be mistaken, but isn’t this Self’s youngest team as a Jayhawk, or was it last year’s team?

    Whatever the case. The performance in Austin may be one of the best performances by a Hawk team in years. Self has already proclaimed the BamBam play as the best he has ever experienced.

    I’ll preface this by stating that I know we have a long ways to go. I’m not taking anything for granted.

    But let’s paint a portrait and stand back and judge it.

    I’m not saying we go undefeated in league from here on out. However… what if this team decides to buckle down like they did in Austin for the rest of our games? Self will hang #11. And we know this team has plenty of potential upside left.

    Moving forward, if this team maintains a level of play similar (or even better) to what we experienced in Texas, is this Self’s best coaching job ever as a Jayhawk?

    We have the toughest schedule in America this year and we’ve only dropped 3 games with this super young team.

    If we continue the path we are on, and continue to improve, even better than the Texas game… how good can this team get?

    We still lack a big 5… but aren’t we in the same boat as a lot of the nation’s best teams?

    This thread is not about stroking up Self and the team. It’s about showing an optimistic “end of the tunnel.” Clearly, there is a light on way down there at the end. How bright can it be?

  • I was very happy to be at the UT game on Saturday, and was expecting a loss. So I was relaxed as I watched. I told my host KU has a hard time playing two good halves. Lucky for me I got to see them put two together.

    As you stated they are young. I expect more speed-bumps along the way. I believe we can defend our home court-but I expect some of those to be battles. If I could script it, KU jumps out to a 20 point lead in the first half and then just trade baskets the second. Obviously that didn’t happen that way with OU and my anxiety level ramped up that game.

    Now that we have Graham contributing I’m a bit more optimistic. When Oubre was off, others stepped up.

    We still have a weakness against bigs. Texas stuffed our guys a number of times-and by the way we also clanged a few dunks off the rim-why the heck are we doing that so much?

    It turns out I will be in Lawrence/KC this weekend-but most likely will be watching from a bar-hopefully with folks wearing blue-not purple. Part of me wants to go but $$$.

    I think we are the team to beat for the Big12 title. All wins at home and a few on the road and we are set as others have posted. That should get us a #2 seed. So in March-I see this team going to sweet sixteen,maybe elite 8.

    IF and I mean IF, they keep playing like they did Saturday and do it consistently-the future gets brighter.

  • @drgnslayr “How good can this team be?”

    While watching the UT game I literally said out loud to myself “We could be a Final 4 team.” It may seem odd as a KU fan but it was really the first time I have felt that way all year. My assumption before this game is that we are a young team with guys who will take us to the round of 32 or Sweet 16 and that will be that. This opinion of mine changed while watching literally just this game. It showed me a glimpse of what we could be. If we even play close to this level in March we should make some noise.

    Mason and Graham look really stellar at the PG. PG’s are often what take teams far in March.

    Selden played well against UT and we can’t count on that sticking but Greene is starting to find his way and that is very exciting, especially all of the 3’s. 3’s often take teams deep in March.

    Oubre and Cliff now seem to both be playing at a high level. Stud freshman often take teams deep in March.

    Perry has looked solid. Just letting the game come to him and playing with poise. Poise takes teams deep in March.

    You get the point. I think the sky is the limit for this squad.

  • I was fortunate to be at this game in person as well and like @jayhawkrock78 it was great to see them be able to put two halves together. I loved being at a road game and hearing “Let’s Go Jayhawks” throughout the entire game. It was really loud at points and you have to know that the Texas players could hear it, they were getting out voiced in their own ugly house. The long drive to Austin and back to KC was well worth seeing the type of game these guys put together. I was talking to my buddy right after the game and I said we flat out wanted this game more and that BamBam’s hustle changed the complexion of the game .How good can we be? We can be great, if the team that showed up in Austin shows up every game from here on out we have a chance to cut down quite a few nets. I’m not saying we will go undefeated but we have a damn sight better of a shot than we did even two weeks ago to cut down nets in early April.

  • @drgnslayr - How good can this team be?

    You know my answer – this is a national championship season until it isn’t.

    But this team is better than last year’s team. It is better than last year’s team whether last year’s team had a healthy Embiid, or not.

    This goes back to the “luck” discussion. I’m not trying poke any hornets’ nests here, but my nose got a little out of joint with the kenpom proclamation that we were extremely lucky, or whatever that was.

    Good teams win close games. Right after that, I saw Bill Parcells on the NFL network talking about winning close games. He said some folks think winning close games comes down to luck. But really, teams “win close games because they are prepared to do it.”

    An epic truth.

    This team has been impeccably prepared to win close game. All of Bill Self’s teams are, in my opinion. It’s his style. He prepares teams with a team “character” in mind. Some teams respond to that better than others. This team has shown that.

    In March, knowing that you can win close games will be very important. This team has that.

    This team clearly has the talent to win the National Title. We can beat any team in the nation so long as we play to our abilities and so long as this team is permitted to exploit its strengths on offense. It doesn’t mean we will win it all. But I feel very good about this group.

    How can a team be better, losing the #1 and #3 picks? We can see how right in front of our eyes.

  • “How bright can it be?”

    I look at it like this… I’d rather be us than Kentucky.

    I know they have the NBA draft locked up… yada… yada… undefeated season… yada…

    But guess what? We all know winning in March is about peaking at the right time.

    If our guys can realize that the game at Texas was just a game along the path, and not the apex of our season, we can still make VAST improvements.

    For that reason, I’d rather be us than Kentucky. Kentucky will continue to improve, too… but their conference is a joke this year. They should easily win out from now to March. They haven’t faced the huge beat downs during the year… where they had to dig deep to find themselves (their identity) and go through all the typical growing phases teams go through.

    I hope we still drop another game or two in conference… but… obviously… I want to win #11.

    If we continue to grow and improve at our current pace all the way through March… who is going to stop us? I’m not seeing another team that can stop us if we continue to keep our improvement growth at the pace it is now. Right now, we are seeing players like Kelly, Perry, Cliff and Brannen stepping it up. Same can be said for others… Devonte, Frank and BamBam. And there are others that still may find a big improvement burst this year… Wayne and Landen.

    We just don’t know what to expect each game, also in the improvement department. Any of these guys are capable of having those big moments when a light comes on inside and their game jumps up a big leap. We clearly saw that with Kelly and Cliff. Maybe even Svi returns to the fray.

    Another aspect is relating to our youth. These guys are still learning the team concept. That flows over heavily on both sides of the ball.

    I believe we can be consistent the rest of this year if the guys just realize they have to bring the big energy for every single game and they do whatever it is they need to do to bring it. This is by far the simplest approach to take (moving forward) that guarantees we have an excellent chance of winning every single game we play. Everything else is a technicality.

  • I think this team can go all the way. I have posted in other threads about how they compare to 2008 (my favorite team) so that right there shows my level of optimism. If they stay on this track and win the big 12 and get to the Elite 8, I would say this is Self’s best coaching job. This was THE YEAR someone else was supposed to take the Big 12 but here they are again, in charge, on top. The guys are young with no senior leadership. They have battled through a few injuries, Graham, Cliff (though he always played), and others who were battling small pains. The team clearly doesn’t fit Self’s preferred style and he has had to make adjustments. I read somewhere on ESPN, I don’t remember who, “I don’t know how Bill Self does this” in regards to leading the league once again. I have to agree. I too think we will drop one or two more and probably win a few playing ugly. My hope is that the team take ownership of itself and start truly caring for each other and playing for each other the way that 2008 and especially 2012 team did. I think Jamari is the emotional charge for this team and the rest feed off of him for that. Mason is the stability where we look when things get bad. Graham brings the Joy, Wayne the toughness, Kelly the talent, Cliff the muscle, and Greene the swagger. Perry is the x factor that if he turns it on and starts to really spark this team, everyone should watch out. His role is still growing, still progressing. It is a role no other player has really had before. He’s like the glue guy we expect to go 15 and 8 every game. Overall, Self has molded this team from a mess into a true contender. Where they take it is up to them.

    I still don’t know how to beat UK. They are not nearly as slow as the Texas front line. Either we shoot 70 threes like Jaybate suggested or just hope someone else takes them out for us. I really just don’t see us beating them.

  • @benshawks08

    “My hope is that the team take ownership of itself and start truly caring for each other and playing for each other the way that 2008 and especially 2012 team did. I think Jamari is the emotional charge for this team and the rest feed off of him for that. Mason is the stability where we look when things get bad. Graham brings the Joy, Wayne the toughness, Kelly the talent, Cliff the muscle, and Greene the swagger. Perry is the x factor”

    Man… did you nail the identity roles of our guys! Excellent comment.

    “I still don’t know how to beat UK.”

    Realize this. There is a good chance that Kentucky only makes modest improvements moving forward. They have all the size and talent, but without being challenged, it is easy for teams like theirs to get overconfident and lazy.

    I believe our growth graph has been shooting up higher than Kentucky’s and will continue to do so.

    Therefore, maybe it becomes more clear how we beat them in another month.

    Kentucky has several of their own problems. Their offense is spotty (to say the least).

    Our offense can come around a lot and move faster. Quicker passes and plenty of motion. Kentucky can be beat.

  • @drgnslayr

    B12 = not as good as hype = a bunch of short teams without OADs/TADs + Texas.

    Texas = only B12 TEAM other than KU team that should get sharply better, because of its youth with high ceilings.

    KU = title = win out, or 1 loss, unless injuries.

    UK + Duke + Virginia + UL + UA + UNC = Best Teams Late in season

    UK + Duke + UL + UA = Beaten by Running Centers, defense, Perimeter height, protection, trifectation

    Running Centers, etc. = KU+ UV + UNC

    UV + UNC = toughest outs for KU, because their centers can run

    KU + UV = too physical for UNC

    KU = UV

    KU EDGE = Self + 3pt shooting

    UV EDGE = conference

    Conclusion: too close to call so far.

    P.S.: why was B12 overhyped? Hypothesis–media-gaming complex perhaps had some trouble balancing betting lines during pre-conference.

  • This is a very tough, mentally strong team. I think the Cliffie breakout isn’t one game, but a series of double/doubles that become an integral part of our offense. Teams can no longer cut off the head of the snake by pressuring our guards like last year. Frank and Devonte bring amazing stability to our offense, and they both play good defense. Greene’s 3 ball is a lethal weapon, and that attitude he brings is infectious. Perry is working as hard as anyone to be an offensive force, and I am seeing a great player emerge. Wayne has scuffled somewhat - I look for his hard work to pay off at some point. Kelly night be our most talented player- I think we’ve only seen a preview of what will unfold with him. Jamari has played his heart out - his hustle has been amazing.

    All the parts are in place for a national title run. I think we beat Kentucky in our rematch in the championship game. We finally have guards that won’t screw the pooch.

  • @drgnslayr End of tunnel optimism…how bright the light? I am beginning to envision our Jayhawks as a Final Four Contender. Jaybate questions strength of current Big 12. Has the league been over-hyped? As we measure our strength, that is indeed a concern; although the squad has played a very tough nonconference schedule and survived exceedingly well, even at a juncture when the freshmen were deep into adjustment to the speed of the game. Self will be wary of his squad’s winning out and growing overconfident. He sacrificed the game at Iowa State to garner the attention not only of Alexander, but his entire squad. I would imagine that deep down within his experience and savvy lurks the coiled cobra, waiting for an optimal moment to strike once more, guaranteeing future strength via calamity of an earlier loss. I don’t see that happening in the next 6-day/3-game schedule, however. Not acceptable, a strategic loss at AFH. And tonight his kids play on fresh legs. Speaking of which, it would be dandy if He could work 10 players onto the board in these next two contests, maybe even an 11th (Manning) for brief relief of the 8 annointed chessmen. None of the current 8 key players utilized for more than a combined 56 minutes before Hoiberg’s crew comes to town. Can we eventually defeat the current undefeated? I have not followed Virginia, but have kept an eye on Kentucky and their braying mentor. I really hope that Kentucky wins out, prior to the NCAA Tournament. That would be the best possible formula for them to collapse at the crapshoot. I don’t know if we could hit enough threes to do the deed; but if the Wildcats roar into the Tournament with overconfidence, some team will bring them down. Write it now on your April calendar. As for the Jayhawks, I think a Final Four is not only believable but also perhaps the limit for our squad. At this juncture, I cannot yet see a National Title game in the cards.

  • Good conversation to have after such an uplifting week for this team.

    Self is at a point where he will never get the credit he is due until he is a hall of famer because every years he does the same thing. He’s replaced entire starting lineup’s before after seasons and won big 12 championships. He’s compiled a home court record that’s unheard of. The list goes on so until this season ends its hard to say this is his best coaching job yet.

    If we drop tonight’s game or one of the next 2 at home a lot of views could change. With this great road win we are all thinking positive until the next low comes. But the optimism that started this topic is what happens if the lows never come back again like we have seen 3 times already.

    If that is to happen I firmly believe that Cliff Alexander’s high level play that has ignited the last 2 games will be the heartbeat for that optimism. He can do the things (dunk & rebound) that is the missing link to the entire KU game. Getting Oubre on track was the first link, Getting Graham back from injury was the 2nd link, and getting Cliff into valuable high level minutes is the next. If Cliff continues his improvement its clear this team will hang #11, and will have a chance to make it far in the tournament depending on matchups.

    How bright can the light be? Right now after seeing them put a 40 minute game together on the road the light is obviously Final 4 worthy. Consistent effort like we showed Saturday can either be a virus that becomes this team, or its a one game high. Obviously we are hoping the Texas game springboards a successful 2nd half of the season.

    A few weeks ago I still believed we were a 2nd round to Sweet 16 team. We’ve flirted with good halves and then lackluster play in many games. Identity wise, we know this team is better than last years and they do so many things that can extend a season bettter than the 13-14 team. Most of us understand our deficiency inside is the biggest link missing to consider us Championship material. What can we possibly do if hypothetically we played UK in the NCAA Final and get a 2nd chance at them? So much unknown at this point that we can’t possibly know what will happen. We have a hard enough time predicting where we will be a week from now in our own conference. I’ll check back to this topic in a week after these 3 games test our true abilities.

  • Caught this on FoxSports this AM. Re-ranking Top25

    Take it for what it’s worth, this is the kid that wrote it… Joe Diglio

  • @Kip_McSmithers I do like what was identified in the blog.

    “The Jayhawks’ issue isn’t as big of a deal, but it’s a bit peculiar. Their opponents’ block percentage is 14.2 percent, which ranks the Jayhawks 342nd in the country. This is despite the fact that they’re 54th in average height. That difference between height and block percentage is the worst in the country.”

    Pretty interesting. The reason I think it is peculiar to this blogger is that he hasn’t seen us play a lot. When there is a feed the post focus, and the players you have in the post don’t have a size/length advantage on their defender, you get this result. At least that’s how I’d explain it.

  • @HighEliteMajor Agreed. I could be wrong but I think our average height isn’t greater than most teams at the 4 and 5 positions but is at the guard slots which messes with these numbers.

  • I have an issue with the story, for example the statistic about KU being the 54th team by height. This number is misleading and means absolutely nothing since it represents the average height of all players in the roster. Here is the current ranking of teams with the average height. If you click on the columns header it will sort by ascending order by that column and if you click again it will change it by descending order; you can do this with any of the columns. If you click on the school name it will bring the roster and you will see that it is the current roster with 5 FR and 1 Sr. By the way, of teams that list age, KU is the 3rd youngest which we already knew.

    The height numbers have been rounded of to the nearest inch which means two teams with the same listed height are within 1" apart. Now look at the listed heights for KU, Texas and UK and they all both listed at…surprise, surprise…6’-5", which means they are within 1’" of each other…does any one in his/her right mind think KU, Texas and UK are about the same height? I certainly don’t. Further, the only KU player under 6’-2" is Frank Mason at 5’-11" and the only two players over 6’-8" are Mickelson and Lucas, both listed at 6’-10" and neither of whom plays much; we also know that neither Ellis nor Traylor, both listed at 6’-8", are close to that height. KU is not a short team but it is most definitely not a tall team.

    Even if we look at the 5 starting players the average height is completely irrelevant:

    • Teams 1 - 7-0, 7,0, 6-5, 5-10, 5-10 ==> Avg: 6’-5"
    • Team 2 - 6-8, 6-8, 6-5, 6-2, 6-2 ==> Avg: 6’-5"
    • Team 3 - 6-5, 6-5, 6-5, 6-5, 6-5 ==> Avg. 6’-5"
    • Team 4 - 6-8, 6-8, 6-7, 6-5, 5-11 ==> Avg. 6’-5.4"
    • Team 5 - 7-0, 6-11, 6-10, 6-6, 6-6 ==> Avg 6’-9"

    There is no question that the teams would have a very different makeup height wise; however their average height for the top 3 are exactly the same. BTW, the fourth team is KU and the fifth Kentucky. Just my opinion and I am sure I will be told I am wrong.

  • I don’t remember who, but someone, somewhere, has an effective height measurement that is much more useful. Obviously height at the 1, 2, and 3 can be helpful, but when discussing specifically block percentage the only 2 that really matter are 4, and 5, unless like Texas your 3 is 6’9.

  • @JayHawkFanToo

    I’m not sure how much actual number crunching this guy has done or if he watches all the teams consistently (I highly doubt he does though). Rotations have changed for most teams since the end of cupcake non-cons. Like I said above in my other post, look at our three main 4s-5s and like you said, none of them are really the 6’8" they claim. Ridley 6’9" and Lambert 6’9" look much taller than both Perry and Jamari. And all of Kentucky’s bigs are larger at 6’10", 7’, 6’11",and 7’.

    This is where our height DISadvantage lies and adding our height to style of play is the reason for our number of blocked shots.

    Where we get back to above average is by having wings that are 6’7" BG, 6’7" KO, 6’8" SM, and 6’5" WS .

  • @Kip_McSmithers

    “The Jayhawks’ issue isn’t as big of a deal, but it’s a bit peculiar. Their opponents’ block percentage is 14.2 percent, which ranks the Jayhawks 342nd in the country. This is despite the fact that they’re 54th in average height. That difference between height and block percentage is the worst in the country.”

    I relate this to our inability to use the shot fake. The shot fake not only helps prevent some blocks because the shooter can time his shot around the up and down of the defender… but it also helps keep the defense honest.

    Every game I see defenders against us taking huge lunging (risky) extensions trying to block. They have learned from their scouting that Kansas players do not use shot fakes. They have been told to make the gamble. It is obvious. I don’t see any other games where the defenders take such over-the-top gambles because every single one of those should end in a foul call off a fake, or the defender flips upside down and lands on his head after contacting his lower body with a squat shot fake.

    Another aspect of all of this… since we don’t use shot fakes (in practice, too) then our guys aren’t used to defending the fakes. We often commit dumb fouls because we fall for every single shot fake pulled on us.

    This is an area with a little effort, we could make a monstrous improvement on and influence games towards the “win” column.

    We’ve been called out on this several times from the media… and if they say it, it must be insanely obvious to the entire world.

    We didn’t need many shot fakes in Austin, because our feet did the talking. Our movement was so good that Texas had fewer opportunities for blocks, even though they still had several.

    Combine energy and foot speed, with a few shot fakes, and these block numbers will shrink, we will get more opposing players in foul trouble, shoot more FTs, and win more games.

    This is a tweak I hope we make by March. Perry seems to be using the shot fake once in a while now… kudos to him!

  • @drgnslayr There has got to be a Vine, or Instagram, or Meme, or something of Coach Knight saying " Shot Fake!"

  • @Lulufulu

    Absolutely! And he was the master of offense!

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