Self, Elegance, the T-Axis and Thoughts on OU Before OSU

  • @benshawks08

    You mentioned OU as possible loss. It made me think about why I thought Self would beat OU and win out, when the odds are against it. 🙂

    Its a long mediation and only a little about OU at the end…

    Self has been feeling his way along this season. He has effectively admitted it a couple of times now.

    But at the same time once each season for the last two and this one–basically since he began his midlife crisis and passed through it–he has repeated this for whomever would listen. To paraphrase: I used to spend way too much time on things that did not matter to winning. I am focusing more and more on what matters.

    This has been the voice of a gregarious control freak overwhelmed with the search through minutia trying to explain early exits and concluding that a search for elegance is the only answer.

    The search for elegance is always what separates the clones of their teachers from the self actualized.

    This is the sign of a great mind begining a voyage of discovering the final level in his profession.

    Achieve elegance in your thinking and your living and you can deal with the complexity of anything.

    Self has reduced the game to creating leads and defending them.

    Its why there are so many close games.

    Its why occassionally there games that he crafts big leads all the way to the end.

    Teams that can score a bushel in a hurry require one to keep building a lead to within 3-5 minutes of the end.

    Teams that cannot score in bushels require only a 10-15 point lead that can be defended the rest of the game, always with ten to go, often from half time and sometimes the last ten minutes of the first half.

    For our Magister Ludi, teams that cannot score are games to practice defending the lead against teams that can score.

    Self has refined the game.

    The reason he was up so late working on the game plan for ISU was the game was vital to win. He was not building a complicated plan at all. He was up late trying to build and elegant game plan, one that involved putting Fred in a straight jacket of no running ASAP.

    Self knew the inside out would not produce points. He did not care about building a lead. He was putting Fred in the straight jacket of no running. Once the jacket was on Fred, from then on it was just a matter of building a lead with trey balling and using a lot of bench to keep the trey baller’s legs fresh for the second half.

    The reason he was up late was because he had to anticipate different ways to slip the straight jacket on Fred. Each way Fred might have started the game had to be considered, so the straight jacket could be slipped on and fit properly.

    The three balling is what you do once the strait jacket is on. It is a defensive straight jacket. But just as defense starts offense, offense starts defense; this the part Self always leaves out intentionally. You never give away your secrets as a magician.





    Plug into the elegant circularity elegantly and you are Magister Ludi.

    How do you win?

    By leading at the end.

    How do you lead at the end?

    By building a lead before the end.

    How do you build a lead?

    By shooting a higher PPP than the opponent.

    How do you build a higher PPP?

    By taking more open and more productive shots?

    By making the other team take less open, less productive shots.

    How big of a lead do you need?

    The smallest amount that can shrink to a one point lead in the remaining possessions when you stretch out the length of possession, shoot the worst you reasonably will, and they shoot the best they probably will.

    Basketball is not about winning big.

    It is not about being the best you can be.

    It is about working to get just enough better that you can win by 1 against anyone you will play.

    All that matters is winning by one point.

    A greater winnning margin is wasteful–and waste is inelegant. It means you did not properly defend the lead by spending the lead and reducing possessions.

    A one point win is the greatest elegance.

    As Self said early this season what difference does it make if you beat some one 100 to 80, or 70-50.

    He was pointing to what the game was beginning to mean to him.

    Scoring margin is all that matters.

    The least scoring margin is the most elegant, if you managed the game to achieve it.

    This is the elegance that Bill Self is moving toward.

    Bigger scoring margins are insurance.

    But how much insurance does one need?

    Just enough.

    So while a 1 point winning margin is perfect elegance, it does not account for insurance risk. A five point lead against average teams is plenty. Against great trey shooting teams you may want a 10 or 15 point policy.

    Its all risk management.

    If you have studied insurance risk and investment analysis and project feasibility, Self’s quest for elegance fits, makes perfect sense.

    Look at the rules of the game. You get a win, or a loss, whether you win by 100, or by 10, or lose by 10, or a hundred.

    You get a win, or a loss, whether the score is in 20s, 50s, 70s, or 90s.

    Self says he used to think to much about things that weren’t apart of winning.

    Notice, he no longer talks about put your boot down on someone’s neck and finishing them off.

    He has stopped thinking about that because you get a W, whether you step down on their necks, or not.

    All that matters now is bringing energy, aggressiveness, skill, and intelligence. These are what build leads. These are what defend leads.

    Self has gone back to the roots of the game.

    I already noted earlier in the season that he had gone back to Allen to dust of "you don’t beat opponents, you play to help them beat themselves.’ That is elegance.

    But he has gone back to Iba for building leads and defending leads, and making all decisions be about getting the minimum lead needed to defend for a 1 point win wih 4 insurance points.

    The bigger the lead you build and the sooner you can start shortening the game–start defending that lead.

    But it works at the beginning too. The longer you can stay even with an opponent stretching out early possessions and making him stretch his early possessions out, the shorter the game is, and the shorter the game is, then the less lead you need to build, and the less time you have to defend it.

    Basketball exists spatially on X ,Y and Z axes as @drgnslayr says. X is end to end. Y is up and down. Z is side to side. These are the 3 dimensions of space. Most coaches coach on those axes. They draw up neat Xs and Os to play out on these axes. They are the visible dimensions. Fred Hoiberg is very good scheming on these axes. As @drgnslayr notes, Fred is doing something brilliant there, something Self is studying and learning from. He is introducing a professional style of motion and use of space on the X , Y and Z axes. It was a new thing to Self from the moment Fred got to Ames. But now Self has largely learned how to guard it, and learned how to use it in his offense.

    But Fred is getting an education from Self and Fred is struggling with it. Fred is a spatial guy, like Self used to be–before the quest for elegance took Self onto the T-axis–time.

    The T-axis is time.

    A game has 40 minutes of back and forth through space.

    The time is filled with possessions.

    The number of possessions of a game are an accordion of time you can scheme on as a coach.

    Self shrinks that front end of the game. He builds a lead. He shrinks the back end of the game.

    Sometimes builds the lead at the start, then defends it for the first half, then builds it the second half, then defends it. Some time he waits the whole game, then builds it and defends it 3 minutes.

    He wins because while everyone else is scheming the spatial part of the game, which Self is scheming within too, Self is scheming on a dimension that only a few of them think is important, and then only at the end of games, and among those, only a few really get the strategic and tactical implications of the accordion effect.

    Why don’t they get it yet?

    Because they are trying to beat people bad; that’s why.

    They are playing the game as if a win by 20 points was worth more than a win by 1 point.

    When you think this way, you always compress the accordion to try to get as many points as you can, not the fewest you need.

    Many games Self is scheming on the T axis of time almost by himself.

    About the only thing opposing coaches think about time is time outs, TV timeouts, and time to go down the stretch–the last five minutes.

    Self is playing every minute of every game as if it were an accordion effect.

    Fred knows Self is doing this. Fred knows it works. Fred has only beaten Self once, if I recall correctly, and it was at home.

    Fred wants to learn what Self is doing–this accordion thing on the T-axis, from opening tip off to the last second of the game. But Fred is all into space. And Self is pulling him out of space and into time, and time in Fred’s experience of basketball is something you try to cram more and more action into, even as you are spreading it out in space. You spread it out to score more.

    But Self doesn’t want to score more.

    Self wants to score just enough.

    Its a spooky concept that Iba apparently thoroughly figured out. He may have even been the first to really work through it.

    And Fred is having as much trouble with that concept as Self had buying into outside in–into spreading it out first to attack.

    Something great is happening in the synergy of Bill and Fred.

    But right now, Self is way ahead on the T axis and caught up on the X and Y.

    What has this long meditation to do with OU?

    Kruger is an Okie Baller.

    If anyone can get directly clued into to what Self is up to its Kruger.

    Kruger is smart–as smart as Self in most ways–even wilier in a few. Jack Hartman had a fabulous intellect for scheming guys open, for shaking them loose. Find old tapes of what he did with Walt Frazier. Later tapes of what he did with Mike Evans. Different strokes but all master strokes. Kruger learned that from him.

    You’re right, OU is possible loss.

    But Self has selected his players, and trained his players and taught his players to play on the T axis, because, quite frankly, his bigs aren’t very good near the basket on the X, Y, or Z axes. So: he has borrowed form Fred and moved his bigs out to where they are good at some things in the X, Y, and Z space–outside in.

    But the real game that Self and his players are playing is played on the T axis. And the team’s accordion is played according to a criterion of elegance.

    Shrink the game, build a lead, defend a lead by shrinking the rest of the game. Buy just enough insurance.

    If Self can pull Kruger out of space and into time the way he pulled Fred, hang another W.

    Win out, Jayhawks, win out!!!

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