Glass Half Full or Half Empty

  • Following the second half meltdown at Gallagher-Iba, there has been a lot of hand-wringing, angst, and reflection on the state of the Jayhawks. The question heading into the TT game (trap? rebound?) is whether the glass is half full or half empty?

    Half Full:

    We are 19-4 against the toughest schedule in the country. Would anyone have not taken that before the year? We have a two game lead in the B12 and are well positioned to chalk up #11. We are #1 in RPI. With the exception of the 2nd half at GIA, we’ve managed to grind out tough wins, including on the road (e.g., GU and Baylor), plus a road beatdown of Texas, the team most pundits look at the primary challenger (if not vanquisher) to the Hawks. The PG problems that have pegged us the past couple of years are, for the most part, behind us as Mason has turned out to be the team’s MVP and Graham is solid with the ball and should only get better. We have the best line-up of trey gunners in years.

    Glass Half Empty:

    We’re 19-4, but it doesn’t feel like it. Arguably, we’ve only played one complete game (TX) and have struggled to hold onto big leads and put away even mediocre teams The two players most counted on coming into the year, Ellis and Selden, haven’t lived up to expectations. Ellis can’t score against L&A, at least down low. Selden, while a solid on the ball defender and set shooter from 3, can’t finish at the rim or do much of anything in the paint and doesn’t rebound. Our two highly touted freshmen have had moments (and both need to be on floor), they have been consistent contributors (KO seemed to be headed that way until recent slump; hopefully that is illness related?). Our best player on a team with a bunch of MDAAs isn’t one. Another starter couldn’t have sniffed one. Our Kenpom efficiency ratings are the lowest of the Self era - last two years have been by far the worst defensively.

    One could obviously add to both categories. It’s certainly been an unusual ride - as others have pointed out, we’re 2/3rds into the season and the team still doesn’t have an identity. It’s not clear from game to game or half to half whether will be playing inside-out or outside-in or what the level of energy will be.

    So, the last question - what is the degree of confidence that by tournament time, this team can string together 4 wins to get to another FF?

  • @DCHawker No problem at all. If it’s half empty just Indulge with a glass of the proper capacity. Even a shot glass is permissible & it doesn’t take as much to make that baby run right over. RCJH, it’s game day !!

  • @globaljaybird Ha! My rhetorical glass may be half full/empty, but rest assured my half past the yard arm class is full - or is promptly refilled…

  • Full to the max. It is hard to fault anyone on this year’s team. Chemistry takes time. What I like about this team is that we have so many options to take the big shot. In years past, we had some players that appeared to not want to take the big shot. This team has plenty. I believe Mason and Selden will get their wheels back. I believe Cliff will start over Traylor sooner than later. I believe this team will develop chemistry and have another successful season. I believe that some fans that expect Championships every single year, now realize how difficult it is to win just one. Coach Self’s job is not all peaches and cream. Having to manage all the different personalities and egos cannot be easy? My glass remains full to the max, because I get to enjoy the Kansas Jayhawks play the game of basketball. It is just something special about that!

  • @KansasComet

    I am with you. Who would have thought (after the UK and Temple games) that at this stage in the season KU would be 19-4 and 8-2 and i control of the conference? Pretty much no one. I predicted 14-4 (or even 13-5) would win the conference and it seem like a likely result. I for one am very pleased with outcome so far.

  • For me it’s not about the glass being half full or half empty, it’s about who is paying for the next round!

    And speaking of the next round, I see us winning the B12, but not doing so great at the Dance.

    But next year… dang, watch out, because this team is going to kick some serious booty when we get these guys (sans Oubre) back. I just may have to take a out a nice fat pre-season Vegas bet on our Hawks winning the NC next year, and I’m not much of a betting man either.

    But I would love to be surprised this year… I love good surprises 🙂

  • I think we all can use more of this. More about how we focus our fan energy.

    Right after a stingy loss (like at OSU) it is easy to go negative.

    Last night’s performance should help us balance out. So maybe now we can look again at where we are.

    Good start, @DCHawker !

    Here is my 2 cents…

    Glass Half Empty:

    Youth - This team is young. The problem is we see them execute for a game or for a half and we quickly forget how young this team is. Our “veterans” are three juniors, Perry, Jamari and Hunter. The only guy we really count on (especially for offense) is Perry. Now look at everyone else. It seems like Wayne should be considered an elder, but he still is only a sophomore. Players tend to grow up quite a bit during a 4-year commitment. Wayne, Brannen, Frank and Landen… those guys may not still be called “green wood”, but they are still soaking in sap.

    Leadership - It takes several qualities in a player to make a good leader. Typically… we are talking about experience, communication ability, confidence, swagger, talent, hustle, basketball IQ, and last, he must have a following! This team doesn’t really count on one guy to lead. That doesn’t seem to matter sometimes… but other times, we could sure use one guy to step up and kick the troops back in line. Usually it comes from the PG. Frank doesn’t back down from anyone. But does he communicate to everyone? Does he kick players to get them going? Does he see enough of what is happening in a game to try to take control, like with the tempo? Frank has a lot on his plate. He came to Kansas as a volume scorer, not a PG. He has done a great job in transferring his ability to a new position. But to lead the team, he’ll need to make a bigger commitment to fulfill that role. Is he up for it? Guess we better ask Frank.

    Post Play - We’ve never had a Self team with so little effectiveness in the low post. Self mentioned it again in his post game interview. We need to count on our fair share of post points. An easy way to work on post baskets is to get more offensive rebounds. Simply put… we are not a good offensive rebounding team. Case in point last night. We out-rebounded TT but only got half the offensive rebounds they had. There is an easy place to pick up some easy baskets. Wow… consider if we had this kind of perimeter shooting with players like TRob and the twins in the post? Remember all those sagging defenses back then?

    Glass Half Full:

    Youth - There is a positive to youth. This is a team void of baggage. For example, our young perimeter players aren’t carrying the “disfunctional guard torch” any longer. That ended with Naa. Another advantage about their youth, we don’t know that they will choke under pressure. Knowledge doesn’t always help the situation. If all these guys were juniors and seniors, and had sat on the bench their first few years, soaking up the knowledge, we don’t know that they would succeed. Then they carry more of a burden… expectations gone over board. Perry seems to fit in that scenario sometimes. These guys do have the possibility that they can just play unhindered basketball.

    Timing Their Peak - How many times have we experienced a Bill Self team that peaks too early? It is important to peak at the end. Look at our possibilities to do that this year! Look at our players individually, and where their performance timeline may be: Wayne, seems to be coming on, especially with his shot. Might that trigger his game all around? We know he is capable of playing better defense and snagging more rebounds, even blocking shots. Brannen, he doesn’t need to shoot a higher percentage, we just need to find more ways to get him the ball. But his defense and rebounding are clearly improving. He just needs enough PT. Kelly, we don’t even know what he is capable of bringing! It was great to see him score a few buckets on the road in this game, might he eventually become a true “road warrior?” Cliff… it is clear that he will get more PT moving forward now. He really doesn’t have to provide so much to make a huge impact because we weren’t getting enough from Jamari. It was great seeing him swat some shots and effect other shots. He will surely pick up some low post offense soon. Perry… might he come on late in the season? Devonte will surely help out in key situations. Landen offers a post player who knows how to set in the low post.

    Identity - This team has won a lot of ball games and they’ve done it largely without having an identity. It looks like their identity (moving forward) is to be the best perimeter shooting team in the nation! Self can call it “fools gold” but we wouldn’t be near the top of our conference without it. Can we count on it? To some degree, yes! What we have to do is protect our interests. What we can’t count on is hitting heavily contested shots. We need to develop more offense that continues to spread the defense and open up the long ball. Are any of you really concerned about Brannen’s ability to nail the 3, especially if he is wide open? Moving forward, in March, we will face some teams with very good perimeter defense. They will scout us and they will come at us with the goal to contest the 3 ball. We can counter by developing some working post offense. That will help. But what we really need to do is drive the ball! Remember “drive and feed?” Frank and Devonte should be our guys to drive most. Even Perry is a capable option to drive. I’m really not concerned with any “back to the basket” play from here on out. That simply isn’t our style, and we are wasting our time to work on it. Enough with the teaching philosophy, it’s time to coach a strategy to win each game ahead of us. The way to do that, and have instant success, is to develop offense around the long ball. Get our guards to drive some, and otherwise, get good spacing and crisp passing. Some of our guys need to run through off-ball screens. Motion in our offense is the answer. If we do this right, no team in the country can beat us. No one. Kentucky? No! Think “turbocharged Princeton!” Adopt a bit more from the Mayor’s playbook. Imagine what that guy would do with the group of shooters we have?

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