Riverboat Gambler

  • billselfriverboatgambler.jpg Cornwell Natchez Lee new Scan Small file for NORI.jpg

    Coach Bill Self has us all just where he wants us!

    Yes… it seems everyone has been jumping all over Coach Bill Self lately for several things, including his definition statement that our spectacular 3-pt shooting is nothing more than “fool’s gold.”

    We’ve all bit the bait, and Coach has us right where he wants us… selling this fairytale to his team and to opposing teams.

    We all need to take a step backwards and think this out. Base everything moving forward on the knowledge that we have on Coach and his ability to carefully parse his words. Coach is a very capable man with his vocabulary and he realizes that statements are capable of being very powerful. Hence the statement, “fool’s gold!”

    Put yourself in Coach’s shoes… how would you play it? Contrary to everything that has been said, by everyone, there are certain facts about this team that can’t be changed by smoke and mirrors.

    Fact #1: This team does not make “back to the basket” points and appears to not be able to do so in the near future.

    Fact #2: This team is the best (or one of the best) perimeter shooting teams in the nation.

    So why on earth would Coach criticize the brightest spot of his offense? Why?

    First, he wants to put a chip on his players to do their best to prove him wrong. Coach knows there is imminent danger that comes when teams get hot from the perimeter… often they get cocky. With attitudes changing unfavorably it brings obvious side effects: guys start playing lax on defense, and start taking ill-advised shots feeling like everything will go in. With Coach’s statement he has set the bar for these guys and they’ll have to earn their worth and convince Coach that finding success from the perimeter is more than “fool’s gold.”

    Second, if you are an opposing team preparing to play us, you will do your homework. Since this team’s skill set is so lopsided to the perimeter, it makes scouting us easy. Simply… guard the perimeter! But is that all they have to worry about? Especially when Self is telegraphing to the entire world that we must focus on interior scoring?

    Wake up, people… you’ve bitten on his bluff! We are all being played on this hand, and Coach is about to rake in a big jackpot for his team!

  • @drgnslayr Be very careful in posting such conjectures. Some poster from LA is likely to jump yer butt!

  • @drgnslayr

    Fact: 20-4 aka .833 aka equal to his ten year average winning percentage.

    Fact: first place in B12 in mid February aka the driver’s seat.

    Fact: 41% of total FGAs were 3ptas last game against a team that takes away the inside game and gives the three, which means Self took what they gave us.

    Self’s post game comments were geared to do all of what you said plus three more things.

    Self knows shooting 41% of FGAs as 3ptas and winning by nearly 20 points creates an expectation in fans of doing that the next game, and every game.

    Self’s remarks were aimed to eliminate the expectation on the part of his team, his opponents, and his fans that the next game they would shoot 41% again. Why did he do this? Because he knows “who we are” is whatever they give us; i.e., whatever they don’t take away. A 41% of FGAs 3pta game, in which we make 50% of our treys will encourage opponents to “take away” our trey; i.e., to guard the trey stripe and push us two feet farther out. When they do this, Self will go back to inside out, as surely as night follows day, and he should, unless they stop the ten feet and in game, while over guarding the trey. If they take away both the trey stripe and the ten feet and in game, then that leaves us the weaves–three-man variety and 4-man variety–in the mid range.

    The second reason his made these remarks was because our next opponent is Baylor and Baylor plays zone. Playing zone will make our fans think we should shoot the same high percentage of FGAs as 3ptas., maybe even more. But Baylor plays a match-up zone that stretches to guard the trey stripe, guards the rim, and gives the seams. Self knows that Drew will be inclined to stretch his matchup zone even more for hot shooting, long balling KU. He is signalling Drew, but our fans to, to be prepared for long grind of scoring in the seams, rather than trey balling. And if KU successful scores in the seams, Drew will probably come out into m2m, rather than pack the zone to close the seams. In man to man mode, he will probably also go inside, at least until they prove they can stop KU inside.

    The third reason for creating the expectation of an inside out game versus Baylor, is that Baylor is part of a Saturday-Monday set of games with a road game against a pressing team in WVU. Self knows that in order to win two games in three days he is going to have to turn the Baylor game into a very low possession, ugly grind it out type of game; that means inside out and mid range weaves and ONLY opening it up to create a little lead that he will then tighten down to defend and shorten the game. I expect we will see a bunch of tiny leads defended by Self, and we will see Drew constantly trying to jump the tempo. It depends on who Baylor has to play on Monday. But Self knows he is going to have employ the very kind of slow down, grind it out strategy that makes his fans scream. He will also have to go to a long bench,and along bench requires slow down and grind, also, because a lot of our backups are not reliable in a fast paced game.

    So: what about WVU? This game could be very ugly too. WVU’s press takes away the transition baskets. That means KU has to score in half court against a big muscle bound team of non shooters on the road where KU won’t get a fair whistle. It also means KU will have a bunch of TOs. Fans will say, “Fine, micro burst the treys in half court coach!” But WVU is long enough inside to handle our bigs and so Huggie is likely to stretch and defend the trey stripe and see if our soft bigs can play head up inside and beat his hard bigs. Self will take what Huggie gives. It means an ugly, low possession game with a lot of blocks in which KU will depend on shooting a higher percentage on FGs, 3pters, and FT to win.

    So: we fans are facing two very ugly games in which three point shooting may only be used very intermittently.

    All in all, his presser after the TxTech beat down was an exercise in managing expectations of his team, his fans, and his next opponent in these regards.

  • @drgnslayr

    By the way, quite a beautiful river scene.

  • @jaybate-1.0 we better be hitting ft’s!

  • @jaybate-1.0

    Good post with well reasoned and defensible points.

    About WVU, did you has chance to watch their game against KSU last night? They combined for 52 fouls and each team shot 20-33 FT. WVU plays up to 16 players and 10 of them are averaging double figure minutes for the season. Last night 12 players played and 9 of them played double figure minutes; no question that they like to tire you with frantic defense and pace. On the other hand, they were barely able to beat a depleted KSU team at home by only 4 points, and it took a couple of mistakes by KSU a the end of the game to seal the win.

    As I said before, if KU can beat the full court press it will win handily like Texas, OU and Baylor did. Mason and Graham will need to be in top form and I am concerned about Mason’s endurance is this type of game, considering how much he has played lately. I can see having Selden and Green staying back to help break the press. If KU runs into trouble in-bounding the ball, it could be a long afternoon; I would think that recent practices have concentrated on this aspect of the game.

  • @JayHawkFanToo

    Right on about WVU. I caught that game. KSU really blew it.

    My concern is we don’t work on beating their press until Sunday afternoon… leaving us no time to prepare for WVU. I believe we are focused on Baylor now and right through to tip off on Saturday.

    I believe this is part of Self’s “toughening teaching.” Throw the boys to the wolves and see how they react. There isn’t time to prepare for this game anyways.

    And it may be the best thing for us to get hammered in Morgantown! All we have to do to win #11 is win out at home and win in the Sherronagon… maybe even without that.

  • @JayHawkFanToo

    Holy cow, 10 in double digit mpg?

    Huggie is out to muggie opponents.

    Thanks for the heads up on THAT stat.

    Huggins is a really, really smart guy, but like a lot of guys (e.g. Tubby Smith, Trent Johnson, etc.) later in their careers he has either jumped, or fallen, or been pushed off the talent gravy train and so has to be inventive working with players with XTReme Limitations. Huggs, Tubby and Trent all seem to load up with what used to be called prison bodies that can’t shoot much, and they try to take away one aspect, or another, of your game, and hope you struggle doing whatever is left.

    What I like (or hate if he beats us) about what Huggs is trying is he is trying to make two, or three strings of muscle press and take away your transition baskets, up your TOs, and then slide back into half court and either muscle you inside, or muscle you outside, depending on whatever is your strength.

    Apparently the teams you mention have figured out how to solve his press and his guys are not doing a very good job of falling back into half court.

    But Huggs players are like everyone else’s players, as the season goes on they hopefully keep getting better at what their coach is asking them to learn to do.

    What I like about Huggs strategy is that if his guys can ever learn how to get back to half court without giving up the easy baskets you rightly note have been their Achilles Heels in many games, WVU could become very, very tough even though it can’t shoot a lick.

    Thanks for weighing in. I didn’t realize Huggs was playing so many guys.

  • WVU - Get the ball across half-court and hit your free throws. These two things might be a big challenge for us.

  • @jaybate-1.0

    I’m going to send Huggy a bouquet of roses after conference play, thanking him for bringing his unique style of play to the B12. We couldn’t ask for more diversity in our league this year. The fact that we play them twice gives us two opportunities to practice in a live environment on beating full court pressure and half court traps. Bravo, Huggy Bear!

    He is helping all the B12 teams prepare for March.

    I’m thinking crimson/blue roses…

  • @drgnslayr Upvote for the “great minds think alike” moment- i’ve thought the same thing. We needed to run against pressure a couple times to get better at it. We still look shaky against it,and we aren’t attacking it as much as I would like.

  • @jaybate-1.0

    In 2004 NCCA KU played UAB coached by Mike Anderson and its “40 minutes of hell” that had just beaten #1 seed Kentucky and stated they would do the same thing to KU as well,

    Aaron Miles masterfully broke the full court press time after time and ended up with 10 assists, many of those to the “Big Dub” who scored 30 point including 18-20 from the line. KU won going away 100-74. Hopefully Mason and/or Graham can bring out their inner-Miles and duplicate the result.

  • @drgnslayr I was wondering the same thing myself. He could just be scheming against other coaches, messing with their heads. But, I also thought that maybe he was serious and might try to limit KU’s hot 3pt shooting from here on, to the detriment of our 11th consecutive conference championship, a solid run at the conference and national titles too. Just so he can say I dont want a team of 3 point shooters, I want a team that can play inside out, back to the basket, easy points, prevent easy points. Square peg in a round hole type shhhhh

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