Ellis' 23, Devonte's 20 Spoil Trent's Recipe

  • To start with, Trent Johnson owes Self some amour for Self keeping it close and not turning up the bunson burner on Johnson’s TCU job at a tie of year when lop sided losses get a coach at a low echelon program sacrificed. Trent’s got just enough talent in Shepherd and Washburn, and just enough bodies around, that all it takes is couple big losses and a cost shifting AD to let some up and comer that can bring in two perimeter scorers in next season to go with Shepherd and Washburn, and Trent is bound for a non power conference pronto.

    Self long benched both halves to have a full energy budget for KSU and in the process made sure it wasn’t a blow out. He gave Devonte a bunch of practice work handling the ball and creating shots. He continued the “Where’s Clifford?” show. He experimented with Oubre at the two and Brannen at the 3, which I really liked and Brannen responded with 6 boards. Are you listening Wayne? Trey fingers on both wings. Oubre snagging 4 and BG snagging 6. Self about ready to shout, “Show me the rebounds, Wayne?” And Self gave Wayne some drives, which were hairy to watch from a wince index perspective. And Self even tried the weirdest variation off the weave yet, when he went deep into his Bud Wilkinson box of football memories and had the wings run a…drum roll please, a freaking cross buck that has been run in football since the single wing days, after which the PG, can recall if it was Mason, or Devonte, runs right off the hip of the cross buck, penetrates and makes a play. He may even have kicked out. Hell, Self even experimented with making Perry laugh out loud with joy at a couple straight dunks. What they hay!!! Self even played his flipping manager. For a minute there, I thought I saw CBernie and ShayZing unzipping some warm ups.

    And Self owes Trent zip, because Johnson’s guys were still putting KU’s guys on the wood down the stretch. And Self just looked the other way at the bush league stuff. Fine he seemed to say, my guys need more toughening, and if I ever need to beat you into the next century, Trent, I will. Until then, I will just use you and you poorly coached bigs as practice game fodder.

    Professional curtesy in coaching is a complex thing. Coaches have a code. Don’t cost a guy his job if you don’t have to. But never give a guy an even break. EVER. This is not tiddly winks.

    If Trent Johnson could get some guys that could shoot, he could build a decent team, like Bruce Weber could , if Bruce could ever recruit as many as he inherited anywhere. Trent is not an idiot. Neither is Bruce. And Trent’s guys did wind up +4 on the glass, mostly because Self long benched both halves and worked on “stuff.”

    But Trent couldn’t recruit enough at Stanford, and he really couldn’t coach up the guys he did recruit. Like Weber riding Self’s talent and prior coaching at Illinois, Trent rode Mike Montgomery’s talent and coaching at Stanford. Both places got both coaches their only distinguished stretches of W&L statements. Then boom! Both brought in a few recruits, but not quite enough, and then both didn’t really coach’em up.

    Ya have to do both.

    And its apparently getting tougher to do both.

    With the talent stacking at the major Big Shoe repository programs, it leaves fewer difference makers that can filter out to the coaches trying to start new programs, even the cheaters apparently, which Trent and Bruce do not seem to be, to their credits.

    Trying to turn a program around without a difference maker is VERY tough.

    And if you land a difference maker, like Shepherd, or Washburn, and then you can’t coach’em up, well, life is very tenuous.

    Like I said, all it takes is one hot young coach out their with two perimeter scorers on the line, and such perimeter guys are not so rare, as Fred Holberg has shown, in his short stint as the Mayor of Ames, and boom! Good by Trent. Hello new guy with the two scorers to go with Shepherd and Washburn. And after the new guys says a few gratuitous nice things about being able to build on the foundation Trent started, it is Trent who?

    And Trent is back in Reno…if he is lucky.

    The life of a D1 coach is insanely tenuous.

    Self has dedicated his life to coaching also. Its been a lot better to him than it has to Trent, or Bruce. 82% W&L. 10 titles. One ring. But he only has 3 OAD/TADs this year, only one non OAD/TAD commit in Bragg, and he is having to really gut it out and rewrite the way you play winning basketball, among fans throwing tantrums about how he is too inflexible and stubborn, and even though he’s in first place and likely to get the incredible 11th title, he could be .500 next season if the OAD/TADs jump, no OAD/TADs sign, and one of his returning guys blows an ACL.

    You can’t coach up what you don’t have.

    Self has got to get some OAD/TADs signed. He needs three more just to stay even. But that’s just to keep walking the tight rope another season. He needs 7=10 to say yes in April. to seriously contend with the Big Shoe-Agency stacks.

    He is an amazing human being.

    I don’t know how he does it.

    I don’t know how how he keeps finding the next invisible door.

    But he does, and when he gets them here, compared to the way freshman and sophomores play for these other Big 12 coaches? It is stunning how much better he coaches his guys up through their flaws into being title winners. Just flipping amazing.

    And all the while he has time to just toy with Trent Johnson and used that game for a practice game in late February to keep working on “the stuff.”

    Amazing, just amazing.

    Any other B12 coaching this team would have 5-7 conference losses. Easy.

    I still say, that despite all the problems and poor showings, all the unfulfilled expectations, the guy is 22-4 and in first place with a group of guys that can’t score back to basket ever, and can’t rebound about a third of the time. This is a team that is so young and is learning so much so fast that it actually masters things like protecting the ball–3 TOs against Texas on the road–and forgets how they did it by February, because they are learning to do so much other stuff.

    Hey, I even have a new hypothesis about what is the real problem with Cliff.

    The guy just can’t keep up with how much knew “stuff” Self keeps “stuffing” into the offense and defense game after game. Cliff may not be stupid. He just may not be a rocket scientist and able to keep up with how much keeps coming at him every week.

    It is insane, but Self is taking this youngest team he’s ever had, and he is turning it into team with as rich of an offensive variety, maybe THE richest offensive variety, of any team he has ever had.

    Self has apparently decided that the hub of his team, Perry Ellis, is REALLY smart in raw IQ; that Frank Mason is really smart; that Lucas is smart, and Selden and Traylor are going to have learn how to be smart, because if this can’t be one of his most talented teams, then it is going to be one of his smartest teams.

    I have been trying to tell board rats for quite awhile: the team has been learning to play a new way. They have been learning to play to win by 5 plus or minus 4. Each game is an exercise in trying get a W, while working on trying to learn to play and win this new way.

    It is an insane way to play the game, and Self is borderline mad for trying to do it.

    But he is doing it and he is forging a new way to play in the OAD/TAD era, and the birthing pains are often ugly but its being born. It was only one point in error in Morgantown. And versus TCU it was a close game all the way, not because TCU was any good, but because this is the way this team is learning to play. Close. Close. Close.

    When it isn’t close, Self coaches to keep it close. He works on stuff and tries new combinations until it is close and then he puts his starters back in and says win it. And then he pulls them and tells a different combination to win it.

    And Perry, the brain at the center of this team, is slowly learning how to play rough this way. Perry was out mixing it up for the third straight game. This is the most consecutive games of seeing Perry bang around inside that I have seen. He is getting it. And because he is so damned smart he is carrying the team on his back learning the rest of the new stuff. When they falter, he scrambles to make it work.

    All of which brings me to Frank Mason. I’ve never read if Frank is bucks up in the class room, or not. But I will tell you what. He is now Phi Flipping Beta Kappa on wood right now. He has up games and down games like everyone, but he “gets” what Self is trying to build and he is building it for him out their on the sacred wood. Frank is going to be a success in life. Frank knows how things fit together. I don’t know if he can make As in class, but if he can’t, its only because he never got the right classroom coaching early and he’s playing catch up there. Frank has the right stuff. And he has the brains. But cut the TOs frank; that was unsightly to have 4 after such a sterling series of games on that count. On the other hand, when you’re coach is still running and R&D program implementing more and more new stuff in February, well, maybe 4 experimenting against a cellar dweller is tolerable. But not Monday night.

    I can hear Coach Self already. He winks at Frank, and say, “better tighten’er up on Monday, Frank.”

    And the Gunny says, “Done.”

    Maybe not Self most talented team, but well on the way to being his smartest.

    Rock Chalk!

  • @HawksWin

    This team is better than everyone thinks it is.

    This team has vastly out performed my expectations.

    I expected an 8-10 loss season. They are 22-4 and likely will be 26 and 4 end of the conference. In turn, they will likely win 2 of 3 in the conference tournament and so be 28-5 when seeded.

    Despite more holes than swiss cheese, every time the team has been given the ten count, its bounced back up.

    Therefore this is a coach and a bunch of young men to be reckoned with.

    They really have become the jarhead Jayhawks.

    Most of the generals of most of the great armies of the world have looked down their noses at the US Marines, their generals, and their strategy and tactics. The Marines do everything the hard way. The Marines take too many casualties for what they accomplish. The Marines aren’t sophisticated in their strategy and that is why they are always defaulting to tactics. Marine generals spend too much time trying to lead their men and not enough time on the big picture.

    But the Marines find a way to win the battles that the Army couldn’t, or wouldn’t, or didn’t.

    The Marines are given the least advance equipment in the least quantities and told to find a way.

    The above is at any rate my father’s version of things in WWII.

    What people are not reckoning with is that you can’t win pretty, when you don’t have the most talent.

    You can’t win pretty when you don’t have the biggest front court.

    You can’t win pretty, while you are trying to invent a new way to play winning basketball.

    You can’t win pretty, when your most talented players are freshman that have to spend half a season just trying to see if they can play at this level and then the rest of the season trying to be good at this level.

    You can’t win pretty, when your best center turns out not to be able play much, for whatever reason.

    And yet like the Marines who kept winning despite muddling through the island campaigns of the first two years of WWII, in which every island invasion was virtually a new kind of warfare for the Marines, this year’s Jarhead Jayhawks have kept winning, despite every kind of new attack and defense thrown at them.

    And this team has been learning to play new ways about every 2-3 games now since late December when Self settled on a rotation and began installing new offense, after new offense, while simultaneously banging on his short big men to learn to play inside out, AND outside in.

    Board rats are not giving due recognition to how much of an advantage Self has been creating for his team by laboring so long and hard on continually adding new dimensions and new ways of attacking. It has been frustrating to fans, because they wanted the team to arrive by mid January and to spend the rest of the season perfecting what they were.

    But instead, Self has apparently decided that this team can be no one kind of opponent to all teams. It has to be able to play inside, outside, and mid range. It has to be able to play half a dozen formations. And it has to build leads and defend leads. Self is not even wasting his time teaching how to create blowouts, because he knows he does not have the inside size needed to blow opponents out and keep them out.

    With the above said, let’s get to the tournament.

    The team doesn’t have as much talent as 8 of the other top 10 teams in the country. Those eight all have enormous standing height. UK, Duke, Louisville, UA and Gonzaga all have 4 near footers in their front court rotations. But KU has a very talented perimeter with some depth there and as good of shooting outside as anyone, and better than several.

    Fortunately, it won’t have to beat all eight of the other top 10 teams. And it will probably only have to beat two of UK, Duke, Louisville, and Gonzaga to get to the Final Four.

    Assuming KU winds up with a 2 seed, which I believe is likely, even if KU wins the B12 title, which I believe it will do, KU will be put in a bracket stacked with 3 of the Top Ten teams, two of the 4 footers teams plus Villanova.

    KU is going to be given an absolute murderers row to keep it from getting out of its regional.

    Why do they want to keep KU out this season?

    First, KU has no marquis players to make up for being from a small media market.

    Second, the powers that be have stacked three Nike teams with massively favorable talent and the three teams are located conveniently in three different regions. Kentucky will be the 1 seed in the South region. Duke it appears will probably be the 1 seed in the East region. And Arizona will be the 1 seed in the West region. Louisville, or Virginia, is likely to be the 1 seed in the Midwest. This seeding will maximize the likelihood of a Final Four with three EST teams and 1 PST team.

    KU will have to buck huge odds and it will have to do it without a 4 near footer rotation of the kind it is sure to meet.

    It looks very bad for the Jarhead Jayhawks at this point, right?

    Well, here is where the optimism starts.

    KU has learned to play taller teams and it has learned to play brawnier teams.

    KU has also learned that against taller teams it can pull either or both of its bigs out and force at least one of these two near footers away from the basket, and it can run the 4 man weave with Perry and put a ton of pressure on a 2 near footer team.

    KU has also learned to play hot outside shooting teams by taking that the trey stripe away and still guarding inside.

    KU has also largely mastered zones.

    KU’s big remaining weakness is against pressing teams, but it is going to play WVU in AFH and it is going to fillet that bunch of thuggers with great ball handling and great shooting.

    Thus, when the NCAA tourney rolls around, KU is going to know how to play every kind of team it is likely to run into.

    KU can beat most any team it faces by shooting 30 treys on a decent shooting, something it has not yet done, but will resort to unhesitatingly when a tournament game against a big team requires it.

    And on the night that KU cannot hit the trey ball, it has put in three months of learning to muddy it up and play grind it out inside. or by attacking inside from the outside.

    What I am saying is that Self has this team diversified in ways that all of the other young OAD/TAD type teams, except UK, are probably not going to be ready for.

    Finally, there is no easy way to get around UK, if UK does not beat themselves before we face them.

    But that is the night that KU will play great defense and shoot 30 treys and make 45-50% and we upset UK for the championship.

    I know, I cannot believe I am predicting them to win a ring.

    No one with their bigs playing as they have up to now can possibly win an NCAA ring.

    But the four remaining conference games and three tournament games give the Jarhead Jayhawks ample time to develop their inside game just enough more to be ready unleash their outside game and so beat ya both ways.

    It is a fantastically improbable prediction, the longest shot I have ever predicted. A million to one shot really.

    But I cannot help it.

    I have a feeling.

    There is something different about this group of guys, like there was something different about that '88 team of guys.

    I know they don’t have a Danny Manning.

    But no one else in the tournament does either this season.

    What they have is the Jarhead Jayhawks and a ton of brains.

    What they have are a guys that have been through incredible adversity and have kept bouncing back and ket getting better.

    What they have is potentially great outside shooting–so great that it could torch even the best opponent of the season, if they play it smart.

    I don’t WANT to make this prediction.

    I want to say its UK’s year and we’ll be out by the second game, because we don’t have the great talent.

    But as of tonight, guys this committed to being Jarheads find ways to win.

    I have only had one other feeling like this: the '68 Orange Bowl team.

    We didn’t get it done, but I knew we were going to be one of the great teams of KU history that year of 1967/68. I felt it down deep after the third game of the season and everyone told me, "No, you’re just a kid in love with the Jayhawks. That would be a million to one shot. And those kinds of feelings are just feelings. You’ll see. Nebraska will slaughter us as usual. We play them in Lincoln. No one can ever beat them in Lincoln. But I looked at my father and said, “I know what you are saying, but Bobby Douglas and John Riggins and Keith Christensen, and John Zook, and Donnie Shanklin, they are different than any guys you’ve ever seen on a KU team. And Pepper Rogers is different. These guys are a team of destiny, pop, like you said the '52 basketball team was, like you said the '57 team with Chamberlain should have been.” It was early October, I think. I said, “By January they are going to turn into a kind of team you will not recognize.” And when they beat Nebraska at Lincoln and I brought my Dad the copy of Sports Illustrated with the story and color pictures titled “Hawk in a Cornfield,” I said, “See, dad, these guys are for real. You gotta believe me now.” And shook his head and said, “I’ll be damnedi if you weren’t right, son.” It nearly broke me in two when they lost in the Orange Bowl. I thought I might die before the night was over after that game. But one thing I took away from that season that has stood me in good stead many times since. When you get that feeling, when that inexplicable clarity comes on, when you look and can see HOW this thing might be accomplished inspite of incredibly long odds, and inspite of everyone’s believing it can’t be done, BELIEVE.

    This season that I thought was not possible to have a 30 win season–this season that I was confident they lacked the basic pieces even to win a B12 title, this season they are very close to that title, and if they win out and get two of three in the B12 tourney, and then get even just two in the tourney this team will have done the impossible in my eyes and have won 30. I am in awe of what these guys have accomplished right now.

    A Towson State point guard.

    A center who lived in the streets before he took up the game late.

    A one time OAD who has never recovered from a knee injury and who has changed his shot.

    A brainiac who probably ought to be going into physics instead of playing D1 power forward.

    An OAD with a gimpy knee.

    A big lug of a backup center who grew up in Japan.

    An OAD who is supposed to be our savior and who can’t play more than 15 minutes.

    A young man with a gun and no conscience.

    And a baby faced assassin in his first season.

    And these beads have been strung together and in the face of the toughest, or second toughest schedule in the country, put together a fine W&L, reinvented the way the game is played, and are about to win our 11th conference title.

    Oh, yes, Ray, they most definitely will come.

    Anyone in need of a booster, go watch McFarland with Kevin Costner.

    Or reboot Hoosiers.

    The KU Blue underdogs are on the way.

    The Jarhead Jayhawks are scrambling and clawing through the hand to hand combat, campaign by campaign.

    Cliff isn’t done.

    This season is already a miracle.

    And the best is yet to come.

    Rock Chalk Jayhawk!!!

  • @jaybate-1.0

    I’m in!!! In fact I’m so in I am lowering the odds we win the national title from a million to one down to 750,000 to one!!!

    On to the Hawktagon to slaughter some Mildcats!!!

  • That’s just what we rats needed.

    My high school friend was Rick Abernathy, who took the blame for being the 12th man on the field. He was later found innocent when watching film footage at a KU Orange Bowl Reunion which showed a coach pushing him onto the field and another running off. He was also our basketball team’s point guard.

  • @wrwlumpy

    Tell Rick Abernathy, I have always believed in him.


  • @HawksWin

    I am not sure why you erased your post. It was a good one.

    There have been a few short teams that have won the ring. The shortest I recall was UCLA’s '64 team with everyone 6-5 or under. It can be done.

    KU’s '08 ring team was not much taller than this team but they were brawnier and 3 years older and shot the ball as well outside and had 4 eventual pro grade bigs that could rebound.

    But this team has a new way to play, a much more experienced coach, and a bunch of Trey Dingers. And it has the intangible of a bunch of underdogs getting a shot at Apollo Creed.

  • At this juncture, Bill Self appears to be running opposing defenses ragged; from toe to heel, heel to toe. They have to game plan in respect to our flaming 3s. So what did we do last night? Fire up only ten 3s, but blister the opposition from inside the arc. And that, with our highly touted center glued to the pine. Cliff has got to be playing in serious pain. Either that or his neuromuscular synapses have snapped like corn in a hot kettle. Just imagine the opportunities for him to post really serious numbers, what with defenses so focused on patrolling the arc! His basketball IQ? Difficult to evaluate. But if his body recovers, and if the game slows down for him by NCAA TourneyTime, the Jayhawks could be rolling out a powderkeg. This is such a diverse collection of talent, even without the footer Bill Self can play the game so many different ways. Even so, he must have been shaking his head in awe last night, watching Graham and Ellis blast the bullseye with such efficiency. Solid minutes of R+R for Selden, Oubre, Mason. What a kaleidoscope!

  • Does anyone know if Perry’s dunk or masons sweet score made it to sc?

  • @jaybate-1.0 You and I watch the same players and the same games. I see what I see and you see a whole lot more than me. I had to go to the internet to remind myself of this:

    Stereograms are 3D images hidden within another picture. In order to view the 3-D images, simply stare at the picture until the image starts to take shape.

    Thanks for the entertaining posts and helping me see in 3D.

  • @REHawk

    Exactly coach. The opponents now don’t know where the attack will come from. Self has overlain a tic tac toe matrix on the half court and devised thee attacks from each of the 9 squares in the matrix. And each of the attacks can run inside out, or outside in, or in 3 man weaves, 4 man weaves, cuts, or pick and rolls, or this bizarre new cross buck/scissors play. The attacks can start out of at least six different formations, all varying ways to set up the high low offense, which still runs regardless of the formations, but just varies which cells of the tick tack toe matrix the high low offensive actions originate from. It’s brilliant if it’s any where near what i am describing. Maybe better if something even more elegant. Iba would be grinning up in heaven like a big old bear looking down. The idea of the high low offense back at the '64 Olympics was for one offense to be learned quickly that could be run the same against m2m or zone–one offense that was easy to learn that condensed everything Iba had learned about Offence and suited to enable players with great athleticism to impact. Congestion and timing plays had to be kept to a minimum. Ball movement to deform and reform defenses to create open looks had to replace complicated, timed cutting and screening. Action had to be brief and involve picking to run out of congestion. Spreading out over the floor to maximize forced defensive movement by passing was the coin of the realm. One offense learned in three weeks by the best defensive players that could also shoot long and score inside. One offense.

    What Self has done I believe is to adapt the high low into formations the way the T-formAtion has been adapted to various forms of the T-formation. I form. Wing t. Split t. Wide out with slot bank. Double wide outs. All the same offense but setting up in different spots to alter and improve angle of attack on a weakness and increase element of surprise.

  • @Careful-you

    Thx. Imagine how much Self sees. It must seem like A whole other game at times.

  • @jaybate-1.0 Holy H. Moly! Me, I just opted for a new prescription and set of glareproof peepers…and I still can barely SEE THE BALL!

  • @jaybate-1.0 KU absolutely needs to win tomorrow night.

  • @jaybate-1.0 I get a booster just reading KU Basketball Prose at its best.

  • @Lulufulu

    For sure. This is a very important game in a lot of ways. Each game reveals if we are continuing to grow and develop. Each game takes us closer to our mission objective of an 11th title and a 1, or 2, seed. And it also tells us if we can go into a hostile environment and get’ter done. We need that kind of reinforcement to wash out the bad taste left in losing in Morgantown. And its just plain fun to beat KSU.

  • @Crimsonorblue22

    I saw Perry’s dunk on something on ESPN last evening late. Not sure if it was SC or something else on ESPN.

  • @jaybate-1.0 a lil vague? Jk I heard it was #7 on sc. Did you see the manager was on? Thanks!

  • @jaybate-1.0 Hi JB. Thanks for your kind words. Didn’t trust my brain & fingers at 3am. That said, I LIKE your bet on this team & your analysis of the Brain Power of Ellis (he learned in/out for the past 2 years & that had to be reprogrammed), and Mason (agree on him). I’d like to know where Jamari’s and Alexander’s BP vs Ellis’. Wondering how short teams won the NC (UConn, L-Ville). What gave them an edge over taller & perhaps even more physical teams? Sheer will power + brain power ( > bb IQ)? Have you ever spent 10 mins teaching someone and he gets it whereas another requires 60 mins? That variance can make or break a winning team. Timing is another element to consider in winning, right? If 1 prayer gets what Self wants to do, but has to wait on 4+ to get on board, that’d be one disjointed team performance until all get it. Here’s to all getting it by March!

  • @HawksWin

    Yes, timing is an element of every process. Getting interested in cooking rekindled my acute awareness of what Self is trying to do with a team. A team is a bunch of ingredients and each can bring something desirable to the team if they are brought together in the right order, in the right amount, and at the right times.

    Ever cook something and get to a point of the recipe, where you need an ingredient you don’t have, and if you go to the store to get it the dish will be ruined, and if you don’t it won’t taste right? Given my increasingly crappy memory, I have. 🙂

    That’s kind of what Self is up against. He apparently expected to have Embiid this season. Oops, missing ingredient.

    He expected Selden’s confidence in his knee to come along sooner. Oops.

    He had to have expected Cliff to come along quicker so he could add him to the dish. Oops.

    And then there are ingredients that show up later but not too late, like Oubre.

    And then there are those that add more to the dish in more ways than expected, like Devonte, who turned out not just to be a good back up PG, but also a guy that could add base stock to both 2, and even 3 on occasion.

    Self is like a chef. He is trying to get the dish ready by mid January and then fine tune it. But sometimes the ingredients don’t show up on time and it takes more time to get the dish ready.

    And sometimes some ingredients don’t show up at all and you have to get creative and change the dish into something that is a variation on what you had in mind.

    And so on.

    Sorry to belabor the metaphor, but you are on track and it seemed worth it.

  • @jaybate-1.0 Great analogy. Here’s hoping all the ingredients show up, and substitute ingredients would work just as well - given my taste buds aren’t sharp as once were.

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