February 21, 2015 -- The Day The Season Died

  • Last season, the key to our season was Joel Embiid. This season, our season continues to ride in large part on the development of Cliff Alexander.

    It doesn’t have to be that way, of course. It makes no sense that this team’s future would have to ride on Cliff Alexander. That has been the subject of a lot of type space.

    February 21, 2015 – the day the season died. And we aren’t singin’ “bye, bye, Miss American Pie.” What we’re singin’ is “why, why, can’t Self let big Cliff fly”? Today, is the day the season died.

    Against West Virginia, the pace of the game was supposedly all wrong for Cliff. Against Baylor, it was that Cliff wasn’t as good against zones.

    Today, well, I just don’t know. This seemed like the perfect game for Cliff to fly. Instead, our prized recruit – the #3 player in the country played 11 minutes, at home, against TCU.

    Perhaps Cliff’s injuries are more significant than we know. I don’t think so. Self didn’t give him much cover, saying he didn’t think he was limited. Self mentioned that all guys have aches and pains. If Cliff was that hurt, why would he start? Why would he play at all? Injury ain’t it.

    It appears to me, with now just four games left in the regular season, that the season that was riding on Cliff’s development, will die a premature death, short of the final four. He apparently isn’t developing at a sufficient rate.

    Today, on a day when Cliff seemed to have a great opportunity to shine, it was Jamari Traylor who played 24 minutes. And those 24 minutes were typical Jamari Traylor, highlighted by a whopping 3 rebounds. There were multiple moments today that demonstrated why he is so bad on the glass. He gets pushed under the rim, even when he decides to try to block out. The student manager that got in near the end of the game could find his way to 3 rebounds in a game, if he got the same 24 minutes. It is absolutely embarrassing.

    But to the point – we cannot get to the Final Four with Jamari Traylor as our #2 post player. We shouldn’t hope it, we shouldn’t wish, we should dream it. It is dead. Heck, the way Traylor is playing this season, I question whether we could do that even if Traylor was our #3 post player. But 10-12 minutes? I’d feel much better.

    This brings back memories of Brady Morningstar. But this discussion is in a different league. At least with Brady, there were some tangible skill sets to debate. There was glue. With Traylor, there is nothing. Just a below average player that is on Kansas’ roster solely because we got stuck after guys turned pro, and Self was apparently surprised by defections. A guy playing solely because we have nothing else (or the “something else” doesn’t meet our coach’s requirements for playing time).

    This is how seasons die. When a player like Traylor is viewed as a better option, when a player like Traylor plays big minutes … seasons die. And we’re left, like all “good old boys, drinkin’ whiskey and rye.” It’s about all that will help.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    Cliff had BETTER be hurt bc this makes NO SENSE! Self HAS to know something we don’t. That’s a given for sure. There’s just no way he thinks Jam Tray gives us the best chance to win.

    IF Cliff is really hurt I’d rather give the minutes to Mickelson but that ain’t happening this year…

  • This question is being asked nationally too. I’m perplexed. I’m not enough of a student of the game to fully understand these things. An article last week I saw showed him as having the best per minute numbers of all of our bigs. He’d be averaging a double double if he were playing 30 plus minutes is what I recall it saying.

  • @HighEliteMajor I agree with a lot of your post - we can’t win big (deep NCAA tourney run) with Traylor as our #2 post player, that the season likely rides on Cliff, etc.

    But this is on Cliff, not Self. The first time Traylor comes in watch the sequence that precedes it. At 18:10 there’s a rebound that comes off that Cliff has clear position, yet gets it taken away by the TCU player. This led to a wide open Kyan Anderson 3-point attempt, which (fortunately) he missed and the rebound also came Cliff’s way and he makes almost no effort on the play. Perry ends up with it. This leads to Mason trying to drive 3 on 1, and gets it blocked. Anderson pushes it down the floor, goes to the hole and dishes to Kenrich Williams for a lay-up. Cliff was right there, either to try and stop Anderson or to challenge Williams, but instead gets turned around on the pass and just kind of lazily spins to the baseline to inbound the ball. It was some of the worst effort I’ve seen. I was appalled. I wouldn’t have blamed Self is he would have kept Cliff out the entire remainder of the game. It was that inexcusable. I was livid in my living room, so I can only imagine how Self must have felt on the sideline watching his “prized recruit” turn in such a piss-poor effort.

    This is just an example. Another time he weakly challenged Brandon Parrish on a fast break and Parrish got an “and 1” hoop and the free throw. A little while later he takes an ill-advised baseline jump shot. And so on, and so on…

    We talked earlier this week on how raw Cliff is from a skill standpoint. Terrible footwork, no go-to move, no face up jump shot, etc. So basically he’s…a rich-man’s Jamari Traylor? He has to earn his minutes with defense and rebounding, two areas that don’t require great skill to be successful but do require energy, hustle, heart, etc. I didn’t see it from him today. Today I saw what Self referred to as not playing with a motor.

    So really, I don’t disagree that this may be why seasons die. But I might disagree that it’s because Traylor is viewed as a better option. Maybe he IS a better option. Which is simultaneously a referendum on Traylor and Alexander.

  • No doubt Cliff has made mistakes. But he couldn’t have been given a 2nd chance in the 2nd half?

  • Still too early. Perry is coming on. Traylor has his moments. Lucas is trying hard. Alexander, until he plays a 25-30 minute game, I just don’t know.

  • I do believe Self was surprised to Embiid leaving. At least in the beginning of the season when all the talk was on how raw Joel was, which was quite true. I do not believe anyone thought he would improve to the point he did in one season. But even if Self thought he was OAD from the get go potential top recruits would have taken one look and said “nope, not going against that for PT”.

    I agree KU is in trouble at the 5. Traylor isn’t big enough, Landon hasn’t currently got the skills, and god(of your choice of course) only knows whats up with Cliff. He has his moments but over all he just appears clumsy and confused. I’ve posted on another thread a possible theory on the clumsiness but the confusion I don’t get at this point of the season.

  • @KansasComet Did you see Lucas’ line? 9 minutes and zeroes across the board. I’m not saying he’s not trying, but I could try hard and have the same line!

  • Cliff is powerful, but the word confused is the right one. I know the limits of the other Bigs, but right now, Cliff is lost on the court. No one has ever picked up what coach wants them to do as quickly as JoJo and Cliff should never be compared to JOJo. Every one who plays minutes in the Big 12 has a scouting report outlining strengths and weakness. Jamari is doing fine running the weave, which is something Cliff cannot do. Apparently everyone is excited about our new Outside/In policy, should we go back to the High/Low? Not hustling also kept Kelly on the bench today.

  • @wissoxfan83 said:

    @KansasComet Did you see Lucas’ line? 9 minutes and zeroes across the board. I’m not saying he’s not trying, but I could try hard and have the same line!

    But he doesn’t pick up three fouls in the first half with moving screens.

  • @wissoxfan83 Yes. I watched the entire game. He was not the worst. He got himself in excellent position to score. He just flat out missed two easy shots. Not sure if you could have gotten 3 shot attempts, but I believe in you too!

  • @wrwlumpy Excellent point!!

  • This team always had problems at the 5 position. We knew it going into the year. I took a look at Cliff Alexander and thought “Ok, he’s 6’9”. Decent wingspan. No dribble. Clunky feet." Not sure why anybody expected much different from year 1. We were always going to be better defensively playing small and quick.

  • It is doubtful that it “clicks” for Alexander this year. That the game slows down for him and he can consistently be counted on. I’ve detailed before how every other post player under Self, with the exception of Embiid (not a comparison @wrwlumpy, just a contrast), has struggled their freshman seasons. So if we were banking on Cliff progressing enough to put us over the top, we were always likely to be disappointed.

    Should we have expected more? Because he was ranked #3 coming out of high school? The more I watch him this year, the more I wonder why he was that highly ranked. And I’m not saying he can’t still be a very good player. But what did we see from him in high school that would leave us to believe he was going to be better than he has been out of the gate? A lot of dunks against smaller players. We saw that. Some impressive “man’s rebounds”. We saw that. Some crowd-hyping swats. We saw that. But again, we didn’t see an over abundance of skill. Post moves. Footwork. Jump shot. A high basketball IQ. None of that. All we saw was an ability to overpower high school players. In many ways, he is more of a project than Embiid ever was.

    I’ll admit that I too was one of the fans that thought the season hinged on Cliff. However, my thinking was that we needed Cliff to get more out of Ellis. That Cliff was the only player we had that could be paired with Ellis that could make Ellis better. Cliff could do the “dirty work” - rebounding and defense - and that would allow Perry to focus solely on carrying the scoring load in the post. However, I no longer believe that. Of course it would still be nice if Cliff could pick up some of the slack, but Self has brilliantly toughened Perry up and got him operating at a high level without a proficient running mate in the post. It is no longer incumbent on Cliff elevating his game.

    Failure to have a second reliable post option still might mean curtains for us in the big dance. But because of Perry’s recent play I no longer believe that to be a certainty, and for that reason I won’t be holding any Bruce Weber-esque funerals for the '14-'15 season. Not today.

  • @icthawkfan316 nice write!

  • Alex is not our tourney answer. Mari is experience and he did provide some nice minutes against TCU. Alex looks plain lost and frankly over matched at times. He is a flash in the pan at this point. I’d play Mari at this point because he gives way more than Alex. Did you see Mari’s hustle? The guy was literally giving up his body today. YOU don’t see Alex giving that same effort. Mari knows he’s not lotto material, but he’s going to give max effort. I’ll give the pt and lose or bow out early over Alex’s half ass effort any day.

    I’m convinced Self uses Mari to show Alex what he has to do in games. Mari gives Alex examples, but Alex not only gives half effort, but then his discipline on the court is obvious. He picked up too many fouls too soon. Sorry, I’m not convinced that Alex is ready for major minutes.

  • @HighEliteMajor So, no Alex is not our answer to deep post-season play. It appears that Ellis is going to be our answer and we all know that will lead to…double teams.

    At least our guard play will provide some challenges to the opposing teams. You never know which guard/s will show up or who exactly to defend. Graham was a nice relief today for Oubre. We’ve got to have that consistently. Greene and Selden were pretty much MIA today. Oubre was scoreless? Graham answered the call. Without Graham today, KU loses.

    My other concern is this: I’m watching other 1-2 seeds and they are taking care of business. They are beating teams. It appears they are getting their second wind. I’m concerned that IF KU continues to struggle like they did against this TCU team, with all due respect, they blew 12-14 pt leads today, why? TCU was allowed to stay in this game. KU can’t do this ending the season. Our concerns are extremely valid for the B12 title, tourney, and especially the NCAAs. KU allows teams to stay in the game this late in the season, its going to be a disappointing season. I hope to be wrong.

  • The thing I like about this year’s team is, you never know. You never know if this team will blow an opponent out or get blown out. You never know who is going to be the leading scorer in any particular game. That includes Cliff Alexander. He is capable of leading the team in scoring and rebounding on any particular night. I don’t think his problem is his play. I think his problem is he is not the focal point. Probably since the first time he ever played organized ball, he has been the focal point. A starter, that the offense revolves around. A player that doesn’t have to think about whether to shoot, dribble or pass. The answer was always simple, do whatever I want, the way I want and dominate everybody doing it. I believe if this young man is given the green light and told, just go out there and rebound and stuff everything in sight, he can be himself. That probably will not happen, because Coach Self is going to teach him the game of basketball and all of it’s little nuances, and that will take time. So, as we enter the NCAA Tournament, and teams begin to scout us, who can they focus on. Answer: No one. We have too many weapons this year and anyone can get hot during any given game. Graham was living proof of that today.

  • Ok, I feel like asking for forgiveness for a bad attitude today! I’ve been down on HCBS for not playing Cliff. But let’s assume He comes back for year two and really GETS it. And he sites numerous lessons he learned while at KU playing for multiple years and then plays in the league for 10+ years.

    @VailHawk master of the obvious quote “He’s just a FRESHMAN!”

    Remember Mario Chalmers trip to Hawaii his freshman year?

    Remember Steve Woodbury shooting free throws at OSU his freshman year?

    I’m out

  • UCONN won the National Title last year from the perimeter. Louisville did the same thing the year before. It can be done without dominant post players. I am not thrilled with Cliff only playing a few minutes, Jamari being an average player and Lucas being a below average player but the season is not dead. Keep the faith.

  • Rumors of our death are premature. My opinion is I have no clue why he doesn’t play Cliff more. I think we’re a better team with Cliff than Jamari. But, I am willing to allow our coach as much room as he needs to build the team as he sees fit. I’m thinking - maybe he wants to unleash the beast in the NCAA tournament. We have 4 reg season games left, potentially 3 games in the Big 12 conference tourney, so we’ll just see how it plays out. I really think we’ll see a late charge from Cliff…

  • @truehawk93 I agree that most of the potential 1-2 seeds are taking care of business but hey, if we played in the awful SEC, awful Pac 12 or whatever f*cking league Gonzaga plays in we would probably be winning our games in more convincing fashion.

  • Great comments by everyone, and I agree with pretty much all of it. At some point during the game someone on twitter asked, “why won’t Self play Cliff?” To which someone else responded “Oh today? Probably because he has three fouls in 8 minutes.” That pretty much sums it up. Cliff has turned into quite the project it seems. His ability to give up and-ones is pretty bad.

    But all that being said, there was a point in the game when I thought, “wow, this could turn out really badly for Cliff.” What I meant by that is, KU is the leader for Thon Maker and Chiek Diello in the recruiting game, and in my opinion, Maker would make this team a national championship favorite. And since Self obviously won’t adjust his system, Maker would be an Embiid-like get. Also with Bragg coming in next year, Cliff may get lost in the shuffle. It’s a good problem to have for us as fans, but Cliff’s lack of development, particularly of basketball acumen, seems to be one of most troubling things. He obviously never learned much about the system and strategy of the game of basketball in high school. Cliff is clearly, clearly not ready for the NBA, but with potentially 3 top recruits coming in to play his position, where does that really leave us with Cliff?

    I think the sad thing about Cliff is that someone ever projected him as a lottery pick. He’s a 6-8 forward who is really going to have to find his niche in the NBA. It seems unlikely at this point. But it creates a lot of problems for everyone.

  • HEM is my favorite poster on “how” but not “what for”. Why euthanize a season where we can win our 11th freaking title in a row? Self is approaching Wooden territory and we’re supposed to remove life support?

    IF the regular season is just a long qualifier for THE TOURNAMENT then why watch?

    I do realize that the true subject of the post is Cliff vs. Traylor and that the D word is a rhetorical device. Behind the word is a value judgement though. Maybe Self cares more about #11 than investing in Cliff for March.

  • @KansasComet I scored 2 points in a real college basketball game once, would that change your view that I could have gotten 3 shot attempts? 🙂

  • @icthawkfan316

    " But again, we didn’t see an over abundance of skill. Post moves. Footwork. Jump shot. A high basketball IQ. None of that. All we saw was an ability to overpower high school players. In many ways, he is more of a project than Embiid ever was."

    I think life in general is going just way too fast for Cliffie right now. His head just seems to spin when he comes off the floor. Hopefully he ain’t hanging out with Snacks too often. Class, BB-did I say class, traveling, social life, more class, & then again, school work has him overwhelmed. I don’t think Cliff is adjusting to a lot of the world around him right now & it’s surfacing as confusion at the one thing in life he is competent at. Hope like heck I’m wrong, but he looks completely lost day after day after day. JMO

  • He just may not be the sharpest tool in the shed…

  • @HighEliteMajor

    I absolutely agree with your assessment. It’s too late now to expect Cliff to change into this player we need him to be. His injuries might be holding him back and he might not mentally believe he can fight through them to help this team out. Or is he just saving himself from further injury so he can get paid in a few months. It’s a great mystery to anyone probably including coach.

    I thought because he got benched in the WVU game that he would come out with an edge. I didn’t see it, I saw early fouls again plague him, I saw missed offensive opportunities, lack of effort on the boards, lack of effort to stop your man from getting an easy layup. All the things that continue to keep him on the bench. When he got that cheap 3rd foul out on the 3 point land that was the last straw for me and coach.

    The question I have is “what motivates Cliff”. I’ve yet to see him talk about himself and be like “I need to get better”, “I need to do these things”. Devonte called himself out and look what happened he had a monster career game. That to me tells me the character of Devonte vs Cliff. What kind of Character does Cliff have if Coach has continually challenged him and he just doesn’t get it.

    I will give him a pass for being a freshman and in general every big man at KU has struggled their first year, some much worse than him. He’s just under the microscope because we don’t have 2 more talented kids then him, he was a top 5 recruit and All American and the expectations that he could come in and help us were real. So when you look at it, expecting a freshman big man to be the savior to this storied program in a system that usually spits kids back to reality their first year might just be unrealistic.

    I have no doubt in my mind that the lessons Self is trying to teach him are in his best interest even if its taking away his playing time. Yesterday before the game I was wondering why Cliff doesn’t get the coaching in game, then give him the chance to learn from that lesson. Yesterday’s game told me why that doesn’t happen. We are stuck with Mari & Lucas giving us just enough to maybe hold on for #11 but if Ellis isn’t playing at the level he is now in the tournament it will be the death of our season. Anything less than a Mitch Mcgary showing is going to change his season around. Maybe this struggle is what he needs so that whatever offseason uniform he is in, he can look back and get hungry from it.

  • Nice sting of posts, but horrible title. The season is not dead and we are playing well. TCU is a good team and we are in a great conference. Too much drama in the speculation about the Dance. We are in first place and a top ten team nationally.

    However, the lack of playing time accorded to The Big Red Dog is - we all agree - baffling. Yesterday, fouls played a part, but in general we agree that Cliff looks and acts confused about where to go and how to play, no instinctive competitive drive, just hesitation. This is not lack of effort or laziness. Watch the way he sprints up and down the court. This is a confused player and the game has not yet slowed down for him. Cliff has good body language on the court and on the bench.

    So why is he playing so few minutes?

    This is a little on the coaching staff and a little on the player, and a lot on the Freshman reality of being overwhelmed and banged up. His body is sore, like most players, but especially that first year it has to be a huge physical challenge for the big guy. Last year we had an exceptionally smart player in the post in Jo-Jo which makes the contrast even more glaring, but he was hurt too and had to sit.

    Remember the Morris twins their first season, how T-Rob played year one, all the KU late bloomers at the 5 over the past ten years…

    But there can be no doubt that Cliff is by far our best talent in the low post at the 5 this year, and far and away our best defensive rebounder which is our greatest need at the moment (we were bolded textagain outrebounded by an inferior opponent).

    Why does Coach not play Cliff in spurts with little advice tips (real time coaching and learning lessons whispered in his ear) in between 5 min stretches? Why play him and when he does not do well, sit him for long periods of time (sometimes an entire half!).

    The premise is that he will learn more on the court playing in games than on the bench watching the action, and he is still not being given enough court time to work through his mistakes and learn by doing rather than watching (or worse being “punished”).

    This is all about Coach Self not having confidence in Cliff’s ability to play D and get into the right position on the court. But the key to playing at our highest level, in my opinion, is one word: (more) rebounds. We gotta have the Big Red Dog crash the boards and limit second and third chances to be at our best. RCJH KU!!!

  • @wissoxfan83 Possibly 😄

  • @MoonwalkMafia Cliff will get better, its just going to take time, and some “want to”! We may not get those other big guys if Cliff stays. I think Bragg will sub in for Perry, or work w/another big. He can shoot. I think Cliff had a piss poor coach in hs. I still have hopes for him this year, just not as high as the hype he came in w/!

  • In the Bill Self era, there has only been a single One and Done Player. That player was Andrew Wiggins. The one player from start to finish that Coach Self and the fan base knew would be here for one year and one year only. Others have left after one year, but was that Coach Self’s plan for them, when he brought them in? Before anyone says Embiid, Coach Self often talked about what he would be in year two. Embiid was brought to KU for two years, however it didn’t happen. Cliff has shown flashes, but doesn’t he remind you of a young Thomas Robinson? An absolute beast, that couldn’t stay out of foul trouble his first two years When TRob figured it out, it was hell for all opposition. The same can happen with Alexander. It takes time, but his day is coming. Also, think of Frankamp last season. He couldn’t get on the court last year. Yet, in the Stanford game, Coach Self turned him loose, and he nearly bailed us out of that game with an excellent performance. Don’t forget about Cliff. His time may be coming real soon, but if it happens next year, and he dominates like Thomas Robinson, is it such a bad thing?

  • Yes, player development is a good thing and Cliff should stay another year.

    But considering this year, and this team, the most glaring weakness is post play and post rebounding especially on the defensive end.

    We are playing very good first shot D now (Coach has worked his magic again as the team is peaking on D at year end), but the way other teams can get offensive rebounds in bundles and get second and third shots and wear down our D has the KU nation concerned.

    The best (only?) answer over the next four weeks is Cliff grabbing a boatload of boards and limiting second and third attempts against other very good teams. Perry is doing much better on the boards, Jamari is a weak rebounder and Landon is limited. Hunter is MIA and it seems that only Cliff is capable of stepping up down low and snatching 8-12 / game … if he gets the minutes.

    Think about it - 22 offensive rebounds in a game against a KU team, Scary!

  • Time has run out on letting Cliff stay in the game to work things out. There are 4 games left in the season and we are holding on to a one game lead. I saw nothing yesterday that showed it would be smart to let him stay in and learn from his mistakes.

  • Last year UCON a 7 seed and UK an 8 seed with a combined 18 losses in the regular season battled their way into April. Anything can happen in March and KU will be dancing so I’m personally good with that!

  • @wrwlumpy Normally I might agree. But, I didn’t see anything great out of Jamari or Lucas that warranted not giving Cliff another chance in the 2nd half. If one or the other were making things happen…Ok, go with the hot player. But, I didn’t see that. Quite a few of you other posters are more adept at seeing the small things that keep guys out of the lineup than I am. But, I ask you or anyone else…would we really have lost that much by putting him back in during the 2nd half? Lucas was inept, I thought. Jamari was OK…attacked the basket a few times…but nothing special.

  • @KUSTEVE I agree with you. I think that Cliff, will, at some point, show us what he is capable of. He has show enough flashes, that I just can’t believe that he won’t be a valuable part of whatever March run we make.

  • @KansasComet So, you posted a really nice post regarding Alex. You’re basically saying he is selfish, undisciplined, and not quite ready for Self’s system. Bingo, in a round about way you have posted what all elite, top picks have to endure. They have a choice: either I enter a program and buy into the system or continue to play MY game. We’ve seen some players in KU history especially with Bill Self that have chosen to “play their game.” Where are they now? Also, Self is being blamed for the failure of said players too. However, when you look at the players that have adjusted into Self’s system, how many are well adjusted to the NBA? Most all of them that are in the NBA.

    Mari, Lucas, Selden (more so lately), Oubre (a bit late), Ellis (totally all about Self ball), and most of the other players have bought into Self ball. Now, critics still blame Self and are actually criticizing Self for Ellis’ inability to play up to his potential. Ellis is pretty much growing in front of the nation’s eyes. Sure, he has a few areas to improve, but he’s a solid player. He will adjust nicely in the NBA better than most.

    My point is simply, no matter what people say, players that play Self’s system will succeed and adjust more than people will give credit. The players that fail to play into Self’s system, will not only struggle, but have difficulty adjusting into higher levels of play: Dleague, NBA, European league, etc. It’s the player’s choice, not Self. Self can only offer them the options. We all know his system is not the easiest either. But, if followed and learned well, they will be much better able to adjust in the league.

    How many remember Kobe Bryant’s comments about how AAU ball was ruining these young players? He blasted at how these young players are failing to learn the basics and therefore enter the NBA totally incompetent to play at the highest level. Bryant and James are exceptions. They were fortunate enough not to learn at the college level. They are rare and many of these young players want to follow their path. Wiggins is the only player that might have followed them, but even he will tell you Self’s system was vital to his development. Where are the critics with Wiggins? Why don’t they attack Self’s development of Wiggins’ game? I don’t hear them attacking Self for failing Wiggins. Nor do I hear critics attacking Wiggins. I find this interesting and sad all at the same time.

  • @truehawk93 really good! I remember Wigs saying last year that he was shocked how little he knew, and how much he needed to learn! Thx!

  • @truehawk93 Thanks. I cannot speak as to whether he is selfish or not. I do think he is young and will develop footwork and discipline in time. Once he does, watch out!

  • Great comments and discussion.

    @MoonwalkMafia hit on this yesterday or Friday, I believe, and it underscores my thoughts as well. It’s not that Self is absolutely wrong in not playing Cliff. It’s more that Cliff, for whatever reason, is not where we need him to be. Would I simply play Cliff and take my medicine?

    That is not as simple as it seems.

    The better question is, “If I were dogmatically committed to throwing the ball into the post and refusing to scheme to capitalize on my team’s strengths, would I simply play Cliff and take my medicine?”

    That answer is yes.

    The reason why is simple. We cannot win a national title with Jamari Traylor as our #2 minutes post player.

    As I’ve read comments, no one disputes that.

    It is just that simple.

    Of course, an 11th Big 12 title is nice. It seems about like 9 or 10 to me, and kind of like 12. It’s how spoiled I am. @ParisHawk mentioned John Wooden and the conference streak – Wooden’s greatness had little to do with winning those conference titles. Otherwise, Mark Few would be mentioned in the same breath or whoever coached Gonzaga. It was Wooden’s national titles. That and only that. @ParisHawk also said, “Maybe Self cares more about #11 than investing in Cliff for March.” The idea of this makes me want to throw up. But maybe that’s a correct statement. Self’s doing what he thinks is best, to win the game at hand. He has always done that. That translates to conference titles and good NCAA seeding.

    Regardless, Kansas needs to win national titles. That is greatness. Given our coach’s offensive mindset right now, and with Traylor (or Lucas for that matter) being the #2 minutes guy in the post, the hopes for a national title are dead. It is just that simple.

    Now, could his offensive mindset change … ?

  • Watching 12 years of Bill Self teams, right? We (should) know how long his system takes to assimilate, especially for bigs, right? So we are pinning our post-season (F4) chances on an undersized frosh?? What? Are we desperate, or something?

    Most of you ku fans/alums that post here should be a bit more knowledgeable about OUR system+players+coach, than most of the ‘outside’ observers/talking heads, save for a few such as Jay Bilas. When we see lack of effort by Cliff, & the quick hook, its clear Cliff aint lotto, & loves-his-bigs-Bill-Self aint done coaching him up.

    So, to HEMs specific point with an accurizing twist: dont expect Cliff to be that exemplary bastion of nightly consistency and domination that leads us to a F4. Nope.

    But whats more accurate a reason for us NOT making an F4 this year is the jekyll/hyde 1st halves vs 2nd halves…thats most of the team, folks. 15th youngest team in Div1, and it shows. And, yes, we are smaller than in years past, so there ARE matchup issues…but we “knowledgeable” KU fans knew that, right? At least against a packed-in zone like Stanfords, we have the snipers to defeat, and the dribble-drive to break it.

    A meaningless point here: but did anyone see KY get off to a 32-6 start vs Pearl’s Auburn? Auburn ended with 61 pts…much better than KU’s 42. But is Auburn better than KU? (No, but any team can show poor effort, ala Cliff vs TCU, or make poor decisions after penetration, ala Mason vs KY or Oubre vs TCU).

    Stay analytical, my friends–> we never, EVER would have pinned our hopes on frosh Shady, TRob, Twins (we tried, they are the reason MichSt literally beat our ass out of that yr’s tourney), Cole, DJax, Withey, etc. Conceptually, in this system, that just isnt happening, no evidence in over a decade with several talented kids, that they ‘get it’ quick enough. Possible exceptions are frosh Cole, but too small sample size his frosh yr other than few min vs psychoT, and possibly Embiid, although Texas roughed him up, neutralizing him, providing a template for future March foes to scout, if he’d stayed healthy. But we’ll not see an Embiid for years. Maybe Okafor is actually better, but both those types of 7ftrs are rare as hell, and we sure have nothing close currently.

    Kudos to HEM for making us think outside our comfort zones. Im not sure I can be so abruptly decisive as he is prognosticating. After all, we’ve played a very tough sched/RPI, and its all about our OWN intensity (our A-game) x 40min…(which is Self’s whole damn point to Cliff)…along with some favorable matchups in the Madness. Anything can happen. The book on this season isnt finished.

    Oh, and knowing this system, like HEM has said in the past: I’d rather keep these 4 MickeyDs for another year, instead of replacing their experience & knowledge with yet-another-round of newbie frosh.

  • Other thoughts:

    –> Cliff quite obviously still in Selfs doghouse, toughening box.

    –> Imagine, for 1 tantalizing moment, that Cliff starts to play with reckless abandon & hustle, throwing his body around like Jamari Traylor (his fellow Chicagoan, who, according to some posters would be a -5star out of high school, I’d say sarcastically…). Why cant Cliff play like that? Because he’s NEVER had to, & must be shown & taught. Ellis + Jamari doing the showing&teaching vs TCU.

    –> Davonte Graham. Kid is better than frosh Chalmers. There, I said it. Mario failed as a frosh PG, Self having to permanently move him to 2G. Graham, on the other hand, has proven to be vital as another PG. Self got a gem with him!

    –> 2 great PGs, wings by committee, and bigs by committee. Got depth. Got 40minutes of intensity???

    –> I personally find it distasteful to knock Jamari. Kid gives 110%. And if he’s gassed occasionally, I get that, but his m.o. IS hustle, and he’s made spectacular coast2coast plays for us. I’d like to use him as a positive example & positive piece of the puzzle. Ask Mike Krzyzewski about Traylor and Madison Sq.Garden…

  • Two things I would like to see the team take more pride in: Positions and Passing.

    It’s been clear the past two games that these have not been areas of focus.

    Sharper positioning should lead to better rebounding [see WVU game] and sometimes that’s as much about sealing off others so a teammate can get the rebound as it is about allowing a specific player to rebound. On offense, positioning can create lanes and pull the defense… which leads to #2…

    Passing should be treated as a weapon. Great passing kills an opponent; poor passing gives life to the opponent. The 10 turnovers in the first half [TCU game] is just sloppy… some of those passes were almost disrespectful to the opponent. Perhaps part of the problem is that I can remember some former teams that really excelled in this area. It requires great awareness and sometimes this team just doesn’t seem to have that sharp awareness.

    That’s my Sunday armchair analysis 😉 FWIW

  • @bskeet sloppy!! I did think Perry did a fine job of sealing and Dg got some nice passes to him. Crisp would be nice, passing and cutting.

  • @HighEliteMajor This is something we will not know the full story on, maybe ever. What are the possibilities after the season? Cliff declares for the draft. He stays one more year. He transfers. Im no scout but maybe Cliff isnt ready and maybe he is. I agree though, the numbers say Cliff is a much better player than Traylor. What the hell is Coach doing!? You just dont leave your toughest horse in the barn when your trying to pull the plows. Lame analogy but yall know what I mean. One thing I do know, I never for one minute thought they were final four material this season. I do not have that expectation for this team at all. Maybe sweet 16. Maybe.
    Another thing, KU needs to win Monday night regardless of who they play or dont play. They need that game. Kstate is clearly having a down year but in this league that’s not a guarantee of a loss against your instate rival.
    Again, I am not holding out hope for a long run in the big dance. But, I am holding out hope for an 11th conference title.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    A helluva good piece of writing even if I disagree on the substance. Great metaphor. Solid logic. I read the premises differently. You have probability on your side. I have a wild hair on mine. You will probably prevail, but like Nimitz, I see what I see and so, like you, I have to go another course. But I would recommend your take to anyone that looks at mine and says, “Nope, not buying.”

    Rock Chalk!

  • @jaybate-1.0 USS Nimitz. Thats one bad@$$ ship

  • @bskeet I agree, especially on the passing. So many times it seems lackadaisical and scares me to think what a more alert opposing defense could do.

  • @jaybate-1.0

    Don’t forget that Nimitz won all the big sea battles and the the overall sea campaign and was instrumental in winning WW II and was the US representative when Japan officially surrendered. Arguably, the brightest naval warfare mind of all time. Not a bad vision to have.

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