KU Finds Itself: Welcome to Bad Ball

  • Playing terrible is the new good.

    Self has apparently discovered that in the OAD era, the team that plays the worst wins.

    KU came out mediocre, and then systematically got worse and worse, until Texas seemed not to be able to take it any more.

    Twice in frustration, Barnes appeared to call for Butcher Ball more out of frustration than anything else.

    Texas could stop everything KU tried.

    Texas could hold KU under under .9 PPP for a half and under 1 PPP for an entire game, and still they could not separate.

    Self’s new Bad Ballers simply wouldn’t let Texas separate. When Texas squirted into a lead, KU would close the game, so that they could get another lead. When KU got a lead, Self would coach it back to 1 or 2 point lead.

    Self masterfully kept the score close the entire game.

    Self refused to let either team hold onto a lead.

    His Bad Ballers simply would not quit keeping it close.

    The team played furiously bad to let Texas get leads and then moderately bad to close the gap down to 1 or 2.

    Self’s Bad Ballers leaped out to a 6 point lead in the game and and then clenched their jaws and gritted their teeth and beat themselves several times down the floor to keep it close for their coach.

    It was easily the most remarkable and counter intuitive performance on a court I have ever witnessed.

    Self turned the game into a FT shooting contest, by systematically reducing his team’s FG% to 36% and 12% from the trey stripe.

    Self seemed to coach his team into playing so bad that it elicited an unfair advantage of 32FTA for KU to 18FTAs for Texas. The referees seemed to take pity on KU for how bad it was playing the game of basketball.

    Perry Ellis scored 28 points on a lousy for a big man 9-21 shooting performance that was countered by a brilliant 10-12 from the charity stripe.

    Kelly Oubre showed that he can get 15 and 9 playing the softest he has ever played at KU and that is saying something.

    Frank Mason pulled off the near statistical impossibility of driving repeatedly to the iron, going 5-13 and getting to the FT line only 1 time!!!

    And all most as a foreshadowing of Self’s and the team’s commitment to finding themselves as Bad Ballers, Cliff Alexander, perhaps the biggest bust in the history of OADs may have ended his tepid KU career not with a bang but a DNP because of reported NCAA inquiries.

    It was almost like KU dedicated the definitive Bad Ball performance to Cliff.

    KU found themselves today and James Naismith Court.

    Make no mistake about it.

    After working their butts off to become the best good team they could be, it appeared the team had an epiphany: if we can’t be the best good team, then we will be the best bad team.

    They were an atrocious team team today.

    They did everything wrong on a basketball court that a basketball team can do, except for three things.

    1. They shot FTs well.

    2. They protected the ball for the first time in a month (only 6 turnovers).

    3. They won.

    They didn’t even play good defense, not in any conventional sense of the word defense.

    They never stopped Texas. Texas just was terrible.

    In fact. Texas proved today that a team can play too bad to win.

    KU never played too bad to win, the way Texas did.

    KU played just bad enough to win.

    There is a fine line between Bad Ball, and crappy ball.

    And KU has found itself right on that line.

    If beauty walks a razors edge, Bad Ball treads a laser beam.

    It is not at all clear that Self and KU can stay on this laser beam of badness required to win out and ensure themselves of the 11th title.

    Bad Ball is perhaps more difficult to play than Good Ball.

    A coach has to constantly deny you your strengths without you breaking down in disillusionment.

    A coach has to constantly coach you back from 6 to 1-2 point leads.

    A coach has to find wrinkles that help you come back from six down.

    A coach had to keep a his team from ever being in control of a game AND keep the opponent from ever being in control of it.

    You have to be able to deny yourself treys, so that you only take 8, 13 is too many.

    And even 8 is risky, because if you shot a good percentage of 8 you might open a lead that the coach might not be able to narrow back down for you without you getting beaten.

    But today the Bad Ballers were at the peak, or is that the trough, of their Bad Ball.

    They whittled down every lead the opponent had.

    The whittled down every lead that they had.

    The kept it close till the end.

    It was like no win in the history of basketball.

    It was the complete book end win to the first win against Texas.

    In the first Texas win, this team played as good as it could for a win.

    In this second game, this team played as bad as it could for a win.

    I don’t see how even Self can find a way for a team to play any worse than this and still win.

    And we know it was being orchestrated this way by Self because he was smiling the entire second half whenever he was not baiting the refs to keep it close.

    Poor Rick Barnes. He is so old fashioned. He still sends his team out trying to play well and they just don’t play very well for him. It was apparent that Texas out hustled KU and out intimidated KU, and pretty much out everythinged KU and without referees pitying KU and giving KU a home whistle, Texas might have spoiled this KU self discovery of themselves as Bad Ballers.

    On the other hand, KU seemed so skillful at Bad Ball that this team of Bad Ball destiny might have found a way to keep it close even if Texas had not played too bad.

    This team no longer has to fear competing with teams of great talent anymore.

    The playing field is no longer level.

    We are no longer competing to be the best good team; that was hopeless. They had the footers and we didn’t.


    We are competing to be the best bad team.

    We are competing to drag others down to our level, then keep it close, then win by one.

    And sneer and ridicule all you want, or all I want, but this team is about to win a conference title playing this way.

    No one can say anymore this season that Self is hide bound and stubborn and unwilling to innovate.

    This is an innovation like none I have ever witnessed before.

    Welcome to Bad Ball.

  • @jaybate-1.0 He was trying to save Barne’s job. Logically speaking, having Rick Barnes as UT coach is NOT a bad thing for KU. Our brilliant coach realized if he blew them out today, Barnes would get the Horns hook, so he kept it close. That’s as close as I can get in response to Bad Ball.

  • It’s “grind basketball” which is Self’s brand of basketball.

    I almost think he’d rather lose at grind ball than win at high-octane offense ball that ends up in a race.

    All of this just reinforces that we need to continue to make post scoring our #1 offensive focus. I hope Perry can score 20+ in every game moving forward, because it will take all of that just for us to stand a chance.

    Kudos to Perry.

    Maybe Self will back out now and look to spread the offense… outside and inside scoring. Maybe he was just pushing Perry to “man up?” Hey… none of us are complaining about Perry’s play now. Now if we can get more of our other guys to support him… It would help if we actually attempted to run a little offense for the long ball.


    Ha… I’ve thrown up my hands a while back. I’m not going to be the one defined as “insane” by Einstein. I’m not pulling out my hair because we aren’t setting up the long ball. I’m just going along for the ride. I hope we win the B12… and anything at all beyond that is gravy. So my expectations are squat once we edge out WVU (hopefully).

  • “Playing terrible is the new good.”

    We are the undisputed champions of the universe then.

    I watched the whole, ugly game. Even had the volume on so I could listed to Jay “I hate KU” Bilas.

    I’m just glad The Voice is on Mondays and Tuesdays.

  • @nuleafjhawk I’m surprised to read that comment. I’ve always thought Jay has been respectful of KU. He is respectful of the game imho, and he seems to be one of the few that has decency and respect for the way the game should be played and officiated. Why do you think he dislikes Kansas?

  • Hey… if we can get our shots blocked 20 times in a game and win… perhaps we stand a chance against Kentucky!


  • @Blown It seems as though (to me anyway) everything he said was against us. Every questionable call it seemed as though he thought Texas got screwed. I just had the feeling that the media really wanted Texas to hand us a home loss today.

  • Okay, so your comment was really just geared to his remarks today? I had to turn the volume up and down during the game. His comments were definitely not Pro KU today. But I respect his thoughts because I think he really does try to call it like he sees it. He said it was a BS foul call on Lucas prior to the 3 pt shot off the inbound play. He then said it should have been a foul called on Thomas drive at the end. I agreed with him. He was fouled. Jay has a very good eye for the game, imo.

  • @nuleafjhawk

    “Even had the volume on so I could listed to Jay “I hate KU” Bilas.”

    Jay drives me crazy. His end of game rant about Taylor not getting the foul call was ridiculous. There was small contact and the refs had let that go all game, even much more contact. Taylor was out of control… I didn’t know he was supposed to be rewarded for driving out of control and going down.

    I think everyone in the universe already knows I’m not a Bilas fan. He’s just another lawyer trying to weasel through life with his sharp tongue.

  • cmon! Perry reached over and grabbed Taylors shoulder and completely changed his direction. It was a foul.

    Yes, lots of other calls were blown all day, but if we are going to debate that specific play, it was clearly a foul.

  • Also-- I am biased to liking Bilas because he is the only one I hear stand up to the butcher ball that basketball is becoming.

    Many times i have thought about stopping watching the game of basketball altogether because of the contact they allow now. If I wanted to watch a contact sport I’d watch a contact sport.

  • This is the perfect game for Kansas. It’s the time of year where every game is a dogfight. this is one of the most resilient Kansas basketball teams I have ever witnessed. I have seen some of the Jayhawk teams that could blow teams out, but could not win grind it out tough games. Today was a grind it out battle. It was exactly what Kansas needed. It felt like a round of 32 tournament game. Great to see we have capable big men on the bench, men who are not afraid to step up when called to duty. The way Coach Self has played the team this season, we will be one very hard team for opponents to scout come tournament time.

  • @Blown I watched the game on tape and was trying to decide if there was a foul there or not. Did he slide by Mason? Did Mason throw a hip into him a bit?

  • @drgnslayr 3 steps is a travel. Same as Staten in the WVU game.

  • I’m out of town and cannot access the dvr. I got to see the play live, and then the few replays. I saw a hip check from Mason that I couldn’t decide if I thought was a foul:; but Perry reached back with his right hand, cupped Thomas’s shoulder and that is the foul I saw.

  • @Blown I did think Bilas’ reaction was a bit much. I think he wanted Texas to win.

  • This morning I was listening to ESPN and one of the analysts said:

    “Will Texas’ big win over Kansas tonight get them into the tournament. I mean, they haven’t played yet, but if they happen to win.”

    I think the entire ESPN cast is ready to see Kansas go down.

  • @wissoxfan83 You may be right, but if the situation were reversed there would be entire thread and post dedicated to that non call on KU Buckets!

  • ESPN runs the Longhorn Network

  • @Blown Thomas…sorry I don’t know which play you are talking about. So there was a play away from the ball that should have been a foul?

  • @wissoxfan83 I thought that Taylor lost his balance and then his leg hit Mason. Would like to see it again, but I thought Taylor losing his balance caused the contact…that’s why they didn’t call it.

  • @Blown You are right about that. We would be raising cane about the non-call. But…there were lots of calls during the game that could have been called differently…both ways.

  • @VailHawk Bingo! And they own the SEC network which means we get SEC ad nauseum during football season.

    No one has talked much about this, but it’s an obvious conflict of interest. Think of how much influence ESPN has on the sports world. Handing out Top 10 plays, players, plays of the year, rankings, power rankings. Which teams they’ll write features on. SEC Storied, a regular show on ESPN, not on their own SEC network. I don’t see Big1G or Big12 storied. There’s no ACC Storied.

  • @drgnslayr I feel your frustration about long ball offense, but I feel the problem is not about focusing on an inside game or outside game. We are just not a good offensive team, inside or out.

    We have 3-4 good individual shooters on this team, but they cannot get looks on their own, they cannot catch and shoot good after moving in the offense, they aren’t good at making themselves available as an outlet on fastbreaks, we aren’t good at kicking the ball out drives, we aren’t good finishing drives to make a defense have to suck in just to be able to kick out, and the team can’t set a screen without fouling. They can only hit open looks. They are very deadly at open looks, but not if they have to doing anything but just stand there, get the ball, the shoot it with perfect timing and set feet. Contrast this to other good shooters that we’ve had, B-Mac, Mario, BRush, Sherron. These guys would miss if “too open”. B-Mac was deadly in the “elevator play”, but Greene would probably miss that shot 9 to of 10 times. We haven’t seen anyone knock down a shot on the “chop play” since Conner last year.

    I contest the only way to get open looks is to have an inside game that has to be respected, to the point defenders sag off our perimeter guys. Selden got hot for a few games because his defenders were playing off, daring him to shoot. After a couple games they are right back on him, because they know he can’t finish even if he gets around them. And his 3% has gone back to crap.

    Notice when we did hit a lot of 3s, all the scoring was perimeter and nothing down low. And notice now that the defenses are pushing our guys out, that Perry’s numbers have gone up. The opposing game plan is now to make Perry have to beat you, and force Oubre, Mason, and Wayne to drive. If we had a good 2 man game down low, then the perimeter open back up.

    We just aren’t a good enough team (in many aspects) to get whatever shot we want. We have to take what they give us. I think Self wants our 3 point shooters unleashed, and right now, this late in the season, the only chance is if Perry remains a 20-30 point scorer and we win with that enough that opponents give us back our open 3’s. If Greene wants to make it rain from 3 land in the tourney, and go for 25 a game; then he better be the biggest cheerleader for Perry dropping 30/game from now through the end of the season.

    This is a team game. Sometimes it’s not about doing more of your best thing, but minimizing what you’re the worst at. The best thing-shooting outside shots. The worst thing-running an offense (any offense) as a team.

    Self is trying to build a better team.

  • @jaybate-1.0 I don’t know jaybate, I think you’re being overly harsh, to make your point. We weren’t lucky to win this game. We gutted out an ugly game.

    We out rebounded UT and had 10 (!) blocks… Without Cliff. That signifies a motivated from front court.

    We were as hungry, in the Reb dept, as we’ve been in a while. Texas didn’t give us that. That, we earned.

  • @KansasComet Was clearly a blatant traveling violation when Taylor Jukes his 360 deg out of control spin. Bilas really pissed me off with his crybaby rant. Needs to change his name to Bias

  • @Blown Yes, my comments were directed to his commentary today. I know he has had a lot of good things to say about us in the past (when we’re not playing Kentucky or any ACC team…) but for some reason he was just getting under my skin today.

  • @drgnslayr Taylor is a dang good ball player and I wish he had a Kansas uniform on - but - BUT - the dude plays out of control a L O T. 🎲

  • @globaljaybird I agree. He spun and was in trouble and although some may have thought it looked a little like Frank checked him, to me it appeared Frank was backing up and trying to get out of his way. And just possibly the rec center refs figured they owed us one from the Stanton deal.

  • @jaybate-1.0 We’ve all heard Self say that he believes that a team will play 1/3 good games, 1/3 mediocre game, and 1/3 bad games. We also know that shooters get hot and also have slumps. We witnessed Self experimenting with Greene trying to manage hot shooting games when we need it and letting him slump in games that we didn’t need his shot.

    It appears that Self is perhaps trying to manage the team so as to has them get their mediocre and bad games out of the way, so that the good games are left for the tourney.

    Not letting them get full of themselves. Constantly throwing “new stuff” at them. Managing slumps. Not relying on any one player. Lowering expectations.

    Maybe all of this is to be able to ease off the pressure later, give them all the wrinkles, and let them come out in the tourney loose, comfortable about anything that can be thrown at them, and with nothing to lose.


  • @jaybate-1.0 I’ll try and keep this brief. I agree to some extent with you, but I tend to believe this whole season performance was planned by HCBS. I mean let’s face it, the whole country had given up on KU getting #11 and was ready to anoint Texas as the successor or possibly ISU. But all along HCBS knew what he had and that this team was capable of making a farce of the psuedo-Big 12 championship race and embarrass a whole bunch of college bb analysts. So, rather than risk adding unknown numbers to the unemployment rolls, including RB, HCBS has kept his cards to his chest, knowing he has a royal flush, and is bluffing his way through this season just to keep national interest up in the psuedo-Big 12 race. That’s my 2 cents worth. 🍻

    @globaljaybird @Crimsonorblue22 After we beat WVU Tues night, and we will beat them because (1) AFH and (2) @Crimsonorblue22 will be there, I may, just maybe, wipe out the rest of the Crown 75th. 🍻

  • @jayhawkbychoice

    Solid post.

    Ultimately… we need a few more guys that can create their own shot. We rely too much on “team ball”… meaning… the “don’t let the ball stick” passing. It is a great thing when it works. But quick passing alone isn’t the answer either.

    At some point you need guys that can create.

    Texas lived today on Taylor creating. It was almost enough to give them a victory. Without Taylor… they were toast.

    Perry is our guy who creates for himself. His recent uptick has been tremendous.

    Sometimes… Frank can create.

    Rarely… Wayne can create.

    Brannen… he’s a bird perched on the 3 line waiting to receive the ball when he is wide open.

    I will take Bill Self out to dinner at the best steak house in America if I ever see one of our guys pull the ultimate shot fake. Just one time!

    The news isn’t all negative.

    Perry is doing better. So is Kelly. He is starting to take matters into his own hands. Great… we need another guy to do that.

    But is there time to reformulate an offense this late in the season? I think it is tough for this team to build an identity now.

    It looks like we are in for mostly grind games from here on out, unless we get a few pushover teams to play.

  • @nuleafjhawk ha ha!

  • @nuleafjhawk nothing new!

  • @nuleafjhawk you know he had a good game in Texas too, but they still lost. Team game!

  • @drgnslayr Agree, but the ones who create have to learn to create for others as well.

    I don’t think this team reads defenses very well at all. Frank can blow by almost anyone guarding him, but before he goes, he needs to have an idea of what to do and thus direct teammates to where they need to be to take advantage of his drive. He needs to set up an outlet on the perimeter, a easy score for someone down low, and for someone to be in position for a rebound if he does take the shot himself. I know I always go back the 08 team for examples, but they were the best at running this offense. If they didn’t get the look they wanted after about 20 seconds one of the guards would call for the ball back out to the key, they would motion the guy into certain positions and then take off to the basket and somebody would get a good look. Jackson and Kahn were very effective 5’s because they went to where the other could create for them. I believe you could put Landen on that 08 team as a starter and he would average 10ppg just for being where RussRob and Mario told him to be.

    When this team passes the ball around, not letting it stick, it seems they are just going through the motions, instead of passing and probing with purpose to move the defense. How many times in the past have we seen the ball get reversed with no good looks, and they would all move about 5 feet to one side, do it again, and that time have a good angle for one of the bigs to seal and get a good shot; or (if the defense overplayed) reverse and have an open perimeter shot.

    The key missing ingredient for this team is no floor general, no coach on the floor.

    I’m with you on the shot fake thing!!! I’m so disappointed about the Conner thing, because in the early season camps and scrimmages, he was the only one who would use them. Every game he would get the ball kicked out to him, pump fake, take one dribble to his left and bury a 3, while the defender was about 3 row deep after jumping at him. He got a few layups and mid-range jumper that way too. That whole thing is just sad.

    All that said, this whole thing can click in their minds at anytime, maybe this season! And when it does, look out!!

  • @jaybate-1.0 And bad ball might just get us to the elite 8 if the deck is stacked right.

  • @jaybate-1.0 The NCAA should do a draft like the NBA does. No more nike stacked teams with 10 mcd’s AA’s

  • @ZIG

    It was a hard fought game.

    We won a must win game.

    We protected.

    Perry got 28 on 21 FGAs and double digit boards.

    Kelly went 15/9…

    The Frank played through what seemed two bad injuries.

    Heroic effort.

    And textbook ugly.

  • @Lulufulu

    It might work.

  • @drgnslayr Graham can create his own shot off the dribble. He has a pretty nice mid range game.

  • It seems like the ball is sticky as of late. And while Frank is a tough sob, his decisions are regressing to shoot first past second. He needs to grasp that he can lead as a facilitator and doesn’t have to lead as a scorer.

  • @jayhawkbychoice

    “Agree, but the ones who create have to learn to create for others as well.”

    Spot on!

    Once again, great post and vision of what is missing.

    The leadership you mention is down the road in Wichita. VanVleet is a heck of a PG. There just aren’t many PGs like him around.


    Correct. But in defense of Frank… he was never been a PG until coming to Kansas. He’s had to learn the spot, learn to translate his game to D1 and learn the Self system. I give him a lot of credit. Next year, Graham may be a better pick for someone to facilitate. Maybe slide Frank over more into the 2 (where he belongs) and just let him be a backup PG.

  • @Lulufulu but If drafts were held kids would have no choice in their colleges. That wouldn’t be fair.

  • @Hawk8086

    Taylor was out of control. Frank was in control and going backwards. Frank reached in at the ball around the key, but once Taylor started his drive Frank actually played it right for a change. Maybe he learned his lesson after WVU and Staten.

  • @jaybate-1.0 “If beauty walks a razor’s edge, Bad Ball treads a laser beam.” My O My, jb, you have climbed to the very pinnacle of Buckets postings! “Playing terrible is the new good.” Nice.

  • BEWARE, Those Who Enter. Fear BAD BALL!

  • @Blown

    You are right @Blown. @Lulufulu and I are old and running out of time, and so we were at a philosophically weak moment, because of the outrageous asymmetries of talent distribution. I cannot speak for Lulu, but I repent. We have to better understand the mechanisms of the asymmetries before we try to fix them.

    Is it Big Shoe, Big Agent, Cal’s “dribble drive”, or Coach K’s ongoing claims to be graduating players, while coaching a roster full of OADs that are driving this?

    Or are we just caught in a mid stream transition to 10 man roster OAD ball?

    Thanks for giving the old guys a gentle nudge.

  • @Blown Yeah, thats true. Didnt think about that part. I would want to go where ever I wanted if I was a 5 star recruit too. But, there has to be some sort of limitations set. If we see 2 teams with 10 5 star recruits again next season, it just wont be good for the game, at all.

  • @Lulufulu @jaybate-1.0

    I agree with your sentiments, too about the uneven distribution of talents. In fact, I don’t know if my opinion of the game is changing because I am aging, or if I am really just becoming quite bitter with the way it has been Incorporated, for lack of a better term.

    My love of basketball goes back as far as I can recall being able to walk and run. It was the game I could play, even alone, regardless of financial limitations. I could get better at it alone, or with a team. I didn’t have to have certain shoes, or a uniform. I could play because of my ‘God-given’ talents and my desire to out run and jump the person in front of me.

    The game has changed. There is too much money on the line now. The game is officiated differently, now. Style points are more important than team work. One and Done is more important than collecting and developing talent over a period of time. Even at the risk of Jeopardizing seasons…ie…the Big Red Dog.

    The NBA is a poor product in my opinion, but Kids are growing up wanting to be like them because of the Celebrity Factor. When I grew up wanting to be like Mike, or Larry, or Adonis Jordan it was purely because of the way they played the game. Jordan’s competitiveness. Birds Fire. Hell, I don’t really know why I loved Adonis, probably just his name and that he shot a high % from 3. I never cared about those guys being millionaires. But that is the change I’m seeing in today’s game. SHOW ME THE MONEY!!!

Log in to reply