BAD BALL©: Definition and Interpretative Analysis

  • (Note: I am just kidding around with the copyright symbol. It is an allusion to @bskeet’s funny use of a TM symbol with BAD BALL in his recent thread, which was itself a reference to someone joking about @lincase improvising off my Bad Ball term. This is the cascading, evolving joy of new words responding to new phenomena. Language is like a jazz ensemble improvising together. And it is nice to see so many entering into the jam session.)

    Despite the pitiful first half and dubious aesthetics, the win over WVU satisfied me ecstatically. So much so, that I have had to lay around for a few days savoring the win with a metaphorical post conquest skirred egg breakfast (two eggs up barely fried in butter in an ancient 4” Griswold cast iron skillet, then a table spoon of heavy cream, sprinkle of grated pecorino romano, pancetta chips, teaspoon of diced shallot, a table spoon of moscato, roasted under a broiler for a minute and a half) and my favorite Frank Lloyd Wright-pattern, burnt umber cup full of French Roast coffee with a little chickory) lounging on the deck, browsing posts.

    But all glows finally fade and the warm, rushing feeling coursing throughout by body and mind after the game, while lasting a record time, have finally subsided. 🙂

    I sense great ambivalence in posters about the way we played, about how poorly we played the first 20 minutes, and about how ugly the win was, despite the incomparable heroics of our basketball equivalent of Merrill’s Marauders.

    I wouldn’t worry about the first 20 minutes. How could young men that have been through so much and built to a great edge for West Virginia NOT have had a let down after learning that the 11th title was in the bag BEFORE the game? I was let down before the game. i was practically giddy. Why shouldn’t they have been. And, frankly, it was the XTReme Drama of "THE COMEBACK” that elevated this team once and for all to the basketball equivalents of Merrill’s Marauders. I cannot think of another team that has ever overcome so much adversity and injury in a single half to will a come back and then win in overtime. The Miracle on Naismith Drive against Fizzou? Well, of course the Fizzou win was more dramatic from a historical perspective, because of the century of antagonism that was finally put to bed once and for all. But nothing in the Fizzou win, or in any other KU come back in can recall the last 50 years could compare with the combination of missing players, state of injury going into the game, limited big man abilities, and the number of injuries DURING the game in the victory over WVU. Not a single comeback in over a century would surpass it, at least that would be my guess.

    Alas, I sense my use of the term BAD BALL may have been misinterpreted.

    It is not meant as a criticism, or aspersion.

    It is a name coined to describe the asethetically ugly game that results from playing basketball a certain way for a certain reason and systematizing it.

    Bad Ball is a term for describing the way KU has played the game on offense and defense much of this season.

    At first, I thought this way of playing occurred, because the team was young and playing inside out without the prerequisite level of big man talent.

    And then it seemed relieving, at first, when they spent a few games developing an outside in form of attack that was a combination of micro bursting treys and attacking MBMAPs (mobile big man attack platforms) charging into the low blocks to try to score in lieu of a back to the basket big man, or a rim protector.

    But then a disturbing thought fired across my synapses. It left a ghost neural net burn pattern of a kind of persisting. We were ugly even winning outside in, even against lesser opponents.

    But, before I could process this sense of aesthetically challenged outside in play, Self shifted gears, and seemed to go back to inside out, only not quite the same inside out as before. Instead of Perry endlessly trying to spin his way out of a back to the basket position on the block, where he had been largely ineffectual, now Perry was showing up all over the inside and outside and attacking, or trying to, in all sorts of ways…and with decidedly less spinning. Sometimes even none. It appeared as if Self ordered Perry to play without spinning for awhile. It revealed the beginning of Perry’s refitting as a stretch 4, at times almost a 3, playing 4.

    Combined with the stretch 4 refit, I recall some continued development of the MBMAP concept with our other bigs, especially Cliff, running the floor and Jamari attacking the basket on drives and cuts. But then injury and learning overload reared—Jamari’s hip flexor, and Cliff’s sternum and apparent miscellaneous injuries unreported. Jamari lost all his explosiveness, and increasingly was used as a walking zero digit place holder the first five minutes of games as part of a game shortening strategy regarding the problem plagued 5 position. In turn, Cliff got the toughening box, despite the injuries, and he cratered psychologically, apparently unable to hold up to the toughening box that Self apparently felt necessary before relying even for only 15 mpg on the Big Red Dog for a stretch run. Things got so bad, that Cliff began not to be played at all. And in the tradition of things going completely black after getting very dark, first Cliff’s mentor, and then Cliff fell to off court “issues,” apparently carefully not commented on in combination.

    Through the above, Self and the team continued to find ways to stay ahead in the conference race, while morphing more and more into what I have come to call Bad Ball with a Stretch Four. This increasingly unbeautiful playing style relied on Perry Ellis scoring 20-28 ppg with 12-21 FGAs, if I recall correctly post-WVU basketbasm.

    Some saw this resort to this aesthetically challenged style of play a failure of imagination on Self’s part and, further, as a stubborn adherence to an outmoded (for today’s OAD dependent style of play) offense (the High Low). Others including me, early on, saw a path through the thicket with the three ball. @drgnslayr mourned the lack of fundamentals being taught. And so on.

    Criticisms had reached a fever pitch during the stretch when the team went two and two, and saw its lead vaporize. Many began to argue that the 2-2 stretch was attributable to the way Self and the team were choosing to play the game—to the high low offense—to the declining number of 3ptas—to playing away from what board rats believed was our proven strength at trey balling.

    But what I, at least, began to notice was that a certain systematic approach to team play had grown manifest; that there was some method to this madness on the part of the Okmulgee Kid. It was what I was beginning to think of, but had not yet called, BAD BALL with a Stretch Four. Win or lose, strong opponent, or weak opponent, Self and his team were playing each game the same way. They were keeping it close. They ran the stuff for stretches attacking inside and then spread and attacked inside. But notably, there were not even inside out with kick outs to open looks. Ball movement generated what open look treys occurred and they were few and far between–declining over time from a high of 20 or so, to 15, to 13 to 11, to 10 and finally down to single digits against WVU.

    It was the best of times and the worst of times. Winning (best) and playing uglier and uglier (worst). And even when the losses occurred, though board rats blamed the losses on the way Self and his team were playing, the more logical inference was that the 2-2 stretch had occurred because of very conventional drivers unrelated to aesthetics. A key motivational coach was lost for two weeks. Injuries had reached critical mass. It was February and a young team full of players that had never been through a long D1 season, and overcome the February wall, was overwhelmed mentally and physically in surprise, surprise, late February. And feeding into it was Self continuing to teach and develop this new way of playing the game—my memory is vague here because of the rush of events and my onrushing age–what I only finally hung a partial moniker—Bad Ball–on after the Texas game and then a full moniker on during the WVU—Bad Ball with Stretch Four. Or was it a game earlier on both counts. Can’t recall. Don’t want to go look. Approximate will do here.

    And as I said at the beginning, I think some have misunderstood what my moniker means. And perhaps they have because it has been hard for me to figure this new way of playing out. A lot of hypotheses had to be tested and rejected.

    @drgnslayr calls it grind ball, and I have concurred, only adding that it is an evolution of grind ball tactics to be used in certain games, against certain opponents (as in prior years), into something systematic, into strategy, not just tactics, into a way of playing every game against every opponent.

    And though I began to see it some in the KSU loss (note: it had been there much of the season, I just couldn’t “see” it), and clearly versus Texas and with almost painful acuity vs WVU, it has still taken me a few days to find a vocabulary and some analogies to make sense of it for myself and perhaps for some others.

    Let me cut to the chase on a definition first.

    Bad Ball def. a scheme in basketball aimed at closing down the impact space of opponents on both offense and defense.

    Bad Ball can be and is played with either tight spacing of our players, or broad spacing of our players.

    Bad Ball is NOT a sharp change in offense, or in formations, though Self has added several formations to the High Low Offense that I have noted previously this season. It is not really about inside out, or outside in. Those are modes of attack, if you will, that are largely determined by what the opponent takes away. One could play conventional Self Ball in any of the formations, and in any of the modes of attack. We could play “Good Ball” without changing a thing in our formations, modes of attack, ball movements, and actions. These are not what distinguish BAD BALL from GOOD BALL.

    So, ‘bate, what the hell is BAD BALL then?

    Bad ball is using attack to SHRINK the impact space. Put another way, it is attacking only in close to the opponent. Put yet another way, it is attacking to create situations where the opponent has to commit to close play and to risking fouling to get a stop…as much of the time as possible.

    The reason we are not trying to create open looks with action is that we don’t want open looks with action. We want to make plays in close to our opponents where they can foul us, and where their athleticism and height are not necessarily advantageous.

    When one shoots a trey, even an open look trey, ESPECIALLY an open look trey, especially an open look trey created by action, there is NO shrunken impact space where a foul can occur. Oh, you could devise some action to create looks in tight spaces, but what would the point of THAT be? We want fouls! And lots of them! And we don’t want our guys taking shots where the opposing team’s superior length, strength, and bounce give them total advantage.

    But ‘bate, Self has always used the High Low Passing Offense to create impact space! What are you saying? Self and this team are trying shrink the impact space? What kind of flipping nuttiness is that?

    It is the kind of nuttiness that is actually sound tactics raised to strategy by the Jarhead Jayhawks. It is the kind of nuttiness that lets a team with a small, relatively slight, front court with declining explosiveness from wear and tear and injury, a front court that never had good rebounders or good back to the basket scorers in the first place, rebound and score on and maximize FTAs versus teams with longer, stronger, and more skillful bigs. Recall the Texas win. They are as tall and hefty as almost anyone we will run into all season. Recall the Utah win. They were as tall, though not as athletic, or hefty, as anyone we might run into in the Madness. The point is that BAD BALL,once you learn to play it, works against L&Ss and L&As.

    That’s what kind of nuttiness it is.

    BAD BALL with a Stretch 4 (and even without as we learned without Perry vs. WVU) is real and ugly, but sound in tactics and strategy.

    Wake up and smell the W&L statement people. We are 24 and 6 and undisputed champions of the Big 12 Power Conference without good rebounders, without back to the basket bigs, without height, without our OAD big man, without a healthy front court, with our OAD 3 wearing a down pillow on one knee, without our TAD 2 seeming in constant doubt about his knee (until a play or two against WVU), and with our point guard playing on two gimpy knees. Oh, and our OAD Euro baller is just a long bench warmer. And our Sweet Shooting 2 with the legendary trey stroke that won’t go in any more is now pale as a ghost and god only knows what that means!!!




    One of the problems with Bad Ball is that its systematic application all game every game is so unprecedented. It doesn’t have a past example in college basketball that I know of, unless maybe Al Maguire and Hank Raymonds did it sometime when I wasn’t looking. Or maybe some great NAIA coach that Self saw one time did it. Or maybe Hank Iba recalled it as something he saw done once. Or whatever. But BAD BALL does not have a recognizable antecedent in the era of modern basketball.

    In situations like this, analogy must be resorted to.

    A good analogy for Bad Ball is one time heavy weight champion Joe Frazier’s approach to boxing, adapted from a number of fighters before him. Joe’s wikipedia pages suggests Henry Armstrong and Rocky Marciano as Joe’s antecedents. There are probably many more. Regardless, Joe was a short (maybe 5-11), compact, and powerful puncher, who faced many boxers taller and as athletic, or more so, than himself (e.g., Muhammad Ali), and many fighters bigger than stronger than himself (e.g., George Foreman). Joe fought by relentlessly moving in close to his opponents, where he delivered body blows, upper cuts and a fierce, compact hook that knocked out most of the 27 fighters he KO’d in 37 fights. Joe fought ugly and the ugliness was put in especially bold contrast when he fought a pretty fighter like Muhammad Ali. Joe doubled up his shoulders, pulled his head in, tucked elbows in tight as rib armor, and bobbed and weaved with gloves close to face as he bore in through a hail of jabs and hooks by bigger fighters, be they sluggers or dancers. He took tremendous punishment from boring in as he did again and again in a match. Even in his best fights his face was swollen up at the end. But once Joe got in close the opponent’s longer reach and greater athleticism were no longer big advantages. They were in fact disadvantages, where Joe’s short arms could fire fast and more accurately in the tight confines and clinches he created. And when the bigger fighters found themselves going for clinches, or holding his head down with an extended glove in what seemed a taunt, when done by Ali, Joe delivered vicious body blows and undercuts that often lead to a lowered glove and an opening that Joe delivered the devastating hook over. Joe’s style was ugly, repetitive, and seemingly unsophisticated to those unfamiliar with the bitter Sweet Science of prize fighting. But Joe broke Ali’s jaw once. And he beat Ali once. And Ali was the greatest fighter that ever lived and don’t ever let anyone tell you other wise.

    Joe, though ranked the 8th greatest fighter of all time by some, appeared to struggle with many fighters, great and ordinary, because of the style he used. No matter whether the fighter was a great one, or a tune-up, Joe still had to move in close and as he did he had to take a hail punches, whatever kind of fighter it was.

    Now are you starting to get the analogy with this KU team? They are smaller. They are lighter. They are doing something that takes a lot of skill—getting in close enough to do damage. They are not pretty doing it. They wade in and convert an opponent’s strength to a weakness.

    But ‘bate, why not just shoot the trey outside and forget this Smokin’ Joe approach? You called it using artillery to shape a battle field one back in your trey loving days. Why not do that still? Why?

    Because, playing to our strength of trey balling does not turn an opponent’s strength into a weakness. When we are shooting well, it is asserting our strength and leaving the opponent’s strength in tact to stretch out and block our treys, if you are Kentucky’s tall perimeter guys, or to grab all of our misses with footers inside not being challenged by our playing to our strength.

    But when we are not shooting it well, then what do we do, if we have no way of playing that turns an opponent’s strength into a weakness? This is the Socratic question Self tried to ask his fan base and instead of receiving a positive answer he received incredulity and ridicule and scorn. No wonder he scoffed at his fan base. No wonder he gave up trying to explain what he was doing and just got on with doing it and winning his eleventh title in….drum roll please…eleven seasons.

    At most we can shoot threes at 40-50% accuracy 40%-50% of the games. When Self effectively retired the trey, KU had 4-5 guys shooting around 40-50% from trifectaville. And his team was averaging a scorching trey percentage also. It did not take a rocket scientist or KENPOP grade number buster to anticipate what the second half of the season was going to look like from outside the trey stripe. It was going to look exactly like what it HAS looked like. Someone tell me KU’s trey ball shooting percentage the last three games? We hit a slump at exactly the moment we needed to win games to close out and get an eleventh title.

    Self elected to shift to a style of play that avoided that statistical inevitability from keeping us from winning. And for this he has been dissed and ridiculed and disrespected? Frankly, we all owe him our gratitude for in effect telling us all to go fornicate with ourselves.

    Proof. In. Pudding.

    But avoiding a season killing trey slump was not the only virtue of Self’s BAD BALL strategy.

    Remember: even when we make 40-50% from trey, then we have 50-60% percent misses that have to be rebounded and we are not good rebounders in man on man match, box out match ups.

    When we are small and slight inside and not a good natural rebounding team, we want to play a way that minimizes the number of times we have to rebound in a man on man, box out match up. We want to force their best rebounder to commit to stopping shots, so he is NOT rebounding; that is why we give a stretch 4 so many looks. And when we do not attack the stretch 4’s man we want to attack the rim protecting 5 with a PG, or wing, so that if he blocks it, we can have at least a chance for the rebound with two of our bigs crashing on their one 4. And we sure don’t want BOTH their 4 and their 5 in position for blocking, or for the sticking back.

    But most of all, we want to turn games into FT shooting contests, where we don’t have to rebound at all. Think about the WVU game. We got 43 FT attempts (a home whistle for sure, but it only makes sense to shape how you play to where you play); and made something like 37, or whatever. That is 37 times we did not have to get a offensive rebound, or have to try to contain a defensive rebounder half a foot taller than our guys. That is 43 times the momentum of teams with greater athleticism stopped dead. That is 43 times our guys, who have to bang and slide against bigger guys got to stop and take a blow. That is 43 times an opponent had to adjust aggressiveness to another foul. The benefits of BAD BALL are manifold.

    Smokin’ Joe was 5-11 and had only a 73 inch reach. Compare this with Ali, who was 6-3 and had a 73 inch reach, and George Foreman, who was 6-3 and had an 82 inch reach. Ali outweighted Joe 10-20 pounds depending on the fight. Foreman outweighed Joe 20-25 pounds depending on the fight. Foreman was the only guy that Joe fought multiple times that he could not beat. Foreman was just too powerful. The punches Joe had to absorb were just too brutal, and Joe had to fight George when Joe had already taken a lot of punishment in his career.

    Joe didn’t win MOST of the fights against these two former Olympians and great pro fighters. But he did beat Ali once. And in the Madness, all KU will ever have to do is beat a UK once. And maybe a UA once. It won’t have to beat them best of seven. There is NO SUBSTITUTE for great talent in terms of probabilities. Of course UK will probably beat us if we play them again playing BAD BALL. They have TEN OAD/TADs for god’s sakes. But BAD BALL can beat them. And it is probably our best chance to get deep enough to get a shot at them. BAD BALL works on the off nights that GOOD BALL does not work on.

    But here is where the boxing analogy really brings what Self and KU are doing into full relief.

    Joe made these other fighters look bad, even when they defeated him.

    And Joe was not the only great fighter to resort to this kind of fighting in his time.

    None other than Muhammad Ali adapted partially to this style himself, when the pop went out of Ali’s legs, i.e., when he got too old to dance, i.e., when he met a bigger, more powerful puncher than him. Ali increased his weight to compensate for his deteriorating athleticism. Against George Foreman Ali literally layed on the ropes and took an epic battering from Foreman, in order to wear Foreman out, until late in the fight coming out and attacking like a slugger himself. It was called Rope-a-Dope. And it worked. Once.

    And Joe finally cornered Ali in their last fight and Ali had no choice in the end but to surrender float like a butterfly sting like a bee and get almost as ugly as Joe and slug it out with him to win.

    Joe Frazier finally could make Ali, the prettiest fighter of all time, fight ugly.

    This is what BAD BALL is about.

    Bad Ball is cutting off the court on an opponent, the way Smokin’ Joe cut off a canvas.

    Some times you attack from this angle. Some times you attack from that angle. Some times you approach slowly and steadily in cutting off the ring. Some times you race forward quickly to your opponent. But you go where he goes and you go to and through his strength and you keep attacking until you get in close where his athleticism and size so that they are no longer advantages, but rather risks of fouling.

    And you look bad doing it a lot of the time. It takes time to wear an opponent down this way. It takes taking his best shots early and often. It takes chasing and cornering him. It takes getting through his defenses not to make a pretty impact play, but to close in ever closer to him to force this taller, more athletic, and stronger opponent to either foul you or let you make the shot, or be out of position for the rebound of the block. It is ugly, ugly, ugly.

    And when you spread it out into a four corner offense, it is not about blowing by someone to get an easy two. It is about Frank dribbling, and moving this way and that and waiting till the big underneath is in the right position, and then blowing by his man and driving AT the waiting big, and if he isn’t at the rim, adjusting and driving into him and still getting the shot off toward the rim. This play has existed in basketball for as long as there has been basketball. But what is different is that not just Frank, but everyone is trying to get in close, instead of get open.

    BAD BALL is about learning to always position for close contact shooting where the shooting arm and hand can reach out and make contact with the raised and sweeping arm of the defender, so that a ref CAN call the contact on every shot, even though he won’t call it every shot.

    BAD BALL takes tremendous skill to do it right.

    BAD BALL takes tremendous toughness to do it right.

    You have to be able to take the early taunting that follows the L&As and L&Ss blocking your shizz. You have to be able to take the forearm smashes and the trips and the throw downs and the nut punches. You have to be able to take their best shots, so you can get in close on them and force them to foul you. You have to do this and build up the ref’s expectation that it is coming again and again and that sooner or later the ref, who wants to swallow his whistle, gets to where he cannot look the other way anymore at the thuggery you are forcing/daring your opponent to engage in.

    BAD BALL in the age of the asymmetric advantage given to the stacked teams both because of the stacking and because of the asymmetric whistle they get, BAD BALL is also a little like Freedom Marchers going into Mississippi, or Alabama in the 1960s. BAD BALL is about confronting evil masquerading as righteousness, and exposing it. BAD BALL is about closing the space that evil demands and requires to maneuver in. BAD BALL is about sustained confrontation—persistent pressure, even when the results do not look promising. It is about taking abuse until the powers that be—the refs in this case—finally can’t stand the awful spectacle of their own unfairness and the unfairness in the game.

    BAD BALL is about the little guy going up against the big guy.

    We at KU are not used to being the little guys.

    But Self had the good sense to understand that that was exactly who were are this season.

    BAD BALL is about David out maneuvering Goliath without a bolo, because to use the bolo would be to encourage and sustain the advantages of Goliath.

    BAD BALL at times approaches a form of non violent resistance.

    Gandhi and King would recognize BAD BALL instantly.

    BAD BALL is about marching into a meat grinder and winning the asymmetric war the only way possible, when you lack superior weapons, skills and strength, etc.—by taking away the other’s asymmetric advantage.

    Make no mistake.

    Non-violent resistance is war.

    It is NOT about not hitting, or being passive and fearful.

    It is about hitting by not hitting.

    It is about taking away the opponents advantage and strength completely.

    Of course, BAD BALL is closer to Joe Frazier’s ugly boxing, because these Jarhead Jayhawks will hit back…in close.

    Notice that at the end of the WVU game, the Sultan of Thug, Bob Huggins was not able to bully anyone any more. The refs early intimidated by him no longer were intimidated. KU’s players, early beaten and battered by Huggins players, no longer feared being beaten and battered. In fact, as the game wore on and the combat turned hand to hand increasingly, relentlessly in close, the WVU players began not to like playing without their usual advantage. The even began to play the way KU played. Huggins even appeared to order it. But KU was more experienced at playing in tight. Playing rough up close. Enduring pain, instead of dishing it. Playing to get the refs to call the fouls. WVU could dish out the punishment, but it did not like taking the punishment. Its fouling increased as it tried to play BAD BALL up close and personal. And this is why BAD BALL works against thug ballers. Thug ballers are trained to dish it out, not take it.

    Joe Frazier trained himself to the edge of his envelope to take the battering as he moved in close for the fighting. Our players have done the same. They take punches that REALLY hurt. They take the trash talking after a real slam to the floor. They look up at persons trying to hurt them and bounce up and go in tight on them again. It takes mental toughness of a high order to keep doing your job under these conditions. This is what the Marines are about. They are about doing their jobs in conditions that others cannot keep doing them in. It takes playing WITH fear, not intimidating others into fear, though they try to do that too. It takes gauging the abuse one is taking and compensating for it, in ways that let one keep doing one’s job.

    It takes getting in close, living with pain, and finding a way to get the basket and/or the FT.

    It is about shrinking the impact space and still impacting, when the other guy can’t in the confined quarters.

    Perry’s spinning was anathema to BAD BALL, until he began to learn to spin INTO close quarters. It took him 3/4s of a season to break the old habit of spinning into expanded impact space. More impact space from spinning is exactly what kills BAD BALL. BAD BALL depends on EVERYONE moving into the opponent, getting in tight on him, forcing him into commitments that can then be scored on, or made into fouls and FTs. And this is so whether Self calls for the team to run the stuff with closer, or wider spacing. The less Perry spins, the better the BAD BALL we play. And when he does spin, unless he spins INTO another opponent as a way of attacking an unsuspecting opponent close in, it takes the edge off of BAD BALL, as surely as popping treys does. Stopping going in close in BAD BALL is like UCLA under Wooden taking off the full court pressure and stopping running. What makes any approach work is sustaining it until it overwhelms an opponent. This is why you don’t take treys very often, if you don’t have to. It takes off the constant attacking and boring in close.

    We can have treys and spinning away very infrequently—as occasional counterpoint to BAD BALL, but never so much that we cease playing BAD BALL. BAD BALL is WHO WE ARE. It is HOW WE WIN.

    IT is OUR matchup advantage. It is what we can do better than anyone else, anytime, any place, against any opponent. If anyone tries to play BAD BALL that has not been playing it all season, as we have been, THEY LOSE, unless we are so injured, or so victimized by an unfavorable whistle, that we cannot use BAD BALL to our advantage. And even then the games are close.

    KU has now proven BAD BALL can win without making a single trey!!

    BAD BALL is not just a way of playing offense either.

    BAD BALL is defense, too.

    BAD BALL is not just Self Defense, though Self defense has in prior years always been much closer to Bad Ball than has Self Offense.

    BAD BALL defense is shrinking the impact space of an opponent trying to offend.

    Self defense in prior years is about helping and channeling your man into help, which is a form of shrinking impact space. But it has never been solely about that. It has been about winning disruption stats, and locking down certain players. But that is actually often a beautiful kind of defense. Watching Chalmers and Russ Robb go on the offensive on defense was a think of beauty. They were like leopard going on the prowl for a strip. It was gutty and muscular, and it took a walk on the wild side sometimes, but it took superior athleticism and hinged on athletic impact plays.

    BAD BALL defense is about getting into the opponents impact space, both man on man and in help situations. If impact plays can be made, they are made. But BAD BALL defense is about gumming up an opponent. It is about shrinking and muddying up the opponents attack space first and foremost.

    No matter where the opponent goes, the defender is positioning not to lock down the opponent, but to get into and then cut down the impact space, or the attack alley, so at the opposing offense happens almost in a kind of hand to hand combat.

    BAD BALL isn’t pretty.

    But BAD BALL, when you have the limitations this team has, especially as the injuries accrue, is the new good.

  • @jaybate-1.0

    So does “bad ball” mean we will keep it close no matter what team we play? I remember you saying on a past post “it’s not about winning the most battles, but about winning the last battle”.

    If that’s the case, isn’t that what cost us against KSU? We were bigger and stronger than the Wildcats. We were faster, more talented, and better shooters. But if it was a systematic choice to not play to our strengths, then what exactly did we take away from them?

    And isn’t that what makes big upsets in the tourney happen? Letting the little guy in it long enough to gain confidence and start playing out of their minds? Against UK, Duke, or another team that has the advantage, then maybe. But I don’t see a 15 seed having the athleticism that we do.

    Again, lets say we go with that because even if it makes lesser opponents have a greater chance of beating us, it gives us a better chance at beating superior teams. But isn’t that we did against UK? Going inside, trying to create contact, but then getting blown out by 32. If it shrinks the strengths of other opponents, then I would hate to see what would happen if we play UK and try something different.

    You know far more than I about the game. My points aren’t trying to discredit yours, just asking questions for you to clarify.

  • @jaybate-1.0 I yield to superior intellect, and I think I am beginning to get it. Worse ball just died a merciful death.

  • @jaybate-1.0 From the moment I saw you mention the term “Bad Ball” as a new way of attack and defense, I never considered it a criticism. I believe you described it as a being weaponized by Coach Self. I can understand weaponized with my military background. I like it. This years team has not outscored opponents, they have out lasted them mentally and physically despite major disadvantages sometimes. They are the definition of tough. It kind of reminds me of the 2012 FF team. But they were Senior laden with experience.
    These guys? I dont know. I mean, I think the prize fighter analogy is perfect. I dont know what KU’s margin of victory has been this year but its way below the 08 team and most likely below the '12 team too. They arent a wolf pack of stone cold killers. They are more singular than that. They are tough and they almost are like Joe Frazier. They like getting knocked down. They just get back up and dare the other team to do it again, then at the last minute, the last possible second, they deliver the unexpected knock out punch.
    It makes my hair turn grey, it gives me heart burn and situational anxiety. But thats all I think about when I’m grooving on the KU team this year. These guys are tough. Way tougher than last year.
    I saw a post from Frank Mason yesterday. He said " They said we wouldnt make it happen, we didnt have enough talent to get it done. Keep telling us what we cant do. #WeLoveIt

    Those guys will not go out easily, without a knock down drag out fight to the final buzzer in the Madness this season. They will fight and keep on fighting. I can see it.

    Side note: I hope Coach Self gives them enough time to heal up and be ready. I dont much care if they do not win the conference tourney this season.

  • @jaybate-1.0

    Enjoyed the read!

    I’ve got to step in and add a bit more about “Smokin Joe.”

    I like your connection of “Smokin Joe” to Jayhawk BAD BALL. It is the right analogy. Smokin Joe represented brute force. Joe only knew one move… COME FORWARD! Nothing fancy, just bring the fight in tight and leverage his punches, usually on a bigger opponent. He won a gold medal in the Olympics in 1964 with a broken thumb. He didn’t want anyone to know it was broken, so he kept quiet so he wouldn’t be denied.

    Smokin Joe proved that brute force can (from time to time) beat someone more skillful and with the right physical attributes. He beat Ali the first time in what was labeled “Fight of the Century.”. And though Joe was not the most graceful athlete, he was very precise and timely when it counted most in this fight, coming in with his left hook when Ali dropped his right. He, then, turned around and lost to Foreman. Foreman represented an unorthodox style and was another case of brute force.

    Ali needed the championship back so he had to fight the guy he always feared fighting… George Foreman.


    I watched that fight live at one of the satellite venues.

    This is the fight where Ali did his version of BAD BALL… introducing what later was defined as “rope a dope.” He brought ugly to the ring, and was rewarded. It was the only way for him to win that fight. Had he gone toe-to-toe with Foreman, he would have been knocked out. Fans were caught off guard from his tactic (including his trainer, Angelo Dundee), even though they were warned by Ali that he had a “special plan” for George. Fights broke out around the world where the satellite showings took place. Ali’s fans were taunted during those first 7 rounds… until Ali stopped Foreman in the eighth.

    I think Kansas needs to incorporate some of Frazier and some of Ali to have the right one-two combination.

    At times, we need to be Ali… sitting on the ropes, absorbing punishment while getting our opponents to expend all of their energy. We have to do it carefully and artfully, just like Ali did. Only a few punches can get in to hit us, so we stay within reach of a victory later. Then we need the brute force of Frazier… a bit throughout the game to help tire out our opponents, and down the stretch to level the knockout punch!

    If we believe in this strategy, and how it worked for Ali… then we should be able to use it against Kentucky. Even with their platoon system, we should be able to tire and disorient Kentucky. Use Ali’s plan… use footwork and absorb their punches to tire the giant.

  • @JhawkAlum

    You make good points. You are noting the weaknesses of BAD BALL. No strategy is without vulnerabilities.

    When you keep it close, so you can win, you can also lose, when the breaks go the other way.

    And once in the Madness, where one loss ends your season, all strategies are vulnerable.

    Coach K supposedly has had more early exits the last ten years than Coach Self.

    Calipari has wound up in the NIT and got bounced the first game.

    The Dribble Drive seemed the perfect offense for the new age until one realized it was devised by a high school coach to be easy to teach to play ground players, and now there aren’t many play ground players making it to D1. Most of the good play ground players are siphoned off to AAU before they develop the play grounds skills the Dribble Drive appeared to have been conceived to exploit.

    Strategies can at most put players in advantageous positions to make plays that win games.

    Thus, you have to look at our talent, at what pieces of a team we possess, at level of development of these pieces, and at the injuries and wear and tear to the pieces to decide if we should be running another offense, or playing the offense we run a different way, or be shooting more or less treys.

    We have no rim protecting, back to the basket 5.

    We two 4s and a 5, each with different, but limited scopes of talent. Self committee-ed them.

    We have no dominant rebounder at 4, or5, that can stay on a spot and get a rebound.

    We did have a stretch 4 that could draw opposing rebounders away from the basket, until he just went down to a sprained knee. Self decided to play through the stretch 4.

    We had one wing, Oubre, with a lot of talent, but no experience. Self brought him along slowly for a month, then force fed him and played through him more and more until Oubre apparently reinsured his knee.

    We had a wing, Selden, that could not handle the ball and played as if he either literally lost his pop, or suffered injury psychological scars that made him play as if he had no pop. Self stayed with him through some awful stretches.

    He had a very tough point guard learning to play the position on the job, who could not be expected to run a complicated system early on both because he was learning and the players he was playing with were greener than he was.

    Self got to a point where he saw that his team could shoot free throws and shoot the trey, and he rode the trey shooting until he felt the law of average were going to start going against his trey shooters and the opposing coaches were going to take the trey stripe away by stretching farther and farther out.

    Self seemed also to understand that unless we drew at least one big away from the bucket, there was no way we could stay in a game simply because of being out rebounded.

    He decided to play through Perry to get FTs and to draw one rebounder away from the basket.

    When Perry wasn’t shooting the decision was to attack the 5 still in the lane with one of four guys–Frank, Wayne, Kelly, and Devonte.–whichever ones were in the game.

    This was a offensive scheme that could work against teams with even two bigs bigger than ours, if we could get our remaining bigs to be able to take a feed and put it on the deck and drive it also.

    The coin of the realm increasingly became attack the defender and attack the 4 and 5 behind him. Play for FTs. Shorten the trips. Reduce the number of times the ball needs rebounding.

    This approach necessarily meant that in the first half, bigger, better teams would get ahead of them. And if they couldn’t rebound well and release out on the break, it meant there weren’t going to be many runs from transition, no matter how hard they guarded.

    It mean close games until they got to one and one, or until the referees finally started calling fouls.

    If the other team came out way bigger, or shooting threes,the other team was going to get out to an early lead often with KU playing this way. It would take playing from behind frequently. It would take holding down the possessions so that early leads were no bigger than absolutely necessary before the effect of going inside again and again and getting the fouls paid off.

    It also means that lesser teams can get out to early leads too, because you are having to play it so close to the vest. You aren’t taking treys to build leads and you aren’t releasing and getting run outs.

    Self tried creating leads with micro bursting treys, and he tried goosing some transition.

    But as the season wore on the trey balling cooled and opposing coaches began to figure out how to pressure our ball handlers to create more and more turnovers.

    The rising turnovers were what kept us from winning out after the first ISU loss.

    Turnovers are an XTReme Vulnerability to playing BAD BALL.

    For BAD BALL to have its greatest opportunity for success, it has minimize its lost possessions and it has minimize the times it doesnt create a foul risk for the opponent. Turnovers prevent you not just from get a look, as is the case in all schemes, but they prevent you from accruing fouls. And Bad Ball has to accrue fouls over the course of the game for it to really work.

    Bad Ball is actually not a very good offense for winning the conference, because winning conference is about winning your home games and stealing road wins. A home you tend to get the favorable whistle. On the road you don’t. For that reason, Bad Ball is a tough way to win a conference. And not surprisingly, KU has a lot of road losses this season.

    But on a neutral floor in the Madness, Bad Ball could be a very good way to win.

    The weakness of Bad Ball in conference, or in the Madness, is the close games with lesser teams. We don’t see the lesser teams in the Madness much. We don’t know how to handle what they do from experience. Self tends to long bench and low amp the lesser teams to leave the short bench and high amp for the better of the two teams each weekend. Playing teams close is risky.

    But here is the thing. Playing teams by relying on the trey ball is risky too. You never know which night of the two game week end you are going to not shoot well. But relying on the trey ball means you are going to tend to shoot the trey ball better on the first of the two games each weekend because your legs will be more tired the second game than the first. Think about that. That means if you are a trey ball shooting team you are most likely to upset someone on the first game of the weekend, which is the easier opponent. And as the tournament wears on, the second game of each week end gets exponentially tougher than the first game of the weekend. And by relying on the trey ball, then you are biasing yourself to win the first game, and lose the second game. This phenomenon is why so many of the elite teams leave the tournament so early from time to time. The elite teams with all the talent are long benching and low amping the first games of the weekend, while the opponent is at its maximum if it is a trey ball shooting team. When the upsets occur, the trey balling team that upsets the elite program then tends to get mauled the second game, because its legs are tired for the second game and its dependence on the trey works against it.

    When you combine the dynamics of the Madness, which is Self’s ultimate goal, with our lack of a strong inside presence, Self looked and said, "Well, I would rather play Bad Ball and risk the close games by spending the season learning to play close games, rather than play the three ball game and be faced with winning the first game, then having no way of playing the second game, and later having to face elite teams like UK, with no system for managing their great size at all.

    You have asked good questions and you have exposed the flaw in BAD BALL.

    My answer is that BAD BALL was the lesser of evils this season in Self’s mind, and now later in the season, in my mind too.

    I do believe we will see Self resort to some 20 3pta games, when he just can’t get anything going attacking in shrunken impact spaces.

    If our guys ever get their treys back, he will go back to riding those treys to build a lead and then protect it. Build and then protect. Build and then protect.

    But Bad Ball works without trey balling and that is how this team will mostly play, if the loss of Perry can be gotten around with Perry healing, or with a committee of Jamari and Hunter doing a variation on a stretch 4.

    I also think there is a chance, if Perry cannot get back, that we will finally see Wayne and Brannen doing their take on a stretch 4.

    BAD BALL without a stretch 4 can be accomplished for stretches. But BAD BALL with a Stretch 4 is the way to make it work best IMHO. And if you recall the WVU game, once Perry went out, Jamari came in an filled in the overtime, Self basically used Jamari as a stretch 4 driving to the basket. Self even commented that that looked like the old Jamari. But the difference between Jamari and Perry is that Perry has a credible jump shot up to 23 feet out and Jamari does not. So: if Perry is not playing, the scout will be under no circumstances give Jamarie the drive. Over play him massively to his right hand, which is the only hand Jamari can drive with.

    As I said, every strategy has a vulnerability and every tactic has a counter tactic.

    The Marines go in and improvise tactics as a strategy to overcome this situation; that is what I mean by tactics becoming strategy.

    Self may look a this situation without Perry, and decide that it is time to go balls to the walls with the three ball.

    But more likely he will hunker down, stay with BAD BALL, get 5-10 minutes into the game, and begin improvising tactics looking for some new way to attack in shrunken impact space to keep playing for FTAs.

    Hope this at least offers you some food for though, if not a definitive answer.

    For a definitive answer, we would need the maestro: Bill Self.

    Rock Chalk!!!

  • @drgnslayr

    Much better said than me. Thanks for painting the picture better.

    And I agree we need both.

    Rock Chalk!!!

  • @jaybate-1.0 Sorry if I inappropriately associated your Bad Ball™ concept with Seth Davis’ assessment of the state of basketball… I think I understand now that Seth is making a very different point than you are.

  • @jaybate-1.0 “which was itself a reference to someone joking about @lincase improvising off my Bad Ball term.” Guilty

    Excellent post jb.

  • @jaybate-1.0 Reposting portions of another thread, it appears that Self is intent on trying to “run our stuff” every game until it becomes painfully obvious that we aren’t able to do successfully, in which case he resorts to Bad Ball - which I thought was elevated to Badder Ball against WVU.

    As Self noted in his comments, nothing was working on the offensive end, so he just told the boys to attack the rim. Translation - we couldn’t run our stuff. In fact, we can’t run our stuff with this group against teams that know us - and probably not against good teams that don’t. And, the guys know it, so they just go through motions. So, second half let’s forget about running our stuff and just attack the rim. Doesn’t really matter that we can’t finish there - we’ll get to the foul line, wear ‘em down and win a war of attrition. And, it was the recipe for success the last two games. We got 45 friggin’ percent of our points from the FT line last night - and 38% the game before. Remarkable - is it sustainable? Apart from the frequency of shots, I certainly don’t recall a prior KU team hitting FTs at an 80% clip over 4 games like this - typically FTs have been a problem for us.

    And, the forget about running our stuff tack seems to get the guys in attack mode on the defensive end, as well. 40 points in the 1st half, just 19 the second. Perhaps just correlation, and not causation?

    Given what we now know and understand to be the very real limitations of this team at least in terms of fundamental skills and capabilities, both individually and collectively, and that the inability to execute Hi-lo or 4 out-1 in or much of anything else consistently, Bad Ball may be the last best hope for success post-season. We’ll start out running our stuff, and if it’s working great, but, if not, will fall back on Bad(der) Ball, because we know we can “execute” that, right?

    Given that:

    Mason is tough as nails and our most consistent player over the course of the year, but isn’t really a true PG - although better than last year, he doesn’t have PG instincts and doesn’t distribute the ball well - esp. when penetrating or on fast breaks. There have been countless times on breaks when he should have laid if off to a trailer.

    Perry has really stepped it up recently and is our best pure scorer, but is really only effective when the paint is opened up and he can maneuver against one defender (and who can’t be equally athletic and longer) by driving from the outside or spinning inside.

    Oubre is the most skilled two way player (by far IMO), but is still a bit raw and learning the game - he will only get better - unfortunately, probably not in a Jayhawk uniform.

    Selden is a solid citizen and solid on the ball defender, but doesn’t use his size effectively, can’t finish at the rim, and simply is incapable of dribbling or passing in traffic or against pressure (to think that there was some discussion, including by HCBS at the beginning of the year about him getting minutes at the 1).

    Traylor has made some spectacular “energy” plays, is the emotional guy (for better and worse) and he was a difference maker yesterday, but he is undersized, turns the ball over too much, and can disappear for parts of all of a game - or multiple games.

    Alexander is a big body and is our best rebounder, but doesn’t have a back to the basket game, gets lost on offense, and gets easily beat by mobile big men.

    Greene is the best pure shooter and clutch on FTs, but can’t create his own shot, and, while improved, is still a liability on defense.

    Graham is a solid back-up at PG now and can be very effective at the 2 along with Mason, and will only get better, but is still inexperience and inconsistent - growth hampered somewhat by injury.

    Lucas is the best big fundamentally, but has no verticality and has perhaps the weakest hands of any big ever at Kansas (well, along with Withey early on).

    Svi - who really knows since we’ve not seen much of him since early - clearly great ball IQ and skills, just physically overpowered now.

    Mickleson is mostly an unknown, although he was our best player in the 1st half yesterday (admittedly not a high bar) and showed some skills - would like to see more, actually.

    And, collectively, the team doesn’t box out well, doesn’t space well, doesn’t pass well and doesn’t rotate well on defense.

    So, what’s left - blood, sweat and tears and a war of attrition. Mask our McDs fundamental shortcomings, but mix in their superior skill and athleticsism with toughness and chip on the shoulder attitude of our non-McDs and win UGLY!. I think this team is taking on some of the character of the '11-'12 team - they won’t out finesse anyone, but maybe, just maybe, they can Bad/Badder ball their way to another FF. Not much margin for error, but perhaps a better ability to respond to adversity in the moment and still prevail.


  • @jaybate-1.0 – Another epic post. Great work. A lot of thought. And, unfortunately, I am convinced that @jaybate-1.0 is correct on Self’s approach. I think he has nailed it.

    However, I am absolutely convinced that it is destined for failure in the NCAA tourney.

    No team wins an NCAA tourney this way. No team gets to the Final Four this way. It would be absolutely unprecedented.

    Playing this sort of basketball creates close games. It asks for it. It begs for it, When that happens, you lose two of five games, just like we’ve done. You create a five game stretch where, realistically, 0-5 was plausible. You create games that could be losses with teams you should blow out. Every team can now play with you. When one loss ends your season, this doesn’t work.

    Final Four teams don’t have to play this way. Find me a team playing this way – that’s any good.

    Since we have played this way, we are not good. We are 3-2.

    But I have some hope here. The Power of Three.

    That’s it. It is it with this team. We know that it is the only way for this team to play at his offensive peak this season.

    The evidence … our best offensive basketball of the season … have been driven by our perimeter game. No one disputes that.

    In past seasons, that was not true. That’s more evidence that supports our perimeter game this season. Despite Self’s obvious disdain, our best offensive basketball has been a direct result of his nemesis – the perimeter game.

    Now look at the last give games. Our perimeter attack has been handcuffed and morphed by Self into a drive it and get fouled preference. And look how absolutely horrible we have been offensively. Again, this is not really disputed by anyone as far as I can tell. We’re worshiping the ugliness.

    And how sad is it? Look at what we had. Now look at what we have. Seriously. We have not had one real good half of offensive basketball since when? Uh, since Texas Tech. Since Fool’s Gold. No coincidence. Fight it. Wish it not to be true. Try to refute it. You can’t.

    Notice how we lost our two games away from AFH, yet won our games at AFH? The foul part of the drive and foul strategy just doesn’t materialize on the road with the same frequency. And it won’t in the NCAA tourney.

    In the three games at AFH, we were received a full 17 more foul calls against our opponent, than we received. In the two games away from AFH, we were called for a total of one more foul. So, 5.66 on the plus side at AFH with this strategy, -.33 away. That doesn’t travel, folks.

    It’s hard for me to escape the belief that this team, offensively, has been destroyed. The best perimeter shooting team under Self has deteriorated to a team that made no shots outside of the lane Tuesday?

    Again, this game does not travel.

    Would it surprise anyone if we lost at OU? Lost in our first round game of the Big 12 tourney? And then lost in the first round of the NCAAs?

    I said “surprise.” It wouldn’t surprise me. How long has it been since that’s been the case? Do I expect that? Of course not. But if it wouldn’t “surprise” you, what does that say?

    But here’s my hope. Gotta have hope. @ZIG suggested that Self is lying in the weeds, waiting to play more to our strength in the post season. That’s my hope. I’ve been given hope.

    The true hope for me is that Self takes this ugly mess that we have seen and incorporates the three ball and our perimeter game. It seems like a remote hope. It seems remote that we can just turn it back on after being pushed away from that strength for so many games now. But it is hope.

    It is the only way this team can reach the Final Four. The only way.

    My concern is that this “identity” that Self always says he wants is really nothing this season. He wants an identity so a team know who it is in March. He said that specifically in the preseason. What does this team think that it is? Does anyone know? We all can agree that it is a mess offensively, can’t we?.

    It is hard to turn it on, and turn it off. The hope that we can incorporate the perimeter game. The reality is that it probably isn’t that easy.

    If Coach Self will let his perimeter game flourish. If the perimeter game can bounce back. And if the drive mentality that has been the focus over the past handful of games can exist side-by-side with free the three – then there may be hope.

  • @drgnslayr I was a Ken Norton guy … still am. My favorite fighter of all time. After beating Ali the first time, he was robbed in the next two fights against Ali. I remember the third one like it was yesterday. Norton pummeled Ali, landed a bunch more punches, and some big ones, too.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    I liked Norton, too… and talk about unorthodox! The way he crossed his body with his arms… it looked like he was given up the entire fight and then WHOMP!.. here comes his heavy punches!

    That was the golden period for boxing… at least for heavyweights.

    It was exciting in the welterweight division with Sugar Ray Leonard, Wilfred Benitez, Thomas Hearns, and Marvelous Marvin Hagler. Roberto Duran added a twist to it all, too. I was a big fan of his long before Sugar Ray came around. He was credited with around 120 fights in his career, but he easily had twice that many… unrecorded from his youthful days in Panama.

  • Attacking is aggressive. In the Texas game Kelly Oubre was quoted that the coaches kept telling them to keep attacking. Do not back down, attack the paint, take it to their body, draw fouls, find the right windows to shoot it where shot blockers cannot get to it, and be ready for scramble scrums in close contact when a shot blocker does get to it or the shot comes off the glass. Be relentless, do not settle for jump shots, keep going on the attack possession after possession. Attack!

    Why would Bill Self change his ways? Bill Self attacks the paint, shoots close to the rim. Why would he make his team give up and become jump shooters all of the time? This years team has been inconsistent in imposing their attitude of attack on the opponent. This years team needed to find a consistent way of attacking the paint and I really like @jaybate-1.0 story to kick this thread off in how that was such a struggle this year. This group needs to become more consistent through 40 minutes of competing in attack mode. All that they wanted out of Perry this year was to be more aggressive and to attack.

    Bill Self told the press in preseason that he asked Conner Frankamp if he wanted to be a shooter or a player. That says a lot about Coach Bill Self. Conner is a terrific shooter though it seems there were too many around him who were working on becoming complete players. I particularly think of Frank Mason. Wayne Selden could get more credit for his all around game too yet with Conner I think of how much Frank improved over the summer. Bill Self needed Conner to be less of a jump shooter because Bill Self wants players who have an attitude and determination to attack the paint. Don’t let the ball stick, pass it to the bigs at an optimal angle, or put it on the floor to get to the paint for a shot or pass.

    You’ve got to be able to shoot it to be recruited by Kansas but you’ve got to be a much more complete player to play ball for Self. Jump shooting all of the time is passive. That is why they call it ‘settling for jump shots’. Jump shooting doesn’t put the defense in scramble mode to defend an attack on the rim. An offense must crack a defense. Cracking a defense puts pressure on the other team while jump shooting over a defense allows the other team to remain relatively comfortable.

    “Don’t let the ball stick” is another way of saying that the ball must move aggressively to break the defense so that the rim can be attacked in open space. Athletic bigs with superior touch close to the rim attacking in open space is always the most optimal option. When you do not have multiple optimal bigs and your back court are Freshmen and Sophomore’s then you watch your team struggle at making the game look beautiful for you. Still, Bill Self still found a way to get his players to find their way to win outright a highly competitive Big XII.

    Bill Self is always about freeing the mind and making plays with confidence though you have got to include an attitude of determined attack. As Bill Self said, if you have the best players then you should win. Then the coaches job is to get 5 to attack wisely, together as a team on offense and defense, relentlessly and sustained, aggressively and confidently. The attitude of attack is not found in an analytic. Attack is an attitude that imposes as much of your talent, skill, and tenacity into breaking down the opponents shape, composure, and confidence.

  • @HighEliteMajor One term that I was surprised that jb did not use but I will is what I think is the major flaw in your 3 pt strategy and why HCBS called a strategy based upon it “fools gold”. That is regression to the mean. We have been called the best 3 pt team in the big 12 and that is statistically correct (or it was before the past couple of weeks). However, I don’t think that our 3 pt shooters are really that good. We shot out of our minds for a couple of weeks and many extrapolated that to mean that if we shot more 3s this would go on forever. Unfortunately our players have now returned from whence they came.

    BG is undoubtedly a good shooter but 50% is difficult even for Steph Curry or Ray Allen. Living in the bay area I watch Curry all of the time and believe me BG is NOT that good. Kelly was draining 3s at the same time but he has returned to earth. Frank has hit some huge shots but never on a consistent basis. I fully believe that we must continue to take 3s and BG, Kelly, and Frank will get hot on some nights. But I also believe that all 3 will not necessarily do it at the same time as happened a month or so ago.

    As far as a NC, I would really like to see that happen and maybe it will. But if it does Self would not only deserve a COY but a COC (could of the century) and that would not be from 2000 until 2015 but from 1915 to 2015.

  • @sfbahawk I think your “regression to the mean” suggestion is flawed. Very flawed.

    Some reasons.

    First, Kansas had 25 games under its belt prior to this bad offensive stretch. 25 games is nearly an entire season. And it that nearly entire season, Kansas was ranked 8th in overall three point field goal percentage in the nation. That’s a very solid book of evidence.

    Second, this stretch has been Self-created. Meaning, we did not jut all of sudden stop shooting the three point shot by happenstance. This drive away from three point shot was engineered by coach Self. You don’t make such a marked change without the boss man being on board, and directing traffic. It’s was not a natural matter of course. We just stopped really shooting three pointers at the same rate as before. Prior to the last five games, we were shooting just under 17 per game. In the last five games, just 11.4 (which included an overtime and three in the last minute against KSU in scramble time).

    Third, you don’t know what the really mean is. It is speculative. Kirk Hinrich shot 50% from three one season. So did Aaron Miles. To suggest that Greene couldn’t, or isn’t suited to do that, ignores past evidence.

    Fourth, it is more likely, given the depth of the evidence – 25 games – that he last five games has been an anomaly. A deviation from the norm. If we want to call this five game stretch something, it is a slump, as others have pointed out. It’s no different than a .300 hitter that goes 2-20 in a stretch. He’ll bounceback with an 11-20 stretch, and all will be right in the world. The fact that we had 25 games under our belt over 40% tells me something. That tells me who we are. That means we should just keep shooting them. The reason I resist the slump thing a little bit, is because it is man-made as pointed out above.

    Fifth, we are still shooting 38.5% as a team from three point range. Is that the “mean”? If so, Duke is not shooting 39.3%. Both number say keep shooting. And with us, we don’t have Duke’s inside game – so it’s more important. We had been higher than Duke most of the season. Yet, as @BeddieKU23 has pointed out, they have shot over 100 more three pointers than we have – 593 to 481. They are shooting roughly the same percent, but over 23% more three pointers. What are they scared of? Nothing. What are we scared of? Ask Coach Self. The idea that some forward (not you) that you can live/die by the three is just hogwash – it’s a red herring. Shooting threes at a high rate is not living/dying by anything. What’s worse, relying the three in large part, or relying on the “bunny” in large part – the latter of which we’ve proven is a big challenge for this team this season (as it was vs. Stanford). Most recently, the KSU game.

    You said, “I fully believe that we must continue to take 3s and BG, Kelly, and Frank will get hot on some nights. But I also believe that all 3 will not necessarily do it at the same time as happened a month or so ago.”

    When I read that, I think, “well of course.” I mean, sure, some guys may be hot, may be not. They may be hot at the same time, but they may not. But that doesn’t just apply to three point shooting.

    I go back to my point – If you had to identify one specific offensive skill set that was the strength of this team, what is it?

  • @HighEliteMajor driving, shooting throws

  • @sfbahawk and @HighEliteMajor

    I see substance to both your takes.

    I wonder if there term skill might be obscuring things.

    What if not only three point shooting, but attacking the basket shooting were skills?

    What if we were pretty good at both?

    What if that were the choice?

    Then the choice might come down to a tabulation of which form of attack offered the most net benefits.


    BENEFITS ~0-50% makes (based on this year’s extremes) ~3 points for each make. ~an occasional foul and FTs ~more long rebounds for our good perimeter rebounders ~reduced offensive fouling on our best players ~less injury and wear and tear ~better trey shooting percentage in the first half of 2 in 3 day game sets.

    COSTS ~100% to 50% misses ~More scoreless possessions most games ~greater dependence on perimeter rebounding, where our advantage tends to diminish as the opponent improves ~worse trey shooting percentage in the end of 2 in 3 sets and 3 in 6 sets.


    Three point shooting offers a much higher high and a much lower low, both because of the one point greater reward from a make and because of the much wider observed range of variance in percentage made. The effective shooting percentage, or effective points per attempt would offset some but not all of this variance, because of still lower low in observed three point shooting makes than 2 point shooting makes. The long rebounds exploit our good rebounding perimeter, but at a cost of in effect creating more stopped possessions for the opponent during the course of the game. These stopped possessions would be off set by more possessions where we scored three, but that edge would be diminished significantly simply by the opponent coming down and getting a 2 point basket, so that the advantage on that possession would tend to approach 1 point, and that one point the opponent could expect to tend to be made up on each possession that the 3 point shooting team missed entirely. In conclusion, the 3 point dependent attack, even with KU’s very good shooters, seems a structurally volatile form of attack that good defense would struggle compensating for at the low end, and hardly be needed at all at the high end of thee point shooting effectiveness. Reduced wear and tear and injury would be a very significant advantage late in the season. All of this is wrapped up in a dynamic of better three point performance early in sets of games and worse performance later in sets of games, which in effect contributes to volatility. Also, because trey shooters are a limited commodity, it may be difficult to long bench opponents and maintain a high level of three point accuracy.



    ~30-55% makes ~Lots of FTAs for a good FT shooting team ~a significant number of short treys ~quick attainment of 1+1 means more FTs ~Clock stopping which disrupts opponents runs ~accrual of fouls on the opponent, which makes his best players have to play less aggressively on both ends. ~Mostly short rebounds that our weak big man rebounders and good perimeter rebounders can grab, either when our stretch 4 pulls one of their bigs out and our other big successfully blocks out their 5 leaving the rest of our rebounders in the advantage for the rebound. ~about as effective in both games in sets of 2 in 3


    70%-45% misses ~dependence on a favorable whistle which is rare on the road when road wins are critical to winning titles. ~short rebounds that our bad rebounding short bigs cannot handle unless the attack carefully pulls one big away from the basket and blocks out the other. ~huge wear and tear, and significant injuries, especially late in the season. ~a tendency to give up early leads that can be a struggle to come back from ~a tendency for close games regardless of the opponent being good or bad.


    The two point attack the basket offense is something that minimizes that size and athleticism advantages of most opponents, holds down opponent runs, and is relatively less volatile in percentage makes, accrues fouls at home, and to lesser extend on the road that force an opponent with greater size and athleticism even on an effective percentage basis. This reduced volatility comes at a price, however, of closer scores even against weak teams. This means there is less margin for error and so the significance of floor game statistics of TOs and Strips and blocks become greatly increased, and these become even more significant on the road, where the home whistle further reduces the number of FTs and this cascades into letting the home team play more aggressively for more minutes of any road game. That increased aggressiveness translates to making KU turn it over more, and possibly strip less. So: this 2 point attack the basket based offense is best at home, vulnerable on the road, not as volatile relative to trey based attacks, less variable between games in a 2 in 3 set, and conducive to long benching, where effective attackers are often (but not always and not necessarily with this KU team) less scarce than trey shooters.


    I do not wish to weigh that one or the other of you are right, because you both make your cases better than I can, and this is not a black and white decision. And I believe the fact that Self has played some of both ways this season before making his decisive move into BAD BALL with a stretch 4 indicates that he felt there were strong arguments for playing it either of the ways you two propose. I think Self chose the approach that he thought solid defense could help the most. And I think Self chose the approach the offered the best potential for compensating for KU’s lack of size and skill in the front court, on off shooting nights. This does not mean that either of your approaches are wrong. It means Self was the boss, and after looking at both ways, and evaluating his sunk costs, and the costs of retraining, and which players he wanted to depend on most, he opted for Bad Ball with a Stretch 4, because it meant most dependence on Perry, Kelly and Frank. Playing three ball would likely have lead to increased dependence on Wayne and Brannen and Svi. And he decided if the call was close, and the bench was going shorten over time, and in big games in the Madness, on neutral courts, where the AWAY WHISTLE would be a diminished factor, Self would rather gamble on Perry, Kelly and Frank, and a less volatile attack that his Self Defense could be more of a difference maker.

  • @HighEliteMajor Michigan State has gone to multiple Final Fours. If I had to guess, Bill Self at one point had a massive man crush on Tom Izzo and he may still harbor those feelings. Last year I detected a serious Bill Self man crush on The Mayor and I think we see some of that influence with what @jaybate-1.0 is talking about here in this thread about the journey to Ellis and the stretch 4.

    When Bill Self was talking about putting Selden at the point he wasn’t simply saying that Selden will play a traditional point guard like previous point guards at Kansas; Bill Self said that Selden could play the point like DeAndre Kane played the point last year for Hoiberg Ball. Instead of Selden playing much point he gave that role to Mason, a smaller scoring 2 with more skill that Selden in the painted area. Selden is still a strong facilitator on offense. Hoiberg’s team’s shoot a lot of threes though they know how to balance that with attacking the rim. Kansas has had trouble attacking the rim this year. I think jaybate is right that if KU can sustain this way of attacking the rim, which they will, Self can be much happier about spells of long range artillery barrages to open up lanes to attack the paint–when the shots from three start going down then this team will start looking more complete.

    One of the great tournament games that this brings to mind is a game that Kansas lost though it was a wonderful college game of basketball: Michigan State defeats Kansas in the 2008-09 Sweet 16. What won out at the end? Michigan State was more aggressive, more confident, and most important they finished plays in the paint. Michigan State loves to have their guards put the rock on the floor and drive it to the paint and attack. Michigan State loves to pound you in the paint with their physicality. Michigan State loves to pry you open with three bombs by great shooters. Michigan State loves to play attacking, tenacious D which creates fast break offense. And all of that love sounds a whole lot like Kansas and Bill Self Ball.

  • @KJD I think “the mayor” has a man crush on Self!👬❤💙

  • @jaybate-1.0 I’m interested in your comment that Self has made a decisive move to Bad Ball. My impression over the past few games, esp. the last two, is that he has resorted to Bad Ball in the second half only after first trying “run our stuff” and that failing miserably and 3 point shots not falling (again, putting aside causation, e.g., whether being spooked, better defended or reversion to a mean). I thought his post-game comments after WVU were particularly telling - saying he told them to just constantly attack the rim.

    Who knows what the approach will be at OU without Perry, Cliff and probably Wayne, but I’m still expecting him to choose to try to “run stuff” in the tournament against teams that won’t know us as well, but that he will have no hesitation about falling back on Bad Ball if it ain’t happening…

  • @DCHawker OU likes to zone it up too, maybe that will get our 3 game going!! They aren’t deep either, if we do attack, fouls will hurt them. They do shoot the ball really well. They also can’t seem to put 2 halfs together, see ISU and our game. It will be an interesting game, didn’t coach say something about having some fun w/our lineup?

  • @Crimsonorblue22 Not sure what his idea of a “fun” line-up is, but I would sure love to see Hunter, Svi and Devonte start - or at least get starter minutes - and just see what happens. Selden sit to rest the ankle and Frank get some rest period, just taking Devonte’s sub minutes.

  • @DCHawker maybe oubre at 4? I think he’ll try some different things.

  • @jaybate-1.0 @HighEliteMajor : Prior to BadBall (which can alternately be defined as ‘how to keep the game close until you can make that late run’), there was Self getting his competetivess stomped on repeatedly in the Big10 by Izzo. And before that was the ultimate ‘how to win a 55pt grinder’: SuttonBall.

    Now Self can recruit better than Izzo + Sutton, thus his teams have a higher potential to realize IF the kids stay multiple years. He teaches it on both ends of the floor.

    My tweak on the above angles on this thread is simply: when the ku offense breaks down (whatever the orig gameplan), then we resort to this badball/Izzoball/SuttonBall grinder because thats the predicament the ku team put themselves in. Consider it a designed-in philosophy…its there when we need it. And its systematized by indoctrinating that mindset into the team. Roy teams generally didnt have this “dirty gear”. IowaState does NOT. They shoot themselves out of games & lose when their 3gunners fail. KU goes 1-14, gets 18pts down…but is able win?

    HEM talked about the “toughness” angle. Its cultivated. The same thing applied to the 08 Davidson game, and in the final 2min vs Memphis. But nothing, nor anything even at the system level can guarantee 100% wins.

  • @Crimsonorblue22 Yes! Mickelson, Svi, Graham, Greene and Oubre getting serious minutes together - not sure they can defend well enough, but I think they would be fun to watch - good passing and (potentially) shooting group.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    “This drive away from three point shot was engineered by coach Self. You don’t make such a marked change without the boss man being on board, and directing traffic. It’s was not a natural matter of course.”

    I believe you are right on the mark. This is “Self engineered.”

    He may have gone as far as tell guys when to shoot 3s and when not to. If he is orchestrating that from the bench, it is a guarantee that they won’t hit the shots because they are focused on the bench commands, not on a flow out.

    Go back to your DVRs and look over the past 4 or 5 games. Watch our guys lining up on the lane during a FT. They are all visually glued to the bench… waiting for commands. It is normal for guys to look over now and then… but to just stare at the bench is unnatural.

    I don’t think it took much for Self to pull out of the 3-game. He only had to go to practice and re-install the hi/lo or some other derivative that doesn’t involve perimeter shooting. And then he barks out a few commands to feed the post and score from the post. In games, he just has to keep a short pull stick on the sidelines. He has been pulling guys out quickly… is it because they fail on defense or offense?

    The “fools gold” comment was the beginning of the end. For a coach to criticize his team for shooting 50+% from 3 is simply mind-boggling. I guess the NBA all lives on fools gold, too.

    I am every bit as critical as HEM is on this… except I’ve started to loosen up my view to accept what Self is doing. And I believe there is no way this team would have toughened up without dumping the 3. Everything we need to know is in that OU home game… and how this team went on cruise control after one hot half of 3s. Truth is… these kids go soft when anything comes too easy, or they don’t have their backs against the wall.

    So I applaud what Self did… but won’t give him a standing ovation until he figures out how to re-install the 3 somewhere in March… and keep the guys playing tough even if they score a few easy points.

    My one issue is that I feel Self wasn’t really honest with his approach. I’d rather he just shoot it straight from the hip. Let the Jayhawk Nation (and his team) know that he is abandoning the trey until his guys learn to play tough, including after easy points. He could have easily referenced the OU game and I think everyone would get it. He didn’t need to drag his own reputation down in order to have the same impact.

    Now I’m focused on BAD BALL. I like the concept. Bring something even further out of norm than “Huggy ball.” No one expects this from the university that brought the game “institutional basketball.”

  • @DCHawker

    First of all, everyone is right to question my hypothesis of this team’s version of playing the game.

    All I can do is be as clear about what I am hypothesizing as I can be.

    In the spirit of clarity, what you watched both halves of the games you refer to was BAD BALL, as I define it.

    BAD BALL, as I define, is playing to shrink the impact space on both offense and defense.

    BAD BALL can be played in any offense, in any formation within that offense, and within any set of actions within that offense designed to shrink the impact space at the point of attack. By point of attack, I mean the point at which the shot is taken.

    Bad Ball is not defined by attacking the rim, though rim attack is part of Bad Ball. It is attacking the opposing defender on the way to the rim to try to force the defender into defending in a way that negates his advantageous athleticism, height, weight and skill, in whatever combination he possesses them.

    It is the opposite of trying to create greater impact space to make a play in.

    It is shrinking the impact space in which to create an impact in.

    Frank Mason can drive his defender into a tight situation from 19 feet out in the high low formation, or he can call four corners and start 25 feet out drive his defender into a tight situation. Wayne can drive from 24 feet out on the wing, or he can take a feed on a cut at 12 feet and drive into his man 8 feet from the basket, or he can come into the block and take a bounce pass and get in tight on his man and go to work. BAD BALL is about taking the ball in tight on your man, rather than playing for a fade curl, or a fade away jumper, or running screens to try to get wide open looks. You are trying to deny the opponent the use of his athleticism in hope of getting a basket and or a foul and some FTs.

    BAD BALL is counterintuitive to a lot of persons, but if you have played pick up basketball and had to go against someone taller, stronger, and quicker that you , you quickly discover you only have two choices. Either you have keep your impact space super sized and shoot far far out and away from him, or not at all, or you have to in and get so close to him that his height and athleticism cannot run wild over you and make moves that get him to commit that allow you to get a shot off.

    One of the reasons @drgnslayr has been so frustrated by this team is that it is playing something quite like what he used to play, because he was usually shorter at his position that his man, at least according to him. He was like all short guys. He learned to get in close on his man, where his defender had to commit, and he used a variety of fakes to force commitement that he could drive around, or shoot around, etc. Why @drgnslayr has been so frustrated is that KU’s players have not been using fakes. They have just been getting the ball crammed back in their faces. The appear not to know how to fake. I believe they have been being taught not to fake, but rather to take angles that draw contact. I believe the players do not fake for the same reason Self does not have the team running screens. Self WANTS our guys to get fouled, whenever they shoot. He wants all of their athleticism used to get a shot off AND get fouled.

    I frankly don’t understand the logic of what Self is doing regarding not doing faking. @drgnslayr’s advocacy of fakes seems a great way to get a shot and a foul. My best guess is that Self thinks that longer, stronger, quicker, more skilled players can block fakes at this level without fouling. I am hardly qualified to take sides in this dispute. Both Self and @drgnslayr played college basketball in a similar era. Self now coaches it every day. @drgnslayr follows the game closely still and ought to know what can and cannot be accomplished with fakes. In today’s game you see very little faking. Maybe it could work, but isn’t being tried out of habituation. Or maybe there is something about today’s athleticism that makes faking ineffectual. I just don’t know, but in any case this is a bit of a digression into some of the arcanity of how BAD BALL might be played more effectively, rather than keeping focused on why what you saw in both halves of say the KU-WVU game WAS BAD BALL.

    So: let me get back to the business of shrinking space as the defining characteristic of BAD BALL rather than what you do once you have shrunken it.

    To wit…

    You increase the impact space when you have superior height, weight, athleticism, and skill, because the more room you have to maneuver, the more opportunity you have to exploit your matchup advantage to the maximum. You want room to maneuver, if you are bigger and more athletic than the other guy.

    You shrink the impact space, when you have inferior height, weight, athleticism, and skill, because the smaller the impact space is the less chance the superior defender has to use his superior athleticism to stop you without fouling you.

    Defined and specified this way, you can “run the stuff” in any of the high low passing offense formations, including: 1-2-2, 1-3-1, 1-4, and 4-1. And you run ball movement passing, inside out, outside in, 3 man weaves, and 4 man weaves. In essence you can run what you saw being run in the first half of the WVU game attempting to create impact spaces that our offender then plays at point of attack by shrinking that space to deny the defender a stop with superior match up advantage and draw a foul.

    What has confused board rats about the first half of the WVU game was how badly we executed. That first half is what BAD BALL looks like when we are “running the stuff” and executing BAD BALL poorly. We were executing poorly partly because we were having a mental let down from having won a share of the conference title the night before, and party because WVU’s full court pressure and half court zone were forcing us into turnovers and confusing us about how to get to a point of attack where our players could shrink the space and either score or draw fouls. That was occurring, because Huggie is a very good defensive coach that apparently understands what Self is having his players do.

    Self reportedly challenged his players at half time, to play tougher defense (which involved getting further into–shrink–the impact spaces in the WVU screen oriented offense), and on offense to view every where on the floor in half court as point of attack and to try to drive the ball on WVU first, rather than “run the stuff.” Put another way, get into the formations we call, but then the minute you get the ball try to attack by driving it, or passing to someone who can.

    But regardless of the half, and regardless of the different ways of attacking first and second half, the objective was Bad Ball. Shrink their impact space, whatever offense you are running, and on defense, stop just chasing them through the screen but shrink their impact space MORE once you get their.

    I am not smart enough to know for sure, if what they did better defensively in the second half was responsible for WVU’s sharply reduced scoring. I know playing defense this way tends to muddy opposing offenses up, but does not always make them shoot worse. I suspect it did not make them shoot worse. WVU is a crappy shooting team that has been very streaky all season against most opponents. It is not at all unusual for WVU to suddenly not be able to score for extended periods. What KUs BAD BALL defense does, though is muddy the opponent’s offense up to the point that they HAVE to shoot it well, because they are not going to be able to use their athleticism on KU.

    On offense, the adjustments from first half to second half worked very well, because WVU prides itself on playing aggressive, physical defense with a lot of contact. When KU started shrinking the impact space at point of attack everywhere on the floor and driving it, it created a steady flow of temptations for WVU’s thug ballers to hammer and smash KU players. It was a repeat of what Butcher Barnes Butcher Ballers did the second half in the KU-UT game. And when teams choose to play this rough on the road, against players endlessly driving into them and shooting, the home whistle over time favors the home team, and as the fouls accrue, the butcher ballers either have to play more conservatively, which they are not well trained to do, or they have to keep fouling. If they keep fouling, soon we have a huge edge in FTAs and they are in danger of fouling out.

    This is my hypothesis of what KU is doing, and why it looks so different than simple grind ball in prior years.

    It is an expansion of to all players on the floor for KU of what used to be done by just one or two players. It is teaching what Sherron Collins, and then Tyshawn Taylor, became so good at doing, on the drive to the rim, not just to the guards, but to the whole team. Shrink the impact space by getting way in tight on the opponent. Don’t try to get away from the opponent. This can be done at point of attack after the stuff is run, or by directly driving the ball into defender.

  • @jaybate-1.0

    I think my definition of BAD BALL takes more of a Huggy attitude.

    The idea is to intentionally play poorly in some areas to induce another team into bad habits… but play tough enough to not get blown out during the process. Later on… we start correcting certain areas of our game while buckling down even harder on defense. The opposition can’t recover in time to make a run. So we make the last run… enough to pull us into victory.

    Huggy doesn’t play exactly like this… but he does (knowingly) give up some easy break points off his press to entice teams to play sped up ball on offense. We fell into this trap for parts of both games. Once a team plays sped up, it is hard to get them to ever return to their half court offense.

    The key for us to win at BAD BALL is to practice on bouncing out of bad habits later in the game. Go from ineffective execution to effective execution. I guess that can (to some degree) be practiced.

    It helps when a team KNOWS this is the strategy! They are less likely to lose confidence during the bad parts.

    The ultimate goal of BAD BALL is to force the opposition to play a different game then what they intended. Make them play outside of their norm. No one we play is ready to do this.

    The shot fake is a nice addition to this. As well as trying to draw charges. I’m not going to say “flop” because I don’t believe flops are necessary. Getting a team in foul trouble is one more way we can get them out of their norm.

    Game pace is another aspect. Maybe it takes a few contrived fast breaks to open up the speed, while on other possessions using the entire shot clock. Alter pace and see what works.

    “Both Self and @drgnslayr played college basketball in a similar era.”

    I didn’t play college ball. I played in city leagues, on tournament teams, and a bit in Europe on what is referred to as “semi-pro”… meaning… I was giving a few bucks here and there, and had my expenses covered. In my peak, I would classify myself as a respectable D2 player (level). I was no where near the level of competitive ball Self played at. But “yes” we played in the same era.

  • @drgnslayr

    Sorry about that. Some how I got it in my head you had walked on at KU and sat on the bench a year or so. My bad. I recalled most of your background as you describe it otherwise, but got that KU part dead wrong.

    It will be interesting to learn definitively how this team actually does what it does.

    It is quite remarkable however it is being achieved.

    There wasn’t much big man talent to begin with this season, and now with injuries and suspensions there is hardly any at all that would start at many D1 majors, and with Ellis and Alexander out, none that would even make the rotations at other Elite programs.

    And some how, the Okmulgee Kid has won a title in a power conference, when the rest of the coaches could not get it done. Imagine this team with Baylor’s, or Texas’, or OU’s bigs!!!

    Or Embiid and Myles Turner. 🙂

    Winning a title with the front court talent is easily the greatest coaching accomplishment of his career.

    I know Perry is good, but at 6-7 (non KU inches), he would probably have been playing 3 other places, so in a way he doesn’t count as a true front court player.

    Look at the rest of the bigs and tell me how he won a power conference title, except by inventing this ridiculously weird BAD BALL.

    I mean Rick Barnes cannot even stay in contention with a full Nike stack.

    And as good as Fred’s offense looked at times, in the end they were just a bunch of trey ballers balling hot and cold.

    Even Lon Kruger, whom I hold in high esteem, as a Hartman Okie Baller, and someone about as sharp as Self, could not take significantly more talent (even if not the OADs), and send up with a better round robbin record.


  • @jaybate-1.0

    I think there are several B12 teams that could make a mark in March. ISU is predictable now to B12 teams because everyone played them twice. Same goes with WVU… but they are sure to do some damage in March. And ISU can go far if they can regain some swagger. Baylor? You just never know. I’m doubtful that Texas makes it to the prom… but they should. How would you like to be a #1 seed and draw Texas in your first game? Wouldn’t it be great to see Kentucky or Duke get them?

    My question mark is with OU. They don’t seem to have an exact identity. Often… it’s just Buddy taking over. How does a team scout and prep against that?

    I know we are weak in the post… but if I had to add one player from the B12 into the current KU mix, it would be Buddy. The guy can score anywhere on the floor and has the alpha-dog to take over when needed.

    I’ll never understand why we didn’t recruit him hard. Major blunder.

  • There are always guys like Hield that blossom beyond expectations, especially for a coach like Kruger.

    What was Hield ranked?

    Kruger comes out of the Jack Hartman give me one great guard and some lugs and I will beat you.

    Hartman was the greatest of all the Okie Baller disciples at one player-ing teams to death.

    He always found a one dimensional complementary guard to go with a great guard, and then went lug-city in the front court. His lugs never passed eye tests, but they were always sound fundmentally. They could do something or other well.

    When Hartman found a Walt Frazier, Mike Evans, he rode them till the cows came home. Heck, Hartman rode Kruger, and Kruger was just a good guard, not an all timer.

    Lon absorbed the lesson.

    He got lucky nabbing Mitch Richmond out of Moberly Juco and road Mitch like a jockey bolting out of the coaching gate.

    Once the Madness starts, Hield’s touches and numbers will go way up.

    Unlike the Eddie Ballers of the Okie Baller School, Hartman and Lon love to massively increase the touches for a guard they decide to ride.

    Self is almost the opposite.

    He will only ride a big man.

    Even when he had Sherron, Sherron never really went much beyond 15 FGAs that first season he ran his own team. I would have given Sherron 20 FGAs down the stretch every game, and so would Hartman and Kruger.

    But not Self he keeps it spread around, unless you are Simien, or Perry, on teams without much other firepower.

    It is an interesting distinction.

    And Self has won 11 straight titles.

    And a ring.

  • @jaybate-1.0

    “What was Hield ranked?”

    I thought he was something like 88. But Self goes after plenty of guys in that range… most without the body and athleticism Buddy has. I know guys blossom later… but when we are taking chances on recruits down on the list, shouldn’t we at least consider their build and athleticism? It is hard to overlook his strengths, because they are showing before he even dribbles a ball.

    I don’t know… I guess other coaches missed him, too. I just expect Self to be the “wizard” and catch the “diamonds in the rough.”

    I don’t look at Self to change too much until the Mayor finally starts landing 5-star recruits. Kansas will be in trouble then…

  • @drgnslayr I hope you are right about B12 teams making a mark in the tournament. The league needs a good showing. One of the talking head roundtables the other day was focused on whether the B12 is overrated. They were making the point - and it is hard to disagree with - that while it is most certainly the toughest top to bottom - really no easy outs, esp. on the road - it’s difficult to identify likely FF candidates - including KU. Whether we get 6 or 7 in, I think all will be tough outs and the league will probably be seeded well, I’m not sure I see ISU, Baylor or OU - all probably seeded 3-6 and thus favorites - as slam dunks to get through the first weekend. Would love to see 4 in the sweet 16 and 2-3 in the elite 8 - and, of course, the Hawks in the FF.

  • @DCHawker

    I think the key for the B12 is to get a few teams into the Sweet 16. It would be great to see 3 make it. FF is such a crap shoot. But we stand a chance by having more in the Sweet 16.

    It’s just hard to say. A team gets hot. Goes on a streak. Gets a few breaks.

    I’m just saying we have an interesting resume this year. Teams with unique talents. Hard to prepare for. How many teams in the tourney face pressure like WVU dishes out? And the thinking is their rough style (hacking) will be allowed more in March. ISU… when they swagger… turn the game into a race. OU can play with anyone on any given night (or not). Baylor is streaky, and full of talent. KU? Just seems to find a way to win.

    I like our chances of showing well this year (as a conference). Reaching the FF? I don’t have a clue.

    I do agree it would be nice to see someone from our conference make it beyond the Sweet 16 besides KU (I mean… WITH KU!).

    I like your B12 dream. I’d even go a step further and say it would be great to see 2 teams in the FF!

  • @HighEliteMajor

    When it comes down to this team shooting 3’s or not, it’s back to the identity of the coach. Self wants what he wants, he knows what can win a given game. I believe he knows that we have the 3 point shooters but relying on it from game to game is unlikely to win as many games as we have so he’s doing things his way. I’m speculating, I’m guessing at the brain of the man behind #11 straight conference championships.

    Do I think our 3 point shooting is as bad as it’s been the past few games, I don’t. I believe the key with most teams is momentum and when we make perimeter shots it makes the rest of the game come easier for us.

    One of the biggest weakness of this team is passing. We are not an overly unselfish team that looks for the best shot on any given possession. We rely so much on Mason creating his own, Ellis driving and exploiting his defenders quickness to react to him. We’ve seen a lot lately of Mason taking shots without even passing, or driving to the hoop with no regard for a wrap around pass or a kick out to an open shooter. But I’m not mad at Mason because I know that he’s trying to shoulder so much while continuing to become the point guard Self wants him to be. He still wants to score and he’s damn good at it.

    A lot of the good teams know their identity. Duke lives and die’s by the 3 with some post game because they have it this year. Next year they will still be chucking 3’s and making them. It’s just what Coach K knows wins games. Wisconsin shoots a lot of 3’s, their 7 footer is the best shooter on their team. A low possession team that makes a high % of shots and makes a good deal of 3’s is who they are. In conference, Iowa St is reliant on the 3. Oklahoma relies on the 3, West Virginia relies on the 3, Baylor relies on the 3. All these teams have built good programs competing with KU and they are all dependent on making perimeter shots.

    So what’s holding back Self from transforming this team to combine the dominance of his Hi/Low and make shots outside. I think he’s bringing his team down to the competition by not realizing that the 3 point shot is an equalizer, a momentum changer, a dagger I can go on. We fought tooth and nail to win this championship and it won’t be any easier to win #12 next year even with a majority of this team likely to be back. Self has to adapt so that he can keep the edge and the competitive advantage over the rest of the conference. Will he is the bigger question and not one we will ever know until we see it. He had the personnel to make such a change but he couldn’t do it. We will live and die by Self’s way and that’s just how it is.

  • I really think that this “bad ball” discussion is some of the best analysis of the season.

    @KJD said, “Hoiberg’s team’s shoot a lot of threes though they know how to balance that with attacking the rim. Kansas has had trouble attacking the rim this year. I think jaybate is right that if KU can sustain this way of attacking the rim, which they will, Self can be much happier about spells of long range artillery barrages to open up lanes to attack the paint–when the shots from three start going down then this team will start looking more complete.”

    He’s dead right on Hoiberg’s offense.

    But we shall soon see on Self’s approach. I am in the camp that — today possibly being the exception with Ellis out — Self has shut down the three ball game in favor of the attack the rim mentality. Not with the intent of running two rails of offense. I personally do not believe that Self is going to magically incorporate 18-20 threes into his game plan.

    And, actually, I think that will now be hard to do. The “flip the switch” thing might not be that easy to do, as @DoubleDD mentioned.

    That brings me to today. Today provides a great opportunity to get the three-ball back on track. With Ellis out, could Self embrace the three? He mentioned something about “tweaking” some things and having “fun.” In Self’s mind, that might involve the trivial or absurd – which is shooting the three like it’s going out of style.

    If we could regain some of the pre-Fool’s Gold rant three point karma, that could be real plus heading into the NCAA tourney.

    Here’s some wasted type-space: Why not play small today? Maybe that’s a “tweak” or “fun.” Put Oubre or Selden at the four spot. Play four out/one in – the same scheme Self used in the last 3:30 to beat OU the last time. Four out/one in is actually very supportive the drive and attack strategy. Watch ISU. Watch WSU. It opens the floor. And it fits our team. But anyway, I’ve wished for playing small for quite a while, right along with @drgnslayr. I’ve wished hard for four out/one in. It just doesn’t happen.

    @jaybate-1.0 @drgnslayr Again, I think you both have nailed what Self is doing. I guess I will say this – there is no way in the world that I would utilize this team, and this team’s skill set, in this manner. And I think the last five games show exactly the win percentage, against good competition, that would be derived by this strategy over the course of the season: 3-2. But I’ve always said that there is more than one way to skin a cat. I see @ralster and @KJD referring to the MSU/Izzo model. Great example, as it relates to what might be in Self’s mind.

    In our assessment of the propriety of this strategy, given what we’ve seen in the past five games, is there any real chance of this team winning four games in row in the NCAA tournament, playing the offensive game it has in the past five (four wins would get us to the final four)? I don’t see it.

    On the other hand. Cliff or no Cliff – and remember, there were many times when Cliff didn’t play much anyway – wouldn’t a gunning attack from the perimeter give us a better chance to win four in a row? The evidence being our best stretches of offensive basketball this season. Heck, many games when we were shooting threes, we might shoot well one half and not so much the other. That’s how it works.

    Heading into the WVU, game one thing was not debatable as @Jesse-Newell’s article pointed out article link, our offensive efficiency was much better when we shot more three pointers. We were shooting over 40% from three.

    Here’s the biggest risk with our “bad ball” strategy – we’ll match up a against a long, athletic team. The kind this team will always struggle against. We’ll drive, miss, and we won’t get calls. Then, when we’re struggling, we might then start shooting threes. When they don’t go down, it will be the “threes” fault.

    Offense is rhythm. It’s exactly why Self has said he wants an offensive identity established by conference season. When he said that, we just didn’t know he wanted an offensive strategy that was strictly within his box of acceptability. We had an identity. Self just didn’t like it.

    But back to rhythm – it is exactly why we aren’t shooting well from three now. Self broke that rhythm. He affirmatively said no to the three. It creates apprehension. It creates a different dynamic. This cannot be understated.

    When a coach says, “Dude, shoot it when your want to.” Or, a coach says, “Do not shoot the three outside of our normal offense, or if it’s before 15 on the shot clock, or if a defender can contest the shot.” — That is an example, but those sorts of things can affect a shooter’s effectiveness.

    Self shut down the three. The numbers don’t lie.

    Today, though, might give us a reprieve since we going to have “fun.”

  • @HighEliteMajor

    My big question, concerning 3s… how can we shoot a bunch of 3s and go 50% and lose, while in another game go 0% and win?

    I think it points to this young team getting lax when they score easy points.

    If all of us could combine our thoughts into one path going forward… it would be to have a balanced offense (and sets enforcing that) and take what the defense gives. We wouldn’t be relying on the 3 or the 2… but relying on getting good looks and executing well.

    And last… when we get several 3s, we stay focused and continue to play just as tough as when the 3s aren’t falling.

    If we can get to this level of basketball, we will be successful in March.

  • @drgnslayr

    Defense. We didn’t play good defense down the stretch the first meeting. The 2nd meeting we played poor defense the first half and then 2nd half we brought defensive intensity we haven’t seen consistently all year. And that goes to how young we are, and how certain things can motivate an entire team to play bigger than themselves. Is this team capable of that same fire on the road and on a neutral court? Well our recent sample of road games says no. We will see if that trend continues

  • Coach Self has set this season up very well. We are flying under the radar. We have to be the hardest team to scout. We have a Five Star Recruit in Alexander, that no one has really seen. We have bigs in Lucas and Mickelson, that rarely get minutes. Maybe they both can really ball. Can’t recall either of them going over 30 minutes in a game? We have excellent outside shooting, but will we use it? Perry Ellis is our go to man, I guess? Is he or isn’t he? Maybe it’s Frank Mason? Jamari Traylor can take over in stretches. Graham can take over in stretches, Selden Jr. can take over in stretches. Oubre can dominate in stretches. We have seen Svi knock down multiple 3 pointers and distribute great passes. The NCAA Tournament has a lot to do with scouting. This year, the Kansas Jayhawks are about as hard to scout as any team I have ever seen.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    A team can get hot from three up to about 3-4 games, more often shooting shooting back to average every other game. So: I think a trey game would have the best chance of winning 3-4 games, but only IF we were coming off a bad stretch, which we will be. Anything beyond 3-4 games and the odds favor Bad Ball. And whenever there is a power outage from trey, odds favor Bad Ball. And this is why Self is playing this way. He samples the trey water ever game and if no one is hitting, then it is BAD BALL. If the guys start hitting treys the first half, you will see a 20 3pta game very shortly.

  • @HighEliteMajor This would be a great opportunity to try the smaller lineup. Only have 1 of Traylor, Mickelson, or Lucas in the game at one time. Try it for the whole game (or most anyway). Mason, Selden (or Graham), Greene (or Svi), Oubre, Traylor (or Lucas or Mickelson). Would be fun to see huh?

  • Banned


    I’ve often wondered what the results would be if KU played this way. KU is pretty beat up for this OU game Maybe HCBS will have no choice but to play the 4 and 1.

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