Self Will Be an Even Better Basketball Coach in Coming Years (for Blown)

  • @Blown

    One way to understand Self is to think about how you manage your own budget.

    You have a rough idea of what will be coming in and you decide how much you want to spend and how much you want to save. The amount you want to spend determines how you can live. You may want to live a different way, when you get more money coming in, but until then, you have to live the best way you can on what you have coming in and going out.

    To some extent, these limits have nothing to do with one’s philosophy and preferences.

    They are parameters you have to live with for the time being, until you can change them.

    Now, how you live within these parameters does have something to do with philosophical and aesthetic and technical preferences and that is where you have some room to make some choices. Some things you like more and are more suited to your legacy style of living. Others you like less and are less suited to it.

    Somethings you hang on to, while meeting your budget.

    Other things you let go of, while meeting your budget.

    In the process of living and making these choices you discover that you made the right choices on somethings and the wrong choices on others.

    You discover that somethings you gave up, you really miss and want to get more money coming in so you can include those back in.

    You learn things about your self. You learn that somethings you thought were crucial were not. Other things you took for granted you discovered had a whole bunch of significance.

    And so on.

    This, I believe, is very close to the life and process of a basketball coach moving along season to season in his team operation and during a season.

    Self repeats infrequently, but significantly, that he finds certain things that he used to think were important to winning, just weren’t. And so he tries to eliminate them from his to do list to leave more time for the important things. Time is what he is really managing.

    Other things he appears to find more important than before.

    Still other things he did not used to consider as important, he now prioritizes.

    John Wooden finally figured out how to win a ring without a single big man on his team in an era when most of the major basketball programs already had two big men in their starting five. Wooden then won a second ring the same way with a significantly different roster. He played the single high post offense with those teams.

    But when he got the chance for big men that could score off the blocks, he did not hesitate to sign and tailor his game around them. He won three rings in a row with Jabbar. Then he signed another one: Bill Walton. He won another three rings. He played the single low post offense with these teams.

    But what people forget is that next he could not sign another big center that could score back to the basket off the block, even though 6-9 240 Steve Patterson was a load. However, Patterson did have a great 20-23 foot jump shot at the top of the free throw circle. Wooden went back to the single high post offense and attacked on low wings with 6-6 Curtis Rowe and 6-8 Sidney Wicks, while his guards played in tandem out front. It as a 3-2 set with the middle three the high post man.

    Then he found Richard Washington and another big, whose name escapes me. I believe he shifted to the high low double post offense, though I am not absolutely certain on that. Whatever, he most certainly went back to a low post with Richard Washington.

    These changes in offense are analogous to the changes you make in your own family budget.

    You make the changes based on rational net benefit. Some are harder to make than others. Some are actually quite easy to make. You make the changes, because it makes sense to make them.

    Some folks hate change.

    Others are comfortable with it.

    In basketball, some coaches hate changing offense and change defenses every time down the floor.

    Some coaches change offenses, and stick with the same defense no matter what.

    Some stick with basic schemes on both ends, but vary the formations a lot; that has been Self on offense this season. On defense he has stayed largely with man to man.

    Wooden never really had much trouble changing offenses to fit his material.

    But he had been very stubborn about his defense. He was committed to man to man defense throughout the 1950s, when he was always coming in second. It was not until Jerry Norman, a former player came back as an assistant and showed him the three quarter court 2-2-1 zone press that he ever even thought about playing zone of any kind. Wooden refused to play zone even with no one over 6-5 on his team at times in the past.

    When Norman brought him the idea for the 2-2-1 zone press, Wooden flatly rejected it and told Norman not to waste his time with such nonsense again. But Norman risked his job and approached him again. He basically said that if Wooden wouldn’t at least let him experiment with the 2-2-1 zone press on the freshman team, Norman would leave UCLA. Wooden was then struggling to keep assistants because he was on such a small budget. He caved in and said Norman could coach the JV one season with the 2-2-1, as a trial only. No promises about adopting it to the varsity. But as the JV season wore on, Wooden became enthusiastic in his belief in the potential for the 2-2-1. The rest is history.

    My point here is that basketball, while a game, is coached and played by human beings that approach the task in pretty much the same way one does other tasks. They don’t want to waste time changing, but they WILL change once they see the net benefit of doing so. And they change rather readily once they see the net benefit.

    The problem most fans face is that no matter how hard we think in the abstract about these issues of offense and defense, they are actually applied in a real world with real parameters and real variables, real costs, and real benefits. Coaches working every day, years on end, with this stuff, just like business managers, and generals, and orchestra conductors, and heads of research teams, develop a keen understanding of current and historical costs and benefits. They really do know more than we do. And so when our ideas take form, they may increase the benefits, but not hold down the costs enough for net benefit in a large enough incremental increase to justify using them.

    I have to think that Bill Self, with a staff of a few experienced assistants, plus a kitchen cabinet of head coach friends he can run things by, and pick things up from, has literally thought of every different way to approach using his talent even BEFORE the season starts. The only things he may not have already considered are the unforeseen things that evolve over the course of the season. One player gets it faster than expected. Another player doesn’t get it. One player gets hurt. Another develops way beyond what was expected. And so on. These things Self has to adjust for on the fly. But these are the things that he has a particularly acute insight into in terms of the relationship of costs and benefits of exploiting that most of we fans just cannot have.

    This is not to say that we can NEVER be valid, and/or right.

    We can be.

    But realistically speaking, not often.

    More often than not, when we come to an insight before Self does, and he follows us later, I have to think that he got there before we did, and just knew some extenuating circumstances that required waiting, that we did not know.

    (I beg your pardon here, for I know I am covering some ground I have covered before earlier this season, but I am trying to say it more clearly and say it within the context of the issue you have raised.)

    Basketball is not rocket science, as they say.

    We are not talking about trying to explain the difference between a quantum realm and a classical Newtonian one, when we contemplate switching from high low to dribble drive.

    On the other hand, basketball does have a good deal of spatial complexity and dynamics of motion and so on that can be tough for laymen, and even some basketball coaches, to get the hang of.

    Some basketball coaches do innovate and then other basketball coaches do follow.

    Most innovate only infrequently and borrow frequently.

    So: what is the point here?

    Self was confronted with some unique problems before the season started that you mentioned.

    He has later been confronted with an unusual number of unforeseens that interacted with those initial unique problems to produce a complicated risk return matrix for different possible solutions.

    Put another way, none of the feasible solutions were both low risk and certain to yield large net benefit.

    This is the kind of situation that confuses and sinks all but the most flexible thinkers. Rigid thinkers get trapped in the lesser of evils trap. Flexible thinkers invert some parameters into variables and vice versa. They then find new opportunities and new critical paths that actually turn sows ears into silk purses.

    Self, contrary to what many think here, is IMHO an extraordinarily flexible thinker within certain parameters.

    What happened this season was that in addition to the usual number of variables he is good at flexibly juggling; i.e., tuning an infinitely variable temperature rheostat, or CVT transmission pulley to find good solutions between the heater core and the car interior, and the engine and the drive wheels, Self was in metaphorical terms also being confronted with problems with the heater core itself, and the engine itself. These were problems with parameters. Problems with parameters get really hairy in a hurry. When working with variables, you are basically working with a closed system with infinite variance with in known limits. But when you have trouble with your parameters, then you have this cascading effect of varying the known limits and the infinite variety where ever the parameters are set temporarily.

    Every one can modulate a thermostat to get comfortable in the car and keep driving.

    Not many can adjust the fuel injectors, or switch from throttle body injectors to direct injectors, and work with the soft ware and firm ware in the black box that manages the different kinds of injectors, while also fiddling with the rheostat for the heater and jumping into the car and keeping up with fellow drivers you are caravanning with, or racing against.

    And if you find that your engine lacks the power you need, because it is missing one entire piston (Embiid), it presents a real problem of moving from trouble shooter to real mechanic needing to swap engines, or at least engine components in and out and retune the whole vehicle until it works effectively again.

    And I would argue that when Self not only lost Embiid, his parametric rim protector, and found he did not have anyone on his team that could play back to the basket, or rim protect, or rebound, he suddenly found himself confronted with not one but four broken parameters: rim protection, post guarding, back to basket scoring, and rebounding. Switching to three point shooting, which he did for awhile, could only fix the scoring and only then with intermittent slumps that would require another way to score, or result in losses.

    Once you get into fixing parameters, you are basically into model building, which is design and engineering new solutions, followed by re-fabrication, re-assembly, fine tuning, and re testing.

    That is VERY complicated work even in a simple game like basketball. Human beings are not as predictable as rods, main bearings, valves and radiators. And their brains have as many (way more actually) bugs as black boxes with firmware and software.

    Avoiding fixing parameters is why coaches invest soooooo heavily in recruiting the right players that ensure the parameters are in place.

    Self had done everything he could on the recruiting end, and was left with broken parameters that needed redesigning in the process of a season unfolding. It was a hairy situation.

    I don’t believe he has really faced it to this extent in his entire KU tenure.

    To avoid redesigning parameters, he invested heavily in trying to train our small bigs to be back to the basket scorers early. He tried long after fans had given up. It is easy to say change the parameters, when you don’t really have to figure out the foreseeable headaches and unforeseeable ones that go with making the changes.

    Self understood from the beginning how tough this was going to be. He understood that it made sense to TRY to teach the small bigs to play back to basket, if at all possible, and no matter how messed up things appeared while trying. It was a reasonable bet to try. I’ve frankly never seen guys that couldn’t learn some b2b moves. But finally Self had to admit that the clock was running and none of his guys could learn fast enough.

    So he did what is called inverting the problem. If you can’t teach them to attack back to the basket on the blocks, then maybe you can have them attack the blocks face to basket from various spots and score inside that way. None of them could do that at first either, but all of them except Landen proved able to learn to do it in only a few games.

    But of course that meant trying to teach the perimeter players a new way of playing on the perimeter with short bigs charging the blocks.

    And so the cascade of problems with redesigning started.

    And they kept cascading through out the season as players got injured, and players healed, and players got suspended, and players hit walls and so on.

    Some how, Bill Self pulled it off. I doubt he is entirely sure exactly how he did it all, but he had a redesigned plan and he just kept banging on it and tweaking it and adjusting the rheostats and CVT pulleys until his team finally began to not only do what he was asking, but slowly started to “see” what the plan was, and then “see” how to bring not only their own technical mastery of it, but their own creative contribution to its possibilities.

    Notice that Frank Mason is increasingly playing as he did last season, when that was clearly not working. The difference is that he can play completely under control within the BAD BALL scheme, and then have the insight about when to use his incredible after burners in the spread and drive it scheme to dazzle defenders and leave them like they were standing still. But he doen’t do it all the time, and when he does it, it fits into the BAD BALL scheme, in a way he could never fit it into last seasons GOOD BALL scheme.

    Whereas the 2012 season was a clinic in how to make do with 5 fine experienced players that fit all the parameters and variables and one very limited player who could fit some, but without any other depth, this season is a clinic in how to redesign a young and inexperienced team on the fly when you lack 4 basic parameters related to the inside game, despite having a lot of good athletes, and a lot of good basketball players on the perimeter.

    I think the 2012 season was his greatest coaching job until this season.

    This season took much greater virtuosity in coaching.

    The 2008 season was a great job, because he won the ring, but most of the work had been done the previous three seasons and the 2008 season was a matter of fine tuning and maintaining an already well designed and debugged team. His biggest challenge that season was operating the team so that he could plug Rush in without a hickup when Rush was finally able to play 100 percent.

    This season I am very confident that all his colleagues around the conference, and probably around the country, are just shaking their head in awe at what he has done.

    Its like if Stradivarius could not only build a great fiddle, but play it superbly to, and build it and play it at the same time during 35 orchestral performances!

    It is quite amazing.

    And while he will have grown a lot as a coach and be a better coach in coming seasons because of this season, I don’t know if he will ever be able to do a more virtuosic performance for two reasons.

    One, I think the stresses of this kind of season are so great that a coach might only be able to pull it off once in a career. I really think that Self has willed most of this season to happen by an absolutely Herculean focus of all his abilities and energies and concentration. At some point a coach in middle age can’t have the energy to do that any more.

    Two, I think the trauma of this endeavor will drive him to either find a way never to get caught in this sort of personnel crisis at KU, or move to another coaching situation where it can be avoided. If Self decides that he cannot recruit the basic pieces he needs year in and year out at a high pressure place like Kansas, then he may decide that it is not logical to stay at a place like Kansas, which expects him to do that. He may decide he needs a different school that lacks those expectations, or a school that has the kinds of recruiting linkages that enable fulfillment of such expectations, or he needs to move on to a new challenge in the pros.

    Self appears to me to have given more to the University of Kansas basketball program this season than in any TWO seasons in the past. He is not a kid anymore. I don’t frankly know how he did it this season, having been that age once myself. I am in awe of his energy and competitive fire, not just his glass bead game brilliance at the strategies and tactics of basketball design and engineering, testing and development, on the fly.

    I don’t care if Bill Self gets 10 OAD/TADs on his roster next season, so much as that he just gets the parameters and variables–the basic pieces–of a basketball team signed. I don’t want Self to have go through what he has gone through this season again. It is not good for him. It is not good for us. It is not good for KU basketball. I want him to be entering his gravy years, where he can at least start each season with all the pieces of a team that he needs. I know he is trying his butt off. I know he has always had a reputation as a great recruiter and he has brought in a lot of great players in his tenure. Something other than Self seems to be standing between him and his gravy years right now. I would like to see that obstacle removed, so he can get on with getting the players he needs to win the considerable number of rings he appears capable of winning. And I would like KU’s administrators to lead, follow, or get out of the way regarding removing those obstructions for Coach Self ASAP.

    Whether they do or don’t though, he is going to be a better coach after this season, because of the enormous amount of learning he has undergone in trying to fix the parameters and redesign the team on the fly. And that’s bad news for the other Big 12 coaches.

    Rock Chalk!

  • @jaybate-1.0 I’ve definitely lost passion for the college game over the last several years as I become more aware of the behind-the-scenes money biz seems to be controlling things. I really miss witnessing the development of 3 and 4 year players, and the satisfaction I get from seeing them grow. Self has bought into the OAD/TAD strategy, although it does not appear to be in his best interests based on his coaching style and competency needed to run his schemes. There seems to be too much money at stake to move to a formula used by the NFL & MLB, but that will be the only thing that reverses the current course, imho.

  • @Blown

    I looked at it that way for awhile. It may still be the right way to look at it.

    But here is what I have come down to for the moment.

    Self is about 51. He is the winningest coach that last 5 or ten years, at least before this season. He has a phenomenal string of power conference titles He has a ring. He comes from a rich basketball legacy. He coaches at a school with the richest basketball legacy. He obviously cares about the past, present and future of the game. He has F.U. money. He has looked after all the coaching pals in his life that he could. He has helped Janks. He has helped Danny. He has helped Billy twice. He caught Hinson when he was falling and got him back on his way. He has shunted players to Leonard down at FSU and to others. He got Larry back into college coaching. He has reclaimed Kurtis’ career and let him become a respected assistant again. He helped Norm get the St. John’s job and he took him back when he got run. He has embraced many of the rogues of college basketball, from Frank Martin, to Huggins, to Tark. He has never dissed on Roy and invited Roy back and never recruited in Roy’s back yard until several years of Roy recruiting in Bill’s backyard. Instead of turning on Ratso Izzo for Izzo Ball breaking Cole’s face, and Rick Barnes for breaking Butcher Ball breaking Embiid’s back, he has talked admiringly about both men and the good they have brought to the game. At a time when Philly Ball was falling through the cracks, Self began scheduling the Philly teams not to recruit there, but to build a link between the great Philly Ball Tradition and KU’s and Okie Baller’s traditions. He has kept it close for countless coaches with bad teams who’s jobs were hanging by a thread. He has never cheap shotted a team that did not cheap shot. He has taken Larry Ball and Eddie Ball and fused them into Self Ball which has been the single most copied scheme of play that last ten years. He has developed and advanced 70 point take what they give us and perfected playing it any way they want and letting the other team set the tempo. He has reconnected countless strands of the KU tradition to the present. He has created the Assists Foundation and improved the quality of life for many generations of children in world where facilities and resources for those children are shrinking callously and sometimes cruelly. He did without the scholarships Roy’s peccadilloes caused. He has saved the Chancellor’s bacon on Scalpingate, Realignmentgates I & II, and LewGate. He has put up with Sheahan’s ineptness hiring coaches ands has had to watch huge sums of money that either should have been going to KU basketball, or to Self himself, and not complained, because he tried to be a good teammate to the hapless KU football program. He fought through his mid life crisis without ever taking a season off the way Coach K did 30 years back, when he cried burn out. Self has fielded every curve ball thrown his way without ever really turning on any of the players that apparently lied to him about when they were jumping. He has made every player he has had a more complete player, even if he has not always been able to bring out the absolute best in them (what coach ever has). His KU players come back. Even KU players that weren’t his come back. He has turned what I was sure would be an extremely difficult season into an extraordinary new kind of basketball that other coaches are already imitating before the season is even over. The man is a basketball genius. If he thinks he can find a way to bring more good basketball to KU with OADs and TADs, and that it is the best way for trying to keep KU relevant in this rapidly changing D1 environment. then I am willing to give it a go. I actually believe he needs this challenge at this stage of his career. He needs to coach a bunch of great players. He needs to see if he can make his vision of the game of basketball a reality with the best players. Every coach wants to. But if Colonel Frank “The Self” Merrill Bill thinks he can find a way through the jungle, then I sure as hell am going on the march with him. I probably don’t have that many years left. I waited 2/3s of a lifetime for a coach like this to coach at KU. I always knew that if the right midwesterner ever got a hold of the KU program, and did just some of the things that Self has done to reconnect it to its greatness, that more could happen at KU than KU being a training ground for UNC coaches. I think Bill Self is terrific and I believe I see his flaws as clearly as anyone, maybe more so, because I have studied him a lot and thought about what he does in coaching a lot, and learned a lot doing it. I don’t mind people having different opinions of him than mine. I know what I know and when realize I’m wrong I just admit it and change. Bill Self is an extraordinary human being and coach. Not a saint. Not perfect. But a guy who just works relentlessly at getting better. And after 22 long, work-crammed years of getting better, he is now pretty damned good. The wheels can always come off at any moment. He could make a character error. Someone could set him up. Persons that want control of the revenue streams of KU basketball at any cost, could make things so tough for him that he decides to move on. The winds of change could blow against him for an extended period. He could get sick. He could have an accident. But he is ours now and I love it. love every little thing about it, except how much he expects guys to play through injuries, but he even seems to be moderating on that a bit. I never look at other coaches and wish they were ours. I never look at other teams and wish they were ours. This team this season that has played so poorly at times and that has had so many players not live up to expectations; this team that I was very frustrated by at times; this team has totally redeemed itself in my eyes even if it gets beat by NMSU in the first round; this team has overcome more adversity than any other Self team I can recall, and any other KU team other than Danny’s '88 team. I love this team. I love everything about it. I love BAD BALL. I love the beauty of Frank’s after burner drives in the spread sets. I love how this team sometimes drives it from all five positions. I love that this team has good trey ball shooting in reserve and about to come on line. I even love our challenged bigs with no back to the basket game, because there is no quit in them and they keep bouncing back from adversity, and doing whatever they can do, however little it is sometimes, to find a way to make this team have a very good season, and pursue a special season. I love Wayne playing through the greatest obstacle he has ever faced: himself. I love Kelly Oubre, who should be protecting the merchandize, but who is just too damned fiery and cock sure not to rise to challenges for his teammates. I love Perry who has learned to love contact and mastered a new kind of stretch 4 game and is now even becoming the Daddy of this team by playing in pain. You are probably too young to recall it, but Perry is our Willis Reed from the ancient times of the Bill Bradley-Walt Frazier–Earl Monroe–Dave Debusscher New York Knicks of the late 60s. Perry is the Daddy who doesn’t complain, who just keeps going to work and making sure the lights stay on, food stays in the frig, the rent gets paid, no matter how much he hurts, no matter that he has no one he can really tell how he feels, no matter that he doesn’t even know how HE feels all the time. This is the daddy that Self has been forcing Perry outside his comfort level all these years to become. Teams need daddy’s on the floor as surely as families need them at home. Daddies don’t have to be good talkers. Most daddies aren’t. Daddies just have to deliver, or die trying to. I love “The Committee of the Five.” I love that Jamari is finding a way to contribute on one leg. I love that even though the basketball gods have taken away his one great weapon–explosiveness–he keeps coming to work, too. Jamari drives on one leg. No one gave him any kudos, but he grabbed five rebounds recently…on one leg. Jamari has blocked a few shots…on one leg. Jamari runs the floor…on one leg. The guy probably shouldn’t even be suiting up. But he is like an oldest brother in this family. He broods. He bridles. He sulks sometimes. But he just keeps going out and doing what he is asked to do…on one leg. I love Landen Lucas. How can anyone NOT love Landen Lucas. This project from Portland has become a credible post defender and a guy who makes a few plays on both ends when things look most hopeless. When the tent seems to be folding, big Landen stands up tall and holds it up for his team. When the footers and the 300 pounders show up and everyone else on the team gets to go out 25 feet and play chase me around, Landen closes the lunch bucket and reports for duty outweighed by 40-60 pounds and starts leaning and pushing and shoving and guarding. And he does this without another big mean enough to back him up. When big Landen sticks his face into the action and it gets busted by some prison body with prison body pals, Landen is on his own. Guys give him double down help, but they don’t come running to enforce FOR him! What Landen is doing is taking a special kind of courage. Ask Cole Aldrich that first season he started without an enforcer at his back. Landen has gotten the crap knocked out of him many games, while he trying to learn how BAD he had to be. Now he knows. He may not be a great center, but he damn sure is a courageous and serviceable one now. And who could not love the Cryogenic Twins–Svi and Hunter. Hunter especially. You’ve heard of a raw deal? Hunter didn’t even get a deal this season. He just got RAW. But still he has come in and mad storked just enough to keep us competitive down the stretch. And he’s doing it with dripping icicles hanging from his cojones. Hunter may be erratic and gangly, but he has the fiery right stuff. Hell, I even love the Big Red Dog. I suspect it will surface one day that Cliff in a way saved this entire season of adversity for KU all by himself. Call it a hunch. Call it what you want. But I love the guy and believe he is Jayhawk to his bone marrow. I know it looks bleak right now for him, but like I said, some day I think it will be said that Cliff did his part after all.

    I can get down with the best of them.

    I have known the Black Dog.

    But this year?

    With basketball’s Merrill’s Marauders?

    With Bill Self for a coach?

    Am I going to let the slings and arrows of outrageous recruiting asymmetries and money power games get me down?


    No way.



    “Here error is all in the not done.”–Ezra Pound

    They cannot take away my love for this coach and this team and this basketball legacy, if I do not give it to them.

    Rock Chalk!

  • @jaybate-1.0 PHOF but what’s new.

    And as for the Marauders I’ve stated before my grandfather’s medals from his service in that phenomenal unit grace my Den and are the best Heirloom I will be privileged to pass on to his ancestors.

    You wrote a great post-perhaps the best one I’ve read regarding this team. Perhaps it will be archived with them when the season ends- when and wherever it ends, RCJH.

  • @jaybate-1.0 That was an extremely moving entry about Bill Self and the team. One of if not your best. It shows the best of the KU basketball tradition. As far as coaches, many of us never appreciate the things that they do that never gets much press. I first saw KU basketball in 1966 and am very proud that Ted, Larry, Roy and Bill are not only great coaches but also great people.

    At the end of the day the wins and championships are great, but it is the good people who are the most important.

  • @jaybate-1.0 Hayseuss H. Christopher, jb, you have just posted a 2-part series of Jayhawk Hoops articles, the very best I have ever read by any professional sports reporter, much less died in the wool dedicated KU poster! Surely you have burned every last ounce of petrol in the tank.

  • @jaybate-1.0 You bring such a unique, positive attitude. At the end of this, I could hear E.J. saying;


    I’m ready to fight!

  • @jaybate-1.0 awesome read on Self! Loved it and getting even more pumped for the game tomorrow!


  • @jaybate-1.0 “Incremental increase.” That pretty well sums up how I have come to measure this team, this season. Lordy, am I ever hoping that the wheels hold up for a few more lead laps around this tightly curved racetrack!

  • @jaybate-1.0

    “Some folks hate change.”

    Not me. I keep a whole jar full of it next to my bed and I constantly make more change.

    But seriously…

    According to USA TODAY, Kansas spends the most on recruiting in D1.

    And look at what we are investing in on campus. Luxury suites for players… Constant upgrades to training facilities… etc.

    I don’t think people realize how hard it has been for Kansas to invest this much money in basketball while having such a money-pit football program.

    I feel like we are chasing the dragon.

    I feel like we are directly on the path set by Calipari and UK.

    I feel like we will need a team of 9 or 10 McDs AAs in order to compete for a National Championship.

    I feel like all our resources are going into recruiting and very little into the development of the players we do get.

    Even with our lofty investments, there is only so much time, energy, focus and money to be spent directly on developing the players we have.

    In my Jayhawk basketball fairytale dream, we invest ALL-IN on player development. With development as our focus, we will attract the right players to Kansas… many of whom will already be at a high level, 5-star talent.

    I am getting very disillusioned with Kansas basketball. I don’t like seeing us sign so much noted talent and then lose to teams that are basically stocked with juco players. There is something wrong with that. And we become just another one of the “ugly ogres” like Kentucky… another Goliath setup to fall by the next David we play. Pretty soon… all other fans support the Davids.

    Becoming an institution all about recruiting and little about developing seems to go against the core roots set out by the founder, James Naismith.

    At a certain point, moving forward, I will cease to be a Jayhawk follower. I will always be a Jayhawk. But there is only so much of this I can stomach.

    Kobe Bryant called it right… on AAU basketball and consider it the same for D1. There aren’t enough programs focused on helping the athlete develop. Too many just want to help HYPE players. We are great at that! Kelly will be gone from Kansas this summer and the kid has barely touched a basketball in a game played with men. And all we do is point fingers at everything else in our society instead of stand for something real.

    If Calipari wins it all this year… it will further solidify his grip on the D1 coaching mentality.

    However… I’d like to see one blue blood program abandon that philosophy and go all-in on development. Hire assistant coaches and other staff focused strictly on development. Spend the big bucks on bringing in the right development talent.

    I had my hopes that a guy like Brad Stevens would be the guy to challenge Calipari. But he sold out, too.

  • @drgnslayr Trying to talk you back from the brink:

    Let’s remember that this OAD recruiting started recently, after the departure of the “class of EJ”. Unless I am mistaken, Self has brought in between one and two presumed OADs a year. Embiid wasn’t presumed but left; Wayne was but stayed.

    If you want to develop, you have to develop teams as well as players. The 2008 team was the 2007 team. The 2012 was to some extent the 2011 team. There has to be some continuity at the group level, not just experienced individuals.

    Self has built up teams over periods of time, culminating in 2008 and 2012. Maybe he’s doing the same thing for 2016.

    At any rate, after 2013 we lost a bunch of upperclassmen, so Self had to start to build from the ground up. Maybe the OADs are tactical choices to keep the Conference streak alive, not a strategy to beat Calipari at his own game.

    I do admit that a lot of the money being spent helps **getting **recruits more than **keeping **them.

    By the way, if I’m a player and @HighEliteMajor brings me a slump buster, I’m outta here!

  • @drgnslayr This OAD/TAD direction which college basketball’s super franchises has recently taken has delivered a real quandary for the likes of Bill Self and his dependence upon incrementally developmental basketball. At this stage Bill appears to be walking a sagging tightrope, standing halfway in space, knees quivering. I view Clever J. Cal as ruining the amateur game. Under his stewarship U. of Kentucky basketball has mutated into minor league NBA. Without major spectacular rules changes by the governing body, other superpowers at the collegiate level must fall in line or submit to the nursing of hind tits. This reality now weighs heavily upon all programs, all topnotch or aspiring coaches. Sooner probably than later, this issue alone is enough to drive Self from the collegiate ranks.

  • @drgnslayr Very surprised to learn KU leads in recruiting expenses. Then wondered why - traveling from Kansas is not cheap or timely. A KU professor went to UPenn & told me it is expensive and takes ALL day to travel to KU. Plus, while I love Lawrence and the beautiful campus, it’s not quite the urban city with energy that youth seeks. So make the dorms cool for players to come as others are finer too. Gotta compete, right? Have you seen the new dorms for regular students? It’s 5* apartments! Agree with you on developing kids, and don’t like that college bb/sports have become revenue generator for others. But players with skills (just like any field) are also benefiting, right? Look at NBA/NFL players making millions including so many sports analysts (except gals) who were once players make a nice living. Say, I feel better. Changing times - always have good and bad, guess that’s life. Did I help? 🙂

  • I do believe the situation of college basketball has put Self in a quandary.

    He has to please a lot of different people with different interests just within the Jayhawk Nation.

    And he is also burdened with fundraising to help make up deficits created in most or all of the other athletic sports at Kansas.

    That’s a lot of weight on Self’s shoulders. I do believe he earns his pay.

    I’m throwing out my opinions… but I don’t necessarily have a direct solution to covert a college program from “recruit-based” to “development-based.”

    All of this sounds great in my head, but I’m not the guy who would actually have to accomplish this task. I might be missing important info that would make me better understand why we are going in the direction we are going in. One key factor that I don’t know much about is how recruits feel. I think I understand that they all want a fat NBA career… but I’m not out on the recruiting trail so I don’t know what attracts recruits. They all talk, and their parents talk… and I constantly see huge contradictions between their words and later actions.

    I think Self is a great coach. And with his upbringing… I believe he would like to develop players as best he can. Beyond that… I’m just throwing out lofty concepts.

  • @drgnslayr

    As usual, you see the landscape clearly and state it clearly.

    I will keep thinking about pursuing the “development” approach you have asserted a couple times now.

    My problem with it is that Self pursued it and did very well, but apparently found it posed these problems.

    ~It requires exceptionally skilled teachers as assistant coaches and each time the team does well, these assistants leave to become head coaches and become competitors not so much on the court, but in the recruiting theater. His recruiter specialists seem much more prone to stay with him longer; this way he is not diluting his talent pipeline each season.

    ~It takes time to develop all levels of projects, as we have learned again and again, with anyone from Thomas Robinson, to Jeff Withey, to Tyrel Reed, and now with Landen Lucas and Jamari Traylor, yet each season brings with it immediate needs due to injuries, unexpectedly slow development, changes in the way the game is called, etc. So even if one relies on and sells development short term circumstances still make recruiting for immediate need a necessity.

    I was going to go on mentioning other problems with the development model, but then an idea occurred to me, @drgnslayr.

    What D1 really needs to do is develop a Junior Varsity Division that develops 4 year players and plugs them into the varsity, whenever they are ready for a shot, and drops them back down to JV, whenever they fail their promotions. This would keep players from sitting on benches and wasting away. It would also create a half step up to the intensity of D1 Varsity ball. A freshman team is not what is needed. A JV is what is needed. Expand the scholarship limit from 13 to 15, or 18. The JV plays about half the games and none beyond a bus ride.

    Expand the coaching staff to include a JV coach and a couple of assistants. Institute it that the JV coach and assistants are not allowed to recruit off campus. They are development coaches.

    The additional cost of the scholies and assistants could be offset by televising and by gate receipts for the JV games. JV tickets could be much lower and become the games the families and kids attend.

    JV Division Ball could become the testing ground for new types of offenses and defenses, as freshman ball once was.

    More kids get college degrees.

    More kids get a chance to develop and play D1 Varsity sooner, or later in their careers.

    More players acquire better fundamentals.

    More coaches are around the practice courts full time to work with and develop both the varsity AND the JV players.

    OADs and TADs remain a part of the process, but the tendency to live and die with them is diluted.

    Schools like Kentucky that rely on 10+draft choices each season increasingly find the high ceilings and low foundations of these 10 draft choices increasingly off set by swelling numbers of “developed” players with great fundamentals and intermingled with OADs and TADs.

    Let’s hope they build enough apartments in the new athletic housing for such a program.

    Rock Chalk!

  • @jaybate-1.0

    “What D1 really needs to do is develop a Junior Varsity Division that develops 4 year players and plugs them into the varsity,”

    I’ve been thinking this for quite some time. And to not even let freshmen and sophomores play on the varsity squad. No more OADs. And if the kids make it 3 years… more should want to stay 4 and finish their degrees.

  • @drgnslayr meh!

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