Brannen Greene 3/4s Full, Understanding Why Self Went to Bad Ball

  • On another thread there has been a theme that Brannen Greene is a bad fit for Self and a player with too many limitations to ever be more than a 15 minute man.

    Even @REHawk has said that Brannen Greene and his father are taking a huge risk not transferring, as fellow non driving trey ballers AWIII and Conner Frankamp did.

    Ooooh, I HATE taking another side than @REHawk, because The Coach has this thing of usually being right, and especially when ever I am on the other side of him.

    Hmmm, how to approach this cleverly so that I do not wind up having to run wind sprints for a month about next January when @REHawk says, “bate, I told you so, son, now start running!”

    (Pause while trying to find the right words.)

    Well, everything everyone including me has said about BG is right to some degree.

    His feet get tangled on defense, though that began to improve midway last season, before he began doing the Casper the Friendly ghost color shift, followed by showing suddenly changing shot dynamics including a frequent weird hop off one foot rather than his familiar perfect form.

    It is also true that “The Man from Georgia” came with not one, but half a dozen wild hairs, but he was showing signs of the neural nets growing together last season and he was down to one wild hair, maybe even none by the end of the season.

    He really is a deadly three point man, and playing through the injuries he did proves beyond doubt that he has Self grade toughness.

    And its true that he really has not shown much sign of being able to drive the ball, BUT in his defense, he WAS playing with an operable hip injury at least the last half of the season and he DID show some signs of becoming a decent dribbler in transition and under pressure down the stretch, when his trey balling was reigned in because of his injury that Self never told us about till after the season.

    (Note: when are we ever going to learn that when ever a talented player under performs for half a season that he is playing with an operable injury we will be told about after the season, or a regulatory problem we will never get an explanation for?)

    So what am I trying to say here in a finesse move around The Coach, so that I don’t have to do down and backs next December?

    Well, first, at signing, and later in his first season, I recall (and @JayHawkFanToo will no doubt augment my increasingly crappy memory on the accuracy, or inaccuracy, of this recollection in due time, as his engineering duties permit) Self said Brannen was an “NBA type” player and would have been the star of a class had his class not had the other athletic freaks that signed the same year he did.

    Second, if the guy was playing with an operable hip injury (bone spurs that hurt like hell once they accrete to a point they begin to make inappropriate contact with nerve fibers near by) and if he was changing colors like litmus paper, his energy, explosiveness, shot mechanics, defensive footwork, and ability to put it on the deck, had to have been degraded to some degree or another, and likely to considerable degree.

    Third, all of these wild hair types that come to KU invariably lose the Wild Hair some time during their second or third seasons consistent with brain scanning research findings in neuroscience empirically verifying that adult brain development is not achieved on average until the age of 23. So: we have reason to believe that BG’s brain meat, specifically its neural net burns, are likely to be very nearly completed in their developmental burns, given how much progress in this regard he showed this past season over his first.

    These three points just enumerated lead me to think that BG could be set for a very, very good season, IF this bone spur operation results in no dramatic loss of pop, and if we give him two months, say, from October 15 to December 15, to work and play his way back into form. We cannot judge him by that first two months any more than we could judge Brandon Rush by that first two months of coming back from his knee injury. The only thing we want to see that first two months in BG is what we wanted to see in Brandon Rush–a general up trend in the restoration of his athleticism related to the location of the injury. Specifically, we want to see that hip and leg strengthen gradually and we want to see fewer and fewer signs of one legged hopping on his J due to asymmetry in leg strength and joint fitness. If we see this evolution during those first two months, then I believe we have a strong possibility of finally having one helluva player named Brannen Greene in crimson and blue.

    Some dishes cook quickly.

    Other dishes take time come together.

    But its pretty clear to me that the man from Georgia had earned the respect and trust of Coach Self by January last season, before he started doing the Casper thing and hopping one footed on his trifecta, shortly after. He is always going to be the kind of player Self can hatch an embolism over. Great coaches are control freaks and great shooters are operating on a level of perception and response that even great coaches cannot accurately monitor. But don’t mistake Self’s forehead palming for lack of love for Brannen and his classically beautiful trifecta, or for his lack of conscience. Great coaches know that great shooters operate in borderline sociopathic states on the wood, when the basket rim goes through the alchemy of psychic enlargement to the diameter of a grain silo, and the ball shrinks in the great shooters hands to the size of a magnetized pea drawn inevitably to the silo regardless of where one is in half court and regardless of who is guarding one.

    And I am increasingly of the mind that Self’s decision to pull back from the three point game had a lot to do with Brannen Greene’s deteriorating him condition and ability to square up and shoot off a symmetric, two-footed jump from outside.

    Brannen Greene appeared pre-injury and shade changing to be our very best three point shooter last season. He was the one triafectate perimeter player on our team–outside perhaps Mason–that Self had reason to bet the farm he would be able to keep gunning it at 40% to end of the season. And he did even with his injury and shade changing.

    But I believe Self has been a bit misunderstood about his comments and decisions regarding trey balling and its role in KU’s offense last season.

    During post season reflection, I have come to think that Self’s anti-three point doctrine came in two rational steps.

    The first step came when he called three point shooting fools gold, immediately after he had turned his team loose shooting them and they destroyed opponents with the trey and showed they could burn down Allen Field House and road venues from outside. This pronouncement came, as I recall, early in the second half of the season. What I now infer was going on at that point was that Self had used the three ball weapon to get an early lead in the B12 against some tough teams, and then decided to force his team to go back to work on developing a means of scoring inside via learning to drive it from all positions, since as Self said we didn’t have back to basket scorers inside. In short, Self was doing the entirely sensible thing of trying to find a way for his team to win games on cold trey balling nights. He figured he had created some breathing room for the team in the conference race, and he could spend a few games working on a new approach of drive ball and Mobile Big Man Attack Platforms–specifically developing Perry as a stretch 4–so that when his pair of reliable outside shooters–Mason and Greene–blew cold, the team could still find a way to win. This hardly seems anything but sound. Plus Self had some streaky three ballers in Devonte and Wayne that he could not depend on, but that could add trey icing on certain nights. And it remained to be seen if Perry could keep shooting 40% if his 3ptas were upped to several a game. So Self popped the fan’s team’s bubble and the fan’s bubble too about trey balling, to buy him some time to have the team practice drive ball with far fewer 3ptas. And frankly, it worked. They kept winning. And Self was probably on track to reverting to a more balanced attack, when the team’s first collective trey slump began to set in. Whether or not Self’s pronouncement caused the slump, which I doubt, or it was just this team’s time to slump, which is the statistically probable inference, this slump force Self to try the trey ballers each game early and then pull back and win the game on the drive so to speak. But the key point is that Self kept trying the trey ballers early each game to see if anyone was breaking out. No one was. So the drive ball continued and board rats like @HighEliteMajor and myself, and increasingly others, began to advocate for more trey balling rather than less, and shooting out of the slump, rather than waiting for it to pass in this deliberate wait and see approach. Self of course opted for not taking losses by shooting out of the slump, but rather keep trying to eek out wins by testing the trey balling early, then resorting to drive ball of the kind that was successful for UW-Madison and Bo Ryan, when Bo’s boys blew cold from trey.

    But then Brannen came up lame: first with the litmus test color changes, then with the weird asymmetric hop in his three point mechanics. Self had to have known fairly quickly, despite him saying BG kept it to himself, that BG was now among the walking wounded, as Wayne Selden had been the previous season, and as Tyrel Reed and EJ and Travis had been in prior seasons. Walking wounded means guys crucial to the rotation that you have to play even though they can’t keep performing optimally, or at times even very well. Walking wounded have to be schemed around. You need them for their size, athleticism, experience, and some aspect of their game, like defense, or long balling, or what have you. And you need to conceal as much as possible from opponents what they can no longer do well. In Brannen’s case, KU desperately needed opponents to believe that BG was a threat from three, because KU had NO inside back to the basket game, and was growing increasingly dependent on driving from all positions masked by varying High Low Passing Offense formations.

    When BG came up lame in the hip, i.e., when his hip was likely Xrayed and scanned and revealed bone spurs, Self knew then and there that his best three point shooter was walking wounded and that the team really could not rely on the three point shot as its bread and butter, or even knock out weapon of choice, even though it had developed its drive ball game for cold nights sufficiently to go back to a more balanced attack.

    Self was down to Frank Mason on the outside. Perry was doing well, but the better he was doing the more the opponents were roughing him up and taking away either his trey, or his drive, and beating him up even more. Without Frank AND Brannen making treys, and without both to stretch defenses, that meant the middle was going to clog up increasingly for Perry.

    It was at this point that everyone in the fan base and the media began advocacy of more trey balling, even as other teams began imitating what Self was doing, which was itself based on Bo’s Drive Ball up at UW, when their trey balling dried up. But Bo had all his trey shooters in good trey shooting form and, well, Bill’s two primary trey ballers–Frank and Brannen–were getting bad wheels. Franks knees were wrapped in lingerie and he was obviously incrementally losing his explosiveness, which would sooner or later hamper his trey balling. The pictures probably confirmed Brannen had bone spurs and would not quit hopping on one foot that season.

    Then Perry injured his knee and things went from dark to lights out black, or so it seemed.

    So: Self sized up the dire situation the team faced the last few weeks of the conference season and conference tournament and did something that only basketball geniuses would ever think of, something completely counter intuitive, something so unexpected that opposing coaches couldn’t really figure understand until after they had been had by it. He took drive ball and extrapolated it into what I came to call BAD BALL Bad Ball dispensed almost entirely with the trey ball. Bad Ball, which I do not need to go into in detail here yet again, was based using constantly reduced impact space on both ends of the floor to disrupt flow on both ends and in transition in low possession games to the point that opponents could never stay in a rhythm, or achieve a run. Neither could KU, but the unique bunch of personalities that composed the KU rotation turned out to be perfect for playing BAD BALL end to end for 40 minutes. And so despite being down to one, or no, trey ballers, despite having no back to the basket game, despite both Landen and Traylor being so banged up that neither could clear the floor much less explode out of position, despite losing his team’s star stretch-4 and then having to play him in a heavily degraded condition, and having to play several good teams down the stretch, the team miraculously managed to play .500 ball AND hang on to the lead in the conference race it had built when healthy, and won an eleventh straight conference title, something frankly almost unthinkable in retrospect.

    I think Bad Ball is going to be a tool that remains in KU’s quiver, but I do not now think that KU will play this way full time next season, unless another tide of injuries swamps the team as it did last season.

    I believe we will see more trey balling than we saw last season, if Brannen heals and becomes the player I think he can be. I think we will see many more minutes of conventionally effective High Low Passing Offense that has worked well for Self in the past, that worked well for Larry Brown at SMU last season, and that frankly works well for everyone that has the pieces to use it.

    But if Brannen loses all the game he was amassing before sickness and injury took him from us, and if Frank runs into wheel problems and lost pop from wear and tear, and Svi can’t find his Ukrainean Rifle, and Bragg and Diallo turn out to need a year to develop post defense and back to basket offense, then I reckon we will see an entire season of BAD BALL, because it works and can be developed further.

    Rock Chalk!!!

  • @jaybate-1.0 torn labrum in his hip. I think they didn’t find any bone spurs?

  • @Crimsonorblue22

    Is that a better or worse prognosis for healing?

    Pray better.

  • @jaybate-1.0 I’d say worse, but didn’t even stay at the holiday inn last pm.

  • @Crimsonorblue22

    Thanks for the link. I forgot about it being a tear instead of a spur.

    There is a lot of optimism expressed by Dad and the docs, but…

    “…Coach Bill Self said, “the rehab will be somewhat significant because he’ll be on crutches for eight weeks and probably not return to the basketball court for approximately five months.”…”–

    It sounds like a very big rehab job.

    That is about as subdued and conservative as I recall Self sounding in discussing a surgical rehab. Gulp.

    Go, Brannen, go!!!

    Nothing is written.

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