Most Improved Jayhawk: Not Even Close!!!!!

  • H-U-N-T-E-R M-I-C-K-E-L-S-O-N !!!

    Poor Wayne Selden.

    Intermittent Wayne of 2014-15 becomes Constant Selden and burns the nets for numbers that we all expected last season and his freshman season, and looks like a sure first rounder this season, but…

    Hunter in 2014-15 was the poster boy for Cryogenic Preservation.

    He has come so much farther.

    He has sailed a course from the icy, nether regions of KU hoops.

    Hunter was on life support systems like Neo laying in the pod in The Matrix. Self and his players were like the mad machines living off poor Hunter’s energy and coolant-suspended determination. Each time Hunter was thawed he was like Neo exploding out of the pod, pale, wet, awe-eyed, awkward, like an ice hatchling. And he would mad stork it up and down the floor and it appeared that, while his timing was that of a wooly mammoth defrosted from a receding arctic glacier, there was an explosiveness and an anger in his sun-starved dermis that hinted that a playuh from small town Arkansas had something to give, but that all ties went to the guys that by playing them (instead of Hunter) could keep AAU coaches and big city high school coaches, and meat market basketball academy coaches continuing to feed the voracious KU program the steady stream of players needed to stay at a .82 W&L statement and keep the conference title string alive. There just wasn’t a steady stream of prospects coming out of Hunter’s home town. Playing Hunter stroked no feeder system. It greased no conveyor belt. The talent of one player was not the criterion of who played and who got iced. It was the talent of one player and all the future recruits that could follow him that was the criterion for who played.

    How do we know this?

    Because when Bragg gets a busted sniffer and the increasingly customary freshman concussion KU bigs appear to get, er, excuse me, I meant the busted sniffer and the nicking up that they appear to get, and when this season’s token (and only) OAD, Cheick Diallo, is home honing skills and moving free iron for the Hudy Lama of Basketball Tibet, and Perry has returned to limping, and Lucas and the Jam Tray need a blow, enter not so much the Mad Stork, but the Albino Albatross that follows Bill Self like the big winged bird followed the rhyming ancient mariner of hop-headed Sam Coleridge’s fevered opium dreams that became “the poem.”

    Hunter “The Albatross” Mickelson tags along the Jayhawk ship of Captain Bill Self and keeps saving it from the bad luck that can sink the ships of unlucky captains.

    Remember, Captain Self, take good care of the Albino Albatross with the read head feathers.

    Under no circumstances go on this voyage without him, or take him and club him with an oar.

    Do not put him back in the deep freeze.

    Another season there might end him.

    And then the ancient mariner Self will stand with…

    “Instead of the cross, the Albatross…”

    And about his neck it will hang.

    Rock Chalk, Albatross, rock chalk!!!

  • @jaybate-1.0 you’re always entertaining and usually enlightening 🙂 love the literary (and the military) references and allusions that pepper your posts with occasional, no, often, conspiratorial overtones.

    I think you’re right on here with Mickelson making the case for more playing time. He’s bringing more intangibles than any of the other bigs. Tip outs, put backs, and yes, the occasional boneheaded play, but I think those would diminish with pt versus what we see from Jamari. I think Jamari can be great in small doses. Hunter needs playing time until any much superior young talent matures and catches up to the speed of the college game.

  • @Bwag

    Remember, there are no conspiracies in D1. It is all legal and out in the open. There just some things some board rats call conspiracies that are not.

    All of my posts are conspiracy free.

    I am an anti-conspiracy advocate.

    Conspiracies are for suckers.

    The only things we have to fear are fear and asymmetric legality!!!

    Rock Chalk!

  • @jaybate-1.0 This is perhaps where I need some help. The game today gave Hunter Mickelson his biggest opportunity in a Kansas (now USA) uniform. And Mickelson delivered.

    Mickelson was extremely active, he changed shots, he rebounded the basketball, and he was able to defend the post. What am I missing?

    Mickelson seems to offer a type of game that neither Lucas or Traylor offer. It makes one wonder why Mickelson languished behind those two last season. But this is not a situation where we are overreacting on one game. We have seen Mickelson’s positives. And we have seen Lucas and Traylor (and their below average-ness) in a much larger sampling.

    Mickelson clearly rebounds the basketball better than Traylor. He’s longer and he is more of the rim protector that we regularly discuss, than either Traylor or Lucas. And he appears to be a better scorer than either of the two, showing not only some dexterity around the rim but also a decent 15 footer. His stats from last season really offer us no valid guidance because his limited minutes included lots of scrub … er, bench player time.

    Supporting Mickelson is a “relative” undertaking. Supporting Mickelson is related to the nature of his post competition. I’m not a fan of any of the three – Lucas, Traylor, or Mickelson. And I don’t think any of the three is very good – meaning good enough for meaningful time at Kansas. This is just a matter of getting the most we can out of this group.

    But Mickelson’s package of positives just seems to outweigh the other two’s positives. It seems to me that when Mickelson is in, we would get consistent rim protection and consistent rebounding. I think Lucas offers decent rebounding – I think with regular time, Mickelson would exceed Lucas in that category. I think Mickelson would outscore, outrebound, and out rim-protect both Lucas and Traylor,

    But what nags me is why Self didn’t play him last season? Mickelson was completely out of the mix. This was odd, particularly when we needed at least a quasi-rim protector last season. It was also odd when we saw how Lucas and Traylor were regularly abused down low.

    It would seem to make great sense for Mickelson to back up Diallo down low, and Bragg to spell Ellis as we get deeper into the season (displacing Traylor). But I doubt it will be that simple.

  • @HighEliteMajor Has it ever, since we’ve been here seemed so easy? Maybe for you or me but not the rest of the universe . Hunter is here one day , gone the next. Some days he’s simply amazing (because we don’t expect a lot?) & the next day invisible… Just like Traylor, we’ve likely seen the ceiling but we can always hope… JMO…

  • We’re going to play faster, which will favor Diallo. He is a gazelle. I think Hunter overtakes Landen in the pecking order, behind Perry, Diallo, Bragg and Jamari at the 4/5. Could Hunter overtake Jamari? In my mind …NO, he can’t. Jamari is like a legacy, a Brady Morningstar, and he will get his minutes. I can’t explain it- why does he pull Landen after mishandling two entry passes, and keep Jamari in after he makes bonehead play after play? The Jamari "drive to nowhere"ended up about 5 to 6 feet away from the basket, and his shot went about two feet in the air, as he was surrounded by 4 defenders with no help under the basket when he shot it. I think Hunter would’ve helped us win games we lost last year. He trusts Jamari, and he doesn’t trust Hunter, even though Hunter is a better player. So, maybe he will see what we see at some point.

  • @jaybate-1.0 No doubt! If Hunter keeps this up during the WUG’s Self has to realize sooner or later that he gives us a better +/- scoring advantage on both ends. Rock the freekin Chalk!

  • I think @HighEliteMajor has some excellent points about Hunter. And then @globaljaybird mentioned inconsistency… which is something we’ve experienced from all three (Jamari, Hunter, Landen) last year. And I think the idea this year is that Jamari will offer us up more speed than both Landen and Hunter, going a long ways in Self’s book.

    If we think about perhaps the biggest Jayhawk problem we have had in recent years, I think it surely must be INCONSISTENT ENERGY! We’ve often gone to two PGs just to keep things moving more. I’m thinking the same situation of lacking energy has kept Jamari in the minutes last year, even though he was every bit as inconsistent as the other two challenging for those minutes.

    This year… Hunter must know what he is up against. So if he wants PT he’s going to have to earn it most with his feet.

  • I don’t get Self’s resistance to HM either. Whatever Lucas did to get benched today, it was nice to see Mickelson get some extended minutes. Hunter plays hard. He runs the floor well. Fire in the belly. I’m married to a red head… there’s something to that stereotype, which is fine with me. Life’s too short for vanilla. And Traylor is too short to play the 5 spot.

    Most of HM’s mishandles on offense are from lack of PT. I found it remarkable that he got called for two traveling calls today compared to the road trips we’ve been seeing from Turkey and Brazil. Could have easily had 16-19 points today without those extra steps.

    Inch for inch though, is there a better rebounder in KU history than Mason?

  • @drgnslayr Self’s offense has always run its best with two ball handlers on the floor. He just hasn’t been able to do it very often the past 3 years. We saw it more last year with Mason and Graham getting minutes together, but those were rarely extended minutes. This is where Svi becomes very important because he’s always been hyped as having good handles and showed that he was competent enough last year to be the secondary ball handler. Having Mason, Graham, and Svi allows Self to play Selden at the 3 more which is where he has been excelling so far.

  • Another Hunter Hypothesis:

    I have favored the hypothesis that tie goes to the player from the biggest recruiting market, but in the interest of furthering sports science, here is another hypothesis.

    Hypothesis: Hunter violated one of Self’s basic codes of conduct regarding team behavior and was given a year at the end of the bench a la Russell Robinson to reflect on his transgression.

    Hunter has a boyish face, but he is a young man at the age when such mistakes are not infrequent. Hunter has now done his time and is trying to prove himself as opportunities arise.

  • @DanR

    If Mason keeps it up on the glass, he is crowding into Bill Bridges country in the inch for inch category of rebounders. An amazing ability.

  • @Texas-Hawk-10

    The two ball handler hypothesis persuaded me for awhile.

    But I am increasingly persuaded that Self’s offense is best with 4-5 starters that can score from their spots, or put it on the deck.

    Dean’s best teams had this.

    Same for Roy’s.

    Larry’s best teams at UCLA and KU had this.

    Bill’s best teams have had this.

    Four threats to score seem a powerful dynamic indeed.

  • @jaybate-1.0 And I think a lineup of Frank, Devonte, Wayne, Perry, and Diallo fits that bill of being able to score from their spots, AND bring much better ball handling to the table as well. Who says you can’t have it all?

  • @Texas-Hawk-10

    You are getting me too excited for Jayhawk basketball at 8am on Monday!


    I do believe it is a big help when all 5 of our players are an offensive threat. Look at other teams and what they do. High ball pick and rolls, sometimes pick and pops. We need to have a 5 that is big enough to set a real high ball screen and then capable enough to roll off of it and be a real threat to score immediately, or later if he gets a mismatch and we can isolate him down low or in a place where he can score.


    Not me. 😄

  • @jaybate-1.0 If we’re talking the maximum efficiency for Bill Self offense, absolutely 4 or 5 scorers, but there has to be 2 ball handlers on the floor. We saw this last year when KU had Mason, Selden, Oubre, Perry, and random big on the floor. That’s 4 competent scorers, but only 1 competent ball handler and the offense just didn’t run as smoothly as when Graham was in for Selden. While I don’t disagree with needing at least 4 scorers on the floor, I do believe having 2 ball handlers trumps the 4 scorers in terms of what a Bill Self offense needs to be successful.

  • @Texas-Hawk-10

    Right… we do need two competent ball handlers on the floor at the same time, and these two need to drive the ball often. Drive and feed, or drive and score. I like BG… but think about how much better we are with Frank and Devonte on the floor at the same time. Maybe BG can also get some minutes at the 3 this year… like when Wayne takes a blow.

  • I am completely “in” when it comes to playing Mason and Graham.

    But here’s a quote from last August. Take a guess who said it, referring to playing two ball handling guards: “You could see … two playing together a lot … I just don’t know if we could guard anybody.”

  • @HighEliteMajor

    Fortunately for Devonte, he doesn’t have to win minutes over a guy like TRele. BG and SVI have height, but I haven’t seen either of these guys guard any better than Devonte.

    I’m thinking Vick might become the young man who starts putting pressure on our starters for minutes. He has a ways to go, but I like his athleticism and he is the only perimeter defender we have that knows a proper defensive stance. He bends his knees and spreads his stance well and knows how to move laterally while maintaining his control. The only one!

    That guy is going to be a real stud!

  • @HighEliteMajor



  • @Texas-Hawk-10

    Not wanting to quibble here. I think you are raising a good issue and so I am trying to “help”. Not saying I am right. Just trying to open up the scope of analysis here.

    Selden, Oubre and Perry were barely adequate at putting it on the deck by seasons end for different reasons.

    Selden just flat out stunk as a ball handler last season apparently because of some kind of incomplete neural net connections due to age. There were several “series of games” when Wayne could not dribble anywhere but on his foot. It was one of the most embarrassing spectacles put on by a player that was clearly destined to become an exceptional player I have ever witnessed. It was Leonard Pynthe Garnell bad. Just awful. So, I would estimate fully half the games last season, KU did not have a sound basketball player at that wing, much less a sound ball handler.

    Next, Oubre didn’t even play much the first month of the season (likely because of an unreported knee injury.) Then he played a month trying to get adjusted to D1 speeds. His ball handling was shaky during this stretch. Next, Oubre had a month, or maybe just a few weeks, of scintillating play where he seemed the full package. Next, the cotton candy began to grow on his knee like a high fructose corn syrup cancer and his ball handling and every other part of his game began to deteriorate. Down the butt end of the season Oubre was mostly a decoy. So: KU had Oubre the ball handling threat to score on the drive, at most a quarter of the season.

    Next, you mention Perry. Perry took fully half the season to get accustomed to the idea that he could withstand contact from the blue meanies. January he started coming around a wee bit, but then he had to START to learn to drive it for Self and early on it was not pretty to watch him put it on the deck. It was that February stretch where the Designer found that yes he could drive it and make treys even as the blue meanies were head hunting him. Alas, he was shortly injured and out. So that too is a very short stretch of time in which we can arguably assert KU had a ball handling 4.

    Summary: last year’s team was an example for only a few brief stretches of 4 ball handlers that could drive and shoot the trey. Those brief stretches seem to support my notion that four make the machine run sweetly. And two guards are just increasingly necessary, mostly when you’ve got no one else that can both drive it and be a trey threat.

  • @jaybate-1.0 I never said Selden, Oubre, or Ellis were competent ball handlers. Those 3 along with Mason were the 4 primary scorers for KU last season. My point was because Mason was the only competent ball handler of the 4, the offense frequently went stagnant because defenses could focus on Mason and getting Mason out of rhythm took the entire offense out of rhythm. That did not happen last year when both Mason and Graham were on the floor together because defenses couldn’t double and trap KU because one ball handler could pass to the other and get an easy basket by taking advantage of the double team.

    Like I said above, I don’t argue the need for 4 competent scorers, but I simply argue that the need for 2 competent ball handlers on the floor trumps the importance of 4 scorers. There really needs at least 2 of the 3 between Mason, Graham, and Svi on the floor the vast majority of the game (35+ minutes) for KU’s offense to run at its best. The reason I believe the need for 2 competent ball handlers is greater than 4 scorers is because it makes opposing defenses pay for trying to trap and double team the offense.

  • @Texas-Hawk-10

    Exactly my point.

    When they were in and doing a decent job handling the ball, the machine ran beautifully.

    When they weren’t and we had two ball handlers the machine was limping along through jungles off the Burma Road just struggling to stay alive.

    Two guard hypothesis: put a fork in it.

    It is not inclusive enough of the data points.

    I liked it for awhile though.

  • @jaybate-1.0 That’s not my point JB. My point is the opposite of what you’re saying. I’m saying KU’s offense was at its best last with Mason and Graham on the court together because they kept the offense from being Mason running lots of iso. KU’s best offensive line up last year was Mason, Graham, Oubre, Ellis, and random big and NOT the Mason, Selden, Oubre, Ellis, and random big line up.

  • IMHO, KU needs a 1 and 2 who can dribble upside down, in the dark in a hail storm without losing the ball. It’s just necessary.

    If I have to go with just one ball handler, my preference is Devonte because he has more PG skills. But I really like having 1 1/2 PGs out there for most of every game. Devonte removes much of the pressure on Frank to run the team so Frank can also do more of what Frank does well… drive and score from all over the floor. With these two on the floor, there aren’t many D1 teams with that kind of ability on the perimeter. Kind of reminds me of a different version of UCONN when the slayed the hot-aired Kentucky dragon two years ago.

    If we can get everyone on the same page… there should be no team out there that can stop our offense.

    I am starting to believe that this coming year’s team will be infinitely better than last year’s team. If Wayne keeps up his dominance at the 3, we’ve now patched the biggest weakness (in theory) that we had moving into this season… the non-recruited 3 spot… Wayne may have found his home!

    I still have a question mark over BG and Svi. They both have something to offer… but will there be enough PT space for these two? It seems that one might get a short stick… though I’d like to see Self keep moving towards a broader playing time pallet. For the first time in his career, he is using and seeing it work… the strategy of employing game attrition to win games. We don’t have perfect depth at every spot, but we have adequate depth to keep our guys fresh all year and push pace. We should run ALL b12 teams right out of the gym.

    I believe our entire season success will come down to health. We have to stay healthy.

    Vick is starting to look like a super catch and will definitely be a huge factor in some games this year. It will be awesome to have another high energy guy on the bench, ready to give solid energy minutes on the floor. That is extremely valuable… especially if we play smart and push pace and try to win through attrition. Bragg also will help us with his energy in the post.

    Finally, we aren’t one of the youngest teams in college basketball… we have many experienced players that should keep us floating in every game. No more “green” Perry, Wayne or Frank. I also put Devonte in that group.

  • Love Hunter Mickelson getting to show what he can do. Why cant he do everything Withey did, but maybe slightly better faceup J?

    On the flip side, I’m rooting bigtime for Jamari Traylor, but he is a 6’7ish 'tweener, who desperately needs to add a jumper. He drive to the rim vs Turkey with a running 1-hand floater was a stunning example of his explosive athleticism, with him trying to add some touch to his game…

    Tell Bill Self to play 'em ALL, especially if we are going to run more with the 30sec shot clock= more total possessions & trips up & down the court. Depth +skill…Self has every gun loaded for the '15-16 season…

  • Biggest sign of the season is if Wayne finally can be the lotto-level player we hoped he’d be. That kid deserves the highest praise for as a pre-frosh, vocally reiterating he was ready for all the nitty gritty details and defense that is Self’s system–and he’s delivered on that promise by being a good soldier. Now that spotlight is there for him-- I hope he does what he needs to get paid (lotto). This is OUR system at its recruiting and performance best: when a top 20 or 30 recruit, also stays for 2-3 yrs…that when Self’s design pays off. My $$$ are on big Wayne this year.

  • The next most important thing for the season are if Bragg & Diallo can surpass Cliff’s production. That would be huge…

  • @ralster Bragg may surpass BRD’s production on his own once he gets the mask off. Im fairly certain Diallo can too. Two of them combined? Id put big money on it.

  • @ralster This season in the fall, shorter shot clock, more possessions and more seasoned players to handle. Maybe Bill will see what he is doing right now and apply that same concept as you say, win by attrition. He has got the roster to do it. It wont be a platoon deal like UK was last season. But instead of a 7-8 man rotation, Coach can use 9- 10 easy. The possibilities are supremely exciting!

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