Preseason starting 5 thoughts and speculations

  • KU Sports cited a B/R article where KU’s potential starting 5 this year would be as follows.

    “Bleacher Report also lists KU’s projected starting lineup of Selden, Ellis, Mykhailiuk, Diallo and Frank Mason III as the fifth-best starting five in college hoops.”

    I agree with 3 of those picks. But those three picks; Selden,Ellis and Mason are chalk picks. They started last season and will again.

    The ones I disagree with are Diallo and Svi. IF Diallo gets cleared in time, which I still think he will but, I think he comes first off the bench behind Mick. Hunter showed in the WUGs that he deserves to play starters minutes and should start to begin the season until Cheick catches up.

    Second, I think Devonte starts along side of Mason. Self’s best teams have had two guys in the back court that can handle, distribute and shoot very well. Mason and Devonte can do all of that. Selden showed in July as well that playing the 3 spot makes him a better player. Gives him more room to play off the ball and show his athleticism. He was not one of our best handlers last season. The question is though, who spells Devonte and Mason? Can Vick do it?

    IMO, SVI will have a killer season this year. He has had all summer to work on his game back home and late nights in Lawrence at the gym putting up countless shots, doing drills, lifting weights to gain 17lbs of muscle, etc. He is going to be a stud. But, is he a better ball handler than Devonte and Mason? IDK. He is good, for sure. but can he beat out Devonte for the starting 2 guard spot?

    No, I think our starting 5 are thusly; Mason PG, Devonte SG/PG, Selden SF, Perry PF, Hunter C back ups, Diallo, Bragg, Svi, BG, Vick. Then you have to assume Landen and Traylor will get minutes somewhere.

    Would SVI take on some PG duties? Would Vick? Who would be spelled at which position? How would Self use Traylor and Landen if we have a stud duo of Bragg and Diallo ready to contribute major minutes?

    What do we have here? We have a supremely talented, experienced and deep team. One that will be one of Self’s best.

  • @Lulufulu I agree with you on the best starting lineup to start the season. I think some of the best evidence to support your opinion on the guard situation came this past summer:

    “The staff as a whole, we feel like playing Frank and Devonte’ together will make us a lot more dangerous offensively,” Townsend said. “We’ll be able to put a lot more pressure on (other teams) because they both can drive it, they both can shoot it, and they’re both pretty good defenders. We definitely talked about that. It’ll free up Wayne a little more, too.” Self, of course, has discussed the advantages of playing two guards for more much of the last year. His best teams and rosters, he says, featured two creative ballhandlers in the backcourt, even going back to Illinois. “Two guys that can handle, like the national championship team,” Townsend said. “We had Sherron (Collins), Russell Robinson and Mario Chalmers.”

    You questioned – who spells Devonte and Mason? My expectation is that, like most of last season, one or the other is on the court all of the time. But if both are out, our next best ball handler is Svi. That was true last season, too. He’s the “next” point guard. That’s how it should be. Whether that is how it is, in actuality, we’ll see. But that’s how it is.

    Svi starting or not starting isn’t that big of a deal if he’s really good. Self playing Svi big minutes is the big deal. It would be nice to see Self balance the 80 minutes available at the 1 and 2 spots between Mason, Graham and Svi roughly equally. Or close to that. I do think Mason plays at least 32 per game, so perhaps balance is divided between Graham and Svi. Svi may end up demanding more by his performance.

    However, I think that our season is really going to be determined in the post.

    It might be obvious to place our hope on Diallo. But I don’t think that is it. @Lulufulu has placed Mick, Diallo and Bragg ahead of Traylor and Lucas – “Then you have to assume Landen and Traylor will get minutes somewhere.”

    That is it, my friends. If Traylor and Lucas, both, are in the top 4 of the post rotation, that’s a problem. If either of those two are first off the bench in the post, that’s a problem.

    It is low talent level of Traylor and Lucas that can drag this team down.

    Diallo, Bragg, and Mickelson are all better right now. With Diallo, we make that reasonable assumption. With Mick and Bragg, though, we saw it with our own eyes in eight games this past July.

    Here is the definitive proof – ask yourself, if you could have Mick and Bragg for this coming season, or Traylor and Lucas, who would you choose for your roster? Who would anybody choose? The choice isn’t even close.

    We have the best collection of perimeter talent in the nation.

    What we should legitimately fear is Self doing what Self has done in the past – relying on guys that he feels comfortable with, that have experience. In this case, relying on the inferior pair of Traylor and Lucas.

    I can’t even comprehend that.

    For some reason, my “fear” level is much lower than in past seasons in this regard. Maybe I’m too optimistic.

  • I think there will be some interesting dynamics this year out on the perimeter. The first question mark relates to how much Svi has improved.

    I hope he lives up to all the preseason hype that has already come out on him. If he does, part of it has to relate to him pushing the pace like Devonte is capable of doing.

    I like the idea of starting Svi… but not for some of the reasons others might have. A big part of it for me is using Devonte in a different way this year. Devonte needs to get half his minutes from the PG position. It won’t be healthy for him to play 3 years at the SG spot and then flip to PG his senior year (didn’t we learn that lesson with EJ?). Let’s not forget that he is the ONLY true PG we have. We have to be able to use him correctly and give every opportunity possible for him to one day make it in the league. We need to build our perimeter reputation similar to the reputation we have built in the post… helping develop players for the next level.

    And who will benefit most from my way? Frank Mason. Why? Because he would be well-rested all year and can afford to go full-speed while on the floor. We need a healthy Frank in March. Period. If March comes and we’ve been playing Frank for 35 mpg I can already tell you what will happen in March. And it isn’t the news any of us want.

    Even in a system like Self’s… there is a monster difference between PG and SG. PG is your quarterback. He communicates well with the sidelines, he calls the plays, he sets the tempo, he protects the rock and should always be a safety outlet… Devonte needs to start absorbing that role THIS YEAR!

    I’m okay with him getting a few minutes at the SG… but what I’d like to see is Svi step into the role and start, and get backed up some by Devonte and Vick. Vick SHOULD be a SG, not a SF. It is the position he would play at the next level if he can make it.

    We have to start thinking about future recruiting. We have to develop players in the positions they should play at the next level and stop sacrificing their futures for the good of the team. Future recruits want to know that they will develop in the same role as they will hopefully play at the next level.

  • I’ve never cared about who has the most pro potential. And I know Svi is high on these lists, but the fact (?) is that Graham does more for our team than Svi at this moment. Bleacher Report doesn’t follow the team like we do. We know the team better than them. We all know Graham helped this team more than Svi last year and with an available guard position possibly means he gets the nod.

    As a lot of us have said, right now it looks like the season hinges on Diallo. If he is eligible then doesn’t have a productive season, or isn’t given the chance like Cliff, then we’re better than last year, but Elite 8 is probably the ceiling. If he plays up to billing, then we’ve got that powerhouse lineup that wins a lot of games and potentially wins it all.

  • @wissoxfan83 diallo is the complete opposite of Cliff. Hustle! Self will put up w/Diallos mistakes because he goes hard. Kinda crazy idea but because of svi’s growth spurt, does anyone see going “small” w/Svi at 4, diallo at 5? Be fun to watch, maybe press?

  • @drgnslayr Agreed that Devonte needs to have 1/2 his minutes at PG. I think he will get it too. Even playing along side Frank. With both of them on the court, they can flip flop, and Im betting Coach will draw up plays, or dig old ones out for the two of them paired as PG’s on the court at the same time. ( Russ Rob, Chalmers, Collins )

    Vick played SG this summer didnt he? I honestly dont remember completely but Im pretty sure he played the 2 and 3. You’re right though, he would be better served by playing him as a combo guard.

  • @Crimsonorblue22 Frank, Devonte’, Wayne, Svi and Cheick? Man, that’s a SICK line up! With those guys on the floor, we could run teams out of the gym.

  • @Crimsonorblue22

    “Kinda crazy idea but because of svi’s growth spurt, does anyone see going “small” w/Svi at 4, diallo at 5?”

    We’ve all projected ideas of “going small” for years now. Even Riverboat Gambler Self has “bluffed” the sports media into thinking we might try “going small.”

    Fact is… NO!

    Okay… we might try a couple of minutes of about anything against Spankyomama University… but real experimentation to test real waters. Furgetaboutit!

    Remember when Wayne was supposed to play the 4?

    Svi may have bulked up… but, at best, he is now bulked up as a D1 guard, not as a D1 post player. He’d still get pushed around.

  • @Crimsonorblue22 You wouldn’t have found anyone here a year ago speaking ill of Cliff. He didn’t work out for us, that’s really what I meant by what I said.

  • Cliff didn’t hustle? What games was @Crimsonorblue22 watching? But this is typical revisionist history. Because Self didn’t play Cliff, and because Cliff didn’t work out for coach Self, it’s appropriate to defame the kid? It’s really a joke.

    Cliff didn’t hustle? He seemed to find his way to quite a few rebounds that our useless energy can’t seem to get within five feet of. Cliff averaged 5.3 rpg in 17.6 minutes, Traylor just 3.7 in 20.4 minutes per game. Cliff .30 per minute, Traylor .182. There’s your hustle.

    Cliff and supposed “energy” guy Traylor each had 37 blocks on the year – Cliff in 492 minutes, Traylor in 712.

    Cliff got up and down the court just fine. Self wanted to mention his motor here and there. Don’t mistake that for anything more than it was – a way to inspire the kid to play the right way. But that doesn’t mean he was the “complete opposite” of Diallo. Heck, we’ve never even seen Diallo in a Kansas uniform. We don’t know a darn thing about how he’ll react to Kansas basketball and coach Self.

    It’s easy to trash Cliff now – no way Self mishandled him, right? Self’s perfect. What we saw in Cliff was a typical freshman, who was learning on the job. But he wasn’t lazy. And he isn’t deserving of getting trashed here regularly for how he played.

    It would have been quite interesting to see how Cliff would have done if he had chosen Duke, UK, etc. How he would have done if he was simply put in the lineup and permitted to learn on the job. It’s just so much smarter to play a guy like Traylor who does nothing.

  • My speculation is: Frank, Devonte, Wayne, Perry, then either Diallo or Hunter. Svi and Greene (hopefully he’s healthy) off the bench at the 2/3. Bragg and Traylor rotating in up front. That’s 9…which is really too many based on Self’s history. One or 2 of those guys won’t get many minutes.

  • My original point here was to continue the speculation on our line up this season. Im not going to sing praise or belittle any player on last years team, here or not here. Its all about whats next, whats coming up and Im psyched about the possibilities.

    Big questions for me. Obviously whether or not Diallo gets cleared. Actually I should say when bcuz I still believe he will. And, if Coach Self will take what he learned in the WUG’s and apply it to what he knows about this coming season.

  • I’d like for Bill Self to climb out of bed some October morning after a restful night’s sleep and declare, “Okay, my mind is made up. Frank Mason plays a maximum average of 30 minutes per game this season. I must save those legs while I force myself to depend on coaching change-ups, installing other strong talents into my lineups.” Barring injury, this squad is loaded with talent, and no player should have to bear the weary burden that did Miles and Co. back during Bill’s second year at the helm.

  • It will be interesting to see once practice starts what’s happening with the 1 back-court spot.

    Self and the staff seem very high on the 2 PG lineup but we’ve been down this road before with coaches comments never materializing when it matters.

    Graham was fantastic at times last year, Svi was good enough to start in the beginning of the year. Where does Self go? Size & skill or ballhandling & skill?

    I do want to point out the one big flaw with running both Graham & Mason in the starting lineup & that is foul trouble. We have a really steep drop off in ball-handling ability after both of them. I can see games where both of them are too aggressive on defense with a foul happy ref & we are stuck either playing 1 of them in foul trouble or some similar situation. We don’t want Svi or Selden put into a ball handling situation at any cost, our offense will suffer dearly if that’s the case.

    I think Graham offers the most exciting dynamic, especially when you consider our last National Championship we had multiple combo guards on the floor. We also had Sherron Collins which this team does not have and that’s the reason why I’m going to say that Svi should start. Without a true 3rd ball handler the 2 PG dynamic can be vulnerable. I think KU may gain more by having Graham as the 6th man. You play him 20-25 minutes a game and it really won’t matter too much with the surrounding talent if he’s starting. I think bringing his fresh legs, leadership, point guard ability & every other attribute that Graham possesses off the bench & we can keep pushing teams while also giving Mason much needed breaks here and there.

    If Svi has taken the sophomore bump, which from all accounts he’s worked extremely hard on his game & body then you stick with him and see how comfortable he’s become with this team. We may play a 6’8 Shooting Guard. That’s a nice advantage to have, if Selden does slide to the 3 (seems a no-brainer after the WUG). Svi has the ball skills to handle it & pass it which makes Mason’s job a whole heck of a lot easier. Defensively Svi should be improved, hopefully he’s a serviceable rebounder( not one of his strengths last year).

    I think either way, Svi & Graham will see a similar minutes per game avg. They both offer us tremendous play making ability, solid defense & potential mismatches against any given opponent.

    As with the post situation. Let me get this out of the way. If Diallo is cleared he will START.

    Self didn’t bring this guy in to sit the bench. You can tell in interviews how excited Self gets speaking about him.

    Hunter should be his backup after his stellar summer play. Hunter should be a nice complimentary big, but he’s not a starter don’t be so quick to forget he couldn’t stay on the floor last year. You maximize his effort & play-making & minimize his weaknesses by using him as the primary backup.

    We all know Bragg has immense talent & a diverse skill set that is a match-up nightmare. If he’s going to beat Traylor & Lucas for minutes, he’s going to have to be a better defender than what he’s shown in his entire career. We know what Mari & Landon bring & we know what they don’t bring which is offense (something Bragg excels in). But with 9 years in the system combined & lots of game experience/starts its going to be hard for Self to just pass them over for a freshman with a high ceiling. I have no doubt Bragg is already a more talented player than Lucas/Mari combined but we know that doesn’t always translate to minutes on the court with Self. If Bragg proves himself, then he’s the perfect backup to Ellis because he’s got a similar skill set with more athletic ability & length. I think early Self will rely on his veterans until Bragg figures out how to plug himself into the offense & learns the toughness he must display on defense to get minutes.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    The Cliff situation is never going to be a positive discussion. Especially when you consider he was so hyped to be this and that & then we got what?

    In Hindsight maybe we should have saw this coming, but we had such a blaring need for him to be good to great that what we did get was an unfinished novel.

    His mixtape videos & all-star game appearances really did mask a player that wasn’t ready just yet to be what Self needed from him. I can bet Self pushed him as hard as anyone to become what we needed & all we ever saw was glimpses of his potential.

    It’s like Selby, he didn’t stick around, & issues surrounded him that had nothing to do with Basketball. You gain a quick club of nay-sayers when your not the status quo that fans expected, especially when you come to KU with such expectations & media glorification. Cliff was gone in the most important stretch of basketball for this team last year & that’s always going to stick out.

  • @BeddieKU23 Two things:

    • Selby and Cliff were different. Selby seemed more aware on the court and no one questioned his hustle. Also, we didn’t put the same burden of expectations on Selby as we did on Cliff.

    • I think it’s right to say that we expected a lot, maybe too much, from Cliff. Aren’t we doing the same thing to Diallo - and even to Bragg?

    What we “expect” of our freshman bigs is based more on our needs than on reasoned analysis.

    Freshman bigs mostly don’t start and mostly don’t contribute much under Self at KU. We can’t have an Embiid every other year.

  • @ParisHawk

    Correct each situation was different but in the end they both didn’t live up to the hype

    Selby was a top 5 kid which was more in line with my point with Cliff, that negative off the court situations will forever affect fans view of them. They both under-performed to expectations & both left here with nothing. No degree, No NBA contract.

    You definitely have a point of the what we expect as a fanbase vs what we get.

    Okafor, Towns both impact bigs on Duke/UK but Cliff wasn’t good enough to start more than a handful of games. #1 PF, #2 rated player and what we got was underwhelming at best.

    I truly believe Cliff just wasn’t mature enough to handle the situation.

    Duke had no post game without Okafor, they don’t win a championship without him He was exceptional, one that doesn’t come around often.

    Towns wasn’t as important to UK’s overall success because of the 15 giants they had, but he definitely didn’t play like a freshman (especially their tournament win against Notre Dame).

    You could certainly be right about Diallo (that’s if he plays) that we expect a lot, maybe too much. But he is a top 5 player in his class and is an exceptional defensive talent. I bet scouts would agree that he is one/if not the best defender on the High School level in many years. He has game-changing talent, something that Self has to incorporate into his system. If a talent like Diallo doesn’t impact the team then there are questions to be asked. Bragg I believe will be brought along in a more typical fashion with Ellis here. Perfect situation for him to learn off his elders

    The 2015 class was especially deep on freshman post talent so we will definitely get to see how schools use them.

  • I’m as disappointed in Cliff’s outcome as anyone else.

    But how much of it was Cliff and how much of it wasn’t Cliff?

    There is no doubt, that some people grab life by the horns and put up all the fight in the world to get up (and stay up) on top.

    Cliff may not be of that mold and he may have never been shown that mold. We have to respect where he is from and who he is as a person.

    Cliff didn’t meet out expectations. But is the disappointment as much about our expectations being unfair or is it about Cliff not doing a 180-degree change to make sure other peoples’ expectations are met?

    And though meeting our expectations would have helped Cliff reach the NBA in a brighter light, things didn’t work out that way. Cliff still has a shot and maybe it is the type of situation he needs to lift his game.

    Cliff sometimes appeared not to hustle… at least, using our judgment based on our expectations. But consider how heavy he was and the condition he was in when he arrived in Lawrence. I clearly saw a vast improvement in his condition throughout the year. He went from hobbling up and down the court to being usually the first big back. He often didn’t make proper switches on defense… our judgment based on our expectations says “lazy.” But wasn’t that more about having a low basketball IQ?

    Everything about Cliff pointed to the fact that he needed to stay a Jayhawk for a few more years to get seasoning and conditioning. I’m pretty sure a completely different chapter would have been exposed in his playing years had he been able to stay on the team.

    He will go down as a “Jayhawk failure” and that is enough to sour many fans on Cliff. Some things in life are going to happen, not all things are pleasant… but we can all bet that if Cliff was able to relive his Lawrence days over again, he would have done some things different including watching the happenings within his own family closer.

    Let’s keep our perspectives in the real world. We are connected here because we are fans of this team, this school. It is nothing more than a hobby for us. For Cliff, it is his path to the remainder of his life. Might he been a different person and had better results? Perhaps… just like with all of us, we were young once and made common mistakes in order to learn life’s lessons. Cliff learned a lesson or two outside the classrooms in Lawrence. We should all wish him success. He remains a Jayhawk forever!

  • Back to the starting line up discussion. Why Graham over Svi? How many stories have been posted about Graham adding 17lbs or that he has been in the practice facility putting up shots all night? When Graham was asked who has improved the most this off season he said Svi and that he was automatic! Svi has had his old coaches come to town to help him prepare for the upcoming season when HCBS was over seas. I am in no way saying he WILL start but I do believe he will get as many minutes as Graham and could start if his hard work this summer translates to the court when the season starts.

  • I asked Svi what he worked on the most this summer and his response was “I worked on Everything”. He is really a humble kid too and took time to respond to my IM’s and thanked me for being a fan and told me he hoped I enjoyed watching them play this year! Pretty cool if you ask me…

  • @Statmachine I think the coaches (and fans) see a lot of synergy with p[aying Mason and Graham together in the backcourt, and from a ball-handling and passing perspective they do complement each other’s games nicely. I think that backcourt duo makes the other 3 players on the floor play better as well. I’m not saying Svi can’t bring many of the same things, plus some others, but the Mason-Graham duo is just so effective and consistent. It’s closer to the 2008 team, where you have two point guard-ish players that keep defenses guessing. Also, like Svi, Graham projects to improve in his second year as well.

  • @Makeshift For what it’s worth, Mason and Graham really like playing together too, as they proclaimed last year.

  • @Statmachine Since you got insider status apparently, could you ask the coach for us what the heck he was thinking last year with his fools gold statement? 🙂

  • I don’t think there is a lose-lose situation with either Graham or Svi. I just voiced my concern that playing both PG’s can be vulnerable especially for an aggressive defensive team that doesn’t have another great ball-handler. Maybe Svi can be that 3rd guy in a pinch but we know Selden & Green are not.

    It’s probably going to come down to chemistry in the end. Frank & Devonte have bonded on the court, maybe that’s more important to the long term success. Maybe its smart to ease Svi into a bigger role as the season goes on, especially since he’s still just 18. Lots of ways to look at it all. It’s definitely a nice problem to have. Think back to last year, we were hoping Mason would be the PG answer & we had no idea what impact Graham would make. Now its a position of strength, and we are splitting hairs on who should start.

    We know they are both going to play lots of minutes. With Green just now getting back to the court, its going to be a while before he’s 100% ready to go. Green has got to be the 5th option at this point, another good problem to have…

  • @wissoxfan83 I could but he would probably block me on FB.

  • @wissoxfan83 said:

    @Statmachine Since you got insider status apparently, could you ask the coach for us what the heck he was thinking last year with his fools gold statement? 🙂


  • @wissoxfan83 It is actually really difficult when I see that one of our guys is on FB to keep cool and NOT IM them 100 times a day and ask every question under the sun. I would have probably been blocked by now if I acted in that manner though! I do think its totally awesome that I do get to interact with them and that they are receptive and very humble.

  • Just another quick thought. Maybe we should all temper our expectations for Diallo this year. Which freshmen in the Self era at KU has had a long leash and a green light to go out and get points on a broken play? Wigs, thats it. Unless I am mistaken. Not even Joel Embiid was ready to start that first game, first tip off. I am fully expecting Cheick to be cleared this season, I just do not know when. When it happens, would Coach put Cheick in over Hunter, not having been up to speed with the rest of the team?
    I find that hard to believe.
    That said, I think Diallo, once cleared, will have a major impact for us, just not right out of the NCAA clearance gate.

  • I am done badgering the guys with questions for the rest of this week BUT this thread spiked my curiosity? I asked Graham “With Wayne doing so well in the WUG at the 3 does that mean he will spend more time at the 3? If so does that open up more minutes for you at the 2 playing along side Frank and Wayne?”. He responded “no idea , that’s something coach self would have to answer”. So that’s your answer folks lol. I would imagine there is a elephant in the room regarding how HCBS decides who starts and what position this season? With full out practice right around the corner we should start hearing how things are going and what to expect to start out this season.

  • @drgnslayr

    I think the Cliff issue is one of semantics. Many saw him as not hustling enough and other side cite his stats as proof that he was, but number alone do not tell the entire story.

    In my opinion, it is not as much that Cliff did not hustle but more that he was so poorly prepared for Div. I play, physically, mentally and BBall IQ wise, that it looked at times like he was not trying hard, particularly when he would get caught out of position in defense and there would be an opponent wide open. Yes, he had a fair number of blocks in the time he played, no doubt a result of his innate athletic ability, but you also have to consider how many point he allowed when he got caught out of position.

    In Coach Self"s system, defense is king and if you are not playing good defense you are going to ride the pine , which is exactly what he did. I have no doubt that with an extra year or two and once he had a chance to improve his BBall IQ and learn the system better, he would have been a potential lottery pick. It is really too bad that his family forced him into yet another situation he is/was not prepared for, Hopefully with some competent coaching and patience from his NBA team, he can develop into a serviceable, or at least a journeyman player in the NBA,

  • @JayHawkFanToo I would add, specifically, that Cliff did hustle. He did get up and down the court. He did work on defense. I think there were moments where he got caught out of position, didn’t move when he should have, or was stagnant. And, of course, times where he didn’t hustle. I think we just forget our other freshmen. How many times did Wiggins lolly-gag down the court? I certainly saw Embiid in many lazy moments. Somehow Wiggins didn’t get yanked. I think that is exactly the same thing that happens to Traylor, as well, but he’s not a freshman or a sophomore.

    I think with Cliff, Self was irritated with a multitude of things that added up to limited minutes. Defensive miscues certainly being one. But I’d much rather have Cliff playing defense for me than Traylor. Any day of the week. He contested shots better, he held his position better, and he created more possessions (defensive rebounding).

    I guess my biggest issue with Cliff not playing is really the chosen alternative. I don’t dispute that Self probably had very valid reasons in his mind. Other coaches might view those issues differently, and might have approached it differently.

    Personally, I think Self was trying to mold the player he wanted Cliff to be, and the molding process, as you noted, was going to take more time – particularly “mentally” and “BBall IQ wise” as you noted.

    Again, it’s just hard to stomach the alternative during this process when Cliff just flat performed better than the alternative most all of the time.

  • @HighEliteMajor I always felt people ignored fatigued when arguing for more mins for Cliff. I think you hit the nail on the head about Self molding him with his “dog house” routine, but I also feel that Cliff wasnt in condition to go more than 20 mins a game, he always seemed to start hot then cool down after 3-5 mins, and was noticably less exsplosive at the rim or on defense.

  • @JayHawkFanToo @HighEliteMajor @clevelandjayhawk

    I like the idea of merging all 3 of your comments into being a good perspective on Cliff.


    I like your explanation about him not being prepared for D1. Oh so true.


    I’m with you on Cliff showing hustle. First off… he wasn’t prepared for D1 coming in. Some guys seem more prepared, or at least, fit the mold easier coming out of HS. Cliff had to make up ground with hustle. And he did. I specifically recall watching him towards the end hustling down the court (back on defense) ahead of all other Jayhawks.


    Right on. Cliff didn’t arrive in Lawrence in near shape to run in D1. I don’t think most fans understand the speed of D1 and the needed conditioning. On top of it all, Cliff was a tank on wheels. He was moving a lot of weight up and down the court. He started to maintain less winded performances at the end. Another year of KU ball and he would have been in the right shape.

    From all of this… what I get out of it was Cliff NOT being lazy and he DID hustle. Sometimes he looked slow… but that is with almost all freshmen who are trying to figure out the game in real time.

  • From all of this… what I get out of it was Cliff NOT being lazy and he DID hustle. Sometimes he looked slow… but that is with almost all freshmen who are trying to figure out the game in real time.

    Which we should probably expect from Diallo and Bragg this season. Bragg has a head start, being able to play with the team during the WUG’s.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    Unfair comparison with Wiggins. When Wiggins came in, he was in much better shape than Alexander, had a much higher BBall IQ and frankly, I really did not really see him lolly-gag down the court very often; his defense was great, arguably the best in the team.

    We also have to keep in mind what the roles of the coach and staff are. One can argue that it is developing players, particularly the ones that will stay longer since developing players translate in players moving up to the next level and new players wanting to come to KU and “be developed.” You can also argue that the primary role of the coach is to field the best possible squad that will win as many games as possible.

    If Coach Self. or any other major/elite program coach for that matter, hypothetically sends a couple of players to the NBA every year but fails to consistently win 20+ games per year or win a conference title or make it to the NCAA…how long to do you think he keeps his position? I would think not long. For the sake of discussion I wrote hypothetically, because chances are that a coach that sends that many players to the NBA would win consistently.

    So the question is…should a coach be more concerned about winning games (and making money for the program) and thus ensuring his own job security at he risk of not fully developing players or should he develop players at the risk of not winning as many games (generates less money) and risking his own job security? I do understand that the answer is somewhere in between, kind of the “chicken and the egg” quandary, but for the purpose of this discussion and if it comes to it (yes, a far fetched scenario)…which should take priority?

  • Man, BEAUTIFUL discussion, guys, sorry that I’ve been away!

    @HighEliteMajor Completely agree about no need to Cliff-bash. Merely a frosh struggling to assimilate Self-ball, then complicated by off-court factors. Man, oh man, I often think he could very well have turned the corner (like Oubre did in Dec.), and become a ‘reliable’ 12/8 guy by the time March came. To “ice” him out for that final 5-6 weeks, as KU AD was forced to do due to the NCAA investigation, simply robbed us of the chance to see him blossom potentially, and robbed him of the chance to show the scouts what he could do when comfortable…which is pretty much what Oubre was able TO do. It must not be forgotten by KU fans, that these kids who could go anywhere, choose to come and toil under Bill’s upperclassmen-friendly system. We want to pass/fail some kid, but what classroom is he sitting in? And what’s his personal effort?

    @wissoxfan83 Perfect comment about Graham “doing more for this team” and also about caring “less about pro potential”. It is all about KU for us. Honestly, while I think Svi is a special talent, and truly would be starting at most places, I also think that he also would be a quick exit to the pros the very next season after he puts up versatile numbers. He is so young, and can do so much. A natural gift almost it seems, for the game. But my deepest thought on him is that if he can help KU this season achieve something, great, because he is likely gone after this season. His pro-potential is already obvious, and he STILL has 3-4 more years before he grows into a man’s body…Svi Mikhailiuk is the definition of pro-scout salivation over potential, especially from that Euro-versatile “mold”. Devonte Graham? Well, he is nothing more than an absolute cross between all the best parts of Aaron Miles, Russell Robinson, Mario Chalmers. And he shot a 40% trey as a FROSH. The perfect college combo guard, Bill Self’s old concept strikes again…why? Because Self cant help himself: his talent-eyes keep getting drawn to the same qualities. Mason IS Sherron2.0, and that, my fellow Hawks, is all good.

    Regarding the discussion of Lucas and Traylor. They will be spot players. Self will use them to get better players some minutes of rest. I do think both are plateaued. I held out hope that Traylor’s athleticism and desire/work would have created a late 2nd round type of talent, and he may yet still do that…but now, as a 5th yr Sr, he’s going to have to surprise is with another level of improvement, especially after being one of our worst players in the WUG (hope is was just the flu?). Lucas is a bit more of an enigma: he has had some opps, he does have some moves (but he’s no Ellis), but his production is very inconsistent. Sometimes the 6’10 dude ends a game with ZERO points, how does that happen. There are bizarre-point-blank put-back misses. He is a Sr, who plays like a frosh or soph. The enigmatic question: does more mpg allow him to get more comfortable? His is a case of slow feet and underwhelming hops. If he was in the MVC, he’s good enough to be a 10/10 guy or maybe even a 12/10 guy, but against lesser competition. He could have helped a program like WSU, for example. I liked his fiery competitiveness with 350 lb Josh Smith of G’town, wouldn’t back down from him, despite it getting physical. I still hold out hope he turns the corner. On the flip side, we’ve never seen Lucas run down on the primary or secondary break and just pull up for a 15 foot jumper, like we’ve already seen Bragg do.

    We realize after watching years of kids come thru, that the more a kid comes in with, the more we can expect from them. So in a general sense, all those discussions @HighEliteMajor had about recruiting ranking, etc,…is strongly (& rightly) based on that “framework”. You cant teach hops and vertical and quickness and 40yd dash times (yes, this all applies to football also, which is where my attn. has been…). If a kid has some skillz, he can only get better, most of the time. Of course, we all cheer for the Darnell Jacksons and Sasha Kauns as Bill Self success stories, as we should. But some guys will plateau, eventhough I personally wish it is never any of our KU jr’s and sr’s…


  • @JayHawkFanToo

    “So the question is…should a coach be more concerned about winning games (and making money for the program) and thus ensuring his own job security at he risk of not fully developing players or should he develop players at the risk of not winning as many games (generates less money) and risking his own job security? I do understand that the answer is somewhere in between, kind of the “chicken and the egg” quandary, but for the purpose of this discussion and if it comes to it (yes, a far fetched scenario)…which should take priority?”

    Interesting perspective. I’ve never really seen it as this comparison, but maybe there is something to it. I know if the two choices do create a situation like this, coaches will all pick winning games and raising money for their schools.

    BTW: I’m thinking Self has raised more money for our AD than any other past or present coach wearing a Jayhawk. Anyone have the numbers?

  • @Lulufulu said:

    Mason PG, Devonte SG/PG, Selden SF, Perry PF, Hunter C


    Diallo? Diallo has already peaked in what he will contribute this season. 🙂

    Bragg could play some, but will be highly limited until late this season.

    Traylor and Lucas will emerge as “the committee” when Hunter goes down with the inevitable broken nose, or eye socket that new bigs that try to mix it up get, unless they are built like TRob.

    Traylor I believe will set a new low for rebounding on a points per minute played basis. @HighEliteMajor will infarct twice about Traylor’s rebounding, but recover and be critically sound and strong down the stretch.

    Brannen Greene will struggle all season, or be a med red.

    Svi and Wayne are the great unknowns–the black matter at the center of the Milky Way galaxy.

    Wayne will get tweaked twice this season. If the tweaks come late, we are screwed. Any other time and we are gold.

    Svi? Defensively Svi will improve to the point that he can guard guys who’s shoulders are at the same height as his shoulders, but will be constantly burned by 6-8 guys with shorter necks (that was for @HighEliteMajor).

    Svi offensively? Very tough to anticipate. Usually when a shooter puts on as much weight as Svi appears to have added it is because the coaches decided that he really will never be a great shooter; that he will, like Travis Releford, have to learn to play an old man’s game and maybe have one great shooting season, while gluing at a high level. On the other hand, Svi was soooooooo young last season that this just may be ordinary filling out and his gun will finally find the range.

    Jerrance will fool everyone by doing something vital and then landing a good recruit when everyone has given up on him. But he will not lose weight and so KUAD will have to by him a specially made carbon fiber chair for the bench.

  • @Statmachine said:

    I saw a pic of Devonte, and he is going to be VERY tough this season with the muscle mass he has put on.

    He looks like a Russell Robinson in the making–getting a little barrel chested up top as he ages. Devonte has the baby face that masks he’s actually a tough nut. Not sure if his outside shooting will come around or not. If it comes around, he will be very tough to keep off the floor this season, even for Svi.

  • Regarding Cliff, in the rear view mirror the forensic hypothesis appears this way:

    Cliff’s mom hypothetically took the loan and someone that lost out on recruiting Cliff ratted them out to the NCAA.

    This information hypothetically got back to Self somehow even before the season started, probably through some process of attorney client privilege, which let Self maintain plausible deniability.

    Jerrance reputedly had a bad habit and a cop caught him and Jerrance hypothetically told his lawyer to tell Self’s lawyer, so Self’s lawyer could hypothetically tell Self and Self once again hypothetically had plausible deniability.

    Self hypothetically figured the chances were 50-50 that Cliff would eventually have to NOT play any more.

    Self hypothetically did a straddle. He played him some, enough to develop him some, but not so much that a gaping hole would result if/when he had to stop playing him permanently for the loan. He had to come up with the diversion of Cliff having trouble adjusting to D1 speeds.

    Next, Self hypothetically waited on Jerrance having to appear in court. The idea was to see if the appearance slipped by without any media picking it up. In the interim, Self hypothetically had to hold Jerrance out of recruiting almost the entire season to be sure that whomever ratted out Cliff’s mom didn’t get wind of this cannabis bust and use it against Jerrance’s recruiting. So: Jerrance hypothetically became a non entity as a recruiter much of last season to make sure they didn’t lose any recruits to parents pissed off that their kid had been being recruited by a pot head, should the story break, which Self probably reasoned it likely would.

    When the pot story broke, Self hypothetically acted surprised, because attorney client privilege communications hypothetically enabled him to.

    He hypothetically gave Jerrance some swift discipline of a tiny order, then hypothetically low profiled him and continued to keep him away from recruits until this episode receded.

    Cliff’s story surfaced. Cliff was hypothetically distanced from his mother, but Cliff was also hypothetically distanced from his team.

    Cliff was hypothetically eased into the background then off the court, then off the team, but it hypothetically was carefully spun to make Cliff not the problem, so that Self and the team looked like victims of his mother’s behavior, which in a sense they were.

    Self hypothetically left no door open for Cliff to return and Cliff quickly departed.

    Self took Jerrance to Korea hypothetically to make sure the pot issue was not used on any of his recruiters this past summer.

    All in all the two live wires of Cliff’s mom’s loan and Jerrance’s cannabis bust were hypothetically never allowed to arc from Cliff to Jerrance and likely into hypothetically more sensitive areas.

    The whole thing was hypothetically thus diffused deftly.

    The hypothetical cost was Cliff didn’t get to turn KU into a dominant team it would have been if Cliff had been able to play 35 minutes down the stretch. Cliff was good, just not great. He would have been a helluva a lot better than an injured Traylor and an injured Lucas down the stretch; that much we can be sure.

    The other hypothetical cost was KU lost out on what Jerrance could have recruited last season and that cost bled into this one, because he had hypothetically to be hidden in Korea this summer, too. In this hypothesis, it is hard to say if Jerrance will cool off enough to become the good recruiter he was reputed to be before he got to KU. It appears Self is trying to see if he can be cooled off, while also laying the ground work for Aaron Miles taking over if Jerrance cannot be cooled.

    One more piece of the hypothesis. The intensity and conflictedness of Shoe Wars probably made Self have to be extremely cautious in bringing Jerrance back into recruiting. Last season, was the first season of hyper stacking. Both sides had to be looking for a new bat they could swing at the other. Self probably had to take extra special care to make sure Jerrance was not turned into that bat.

    All hypothetical of course.

  • @jaybate-1.0 I love it! Your use of hypotheticals in what it “allowed” Self to say publicly after the Facts…makes me think of all sorts of scenarios which John Calipari somehow found himself, going all the way back to UMass days. Who’s to say Self didn’t do this “straddle” (perfect conceptual descriptor here), ala his LONGTIME contemporary Calipari? What if Calipari has used such “straddles” before? Hypothetically speaking, that is…

  • @jaybate-1.0 Devonte Graham shot 40% trey as a frosh, which is better than frosh Mario, better than frosh Sherron, WAY better than frosh Frankamp 25% (who supposedly was the 2nd coming of Ray Allen, Christ, and the Great White Hope, all rolled into a 160lb stick figure…). Graham plays a lot because of his US Marine tested and approved leadership skills. He plays because he is quick. As a frosh he had better handles than Tyshawn Taylor his first 2 years.

    Graham’s trey gun better than Svi’s last year, but Svi was 17, and Graham after his prep school year was 19. Which is why we see Graham filling out physically. He could have been a Junior, but that prep school year only makes him a soph. We are tremendously lucky! Graham is an absolute stud, but if Svi is a lot better, they do not play the same position, and both are versatile enough to play different positions and share the court anytime Self chooses.

  • Mason: our obvious weapon. Our sledgehammer. Shot over 50% treys for most of the season, only cooling off in our last 3-4 games. Self wanted a tough-ass guard to replace Naadir, look no further.

    Graham: Our secret weapon. Across-the-board-good in every category. Add him to the mix, and he makes everything better. A force-multiplier, because he opens up possibilities, and is remarkably good at creating his own possibilities. Mario Chalmers-good. Enuff said, mark my words. Graham even makes Mason more lethal, which is exactly the concept Im trying to get across.

    Selden: Simply put, a DWade-clone when his game is on. Let’s hope the consistency corner is turned in his jr season. Its time to show the scouts, Wayne! We want you to go lotto.

    Svi: Scouts drool. A 17yr old kid that can play with the big boys. Literally. An enviable feel for the game. 3-4yrs away from his final man’s body. He could easily go lotto one day.

  • This is a difficult comment to write, as I hold our past Jayhawks in high esteem, and will have ultimate respect for their time spent at KU, battling for our colors, especially the guys who stayed to be upperclassmen.

    So, excuse me, but I saw frosh Graham doing things consistently as a frosh, that we simply did not see frosh RussRob, Tyshawn, Elijah, Selby, or any other guard not named Mason or Sherron…do as a frosh. I mean, seriously, we were hoping and praying for our frosh nonMickeyD guard (Graham) to come back as fast as possible from his toe injury. When have we waited on a frosh like that, other than the unfulfilled hope we put on Embiid?

    Think about it for a minute. A nonMickey D level guard as a frosh, in Bill Self’s system no less. But he shined. Frank needed help, and Devonte was there when he healed up. Problem is, he and Mason needed help against WSU…

  • @drgnslayr said:


    “So the question is…should a coach be more concerned about winning games (and making money for the program) and thus ensuring his own job security at he risk of not fully developing players or should he develop players at the risk of not winning as many games (generates less money) and risking his own job security? I do understand that the answer is somewhere in between, kind of the “chicken and the egg” quandary, but for the purpose of this discussion and if it comes to it (yes, a far fetched scenario)…which should take priority?”

    I think the question really lies on the recruiting side of the equation. Calislimebag is the best recruiter in the nation and everyone knows it. This is a huge part of HCBS job and KU spends more on recruiting than any other school so how does this effect his job if he keeps striking out on recruiting? If he doesn’t play the presumed OAD (Cliff, Selby) and HCBS experiences a recruiting back lash like our present day dilemma ie not one recruit for next season. Then what? Every recruit that’s over 6’10" that HCBS is recruiting knows we have a huge hole with Mickelson, Diallo, Traylor, and Ellis departing so WHY IN THE HECK DO WE NOT HAVE ONE SINGLE RECRUIT? Because of Cliff ALEXANDERS CURRENT SUTUATION! All the other coaches recruiting against KU are telling these kids they will go undrafted if they sign with KU. If your kid was in that situation and could potentially go to KU, not start, not get 30 plus minutes, and go from possibly making 2 million or more to going undrafted with no guaranteed contract. Why on Gods green earth would you sign with KU when you can go to UK, UNC, or Duke? They are all in on these 5 star kids and HCBS is not even trying to make a move on a 4 star guy. If he would go in and make some of these quality 4 star guys a priority you would think he would have at least one big for next season already in hand. I think he would rather coach OAD’s than develop players! I think he believes he can compete with the squid and the rat? Until he proves otherwise I just don’t think he can do it coaching at KU? KU will continue to land 1-2 high quality players each year and scramble to fill in the gaps during the summer for eternity all the while UT lands a hand full of 4 star guys each year and develops into a team that can dethrone KU…

    The End

  • This year KU got lucky with Vick reclassifying to the 2015 class after making a strong showing on his AAU team in April, and Diallo signing late. KU could have very easily had a one man recruiting class. Cliffs is one of the NBA drafts biggest flops of all time, it was very public, and extremely damaging to KU’s recruiting efforts for this years class.

  • @Statmachine

    I really don’t know how Self recruits.

    My gut tells me he pushes away some lower players in hopes of landing higher ranked players. I’m pretty sure all coaches do that.

    I just don’t believe our recruiting issues for bigs relate to Cliff. We are a blue blood program so we catch the ear of all the top recruits… so we can explain our success with bigs and we surely don’t let someone like slimebag put a label on us that sticks.

    Look back 12 months ago and who did we get early? We landed Carlton and I think that was it.

    For whatever reason, we just don’t seem to nail many early recruits. While we are all busy studying why our players don’t perform to their best in March, we should be looking at why we can’t land recruits until the very very end.

    Imagine if we didn’t land Cheick? Landing him sort of glosses over our recruiting last year. We bombed on just about all the talent.

    I’m pretty sure we were in a slump a few years ago because Self was just too honest with recruits. He didn’t promise them PT at all and said they would have to fight it out for their minutes. That seemed to get us into a recruiting drought. Then things changed… the big change came when we missed on (of all players) Tarc… losing him to Arizona. That devastated Self and he promised to recruit differently from that point forward. He did make strides and we landed several good players.

    But that was then… what about now? What does it take in 2015 to recruit the best? I think we need to ask ourselves that question every single year because the rules change that often. Maybe we need someone like Drake to come in and sing a special recruiting song (or whatever). Gosh… you would think our luxury apartment digs would be a big help… I think it may turn out to be a total waste of capital.

    All I can see is that I really hate the entire OAD situation. None of it is healthy for anyone. And the quality of college basketball these days is friggin’ horrific. Hardly worth watching. Talent is gone, even before it develops. Just an “idea” that a guy will some day be good is enough to toss him into the draft and pray that some NBA sucker bites the bait.

    Half the players that sign up early for the draft can’t even dribble a ball to half court without dribbling it off their leg. It’s all sickening.

  • Late night should be like super bowl halftime and a scrimmage if you ask me? Late night would be a total success if we blew our entire recruiting budget on it!

  • KU is only one Rihanna wardrobe malfunction away from signing ALL of the remaining 5 star guys in the 2016 class!

  • @Statmachine

    We still would have landed players, but to get the caliber of Vick & Diallo was fortunate. We did cast our net pretty far this off-season for anyone and anything.

    And the way this year is going, there is definitely a scenario where we whiff on all the talent again and are left getting our 25th and 40th options…

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