Post Exhibition Games talk

  • What’s everyone’s feeling on where the team is and where individuals are at this point.

    1. The Bad:

    Our Team defense has been some of the worst that I’ve seen under Self. It’s early I get it, but again we had trouble & less than 1 week from now the athletes Michigan St has will further expose that. The lack of a shot-blocker really hurts us. We all want Hunter to play but it looks like he’s battling Bragg for that 4th big in the rotation. Not how I see it but I don’t get to coach.

    1. The Good:

    Svi’s turnaround game. Making half of the teams 3’s will get you some attention. He looked more comfortable & making shots seemed to bring out confidence in him. Hopefully he’s able to make shots consistently, he can fully replace Greene’s value on the floor.

    Ellis had some nice moves in the post. Showed nice touch from the perimeter. He’s definitely looking quicker on his feet and I think that is a benefit to the team.

    Wayne had a better game, especially early. His hustle plays in the 2nd half are why Self sticks by him even when he’s making bad decisions. Some of his shot selection was questionable but we need Wayne to be aggressive.

    Bragg had another solid game I thought rebounding. My one gripe was he looked to make that hi/low pass sometimes without even having the guy in post position but he’s shown he can really pass it. Hunter and him really seem to have chemistry.

    Mason & Graham were solid, exactly what we need out of our lead guards. I even saw Mason pass on a breakaway opportunity…that is rare.

    1. The Rotation:

    It looks as if Traylor will start in other post spot for the time being. Lucas got in before Bragg & Hunter which further frustrates the matter of what’s best for this team to win games. I don’t think anything will be set in stone off 2 exhibition games but when does Self really ever hide his hand.

    4: Expectations:

    It’s clear to me that my expectation of where I thought we might be already isn’t reality. Watching these games with an open mind, you wouldn’t know that this team got all those extra games in this summer. I didn’t expect to be world beaters but I expected to see more from the #4 team.

    5: Michigan St: Tuesday is going to be a really big eye opener. Are we going to be like the team two years ago that beat Duke, or the one that didn’t show up last year? I can’t tell, all I know is Izzo will have his guys ready to play. Michigan St to me, is a top 10 team even with the loses of Trice & Dawson. Valentine has taken over the team, Harris steps in to score & they have plenty of bodies to throw at you. That game is great for preparation for Maui though where some good teams await. Possibly UCLA & Indiana have veteran squads but the key for us will be having a good effort against Izzo to set up for that week.

    That’s all for now, 2 days the real season starts. Rock Chalk folks…

  • @BeddieKU23 My video feed on espn was spotty at best so i couldnt fully see every play. Was our perimeter defense that bad, again? I thought we improved from last game.

    1. No question our defense was less bad against FHSU. Yes we could use elite shot blocking, especially with the new rules: once you get beat you have to let the dribbler go and hope for help, and the last line of defense is the shot blocker. We were spoiled by Cole / Withey.

    Hunter didn’t look that great to me, except for his blocks. Jamari looked pretty good.

    1. I tried to notice when Ellis was playing the 3. He didn’t seem to do as much on offense from that position.

    Bragg is so far ahead of TRob and the Morris twins at the very beginning of their careers. He may really help this year.

    The team looks good with Mason and Graham together on the floor, but that means either resting them at the same time or piling up their minutes, both bad choices. They shouldn’t play together more than half the game.

    One thing @BeddieKU23 didn’t mention was ball movement. The ball didn’t stick. The half-court offense was less stilted than in previous years.

    On defense, there was some pressure on the ball handler to shorten the shot clock.

    Bottom line for me: the first exhibition game was boring, the second one was entertaining.

  • @ParisHawk

    Yes the ball movement was much better than the first game. That was nice to see.

    With the way the rules are played there will be way more teams playing zone. Not that Self will ever revert to it but a zone will be used more frequently by teams that struggle to guard. If your scouting KU, why wouldn’t you play zone against us it renders the Hi/Low useless.


    In the first half, the defense was not even close to what we will need to see against better players. The lack of defensive awareness when guys get beat is really what has stood out to me. 2nd half the game was over, it was basically a scrimmage at that point. I think its correctable, especially when the games count it will be different.

  • @ParisHawk I think we’ll see Mason and Graham play together more than half of the game if that is what is best for the team. Somewhere between 20 -28.depending on how tight the game is. You make a good point that at some level of minutes together they will wear down.

  • @Hawk8086 I agree that’s what we’ll see, but I will be sorry to see it.

    28 minutes together means 12 minutes apart, so each rests only 6 minutes - unless you play a few minutes with both on the bench, which Self says he wants to avoid.

    If Self set a goal of 20 minutes together and 10 minutes each apart, then that would give each one 30 minutes a game and keep at least one of them in the game at all times.

    Obviously he wouldn’t reach that goal and they would wind up playing more than that, but if he doesn’t set a goal of limiting their minutes they will play too much and wear down.

    Do we really want to be running on fumes in March?

  • It looks like, to me, that Bragg is the most talented player on the floor. Once he figures it out he’ll be special. He really needs to get more heighth on his hi-low passes, but he’s already shown great vision. He just needs to figure out the execution. I’m really excited about Bragg if you can’t tell!

  • I was actually pleasantly surprised with the play last night. I thought we looked about as bad as we could be last week, so we were bound to improve… and we did.

    Wayne had more bounce in his step and he did some exciting things. Good to see him back on track.

    Landen looked better, too… both of these guys have been banged up and it is a good sign to see them move better.

    It was great to see Svi hit some shots. Even Self mentioned how Svi and BG are really only in a game to hit shots, so their performance is graded by their stat line on shots. I’m still a bit concerned with Svi’s footwork. I was expecting him to be quicker on his feet, but he is carrying about 20 lbs more weight this year, and that is going to slow down just about anyone. Chances are, he’ll drop 5 lbs or so as the season progresses and will speed up a bit more. The heavy lifting stops during the season, and we usually see players that look bigger in November end up slimmer in March.

    BG should have redshirted this year, but too late now. The way I understand it is he lost that right after playing last week. He still could petition for a medical redshirt (I believe). At best, he’s 90% this year (Self said that) and a 90% BG really isn’t good enough to be a real impact player.

    When asked what player(s) he thought might be the most-improved this year, Self said, “Frank and Perry.”

    I am extremely pleased with Carlton Bragg! He is the best interior post passer we’ve had in a long time, maybe the best! I’m so glad we landed him… he is just at the beginning of a great KU career. I doubt he’ll be here 4 years, but I could see him being here 3.

  • Carlton Bragg is a great surprise. A true now impact player.

    Lets just face facts and spin it as a positive: we got 5 bigs that can play, and 4 of them at the top of their game (Ellis, Traylor, Hunter, Lucas). Bragg’s abilty-level as a McDAA makes him playable now.

    Recall almost HALF the team didnt go/play to WUG (Greene, Svi, Graham)…so we absolutely need a re-integration period.

    Biggest problem of the whole game vs FHSU: Greene DNP. Kudos to Self for sitting him. Self’s public comment about “the wings” was clarified by seeing Greene riding pine.

    Hey, if Greene still cant bend his knees on D and slide laterally on D by his jr year, then he can STAY in his wheelchair (er, ride pine…), or transfer somewhere else!!!

    Why the hardline philosophical stance? Because we really arent getting a Self team on D if certain kids arent doing what our $52mil coach says, right? We rob our foundation & toughness, & it shows up in March when some mid-F’n-major drops us, because we “cant stop the other guy/make the other guy ugly”, which is a Self101 philosophy.

    To wit, WSU had better D in their exhib game, same new ncaa rules. They were stifling. To give credit, KU’s D looked a lot better, but most of my angst is aimed at the reason Greene is benched. Vick plays better D than Greene.

  • @ralster I read Greene was held out due to injury. I think Jesse reported his hip locked up pregame.

    Carlton is great and I am very excited to see him play this year. I hope he doesn’t fall in love with that high low pass though because teams with real bigs will pick it off most of the time. He showed some nice range and just moves like a good player. He always seems under control.

    Anyone else notice that the first play was a Wayne Selden post-up? Is it Jaybate or drgslayr who has been begging to see that since we signed him?

    I also think a big part of the perceived sloppiness of the first half was deliberate by self. He substituted liberally whenever KU got too far ahead or started a run.

    I’m going to hold out any positive or negative judgement on Svi so far. He made shots one game, didn’t the other. That’s about the long and short of it there.

    I do think the offense is running a little better than usual to open the season. Don’t know whether that is experienced players or Korea.

  • A few thoughts…

    1. Defense - we have lacked an above average perimeter defender since Wiggins left. Vick may step into that role this year, but the question remains on whether or not he will even play much, so I don’t think we get a big boost in perimeter defense unless Vick is suddenly grabbing 18-20 minutes per game. With Cheick, we would have a shot blocker, but without him, our defense looks like this:

    PG - Frank Mason, average defender, slightly undersized, but very tough. SG - Devonte Graham, slightly above average defender, but again, undersized SF - Wayne Selden, average to slightly above average defender, decent size, strong, but lacking elite quickness. PF - Perry Ellis, average defender, but will struggle against big, strong post players. Good position defender, but not a shot blocker. Slightly undersized at 4. C - Jamari Traylor, average defender, but will struggle against big, strong post players. Okay weakside shot blocker, but poor strongside shot blocker. Very undersized at 5.

    That’s our defense. Our starting personnel, as it now stands, is an average defensive unit with very little shotblocking and not one decidedly above average defensive player. The secret is out - this is a Bill Self team that, without Diallo, is at best a slightly above average defensive unit. I don’t see the pieces to make this an above average or elite defensive unit.

    So let’s turn our attention to:

    1. Offense - since we won’t be able to lock down teams for 8-10 possessions at a time defensively, we need to be much better on the offensive end. Svi broke out of his shooting slump, which was great. We will need to see that type of performance from either him or Greene basically every night. Between Ellis and Bragg, I think we have plenty of interior punch this year. The big question is Selden. If he’s a 15 ppg guy, this team could be very good offensively, which will erase most of the defensive issues. If that is the case, we really need to push the pace to take advantage of our offensive prowess since we don’t have the type of team that can win a defensive slugfest.

    2. The Rotation - knowing that we don’t have a great defensive team, but we do have a lot of great pieces to put together a really strong, efficient offensive unit, I think the rotation (sans Diallo) has to be Ellis, Bragg, Mickelson, Traylor as the bigs, with the lion’s share of the minutes going to the first three, then Mason, Graham, Selden, Svi, Vick as the perimeter group, with Greene getting time if Svi is not shooting well. Lucas is on the outside looking in because we need to run, and Lucas doesn’t fit as well into the uptempo style we need given our personnel and team strengths. Vick slots ahead of Greene because you have to have at least one guy in the rotation that can stop somebody, even if its just for 10-12 minutes, just so we don’t have scoring wings giddily circling the date they play KU, knowing they can throw up 20-25 against our wing defense.

    This is a Bill Self team that, in all honesty, is built like a Roy Williams team. I just hope Self realizes that and pushes the pace.

  • Oh I agree on pushing the pace. Last yr we would have had about 4 charge calls in that FHSU game, but only 1 actual call last night.

    Self no dummy, he’s got the rule-change AND the depth to push the pace. @justanotherfan is exactly right about pushing the pace, UNC-style. But I wouldnt say its “built” like Roy’s since it is Self recruits who arrive knowing the Self style of D + toughness + court hustle for rbds & loose balls. The kids are NOT off the hook for that! Why pay this coach that much money if we cannot get HIS proven product on the floor. Its the exact core reason we got 2nd round exits.

    If we want “just” UNC ball, go hire J.Haase, spent Self’s $ on new ftball stadium. Or, we hold the poor-D performing athletes accountable to do what Self wants?

  • There were a few things that made me really happy to see last night.

    1. The pace. Most of the game the players pushed the pace up the court as fast as possible, running the fast break. I don’t think we played all that great on defense but running the court and getting easy buckets in transition erased so many mistakes and I believe had us up 16 at half. There were a bunch of times where our guys missed easy shots near the rim but that’s ok, they will get better at finishing as the season goes on. As long as HCBS keeps this philosophy and lets the guys practice it during the non-con and softer early part of the schedule, things will be running like a well oiled machine during the conference schedule. The fast pace will mean we need more players in the rotation which works to the team’s strength too because we have the depth to do it. Guys like Vick will be needed and have shown that they can handle it. We will blow out many more teams this year playing like this.

    Also, it may be worth noting that this style of play will play right into Cheick Diallo’s strength as this is what he is great at. Maybe, just maybe, HCBC is trying to fit the offense to his players strengths this year which is something we have been begging him to do for years.

    1. The press. Its a great thing, especially for our team. We have the depth to keep guys fresh. Our defense is shaky and the press limits the amount of time we actually have to play half court D. It speeds up the pace of the game which is good for us too, see item #1. And it creates turnovers. Just look at the first possession of the game last night. It doesn’t have to be a full press but enough pressure to make the opponent uncomfortable. That will create turnovers. It worked against us all the time last year. Hoping we use it to our advantage this year.

  • @justanotherfan

    Nice in-depth detail about the defense. I think it improves slightly over the year especially as the new rules work themselves out. A worry I do have is the fact that our best defenders are our PG’s and they tend to be aggressive guarding. They are going to have to master on how much they reach and pressure. If we role with a 2 PG line-up we have to be prepared for games where both or 1 of the 2 gets in foul trouble. We don’t have a 3rd ball handler. Vick looks to have good handles but he’d have to be a special talent to be relied on.

    I think Lucas will play because the one thing he can do is rebound. When your best pound for pound rebounder in the starting line-up is your sub 6’ foot PG, Self will have to play Lucas because he’s a big body and he hustles and rebounds his area. It’s clear Self loves Traylor so he’s going to play regardless of his size or skill for the position. Hunter & Bragg offer the best offense/defense combination but Self doesn’t think like most of us fans on here do.

  • Too bad Greene is hurt, but his performance on D is not off the hook if Self talked about 3 days ago, and how as a “junior”…“some kids arent getting it”. Thats as close as Self gets to a public calling out. Called the bigs “soft” publicly several times in past few yrs, now targets the wings…and we see Wayne Selden play with a fire under his ass. I’d say Self knows his team even better than we KU alums/fans do, and that IS saying a lot. A compliment to all.

  • @ralster

    “Why the hardline philosophical stance? Because we really arent getting a Self team on D if certain kids arent doing what our $52mil coach says, right? We rob our foundation & toughness, & it shows up in March when some mid-F’n-major drops us, because we “cant stop the other guy/make the other guy ugly”, which is a Self101 philosophy.”

    This is Kansas basketball in a nutshell. Offense will always come and go… so if we need to outrun someone, fat chance we can put together 6 wins in March. There is a reason why people say “offense wins games, defense wins championships.” I’m not implying we shouldn’t focus on offense… but becoming a good defensive team is paramount, and the only thing that is going to keep us in the Top 10.

    We still need more energy out of these guys. I have both our games on dvr and I got the WSU game to compare styles. Man… all there guys were out there swarming their opponents. They ran some full court press and got some TOs, and just through Hawaii into a quick offense that they were unable to be successful at. Then I watch our games and they look like slow motion.

    Sorry to bring up WSU… but I’m going to use them as the spur under our saddle all year. I wish Self would play the “chip card” like Yost did for the Royals. They kept suffering through the “90-feet from a tie” thought until they clinched the World Series this year. They represent the perfect example of how a chip can fuel a team to success. Why don’t we use the Shocker game as a chip tool? In a few months I’d like to be able to thank the Shocks for helping us develop a chip that helped us win another National Championship this March.

  • @benshawks08 I read "Greene was held out due to injury. I think Jesse reported his hip locked up pregame.

    I didn’t read Jessie’s post butSelf spoke quite a bit about BG on post game radio with Gurley. Said he had a good week of practice, was fine all day. good pre game shoot around. but just before tip came to Self & said his hip was not bending properly & Self held him out only as a precaution. Drs. say he is OK but HCBS said was much better to err on the side of caution. Going forward I guess we’ll have to wait & see. I have no reason to believe anything otherwise like was caught in the cookie jar or worse.

  • @globaljaybird maybe, just maybe, coach is setting him up for a medical redshirt.

  • @ralster Wayne certainly did play with a fire lit under his ass. That hustle and running jump into the scorers table to save the out of bounds for KU? Classic Wayne move. He didnt light up the box score but I thought he did rather well.

  • The fact that the head of the snake is a manned by Devonte and Frank is a stroke of recruiting genius for this year and next. Both these guys came out of nowhere and both are big time players and gamers.

    Put the ball in their hands at money time, or at the line: take it to the bank.

    They have to stay healthy and out of foul trouble for us to be really good.

    The wing will solve itself with so much great talent and even more potential talent, that one of them will come through night after night: Wayne, Svi, Brannen and sometimes Perry at the 3.

    Lagerard will have a few moments this year to shine but is still a year away when he will become our best perimeter defender. His turn to lead is still a couple of years away.

    Perry and Carlton will be a talented back line which improves weekly with Hunter, Landon and Jarmari all making positive contributions throughout the year. Expect them to have very good games at the five, as a unit, but not the same guy every night.

    The joker is Cheick who needs minutes to learn the game. My prediction: he will be a two year player at KU and top five pick in next year’s draft. We win another conf title with our without him. But a Final Four is tough without his talent. FREE CHEICK!

    This team will get better and better as the underclassmen learn from the Juniors and Seniors. Believe me, the D will improve dramatically as the year progresses. The key is to keep our ball-handers on the court at all times (at least one of them, Devonte and/or Frank), as Coach Self stated in his press conference.

    This team will be better than last year’s team. This team will compete for a National Championship. This team is very solid and deep. ROCK CHALK!

  • @jayhawk-007 like your post, & I agree we will improve. Who is “Lagerard”? (Oops, I just solved the riddle: you meant LaGerald…as in Vick.)

    Vick will be in a dogfight to lead the team in 2-3 yrs, but totally agree this experience now will help him…so that in 2-3 yrs, Vick could be top dog. Meaning, in a dogfight in 2 yrs, bet on Vick…

  • Yes, apologies to Mr Vick, LaGerald.

    Here is a quote from an article on why KU will win the NC this year:

    “The thing about the 24-second clock, you don’t have time to run a lot of plays to get a shot,” Self told me. “You have to rely on players to get shots. So that makes coaches trust your players more. It opens me up more to trust guys, to trust players to go play one-on-one – not for yourself, but play one –on-one to go get somebody else a shot. Drive to pass. We emphasized that so much this summer.”

    At long last our coach recognizes that with superior talent, guys can make a play without running his stuff. The coaching has always been world class A+ but the one minor imperfection in my opinion has been the O scheme. It has taken a while but for our wonderful HCBS, as he puts it so often, the light has come on… 🙂

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