Moving a Mountain in One Month!

  • I’ve never been a believer in mountains moving. It’s a job for heavy equipment and it takes what seems to be forever.

    So why do I think this Kansas basketball team will move a mountain in the next 30 days?

    Well… I believe it because they won’t do it! They don’t need to move a mountain in 30 days. They only need to learn swifter play in the shell game; moving a little pebble between 3 shells.

    So why do I compare perfecting the shell game with moving a mountain? Because that is what it will appear like when we see this team a month from now. It will appear as if they moved a mountain of TOs, clinked 3-attempts, motionless offense, defensive vanishing acts, and under-performing superstars… right off the court.

    I know I believe in this enough to not even put it on my Christmas list from Santa. I just asked Santa to watch our guys and keep them healthy. Just keep them healthy. That’s all I want for Christmas. The rest will happen… I guarantee!

    Look at the signs. Start by going back one full year. To a team lead by 4 starting seniors. They did not have the kind of fruitful Christmas break we’ve come to expect from a Bill Self team. They came into Christmas with all that momentum, and then lost it after Christmas. Maybe they ate too much turkey stuffing… of maybe they were a product of their own situation… too much experience! That team started the year ready to play in March. So naturally, they stomped on teams early. But when Jingle Bells filled the air, they really didn’t have much to work on. They had reached close to their final talent plateau. Meanwhile… the rest of college basketball took advantage of their longer practices by catching up with Kansas.

    Knowing what happened last year should put a smile on our faces this year.

    We have one of the youngest teams in D1. So young that we will improve even if we don’t practice. Just hangin’ some age on this young fruit will ripen it to a semi-sweet level. But a semi-sweet level is not going to bring us success in March. This group will have a month to really go to work on improving their game, both as individuals and mostly as a team. This team is stacked with talent that hasn’t come together yet. This team is the opposite of what we had last year, so we can expect the opposite result from a solid month of practice.

    No one on this team has less experience than Joel Embiid. He’s such a green twig you could plant his feet in the earth and grow leaves off his arms with a bit of sun. Embiid is going to receive a nuclear dose of sun radiation over the next 30 days. We will not recognize his game in another month. We can hardly recognize his game now (from game to game). So you can count on Embiid having another half dozen or so tools in his toolbox soon… and then consider the team around him. This team is just now starting to understand how successful they can be by feeding the post. Attack seams in zones… and our interior players now realize the ball needs to come into them within a few seconds of setting up on offense. They have no time to lolligag in the lane. They have to earn their spot on the floor and the ball is coming in. Everyone on this team now knows that the ball can’t stick, and if we want to reduce TOs it is as much of the responsibility for the player receiving the ball as the one throwing it. We can’t stop the ball from sticking if people aren’t open.

    I have a hard time comparing Embiid with Olajuwon. I see Embiid more as “Kevin Durant’s big brother.” I think that identity will serve him better moving forward. Embiid is more of a finesse player, and thin body, who can play finesse or muscle down and hold his own. No one questions the muscle ball play of frail Kevin Durant. No one will for Joel Embiid either. Did you see the touch Embiid had on that mid-range jumper versus Georgetown? Even his FTs look smoother and seem to drop in the hole more often now. One day, Embiid will be a threat from the outside. He has that much talent.

    A lightbulb went on in Tarik Black’s head on Saturday. The lightbulb flashed “feed me the ball” over and over again. Black now gets it.

    Actually, from our post, Perry, who started out this year as “the hottest gun in the west” has suddenly taken a back seat to just about everyone in the post. Going back to last year, it took Perry a while to settle in and take control of his game. He may be battling a bit of that again… but we can expect him to take back control of his game soon. With Joel’s game coming on, Perry can do well to try and hide in the shadows… and just quietly knock-out 16 or so points per game. And these two players are yet to form a chemistry amongst themselves. Both are very capable passers, and capable of feeding each other… so expect that relationship to blossom before long, perhaps within the next 30 days!

    These coming days should be owned by Naadir Tharpe. He should step up and grab the reins of this team over the next month. Naa needs to become a cheerleader, troop commander, tactician, psychologist AND an aggressive point guard. He’s got to keep this team on schedule (with pace). He has to be able to jump down anyone’s neck, including Andrew Wiggins, when players cross a line. He is the coach on the floor. He’s got to learn to push the ball up the court, even after made baskets. He has to stop most of his TOs. And if another player has a couple TOs quickly, he has to calm him down and give him an instruction to focus on. He also has to do some creation off the dribble, either to score himself or snag another assist. Let’s not forget that this is his first shot at running point on a team, and he is doing it with all new guys. He is showing the signs of leadership… and we should see it more in another month.

    All our players at the 2 and 3 just have to realize to let the game come to them. We are just starting to run a real offense, and that offense involves working out of the post. They will have plenty of opportunities to nail 3s and score off penetration. It all comes when our offense is running well, because when it runs well the defense gets stirred and creates holes in several places. What our 2s and 3s have to learn most is spacing and learn where their opportunities are. Their opportunities will come often from having plenty of scoring space to focus on the 3 or be in an isolation for a drive. Let our bigs do the heavy lifting and take advantage of shifting defenses. Eventually, Wiggins can work more on scoring against just one man. And when he’s doubled, someone else is open.

    It is going to be fun to watch all of these basketball commentator experts eat their words soon. “Kansas doesn’t have quality perimeter shooting.” You’ve got to be kidding! I can’t wait to prove them wrong on that one… and it all starts by feeding the post.

    No mountains have to move for this team to improve from just being a middle-of-the-pack Top 20 team to being one of just a small handful of real contenders in March. This team has all the pieces and talent, but must master the nuances. Floor positioning, moving feet, team momentum, self-confidence… executing all of that is really just learning to move the rock between cocoanut shells… especially when comparing last year’s team. That team had to move a mountain over Christmas; they had to find a way to lift their upside, something really impossible to do… a real mountain that had to be moved.

  • I’m pooping while reading this.

  • iowa… come on… you can do better than that. You can post more fruitful comments so you don’t just appear like a man sitting on a big pile.

    You don’t have to agree with anyone on here… we can actually use more counter commentary to push the envelope. But sometimes you sound more like a troll than a KU fan.

    Put your big boy pants on and meet the challenge… well… after you finish your business!

  • @iowajayhawk2005 Hate to rain on your poo parade, but I’ll restate the one and only rule here: don’t be a jerk.

  • Dear @drgnslayr , I don’t know if you were the dragon or the slayer today, but the mountain moving argument was hard to digest. 🙂 Iowa was a little harsh there, but it was a laugh. No harm done I hope.

  • @drgnslayr

    Ellis had 21 points and 9 rebounds in the previous game against New Mexico. Tarik had had one good game; let’s see how the next few games go.

  • @Wishawk - I’m fine with Iowa… and I bet if we all met I’d probably pal up with Iowa most. I just want him to post more and take the role of counter-point. There is nothing to counter on his poo posting.

    He’ll keep doing the light post and I’ll keep prodding him. In the least, there may be a good laugh in the process.

    I like the guys who put up a challenge. The push back creates the real opportunity to take a subject further.

    Perry did have a come back in the UNM game. But he wasn’t really dominating against Georgetown up until he went out and that should have been a game for him to dominate, with Josh Smith playing defense in slo-mo. Perry has some body language issues that seem telling. He could use a bit more swagger and keep his eyes up off the hardwoods. He seems like a guy that will have to be prodded to keep his aggression up. I hope I’m wrong… Perry has been one of my favs since his days in junior high and no one screamed louder when he committed to Kansas than I. The criticism can only help him if he reacts on it because it all plays into the perceptions come draft day. No team is going to waste a first or second round pick on a guy they think will become invisible. He has been improving his verbal noise, next he should work on his body language and visible enthusiasm. His stoic appearance is easily fixable and will help him and his teammates if he learns to project more energy, enthusiasm and positivity.

    Compare Perry with Tarik. When Tar has a good game it lifts our entire team because Tar starts beating his chest and pumps out lots of contagious energy. Perry’s points come in total silence, so there is no upbeat contagious energy for the team.

    By now, the team doesn’t expect Perry to pound his chest. Perry can really flip the tables now by putting some focus on his projection, because his teammates will respond if he does. It’s time he stop hiding in the shadows… especially because he will be punished for that at the next level. I can’t think of another 4 in college ball today with a bigger tool chest than Perry Ellis.

  • @drgnslayr I don’t have a read on o’ Perry. Maybe there is nothing to read. He is 20, but looks 30. I have a hard time picturing Perry changing his personality. I think he is what he is and we’d better leave him alone. Perry is the most effective when he is not the focus point. Some days he will play angry like Withey and dominate the game, but most of the time he will simply blend in and just be himself.

    I’d be willing to wager he will say he needs to become more aggressive when asked what he needs to do to succeed in the NBA during the NBA draft interviews.

  • @drgnslayr I would like to give you some push back since you say it helps move the conversation along. But I just can’t. As I read your post I felt a great sense of hope for the season (which hasn’t been overwhelming yet). You make good points and do it with style and substance. Thanks for posting.

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