Paralysis By Analysis - The Self Dilemma

  • It’s been quite a week. The big build up for Tuesday’s game vs. Michigan State. The extreme overconfidence displayed by many Jayhawks’ fans, including myself. And then the let down of a collapse in the second half.

    I wanted to hit on some items from the MSU game that I felt were important. I sat out the commenting after my initial post, and really just read the comments. Great insight by many here. But here are some thoughts:

    1. Why Landon Lucas?: Many of us pondered “why Landon Lucas?” Truth is, Landon is our best rebounding big man. However, Landon does little else when he is on the floor. Bill Self, in his post game interview, was quoted as follows: : "Self said Michigan State’s defensive style — they three-quarter fronted the post — demanded the presence of Lucas, who is the Jayhawks’ best big man at sealing the post and creating angles. ‘That’s Landen Lucas’ best game,” Self said. “That’s what he does. He plays to getting answers. So I thought that was the percentage play for us, to play that well’.” So Self’s decision was not based on rebounding.

    2. Insight On Self’s Rationale: This quote from Self is our best insight regarding the question of “why” he chose Lucas over Mickelson or even Bragg. It is also terrific insight into “why” Self makes puzzling lineup decisions overall – decisions that the masses on the outside might not understand. However, this does not mean that Self’s decisions are correct. Actually, it demonstrates the irrationality of Self’s approach.

    3. Paralysis by Analysis: We’ve heard the phrase. An individual can’t get to the correct decision because they overanalyze things. Many times a decision just can’t get made. Other times, the correct decision is overlooked by hyper-focusing on items that, in the big picture, aren’t important. They focus on little bits of information, and place too much focus on that information. I’ve suspected for quite a while that Bill Self does exactly that – he makes decisions based on a certain item of information, while missing the bigger picture. While missing the much simpler analysis. Can’t see the forest for the trees. Folks that are intellectual, so to speak, in their approach, a susceptible to this paralysis. I"ve been around a lot of coaches over the years, multiple levels of youth sports through college. This is a very real dynamic. It’s very real in everyday life, as well. The quote regarding the rationale for playing Lucas evidences this “paralysis by analysis” because the stated logic is largely irrelevant to the bigger picture.

    4. Historical Paralysis: Over the years with coach Self, we’ve pounded our heads against the wall as to “why” coach Self values experience to a much greater degree than other coaches. Why he is many times resistant to simply go with the commonly viewed “better player”, many times the player that is the younger player. “Why” has been the question. I remember a poster at – a negator that went by jayhawkinnebr, or something like that. Had a cucumber as his avatar. He said one time, “Bill Self plays Brady Morningstar because he can do one thing well, throw it to Cole.” (or something to that effect). It was sheer brilliance. This is Bill Self. Many of us saw Tylel Reed and Brady Morningstar on the floor, and we were frustrated. We saw Elijah Johnson and Travis Releford on the bench. The answer is the analysis that caused the paralysis – each player did something the coach saw as crucial. Brady, the post feed. Reed, maybe crisp ball reversal. Obviously, Reed was smart, given his current avocation. I’ll bet quite a bit smarter than the average KU hoops player. We saw Oubre sit. We saw Cliff sit. It’s funny, but we had folks here actually argue that Lucas and Traylor should play over Cliff - a guy who just made an NBA roster. The reason Cliff wasn’t player was because of Bill Self, and Bill Self’s approach the “merit.” And we wonder why we could seal the deal on anyone other than Bragg last season until late, and why we have a marginal top 100 recruit as our only “in the bag” guy right now. Different topic. The Cliff effect.

    5. Flawed Approach: This approach, I believe, is significantly flawed. It is flawed because it leads to the inferior player being on the floor. I have posed this question to the KU faithful here now multiple times, who’s better, Jamari Traylor or Carlton Bragg? Actually, my phrasing was “If you could have Traylor or Bragg this season, who would you want on your team?” I have challenged anyone to speak up if they’d prefer Traylor. No one has. And that’s the point. Carlton Bragg is better. No doubt. Unassailable. So why does Bragg play 11 minutes and Traylor 18? It’s because of Self’s flawed analysis. Same question - If you could have Hunter Mickelson or Landen Lucas on your team the rest of this season, who would you prefer? I would suspect that question is a little closer call, but who here would prefer Lucas? The reality is that with Lucas, you have a one trick pony - he does rebound. With Traylor, Self had previously said in response to a question from Tom Keegan about why Traylor plays, Self said “Just energy.” Self’s approach disregards a very simple concept – just play the better player.

    6. Self Missing It – The Sealing Quote. Bill Self said that he went with Landon Lucas because he did a better job sealing to receive an entry pass, and he thought that would work better against Michigan St., given the way Michigan St. fronts the post. On many levels, this is ridiculous. One one level, it is not. On that level, let’s grant Self his point. i’m sure he’s right that Lucas does this best amongst big guys. With that in mind, what else does Lucas do (or not do) and what else is there to consider? a) Defense first - Self has insisted that we need to win with defense. Landon Lucas is rented mule defensively, as in, getting beaten as if he is that rented mule. Lucas has very limited ability to defend the post or change shots. We saw that last season. He can’t stop anyone with any sort of skill level. And further, he is not a rim protector. If you have the game recorded, go to the 6:50 mark. An MSU player drives into the lane, in Lucas’ face, easy bucket. Just one example. b ) Post-Scoring - The folly of Self’s comments on the reason he played Lucas seems quite obvious – Lucas has no real post scoring ability. Go to the offensive series directly following the defensive series noted above. Lucas seals, gets an entry pass, and can’t score at the rim. What is surprising about this? And I don’t have to spend time on Traylor near the bucket, right? His back to the basket skills are non-existent. c) Running the floor - Self has made a big point about wanting to play faster. Lucas is the antithesis of that approach. He’s slow, and plodding.

    7. Self Missing It, Again – The At The Rim Scoring: More quotes. Last season, Kansas was horrible scoring at the rim. We cited the stats regularly. And it was obvious from our performances. Self said this after the game at, after KU missed what were termed as “bunnies”: “It’s the same story as last year. We can’t get the ball in any tighter,” Self said of inside feeds. “Guys double clutching. We got the ball in to six inches sometimes and several times came out with nothing, some air-balls. We’ve got to improve there." Note to Coach Self – with your chosen personnel (Lucas/Traylor), we aren’t going to improve there. Coach Self is completely oblivious to the reality of his favored personnel of Ellis, Traylor, and Lucas. Ellis has skill. He finds a way many times. But Lucas and Traylor can’t handle the job. They can’t score on the block. So we’re getting the ball inside, “we can’t get the ball in any tighter”, but we can’t score. Why is this surprising? And no, we can’t get any better with your chosen personnel (Lucas/Traylor) – not against good teams like MSU. Against lesser teams, sure. But that’s the real fool’s gold. The illusion that we can score inside when we play weaker opponents. And as we saw last season, that didn’t work all of the time. And this is nothing new. As Self said, it’s the same as last season. This is why committing to Cliff Alexander would have been the most reasonable approach last season. Of course, later events made that moot. But the issues remain the same, as Self said.

    8. Self Missing It, Yet Again – The Bunnies: The post game “bunny” discussion was comical. It’s as if Bill Self lives in a vacuum. He completely ignores the defensive efforts of our opposition in creating difficulty inside. He is ignoring reality. We miss “bunnies” vs. MSU (and Stanford for that matter) because of their defense. MSU was active, in our face, and challenging each shot. With post players of limited skills, Kansas will fail inside in that environment. It’s exactly why we lost to Stanford. Stanford was big, and Perry Ellis (3-10) and Jamari Traylor (1-8 ) couldn’t match up. Tarik Black (6-8 ) could match up. Missing “bunnies” happens for a reason most of the time. Self’s mantra is to challenge shots. Why? Because folks miss challenged shots more often. That’s the real explanation. **More skilled big guys can score through the challenges.**But against MSU it is a misrepresentation to imply that we mainly missed open shots at the rim. Our shots were aggressively challenged. Self is creating a false reality, convincing himself that those missed “bunnies” were the real culprit. We are a little smarter than that.

    9. Back To the Basket Scoring: Self conceded in preseason that he was concerned about his team’s back to the basket scoring. I addressed that topic and Self’s quote a few weeks ago in this post about back to the basket scoring. Self, after the game Tuesday, again cited the back to basket scoring saying that for “us to win big, consistently, [we have] to be able to score with our back to the basket some.” We’ve watched enough KU basketball to know. I’m sorry, the secret is out. Lucas is a below average back to basket scorer, and Traylor’s back to the basket game is non-existent. Bill Self said after the game, "If guys struggle finishing from three or four feet with defense on ‘em, the whole thing is trying to make it an easier shot. We actually did that fairly well, we just came away with very little. We’ll get better at that.” No, that’s not entirely true. You have to have players that can score with the defense “on 'em.” Defenses will be “on 'em.” They were “on 'em” all last season. Thus the futility of Lucas/Traylor. Merely now, in November, saying the answer is getting easier shots is pure folly and delusion. It’s the same delusion that plagued Self’s decisions last season. Lucas and Traylor aren’t going to miraculously become back to the basket scorers.

    10. Play The Better Player - Mick over Lucas: Seems simple. It is. Play the better player. The rub is, so to speak, one’s assessment of “better.” And this, I think, has been a paralyzer for coach Self. The Lucas comment is a perfect example of what I think is going on. Self is missing the big picture down low. The big picture is that Hunter Mickelson is better than Lucas or Traylor. Mick can rim protect, he help limit penetration by opposing players (see that example on Lucas at 6:40), he has touch and skill around the basket – Fran Fraschilla said “Hunter Mickelson picking up where he left off at the World Univ. Games. Can score inside”, and Mick can hit that 10-15 foot step out jumper. How do we know this? We’ve seen it in action. Further, Mick is not slow and plodding like Lucas. He does run the floor aggressively. We’ve seen his score on the break, and on lobs. Further, Self has even said that Mickelson plays with energy. Does anyone say that about Lucas? The “we don’t see practice” stuff is baloney. We can see performance in the games. And we see incompetence from Lucas and Traylor. This is not to suggest that Mick is perfect, or won’t have bad games. He’s the better play over the long term of this season. Your total results will be better. Committing to him right now, full time rotation player over Lucas. Start him.

    11. Play The Better Player - Bragg Over Traylor: Watch Bragg in the high/low. He’s a natural. He’s made feeds from the top that defy logic. Self really wants to create scoring down low? There’s a partial answer. If Self wants to create scoring down low, if he’s really serious about that, then Carlton Bragg should be in that spot. He’s the better passer. If Self laments our inability to feed the post as he did last season, if it’s genuine, then there is no denying Bragg. Further, Bragg can clearly drill the 18 footer – he’s a tremendous shooter. He did it twice Tuesday. He can shoot. Do we ever see that from Jamari Traylor? Bragg proved at the WUGs and games leading up to MSU that he is an active rebounder. Much more so than Traylor. Bragg’s goose egg would be the anomaly much like Traylor’s 7 boards is an anomaly. And many times, boards come in bunches. Bragg has a low post game – it’s not stellar, but it is far superior to Traylor. He has the ability to hit a turnaround jumper on the block, or go over with a baby hook. Traylor does not. Bragg is longer and quicker than Traylor. He handles the ball much, much better. His ability to attack the rim is more diverse than Traylor, whose dribble drives are only right sided, and simply lowering the head and going. Traylor has no ability to adjust on the dribble as does Bragg. Bragg is a superior basketball talent, an NBA talent, who brings winning basketball skills to the court. And Bragg’s defense appears to be solid. One of the things that I’ve seen over the years is when anyone questions Self’s lineup decisions, a small contingent works awfully hard to justify his decision, mostly referring to subjective things like defense – hyper-focusing on certain failures of the alternative player while ignoring the flaws of Self’s chosen player in the same context. Perhaps, maybe, those same folks will open their minds to possibility that Self is flat wrong. That Self’s is limiting this team’s ceiling. Otherwise, please tell me why Traylor gives us a better chance to win than does Carlton Bragg. Like my comment with Mick, Bragg isn’t perfect, he’ll struggle, but he’s the better player by a long ways. Go with him now. If Self doesn’t start Mick, he could start Bragg with Ellis and go quick. Off subject, as above, could this be a reason why our recruiting is an issue right now?

    12. Mistaken Analysis: I was at least a little entertained by @Texas-Hawk-10 after the game. His defense of Lucas and dismissal of Bragg evidenced, respectfully, an unawareness of the big picture (did I say that nice enough?). I will say many of his comments have been spot on. But his defense of Lucas was that Lucas had 7 rebounds. For that matter, Traylor did too. He then lit into Bragg saying, see, he had no rebounds and 4 points in 11 minutes. Stats matter. He cited Mickelson in his 3 minutes of play. This sort of approach is extremely flawed. And I agree. Stats matter. But with Lucas and Traylor, we have a significant and undeniable book of futility. We have history. Last season, Traylor had 10 rebounds in the season opener, and then 7 against Kentucky in the blowout. But finished at .182 for the season, per minute. He had 4 rebounds in the 32 minutes in the exhibition games. While Lucas does rebound well, he does nothing else well. He’s not a rim protector, he doesn’t run the floor, he can’t score down low, he doesn’t have a jumper from 10 feet, he has nothing. How do we know this? We just do, right?

    13. @Jesse-Newell’s Comment On Self: In response to a question about Traylor and his playing time, @Jesse-Newell said the following, “Each of us has biases. I think Self likes him as a person and overlooks a lot because of that.” If that is true, Self is not doing his job. When there are inexplicable decisions, this sort of explanation makes more sense. Illogical reasons explain illogical decisions.

    14. "Self – “Just Like Last Season”: Self’s comment about our failures at the rims, and it being “just like last season” should be very concerning. In a big game, Self reverted to form. @Texas-Hawk-10 said after the WUG – Self hasn’t changed, see how he handled the Germany game. That’s what should concern us. Self reverted to form vs. Germany, or as I said at the time, his butt puckered. He refused to use the rotation of players that got him there. If we would have lost, it would have been a clear choke from the bench. But we eked it out, so all was justified. But now, we start anew. I said this during the summer – Self saw our problems last season. We all did. It is his job to adjust to make sure we’re not left with the disorganization and poor play that concluded last season. It is his job to adjust to his talent. I suggested specific tweaks to the high/low. I’ve watched. I don’t see anything substantively different. The nay-sayers saying Self would not adjust appear to be correct. And guys like me, who thought he would adjust, appear to be wrong.

    15. Haunting Reminders: I saw a funny comment that explained Brannen Greene’s suspension. That, of course, he shoots three pointers, and Self sees that a “conduct detrimental to the team.” Only it isn’t that funny when we see another season of the same tripe. What we saw Tuesday was a haunting reminder of 2014-15, only Self picked up where he left off. We took just 12 three pointers outside of the last minute. Just 12. Svi and Greene took zero three point attempts. It was interesting, Self commented that MSU won “basically on jump shots.” It’s Self rationalization that the victory by MSU was not quite as worthy as another type of win might be. But here we are again. A coach that devalues the jump shot, that has a team that can’t score inside against good competition, a team Self already said again was of his best shooting teams, with the player Self said was the “best shooter” he’s had at Kansas (Brannen Greene). Meanwhile, we’re playing Landon Lucas, who can’t score reliably at the rim anyway, because he can seal on a three quarter deny defense? And we’re continuing to give Traylor huge minutes when he is an offensive albatross, gets pushed around, has limited skills, and is a poor rebounder? This is Kansas basketball?

    Someone is not seeing the forest for the trees.

  • @HighEliteMajor Great post as always. I agree with most if not all even as a guy who thinks Bill does very little wrong. Hard to argue with some of the evidence recently that Bill is stubborn to a fault.

    The one thing that bothers me the most about the “missing bunnys” is not really that the other team is playing great defense. It is that not only are we missing them (or in Landen’s case air balling them) but we are not drawing much contact. We shot incredible from the line but our bigs just don’t get many And 1 opportunities as they never try and dunk. Is it lack of athleticism? Is it lack of motivation? Do they truly believe like Bobby Knight that a dunk is “only worth two points”? I was at the game. UK fans were going absolutely nuts and a lot of it was based on exciting plays. Dunks. Oops. Duke got flustered due to all of this dunking. KU fans were comically quiet. Why? Part of the reason is we played a boring game of layups and jumpers. Perry putting in layups. Where are the out of bounds oops to B Mac? The back door dunk to T Rob? The outlet pass to Julian Wright? My only answer is that we don’t have the horses and that our post play and small forward play is simply inferior athletically to our previous squads who threw the ball up for dunks on a regular basis.

    Sorry for my vent on dunking but it has really been bugging me. UK is going to dunk in our face in AFH in January as they play above the rim. Just trying to come to terms with it early.

  • @HighEliteMajor Brilliant.

  • If current 5 Star talent is not showcased, future 5 Star talent will not come.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    Spot on. Nailed it. Indefensible.

    All I have is questions.

    1. HCBS wants to win, right? So why would he put us at a deficit by playing more minutes to Lucas & Traylor?

    2. He wants back to the basket scoring, right? Couldn’t Bragg & Mick provide more back to basket scoring?

    3. Has HCBS really embraced the OAD or just the recruiting of OAD’s? Could he actually think that if he doesn’t play them enough minutes they’ll come back for additional seasons?

    4. HEM you didn’t comment on Svi. But if Selden keeps playing twice as many minutes as Svi w/out WUG production then could Self again have a blind spot.

    5. Could we outscore most teams if we ran action for our three point shooters? What if we shot 25 threes by Brannen, Perry, Svi, Selden, Mason & Graham? Think we could have beaten MSU?

    6. @Jaybate 1.0 has referenced Okie ball often. Admittedly I know very little of Hank Iba and then Eddie Sutton. Iba coached before the three point line so it makes sense that he would have wanted to score as close to the basket to increase shooting %. But does Self really think scoring 3 points instead of 2 is a bad thing? Or that it is fools gold and thus not sustainable? Or that’s it not “real” basketball? Anyone watch Golden State recently? They shoot 3’s which draws the defense away from the basket and thus opens up the lane for driving and passing into the post.

    I love Kansas Basketball and Coach Self…I REALLY DO!!! But he needs to play to his current rosters strengths!

    Last question:

    1. Did Self coach differently in 2008? Remember the semi final against UNC? My favorite game maybe of all time. Rush, Chalmers, Sheron and even Russ Rob had the green light to shoot 3’s whenever they wanted…at least that’s my memory.

    What’s changed? Assistant coaches could be one variable?

    What if HCBS fired Snacks after Maui and replaced him w/ @HighEliteMajor? I don’t know HEM personally but I’ve read over the years that some people know him and I think he coaches(ed) in KC area?

    I know it ain’t happening but dream w me! If HEM were to have Self’s ear and could gently lovingly suggest some of these changes who in here thinks KU wouldn’t become a better team?

  • My 2 cents worth? I think Self has a machismo issue with Izzo. I think he wanted to beat him w/o playing a perimeter game … beat the Green Meanie at his own game - down low…etc. Now, my opinion might be worth 2 cents, or less than that, but I’m trying to figure it out myself, and its the best I can come up with…

  • Its time for Self to go. Its in his and KU’s best interest. He needs a change of scenery and KU needs new fresh blood at the top. His attitude is hurting the players, disturbing the chemistry , annoying the fan base and downgrading the program. KU needs a new HC.

  • @HighEliteMajor Copy/paste, send that ISH to the Coach. He needs to see that and get head out of his arse. He needs to get his manhood challenged. Hit upside the head with a brick. Anything! Just to realize he has to play our best players more minutes. He has to play Bragg and Svi and Mick more minutes to make sure they are ready for crunch time in the Big 12 and in March.

  • @HighEliteMajor When Diallo finally gets cleared do you think he will play Traylor and Lucas over him too? Right now, it sort of looks like it.

  • @HighEliteMajor going all the way back to the start of your post about Self’s quote about playing Lucas.

    I almost forgot about posting this digesting the other points of your post.

    Why is it that Self feels the need to coach to the game style the other coach is known to excel at? Is it for bragging rights at coaching clinics that he beat them at their own game?

    Why doesn’t he enforce his game plan on the other team?

    In my opinion is that his team this year and the two previous teams didn’t have an identity to enforce.

    Is it the high/low game? If it is the. Run it to a fault. Get the bugs in the game that can score down low and open the lane up for Perry.

    Is it the dribble weave either with three guards or 4 with Perry out there too? I’d so then run it and run it until you get the penetration from up top to get the easy basket in the paint.

  • Did everyone who has posted on this thread re-watch the game?? Easy to do on espn 3 I’ll bet HEM did. I did- and specifically re-watched a lot of plays to track what players were doing away from the ball. I saw a lot of things, but The biggest thing i saw was not good D near the end of the game by certain kansas players, combined with valentine having a great night. i am by no means a basketball expert, but it seemed that MSU guarded the perimeter very well, and our guards were instructed to drive a lot apparently. In other words, i didnt see that our game plan was profoundly mis-guided. I didnt see that running screens and plays designed to open up out 3-pt shooters would have worked any better with how MSu was playing d. Lucas had some good plays, and some really really bad ones. Traylor had a very solid game- great defense, boxing out, and he picked some good spots to drive which paid off. We had the lead for most of the game against a quality opponent on a neutral site. Bragg had good plays, and some out of position mistakes as well. But the question posed here (i think) is if Mickelson and bragg played a lot more, we would have won, and in the case of Bragg, the more experience he gets, the better he will help us as the season progresses. I cant argue with the latter, but the former I’m definitely not sure about.

  • Not to debate any points in your post, but to me, the most frustrating thing is that fact that a group of juniors & seniors seemed to have no cohesiveness and no leadership on the court. Especially considering they had the benefit of playing together over the summer.

  • @HighEliteMajor Don’t know if you recall, but even last year I clamored for Mick when it became obvious the LL couldn’t hit bugs bunny with Yosemite Sam’s shotgun & Cliff was never to be an integral part of our season(when was that ?Jan-Feb?) Ya got 4 speedsters runnin the floor & a rented mule settin the pace? Yeah his angles are good but he can’t hit the ocean with a beach ball. When I saw Bragg at Sprint last summer I was amazed how silky smooth he looks for a freshman & thought this kids gonna be great if Self just plays him. Also Vick is so quick I know he can D up on a lot of upper classmen already. but without adequate PT these guys might take 3+ years to mature under Self when it could be half that time under many other HC’s that were not continually trying to beat square pegs in round holes… Maybe the red pill/blue pill thread was a little ahead of it’s time but now a lot of rats are seeing the habitual failures of the past 2 & now 3 years, only this year without a 5 star recruit to shoulder blame. PS. the rented mule simile reminds me of a dear old & long passed friend I valued very deeply. Thanks for the laugh HEM. Another PHOF post-keep em coming.

  • @AsadZ

    Be careful what you ask for because it might come true. I know it feels like we have hit a dead spot… and maybe we have. But sometimes you have to weather through the storm to later find the sunshine.

    I don’t think anyone in here questions Self’s overall ability to coach. However… it feels like Einstein’s insanity occurring before our eyes and all of us are screaming trying to get us on to a different path. It really wouldn’t take that much real change to flip the switch with this team and with this program.

    Now… will enough changes happen to make a difference? I don’t know… it is pure speculation.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    You just continue to come up to the plate and knock it out. Great job!

    Stand back and look at everything you posted above.

    I’m thinking to myself… Isn’t there really just one issue with this Kansas basketball program?

    Isn’t it all about our current lack of ability to develop players?

    For example… this constant discussion about Traylor. I know he has improved quite a bit in his 4+ years of Kansas basketball… but he hasn’t improved enough to be a big time contributor. If we were a program that really developed players, wouldn’t Self have a reason to play Traylor? For one, he would be a much better ball player. And we should see him improving almost game by game (which we don’t).

    None of our guys should be reaching anywhere near their maximum talent level. They all should be making huge gains from year-to-year. They all should be coming back from summer and hit fall basketball at a much higher level.

    So… Self invests years and years in Traylor. And for what? For a guy only marginally improved over his half-decade of Kansas basketball experience?

    This is the reason why Traylor should be playing. But it doesn’t hold water because his game isn’t advancing. The experience he just had getting beat by MSU will do nothing for his advancement, because we don’t have developmental coaches to help make advancement possible.

    Gosh… are these kids going into the video room every week and do they go through the game footage and discuss what is wrong and what is right, and what to do to correct the wrongs? No. There is no way that happens. We see the same old redundant mistakes.

    Here is a list of just a few that always bothers me to no end:

    1. Rebounding - Lucas is the only guy that has a clue about sealing off for rebounds. The others don’t have a clue what they are doing. Traylor takes his over-energetic butt and he over-runs the goal 90% of the time and gets directly UNDER the basket to rebound. The only rebound coming to him is a made basket through the goal. No one on this team has been coached on eyeing a shot to get a very good idea of where the rebound will go. It usually goes back the direction it came, or it is like a bank shot in billiards… and mirrors to the other side at the same angle. That is where something like 75% of rebounds go. No one on this team has been taught that 3rd grade lesson in rebounding. I was doing that when I was 8 f#%&ing years old!

    2. Fakes - I will never forget last years monster beating we took from Kentucky. And how I was yelling “shot fake” at my tv from the opening tip-off. Even the crappy announcers were screaming at Kansas to use a shot fake at halftime to stop embarrassing ourselves. The entire game was an embarrassment. Not only the final score, but how the game played. We couldn’t have beat that team if they had to play with only 3 players. They still would have blocked 15 shots or so. Once again… we needed to learn the plethora of fakes used in basketball in 3rd grade.

    3. Tempo - So rarely do we control tempo. Even if we play a total crap team… we usually don’t run the game clock. Pity. And we also waste having all the depth because we don’t run in enough fresh bodies and run an aggressive game to wear down our opponents.

    4. Depth - Speaking of depth… instead of wearing other teams down, we get worn down. By season’s end, all our main players are totally beat up. No wonder they can’t produce in March. And then… one of them goes down and we have to bring out a player from the “deep freeze” and see if he can knock his frozen rust off. Using depth not only helps keep players fresh and reduce their chances of injury, it also is good for “team concept.” Just ask the Royals… who played their entire team in the World Series.

    5. Offense - I mean… stagnant offense. Self will never be noted for his offense. We have wasted so much talent that has walked through our doors because we don’t properly use their talents. A square peg is a square peg. It will never fit in a round hole. This Kansas team will never become a solid interior post scoring team. Never… even if their lives depended on it. Yet… that is where we will waste the entire year of practice, effort, focus… on become something we will never be. Talk about insanity. Hard to knock Einstein on his definition. Someone could write a book on how bad our offense is. We run nothing for the perimeter shot. Nothing.

    6. Shot Creation - I am sick over the Brannen Greene experience. This should be his last year at Kansas because he should have been developed into a lottery pick by now. Instead… it is doubtful he will even get drafted after his senior year and will be forced to look abroad to make a living. That totally sucks. He came to Kansas very raw but with the gift of shooting. He is finally starting to make improvements in the rest of his game. Finally. At this rate, there is no way he is ready for draft day after his senior year. His development is moving at a snail’s pace. He should have been a top 10 pick after his junior year. None of our guys understand shot creation… creating scoring space… shot/body/eye fakes… exploiting the seams of a zone… developing “sweet spots” on the court… etc. etc. etc. Just flip on the tube and watch Wiggins. You won’t even recognize his play from his Kansas days… just 18 months ago! And the NBA isn’t really built to develop players.

    7. Game Ready - One of the few games in the Self era we came ready to play was the semi-finals in ‘08. We came out ready against UNC. Haven’t really seen us ready to play since that game. I don’t know why it is so tough to get a team psyched to play… the only reason I can think of why they aren’t psyched to play is our coach isn’t psyched to play. I don’t know. I’m not at practices or in huddles or on the travel bus/plane. How many times do we see this in March? A single-elimination tournament and we don’t come ready to play. It is friggin’ embarrassing. Many games we win just because of the complete talent advantage… and that is the only reason.

    I don’t think our issues will come even close to being resolved just by shuffling in different players for more PT. The problem is our lack of ability to develop.

  • @Bosthawk Good points in here. The only real questionable move was not playing Mickelson. Otherwise, Traylor has by far the best defensive feet and energy on the current playing roster.

    Also, people are underestimating the impact that Diallo will have when/if he gets cleared to play. Look at the footage from the McDonald’s game. Not only does he beat everyone down the floor, he seems to do it with ease. People are calling it a high “motor” or whatever, but that’s not exactly it in the traditional sense. He just always plays that quickly, and it’s within his capability. I’d say it’s athleticism combined with cardiovascular prowess.

  • @HighEliteMajor Outstanding commentary. It is apparent that that Self’s blind spot is huge. He wants to win, but his instincts betray him in classic Greek tragedy fashion. His great qualities will continue to keep him successful, but it seems he’s hit his peak if he doesn’t significantly change his ways of thinking and seeing. You’ve called those out perfectly. I’m particularly concerned as you are that comments post MSU game reveal Self’s mind that he can continue to tinker and make slight adjustments and better luck in our performance to win.

    I especially agree and like your take down of the “we don’t see practice” argument. Practice is for games and games are where we see results or the lack thereof.

    We’ll continue to have success, but the shine is off in my heart and mind. The MSU game was critical. We’re 1-4 now in the Champions Classic I think and this year we were the better team in everyway but when we played the game especially a lack of adaptation when MSU made their run in the 2nd. All the shortcomings were put on display for everyone to see.

  • Hmmm…If Coach Self is such a poor coach, one has to ask how in the world did he manage to win all those game at KU? I imagine what KU record would be if one of the posters in this forum would be the coach…I bet we go undefeated and win the NBA title to boot.

  • @JayHawkFanToo No one said he was a poor coach. Reality is, like any leader, your strengths can be the seed of your own undoing. We all want to see him take the next step. The passion around this loss is due in part to what we saw at the WUG. The seeds of what could be an adjustment to take Self and our Jayhawks to the next level.

    Do you think we will win it all this year playing Traylor/Lucas the majority of the minutes and reverting to what became known as bad ball?

  • Banned


    So are you saying that no fan should ever question what a Head coach does? So the only ones that can question what HCBS does is another coach?


  • @Bwag

    Have you read some of the posts?


    Questioning just about everything that Coach Self , one of the winningest coaches of all time, does is the equivalent of telling LeBron…how did you ever win all those MVP awards or Bill Gates…how did you ever became a billionaire? You have to admit that. much like Coach Self, they must have done things mostly right and not mostly wrong as some poster appear to indicate.

    My point is not that we should not question his decision…but come on…he must be doing somethings right…right?

  • Banned


    Hey I Hope HCBS figures it out, but it looks like to me he’s sticking to his guns on his way or the highway… You think fans are chirping now, wait until KU loses in the second around again.

    Holy Cow.

  • @DoubleDD

    …and if he wins the whole enchilada fans will be saying how good he is and how well his system works…I guess its is just human nature…

  • Banned


    You would be correct.

  • @JayHawkFanToo Yes, and short of one or two saying he should go, the general context is for Self and us to take the next step…adapt to the changing environment.

    For example, Newtonian physics was brilliant and explains lots of phenomena and issues, but then Einstein revealed that Newtonian physics didn’t explain it all. Then Bohr and others even took physics further and blew Einstein’s mind “I can not believe that God plays dice” or something like that. To praise Einstein is not to belittle Newton.

    All were great authorities in physics. I highly suggest the following book: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Kuhn which may be the most quoted book outside the Bible in the 2nd half of the 20th c. The link gives a good recap of the major issues around the power and shortcomings of paradigms and though referencing science is true of any field.

    Bottom line we all want to win and we’ve done a good share of it…but our failures have been spectacular. Self has waded into the realm of top tier talent recruiting, jury is out on his ability to mentally adjust to all that brings to personnel playing and scheming. The concern is that we may not be adapting to the changes in the game and may have become too inflexible.

  • @Bwag Got myself reading these notes: So instructive whether science or basketball:

    Chapter I - Introduction: A Role for History.

    Kuhn begins by formulating some assumptions that lay the foundation for subsequent discussion and by briefly outlining the key contentions of the book. A scientific community cannot practice its trade without some set of received beliefs (p. 4). These beliefs form the foundation of the “educational initiation that prepares and licenses the student for professional practice” (5). The nature of the “rigorous and rigid” preparation helps ensure that the received beliefs exert a “deep hold” on the student’s mind. Normal science “is predicated on the assumption that the scientific community knows what the world is like” (5)—scientists take great pains to defend that assumption. To this end, “normal science often suppresses fundamental novelties because they are necessarily subversive of its basic commitments” (5). Research is “a strenuous and devoted attempt to force nature into the conceptual boxes supplied by professional education” (5). A shift in professional commitments to shared assumptions takes place when an anomaly “subverts the existing tradition of scientific practice” (6). These shifts are what Kuhn describes as scientific revolutions—“the tradition-shattering complements to the tradition-bound activity of normal science” (6). New assumptions (paradigms/theories) require the reconstruction of prior assumptions and the reevaluation of prior facts. This is difficult and time consuming. It is also strongly resisted by the established community. When a shift takes place, “a scientist’s world is qualitatively transformed [and] quantitatively enriched by fundamental novelties of either fact or theory” (7).

  • @Bwag

    Are you actually comparing the difference between Newtonian Physics and the Theory of Relativity as explained by Einstein with the evolution of college basketball over the lats 20 years? No offense intended but that is laughable.

    The game of basketball has not changed hardly at all in the last 20 year other than pro players getting paid insane salaries, where the change in physics was a monumental change.

  • @drgnslayr For how much longer can we take this misery. He has lost the edge. He gets outcoached more often now. He cant make in game adjustments. He is stuck on his own ideas. This is yet another FF caliber team and Self once again is killing it.

    The book on Self has been written and the ink will not dry. Time to move on KU nation.

  • My point in posting this thread was to inspire discussion related to an important element in Self’s approach to coaching. It’s a pretty impressive line of comments.

    First, though – @AsadZ: I do appreciate very much your passion and comments. Regarding coach Self, though, think of coach Self as your brother. He’s one of us. He’s ours. We’re his. We’re in this together. if you truly think he should be fired, that’s fine. But I’d ask that given everything that you know and what he’s done for this program, is that what you would do if you could make the choice? My personal view is that the discussion points are focused on “how can we improve.” “We” includes Self. I’ve said this before – I love the high/low. I love Self’s approach to the game. When others have called for a major change in the system, I have suggested strategic tweaks. My frustration is that Self has an extreme form of tunnel vision. @Bwag referred to it as a “blind spot.”

    @drgnslayr Your post was terrific. You have mentioned this lack of player development a few times. When we see Traylor marginally improve, Selden struggle for two seasons, Tyshawn Taylor not really improve until the last 15-20 games of his career, it does cause questions. I would offer that it has a lot do with talent as well. I said this after the first season of Jamari Traylor. There is a very discernible ceiling. I have said that about Lucas. A guy like TRob, not so much – there is a ceiling, but it’s hard to see. I said the opposite about Tyshawn. His approach to the game held him back, as opposed to being a pass first PG. I think he could have been amazing. But when you have Traylor and Lucas, they can only be so good. No matter what Self does, they aren’t going to be reliable back to the basket scorers vs. top D-1 competition, no more than you are. There is a talent ceiling.

    You have made a great point on Traylor and his rebounding. It is direct and on point – he fails to block out, he overruns the ball, he doesn’t get to the right angle, he goes under the basket. I would suggest that he is bumping into his ceiling. What is easy for some, is not easy for others. I’ve watched him a lot. And I think it is mental. I have seen him simply freeze or do the slight drift on a shot (this is usually what happens). It’s like a mental lapse. He just doesn’t think quick enough in that situation. Kind of the opposite of Frank Mason.

    @globaljaybird Yes, you were on the Mick bandwagon. From my standpoint, I just hadn’t seen enough from him to be sure. But the WUGs were definitive. It’s all about Red Pill/Blue Pill, my friend. Of course, that blue pill makes life mighty nice.

    @Blown I would say that MSU is just one game. So we should not think this is what we will have this season. It was a second half collapse. The reason for the upset from me is that we saw a team get out coached vs. Stanford; we saw a team function at a high level last season – 21-4. We saw Self dismantle that approach. We saw us limp home and get embarrassed by WSU. We saw the WUGs and Self saying "he learned a lot. We hoped for some adjustment or change from Self (or tweaks) heading into this season. MSU seemed to indicate more of the same, and worse, low three point rate. But we’ll see how it plays out.

    @Bosthawk - Yes, I did re-watch the game. There were instances where Traylor did play well. Most games there are. He’s not a total disaster of course. He has some very nice stretches from time to time. He does move at a good pace on defense, but against size, he’s way overmatched. Question, though, do you think Mickelson’s (instead of Lucas) would have changed the dynamic on the drives to the hoop by MSU; and second, Mickelson could have functioned better offensively down low vs. MSU than Lucas?

    @JRyman That is a great point about coaching to the other team’s style. I suspect it is talent based. Meaning, if we had TRob, there would be no discussion. Self may see Lucas and Mick as close in talent, and thus will select based on match-up. But you’re saying what I’m saying. Play the best guy – impose your game plan. I’m all for adjustments, though. Against certain opponents, you have to adjust – MSU wasn’t that type of team. Use your best players to do that. Now, I will say that if we’re playing a team with a quick 6’8" post man, that plays small, that has a quick 4, it is hard to play a guy like Mick there, just like it was hard to play Withey or Cole. That’s an extreme example. I like the high/low. I’d run that. BUT … an emphasis of creating three point looks out of that. It would be a great balance. And really, it was much of what we saw the first half of last season (but with perhaps a few more threes).

    @Lulufulu I would hope Self would play Diallo over Traylor and Lucas. Could you imagine Ellis, Diallo, Bragg and Mick? Wow.

    @KUSTEVE Maybe that applies to all quality opponents? Remember, we tried to pound it inside against UK last season. Remember what Self said? He said we don’t change who we are just because they’re tall – he said that after the blow-out. That quote floored me.

    @VailHawk Thank you very much for your reply. I think you literally sent @JayHawkFanToo into convulsions. Your questions are all very well placed. Questions 1 and 2 are really the puzzling ones for me. There is no rational argument that the pair of Lucas/Traylor are better for winning basketball than Mick/Bragg. None. One game, maybe. Overall, no way.

    On your Selden point, Selden deserved the bench last season. I suggested that he move to the 6th man role and see if that sparked him. Of course, I was so impressed by his WUGs performance that I crowned him Big 12 POY for this season. I think Self should let Selden play out for 10 games then assess. Moving Svi to a starter would hopefully spark Selden, who would trade roles with Svi.

    On three point shooting, I do agree with Self. You can’t always rely on shooting. But you can’t always rely on your inside game, either. Self laments missing bunnies from the other night. Case in point. It’s a matter of playing to your strength without discarding your identity. Play the high/low, play inside/out, but scheme and focus on creating three point looks so your shooting appx. 18-20 per game. Some games will be a bit less, some might be a bit more. Self has set plays he could run 6-7 times per game for three point looks. I’ve seen them. They’re good plays. The weave creates those looks, like the other night. It’s not a set play for a three, but one where the three is created in flow.

    By the way, you kid about the assistant coach thing. But I’m guessing his assistants have made suggestions and have been shut down, or know better than to make suggestions. Bill Self is the boss, micro-manager, all powerful. That has its advantages, for sure, but it presents objectivity problems (in all leaders).

    @KansasComet - Put yourself in John Calipari’s spot. Or Coach K. Or Izzo. How do you differentiate your approach from Kansas? What’s interesting about that five start talent is that it usually helps you win.

    @joeloveshawks Great point … no dunks. I love your example. That tells me we were out coached in that element. No shame vs. Izzo. But he stopped us. No lobs, no inbounds dunks, nothing. Out coached in that respect.

    @DcHawker - Thanks … I always want to make sure there isn’t sarcasm font. But I’ll read it literally. Appreciated.

    @DoubleDD It is interesting. But do you notice the softening? “mostly right”?

  • @JayHawkFanToo yes, I am and it’s not crazy. It puts the discussion in a realm that you have now accepted a paradigm shift to illustrate the point. The point of Kuhn’s paradigm discussion focused around science is true of any discipline. Basketball included. New rules (3 pt line, shot clock), more athletic players, new eligibility reg’s (OAD). All of those have impact.

    The point of Newton v Einstein is that phsyics saw physical reality through a lens of Newtonian phsyics. There were anomolies not accounted for by Newton. The science world either didn’t see them, dismissed them, or explained them away. Einstein crashed that and opened up new ways to view reality. Bill Self takes anomolies from his team and dismisses them: “we just missed bunnies and we’ll do better”…you know he could say the same thing about missing 3 point shots in games…but he doesn’t he takes a completely different approach and calls the 3 point shot “fools gold”. How many times has fools gold ended our season?

    One could argue that Calipari is doing that to college bball with his recruiting. One could argue and many have on this site that the 3 point line is becoming more integral to winning basketball with 3 points better than 2.

  • @HighEliteMajor I would start by keeping the promises made during recruiting. In this day and age of social media, these kids communicate with one another. 5 Star Freshman play from day one under Calipari, Coach K, or Izzo. Our 5 Star talent is not always showcased and that will hurt in recruiting for years to come. Self must showcase Bragg and Diallo if and when he is cleared. The best players should play. I am sure there is still a way to find “loyalty” minutes for players that have been in the program for years that give good effort, but unfortunately do not have the talent.

  • bill self is not goning nowere

  • @blackmild33 Outside of one or two, don’t think anyone wants him to. Just make the adaptation to higher talent pool he started to get.

  • @AsadZ Better question. How much longer do we have to read the drivel that emanates from your keyboard? You have contributed NOTHING to any discussion on this board. I would call you a one trick pony if you had a trick.

  • @sfbahawk No one is asking to read my posts. Its your own choice.

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