More Paralysis And Disinformation: Lucas "Our Best Big"

  • Following Kansas’ close call against Harvard, coach Self attempted to attach reason to the unreasonable. It’s a common theme. But let’s start from an initial premise: Play the best player. This isn’t difficult. But it is (and always has been difficult) for coach Self.

    1. Prior Paralysis By Analysis: I posted a prior thread on Self’s Paralysis By Anaylsis. The Harvard contest has reinforced that theory. As I had suggested after the MSU game, Self got caught up on the micro-analysis of certain elements of the game, and was missing the big picture of playing the best player. Against Michigan State, 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’.”

    2. Play the Best Player: May I revisit a theme: Play the best player. It does translate well from sport to sport. And is a generally accepted approach to winning. There are exceptions to that to be sure. But rarely.

    3. Diallo/Bragg vs. Harvard: So let’s look at what happened against Harvard. First, Cheick Diallo entered the game at the 13:00 minute mark and Kansas led 13-10 (not 13-12 as I said yesterday). At that time, Diallo was paired with Bragg. When Bragg left the game for Lucas at 9:22, Kansas led Harvard 29-16. Lucas entered the game to guard “#4” (more on that below). Diallo then left at the 7:56 mark, and Kansas was up 30-16. In five minutes, with mostly Diallo and Bragg on the floor, Kansas extended it’s lead to 14 points, and did this in just five minutes of play. Very importantly, Diallo/Bragg fit the strength of our team – playing fast. Against Loyola, one play stood out to me. Diallo got the ball on the block, he got doubled, and he turned and shot the ball to the far block to Bragg for the easy lay-up. Post to post passing and creation. And is there any better post player on this team than Bragg, passing from the high to the low?

    4. De Facto Suspension: As I mentioned after the game, Self has now imposed a de facto suspension on one of our top talents. After fighting for months to gain Diallo’s freedom, Self sent him back to the clink by playing the young man only 7 minutes. And with it, at least 13 minutes (if not more) of much needed playing time and development. But why, why would coach Self do this?

    5. The Play That Sealed Diallo’s Fate: Go to 10:20 mark of the 1st half. Harvard’s “#4” scored on a little left handed hook over Diallo. And that was it. That is what sealed Diallo’s fate. Self then sent Landen Lucas to the scorer’s table to sub in for Bragg. Lucas then immediately began guarding “#4.” Based on this play, #4’s second basket of the game, Diallo can’t guard him.

    6. Irony Of Subbing For Bragg: In a small bit of Irony in subbing for Bragg, after “#4” scored, KU went down the floor and Bragg scored at the rim, on a layup. You don’t have to be looking for irony to have that slap you in the face. We couldn’t score at the rim – he scored. And we scored playing fast. Irony many times provides our answer.

    7. Self’s Quote on Lucas – Paralysis By Analysis: “He’s by far our best big,” Kansas coach Bill Self said of Lucas. "He defended (Zena Edosomwan) great. And (he’s) a terrific player. (Lucas) was by far the only big guy we had who could guard him one-on-one. Landen was by far the best player in the game,” Self said. “He did a great job on No. 4, Zena. He’s a monster. Landen didn’t even need traps for the most part.” Self also said, “Landen was our best big,” Self said. “The game situation was the only reason why (Bragg and Diallo) didn’t play more.” Let’s skip over the hyperbole and untruths and go right to the fact – Lucas “did a great job” guarding #4. That’s true. This entire discussion assumes that. But we are not stupid. We know that Lucas is not, was not, and never will be our best big. Say it if you want to, coach Self, but it’s a complete and utter fabrication. A Self-serving fabrication to justify your poor decisions in this game. It’s just like saying “_____” was the best player against Loyola. A fabrication.

    8. Here We Go Again: What I would like to here is the defense of Bill Self – Landon Lucas is “by far our best big.” And “Landen was by far the best player in the game.” We are living in an alternative universe here where certain phases of the game are completely ignored. I checked the box score. It was very hard not to notice that Landen Lucas played 24 minutes and scored 5 points. And had zero blocks. One assists (no real post to post action). It is also difficult not to notice that when Harvard players enter the lane, or any players, Landen Lucas provides zero rim protection. It is also hard not to notice that Landen Lucas is the slowest player on the team, but a long shot – on a team whose identity is playing fast.

    9. Kansas’ Entire Game Dictated By The 2012 #82 Player Zena Edosomwan: That’s right, Bill Self adjusted Kansas’ game based on “#4”. You know why? Because he is a “monster.” Bill Self sacrificed out team’s identity because #4 is “a monster.” This approach is short-sighted, overly reactive, and this approach simply denies the value of other elements of the game. Go back and watch from 13:00 minutes to 9:22 minutes. Watch the pace of the game. This is when Bragg exited for Lucas. Kansas was up 29-16 after leading 13-10.

    10. Fixation on One Element: Gross vs. Net: Bill Self is obviously not in business. The key is the entire picture, not a portion of it. Perhaps we try it this way. In 24 minutes of play, does anyone here believe that Diallo would be limited to 5 points? Diallo scored 13 the other night, scored 4 points in 7 minutes yesterday. Does anyone think that Diallo might have drawn a foul, or two, or three? He drew a foul in his 7 minutes and though he didn’t convert, he was very active around the rim Perhaps even more importantly, pace of the game. The dynamic of the game. Landen Lucas is a sloth. Playing fast is this team’s identity, and it was on full display from 13:00 to 9:22 of the first half. Landen Lucas slows our pace. Further, Diallo’s aggressiveness in the post creates fouls on the opponents. There is no doubt that Lucas rebounds well. However, Self seems content to have an offensive dead spot down low, either with Lucas or with “______”. Landen Lucas flat didn’t shoot. He shot the ball 2 times. He did nothing to put pressure on their inside players (trying to score, drawing fouls). Nothing. Further, I am relatively confident that the combo of Diallo and Bragg would rebound sufficiently (and that Diallo would meet or exceed Lucas if permitted to show his wares).

    11. Missing The Big Picture: My opinion is that we have found the answer we have long sought – why? Why does Bill Self play guys that the rest of the basketball world (coach K, Izzo, Boeheim, Williams, etc) would not play? Why does he sit highly talented players in favor of pedestrian player, or players that are below average? Because he fixates on certain elements of the game and overlooks the “net” contributions of players. He’s see that Lucas may be better in one element, and then he we discard the other elements of the game in favor of the one defined element. We saw it in his comments vs. MSU, we see it now. And see the next paragraph.

    12. Remember Cliff and Lucas?: After the WVU game on Feb. 19 last season, the one where Cliff played just 6 minutes (more on that below), Self said the following: “The last two games, it’s easier for (Landen) to play good than it is Cliff,” Self said. “Without being critical, Landen is much better against the zone. He has a feel on gaps. He’s much better in pressure, handling the ball, passing the ball than Cliff. It was easier for him to look better in the last two games than Cliff.”

    13. Cliff vs. Diallo: To put yesterday in perspective, Diallo played just 7 minutes. Cliff never played less than 10 minutes in any game other than the Feb. 16 WVU game. Many speculated that Cliff’s time near the end of the season was because Self knew of the NCAA issues. Doesn’t matter. Cliff is view by many, many folks as a poor match for Self. Claimed he didn’t play with a motor. Yet Diallo, supposedly the best match for Self, can’t really find the floor? Against the power that is Harvard, in AFH? Good Lord.

    14. Back to Bunnies Again: Self said, “Fans will think I’m nuts … I thought we played pretty well. We got the ball exactly where we wanted it. We didn’t have any big guys score the ball very well today. We missed a lot of free throws that obviously could have made the game less interesting late. (But) I don’t leave here discouraged at all because I know we can make free throws and I know we can make layups,” Yes, we got it where we wanted it, Coach, but we struggle to score in those spots against height/length and many times anyone else. Is this Groundhog day? You played Landen Lucas who just can’t score inside, period. That limited our options to just Perry Ellis, who is as soft as a lilly and has proven ineffective against height/length over and over. We aren’t missing wide open, easy shots. Further, if we make 5 more free throws, that’s 18-25 – over 70%. That doesn’t change our struggles in this game.

    15. Three Point Shooting: As mentioned yesterday, we only shot 14 three pointers. Self laments, again, missing shots near the basket as he always does. Our team identity is playing fast AND shooting the ball. Yet in a game that called for exploiting the three point line, we shot only 14 times. Harvard must be one hell of team, guys. We can’t score inside, and we can only get off 14 three pointers. By the way, we shot 42.8% from three so Harvard wasn’t that great at the job. We’re in serious trouble, folks, if the vaunted Harvard Crimson can stop us inside and out. The fact is, as usual, the three point shot was not a priority. But we “got the ball exactly where we wanted it.” Foolish.

    16. Outcoached: It seems quite apparent that someone got out coached yesterday, and that someone was able to win the game simply and solely because of superior talent – by 6 points, over Harvard, at home, in AFH. Make no mistake, Bill Self put this team in a position to lose this game. This is the type of game that we discuss ad nauseam. But I think we have at least a substantially partial answer – it is paralysis by analysis. A hyper focus on one element or two, that compromises the big picture.

    We needed to just take it to Harvard, run them out of the gym, shoot them out of the gym, and out score them. Use “pressure” as @dinarhawk mentioned yesterday. But Self, as usual, won’t just won’t trust his offense. He’s like Buddy Ryan in suit. Our offense, and that style of play, was on full display during a nice 4 minute stretch in the first half when neither Lucas, nor Ellis, were in the game. Instead, our coach decided that playing the arguably better defensive match up against Harvard’s big man was the better choice. And he rode Ellis even though he was largely ineffective. Lucas/Ellis - 51 minutes. Diallo/Bragg - 16 minutes. It’s hard to fault him on Ellis, he’s one of our best players. But mixing in some combinations, giving Bragg and Diallo substantial time together given what happened with that combo on the court in the first half seemed to be a reasonable approach.

    One thing I am very confident of – riding Landen Lucas for 24 minutes is NEVER the best option with this team. NEVER.


    I bet that Marquis Bolden, or Jarrett Allen, are looking at this game and wondering how they will fair when it comes to playing time, when faced with the prospect of beating out Landen Lucas.

    And I never even brought up Hunter Mickelson. You know, the guy that played so well in South Korea? That seemed to be able to function and guard guys overseas? Who hustled, scored, had energy, and protected the rim? But he’s obviously worthless to coach Self. It is tremendous waste of talent.

  • @HighEliteMajor Once again a solid post. This has been my frustration with Self. I have highlighted these points before in that Self is doing a disservice to this program with his distribution of minutes and inflexible attitude. After wining in Maui I was getting some encouragement but after watching last night’s game I am still shaking my head. I hope that he will look at the tape and will make the required adjustments.

    I totally agree with you regarding your comment on what Bolden & Allen are thinking about getting PT at KU. And I would not be surprised if other programs are using this as a selling strategy against them and other top notch elites from coming to KU.

    I feel so sorry for Mickelson. The kid transferred with a dream of showing his skills on a national stage. He has done everything possible that one can ask for but still he is riding the pine. Think about what this continued bench time will do to his confidence and his professional BB career. Its a pity.

  • Good news is that we’ll have our best player (Lucas) back for one more year!!

  • @HighEliteMajor Another HR. Unnecessarily playing down to our competition and worse, hurting our long term prospects by not getting development for our best talent. Believe Harvard played 3 freshmen. They’re better than our???!!!

    Give me a break.

  • @HighEliteMajor I know. Its completely maddening! Coach Self is gonna mess around and have Bragg and Diallo NOT ready for post season play and our best recruiting options are going to pass up KU because they’ll know they wont see the court for more than 7 minutes a game. WTF, Coach!? WTF?

  • @HighEliteMajor Seriously, you need to copy/paste this and send it to Coach Self, pronto!

  • Excellent rundown HEM.

    Maybe you should call in to Hawk Talk and ask him a couple of questions?

  • @Lulufulu Anyone have his email?

  • @HighEliteMajor Great post. I appreciate the amount of thought and work that goes into content like this. I also like the focus being on Self’s decisions rather than Lucas’s play. Probably made easier by the fact that Lucas actually had a pretty decent game by his standards.

    I agree Diallo needs to play more but have a slightly different opinion on why Self struggled to get him in the game.

    You suggest he is paralyzed by his analysis of single aspects of the game while neglecting overall production. But I would hypothesize it might be close to the opposite. Self has stated many times that he rarely has a regimented routine for subbing in players. He does it on “feel”. And to be honest, his feeling matched mine this game. Data may not show it and we may be wrong but it certainly FELT like Lucas rebounded better in his early minutes than any of the other bigs. To me this feeling lacks analysis and is pure gut instinct based in experience.

    I was actually pleasantly surprised that Diallo and Mick got on the floor before Lucas got his shot.

    If Self is paralyzed by anything it is his fear of losing. He often will rely on experience over talent because when it gets tight he plays to minimize mistakes so as not to lose as opposed to play the talent in order to win.

    The question going through my head all game was, “is it better for us to win with Diallo on the bench or lose with him on the floor?” I know Self’s answer. I’m still not sure. What do you think?

  • @benshawks08

    Isn’t Coach Self’s primary job to win games? Doesn’t his livelihood depend on it?

  • @benshawks08 If we would have pushed the tempo the entire game, Diallo would have had a chance to play more minutes.

  • @JayHawkFanToo Most definitely. But do we win more games later if Diallo would have been allowed to play through mistakes and experience pressure situations.

    I think we all hope Diallo is playing the crunch time minutes by February and March (or April!), don’t we?

    @DinarHawk But Self’s focus has always been creating tempo off of defense. Self would rather win a tight game in the 60s than win by 20 giving up 80 points. He always wants the team to run but after they get a stop and a rebound. Which bigs not named Lucas all struggled with vs Harvard.

  • @benshawks08 Not during that stretch during the first half when they were pressing. Then for some reason Self had them stop pressing. That game should have been a 30 point blowout.

  • @benshawks08 I see what you’re saying. I guess I think we’re saying much the same thing. The paralysis by analysis thing from yesterday is based on Self saying that Lucas guarded “#4” better. I did not hear him reference rebounding as his rationale. At the 10:20 mark of the first half is when Self made this decision. I agree with you completely in that Self made this decision based on the game situation. “Feel” or “analysis” – for my purpose here, it is the same thing.

    He focused on one specific element by his own words, and (in my view) is ignoring the broader picture of the “net” production. It is what he’s done in the past, as well.

    I agree completely with you that Self is paralyzed by the fear of losing.

    I love your comment here: "If Self is paralyzed by anything it is his fear of losing. He often will rely on experience over talent because when it gets tight he plays to minimize mistakes so as not to lose as opposed to play the talent in order to win."

    I can’t argue with this at all.

    But this goes to the debate we have had for years – developing players. Playing so that your players have reached the maximum development that they could reach by the NCAA tournament. Everyone knows that freshmen need development. Self even cited Diallo and Bragg after the game. He knows their talent level.

    How about this press conference question?

    Question: Coach, you just lost to Harvard at home. How does that happen?. Their #4 seemed to get some easy buckets inside. Diallo got crossed up some. And Bragg made some crucial turnovers.

    Coach Self: “Look, I want to win every game. But I believe that Diallo and Bragg are guys that are going to get us to our ultimate goal of a national championship. There are going to ups and downs. We may take some lumps. But getting these guys real game experience, in tight games, will only make us better come conference play and come March. I felt Landen was a guy that could have matched up a bit better, and in his 6 minutes today, he played well. But given the total contribution, will Landen be the guy in that situation in March? The next time we’re in this situation, I’ll bet that both Diallo and Bragg perform a little bit better. They both have very high ceilings. I am committed to getting them to their max efficiency so we have the best chance to win a national championship in March. Nothing against the other guys, but both give us our best chance to win.”

    Now, we may bitch and moan about losing to Harvard (and don’t think we would have lost) but we all could greatly respect the plan and the foresight.

    What I don’t hear from Self is that sitting Diallo and Bragg actually gets them more ready for March. That it gets us more ready to win a national championship. I have never heard him say that keeping a guy that will be playing those big minutes out, makes them more ready for March. I’ve never heard that logic from him.

    @JayHawkFanToo said it precisely correct. His job is to win. Just win. Who cares how, what, when, why? Just win. But is that “just win” no matter what approach on December 5 the best way to get ready to win games in March (and April)?

    Thus our discussion.

    Diallo and Bragg are our two best post players from a talent perspective. Ellis has to play because he’s our best scorer inside. I cannot imagine that those three aren’t our three highest minutes guys come March. Play them.

    One other thing, Self said after the Chaminade game that he would have rather won 60-50, than to give up all those points. That analysis, though, completely ignores how well we did “per possession” – there were a lot of possessions, and we blew them out. Chaminade was at like .8 per possession. The number of points given up, really, is meaningless. I don’t really understand Self’s theory there. Would you rather give up more points per possession in a slugfest? Why slug out when you can destroy a team?

    The key is, simply, scoring more per possession than the other team. That’s it.

  • @HighEliteMajor Your post just explained why Self struggles in the post season - lack of preparation and playing to his team’s strengths. We seem to always play the game at the pace the opponent wants, not what is best for us. Yesterday, Harvard wanted to play a half court game to keep the score low and have a chance to win. And it almost worked.

    This team’s strength is playing fast, scoring the ball, and when they play with energy their defense is very good.

    But Self is so stubborn that he has to pound the ball inside to sleep better at night, even though this team is dominant and almost has no equals when first playing outside then inside.

    On the topic of it being his livelihood to win. Yes, that is what allows him to have a coaching job. But on the flip side, the style of play that he desperately wants to play is completely unreliable given the present personnel, and he is still having a hard time adjusting. It was an atrocity that Diallo did not play more yesterday.

    As others have said, I don’t want to wait another 20 years for a championship. Let’s play our game and get to Houston in April.

  • @HighEliteMajor You said: “One other thing, Self said after the Chaminade game that he would have rather won 60-50, than to give up all those points. That analysis, though, completely ignores how well we did “per possession” – there were a lot of possessions, and we blew them out. Chaminade was at like .8 per possession. The number of points given up, really, is meaningless.”

    That is one of the most frustrating things about Bill Self forever discounting a good offensive performance. When we score as many points as we did against Chaminade, the opposing team’s possessions would likely double or triple. As you say, their point total, then, becomes absolutely meaningless. Because if he were to look at it from the perspective of a freshman taking an elementary statistics course, with those ppp figures, they would score far less for any given range of possessions. So really, he likely discounted a sold defensive effort by looking at the point total, which is simply ignorant. Look, I know the guy is infallible in the eyes of so many KU fans, but overlooking that simple concept is laughably ignorant. We’re not going to beat teams 120-40, that’s just not going to happen. But smashing teams the way we did in Hawaii is something to be proud of, and it’s something to embrace. What’s even worse is how transparent Bill Self comes across in his postgame interviews. Those games in Hawaii, where he bemoaned our defensive effort by judging them in ways that my mom would are disconcerting to say the least. Yet, he’s fine with the fact that we struggled mightily to knock off 2-5 Harvard? Because it was close? This team is a Ferrari. It should be driven like one.

  • @MoonwalkMafia Yeah, and we all know that last 'tight" game of the season ends up 50-60 because we think we can always pull it out, but at the end of the year, the other teams aren’t slouches and they get confidence and we go home.

    Play to the level of our talent and blow folks out.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    Not much paralysis here.

    The game I watched would most definitely have been lost had we played Traylor, Diallo, or Bragg another minute. Those three were just not up to the challenge at all yesterday. Diallo showed exactly why Self isn’t starting him. Bragg, too. Lucas was our best postman by quite a bit and that’s not based on talent, just on guarding the post, getting boards and being able to contribute to the flow of play. These are minimum pre-requisites for playing on a team, so its not like Self is setting the bar too high for Traylor, Diallo, and Bragg. Hunter is the only guy I would have given more time to, to at least see if he could get untracked, but Hunter has apparently been re-condemned to the cryogenic machine, until someone gets injured. Woe is Hunter. He looks like some German or Russian soldier frozen to death in a fox hole at the end of the bench. There is no explaining this treatment of Hunter in my mind, except trying not to look like a coach playing a kid from a small

    Regarding the approach to the game generally, there was just no way Self was going to beat the tar out of one of Coach K’s guys, or out of one of the nations’ most influential alumni bases. No one gets a head in life hanging a century on Harvard for fun.

    Be that as it may, the reason the game was such a grind was that our 2, 3 and 4 position players stunk.

    Frank was very good.

    And the composite 5 scored 14, snagged 15 reebs, blocked 3 shots, and got two steals.

    The 1 and composite 5 were the only strengths of the team.

    Regarding tempo, Self gave Frank the day off running the team and tried to give Devonte as much experience as he could; that was smart IMHO. Its just that Devonte really didn’t perform very well offensively in the point guard role, but maybe he couldn’t look very good with the 3 and 4 sucking the hind teats of a passive boar. Either way, Devonte just could not get a feel for pounding it inside once Amaker figured out that Self wasn’t going to play to beat him into the next century, and was going to let Amaker clog the paint, so that Self could let Devonte practice playing pound it inside to the the Composite 5 and Perry the second half.

    Self is going to work on conventional pound it inside every time we play an opponent that is not very good, but that has some length inside to practice against.

    Finally, Jamari really looked bad. He appears completely back in injury mode judging from the lingerie on the legs. I would go so far as saying we probably won’t see him play more than 10 mpg for at least a couple of months. After looking pretty springy up till this game, against Harvard, he was moving around like he did last February and March. His legs looked completely shot. Woe is Jamari, if he is this worn and torn this early.

    The bad news is Diallo is completely uncooked, not just raw. Facing just a little team help defense, he was completely lost. That really chastened my hopes for him. He will do fine whenever we are playing teams that aren’t well drilled defensively. But his minutes are going to fall in a big way against good defensive teams, unless Self wants to take a bunch of Ls the rest of the way in hopes of getting Diallo ready and for KU to make a run from a low seed. Don’t see much chance of that, do you?

    Diallo has young neural net syndrome. He’ll be much better next season, where ever he chooses to play. But man does he appear to have a young brain. And his shot? Don’t even ask.

  • @HighEliteMajor You hit the mark, as usual. The only way that our most talented young players are going to get better is by playing through and learning from mistakes. And, that is in game situations against real opponents, including quality opponents and tight games. Not just practice and not just against much lesser competition.

    As I mentioned in another post, Harvard had 3 frosh play more than 20 minutes each yesterday. Our 3 guys got 11, 9 and 0 minutes. Looking at other teams, Duke has 3 frosh averaging more than 20 minutes per game. So does Kentucky. Michigan State, which has a veteran team, has 2 frosh average more than 15 minutes per game.

    Our three that arguably have the most upside - Svi, Diallo and Bragg - average 17, 11 and 11. Perhaps that is one reason we don’t have any top 100 ranked recruits yet, while other blue bloods have 3, 4 or even 5 100 commits already? Think Bolden, Allen and others sitting out there are watching.

    The best players want to play. The best players need to play if you want to maximize your potential by the end of the year.

  • @jaybate-1.0

    I agree with your take and that is what Coach Self has been saying all along about high expectations for Diallo. Yesterday he was completely out of it and id did not make sense to have him play when he is so out of the game. Against Loyola he was raw but not wild and he settled after a while and had a good game…yesterday was not that kind of game.

  • @jaybate-1.0 too bad he is not getting minutes to work on it. Eventually he needs more game experience.

  • @jaybate-1.0 Seriously, here, you think if we just didn’t have Landen Lucas yesterday, we lose to Harvard? Come on. You can’t expect me to believe that. Lucas is out an extra game with his toe and we lose to Harvard at home, who was 2-5 coming in? The “Crimson” juggernaut? No way. Who really believes that?

    It is paralysis. It’s over thinking. It’s ignoring our best players, for players he thinks are best for one aspect of the game. That’s not seeing the forest for the trees.

    I’m wondering, what did you think of minutes 13:00 down to 9:22 of the first half? if we were so destined to lose w/o our Superman in the game, how in the world did we stretch the lead from 13-10 to 29-16? How do we ignore that?

    You mentioned Mickelson. Why? Because you have seen him perform. I agree – but then again, I continue to think we’re at our best playing just Diallo/Ellis/Bragg/Mick. That’s all we need. The others could help in an emergency or in a play by play sub at the end of a game.

    By the way, your composite 5 stats are just a tad bit off I think: “_____”, Diallo, Lucas and Mickelson combined for 12 points, 13 rebounds, and 3 blocks in 42 combined minutes of play, fyi. If that’s how you’re computing.

  • @DinarHawk

    Diallo will keep getting minutes, and keep getting better.

    But he is not used to how much action Harvard ran. Diallo had the same reaction to Harvard’s action that Svi had to action last season. He just could not get over those picks last season, and this season he is finally doing it some. Diallo will be the same. They basically ran Duke’s offense and there is a whole lot of screening to get used to being done by guys that were basically Diallo’s height and stronger. It frustrated him. And the team never really separated, so Self couldn’t let him back in the game for an extended period to get his confidence back.

    Diallo is a decent talent. But he has always played opponents running simple offenses with guys that were way shorter and less athletic. And when he played in the meat market games against guys his size, no one was running any action. All he had to do was run and jump. Amaker had some video of him and immediately used K’s and Knight’s motion offense to make him play an X-axis game. It stood out like a sore thumb in his first game. He was standing up straight as a bean pole and running and jumping. He wasn’t getting his butt down and guarding anyone; that was a red flag for Amaker. ACTION, he said, the guy doesn’t really know how to get down and slide.

    It isn’t a knock on Diallo to say that he had never had to slide and fight through picks to stay with his man before. He’s never done it before. Its new to him. Even in KU practices, he’s probably only seen some scout teamers running that sort of stuff, never real D1 talents. Self’s multiple offense doesn’t run much action. No reason for him to be prepared; that’s what these kinds of opponents are for.

    Diallo got good experience against Harvard. They were tall and as strong as he was, just not leapers. He got to learn what its like to play on the X-axis with guys you can out jump, but that aren’t letting it be about jumping. Diallo will be much better the next game he sees that. And Self will have him watching himself running around like a pogo stick. Self wants him jumping, blocking and rebounding, but Diallo has to understand that he needs to do that AND get his butt down and slide.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    Yes, I do think that we would have lost the game if Diallo and Bragg had played 20 minutes each the last half. Diallo wasn’t making any correct reads on either end. Bragg I didn’t keep such close track of, but he wasn’t able to stay on spots, or knock others off theirs. And until Self switches to the old “slide of the spots” offense he ran with Withey and Young, I don’t see Diallo and Bragg being able to really get in and go toe to toe with any Blue Meanie teams, if they can’t do it against Harvard…at least for a couple of months working up to it.

    Diallo seems a smart guy. Maybe the neural nets aren’t grown in, but a basically smart kid. Can’t tell about Bragg, but he may be, too.

    But he’s got to have some time to make some mistakes.

    And that’s what he is getting right now.

  • @jaybate-1.0 That was really not my question … I was asking if you thought we would have lost if we simply didn’t have Landen Lucas vs. Harvard? That’s a bit different than playing Diallo and Bragg 20 minutes each in the second half, which I was not advocating.

    For example, Ellis 25 min., Diallo 20, Bragg 20, Mick 15.

    I think we win by 20 – but who really knows. I definitely think that Diallo and Bragg would/will have some really rough moments.

    I do think you’re underestimating the talent level of these two players if they were just allowed to play. It seems that we (collectively) underestimate the ability of players to assimilate and contribute simply because we’re used to how Self handles freshmen. Other places just handle freshmen differently. Harvard started three freshmen, on a team that nearly beat us.

    Here’s some good example. If we would have landed Tyler Dorsey, what do you think his role would be? He’d be on the bench, and as a freshman. Learning, ready, and supposedly not ready. With Oregon, he’s averaging 14 points a game. How about Ivan Rabb? Would he be languishing behind Lucas and “_____”? Averaging 12.5 per game. Or Zimmerman 10/9. I’ve already pointed out Tyler Davis’ stats. My point is that simply because Bill Self doesn’t play someone doesn’t mean he couldn’t otherwise be wildly successful. But I acknowledge that just because a player is highly ranked doesn’t mean that Self should play him. It has a lot to do with who is in front of him. For example, Tyler Dorsey. If he was here, he’d be sitting and probably should be. I just compare Diallo/Bragg to those getting minutes in front of them.

  • @jaybate-1.0 we extended our lead with Dialo and Bragg in the game in the 1st half. With Lucas in, starting the 2nd, Harvard closed the gap.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    Sorry, I misunderstood.

    I think we would have lost to Harvard, playing Dialllo 20, and Bragg 20. They just didn’t seem to be able to handle Amaker’s motion offense and help defense. But @Bwag in his post below observed that the lead widened with Diallo and Bragg, so I must have missed the dynamic. What I watched (and seized on) seemed to suggest that Diallo and Bragg were very confused out there.

    But here is the thing: though I am disagreeing with you some here, I am not arguing against your basic notion that you’ve got to get your best guys out on the floor.

    If Diallo and Bragg could get to where they were protecting, and making good choices on both ends, they are surely the more talented basketball players.

    Their only physical shortcomings are weight and strength, and those will be sharply improved either later this season, or next.

    We have this disagreement most seasons. You think playing the most physically talented players, regardless of experience levels, yield the most net benefit in most cases. And I think that Self working them in gradually, while playing to the strengths (even if limited) of the experienced players yields greatest net benefit in most cases.

    The lesson I learn form the Harvard game is that playing a lesser, but not inconsequentially talented team, and having your 2, 3, and 4 play from mediocre to poorly, can be offset by playing to your experience in the post, and you can walk away with a W you probably wouldn’t get if you didn’t.

    You think going with your experienced, lesser player in Lucas nearly costs you a W.

    To me, I would rather do it Self’s way. It seems better risk management. It seems to be part of what makes him win .821 of his games. And it doesn’t seem to cost the guys like Diallo and Bragg much at all. Cliff Alexander was about the worst case scenario and had his mother not taken out the reputed loan, and created a situation in which Cliff had to sit out the stretch run, Self made pretty clear that Cliff was finally ready to play down the stretch.

    The only advantage to playing Diallo and Bragg big minutes, and maybe even starting them, out of the blocks, is that it might make recruiting OADs easier. But a lot of folks are down on OADs here, and so it seems Self has that covered also.

  • @Bwag

    Good point. Extending a lead is definitely a reason to play them more rather than less. I wish we could get @JesseNewall to ask Coach Self why that did not weigh more heavily in his decision making.

  • @jaybate-1.0 but I’m afraid that we’d only here what HEM has been calling out…exp’d big is better at X or y aspect of the game…

    But if he called out the lead extension with them playing as part of the question, just maybe we’d see magic?

  • Part of that lead extension in the first half (going from 13-12 to 30-16 was Harvard’s string of five unforced turnovers.

    Pretty sure in the second half that KU lost ground while Diallo was in…

    Diablo played poorly, we all agree about that, right? You can make a case that if he’d played 20 minutes, he probably would have had some good moments, but it was a 3 or 4 point game when he came out for good.

    I was just glad it was Lucas and not Traylor those last 12 minutes!

  • @Bwag

    Coach Self may or may not level with reporters and the public about what a player brings to the mix of the team that is allowing it to blow out several good teams one good shooting nights and hang very close to a good team on a horrid shooting night.

    But given that Self wins at .821 over 11 seasons at KU, I am inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt that he does in fact know how to fit the pieces of teams together, so as make them efficient enough to win games at a higher rate than most coaches.

    Note that what I am saying is not a flat statement that Coach Self never makes mistakes. He does and notes them. He just often does not agree with reporters and fans what his mistakes actually are. And here again, if we were talking about Bruce Weber, I might be inclined to do doubt him a bit more often. But you hold that the object of the game is primarily to win games, this guy just annoys the hell out of most of because he is right .821 of the time.

    This Harvard win is a perfect example.

    Everyone is upset with the way we played. We figure that if we blow out UCLA, soundly beat Vandy and almost beat MSU on a horrid shooting night, the only explanation to close win over Harvard is Self not coaching correctly, and players not playing correctly.

    I myself have taken the players that staffed the 2, 3 and 4 to task.

    But let’s look at this realistically.

    This was something between a cup cake game and a major game. It was kind of a fundamentally sound high mid major rebuilding after five strong seasons.

    Could we have beaten Harvard worse than we did if Self had elected to scheme on of his special game plans against Harvard of the kind he might for UCLA, or Duke, or UK, late in the season? Probably.

    But we know after watching Self for 11 seasons that he does not mount the same kind of effort for each game.

    For a painful example, we know that when he is completely outmatched as he was by UK a couple seasons ago in the first game, Self just treats it as a game for getting experience and trying to practice doing what we do and being who we are. He takes the drubbing and moves on.

    On the other hand, we have seen him mount the equivalent of end of season efforts in the early weeks of the season, if he thinks the game will be crucial to the team’s resume later in the season.

    And we have seen Self approach games everywhere in between, also.

    He sends them out flat as a pancake against the lesser of 2 in three days and amps them sky high against the greater of the 2 teams.

    He plays the entire team sometimes and allows games to be close in order to try to keep the team rested for the next top opponent.

    He sends them out sometimes with a bunch of trick plays early to try to get them some confidence, before later sending them out against other opponents with nothing but the basics of his high low offense and tells them to figure out a way to win it themselves.

    Self is also very much like other great coaches in key aspect about personnel for teams. Self picks out 2 to 3 players to be his cornerstones that he crafts the team around. The team is schemed to complement the talents of those 2 to 3 foundation players. The other two guys are called glue guys sometimes, but more importantly, their roles are specifically crafted, scoped and limited so as to provide ONLY what the other 2 to 3 need to beat the very best opponents the team can be expected to run into and hopefully all of the lesser ones.

    When John Wooden had great post man Kareem Jabbar, great point guard Mike Warren and great 2 guard Lucious Allen, he picked an extremely limited 6-4 Lynn Shackleford to play the 3, because he could make the corner J, even back before there was a three point basket. Wooden knew Jabbar would be on the low block and would need room to pivot and shoot his J and his Sky Hook. He knew he needed someone to stretch the defense out to the corner to prevent double teaming Jabbar with sagging wings. Shackleford might never have played for another Wooden team in his long career but that particular Wooden team. Wooden didn’t really like one dimensional players most of the time. But Shackleford could hit that corner shot in his sleep and so Wooden was willing to put up with his offensive and defensive limitations to get that one attribute.

    Remember when Wilt came to the Lakers who already had Jerry West and Elgin Baylor, two hall of famers themselves. They played one season and weren’t too good as a unit. Each guy respected the other. But their talents didn’t mesh well. Elgin needed to be able to drive into the very area that Wilt was so deadly within for Elgin to really be his best. When the Lakers didn’t do well, they brought in Bill Sharman, a former Boston Celtic. Sharman didn’t hesitate a second. They shipped Elgin Baylor out and found their own version of Lynn Shackleford, Jim McMillan, a short chunky guy that could drain the corner J in his sleep. Voila, the Lakers became champions.

    The rule is not that all of your most talented players have to play.

    The rule is that as many of your most talented players that can perform well together have to be on the floor as possible. The rest of the slots have to be filled by guys that can as nearly as infallibly as possible do a specific activity that complements the foundational players. This is the oldest rule in basketball team building. And it causes hall of famers like Elgin Baylor to get shipped out and role players like Jim McMillan and Lynn Shackleford to be the missing pieces that elevate a team into being a champion.

    Season after season Self fits guys into the starting, or rotation roles, that bring certain things that the fans don’t value to the team, but which make it keep winning conference titles, or at an .821 rate, or getting high seeds in the Madness, or what have you.

    To Self, beating Harvard by a couple may be a great accomplishment if it helped him get a little closer to finding the right complementary players to Frank, Wayne and Perry.

    Heck, winning by two against Harvard might even be a great win if it exposes that someone cannot do a complementary role the team needs. When Svi choked big time, you never know. Self may have just made a decision after seeing that that, well, Vick may be no thicker than cigarette paper, and he may not be able to do some of the things Svi can do, but well, what we need is some low variance trifectation in that role and so Vick, the Dick Powell of D1, may turn out to be the right complementary player, and not Svi.

    Self is like a shark swimming looking for the right bite. He never quits swimming toward the goal. To Self, the Harvard game may have been the greatest win all season so far, because it exposed the most flaws in some guys he thought could do the job, and so aimed him toward the real guys that can be the complementary players.

    All I know for sure is that at the end of 11 years at KU, he mixes the foundational players and the complementary players at a rate that wins .821 of the time, wins 11 straight titles, and has yielded 1 national title and a couple deep runs.

    The guy most definitely gets it.

    He may no like to get his Ws the way some of us would like to get them.

    But here is the thing: he probably gets more of them and understands the subtleties of getting them better than most of us; this is just common sense and not an argument to tell others to quit trying to outthink him. I like to learn form him, because I have tried to outthink and haven’t done very well. I have plenty of ego for such explorations. 🙂

    But what I am trying to learn from Self these days is not how wrong he is, but rather why the hell some of these seemingly counterintuitive things he does winds up with us complaining about them and him winning .821 and racking up 11 conference titles and a ring.

    He’s a wily devil. He knows something I don’t. And I want to hang around and figure out what it is.

    Rock Chalk!

  • Article by @Jesse-Newell at cjonline — here’s the link

    In the article, he notes the minutes per game for the top 25 Rivals players. Seems like we’ve been here before.


    1. Skal Labissiere, Kentucky 22.3

    2. Ben Simmons, LSU 35.6

    3. Jaylen Brown, Cal 25.3

    4. Brandon Ingram, Duke 26.9

    5. Cheick Diallo, KU 11.5*

    6. Diamond Stone, Maryland 19.1

    7. Ivan Rabb, Cal 24.5

    8. Malik Newman, Miss. St. 27.5

    9. Jamal Murray, Kentucky 33.0

    10. Isaiah Briscoe, Kentucky 30.1

    11. Henry Ellenson, Marquette 29.8

    12. Allonzo Trier, Arizona 23.6

    13. Antonio Blakeney, LSU 31.4

    14. Derryck Thornton, Duke 24.9

    15. Stephen Zimmerman, UNLV 23.1

    16. Chase Jeter, Duke 8.1

    17. Ray Smith, Arizona (Injured)

    18. Tyler Dorsey, Oregon 29.3

    19. Caleb Swanigan, Purdue 27.3

    20. Jalen Brunson, Villanova 25.0

    21. Carlton Bragg, KU 11.6

    22, Dwayne Bacon, Florida State 28.2

    1. Jalen Adams, UConn 18.1

    2. Justin Simon, Arizona 5.0

    3. Luke Kenard, Duke 20.2

    Of the 25 players, 1 is injured. Of that 24, our two highly ranked freshmen are #21 and #22 in minutes per game. But then again, the big men in front of them getting minutes at Kansas are top flight players, right?

  • @DanR I didn’t get back through the second half yet. Be interesting to see now that I’m looking with a closer eye.

    That’s one of the things I love about this board.

  • @jaybate-1.0 For all the regular season success, he has yet to figure out consistency in the post season. And trust me, it is not luck, rather it happens for a reason. You know as well as I do that he needs to do whatever it takes to get this team playing with energy, even if it means pressing. If they don’t play fast, it will be tough to advance in March.

  • Banned

    Ah man getting back in hot water here.

    As @JayHawkFanToo said, “Coach gets paid to win” not in those exact words. but still the same.

    Yet that is the problem. Having Diallo and Bragg on the bench during crunch time during worthless games does KU no good. It doesn’t prepare them for March or even Conference play.

    So every time the game gets tight Diallo and Bragg go to the bench? These two are easily our best bigs. Yet how are they supposed to learn and get experience when the game is on the line. Besides Landon isn’t going to win KU a game, and neither is Tralyor. They are what they are, nice role players. No shame in that.

    Sadly I guess most Jayhawk fans are content on winning Big 12 conference championships, and just rolling the dice come tournament time.

  • @DoubleDD certainly seems that way.

  • @DanR

    Great recall and insight. Your comment also triggered/unfroze my thinker enough to add that Harvard is rebuilding and so there is likely a huge fall off in their backups. When Diallo and Bragg entered first half, they were probably matched up with some weak players. Second half Amaker made a push with his first stringers to come away with an upset and Diallo and Bragg didn’t fare as well against the starters.

  • @DoubleDD said:

    These two are easily our best bigs

    If these two were our best bigs now, they wouldn’t need to play and learn, right? They could do better period.

    But what we are seeing s they need to learn a lot and get consistent.

    To be clear, if they are inconsistent and struggling with the basics against the Harvard SECOND STRING, and the second stringers of the ranked teams, we would probably be hanging Al’s every game with them starting and playing big minutes against the other team’s best.Look at Skal on UK. Cal can get about 16 mpg out of him against even lesser teams. Skinny freshmen bigs that have never had to slide and guard guys longer and stronger than them really struggle awhile.

    For every Anthony Davis, there are 10-20 Skals, Cheicks and Braggs.

  • @DCHawker said:

    @HighEliteMajor You hit the mark, as usual. The only way that our most talented young players are going to get better is by playing through and learning from mistakes. And, that is in game situations against real opponents, including quality opponents and tight games. Not just practice and not just against much lesser competition.

    This flatly ignores recent and accumulating neuro scientific research indicating very young persons (most < 23) with incomplete neural net development may not be able to learn certain things simply because they lack the neural nets needed. Put another way, the acid bath of experience cannot burn in nets that aren’t there.

    If an exceptionally physically gifted person like Diallo, or Skal Labissierre, struggle against physically inferior opponents, it ought to raise a red flag that such players may just be too young in the neural nets for the level of competition they are at.

    There is probably a greater chance of young players’ neural nets growing in randomly over the next four months neede to do some of these tasks than there is competing the next 4 months against first stringers and burning in neural nets that aren’t there.

    Inference: so if Diallo and Skal are waiting on neural net grow in, brief tests are probably all that are needed to see if they are ready to compete. And work in practice and against second stringers is all they really need to work on those neural nets they already have.

    Yet again Self has been way ahead of the game.

    It may turn out that Self has more guys in the pros now because he has been wrecking fewer of them playing them too young!

    Go, Bill, go!!!

  • @HighEliteMajor

    I think that sums up why neither Bolden, Allen or Azuibuke are lining up to come here.

    Self just doesn’t care about what a freshman wants above his own thoughts for his team. But the optimism is that once the trio of Mari, Perry, Hunter is gone at least 1 freshman has to play big minutes for KU next year and that could be Bolden or whoever. Lucas is the lone Self player coming back that he’s in love with. Bet your bottom dollar Lucas is the day 1 starter no matter if we sign Bolden or not…

    Who knows how detailed they are paying attention like us fans are but it’s no surprise KU freshman are slow to play under the freshman hype killer unless there is absolutely no upperclassmen in their way.

    When you look at the 25, your looking at guys who are playing because these teams have nobody else to play but them. Other than Jeter & Simon & KU’s Bragg & Diallo they are legitimately stuck behind upperclassmen at their position. We know the KU situation but Jeter, Simon not playing much is interesting. 2 others average less than 20 a game (Stone & Adams) are also handcuffed by depth at their position. Adams is the 3rd guard at UConn, Stone is one of 3 Center’s at Maryland.

    I’d like to see this updated at the beginning of conference play and then by the end of the year to see the differences.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    And look at Slal having to step aside so that Marcus Lee can come in and do what needs to be done.

    And look at LSU losing games.

    And so on down the list.

  • My two cents on playing freshman out of the gate.

    What is the team need? That being do they need a position to be filled? Do they have a large amount of upper classmen with in game experience? Did they graduate a lot of players? Have players transfer? Injuries?

    Are coaches trying to ride the Kentucky and now Duke blueprint of playing young guns and see what happens? Roll the dice sort of speak.

    I do believe that every school that plays freshman X amount of mins bs another school that plays a freshman X amount of mins either greater or less is based in the need of position for that team.

    If Landon didn’t redshirt and Jamri didn’t have to sit his freshman year and Humter didn’t transfer in then yes I do believe Bragg and Diallo would be getting more playing time. But there is a back log on the block at KU.

    It could also be that Self is saving them for the stretch run. Like what the Timberwolves are doing in the NBA with their rookie big man. The coach stating that the college game and the NBA game and season is a lot harder. Same is the change from highschool and college.

    These are just my opinions about it and giving other points of views than what’s been stated before.

  • @jaybate-1.0 You said “This flatly ignores recent and accumulating neuro scientific research indicating very young persons (most < 23) with incomplete neural net development may not be able to learn certain things simply because they lack the neural nets needed. Put another way, the acid bath of experience cannot burn in nets that aren’t there.”

    This, however, ignores the body of evidence we have in college basketball. I’m sorry, I can’t subscribe to this theory.

    How can we really spend time arguing that a championship seeking team (the NC) should play two low skilled, unranked guys that can’t figure a way to the ball in the hoop?

    The difference in the other situations you cite are 1) freshmen actually playing behind good players (Marcus Lee was the #19 Rivals player, for example), and 2) LSU doesn’t have much talent around those guys.

    Playing freshmen post players should be easier here given that we have the best collection of perimeter players in the country, and we have Ellis, and we have experience to supplement them in foul up situations.

    You’re making this way too complicated when it isn’t complicated.

    So if the “neural net” whatevers are so messed up, how is it that Okafer, Anthony-Towns – you fill in the blank with guys less talented – are some how able to function?

    Or that Ben Simmons, who is cited by you inferentially, is lighting it up?

    Of course, I don’t think Diallo or Bragg is Ben Simmons.

    This is a silly exercise because Bill Self is not “on to” something, and he doesn’t know more than the rest of the college basketball coaches. This is really the best evidence to support the concept.

    Why is it that Bill Self has two high level recruits, for the second season in a row. that are languishing in the extreme low end of playing time vs. the top 25 recruits?

    Oubre, Cliff, Bragg, Diallo.

    I wonder when he did play Wiggins out of the box if his neural nets weren’t firing, or why Self played him?

    Hit the “easy” button: Play the best players. And this doesn’t mean that the other options don’t play at all. They could certainly have their roles.

    @BeddieKU23 So you think that Diallo/Bragg are “legitimately stuck behind upperclassmen”? Ok, Ellis. After that, how do you define “legitimate”? Would Justin Wesley qualify, for example, if he were here? Curious more than anything.

  • @jaybate-1.0 Hhhmmm. Well, I must confess that I am not quite up to speed on the latest neuroscience research. What I can observe, and the data seem to support, is that the synapses are connecting and firing for many other freshman around the country - Newman, Zimmerman, Murray, Ellenson, Simmons, Ingram, Labissierre, Brown, and Rabb, too name just a few – ALL of whom average more than 20 mpg and more than 10 ppg. Apparently, other coaches don’t ascribe to the @jaybate-1.0 “neural net grow in” philosophy(?). Then again, you may ultimately be proven correct and most of these players will be abject failures as pros as they have clearly pushed too hard too early to compete in meaningful games against quality competition…

  • @JRyman

    More of less what I said without the detail. I liked what you posted about Mari & Lucas with the red-shirt, correlates to the issue we have currently about playing time.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    Technically they are stuck behind Seniors right? I didn’t elaborate about talent and I believe you know my stance with both, I’d start them both going forward immediately.

    Let’s look at the other 2 guys I mentioned in that same sentence…

    Chase Jeter of Duke is stuck behind Plumlee & Jefferson, 2 career role players… Absolutely similar situation to Diallo and Bragg. For Duke to be its best wouldn’t it serve Coach K to play both Ingram & Jeter along with its 3 guard line-up. But yet a top 15 kid is sitting the bench while a career 2.3 avg point per game Senior is playing ahead of you? Doesn’t that sound familiar???

    Justin Simon of Arizona is stuck behind a trio of Senior Gabe York- solid guard 2nd leading scorer, Kadeem Allen -Juco transfer who sat out last year 7pts per game, & Parker Cartwright - soph. top 100 guard. Neither Allen or Cartwright has lit it up so why is Simon a known defensive pest and big strong lead guard sitting the bench for a coach known for his defense?

    I’ve more or less agreed with every single point you’ve made these past few weeks. And I’m glad you’ve had the courage to bring these issues up for discussion. But we need our own Coach to see them and stop these games he’s playing.

    Wasn’t it him that said before the season that our depth is great but that none of them have separated themselves from each other? That we had 11 guys who believe they should play and realistically only 8-9 are going to get that game to game consistency.

    Whatever logic he uses to determine that, its clear that he’s going to continue to play certain bigs minutes based on what’s happening in the game. I’m sure he had every intention of playing Diallo/Bragg more than 16 minutes total but when he focused on a singular part of the game (stopping #4) he used Lucas solely for that purpose because he did the best job guarding their best player that other than rebounds had little effect on why the game was close.

    Its’ clear our coach has faults, it’s clear his own judgement is getting in the way of what us on the outside view as the best chance to win games and potentially win a championship. So how do we get him to understand, or get us to understand why he’s doing these things.

    Do we need to start up the # FREE DIALLO or # FREE BRAGG Campaign again? What can we do?

  • @DCHawker

    The reason Self wins so much is that he is brilliant, flexible, and ahead of the pack. He copies what works for them and is not fooled by herd mentality into copying what fails.

    Take Calipari for one recent example. Call has probably had twice to three times as many OADs as Self has had and yet Self reputedly, as posted on this site sometime ago, has as the most, or nearly the most guys in the NBA. Think long and hard about that. What other conclusion can you come to than Self is doing a vastly better job developing guys for the NBA than Cal is. Whats the big difference in approach? Cal throws them straight into the starting line up first thing. Self lets them grow into their roles and acquire skills at a pace more fitting to their stages of development. Self lets someone that is advanced start immediately. Self holds others back and lets their neural nets grow in and their skills grow in.

    Even Cal is starting to get it the minute they apparently cut back on the number of dump trucks he gets in Lexington. Skal is increasingly playing less right now. He’s played only 16-17 minutes a couple of games recently. Skal is just another super talent kid physically with neural nets not yet sufficiently grown in and not enough strength and skill to dominate it like the next Jabbar, or the next Wilt. People forget that Jabbar and Wilt spent all those early years actually playing basketball for demanding coaches that made teacher salaries, or worked the Borscht Belt summer teams in the Catskills, and saw their job as developing Jabbar and Wilt in their skills, not just introducing them to the right agent runners and agents, and petroshoeco schleppers. Oh, and Wilt even got the luxury of a year to work on his game in freshman ball, where he learned pressure defense from the guy that invented it, and went to school. Jabbar thought he was pretty well drilled, until he spent that freshman season with UCLA.

    The insane thing about today is that today’s players have vast resources on developing not their skills as players, which the NBA often does not draft, but on their developing their potentials. Today’s OADs are culled for the right height, hops and running gate. They are introduced to the right agent runners, agents, and petroshoeco schleppers. These are the potentials that are drafted, so these are the “potentials” that are developed. The “actuals” are left for someone else to develop.

    Going to these two week big man camps is a flipping joke. Have you ever tried to master anything in two weeks? Have you ever met a single 16 year old that could master anything in two weeks, or even take the techniques home and work on them 8 hours a day, 7 days a week over a summer and be ready for Division 1 play? No way. Not gonna happen. Never.

    The current system is developing “potential” and leaving “actuals” for others down stream.

    The current system is feasting off of the potential and leaving the players undeveloped. Its pathetic. And its why @drgnslayr keeps harping on player development as one possible way for KU to get better. Bulletin: KU and Duke appear to be the only places developing blue chip players, but he is right, they could both do much more. But as long as Self is behind the apparent recruiting embargo eight ball, he has to keep most of his coaches on the road recruiting even more than they used to need to do. So: what is Coach K’s excuse? He has dump trucks coming on a regular basis. Its an insidious system; that’s Coach K’s problem. It rewards the most potential, not the most actual. It rewards the longest stack, not the best team. Sure, a good team squirts through and wins a ring every now and then, but look at the tendencies. Everywhere you look you see potential being rewarded and not actual. Its sickening.

    But this is not really about brain science, is it? Coaches have been coaching Self’s way for nearly a century, until big money and the NBA started vacuuming guys on “potential” and wasting an incredible percentage of them. This is the NBA’s fault. It is wasting these guys potential, as surely as any oligopolist wastes the raw material that it manages when it is in oversupply, given the production levels the system needs. Basic economics. We waste oil on burning it in cars for less than the unit price of a cheap bottle of water, and on free grocery bags, because oil exists in gross over supply relativ to the crucial production uses for which it is irreplaceable, and the energy oligopolists have to find controllable ways to waste what they dare not let others control.

    And why shouldn’t the NBA oligopoly do it? It costs them practically nothing to do it. They are making (and perhaps laundering in some cases) vast monies that are obscured from, or simply underreported by, the media. Paying some underdeveloped sushi of an OAD $5-10Mil is NOTHING to these guys. They could just as easily wad up a $5M personal check and use it to start a fire in their fire place. Everyone please wake up. adidas can afford to give James Harden $200M to read a few cue cards and wear some tennis shoes. This is NOT cramping their bottom line, even in an EU recession. Anyone that knows a lick about money management grasps why the types of owners that predominate in the NBA scramble to get these franchises. We are not dealing with choir boys among the NBA owners. And these types of human beings aren’t sitting around trying to figure out how to develop these players to the best of their abilities. Capice? They are in it to treat them like an extractable, fungible raw material like coal, or oil, where waste is budgeted into the bottom line, just like usable units are, too. This is business in a noncompetitive market. Most of the NBA owners don’t even give a shit about winning, or putting a good product on the floor, any more than Ford, or GM or Volkswagen, cares about building the best possible car they can. Value engineering prevails at Ford, GM and Volkswagen. Now even at Toyota, too. Most NBA franchises are “value engineering” their raw materials into value engineered teams to satisfice in a non competitive market place. Its simple, people. They aren’t even a little interested in competition. If they were, they sure as hell wouldn’t buy NBA franchises fer chrisssakes. They are in it for money management and some ego strokes among their reputed fellow “deep entrepreneurs.” Period. Hey, look at me Louie? I got me uh NBA team. I own a bunch uh these guys. And I even got the dopes to front m cash and rent subsidies to build me a new freaking arena, eh? And my accountant, Julius, he says its helping me big time with the Feds. Yo.

    So the system vacuums up these underdeveloped sushi OADs (HOW IS THAT FOR DESIGNED REDUNDANCY?) precisely because their accountants, money managers, game theory wielding economists, lawyers, and PR flacks have contributed their expertise so models can be run. And the financial models told them that the tipping point between too much waste and too much developed product with too high of a second contract salary comes when you grab them after one year of college. Screw if most of them are hopelessly unready for this system. Screw if it turns the college game into a joke and reduces the NBA to the National Undeveloped Basketball Association. This is when to take them to gore the ox.

    If their analysts tell the NBA differently, then the NBA will start taking players at a different age. If their analysts say draft them at 12, then they will. If their analysts say draft them at 25, then they will. If their analysts tell them to try to reinstate chattel slavery, some of them would probably seriously consider doing it, before their political friends tell them, well, that’s just not palatable, even in today’s neo authoritarian, let’s engage in undeclared war on Muslims when ever the economy can stand it, kinda culture we operate here these days. Capice?

    But let’s get back to Self and what he is doing out in the wilderness of Basketball Tibet.

    Self is proving over time the original wisdom of player development; that is all he is doing. The difference between him and a lot of other coaches is that KU gave him the FU money he needed to do it this way, and he has enough character, and educational legacy (his parents were educators) to try to do what’s right for his players at least as much as his limited human wisdom allows.

    But even Self is feeling the pressure of this apparent recruiting embargo. In the old days, Diallo and/or Bragg probably would be wearing rouge smoking jackets, because of how skinny, weak, and young they are for big men. Before the OADs days, even in the time I fondly recall as referees at least reading the rule books and trying to call the game somewhat like the rules suggest, big men had to be able to stay on their spots. I mean, staying on spots is not exactly rocket science as an aproach to playing offensive basketball. And being able to sustain a block out even briefly just kinda makes sense before running to jump for the ball right? But not today. Now, because Self has to play this Sushi, even Self has apparently decided that teaching even his long term guys to rebound is kind of stupid. I mean what is the point of teaching team rebounding based on blocking out, if two OADs/TADs of the four guys you have to rotate in the paint haven’t a clue about how to block out. You have to teach a new unskilled approach to rebounding, so the OAD bigs and the 3ADs and 4ADs and 5ADs can play on the same page. You have to have Jamari Traylor running around like some 6-7 inch Garo Ypremian shouting “I keek a rebound” each time he allows himself to be pushed under the rim as he runs around trying to explode out of one place unrelated to a rebound for a rebound neither he, nor his OAD friends, is in remotely the right place to grab, but which all might “leap” into without having to have any skill.

    But I am whining, right?

    So let’s get to morality concerning violence committed on the innocent, shall we?

    Seriously, don’t you feel a little guilty about sending innocent boys into D1 action with blue meanies, after seeing what is done to young men in this game season after season?

    I bet Self hated throwing Andrew Wiggins to the dogs his first season. I bet Andrew’s dad did, too, and that was probably a big part of why Andrew appeared to play 2/3s speed and appeared to actually run away from the blue meanies every chance he could. It wasn’t just to protect him from injury for the draft, though that was probably a big part of it. But how would Mr. Wiggins have like seeing Andrew wear the saddle on his back all that season when Andrew came out of high school a year early, and then had to literally get mugged for an entire season and have to learn to fist fight or wind up in the hospital; that’s what it would have been like for Andrew had he put the team on his back. What father wants to see his son punked all season long just because the NBA analysts decide this is the best system for their bottom line?

    This entire OAD system needs to be reformed and reformed NOT by the NBA, or the NCAA, or most of the current basketball NGOs looking at this situation, which all appear to be compromised in whom they serve.

    The game has to find a handful of untouchables and give them some research money and tell them to figure out what is best for the players, and then try the exact system they recommend for five years before revising it, unless those untouchables say to revise their own plan. The untouchables have to be drawn from a countervailing element of society that know something professionally about this phase of child development, and whose continued career statuses depend on doing the right thing for these young men.

    What is going on now is a scandal both because it is unnecessarily ruining a bunch of young men’s potentials, and also because it is dumbing down fans into thinking that this new normal is the way it has to be.

    Rock Chalk!

  • Thanks for hanging in there Jaybate. I’m too tired.

  • Current brain research says that the average person’s brain is still significantly developing especially in the pre-frontal cortex all the way up till about 25. Some earlier, some later. Research also shows that learning is best done when facing challenges (playing through mistakes) but feeling successful (managing expectations, setting them up to succeed). This is a delicate balance.

    So yes, Diallo and Bragg should play more. But certainly not indiscriminately. You can’t just put the best players on the floor if it is not best for them. Bragg is most likely not lottery this year anyway so giving him time to grow and learn in small steps is best. Diallo on the other hand will eventually have to be put into the fire. But maybe game 2 is too soon.

  • It’s a double edged sword, I tell you. A double edged sword.

    We want Coach Self to improve in his understanding and exploiting of matchup advantages. We want this because it will undoubtedly make KU a much better team and that will result in more wins, particularly in March, which means more banners in AFH.

    But it cuts both ways.

    If Self improves in this aspect, he immediately becomes a prime NBA coaching prospect. Right now, his stubborn devotion to system over talent and matchups makes him a poor NBA fit, which is why the Self to the NBA rumors have virtually disappeared over the last few seasons. Self remains at KU because there really isn’t a better college job, and he would be a poor match for the NBA.

    But Self could learn from the NBA game. In the NBA, they measure defense based on a rate statistic so they can determine how many points a team gives up per 100 possessions. This means that you can play a slow pace and give up very few points per game, but still have a weak defense because your PPP (points per possession) is high.

    The thinking of preferring to win 60-50 is flawed. If you give up 50 points in 40 possessions, your defense isn’t good. You just played at a slow enough pace to still manage to win. It looks good from a points per game perspective, but you weren’t really getting many stops. There just weren’t many possessions.

    On the other hand, if you give up 70 points in 100 possessions, yeah, the points per game doesn’t look great, but that points per possession is elite level.

    So let’s go to the numbers:

    vs. Northern Colorado - 72 points allowed, 56 shots attempted, 26 FTs attempted, 21 TO forced.

    vs. Michigan State - 79 points allowed, 60 shots attempted, 16 FTs attempted, 16 TO forced

    vs. Chaminade - 72 points allowed, 69 shots attempted, 21 FTs attempted, 14 TO forced

    vs. UCLA - 73 points allowed, 59 shots attempted, 21 FTs attempted, 11 TO forced

    vs. Vanderbilt - 63 points allowed, 56 shots attempted, 15 FTs attempted, 11 TO forced

    vs. Loyola - 61 points allowed, 61 shots attempted, 20 FTs attempted, 21 TO forced

    vs. Harvard - 69 points allowed, 57 shots attempted, 15 FTs attempted, 19 TO forced

    By the numbers, Harvard was one of our worst, maybe the worse defensive game of the year. If we don’t force 19 turnovers (a result of playing fast) we lose that game.

    Lucas had no blocks and no steals in 24 minutes. He had 8 boards, 5 points and a turnover. That’s not good production for your “best big man”. Simply put, Lucas, like Morningstar before him just simply isn’t productive enough to merit playing more than 15 minutes per game unless he is surrounded by superstars. Lucas could play, and play well, and he won’t put up 15 points and 12 rebounds. He just isn’t that guy. So there is no reason to play him 20+ minutes because you will never get that big performance from him. Might as well play him 12 minutes, get 4 rebounds and a bucket and call it good.

    The same can be said for Traylor. He and Lucas really should be splitting 10-12 minutes per game, not playing that each.

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