The Easy Button

  • This was perhaps the most pleasant game I have watched in, oh, three seasons. Here’s why:

    1. Play at the pace that best fits your team.

    2. Play a style that best fits your team.

    3. Play guys that play the pace and style that fits your team.

    4. Play guys who have a net impact.

    5. Play the best players.

    Quasi-snarky questions that I have (please take them in the good humored manner they are intended):

    1. Did Holy Cross beat Harvard by one point?

    2. How did we beat Holy Cross by over 30 and struggle against Harvard?

    3. Didn’t Holy Cross supposedly have a really big guy (a lug) inside?

    4. Why do the folks that don’t think Diallo and Bragg should play “hate” them so much?

    5. Were there two players that combined for 34 post minutes in a 6 point win vs. Harvard and combined for 0 post minutes tonight in a 30 point win vs. Holy Cross?

    6. Is Bill Self a genius based on his personnel decisions tonight?

    7. Will Bill Self be ticked off tonight because we made shots?

    Other observations:

    1. After trying to jam it inside the first three or four possessions of the second half, we lurched back to our first half style of play and bounced back after Holy Cross’ quick start. Terrific, really.

    2. Hunter Mickelson was terrific in the first half steal, tip aways, blocks, contested shots, rim protection. When someone does not score, this is the type of positive impact that changes games. Withey-like in many ways. I do not know how anyone can ignore what they saw in the first half. Eye test? If it’s a multiple choice, check the box next to Mick.

    3. Brannen Greene was moving very well, and did a nice job on defense but for the under screen lapses pointed out on the broadcast. He may be challenging Svi for the 4th perimeter guy. It’s a nice contest. Glad to see Self bring Greene back early (as I predicted he would do, I might add). Perfect.

    4. @drgnslayr posted a thread regarding pace of game. It could not have been more on point. This game was lesson in pace and in style of play. The only time we stagnated was when it appeared our focus was solely on getting it inside. When we simply run our offense, move the ball around, and shoot when open, this is a beautiful thing. All this requires is Self to accept it. And it can all be inside/out. I sense moderation from coach Self. Why? He didn’t call a timeout and flip out after we stopped really looking for the post entry pass in second half. He accepted it. Embraced? Don’t know. But all we need is acceptance. Quite frankly, our offense looks terrific. Again, the key is Self accepting this team’s identity. It’s his best shooting team, better than last season to be sure. Ride this horse. And focus on pushing the pace – PACE, PACE, PACE. We might lose some games because we don’t have a back to the basket horse. But we can’t change that. We can win this way, and we can win a national title this way. Our rotation guys shot 11/18 from three. Our pace of play – playing fast – can cover games when it’s 5/18, just like some back to the basket scoring can.

    5. Perry Ellis was wildly quiet, and wildly efficient. Called for two bogus foul calls. A very solid night. Business like. How in the world does he get whistled for a foul on that block? Amazingly bad.

    6. Loved the LeGerald Vick quick hook. It made me reminisce a bit, tears almost welled up. It’s good to see our old coach has still got it in him . Somewhere, Anrio Adams is watching with his girlfriend, saying, “Hey, hey … baby, come look, that was me. That was me!!” LeGerald, you are watching this season.

    7. We have the best collection of perimeter players in the nation. No doubt. Our focus needs to be on permitting that group to win games for us. Further, the post rotation should be geared to support our superior talent on the perimeter. That is exactly what we saw tonight. We have three guys, Bragg, Diallo and Mick, that can improve our game inside vs. where it was last season (they weren’t here or didn’t play). But that will be a progression. They are the three that have a chance to be better in a couple of months. Our other options are who they are. The other options were here and played – and we couldn’t score inside. Logic says the former option is better than the latter. And these other options can really exploit the high/low. Did I say how much I love the high/low? These options also fit best with our best style of play.

    8. There is an easy button. It doesn’t work every time. Bumps, pot holes, mistakes, etc. But in the end, we’ll be better for it. As Bill Self said, “play the best players.” By the way, Bill Self was a genius tonight. Don’t you think?

  • @HighEliteMajor

    Solid post.

    I think the success of our season will depend mostly on whether or not we can execute our pace and style in games. If we do that, who can beat us?

    I’m with you… that was a pleasant game to watch.

    I think it was a solid developmental game. Cheick got some minutes. He also was exposed in some areas for being raw.

    Hunter stepped up on defense. I think he is a guy you can just substitute into a game and he might not produce a lot. However… if you start him or work with him a little bit just so he stops feeling so insignificant, then he will produce. And he will produce whatever you ask from him. Landen may be a better rebounder… maybe… but I’m surprised Hunter hasn’t seen more minutes because he does defend the post and challenges shots.

    BG… great to have him back! I think the disciplinary action helped wake him up some. He still made a few errors, but his defense is improving, along with his rebounding. I saw him actually pull off a very aggressive seal on the boards. I’m trying to think when was the last time I’ve seen a Jayhawk actually butt someone completely out of the paint?! Bravo, BG!

    We’ve got to keep pushing that ball, either to finish the initial break or set up the secondary break. This works great against teams the like to run slow half-court offense. I noticed some times when we were able to get them out of their stuff. That was the only time we can say we really defended them… when they pushed their tempo to a speed they weren’t comfortable with. Even our press was helpful.

    Seeing Devonte go down really made me think. We really need another ball handler available if we lose Frank or Devonte.

    For the most part, I liked Wayne’s game tonight. I like how he continues to look in the low post for assists. However Wayne goes… so goes the team! He may not quite have the touch BG has… but I am willing to bet he may have the best range on the trey. He is so strong, and he has compressed his stroke… I think he can nail treys from even further out. I’m thinking his trey is going to win us some games this year.

    Bragg? What’s not to like? He may not score 20 a night… but it is clear that he can contribute his freshman year… and every year after!

  • @HighEliteMajor

    I agree on the eye test for Hunter. He was disruptive and fun to watch.

    We should not lack scoring. With athletes like Bragg and Diallo, we can run some. Traylor can be the glue that seals some cracks in the Freshman. If we end up facing some heavy trees in the post, we got Landen for emergencies. Fun team with a lot of depth

  • Did my eyes deceive me or did I see Greene drive to the basket…twice!!!

    Somebody must have lit a fire under his rear end while he was suspended. I like it.

  • Like I said before, this team need to be shooting 25 threes a game.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    Just like Korea, I think Hunter thrives on knowing his number is being called. He just had a different feel to him in the game, he was active and everywhere. I love that about this kid, that even though his number hasn’t been called a lot- he’s thrived when he does get the chance, not sulked and suffered because of it.

    The beginning of the 2nd half was bad from a defensive standpoint, a quick 3 followed by a 4pt play but after that media timeout the guys settled and took off again. I was pleased with it.

    Greene helps this team. Svi is still a major work in progress and if you got an ace on your bench that can get 14 points in blink its a great problem to have. Is there a more pure shooter in the country than Greene? Without the KU blinders on I’m having a hard time finding someone. If he brings that effort to games, we just became a better team.


    that play with Graham was scary thinking about last year and his injury. We absolutely cannot afford him to be injured.

    Wayne is so improved this year and he knows he’s counted on for points and he hunts to get them. Confidence in himself and confidence in his shot is at an all-time high right now.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    2-5 Could this be Due to different styles of D as well? Man vs zone. Also shooting percentages from outside and FT shooting made a difference in the scoring in each game.

    2-6 he is a genius based on he rested players versus a team that he knew he wouldn’t need to use them. He had them there if he needed them but with the outside shooting as hot as it was.

    3-2 ok here I will say it and open a bag of worms. But why is it OK for One player to be productive in some areas and not in others and it’s great but others if they do things for the team but don’t do other things deserve the bench? Hunter didn’t score. Didn’t get to the line. Sure he got a block or two. He was disruptive on D and altered shots. But his offensive game made it 4 on 5 he was not a threat.

    With that said I want to see Hunter blow up and do great things giving the depth inside for a deep deep run for KU. But it can’t just be Hunter, Bragg and Diallo for that depth to take us on that run. Both Lucas and Jamari (yes he has a name and is not a player to be named later or not named) to make that run.

    2-4 This coming from a guy that uses “_________” instead of Jamari Traylor. Still shaking my head at this one.

  • @HighEliteMajor I love Diallo’s upside. But, man, he was sloppy. 4 TOs as a big man in 18 mins. Hel’ll improve, no question. But I do understand, in a tight game, why he wouldn’t get as many minutes at this point. You have said many times…Greene is a deadly weapon.

  • @JayHawkFanToo he looked good all around last night.

    He had a few dribble drives in a game earlier this year but his man was right up on him so he blew by him and drew the foul. I can’t remember the game but did it twice and sunk his FTs

    I liked how he passed back to Wayne and raised his hands for the made three as soon as it was released.

    The play that ended the first half it looked as if he was standing flat footed after the missed lay up. But I have to think he was waiting for the lockout pass for the open three. He did hustle back on D though and was disruptive on the layup attempt.

    Glad to have him back. Early too!!

  • @HighEliteMajor great post HEM!

  • @JayHawkFanToo that drive he had after his lapses on the wing was a thing of beauty!

  • @JRyman I think that was the MSU game. He didn’t have any FGs but made all of his FTs if I’m remembering correctly.

  • @HighEliteMajor Nice post. I believe number 3-4 is the single most important thing for this team to win a NC. I’ve been saying this for a while and you hit the nail on the head, the pace will allow us to win games when our outside shooting is off because it will get us 8-10 easy points in transition every game. I also think the soft press can add another 6-8 points to that number as evidenced last night. Even if it doesn’t result in a steal, the other team is just getting across half court and the shot clock is already under 20, sometimes under 15. It works great and we have the depth to do it. Keep running, keep pressing, and I think there is a good chance at hanging another banner.

    I thought it was interesting that we played at the fast pace even though HC is known for their slow pace. @jaybate-2.0 had a nice post last week that suggested Self tries to beat the opponent at their own game and I half expected to see a low scoring night but that wasn’t the case. KU dictated the pace by running and pressing and played how WE wanted to, not how the other team wanted to and it worked out great.

    I keep thinking that something is different with this team lately. Like almost all of the things we talk about on here are starting to show up in the game. Pace is being pushed. Press is being utilized. Traylor and Lucas are watching while our other 4 bigs play. I’ve seen plays start to be run to get open looks for a 3. Self seems to be embracing the 3 instead of looking at it as fool’s gold. Why all of these changes this season? The team isn’t that different than last year’s team. My suspicion is that Aaron Miles is the reason. He’s the only new piece to the puzzle. Maybe he reads this board? Maybe he sees the same things we all do and has some influence on HCBS to try some new philosophies on the court? Does anyone else get this same feeling that I do?

  • Extremely enjoyable post by @HighEliteMajor and intriguing suggestion by @RockkChalkk about the possible influence of Aaron Miles.

  • If Greene plays anywhere close to this level and Svi plays at his current level it doesn’t seem like much of a contest to me. Greene really doesn’t play any D but is Svi that much better on D? Svi looks lost on offense again. I thought the Chaminade game was his coming out party but he hasn’t been able to hit anything since. I would think Greene is the first wing off of the bench without question due to is offense.

  • I’m going to ask this question. Did anyone miss Jamari & Landon not playing?

    It was like being in a dream where all the topics and countless posts discussing and arguing over their playing time had come to fruition. Self had listened to all the criticism and decided to cave into the fans and give them what they wanted.

    Regardless of the team we played, we didn’t miss them out there.

    We would suffer without Frank. We would suffer without Perry. And the list goes on and on.

    I’m not saying we don’t need them. I’m certain that over the course of the season these 2 guys are going to be important. But with the 4 bigs we had out there last night we had everything we needed.

    The reason I bring this up is because Self has made it clear that both Lucas & Traylor bring something to this team that gets them playing time. But after watching last nights game I was trying to imagine where we missed them last night… I couldn’t objectively find that reason.

    He started Mickelson and he was active, doing all the things required of him in his spot. Other than scoring I thought he showed exactly what Self wanted out of that position. Enough so that you start him Saturday because I believe he earned it. He took the opportunity and didn’t disapoint.

  • @joeloveshawks

    It’s a nice problem to have. Svi is still trying to get comfortable within this team. He’s much improved overall but his shooting still isn’t where it could be. His aggressiveness driving to the hoop has been a pleasant addition to his game. But I agree if Greene is this automatic off the bench its hard not to play him as long as he continues to play within the system and with his teammates.

  • Svi’s shot hasn’t come around… but I like what I see when he drives the ball, either out in transition, or in the half court. He looks like he knows how to finish.

    Great to see BG starting to drive. That should help him develop some moves to create his own scoring space from the perimeter as well as potentially becoming another scoring weapon.

    Devonte was a great spark for us. He seems to be the best pickpocket artist we have.

    It’s nice to see some chemistry forming on the floor. Hard to imagine what these guys are capable of if they master playing together.

  • @BeddieKU23 said.

    He started Mickelson and he was active, doing all the things required of him in his spot. Other than scoring I thought he showed exactly what Self wanted out of that position. Enough so that you start him Saturday because I believe he earned it. He took the opportunity and didn’t disapoint.

    I agree Hunter should get another rip at starting. I posted in another thread about starters for last nights game that Hunter would get one start then Bragg then Diallo.

    After last night not sure when Bragg will get his shot. Maybe late February?

    Diallo will probably get one bestie the new year begins if he gets a few things under control. But overall he deserves a shot with the other starters to go out there and see what happens.

    Hunter needs to take it to the rim and see what happens. Perhaps get to the line. Or even take that 8 ft baseline jumper and make his man play honest D on him.

  • @KUinLA said:

    Like I said before, this team need to be shooting 25 threes a game.

    At least that many. There will be a game this season when both Svi and Greene get hot from deep and it will be fun to watch.

  • @justanotherfan imagine the 4 headed beast of Mason Graham Selden and either Greene or Svi along with Ellis on the floor.

    Small. Quick to extreme fast and anyone of them could pull the trigger from anywhere on the floor.

    Might make it hard on D on us but late game scenerio where you are subbing offense for defense and visa versa.

  • @JRyman

    We could go to that against a team like Oklahoma when they don’t have their big guy in. Definitely could do that against ISU. Maybe switch out Ellis for Diallo so we match up better with McKay. But that lineup could be lethal in small doses. Wouldn’t want to extend it too much because the right lineup would destroy that group inside if they got a long look.

  • @justanotherfan or that small mid major team in the second round of the dance?

  • @BeddieKU23 I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a little refreshing to see a game without either of those two in it… That doesn’t mean there won’t be games this year when we’ll need one or both of them, I think there will. But those guys can be kind of tiring to watch, and they just don’t have the scoring potential, flash and lengthy athleticism on both ends that the 3 “other” bigs have, especially the freshmen. Even some of their mistakes were fun to watch, like Diallo accidentally jumping over the guy in the paint or Mickelson trying to block an open shooter from behind. Stupid mistakes, but it shows what kind of motor and energy they have.

  • @justanotherfan who is guarding Niang?

  • All I can say is THANK GOD FOR NO MORE ESPN3! I will be able to watch the rest of the season now!

  • @Statmachine sorrrry! Montana game.

  • @Crimsonorblue22

    Selden. Wayne takes away his quickness advantage, and because of his strength, Niang can’t beat him up on the block. Because Niang isn’t a high flyer, the fact he’s a couple inches taller than Selden doesn’t mean much. Plus, Niang and Selden played together in HS. Wayne knows Niang better than most.

    When you go small, you have to be creative defensively. Selden matches up pretty well with Niang.

  • @BeddieKU23 Well, I think Self would say that Lucas brings more sound fundamentals (certainly more than Diallo), better defense and better rebounding position. Bragg and Diallo will make more mistakes than Traylor and Lucas. The big question is…when will those mistakes decrease enough such that their obvious talent makes them the choice over the more experienced guys? Obviously most people on this site think it is now. Self thinks they need more time. It is a puzzle and it will be interesting to see how it fits together.Heck, we sat out 2 guys and still had a hard time finding playing time for everyone.

  • @JayHawkFanToo Greene’s driven the basket in a couple games this year–he’s definitely added that to his game. And his D is definitely better than last year also–not great, but better. He’s definitely improved his game. I even seen him dribble the ball more than 3 times without turning it over a couple times, lol

  • @KUinLA let’s not forget last year Green was used to help break presses and being the ball up the court. He did fine in the open court. It also gave KU a great FT shooter late in games.

    Ray Aleen was never a great ball handler and he did just fine when he needed to dribble.

    Neither was/is great at it when a guy is right in their face though.

  • @JRyman This team flat murders zone defenses. It’s quite a sight to see 5 different guys drilling 3s.

  • @Hawk8086

    I agree Bragg and Diallo have to become reliable with the ball in their hands and that comes with playing time. Both Landon and Jamari were once in the same position but its taken them years to become fundamental players in some regards.

  • I agree Self pushed the easy button. He broke that game in the second half when he put in the soft pressure. Oddly, the pressure helped to rest our players vs. the Princeton Offense, kept legs fresh to continue shooting threes, and got a few easy buckets. @jaybate-1.0 suggested that Self uses games against the Princeton to test his players. If that’s what he was looking for, they failed. It was clear they could not guard the action for the full shot clock. When KU wasn’t pressing this showed, and it was clear any time HC got an offensive rebound.

    On a normal shooting night, that game is tight by the end of the first half. We may have even trailed early in the second. Self decided PT and REST were more important this game than testing the manhood of his young guns. He will test them at some point! I hope they are ready!

  • @justanotherfan

    “Selden matches up pretty well with Niang.”

    I think so, too. Wayne just has to stay focused all game because he has a tendency to lapse sometimes and that is when he gets burned.

    In the past, I don’t think we have prepared well enough when facing Niang. The scouting report shows his sweet spots on the floor. I noticed last year how much more he focused his scoring in just a few spots. He likes to get positioned in the low/mid post area and use a baby hook or score off the drive and use the backboard on his sweet spot.

    If we know that, then when he gets into position, try more ball denial defense and do a bit more to contest his shot or at least deny him his driving path and force him into driving on the left side.


    “This team flat murders zone defenses. It’s quite a sight to see 5 different guys drilling 3s.”


    And we should be able to do the same thing against a decent M2M defense, too.

    I think we need to unleash Perry more. It seems like he should be the perfect candidate to help force at least one defensive big out on the perimeter to stop his trey shot. We need to use Perry’s trey more to help break down defenses.

    Another thing… we do use high ball screens, but we rarely take advantage of the mismatches they help create. With our awesome guards… a guy like Frank can take it in on about any big and score (and get fouled).

    Look at how much the game of basketball has changed over the past 10 years or so.

    “Mismatches” used to mean that a big offensive player was suddenly guarded by a shorter defensive player in the post. Then we would see “back to the basket” scoring.

    Today… the “mismatch” tends to work the opposite. The goal is to get an athletic guard up against a slower big to drive the ball and score.

    This is a part of the shift from “Y axis” basketball to “X axis” basketball. It is the realization that there are more opportunities by being more gifted with lateral, horizontal movements, than just being tall and vertically capable. Trey shooting also fits in the scheme of “X axis.”

  • @drgnslayr I’ve posted this before, after my experience at the Bill Self Fantasy camp, but in the film session review and Q & A session, Self chose IowaState gamefilm to give us an example of a “scout” analysis. It was almost uncanny, he called each of the IowaSt players by their first names, and knew which motion and screens were “just movement junk, or fake” vs which screens were the real deal. Certain IowaSt ball handlers drove strictly to pass to the kick out 3gunner. He knew the percentages, even.

    I realized that the variable when KU faces IowaState (or any team) is how well the KU players remember and execute to the scouting report. If Fred Hoiberg was in that room, he’d be thoroughly disheartened by how well Self knows Hoiberg’s plays and sets.

    We realize just how long Self has been doing this. To quote Tim Jankovich (former KU assistant coach): “Most coaches are trying to draw up offensive plays, etc…but Self just lives to disrupt the opponent”.

  • What we do to Baylor and OU, our first 2 BigXII games, both in AFH–> should be a real telling yardstick. Going up 3-0 in conf play is exactly what we need to do. First road game is at TxTech.

  • @HighEliteMajor Awesome post! The versatility I’d like to see out of Self is a bit longer rope for the high-talent frosh. A OAD is useless if you don’t play him. But a lot depends on the kid, too, as too many mistakes (like Cliff and frosh TRob) will get a kid benched. I do see Self always tries to play his talented frosh. Bragg, for sure, will be huge in March. Diallo also, as he’ll naturally get better by March.
    Having 6 bigs is the most interesting “problem”.

    I can officially say this team is deeper than the 2011 MorrisHawks (…EJ rides pine while BStar plays…).

  • @ralster

    Many solid comments!

    We have great depth… except if we lose Frank or Devonte. They get so many minutes on the court together. Of course, we may play our best ball with them both out there, but we are “putting all our eggs in one basket.”

    I hope BG and Svi get enough PT to not only keep the rust off, but enough time to advance their games. Both need to work on their handles… Vick is going to be an awesome player, sooner rather than later, but not sure sooner means this year.

    Wayne… I’m imagining that part of why he is making a better impact this year is perhaps Self finally did him a favor by redacting the “he can play anything 1 to 4” comment. Wayne needs to focus on executing at the 3 or 2… not to be our backup PG behind Frank and Devonte. That responsibility should be with BG or Svi. That is a silent contribution they can make to this team by studying the PG position and work on handles just in case they are needed.

  • @ralster Great anecdote about the Self camp! Must have missed it in the past. I’ve only talked to Self once and he was too busy charming the socks of my mom to talk ball!

    Things like “how well the KU players remember and execute to the scouting report” would likely lead to Self seeing mistakes that the above-average fan (or coach!) doesn’t.

    It would be interesting to know if with raw freshman like Diallo, whether Self focuses more on principles or scouting.

    @drgslayr We are definitely letting it ride with Devonte and Frank. We need both. Usually on the court together. It would be devastating if one went down. But I think they are it for PGs. BG and Svi need to focus wholly on eating minutes at the 2/3 allowing rest for the three headed monster of Wayne, Frank and Devonte.

  • @benshawks08

    Yep… we have committed to this configuration.

    If we lose Frank or Devonte, the other will be our PG… but will also need to rest and not do what Frank has done in the past and play all those minutes and be all beat up come March.

    Part of coaching is have backup plans for every situation. There is a decent possibility that Frank or Devonte goes down (even if just a short time). The repercussions would be felt in March, especially if the healthy one is stuck with too many minutes.

    It will be interesting to see how this plays out now that BG is back. He won’t be of much value if he can only get 5-8 PT minutes a game. Same for Svi. Svi is really putting a smile on my face every time he takes the ball to the rack!

    Did you catch the ISU/Iowa game last night? ISU’s offense is basically a dribble drive with the focus on collapsing the defense and feeding trey shooters. I think we should be doing more of that, especially since we typically have 4 guys out there capable of driving the ball. Sometimes all 5!

  • HighEliteMajor, Great post & analysis. The key this year is Pace & More Pace. No more Okie Ball or shall I say Bad Ball with this team.

  • If we lose Mason or Graham, Vick will have to come up to speed super quickly, something that is hard to expect from green rookie that is not expected t produce big the first year. He is more likely to be ready on year 2 or 3 rather than this year.

  • @JayHawkFanToo I think he could hold his own in spot duty …of course, I’m basing that on his WUG performance…

  • @HighEliteMajor Nice post!

    I know. Imma couple days behind. Gotta thing during the day that keeps me busy and out of trouble, when I wish i could be at home watching and rewatching college ball all day.

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