Mickelson vs. Withey

  • Mickelson’s performance the other night against Oregon St. got me thinking about rim protection. One of the complaints that many had last season was that Kansas lacked a rim protector. The argument was made that our defense functioned better with someone on the back line of the defense to defend the rim, and make up for defensive lapses. In 2014-15, we were sorely lacking in that department, and I believe it greatly impacted our performance in certain games.

    That got me looking at Jeff Withey’s stats and comparing him to Mickelson. Somewhat similar players – Self called Mickelson a “poor man’s Jeff Withey” or something like that. But is Mick really a couple notches below Withey, as that statement might imply?

    Hunter Mickelson has started the last two games and by and large, he has not disappointed. Mickelson was favored by Self for a good deal of the second half against Oregon St. – a half which Self called our best half of basketball this season.

    Here’s how they match-up during their careers at Kansas, understanding the difference in sample size. The non-percentage stats are per 40 minutes of play:

    1. Field Goal %: Mick 52.8 Withey 58.2
    2. Free Throw %: Mick 85% Withey 72.6%
    3. Points: Mick 13.2 Withey 16.2
    4. Rebounds: Mick 10.3 Withey 10.8
    5. Assists: Mick 1.3 Withey 1.2
    6. Steals: Mick 2.4 Withey 1.0
    7. Blocks: Mick 5.8 Withey 5.4
    8. Turnovers: Mick 2.2 Withey 2.4

    What stood out to me in Mick’s favor were blocks and steals. I never would have thought that Mickelson would have been near Withey in blocks, let alone having more blocks per minute than Withey – edging Withey 5.8 to 5.4. Mickelson’s average block rate squares with his block rate this season of 5.9.

    The big margin was on steals. Mickelson has averaged nearly 1.5 more steals per game than Withey, which essentially ends and creates a possession. When comparing rebounds, which either end a possession for the opponent or continue a possession for the offense, and steals, Mickelson “nets” out better than Withey when combining those two stats. Withey obviously scored a bit more than Mick, which is an important consideration. But when I look at this Kansas team, it is the rim protection element that stands out to me – and what Mick can offer in that regard.

    I’m not suggesting that Mick is a player on the level of Jeff Withey. Give me a choice right now, and I’d take Withey without hesitation. The eye test would also tell me that Withey is the better rim protector. But Mick is in the ballpark, which the numbers support. And style of play? Might Mick be a bit more suited to a team – this team – that pushes the pace? I’d think so.

    Withey’s Player Efficiency Rating (PER) at Kansas was 26.0 to Mick’s very solid 23.0. Withey’s was over a much larger body of work minutes-wise, of course, which adds to its validity. Mick’s PER and stats, though, have been very constant at Kansas and have not dropped off when he gets more minutes.

    Withey was/is, of course, more of a true center. The other edge to that sword is that Mick is much more effective away from the rim offensively, as evidenced by the sweet step back jumper the other night. Mick has a different offensive package that Withey. Mick is also more mobile, both guarding on the perimeter and running the floor, and he clearly has a knack for the steal (and creating some possessions along the way). And surprisingly, as note above, Mick offers a block rate just a bit better than Jeff Withey.

    There is a gap to be bridged to Cheick Diallo. If someone were to say to you that you could have Jeff Withey standing on the back line of this defense, alternating with Cheick Diallo, what would you say? Well you might just have that in Mickelson. For 30 minutes per game? Nah, let’s not get carried away. But 15-18? That might be more like it. And with Diallo likely getting better with every minute he’s on the floor, that will likely be all that we need.

    A valid question that has been asked is, “how is this team any different than Kansas’ 2014-15 version?” A big part of that might be Diallo and Mickeson manning the back line for Kansas. Something we certainly didn’t have last season.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    Very good post!

    Kind of makes me wonder… Self is a coach focused on defense. Why has he kept Hunter on ice for almost all of his stay at Kansas?

    And Hunter has some offensive skills, too. It isn’t like we have to trade offense for defense.

    I mentioned this before… and I relate it to my experience with timid people. Timid people just don’t get the chances in life that “more colorful” people do. Their quiet demeanor helps fade them to invisible in the wallpaper. I wonder if that is part of this?

    Perry is timid, too. But Perry is a Kansas boy who was well-achieved before he came to Kansas. The politics were in place to help keep him earning full minutes. I’m not trying to discredit Perry’s skills… not at all… but his quiet approach has never been helpful to him and his game.

  • You don’t have to convince me! All I want is a shot blocker. IMO, with our porous perimeter D and new rule enforcement, a rim protector is more important than almost anything else. Play Hunter 10-12 minutes each half and get a message in the opponents’ heads to stay out of the lane.

    Hell, I’d like to see one of our bigs actually foul out dominating the paint.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    As always top notch discussion starter. I would like to see how Hunter does over say a 10 game sample where he gets consistent minutes in that 15-20+ range and see if his numbers still stack up well. I say that because Hunter really hasn’t been put in that situation.

    Withey was a formidable rim protector, probably the best KU has ever had. Everyone knew going into the lane against him that you weren’t getting a shot off. He also was so good at not fouling, he averaged almost a 2/1 Block to Foul ratio his senior year all while playing 30 minutes a game. Hunter has a below 1 ratio because he does foul.

    I look at Hunter as a silent rim protector because I don’t think anyone is scared going into the lane against him, but his long arms and instincts take over and he’s blocked your shot. Which can be an advantage for KU, the scouting report might reflect he can block your shot but he kind of falls under the radar in that area.

  • Mickelson’s steals are sort of blocks: he blocks passes.

    Look at him on defense: when his man is back to the basket, he always reaches around to prepare for a deflection of an incoming pass. More than once he has poked away those passes.

    I don’t remember Withey being so disruptive in guarding his man.

    On the other hand; Withey’s blocks were sort of steals: the ball stayed in bounds and often wound up in KU’s hands.

    Coach Self, please continue to play Mickelson the minutes he deserves! Only thus restore balance to the Force you can!

  • HighEliteMajor, Nice discussion. I think overall Mickelson is a more skilled player, recall he had a record on blocks as a freshman at Arkansas. Withey on the other hand really developed his game over the course of his career @ KU. I will be honest with you in that in his first two seasons I never believed that he will have any significant impact at KU, he was raw, very light weight and got lost while on the court. In his junior year he got to score a lot simply as defenses were double teaming T-Rob. But in his senior year he really became a force & became a better offensive player.

  • @HighEliteMajor Very substantial and fine research. We must not overlook the factor that many of Withey’s minutes were “tired minutes.” Hunter’s stats glean an edge from lively legs. That said, Hunter rarely has gotten the opportunity to adjust to the flow of a game. His limited minutes have baffled me these past two seasons. What is he not showing in practice sessions?

  • I’ve mentioned this before, but I think people forget that Withey only started getting major minutes in 2011-2012 because they really had no other option. His breakout season the big rotation was: C) Withey - Wesley, PF) Robinson - Young - (Merv Lindsay?). Wesley wasn’t going to start in front of him, and 180 lb. Young was really the only other viable option. I guess what I’m getting at is Withey didn’t really fit Self’s typical mold of big man, and I feel like Hunter doesn’t really either. In Self’s own words, “a poor man’s Jeff Withey”. Self certainly saw the value and effectiveness in using Withey, as he is starting to with Hunter now. But Self does seem to go for the 6’ 8" “tough guy” type of big quite often. I’m not so sure Mario Little wouldn’t have taken Withey’s minutes if he had been on the roster that breakout year.

  • @HighEliteMajor My conspiracy theory is that he doesn’t play the Red Fury more because he is afraid he wouldn’t be able to displace him with Diallo. He HAS to play Diallo …he can’t be another Cliff.

  • @Makeshift

    Your right Withey didn’t have a lot of competition unlike this years squad.

    Hunter has been a guy who’s thrived when his number has been called at KU multiple times. Maybe he’s not this great practice player or maybe he doesn’t stand out in some ways that Self wants his starting 5 to do. Whatever it is, Hunter gets in the game and “plays up” to the occasion. I think he’s earned the right to start until further notice, especially until we all see Diallo start to develop any kind of familiarity with his teammates. But a 1-2 combo of Hunter & Diallo can be deadly, as well as the 1-2 punch of Ellis/Bragg sprinkled in with Mari & Lucas. It’s a great problem to have but you can tell Self has had a tough time deciding what’s the best chess move.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    Hunter not being a starter and 30 mpg guy the last two seasons goes down so far as the greatest PT mystery and coaching enigma in Self’s tenure IMHO. There is almost certainly a constellation of reasons but it beats hell out of me.

  • (Author here–RIP/DFW: I reread this post this morning and realized it just didn’t explain what I was trying to get at in this post, so I have considerably expanded it. To those that commented on the original version, I am sorry if this expanded version alters for the worse your prior assessment. But I just had to keep reaching for what I was trying to get at here.)

    Remember that Withey sat for a couple years and it looked like he was done for. Scott Pollard seemed to have to intervene for Withey to knock off Self’s blinders about weight gain.

    Self fell into the muscle ball rut.

    He had so much success bulking guys up and roughing up leaner teams that he lost sight of what he had in Withey.

    It’s also good to remember it was Self who was the first I recall referring to “the eye test.” Because he was using it to defend a player, we liked it, but it betrays an identification, an understanding, of the eye test.

    And it was Self that insulted Hunter with the book cover shallow assessment of Hunter being a poor man’s Withey. What a crappy thing to say about a kid.

    Self’s language is peppered with judgemental, class loaded words. .

    He also tries hard to be jock cool.

    He’s always in the right threads. He always is nattily dressed. He thinks he is cool. He likes cool plAyers that are characters with swag. The are a reflection of him. And we like him for being cool. Cool is good unless it obstructs seeing human potential.

    U.K. had “long cats.”

    And so on.

    Self also likes cracking and swagger.

    Hunter is a lot of things, but cool and cracking swag do not describe him.

    Self talks to people back east and says we shop in the same stores you do. He says it because he wants them to know he and his guys and his school and his fans are not hick. And we love him for it.

    He doesn’t need a 30,000 ft house for him and two kids. The house appears a demand to be taken as someone that matters, as expressed through the interplay of large salary and Federal tax code. The financial advisor defines the size of the house and lot up to a point, but beyond that, its all about how one wants to be perceived in other’s eyes–not just recruits, but the faculty’s and alum’s and media’s eyes. These are the eyes that matter. Its only to limited extent about entertaining. The richest persons in the world can have total privacy on two acres with a wall and a get away in the Caribbean they mostly don’t mention except to their friends and families. Self probably has the getaway in the Caribbean that he doesn’t discuss in the media, but the house is about as subtle as a Rollex on fork lift driver’s arm at a warehouse in Lawrence. The house stands out. It is the expressionistic embodiment of a man’s home is his castle in the Mannerist McMansion Era and now to in the Baroque 1% era of the American renaissance. Castles house kings and aristocrats, nouveau riches and Gatsbys, as Scott Fitzgerald understood, not tanners and hatters and pizza truck drivers. Drive by Tom Pendergast’s old joint on Ward Parkway from a different age. It is exceptionally elegant–elegant in a way that Americans, even our biggest crooks today, just can’t seem to bring themselves to be any more. Tom was a city boss–and the son of a city boss. He ran a Jackson county machine that was so powerful a President, FDR, and the city bosses that elected him, and FDR’s Republican opponents, felt it all their best interests nationally to dismantle the Kansas City machine; that is, until they needed its remnants and Harry Truman and the usual number of dead persons’ votes to assure FDRs last election. Tom’s house stands out in my memory for its good taste and its paramount location on a processional gateway to and from Tom’s town. And yet for all its timeless elegance, it appears a line shack in terms of size compared with Bill’s hat hanger. Tom ran a county machine with national influence from the back of a small office. He knew who he was and what he was and so did everyone else, because he was his father’s son–a boss descended from a boss. He needed only to please himself finally. Bill Self is the son of public school educators. He is first generation wealth in the age of the Income Tax. Bill Self has to prove himself in a way Tom Pendergast never had to–in a way Bill Self’s children will not have to prove themselves. Cool in and of itself is not enough proof. But cool combined with bricks and mortar is a materialistic alchemy. It triggers lasting chops–the appearance of enduring formidability.

    Appearances “appear” to count with Self. He “apparently” has an understanding of the superficialities that can be a part of success. Ambitious and successful Americans (and Europeans and every other kind of earthling it appears) have long understood the role of appearance in the attainment of reality behind its facade.

    Just as a house is the appearance of socio-economic substance, cool is the appearance of competitive interpersonal substance.

    It appears from a remote and virtual observation point that in Bill Self’s fecund, hard working and often brilliant mind that talent in quantity X dressed in Cool in Quantity Y has some significant level of advantage over the same quantity of Talent wrapped in quantity X, but dressed in Cool in quantity Y-1.

    Withey, whose high school feeds showed considerable volleyball deftness of footwork and reach from the start, apparently was apparently not only not heavy enough, but also not cool enough on the outside either for a long time. Its only a hypothesis, but one has little choice but to posit hypotheses regarding such mysterious phenomena, as Withey and Mickelson, not playing, when prior explanations seem inadequate and wanting.

    Withey wasnt pretty, but he wasn’t a homely either. I suspect his problem was he was, like Kaun, nice. Perhaps too nice. Perhaps as nice on the floor as he was off it, where as Kaun seemed to master the art of being nice enough off the floor for Self reputedly to find Kaun alone safe around his daughter, while being quite aggressive on the floor. Nice is nice. Its not cool–on or off the floor. Nice is keeps you out of trouble. Nice gets you in good with your friends mom. But nice doesn’t man up and take the brace ring from a blue meanie. The only thing short of becoming a blue meanie that can stand up to a blue meanie trying to take your lunch money, or your shot at a national championship, or the Golden 80, appears to be in Self’s POV to be COOL.

    Everyone has to have talent to compete at a high level. John Gielgud had talent. Larry Oliver had talent. They had the old Shakespearean tradition, too. But it took the working class, hard edged, cool of Cary Grant, Marlon Brando, James Dean, Sean Connery, Michael Caine, Jack Nicholson and now Daniel Craig to unseat the old order. Old orders die hard. They start out with everything on their side, not just the silver spoon and the trust fund. The entire system favors them.

    Throughout history, cool is recurrent means of overturning the old order. And cool that says it connects better with the tradition than the old order does, is almost impossible to stop save by counter coup. Think of FDR, who was the definition of cool from the old order that had to leave the old order, after its rejection of him for polio, and so joined the revolution of the new order. Think of the late John F. Kennedy, who apparently pushed old order a bit too far beyond its comfort zone with his Praetorian Special Forces Guard reporting straight to him and his $4 Billion in Silver Certificates he alone controlled. Think of his late son, John F. Kennedy, Jr., who had the cool, but not the father, or grand father one apparently requires in contending for the kind of power that a succeeding generation seemed willing to bestow on him as well. Cool works. Cool can rule…if it doesn’t move too far beyond the old order.

    Cool is not a concept. Cool is real. Cool moves mountains. Cool leaves monuments to itself. The founders of the country were VERY cool. Monticello. Mt. Vernon. Not just houses, or palaces. They were monuments too what cool did and could do. A few great mansions of Hollywood. A few great mansions of Newport, Rhode Island. The cool of privateers and Triangle Traders stealing global maritime trade from the masters of global maritime privateering and piracy–the English. A few new mansions of Long Island. The monuments to the cool of currency traders. A few mansions in Grosse Pointe–monuments to what cool accomplished once in the auto industry once upon a time. A few mansions through out the big cities of American testifying to the cool of bosses and gangsters from the era of city machines and prohibition. A few monuments like Graceland. Residuals of what cool can do in music. Now we live in an age of sports dominance. It too is leaving behind its monuments to what cool in sport can do.

    Not all talented people are cool.

    Just as not all talentless people are uncool.

    Cool, which has gone by many names through the millennia, and which seems always to include some helping of charisma, is its own variable–its own driver–its own attribute.

    Cool is.

    Hunter is peculiar, as they used to say. He may have some cool latent within him, as Withey turned out to have, but so far, as it was with Withey for a long time, it is latent. Hunter has a lot of talent, enough that Self would take him as sloppy seconds during the apparent recruiting embargo era. Look at the others Self has taken as sloppy seconds either as transfers (Withey, Tarrick, Hunter) or as second choices during recruiting (Xavier, Selby) and you can see a pattern of serious talent Self can’t resist the challenge of coaching up in the mind/body package it comes in.

    Still, just looking at the list of sloppy seconds mentioned above, you can see a pattern. The cool guys play immediately, whether they are ready or not. The uncool guys wait. The cool guys play now. The uncool guys, they have to wait till the cool guys are either gone, or the cool guys prove they just cannot produce at a high enough level for Self to touch what I now call “The Golden 80.” In the 40 game era, .800 is the golden mean. Sustain .800 over time and you are golden. Your contract is golden. Your house is golden. Your trust funds for your kids are golden. Your stock and bond portfolio is golden. Your cars are golden. Your wife is golden. Fall short of it–experience too many up and down seasons–and your only hedge is NCs. And everyone knows NCs are a 1 in 6 dice roll with less than a 1 seed, and 1 in 4 dice roll with a 1 seed. Only suckers bet on going 6 of 6, or taking the first two rounds for granted, even just 4 in 4 against the best in the country with 5 positions where DOA mismatch could occur any game, a cold night of shooting could occur any game, and with fighting those odds with 17-23 year old, half-neural netted young males with as much interest in the wild thang as in balling. Only suckers bet on 6 in 6, or 4 in 4 without the right Big Shoe-Big Agency Complex alliance, and without the calls that apparently guaranties.

    So; when a cool coach is pursuing The Golden 80, and he lives in the prison of his successful experience, and he has himself been a cool guy with no talent that in D1 and seen he could cut it on lots of cool and almost no talent, well, then who’s he gonna start and who’s he gonna call first, and who’s he gonna let sit? Cool rules with Bill Self. Call it swag. Call it getter-done confidence. Call it cockiness. Call it a pair that slaps like bowling balls in a bull’s scrotum. Call it broad shoulders. Call it whatever you want.

    But both Jeff Withey and Hunter Mickelson shared the absence of it, when they came to KU.

    And both ALWAYS had to sit, when the play was 50/50, while the cool guys played.

    Why did Brady play? Was it Roger’s money? No. Bill Self’s house is probably three times the size of Roger’s. Was it lack of talent? No. Behind the clownish, childlike face, Brady had the cool. Brady was “accepted” by the cool guys. Cool is NOT only the package. What we learn time and again from the Humphrey Bogart’s of the world is that a man’s cool comes through even an ugly face, once his cool is catalysed by the acid test of life. Brady had the cool. He didn’t have enough talent to beat Xavier with the look of cool, but not the heart of it, out of starting in a system that requires a steady flow of OAD talent for a coach to chase the Golden 80, but the little bastard–and I mean that affectionately–had the inner cool and enough talent on defense and on the trigger, despite the sleepy eyed look, and short height, to take 20 mpg from him and, in retrospect, expose him for the wildly talented, but half cool guy that Xavier ultimately has turned out to be.

    Therefore Hunter has to be quite a bit better to play even a little, until his Cool surfaces, if it ever does, and which it might, though time’s a-wastin’.

    Cool is not a fungible commodity. Ask any man comfortable in himself and possessing even an ounce of the right stuff. Cool is inseparable from the uniqueness of each man. Cary Grant was cool. But so was Humphrey Bogart. Marlon Brando was cool, but so were James Dean and Paul Newman and Al Pacino. Sean Connery was cool. But so was Jack Nicholson. Cool seems to distill in many cases to a man becoming what he is in full, to borrow from Tom Wolfe, who proved cool can even come in pencil necked, post modern dweebs. Cool seems to come from a man instinctively connecting with the deepest traditions of manhood in the midst of the current order. It makes them both familiar and dangerous, traditional and at odds with the status quo, cooperating and yet competing.

    One more thing about cool. It is not always cool. Like a woman that goes to bed beautiful and wakes up rumpled, cool can indeed be awkward at times. It can make fun of itself at times. It makes mistakes. But in the final analysis it always weighs in and influences the outcome. It doesn’t always win. Just ask John F. Kennedy. But it contributes unmistakably to the outcome.

    And so here’s the take away: the cool Mr. Self wants to win more than just be cool, because in his profession winning is the coolest thing of all–the real reasons for swagging in the for first place. And sooner or later, if you’ve got what the team needs, and Self finally despairs of finding it in the cool guys, Zeke from Cabin Creek gets to play. And sometimes that act of playing, as in the case of Withey, forges the latent cool into something manifest.

    To combine cool and nice and money is apparently the ultimate cat nip in men for women. I am thinking here of Warren Beaty and George Clooney. Oh, my!

    Jeff Withey surprisingly combines a lot of nice, with significant bones, and some quantity of cool forged by the furnace of basketball competition to be attractive to Kennedy Summers.

    No one is perfect. No one is all cool all the time. No one always knows how to use the cool for everyone’s best interests.

    But the cool is there to be used.

    And forged it is not yet there.

    Cool is often wrongly assumed not to exist in country boys.

    The silver screen is replete with country boys that had their share of cool. Gary Cooper and John Wayne grew up rural. In basketball, Jerry West–the original Zeke from Cabin Creek–and Larry Bird–the Hick from French Lick–seemed at first to have no cool, seemed at first to be stories of the fish out of water in the big cities. But Jerry West and his inherent cool became the sports King of the slickest of the slick–suede shoed Tinsel Town, USA, first as player and then as GM. And the Hick from French Lick? Larry and his cool finally brought America’s most tradition and hide bound and proper town to its knees, too.

    Cool, as I said, rules. despite its wrapping.

    Hunter, baby, keep playing as hard as you can.

    Destiny and the sports gods move in mysterious ways.

    Keep learning everything the coaches have to teach you and as that learning is processed through the alchemical transformer of the deep self, the world may yet have to make way for the next Zeek from Cabin Creek.

    The more unusual the talent, and the more idiosyncratic the package, the longer it takes the world recognize how much it needs and wants it.

  • @jaybate-1.0 I can’t see Hunter w/the gal that’s been hanging out w/Withey.

  • @Crimsonorblue22

    No one could see Jeff with her either when he was touring Africa with AIA. Guys take awhile to find the right scent to give off. A wad of money contributes to it, but is not essential.

    I know because I started unable to attract and then found the magic.

  • @jaybate-1.0 still have it?

  • @Crimsonorblue22

    Maybe a little.

  • @HighEliteMajor Hunter passes my eye test when I see a “Hunter Face” similar to a “Withey Face”

  • @curmudgeonjhwk good one!👀

  • The comments regarding Withey not being a sure thing bring back some memories there – good point. The parallels between the two are certainly striking. Personally, I think if Mick did get 15-18 per game, and Self committed to him, we’d have a very fine rotation player that seems to meld well with the strengths and needs of this team.

    The “easy button” thing seems way obvious here.

    I would toss this in regarding Mickelson, his field goal percentage at the rim this season at the rim is 75%, which is consistent with his at the rim percentage of 70% last season., and which is consistent with this field goal percentage at the rim his sophomore season at Arkansas – three season at 70% or more. Seems to be another positive element. His freshman season he was at 59%.

    Finally, I think that the production over a full season is a valid question. But the times he’s played more minutes, and his time against better opponents, doesn’t seem contrary to our current evidence. Further, the WUGs performance provided the informational foundation to what we’re seeing now.

    Again, seems like a perfect fit in our post rotation.

  • @jaybate-1.0 "Withey wasn’t cool enough either for a long time.

    Withey wasnt pretty.

    Hunter is peculiar, as they used to say.

    Therefore Hunter has to be quite a bit better to play."

    I think you’re on to something with this…makes sense to me.

  • @jaybate-1.0 That “magic” of which you speak is a very elusive element. Some appear to be born with it. The wad of money can indeed become a huge factor. Power of position, too. Take D. Trump, for example. Why else would an attractive woman named Ivanka wish to snuggle close? (Or did I get that last sentence in reverse order?) Shucks, if Hunter Mick eventually should make it bigtime, become a multimillionaire starter in the League, Withey might lose his current squeeze to a younger, richer, more powerful man!

  • @REHawk

    They say that money is the best aphrodisiac…of course, I have no clue who “they” are. probably wealthy people… :d

  • To me women are not like men and are drawn to someone for many different reasons. Men are kind of visual.

    It is best to be really funny, or really good looking, or have power, or some prestige or special talent which would lead to money. Money alone I do not think is only it.

    You want them to be at least somewhat physically attracted to you though for the best experience.

    If you can put together any combination of those qualities, watch out, and I am envious!

  • @KUSTEVE@jaybate-1.0 is always on to something. Like the chess master thinking 46 moves ahead.

  • @HighEliteMajor It certainly would answer several questions I’ve had about Hunter’s usage.

  • @jaybate-1.0 So what you’re saying is, Self is and always will be a bro through and through. A 50-something, politically correct bro, but still a bro.

  • @KUSTEVE Personally, I think Traylor has played over Mick because Self has held out this false hope that Perry will be a back to the basket scorer. Thus Mick up top didn’t make a lot of sense. Even last week Self was referring to Ellis needing to play bigger – as if it is magically going to happen. Self knows better.

    Another interesting item – two falls ago, Self specifically said that Mick and Ellis did not match up well together on the floor because they were a lot alike, and he referenced needing a physical presence to pair with Ellis (presumably a nice way of referring to Ellis relative softness).

    I think that prejudgment prejudiced Self’s view of Mick last season.

    Further, I think Self obsesses on certain details. The paralysis by analysis. Overthinking some things while ignoring the “net” contribution. That could have doomed Mick early because there might have been some “micro” item that Self just really didn’t like.

    @jaybate-1.0’s “peculiar” theory is as good as any.

  • @HighEliteMajor Traylor, Lucas, and Mickelson each bring a different primary skill to the table. Jamari can play away from the basket on both ends and is the best all around defender of the three. Lucas is far and away the best rebounder of the three and a big body to plant in the paint. Mickelson is the best scorer and shot blocker of the three, but he also has the slowest feet of the three and struggles to guard more than 5’ out from the basket.

    This isn’t Self over analyzing the situation. It’s about 3 guys who have 3 different skill sets, but none are are so much better than the others that they have to play and how those 3 compliment the other 4 starters. Mason can get to the rim and free throw line whenever he wants to, Wayne Selden has become a lights out shooter and able to score in whatever way he wants, and Perry Ellis has a good to great mid range game that stretches defenses, and Graham is becoming a very good facilitator for this offense.

    None of them are great defenders or rebounders though and that’s why Traylor and Lucas have always gotten the nod over Mickelson. They each fill a void better than Mickelson can. When did we see Mickelson step up last year? AFTER Perry got hurt and KU have a major scoring void down low.

    If Self decides at some point that he can’t handle the current offense and reverts back to running the high-low in spite of the lack of personnel to run it well, Mickelson is the best choice, but then KU gives up a huge advantage on the glass and on defense. Mickelson is a good player who just happens to be a really bad fit for the current make up of the KU roster and probably would’ve been better serves to transfer elsewhere.

  • @Texas-Hawk-10 Sorry, I have to disagree. I just think you are flat wrong. Not surprising, I bet.

    Your post is the “over analysis”. The “micro”. When you get into playing a largely inferior player major minutes because he is more effective against a three quarter deny, as Self did, you are over thinking it. When you play Lucas because he is supposedly the better rebounder, or Traylor because he switches better, or insisting you can’t beat Harvard at home unless Lucas defends the Crimson’s post player – you miss the forest for the trees (And I’m referring to large blocks of P.T., not end-game situations, or very special circumstances).

    It’s called over-thinking it. It’s “paralysis by analysis.”

    Traylor and Lucas are simply inferior players. You know that. You’ve already conceded in past posts that Mickelson is a better all around player than Lucas. I haven’t seen that concession about Traylor yet. But Traylor’s worse than Lucas. You said “I"m not disagreeing about Mickelson being the better overall player, but Landen Lucas is currently KU’s best rebounder.” You also acknowledged that “the evidence from Korea [was] that Mickelson compliments Ellis much better that Traylor or Lucas does.”

    Do you see what you have said there? Ellis is our primary four. 25-30 minutes per game. You said Mickelson is the better compliment. Hit the “easy button.” Since Mick compliments him the best, he’s the best option there, compared to Traylor or Lucas. Easy.

    In your post above, you said, Mickelson “is a really bad fit for the current make up of the KU roster.” That just doesn’t square with your previous posts, particularly in being the best compliment for Ellis. I don’t understand the comment at all, assuming you saw our last game.

    Mick’s PER is 23.7. Lucas’ is 17.9. and Traylor is 15.0. Supposedly the latter two had been playing good this season (for them). That’s true, because Lucas had a PER last season of 13.7 and Traylor 12.7. Mickelson in his limited time last season? 22.5. All just fyi.

    About three weeks ago you were defending Traylor against Bragg, as a number of others were. I assume you are on board now with Bragg.

    Just try opening your mind to this “play the best player” thing. Self agrees. He said so. I just hope he follows his own advice.

    I’m not crowning Mick as the savior, just the best fit; for 15-18 minutes per game. Rim protection. A nice touch on his shot. Good stuff.

  • @HighEliteMajor Perhaps you don’t understand because you read wrong. You’re basing your argument on something I did not say or imply. I never said Mickelson complimented Ellis (that’s you injecting your own opinion), nor did I imply it. What I said was that Mickelson is the best scorer of out of himself, Lucas, and Traylor. Hunter Mickelson has made his best contributions when Perry Ellis has been injured, such as last season.

    Self sees the line up as puzzle pieces and scoring from the 5 is not his priority when looking at who to fit in the puzzle. His priority from the 5 is rebounding and defense. Mickelson is the worst rebounder on the team considering his size and he is a below average defender. If Mickelson is more than a few feet away from the basket, he gets blown by and scored on pretty easily.

    Your projecting your own personal priorities into the matter and neglecting what Self actually values and you know Self values defense over everything.

  • @Texas-Hawk-10 said:

    [Self’s] priority from the 5 is rebounding and defense.

    Check out this article from KUSports: http://www2.kusports.com/weblogs/smithology/2015/dec/18/kansas-defense-not-living-up-to-bill-sel/

    In particular this sentence:

    So far this season, only Mickelson, Diallo, Graham and Mason have shown consistent ability to create havoc defensively.

  • @Texas-Hawk-10 No, i read absolutely correct.

    The statements I put in quote are your words. I just went to a prior thread to get them.

    Look at the Statistical Nightmare thread.

    There you said exactly what I quoted. You said “I"m not disagreeing about Mickelson being the better overall player, but Landen Lucas is currently KU’s best rebounder.” You also acknowledged that “the evidence from Korea [was] that Mickelson compliments Ellis much better that Traylor or Lucas does.”

    You also said, comparing Lucas, Traylor, Mick, that, “Hunter is probably the best overall player of the 3 …”

    My purpose of this thread was to compare Mickelson to Withey. Withey had problems guarding on the perimeter just like Mickelson. And actually, as my statistical comparison between the two shows, they are actually quite similar. We played an entire season with Withey on the floor for 30 minutes per game, and we got to the national championship team. That team had TRob. This team, though, has a much, much better collection of perimeter players.

    I truly do not understand your defense comment at all. You are apparently seeing defense in just one tunnel – i.e., when one is away from the basket. There are many, many more elements to defensive basketball that need to be considered.

    @ParisHawk cites a link on Mick being one that is creating defensive havoc. I used the word “disruptive” in my post game thread after Oregon St. While he blocks shots at roughly the rate as Withey, he also gets a high rate of steals – 2.4 per 40 vs. 1.0 for Withey. That’s a possession and a half per game. Did you also see his tip aways and how he contests the ball (vs. Holy Cross especially). That’s part of defense.

    When you compare Mick to Traylor, Mick has 6 steals in 88 minutes, Traylor (the faster supposed energy guy) just 3 in 127 minutes. And Lucas, he has just 1 in 97 minutes. That’s part of defense.

    And that doesn’t even touch on blocked shots, which are clearly an important defensive stat; and for this team (rim protection) perhaps a much more important statistic. Mick is much better than the others. Mick 13 blocks in 88 minutes. Traylor 5 in 127 minutes. And Lucas, just 1 in 127. Mick changes shots, and Mick effects other drivers to the hoop. Further, he has length to block shots if defenders are past him a bit. That’s part of defense.

    How do folks not see this? Mick is a better overall defender than either Lucas or Traylor. And he fits perfectly with this team.

    If Self values defense over everything, why did he play Lucas based on his alleged ability against a 3/4 deny on the post? I laugh at that because Lucas can’t score in the post as @ralster has pointed out very well in the past.

    And that ties into Self’s comment yesterday – he admitted that he was trying to make this team into something it wasn’t/isn’t. Making a lineup decision based on that, hoping we can get post scoring, is as you said: Delusional (and I’m going to give you props for that in another thread).

    Also, to my Bragg reference, you also said just 30 days ago that “Bragg isn’t ready to contribute at KU yet.”, which was utter nonsense. You also said, “Bragg isn’t physically ready yet and I called that during Korea as well.” This all about 30 days ago. At that time, you told me, “Your bias against Traylor and Lucas is clouding your judgement about what Bragg has actually done so far in Korea and the first 2 games.” You then stated that not all 5 star players are ready right away. All part of your and @Crimsonorblue22’s “too skinny” thing with Bragg.

    My approach is to assess a kid’s talents and what he brings to the floor, and compare to his competition for playing time. The guy was and is ready to play big minutes. But I have qualified that with the fact that he is a freshman, and we have to expect the growing pains. I’ve advocated for Bragg having big minutes from the start. I think he slots very nicely in as the first big off the bench. He’s the best post player right now behind Ellis, and as I’ve said in other posts, he could surpass Ellis even this season.

    I come back to the Bragg thing because you did not address it – but also because my approach to Mickelson is the same with Bragg. I assess a kid’s talents, what he brings to the floor, and compare that to his competition for playing time. Who gives us the better “net” on the floor?

    All I ask is that you consider the value of committing to and just playing the best overall player. Why does Self pare down his rotation? it’s to define roles and play the best players.

    You’ve said Mick is the best player of the three. You’ve said that he best compliments Ellis of the three. You are right on both counts.

  • Good discussion by all. The complexity of Lucas vs Traylor vs Mickelson vs Bragg vs Diallo simply exists as a fact because none of those guys are alike. Some are raw, some have most of their potential ahead of them, physically and talent developmentally…while others are seemingly plateaued in their basketball development (Lucas and Traylor).

    Let’s make this a purely basketball analytical discussion, and we need to find THE BEST compliment to Ellis. That would be Bragg and Mickelson, with some mpg by Jamari, and only spot-matchup-physical-bang-mpg by Lucas.

    Let’s not make this about a decision about “heart”, because I gave the heart & perseverance award to Jamari Traylor long ago. And I’d give one to Wayne Selden over BMac also, but that’s another topic.

    @HighEliteMajor 's post is a great argument for Mickelson (and Bragg). It’s no coincidence those 2 helped save KU’s bacon vs OregState. Self didn’t want to lose to OregState…in KC, Mizzou…, so we see who he went with. That isn’t set in stone, as it sent a msg to those who remained sidelined. As a senior, Jamari Traylor cannot miss garbage putbacks. That is something that supposed ‘garbage’ man Darnell Jackson never did. He was a starter on Self’s best team for a reason. Several reasons. Lucas, bless his heart, tries with everything he has, post moves, post hi-low seal-offs, then receives the pass…and either stone-hands-it, or flat misses the bunny.

    Bragg is already an above-avg hi-low passer–as a frosh. He just needs a finisher down low. I’ll take Mickelson over Lucas down low. If its vs small-ball opponent, then Ellis could has the advantage.

    (I’m just salivating on the thought of Bragg + Diallo, along with a healthy 270lb Coleby for next season…if we are so lucky to keep Bragg and Diallo)

  • The perfect 6’8 post player: If you could put Ellis’ skillset into Traylor’s physique and aggressive mindset…

    Saw Simmons (LSU) and Goodwin (Memphis) play the other day, and while both were KU targets, we see that such guys demand mpg by the mere presence of their skillset. While at KU, there was a plethora of bigs, coupled with a variable tendency by Self to reward upperclassmen…thus an easy-to-see logjam in the post. Those kids, thus, were not a “fit” for KU’s roster, although they may have functioned on the hardwood better than half of KU’s current post players.

    Its about what makes Self’s plays run better, execute better…but then is it? (To Self himself…?)

  • @HighEliteMajor Thanks for informing that my opinion of players are not allowed to evolve or change despite new evidence added to the equation. I’ll keep in mind that I can’t change my mind on a player in the future.

  • Of course I didn’t say that. You said one thing, and had said something else previously (or at least I felt that the positions were significantly conflicted) thus I pointed it out. I don’t understand your response here. So part of the discussion should not be pointing out inconsistent statements? Sorry, but if I see an inconsistency like that, and I actually remember it, I’ll point it out.

  • @HighEliteMajor My opinion on the mattered has changed because there is more evidence to factor in now. I can’t help you if that’s a concept you don’t grasp or willfully choose to ignore.

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