In which @jaybate 1.0 first compares the Lex Lutherian Dimensions of Self's Experimentation with Composite 5...(see full title in body of post)


    (Author Here, DFW/RIP: as usual @HighEliteMajor is stimulating my thinking, but this particular expressionistic flight of fancy down what might be thought of as a couple of Lewis Carroll’s rabbit holes, though referring to his response on another thread, should not be blamed on him. The author is solely responsible.)

    First, thx as always for cranking stats on Franken Five AKA Composite 5 and Embiid and Company. Good to get it out of the ethers of the anecdotal. Your approach is imminently useful to clarify the aspect of this use of our big men. It is revealing, too. So: why do I prefer to talk about the Franken Five in terms of “just” the five at the five that also occasionally expand from the 5 position to the 4 position to spell Perry. It is not so as to cleverly overstate the magnitude of the contribution of the five at the 5; this I can assure you. It is, rather, to characterize the fascinating flexibility that the Composite 5 aka the Franken Five brings to this team that other singular 5s do NOT bring to a team.

    No matter how good Joel Embiid was, and he was the best KU 5 in my book since LaFrentz (Simien being a prototype forerunner of todays forward-sized center that could do it all from anywhere, i.e., the stretch 5). Even Joel Embiid could not play two positions at once; this is critical in understanding the uniqueness of what Self is in process of creating at the 5. Everyone, you, me and every thinking fan pauses to doubt what will happen, when Franken Five comes up against the great singular true OAD 5. And we are right to do so. All great singular centers make thinking fans worry about the looming threat. We worry because we have historical data points of Wilt and KU getting stopped by UNC in 1957, and we have Kareem and UCLA prevailing in ALL of his college seasons, against whatever an opponent could cobble together to face the dominant, singular super center. We know from experience it could go either way, but outcomes tend to favor the singular super center. The pain of 2012 is still fresh from our loss to UK and an OAD center named monobrow.

    We seasoned fans are quick to point out from our conventional wisdom that one simply MUST take into account the cast of characters around the singular super center to get at the essence of it. We always say, well, Wilt had no one worthy around him, where as Kareem and monobrow had great casts around them. In fact, Wilt had a few decent players around him. And in fact, Kareem’s cast, while certainly fine players, included no future hall of famers other than himself. And it looks increasingly like Monobrow’s supporting cast may not yield any Hall of Famers either. Monobrow himself may not even make it to hall of fame status, though I suspect he finally will. We sentient fans, are mere mortals, and so we are very vulnerable to the mind control of hype about super centers, and their casts. What Coach Self, good defensive fetishist that he is, seems to think is that most coaches and fans think way too little about the opposing cast of players that faced the singular super centers, in making their judgements about what can and cannot happen against such singular super centers. What Coach Self seems to be building toward is a Composite 5 that can morph in a lot of ways to try to find, and exploit, the multi-faceted nature of EVEN a singular Super Center. Coach Self seems to be operating on the assumption that not even a Super Center can be good in every aspect of the game that each of Coach Self’s Composite 5 can be good in. But even more intriguing, is that Coach Self also seems to have realized a very, very important limitation of a singular Super Center, even the greatest one: he can’t play two positions at once. But our Composite 5 can at any moment play two positions at once.

    Coach Self has not come to this Composite 5 lightly, or accidentally. It is a calculated counter strategy IMHO to an apparent recruiting embargo denying Coach Self of a singular Super Center that a coach of his rank should be deserving of getting to coach at this stage of his career. Even dolts understand that in a symmetric basketball recruiting universe, both OAD and singular super center/forward Ben Simmons would be in Lawrence, along with the OAD 3 that went to Cal. And Coach Self would NOT be employing the Composite 5, and Devonte and Wayne Selden might, or might not , be starting. Coach Self’s Composite 5 is, again IMHO, the unforeseen consequence of the powers that be having apparently engineered further asymmetry in recruiting.

    There is almost an element of the wicked in what Coach Self is undertaking at the 5 whether or not he knows it. Self is messing with the very foundations of the game. He is exploring through Composite 5 if there is a way not just for the best team to win, but for the best player with the best supporting cast to be beaten by lesser players distributed in an existential paradox for the greatest player, the singular OAD super center. And what he is experimenting with in his Allen Field House converted this season to Frankenstein’s laboratory with Igor Roberts at his side could not only spread like a vicious Franken virus from Fort Derrick, it could also spread to being applied to all five positions.

    To some degree, what Coach Frankenself is doing is analogous to what Lex Luther did to Superman in a now ancient Richard Donner installment of Superman (maybe the second Christopher Reeve installment?). Recall Lex. He was a genius that was denied much in life by an asymmetric order. He was, ironically enough, played by Gene Hackman, who also played the flawed coach seeking a second chance Hoosiers, but I digress. Hackman’s Lex wore a piece, instead of plugs. Lex was buying up seemingly worthless California desert east of the San Andreas fault and then placing a nuke in the fault line (instead of using the HAARP array) AND orchestrating Superman’s beloved Lois Lane at another point along the fault line, so he had to face an existential dilemma for a super hero.

    Lex created an epically diabolical situation in which a super hero could not save both the good world order and save virtue itself (Lois). It was a despicable thing to do in comic book series and I hated the writers for doing it and Donner for agreeing to direct it. There is something about the marvelously civilized Brits to corrupting the best democratic myths for the advancement of their own aristocratic myths, but I digress again.

    Why was it so despicable to put Superman in such a fictional predicament? Because it forced, and thereby reduced, the greatest democratic hero of all times–Superman–to having to resort to metaphysical solutions to the real world problems of evil. No hero, not even a fictional comic book hero, should ever have to resort to metaphysical solutions to set the world order right. It is wrong. It impeaches the very notion of the hero in doing so. The hero CAN solve problems with the means at hand in his fictional universe. Its cheating and deception of the basest kind to make heroes resort to metaphysics. What does it mean for a hero to prevail doing something that cannot be happen even in the imagining of our known universe no matter how far in the future we project? Time’s arrow goes only one direction; this is the only ultimate constant in the existence of the universe. There is not turning it back. Even the great roman de la roses respect this. Heathcliff and his squeeze Catherine turn into spirits in the rafters to transcend the limits of physical love and this mortal coil. They don’t turn back the flipping hands of time. They don’t turn times arrow in a cockeyed reverse. If a Bronte in Wuthering Heights can respect Time’s Arrow, surely the twit Richard Donner could, too. But, noooooooooooo, as John Belushi said.

    Hey, things can go faster than the speed of light. They just cannot start out going slower than the speed of light and then accelerate past the speed of light. If they start out moving faster than the speed of light, then they get to accelerate as fast as they can be accelerated beyond that speed. Its in the fine print of Einstein’s theory. Death and taxes are no longer constants. The top 1 percent prove every year that taxes can be avoided to any degree desired. Death? Come on. Have you heard about Magic Johnson? The dude has had AIDS since the 20th Century. And he’s looks healthier than Jack LaLane used to look in his prime. With enough money, you can cheat death. With enough money, you can freeze yourself and be thawed for when science has inevitably mastered genetic editing to the point that anyone with access to the technology will be able to inhabit an endless stream of bodies with a digitally reproducible set of neural net re-burns and live infinitely, or as long as one’s wealth holds out. Only nit-picking naives refuse to see this change looming imminently among us, as of 2015. But even perma-life is not the same as time’s arrow being turned backwards. Time’s arrow really is an arrow, unless we discover otherwise. And absolutely nothing points to otherwise and absolutely everything points to an arrow flying forward. Note: I am quite familiar with the notion of time having an aspect of unity that western culture has disaggregated. I have a little Hopi spirit in me. And I have actually read up on time and know at least a little about how it was disaggregated from symmetry, to asymmetry, to X, Y, and Z axis dimensionality, and then into past, present and future concepts. I have read some paranoid treatises on its diagregation and some functional ones also. But none of them convincingly do away with time’s arrow flying forward. That arrow is a bitch to avoid. Still, there are many seemingly impossible activities that are possible, even in infinitesimally so at present. Those that dismiss the possible for its high degree of improbability are always underestimating the enormity of the fucking place we live–the universe. Its big. REALLY BIG. Empirically big. STATISTICALLY BIG. So big almost anything can and will occur in it except one thing. Time’s arrow flying backwards. Not. Going. To. Happen. I fought with a great mind about this one time. A great mind that had met and bullshitted with about half the great minds of hard science of the second half of the 20th Century. I went this way. He stopped me. I went that way. He stopped me. It was like arguing with the intellectual equivalent of Self Defense. I looked for every crack in the door. Unless we jump shifted into afterlife, which is not about science, he came up with stop after stop. He was good. Really good. Feynman good. But not Feynman. He was an anonymous scientist that had nonetheless met most of the Feyman’s of the world and they had relied on him to discuss their ideas. He was even so flexible and brilliant to join me in my efforts to find even an infinitesimal possibility of time’s arrow flying backwards. For a time it was like he and I were playing him. Back and forth, endless transition, half court, full court, slow, fast, this dimension, that dimension, pow! bam! biff! bop! crash! Stop! Stop! Stop! It went on intermittently for months. But always the same. He got a stop every time. Time’s arrow flows one way. I walked away with the deepest humility I had ever known. I felt a great release. He said sometimes the most rewarding, though never the best paying, discovery is to discover what you hoped for cannot be, what you hoped to find isn’t there.

    Everyone in their heart of hearts and then in their mind of minds knows that Star Trek transporters are like airplanes two thousand years ago. They are only a matter of time. Even time travel is conceptually possible at some level of technological advancement and so only a matter of time. Everyone needs to read Michio Kaku’s book on the limits of the possible to kick the false foundations and walls of ones mind out of the way. But time’s arrow? That pointed and feathered shaft only flies only one way, baby. That much I am positive about. Even when one eventually is able to go back and forth in time, time would still be going forward. I’m down with it now. For a long time I was not. Whatever may actually be going on in the universe beyond the limits of our mind’s ability to understand at any given time, what ever dances it is actually doing, so far, the limits of the human mind’s ability to perceive the universe make time’s arrow moving forward ONLY the ultimate physical, existential one way street. Entropy? That is a naive’s fairy tale grabbing for something solid on a bad day and then habituating it. Shit organizes and reorganizes all the time. As nearly as we can tell, the universe itself organized out of nothing and then began disorganizing. We just sometimes cannot figure out the pathways of the energy driving organizing and reorganizing.

    And Superman making time’s arrow go backward by making the earth spin backward was the greatest fictional insult to humanity’s deepest myth–the hero myth of all time. But I digress on this insult to clarify with some XTReme Context what Dr. Frankenself is really up to. He is NOT violating time’s arrow. He is like Lex Luther creating an existential dilemma for opposing singular, OAD super centers, who cannot be two places at the same time. He is respecting time’s arrow and perhaps creating an existential edge for KU basketball at least momentarily, until this stinking designer virus called C5 leaps out of Basketball Fort Detrick at the foot of Mt.Oread.

    Yes, Composite 5 may run into a singular OAD Super Center it cannot beat. It might even run into a singular simply very good center it cannot beat. But it could also confront either case with an existential dilemma that no basketball coach is going to be able to pull a Richard Donner on. The best super center may not lose so much to a better team, but to a better composite center–a composite center capable of morphing into two positions, not just one, and then morphing back into one position, not just two. Self’s Composite 5 is literally BOTH a hydra headed five AND a shape shifter capable of dividing in two, like Agent Smith in The Matrix.

    Now onto the more deliberately prosaic, but more tactilely grounded. 🙂

    @HighEliteMajor said:

    The key will be what happens in a tough game at AFH vs. OU, or on the road at OSU, or KSU? Will Self’s butt pucker? Will he script an attack down the stretch that requires the post feed as the first option?

    So: second, your elegantly stated quote referenced above is the acid test of this entire contraption of a team Self has strung together on one of his annual visions of “who we are” and, so, who we can become. One can never become what one is not (note: think of that more as heuristic with Self, more than as a literal law, for taken literally it gets into subtleties that I am no longer rigorous enough of a thinker to wade into). Rather, one must find deep within one’s self what one is, so that one can become the very best of that very thing (note: again, its a useful, if not absolute notion).

    What I should recast immediately for all is that building a contraption is a too mechanistic metaphor for what Self does with a team. A better metaphor would be a Chef making a stew. And what I hope to do is part the second is simply for board rats to keep front and center that the cooking phase we find ourselves in at any time of the season is just that, and that the dish being cooked is best judged very near season end, and conclusively, only after season’s end.

    Realize that now, as we approach the end of this ingredient preparation cycle of pre-conference cooking season, this team remains a stew in the making, and we cannot tell if it is going to turn into a robust beef bourguignon that keeps getting tastier as it slow cooks and so nourishes us to a ring, or if it is going to separate into something not worth having gone to the trouble of preparing, and so starves us to the following season.

    One pot, slow cooking (your mothers crock pot, albeit now with digital gimcracks on its front, instead of a nice, simple single knob) is increasingly popular in our bit-rate age age of 60-80 hour wage slavery weeks at the once discrete office space, now morphed into a digitally connected cloud nebula of wage slavery with an office space remnant at its hub synching devices and reminding the galactic cloud of its lonely location through a quasar-like packet ping and GPS beacon. The idea of leaving something slow cooking at the memory of a bricks and mortar home, some sustenance that will be warm, ready and more tasty than dictationware-garbled text messages, when/if we ever get back there, is probably now as appealing as buffalo steak on a spit one at the teepee once was to the Native Americans migrating endlessly over the sea of grass with the immense bison herds in synch with weather and seasons, instead of, as we are today, in synch with its virtual equivalent the cloud and its alternately calm and chaotic torrents.

    But making a basketball team remains an analog activity. Allen Field House and its Horejsi Center are more kitchens than packages of Stouffer pre-cooked lasagna. They are places where Chef Self makes some really good tasting stuff sometimes, heck, most times.

    Some really good analog stews require some separate preparation of sub-groups of ingredients before hand before bringing them together.

    My impression is Self is working on a beef bourguignon this season. No one ingredient is intended to dominate. Its the goal of all high-low cooking: balance. One may start with particularly meaty chunks of outside shooting, and a rather thin stock of centers, but in the end of the chef remains an exquisitely balanced beef bourguignon robust enough to stay together, yet combined properly to achieve a taste that is more than the sum of its parts.

    Each pre conference game is a taste of the progress not necessarily of the entire stew, but of the progress of its separate subgroups. The sub groups separate preparation is as important as their eventual combination. It ALL matters and this separates the Chefs from the cooks. Chefs can keep everything in mind and orchestrate all together, each in its own time, in time for dinner. The subsequent conference season is a test of whether, once the subgroups are combined and cooked together they hold together, or separate; of whether they taste superb, or so-so, or trigger bitterness. The post season is a cooking competition. Who made the best dish that season by that time of the season?

    Currently Chef Self has a front court pot on the burner with one well-aged starter and five situational complements, a back court pot with 1 well-seasoned point guard (Frank), 1 browned but not fully cooked point guard (Devonte), and 1 well-seasoned, short, athletic wing still evidencing highly variable contributions to consistency of the stock (Wayne). Chef Self also has a back up pot with 2 underdone rotation wings (BG and Svi) simmering, each seasoned with long range zest. These pots are on different burners cooking at different paces. Practice is a collection of pressure cookers and pots. The raw ingredients (Diallo, Bragg) get some pressure cooking there, as well as some of the ingredients that did not simmer as quickly as expected (BG and Svi). Games are transfers of the ingredients not into a single pot, but rather back into corresponding clean pots for a brief time to cool and taste the ingredients state of doneness in preparation of combining them altogether in a big pot for the conference season, a couple games before the conference season starts. But even when the subgroups are poured in the single pot to continue to simmer the last couple games of pre conference, Chef Self withholds his secret spices of special wrinkles for that most pivotal time of dish preparation–the now rightly waited patiently for “week of getting better.” Here is when the dish transforms alchemically from a stew into Beef Bourguignon, or something bitter. In this magical week Chef Self adds the little tweaks to the spicing and sometimes even a cup of some wine, say some from his coaching cellar, like a cup poured from a dusty bottle of Chateau Iba, or something tasted in another pre conference season stew in preparation of Chef Izzo, or Chef Alford, or what have you. This “week of getting better” phase of the stew where the dish and we become who we are as a dish, but also where we actually are set on a path of continuing a season long slow cook of letting the combined stew then reach its full flavor and consistency.

    The distillate of the cooking metaphor?

    The kitchen gets hot some times. Some sub groups of ingredients do not reach their full aroma and bouquet before they reach their proper doneness.

    How and when Chef Self decides to combine the sub contents into a single pot varies.

    How long they must simmer in unison is up to his subjective tastes.

    But make no mistake, he has a menu in mind and he is following it and improvising as needed.

    Rock Chalk!!!

  • @jaybate-1.0 Well, one thing for certain: if Bill Self continues to utilize all of the Composite Five, the Jayhawks are gifted with fouls to distribute.

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