Macro vs. Micro, Myopia, and Feelings

  • After the SDSU game, @VailHawk posted perhaps the perfect thread. A simple picture of Cheick Diallo and Carlton Bragg on the bench. The title of the thread was appropriately, “What’s Wrong With This Picture?”

    Very few times do we have “thread perfection.” But if there ever was a time, this was it.

    The thread challenged us to think. We won. Traylor played well. Yet Diallo sat. And Bragg sat. Kansas basketball paid a price for Self’s decision. Another opportunity at experience lost.

    Thus in a “micro” sense, Traylor played well and we won. But in a “macro” sense, we lost. And we are losing. The cause? Myopia – a severe case of short-sightedness that has afflicted our coach’s thought process. But another cause? Feelings. The coach’s love for his players and the struggle every coach goes through with players he loves – it’s hard to watch them sit on the bench.

    Based on our coach’s statements (apparently) finally accepting the strengths of our team (shooting), that the rate of threes should increase, and that he forced last year’s team to be something it wasn’t, this is … maybe … the last hurdle. So here we go:

    1. The Struggle - Win This Game vs. Gaining Experience: It’s every coach’s job, right? Win. It’s the ultimate trump card. But we all know there is a bigger picture, don’t we? Bill Self knows it. Perry Ellis knows it when he said in October, “I have a goal to go to the Final Four.” So what is the best way to get there? That’s a difficult question, too. Is it play to win each game regardless of the carnage, “the ends justify the means”, in a game to game sense? To just try to get a #1 seed since that’s the easier path? Or do you do long-term planning? Do your projections go into your playing time decisions? Do you attempt to get your best players the experience needed to be at their collective ceilings in March? Do you permit as much time as possible for those players to play together, with the team, so the team is function as high as it possibly can? That’s the struggle. After the SDSU game, Bill Self explained why he played Jamari Traylor 21 minutes. "When the game got tight, I went with experience (Traylor). I put an experienced guy out there because he’d been there before.” Self has also said in comparing Diallo and Bragg to the vets, “There’s other kids who have busted their butt for two or three years who are trying hard, too."

    2. The Struggle - Feelings vs. Playing The Best Players: Anyone that has coached knows what I’m talking about. The kid you love. The kid you have worked with for years, but he’s a lower tier player. If you are truly trying to be the best team you can be, that kid would sit quite a bit. As a coach, and I’ve been there, you adjust your strategy to make sure that kid plays. At that point, you accept that you might be compromising your team’s ceiling for a reason based on feelings – you are making decisions with your heart, not your head. @Jesse-Newell made the comment a number weeks ago, explaining Self’s playing time for Traylor, that Self just really likes the kid and his background. I get it. But are Bill Self’s feelings for a player or players the right way to make decisions? Do you make the hard choice and sit a kid or kids that you love? That’s the struggle. In referencing the playing time in the post, Self said after the SDSU: “It’s not easy to play six big guys, and we played one of them 17 minutes in the first half (Ellis). Have to give everybody a chance."

    3. Myopia Defined: I found this on-line, perhaps the best definition for my purposes here - “Myopia is an adjective meaning shortsighted in every sense. Whether you need glasses or a new attitude, if you can’t see the forest for the trees, you’re myopic.” Ah, that forest for the trees thing. I’ve referred to that before. The paralysis by analysis. Focusing too much on the “micro” elements, and losing sight of the big picture, or the macro. Playing Landen Lucas because he’s more effective when the opposition is in a three-quarter deny position. Or when Lucas just has to play to guard a good player, on an average team, at AFH. It’s all the same myopia.

    4. Why Is It Myopia?: Easy. Bill Self said it. We’ve all said it. It’s literally undisputed. Diallo and Bragg have the highest ceilings of the post players. When speaking of the post players, Self said, “Your most talented, gifted kids physically are your younger kids.” When they don’t play, the concept of short-sightedness comes into focus. @bwag said on another thread: “Mari’s playing time now, comes at a cost that, many of us fear, will be payed later at greater consequence than an early season game against inferior quality opponents … If experience is important, and no one disagrees that it is, then early season games should focus on getting your more talented, but less experienced players more experience in game situations.” We have two players who are our only post players that really have NBA futures. Diallo was the #5 player, as projected OAD. And Bragg the #21 player, who is now racing up NBA draft projections. But what is interesting is that both players have also demonstrated productivity while on the floor this season.

    5. Is Anyone Unexpendable?: After the SDSU game, I posted on @VailHawk’s thread, the following, simple question: “Is there anyone that thinks we lose last night if Jamari Traylor missed the flight to SD and didn’t make the trip?” Of course, the normal anger ensued without any of the angry ones thinking past the end of their collective noses. @JayHawkFanToo, however, missed my point, but also made my point, He said, “You could leave just about any KU player home and still win (or lose) most games …” Right, that’s the point. Therefore, why ever play the inferior, low ceiling players rotation level minutes? Certainly Jamari Traylor played well vs. SDSU. Maybe his second best game as a Jayhawk. But that misses the “macro” point. Those minutes are valuable experience.

    6. Experience Contradiction: Why did Self go with Traylor? Self said “experience.” Why would one go with “experience”? Presumably, because “experience” gives you a better chance to win. Ok, given that, wouldn’t it make sense then to provide your higher talent players as much “experience” as possible so that when presented the opportunity in more important games, that they would give you the better chance to win? One point is of course the need to win the game at hand. But I would argue that most of our games are not going to be won or lost by the lower ceiling talent. That’s rarely ever the case. Heck, we won the three prior game by 90 combined points with Traylor playing 13 minutes. Self played Mickelson nearly the entire second half against Oregon St. Does anyone really think we lose that game if Mickelson doesn’t play? The reason I didn’t have an issue with that is Mickelson’s higher talent level. But if Self would have played Diallo those minutes, I would have had zero problem. None. It would have been done for a reason – for the big picture. If experience is a reason to select a player for playing time, then you have to give the better players the opportunity to gain that valuable experience. If you don’t, and you are planning that they have bigger minutes in the future, then you are compromising your ceiling in the future by limiting their minutes and experience now.

    7. Pressure Makes Diamonds: General George Patton said, famously, “pressure makes diamonds.” And this is very true in sports. The first time you step to the free throw line with opposing fans screaming, late in the game, is much different than the 25th time. Why? Because you know what to expect. You’ve been there before. You’ve experienced the butterflies in the stomach. And over time, the way nerves negatively affect performance progressively lessen. We had our team’s first true road game. Hostile environment. Adversity. And what happened? Self fumbled the opportunity to give Diallo and Bragg the pressure situation, the situation that can help shape them moving forward in much more important games – whether they be conference games or tourney games. Experience – and being subjected to pressure over time – permits an athlete to perform at their peak without interference from nerves and other extraneous forces.

    8. Not Playing Diallo/Bragg High Minutes Makes Sense Only If …: Right, only if Self does not intend to play them high level minutes in March. There, it would make sense. If Self projects Bragg at 10 minutes and Diallo as an 8 minute guy later, then sure, get the minutes for the guys you are ultimately going to rely upon. But if Self envisions Bragg and Diallo as big minutes guys, players that we need to get us to a national title, then it makes zero sense.

    9. The Risk Of The Alleged Hot-Hand: It’s just an increased gamble. Alright, tell me who will play better against UC-Irvine, Svi Mykhailuk or Frank Mason? Do you really know? Couldn’t Svi come out and drill four three pointers in the first 5 minutes? Of course he could. So if Self has that “feeling”, as I’m sure he might from time to time, why doesn’t he gamble from time to time and start Svi over Mason? Because lineup decisions made on those gambles will surely blow up. There are decent odds against on Svi outperforming Mason. Coaches make lineup decisions based on the most likely results – they play the best players. What player, over the long term, is my best bet? If a coach tries to project future results on other factors, the chances of it blowing up in his face increases. A way decisions blow up in one’s face is also the failure to perform. The player in question playing poorly and providing a subpar performance. When a coach has evidence from past performances, it makes no sense to risk that underperformance unless there is a higher purpose. For Kansas, all Self has to do is look at the history of poor and mediocre performances from Lucas and Traylor to get a good read on the risks of playing either of them. With Bragg and Diallo, we have the promise of higher ceilings. As I’ll address below, it’s all relative.

    10. The SDSU Example: Self goes with Traylor because of experience. But let’s assume for a moment that Traylor performs, well, like Traylor normally does. Let’s say there’s no steals, two turnovers, and two less rebounds. My point is not the exact detail of how this would occur, but only to suggest that Traylor harming Kansas while on the floor is a much greater probability than Traylor helping Kansas. We know that from his history here. The stats just don’t lie. Traylor had more steals than turnovers vs. SDSU. Last season, Traylor 20 games where he had more turnovers than steals, and only 4 games where he had more steal than turnovers. See what I mean?

    11. But Can’t Self Just Pull Him?: Of course he can. Self could just pull him when his performance turns downward. But do you see the peril of that approach? First, you remove the player when he fails to perform – the negative has already occurred. Second, you lose the potential positive from the better player – meaning the odds are that the better player is going to give you a better “net” performance over time. So your gamble has more than just one element. The gamble is opportunity cost. You also lose the potential performance of the player on the bench. And this goes to the heart of some advanced statistics. Playing the best player maximizes your team’s opportunities more times than not playing the best players does.

    12. The Bigger Purpose (Macro) AND Micro Help: Here’s the thing … the current stats show that playing Diallo and Bragg will, over time, be better for Kansas. Just using what they’ve done now, and not even projecting improvement. Pair this with the unanimous agreement that Diallo and Bragg have higher ceilings, the case is undeniably compelling. The catch-all Player Efficiency Rating shows as follows - Diallo 21.6, Bragg 21.1, Lucas 21.0, and Traylor 15.5. So even using this rating, in Diallo and Bragg’s first minutes as Jayhawks, they are either equal or better bets for positive performances on the court than Lucas or Traylor – and that doesn’t even consider that higher talent Self referred to. Further, when you factor in that both Diallo and Bragg’s need to continue their development, and that development leads to better performances, only someone making decisions for non-performance reasons could come to a different conclusion. The fact is, as well, that developing the top talent doesn’t necessarily mean you sacrifice victories.

    For Kansas to reach it’s potential, Bill Self needs to overcome his fear that inexperience may cost him a game. It might happen. He has to realize that relying on experience, equally, may also cost him a game as well. It’s the same discussion as blaming losses on bunnies and missed three pointers. You can lose both ways. And developing talent doesn’t necessarily mean sacrificing wins.

    THE GOAL IS TO WIN THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP. EVERY MOVE SHOULD BE MADE WITH THAT IN MIND. Diallo and Bragg being at maximum efficiency is much more important thaN a loss here or there, if that were to occur. Getting Diallo and Bragg experience now, and regularly, and under fire, is crucial to that pursuit. It is critical.** A great example is Diallo and fouling. Many comments that he needs to learn without fouling – exactly. He needs on the job experience to learn. Just one example.

    Some folks have downplayed Kansas’ chances this season saying that we are essentially the same team from last season. They are right, only if Diallo and Bragg aren’t big minutes players, night in, and night out. And they are right if Diallo and Bragg aren’t ready to be the #2 and #3 post players come March.

    We have seen what results our alternatives provide over multiple seasons, and this is all relative. For this team to reach its peak, as well as to win games now, the better gamble is give Diallo and Bragg consistent and unyielding doses of 18-20 minutes per game.

  • @HighEliteMajor You make valid points. Many others agree with you. I agree that Self brings along the freshmen a little slower than we would like. We saw it with Oubre. He ended up being, in most cases, a 30 min. guy. That doesn’t mean it’s going to happen with our 2 young guys this year. I think they will get to the point where they are playing significant minutes…you have noted Self’s comments which seem to point in that direction. There will be games where he has the opportunity to get them minutes without endangering a victory…Tech at home, for instance. Yes, we could have probably won at SDSU with about any combination…but we don’t know for sure…it did get close in the 2nd half. Hard to tell what would have happened when you change one variable. I think playing the more experienced guys in your first road game, in a tough environment is defensible. Self is not going to take chances and I can’t hold that against him. It will be interesting…and crucial, perhaps, to see what he does in this regard going forward.

  • @HighEliteMajor said:

    “I have a goal to go to the Final Four.”

    This quote from Perry nearly nullifies everything you or anyone else writes about the team, or Self, pro or con, on how to develop AND win.

    It means if Perry gets to the FF he will be beaten by someone who’s goal was to get to the finals, or win the ring.

  • @jaybate-1.0 eh, not necessarily.

  • @HighEliteMajor spot on man. Hopefully, Self will start giving them more time in conference play. Remember, Self went with Bragg in the OSU game when they were down double digits. If my memory is correct, it took a while for Cliff last year to get meaningful minutes. I predict Diallo and Bragg each play extended minutes on Tuesday as well as against Baylor.

  • @HighEliteMajor said:


    Is that a true statement? How can you prove it?

    You are good at facts. What is factual about that statement?

  • @HighEliteMajor Solid post with solid points of perspective. A few questions come to mind. Lets look at the 08 team vs this team. The 08 team had mostly juniors and seniors as does this one. Shady and Collins were the only Sophomores if I am not mistaken. Rush, Chalmers both Juniors. Everyone else Senior. Shady started as a soph, didnt start as a rookie. Collins could have started.

    Bragg and Diallo could be comparable to Shady in terms of athletic ability. I honestly dont remember if Shady was strong enough to hold his spot on the block during his freshmen year, or if he was savvy enough to play good help defense, or where his offense was. Im sure a quick check on Kenpom could answer a couple of those questions.

    Quick Caveat: I am not saying I think Lucas and Traylor are even close to Kaun and DBlock in this comparison.

    From what I have seen now is that Bragg and Diallo have such issues and consequently need time to develop. They wont get starters minutes until Coach is satisfied that they are ready. But I agree that he has to GIVE them that time to develop.

    I think Coach Self has to give them this time to get better. He risks too much in the future. Losing credibility with future recruits in terms of being able to see the court and losing face with the Jayhawk nation for not letting his players develop on the court.

    Remember Cole on that 08 team? Freshmen, didnt play a lot until the UNC game. All American his Junior year, lottery pick in the draft. He needed time to develop.

    Another point Id like to make with this comparison is that KU won it all in 08 and this years team is very comparable to that one. KU will make another deep run in the tournament this season. They have all of the pieces. Its been 4 years since '12 and 8 years since our NC. We are due, its gonna happen. And, I also believe that Coach Self will let Bragg and Diallo play more. The reasons for out number the reasons against. I can see both Diallo and Bragg having games late in the season and possibly into March Madness that could be difference makers for us, comparable to what Cole did to UNC. They are both too good, too talented for things not to click before too long.

    One last final question. Could Coach Self be intentionally holding Bragg and Diallo back in the hope that they will come back next season? I mean, it would benefit him and KU if that happened.

  • Interesting post HEM, but I still can’t get past the concept that coach Self is smarter than any of us when it comes to coaching college basketball. I really hear what you’re saying, but I’ve always been trusting, (maybe too trusting?) in authority figures, and give them the leeway that they’re doing the right thing. Bill Self has reasons for playing his guys, and it’s not apparent to us. I sure wish he’d tell us.

    As an aside, I had an interesting conversation today with Sherron Collins’ HS coach. I saw him at the Proviso West Holiday Tournament, which is the Chicago areas premiere HS tournament. He told me that we didn’t get Sherron at his best because of the weight that he put on at KU. He also believes that Diallo will be starting by the end of the year. He was there wearing a KU shirt and sweatsuit, that’s how I ID’d him as a Jayhawks fan, and he appears to really follow the team.

  • @DinarHawk

    One can only deal in probabilities in the future. Thus “Not necessarily” is mastering the obvious from my POV.

    And the world is full of persons that get to the brass ring and waver because they never visualized the final step.

    Aim where you are going so you are ready should you get there.

  • HighEliteMajor, Solid post, I had voiced the same concern after the win but you have done a far superior job in explaining the points.

  • @HighEliteMajor A couple of quick comments/questions on these ideas.

    Is quantity of playing time > quality of playing time?

    I ask this because with freshman Self seems to wait until he sees that player playing the way he wants before giving them more playing time, thus promoting learning and development as much through bench time as playing time. Oubre and Cliff are perfect examples. It clicked for Oubre but never for Cliff.

    I also notice Self tries to make sure freshman are set up to succeed while experienced players are allowed to fail. The thought behind that I am assuming is that a man of 21-23 years of age is better equipped to deal with adversity than a 18-19 year old kid. A stance supported by brain science and the late development of the prefrontal cortex.

    Overall, good post and solid stats. But be careful not to fall into your own worst nightmare of paralysis by analysis! You seem quite focused on this one issue this season!

  • @benshawks08 I believe that it was starting to click for Cliff and that if he had been able to play at the end of the season, we would have seen a better player. But…we will never know.

  • Question. Would you rather beat Kentucky in Allen Field House with Jamari continuing to play as he did against SDS or lose by one because we need to see the greater picture. Also, after the loss, would you praise Self for doing the perceived “Correct thing” so that OAD’s will come to KU because Coach will let them work out their deficiencies on the court rather than in practices, that we are not allowed to witness. The argument is basically that in order to get “Steeled,” fans have to witness it, not just a good Coach. Although I appreciate these discussions, I support Self’s philosophy of “Prove to me in practice that you know what you are doing and when you do that, I’ll trust you with more minutes.” Because I write this, HEM will refer to me as he has done to all of us who don’t agree with him 100% as, and I quote, “Jamari Lovers.” We can always converse with each other about who should play and who shouldn’t. But I’ll stick with Coach and his professional staff. People leave Churches because they disagree with someone or a different philosophy. Diallo will play when he plays. I stayed with the Church through the “Cliff Alexander is the next JoJo” argument. Coach wants a National Championship more than anyone.

  • This is one of those topics that is truly situational, player to player.

    One big distinction in this discussion are the two players – Diallo and Bragg. This is what @benshawks08 is alluding to in part in citing Oubre and Cliff.

    One is more advanced skill wise (Bragg).

    I would argue that Oubre was not functioning at his peak in March, though. In fact, he was bad for two very important games – ISU in the conference tourney final, and vs. WSU. The WSU game might be one where you’d expect a guy like Oubre, NBA fringe lottery, to really step it up. In Oubre’s 5 post season games, he scored double figures only once (vs. TCU in the first round on the Big 12 tourney).

    Now, I think there is an argument to suggest that maybe Oubre was mishandled. But I would also suggest that there is a argument to say that his handling was calculated and perhaps perfect. He was brought along slowly in Nov. and then bumped into a starting role. But I am just looking at March and the results. That’s the only thing that really matters. When March rolled around, Oubre was a no show. That may have nothing to do with his handling, though.

    On the other hand, I think that Cliff’s handling was largely botched. @DinarHawk – you mentioned Cliff. What are your thoughts?

    The stats are simply undeniable as far as his production. Cliff was our best player on a per minute basis. Cliff’s PER for the season was a team high 23.2. I think we all know why Cliff struggled – coach Self’s standards and requirements that permit Self to feel comfortable playing. Other coaches do things differently. But Cliff was a different sort of dude. I have a hard time caring, since he was held out when it counted anyway, except as it relates to the current handling of players.

    It’s interesting when another coach that does it the other way, John Calipari, is now forced into a bit of a retreat. Skal had started every game, and was averaging 21.6 minutes per game. But he did not improve with those minutes in any obvious way. In fact, though I’ve only watched 2 1/2 UK games this season, it would appear he is in over his head at the moment. Would Skal have benefited from playing here, and being brought along slower?

    @ParisHawk Are you suggesting that the NC is not the goal at AFH? But you’re right, I have not heard Self say that. I’m assuming … @jaybate-1.0 You are concerned that the NC is not the goal?

    @Lulufulu I hope he’s not purposefully holding them back – we have a potential NC this season. Who knows what next season will bring. On Cole, it is all relative. He had excellent players in front of him. Cole being the #4 big made sense that season. And the recruiting impact you mentioned, as much as we dislike that dynamic, can’t be overlooked.

    @Hawk8086 Would you have taken a chance and changed that one variable?

  • @HighEliteMajor You mean playing him amidst the allegations at the end of the season? Heck no. I just think that if that had not happened we would have seen a much better player down the stretch than we did earlier in the season.

  • Outstanding post HEM and I certainly appreciate the back and forth that the site brings. It is educational to me. I’d be interested in how others might answer these questions about SDSU game, but first, let’s clear the deck of the question that has already been discussed:

    Would we have won the game with different rotation minutes in the 5? That’s already been discussed with I’m sure no one going to agree across the divide.

    Here we go:

    Did playing JT significant minutes in 2nd half make us a better team?

       For the rest of Non-Conference?
      For the Conference? 
      For the Post-Season? 

    My contention, is we did not become a better team because we did not give game time experience against relatively weak competition on the road. I’m not sure that we have many more road games to get our talent PT experience that aren’t in conference. If Self balked against SDSU, what’s he going to do on the road against Big12 competition. I will grant that I don’t see the improvement and coaching that goes on in practice.

    What contributed to the SDSU comeback early in the 2nd half?

       Was there an adjustment on Defense by SDSU?
       Was there an adjustment on Offense by KU? 
        What broke the SDSU run? 

    My thoughts on the matter, and I need to go back to the tape, is that they adjusted post defense from doubling us to playing us straight. Where we tore them up the first half was passing out of the double teams and beating them with ball movement. When we didn’t have the open passing, we couldn’t beat their length back to the basket or the runners, our passing became eratic and we crumbled until Wayne literally stepped back away from the defense and hit the very deep 3. That broke the spell and followed with his drive, gave us breathing room where we extended the lead. JT played strong and was a net benefit during the game, everyone agrees. Was there something else strategically that he added?

    So, better team? What were the dynamics of the 2nd half?

  • @wrwlumpy You said, "Although I appreciate these discussions, I support Self’s philosophy of ‘Prove to me in practice that you know what you are doing and when you do that, I’ll trust you with more minutes’.”

    Although you mention practice, has Self really mentioned that? In particular, vs. SDSU, Self just said he went with “experience.” Thus the formation of this discussion. You may also simply trust Self on going with experience. If you assume for the moment – just for this item – that we would have won at SDSU going with the freshmen instead of experience, what is your opinion there?

    @Bwag - Thanks … on your points, I’ll focus on the SDSU run. Personally, I just think it was natural and something that happens in most competitive CBB games. Times when we’re a bit out of sorts, crowd gets in it, and we put on a little run. I have not rewatched that second half (I need to), but your point about flipping out of the double teams might be right on point. I’m very comfortable in my opinion that only if there was something crazy (injury, Ellis and Mason fouling out, etc), we don’t lose that game. We were just a much better team than SDSU. And your point on playing time and what it brings for the future is exactly my concern – “If Self balked against SDSU, what’s he going to do on the road against Big12 competition.” Exactly.

    I wold add that I don’t think SDSU’s defense was up to Fisher’s normal standards – but then again, our perimeter players are amazing and can make decent defenders look bad. Our perimeter group is our best in recent memory, in my opinion, playing the style that suits them.

    @Hawk8086 Sorry i wasn’t clear … my question was related to your mention of the “variable”, meaning while it is certainly defensible go with experience, do you think it was the right thing to do in the context of the season?

  • @HighEliteMajor

    Another one of your outstanding posts.

    I think we all need to attend practices to understand how minutes are awarded.

    I don’t think Self cares which post players will play in March as long as it gives us the best chance to win. Having said that, it sounds logical to give season minutes to the players with the most upside (or who already offer a high ceiling… like Perry). Cheick and Carlton have the upside. And it looks like both have plenty of REACHABLE UPSIDE to help us this March.

    I just think there is plenty of other dynamics involved right now. Self has been crystal clear that the post minutes are up for grabs, and how guys perform in practice as well as in the live game, both will determine who is on the court.

    I imagine right now, in practice, our post guys are fighting competitively every bit as much as in a real game. This IS the way to develop players as quickly as possible. I think we have the very best developmental situation going on right now. Cheick and Carlton are making big gains daily. Eventually, this will transform into more PT. And then the game experience will propel them further, too.

    Take a look back one year, and Kelly Oubre was not receiving a boatload of minutes until B12 play got rolling. He was rough… but not as rough a Cheick, and probably Carlton, too. He became motivated to fight for his minutes and it did pay off.

    I’m hoping we see at least the level of improvement in Cheick and Carlton very soon. Carlton may not jump up quite as fast because he has already been partially polished by playing all summer and fall.

    Cheick hit two nice shots in the SDSU game. He is working very hard on his offensive skill set right now.

    Carlton… I remember most of us didn’t even think he would play minutes this year several months ago.

    The bar for both of these guys is to clear the “Hunter defensive bar” height. They both need to be able to impact the game like Hunter can on defense. It is most crucial for Cheick to reach that level (without fouling out). But the same can be said for Carlton.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    Yes, I have always been frustrated by folks that try just to get there.

    Read or listen to all of the great and not so great players that have been champions, and think back to your own experience of the kids in your neighborhood that went on to productive lives. Listen to them talk about their childhoods and about how they pretended that the score was tied and that there were seconds to go in the NCAA, or NBA championship, and they took and made the winning shot. Its what human beings are supposed to do. It is the practical function of dreaming. A boy, or girl, is a damned fool not to dream.

    I never dreamed to just get to the Final Four as a boy. I dreamed of winning it. I dreamed of being the one that made the shot. I didn’t have the physical ability to make the dream come true, but at the few grade school and junior high levels, and one year of high school ball before I got injured, I played on champions at whatever level I competed at, and I made shots at the buzzers to win big games. And I have always been that way later. I may not always be the best, but I am there when it counts. You want me on your team, if you are playing to win. Even if you know you are better than me; you know that I will let you have all the credit you want, but at the buzzer, when the chips are down and the big money and all the work are riding on it, I am there, already having visualized my whole life being there, and I will do whatever it takes to go the final step. I have fallen. I have been beaten temporarily, even all my life for certain things, and I have even been beaten when people thought i had lost the final encounter, but I never quit looking for the next encounter…EVER…at anything that mattered to me. I will be laying on my death bed thinking of some way to win at some things that have eluded me. I know it. If I think I have the resources to keep playing and I think I can win, well, I know the difference of how I am and how most others are. And I know I have no fear of those few that are like me either. I like them. I don’t mind competing against them because that just means one or the other of us is going to run out of time, not really win the ultimate match. That’s why I loved those guys so much on the 2012 Finals team so much. They didn’t lose. They ran out of time. But I liked the guys on the '08 and '88 ring team even more, because they didn’t run out of time. That got it done.

    But we all know the other kind of team. The kind of team that had all the marbles, all the pieces, all the advantages, but lacked the champion’s competitive greatness. I would be proud to be on the 2012 team. They didn’t lose. They ran out of time. But I would hate to be on the other kind of team. And we all know the other kinds of teams at KU. And I have been on some myself inside and outside sport. And I hated that more than losing and running out of time. I hated it more even than being on a bad team, which I’ve been on, too. I hated being on those kinds of team that lacked competitive greatness. Hated it. HATED IT!!!

    Planning? As opposed to dreaming? You better plan for the disappointment of not making it, of finding yourself on a team of losers from time to time. Even on a good team, you better plan on coming back again and again until you finally make it. Frankly, you better visualize that, too. Coming back the second time. Visualize both. Visualize coming back as many times as it takes, too.

    But dreaming? Dream winning it all the first time. Again and again.

    I grew up with Hank Stram’s Kansas City Chiefs making it to the first Super Bowl and playing okay for a half, but then getting beaten by an older, wiser and mentally tougher team–Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers. Man, that was a bitter pill at my young age. I had collected Coca Cola bottle caps to get an AFL football. I had believed that the AFL could beat the NFL. I had believed that the guys in the AFL were the future and the guys in the NFL were the past. I had loved those impossibly red jerseys and the arrow head on the helmet with KC in it. The Chiefs were even newer than me. I was born in the 1950s. They were born in 1963, or so. The Dallas Texans, born in 1960, did not matter, except that the guys had come from Dallas, somewhere there could just as well have been New Delhi to me, to KC and become the Kansas City Chiefs.

    I saw Joe Namath play his first professional exhibition game in the old Kansas City Athletics baseball stadium on Brooklyn Avenue and sat at the 47 yard line on the 14th row in the bleachers they put up for football season in those prehistoric times. I can still see the rookie Namath with working knees (not perfect even then for he had injured them back at Alabama) taking that 12 step drop with his hunched shoulders and football cocked loaded at the earhole of his Jets helmet with the unprecedented face mask cage for a QB, dropping, reading coverage, looking this way, looking back, looking that way, looking, looking, with Buchanan bearing down and finally when it looked like a sure sack, leaping straight up a good 36 inches off the turf and, and, launching one down the middle to Don Maynard with one face bar and an unbuckled chin strap on a post pattern against former LSU Chinese Bandit Johnny Robinson–the kind of guy most persons buckled their chin straps to go over the middle on–and completing it for a huge gain. A completion snatched from the jaws of a sack. THAT was sport. That burned into my mind forever what a great player was. A great player was someone who did great things in the midst of others doing ordinary things. It was not about hype. Namath had as much hype as anyone today, if you can believe it. He had had the full megillah of Madison Avenue moxie spun to make him the savior of the upstart AFL. But the difference between hyped Joe Namath and hyped guys of today is that hyped Joe Namath routinely did super things. It was unbelievable what he could do at the quarterback position. His arm would still overwhelm persons today.

    THAT leaping throw was what my two friends and I practiced all summer in our yard games, until we saw the AFL get hammered in the Super Bowl by the Packers and Starr. Then we waited. And waited for Lenny, or Joe, to find a way to get to the Super Bowl and win the sucker. But here is the thing. We quit pretending to be Joe, until Joe finally got it done. Until he did it…

    We crowded under a neighbor kid’s ass and pretended to be Bart sneaking behind Jerry Kramer.

    But then it happened.

    Namath, Sauer and Maynard in the air and Snell on ground, Gerry Philbin in the trench, Ewebank on the sidelines. Joe Willie calling it. The Jets over the Colts. 1969. The year the balance tipped. The year that there was somethin’ happenin’ here went from being not exactly clear, to being so clear every boy in my neighborhood became Joe Namath.

    The year my generation said the NFL is the past. Frankly, the year everyone in my generation said everything is the past. The year we said the future is NOW!!! No matter the horror that surrounded it, there was victory at the center, and the victory extended from Joe Namath’s cocked arm all the way to the moon’s Sea of Tranquility.

    I was Joe Namath a million times, maybe two million times, not at Old Municipal in an exhibition game, but Joe Namath in the Super Bowl against the Colts. Those Italian eyes and hunched shoulders and cocked gun looking down field, reading, reading, reading, overcoming everything, all the doubters, all the ridicule, even horrible knees. Johnny Unitas? Kiss my ass. The tire hung from the rope swinging from a tree limb and me alternating between 7 and 12 step drops, arm and ball cocked to ear hole…BOOOM!!! Through the tire marked Maynard with three seconds to go in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl!!!

    You gotta dream where you’re going, because you’ll never know till afterwards whether you’ve got the talent to get there. There is no bill of lading in the bassinet when you come home from the hospital that says, “this kid has the talent to win the Super Bowl,” or this kid is a champion. Its an adventure of discovery, a tragedy of finding out you don’t, or an exaltation of finding out you do.

    Not everyone wins a championship…at any age…in anything. But that’s okay. The only thing that’s not okay is to get there and not be prepared to play like a champion, even if you get beat.

    Everyone said Lenny Dawson didn’t have it; that he didn’t play like a champion in the first super bowl, but not me. I knew those Chiefs were good enough in 1967; that they had to get better and go back.

    But everyone else? I got so sick of it. Everyone KNEW he didn’t have it–except three persons: me, Hank Stram and Lenny the Cool. I’m not even sure Jack Steadman and Lamar Hunt knew Lenny had it. But Lenny? I can guaranty you, he dreamed as a boy of winning the Rose Bowl, or the NFL championship, or whatever represented the top to a boy in his youth. He had it. He didn’t have the gun of a Namath. He didn’t have the mentor of Bear Bryant. He had the cool. He had what Namath and Montana had. He had the cool. And he dreamed of winning it all at the buzzer. And he did it.

    But Lenny the Cool got his ass kicked and got ridiculed the first time he got there…to the Super Bowl. Dreaming of winning, and working hard enough to win it, aren’t enough. You’ve got to have the experience and talent, too. You’ve got to really have the better team. But you HAVE to have dreamed it a thousand times even to survive the horror of blowing up and failing the first shot. The dream has to burn so intensely that not even the horror can annihilate it.

    So Stram, who no one believed in, and Jack Steadman, who no one liked, and Lamar Hunt, the supposedly lightweight Hunt who labored in Bunker’s shadow, looked hard at what they needed to add to the team. This was their moment to seize, or to fold–to spend Hunt’s oodles of money wisely, or not. It was the definition of the American way of handling defeat. Americans thrive on defeat, when they can spend to get better. Those that say that Americans only win and only love a winner don’t know their asses from first base about this country. America has gotten its ass handed to it so many times the dollar should have a calloused butt on it. This country has been kicked in the balls, double crossed, and triple crossed by its own arrogant elites and by the arrogant elites of other countries more times than most countries. It has been humiliated and out maneuvered more times than anyone with an intact historical memory can shake a stick at. But there is something about a good butt kicking that brings out the best in a bunch of individualistic dreamers that grew up in a society that said any kid could grow up to be President and any kid might win it all, if he wanted it bad enough and got the right breaks. George Patton said it best about what defines Americans, which is NOT to say that other cultures don’t have some of this, too. And it wasn’t all that crap through a goose nonsense and all of that Americans have never lost a war drivel. The key was: its not how high you rise, its how high you bounce after you fall. America is an experiment in self-government–even when it falls into a police state as it is now and as it has become before at times. America is one with endless falling and perilous moments where those that do not love the experiment foreign and domestic endanger us and bloody our noses with tyranny’s viciousness, and some times kill, torture, and imprison many of us. America is a climb with many slips and falls backwards on the way. We are a nation of hustlers, bounce back artists, of dreamers. But what we all really, really like is when things get so bad that we all pull together for a while and stick it to all the arrogant elites that have been screwing us royally (and I do mean royally) while we have been dreaming and scrambling up the often steep slope. Time and again in American history they elites have figured they had the new lie, or the new mind control technology, or the new intimidation tactic, to break us down and crush us into good little party members, or good little patriots, or good little consumers, or good little debt slaves, or good little tecehnotronic-cyber droids. And time and again they bleed the republic and treat it as a republic in name only, only to have the complexities they trigger abroad and at home come back to bite them in the elite, royal asses.

    Stram, the prideful banty rooster in the red vest, and Steadman the bean counter, and Hunt, the disrespected youngest brother of the right wing oil barron, took the same approach that FDR, Marshall and King took to figuring out how to beat the Axis Powers after early defeats. The Chiefs were big and won match ups where they were bigger and faster and more skilled, and lost those where they were not as big, or as good. It wasn’t rocket science. They knew Lombardi scoffed at their multiple formation offense, but that it had actually been an advantage, wherever they had been bigger and stronger. And so they kept the multiple offense that everyone scoffed at, as surely as FDR and King and Marshall kept air power, submarines and fleet logistics paramount, despite the hide bound scoffing of the ground army types and the surface fleet types. They just got better and bigger and more powerful and more skillful at everything at the point of contact. Stram, Steadman, and Hunt decided to get bigger and stronger and faster and better at every position. They decided to turn an offensive line into a massive irresistible force that could overwhelm the biggest NFL defensive line, and got bigger in the middle on defense and faster on the defensive flanks. Hunt started writing checks and Stram started making them bigger on the offensive line than anyone had ever seen. They made them so huge and strong and athletic that their pulling guards–Budde and Moorman–were as big as everyone else’s tackles, and they kept man mountain offensive tackle Big Jim Tyrer as the standard to scale towards. They got huge and fast and hard. The multiple formations ceased to be about finesse and became about how to put superior athletes in superior positions versus defenders to manhandle and overwhelm them on every down, and then intermittently to run traps and counter plays and line slides that first fooled defenses, and then confronted them with overwhelming force. And every time they got a lead they began defending it conservatively with Jan Stenerud’s toe. Never a possession without points should have been the motto of the media for the Chiefs. Instead, everyone complained there were not enough touch downs, but the overwhelming defense and the overwhelming offensive line meant an early lead, with 3 points every possession and no turn overs guarantied a win. The 1971 Super Chiefs were maybe the zenith of power football played the American way. Smash mouth not only with tough guys, but with overwhelming force. All NFL players were tough guys on the field, or they didn’t get that far. Stram was the guy that looked through the Lombardis and Hallases and Landrys “philosophies” and said we are not buying this older league, greater sophistication, tougher guy crap. We know what this is really about. This is about who is bigger, stronger, faster, more skilled, and hungrier. It is about who has been to the mountain top before and so has the experience to perform at a high level, when that high level is needed. It is about better players taking what they want, because they have worked hard to get there and have the match up advantage to take it, no matter what the opponent does. It is NOT about Lombardi’s toughness, because Lombardi and his teeny little hat and furry little ear muffs never set foot on the field during the game. Steam didnt even wear a flipping coat. He wore a red vest with a sport coat. It was about a bunch of men on two teams coming together in titanic a struggle for absolute power of a line of scrimmage in a game space. It was about imposing and sustaining overwhelming advantage AND converging that with just enough deception to put them on their heels and then crush them.

    It was about the Kansas City Chiefs–owners, coach and players–that had been disrespected as pioneers of a new league and a new, wider open way of playing the game. It was about what football is REALLY about: who was the biggest and baddest bunch of hitters in the trench, at the points of impact, not just in the trenches, but every where–down the sidelines, over the middle, in the trench, at the goal line, midfield, you name it. It was about total domination with just enough deception thrown in to get the opponent on his heels so one’s superior force could knock them backwards, then on their backs, and then run over them until they didn’t want to get up any more. It was about the fight for total domination of one team by another, about grinding them down with more weight, more strength, more speed, more athleticism, more skill, more hunger to wear the opponent down and then about breaking him.

    But it all starts with a boy in a yard somewhere dreaming of doing exactly that for ultimate victory, and then growing up to find a whole organization of grown men who have dreamed the same thing, been doubted, been beaten, and come together to make the dream a reality with sweat, talent and competitive fury.

    God help me, I do love it so.

  • Post Script:

    In Perry’s defense, he has probably been coached to limit his dreaming in the media to the cool humility of a Final Four, so as to avoid being labeled arrogant by the media always looking for a way to create some sparks. But if his goal really is the Final Four, then he needs to go outside immediately to the coldest outside court in Lawrence by himself and start imagining winning the NCAA championship with 2 seconds to go with THE SHOT. And he needs to make that shot a bunch of times on the snow and ice to really make it real to him, so he doesn’t wake up in the Final Four thinking being a champion is just icing on the cake. Being a champion is what its about. Its what it is always about. For teams and for countries and for players and for citizens. Losing sucks. Winning without playing up to your ability sucks. Being a champion finally is the only lasting sweetness of accomplishment in the game beyond simply picking up a ball and putting it through the hole.

  • @HighEliteMajor I would say that Cliff probably should have played more…just like we believe with all of our talented freshmen. But, my point was that even with Self bringing him along slow, I believe that we would have seen a different Cliff at the end of the season if he had been able to play. If you are talking about the last game…I don’t have a problem with the way Self handled the minutes given the closeness of the game in the 2nd half.

  • @drgnslayr I totally agree that Self plays those whom he thinks will help the most now and in March. There is a lot of talk about which players have the most “upside”. Obviously at the 4/5 Cheick and Carlton have the most eventual upside. The real question is who has the most upside for THIS year.

    The thing that has bugged me about our depth has to do with practice. Depth doesn’t have to be used in games, but it is extremely important in practice. Not only are the people in the front court fighting for playing time, they also push each other in practice. There is a big difference between practicing against our other bigs and practicing against coaches sons.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    One point that I don’t believe has been made about you is that you absolutely DESPISE the OAD!!! So I don’t believe you’re advocating for reduced minutes for JamTray just so we get more OAD recruits.

    I believe you are advocating for more minutes for Diallo & Bragg b/c they are already statistically BETTER than JamTray now! And giving them more minutes to learn now will also get them to an even higher level come March/April when it REALLY MATTERS!!!

    For the record, I love JamTray. He’s a Jayhawk for life. I just don’t think he should play very much. And Lucas, too. Personally, I’d give all the minutes to Perry, Mick, Bragg and Diallo.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    Outstanding post as always. I really appreciate the out of box discussions

    In the 2nd half when the game got chippy for a 6-8 minute stretch Self reverted to the “default” button and went with the guys or player- Traylor who’s been through these situations before.

    At least he played well enough to justify the minutes in the end but I was puzzled that he didn’t sub guys in and out after regaining control of the game. He sent Diallo back out there with what 2-3 minutes left, and from all I could see Cartlon and Cheick played very well in their minutes.

    I didn’t see any concern where coach shouldn’t have played them because of mistakes . So then why did he hit the default button and press snooze to the bench?

    And that could potentially be the problem all season long. We could lose games because we have the same ol Mari out there. We could also lose if we leave inexperienced freshman out there. Coach so far has proven that he’s scared to find out. He knew he had a superior team against SDSU but he went to Jamari anyway in the tight situation and then just left him out there. We won, but if the goal by March is to have Carlton & Cheick comfortable and playing at a high level then Coach failed them with that game. I have a feeling he’ll repeat this with the games we have coming up.

  • Once Diallo figures out how to play team defense and run the O. He will see the court more. He is an extremely athletic undersized tough big with the high motor that Bill loves. It’s Bill’s typical big. A talented version of Jam Tray. It’s just a matter of getting Diallo into the flow of things. Remember Bragg had about 17 games played (2 vs. Canada, 8-9 wug games and the first 6 real games) before Diallo had one. And how many practices did Diallo miss during the WUG trip? Diallo is starting in a hole, nearly a Selby size hole due to the missed summer opportunity. The good thing is there’s lots of season left.

  • @BeddieKU23 So what you’re saying, is that if it looks like we are losing, bring in Jamari ? I saw the SDS game slipping away like the MSU game did. Then I saw Jamari get rebounds, steals and dunks until we were back up by 14. I think we would probably win with Diallo going back in at that time, but, allowing for points by the opponents when a rookie is out of position a couple of times down the court and the game gets tight again, only shows what kind of decision Self has to make. I’ve been called a “Jamari lover” and that doesn’t bother me, it is that feeling that the opposite of that is in the thought process of some of our bloggers.

    As a senior in high school, I had worked my way into the starting rotation. I didn’t play football, but at the end of the season, some of the football players would try out for basketball after we had already had about three weeks of practice. They were bigger than I was, they were stronger and faster. The only problem is that they played basketball like football players. There were no shot fakes so I blocked every shot or they kept barreling through screens. Diallo really hasn’t been playing basketball very long and it is unfair to compare his learning curve to someone like the Savant that was JoJo. Diallo will play when he helps more than he hurts.

  • @wrwlumpy

    I’m not against Jamari, I have tremendous respect for the player he is and the man he has become. He has value on this team and I thought his play against San Diego St was one of his best games.

    I guess what I didn’t understand was that when the game got close Self choose to abandon the rotation of post minutes and stuck with 1 guy. We won the game so I have no problem in playing to win. But the “bigger picture” gives us a lot to talk about.

    The post rotation he played in the 1st half built a 13 point lead. But they ride the bench 2nd half? That’s my only gripe. As @HighEliteMajor has pointed out time and time again, if the goal is to win the National Championship and the SDSU game was a pawn on the chess board, then Diallo and Bragg should have at least been given the opportunity to play in the pressure moments.

    I think they both played well enough to have earned minutes in the 2nd half. If they were ineffective then sit them, but that wasn’t the case at all.

  • @BeddieKU23

    Don’t you see that Self is making Bragg and Diallo earn more minutes by lifting their games?

    Typically, players develop most for the season over the Christmas holidays. They are out of classes and focus 100% on basketball. The important step right now is to PUSH our freshmen into higher plateaus of development right now. And though game minutes are an important step in that process… the players must first learn to play competitive D1 basketball.

    By playing them too many minutes too soon, they may lose confidence because they simply don’t know enough to play well enough.

    Both Bragg and Diallo are still very rough. They both have made big mistakes on defensive switches and help.

    We need to put our best chance of winning right now on the court. Our experienced guys give us our best chance TODAY.

    Bill Self’s secret sauce for 11 straight titles is to come out of the blocks fast in B12 play. Immediately create a gap with the other teams and that puts the pressure on them.

    Self is not going to throw away the B12 race just to hope it pays off in March because our freshmen may be a tad bit further along.

    Our biggest assets as a team are with our veteran players. They’ve been there before. And now the expectations are on them to execute winning games. That is our team identity. Experienced, quality players.

    Freshmen potential may end up helpful, but the focus has to be on our biggest asset… experienced, quality players. I’m not specifically identifying Jamari or Landen as quality bigs. But they are experienced and there is a current higher ceiling for playing good team ball by using our experienced players.

    Look at how many variants we are running now! BG and Svi… those guys have great potential, but they aren’t meshed within our offense yet. If we just run a platoon type strategy, we may never create a team identity. Using young, talented players has to be done with care. We want them to CONTRIBUTE to our current identity, not CREATE CHAOS by stripping away our identity.

    I think Self is having one of his best coaching years since coming to Kansas.

  • @drgnslayr

    Great post. I couldn’t find much to rebuttal with…

    I do think Self is doing a great job. He’s adapted the offense to play with this teams strengths.

    And most importantly these guys are making shots.

    I just have that proverbial dream that Bragg & Diallo will begin to seperate themselves from the pack and Self will trust them in pressure situations to get the job done.

  • @BeddieKU23

    We really won’t know how these guys react in March until we get there. Some guys just disappear, especially when they are young.

    We don’t want to put too many eggs in an unknown basket. Why should we? We have a very solid core of talented, experienced players that surely must be carrying a little chip after losing to WSU last year.

    I don’t know… I do know that I am heavily influenced STILL by the Royals and how they used last year’s runner up year to fuel this year. I hope we have guys that will react in a similar fashion. Guys like Perry, Wayne and Frank… they should be carrying a chip and I think to some degree they are.

  • @BeddieKU23

    And… might we be relieving some of the potential stress on Cheick and Carlton if we frame them up as just being SUPPLEMENTS to this team instead of counted on to produce?

    That is a touchy subject… because some guys need to feel the heavy pressure and be counted on to really produce. This is an area where Self needs to play psychologist and know what to apply to these young guys’ brains.

    We all know that Cheick and Carlton need some minutes. But we can’t say we know better than Self on this one. We don’t sit in on practices and know the entire story here.

  • @drgnslayr

    Great point, that could possibly be best that they are just pieces of the pie.

    Because I think Frank, Devonte, Wayne & Perry are all content in leading this team. Everyone else has a role and has fit into it. I don’t think KU can win it all without both being involved in the outcome, they are extremely important to this teams ceiling.

    I think both are content on letting the experienced guys do the heavy work, they don’t have the pressure that others on the team have. It’s a great problem to have, 2 uber talented bigs fighting for PT.

  • @BeddieKU23

    I like the idea of having our veteran players POSSESS this team, instead of our freshmen talented players.

    For example, had we thrown Cheick into the starting lineup and kept him there, how soon would the media proclaim this as “Cheick’s team” instead of Perry, Wayne and Frank’s team?

    Think about it… this is the first year for these three guys to take real ownership. Last year, the talk was Kelly and Cliff. We see where that got us.

    Perry, Wayne and Frank have EARNED their OWNERSHIP of this team.

    I am excited to see where this leads us… in conference play and in March. I don’t think this is basically the same team we had last year. The dynamics have changed… for the better. Add in the improvements Self has made in his own coaching philosophy, and we really have completely different potential.

  • I remember Russel Robinson talking just prior to midnight madness in 07. He said, not specifically, that he was ready to get back on the court and win an NC for us, the fans and for KU. That was real talk. He meant that stuff.

    Oh Perry, he is a good player but he just doesnt have the swagger that past KU players have had. He is too soft spoken. He doesnt have that killer instinct. This year, our boys with the best Killer Instinct are Frank and Selden. Ice in their veins.

  • @Lulufulu I really think it’s Selden. He is very vocal, and when you add kick-a** game performances, it adds to your leadership. Hard to be a leader who doesn’t produce. And hard be a leader and rarely talk or show emotion (Ellis).

    @VailHawk Exactly … couldn’t have said it better. I would add that even if the pair were statistically inferior, I’d still advocate for much more time in games where we could win without playing “experience” – like much of our non-con. Heck, I’d start Diallo tomorrow night and let him play 20 minutes or until he fouls out. I’d let Bragg play 20 as well. Just commit to it, and do it. Why not? What’s the risk?

    @BeddieKU23 You said, “if the goal is to win the National Championship and the SDSU game was a pawn on the chess board, then Diallo and Bragg should have at least been given the opportunity to play in the pressure moments.” – Great analogy. Each game is a pawn. You may win the battle (SDSU), but does that help you win the war (NC)? I really thought some might latch on more to the Bill Self loves Jamari line of thought – the love for one’s players is a powerful thing. And I very much think that Self has a great attachment to Traylor, and his path to Kansas. The kid is an amazing story. How could you not love the kid?

    @jaybate-1.0 Awesome post.

    @drgnslayr - Rarely do we disagree in a post this much – but you make an excellent argument.

    Your response to @BeddieKU23 is the exemption to the rule. Do you really think that Traylor gives a better chance to win now, than say Bragg? And you mentioned the Big 12 race. I know some people really care about this. If we were say, the Royals, I agree – the division championship was a big deal. But we have 11 in row. Doesn’t that pale in comparison to the impact on Self’s legacy vs. another NC? If you said, “Bill Self 11 conference titles and two nationals championships”, does anyone care with the “11” is a “12”, a “10”, or something near that?

    You said,“Self is not going to throw away the B12 race just to hope it pays off in March because our freshmen may be a tad bit further along.” I would disagree with the “tad” thing and the premise that we’d throw away the race – and I sure hope you’re wrong. When you have a bunch of league titles, the one thing that takes you to the next level is the NCs. I guess I’m disagreeing and agreeing with another one of your points – you said “experience, quality players.” You then exempted “Jamari or Landen as quality bigs”, just calling them experienced. You’re right, they are really just experience. Not quality. I guess I do disagree with the premise of the “experience” thing. You mentioned “team ball” as if Diallo and/or Bragg wouldn’t bring that. Bragg has been amazing so far.

    Do you really think that extended “experience”, in-game, is not the best path to Diallo and Bragg reaching peak efficiency by March?

    Your thoughts here really provide a different perspective on what might be this team’s strength. But how about “pace”?

    Remember, though, the veterans can possess this team, and will possess it – Diallo is not Wiggins. There are no SI covers. This is a team led by Ellis, Mason, and Selden. I agree with @BeddieKU23 – they are our core. Diallo and Bragg will always be supplements this season. I think their style of play (high pace) accentuates and makes it more of a weapon.

    And regarding your first post above, I would also argue that Oubre’s handling did not pay off – at all. In four of our five postseason games, he scored less than double figures. He was a non-factor vs. ISU in KC, and vs. WSU when we sure could have used a 20 point game. What do you think about that?

    I would toss in that I did think Bragg should and would be an immediate contributor. He is our most skilled big right now (more so than Ellis). Ellis, however, is an elite level talent with experience. Ellis is thus better right now. No doubt. But the more experience Bragg gets, that gap will close quickly – it’s that experience he needs to push to the next level. Bragg will feed on the experience like a bacteria consuming flesh, and we’ll have a monster. Another guy who can be a go-to guy.

    Your responses are terrific discussion – always gets me thinking.

    @dylans When I hear “Selby size hole”, that is very concerning. And it worries me, meaning my recollection of Selby and his fight to get on the court; and Self’s preference for Reed and Brady. I was more in EJ’s camp. But I guess i feel better in that Diallo’s role is perhaps easier to assimilate to on this team. Our terrific perimeter makes that the focus.

    @wrwlumpy You said that Diallo will play when he helps more than he hurts – hard for me to let that slip by. I would just want that standard to apply to all players. And if it did, you know, some wouldn’t play. Some of the players some of us love. That’s the net production I talk about. It is odd that in a post that presumably defends Traylor, you would move to such a discussion point because that is and always has been his weakness – the lack of net production.

    I do like your backhanded comment to affect your point – “opposite of that” and “Jamari lover” stuff. It just gets you off the hook for saying “Jamari hater.” It’s softer. It does make some feel better to believe that the large contingent of folks that disagrees with Traylor’s PT “hate” him. Whatever. But as I’ve said, it’s all relative to the talent and the level of competition. If we had Justin Wesley, Christian Moody, and Landen Lucas as our other bigs paired with Ellis and Traylor, it’s a different discussion. It’s that I dislike his game in comparison to our other alternatives.

    And you fall in the trap that others do as well, referring to Diallo being out of position. I cited many times when Traylor was out of position last season, and when he completely messed up – the same stuff folks tried to use to disparage Cliff. That goes to the net – for example, if Diallo is out of position and allows for an easy layup. But then blocks or changes a shot that would otherwise go in, then gets a rebound and put back; in instances where the player would score over JT and where JT would not get the rebound, who’s better?

    That’s “play the better player” stuff.

    Maybe your high school story makes you sentimental – but I think you could analogize JT as the football players. Diallo and Bragg are better than Traylor right now. Just like you were better than your bigger and stronger competition – you were just better. More skilled. A basketball player. JT is certainly a basketball player. Just less skilled, that’s all.

    You didn’t mention Bragg – do you have the same opinion of Bragg vs. JT as Diallo vs. JT?

    How about this? When I refer to “Jamari Lovers”, assume that it is done with the utmost affection. Nothin’ wrong with lovin’.

  • @drgnslayr Like your posts (in general and here in particular) and agree in large part. I think if there had been a little more substitution in the 2nd half of the other Bigs, then we wouldn’t be having the discussion. Put them in and see…pull them if it appears the wheels then come off.

    Realize the counter to that argument may be that a lack of continuity may screw up the results. But that is part of the point. Test and see in the non-conference portion of the schedule.

    Thanks for posting!

  • @drgnslayr I also like the idea of our veteran players “possessing” the team, but I would simply observe that freshmen “possessed” last year’s national championship team. On the other hand, Wisconsin was clearly a veteran led team and made it to the NC game. And, the recent UConn championship teams were driven by veterans. There isn’t just one path - superior talent typically prevails, but not always. It is one persons view that we give ourselves the best chance to take it all if we can effectively meld strong veteran capabiility (Selden and Mason) with superior athletic talent (Bragg and Diallo) - and Devonte and Svi providing a bit of both.

  • @wrwlumpy That’s a very good question to ask & I’m surprised no one has answered it yet. And just so you know, I left Churches because, frankly, Popeyes serves a much tastier chicken!

  • @HighEliteMajor Good points as always. I do agree with a lot of what Dragon was saying. I don’t think we can really say that Oubre’s bad games in the tourney were because he was brought along slowly. He had plenty of PT in the conference games. As long as Bragg and Diallo get to where they are playing significant minutes, I’m not sure that Self’s methods will hold them back. But…it is hard to tell. I do agree that for tonight’s game…go ahead and throw them in the fire…why not? But we know that letting young guys play through their mistakes is not Self’s style…except of course with Wiggins.

  • @Hawk8086 Thanks … the Oubre thing is really just some speculation. There was the statement that he turned out fine, but I think the results might suggest otherwise. Mid-first rounder, an important scorer, and he gets 3 points vs. ISU and then 9 vs. WSU in our most important game of the year.

    Another thought – Let’s take three games: Oregon St., Harvard, and SDSU. Let’s assume Self plays Diallo and Bragg 20 minutes in each of those games.

    What is the absolute worst that happens? Lose two of them?

    And if Self said after the losses that we definitely want to win the non-con games, but there are bigger fish to fry, would anyone have any quibble with that?

    I don’t know. I know I don’t want to lose two of those three. Realistically, maybe we lose one. Maybe. But I personally think we still win all three.

    I think we win vs. Harvard by more than 6 or whatever. I really believe we win at SDSU. And vs. Oregon St., our first half was bad anyway and it would be Diallo instead of Mick for much of the second half. Tough to tell. Hard to see losing any of them.

    But tonight is a new box of chocolates.

    Maybe Self really has a “master plan” beyond just win the current game. I don’t see it though.

  • @HighEliteMajor People were calling for him to be fired after we lost to Sparty. Just sayin…

  • @KUSTEVE People were assuming another year like last year & hitting the panic button. Last year was a disappointing year but for the most part it was enjoyable & entertaining. I am enjoying the way these guys have grown up in the last year & watching very talented freshmen learn the greatest game ever invented (except for baseball) taught by the greatest coaching staff ever assembled & no one is going to convince me otherwise!

  • @curmudgeonjhwk 'cept for baseball.😯

  • @wrwlumpy Great question. Self has been in the position of damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

    Self was getting bombarded when he supposedly “lost his touch” with elite level talent in recruits. Fast forward 4 years (Selby, Alexander, Wiggins, Henry) and Self needs to stop recruiting players who don’t care about the Jayhawks uniform and use KU as a pit stop for the NBA. But now, we are worried Self can’t recruit again.

    This year, this site is all over Self because he focuses too much on regular season wins and the thought process “I don’t care if we lose in the regular season or Big 12 as long as we win in March” and we take out our torches for a regular season lost to MSU without knowing the end result in March yet!

    Don’t even get me started on last year when people were calling for platooning because UK was doing it 10 games into the season.

    We are so fickle.

  • @HighEliteMajor It’s a discussion many of us have chimed in on. I guess I’m not willing to accept a loss because the cause and effect is never clear. If we lose because the younger guys play more, we’re not sure how much more beneficial that will be vs. what Self is doing. As KUSteve said, people act as if the sky is falling if we lose. Self is going to make sure we win first and foremost. That means being conservative, sometimes, in how much PT the young guys get. It will be interesting to see what Izzo does next year with the young talent he has coming in. He tends to take a similar approach with bringing young guys along slowly (OK, maybe not quite as slowly as Self) He’s losing guys, so he’ll have no choice, to some extent, but to play freshmen a lot.

  • @Crimsonorblue22 I agree with you 98% of the time but on this subject believe me when I say that “no one is going to convince me otherwise!” I argued this point with a crew member from 1996-1999 in Pensacola…it’s one reason I totally enjoyed that crew. He was from Louisville & tried to convince me that KU basketball was irrelevant compared to Louisville basketball. When I was discharged in 1969, I had convinced him that Louisville BB was on the same level that WSU BB was on & that KU BB is the standard to live up to. Back then Louisville BB fans were looking back, not forward.
    Accept the fact that a 3 inch round ball makes contact with a 3 inch piece of round hardwood & flies somewhere in the the vicinity of 20 feet to 400 ft at somewhere in the neighborhood of 85 t0 200 mph…amazing!

  • @Bwag said:

    JT played strong and was a net benefit during the game, everyone agrees.

    Not me, but I think I’m alone in that thinking. Theres no way to prove it either way but it was just what I saw while watching the game.

  • @JhawkAlum amen! 2 years ago, SDSU beat our rears, Embiid couldn’t handle the dble team, play him and Self’s out coached, don’t play him and we don’t give Embiid enough mins to “play thru it”. Sooooo

  • @HighEliteMajor

    “Do you really think that Traylor gives a better chance to win now, than say Bragg?”

    Yes. Most definitely. Traylor knows the system and has been hustling. He was a definite difference-maker at SDSU. I don’t think Bragg is ready to be a “difference-maker.” I do think he is showing he can make a contribution. The team was interviewed and they seem to still think Traylor is the better choice, too.

    If the young guys want more PT then they simply have to show a compelling positive right NOW that they are the best players and need to be on the floor. Self would be happy to start and give major minutes to Cheick and Carlton. They’ll have to earn those minutes.

    I think you need to realize how important “team dynamics” are. Just throwing our veteran players to the side because young bucks have potential is very disrespectful to the players that have been sacrificing for the team for years. That could easily cause waves… and how could it not? So right now, because Self has the attitude to play the guys that will help win games RIGHT NOW, the fight for minutes is fair and very very competitive. All our post players are improving from the big time competition they have in practice. But just proclaim our freshmen ahead of everyone but Perry (without earning it) and I think you are asking for all kinds of trouble, including the veteran players playing soft, including practices. How can they stay motivated if they just give up their minutes to “potential?”

    From what I have seen out of our freshmen, I like how Self has been using them. I find it highly likely that both Carlton and Cheick will soon start earning more minutes. They both have better upside than our other bigs fighting for those minutes. But right now, Cheick can’t stay on the floor anyways because he can’t guard without fouling. Carlton is scrappy, but his defense is rough.

    The door is wide open for all our bigs. Play well, earn minutes. This is the way it should be. There is a lot of season left for the young guys to earn plenty of PT. Giving it to them now (without them earning it) lets them know they can coast. It also deflates the ambitions of our experienced post guys. So then we have Perry on his own and NONE of our other post players properly motivated to play well.

    I like how Self blends in most of our bigs in the first half, and then plays what he thinks is the best chance to win in the second half. That not only gives us the best chance to win this single game, it also sends a message to these guys that Self rewards PRODUCTION not just POTENTIAL.

    I know you and I come from a different generation. I think you and I are similar. I didn’t need to be pushed to hustle. I would dive for balls even if I was just playing lunch ball at the YMCA. I had a single button: ON/OFF. These kids today are different. Guys with ON/OFF buttons are extremely rare. It has taken me a while to understand this. It all impacts the game and coaching. If a player didn’t hustle back in my day there was a good chance the coach would just kick him hard in his rear side.

  • @DCHawker

    " I also like the idea of our veteran players “possessing” the team, but I would simply observe that freshmen “possessed” last year’s national championship team"

    We aren’t Duke. We don’t run a puppy mill.

    We do have some outstanding freshmen… but imagine our new identity is our freshmen. Do you think we stand even a tiny chance of winning our conference and a NC starting and running Vick, Bragg and Diallo?

    Duke had a team full of McDs AAs. This was their identity because they didn’t count on veteran players for anything and they had Nike dump trucks full of top players.

    Yes, it is possible to win with freshmen and/or veteran players.

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