Diallo/Bragg Vs. Top 25 Recruits & Cutting The Rotation

  • Lots of thread going at the moment. Thought I’d toss in a some interesting information I reviewed today with some other thoughts.

    Of the 25 top rivals recruits, two are out due to injury (#17 Ray Smith/Arizona and #18 Tyler Dorsey/Oregon). So we are dealing with 23 players remaining.

    We saw earlier in the year that from a minutes perspective, Diallo and Bragg were lagging far behind. As of today, the end of non-con, the gap is even bigger.

    Beyond minutes, I looked at each of the top 25 (really 23 players) Player Efficiency Rating (PER). Not an absolutely perfect stat, but very reliable – and it’s the one “all in one” stat that we can look to for comparison.

    1. Diallo/Bragg vs. Top 25 Recruits (Playing Time): Carlton Bragg is #20 (11.8 mpg) and Cheick Diallo is #21 (10.7 mpg) in playing time per game when compared to the Top 25 recruits. Only Chase Jeter/Duke (9.5) and Justin Simon/Arizona (7.1) are lower as well as the two injured players.

    2. The Staggering Gap Between Bragg and #19 In Playing Time: More interesting is the ranking in playing time is that while Bragg is #20 at 11.8, the #19 playing in playing time is Skal Labissiere at 20.6 minutes per game. This is pretty staggering. So the next playing above Bragg is playing nearly double his minutes. Further, numbers 1 - 14 all play 25 minutes or more.

    3. PER Rating: When looking at the overall PER ratings for these 23 players, Diallo is 7th best and Bragg is 10th best. So while their playing time lags severely, both players’ production is well into the top half, and Diallo in the top third.

    4. Minutes per game vs. PER Difference: To highlight the discrepancy, I compared minutes vs. PER. Only four players had a positive PER difference vs. minutes. Cheick Diallo has the best ratio at 11.2 (10.7 minutes/21.7 PER). Justin Simon of Arizona is next at 10.4 (7.1 minutes/17.5 PER). Diamond Stone is next (21.2/28.9). Then Carton Bragg at 7.7 (11.8/19.3). A positive ratio would indicate (roughly) that their minutes aren’t in line with their production. Nineteen (19) players had a negative PER to minutes ratio, meaning they were playing more minutes than their PER – nearly every player. Just a way to compare and contrast with what’s happening in other programs.

    5. Low PERs and Playing Time: It really stood out to me that many players had very low PERs, but got big minutes - Malik Newman (Miss. St) 28.0/14.0; Derryck Thornton (Duke) 17.3/13.6; Antonio Blakeney (LSU) 30.0/11.2; Caleb Swanigan (Purdue) 27.7/15.1; Jalen Adams (UConn) 20.9/11.5; Isaiah Briscoe (Kentucky) 30.4/15.0.

    6. Landen Lucas/Jamari Traylor/Hunter Mickelson: Landen Lucas has reversed his PER from last season. In 2014-15, his PER was 13.7. Pretty bad. This season, though, Lucas is at an impressive 21.9. Hunter Mickelson had a PER of 22.5 in 2014-15 in limited playing time. However, he has backed that up during rotation level minutes, logging in at 24.2 this season. Jamari Traylor, though, has not improved by any significance. In 2014-15, his PER was 12.7. This season Traylor is at 14.7.

    7. Svi Mykhailuk: When we discuss cutting the rotation, no doubt that Svi is on the chopping block. Svi’s PER is 14.0, now just a tick below Traylor. Further, his PER trajectory has continued downward.

    8. Cutting the Rotation: Self has spoken many times about trimming playing time. Self has always preferred and 8+ rotation. That is, 8 core players with a 5th perimeter guy and a 5th post player as extras (though the 5th post guy gets less minutes than the 5th perimeter player due to the minutes available – 120 on the perimeter per game, and 80 in the post). It does not appear Self will get to that 8+ anytime soon. January becomes the sifter. LeGerald Vick is out. So we’re down to 11. The next easy cut, again off production, is Jamari Traylor. He lags all of the bigs. Lucas, by his production, deserves to stay. I have my personal feelings on playing Lucas and Traylor. I wouldn’t play either of them. But Lucas has been productive. No denying that. Traylor has not been productive. There is no denying that, either. Next, based on non-con, Self should really prioritize Brannen Greene over Svi. Greene checks in at a team high 27.6 PER. So even if we think Greene’s might be a touch too high vs the eye test, he’s still way ahead of Svi.

    9. The Rotation Starting Saturday: Perimeter - Mason, Graham, Selden, Greene, with Svi as the 5th, lower minutes guy. In the post, if he does cut that rotation, Traylor should be out. Ellis and Mick start, and I would suspect Lucas and Bragg would be the primary back ups. Diallo, given his place in the pecking order and the upside we discuss, should get minutes as the 5th. If Diallo take silly shots like he did when he got in the game the other night – the “selfish” 18 footer, as @BeddieKU23 correctly mentioned in another thread, that might stay his spot. Self should have yanked him right then and there, but then re-inserted him after the shock-collar treatment wore off. That’s not a quick hook – like when a player makes a common error. It would have been appropriate training.

    10. Self And A National Championship: In Self’s press conference today, he said very clearly that he would “Rather play great in the 3rd season than the 2nd season” – Self refers to the NCAA tournament as the 3rd season and conference play as the 2nd season. That rather tepid statement is at least nice to hear.

    11. 2015-16 Kansas Offense: Is this the perfect offense? There is not one complaint I can muster regarding our offense, our scheming – anything. Self has clearly focused this team on its strengths and has implemented his high/low to perfection with the talent he has this season. And as usual, the unsung part of Self’s game planning has been top notch – scoring on in-bounds plays. He’s also added pressure at appropriate times, though most of us would like more. The best move, of course, was starting Graham and moving Selden to the three. That’s what Self really learned in the WUGs, I would suspect. This is a national championship level offense. And when we’re averaging 19+ three pointers per game, we’re in the “Goldilocks Zone” for success. This is the offense we hoped for last season. Conference play will test Self’s resolve and commitment to playing to this team’s strength.

    12. UConn Model?: I looked back at past national champions. In recent history, really only UConn has relied on lower tier bigs. Of course UConn had great guards, and smaller guards. This seems like a good comparison. Of course, most national champs have higher rated bigs in the rotation. I could not find a 6 man big rotation that won it all, but it won’t be 6 come March. But our perimeter is our strength and this is the best group in the country.

    13. Diamond Stone: We had a discussion on @DoubleDD’s thread about Diamond Stone. A kid that struggled a bit early, looked a bit lost, and put up 39 points last night. I saw him play against Georgetown and he didn’t look good at all. But Turgeon has played him. @DCHawker said in response to @BeddieKU23 - “Actually, Stone was getting less than 20 minutes a game through the first half of the season (although double digit minutes in every game) and, having watched a few of the games, he clearly looked a bit lost - just like a freshman. Only scored in double figures a couple of those games and was often out of position for rebounds (low totals). But, this is the key and I think make yours and @HighEliteMajor points - he was getting real minutes, Turgeon let him play through his mistakes, and he now looks a lot more comfortable - even dominant. Double figures in each of his last 6 games, capped by the 39pt, 12rb performance yesterday. Guys aren’t going to learn and gain experience riding the bench.” Stone, during his minutes, seemed a lot like Diallo. He was productive, good PER, but made mistakes that caused a little head scratching. His production last night pumped his PER up quite a bit. But the key is he got time to work out the kinks. Other guys are getting that leeway. And getting it at Duke and Kentucky, not just at LSU or Mississippi State.

    14. Tom Keegan: Wanted to reiterate my response on Keegan. Tom made the following statement - “Playing time doesn’t determine when the light comes on. The light coming on determines playing time. Here’s guessing it will come on for Bragg before this season is over. Diallo? That might take a little longer.” First, Mr. Keegan has obviously never coached at any level. To discount the value of playing time is to simply speak from a position of ignorance. The man just doesn’t know. And he obviously didn’t speak to coach Self on the subject, and hasn’t paid attention to Kansas players of the past. Playing time equals experience, and the more experienced you are, the brighter your light can become. Tom Keegan talking out of a body part in far reaches of his backside. And to suggest that the light has not come on for Bragg is just absurd. Diallo? Sure, we can all see that argument. But Bragg? What games has Keegan been watching? But again, how does the light come on? During limited practice time? Uh, no. Play them. And play them some more.

    Have a great New Year’s holiday! Baylor and OU, two games in three days – now it begins.

  • Can you explain PER?

  • Great post with lots to chew on. Happy new year!

  • @HighEliteMajor I get what you are saying. Important points. But what about performance in practice? Isn’t that the entree into more playing time in games? Doesn’t practice help prepare them? I get it…there is nothing like game pressure…but isn’t practice a major part of the equation that we don’t talk about?

  • @HighEliteMajor

    So now Tom keegan doesnt know what he’s talking about right? Speaking out of his A. S. S.? As you said ?

    Love to know what you actually do for a living. Does it have anything to do with college basketball at all? Please fill us all in on where where your basketball knowledge and acumen comes from. I really want to know, and I imagine other people on the site would like to hear too.

  • HighEliteMajor, I agree 100%. It does appear that Mr. Keegan has written the article to get some brownie points with Self.

  • @HighEliteMajor Rock Chalk dude! Just to mirror your statement about our stellar offense. We are clearly one of the best in the country on that end right now. The cool thing is, they havent reached their ceiling yet.

  • @wissoxfan83 Here is my limited understanding of Player Efficiency Rating. Its basically just like it sounds. How efficient is the player in question. shot attempts vs makes, rebounds on both sides, turn overs, free throws, any type of stat that is quantifiable goes into a players PER.

    Take Wigs for example, this year, in the NBA. Last time I checked, his PER was sitting 15.6 which is about average I think. Yet he scores 20 points per game. His shot percentages are keeping him from elevating that score as are his lower assists and lower rebounds.

    Thats all i got. I bet someone else a bit more versed in stats like this can explain it with greater detail.

  • @HighEliteMajor,

    Bang up job.

    I come down between you and Keegs on PT.

    Obviously experience has consequences. Good experience is something to build on. Bad experience creates an obstacle to be overcome.

    What my experience of child rearing, managing at work and coaching kids for fun suggests follows.

    PT can get someone already able to play at D1 level up to speed and violence standards.

    PT does nothing or actual harm for those that are not ready.

    To wit, playing Wiggins got him comfortable enough to do what he already could do. What little actual development we saw probably happened in practice. The week of getting better calls attention to how instrumental practice repetitions truly are to development.

    Conversely, PT has done little and maybe done harm for Svi and Jamari. Jamari just keeps not getting better, no matter how much PT he gets.

    Diallo’s continued PT has done little for Diallo and is probably on the verge of hurting him. He just has so little foundation that can be gotten comfortable he doesn’t seem to learn much from PT.

    But Diallo has so much athleticism it is worth risking harming him by giving him PT in favorable match up situations, because he can goose C5 productivity a few points and REEBS over not playing him at all. In a just and compassionate world Diallo would be a red shirt and be a star next season. But this basketball world isn’t either right now.

    If Bragg were stronger physically, he seems to have enough foundation to benefit from PT, but he hasn’t shown much of an up trend line yet from the PT he has gotten, so he just may not be strong enough to do what he has skills to do against D1 grade defenders.

    And everyone needs to keep in mind that the intensity, speed and violence ramp up in conference play. So: if players aren’t getting better against pre conference talent, it’s going to get even harder to get get better in conference play. Yes, there are exceptions and grey areas, but this seems the tendency.

  • @jaybate-1.0 - in my coaching kids experience, all kids get PT regardless they’re ready or not. Their parents will scream otherwise. I know this is different than D1… I just never thought of the harm part before reading your post.

  • @pa_grape

    It all depends on expectations and feedback, whether experience is hurtful to children. If it’s just playing and no one gets down on them for just playing, then I think letting everyone play equal minutes for fun is great. But when performance and winning enter the equation, and coaches get demanding, fans boo, and parents weigh in severely during and after games, then readiness to perform at levels of competition ought to start being weighed carefully in the interest of the child.

    Self’s apparent willingness to limit the exposure of his players to being out of their depths developmentally has always been among his most admirable qualities to me.

    But as always, I’m only a fan, not an expert. The best book I have read on these issues lately is “Just Let’em Play: Guiding Parents, Coaches, and Athletes Through Youth Sports” by Dr. Andrew Jacobs, Jeff Montgomery, and Peter D. Malone published recently by Ascend Books. I know one of the authors, but otherwise I have no involvement with the book.

  • Man O Man, what a quandary for Bill Self and his staff! I can understand and appreciate his leaving Jamari on the floor so many second half minutes vs. the Aztecs. But then I can’t come to grips with his passing up the opportunity to secure more experience for his two budding super frosh. Flip sides of a valuable coin. Current Jayhawk Basketball at its core. Gotta hope it all pans out for the best. The MAN is very human in administering of micro decisions. In a macro sense, a very rare winning coach.

  • @jaybate-1.0 said:

    Self’s apparent willingness to limit the exposure of his players to being out of their depths developmentally has always been among his most admirable qualities to me.

    Ditto. +100

    It takes a Man (or Woman @Crimsonorblue22) to sit a recruit of Diallo’s hype because he is not ready yet. The team and Diallo both will be better in the long run for it. As a child I always wanted to peek in the presents under the tree; now I know delayed gratification has the best pay out.

  • @Bosthawk Wait, did you really not know this? Yes, Tom Keegan is a terrible writer. He always has been. His stuff on KU football is pretty good, but he seems utterly clueless about basketball. Case in point being his most recent article on how players don’t need to play for the proverbial “light” to come on.

  • @Hawk8086 game playing time gives them a chance to learn to execute what is learned in practice in a dynamic situation, not the controlled environment of a practice.

  • @Bwag But if they can’t do it in practice, how will they ever do well in games?

  • Great job, @HighEliteMajor !

    I’ve been waiting for someone to post some numbers to substantiate minutes.

    Looking at your PER numbers… it looks like Jamari may be the guy collecting splinters on the bench. Hey… I’m not trying to support any one player getting minutes. I want us to win, tomorrow, all the way through March. If players aren’t producing NOW they need to sit. Jamari… if he isn’t producing as well as our freshmen, I’m for making the move now. I know, like everyone else knows, game experience is an important part of development. I didn’t speak up earlier for more minutes until I could see that are freshmen are actually producing. As of right now, Carlton and Cheick can start taking more of Jamari’s minutes NOT just because of potential. They deserve his minutes because they outproduce him. That is a valid reason and no unselfish player will feel offended by losing minutes to someone who is outproducing them.

    I can still see certain situations where Jamari should get some minutes… if the match ups work in his advantage. Sometimes… we are just able to run different things with Jamari we can’t run with other bigs, like darting through the paint to receive a pass and finish on a drive or an assist. Sometimes… he may want to focus on his idea of being the “energy guy” and coming in for minutes when the entire team is playing like they are about to die of the black plague.

    Hunter and Landen have proven their value and should still get quality minutes. Even though Cheick has a good PER, he still needs some polish before taking on the big minutes. Seriously, today, he couldn’t stay in a game more than 20 minutes without fouling out. I know I am not willing to take on a loss to Baylor or Oklahoma because Cheick is busy putting both of these teams in the double bonus. Another thing… he just hasn’t meshed in with the team concept on either side of the ball.

    Cheick now shows enough stats to start winning practice minutes with the starting group. This is the step he needs to take before absorbing big minutes in games. He has to mesh with the team concept. To some degree, Carlton is in the same boat, just much further along.

    Like I said in an earlier post… keeping a “team concept” will be the key to our success this year… far more than having a better post presence in March. Our real strength this year is our ability to play “team ball” not just having more talent than everyone else.

  • A few follow-ups – One day to Baylor. Really appreciate the great discussion:

    1. Practice and Game Experience Go Together: Remember, when one suggests that game experience is needed, that statement is NOT suggesting that practice is not important. Speaking for myself, when I suggest game experience is extremely important, I’m assuming that the players in question participate in all practices and because they are actually inserted in games, they have met Self’s threshold for playing. Self has never said these guys aren’t getting it in practice. Further, I believe very strongly that practice is very important. However, there is no replication of game experience in practice. It just can’t be done. So the suggestion of game experience goes together with practice. Keegan, for example, suggests that playing time has NO impact on the “light going on.” Again, who thinks that? Anyone?

    2. Psychological Harm?: When @jaybate-1.0 points out the harm for playing someone too soon, he’s right. Back a few years ago, perhaps on the kusports.com site, I mentioned the example of the pitcher that is rushed to the majors and incurs irreparable damage due to the experience. I generally believe that someone who is damaged psychologically over a long period of time like that, probably wouldn’t have made it anyway.

    3. My Point Is Comparison To Other Programs, Other Coaches: However, in our situation, Self has never said that Diallo and Bragg aren’t ready in that way – that this is too much for them. And really, are we actually to believe that when we look at the top 25 recruits this season (and really the top 30), and then adding in Cliff’s similar placement among the recruits last season, that it’s just the guys at KU who aren’t ready? That’s more of what I’m pointing out. We are to believe that its the players and not the coach? Self is having issues playing post players that make mistakes and who need that trial by fire to develop, when he has “experience” there that is perhaps more steady. It’s exactly the same when he had Reed and Brady. He’s having the same struggle.

    4. Difference In Ceiling: I firmly believe that playing Diallo will not cause the guy any harm, and that the mix of game experience and continued practice (exposure to the game) is the best formula here. But it’s a great question. When @jaybate-1.0 says that Diallo doesn’t seem to learn much from his playing time, that is very hard to tell. It is the accrual of information and experience. You keep chopping wood. The difference between Diallo and Traylor (as @jaybate-1.0 cited Traylor as not improving much) is that Diallo has this very high ceiling everyone acknowledges, where Traylor has clearly bumped up against his. Players have varying talent levels. Traylor’s doing about as good as he can do. When a player stops improving, the ceiling might be near. Thus why I wouldn’t even play him with a high talent dude in the wings. Heck, if we got to late February and Diallo was horrific, Self could flip back to Traylor if he wanted. I suspect that Self will continue to play Diallo-- just at 10 mpg instead of the 20 some of us might want. I just think with Diallo it’s settling in and getting comfortable. I really think that Self is in tune with wanting to develop Diallo, and I bet he knows that his NC chances are increased significantly if Diallo does develop. I hope that’s his intention. Diallo will have a game where he goes 14 points, 9 boards, and Self will play him 20. It will happen, and I bet it happens in January. With Bragg, he’s just flat ready right now. If Ellis were to be injured, Self would start Bragg at the 4. I firmly believe that. We’ll see a lot of Bragg I bet.

    5. Svi?: The citation of Svi, and Svi not improving greatly seems more accurate to me. We’re not seeing a ton of improvement. But the light going on, so to speak, is within reach. We see can see flashes.

    6. Selden Example: Now, @jaybate-1.0 point may be more demonstrated by Selden. Did throwing Selden into the fire harm his development? Would Selden have been better of playing behind, say, Elijah Johnson at the 2 spot for a season? And I think that’s what is being said about Diallo. My point is that Diallo needs to play rotation level minutes. I concede the “starting him” thing right now. But as the 3rd/4th big? I feel pretty solid about that.

    7. Remember, we have discussed whether they might be damaged, whether they have good team chemistry, whether they are part of the team concept – why are we searching so very hard for the explanation here? The explanation is simple in my mind and it is one that we have known forever: Self loves experience. He likes what he knows. Now a number of the elements discussed certainly play into that. But simply because Self loves experience does not mean that the experience is the right choice in the scope of the season. Really, that’s a pretty easy acknowledgment I would think. It’s just an acknowledgment that Self, doing it his way, could be wrong; particularly when other top coaches do it differently.

    8. The fact is, that other teams commit to playing “talent”. And they do that to develop the talent, or because they have no one better to play (perhaps like Antonio Blakeney at LSU). I have always said that my Bragg/Diallo complaints are relative to the competition. I never complain that Ellis should sit in their favor. That’s because Ellis really is good.

    9. Look at Players #26 - #30: Heck, if you venture even further down the top 25 – you’ll see #26 player Deyonte Davis at Michigan St. plain 17 minutes per game, #27 Thomas Bryant at Indiana playing 21.5 minutes per game, #28 Tyler Davis (boy I wish we had him) playing 21.2 minutes per game at Texas A&M (with a 30.8 PER, by the way), #29 Elijah Thomas (low minutes and transferred from Texas A&M), an #30 Prince Ali at UCLA playing 13.1 minutes per game. Four of the five higher than Bragg/Diallo. So when adding in the next five, Bragg/Diallo are #24 and #25 out of 30, when two are out for the season and one is transferring. This has to be a Bill Self thing, doesn’t it?

    10. Impact on Recruiting: Look, I like the idea that Self isn’t pressured by recruits from a core perspective. But @ParisHawk brought up yesterday that part of Self goal should be recruiting – like it or not, if I can sit here and spit out this stuff, I’m quite sure that some assistant coach at Alabama or Duke is doing the same thing to discuss with Marquis Bolden, who has the prospect of playing behind Landen Lucas and Dwight Coleby next season. We can applaud coach Self, but we just need to understand the repercussions.

    11. Player Efficiency Rating: The PER takes into account positives such as field goals, free throws, 3-pointers, assists, rebounds, blocks and steals, and negative impacts such as missed shots, turnovers and personal fouls. The PER adds in positive stats and subtracts negative ones through a statistical point value system. The rating for each player adjusted on a per-minute basis so that, for example, substitutes can be compared fairly with starters. Another element is that it adjusts for a team’s pace, which is important. However, it has weaknesses of course. Here’s a LINK that might help. Here’s another LINK on the formula While PER takes into account blocks and steals, it doesn’t take into account fully a player’s defensive contribution, because blocks and steals aren’t the only element of that. Just use it for what it is – a very good guide to show the overall impact of a player. But I look at it this way – if a guy is a true defensive stopper, then that guy won’t be rewarded for PER. And a guy who is really good defensively should get some slack when using PER. You know those guys.

    12. National Championship: With this discussion, I wouldn’t want another coach at the helm for Kansas this season. While I want these freshmen to get minutes, I have a suspicion come February we’ll all be fine with what’s going on. This has the makings of a great team. A national champion. Start winning Saturday. Win 'em all. #1 seed, cake walk over a 16 seed, win three, and we’re there at the dance.

    This is a much better team than last season. As @drgnslayr said, Hunter and Landen have proven themselves so far this season and Hunter’s additional and Lucas’ apparent improvement make us better.

    The second season starts tomorrow.

  • @HighEliteMajor yep, one of these days the light will come on for Diallo. It’s only a matter of time.

  • Does it matter to anyone if one player for KU only wants to raise his nba stock and another will do anything to help his team?

  • There’s a tear in my eye. That’s the most credit you’ve given to Coach in three years. Yes I agree, he has put together a fine bunch of players.

    Also, did you ever notice that if you are a top recruit at the Three position that you will start at Kansas as a Freshman. Jeff W. was a transfer Bench warmer. Cole Aldrich sat on the bench and finally got to play in the second to last game of the National Championship. JoJo was the only one.

    Speaking of practice, Petro, on Friday was talking about being at a Jayhawk practice. The “Aw Shucks”, Will Rogers, happy, family friendly, Okie routine goes out the window and Bill Self become more of a Frank Martin than Frank Martin. Practice standards seem to be a high priority for the Coach and probably a good indicator of who should and who shouldn’t be getting big “Trust” minutes.

  • @Crimsonorblue22 Would it be like comparing Xavier Henry vs Thomas Robinson?

    Overall I think any kid that plays college ball has a dream of getting to the NBA and wants to improve their stock to do so. But those guys that get what “team” really is, be it OADs or 4 year guys are special to have.

  • KC Star 2014


  • @jaybate-1.0 - you are so resourceful, whether or not you involve in writing a book or not. Thanks for the guidance.

  • Great post, @HighEliteMajor - it’s pretty sad that PER is not being considered when choosing which player should be on the floor. Your point #3: “Self is having issues playing post players that make mistakes and who need that trial by fire to develop” is still not obvious to me whether it’s D or O mistakes. Diallo was left alone - he took a J, it’s short. He made the right call, I think. Coach might’ve taught the opposite. But I hope he won’t get benched because of that. Getting comfortable (thus, player’s confidence) in shooting in a game is very important. The only way to improve his confident level is in a real game. Now, I’m not so sure how to improve his D by just watching from the bench. I would think it’s a fundamental and has been repeated through practices. A simulation - as JB suggested - would really prepare him.

  • @wrwlumpy said:

    Also, did you ever notice that if you are a top recruit at the Three position that you will start at Kansas as a Freshman.

    Position is a crucial driver on when high ceilinged players can quickly learn to perform at a D1 level and when they cannot.

    Either front court position in a high low means an OAD not only has to have strength, and basketball skills, to go with high ceilinged athleticism, but also requires a player be able to deal with enforcers using intimidation and cheap shotting that can be XTRemely dangerous to a young person physically and/or mentally that is not savvy enough and mean enough to protect themselves.

    In the High Low, Self can, if he has a strong front court, scope the role of 2, or 3, to limit how much a 2, or 3, has to go up against the blue meanies. Sometimes he protects them, as he did with Xavier, and sometimes the players handlers appear to limit the amount of risk the player is willing to take, as appeared the case with Andrew Wiggins. Other times, as with Josh Selby, Self appears to say this guy is ready to go to the rim almost from the first tip.

    In the High Low, there is no protecting a 4, or a 5, from the blue meanies. They are there in the paint and guarding Self’s freshman 4s and freshman 5s seeming more and more frequently and more and more aggressively as the season progresses. It has been a VERY, VERY tough game in the paint during the Self tenure. Self’s philosophy of play it any way they want means Self really cannot protect 4s and 5s on the floor from opponents that choose to play in a highly aggressive and physical way. Self’s 4s and 5s, be they freshmen, or fifth year seniors, have to play man 2 man defense and have to knock blue meanies off spots on defense, and on offense they have to fight for spots and fight to stay on them. Absolutely crushing forearm smashes, and face punches, and throws to the floor, and so on occur at a level of intensity and degree of aggressiveness that todays OADs that have not grown up in play ground ball have even a clue about how to both protect themselves from, and skillfully counter attack, and on occasion preemptively attack. Anyone that watches the game for awhile in the paint knows that it frankly takes guys with almost a football level of aggressiveness to play front court in D1. To send green bean poles like Carlton Bragg and Cheick Diallo on to the floor against 3rd, 4th and 5th year blue meanies that being sent out to intimidate them, because they ARE green, and then to actually hurt them, if they prove that they can handle the intimidation…“is a sin, Mr. Finch. Its a sin to kill a mocking bird, that’s what it is.” And sending green OADs, especially those with high ceilings, that didn’t grow up tough on the play grounds to play against 3rd, 4th and 5th year guys that often did grow up on the playgrounds, and are playing not because they are so talented, but because they know how to break up an opposing team’s rhythm with physical play; that’s a sin in my book.

    Self is a coach. A coach is a teacher. Teachers are not supposed to teach quantum mechanics to 17 year olds that have not even had a solid calculus course, regardless of how high the kid’s IQ is. Kids need some foundation courses to do well in higher level courses, even if they are smart. Basketball is the same, only more so, because the blue meanies don’t just laugh at you for not being able to hold a spot. They start going through you. And if you go down to the other end and use your athleticism to score a basket over them, as guys with high ceilings, like Diallo, often can do, them the forearm smashes and stiff screens follow. And if you are really good like Joel Embiid, pretty soon you are up ended and floored on your most vulnerable regions. Joel Embiid did not know how to protect himself from the blue meanies, because he had not grown up on a playground playing the game that way. It doesn’t make any difference how high one’s ceiling is, or even how high one’s foundation is, if you don’t know how to keep your nose from being pushed out the back of your head, or don’t know how to shield yourself from a forearm smash to the wind pipe, or how to strike preemptively in a way that makes the blue meanie say, “Okay, that’s it for the rough stuff from me,” then you are just a medical red shirt waiting to happen, or worse.

    Out at the 3, or 2, or 1, you can get hurt driving, and you can catch a stiff screen, and the guys that sharpen their finger nails and scratch corneas for fun, they can get you out there, too, but its not an every play risk. And its easier for point guards and wings to run away from trouble, because the position rarely devolves to a muscling contest the way it does in front court.

    To me it makes sense that point guards and wings can more often step in and be 20-30 mpg types. And mostly not get stunted. But does anyone remember how Tyshawn ran from contact his freshman and sophomore seasons on back side drives? It took forever for him to work up the courage and strength to go inside where the blue meanies where.

    This is one helluva tough game–D1 college basketball–and it gets a lot tougher in the NBA.

    And there are some guys that are ready to rock and roll from the very beginning. You remember some of these guys from your high school. They looked 25 years old when they were 18. But mostly guys that were 18 looked like they were 17 and often had about as much moxie as 16 year olds.

    If I were Carlton Bragg’s and Cheick Diallo’s parents, I would almost be kissing Bill Self’s hand right now for keeping these two pipe cleaners out of harms way as much as he has been.

    Think about it a second.

    The averages @HighEliteMajor gave us don’t tell us a thing about any one specific case’s abilities to start and play 20-30 mpg as freshmen.

    The averages are by definition composed of the guys that can and the guys that cannot. The averages include the guys that are playing because their coaches have no one as good, or no alternative at all, and the guys that actually would play even if the coach had some alternatives. The averages include everything.

    The average tells us that out of all these guys, there is strong probability that your guy could be one of the guys that can do it, and a lesser probability that he is one of those that cannot.

    This is the point where the coach’s judgement has to be trusted, or the coach needs to be fired and replaced.

    Since Self has started and played several OADs, while limiting and protecting the minutes of others, I have to think that Self has no bias against starting OADs that are ready.

    And looking at the way Bragg and Diallo play so far, and given that they play in the front court, I’m thinking maybe these two guys really aren’t ready to be 20-30 mpg players and that Self, the players and we are lucky we have some older guys that can keep Self from having to do to Bragg and Diallo, what he felt he had to do with Perry Ellis. OMG! Think of the difference between Perry Ellis as a senior and Perry Ellis as a freshman. The guy started some and played a ton of minutes, but there was no amount of minutes Perry could have played as a freshman that would have “developed” him into the player he is this season.

  • @REHawk

    I know board rats worry about Jamari playing a lot, because neither his line score, nor more complicated indices like @HighEliteMajor’s mentioned PER, suggest the Jam Tray is very productive.


    It appears to me that Self is already ahead of the curve on Jamari.

    Jamari plays about as many minutes against the types of players he should be expected to play against, as one should logically expect.

    Jamari plays a lot against short mobile bigs, whom he is well suited to guard, and who are guys that our highly athletic perimeter guys can rebound against to pick up the slack in Jamari’s rebounding ability.

    Against the long centers, Jamari tends to play much less, unless one of our long guys is fouled up, sick, injured, suspended, or just stinking up the court. But Self does bring Jamari in against those long centers a few times apparently just to take them out of their comfort zones briefly, and maybe make them run a bit more. I like that.

    Against the older centers that are tough guys, prison bodies, and XTReme Muscle types, whether long or short, Self has a tough call. His high ceilings–Diallo and Bragg–will get him more productivity than some of his low ceilings, but he has to look at himself in the mirror the next day. Self has to ask himself: is it okay to squeeze out some extra points and rebounds and risk the potential season ending, or career ending injury of Bragg and Diallo at the hands of these mugs?

    It appears to me that Self has a pretty hard and fast rule and ethic about injury risk.

    Self doesn’t appear to think its right to send green kids into situations where they are to young, inexperienced and weak to defend themselves from the violence.

    At the same time, once a player is mature enough to take care of himself, Self appears to think that injury is a part of the game and that if you get injured , when you are mature enough to take the risk of injury, you damned well better take the injury risk and play through injury if you possibly can, even if it triggers a shortened career.

    I tell board rats: Self is a hard man about injury, but it appears he has a just code about it, whether I agree with it, or not.

    Take Jamari Traylor right now. It is pretty clear to me that he is injured again in the legs. He moves around the floor now like a guy that has lost most of his pop. Remember how explosive he was his first two non redshirt seasons? He was quite awesome at times.The first few games he showed a little explosiveness. But now he does not come close to the kind of explosiveness he showed routinely his first two seasons.

    It seems to me that Jamari could benefit from sitting for a month or two and hopefully getting some explosiveness back for March. And Self has enough depth to sit him. But Self’s reasoning seems to be that injured, or not, each guys is pencilled into a role on the team for a season. If you can, playing injured, fulfill that particular role, then man up and play injured. Its is a players role that is so vital in Self’s system. Self creates a team that is a bunch of roles. Players are supposed to staff and perform those roles. Jamari’s role is to guard short, mobile centers. Scoring and rebounding is icing. It was like this with Sasha Kaun when he had no knees left his last two seasons. His role was to guard the long post. Scoring and rebounding were icing. Both Jamari and Sasha could fill their roles with while injured; that was all that mattered. Fans worry that Jam and Sasha can’t do much else but their narrow role, but Self doesn’t. Self figures if he can get that role fulfilled, the other players can do the other things he needs. Self runs into real problems only when he has to ask other players to take over Jam’s and Sasha’s roles; that creates a ripple effect throughout the team’s individual roles that Self has to juggle and keep juggling to make work. Self knows if an injured player can keep fulfilling a narrow role, it means everyone else gets to keep doing their roles at a high level.

    To me, Self has already narrowed the scope of Jamari’s role before the season started. All that happened was that in pre conference, there were quite a few opponents that either had short, mobile bigs (Aztecs), or that had big tough experienced bigs (i.e., Costello), so Jam played quite a bit.

    I expect Jam to play some against Gathers, because Gathers is one tough cookie that could easily bully Diallo into being a fouled up mess, and could bang both Hunter and Landen off spots. I suspect Landen will be our best bet against Gathers, but playing all of C5 him will absolutely help keep him off balance, and so I expect them all to play again. We don’t have a single guy that can shut Gathers down. Keep making him adjust to new kinds of defenders and offenders is the best way to contain him.

  • @jaybate-1.0 Mari played pretty good at Baylor last year against their zone. Pretty sure.

  • @DinarHawk well, I’m not at practice to see if they are or not.

  • @Bwag I’m not either, but I know that from what Coach Self says and what I see in the games, and I see that Diallo and Bragg are not adjusted defensively to what Self wants and Divison 1 ball.

  • @DinarHawk Braggs been overall decent. I don’t have a problem with him being pulled out of the game to receive coaching on the sideline. What I don’t like to see is to completely abandon him PT wise. His upside is too great to sit.

    Cheick is still green. But elsewhere, I think HEM posted the Player Efficiency Ratings of those two and they surpass JT.

  • @Bwag What I am referring to is about Diallo’s inability to play solid defense without fouling and proper defense positioning, both of which he struggles with. As others have said, the NCAA did not do him any favors by not allowing him to play in the exhibitions and the first five games, which could have helped him to be more comfortable.

    I saw those numbers that HEM posted, but I care more about what I see, and I see him a little slow to react and confused occasionally. Now it isn’t bad or something that he can’t improve on, but he is not there yet. My point is that Self says he is not there yet, which implies he makes defensive errors in practice also. As the season goes along, like Self said, he will get better and hopefully make an impact for us in the tournament.

  • @DinarHawk maybe I’d say he thinks and doesn’t react naturally. The last foul he got was exactly what you are talking about. The steal was there, but he didn’t react, he thought about it and was called for a foul.

  • @DinarHawk you won’t get much argument from me on Diallo. He was definitely put behind in development not playing out of the gate.

  • I am not sure how many people on this site have changed jobs/professions but for me its been a carousel my whole life. It always seems like total hell when you get out of your comport zone and take on a new profession. There is always an adjustment period and the jobs usually suck until you get used to them OR have done them for enough time to get good at it. There is always training videos involved or classes to take but nothing prepares you for the real deal until you are doing it. The best training you can get is hands on and on the job training to best prepare you for the road ahead. The light will come on ALOT faster if they are getting real experience. If my job only let me work with real customers for 10 minutes a day and watch training videos for the other 7hrs and 50 minutes it would take an eternity to get proficient at my job verses 7hrs and 50 minutes of working and 10 minutes training. That is why CAL and UK is so good with the 3rd season and why HCBS has not been to 4 final fours in the last 5 seasons. If he truly wanted to play better in the 3rd season he should take notes from the guy that has his team firing on all 8 cylinders every March. Just my openion.

  • @Crimsonorblue22

    Yes, I recall that two. And I seem to recall that was before injuries began to limit him.

    I felt last mid year was the beginning of him reaching the productive part of his KU career, only to be slowed by injuries.

    Injuries jump out with highly productive players, because that productivity drops sharply.

    We overlook the effect of injuries in less highly productive players, but the injuries are just as limiting and sad.

    Jamari may never have become the next Trob, but injuries and lost pop the last season and this seem to have robbed him from being the best he could have been.

    Here’s hoping those legs recover their pop.

  • @Statmachine

    Good take.

    But for Cal’s way to work for Self, Self would need a similar stack of OADs as that dumped at Lexington, so Self could afford the same high spoilage rate as Cal.

    What talking heads and board rats rarely consider is the high spoilage rate at UK.

    Cal has more 2ADs, because he has more 1ADs.

    And because he has had so many full dump truck loads of OADs for several years (before this apparent penalization for underperforming), the new guys coming in push a lot of one time OAD phenoms into journey men, or, worse, into broken spirits (Dakari Johnsons).

    My argument against the NCAA and NBA allowing the OAD dump truck game is because it increases talent waste and makes players and universities bear the increased wastage of the system.

    Pre OAD, a high school senior jumped and got big bucks even if he washed out. The system rewarded players for taking the risk of jumping early.

    Now the system doesn’t.

    If you wash out at college, you pay the cost and the NBA takes less risk.

    Worse the dump truck stacking of talent appears to increase wastage.

  • @jaybate-1.0 IF Coach Self adopted UK’s playing/recruiting OAD strategy I think KU could have its own personal stack of OAD’s. If Coach Self continues to play seniors over OAD’s then he will continue to have the same success rate recruiting OAD’s. This year Coach Self pretty much exclusively recruited 5 star talent but his 5 stars have had the least amount of PT among the rest of the field. I have stated this before about either adopt the UK handbook or get out of the OAD recruiting game. Go and develop 4 stars and exclusively recruit 4 star talent (or at least recruit 4 star talent). If coach Self thinks he is too good for the 4 star talent and doesn’t even bother to recruit them he is in for a rude awakening. Especially if he isn’t going to play the 5 star talent on his roster until the light comes on. I believe Cheicks Draft stock is going to go down the toilette just like Alexander’s if Coach Self doesn’t play him and develop Cheick while he has him. This years recruiting is a perfect example of why it cant and wont last.

  • http://www.nbadraft.net/ranking/bigboard

    Cheick has dropped 5 on this board.

  • @Statmachine You said, “The best training you can get is hands on and on the job training to best prepare you for the road ahead.” This is seriously just common sense.

    Does anyone remember Marquis Teague from Kentucky in 2012? A guy that Cal kept the lineup. When we played UK early in the season, he was really bad. Looked out of place. Turnovers. Had some major struggles. There was a nationally televised game vs. Louisville later in the year. He was absolutely horrible. But Cal stuck with him, kept playing him.

    Part of this is that UK didn’t have much choice because Teague was about all they had at PG. But the point is that he improved immensely over the season. And if coach Self simply didn’t have his two security blankets, what would Self be doing right now? What would he have to do?

    We’d just be better off in the final analysis if coach Self did not have even have the option of falling back on his security blankets. That’s just my opinion.

    I agree with you completely, as you know. I would differentiate OADs vs. guys that will stay a second season. Diallo vs. Bragg. It would seem to me that simply avoiding those presumed OADs is really pretty easy to do. But geez, Diallo is being handled like a three year guy right now. Really, why bother? See Cliff – why bother?It’s all a big distraction. It was a big distraction leading up to the season with Diallo. I don’t need it, and I don’t want it.

    Truth be told, and sorry about being harsh, but I would have much preferred we not even sign Diallo; but rather, have another non-presumed OAD in the fold.

    Maybe I should take my own advice when I suggested in October we act like Diallo doesn’t exist, that we can just win without him?

    It brings me back to the Tyler Davis discussion. Simply tell the kid that if he commits and signs, he is our guy. Period. No signing of OADs in the spring. We won’t get sucked in if an opportunity presents itself. Program building recruiting – that fits with our coach’s temperament and requirements.

    @DinarHawk - Quick question, remember how Tarik Black struggled with the new rules enforcement in 2013-14? He was a fouling machine early. And really, he learned, as a senior, by experience. By playing and getting used to it. Also, importantly, “experience” makes mistakes too. But guys like Diallo will impact the game with activity and shot blocking, and the “net” might be better even with mistakes. Let’s look at Lucas, our designated post defender. Have you ever seen him really challenge a shot? Is he explosive vertically? Sure, he’s in good position, fundamentally sound. He uses his tools, and he defends with positioning. But that’s really it. I would argue that a guy like Diallo may be out of position more, but he’s quicker, can re-position, and he can better challenge shots. I’m not saying that Diallo is a better defender now than Lucas overall. I’m just saying that it isn’t going to take much for Diallo, with his natural talents and “y-axis” explosion, to surpass the slow footed, “x-axis” Lucas (credit to @drgnslayer on that one). Always appreciate your perspective on things.

  • @Statmachine

    The give away is that OADs that can start at KU do start: Xavier, Selby and WIGGINS.

    Self has made it pretty clear with those three that if you come to KU and can start, you start.

    Self even made Selby start with a boot!

    Self recruits OADs as heavily as anyone.

    The problem appears to be they don’t sign as often as with some, so Self cannot start them as often.

    And adidas-Self appears to have the same problems signing them that adidas-Pitino and adidas-Ryan have had.

    It appears a shoe-brand-agency complex problem.

    If you as a coach and school contract with the wrong shoe brand-agency complex, the dump trucks don’t apparently come as often. And when they do come, they more often bring the higher risk OADs.

    If the dump trucks don’t come, you don’t have 5 low risk OADs to start. Or 4. At most you have 3, and more likely you have 2, 1, or none sign with you, regardless if your name is Self, Ryan, or Pitino.

    In turn you have more 3rd,4th and 5th year guys for the higher risk OADs to have to beat out.

    In Ryan’s memorable phrasing, it’s significantly about the “rent-a-players”.

    And don’t forget Bo commented tersely on the refereeing at crunch time in the Finals, too.

    I suspect the term “rent-a-players” and apparently asymmetric refereeing are ones to keep in mind for coming years.

    At least that’s the hypothesis that fits the data so far.

    You sign the Selbys, and Alexander’s. You get the OADs that aren’t really OADs at all. They are guys that don’t get drafted low, or not at all, get picked up in the NBA and often wash out shortly, or fill end of bench slots…

    Self signs a Wiggins and he starts, gets drafted numerous uno, and becomes NBA rookie of the year.

    Self signs Alexander, plays him 15 mpg before losing him to a loan investigation, then he isn’t drafted and sits on a bench in the L.

    But either way, the dump trucks don’t come in the big numbers. The problem appears similar in Madison and Louisville.

    The adidas conveyor appears the limiting factor for Self, Ryan and Pitino. It appears a pretty low number of players that are raided from the Nike, adidas or UA conveyors during college recruiting. Wiggins, Selby and Jaylen Brown come to mind.

  • @HighEliteMajor I realize its common sense. Its also common sense that Coach Self has a Large amount of negative publicity when it comes to PT for OAD’s. I can not wrap my head around Coach Self’s recruiting tactics and PT for OAD’s. Why would one heavily recruit OAD’s and not give them the same advantage of PT that their counter parts in next years Draft have? Common sense would tell me that if you want to continue to recruit OAD talent you would have to give the ones you land every opportunity to prove that they are still OAD talent come the NBA draft. If you are not going to do so they are not going to get in line to play for you! If you are not going to play them and they are not lining up at the door then WHY recruit them so heavily. He pretty much snuffed the 4 star talent on this years ESPN top 100 and we are sitting on a goose egg in the 5 star department and KU spends like 400,000 recruiting (the most in college basketball). We spent 400,000 on Lightfoot! What a bargain! HCBS’s counter parts have pretty much cleaned up all of the 5 star recruits and spent less money doing so. WHY?

  • @Statmachine

    The question is not why did Self take what few he could get?

    The question is why did any come to Self, Pitino, or Ryan at all?

    That reveals what drives the system.

    Assuming you and others are right, and Self, Ryan and Pitino won’t start these guys, which I of course think the facts flatly contradict, why do these adidas-lean players go to these adidas-contracted schools and coaches at all???

  • @jaybate-1.0 said:

    Assuming you and others are right, and Self, Ryan and Pitino won’t start these guys, which I of course think the facts flatly contradict, why do these adidas-lean players go to these adidas-contracted schools and coaches at all???

    I was aware AW had potential adidas-contract at the time. my question is how many others are there? it must be only a handful. just curious, JB at UC-Bears, that’s kind of odd, the fact that it’s not one of Adidas territory.

  • @Statmachine That is what I have struggled with and, I think, is the crux of the matter. The facts would suggest that we are not the best place for the presumed OAD’s (although Wiggins didn’t hurt himself since he went #1).

  • @Hawk8086 or embiid or Ben mac

  • @Statmachine Understand that when I said it was just common sense, I was conveying that in support of your sensible post – meaning it’s hard for me to understand how others can’t see your logic.

    You also as “why” at the end? It’s easy, if I’m an OAD I wouldn’t want to come to Kansas. As an OAD, I want my draft stock improved. There is just OAD that has ever come here and arguably had his draft stock improved – Embiid. Wiggins held serve. Embiid was still very high (per Pitino’s comment in summer of 2013), Selby dropped, X dropped, Cliff dropped, Oubre dropped. And BMac was not a presumed OAD.

    The same qualities that folks are applauding in Self choosing “experience” now is exactly why an OAD would look to other programs. Fine with me. Look somewhere else.

    Where Self is really in his zone is with guys like Marcus, TRob, Bmac, Markieff, Cole, Jackson, Arthur, Rush, Withey, etc. You bring in excellent players and they develop. Self will develop a guy when he has them for a couple of seasons. And he can win consistently with them. His 2012 team is the perfect model, in my opinion. 2008 had no OADs, though many thought Rush would turn pro.

    To me, that would be a great selling point for the next tier. Just do it his way, the way he does it best.

    @jaybate-1.0 The only reason to take a presumed OAD is if you think they will significantly impact your program now. In one year. No “raw”. No massive development curve. Now.

    So …. you know my next question, don’t you?

  • @Crimsonorblue22 Bmac wasn’t really a sure OAD when we recruited him and he red-shirted.But…those 2 do help the cause if we want to recruit the top guys.

  • @pa_grape

    My hypothesis is : These apparent occasional defections seem to occur around times of reputed changes in net benefi expectations, I.e., around the time of James Harden getting $200M.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    Wild Guess Hypothesis: Diallo chose KU because:

    a.) Harden signing shifted the net benefit expectation curve to an adidas school;

    b.) KU and Self were most willing and likely influential among adidas schools to expedite getting him cleared;

    c.) Self figured the clearance process would set Diallo back long enough to make him need a second season;

    d.) Diallo’s handlers figured he might need a second season.

    Now, Diallo and handlers have decided his best chance to get drafted early and high is to show he can make the 15 foot j in the 10-15 mpg he plays.

    Shooting desperately and struggling with playing within the offense makes the pros less likely to take him.

    And the more he shoots it the more Self sits him the second half.

    Self is giving him rope.

    Self is getting all he needs from him. Self said all he needs to do to help the team is rebound, dunk and bring energy.

    Self didn’t say shoot 18 ft Js.

    If a choice is to be made on developing Bragg, or Diallo, beyond the narrow roles assigned, Bragg gets the minutes till Diallo and his handlers commit to another season. Commitment will require stopping 15-18 ft jump shooting.

    So why did Self want Diallo?

    For C5.

    Just a hypothesis though.

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