Jan 2 Headlines: Hunter Mickelson using year to learn

  • Hunter Mickelson

    ###KU Sports: Big patience: Transfer Hunter Mickelson using year to learn###

    Patience has paid off for outdoors enthusiast Hunter Mickelson on hunting and fishing excursions in his home state of Arkansas. It’s a virtue that has also translated well into his red-shirt season as a basketball transfer at Kansas University.

    ####Newell Blog: Two KU starters lagging behind in steals … and they might not be who you think####

    Kansas has a steals problem.

    Coach Bill Self hammered this point home in the postgame press conference following his team’s 93-83 victory over Toledo on Monday night.

    ####CJ Online: KU continues offensive uptick against Toledo####

    Bill Self had a laundry list of complaints about his team following its 93-83 victory over Toledo on Monday. Almost none of them, though, involved the Jayhawks’ offense. “The ball moved, and we shared it,” the Kansas coach said.

    ####** @KirkIsMyHinrich posted this: Big 12 Conference Preview**####

    ####KC Star: Forcing just 11 turnovers per game, Kansas defense needs help####

    For the moment, Kansas ranks 23rd nationally in defensive efficiency. Here’s a little historical perspective on the defensive issues. While KU is still among the 25 most efficient defensive teams in the country, this Jayhawks team is on pace to be Self’s second-worst defensive team since he arrived at Kansas.

    And if you missed it… Matt Tait had a fun article yesterday… ####The 20 most clicked on KU sports stories of 2013####

    As you might have guessed, Kansas basketball dominated the list of KUsports.com’s Top 10 most clicked on stories of 2013.

    But it wasn’t just game stories and features that made Jayhawk fans smile during the past 12 months. A deeper look at the list indicates that newsy recruiting stories maintained their place at the top of the food chain when it comes to what KU hoops fans crave.

  • Not sure if this was mentioned in any of these articles. Michael Cobbins out for season

  • More proof that Coach Self is already looking ahead to next year. This is why KU stays relevant year after year. Are there any transfers in the Bill Self era that have gone on to blossom at other schools? I am not talking about a good game here or there. With Royce Woolridge, it remains to be seen, I am talking about players that have finished playing ball in College.

  • @kansascomet David Padgett, Micah Downs, and Jr Giddens were all quality players at good ball schools. I’d say most of the others did pretty well.

  • @approxinfinity Which is a pretty significant injury for Oklahoma St seeing as they don’t have much frontcourt depth. Michael Cobbins was their best interior defender and also a solid rebounder. The three teams that they will compete with for the Big 12 title all have excellent frontcourt players (Baylor - Austin/Jefferson, Iowa St - Niang/Ejim, Kansas - Ellis/Embiid among others).

  • @approxinfinity Think that was a couple of days back when HEM’s post mentioned M Cobbins out for the year. Huge blow to the Pokes with limited frontcourt depth. Saw last night that SDSU got 40 pts in the paint vs Colo State, including 23 from Thames & 17 from Shepard, but only 12 of 21 from the stripe. We’ll need at least 3 or maybe 4 bigs to matchup with them inside, but we do have that kind of depth if needed. We even have 5 that are serviceable in the pinch. About 45 or so fouls called in that conf game, so we gotta grow some whiskers PDQ with our own conf firing up fast. Will be interesting to see if there will be any consistency in the manner the games are officiated. Suffice to say at least this game is not on a frigin blackout list. The kids have to make some majic at home, cause the BG12 will be a total witch on the road.

  • Just posted this blog about the two KU starters who are lagging behind in steals. Hint: It’s not Joel Embiid or Perry Ellis.

  • @Jesse Newell couldn’t pull this up from this blog, but read it from twitter. Do you have any stats from their high schools or Tharpe’s from last year?

  • @approxinfinity Thanks, only one Coach Self recruit out of the three you mentioned. All were good players, just didn’t work out for whatever reason. Again thanks.

  • @crimsonorblue22 Sorry about that. Above link should be working now.

    Tharpe’s numbers were much better his previous two years. Basically, his steal% has been cut in half.

    Don’t know about Selden’s high school numbers, though those can be pretty unreliable, as you might imagine.

  • One thing that is pretty apparent – we aren’t aggressively denying the wing. I seem to recall Robinson, Chalmers, and Rush, for example, making it very difficult on opponents trying to simply initiate their offenses. If there was one item in particular I would point to, it’s our lack of denying the ball. denying the ball is the core of an aggressive man to man defense, in my opinion. We just aren’t doing that.

    Of course, strong denial of the ball creates the backdoor opening. With a younger team, perhaps we don’t deny as much because our help defense and rotation is not as reliable. Would be interesting to know if coach Self has steered guys away from strongly denying the ball in favor of being a bit more conservative. Thus leading to fewer steals. .

  • @approxinfinity Don’t look now but they just lost Oklahoma State backup point guard Stevie Clark reportedly was arrested for possession of marijuana on Wednesday morning.

    The wheels on Travis’ tricycle are a little shaky right now. He has Smart and Brown to tighten them up a bit. It will be interesting to see how Ford addresses this little in house issue. Ford will have a Smart Brown year. His game plan will be to let Smart and Brown run the team. If plan S and B fail, he’ll go to Forte…and if that doesn’t work, well, there’s always a temper tantrum on the court. I’ve said it before and will say it again, Ford’s biggest problem is BIGs. He never has an inside game. Since he’s been at OSU, Ford cannot recruit a big to save his life. You can’t live by Smart Brown alone.

  • I liked the most clicked on stories. Was surprised the story about losing to Michigan was not one of the top twenty. Was also surprised that the story about Wiggins dunk was one of the top stories.

  • @jesse_newell - Here’s what I had posted after the Toledo game Monday, so your item today has not gone unnoticed. It’s really pretty glaring to me:

    Keeping a little with jb’s theme here – our starting 1 and 2 guards, Tharpe and Selden – have combined for a whopping 12 steals this entire season. Yikes. Mason has 9 by himself in less minutes. Team leader in steals is … drum roll please … Joel Embiid. Talk about the world upside down.

    I am becoming increasingly concerned with our inability to turn the ball over out front – and an inability to disrupt (sticking with that terminology). We seem just seem to lack aggressiveness out front with Tharpe and Selden. Could it be the new rules? I don’t know.

    But watching the way the game was officiated tonight, it was pretty much just like last season. It was like night and day compared to games earlier this season.

  • @HighEliteMajor … Seems to me it would make it difficult to play with any consistency if you don’t know if the refs are going to use last year’s rules or this year’s rules.

  • @truehawk93

    Apparently it is Stevie Clark’s second offense this season, so it is fair to assume he will be suspended for more than the 4 games he was suspended for the first one.

  • @JayHawkFanToo : KU game is in 4 games for okie state, suspension will be only 4 games.

    @wissoxfan83 : I’m shocked the new, civil policy of fb use on kusports.com along with the crap storm of commetns wasn’t in the top 20.

  • @HighEliteMajor Yep, that observation was right on. I came in blind but was shocked by the percentages. If you’re getting fewer steals than Withey and you’re a point guard … that’s not good.

  • This brings to mind the question of who will be our rotation bigs next season. Here is who I think we will have:

    Ellis, Traylor, Mickelson, Lucas, Alexander, Turner

    We will have to narrow this down to four for our rotation. If we do not land Turner I think it will clearly be Ellis and Alexander starting with Traylor and Mickelson as the backups. If we land Turner it becomes a lot more complicated. We would have to see if Alexander of Turner is better and also would have to kick Mickelson or perhaps Traylor out of the rotation. Then their is also the possibility that Perry Ellis leaves or that Joel Embiid stays. What does everyone else think?

  • I don’t think we land Turner. I’m not trying to be a downer but I think Alexander is a beast and that Turner will want to be the star of the show and will get a better chance to do it elsewhere.

    Embiid is gone. He is being mentioned as a potential #1 pick and the lowest board I have seen this week had him at #4. No reason for him to stay.

    I think Ellis will stay and that he will start along with Alexander with Traylor the first off the bench and Mickelson and Lucas sort of as interchangeable parts as the next guy in.

  • @TheDrunkenJhawk I watched Mickelson at the scrimmage in October and he had an extremely flat jumper … very little arc. Tough to get any sort of gauge on the guy. I would not project him in our rotation over Lucas until proven otherwise.

    Really, 2015-16 might be the year where our depth players in the post take center stage. Traylor and Mickelson will be seniors, Lucas a junior. Ellis likely gone after his third season, and Alexander likely gone.

    Self will still recruit the OADs. Zimmerman? If we land one freshman starter, then all three would presumably be in a four man rotation.

    And I agree with @joeloveshawks – we don’t get Turner. Our only shot, I think, is if Ellis turns pro. If Turner waits until April to decide, then we have a shot. If not, Turner is risking not starting. A guy as highly ranked as he is won’t risk that.

  • @Kip_McSmithers

    If they make it just 4 games for second offense it would be way to obvious why. I wonder it they will wait to see if the DA will prosecute before assessing a suspension.

    Question, would Colorado player be arrested for having pot, now that it is legal in that state? Will this be considered and impermissible benefit by the NCAA?

  • @bskeet–first, let me say thanks for teeing up these daily headlines for us. It makes this site quite info rich and one-stop shopping oriented, which I really like. It also gets the linked sights some clicks from us, which maintains our constructive engagement with them.

    @jnewell–Disruption, or the lack thereof, is what really separates this year’s team defense from prior years IMHO. Your steal stat confirms my bias. 🙂

    My assessment is that Self has been working on so many things that he has not until now even seriously tried to get the guys playing to win the disruption stat.

    Our freshman had to learn how to play help defense; that took a lot of time. Right now, they are kind of staying in front of their men, if their opponent is not too quick, and they are beginning to think about helping a pass away. But NOONE appears to be playing help two passes away yet.

    While Self is a great global thinker about what a team’s realistic strategic and tactical potential is out in the future, operationally speaking, Self is a pretty methodical guy. He has always tended to put things in a piece, or two, a game before conference starts. He does not seem to have abandoned this approach entirely, but he seems to have evolved to install a piece, or two, each game,while continuing to work on the stuff previously installed. This is why this team looks so frequently caught up in thinking, rather than playing on instinct. The team has very little wired instinctively yet. But it is making progress.

    I believe the early season changes in foul calling have really made it difficult for the players to get confident playing pressure defense, generally, and about the time they adjusted to the tight calls, the refs have begun to loosen up some. Your stats highlight Selden and Tharpe as leading the way in disruption deficiency.

    While many of your stats this season have surprised me a bit, Selden and Tharpe not stripping surprises me not at all. Their cautious play has stood out like two sore thumbs.

    Selden, first: Selden has an NBA body for bodying a defender, and he has a long first step and upper body strength that can take him to the rim offensively, but he is not extraordinarily quick of hand or foot. I am not knocking Wayne here, just stating the obvious. He will develop quickness over the years, but it will take a lot of work.

    Tharpe, second: I said this his freshman season. He has short legs. He has to lay off guys to avoid blow-bys. To his credit, he is a bit quicker this season and he has figured out how much he has to lay off to avoid blow-bus, but he still has the Paul Newman/Burt Reynolds Syndrome of long trunk and short legs; that is never going to change. It doesn’t hurt him much on offense, because he is quick and dictating where he is going. But defense requires lightening quick reaction, if one is ever going to play up and under longer opponents and hope to occasionally crowd them enough to disrupt them other times when laying back to make a pass look open when it isn’t. Tharpe so far has not shown this ability.

    Now, in Selden’s and Tharpe’s defense, they are probably capable of some more disruption than they are showing so far, but Self hasn’t got anyone on the roster behind them that can play both under control and aggressively enough to play help defense without breakdowns and protect the ball and feed the post on the other end. As a result, Selden and Tharpe can’t really gamble much and take fouls, because Self’s got none on the bench that can come in without causing a lot of problems on one end of the floor or the other. Tharpe for one example, HAS to stay in the game to play both PG and 2, so that there is always someone that can feed the bigs.

    Selden has obviously been trying to learn to disrupt at D1 speeds, but without much success. He gets fouled up quickly when he tries. And while he is still trying to learn to disrupt, Self has had to force-feed him the art of feeding the post, which has him thinking so much he has started making TOs AND fouling to the point of not being able to disrupt.

    And it real crimps Selden’s room to grow that there is no one like Brady, or Tyrel, or later Travis or EJ, to come in off the bench and not hurt us, so that Selden can afford to foul and not have to keep playing.

    Brannen Greene’s slowness at getting under control (really not slow, but just normally it takes time to get under control) is killing the defensive development of Selden AND the team. Brannen needs some mirror time. Brannen may also need some heart to heart with Tyrel Reed. Really, this team does not need his trey gun yet. It will late in the season, but not now. What it needs now is a Brannen Greene that can play under control the way Tyrell and Brady did their sophomore/junior seasons, and the way Travis and EJ did their sophmore/junior seasons. But this is no knock on Brannen either. Brannen is a freshman. Very few freshman can play under control no matter how many minutes of PT you give them. Heck, EJ could not play under control until the very end of his sophomore season. Travis needed a rouge smoking jacket plus two seasons to really lose his wild hair and find out how to play under control.

    But KU needs Brannen to do something players of great character and talent and headiness can sometimes do. KU needs Brannen to fugggedabout his natural gift–the trey gun–and start playing under enough control albeit control with more intensity than he has ever had to play with before–to buy Selden the minutes he needs to play a bit more recklessly, when Selden is in the game.

    The same can be said of Frank Mason. Mason has tons of talent. He can do all kinds of things this team does not yet need. What this team needs crucially is for Frank Mason to play under control; i.e., not as fast as Frank can play, but just fast enough to keep this team off the dime, plus feed the post without turnovers, and guard–all under control. Were he to be able to do this, then Tharpe could gamble a little more on defense. And in combination with Greene playing under control, Self wouldn’t have to resort to Tharpe on a wing so much and Tharpe could really play balls to the walls when he is in and not have to worry about keeping out of foul trouble so much.

    M2M defense in basketball is the ultimate expression of team play. Everything, every person, every ability of each person, fits together and so is interconnected. Self likes 7-8 man rotations not because he has an irrational streak that makes him refuse to play more guys. Self knows that you have to play your best 7-8 men late in the season, because that is what your opponents will gravitate toward doing. You can’t beat 7-8 better players with 9-10 lesser players once the season reaches the point where the 7-8 guys can play the 200 alloted minutes of a game at a high level. Self’s gravitation to 7-8 man rotations is less a choice by him and more an indication of an equilibrium strategy given the five positions, the 200 available minutes, and the NCAA tournament being 3 2-game tournaments with the two games separated by a day of rest. Cut out the day of rest and the equilibrium strategy would probably move to 9-10 man tendency, or at the very least 8-9.

    Self has to find a fourth perimeter guy that can get her done both at point and on the wing. Frank Mason and Tharpe are height challenged, but they are the best that Self can come up with–a committee. But what Self really needs is a fifth big with size, so that Tharpe does not have to play wing.

    It has to be Brannen, or AW3. AW3 got injured and didn’t play through; that’s a mark against him. Brannen seemed to be the guy. He was highly rated. He had length. He seemed fast enough. He has some attitude. He has some athleticism. But he’s got a wild hair longer longer than Brady and Tyrel had, and almost as long as Travis and EJ had. A rotation player with a wild hair is not a rotation player.

    Many board rats have long argued that all you have to do is put a freshman in and play him tell he gets it. This is true of a player without a wild hair. You could put Tyshawn in a limited role and he could do what you asked from his freshman season. You could put Xavier in from his freshman season and he could do it. Brandon Rush and Mario Chalmers could do it. But guys with wild hairs need more than minutes to get it. Their minds–literally their brains–need to grow some more. The average human brain is not fully developed in terms of neural net growth until that person is 23. There are a few that mature earlier and a few that mature later. But 23 is the average.

    So: board rats that think all Brannnen Greene needs is more PT are assuming Brannen does NOT have a wild hair; i.e., he does not need any further neural net growth to become a guy that with some PT will develop this season into a rotation guy.

    Here is where I defer to Bill Self’s knowledge of human brain development and his judgement about what I call “The Wild Hair Factor.”

    Self has been exceptional at distinguishing between the guys with wild hairs and the guys that just need more PT.

    Board rats that argue that EJ just needed more PT as a sophomore obviously don’t buy “the wild hair factor,” or the inadequately developed neural net development explanation of EJ’s development.

    But the brain scanning evidence is in. Some guys brains aren’t ready to perform at a high level until they are in their 20s, no matter how much teaching and experience you give them. There really are late bloomers, as surely as there are early bloomers.

    Self knows that judging who is a late bloomer (someone a lot of PT will not help very much) and who is an early bloomer (someone that a lot of PT will help a lot) is an easy call at the extremes (e.g., EJ as a freshman), but a tough call for a lot of guys in between. Self also know that even though some guys seem clear cut wild hairs (e.g., Anrio Adams), they have so much talent, and a team may have so much need, that Self keeps giving the guy short looks to see if by chance the guy’s brain development has occurred ahead of probable expectations.

    There is absolutely no question in mine, or any other knowledgeable basketball fan’s mind, that Brannen Greene is going to become a heck of a basketball player, maybe even a great one. But his behavior off court and his play in games so far strongly suggests that he may tend toward a wild hair factor. As Self did with Anrio Adams, Self keeps giving Brannen looks and keeps looking for signs that his brain development is far enough along to warrant gambling the team’s future on giving him the PT he would need to get enough better to end Self’s reliance on Tharpe at the wing. So far Self is not being convinced. But he keeps throwing him the PT bones and hoping Brannen shows the mental maturity needed. This is not about Brannen being a head case, or not trying, or anything else negative. On the contrary, Brannen seems to be giving it everything he has got. He seems to be trying to do everything Self asks. It is about that it is not yet clear he can do what is needed. A look in the mirror and a talk with Tyrel are not punishments, nor criticisms. They are simply small actions that might burn in just enough more nets to make him mature enough. They probably won’t work. Just as PT probably won’t work. But this team is so critically desperate for what Brannen, or AW3, has to offer, that Self has keep giving them a few minutes, while moving more and more toward Tharpe at wing for reserve.

    Would that kids could grow up faster than they do. But the worst thing to do for Brannen Greene, or Andrew White, would be to tell them they are ready for the rigors of the rotation, when in fact they are not. Nothing breaks a player’s confidence worse than having a coach become someone whose judgement he cannot trust. A player hate a coach for chewing on him. He can sulk about a coach not believing in him enough to play. But the death blow to a player-coach relationship comes when a coach looks him in the eye and says, “Kid you are ready to play and I am betting the farm on you in the rotation,” only to say, “You didn’t measure up and I was wrong about you. You are not ready.” Players have to be able to trust their coaches judgement of their readiness. Without that trust, they cannot become the best they can be.

    And if players cannot become the best that they can be, then teams cannot become the best they can be.

    It is no fun to have to tell a player, especially a highly gifted one, that he is not ready in a way that he cannot yet possibly comprehend. Telling a player such things requires a player place an enormous amount of trust in that coach.

    Self would much rather be telling Brannen Greene (or AW3) he is ready and playing him 15-20 mpg, so Tharpe never had to catch another pass from Frank Mason.

    But the team is more important than Brannen Greene, or AW3, and the player-coach relationship is more important than Brarnnen Greene, or AW3, and their desires to play now.

    For this team to play M2M defense and take the disruption battle to its opponents, it desperately needs several players to mature to the point of being rotation players. Hard work and talent and a desire to be team players are irreplaceable elements that can be developed. But adequate neural net development is still a largely uncontrollable variable associated with aging.

    Love these boys no matter what. They are trying their butts off at incredibly tender ages. They are entering conference play, where the intensity and violence takes off nonlinearly. The freshmen have no idea what they are getting into. The sophomores are not really sure yet that they can handle what they got a taste of last year.

    To too many the OAD rule is just an annoying thing that keeps us from getting to know our players as well as we wish we could, and from watching them for as long as we wish we could.

    But for the players, it is a harsh experience that occurs in real time at a too young age, because it makes the most money for the networks, the NBA and the ShoeCos.

    The boys matter most.

  • Well, there is some logic (HEM and Joe) for Turner not coming. But I hope that you are wrong and Self can, in theory, convince him that a 3 man rotation gets adequate PT for all. Tough to do though…unless Perry plays some 3…which we debated a couple of days ago. So…logic says you guys are right.

    It will be interesting to see what happens to Clark at OSU. If 2nd offense…could be out for a while. I don’t get why some of these guys can’t stay away from the stuff (10 AM? really?) when they have so much to lose…but I’m so far from 20 years old I forget what it is like.

  • Not the best place… but any way, looking for ideas and introducing myself. "Long time listener, first time caller.’’ I have been stalking these boards for a long time and a KU fan since TJ Pugh left Prep for Lawrence. I’m excited to say that I’m FINALLY going to my first game Sunday in Lawrence! I have seen them every time they played in Omaha but I suspect that this will feel much different.

    Any must do things while in town? I’m just there for the day and the game is early.

    Thanks all for the inside scoops over the years!

  • Welcome! Go early and wander around. I always leave my coat in car, it’s hot and crowded. Can’t wait to hear about your experience. Mass street is a fun place to shop, eat or drink. Enjoy!

  • @jaybate 1.0 I enjoyed reading your post, thanks.

  • @bskeet thanks with the help posting the dailies as always. I’ve been sick and still kind of out of it. Guys, please keep tacking on any stories you see to the daily headlines posts if they aren’t already linked to.

  • @jaybate 1.0 enjoyed your input about the bench’s development affording the starters more freedom to disrupt as well as your thoughts on the rotation selection process.

  • @jaybate 1.0 Great stuff today, jb, esp. the Greene analysis. Man O Man, I hope that kid sticks with the program and continues to develop positively. He is a super talent, but a very gradual work in progress.

  • @CaptnMo GET READY!!! To experience the best atmosphere in sports and dare I say anything. I’m totally jealous. I remember my first game in the Fieldhouse was against Notre Dame in 87 I think…they had David Rivers. Got Dick Vitales autograph and he kept my dad’s pen! He was getting a little senile back then…

    Get there as early as possible and just walk around and soak in everything. Booth HOF is excellent. But also just walk around the lower level and see where the KU locker room is located. They’ll put up ropes when the players come out but you can stand really close. Don’t know if they still sign autographs after the Johnny Maziel thing. If you have time go up to the last row behind the KU bench to see where I sat when Jacque hit a three to beat Indiana in 93…it was roughly 115 degrees up there and LOUD!

    The alma mater and rock chalk before the game makes me cry every time. And the pre-game video is really cool, too. If game was later you should always order a half TAC sandwich and Wisconsin cheddar soup in a bread bowl at Quintons on Mass. ENJOY!

  • I think Turner comes to Lawrence, unless he wants to stay closer to home. We develop big men and Turner needs some development, especially with strength. We have several guys to show as examples of Hudy’s work. And with Embiid potentially becoming the #1 pick over all the other talented players, it solidifies our position as a big man developer.

    @jaybate - You mentioned Selden’s issue with foot speed. Good point. I’ve noticed all year he seems to be a bit slow off that first step. Didn’t know if he was just thinking too much or what, but as time goes by it appears he needs to still adjust to D1 speed. I find it completely unlikely he’ll go OAD. He isn’t even burning up the game at the D1 level. That kid needs to stay in school.

    I’m bummed out about Cobbins going down for OSU. It tilts the scales in our favor, but I’d rather see us fight it out with both sides healthy. OSU will have to make some compensations for a loss like that. They do have what it takes to go all small.

    @TheDrunkenJhawk - Wow… that’s quite a list of post players we might have next year. If it does work out that we sign Turner and the list is what you posted I see it like Ellis, Alexander and Turner would be 3 rotating in for 2 positions, and the other 3 would pick up the scraps after that. With that much depth and diversity PT would often be determined by what match-ups work best against our opponents. Fun to think about having all those guys next year. It will help ease the blow of losing JoJo.

    @HighEliteMajor - I’m glad you keep mentioning our low steal numbers. Keep doing it! Steal stats don’t always tell the story if a defense is good. Sometimes bad defenses make up for a lot of their issues by having good anticipation and posting good steal numbers. Some outstanding defenses that play up real tight don’t have so many steals because they are so good at denying the ball. Self said it best when he compared it to defensive backs in football and how they use deception.

    But we aren’t good in either area; tight, denial defense or “Grand Theft Auto” defense.

    So what is the strategy moving forward? Do we take our best on-ball defender (Wiggins) and shift him over to guarding the worst players and focus him on anticipation to get steals? I don’t believe Selden has a quick enough first step to do much, and I’m not certain Tharpe is the guy to do it, either. I’d almost say I like Greene as the guy to become the theftmaster. He’s quick (fast first step), long arms, seems to be sneaky, and would love to take on any role that could help this team, but that means taking minutes away from Selden.

    As Greene improves, there is going to be more pressure on Selden to earn all those minutes.

    And where is AW3? I thought he was 100% now?

    Personally, I don’t think we can easily teach this team to create more steals. It is an organic process where several things have to happen together. First… we have ZERO pressure on the ball passer. Second… we don’t have enough movement on defense to make that end of the court chaotic enough. Third… we don’t have guys who know how to be deceptive with spacing and timing to encourage the pass and then anticipate it for the steal.

    Another huge part of creating steals is having the ability to speed up opposing offenses. Heck… we are having problems making our own offense fast enough! That’s the reason Self gives for playing 2 PGs! How are we going to speed up the other team’s offense?!

    I think I’d just forget about steals, and try to improve the defense around playing tight, denying passes, team defense, contesting shots and blocking out for rebounds. If we can learn to do that, it will help lift our steal stats some, too.

    If we do want to put some energy into lifting our steal numbers we can work on a secondary plan… meaning… we separate Greene and Traylor… two guys with good speed and arm length… Traylor has already worked on the concept of being the energy guy. Make both of these guys “energy guys” by first having them watch video tape of Kevin Young. Young created plenty of steals because of his energy. High energy alone can create TOs. The fact that both Greene and Traylor are bench players, and one front court and one back court player, we can lull teams asleep with our starting rotation, making them feel comfortable to make any kind of pass… then we throw in these two to be disrupting forces, perhaps at the same time so we have front and back covered by theftmasters. They can work a bit on being deceptive and knowing floor positions that will help create more steals.

    As I think of this more… maybe add Mason into the mix. Mason, Greene and Traylor. Maybe separate the 3 and see if they can create some synergy together. If they can, put the 3 in at the same time after our starting 5 has lulled teams asleep.

    We could make a total blunder out of this by wasting too much practice time trying to make this team get more steals… meanwhile, we play poor fundamentals on defense and give up huge FG%s… The most I would focus on is having Traylor and Greene work on it apart.

    The two guys with the most potential for steals are Wiggins and Embiid. Wiggins, because of his speed and arm length… but we need one guy who can learn to be a lock down defender, and Wiggins is the clear choice. Embiid has long arms, good anticipation and speed, and most important, he is so gifted with his feet, including a fast first step. I can easily see him lead this team in steals all year. Yes… it may reflect poorly on our perimeter players to get bet out for steal stats by a 5, but it also reflects on just how explosive Embiid is! I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t snag the #1 spot in the draft!

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