Press Break: Not Brain Surgery
Why does Bill Self refuse to press? As Bill Self has said in the past, it creates the risk for easy baskets. He’s right. I wonder, then, why can’t we get those easy baskets? If they’re so easy, is our coach not capable of scheming to attack WVU press? The press he knew was coming?
This is one of those games where Bill Self did not have his crew prepared. He sent his team into a knife fight without even a nail filer. He left his players, time and time again, in positions to fail. This is not brain surgery.
One of the items I have preached about – if a team desires to play fast, is that the first man to the ball after a made basketball inbounds the ball – and you go. The same applies to breaking the press. This does not give the press time to set up.
Yet time, and time again, we stood and we waited for the designated inbounder to track down the ball. All the while WVU had time to set up its press and impose its will on our timid approach. This is a major failing in preparation. This single item cost us the game. If Kansas plays aggressive with this simple element on the game plan, a pressing team can be turned on its heels.
Another failing was that Kansas played much of the first half with a “z-cut” press break – meaning, the guard that is waiting for the pass z-cuts to get open. We had no other plan. Later, Ellis was brought down as an additional body and Self went to crossing the guards and screens. This was way too late. I was very puzzled as to why it took a good chunk of the game to figure this out.
Next, how many passes did you see on the inbounds to half court or near half court? Another area we failed to attack was the 4 or 5 man receiving the ball near half court. Is this crucial? No. But it’s an element of attacking a press. An element to mix in. This sets up other options.
Self also failed to implement the deep ball, to really make them pay. One very simplistic method of attack is to bring your post guys moving hard toward half court, and send a guard deep, either off a free release or off a screen. Did you see that tonight? Or simply bring all 5 players to the front court. This changes the dynamic. Is WVU going to risk not having at least one player back? We didn’t even find out.
Coach Self talked before the game about his post men. He suggested that the best ball handler might be the best option. I don’t even know why the guy talks sometimes. He played our worst ball handler the most minutes opposite Ellis. But I really don’t care about that. It’s really irrelevant when you look at all of the arrows we failed to place in our quiver.
Finally, I wondered during the game – is there a rule against playing small? Mason, Graham, Selden and Svi, with Ellis? I wondered if there was a rule against KU pressing WVU? But those options would be bold. Those options, you know, might make sense.
Truly, if we simply incorporated some of what I suggested above, this would have been a different game. Think about how many times we broke the press with a chance to score? This was a completely structural shut-down.
This was a stark example of a coach and scheme winning the battle against a coach that failed to have his team prepared to handle the coach and the scheme we knew was in front of us. I have complained in the past about our horrific press break. Remember Atlantis? Remember OSU’s 3/4 court, 2-2-1? Wildly unprepared.
Our scheme for attacking the press was timid, predictable, and impotent. Bill Self did not put his players in a position to succeed tonight. A rare occasion. But an occasion nonetheless. We remain vulnerable to the press, once again, because our coach does not properly prepare the team to defeat the press.
Everything I ever learned about beating a press came down to one question:
“Did you make them pay?”
The right way to beat a press is to score on a press. If you don’t punish them for doing it, they just stick at it and become empowered over time. But when you score on a press you take a tiny wind from their sails. Eventually, you really break their spirit and they will be wise to back it off. Didn’t Kentucky really break their spirit a couple years ago by spanking them all game for pressing?
The very last thing you want to do is come to a game being timid… that goes for any game, but especially an away game where they are going to press!
I only saw the last 10 minutes of the game. That was enough. We were already beat. Guys were all looking down at the court with their heads down.
Body language = -F
Funny thing about pressing. Takes so much energy right? Okay this is rec league I’m speaking of so doesn’t count probably. Right? Except that basic mathematics applies…
The last year I coached my rec boys(6th grade). I had 6 boys total. Pressed all the time… Until we were up 15 and then it was against the rules. We were up 15 alot. Every league game in fact. Ppl would say. How can ya press and press and press with only 6 kids. Don’t they get too tired too quickly?
Well… No. In fact. They don’t. Why? Simple math. Get the steal on the full court press and look how much that cuts your running down. Even if you play great half court D. You still have to run all the way back to the defensive end and then create a steal/get the board etc. And then run all the way back to your end for offense… But you full court press. You keep the ball on your end of the floor for longer if you do it right. You can exert much more energy to get the steal or turnover or 10 second call etc… To say nothing of the fact that plays like that which turn into a layup or what have you become a huge energy boost for your team. And also can be a huge deflator to the opponent.
Also teams that are very good a pressing… Usually aren’t very good at breaking the press. Another reason not to let the other team put you in as many situations to be pressed. It’s playing your game and not theirs. It’s attacking rather than conserving. Playing to win instead of playing not to lose… But as always. Execution is required to be successful. Me? I press WVU tonight. Full court. 40 minutes
I believe Hunter was in the game from the 16:18 to 14:06 mark of the second half (our 9-0 run), but then disappeared to the bench ne’ery to be seen again. Where was Hunter?
Our backcourt forgot how protect the rock, our defense was porous against the drive, and we were outrebounded badly on the defensive glass.
You know what blows my mind? We shot 10-20 from 3, and they shot 3-12.
But, hats off to Huggins. They took it to us. And playing in Morgantown will be a good ego check for our guys for years to come.
@approxinfinity I wanted to see more Hunter. He changed the way the other team played for those 2 minutes. Huge impact on the game when in but really no impact on the game. Didn’t get a chance.
@approxinfinity Mick, Perry, Landon, Bragg, Chieck makes no diff when we play really aggressive teams with physical bigs at the 4 & 5 spots. What bothers me most about this loss is the complete & total offensive & defensive collapse by our guards. They played like scared pups. 13 to’s between Frank & Wayne? Are you kiddin me? WTH happened to the bulldog.? Is he banged up from the spill in the seats in the first half? I dunno but I’m willing to bet Self will ride em like they have cloves for feet this week. He’s so pissed he may even make the walk ons change their minds.
If there is one individual that we can call out for their play last night it would be Frank Mason. Your a Junior bro, but when you get rattled you lose your poise and go on a personal suicide mission.
It’s crippling when your primary ball handler is playing 5 on 1 basketball, zero accountability for his play from his coach. If Perry Ellis was a PG, maybe his team rallies around him but because Ellis only touched the ball sparingly in the 1st half this game became what it was because neither of our 2 great PG options decided they wanted to put this team on their backs. Ellis did what he could, but he can’t take a game over every possession.
It’s a great humbling loss but it was humiliating, embarrassing and the type of game that reminds you our old skeleton’s are still very much there, just covered and sprinkled when we play at home. I’m trying to be as open about this game as I could be. At the under 15 timeout in the 1st half I thought, well we made 3’s and when those stop falling its going to get ugly. And my thoughts became reality, and reality became hard to watch.
We did literally in fact make the press look like brain surgery, rocket science whatever you may call it.
@HighEliteMajor - The title of your post is very intriguing to me. My best friend actually underwent brain surgery this morning to remove a brain tumor (round two). That is the reason that I’m not upset about this game even a little bit. In the long run, it means nothing.
(Oops. I said “this” morning, it was actually yesterday morning. Too early, too little coffee…)
@approxinfinity Where in the world was Carmen San Diego…errr…Hunter Michelson? I was ready to file a missing person report.
Yes…you would think we could handle the press better…and make them pay. They were much quicker to the ball. I couldn’t believe how often we got beat off of the dribble. I wish in the 2nd half, we would have packed it in a little and make them shoot 3 pointers. Way too many fouls…although 10 or so were a result of us putting them on the line…even eliminating these, they still outscored us by 10 or so at the line…again, they appeared much quicker. Bad games happen…we have theme every year. This loss in and of itself doesn’t kill us…was one of the tougher conference games on the schedule…but you hate the way it happened. It’s not like they shot the ball well to beat us.
One good thing…ISU lost. With 3 losses including one home loss and one to Tx…they might be “glued, screwed, and tattooed” when it comes to the conference race.
Here’s the quote from yesterday, before the game, when Self mentioned playing ball-handling bigs – you’ll note he also mentioned that he doesn’t know who to play next Ellis. In my post from Monday on killing the c5, I had said that too many options are a problem for Self. This seems to be some verification of that. He admits he doesn’t know who to play because of the “depth situation.” He has too many bodies.
“I do think there’s certain things from a depth situation that has made it difficult because a lot of times we don’t know who to play. I know that sounds like a lot of coaches should know. I don’t think that’s necessarily true. A lot of times we play based on scouting report. I haven’t done that in many years,” Self said. “Against West Virginia, it could be best ball-handling bigs for obvious reasons. Against a low-post threat it could be your heaviest big who is the best low-post presence. Against a pick and pop big guy it could be your most agile, best perimeter-defending big guys. It’s nice to have some options we can run people out there. It’d be better if you had one guy who could do it all. Certainly in our situation we’ve kind of done it by committee in that other big spot (next to Perry Ellis).”
@HighEliteMajor Do we have any ball handling bigs? It didn’t look like it. Kidding mainly.
@Hawk8086 Bragg and Traylor have the best handles of the group but you are right, didn’t see it.
@HighEliteMajor "Our scheme for attacking the press was timid, predictable, and impotent." Sorry for the pun but that sounds like someone wearing a tuxedo to their vasectomy…just couldn’t resist.