Positive Ideas to turn this Ship Around

  • Taking a positive approach to helping these guys:

    1. Perry Ellis - Perry is a scoring machine! I haven’t seen a 4 in college basketball today that has more scoring moves than Perry. He can go left and he can go right, and he can score effectively from either side, back, front or sideways to the basket. Perry has shown us plenty of sparkle this year, and we know (and Perry knows) he should be our most-consistent scorer game-in and game-out. So how can we help Perry stay consistent every game? From what we have seen so far, it is crucial that Perry gets out of the blocks quickly in games. When he starts off well, he does a great job of maintaining his effectiveness in the post. If he stays hot in the post, he carries that confidence with him out on the perimeter, where he can also add to his scoring potential with the midrange shot and sometimes long ball. We need to draw up some early scoring plays for Perry. That should be priority #1 in preparing for every game!

    2. Andrew Wiggins - By now the entire world has heard his name and associates it with his gazelle-like athleticism! We are starting to see patterns developing in Andrew’s game. Until now, his scoring has come mostly off the drive, often leading to fouls and FTs. Sometimes he gets hot from the perimeter. Sometimes he turns cold, too. We can’t really say he’s been consistent from 3. Andrew needs to warm-up from 3 and develop some consistency. Much of that development requires work in practice. For one thing, Andrew needs to get practice time in AFH and not the practice gym. In fact, all our perimeter guys need to practice more in AFH to work on their long ball. By raising our long ball shooting % in AFH, we are bound to carry over some of that confidence on the road. Plus… if we lift our overall perimeter shooting %, we start earning respect from our opponents in their scouting reports and they start hedging out further to guard the line, in doing so, opening the middle for Bill’s famous Hi-Lo. We can also do more restructuring on offense to create isolations for Andrew to drive on his man. With Andrew’s speed, it really doesn’t matter that his man plays off of him to hedge the drive. In fact, that’s a mistake when guarding Andrew because if you give him a gap to start his drive, he’ll just come in at a higher rate of speed and be that much tougher to guard! We also need to do a better job on floor position for our other 3-pt shooters, so Andrew can drive and feed out for open 3s. That’s a big part of the strategy from the NBA, and helps Andrew prepare for his career next year.

    3. Joel Embiid - It is pretty hard to offer up anything here. Joel is improving faster than maybe any player to ever wear a college uniform! However, I would like to see him work more on his midrange jumper. He is extremely capable of hitting midrange shots. When you throw that in with his extreme foot speed and coordination, this guy is a huge threat when receiving the ball in the midrange area. So on the Hi/Lo, have him pop out more often to around the FT area. If we structure plays through this, then our 4 suddenly become a lethal offensive rebounder off his misses or is open for a rim finish off a pass from Joel. Joel is the brightest thing going right now for Kansas.

    4. Naadir Tharpe - Forget what you’ve heard from mainstream media, like Doug Gottlieb saying Kansas doesn’t have a PG. Naadir has all the tools to become one of the better PGs Kansas has had in a long time. He’s the first PG we’ve had in a decade that realizes the importance of leadership from the PG position. He’s verbalizing more and more, both on the game court, and in practice and in front of microphones to the public. He knows his role is largely as a communicator and facilitator. But the process of him figuring it out has often been frustrating. Many times we have watched him make some unacceptable TOs and we’ve seen him disappear in games and leave us without leadership. It does take time to master this position. To do it right, it requires the most well-rounded skills of any position on the floor. A good PG should be able to drive and score, pop the 3, drive and feed, control pace, communicate to his players, break backcourt pressure both off the dribble and by seeing the court and making the right pass. That’s just the beginning! Naadir is learning the most from our recent losses. Those losses all point to mistakes made in his execution. He is starting to realize that he can’t get in foul trouble. He has to stay on the floor for as long as possible, and he has to stay active leading this team. He can’t back down from his responsibilities for even a second. He needs to spend more time in the video lab and look back over the mistakes he has made this year. How can handle perimeter pressure better? How can he maintain the right pace for our offense? How can he create more offense? So much of mastering the game at point comes through basketball IQ. Naadir needs to work efficiently on his school work so he can put it down more and spend time studying basketball. The potential is there for him to become one of the best PGs in the country this year! He is capable of leading us to a National Championship!

    5. Wayne Selden - Wayne has shown us glimpses of potential this year. He can be one of the better finishers we have at the rim, and he can get hot from 3. Wayne has made some of the better assists on this team. Wayne is athletic, but in different areas than most of our players. Up until now, it seems like his first step (off the dribble) is a bit slow, and sometimes he isn’t creating or making the right decisions on his drives to the lane. In a year with stricter rule enforcements, he leads the teams in charges. It appears that Wayne’s biggest issue is he’s thinking too much during play. All the thinking is making him hesitate, and slowing down his first step and making him more predictable on his drives. There are many ways to overcome this in practice. Start by making him dribble within a rectangle around several defenders swiping for the ball. At the right pace he’ll be forced to become instinctually reactive. There will be no time for being too mental and he won’t be able to make decisions too far ahead. He needs to be challenged at a faster pace in practice. After lots of reps at a faster pace, the real game will slow down for him and he’ll be one of our best offensive weapons.

    These are some ideas for helping out our offense for our starting five. After addressing these 5 we should move over to the bench. Then we talk about TEAM offense! After that… defense, individual improvements then TEAM improvements!

    All of these ideas are just tweaks. One or two tweaks with every player and we have an entirely different team! All these players are being held back by tiny aspects, but every team playing us has us scouted and exploits these aspects and takes us out of our offensive flow. SDSU brought a different defense to challenge this team, and they were well-coached, seasoned players… long and athletic… very capable team, including in the post. I wish we could schedule another dozen games with that team to work on our bugs!

    We focus on the positive… everyone on our team brings something outstanding to this team and we need to accentuate those assets!

    Rock Chalk!

  • @drgnslayr thanks! These kids are beat up, love being positive. Besides bench, maybe add some great coaching assets too. Great post!

  • @drgnslayr But I’ve been waiting for Selden to get aggressive and start playing, but so far it hasn’t happened. I think Coach Self tried really hard to get Selden ready to become an OAD, but Selden might have made up his mind to spend at least two years at KU. 🙂 No complaints here, as I love Selden as a player. But given our outside shooting woes, it might be time to look at White again. Or maybe even try handing Greene the starting spot and see how he performs. Wiggins and Selden both were famous slashers in high school. They both have good shooting mechanics, but their outside shooting are not consistent enough to be considered outside threats at this point.

    We all knew that White was dedicated to KU and the system, and made huge improvement over the summer, but from today Jesse’s article on White’s return, I sensed Coach Self deliberately pushed Selden ahead of White knowing Selden wasn’t ready. I wonder if it was because McLemore jumped from a 23rd ranked high school player to lottery in NBA draft, and Selden appeared to have a NBA ready body. So he projected Selden should have been good enough to step in from day one, and hopefully be ready by conference starts. Selden was a big upgrade over White on paper, 12th ranked player over 51st ranked player. But the one year in the KU system narrowed that gap quite a bit. So there might not be too much difference between Selden and White at least at this point. The only draw back of White might be he doesn’t have good enough handle to play the 2. I don’t remember seeing much of him with Wiggins on the floor together. Maybe he hasn’t been given a chance to play the 2 with Wiggins as the 3. I wish someone can report what’s happening at the practices. We may never know since Coach doesn’t let the non-star players (White or Greene) play through their mistakes.

    Coach Self was willing to bench Tharpe to get his message across. And I hope he’d be willing to give White or Greene a try.

  • @Wishawk we could always ask blown, he gets to visit w/players and could always interrogate them.

  • @Wishawk - Until I flipped my brain over from Knight to Wooden, I would definitely have switched out Selden from starting at the 2. Now I’m fine with leaving him at the 2 but focusing on how we get him to be more responsive on both sides of the court. I think we have a way to help him on both sides of the ball… and that is to create special training sessions to bring over-stimulation to Wayne, trying to speed up his internal clock mostly by preventing him from over-thinking and over-planning ahead of his moves… making Wayne’s reflexes and reactions based on being instinctual and instant instead of mental and delayed. I feel positive that if he put in a half hour per day on being maybe double and triple-teamed the entire time, he’ll adapt and eventually learn to be successful even against high pressure. So in game time, the game will feel slow to him and his reaction time will skyrocket!

    We’ve seen glimpses of him executing well, and if he can stay executing well he is our best player at the 2. So we find a way to get him executing well every game!

    If we stay in “Knight mode” then we pull Wayne from the starting rotation, blame him and scream at him and we completely kill what little confidence he has left. That can help players eventually… but when is eventually? Next year? Two years later or when he is a senior? I think the focus needs to come off of him being an OAD… from fans, coaches and Wayne himself. He just needs to focus on being a better player every single day. I don’t think every player is receptive to the Knight approach, especially the thinkers… like Wayne and like EJ.

    I just think if we view him in “Wooden mode” we look directly at his issues and treat those issues with positive energy and guidance. If we do it right, he could be one of our best performers within just a few games… maybe in two or three games! And with a productive Selden pumping in a dozen points every game and being a part of our team offense and defense, KU suddenly becomes a formidable team!

  • @drgnslayr that’s exactly why Self could bench Tharpe, he responded. Coach knows what he’s doing w/Wayne.

  • @drgnslayr I agree Wayne appears be a good guy and is a very good player with a high ceiling. But I think he also appears too composed most of the time, trying to do the right things and say the right things. But an athlete sometimes needs some degree of recklessness and a little care free spirit to be creative. Creativity is not just for the artists. All the players in all sports need to have it to reach the next level. I don’t think benching will kill the creativity, but being afraid of making mistakes may. I believe there is a reason why the little kids pick up foreign languages easily, but adults find it very hard. It’s because the kids have no fear in making mistakes. I think Wayne needs to wind the clock back a little and be a kid again. Stop being his own critique. Just enjoy the game and let whatever may happen happen. And I think that was also your point as well.

    On the other hand, I like White a lot, and hope he gets a chance to prove himself.

  • " I think Wayne needs to wind the clock back a little and be a kid again."

    Amen! I’d like to see all our guys wind it back a bit. What I miss from last year’s team is Kevin Young’s smile! That guy brought a couple hundred teeth with him to every game!

    I really like all our guys and would hate to be coach and forced to decide PT. We’ve got probably about 12 guys that should get some PT, but there just aren’t enough minutes to go around.

    I’ve been liking Lucas a lot lately. He seems like one of our best big guys on fundamentals.

    I still trust in CS and think this team will come around soon. I know how important winning the conference is for CS so he’ll have them ready to compete for another league title.

    My post is mostly about trying to help fans stay focused on the positive while we work out the bugs. It will help these guys out most to have fans stay positive.

    There is going to be a game soon where enough clicks for these guys and they really drop the hammer on someone big time!

  • @drgnslayr Just read your post on Knight and Wooden. 🙂 Nicely done!

    Now I’d love to see all of them smiling like Kevin, but with Coach’s philosophy, it might be hard for some to exhibit the free spirit like Kevin, Selden specially. On the other hand, Kevin was not well thought of and wasn’t expected to make major contributions. The fact he did was amazing. Wayne came in highly regarded and there was much talk about being OAD. Maybe he does need a tear down and build it up process to rebuild his confidence. Basically throw away all the pretense or pride, and just be himself. Do what’s necessary and be free.

  • Perry is a very nice interior player. However, he is a bit of a college tweener. Not big or strong enough to battle in the post against similarly sized players, not quick enough to move to the wing. I would toy with the idea of playing he and Embiid together less. Play Perry with someone like Lucas, another very skilled big, where they can use their passing and execution to help each other, while pairing Embiid with Black or Traylor to allow their athleticism to complement Joel. I wouldn’t do this against everyone, but against teams that can put an athletic 6-8 or 6-9 guy on Perry, I would think about it.

    The freshmen as a whole need to step up. I think Selden and Wiggins have spent too much time trying to fit in and be good teammates, not create waves, etc. It’s time for them to push all of that aside and become the lead aggressors on both ends of the floor. It’s nice that Frank Mason tries to step into that role, but he is probably the 5th or 6th best player on this team. The best players, especially Wiggins, need to assert themselves.

    Sticking with Selden for a minute, he’s really been an enigma. He will make an incredible play and then almost disappear for several minutes at a time. Maybe he needs to be

    . I can see flashes of something special, but it doesn’t happen for extended stretches.

    The last key is the PG situation. I think Tharpe is the guy. He’s a pass first guy, which is what is required if Wiggins and Selden step into their appropriate roles.

    Ultimately, that’s the key. Basketball is about roles and everyone has to step into their role. Wiggins is the star. He doesn’t get to pass that responsibility on to Wayne or Joel. He’s the star. With that comes expectation and he has to bring it every single night.

    Wayne is the second banana. He is responsible for doing everything that Wiggins can’t do that night. So if Wiggins is struggling to hit from the perimeter, Wayne needs to help spread the floor with his shooting. If KU needs help on the glass, he does that. If it’s defense, he does that. His job is to fill in wherever he can to make sure KU is functioning.

    Joel’s job is to dominate the three feet. It’s said that the three feet around the basket are where championships are won. Joel should dominate that real estate. Nothing should happen within three feet of the rim without his express written permission.

    Perry’s job is to be steady. Catch ball on block. Score. Rinse. Repeat. It’s that simple for Perry. Same time again tomorrow.

    And if all of those things are happening, then Naadir can do his job, which is to get the ball to everyone else. Unfortunately, as we have seen, everyone else isn’t doing their job, which means now Naadir is trying to do things he has no business doing, because it’s not his job.

  • I think our offense will get much better in a hurry against OU. I can’t count how many point blank shots we missed against the Aztecs. We’re not as good as the Dook game led us to believe, and we’re not as bad as we showed against SDSU. I look for our make up game Wednesday, and a chance for the good guys to slap around Bruce Weber and the Kitties on Saturday. Then, up comes the Clones at Ames. So, we will have a great chance to remind everyone who the Big Dogs are on the porch in the Big 12.

  • Bilas hasn’t given up on us after all:

    Ranked 9. Kansas Jayhawks (Previous ranking: 7)

    The Jayhawks have played the most challenging schedule in the country, and Bill Self knows exactly where his team is – with no illusions. Kansas coughs the ball up too much and needs to play better defense without fouling, but not counting the San Diego State loss, this is a team that is clearly getting better. Kansas held San Diego State to 37 percent shooting from the field, just six assists to 15 turnovers, and a total of 61 points – and lost. That is hard to do. But remember, the Jayhawks were horrible last season at TCU and put up a few poor performances before winning the Big 12 and having Michigan beat in the Sweet 16 before giving the game away. Kansas is still pretty good. Like the TCU game last year, Kansas shot an anemic 29 percent from the field, missed nine free throws and generally stunk up the place against San Diego State. But The Bilastrator is not giving up on the Jayhawks.

  • Swing Perry 3/4 when he cannot score, board and guard against L&As. Swing Andrew 2/3 when Selden sputters. Play two long bigs against the L&As. Be an inside scoring team against non L&As and a perimeter scoring team against L&As. Keep your two best players–Ellis and Wiggins–and scorers on the floor with Embiid. Quit sitting Perry, or playing him at 4, when he can’t get her done at 4. Quit playing Mason and Naa together except when the other team has pony guards. Only use jam Tray against short bigs, because he is short. Only use black and Lucas against long bigs. Go back to matching up with opponents. Stop counter matchups. Counter matchups only work when the opponent is not very good. Believe.

  • The SOS, RPI and BPI have been KU’s biggest indicator of their overall ability. NO team plays this schedule without some bumps and bruises, I don’t care who you are. I’d love to see the top 5 teams right now play our schedule and out of curiosity see if they fair as well. At any rate, it’s all good. It’s still fairly early and this ship will be corrected. The course will be set by Self and the team will respond. They may limp a bit, but they have become a second half season team. I’m still excited about the possibilities of this team. Also, if I were a coach playing KU, I’d be concerned. KU has the “X” factor and coaches do not have the luxury of knowing their identity either. Right now, coaches are throwing zones at KU. This is a great unknown to have for each game. Scouting reports have to guess which KU player/s will be the one to focus. Fisher said it best as a coach when he said, (paraphrasing) “they have Wiggins? They have Ellis too. They also have Embiid and Selden.” What’s even more interesting he didn’t expect Mason either. It will be fun to watch this team grow more and reach their potential over the next 3-4 games in conference. They will be ready the second half of the season and tourney time.

  • @approxinfinity I think it would be a mistake to sleep on KU and many have at this point. I’ve read where some in the conference have said KU doesn’t have a solid big man. I think many have checked us out of the B12 picture this year because of “youth.” Bilas has always been fairly objective in his analysis of KU. This is a pretty good picture right now. All most people see are the loses, but not who they lost to. This team is so raw, young, talented, and full of great potential. Self hasn’t even tapped it just yet. He has scratched the surface just a bit with Embiid, but others are yet to respond really well.

  • @drgnslayr Bahh, I almost threw something at Doug when he said that KU doesn’t have a true PG. BS! We have two. But Naadir isn’t the first one in a decade… He is the first one since Collins.
    I maybe an amateur at seeing the game and its intricacies but I firmly believe that all your points DRGN, the pace, drive, dish, 3pt, vocalizing, press breaking and passing and TO’s; we have that now and Naa, like you said, is showing signs that he can be good when he wants to be. Not to mention, we haven’t had a PG with a >2:1 asst/TO ratio since Collins and Russell. Another thing, Frank Mason. He may be just a Frosh but the kid is fearless. He is a PG, He is Collins 2.0. He will lead us to greatness in his years to come.

  • @drgnslayr Another positive thing to note. This is about our losses so far. Sure we have taken 4 pretty hard losses, and earlier than we have taken them since 05. BUT, we have not lost one game by double figures. We have not been run out of the gym and blown out. Despite the apparent lack of Team chemistry right now, they are losing by just a few measly points. In 05 we had 4 losses by this time and one of them was a butt whipping by Arizona by 16 or so. That KU team was not too much older than KU is right now. I really don’t think the sky is falling or that KU doesn’t have a chance to win the conference or make a run at cutting down nets in March. Quite the opposite in fact, and until another team proves otherwise, both conference titles go thru Lawrence. They have to get through us first and it wont be easy. Coach Self absolutely will have them geeked up for every conference game he can possibly have them up for. Until I see it not happen, that 10th straight title belongs to KU, hung up on the rafters! That conference championship net cut up and pass out to all the players and the NCAA tournament teams that have to play us will say KU is just a name but there wont be any conviction to those words! They will know then that KU is a centennial force to be reckoned with on the court! Rock Chalk Jayhawk! Now Lets get some!

  • @jaybate 1.0 I like your ideas, but the question with Ellis remains - can he defend 3’s on the perimeter? Perry is not a very adept perimeter defender, as that is not something he has really been asked to do. When he has had to step out on the floor, it has been with very mixed results. Offensively, I think this works, but defensively, I have my reservations.

    @truehawk93 The schedule is something that I have factored in. I think KU has played a Sweet 16/ Elite 8 level schedule. Most teams to this point have played a round of 64 or round of 32 level schedule. It would not surprise me at all if Duke, Florida, SDSU, and Villanova all advanced to the Sweet 16 or beyond.

  • @drgnslayr … you exude positivity. Well done. The area of the positivity that I am becoming more skeptical on is Tharpe. When he came down in the latter part of the game, I think we were down 4, and he immediately shot a three, I was shaking my head. I do think, though, that he is trying to do what you are suggesting. But at the midpoint in his junior season, I am becoming skeptical of a leap forward. He is a necessary and key component. But I think if we shift to Mason now as the primary PG, we’ll be better off by March.

    Really enjoyed your positive thoughts.

    And I do respectfully disagree with @jaybate on his prior posts on Ellis at the 3 as any long term idea. But I am in with it for small, targeted stretches during a game, if the match-ups dictate. Heck, I’d play all perimeter guys and no bigs if the match-ups dictated. During the game Sunday, I thought about that Perry at the 3 idea when he was rendered useless down low by the double teams.

    My question would be that if he swung to the wing, he is guarded by a wing. So it would seem he would lose the quickness battle. But if he could then post up the 3 that is guarding him, that is where perhaps we could use the match-up.

    I still think we have better guys to function on the perimeter to go to … and say a Greene or White at the 3 with Ellis at the 4 is better than Ellis at the 3 and Traylor or Lucas at the 4. But again, we have to react to matchups.

  • I sure like the idea of Embiid with a consistent mid-range jumper. That seems to be something that develops over an offseason, so we may never get to see it while he’s a Jayhawk, but it’s awfully fun to imagine. I’m not sure a team would be able to run a zone defense if we could put Embiid in the high post. If the D collapses on him, he can see over the top and hit someone cutting to the basket or find an open shooter. If they don’t collapse, he gets to shoot a free throw. We saw maybe one or two possessions in the Florida State game where we got him the ball there, but if he was more of a threat to shoot it, that would really open up our offense against a zone.

    Regarding Tharpe, I think back to a quote Coach Self said about Russell Robinson. To paraphrase, he basically said that RR was great, but usually took one or two bad shots a game. With Tharpe, I would say similar things, though he’s nowhere close to the defender RussRob was. For him I would say he adds a lot of great things to the team, but you have to accept that in a close game, he is going to waste one or two crucial possessions down the stretch. He’s done this in every single close game this year, usually with a bad shot. He needs to realize that a guarded fadeaway 3-pointer will still be available to him with 5 seconds on the shot clock, so if there’s more time than that, there are better shots that we should be looking for. His shot selection may be the worst I’ve ever seen at KU, which is alarming for a junior. If he can’t get that under control, I would agree that Mason should be getting most of the PG reps.

    Overall, we’re probably a bit behind schedule for the promised “when these guys figure it out, they’ll be pretty good,” but I still see 2014 banners that don’t have anyone’s name on them yet. If a few things are cleaned up, I believe this team will compete for them.

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