This Is It!

  • This is it!

    This is the “stir up” I’ve been waiting for, and I even feel like we got a bonus!

    So… what am I talking about? Udunka stuffing at ease? Earning a starting spot to help lift his game? 4-guard x-axis basketball starting the game?

    All good… but what I am talking about is the roles of Frank and Devonte. I have been pushing for Devonte as our PG for more than a year now. Technically speaking… hard to say if he was a PG last night or our SG. Turns out not to matter. Frank is probably our best ball handler to be responsible for getting the ball to half court. But once he crosses half court and is positioned in the middle atop the key, that is where traditional concepts are thrown out the window and the chemistry of Frank and Devonte take over.


    Look at the stat book. Frank, our PG by name, scores 21 pts and had 5 assists. Devonte, our SG by name, scores 6 pts and had 11 assists. Who ran the show? Who was our real PG? I guess we will say BOTH just to avoid a senseless argument. Months ago, it was difficult for me to convince fans just how incredible Frank is at scoring… a true volume scorer. He has the aggression of a driving volume scorer and has a dead-on shot from trey when it is wide open.

    I don’t think fans have thought much about how hard it is to score 21 points in a game while being the floor general. Frank can’t take full credit for this because he does have the help of Devonte. Devonte is growing as the team “play maker”… a role he needs to take and conquer. Devonte exploited the over-match last night by continuing to pound the ball to Udunka for slam after slam. That is what play makers do… something works, they keep going to it.


    Now I will discuss the “bonus” I mentioned above. Coach Self is truly the “Riverboat Gambler.” In my past vision, I thought we should move Devonte into the traditional role of PG. But the guy with the cards has decided to not show his hand anytime soon. Perhaps Bill will keep it a shared role. How will teams prepare for that? Who do they put their best guard defender on? Coach’s “ace in the hole” turns out to be Devonte’s ability to step up for big offensive games. We can flip the roles and succeed, too… especially on those rare nights that we face a team with a gifted guard defender.

    We are just at the beginning with this team. They are just now coming around to executing a few plays and twists, and perhaps more importantly, they are filling in their roles and starting to be held accountable. The removal of Landen and Carlton from the starting lineup was more about a message to the team. Everyone will be held accountable, even 5th-year seniors.

    Udunka is now plugged in! He still has a long ways to go… but it was amazing to see him take advantage of his size, and largely do it without fouling. You can see the game is starting to slow down for him and he is just beginning to execute. Bravo! He certainly has picked up the pick and roll! Amazing how just one weapon can be utilized over and over! Imagine when he has several big weapons?!

    There is always some drama on teams. And our current drama is about Landen and Carlton. Teams actually need a bit of drama. This drama should be a good thing as both players adjust to step up their games, and Christmas break is right around the corner. I expect both of these guys to really put their hard hats on during that developmental period.

    Last. We have to realize who we played. It isn’t going to go this easy moving forward but at least we got a little taste of what these guys are capable of. And they got it, too! This should help them focus on a goal to play at such a dominant level on all our opponents and also away from home. We got a long ways to go, but one step at a time, and last night was a great step in our desire to climb to the top.

  • @drgnslayr both Luke and Bragg seems to be really dragging…laboring to walk even. They look slow and in pain. No athletic flow to them. Bragg is younger and seems to be fighting through a tad better. Luke looks like a tired 5th year senior.

    To your point on point- the othe thing that hit me after watching last game is now we’ve added JJ to the mix, a dude who can really pass it. The ball does not stick with him like a typical frosh. So we have 3 elite ball movers who all know how to put the leather through the iron. A delectable trifecta of assist makers. They will carry us far despite the drama.

  • @Fightsongwriter

    Lucas is limping a bit. I think his bad wheel has slowed him down some, and our team is moving at a quicker pace this year. Combining those two factors makes Lucas look slow. He is going to need to heal and also pick up the speed of his game.

    I’ve noticed he is starting to take quick shots from the post… less gathering and dropping the ball down. He must be listening to someone because he is starting to improve. He will come around, as will Bragg.

  • @drgnslayr great posts, spot on. JJ is incredible for a frosh. Makes it a lot easier for Frank & Devonte. This is the BEST 1-2-3 lineup we have had since the 08Champs (who had Sherron/RussRob+Mario+Rush).

    The transition game is downright deadly this year. And too many good 3shooters for that stat to not improve to the true average for the season (watch…). Which should open up the middle. Guards need to keep attacking. Self and Calipari are correct in such concept. And Frank loves it…

  • Agree with the observation of LL not 100% healthy…

  • @drgnslayr great post! I share your optimism and 'm happy we have such a fun team to watch! It feels like a mash up of 2007-2008 and 2013-2014. We get to experience both the efficiency of a veteran championship caliber backcourt and the growth of a freshman couple future leaguers in and around the paint. How lucky are we?

  • @drgnslayr I watched the UNC “we turned them to Ash” game this morn and it seemed to me Luke still bobbles 90% of entry passes and possible stick backs. Dok grabs it away and dunks it. That alone has me ready to reduce his role. In the short time on the floor Colby was much more effective at protecting rim and grabbing loose balls (he like Luke struggles to finish at rim). And he is far more athletic. Sorry I’m ready to jump off the Luke wagon now that there are other options.

  • @Fightsongwriter he really is a different player than lat year - not sure if the injury affects not being able to grab the ball. I like what I’m seeing out of Dok and Coleby. Contrary to what some say on other sites, Udoka needs to be the main post threat later in the season. Landon and Carlton just don’t fit as well as and can’t hang on to the ball. There will most likely be some growing pains and struggles, but that experience on the court is vital for success later on.

  • @drgnslayr

    I’ve been waiting for a breakout post from you this season. This was it!

    I want to take it a little farther.

    Not only can Self play either guy at point playmaker, he can play either guy at either wing as wing point playmaker.

    And by the end of the season he may be able to do the same with Josh and Lagerald.

    Imagine opposing teams not sure which of four positions the playmaker would initiate from!!!

    It is a stunning strategic prospect.

  • @Fightsongwriter

    Well… I don’t feel like Landen deserves minutes only because he is a 5th-year senior. Everyone on this team has to earn their minutes, and the underclassmen can bolt for the league or a transfer if they aren’t happy with their PT, so everyone deserves a fair shot at PT.

    Landen doesn’t have a dominant part of his game, but is reasonably well-rounded. We will see what plays out, but I’m not ready to dismiss anyone on this team yet. Landen is crucial in many ways, including being a role model for young Udoka. And we still haven’t proven our post can stay out of foul trouble against real opponents.

    In essence, what I am saying is that we need Landen in order to have a successful year this year, at least, the kind of success where we have a long run in March (and hopefully April). Look, none of us our happy with Landen’s results so far, and the least happy is Landen himself. That frustration you see on his face isn’t aimed at anyone but himself.

    I feel confident he will regain his health along with his game and become a big help to us. That doesn’t mean I don’t want Udoka to capture plenty of minutes now and help however he can later, too. I’m also enjoying seeing Dwight get out there for some minutes.

    Hard to say but it is possible we will need productive minutes from all our post players during this year.

  • @jaybate-1.0

    This team is insane. We have 4 guards that can drive on anyone in college basketball. And they can drive with ease.

    Maybe Bill needs to forget the 4-guard offense… and consider a 5-guard offense. Especially against teams that don’t have a dominant post player.

    Imagine not having a player in the post and having 5 guards keeping the lane cleared out and all taking stabs at it?

  • @drgnslayr I said the same thing about playing ISU under the ISU zags post

  • @drgnslayr

    5-0 offense. I like it!

    You want small? We’ll give u Small Ball!!!

  • @drgnslayr

    Bingo post!

    Landen hasn’t earned minutes after these 6 games. Even Coleby is playing more sound fundamental basketball right now. Landen is bringing negative plays, the offensive fouls are alarming. The rules have changed, we know he is smart enough to know that driving your man up the lane is being called now. Frustrating to watch him, I’m sure he’s frustrated. We see it on the court from him and on the sidelines. Somebody needs to take him under their wing and get him back to Landen.

  • @drgnslayr I have a question for you. While I agree with your enthusiasm for this team, especially for where they are at right now, will Big 12 teams who have scouted the Bill Self weave for years have any better success stopping our guards?

    It seems like the weave is being run with more of a purpose these days with guys searching and prodding for weaknesses and break downs, but will those breakdowns happen against teams that have seen KU try this before? Or are our guards just that much better play-makers this year? I know the big 12 hasn’t really been able to stop KU for over a decade but it’s just a question (or 3)!

  • @benshawks08 I like your question about the weave. Honestly, at times I have seen the weave, and during that live action, have been reminded of fellow bucketeers’ disdain for it (@KULA’s posts come to mind).

    But this year’s (& last year’s) “weave” isnt your father’s weave like back when Brady and Tyrel were just going thru the motions, playing hot-potato with the ball. This year, I like to think ANY one of the guards from Mason, Devonte, Vick, and JJ, and maybe even Svi, could dribble-drive at any point from it.

    Look at it this way: the weave is trying to see what the defense does–> if the D shifts in a certain manner, and there is a favorable matchup, the guard is to go! and drive to the bucket to score or dish (you werent going to get that out of BStar or Reed). Its just that this year, we are more of a matchup nightmare. Josh is playing his role perfectly. He is able, and seems on par with or slightly more able than Selden?. He has totally enhanced this team, never thought I’d say that about a OAD guard.

    Here’s an analogy: see the weave as all that offensive shifting an NFL team does before they snap the ball. There are a few options before the snap, depending on what the defense does, and the offense is looking to exploit. Same for KU’s hidden options based on how the defense switches.

    This is, incidentally, exactly what LeBron himself came up with against Steph Curry and GoldenSt, after studying what exactly GSW did in their first 2 wins. They switched everything. So Lebron said whoever got Steph Curry, to drive on him hard. How else would Curry accumulate those fouls like that? And it got in Curry’s head. And it affected him offensively. Banged up, out-physicalled, and with fouls mounting. LBJ himself about ran Curry over. A beautiful thing in a chessmatch sort of way to watch-- if one can appreciate the Cavs gameplan and the realization of and dissection of the strategy that the GSWs were using, and how LBJ used it against them.

    The weave? This year, you just dont know which weaving guard is about to turn in and explode on you. Its like juggling 4 grenades, from an opposing coach’s viewpoint.

  • @benshawks08 I’ve noticed the diff also. Looks like ALL our ball handlers are looking for that crease to drive it into a lane, where in past years only one guy had the ability to penetrate, so leaning/hedging an extra def guy on him prohibited that from being successful. JMO Maybe it’s simply the quickness our guards possess-haven’t been able to put my finger on it yet. I’ve seen all of the espn 1 & 2 games but blacked out for the espn 3 games, so I need more reps to get up to speed.

  • @BeddieKU23

    As bad as it sounds for Landen right now… there is an excellent chance he lifts his game by January to an all new high! I have lots of experience playing with players put in tough spots like this. Most of the time, they really improve way beyond what any of the other players could imagine.

    Landen feels like he is letting down his team. He is beginning to focus much harder than he ever knew he could. I can see it in him.

    Think about it this way…

    Landen has had 4 previous years to stop his bad habit of low post gathering and bringing the ball down. We are starting to see him catch the ball and follow through with a shot… keeping the ball high. This is what he has needed to do the past 4 years, but didn’t. Let that be a sign of how much better he is starting to focus.

    I still have high hopes in Landen jumping to another level this year. It is a tough road ahead because he doesn’t have crazy athleticism to help him advance quicker. He is doing this the old-fashioned way… nose to the grindstone and grinding this out.

    If he does come through and elevates his game higher, I think I will have him at the very top of my favorite Jayhawks list, up there with Sherron! I know how tough this is for him and he is ALL HEART for trying to not disappoint his teammates and coaches! And he will have to do this while many fans are calling for Bill to set him on the bench.

  • @benshawks08

    What I am seeing is 4 guards (and sometimes 5, including Svi) that can take it to the rack at ease. I see this team PASSING our '08 team at the guard position by March. That says a lot. I am just talking about offense here.

    So… what is possible…

    Josh > BRush

    Devonte > RRob

    Frank > Mario

    Lagerald > Sherron

    I know many think I’m crazy for stating this. My biggest question mark is Lagerald passing Sherron’s offense.

    The other 3 guys… heck yes, I see them as becoming more of an offensive threat than their counterparts in '08!

    I’m not talking about defense or overall impact on the team. I’m strictly talking about offensive potential.

  • @drgnslayr

    Nice post btw. Great optimism, don’t give up on him yet. It’s nice to hear he’s still got support even though his play hasn’t lived up to expectation. Speaking of expectations, I think we all generally thought last years run would carry over and he’d hold this team together with the glue he did before. But this year we’ve seen the glue come apart and we must find the guy who held it all together again.

    I’ve got to be honest I’ve lost a lot of patience for how he’s responded to foul calls not going his way because of how smart of a player he usually is. He’s been too aggressive to make a play, the rules are taking away physicality and that’s hurting one of Landen’s strength’s. He’s again forced to change his style to find a way to impact the game positively. Good thing its still early and coaching will settle him down and Landen will adjust. But it’s been brutal to watch and luckily hasn’t really impacted the final score. We’ll see if he starts to adjust his game starting tomm

  • @BeddieKU23 I agree - it is weird why he hasn’t made any adjustments. Game after game he is making the same silly fouls.

  • @drgnslayr I think as a team we might be better, just not ready to compare individuals.

  • Lucas needs rest and recoup badly. With how he has played he isn’t exactly contributing to positive basketball so I see no reason for him to get minutes until he is healthy.

  • @BShark that’s what I don’t understand - if his health is the reason for the poor play, why not rest him a few games? Did we really need him on Friday?

  • @HawkChamp

    Not remotely needed. So I’m not sure why Self is trotting him out there. Someone needs to be responsible here. He is obviously labouring.

  • @drgnslayr Good post.

    The thing that the 08 guards had that we don’t have now is the skill in the post. If you have 4 NBA level guys rotating in the post it makes life easier on the guards. Thinking back on the 08 run I think of big plays by all 4 big men including huge shots by Arthur, huge blocks by Cole, and overall solid play from Sasha and Darnell. Hard to believe we will be even close to that level this year. Not being pessimistic, I just don’t see Lucas/Bragg/Dok/Coleby living up to that level of skill and experience.

  • @BShark he labors when he screws up, doesn’t labor when the ball goes in.

  • @HawkChamp

    Probably has something to do with how he’s wired to play. Coaches teach aggressiveness all the time and Landen is doing what was taught, but its now a foul. Hard for any player to adjust to cream puff rules we have now. He’s had some bad calls go his way (like the one in the Georgia game where the offensive player pushed off with his forearm) and some of the offensive fouls where he’s fighting for position (and apparently doing something wrong) is hard to get someone to do it a different way.

    It’s a big part of how Landen get’s open. I could easily swing this to coaching as well. If we want to minimize those type of plays we need to figure out how to feed the post without our posts having to create the over-the-top play so often. We often put it all on the player but remember its the offense we are running that is creating the play in the first place. I hope coaches react to how that type of play is being called and adjust.

    Regardless he is making a lot of silly fouls, really aggressive plays instead of just defending with his wits, he’s trying to bully guys on the court. This game no longer wants you to be that type of player

  • @Fightsongwriter

    Luke proved last season he could do it with 2 good feet.

    He is trying to figure out how to do it on 1 foot.

    It takes time.😄

  • @jaybate-1.0 @drgnslayr We already know Josh has great handles, great court vision. He cannot be too far away from being able to be a 3rd initiator! That no look pass to SVI against UAB was SICK!

    Lagerry cant be that far behind from being a 4th.

  • @benshawks08

    Concerning the weave…

    Looking back at our last game. Perhaps it is an indication of what is to come, watching Udunka pick and roll. The pick and roll and pick and pop is something we really need to capitalize on this year. It creates possibly the best scoring opportunity for our bigs since really none of our bigs are traditional back-to-the-basket types. Udunka and Carlton are two perfect candidates for this.

    It is easy to run pick and roll/pops out of the weave. Even though our opposition knows we will run it, we can still have plenty of success. And we don’t strictly run the weave… just one more gimmick from Bill’s bag of tricks.

  • The big difference between this KU team and so many others is Josh Jackson. Stay with me here because this may get crazy.

    Josh Jackson is the most complete player to come to KU under Self. He can affect the game in a million different ways. Already this year I can think of him making big plays with perimeter shooting, rebounding, drives, passing, defense, shot blocking, steals, big time dunks, etc. He can literally do it all.

    That should be the difference come March. Jackson can just decide that KU isn’t going home that night when things aren’t going well and whether its defense, offense, transition or whatever, Josh Jackson will make plays because he can make a million different plays to help us win.

    Frank and Devonte are carrying us now, but don’t be shocked when its Josh dropping a 20 point, 11 rebound, 6 assist, 4 steal, 2 block gem of a performance at the most critical time you could imagine. He has that talent and that will.

    That will matter come March.

  • @justanotherfan the thing I like most about him, he is the ultimate team player, never stops complimenting his teammates.

  • I can’t imagine what KU will be like once they figure out their post game. And to be honest, I hope they don’t figure it out until middle of conference season, and ride a complete package basketball team all the way to the National Championship.

    KUs trip to the title is just 1 year delayed is all.

  • @justanotherfan

    Has he always been this poor of a shooter from Trey?

    I don’t see how see how’ve could play in the NBA with the Trey he has shown so far. He reminds me of Julian Wright.

  • @justanotherfan

    “Ya’ dang tootin’!”

    Been wanting to use that one for a while now… and your post was so nails on I couldn’t resist!

  • Some mention above of the 2008 ChampHawks. Their proof-in-pudding was in their dominance. Team D. Team O. Balanced scoring with 4 guys in double figures almost every time. Suffocating D. Transition smoothness. Zone busters.


  • @ralster Jackson is looking like a one man zone buster this year! He is so far ahead of where any freshman we’ve had at this point. The question will be if he continues to progress and be successful when good coaches get film on him. I suspect he will because he is so versitile as mentioned above.

  • @justanotherfan Like my Dad said of Jackie Robinson: “whatever it took to beat ya!”

  • @jaybate-1.0

    His three point shot has not been good, but his midrange jumper is very solid. Looking at the NBA, we see two similarly sized players that are good midrange shooters, but not good three point shooters - Rudy Gay and DeMar Derozan. That is Josh’s current model. Of course, he would like to add the three point shot, but he can succeed in the NBA with his current game.

    He is different from Wright in that he is a legit perimeter player. Wright played inside quite a bit, even at KU. He rarely played on the perimeter or even defended perimeter players. Already this season we have seen Jackson do both. That’s a critical difference. Additionally, for all the hype about Wright’s ball handling ability, Jackson is world’s better as a dribbler and passer. That lefty baseline pass he made to Svi for the three in the corner was all you need to know. There aren’t many guys in the NBA that would have made that pass. I assure you that Julian Wright could not make that play.

    That’s the big difference with Jackson. He can make so many plays his inconsistent three point shot isn’t a big deal. Think about Brandon Rush. Was Rush nearly the ball handler or passer that Jackson is at any point in his KU career? I would have to say no. Rush was the superior shooter, but Jackson matches or exceeds Rush in literally every other category right now.

    Enjoy Josh right now, because he will be playing in the NBA this time next year.

  • @drgnslayr You are looking only at guards from 2008. Go back and look at who had the best game in the championship… Darrell Arthur with 20 & 10. Inside game is ALWAYS needed. Someone on this team is going to have to give something for a title to be possible. This year will be fun to watch and we can make a final four, I just don’t see a title from such a one dimensional team.

  • @BigBad that’s why getting Dok game experience is so important. He has the talent to be a consistent low post scorer that can put KU in the title conversation. Would be nice if Landon and Carlton came around sometime…

  • Jesse had this nice little breakdown of KU’s first plays of the last six game (we scored first in all six). Josh is a big part of it…

  • @StLJhawk

    That’s a quality break down. One other item of note in that piece that Jesse didn’t point out (probably due to a word count issue). Each play other than the first game was scored on the first action. If you look at the shot clock, KU is scoring within 9 or 10 seconds. That means they are exploiting the action very efficiently.

  • @justanotherfan

    Two 6-7 210 pounders with lousy treys making it in the L in the age of the trey. Amazing!!

  • @justanotherfan

    So you think Josh could be the hub of an NCAA ring team and have as long of an NBA career as Rush has had with the same injuries that Rush has had at the same points of his career? That’s what it would take to argue that Josh is even comparable to Rush, right?

    Man, I just don’t know if I can go there with you.

    I’m not even sure Josh is good enough to carry this team to a ring fully healthy yet.

    I know Josh is a few seasons younger than Rush, was as a senior. But going back to Rush’s freshman year, Self by about this time just put the team on Rush’s back and said carry us. Chalmers wasn’t ready for the full load yet. Do you really think Josh is ready to be the man that carries this team as a freshman?

    I don’t know. That feels like a bit of a stretch right now.

    I think Josh is good, but better than Rush?


    I’ll have to think about that for awhile.

  • @jaybate-1.0 Rush was never a senior. He did have a very important role as a freshman and was an iron man, but that wasn’t a ring team or close to it. His problem was the accident as a kid that shortened one of his arms and kept him from driving with either hand. Also not a terrific passer.

    Even so, a truly great college player.

  • @ParisHawk

    I’m not picking on you here. You said Rush was a great player. I’m still trying to get my head around the idea others think Josh IS better!

    Him not being a senior brings them a season closer.

    But the crucial point of comparison remains: could Josh EVER be remotely as good as Rush WAS with the multiple knee injuries Rush incurred, if Josh incurred them at the same stages?

    Rush was soooooo much stronger and every bit as athletic before injury, and he could jump shoot circles around Josh all over the floor. Heck, Rush seemed as athletic as Josh AFTER Rush’s first knee injury that brought him back for the junior season. Josh SEEMS a better ball handler but not at all the lock down defender Rush was. Rush guarded everyone from 1-4 positions over the years. Hell, Rush didn’t do a half bad job even on flipping Kevin Durant tho Durant did keep scoring! Josh hasn’t even stepped on the shellac with someone like Durant. Good lord, I like Josh, but doesn’t he have to do something better than dribble better than Rush to actually be better?

    I’m having trouble calling Josh better, when the only thing he can do is dribble better.

  • @justanotherfan If you want to talk about deadly mid-range shooters try Anthony Davis. He is lethal within 20 feet but almost never takes a 3.

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