Can we win a national championship without a strong interior?

  • I spent the offseason worrying (only in a sports sense) that our team was going to have a lack of a strong inside game. I can’t wrap my mind around winning the whole thing without a reliable post scorer and defender. I was listening to @Jesse-Newell’s excellent podcast yesterday discussing the team. He was talking about how we actually are taking more shots at the rim than a few years, mainly because of our driving guards I suppose, but also discussed the lack of productivity, particularly from Bragg.

    Doke has surprised me a bit. The first game he looked so raw that I didn’t think he’d see the court much. But he has a ball hawking mentality that is fascinating to watch. But once he chases it down, well it’s an adventure from there. And if teams just figure they’ll foul him down low, well, we won’t get much there. He’s shooting 33% from the line. And he fouls a lot.

    Landen has obviously had a slow start. Foot issues may be responsible. Fouling is a major problem. 22 fouls thus far. Last year when given a confidence boost by the players he became a key component to our drive towards glory. Will the same happen again? I believe he is going to have to recover that February and March mojo for this championship to happen.

    And speaking of fouls, the foul rate of our bigs is alarming. Jesse mentioned LIghtfoot averaging 13 fouls per 40 minutes! Dokes and Braggs are up there too.

    I could have titled this a different way. Can we win a national championship with a small lineup? It’s well documented about what a high level our guards are playing at. On April the 4th or whenever the actual date is, can we hear a starting a lineup announced of JJ, DG, Frank, Vick and Landen? Svi, Bragg, Doke off the bench? Can those guys cut down the nets? That’s my question.

  • @wissox A guy back east named Ochefu may be reading this, and may be nodding “yes”. Yes you can win it all with 4+1.

  • @ralster Villanova player?

  • @wissox Yes. Their 1 big basically beasted on us in the paint. OU had some big African center that totally missed their Final Four due to funeral. Its all about matchups and production…or neutralizing an opponent’s production. So would say Self and Kruger.

    Jay “CantRecruitABig” Wright beats BigManU’s Bill Self.

    Earth calling Bragg and Lucas…meet your replacements, Doke and Dwight…

  • @ralster We’ve seen some good stuff from Coleby. Just needs more time it looks like to get up to game speed.

  • @ralster Do we have anyone like Ochefu? Landon at his best…maybe…but not as mobile. Doke? Better than Ochefu when he reaches his potential…will that be this year? So…yes. One big guy could do it…our one guy just needs to perform well.

  • @Hawk8086 Well, I see BigDoke as a quick learner. Already not in foul trouble, at least vs this Sisters of the Poor level competition. Lets just say we have Self putting Doke on the Calipari-track Plan. Lets see where he gets to by Jan/Feb…then March. He is a 5star McD.

    The player I am absolutely the most disappointed in this entire season is Bragg. He is better than he is showing. Looked better last game though. Can he not dribble drive? As Marcus and TRob (and even Ellis) figured out, a penetrating power fwd is hard to guard, hard to block. Where is Bragg’s 3ball. Is the problem Bill Self? Does Bragg need to be turned loose? Another 5star McD. We are not wrong to expect better. Next man up after Ellis? Not sure what to think when its a 17yr old kid playing like a frickin MAN for Bill Self, but where’s his help? Coleby starting to show good things. I mean, we dont want to get embarrassed by Baylor’s bigs, do we?

  • @wissox

    Yes I do think we can win it without a quality big by the end of the year. I think as KU fans we have to open up our eyes to the change that has happened with this team and realize our strengths outweigh our one weakness.

    We are so pre-conditioned to seeing a traditional lineup from Self. We are seeing the opposite. We don’t know the outcome that 4 guard heavy lineup will give us so its easy to be scared that it won’t end the way we want it too.

    I do think Bragg is going to get better and give us a traditional 5 with Doke. Bragg is playing hard in spurts. Once coaching drills in consistent every play effort he’s going to start producing. I also think we are seeing some good things from Coleby that can replace Lucas. I would have Lucas as our 9th man healthy or not. He’s just not good enough with this team, we have too much athleticism at the other 4 spots to rely on him. Maybe that’s unpopular to some but that’s how I feel.

    I think our guards are that good. Devonte/Frank in the tourney with Jackson, Vick & Svi wow.

  • @BeddieKU23 Exactly

  • @wissox I dunno about an NC but, man that Stanford team. We may have bitten off more than we can chew with this game. I think our 44 home court win streak may come to a close today.
    Stanford is Huge in the post and all their guards can shoot 45% from trey.
    I think KU drops this game today peeps.


    totally kidding *wink

  • @Lulufulu It could be a good game lol I thought you was forreal

  • @Lulufulu I was wondering about Stanford. Isnt this about the right time that they have a group of juniors and seniors, ready to go? The midmajor way. The way they defeated and gameplanned a frosh/soph KU team a few yrs ago. The way WSU did the same.

    Beware the midmajors with upperclassmen and a good coach. Because thats also exactly what Self started out as, just can recruit better. Killer Bs. Surprise S’s (Shaka,Stanford, Shockers).

    Maybe tasting an “L” in AFH will motivate Lucas and Bragg. Bragg needs to be taking his cue from 17yr old Doke. Or bum-knee Dwight. No shame in that. Let Lucas heal his leg on the bench.

  • @ralster Agree about disappointment with Bragg. Our bigs will be better…no doubt.

  • @wissox

    It may be easier to win it with 5-o than 4-1.

    4-1 is VERY vulnerable to meeting up with a better post man than your post man–one that forces you to change how you like to play.

    Great ring teams never have to change how they play in order to win, no matter who they play. They just keep doing what they do. Even Self’s teams try keep doing what they do, and only concede to letting the other team set the tempo, until Self is sure his preferred way of playing won’t work.

    When you play 5-0, as the 63 UCLA team did, it learned how to play any team its way.

    Jabbar’s UCLA team’s were to some extent 4-1 single low post teams, and they were unbeatable till the night in Houston when Jabbar was unhealthy and Elvin Hayes destroyed him. Fortunately it was regular season.

    Nova proved recently 4-1 works if you don’t come up against a post you can’t handle.

    KU can win 4-1, but only if it’s post committee allows it to play the way it likes against any other center on another team it meets during the Carney, especially if the refs are engineering for KU this year. It could work this year, because aside from the Indiana center, there aren’t any dominant centers this season capable hanging 35-40 points in a big game in a peak performance.

    But I gotta say, without massive improvement, our center committee looks like an Achilles waiting to pop.

  • It’s a great question. But I’d be curious to know if Bill believes they can. I’m afraid he’d say no. But I also think it’s too early to write off Bragg and Lucas. Bragg will likely have some great games and look average in others - not sure if or when the light comes on with teenagers when it comes to consistency. Lucas’ minutes may be limited simply because of the inherent speed of this particular coach Self team. I’m awestruck at the speed and athleticism we’re seeing and it’s potential. Amazing really. But our bigs need to get healthy and step up. When that happens, watch out - this is a final four team. I’m going to enjoy the ride like most of us.

  • @jaybate-1.0 Center spot for us Big weakness it is. But Coach Self, much faith in him do I have.

  • @rocketdog

    well said!!

  • @Lulufulu the weakness stems from unsmart play and being out of position. All the bigs need to do is stay vertical, move their feet, rotate faster and don’t fall for ball fakes. Those are the main errors right now. Correct those and it changes everything

  • @HawkChamp YES! “Stay Vertical” and block the EFF out on defensive rebounds

  • Maybe I should pose this same question again!

  • @wissox

    Lucas play of late is encouraging to fill that “Ochefu” role. 39 points, 45 rebounds last 4. Bragg 14 points 23 rebounds last 3. We’ll see how this progresses with known roles

  • @BeddieKU23 Keeping our fingers crossed. I really think Lucas becomes the key to this whole season for us.

  • @BeddieKU23

    Lucas double-double was very encouraging,

  • I’m wondering…

    Can we win a national championship with a strong interior?

    I’m thinking… what team won the NC last that had a dominant post? I’m thinking UK in 2012… the unibrow.

    In '08 we had a solid post. But would I say it was our post play that dominated and won us the title? I think Cole had a big night against UNC. But it was our guard play that really took us to the big prize.

    Post presence is important, but not to the point where you have to give up who you are as a team. When you have to slow the pace, or run a mucked up offense to accommodate an interior game. NO.

    I’m not against size. I’m against clumsiness. I’m against slow play. I’m against awkward movement.

    I want to see speed. I want to see pace. I want to see teams use the entire court.

    I get excited when I see a big man that doesn’t play like a big man. Kevin Durant. The guy might be 6’ tall. He plays like it. Or… if a guy wants to play big, then I’m looking at JoJo. I’m looking at the unibrow. Players that really impact games. The NBA is littered with horrible skyscrapers. Horrible. That is probably the main reason there are only a handful of decent teams in the league now.

    Look at teams like Golden State. They utilize size like Green. He’s marginal in many areas, creates lots of issues both on and off court… but he fits their system. He gets that girthy frame hauling ass down the court.

    Just my opinion.

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