• Most fans in here know of my earlier post where I outlined the season ahead in hopes we’d all realize this team would take some time to learn to play solid ball.

    The beginning of the year I had as at HOT HOT HOT… because young players came in with plenty of energy and excitement, and were playing with their HS virgin games… untouched from D1 influences. We all knew this to be temporary.

    The next step was COLD COLD COLD as players had to be stripped of their past rhythms, ideas and bad habits. We took on 4 losses to tough teams, but the end result was graduating from the “School of Hard Knocks.” I’m not sure we have learned all the lessons we need yet, but there is still plenty of basketball to be played this year.

    Up until now, I had us in the COLD COLD COLD bracket. This team had to string together several decent games before getting out of the cellar. We needed to see a trend in play that showed us this team learned some lessons and was starting to apply some of Self-ball.

    They have accomplished that goal, and deserve to be moved to WARM WARM WARM. Under this description we should continue to rack up plenty of victories, but we still have the potential to lose games easily, sometimes by surprise, by having cold shooting, abundant TOs, and from playing poor defense. Look at our great win in Ames last night. We showed so much potential and it looked as if we dominated this game, but we still only won by a few and had our luck run down at the end, this could have been a heart-breaking defeat. We will always remain vulnerable while listed as WARM WARM WARM. Playing at this level also requires our first experience with playing some quality of defense. We are playing better defense now… it’s still a long ways from making us a contender in March (or even guaranteeing another B12 title), but at least it is clearly improving from what it was just a short time ago. All that gym time right now is starting to pay off!

    Our next leap in development should push us to WARMER WARMER WARMER, and at this stage we should have several complete beat down victories behind us. At this level, we should be a solid team at closing games out. At this level, the window for losing should shrink at least in half because we will have confidence and energy at the end of games and knowledge and execution for ending them the right way. During this phase, we should also become more efficient at fixing problems in real time during games.

    I hope we can reach the level of HOT HOT HOT this year! If we do, it will be almost impossible for us to lose. At this level, we need to have a history of play where every player in our rotation has had previous games where they stood out and helped us seal the victory. Everyone should know what they have to bring in order for us to win, and the games will get harder and the pressure tighter… but we will know what it takes. That is extreme play and high expectations for a team this young. It is rare for a team this young to get to this level of basketball, but this is what it will take to close out March play with hardware returning to Lawrence. We shouldn’t even think about this now because we are a long distance from being a team owning this label. We have to take every game one at a time and earn all the lessons along the way if we hope to reach HOT HOT HOT and have a shot at a National Championship!

    In the meantime… good news! We are no longer in the cellar… WARM WARM WARM is the organic spot we deserve at this period of time.

    Rock Chalk, and let’s go do it one step at a time!

  • I think we will be in the WARM WARM COLD WARM WARM pattern for a while yet. And we may have a couple of HOT HOT HOT games, but it’s probably too much to expect consistency from this many freshmen. Some of the freshmen may not become man until sophomore. So I’m sure there will be at times, we will ask, “why did they go backwards?”

    Besides, the teams do much better jobs on scouting during the conference play. Every deficiency and every tendency and every play will be reviewed, studied, and countered. So there will be no easy game where we can sneak up on people. And of course we always get people’s best shot. With a very strong Big 12 this year, there will be no easy game. But hopefully the tough non-con and conference season will prepare the young team well, and we go all the way in March.

  • “Besides, the teams do much better jobs on scouting during the conference play.”

    Nailed it, @Wishawk ! I sometimes think that favors young teams because they usually haven’t shown all their potential yet, so the scouting can’t be totally accurate. Guess it matters if the young team has plenty of upside and are constantly developing plays and individual moves yet to be seen.

    It does seem like our defense is playing better. I don’t know how much of that is because the team has been out of school and received so much coaching or the fact that we entered B12 play and our guys are taught how to play based off of scouting.

    Probably both reasons! We gave up a few easy hoops (but not many) and we had too many fouls… but we held ISU on their home court to 70 points off of 31.4% FG. Obviously, they shot bad, but surely we deserve some of that credit. I know Embiid heavily impacted that %… so did Wiggins… Traylor… Black… Selden and even Tharpe!

    If you throw out all our TOs and fouls… we would have held them down in the 50s!

    It’s a high day in Jayhawkland when Tharpe sticks to his man!

  • Didn’t JoJo try a new hook drop dunk from the some old play book last night? Don’t remember if was Du Jabar made it famous or someone else. But he ran from the right side of the board, then swing the ball one handed across his chest like a wheel, then drop the ball in the hoop from the side. It didn’t go in, but the swing was very interesting.

  • And JoJo might have carried the team, but Wiggins was everywhere last night. It’s very refreshing to see a new Wiggins. I think he got some good advice this time and took it to heart. It was great to see.

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