KU Playing Small?

  • Everyone talks about KU playing small, even coach Self. How is our Davidson starting line up small when we started a 7 footer at the 5 and two 6’8’’ players? Isn’t small either the wrong word or just poor terminology for a team using really, really athletic 6’8’’ players who can handle the ball and shoot from the outside like traditional guards, but also bang in the paint with their front court height? We really are seeing a number of multi-skilled 6’8’’ players around the country, including Jackson, Svi and Lightfoot. And soon, Billy Preston will arrive; another multi-skilled “small” player. Once upon a time, Magic Johnson was thought to be a rare athlete, but now we see a number of players with similar size and combination skills throughout the country.

    When I hear the term playing small, I think of Fred Hoiberg’s Iowa State offense that had four players beyond the arc and one player in the paint. George Niang was another multi-skilled 6’8’’ guy. If I saw him at the local Costco, I don’t think I would call him small.

    As a true small myself, I wonder if 6 feet will soon become too short to play D1 ball. Global warming may be hotly disputed in our society, but no one may dispute that many tall players are changing the face of basketball because they’re developing ball handling and shooting skills like true smalls. Just something to ponder on a Monday. Merry Christmas all.

  • @stoptheflop It is a relative term isn’t it? I think Kevin Durant is considered small too and he’s 6’9". Heck even Danny Manning was considered small by some standards although I don’t think they were using those terms back then too much.

  • @stoptheflop I have thought about your thesis on several occasions this season. Our coaching staff surely must speak tongue in cheek about our “small” lineups. We know that Bill Self, historically, has relied strongly on three smaller perimeter players, 2 “bigs” to man the paint. But he now has recruited himself perhaps into a corner with that playing philosophy…although he keeps working to re-establish that style. What we are seeing is the development of a team which, by seasons end, can play the game to advantage either way, 4/1 or 3/2. Josh Jackson is a tremendous difference maker, and Svi is coming along marvelously. Vick is a player who provides instant replacement talent if one of our other 4 perimeter players gets hurt (or locked up several hours before a game). By traditional standards, six foot eight inches sure as hell ain’t small! Wouldn’t crafty Fred Hoiberg have salivated over the speed and talent of small players Jackson, Svi, Vick!

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