Self's Early 4 Ball Offense (for @REHawk)

  • @Jesse-Newell ran a story early in the season over at KCStar Online that did a nice job of graphically demonstrating what I was referring to a few days ago as the “chop” and the “weave.” I vaguely recall someone posting it here previously, but for ease of reference here is the story. I had missed it (or forgotten it) and just read it today. Whatever it is JNew’s typically timely and insightful analysis and use of feeds to make it clear for us fans, what the heck Self is tinkering with.

    I know KU is running other “stuff” now, also, and Self even says in the story that he is not entirely satisfied with the experiment and that is probably something that will not be their core offense come March. But I wanted to share this link with @REHawk, plus any others, that may have missed it.

    I also wanted to add some comments.

    We can learn a number of things from the feeds.

    First, as JNew notes, they show how Self early on was experimenting with turning the chop from a single play out front (a tactical action, if you will) used now for many years, into a rudimentary offense (a strategy if you will) in its own right.

    Before getting into things, let’s define clearly what the original tactic of the chop was, and why I made the distinction about it in my own words as a chop and a weave a few days ago.

    Think of the now long familiar “tactic” of the chop out front as a “downhill” chop. Downhill is how Self describes a weave in which the cutters keep giving the ball to the approaching cutters and the approaching cutter cuts closer, or “down hill”, towards the basket with the ball for a shot or drive or another dish to a cutter.

    Think of the similar “tactic” that I called a weave a few days ago, as an “uphill” chop; that is, the cutter throws the ball to the cutter who goes over the top, or farther from the basket, or quickly dishes farther out. The ball is moving farther away from the bucket.

    Downhill chop and uphill chop are apparently how Self actually talks about the play to players. Whereas I used chop and weave, Self apparently uses downhill chop and uphill chop. Henceforth, let’s use Self’s apparent terminology…because its easier to remember, and because it reveals something about Self, about the chop, and about his offensive mind.

    It implies that we are looking at a similar action in which the player decides, based on the defensive players movements, whether to take the ball uphill, or downhill. Does this sound like quintessential Bill Self or what? (It also sounds like most rule based offenses, even the the rules apply to a particular kind of action, but I digress). Sprecifically, this is a kind of take what they give us, even in what looks like a rather rigidly diagrammed play, albeit with a distinct preference for manning-up and taking it downhill, whenever possible.

    So that’s the familiar chop that can be used to move the ball inward, or outward from the bucket, depending on whether you want to attack, or are stopped from attacking on a particular passing exchange, or just want to burn up some clock.

    Now we can talk about what Self was actually tinkering with.

    Self basically turned the chop to a 45 degree angle to the basket (note: it can be run from a 45 degree angle from either the right, or the left side, as you are a point guard standing facing the basket in the middle of the court). The chop then unfolds as a means not just of looking for a shot, but now it can also unfold to deliver the ball to the wing where KU’s usual bundle of high low wing point plays can commence, or the chop can be run again with the wing point initiating a chop with the point man, again at this 45 degree angle. As always, any time the chop runs, player choices can take it downhill or up hill.

    Do you see the difference? The traditional chop out front used to involve the point guard and both wings and, if it did not yield a shot, usually required a reset in which players had to hustle to positions before action resumed.

    In this new tinkering of Self’s offense, the chop becomes an action that leads into the conventional offense, or into more chopping. It is a little bit of genius IMHO. Turn the same goddamn action at a 45 degree angle with a 4 out 1 in formation, and you get to chop and play high low without missing a beat.

    Self was so intrigued with this idea that he also realized he could run the chop and then instead of either running the chop back out front, or running the high low actions out of the wing point, he could also have the wing point drive outward on the hook pattern that KU used a lot not last season, but two seasons that he cribbed from Bo Ryan at Wisconsin (note: the season Bo got to the finals and got beat by what Bo so memorably referred to as Duke’s "rent-a-players). The wing point drives outward and then comes hooking back around toward the lane and runs some strange stuff that can itself turn into chops. By the way, I have also seen some Oklahoma Shuffle actions rearing their hoary heads in this boulliabaisse offense Self has been stringing together, along with the ball screens and so on that show now and them…

    The point is here that Self and his brain trust were/are trying to concoct something a lot more here than just “small ball” screens to shake some runts loose to shoot treys. He was/is apparently trying to take Henry Iba’s High-low, that LB and Dean took and turned into what Dean called a Multiple Offense (i.e., high low plus a menu of actions often called like football plays when not running the offense) into something more seamless; something that flowed seamlessly into one another, and that had enough symmetry that it could flip flop back and forth across the imaginary centerline the runs rim to rim.

    Lastly, I am going to at least speculate that Self is also trying to achieve something that so far as I know has only been achieved in the past with Tex Winters’ triangle offense. Winters offense, if run right, is like a series of triangles that keep reforming as the ball moves from one wing to the other. It can even reform once to the baseline from the wing. I think Self was exploring the possibility of the chop forming and reforming as it went around the perimeter.

    I suspect it could be done theoretically, but I also suspect that in practice it doesnt form and reform as tidily and reliably as Winter’s triangle. Hence, I suspect that is what Self is in part not satisfied with it.

    How the big man action fits into all of this is less clear to me, so far, except to say that the big man can sit on a block, or come out and ball screen at a moment’s notice. And I suspect that lack of symmetry bothers Self, because of all of his years of being able to outmaneuver any one dominant post man with the two man action of two post men.

    And yet…

    Wooden was pretty goddanged sure that the single post was the path to enlightenment, whether one played two big men, or not.

    And truth be told, Wooden’s single post offense was about half way between what Self is trying to do and Winter’s triple post in the way it formed its triangles of a guy with the ball and two other first pass away players.

    Iba, Wooden, Tex Winter, and Knight have all talked about the three player triangle as being at the core of the offensive game. What action and how you connect the action varies. But its all got to produce a three player pattern that interplay and impact plays can be made from.

  • @jaybate-1.0 wow. A very, very interesting post. PHOF.

  • @SkinnyKansasDude

    Thx. Every once in awhile I can still get a little insight. Alas, I mostly have to depend on young eyes and brains to get me thinking. It’s better than not thinking, but there was a time when the brain worked entirely on its own. Ah, those were yeasty good times!

  • @jaybate-1.0 freekin sweet! Im totally gonna digest this later when my brain is capable of it

  • @jaybate-1.0 whoa, this stuff is cool. gimme more! when you can of course

  • @Lulufulu

    I’m watching the replay of this tutorial in how to make a cellar dweller look good.

    My creative insights may be paralyzed shortly.

  • @Lulufulu

    Self has completely junked all of the stuff I was talking about for the first half of the KSU game.

    He has just turned this into four guys “stand on the perimeter and try to make plays.”

    They pushed it up to a 10 point lead with a couple of off balance treys.

    Weird. He’s up to something, but I have no idea what as the first half ends.

    Lemme think, who do we play next and when? I will look.

  • @jaybate-1.0 Texas tech…who just beat WVU

  • @jaybate-1.0

    T-Tech, OU, and OSU. Nothing teams. No time crunch.

    Why is he even playing Devonte? Let the guy take the next three games off.

  • @jaybate-1.0 Jaybate tell Jaybate that DG is good to go

  • @Crimsonorblue22

    I can’t lie, gal youngin’, he is showing all the same signs that Tyrel Reed showed after his great season, only to come back and play about 2/3s as productively and always a step slower than the year before.

    This Devonte is NOT the Optimus Prime of shooting guards we saw last season.


  • @jaybate-1.0 i must remind you that Devonte had his fair share of bad games last year. From my perspective, he has not been attacking but only looking to shoot, as well as gambling on defense occassionally that puts the team in a bad position. Like I said before, I will watch him closer to see if anything is there.

Log in to reply