I Can't Help It.... Morgantown!
We don’t visit Morgantown for 13 more days. We have 3 games coming up first… including a visit to Ames.
I know it is voodoo to look past immediate games, regardless who we play. But I have my reasons…
First… I am sick of us getting our butts handed to us in Morgantown. It is obvious we are never prepared when we make that trip, though it requires a great deal of preparation to handle that pressure.
I don’t think I have ever cared more about that game than this year. We have all the tools necessary to go in there and change the outcome. Our 4-guard offense has plenty of solid handles to get this job done.
Second… winning a game like this one means a lot more than a single “W.” Winning this game proves this team is capable of going beyond where our most recent teams have gone. That should bode well for our confidence in March.
Third… learning the skills and strategy to pull off this victory will help us in other battles. For example, it should help us in Ames, too.
Fourth… by winning in Morgantown, we change the current narrative there that we will face defeat every year. Win one and put it in question for years to follow. Look at how our own home toughness in AFH has helped us battle opponents. When the game is on the line, you know our opponents (in AFH) realize they are going to lose. When that chimes into their brains… they have already lost. Just like we know we are going to win in AFH, so we maintain our poise through thick and thin.
How can we win in Morgantown this year? How?
I think we first have to look at how we have prepared (or not prepared) for this game in the past. Does it really help playing 5 on 8 (or whatever)?
I think that is about the best we can do if we only prep for a few hours for this game. But if we take more time, there are far better ways to prepare because we can gain a lot by preparing our own press in the process.
In general, the idea of having to play and execute against 7 or 8 players sounds good on paper. But what really counts in this situation is effort, tempo and strategy. Facing 7 or 8 guys that do not have the effort, tempo and strategy is not reflective of what we will face in Morgantown. In other words… the only way to learn how to beat a press is to learn how to run a press.
Look, we are running a 4-guard offense, and we have a very experienced team with plenty of tenacity (under the right circumstances). I know we are worried about our depth. Losing Doke did not hurt us when pertaining to a press. He wouldn’t see a minute on the floor in a press. And I am not talking about running a press as our calling card moving forward.
I want us to put some real practice time in on executing (and beating) a press. If you watched the game last night, the sportscasters said we have actually been reducing our full practice time in order to save the bodies of our guys who have been playing too many minutes. I know we need to protect our health. But these guys are in shape. And running a few extra minutes in a game is not going to make a difference with these guys. What makes a difference is using their heads. Look at Frank. Frank has never been anywhere close to this productive in his Kansas career. Yet… he seems to end up flat on his back less now than in previous years. He seems to be more selective on when he takes it to the rack, etc.
We have the talent to do this and do it well. The ability to run a decent press will be a real weapon as we move forward. It helps us change the pace of a game. It helps create new opportunities to win possessions. It helps speed up our opponents. It helps speed us up when we are playing too slow anyways. It helps us beat the press, too. We get used to playing at a higher tempo and executing. We need to be able to execute at many tempos. The more tempos we can execute at, the more chances we have to win games. When we can handle the most severe defensive pressure from a press, we can probably handle the most severe defense, period.
Many of the techniques used in a press help players learn how to defend anyways. I am especially talking about hedging. Also… weakside help on a double-team and how to play the passing lanes (including bluffing). It helps teach our guys how to GET HUNGRY on the defensive side of the ball.
Last night was a solid victory… but we have to look ahead. We have to look at how we are going to get better as a team moving forward. I’m not saying a press is our savior. I’m just saying we have the right players to run a solid press, and we have the players to be able to beat a press, too.
I don’t like the fact that we are always vulnerable to being beat by a press. This isn’t something we can learn to fight back against in a single practice or two. We have seen where that gets us in the past. It isn’t enough.
I think a lot of what we need to learn is being educated in the classroom, in the media room.
We will not become the next West Virginia, nor should we. That doesn’t mean we can’t beat them in AFH and in Morgantown. By succeeding here, we don’t automatically win another Big 12 title, but we sure help our cause considerably!
@drgnslayr We need to arrive about a week early for the WV game. We can get some coal dust in our lungs,lose a few teeth, swig a few gallons of moonshine and lower our collective IQ a few thousand points. Then we will fit right in.
Heck… if you want to go to that extreme then add PCP on the list. That will make them hungry for a win!
You are right about pressure and intensity - that is hard to simulate in practice. I really want to win this one. The last time ku won in morgantown Withey and Releford were still playing. Right now, WVU fans are full of it. They were chanting we want kansas. Hopefully our guys will have a little chip because of it.
It’s going to be a heck of a week when we go to Morgantown. Remember we play Kentucky the same week as well.
I’m sure West Virginia has already hand picked their ref’s for this matchup. We’ve seen this game called every year in the poorest fashion imaginable.
Much like our guard play is our strength, West Virginia’s guard play is their strength. Carter & Miles are pests. Phillip & Myers provide solid depth when they go to the 2nd unit. Ahmad is quietly their leading scorer and Adrian besides Frank Mason is easily the most improved player in the conference. Their depth might be the equalizer in Morgantown.
We will have to match their intensity on defense, they live on spreading the floor, creating driving lanes for guards and making 3’s on kickouts. We have struggled defending all the above…
The advantage for KU is that West Virginia is going to have to prove that they are significantly the better defensive team that night. KU has only scored under 80 points 3 times all season. We are a nightmare for defenses. It’s why the defensive struggles to me sometimes are just a wash because literally no one has really slowed this team down. We had 27 points at halftime last night and ended up with 81. Crazy!
@BeddieKU23 the offensive out pit you are absolutely right - -ha, a poster off another fan board said we scored the 17 points at the start of the 2md half was scary good - - -ROCK CHALK ALL DAY LONG BABY
It is obvious we are never prepared when we make that trip, though it requires a great deal of preparation to handle that pressure.
I am sure Coach Self disagrees with you; sometimes it is not how well you prepare of how good the game plan is but how well the players execute them at game time.
The problem with practicing against 7 or 8 players is that it does not allow you to practice to exploit the weakness of the full court press with double or triple teaming the ball carriers. When a team double or triple teams one player, it follows that 1 or 2 players are left wide open and a good team will exploit the weakness by getting the ball to them for easy baskets; this is not possible when you are practicing against 7 or 8 players since you can double or triple team the ball carrier without leaving other players open.
Remember the game against UAB in the NCAA Tournament? UAB had just beat overall #1 UK and played a style similar to VWU. Aaron Miles had a masterful game routinely beating the press and feeding to Simien who parked himself by the basket and had a career day and KU won 100-76. Having said that, I recall the team playing against 7-8 players during practices leading to that game…goes to show how much I know.
We CAN be a nightmare for defenses… or we can play flat. It seems we are intensely predictable based on tempo. We have to play within a tight range on our tempo to be in “turbo scoring mode.” We scored 10 points in 90 seconds last night. That is tempo.
We should beat WVU by 50 points. We should. Will we? No. Not without putting in real practice time to take this game. A big chunk of what has to be learned is watching tape and then making a plan to CAPITALIZE off of their press.
This Kansas team is the best, or one of the best, running at a faster pace than previous teams. We really tend to get hot in scenarios like when we are in motion like on a secondary fast break. The defense is spread and we move the ball quick and have at least one great perimeter shooter wide open. On misses, the rebounds tend to go long and we get our share of those offensive rebounds. I like how guys now realize that if they can’t snag a rebound they can at least punch the ball out to one of our perimeter guys.
It is a mistake if we put much focus and prep on that Kentucky game. We need to stay focused on winning our conference and that will help us most when March comes.
@JayHawkFanToo I am pretty impressed when someone remembers practice regimens from 14 years ago.
The coaches just hope the players remember them from the previous day!
The West Virginia game should be to KU’s tempo advantage then?
Unless we patty cake the ball up the floor.
West Virginia thrives at making teams play fast, play scared. I think as you pointed out KU likes the frenetic pace of games. Mason, Graham, JJ and company like getting up and down the floor. It will be interesting to see if we can point out during the game how the tempo is being controlled and who’s controlling it.
@drgnslayr yeah, the attention should be on beating West Virginia and not earning Huggy bears extra spending money for him. I think we will lose at Kentucky but that won’t affect our seeding very much. Tough road wins in conference will impact not only out seeding but the confidence of our players in winning at places we normally lose.
Having said that, I recall…
@JayHawkFanToo great example though I would argue west Virginia will be a tougher task than UAB. but the principle is still the same.
WVU could get us playing even too fast for what we execute at. That will be their goal.
Look at this team we have… 4-guard offense with lots of handles… and goes into turbo scoring mode when playing a bit fast. A bit fast, but not too fast.
And then we have Frank Mason. Might he save our arses yet again? WVU will turn the game into a full court game and that spreads the defense and gives Frank a one-on-one situation much of the time. That is… as long as he receives the ball where he isn’t pinched on a double-team.
Really… if we can’t beat WVU this year in Morgantown, will we ever win there again?
@drgnslayr remember the play last night in the second half where Frank saw an opening down court and just flew down the court in a flash? Who does west Virginia have that can stay in front of him?
@drgnslayr “Really… if we can’t beat WVU this year in Morgantown, will we ever win there again?”
I would say no, not in the foreseeable future.
Carter mostly he averages 3 steals a game, or Miles. They are super quick. Phillip is bigger but is a pest.
RIght… their hope is to draw Frank into a charge. And the way this year goes with refs… it works pretty well.
One of Frank’s small vulnerabilities is his predictability in certain situations. Once he gets a full head of steam, he usually likes to finish at the rim because he usually scores, gets fouled, or both.
Knowing that in scouting tells opponents to play him for a charge.
Actually most guards play like that.
Josh has shown that many times, too. However… several times now I’ve seen Josh moving forward with a full head of steam and he moves just enough to go around flatfooted defenders. Frank and Devonte sometimes show some last second movement away from a defender, too.
I remember the big picture and I use search engines for the minutia. Only so much space in my memory…and it keeps getting smaller.
@BeddieKU23 I hope they press us the whole game and it ends up like a certain KU vs Kentucky game many, many moons ago.
@nuleafjhawk wouldn’t that be classic?!?!
@drgnslayr Frank doesn’t go all the way to the basket as much this year as he has in the past. He has spent a lot of time working on his floater and has become quite good at it. Playing him for the charge opens up the spacing that he gets for the floater.