Its the Free Throws, Stupid!

  • The KU-BU game produced a bunch of fascinating stats, and both coaches did some remarkable things, but the 10 point game was won and lost on the FT line. To wit:

    KU 26-29 89.7% BU 9-20 45%

    KU’s free throw defense was awesome as usual.

    But KU’s free throw offense was anomalously great.

    Great free throw defense and awesome free-throw offense created a 17 point advantage that was so formidable even BU shooting 80% from trey the first half could only defer the inevitability.

    Sure KU did some great things defensively. KU held BU to 38% FG. BU almost couldn’t get a shot off near the basket and it was all done without blocks. KU just guarded hard inside.

    Sure Baylor, for all of its seemingly two dozen different zone defenses it threw at KU, could not guard KU inside very well. KU shot 57.5%.

    Ya see, both teams rebounded about the same, blocked and altered about the same, and stripped about the same and turned it over about the same.

    And the fact is BU WANTED to take a whole bunch of outside shots, because they have two fabulous trey shooters.

    And the other fact is that KU WANTED to take a whole bunch of inside shots, because they don’t trust their outside shooting.

    BU made 13 treys and KU only made 6.

    The difference in the game was not the inside and outside shooting. KU and BU made the same number of FGs after all. And as I said, Baylor made double the treys, only because they like to take a lot more treys.

    Its the free throws, stupid, to recall political strategist James Carville’s “its the economy, stupid” advice to Democrats once upon a time.

    KU’s Free Throw Defense was as good as its ever been. If this game does not get researchers at CERN in Switzerland to begin searching for a sub atomic particle controlling free throw defense I don’t know what will. KU’s mind control over the The Free Throw Particle held BU to only 45% made. It was unbelievable!

    And KU’s Newtonian mechanics controlling its own free throw shooting was stellar.

    In the end it did not matter really that KU spent the entire first half with absolutely no clue about what kind of sone defense BU was in. Didn’t matter!

    In the end, it didn’t matter that Cory Jefferson ate Perry Ellis’ lunch in giant gulps.

    In the end, it almost did not even matter that Self and staff had no clue about how to attack the myriad zones the second half either. KU finally just gave up trying to read the zones BU threw at them and just started throwing the ball down low when possible and turning to try to draw fouls.

    And make fouls.

    But anyone can do that on a good shooting night.

    What distinguishes this team is its ability to defend the other team’s free throw shooting.

    You really don’t need great rebounding, when you have good control over your free throw defense particle.

    Rock Chalk!

  • @jaybate 1.0

    You said:

    “In the end, it didn’t matter that Cory Jefferson ate Perry Ellis’ lunch in giant gulps.”

    I disagree.

    Jefferson played 30 minutes, scored 16 points on 6-10 shooting including 2 3 pointers when the game was already decided, had 6 rebound, 1 assist, 1 steal, 3 turnovers and 3 fouls; he also shot 2-4 free throws.

    Perry on the other hand played 27 minutes, had 18 points on 6-8 shooting, had 5 rebounds,1 assists, 2 steal, 2 blocks, 1 turnover and 2 fouls; he also shot 6-7 free throws.

    I would say that Perry not only held his own, but actually had better number than Jefferson, don’t you think?

  • @jaybate 1.0 This is now post game and you guys called it just right. Wigs had a good game overall I thought. He was aggressive driving to the hoop, made 10-12 FT’s. His shot wasn’t quite as Umm potent as it could have been 1-4 treys. But he scored 17pts with 7 boards. Wigs was playing solid Defense too. In the second half he totally shut down Heslip when guarding him. Perry had a good game too. Got past his man a couple times for easy lay ins, had that brilliant steal and run out slam for an &1. Used his Designer skills to put in 18pts and 5 boards,2 steals. And, what about that hustle play by Selden!? That was so sick the refs didn’t even see his foot out of bounds. Don’t think anyone did til post game. When his shots weren’t falling, Im glad he could find other ways to contribute on the other end with his defense and hustle. Mason was a killer, fearless, 9 pts, 6asst and 1 TO. Saw him hounding his man on D. The combo of Jamarick Trayblack played hard nosed and with energy as usual. Embiid had a quiet game it seemed. 12 pts is just above his ave but 4 boards and 1 block? Maybe he was bothered by Austin’s height and length. Saw him sit on the bench looking irritated. I know he can defend out to the trey strip but Austin went 4-8 from 3. Wtf? Naadir also had a quiet game, 6pts 3 boards, no assists but didn’t have a TO either. Brannen played with solid effort for 4 min and got the hook after one turnover On thing I absolutely don’t understand is why we have such a rampant turn over problem!? I mean its everyone, not just our point guards, and it comes in waves. Sometimes they handle it well, like that 5 TO half against Okie state. I don’t know. Atleast they tied with Baylor on TOs 16 all. But seriously, they need to get a grip on the ball if they want to keep a hope of a deep tourney run in March. Pun absolutely intended! Here is my ever present question. How does Coach Self help our boys learn to break a trap with out turning it over? Slayr and HEM I am taking a page from your lengthy discussion on the previous thread. I think you have to put the turnover battle and the trap break into the same focus. Neither are mutually exclusive. The TO battle and the zone break can be tied together too. How does Coach fix this by the end of the conference? Because that’s how much time we have left. KU is 5-0 right now, with a pretty comfortable lead on everyone. It is time to look at our glaring weaknesses and freeking fix them! We have the potent offense, we have the stifling defense, we just have to quit turning the ball over and at the same time maybe force a few more turn overs per game. But that’s easier said that done. How many of Baylors TO’s were forced? Beyond the 7 steals I mean.

  • @JayHawkFanToo: thanks for the assist. I meant to say “in the first half” regarding Jefferson beating up on Perry. It didn’t matter. Once KU quit trying to challenge Jefferson with Perry and started keeping Perry as far from Jeffersons part of the zones as possible, it did not matter. Perry started setting up out on the trey stripe the second half, then away from Jefferson lower. Then BU turned to ice from trey, then KU just started rotating the zone to Jefferson’s side and then slipping Perry down the back side away from him and getting his twos the easy way up close, where Jefferson couldn’t dominate him, while Wiggins was challenging the other side and taking the banging and making the FTs. It was an awesome adjustment by Self and staff. If Perry can’t handle Jefferson guarding him in the first half, keep him the hell away from him the second. Then FT offense and FT defense to win. I have no idea how KU keeps defending the FT this well, but Self is onto something! 😉

    Really this game was very deceptive IMHO. KU won by 10 because KU succeeded in fouling their worst FT shooters and KU spent the second half making BU foul KU’s best FT shooters, or at least the ones capable of 89% last night.

    If Perry had been left butting up against Jefferson the second half, things would have gone about the same for Perry and Traylor, as they did in the first half–not very good.

    The reason Self dislikes zone is because you can always do to a zone what he did last night. If a defender like Jefferson can stop Perry in his zone, you just move Perry out of that zone.

    Drew got finessed last night. He focused so much on confusing KU’s defensive reads with changing zones that he forgot to think about where Self was moving his chess pieces to turn it into FT contest. This was classic Self. He never could get his guys to recognize the different zones, so he just concentrated attack away from the mismatches and tried to draw fouls. Brilliant!

  • I can’t wait to see this team in person when they come to Austin Feb. 1st. They will get some well-deserved rest this week but cannot look past TCU with Iowa State coming to The Phog next Wed.

    5-0 Baby! (clap) (clap) (clap) (clap) (clap)

  • @jaybate 1.0

    From the Baylor Bears website - says alot!

    #STAT OF THE GAME #Kansas shot 58% from the field, while Baylor shot 39%.

  • Ok, you’re Scott Drew. You watch the KU-OSU game from Saturday, likely Saturday evening. You prepare items for practice Sunday to get your team ready for KU at AFH. You watch KU’s 17 point lead go to 5 in less than 7 minutes during a stretch where OSU ran a 2-2-1 3/4 court press. KU threw the ball away a handful of times, and only made OSU “pay” one time with a easy bucket off the press during that stretch. You saw how KU approached the press, essentially with one press break. And your team is 1-3 in league, an underdog, and desperate to turn things around. Further, you are planning to run a zone as your primary D (“to stop Wiggins from driving” ). You might also realize that KU has just one plus days to fix what it did wrong against OSU.

    So, if you’re Scott Drew, what do you do?

    If you’re Scott Drew, you don’t run a 3/4 court full court press.

    If you’re Scott Drew, you lose.

    If you’re Scott Drew, you’re one of the worst D-1 basketball coaches in recent memory.

  • @jaybate 1.0_Sure fortunate that we’ve found Issac’s formula for the ever so elusive Phoenix FT defense, cause our trifecta defense is just horrid. Several of us talked about this very thing with Forte & Brown potentially lighting up for 20-25 each before the OSU game. Heslip & Austin are not as consistent as them, but they’re guys you just can’t lose in the shuffle. If you go under the screen Heslip will nail it about 40 + % of the time. And thankfully with a slow footed Bears team like this, Frank was able to do some necessary hard charging for some dishes & finishes that Nadir just doesn’t seem to have in the arsenal. Na’s a shooter, but he sure shies away from contact in the paint at times. Hey I wouldn’t take on Gathers either-just the teeth-gritting stare down is enough to make me hide. Lord, just imagine him popping up in an alley out of the dark? Yikes! Even if we’re commanding control of the conf lead right now, this is additionally a work still in progress for the young Jbirds on both ends of the floor. Bill has got to be learning more about his guys too, & is finding out how to manipulate the matchups we face. And even though our press breaks were somewhat sharpened & more disireable than vs OSU, this was a DREW team & not the quality we’ll see from superior coached squads. They get better the talent in Wacko, but Scott still bungles a bonanza beyond belief with his bush league zone defenses and his perpetual inability to get guys playing consistently at their talent level. Fuggedobout anything above that!

  • @HighEliteMajor

    Spot on HEM. I kept waiting the entire second half for the 3/4 court press and it only materialized at the very end; part of the reason was KU in-bounding the ball quickly and beating Baylor to the half court, but mostly it was bad planning by Baylor’s coaching staff that obviously did not read the scouting report of the KU-OSU game.

    Baylor has the talent; its top 6-7 players are as good and experienced as any other team in the league but I cannot think of a worse coach than Scott Drew. Looks like the coaching genes in the family went from Homer to Bryce and skipped Scott altogether. With a different coach, Baylor is a top 5 team.

  • @JayHawkFanToo The great part of playing Baylor is next time, we’ll figure out a different way to beat them. Scott Drew - a gift that just keeps giving…

  • @HighEliteMajor Imagine how badly KU would have beaten Baylor Had Self adopted the 221 press also. It is the perfect defense for turnover prone teams. And wouldn’t approved long ago that teams can play this zone press and intense high-pressure man to man defense every game for an entire season.

  • Right on, @HighEliteMajor !

    Drew just doesn’t have a great basketball mind. He doesn’t know how to look at two teams and figure out the right kind of plan to win. Or if he has something working but the game changes, he doesn’t know how to react off the change.

    Baylor should have been in this game right down to the wire.

    Baylor’s offense struggled in the second half, mostly because they were challenged tighter on 3s. Where did the defense come from? A little bit from several players, but mostly from Wiggins. He definitely is our best perimeter defender. That is no secret to anyone.

    So Wiggins did a great job shutting down Heslip. From that point forward the game’s outcome was already determined unless Drew made changes.

    What Drew should have done was put more emphasis on Chery. Chery had already shown he could blow right by Tharpe. Why didn’t he take over in the second half? Chery was great at penetrating and then feeding for assists, and in the process, helping draw fouls.

    Since Self’s big move was to match up Wiggins on Heslip, that created even a better opportunity for Chery to penetrate because Heslip could keep Wiggins’ weak side help away from Chery.

    Anytime an opportunity is taken away in one area, another opportunity opens up somewhere else. I don’t think Drew understands that reality in basketball. Baylor has way too many weapons to squander by not adjusting to changes in the game. This has been the biggest weakness in Drew since Day 1 in the Big 12.

  • @jaybate 1.0 We seem to win differently every game. The one thing consistent is we win. I’m not sure Baylor ever actually knew they were eligible to win a game against KU at AFH. Baylor lost the second they heard the crowd at the beginning of the game. The look on the Baylor player’s faces as they watched the spectacle of the best homecourt advantage in all of sports just blow away Baylor before the opening tip was … priceless. Baylor has been to the Elite 8 twice in the past, and they’re 0-11 here, Elite 8 teams included. So, I would add crowd intimidation to our free throw defense as another factor in the win as well.

  • @drgnslayr Agree, attacking with Chery was the right move. Another was to always have his baseline bigs in his zone rotate Jefferson to whichever side of the floor Ellis was on. He had Ellis number the whole first half. Self goofed and waited till after half to move Perry away from Jefferson. It used to be called a match-up zone not only because you stretched to cover who ever was on the perimeter, but also because you paired up your big men with their best opposite. Not matching up Jefferson on Ellis was Drew’s biggest single defensive mistake. I actually liked him shuffling the half court zones almost every time down the floor. I have always been partial to that myself and to masking any zone you stay in for more than two trips to look like something other than what it is before falling into it after the first pass to a wing.

    Self’s best moves were offensive. First, they quit trying to read the zones and just cut to two options. Rotate the zone around to Andrew and let him drive a seam on the extended zone, and draw a foul, or reverse to Perry hiding on the back side away from Jefferson, and let him slide down off the low block for an easy two. Perry on Austin, or the short wide body was a mismatch in quickness–the kind Perry likes (e…g, Georgetown). Getting Perry away from Jefferson took away Perry’s expectation of being blocked and dominated, as he was in the first half. Second, though, it was very sharp of Self to recognize that the key to the game was free throws. And the key to free throws was fouling their bad FT shooters, and keeping the ball in the hands of two or our good free throw shooters. Very clever. Too clever for Drew to even get what was happening till it was too late.

    Self’s best defensive move was to just keep doing what they had been doing the first half and wait for the law of averages to implode Baylor’s trey shooting. Self rightly reasoned that they had been winning by high percentage inside shots and two 45% trifectates. Self elected to stop their inside game and home they were off from outside. He probably figured Wigs could deny O’Neale a comfort zone from 3 and thought Selden, despite his knees, was tall enough to get a hand up to deny Heslip open looks. Wiggins did okay on O’Neale, but Selden got torched by Heslip the first half. Because Selden’s knees appeared to suck, it is doubtful that any adjustments were made by Self regarding Selden’s coverage of Heslip. Heslip just blew cold. Lucky us.

    Drew was, shall we say, out-coached.

  • JB, I was following Jesse’s blog during the game last night, and you said 2 things that popped out at me, and would like for you to elaborate. First, you thought Wiggins should/would stay another year - yes you called it first and I agree. Wiggins would be a senior in high school this year, and some maturing (emotionally if anything) would be good for the kid’s career. Second, you observed Wiggins’ parents may hold him back a year - can’t recall exact words. I was surprised to see them last night, didn’t know it was their first visit. Why didn’t they come on Sat to watch 2 vs. 1 game? It’s a long & expensive flight from Canada. Were folks there on a SOS call - Wiggins’ 3 pt performance against OSU? His stock is tumbling, and dad jumped on the plane? Dad’s eyes were capturing everything on Wiggins. Could his dad be thinking his son should stay another year to develop & mentally prep for a grueling NBA career? Your thoughts?

  • @HawksWin maybe they took WSU’s game in on sat.

  • @HawksWin

    The trip was likely planned ahead of time so they could catch a WSU game as well. His brother was in the audience as were several WSU players who were interviewed and seemed pretty diplomatic; it is unlikely that you get to do this on a spur of the moment. Once Wiggins turns 18, there is not much his parents can do, legally or otherwise. They can offer advise but the decision is uniquely his and his alone.

  • @JayHawkFanToo it does seem, according to his past interviews, he really respects his parents advice.

  • @Crimsonorblue22

    I am sure he does and by all accounts he is very respectful of them. My point is that once you turn 18, you parents no longer can force you to do anything you don’t want, all they can do is give advice.

  • @JayHawkFanToo -

    I also thought the Shocker players played the right diplomatic cards when poked into talking.

  • @drgnslayr Agreed. Nice group of young men that represent the state well. Too bad their coach tends to speak up a little too much; I do understant that it must be frustrating having the top ranked team in the state and still be the third banana 🙂

  • @HawksWin–As usual, everything I write is opining and speculation without inside information, or access to anyone on the inside, to my knowledge. And it was probably wishful thinking on my part that it could never happen, as CJonline’s Ben Ward was quick to point out. And he was alas probably all too correct. But…

    Andrew reputedly came out early. I believe that if its okay to come out early because you think you may be able to play at a higher level than high school, that it should also be okay to wait a year longer than planned to play more consistently with the expectations of yourself and your trusted advisors, rather than necessarily ploughing ahead to the NBA. Why does Andrew necessarily have to go to the NBA the end of this season? Why is it that necessarily the best thing for him and his family and his business potential?

    Outward appearances suggest to this fan that his physique appears not as physically mature as Lebron’s appeared when he went to the pros. Neural nets develop at different rates in different persons. Why do Andrew’s necessarily have to be ready now? What is set in stone about going pro just because the NBA wants to make him an extremely high pick?

    Money is a huge consideration, probably decisive. But earnings can be looked at different ways. Why is it written in stone that he has to grab the bones now to avoid injury? If injury risk were paramount, why didn’t he just sit out this season of OAD play, put himself in a padded cacoon and come out a year later and go straight to the NBA to avoid injury entirely? Why is playing one season in D1 the best thing for Andrew and two seasons unthinkable?

    During Jesse’s blog it occurred to me that his folks are former athletes that know what it is like to compete at a high level. They can recall coaching and team dynamics. They probably understand some, or a lot of the dynamics of the various potential business forces pulling on their son’s career planning. It just occurred to me that if he were my son and he appeared to be playing at some what less than what I had forecasted in my expectations, despite putting up good but not great numbers, well, if he were my son and it was thought that he could get to the hole anytime he wanted, but hasn’t always seemed to, I would want to come and see for myself, lend him some moral support and try to reevaluate around now whether I wanted him to continue with the OAD approach, or ease back and wait a year. It occurred to me that if he were my son, I would want to meet with his coach and get his advice at this point in the season. If he were my son, if he were not doing all the things I and our advisors thought he should reasonably be able to do this season in D1, and be relatively happy and consistent doing them, then I would probably entertain staying an extra year, because the risks of injury would seem lower to me (a layman fan), than the risks of stunting his growth and getting him caught up dysfunctionally in further hype this season, and in the awesome rigors of the NBA (no boys allowed) next. I thought about it all and it occurred to me that the next Lebron, that could play like the next Lebron in the NBA next season, would go. And it occurred to me that the next Lebron, or Kobe, as slayr has recently modified his player development modeling conception of Andrew to, would wait until his play and physique suggested he could enter the NBA and play like the next Lebron, or Kobe.

    If I recall correctly, Lebron started most of his first NBA season and did pretty well; that was not the case with Kobe.

    What I like so much about slayr’s re-casting of Andrew in terms of Kobe is that Kobe is also, a great one, but that Kobe had a gradual development process compared to Lebron. And Andrew and Kobe’s games and body morphology potentials seem much more closely related than Andrew and Lebron. And last but not least, slayr was insightful enough to make clear that if Andrew were to model his game off Kobe that would involve retooling from a high injury risk, get to the rim guy, into a low injury risk create space for jump shooting all over the floor guy. slayr was apparently crafting an answer to those worries about injury that propel players to jump as early as circumstances will permit based on what they already can do, versus what they after some more work, should be able to do, regardless of their rates of maturity. slayr was apparently holding out a hypothetical career path consistent with greatness and huge earnings, but a modestly slower rate of development than Lebtron’s career and with less injury risk. In turn, it occurred to me that were Andrew and his brain trust to consider slayr’s IMHO astute insights about Andrew vis a vis Kobe, that they might come to view staying another season at KU as a reasonable alternative, given that injury risk would be minimized and Andrew could arguably afford the extra year, because he reputedly came out of high school a year earlier than Lebron, did not come from poverty, and maybe came at little earlier than the model of Kobe.

    Andrew seems too great of a young player to let conventional wisdom box him into leaving early no matter what.

    In my fan’s opinion, Andrew should go the the NBA as soon as he is comfortable and able to find a situation in the NBA that might be able to simulate Kobe’s early years with the Lakers, whatever might be even better fitted to what his development status were when he goes.

    But from the outside looking in, the NBA today and its draft do not seem a place geared to taking Number One draft choices and making them subs their first seasons, 6th men their second seasons, and then starters their third seasons. For Number Ones, especially guards, they seem to want to accelerate them as quickly as possible into starting their first seasons, like Lebron did. But of course I do not watch the NBA closely and so I could be wrong in this assumption.

    Nevertheless, is coming out immediately really the best that can be done for this apparently exceptional human being, not just player, that is Andrew Wiggins? It seems to me that he deserves to be cut some slack just because he is so exceptional.

    But I’m just a fan and so, what I write, or what ex-player and now fan slayr writes probably doesn’t (and probably shouldn’t) account for much.

    Still, when you see some one this exceptional, someone so obviously gifted in certain ways that seem not yet any where near mature capabilities, you want to wave your KU pendant from the cheap iSeats and shout, hey, can anybody hear me down there? Will someone consider cutting this exceptional human being some slack!!! Does he have to go so soon, when nothing is written?

    I can at least imagine an NBA situation next year that could be a better trade off than staying at KU, But I can imagine a lot of worse NBA situations than being at KU next season. Unless some great NBA team has the ideal slot all set up for Andrew’s unique situation, I sure hope Andrew’s brain trust gives some consideration to Andrew staying another year, whether or not KU wins a ring this season, and considers slayr’s remarks about Andrew in terms of Kobe.

    Rock Chalk!

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