Cannon to Left/Cannon to Right/Cannon Behind
God is not on the side of the big battalions, but on the side of those who shoot best. –Voltaire
Voltaire was French and the French are notorious for not considering ALL the details.
The English are more detail oriented. Alfred Lord Tennyson was fastidious in verse and life. And they have a flare for the tragic.
“Half a league, half a league, half a league onward…” writ Tennyson of a light brigade entering tough terrain.
KU enters this coming Tuesday contest with WVU, as the smaller, lighter, less physical team with a mylar thin 7-man bench.
WVU enters this contest with the bigger, heavier, brawnier team with a legitimate 10-man rotation.
For the first 30 minutes of every game, KU has to avoid fouling at all costs. It has to rest starters on the floor during games. It can’t waste energy on winning the disruption stat; i.e., it can’t afford to expend a lot of energy stripping, and forcing TOs and exploding for blocks. It has to guard and get stops the hard way–butt down, knees bent, back straight, feet wide, sliding, sliding, sliding. Each man must handle his man, so that help is only infrequently necessary. Each KU defender has to consciously stand up two passes away on defense and breath. KU’s energy budget the first 30 minutes cannot afford to pressure the trey stripe and contest every shot, and explode out of position to block shots. The closest KU rebounder must go and get the rebound. so that other KU rebounders do not have to jump too. Point guard Frank Mason can no longer afford to go grab 10-12 reebs just because he can. He has to grab only those that Landen absolutely cannot get to. Only Josh Jackson can go for explosive blocks because, because only he has sufficiently developed back up to expect rest. Svi Mykhailiuk is the only luxury this team has. Vick and Bragg are if/then/else players. If they happen to have a good match up and their heads are in the right places, then they can give rest; else fuggeddaabout it in a tight game against a ranked opponent. Landen Lucas can block some, but he cannot overplay and take risks to do so, because the fouls would be greater costs than the benefits of doing so, at least for that first 30 minutes. Bragg for more than 15-18 minutes a game is the equivalent of ice skating on sheet ice on Potter’s Lake. Bottom line? KU’s raison d’être is “efficiency.” KU has to push the ball up the floor efficiently. No wasted motion. Just get to the spot. Run the stuff. Score. It has run two man breaks instead of three, whenever possible. It can expect a secondary break. The primary has to getter done. KU has to drive efficiently. Frank has to be in the Psi zone, where his incomparable driving is effortless and seemingly in slo-mo. Devonte has to curtail his preference for bouncy jitterbugging and gear shifting and arcing cuts. The cuts have to be efficient 45 degree angles whenever the action is not a weave. They all have to tighten the arcs as quickly and as much as possible on the chops, and loosen them as little as possible on the outward weaves. They can’t use pump fakes and feints and shake and bakes, because they gotta conserve baby. They gotta leave a small carbon footprint that first 30. Self can maybe afford two squirts of a minute each the first half, maybe 3 minutes out of 20. The rest of the time its nip here, and tuck there, make a smoothly athletic move here and learn to love the 3 inch hop jump shot from trey. The objective for the first 30 minutes is to out-shoot the opponent from trey, shoot more treys, at a higher percentage (42.6% to 35%) and drive to iron and shoot more free throws than the opponent to make up for KU’s sharply inferior FT shooting. Turn it over less, get more FTs, shoot 64% from the FT stripe to the opponents 70% and hope its a wash on made free throws. Do this and KU’s in the game with ten to go, and usually with some kind of a lead. Further, the other, less efficient team is usually starting to lose its nerve in the efficiency game and starting to lose its trey shooting legs, too. KU, more used to playing this way and possessed of a near Zen calm pursuing efficiency, sneaks into half time and the ten to go mark with a 5-10 point lead by means only the Edmund Kid fully understands. Lord Tennyson might have called these Jayhawks a light brigade. Voltaire, across the channel, and besotted with reason and pith would have called them sharp shooters. Dumas no doubt would have spun them to the talking heads as The Seven Musketeers.
The trouble is the light brigade of Seven Musketeers (ooh, Tennyson and Dumas are probably calling me out for satisfaction the way I mixed their tongues) is marching smartly into Appalachia holler called Morgantown defended not by entrenched heavy battalions that the light brigade’s speed and quickness can outflank. No, WVU is a heavy battalion that General Man Bra Huggins has fiendishly put on flat cars on rails and taught to roll into, dare I say muscle and bang into, KU light brigaders inbounding ball. 90 feet of rolling stock rolling this way and that. Its not that KU’s light brigade cannot run circles around it, when its ten to go and time to leave it all on the floor. The problem is the first 30. How does a light brigade “efficiently” slice through a switch yard full of big heavy flat cars rolling this way and that way without getting pinched and crushed between two?
Always there are two ways past a press: 1.) flank and slice the gaps; or 2.) throwing it over the top. Which shall KU choose?
Self has preferred over the top the last few years. but it means more turnovers. And for 30 minutes KU cannot really afford to make many turnovers, because KU cannot afford the energy budget for going out and pressure stripping this bunch of flat cars in satin shorts. The alternative is to flank and shoot the gaps, but that requires more tiring starts and stops, more exchanges, more chances for collision, and more fatigue from stress.
As is usually the case with Self, when he holds no clear, singular advantage in such a factor of play, we will see some of both–some mixing it up. Some over and some around. Some searching for a weakness, an armor chink, a gap. Maybe a player with bad footwork, or an injury that can be exploited. Maybe someone gets fouled up.
Huggie saw what Self did to him with a long bench last season and Huggie took notes. Huggie plays ten guys with double digit average PT. He knows ten guys is a lot for a D1 team to prepare for on a couple days between games, especially when one is a travel day for the unlucky roadie. Huggie is going to make Self’s efficiency experts have to prepare for a lot of different hoopahs.
So: how does this Mountaineer team win most of its games. It outshoots opponents on FGs 48% to 42%. It pressures the trey stripe with so much muscle that its own lousy trey percentage ends up +3 over the opponents 32% from trey. WVU also out rebounds you, It makes half as many TOs. It gets twice the strips you get. And it out blocks you.
For the light brigade to win?
Wash on the glass. Tell the guards its time to play and protect like the great guards they are this season.
STEAL, STEAL, STEAL AND DON’T TURN IT OVER. TRY TO
AND BE THE TEAM THAT SHOOTS THE BEST, WHILE THE BIG OLF FLAT CARS RUMBLE THIS WAY AND THAT TO NO AVAIL.
WITH TEN TO GO LEAVE IT ALL ON THE FLOOR.
KU COULD OUT FLANK THEM AND CIRCLE THEM AND CUT THEM AND SHOOT THEM TO PIECES.
But don’t shoot well and its “half a league, half a league, half a league onward…”
And into the mouth of hell would ride that light brigade.
I share your excitement for the epic battle on Tuesday. I hope our 3 ball cannons are blazing away against the Mountianeers. Come away from Morgantown with a W and the Big 12 championship is within our control. Still quite losable though, given how closely every conference team plays us. I say just take each game as it comes and don’t look ahead. This will be a fun week for Jayhawk fans. RCJH
I prefer KU brings snipers/sharp shooters rather than cannons…
@JayHawkFanToo 3 pt Bombs!
…as long as they are JDAMs. KU does not have the depth to carpet bomb and see what hits…precision guided missiles is what it needs
@JayHawkFanToo Nuke 'em 'til they glow!!!
Now, now…let;s not escalate and get bog down in West Virginia for the next 3 years…
@JayHawkFanToo One SAW against the muzzle-loader. Case closed.