Reality - and Gut - Check Time

  • A loss on the road against a quality team is certainly not the end of the world. Villanova and Kentucky both lost on the road last night (although 2 point losses each). We’ve lost 4 in a row in Morgantown. Baylor was spanked there earlier (although OU won there???).

    The issue is the way the game unfolded and the way we lost. Defensive shortcomings that have been widely discussed clearly manifested themselves last night. The glass half full view has been - yeah, but we can out score the other team. That has been and probably will continue to be true against fair to middling competition, but much less likely against higher NCAA caliber teams.

    The fact is that our glossy record was built largely on probably the weakest non-conference schedule we’ve had in years. And, the first 7 conference games lined up as about as favorably as possible. Really, what are the sure NCAA teams we’ve beaten until now? Duke - yes, but seed is slipping. ISU and KSU - possibly (probably for at least one), but they won’t be high seeds. That’s really it.

    Heretofore, we’ve managed to out score inferior teams, masking our defensive shortcomings. But that certainly wasn’t the case last night. Giving up 5 straight lay-ups to start the second half. Getting out-scored by 18 in the last 9 minutes. Once again yielding a career night to the one of the opponents front court players (how many of those so far this year?). Seemingly no ability to keep their guards and forward from getting to the rim. And, then no rim protection.

    This wasn’t one of those 3-18 from the arc nights. We hit our 3s - a lot of them. We couldn’t score from inside the arc. And, of course, 6-15 from the FT line. And, getting badly outrebounded in the second half.

    The good news is that it is only one conference loss and we still control our own destiny. Same position as Baylor right now - tied with the same road lo. And, playing in KC in the tournament is very much in reach - I expect all the top teams save Gonzaga to have 3-5 losses. But, we can’t count on out scoring the other team every game. It is worth noting that our Kenpom defensive efficiency rating after last nights game has fallen to 41st - by far the worst of the Self era.

    We just don’t have the right mix or skill sets to be an elite defensive team, but we have to do a better job. I just don’t know what the answer is? Mixing in some zone depending on match-ups? At this stage, can the guys really be taught to keep their man in front of them and cut off driving and passing lane? It’s not rocket science - look at a team like UVA; not that athletic or talented, but but they play rock solid defense - shut down Notre Dame last night in South Bend - and ND had been one of the most efficient offensive teams in the country.

    It’s gut check time - if we can get through the next two weeks with no more than 2 losses, we’re in good shape. But, is that likely? Are you confident about wins at Baylor, OSU and KSU? What needs to happen? What can we do differently, if anything, to improve on the defensive end???

  • @DCHawker I disagree - we aren’t at a physical disadvantage and we can be a good defensive team. Same thing with rebounding. Our guys just don’t seem to have the toughness necessary

  • @DCHawker With no Doke don’t have the depth to crank up the defense. Time to just get better at game planning and strategizing.

    Play zone against poor shooting teams from the very start or to keep us out of foul trouble in the first half. Double on teams with a good post. Put in a corner trap and use our quickness to get more steals. Throw out a junk defense on teams who have a hot player (Box and 1 triangle and 2 type of thing).

    Time for us to play smarter not harder. We don’t have the bodies to play harder as we saw last night. We tried to play smarter and went zone and that worked, but it was too late.

  • Yep, We’re not the only team that plays tough at home, we knew that at the beginning of the season and most of us predicted a loss or two on the road. Losses can be motivating things - look how we well we did after our last one. While I hate losing, going undefeated during the regular season is a real burden.

    Sky isn’t falling, just gotta play smarter and harder. Unless we freefall, and I don’t see frank letting that happen, we still are going to be conference champs again. The big dance is mostly about who is hot and healthy in March.

    Let’s see what happens next game…

  • UWV lost to OU because they were thinking ahead to last night’s game.

  • Sorry I have to agree with DC , on some things for sure. Getting really old when we play and an opposing player goes off and has career nights. Game, after Game, After Game - - average players, ok you can say good players, but these guys play like NBA types when they play against us. - - How many big’s have went off on us? I don’t see this getting any better, pretty disappointing . Have to also agree begin to wonder if Coach needs to challenge their toughness. - - -Looked like to me also last night more so in the first half sure looked like Frank was forcing a lot of things, to deep penetration then trying to force- -shot blocked, passes deflected just a really bad night – - ROCK CHALK ALL DAY LONG BAY

  • @DCHawker I agree, im not in panic mode yet tho. I will be if we lose the next 2 or 3 which could happen. Hopefully this is the gut check we needed.

  • @DCHawker

    Quality Post. The harsh realities always come full circle with a loss. We seem to see the same theme play out in Morgantown every year now. Good thing we get the return game in Allen in 2 weeks. The beauty of the round-robin is KU can use that loss when we play at home.

    I felt like I was watching a Spanish Cooking class on TV with the way the game was officiated. I don’t understand how the game can be called that poorly and inconsistently on a consistent basis. I don’t care if anyone disagree’s but the entire game was affected by how it was officiated.

    We saw first hand 8 seconds into the game how this game was going to go. Frank Mason called for what? Handing the ball off and having a defender run into him? I suppose play on just doesn’t exist.

    Now our players lost this game fair and square but you could tell they were all frustrated and affected by those 3 guys on the court. Our players did not use the scouting report to their advantage. That was the worst defensive effort in years. West Virginia ran the same play over and over with a screen for a post/wing into the lane. We didn’t successfully stop it once I don’t think. That’s poor recognition by player and staff.

    It is gut check time. I do hope that this loss will help this team react to the situation because the game on Saturday is arguably against a better team in a more hostile environment. We saw how poorly we handled last night with guys who have been there 4 years. I don’t think anyone from this team has played in Rupp. I expect we’ll see a charged up team on Saturday, that’s all we can hope for

  • @DCHawker Excellent points. There is no shame in losing at WVU, coached by, as someone pointed out, a HOF coach. The way we lost, and the fact that our defensive deficiencies still exist this late into the season, are a concern. WVU didn’t beat us with their press…they beat us by their guys beating our guys off the dribble, creating open shots and getting to the FT line. The opposition getting too many good looks at the basket, or layups, has been a constant this year, with a few exceptions. Of course, getting the home crowd energy, and the home crowed whistle… both of which we get at AFH…are nothing new. It’s just that the things that got us beat last night have existed for the entire season. We all think they can do better…remains to be seen if they will.

  • IMG_2843.JPG

    Zero ft attempts

  • @Crimsonorblue22 Great pix. Of course, if % held, his two FT attempts would have netted us about 8/10ths of a point - much closer game…😄

  • @jayballer54 @DCHawker I know we talk a lot about it here, but what does it really matter if someone has a career night against us unless it leads to a win? I don’t care if the WVU kid had a career night if it led to a loss for them which of course it didn’t, but that’s the first time a career nighter beat us this year. And how do we prepare for preventing someone having a career night? Not sure. Sometimes kids are just feeling it. Remember Lafester Rhodes? 54 points against Iowa, and everyone was saying who? I just don’t think it’s a big deal that it seemingly happens to us with regular frequency.

  • @wissox career nights usually have meant wins for us.

  • @Crimsonorblue22 You mean our guys having career nights?

  • @wissox no

  • @Crimsonorblue22

    that looks like solid hand to ball contact. I mean that is how the ref’s saw it.😃

    the rules of how games are called in West Virginia are non-existent. Higgins and company made it up as they went

  • @wissox said:

    @jayballer54 @DCHawker I know we talk a lot about it here, but what does it really matter if someone has a career night against us unless it leads to a win? I don’t care if the WVU kid had a career night if it led to a loss for them which of course it didn’t, but that’s the first time a career nighter beat us this year. And how do we prepare for preventing someone having a career night? Not sure. Sometimes kids are just feeling it. Remember Lafester Rhodes? 54 points against Iowa, and everyone was saying who? I just don’t think it’s a big deal that it seemingly happens to us with regular frequency.

    Post facto, if we win the remainder of our games this year and in every one someone on the other side had a career night, of course not. It just so happens that it in every instance it has been one of the front court players on the other team - we’ve simply provided very little resistance in the post. Other than with Bryant in the first game (not a career game, but very good numbers as I recall) and last night, it hasn’t resulted in a loss. But, those are probably 2 or the 3 most talented teams (if not best) we’ve played thus far.

    The front court players that have dominated down low have been for the most part pretty good players (e.g., the GA big and Allen), but not world beaters. I think the question is whether we can expect to beat teams with really good post players - thinking UK and Baylor with Motley, along with teams we could face in the tournament, when they may also have good perimeter guys.

    The B12 this year is really guard dominated - and we’ve got the best perimeter players. But methinks we’re going to have to get more than 4 points and matador D from our front court guys if we are to survive the next two weeks - let alone advancing in the tourney. Perimeter oriented teams have won the title - UConn and Louisville come to mind - that didn’t get a lot of scoring from the post, but they definitely provided some rim protection…

  • That game is over. It’s time to get ready for the next one. We lost the game. Four times in a row at WVU. Okay? Now what? 2 losses in 20 games. I will take it. First place in a very good Big XII. I will take it. We have more to be thankful for than to complain about. I know our team is busting their butt in practice and in games trying to get better and trying to win. Plenty of season left. Enjoy every win and try to get over losses as soon as possible. That’s my advice.

  • I believe at the beginning of the season when we were trying to predict the conference, most if not all of us, thought that a win at WVU was highly unlikely. So we lost, no big deal we are still in control.

  • @KansasComet Absolutely. But what concerns me is the lack of defense this team has showed is still an issue. If we don’t get it corrected, we will not be a Final Four and NC contender IMO. I think others would agree with me. 30 wins and a conference championship are everyone’s goals…but so is a NC. Will we improve our weaknesses enough to get there? Remains to be seen, but the longer we go without correcting the flaws, the more people worry…which I think is understandable.

  • @Hawk8086 Thanks. Every team has weaknesses. Hopefully, it all comes together for us before tournament time. We let that game get away from us. We didn’t play too bad. It was a close game to the end. I think we struggled on 50-50 balls more than anything. Yes we allowed some layups, but the way the game was being called, it was either give up the bucket or get a fouled called against us. It is a real no-win situation sometimes. I think we win the rematch and of course they still have to come to our place. I like our situation.

  • The non-Dick Vitale guy said that the Big 12 will get 7 teams in the Tournament. I have not seen this much parity in the Big 12 in the last 13 seasons. UWV gets beaten by Tech, OU and K State. Baylor losses by 21 at UWV. Udoka was green, but he was a Man-Child. He was getting better at shot blocking and he was intimidating when guards tried to drive on him. Self is playing a tougher conference than before with three new excellent coaches in the league and he’s doing it with his least talented Bigs. I envy TCU having Brodziansky and K-State with a four-year type in Dean Wade. A big injury to a good player seems to happen every year at KU. Having Udoka injured early could help Coach find a way to win without a Boss. Lucas was sick last night but watching Mitch play his most minutes in a Conference game shows how Self is trying to find any solution. The failure of Alexander and Diallo have left us in a Big Man bind.

  • @wrwlumpy Big 12 gets 5 at best. The RPI’s in the league this year aren’t great which means conference play won’t help boost RPI’s much. You gotta get to 10-8 in Big 12 play this year I believe to get an at large with the RPI’s the teams have.

  • @DCHawker Nice post.

    Last nights game was awful the second half. Our defense stunk. Landen, 10 boards, not bad, Bragg…1 board!? Really??

    Im not making excuses here but i suspect Lando isnt himself again. Sick or hurt, either one or both.

    KU actually went to zone Defense in the second half. I forget how long they played it. Fat lot of good it did.

    All our current defects aside, I still like KU’s chances to come out on pretty good ground after the next few weeks.

    I trust Bill Self. Period.

  • @Texas-Hawk-10

    Our conference might get a slight bump if we win most of those B12-SEC games. Slight. Very Slight, because the SEC totally sucks.

  • @Crimsonorblue22 Yah, thats the other thing that pisst me off last night. The second half foul calling was horrendous!!

    I mean clearly that is a foul on WVU. No FTs for Frank and he gets 4 fouls!? BS

  • @Lulufulu

    I’m still surprised LL got that many minutes in this game. It really wasn’t his cup of tea. LL does well in games that are structured tightly.

    Guess he had to play since our depth was so low.

    What is really hurting us this year is we could use one more quality guard. Especially one with size to play anywhere 1-4 or even 5.

  • @drgnslayr I was kind of hoping to see all 5 guards out there at one point…just for a couple possessions.

  • @Lulufulu

    I could almost guarantee you that would have happened if we had more guard depth.

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