Conquering Turnovers

  • Bill Self is talking about reducing turnovers -

    A high rate of turnovers seem to be the norm for a Bill Self team. That fact seems to contradict the success Bill Self brings with him every year, or does it?

    Why do Bill Self teams turn the ball over at a high rate?

    Because in the early part of the season, Bill’s focus is less on reducing turnovers and more on increasing ball movement in his offense. The first sin in Bill’s book is having a ball “stick.”

    Bill allows some tradeoff of turnovers in preference for rapid ball movement, and in doing so, accepting this tradeoff is vintage “Self-ball” and partially responsible for his winning success.

    It is apparent that Bill’s philosophy is to teach his team to keep the ball moving quickly to create better opportunities to attack and score. And if he can teach a quicker pace of movement early on in a season, it is easier to maintain it all year and under various circumstances. His philosophy is that turnovers will reduce over time as his team masters the pace of the ball speed. Eventually, players will feel the game slowing down because their own pace has been sped up all season.

    But does Bill’s theory hold true? If the true measurement for success of this theory is winning percentage, it seems to be a valid theory most of the time.

    Is Bill’s theory consistently true? After a certain point in the season, does it stop breaking down and does his team stop having big turnover games? From looking at Bill’s legacy, it doesn’t always appear to be consistent. Kansas is capable of having high turnover games towards the end of the season.

    Is there something he can teach that will eliminate most or all of those late-season high-turnover games? This is the million-dollar question, and very likely the biggest determinant on how far Kansas will go in March. This is especially important with the current Jayhawk team that definitely has not protected the ball well for most of this season.

    What lessons can be taught to help this team reduce turnovers?

    A. Passer reduces telegraph. Sometimes this year, I’ve already hollered out an expletive even before the steal has occurred. Every player on this team sometimes telegraphs their passes. There are three aspects of a telegraph; where the pass is going, when the pass is going, and trajectory of the pass. The best prevention of a telegraph is to disguise all aspects, but in the least, one must always be disguised. The eyes give away who the ball is going to be passed to, and is a simple fix by looking towards another player or area right before making the pass. As far as masking the timing of the pass, the best method to do that is to have a very quick release of the pass, or use a pump fake to make the defense react and then look for a new passing opportunity. And using the right trajectory is more important than trying to mask it. Players need to know when to use the bounce pass, lob and bullet pass and mesh that with the right path.

    B. Receiver anticipates pass. The receiver of the pass has to have good anticipation for when the pass will arrive and by what path. Anticipation skills are developed through plenty of reps in practice. By anticipating properly the receiver needs to make sure the path is there for the ball to arrive safely. Sometimes that means stepping towards the passer even before the pass is made. And once the pass is made, the receiver has to be aggressive and go fight for the reception (when necessary).

    C. Maintaining poise. It is easy to get rattled sometimes. Maybe it is brought on by the crowd noise of an away game. Maybe it is brought on by the uptick in enthusiasm of the opponent. What has to be realized is that every turnover creates the possibility for more turnovers to occur on the next possessions. Turnovers tend to snowball into more turnovers because the opposition gains confidence (and energy) and looks more for opportunities to steal, while the offense losses confidence and builds anxiety. Sometimes over-confidence on defense can be taken advantage of by running backdoor lobs.

    D. Safe outlet. Players should always be trained on where the safest outlet is under every circumstance and knowing what outlets carry the most risk (like cross court passes). Possessing good basketball IQ will help reduce turnovers in high-pressure double-teams, backcourt clock crunches and other situations that typically help create more turnovers.

    E. Keep the defense honest. If we don’t attack defenses that are overplaying passing lanes and double-teaming the ball, eventually we are allowing them to succeed at their strategy. There should be risk in playing so aggressively, but if we don’t attack on these opportunities we allow teams to play for steals without having risk.

    These are some of the basics… but in order for this team to execute safer basketball it has to work on execution in practice first. And in order to replicate a real game situation in practice, both blue and red teams must aggressively go after steals, another part of our game which has been lacking execution.

    So while we learn how to protect the ball we have to learn how to play for the steal at the same time. We can’t practice one without the other.

    If we become a better steal team, we will become better at ball security.

    The key to our improvement is to play more aggressive for steals in practice. If we can improve in practice we can reduce our turnovers while increasing our steals, leaving us with a net gain in two areas that will give us more scoring opportunities in every game!

  • @drgnslayr nice read. I would also add the fact that we have a lot of unforced TO’s. Just valuing the ball so to speak, catching w/2 hands and being strong w/rebounds, are 2 that really stand out from last game. We get stripped so often!

  • @Crimsonorblue22 -

    Nice additional comment.

    There needs to be some kind of balance where the guys aren’t over-thinking and trying too hard not to mess up and still having the game flow well.

    I’m optimistic we’ll see improvements soon because this team has so much capability, and with that capability comes a fast learning curve.

    I don’t want to slap them too hard on the back for a job well done, but it is amazing to see the progress so quickly with a team this young.

    I’ve caught most of the Kentucky games this year and I believe our progress has been moving at a faster clip when compared to the Wildcats.

  • @Crimsonorblue22 That’s a great point. I’ve specifically noticed Wiggins just dropping the ball or letting it slip out of his hands unprovoked at least 1-2 times every game. Usually his heads up planning his next move and he’s not looking the ball into his hands. Michigan last year showed us it can be one possession at the end of the game and something as simple as that that can knock you out the tourney.

  • Bravo, bravo, bravo, slayr.

    All getting better has a mechanical origin and a contextual origin.

    Mechanical origin: value the ball more in practice,as Crimsonblue22 suggests, by concentrating on the variables you suggest.

    Contextual Origin: Turn practices into fierce contexts of disruption, so as to get our players more used to the speed, contact, chaos and anticipation, that valuing the ball must occur within.

  • @drgnslayr Great read. May I add knowledge of the clock. Sometimes players loose track of time and force a bad pass because they think the clock is running out for that possession.

    Another example it time as in you have a nice run going and a fast break may be possible- to make a risky pass as if the play has to be made NOW. I’ve seen plenty of players make a bad pass on a fast break as if that is the winning bucket in the game with 2 seconds left when there is plenty of time in the game. If it isn’t wide open it is smarter to hold up and play it safe.

  • @drgnslayr Good stuff. Timely topic as this area is an anchor, so to speak, holding this team back.

    I would add, generally, that one main way to avoid turnovers is to reduce the fear of turnovers. My preference is a faster game where the turnover means less as there are more possessions. But I have always felt that obsessing on protecting the basketball creates hesitancy, and that can itself lead to turnovers. As a coach, it can make sense to simply never bring up the word “turnover.” Depends on how and what you’re coaching.

    But I don’t see that really with our guys right now. Jesse posted something today with a quick look at all of KU’s turnovers against Baylor. Count how many come on careless plays vs. aggressive plays. Most were of the careless/passive type. And that goes to your point that Self will tolerate some turnovers.

    Personally, I think the turnovers we see are simply related to the difference in the nature, speed and intensity of the game, and our freshmen adjusting to it.

    Ellis is sophomore, but he plays a finesse game. His are mainly caused by not being firm and strong, most of the time.

    I would expect our turnovers to simply go down as our experience increases. This is why I’m so high on Mason. Look at his play in late November to early December. Look at it now. There has been a significant leap in the adjustment to the speed and nature of the game.

  • @HighEliteMajor I know I am,dealing with KU buckets royalty here so I really appreciate your opinion and you are kind to refrain shooting me down outright.

    Above all things I hate unforced TO’s at ANY LEVEL. Even coaching young elementary school girls.

    To me, there are far too many TO’s on many KU teams. Even in my old days of pickup games in my 30’s, an ILL ADVISED PASS has no place when a game is close.

    Sorry, just a real sore spot with me.

    Hoping we keep learning and getting better. RCJH.

  • @JayhawkRock78 I’m w/you!

  • @drgnslayr I cringe in fear everytime I see a cross court pass. Wonder if they go 5 on 7 in practice? Or some such # mismatch, create more pressure for the starting 5. Literally Force them to take care of the ball better.

  • @drgnslayr There are structural reasons why Self teams commit high TOs and they are foundationed in the kind of offense they run. They get open mostly with footwork, not with screens. They mostly pass to optimal impact spots known to the defenders. Self apparently views a half court as a largely fixed array of attack spots that players must occupy and receive passes from without screening as much as possible. Screening is a tactic, not a core strategy. Screening tends to concentrate offenders on the ball, which means one offender setting the screen is not in position to attack , or rebound. It means two of five offenders are NOT in position to go get the rebound. It means 3 players of 5 players cease to be attack options. It means defenses are clumped which makes it easier for them to help, if the shot off the screen is not taken. The object of Self Offense is as often as possible to pass the ball to single player on a spot that makes a defense unable to stop a score from, or have to help to stop a score. Screening can get a guy an open look at a spot but never leaves numerical advantage off the ball. Every time a Self Baller gets in scoring position without a screen, the defense has to help, or give up the score. If they have to help, then KU always holds numerical advantage off ball. The game goes from 5 on 5 to 1 on 2 around the ball and 4 on 3 away from the ball. Hence, there is great incentive to risk TOs to get the ball to attack spots and there is great awareness of defenders knowing where those spots are and that KU will try to use length and athleticism alone to get to them and to receive passes there. In short Self trades off higher TOs to get to attack spots without screens most of the time in pursuit of, first, the on ball scoring opp from an MUA on an attack spot and second the ensuing 4 on 3 advantage off ball. When defenders are fresher than offenders, they are hard to shake without screens, and so passers practicing quick ball movement have to make many high risk passes to wings and into paint. Why do it Self’s Way? Why does it work? Self probably figures on most nights only half the shots go in no matter whether you screen, or not. That means half the shots come off. That means that if you shoot without screening and while forcing help on an MUA play from a high percentage attack spot, then you get to play 4 on 3 off ball as the misses come off the rim. This means you can choose between releasing some back for defense to stop easy transition baskets (note: ever notice how few transition baskets most teams get on KU), or crash the offensive glass 4 on 3 ( something KU does from time to time).

    All of the above is why Self Ball suffers high TOs. It is trying to get the ball to heavily defended, known attack spots for huge benefits beyond just an open look. When all that is needed at a key moment is a sure open look, then he will run a screen play.

  • I need to clarify something. the TO’s that drive me nuts are unforced. Most happen when a player (intended recipient) does not know where the ball is. I love run and gun and fast breaks, they are one of the best things about the game. But many times something is forced when the play isn’t there. As a result you can end up with a two possession swing. I don’t think these kids make a bad pass because they lack skill. It is bad judgement most the time, and some times bad communication. I get the TO because a player zigs instead of zags and the passer could not anticipate, but too many times a TO is just a bad pass. Case in point bad Tyshawn. Loved the guy, but he was my poster boy for bad decisions. One of my favorite quotes from HCBS was something like, “he does stuff you can’t coach, and sometimes you wonder if he’s ever been coached.”

  • @jaybate 1.0 So what are the structural reasons why guys seem to pass to players that aren’t looking with alarming regularity? If KU would cut out even 50% of their unforced turnovers they would be killing teams.

  • @jaybate 1.0

    “They get open mostly with footwork, not with screens.”

    Even less than footwork… mostly just floor spacing around the perimeter… standing around waiting for the ball to come around the horn.

    In the very nature of such a structure, guys eventually get lazy on the pass.

  • @twocoach, good question.

    Answer: freshmen

    John Wall was pop tart factory for two thirds of his freshman season at UK.

    Freshmen make mistakes.

    Why do Freshman make mistakes?

    1. Never played so fast before.

    2. Never faced so much contact before.

    3. Never played such long games before.

    4. Never had to concentrate so much before.

    5. Never been away from the mother’s milk so long.

    6. A freshman’s neural nets, no matter if he were Andrew Wiggins, or Brannen Greene, in terms of talent, has much less development. Full neural net grow in does not complete on average until 23. Freshman are playing with huge gaps in their nets. They can’t concentrate. They can’t focus. They can’t think so much. And so on. Extreme youth is a structural problem.

    Take away the freshmen TOs and you would have a respectable TO rate.

  • Okay… that does it!

    The commentary is so good in here that I put together a plan for March Madness…

    We’ll all pitch in the necessary funds, and we’ll buy the 20 seats right behind the KU bench for every game, and we’ll be 20 coaching assistants barking out extras all through March!

    Ha… I love it!

  • @jaybate 1.0 my son’s college fb coach mentioned #5 a few times!

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