Raiders, Not Grunts: KU Does a Special Opp on the Appalachian Warlord Huggie (for @Lulu)

  • @Lulufulu

    A winner between this team and 2012 would hinge on how the game was refereed. Under 2012 whistles, where bone crushing contact was allowed, the 2012 team would smash this team. Under 2017 whistles, where touch fouls favor four guards driving, this team could beat the 2012 team on a good night by getting the 2012 team fouled up.

    I don’t think this team is soft. This is a short team of great shooters. Other than Landen, every player is often shorter and lighter than the guy he guards. Playing against taller, stronger players and more depth necessitates much less gambling and bumping to avoid fatigue and fouling. This team has tough guys, but they have to pick and choose when they amp and muscle.

    This team is kind of a basketball equivalent of a Special Opps team. It cannot depend on overwhelming numbers and force. It is a low profile, get in and get out stealthily kind of outfit that only bears its teeth in a fire fight, when it has to. Rather it depends on a lot of small, highly versatile and mobile scorers–four quick, mobile guys on the floor that can kill you a lot of ways–drive, trifectate, handle, pass and rebound. They aren’t dwarves by any means, but they are not overwhelmingly bigger and stronger than anyone. They play each possession the way they play each game and the season. Get in quietly, get the points, get in a fire fight only if there is no other way, get out quietly. It’s who they are now–more Marine Raiders/Navy SEALS, than Marines.

    It’s a different approach.

    But down the stretch, WVU really brought out the tire irons and cornered KU and our guys showed the kind of force they can bring. Huggins and his players are tough sunnsabitches. In Self’s words, they put a knot on his guys heads in Morgantown and beat them up pretty good for 3o-35 minutes in Lawrence. But these Jayhawks turned it into a fire fight with 5-8 to go. WVU players started going down hard. I have never seen more tripping and eye poking and nut punching and muttered taunts done as frequently and as stealthily as our guys did it down the stretch. They did a special opp on Appalachian Warlord Huggins and his gang of thugs at the end. Huggie was furious, because he knew he and his guys had been ambushed and their throats had all been slit before they realized what had happened.

    Don’t kid yourself, though, JSOCs wins battles but MARINES and ARMIES win wars.

    KU has to keep every game a mission.

    It cannot afford to fight this season as a war.

    It’s not deep enough and the refereeing prevents the style of play of a small platoon of Marine grunts slogging and destroying the country side as in 2012.

    This team will have to Special force this thing to win a ring.

    Get in, get the points, get out.

    But they sure as hell proved they can win a short, vicious fire fight when cornered.

    Rock Chalk.

  • @jaybate-1.0 Great analysis. We saw last year’s Devonte re-emerge from the cryogenic assists freezer to assert himself once again. The missing link has been found. The straw that stirs the drink has been located. Our tough guy was no longer riding in the Bataan Death March pacer car, he was two blocks ahead of it. Sprinting. The clutch has been engaged, which means this team is fixing to get into gear.

  • Frank and the Snipers!


    I spent the first 35 minutes saying where is Devonte? Still can’t figure why they waited so long to try him.

  • @jaybate-1.0 Do you get to see these games up close, from the sidelines? How much can you hear them say? I saw Landen jaw at someone, saw Frank and Josh do it too. Cant read lips very well.

    I agree about the '12 team and the refs. TRob and Withey would have their way with this KU team and be brutal about it. Releford and Young too.

    I believe that in a two on two match up, that Frank and DG could easily beat Tyshawn and Elijah. They’d make them look silly and slow, turn them over endless times and drill treys right in their grills.

    But, it would take all 5 of our guys now, at once, to stop Trob and Withey. That match up is like so one sided. Its not even fair.

  • @Lulufulu

    Just watched it on the big screen.

    Regarding Tyshawn and EJ vs. Frank and Devonte, a lot would depend on the refereeing. Tyshawn and EJ were rangy, leapers yet very physically strong. Under the 2012 rules, they could probably manhandle Frank and Devonte. Under today’s rules, I would expect Frank and Devonte to out quick EJ, and out trifectate both.

    With TRob and Withey behind them, and under the old rules, Ty and EJ could use their height and massively overplay Frank and Devonte outside and greatly reduced their trey ball accuracy. When Frank and Devonte drove past them, which they could do, it would get very difficult for either to score a short trey on TRob, and they would never get a short trey on Withey. But in today’s rules, TRob would probably foul out, or have to lay waaaaaay off, so they would attack him to avoid Withey.

    One thing persons forget about Tyshawn is that under today’s rules he might be completely unstoppable. He finally developed a respectable trey for much of his final season, and he just was too fast for words. Remember, Tyshawn was blowing down lanes, when it was practically legal to grab and punch him on the way. And even then Tyshawn was so fast and strong no one could stop him from getting to iron.

    But imagine Tyshawn under today’s rules. He would be sick. He could almost get a short trey EVERY time he touched the ball on the perimeter.

    Really, I think Tyshawn would have averaged 25-30 ppg under today’s rules.

  • @jaybate-1.0 It wouldn’t even be 2 on 2. Frank and Tyshawn would just drive the lane on each other and score every time because those are the two best drivers KU has ever had. I can picture it now…

    As far as a 5v5, JJ would foul out trying to guard TRob. TRob goes for 25pts and 18 rbds. 2016-2017 team would have to have the game of their lives from trey to win because they wouldn’t have been able to score in the post. 15 point win for 2012.

    Man does basketball seem to be down this season or is it just me? I feel like that 2012 team would have run away with it this season…

  • Tyshawn famously gave up too many treys defensively, why? Because him sagging off didnt get him a bunch of Chalmers-like strips/steals. You want to talk about his 6’3 length guarding 3s–> let me remind everybody about 6’0" Farokhmanesh and also that stupid Tennessee walk-on debacle, where Bruce Pearl’s benchwarmer son with fat calves and ankles actually buries 3s against us.

    Tyshawn’s greatest attributes were fast penetrations, & late-improved rim finishing, and FT closing-out. Avg defender. Below-par 3%. Big heart, though, but that didnt give him RRob-level D, now did it?

  • @ralster

    Tyshawn was mercurial and an artist. Not perfectly consistent. Capable of huge ups and downs until his last season. His last season is what I’m talking about. And Tyshawn was trying to make a six man team work.

    That being said…

    I recall TT as a terrific defensive guard by his last season. and good enough to start from freshman season, because of his D. Re: RR–RR never had to carry the team as a scorer and defender of top opposing guards, as Chalmers, then Sherron and TT did. I doubt RR was never the trifectate TT was TT’s last season.

    One more thing. TT did not have a running mate as good as Chalmers or Devonte, so as big as I am on Frank, I can’t say Frank can claim to carry as much load as Tyshawn did his senior season. And Frank has at least gotten to work with 7-8 guys this season and TT was pretty much stuck with six.

  • @jaybate-1.0 I did love Tyshawn’s Sr run. I thought he did have an A-rated running mate in EJ, who many, many jayhawk folks believe was much better out of the limelight in that 2G role. EJ just ended up not being a lone alpha his Sr year, like Tyshawn was.

    Also, TT+EJ again proved Self’s concept of having multiple ball-handling guards running the show.

    Now, FM3+DG are proving it again, and JJ is the icing/gravy on top.

  • Solid conversation you guys. I love it.

    For this sake, how about a game in the KU gym, Coach Self calling the fouls. No refs. Just ball. 5 on 5.

    I think the '12 team wins, but it would be a heck of a game to watch

  • @Lulufulu

    What a great idea, but…

    That old devil time’s arrow would probably erode the comparison for some.

    The 2012 team is older now; that could be argued to help them (NBA and pro experience), or hurt them (older and more worn out).

    I’m afraid time’s arrow moving only forward would raise as many arguments as it resolved.

    But maybe someday, if science masters time travel, we can get the boys together for a game and settle this once and for all. 🙂

  • @ralster

    If I recall correctly, @drgnslayr always thought (and I concurred) that EJ already had a chronic shoulder injury during his soph season, or maybe early his junior season, that never really healed correctly and so never permitted him to be the outside shooter that he seemed destined to become. And my recollection is also that he and Travis were playing through some significant leg injuries that limited both their remarkable athleticism even their junior seasons. So: even though I have been arguing that Devonte is “playing through” something nasty this season (and so seeing his explosiveness and productivity fall off from last season), my aricepted memory tells me that Devonte has been more productive offensively his current junior season, than EJ was his junior season.

    We are both big boosters of EJ’s actual contributions to making all those big winners he played on, despite never having lived up to his sizable hype, except for one game against ISU, but at this stage of their careers, Devonte seems decisively the better player and bigger contributor up to their junior seasons, cumulatively and in on-going performance trajectory, when compared. And comparison is particularly oranges and oranges, and will continue to be, because Devonte and EJ were mostly 2 guards through their junior seasons, and then EJ did become the PG, and Devonte likely will, too, the senior seasons.

    Devonte just is someone I underrated his first season and until I saw him go on a tear his second season. Devonte is a case of a guy who is just much more than the sum of his abilities and skills. He has that rarest of rare gifts of being able to blow a game wide open, when it is a very, very BIG game. He has done it enough times now, even this last time against WVU, when he had to protect whatever underreported injury he labors with for 35 minutes before going off like a Sidewinder Missile.

    To give Devonte his full due, I don’t recall another KU perimeter player that was EVER able to blow big games wide open, or drive come from behind miracles, as frequently as Devonte. Something happens to the guy OFTEN at these moments. We saw it once in EJ’s career. We see it time and again with Devonte. Even Frank Mason, who can and does take control of games rather in a studfied, almost engineer-like way, does not shift into the kind of hyper-space level of play that Devonte goes to at certain points of big games. Doing what Devonte does in lesser games, or in no pressure situations, really wouldn’t be a big deal at all. There have been endless KU players that have massive performances in meaningless brand-builder games, or when the opponent is never a serious threat to win the game. Devonte is like George Brett was in baseball. The guy comes up HUGE so many times that even the most skeptical QA types have to start talking about some sub atomic particle being involved in how frequently he does what he does.

    It appears Self has always prided himself on being able to coax super performances out of certain players. Self coaxes and waits and cajoles and baits and plays them out of position, and forces them out of what they were when they came, and then waits and waits and waits for the guy to explode for a super performance hopefully at a time when the team really needs it. EJ is the quintessential example, but almost all of KU’s long term starters sooner or later have one of the Self-coaxed super games.

    But with Devonte, Self seems to have stumbled into a guy that actually somehow routinized this coaxing toward one hyper peak performance in a career into a bizarre pattern of recurring, intermittent behavior.

    Devonte doesn’t do it every time, same as George Brett did not come up with game winning hits EVERY time. But Devonte comes up with these freakishly good stretches of performance much more often than most players, same as George Brett came up with clutch hits more frequently than most high average hitters did.

    This peak performance thing at peak moments was called “at your best when you need your best” and “competitive greatness” by Wooden, and he placed it as one of the highest blocks of his pyramid of success. This meant two things to me. First, it showed that Wooden valued this attribute just about the most highly of any attribute that a player could have. Second, it suggested that Wooden believe it was either something that could be taught, or at least enabled, by calling attention to it, and place it as something to build toward. The latter is what is most important. What most forget about Wooden that waste their goddamned time rationalizizing away Wooden’s monumental accomplishments with Sam Gilbert’s cash recruiting (note: something all programs used to do at the time and that Wooden only permitted after 15-20 years of competing without doing what all the other top programs were doing). was the incredible number of SUPER performances by UCLA players–both from the greats that went on to the pros and the not so greats that did not. No other coach has EVER gotten so many peak performances out of so many players at critical moments before, or since, as Wooden got from UCLA players. Wooden apparently learned how to trigger, or enable these great performances. Self is pretty good at it. He gets a one or two every season, but except for 2008, Self has struggled with enabling these mind blowing peak performances during March Madness. Wooden won ten rings in 11 years, not because he had the best players for 10 years (he only had the best players for some of those years). He won those ten because his teams almost routinely produced peak performances in the tournament; THAT WAS THE KEY!!!


    Self needs to put Devonte Graham under a microscope.

    Self needs to study Devonte closely and figure out what if anything Self is doing to enable those peak performances of Devonte’s.

    And then he needs to begin to find ways to do the same for his other players.






  • @jaybate-1.0 hehe. yah, what I really mean to say is of course pure speculation about if both teams could meet and play in an alternate space time where both teams are the same in age. The '12 team would probly win. But Frank and DG and Josh would not go quietly into that alternate universe night.

  • @Lulufulu

    You know, it could be that this team will prove much more extraordinary than they now appear. They have not had their cuts at immortality yet. If they win a ring, i will view them differently.

    Champion is the ultimate criterion in my book.

  • @jaybate-1.0 Tyshawn/EJ vs. Frank/Devonte – I know who I’d rather have as my two guards. Easily, Frank/Devonte. More consistent. Better ball handlers. Better scorers overall. Better shooters. Better defensively as a combo, though Tyshawn was probably the best defender of the four. Tyshawn just caused me to want to jump off a bridge until the latter part of his senior season with his out of control, selfish, and inconsistent play. Frank has been, in my opinion, the best KU point guard in my lifetime. Maybe my favorite KU player (close call with TRob/Hinrich/Releford). I remember with Tyshawn the discussion was about his drives and missed shots creating rebounding/put back opportunities. No such discussion with Frank. The dude finishes. Frank is the best from three point range. I am usually good with guys leaving/graduating. Normal part of CBB. But when Frank goes, it will sting. To see where he was and where he is now – Amazing. No rank Frank? Some idiots will say anything.

  • @HighEliteMajor The only thing left to define Frank’s legacy is a FinalFour appearance. Sherron, Mario, RussRob,Tyshawn,EJ all played in Final Fours, as well as in NC games. If it werent for 3 missed dunks and too many missed 3s vs KY, 2012’s TT+EJ legacy may have a different flavor. That team fought like lions.

    Personally I do think Frank is the best PG Self has had, it sometimes remains unclear after the fog of a game how he exactly still gets 20ppg, almost every night, when not battling the flu.

    The difference between last year and this year? Frank is notably better in key categories. Devonte is same/ready. Vick is better. Svi is better. Lucas is same/ready. Josh has totally replaced the production of Ellis, but has added an unreal amount of dynamism and playmaking to the 5 guys on the floor. And he is a matchup nightmare for an opposing 4. And backs down guards and scores over them. Kid rebounds almost as well as…well, Frank!

    If we played last year’s Nova team with this year’s KU team, I think KU wins. Our efficiency is better. Josh wont go into a shell like Ellis did when we needed him the most. I always said Frank needed help(!), and he finally gets it in Josh.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    Frank is like marrying an engineer.

    You live in a good house, drive a sensible car, get to splurge once in awhile and get something predictable in the bedroom you can count on.

    Tyshawn was like living with an artist.

    Live in a loft. No boring routines. Lotsa wine and cheese and candles at 2am in the center circle!

    Frank finishes for sure. The bridge is solid. The passage to fulfillment predictable.

    But Tyshawn on the right night…the right season…oooh la-la!!!..he takes you to a moveable feast in gay Pareee. Ecstasies without predictability until the lack of predictability is part of the ecstasy .

    The way for Frank to distinguish himself from Tyshawn is to take this team just one game farther than Quantum T did.

    Frank the Engineer would then make me let go of the wild affair I had with the speed artist known as Quantum T that took me all the way to the Finals one wild and crazy season, after nearly driving me nuts the other three.

    And Frank the Engineer could do it, because no one has a 6 OAD stack that finally tripped up THE ARTIST!

    Otherwise, I am certain, Frank would have to win a ring just to tie him!!!

    Oooooh la-la!!!

  • @ralster

    “Josh wont go into a shell like Ellis did when we needed him the most. I always said Frank needed help(!), and he finally gets it in Josh.”

    Perspicacious as always!!!

    Frank, Devonte and Josh are the best 3 man perimeter in the country, and add Svi and they are probably the best 4-man perimeter. Vick works for a back up.

    Landen is actually a good fit for them inside.

    The missing piece is a big back up for Lucas, since Doke went out.

    Fortunately Josh, to my total amazement, is now a better garbage man 4, when needed, than Marcus Morris was his freshman season, maybe than his sophomore season too. Not many comment on it, but Josh has kind of Revived Brandon Rush’s old role in college basketball: THE STRETCH THREE!

    Only Josh plays some 2, 3, and 4 almost every game, rather than here and there as Brandon did.

    This 3 position thing is quite extraordinary. And he has even played some center and point briefly a time or two over the season; this is something I have never seen before. It is how Self is getting away with a seven man rotation. Every time Self needs help at a position, any position, he seems to ask: would I rather have Josh do it, or another player…and he picks Josh. Knowing how much Self distrusts young players, it’s amazing to see a freshman breaking this new ground. It’s getting to the point that if Norm, Kurtis, or Snacks has a cold, I expect Self to tell Josh to put on a suit and tie, whenever Josh is taking a blow on the bench. AMAZING!!!

  • I never, ever thought I’d say it about some OAD in Self’s system, but Josh is the one who was simply smart enough mentally to function within Self’s system, with a very short learning curve. Wiggs was an amazing player, but he didnt make his team actually perform better on the court. Same with BMac.

    Frank can be a dynamite stick as much as he can in any one game, but Josh makes the team a 3 headed monster (with DG). You know Frank is coming at you, but you still cannot stop his 20. Everybody has tried, including 2 blue bloods.

    Josh, with what his mind is reading, is the most sinister: How can you gameplan against what Josh’s mind sees during live action, and adjustment on the fly?

    Josh Jackson is the X-factor to this team’s chances. His quiet, confident pause to survey of all the sights, banners, and pomp inside Rupp Arena during warmups was your clue to this team’s dynamics. Josh was the best player in Rupp that day (+Frank), and has been on a tear since.

  • @ralster Yep.

  • @jaybate-1.0 Josh is playing out of his mind and out of position at KU. In the Pros he is a guard, not a 4 man. He didn’t have a 20/10 game today. But that kid is a stud.