"Gotta Tighten Some Things Up"

  • So sayeth HCBS following the TCU game. Now, he was talking about the defense, rather than tightening up during NCAA games, which has arguably been a separate problem - and he said they need to work on “everything.” But, there isn’t time to work on everything, right? So what should be the focus?

    A couple of interesting data points in a Washington Post article today (forget the source, its the data that is relevant) looking at vulnerabilities of several teams. I’ve noted elsewhere that this has been worst KU team from a defensive efficiency standpoint during the Self era, but a couple of things really leaped out.

    According to the Post, opponents are shooting 36% from 3pt range against the 'Hawks - which ranks 212th!!! in the country. Already was an issue against ISU at Allen. Both Purdue and ISU are ranked in the top 20 in 3pt FG%. Is that mostly an effort issue? Poor ball screen execution?

    Perhaps more problematic - we are allowing opponents to get 30% of available offensive rebounds - those second chance point opportunities help keep even poor shooting teams in the game and help wear down the defense.

    And, not sure I believe this one, but apparently, we have the ball stolen on almost 10% of possessions, which ranks 294th in the country. Ouch. Certainly was painful against TCU when they had 12 steals and 10 offensive boards against us.

    Can we “tighten” these things up? Anything else Self is likely focused on this week?

    One other thing that we probably can’t fix at this juncture. Our FT % ranks 283rd in the country - only 4 teams in the tournament shoot FTs worse than we do. But, as Self noted, our FT % during B12 play was 3-4 % points higher than the season average, so at least that one is trending the right direction.

    Let’s hope the boys can do some major “tightening” on defense - but otherwise play fast and loose…

  • Well, a big time of improvement in Self’s teams is over XMas break where they get a lot of uninterrupted practice time.

    So, we somehow got ourselves an 8 day break…right before TheBigDance. I’d say that’s THE best R&R time a #1 seed with an HOF coach and a motivated, stung, and talented roster needs. Right. About. Now.

    We all can judge if we improved with the week off or not. BIFM needs rest. DG’s ankle needs rest, we dont need any excuse for his 3% to be not at its best. Josh got to taste letting his team down. Getting Bragg and Coleby even more in the mix, could give us a more respectable post presence (although I’m thinking more of Coleby’s nasty presence flashes, than I am of Bragg at this point).

  • @DCHawker

    One of the best pre tournament analyses of a team’s weaknesses i have ever read ANYWHERE!

    I mean it.

    Your smooth, comfortable writing–easy to read–just keeps surprising me with facts that steadily accumulate into a persuasive explanation of why our very good team is also so peculiar.



  • @ralster

    In the tourney, It’s more and more about how many can bring their best on demand.

    Bragg and Coleby are now decisive for better or worse.

    They HAVE to give the team something extra for it to get to a FF!

    They appear to be the only ones that could substantially improve AND make us better where deficient.

    Gut check time for these two, long backups.

  • Let’s hope Coleby turns into the 2008 Aldrich. At which point I’ll surely call him…COLEBY ALDRICH!

  • @chriz said:

    Let’s hope Coleby turns into the 2008 Aldrich. At which point I’ll surely call him…COLEBY ALDRICH!

    I don’t know why everybody romanticizes Aldrich’s contribution in 2008. The only thing he did the entire tournament was play great against Tyler Hansborough (sp?) in the first half when we were pounding them into the ground anyway.

    I love Aldrich, but he could have stayed home and it would not have made any difference in 2008.

    I would enjoy being wrong about this, but I would need some genuine facts.

  • @ParisHawk So, UNC was the top ranked team with Psycho T the national player of the year. Aldrich comes out of nowhere and plays Hansbrough to a standstill, not letting UNC run their offense in the first half. They adjusted at halftime, but the advantage was too great.

    If that isn’t evidence, I can’t help you.

  • @mayjay How many minutes did Aldrich play: 8? Didn’t we lead 40-18 at one point? We outplayed them greatly outside of the 8 minutes Aldrich played.

    If I’m wrong I’m wrong and good for you, but I need more detail. I remember Aldrich’s play as more icing than cake. Now, what I don’t remember is why he played, foul trouble and such. Maybe we would have been thin without him?

    Anybody rewatched the 2008 UNC game recently?

  • @mayjay one of my favorite all time moments! Couldn’t have happened to a better or worse guy! Either way!

  • @ParisHawk I recall that his play contributed to the pounding…not necessarily points, but blocked shots, rebounds, and overall contribution to good play…hence part of the pounding. If he doesn’t play well…you never know if we would have had such a big lead. That’s what I remember.

  • @ParisHawk Good question.

    ESPN recap, discussing stars for KU, started with Cole: “Aldrich stood out, swatting three shots in the first half and altering more after coming off the bench en route to his eight-point, seven-rebound night. His highlight came after KU missed just its fifth shot of the game, more than 10 minutes into the first half, and he outgrappled Hansbrough for a rebound that resulted in two free throws. That made it 33-10.”

    Watching a Youtube replay of the first half, Aldrich entered the game with 14:34 left in the 1st half when Kaun got his second foul with the score 13-6. The lead got up to 38-12 at 7:30, when Billy Packer p.o.ed the suits by declaring the game over. Got up to 40-12 at 6:38 before UNC started their comeback at 4:40. The half ended at 44-27.

    Before that game, in the 4 prior tourney games, he had a total of 6 fouls, 4 pts, 4 rebs, 1 block, and 0 FTs in 20 total mins.

    For the game against UNC, Aldrich, in 16 mins, had 8 pts (4-4 FTs), 7 rebounds, 1 steal, and 4 blocks with 1 pf. Almost all of that was in the first half. (Hansbrough, in 36 mins, had 17 pts, 9 rebs, 0 blocks, and 2 steals.)

    The praise for Aldrich isn’t that he played so stupendously or that he single-handedly defeated UNC. It is that he came off the bench in a crucial situation as a freshman in the biggest test of his life until then, played the POY of the year evenly, and gave the rest of KU’s players the room to move on offense and take risks on defense by giving KU much-needed rim protection.

    He played like a veteran, helping KU totally dispel the notion of UNC being invulnerable. What other relatively unused bench frosh has done that in a Final Four?

  • @mayjay said:

    The praise for Aldrich isn’t that he played so stupendously or that he single-handedly defeated UNC. It is that he came off the bench in a crucial situation as a freshman in the biggest test of his life until then, played the POY of the year evenly, and gave the rest of KU’s players the room to move on offense and take risks on defense by giving KU much-needed rim protection.

    I vividly remember everything except the situation being critical, which made me somewhat underestimate, not Cole’s contribution, but the importance of it.

    I’ll adjust my memories based on your recap: thanks much !

  • @ParisHawk said:

    I vividly remember everything except the situation being critical, which made me somewhat underestimate, not Cole’s contribution, but the importance of it.

    The thing to remember is that Kaun had saved us in the regional final against Davidson. For us to lose our 7 footer barely a fourth of the way through the first half, most people were sure that Tyler H would run amok.

    I guess the romanticizing (and that original post yesterday from someone hoping Dwight can give us deja vu) come from just the surprise of the contribution when at best we probably expected him to take up some space and get a couple of boards without fouling too much. If we had won in 2003, we would remember Graves the same way. Now, his 16 pts/16 rebs are a footnote to our crappy FT performance vs Syracuse.

  • @mayjay going back to my original point, wouldn’t you be happy if Coleby turns in a Cole performance?

  • @ParisHawk

    For NC to make a comeback it would have been through Tyler Hansborough and Aldrich completely neutralized him in the first half and helped up the lead to 40-12 and it was 44-27. at the half. However, UNC made a comeback in the second half and pulled within 4 points, 54-50, with over 11 minutes left before KU pulled away again with Cole playing several minutes during this time. I don’t believe you can underestimate Cole’s contribution.

  • @chriz Oh, I thought that was clear by my working so long on these narratives! The only downside would be if it were due to injury giving him an opportunity…

  • @chriz said:

    @mayjay going back to my original point, wouldn’t you be happy if Coleby turns in a Cole performance?

    Crap, I meant to reply to @ParisHawk

  • This team can improve in leaps and bounds without even physically practicing.

    What this team needs is a substantial period in the video suite.

    Our guys hustle. We will not improve just telling them to hustle more.

    Our biggest issue on defense is NOT the individual effort on the ball; on ball or on ball screens. Yes, we could use more zing here but that will automatically come when we can start taking some pride in our defense again!

    Our biggest issues on defense are mechanical issues. Mostly… spacing and hedging. I’ve sort of given up hope of ever seeing a Self team understand hedging. But floor spacing is another issue.

    Look at where we screw up most on defense; the trey ball.

    The issue is spacing, mostly with our weak side help. Go back to really any Big 12 game on your DVR and watch again, paying close attention to weak side spacing on d. Our guys make the classic mistake here. When the ball moves to the other side and our guard defenders give weak side help they end up in “no man’s land.” What has happened… they end up in a place on the court where they are of NO assistance whatsoever. They aren’t in the paint enough to really help out there, and they are 15 ft away from their man poised on the trey line so not close enough to properly close out on the trey shot.

    This one fact has bothered me all year with this team.

    There is no way of playing good defense unless it is done as team defense. Every player needs to understand the role of every other player, too.

    This is particularly important when it comes to spacing on defense. Yes… we play a M2M defense. But… in reality this defense is a hybrid of M2M and zone. On ball defense is M2M and every man is responsible for his man, another rule of M2M. But the help defense, the weak side defense, is more like a zone, playing in between offensive players to help guard someone else while remaining responsible for a single man as required in a M2M. This is where it gets tricky… this is where we have taken a truly stud lineup with guarding capabilities and turned them into a very average defending team.

    Our guards are not properly positioned on their weak side help. One big problem is we have over-compensated for our post because we don’t have a true shot blocker and we have depth as an issue in the post.

    But in reality, the only big help our guards give our post player is the appearance of the lane being too busy so teams are less likely to feed the post or drive the lane.

    They either need to play their man on the trey line closer, or the guards on the other side on the ball need to turn up the intensity to make it harder for them to pass cross court. The added pressure makes it tougher for them to throw a rifle pass to the other side for an open trey, and when they do pass they are more likely to throw the ball a bit off-target, throwing the shooter’s rhythm off and making him take longer to finish his shot because the pass to him was off.

    Playing good defense is like choreographing your defense as a dance team.

    This is where you need old game footage in order to better tweak your defense.

    Our defense can be helped immensely just by viewing tape and setting players up with better positioning and making sure to go over how aggressive they need to play.

    This team should have 3-times more steals every game. Our defense has been completely under-performing except in the final couple of minutes.

    If we get our guys spaced properly and knowing their roles on how intense to play and how they need to play it… not only will you see a huge jump in the effectiveness of our defense, you will also notice our guys have turned up the hustle considerably because that extra 2% effort is what makes you a national championship or not. That last 2% is the hardest hustle to obtain because it really needs to happen through emotional inspiration… which comes from seeing the optimism of good execution, all of this drives momentum.

    I’ve never questioned this team’s desire to win. It’s written all over their faces. Frank and his team has but one goal now… bring home the hardware!

  • @chriz said:

    @chriz said:

    @mayjay going back to my original point, wouldn’t you be happy if Coleby turns in a Cole performance?

    Crap, I meant to reply to @ParisHawk

    Yes, definitely.

  • @drgnslayr Great stuff, 'slayr. I haven’t gone back and re-watched many games, but I’ve certainly noticed on various occasions - and noted them during game threads - that our weak side guards are caught in “no-man’s land” - esp. an issue for Svi. Apart from watching our own tape, it’s like we’ve not watched tape of the opponents to know their tendencies. Even casual fans, and I expect most on this board are far more than that, know that there are certain guys on the other teams that you simply don’t leave open on the arc, but we seem to routinely do it. The problem is compounded by the fact that the guys getting caught in “no man’s land” not only don’t close out quickly enough when the ball is reversed or there is a skip pass, they also languish there when shot goes up from the strong side, not really providing any help on the boards - and not blocking out their guy if they crash the boards.

    How they do watch some tape - or at least your post gets posted in the locker room!

  • @drgnslayr over helping is something I have been talking about all year. Svi, Devonte and Lagerald always go way too far towards the ball and leave their man. Im telling you, Self must teach this because there is no rhyme or reason to continually give up open threes and not do anything about it. Not only do they give up open shots, the over help creates gaps in the defense that are very susceptible to dribble penetration.

    This is a veteran team. If we haven’t seen anything different by now, we aren’t going to see anything different in the tourney. This is so simple and obvious that the only conclusion one can draw is Self wants them to do that.

  • @DCHawker apparently the team doesn’t know that shots behind the arc are worth more than shots inside the arc. It is frustrating watching the same basic, fundamental error every game.

    It makes me wonder what they talk about in film review.

  • The defensive spacing should be adjustable in a game. If we are playing a team with post dominance and no trey shooting then we need our guys to suck in more on weak side help. If a team is killing us from trey then we should be playing further out to make sure we can close.

    In a game, we should be able to tweak our defense. When a team gets hot we need to be able to adjust and make it harder for them and force them into different patterns.

    What is “good defense?” 3 words… Disrupting the flow.

  • It’s cool to read opinions on what we should do to win. However, whether I am at the game or watching from home, Come tournament time, I just cheer for them to play their ass off and win. Let’s go Jayhawks!

  • @brooksmd link didn’t work for me, what was the video?

  • @chriz 2008 KU vs UNC from youtube. Complete game.

  • Still can’t figure out how they came to within 4 after our 40-12 lead. Oh well. Can’t complain about the result. Nor Cole’s performance.

  • Article in the Austin paper this morning!!! I had to cut and paste it.





  • Bragg needs to watch film of the 2012 championship run and focus on Kevin Young. That’s all we need him to be. Come in off the bench give us some energy and bounce and rebound like his life depends on it.

  • @HawkInMizery

    Young thrived on contact, Bragg shuns contact…just sayin’…

  • @JayHawkFanToo that is a mystery to me. This isn’t his first experience with big boy ball.

  • @HawkChamp

    His body is 6’-10" 225 pounds but his mind still is 6’-8" 190 pounds.

  • @JayHawkFanToo he’s gotta get over that. Make contact get the FT line grab boards. That’s literally all he needs to do and don’t be a defensive liability. He doesn’t have to be great but don’t be a liability.

  • @HawkInMizery

    I am convince that at this time his problem is more mental than anything else. He has the build and skills to be a superior player but his mind is just not in the game and his confidence is low. If I were Coach Self I would get him a session with hypnotist. 😄

  • @JayHawkFanToo as long as it’s not the chick from Get Out lol

  • I just think Carlton needs to be more committed to staying focused the entire time he is on the court.

    I think his biggest issue is focus. One sure sign is his inability to GRAB the ball! So many rebounds are right there in front of him and he can’t grab the ball. The ball is like a greased pig. Players don’t just have bad hands. His hands are fine. His ability to stay in deep focus is the problem.

    We are a very different team from last year. The ball moves quicker and our offensive aggressiveness is shown in more complex ways. Drives coming from all over the place, etc. So Carlton had to raise his level of focus just to stay even on where he was last year.

    It looks like he is slowly catching on to the pace and other factors. Just not sure he can accomplish much in as many as 6 games.

    A huge help to his focus is adrenaline. When he came back from his last suspension, he had a monster game. That was adrenaline talking. The adrenaline not only helped his focus but also helped his motor.

    So… HOW do we get his adrenaline back up to that level for every game moving forward? Figure that one out and we will benefit bigly.

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