We Need a Title

  • I have been saying over the course of the past three months that the 2018 team will have as good of a shot at a title as any in the past six years, if the players contribute in expected ways. The balance should be as good as it was in 2011 and 2008. We have speed, length, shot blocking and post presence.

    But some people just have hurdles placed in their lives, for whatever reason, that are a major factor in preventing success. I’m sure we all know of someone that has such challenges, as we all most likely have those as well. For one William Self, the elite eight is the bane of his existence. He even admitted as such this past year prior to the Oregon game that it is the hardest round of the tournament.

    The truth is, that statement proves everything I have thought for years - Bill Self gets a little tight. You might not be able to see it from your sofa hundreds of miles away, but the team in shootaround, the locker room and the pre game meal is feeling it. Bill thinks it is the hardest round, therefore it is.

    I don’t know how much longer Bill is going to be around at KU. Will he coach till he is 65? 70? I wouldn’t bet on it. Squandered isn’t the right word, but three or four really good chances at bringing home the university’s fourth or even fifth title have been squandered. Coincidentally, with exception of 2010 (hard to count 2013), every one of those teams has fallen in the “hardest round”. And its always the same reason, right? “We just shot poorly” is the reason given, almost without a second thought.

    But the analytical watcher and one who has given time to reflect on all this will pose the question: is there a correlation amongst all these elite eight losses? Is it possible that there really is pressure on Bill and he, perhaps unwittingly, passes it on to the team? How do teams with multiple great shooters all of a sudden become terrible? And no, despite opinions that shooting comes and goes in short periods of time in rather dramatic fashion (don’t want to mention names but his profile reads Jaybate), I have a very hard time believing it. As a shooter in high school myself, who, not to brag but I was regarded as perhaps the best at my 4A school by an assistant coach, did not experience such a phenomenon as described by some, I whole heartedly dismiss such flimsy conjectures on the point. A sample size of various teams over the course of ten years, coupled with those teams also experiencing the lowest scoring output of their respective years, proves that these occurrences all have one thing in common - Bill Self. The only year where I would say it was more than nerves or it was some other cause would be against Villanova, as in a one possession we had, IIRC, six more turnovers than them, which is a significant amount.

    I love having Bill here and I don’t want to see him leave. BUT, he has to figure this out. He needs to figure out what went well in the 2012 elite eight game and try to improve things this next year.

    From the looks of things, KU will be at the top for the third year in a row. I believe Arizona, WSU, KU, Michigan State and maybe some other team will prove to be the best teams this coming year. I like our chances once again and I think that Bill will eventually sort this out. He is too smart and cunning to let this go on forever. But if he doesnt, maybe its time a player, like a Devonte Graham who has plenty of moxy, puts the team on his back and says “I’m tired of losing in the elite eight and we’re going to make it this year to the final four.” Devonte has the Ryan Boatwright/Kemba Walker/Shabazz Napier court attitude. I’ve been saying this for a while now. People around on other boards have said that Devonte is just a good senior player, nothing more. But like dragonslayer pointed out a few months ago, Devonte is the real key to March. We saw how good he was leading up to the Oregon game, and how brilliant he was against Purdue.

    This year’s team has all the pieces, if it can put them together. We have senior leadership, capable scorers, shooters, decent depth in the post and a seven footer that isn’t going to let someone like Jordan Bell own the paint. Because of Dok, I think our team defense should also reflect his shot blocking prowess and rim protection, but we still need better perimeter defense. Last year, Svi and Devonte were probably the worst we had and they will be counted on to perform. If they don’t guard well, it doesn’t matter who is back waiting at the rim. It puts the team in a bad decision when there are breakdowns one on one and can lead to foul trouble for both forwards and guards. Hopefully someone on the team noticed this glaring problem from last year and they have been working on it all summer. We’ll see in a few months.

  • Banned


    I used to be that guy. NC or bust. Yet I’ve come to some truths. One KU will never be UK, Duke, or UNC. Not because of success on the court. As KU and Coach have don’t quite well. So much they are breaking records with success on the court.

    First KU plays in a Football Conference. The Texas and Oklahoma schools make it so. Lack of success in the tournament confirms the belief. Second the east coast Media basis is what it is. They don’t care about fly over country. See Hillary.

    Having said that I do Believe Coach is about to crack the code. Even with the near miss of a final four run last year. Coach hasn’t given up on the 4 and 1 even though he has the bodies to play is high/low.

    I also believe Coach will not leave KU anytime soon. Even with the recruiting wars. Coach is getting nice recruits year after year. Also KU is one of those few schools that is still hungry even with it’s recent success. Meaning KU fans and alumni don’t take for granted the success and Coach. Plus and NBA coach never has any down time. In the college game Coach can do his thing. Yet still get some time to regroup.

    In fact I think this year team maybe better than our 08 team.

  • @DoubleDD KU does play in a football first conference, but so do Duke, UK, and UNC. SEC and ACC are currently in a pissing contest about who the best football conference is.

    When and if Self can ever figure out the Elite 8, Self has been great in the Final Four. He just needs to figure out how not to crap the bed in the Elite 8 otherwise KU likely has 1 or 2 more titles during that 2010-13 and 2016-17 tournament runs.

  • @HawkChamp I agree with practically everything you said. Roy was worse than Bill, imo. Roy didn’t get stuck in the Elite 8, but we had team after team that would have their worst game of the year at the worst time in the tournament. Talk about missed national championships…OMG. I think Bill is coaching in Elite 8 games not to lose, and his anxiety over an Elite 8 match up seems to freeze the team. That is not permanent, though. Remember, the book on Roy when he went to UNC was he couldn’t win the national championship. Bill will get this figured out- he’s done it before, and will win a national championship(s) again. It seems like the other teams are more ready for us than we are for them. Is coach making the adjustments pre-game to take away their strengths, or are the players not following the game plan? How does Senior Perry Ellis come up with a game like he had against Nova? What happened to Devonte against the Ducks?

    I would not agree with Self leaving anytime soon. He feels like KU is the best job in the world. I don’t think Bill is an NBA coach. His temperament and demeanor would not translate to the NBA, imo. Can you imagine what Coach Self would do if his NBA team had drafted a Jordan Bell ( how ironic ), and a Draymond Green had sent him expletive laced texts over his pick? And truthfully, there is no better job in college basketball than head coach at KU.

  • I should point out that I was not meaning that coach would leave for the NBA, but rather how much longer he has til retirement. I would say about ten or twelve years.

    @KUSTEVE I too hope that he cracks the code. Kind of disappointing to see how well Roy has done since leaving, having amassed as many titles by himself as KU has in its history (Helms dont count). But all it takes is a title or two to change everyone’s perception of him, not just in comparison to other current coaches, but also historically. I am feeling confident that he will grt there this year.

  • Last night, I watched the “PAC12 Classics” game that my DVR recorded. It was Kansas vs Arizona in the SouthEast Regional Semifinal.

    I remembered it was bad.

    It. was. bad.

    Talk about a team that had talent and should never have lost… Roy was coach of the year. The team was 34-1-- only loss was at Misery in OT…

    The tournament losses are frustrating and the thing that can lead to a loss is or a win can be so many things… but unlucky matchups or hitting a team on a hot streak is among them.

    I would say that our run in 2011 was as much about good luck and us getting hot as our early departures are about bad luck and going cold. (Watch that Purdue game and the Ohio State game… We were a good team, but it could have gone either way.)

    It’s frustrating to have exits earlier than our record would suggest we should have. And it’s tempting to want to have a clear explanation for those losses – we are geared to look for cause and effect. But the reality is that it’s a complex system with lots of variables. Most of those variables, the Coach has no control over (opponent, location, officiating team, etc.)

    It is what it is: An entertaining game (when the refs aren’t tampering with it) and a satisfying outcome about 87% of the time with Bill Self, which is better than any other fan base can claim. Of course, if you only count NCAA games, that percentage is lower. And if you only count the last game of the season, well, we should be glad that our last game of the season has been an sudden elimination game 32 out of the last 33 years (also better than any school).

    We’ve won the last game twice out of those 32 tries. It’s natural to want more, if that’s all you look at.

  • Banned


    Yea but the ACC and the SEC are east coast darlings. They get the love and the benefit of the doubt no matter what.

    It’s not about what we know. It’s about perception. The Media doesn’t and won’t view the Big 12 as a good basketball conference.

  • @bskeet the only way to get better and accomplish more is to be critical and evaluative of the past. I personally believe that the tournament is not nearly as much of a crap shoot as some make it out to be. Whenever a coach’s teams over a long period of time keep having losses in the same round in the same fashion, one naturally comes to the conclusion that there is something going on.

    Even at the beginning of the Oregon game, you could tell that our guys didnt have the same energy or speed as Oregon and looked nothing like the team from the previous three rounds.

    Why? I think it is because of the pressure they feel which leads to feeling tight.

  • Josh’s 2 fouls in 2 minutes. We looked like the team that lost to tcu. No Bragg? Be nice to have our #5 guys healthy, doke/embiid, and cliff and diallo eligible and able to stay 2 - 3 years. Diallo getting better, still needs experience. Where’s cliff?

  • So from what I read the solution to KU getting deeper in the dance is to replace HCBS. How many times do we have to kick this can around the block?

  • @brooksmd no, I clearly stated that Bill is our guy. I also said that I think and am hopeful he will figure out the Elite Eight puzzle sooner rather than later. His teams have been close the last few years and I believe if they get there again this coming year they will finish the job.

  • @brooksmd I didn’t take his post as a “Fire Bill” meme at all. He raised legitimate questions in a thoughtful manner. These were the same exact discussions the fan base had when Roy was coach. I certainly didn’t want Roy to leave, although his losses in the tourney still sting. The question isn’t whether we have played badly in Elite 8 games ( we have ), the question really is: do you believe Coach can overcome them? And my answer is an emphatic yes. I think this year we break through. Our roster is LOADED for bear. We actually have a front line for the first time in a while to go with some great guards. I think we’ll be much better defensively, and our offense could be prolific. This year the monkey is off our backs.

  • Didn’t you know…we have 13 titles. I’ve bee asking the same question and i keep on being told by the Selfers on here we have 13 titles.

    So, you can delete your thread.

  • DoubleDD said:

    @Texas-Hawk-10 The Media doesn’t and won’t view the Big 12 as a good basketball conference.

    That’s because the big 12 is not a good basketball conference. Outside of KU, its basically garbage.

  • @elpoyo

    The Big 12 has been ranked as the top or top 2 league for the last several years by just about all ranking systems and it is better, top to bottom, than other leagues such as the ACC which is top heavy.

    Do your homework before you post incorrect information. Just because the Big 12 is not recognized by the MSM it does not mean is not at or near the top.

  • @JayHawkFanToo I’m gonna side with @elpoyo a little bit. Our league has not done much to prepare us for winning it all. Basically one elite team besides us of course, since we won it all, OU with Buddy Hield. And we saw how elite they were against Villanova. Those conference rankings you must admit, have been exposed come tournament time just about every year as we survive til the sweet 16/elite 8 with maybe one or two other league teams. We’re the only team with a national title in the Big12! (please anyone, I’m racking my brain, if there’s another, correct me!) That’s going back to the greatest generation! I don’t even want to think about how many titles the SEC, ACC, Big10, PAC12, BigEast has had compared to the Big 12.

    And to be honest it bothers me not one bit. If Baylor or OSU or whoever won a title I wouldn’t jump up and down. I want KU to win! That’s all. But if we can play in a league that will help us win it all, then maybe this whole discussion needs to change from replacing the coach to switching conferences!

  • @wissox I think you are right wissox. I like the suggestion someone had on another thread that we schedule more difficult non con road games. Yes, I am fully aware of how “top notch” our schedule is, but we are also not getting the results in March that we all want. Why can’t we play more at Duke, or Villanova or Michigan State? Seems like it could only help rather than harm.

  • @wissox

    I am curious, how exactly is the conference supposed to prepare us? Every team except Texas was ranked in the top 70 last season and the conference consistently had 5-6 teams in the to 30; no other conference has that type of rankings. KU plays a couple of tournaments with Elite teams plus the Big 2-SEC challenge where it is normally paired against the top SEC team and home and home with a few other quality programs and its SOS is normally in the to 10. I am not sure what else KU could do; you have to consider that most top programs do not want to schedule KU and prefer to schedule weaker competition and easier wins.

    If you look at consistency The ACC has UNC, Duke, Louisville and a ccouple of other teams that vary from year to year and after that it drop quite a bit, the Big Ten has 2-3 decent team every year with Wisconsin and maybe MSU being the only consistently good team and a bunch of up and down also runs, the Big East has Villanova and at times Butler and Creighton and not much else, the SEC has UK, Florida and that is pretty much it, the PAC ten has Arizona, Oregon and UCLA and then if drops.

    The computer systems look at all the variables including SOS, record agains other conferences and individual rankings for all teams objectively and consistently rank the Big 12 as the top conference. I know the MSM ignores the Big 12 and hype the ACC but the cold numbers tell a different story. You don’t have to believe me, look at the conference rankings generated by KenPom, Sagarin, Massey and others for the last few years and see where they rank the Big 12.

  • @JayHawkFanToo The Big 12 gets those rankings by not having many bad teams. The middle of the pack is solid and where the computer rankings help the Big 12. The top of the league is KU and that’s it. There is no other team that’s a consistent top 10 program. A lot of 15-40 teams which are comparable to second round and Sweet 16 teams. There’s not much Elite 8 and Final 4 talent in the Big 12 and the tournament results back that up.

    The middle of the pack is why the Big 12 is consistently rated so high, not the top of the league.

  • @Texas-Hawk-10

    That was part of my point; however, in addition to KU, Baylor, ISU, WVU and OU have been consistently in the top 20.

  • @JayHawkFanToo Top 20 is Sweet 16 caliber, not Final Four caliber.

  • @Texas-Hawk-10 That used to be OSU (other ff/ee team) then it was Texas, then it was supposed to be ISU, but Hoiberg left. Maybe Huggins can get it going and be that team. They sure have KU’s number in Morgan town…and I hate it.

  • @JayHawkFanToo you do raise a good question. Does a good conference prepare you for the dance? If we play in the top conference according to those indices then obviously it doesn’t. But leagues that have perennial top ten teams like the ACC or big ten I think give teams a little more of a competitive edge and it benefits them in the dance.

    I’ve never been that impressed by our schedule to be honest. We don’t go on the road to play top teams in their gyms (except for league games). We have a tough neutral site schedule every year. We don’t even have a great home schedule outside of conference play. We play good but not great teams in AFH. This is why entering a home and home with WSU would be beneficial.

  • Everything comes down to coaching and the players.

    It’s the coaches job to figure out how to get these guys over that Elite 8 round which has been Self’s thorn at KU.

    The game against Villanova was a tough game. Arguably Self was out-coached and Perry and Selden didn’t show up offensively.

    Against Oregon everyone not named Frank Mason left their lunch bag at the hotel and the pressure got to them while Oregon came out as the underdog and kicked our tails in.

    So what’s the cure for that? It’s not playing a gauntlet schedule. KU already plays a conference schedule no other Power 5 conference does.

    Let’s see how this years team comes together but I’m sure Devonte, Vick and Svi are all going to use last seasons loss as motivation. I’m sure Doke, Newman, Mitch and Sam all learned some valuable lessons sitting on the sidelines. Either this team is good enough or its not. The potential for them to be a championship team exists but there is a lot of work to be done to get there.

  • @wissox How do road games better prepare a team for the NCAA Tournament over neutral court games? The NCAA Tournament is played in neutral courts so why is stuff like the Champions Classic and Maui, Battle 4 Atlantis, and other preseason tournaments inferior to games at Rupp, Cameron, Pauley, and other road environments?

  • @Texas-Hawk-10 Practice (regular season games) is supposed to be harder than the games (NCAA tournament).

  • @BeddieKU23 I agree with everything you said, but there is just something wrong with the prospect of winning the NC the year AFTER Frank leaves. It’s still a gut punch. Mitch with a ring but not the greatest guard to play at KU? I know I need therapy, but it is still bugging the crap out of me.

  • Fightsongwriter said:

    @BeddieKU23 I agree with everything you said, but there is just something wrong with the prospect of winning the NC the year AFTER Frank leaves. It’s still a gut punch. Mitch with a ring but not the greatest guard to play at KU? I know I need therapy, but it is still bugging the crap out of me.

    Couldn’t agree more, I really did believe we’d win the title this past season with Frank but again we fell short. We just didn’t get it done and I think we look for a million other reasons to justify the disappointment.

    I just hope this years squad continues to learn from the disappointment of the past 2 years. The leader of this team (Devonte) has been through 2 excruciating years of this and I think its going to be a great motivator for him and that hopefully rubs off on the team. If this is the year we get over the hump and get a title its going to be really satisfying even if Frank isn’t responsible.

  • Hopefully Devonte and crew look to Frank for inspiration. Mason made a huge leap Jr to Sr years by busting his ace in the gym all summer long.

  • dylans said:

    Hopefully Devonte and crew look to Frank for inspiration. Mason made a huge leap Jr to Sr years by busting his ace in the gym all summer long.

    From what Self has said about Devonte this summer it looks like he has been putting in the work to make that possible. I like how he’s already said this is Devonte’s team. Vick has been another that has been talked about taking another leap.

  • @BeddieKU23 “I really did believe we’d win the title this past season with Frank but again we fell short. We just didn’t get it done and I think we look for a million other reasons to justify the disappointment.”

    All the discussion of reasons for last year’s inability to go all the way–like poor defense, 3 pt shooting, no rim protection, too much LL lead-footed offense and brick-handed offense–all these things are related to the thing I in retrospect theorize was the most fatal flaw.

    That being, the woeful, ridiculously inconsistent performance by the returnee who gave us maybe 50 good minutes at most all year, Carlton Bragg. I recall perhaps two games where he played to his potential for about 15 minutes each, but any good minutes he had in other games were scattered so much that the team simply received no benefit from him being there.

    And we saw the price paid for his lack of performance: the staff didn’t even trust this 5-star to even appear in the Oregon game when we desperately needed a spark, some rebounds, and someone who could power through Bell to the rim. Something like that is a cancer on a team–people here think Self made the team “tight” but I think the team went into the game feeling betrayed and knowing they were undermanned.

    I have always despised people who blame a loss on a player’s failures in one game when that player has busted his bootie all year. Yeah, Devonte missed all 7 shots, but we wouldn’t have been there without him. To say he “didn’t show up” is a short-hand method of saying he had a horrible night, but it implies a lack of effort, which is simply gratuitously insulting.

    Carlton, however, spent the year f’ing around off and on the court. He did not focus, or if he did, he zoned out immediately afterward. The team needed him desperately after Doke’s injury. All those games we won by the skin of our teeth were a tribute to nearly superhuman performances by the others, especially FM, DG, and JJ. We can now see that those games were really probably only a prelude to our eventual disaster staved off temporarily only by a run of amazing performances, mostly by a POY that hid a monster mess reclining on the bench.

    CB didn’t show up, the only KU player in my memory who for an entire season just simply didn’t care enough to even try to live up to his potential. Had he even performed at half his talent–and maybe even if he had decided not to come back so no time and attention had to be wasted on him–I say the championship would be ours.

  • @BeddieKU23 Yes, I heard Bill say in an interview that Devonte has gotten better. I would like to see him show improvement in three areas. 1. Ball handling/protection - honestly, he was not that great at it this past year but there’s no reason he hasnt improved it 2. Driving the lane - I think he was too passive in this area and 3. Defense - which was discussed earlier.

  • @mayjay I’m with you on Carlton. His case is baffling and it’s for the best that he’s gone.

    Where you are wrong is the portion where you say people blame the losses on lack of effort and Devontes 0-7 night. I don’t ever recall someone saying lack of effort, but when a 40% three point shooter goes 0-7, that’s going to hurt the team. Even if he made his average and made three of those, that changes the entire complexition of the game.

    That goes back to the question - why do Bills teams seem to routinely have inexplicably terrible performances in the elite eight? What I’m suggesting is that their entire mentality takes on a “not to lose” mind set, making everyone tight. That’s why shots don’t fall, see 07 against UCLA, 11 against VCU and last season against Oregon, along with other bad showings in 08 and 16.

    But eventually he’s going to make it to the final four. Devonte is the type of player that can lead the team over the top and overcome the mental block, imo. We shall soon find out.

  • @mayjay

    Couldn’t have said it better actually. The situation with Carlton was far worse then Greene or Naadir in the past because at least for all the expectations everyone placed on Bragg in the post, we had this generational talent in Josh Jackson that accepted a totally different role, the team accepted a totally different methodology of running offense and still the pieces fit and we won over 30 games and looked poised to win the whole enchilada.

    I will admit I’m probably guilty of using the “didn’t show up” comment at times. If anything I use it when a player doesn’t even come close to executing his average performance on the court and its really just an emotion filled response to what I saw. It doesn’t mean I think they didn’t try, that they did this on purpose. It’s tough to remove emotion when your so passionate about a team and its players and a loss is filled with such disappointment.

    I do agree though that Carlton is the only player I can ever remember in a KU uniform where I thought he didn’t care. Maturity played a big part in all of this. Maybe he turns his life around at ASU, maybe he doesn’t. I can’t say I care enough to follow his next moves. I don’t hold him responsible for the season ending the way it did but certainly he played a role in how the pieces on the chess board moved.

    We could easily say the absence of Azubuike was just as much a factor in our season ending demise. And really we could point to past bigs such as Embiid’s injury, Ellis’s knee injury, Cliff’s eligibility issues, and Ellis’s ineffective E8 performance as the main factor the past 4 seasons have ended as well. I have often thought when is KU going to catch a break with its big men…

  • HawkChamp said:

    @BeddieKU23 Yes, I heard Bill say in an interview that Devonte has gotten better. I would like to see him show improvement in three areas. 1. Ball handling/protection - honestly, he was not that great at it this past year but there’s no reason he hasnt improved it 2. Driving the lane - I think he was too passive in this area and 3. Defense - which was discussed earlier.

    Agree on all 3. I seem to remember Graham being a better aggressive driver to the lane as a freshman/soph, maybe I’m off there. I really do think he deferred to Mason last season and kept his role as such to give the proper spacing for Mason and Jackson that were elite talents at getting to the hoop. I have to think he can show more and he’ll have to if he’s going to lead this team.

    I know we’ll probably never get any confirmation but it always seemed like Graham was nursing some ailment in his leg whether it was the cramping, leg, ankle etc. His defense was still good in a lot of situations last year but he wasn’t dominate and he played a ton of minutes. If he takes care of his body and follows Frank’s lead I think he’ll be better equipped to handle the grind. We’ll see though

  • @HawkChamp “Where you are wrong is the portion where you say people blame the losses on lack of effort and Devontes 0-7 night.”

    Slight correction: I said that people saying “He didn’t show up” make it sound as if a player didn’t try, i.e., it is implied he didn’t care, was apathetic, or negligent somehow. I am just pointing out the distinction between a bad night compared to actually not showing up, either mentally (laughing at your own stupid mistake, and then doing it again, for example), or physically (being late, getting suspended, failing to hustle, or being held out of the most important game for whatever reason, like CB vs Ore, or BG vs Nova).

    That last line suggested something to me: In the past two years, in 400 minutes of possible playing time, we have gotten 6 total minutes out of two available 5-star players (CB twice) and a high 4 star (BG, himself also a 5-star acc to 247), producing zero shot attempts, zero FTAs, zero rebounds, 1 assist, and a turnover. That is not showing up.

  • @mayjay it’s whatever you think “didn’t show up” means. To me, that can absolutely mean a bad night, but lets not quibble over trivialities. The point is, the EE performances have sucked and there is an obvious trend - you can call it and describe it however you like.

  • @Texas-Hawk-10 I don’t know.

  • @HawkChamp We will see the Devonte we’re used to seeing next year. I think Jaybate is right - the kid was playing injured. We get the warrior back this year- the fierce competitor that outplayed Buddy Hield in that glorious game. Devonte’s performance in that game impressed Marcus Garrett so much, he mentioned it as one of the reasons Devonte was his favorite player. Everyone seems to be selling DG short, but I’m not. There is a reason he is my favorite player. There is twisted steel behind that smile.

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