On the topic of defense, this year's team, and championships



  • In order to have a great defensive team, or at least a very good defensive team, it all starts with the individual players. Average defenders will never form a very good or great defense. Just not happening. Each has to have the necessary positioning knowledge and lateral quickness in order to be effective at stopping the opposing player from getting to where he wants to be. Some defenders, like Mario and Russell Robinson, were extremely adept at being disruptive not only with positioning but also with their hands, poking away passes and getting deflections that in turn made life miserable for the opposition. This individualistic philosophical fact about defense MUST be present before larger collective strategies can be employed.

    We all know and remember just how effective the 08 team’s collective and individual defensive prowess was - “Help the helper’s helper”. That’s fine and dandy.

    Villanova and Oregon were brought up in the other thread as well. There are only a few coaches whose systems give Bill a problem, and those two, along with West Virginia and Michigan State, give him the most problems. For some reason, those styles of play have elements (body composition and attitude of players, defensive schemes, etc) that promote difficulties for our coach to combat. A few months ago, I recommended that we start recruiting the types of players that give us trouble, but I doubt that will ever happen, and it doesn’t necessarily have to.

    I will offer a prediction. We have lost in Morgantown the last four years and each of those years (minus the Stanford loss) has resulted in a defeat at the hands of a similar team to West Virginia. This year, in spite of the absence of numerous players, WVU stil has Jevon Carter, Lemonte West, Elijah Macon and Esa Ahmad, all players that have given our guys fits the last few years. If we can secure a W in Morgantown, then I predict we will be headed to the final four. Why? Because it proves that our guys can compete successfully against tough, talented and defensive minded systems with HOF level coaches, something they have been unable to do the last few years.

    Now the summary of our present roster. The last really good or very good defensive team Self had was the 2012-2013 team. Yes, they had a bad mid season slump, but every team goes through that. I advise you all to watch, assuming it is still there, their home game against K State from 2013. Their defensive level is a bit higher than the past three or four years and it is plainly obvious. Yes, I know about the rule changes and what not. But rule changes have zippo, zilch natta to do with good positioning and active hands. Let’s stop making excuses for bad mechanics and fundamentals and say that the past few years have been under our, and Self’s, normal standard.

    It seems to me that after the mass exodus of the 2013 team that the defensive aptitude of the players Self recruited was lacking. And this is a very bad trait, IMO, to lack. Texas Hawk is correct - defense wins championships. In college basketball, I can think of a bunch of teams that went to the final four that relied primarily on toughness and defense, but I can’t think of many that went there with primarily offense. And no, you should not reference Roy. If you haven’t noticed, even he has amped up the level of D his teams play at, and it became noticeable to me in his 2009 championship team, and plain as day in 2016 and 2017, which by the way was his THIRD time taking a team to back to back final fours.

    In order to see a title for this upcoming season, it all starts with Devonte’s defense out front. His lateral quickness and agility, at least to me, has always seemed a bit short of where a point guard should be. I am not aware of how Bill teaches individual defense and how he relates lateral quickness to defensive aptitude, but I would imagine that he works on it. If Devonte and Svi don’t get it together, there will be no title this year. Probably not even a final four. That’s just how important it is for success. But there is little reason that I can think of why it can’t be better, as in holding teams to 65 or fewer ppg, as Texas Hawk pointed out.

    Like I said before in the “We Need a Title” thread, this next year is very important. We have a good combination of balance and experience plus three players that are capable of being first team all americans and/or Big 12 player of the year in Graham, Newman and Dok, each with an outside chance of NPOY. We have shooters, tons of offense, legit post presence, rebounding, shot blocking and speed. All we need now is some perimeter D and we are set to go.



  • @HawkChamp Really nice work on the thread. i agree the whole way- we do have the potential to go further than last year, as our defense will be significantly improved.



  • The defense should be better this season because we figure to have bigger/longer players on the court at every position then last year. The SF position is a wash but we also added two more versatile long wings in Garrett/Cunliffe to plug in as well. We are talking about the smallest player on the court being Devonte all they way up to the behemoth in the middle at 7 feet. Just having Azubuike in the middle hopefully changes the entire complexion for opposing teams and how they can attack KU. Preston and Whitman both have excellent size to bang in the post and so I’m excited about what they can do on that end.

    For KU to be an elite defensive team it has to find ways to keep Azubuike on the floor. The perimeter trio of Newman/Vick and Svi must show some natural progression on on-the-ball defensive assignments. Maybe Self finds some new wrinkles to implement from watching opposing teams attack him. The game has changed with how the rules are and the shot clock so Self has to continue to evolve his defensive schemes with them. I’m looking forward to the potential this team could have on defense. We should match up well with a lot of styles of play and we have 1 overwhelming advantage in the post that no program in America can match



  • @BeddieKU23 Why do the roster changes mean the defense will be better? We know how 3 of the 5 rotation players are on defense in KU uniforms and Vick is the only good defender. Graham and Svi are average at best. Newman is basically replacing Mason and based on his year at MSU, that’s a downgrade.

    Marcus Garrett is the only real question mark on the perimeter. It’s unlikely Cunliffe sees many minutes this year because of when he’s eligible.

    In the front court, Azubuike is a better shot blocker than Lucas, I don’t know if I would call him an upgrade to Lucas yet. The 4 is probably going to be a down grade no matter who’s there because Jackson was a very good defender and could guard 1-4 With ease. We don’t know what Preston will be, we don’t know how Whitman will translate to Big 12 ball. Unless Lightfoot has gotten much stronger, he’s still not going to be strong enough to guard in the post.

    I just don’t see this team being that much better on defense this year if they’re even better this year.



  • @Texas-Hawk-10 I guess you’ve forgotten who our coach is. I know our team’s defense will be better because I know our coach. You keep going on about our individual’s defensive shortcomings, yet we are two years away from having the 3rd ranked defense in the country. That team started Frank, Devonte, Wayne, Perry, and Landen. All great guys, but I don’t see any NBA all star defensive guys in that group. They simply played team defense together as a group. I think you’re not anticipating the brutal assault this team are going to feel from a coaching staff more acutely aware of last year’s defensive shortcomings than you or I:

    2013/2014- KU signs Andrew Wiggins, the number 1 recruit in America. Team defense collapses, leading to 2nd round ouster. Team ranked 22nd def eff- the worst in Self’s KU history.

    2015/2016- Team with Frank, Devonte, Wayne, Perry, and LL finish 3rd in def eff. Every post game has a comment from a player discussing their team defense.

    2016- KU signs Josh Jackson, the number 1 recruit in America. Team defense collapses, leading to E8 ouster. Team ranked 24th def eff- the worst in Self’s KU history.

    The last time we collapsed defensively, the next year we ended up 10th in the country. i wonder if he lets up on defense when we have the number 1 player in the land. Maybe he doesn’t want to be seen as quite a hardass…the good news is he doesn’t have the number 1 recruit in the country, so these guys are going to get the full Monty on defense. You can’t put a period on the end of a sentence that isn’t written yet, and our defense is still a work in progress.



  • @Texas-Hawk-10

    The roster changes can mean everything.

    Obviously we don’t know anything about this years team as of yet but at the minimum returning players should continue to improve defensively with another year under their belt. Maybe they don’t but what’s the point in predicting this team won’t do something at this point.

    We have the potential to put some more length at positions then we had last season especially in the backcourt and playing a more natural PF to pair with the return of Doke. We struggled to stop post players around the rim and I figure those figures will drop with what we figure to have playing the 4 plus having a legitimate shot blocking presence at the rim. I didn’t guarantee anything but just looking at the potential of what Self can mold this team into looks promising, at least this far out



  • @BeddieKU23 Length doesn’t equal a good defender, Svi is proof of that. A 6-8 wing should be a good defender, but he sucks. Newman has an entire season’s worth of evidence in a worse league than the Big 12 that he’s not a great defender playing for a coach who has produced a lot of great defensive teams including one that held KU to 55 points in an E8 game.

    Garrett and Preston are the two unknowns and freshman, especially in the paint, have a history of struggling to adjust to the college game under Self.

    Maybe they prove me wrong, but I just don’t see the evidence to suggest this team gets significantly better on defense from last year even with Self as a coach.

    I think the 2018 team is shaping up to be a monster defensive team with the Lawson’s becoming eligible, but I just don’t see it with this year’s group.



  • @KUSTEVE There’s only player left from that group two years ago and he’s the second worst defender of that group.

    You don’t put 3 subpar perimeter defenders on the court, which KU is likely to do unless Vick starts over Svi, and expect good perimeter defense. Graham and Svi have been here for 3 years now and we suddenly expect a huge change from the past 3 years? Sorry, I don’t buy that.

    Don’t even try to blame Jackson for last year’s team being crap on defense. Jackson was far and away the best defender on the team last year.



  • Texas Hawk 10 said:

    @BeddieKU23 Length doesn’t equal a good defender, Svi is proof of that. A 6-8 wing should be a good defender, but he sucks. Newman has an entire season’s worth of evidence in a worse league than the Big 12 that he’s not a great defender playing for a coach who has produced a lot of great defensive teams including one that held KU to 55 points in an E8 game.

    Garrett and Preston are the two unknowns and freshman, especially in the paint, have a history of struggling to adjust to the college game under Self.

    Maybe they prove me wrong, but I just don’t see the evidence to suggest this team gets significantly better on defense from last year even with Self as a coach.

    I think the 2018 team is shaping up to be a monster defensive team with the Lawson’s becoming eligible, but I just don’t see it with this year’s group.

    Ok, be negative nelly if you wish.

    Size and length can make a difference, I’m not saying it guarantees anything but if KU is putting out a bigger team at positions with athletes there is no reason to think a defensive coach can’t get the best of them.

    Svi has a 6’5 wingspan which is shorter then his height. He’s been an average at best defender. We shall see what he does as a senior.

    Newman is a question mark. A lot of his issues were effort as a freshman and his health wasn’t always there. There was pre draft videos of him showing good lateral quickness on defense which could be an asset to him after the year off to mature and get his body right.

    We can go back and forth but what’s the point. Let’s see what these guys do in Italy and in the season before we judge this team that has a lot of new pieces and returning talent that can improve on any deficiency they have on defense



  • @Texas-Hawk-10 You are so stubborn in your thinking, it makes it hard to have any kind of discussion. I never blamed Josh for last year’s defensive debacle. I blamed our coaching, but you would only know that if you read my response. I think your knee jerked so quickly to respond, it must’ve knocked you senseless. Secondly, you never bothered to answer the points I made. I take it you have never heard of a 1st baseman named Yonder Alonso. Smart guys just like you were saying Yonder can’t hit home runs. Yonder’s career high in hrs until this year was 9 in a year. Until he learned how this year. He has 21 so far. Devonte is going to be fine defensively, just you wait. Vick will start, so you can’t blame Svi anymore. Coach Self will have this team playing better defense than last year’s team, period. I don’t need any correction or response from you - I’ve had more than enough of the condescending smart guy routine.



  • @KUSTEVE All you did was mention Wiggins and team ranking and Jackson and team ranking. Nowhere did you blame the coaching staff.

    Here’s your line on Jackson.

    “2016- KU signs Josh Jackson, the number 1 recruit in America. Team defense collapses, leading to E8 ouster. Team ranked 24th def eff- the worst in Self’s KU history.”

    Where’s the blame on the staff. Whether you intend to or not, tying Jackson’s and Wiggin’s names to the team ranking comes across as you blaming those guys for the defensive failures when those guys were in reality the best defenders on those teams.

    I’m a person who believes a zebra can’t change his stripes and with the years of evidence of poor defense, I don’t believe it’ll change at this point.



  • You talk and talk defense. Yet you won’t acknowledge that this years team will have a footer (as @jaybate-1-0 likes to call them) that can defend the rim?

    So lets talk defense. The last two years Coach has rolled out LL as our best big man. I love the heart and the kid but come on.

    How much does it effect a kid playing the one, the two, or the three spot knowing they have a rim protector?

    Come on man. You have to at least acknowledge something special might be taking place with this years team.

    Yet hey if you want to believe this years team sucks before they even play a game. That’s on you. Keep screaming defense, and then when KU loses 54 to 55. You can complain about that this team has no offense.

    I guess some Jayhawks fans are never happy.



  • @Texas-Hawk-10 The fact you are still misrepresenting what I said is telling. That’s the 2nd post you have twisted what I said to suit your narrative. If you want to believe that 13 extra minutes per from Svi, and 3 extra minutes from DG completely destroyed our team defense, there isn’t much more else to say, is there? You are going to be eating some Texas size crow very shortly.



  • @DoubleDD We aren’t going to be running the 4 out/1 in very often, imo. That will tremendously help our defense. Having a 7 footer at the rim helps as well. To believe that a Bill Self team is not going to compete defensively after a bad defensive year is complete, utter hogwash.



  • KUSTEVE said:

    @DoubleDD We aren’t going to be running the 4 out/1 in very often, imo. That will tremendously help our defense. Having a 7 footer at the rim helps as well. To believe that a Bill Self team is not going to compete defensively after a bad defensive year is complete, utter hogwash.

    Agreed. If Doke can find a way to stay on the court for 26-30 minutes a game its going to be a huge help in the middle.

    I hope that his time off with the injury made him more cerebral to his importance on the court. He’ll be in the top 5 in blocks in the Big-12 and maybe just as important alter a ton of others.

    We know teams didn’t shy away from driving to the hoop because there wasn’t the resistance teams are used to seeing from the Hawks. Now teams will have to find ways to score over more length and size which I think will lower shooting %'s for opposing teams as they either shoot more jump shots that are a lower % shot or get their shot erased at the rim.


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