Freshmen Fairy Tale

  • What stood out the most last night was the obvious reality of having a bunch of freshmen on the same team visiting a hostile environment. Everyone makes such a big deal out of the Hilton… I’d rather go play at ISU than KSU… any day of the week!

    Wiggins is only 18. When I was 18 I popped more zits than long ball jump shots. All of our team is filled with kids. I think I’d make an exception on Tarik… he seems to be the lone adult.

    Even our non-freshmen players have little experience. Tharpe, Ellis… they both saw limited minutes last year. Black’s experience is only partial, since his experience is from another team in another basketball world.

    Yes… we could win out in March. Yes… we could go down in the 1st round. What is most-likely to happen is we finish somewhere in between these two possible outcomes.

    All Jayhawk fans need to keep one thing in mind; save your money this year. Don’t throw it down on a wager involving Kansas basketball. Too much risk involved.

    The real blame for last night falls on all of us. We’ve had our expectations set way way way too high! We painted a dream of Camelot on a white horse coming into our program and rescuing the big trophy in March and bringing it back to the Campanile Bell Tower. Freshmen fairy tales are possible… but are they probable?

    I’m not giving up hope… but I’m realizing it as more of a dream than anything else. That’s fine… because tell me another situation where we could have lost almost our entire team last year and this year be able to still have a dream that could come true!

    I’m holding onto my dream until the last buzzer goes off and we are on the wrong side of the score. Until then… I’m still in this!

    Rock Chalk!

  • @drgnslayr On target. Chastening shared in and I was one of the doubters from the start. But…I’m not ready for the head wig to stop seeing the path forward.

    I said at the start of the season our team was destined for 8-10 losses this season. I have also said the guys could be fully baked bread by March, I am sticking with this notion.

    You have been unerringly accurate in your reads on this team between the “learning experiences.” By this I mean you have correctly charted the strengths and weaknesses and paths of correction. Your crystal ball has only clouded during the “learning experiences,” but that is how it is in the analysis business.

    Best case analytic scenario: you have the process accurately and reliably figured out, but cannot EVER get all the “learning experiences” identified and timed correctly in prediction; this is a by-product of estimation amidst emergent complexity, i.e., there is not perfect forecasting analysis and seeking it has to be resisted at all costs, because seeking it actually leads to misreading what you in fact have figured out correctly. There must be some tolerance for error in forecasting.

    Worst Case Analytical Scenario: one does not have the process accurately and reliably diagnosed AND one falls victim to emergent complexity.

    I still think the facts of the season fit with your being within the best case scenario of analysis.

    And here is why.

    Last night, despite the sting of losing, confirms this team is mostly the positive and negative that you have said of it.

    The key that is this: the team shot poorly inside, shot the worst from trey it probably is capable, and generally did not play its game, and still barely lost in overtime to a hot team and rival on its home floor in a rematch. On a bad night, minus a rotation player, and with a starting center hobbled, and a starting 2 guard stinking up the floor, KU barely loses to KSU on one of KSU’s best nights.

    Inference: KU is one helluva a good young team that could not quite figure out how to guard the paint without Embiid as a viable rim protector, and is still learning how to handle pressure defense.

    This circumstance, though nasty medicine, is NOT inconsistent with the expected development trajectory of the team that you have been enthused and analytically accurate about so much of the time.

    You did not accurately forecast Embiid’s rapid development, because he falls in the realm of the unforeseeable amidst complexity. You also did not forecast Embiid’s knee injury; that falls under the same rubric. If Embiid recovers, the team will get back on track. If Embiid does not recover, what I saw of Tarik last night (if the ankle recovers) makes me think Self could restring the instrument with Tarik, alter defensive coverage some, and still get back on track.

    I am sticking with my supplement to what you have been saying and saying that Andrew Wiggins is in an normal, everyday, classic, garden variety slump. Slumps start in one aspect of play and then spread to one’s entire game. This is exactly what we have seen with Andrew. When a side is cleared out for him, as at the end, he still can do the super human things he has always been able to do. But it is also a fact that Andrew was walking around the floor looking for all the world like Brady Morningstar did in his mother of all slumps, and like so many other KU players have looked in such slumps over the years. At first they don’t even think they are in slumps. Then they aren’t worried about it and just playing through it. Then at some point, if it is one of those mother of all slumps they have never really been in before, they start to walk around questioning the nature of their existence in tennis shoes. They are neither as exuberant when something good happens, nor as despairing when something bad happens. They are looking around not quite sure reality is real. They are trying to maintain their balance in the midst of what feels like some kind of a fall from grace with the sea of life. But as we all know, and as you among us almost certainly have aching first hand knowledge of, having laced them up for so many more years and at so many levels above most of us, slumps eventually end.

    Alas, Wiggins slump is occurring at the same time that Embiid’s knee is cutting his productivity by a third to a half. And Joel has no long background in the game against which to draw perspective on his problem. It is even possible that Embiid’s knee is better than I believe and that he too is having a slump.

    Last night’s game also included the trough phase of Selden’s volatile freshman performance cycles.

    And Jam Tray decided to leave the straight and narrow for a moment just to make sure Coach Self understood that there is no figuring out 18-23 boys.

    If you crucified this team’s players last night on an X-Y graph, Embiid would be in a deep trough, Wiggins would be in a fairly deep long trough, Selden would be in a sharp trough, and Jam Tray would be flat lined below both.

    And yet KU almost won shooting 12% from trey.

    And we know that these guys, except perhaps Embiid, are going to come roaring out of these troughs SOME TIME. It could take a couple more weeks even, and some more losses, too. But these guys are going to roar out of their troughs as surely as all the KU players of the past did. Brady at one point was playing mop up minutes it was so bad, before he came out and shot 50-70% from trey for 3-4 games and got back in his normal ranges of performance. It IS going to happen and Wiggins is going to go off and Selden is going to find himself again.

    Now, so far I have just put some perspective on the negatives.

    Let’s now add in the positives.

    Black is emerging the last two games as a definite starting type of player in the paint, if we can just keep enough bailing wire on his ankle to keep him going.

    Perry got 11 boards the hard way and did not cower going to the basket without knowing much about who would be playing at the other post for more than a minute at a time. This tells me The Designer is breaking through a wall in the midst of this disaster. He is not TRob, or anything, but he is starting to be able to stand the heat in the kitchen and still do his spin moves.

    Next, Conner Frankamp looked like a completely different basketball player out there last night. He looked like a @#$%%^ed !@#$%^ing point guard. He looked very quick. He looked comfortable guarding at D1 speeds. He looked comfortable whipping the ball around. We have, for all intents and purposes, a new addition to the rotation.

    Next, Brannen Greene should clearly NOT be on the floor from a strictly clinical basketball point of view. His neural nets are not wired in enough to play without errors. But this is not a clinical situation. This is the living myth wrapped around the KU basketball legacy within which a Bill Self team is struggling against rising complexity and the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune to keep the title streak alive and try to capitalize on a once in a coaching career player in Wiggins. Brannen Greene is like a proto type P-38 Lightening being forced into duty before all the bugs are worked out simply because it can do things none of the other players can do. What people and Self have been confused about is that they thought that what Greene was necessary for was three point shooting. WRONG. We need him for his length on defense, his scrappy personality, his wild stork mentality and game. We need him for the very reasons he should not be playing under normal circumstances of a Self team full of seasoned veterans trying to avoid goofy plays and TOs at all costs. We need Greene, because half baked neural nets and all, he can disrupt like nobody’s business on other guards. His trey shooting, if it ever were to click in this season, would just be icing. We need the guy to come in and screw the other team up just a leeeeeeeetle bit more than he screws up our team. And he screws up every time he gets on the wood, and he will continue to no matter how much, or how little, PT he gets, because his brain has not grown together yet, just as Travis Releford’s had not when he was this age. Bill Self read the hand writing on the wall last night. You could see the light bulb go off over his head when Brannen came in and disrupted like a crazy MFer. That’s what this team needs more than trey shooting, ball protection, rebounding, energy, or anything else. It needs at least one, crazed, disrupting MFer to bring in from time to time to put the fear of insanity in opponents hearts. KU, this team, we fans, need the perimeter equivalent of Cole Aldrich to come in and wild stork the opponent for as long as it takes to disrupt them, no matter how many air balls, fumbles and other incomprehensible bungles he makes. Without Greene, this rotation has no one to put the fear of insanely unpredictable energy into the enemy. Sometimes Kevin Young’s greatest contributions last season were not when he learned to grab 10 boards with 180 pounds, but rather when he simply completely unexpectedly climbed up the back of a wide body, or an LSA, and took the rebound out of his hands from behind!! KY would go completely bat shizz unpredictable bonkers at any moment and that is the definition of disruption. Disruption is the insane and impossible happening frequently. It takes away the other team’s comfort zone.

    Self has to embrace Greene the way he did Kevin finally. It is the only way this team is ever going to get to the next level defensively.

    And with all the above said, Sir slayr, get ready for some more bumps and losses, as Self brings this unprecedented ensemble cast into harms way in March when they are hitting on all cylinders and dishing out insanity in necessary amounts to opponents up to now only worried about all the talent.

    Rock Chalk!

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  • @jaybate 1.0 " wild stork the opponent for as long as it takes to disrupt them, no matter how many air balls, fumbles and other incomprehensible bungles he makes. " Perfect description of Greene. Last night was a cleansing of sorts. After the game, Self had a smile on his face in the press room talking about how difficult it is to win in the Big12 on the road. I was actually more shocked at the 30+ ass whipping WV put on ISU last night. I’m not too bent out of shape over this loss. I am worried about Joel. KY became part of the team when on the last play against Mizzou, coach put him in and the camera showed him smiling as the ball was put in play.

  • I predicted it would be a close game the entire game and one team would pull away at the end; I surely hoped it would have been KU.

    Also, at the beginning of conference play I predicted a 14-4 record would win the conference, although in retrospect, I thought OSU, ISU and Baylor would be the competition. The Big 12 is super tough and every game and road trip is like running a friggin’ gauntlet. The team roles have changed and now, UT, KSU and even WVU seem to be the competition, but it sure looks like a 14-4 record may indeed win the conference.

  • @wrwlumpy, yes, if ISU did not have someone out for some reason, which I don’t think they did, it was a VERY strange game. I did think after seeing WVU play KU that WVU was on the road to putting a very good team together this season. By conference tournament time, it is going to be no fun at all playing them, but I suspect we will have to face in the finals, if we are in different brackets, if we get to the finals. 🙂

  • Agreed. 14-4 has a good chance of winning the conference. We may have a small cushion, but it is too small. I hope the rest our injured boys get the next two games is all they need.

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