THEY WERE EXPENDABLE (Apparently): ASU 95, KU 85

  • William Allen White, the Emporia newspaper man the KU journalism school is named for, had a son Bill, Jr. that was a pretty fair writer in his own right. He covered the early stages of WWII and he wrote a book about a PT Boat fleet that got caught in the American military defeat in the Philippines on the immediately on the heels of Pearl Harbor. The PT Boat fleet was pressed into the task of helping first supply beleaguered and then besieged American forces being sacrificed by American leadership that had lacked the foresight and resources to reinforce them sooner. A few hopelessly out gunned PT boats eventually were ordered to help evacuate certain elements of American leadership in the Philippines to safety from the onrushing Japanese juggernaut, eventually helping this American leadership (including commander of US forces in the Philippines–Douglas MacArthur) retreat to hopefully more defensible strategic positions in Australia, where they hoped to reorganize and prepare for a later campaign to retake the southwest Pacific from the Japanese.

    In the story, the hopelessly out numbered and out gunned American PT Boats were eventually sacrificed to enable escape of American leaders. The tragedy of young men dutifully sacrificing everything for a retreat from effectively total defeat was bitter. Bill White, Jr.'s book and the John Ford-directed movie based on it, were titled “They Were Expendable.” It was one of the greatest, and most harshly truthful, titles in all of war literature and movies. The last memories of young US PT Boat sailors would not be repelling the Japanese, or sinking the Japanese fleet, or taking the high ground, or paying the last full measure for the final conquest. They were instead to die bravely, not to win, but to kee some brass from perishing along with the bulk of American forces in the Philippines. They were to temporarily make up for an inadequate commitment to defend the realm that should never have been under-defended in the first place, or should have been retreated from immediately so as not to be overwhelmed, and so as to save the entire American force for winnable battles. Alas they were likely left in position in such small force to precisely to tempt the Japanese to invade them, rather than turn full force on the vastly better defended Hawaii immediately. Regardless, a decision was made in Washington that most all in the Philippines were expendable.

    I am fairly convinced one cannot fully understand America’s overwhelming, at times seemingly quixotic, commitment to global military force structure at a scale unprecedented in human history for the last 75 years without seeing this movie, or reading this book. Those that reduce and attribute Washington’s and the Federal Reserve’s seemingly endless expansion of military force to the greed and selfish interests of the military-industrial complex, politicians and central bankers overlook that the spending of a reputed 30 Trillions of dollars in just the last 16 years, and the reputed outright untraceable loss of at least $3 trillions more (maybe much, MUCH more) could likely have been accomplished more easily than by actually building the epic military-industrial complex that straddles the earth like a weapon bristling Gulliver seemingly hopelessly entangled with Lilliputions and Brobdinagians at every turn and scale of strategy.

    With the REAL power the military-industrial complex (probably better called the National Security State) has possessed since 1945, the military-industrial complex, which now appears the true Leviathan of America, and not the US civilian government, as scoundrels like Grover Norquist and Karl “Turd Blossom” Rove have apparently disingenuously rationalized, could easily have stolen all that was actually spent without spending more than a tiny portion of it on actual bang-bang and controlling epic lines of communication from the upper mantle to deep space. 100 high yield hydrogen bombs was likely all it took for them to stick us all up in bal masques, give us the one-eye sign, and say give us your $30 Trillion, or we’ll fill ya full of radiation, pardners.

    No, it appears there was a deeper trigger for this seemingly boundless game of national security state preservation that has triggered this grandiose strategic endeavor the MSM attributes in part to something ill-defined that they call a Deep State. It appears to have been rooted in how close our beloved American surface state and military let the country come to total defeat and conquest in 1941. Most legitimate military strategists and serious war historians I have read, that aren’t writing overtly historical revisions for the latest private oligarchy judo flop, and that understand the difference between a line of communication and line of cocaine, understand that USA came within a whisker of being surrounded and cut off from much of what it would eventually have required to wage total war successfully. In short, we lucked out at Midway. Period. LUCK made huge percentage of the difference, not just some of it. It wasn’t enough to know the Japanese codes and keep the three US aircraft carriers out of Peal on December 7th, which apparently happened. It wasn’t enough to know the Japanese codes and send those three aircraft carriers searching for a 200 ship Japanese flotilla. Code advantages alone did not get her done. Americans with the right stuff were necessary, but not enough on their own, either. It wasn’t all Nimitz being a great card player. It wasn’t the great industrial capacity soon to be brought into play. Had we not had a huge stroke of luck finding them first, and then catching their carriers between launches and recoveries, they would have handed our asses to us in Davey Jones Locker. Period. And then the USA and the Greatest Generation ever would have become cut off from crucial lines of communication (the stuff that decides who wins), and our industrial capacity could easily have been outstripped in five years by the German and Japanese industrial economies had they had unfettered, unbombed access to necessary raw materials and their processing, while the USA was shut off and denied from same. The PT Boat crews were expendable to stop that eventuality, since the bungling of their being there without sufficient fleet and land force in the first place gave a wake up call to the guys with the yachts between Boston and Washington DC. The sacrifice of those crews and PT Boats, though heroic, as it has been portrayed, only contributed to enabling a delayed engagement at Coral Sea and Midway that divided the Japanese forces again, and that came down finally to America winning at Midway with pure luck. And ever since, no budget deficit has been too great to bear, no loan too risky, no deception of the American people too loathsome, no presidential assassination/overthrow too onerous, no war crime, or crime against humanity too evil to perpetrate, no nation-state not worth knocking over, in pursuit of overwhelming strategic military advantage in lines of communication and raw materials and force structure.

    What has all this to do with KU basketball on the afternoon after KU had its head handed to it the second time in 4-5 days? Not much in some ways, but quite a lot in others.

    I reckon there are only two ways to look at the ASU debacle today:

    a.) Self knows Preston, Cunliffe, and DeSousa are joining the team shortly, probably during the semester break, and so there is no reason to stress and upbraid a hopelessly outmanned team of five D1 grade players and two Tulsa types for losing some games; or

    b.)Self knows only Cunliffe is joining the team shortly, and so the team is going to be hopelessly out manned the rest of the season and there is no reason to upbraid the team for losing a lot of games for the rest of the season.

    Either way, someone high up, either Bill Self, or someone above him, appears to have made a decision that they were expendable today; that there was little way to win at this time; that the thing to do was do their duty in the face of overwhelming odds, accept that they were only capable of what were seeing, take their medicine and wait for a better strategic situation from which to mount a credible attack.

    The A and B scenarios are, however, quite different in implications for the team and fans this season.

    Scenario A implies that what happened to Billy Preston is just a bump in the road. It implies Self is having the team run offenses and play defenses exactly as if Bill Preston will be back. It implies Self is doing what he did in 2008, albeit with less depth to bridge with. Self schemed the 2008 team so that it had a slot that Brandon Rush could be plugged smoothly into when his knee rehabbed sufficiently to resume playing.This implies what we are watching is a team practicing its routines with a hole in it that will be filled sometime soon. It implies KU will be playing for a conference title and trying to make a run in March, when Preston returns. What a nice scenario, eh? We take some losses, but we don’t fly into motivational rages, or try at all costs to win. We just work on the nuts and bolts and get them polished up and ready for combination and assembly with Preston. Until then, these games are expendable.

    Scenario B is, alas something quite different and frankly tragic. In Scenario B CINCPAC will not save them. The PT Boats have to do their futile duties making the best of things under conditions of total defeat, and then sacrifice themselves for the good of next year’s team. In Scenario B they really ARE expendable. In Scenario B, Self and the brass above him have agreed that it is unfortunate what has happened with the petroshoeco contract and the adverse effect it has appeared to some to have had on KU recruiting this and recent seasons (apparently leaving it massively undermanned and essentially unable to compete very effectively this season as wear and tear and issues accumulate), BUT KU has all the money it needs without burning IOUs in the legislature for funding for minor sports, and , well, this team and these players, well, we regret it but they were expendable. Self will have to build for next year under this scenario and he should not expend further resources and reinforcements, and should not try to drive the current roster to accomplish something–win a 14th conference title–that strategic recruiting realities have made appear unfeasible. Encourage them to give it their best, but do not impose unrealistic expectations on them either.

    Alas, Scenario B might (and by might I mean I am still hoping it is a very remote, whisker slim possibility), even have one much more unsettling dimension to it and a still more tragic implication, however. The added dimension is a strictly at this point hypothetical worst case possibility that Billy Preston’s issues might implicate some, or all of KU basketball’s coaching staff in improprieties related to signing recruits with cars as incentives. This could, under this hypothetical, mean that “they were expendable” extends not just to the team, but, god forbid, to one, some, or all of the coaching staff, too. OMG! I hope not. So far, we have no evidence whatsoever of such an eventuality. All we have is the appearance of a near vacuum of official commenting lately. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that it is just bureacracy’s slow wheels turning on a trivial issue. But, when one recalls some other school’s problems with recruiting improprieties involving things like cars, etc., something of a pattern appears to emerge. Sometimes only an alumnus gets the blame. Other times an assistant coach gets it, while the head coach is found not to have known about the impropriety. But still other times, both the assistants AND the head coach had knowledge of, and get implicated in, the impropriety. Call this the worst case possibility of Scenario B.

    Whatever Scenario may, or may not be unfolding (and yes there could be others, too), the KU team that played ASU today, like the KU team that played University of Washington, did not appear to look like and play like any Bill Self team I can recall. These weren’t just two bad games. It was the way the team and Self appeared to approach and conduct the games. Appearances can be deceiving. But until TPTB resume commenting on the actual circumstances, all we have before us are appearances, for the most part.

    Back to the appearances…

    There appeared less displays of affection among the starters (no joy in Mudville, if you will), than recalled about prior KU teams.

    There appeared fewer displays of exultation at plays made by Kansas players, than recalled about prior KU teams.

    There appeared less sign of a team leader trying to rally the team, as recalled as common in many years of Bill Self’s tenure.

    There appeared fewer serial stretches of high pressure Self defense than recalled with prior Self teams.

    There appeared less successful apparent wrinkles being put in by the coach to get high percentage shots after time outs, .

    There appeared fewer apparent resorts to junk zones when KU was having trouble with the opponent’s driving penetration, than recalled from prior teams.

    There appeared much less squirting up the court with KU’s noted athleticism and speed, when the starters were playing, than recalled from prior teams.

    There appeared to be less putting a body on anyone and locking down the last ten minutes of the game, than recalled as typical of other Self teams that were not very deep and so shortened games till ten to go, before lighting the candle with aggressive play.

    There appeared to be fewer stretches of KU playing sharply harder than the other team than recalled from prior Self teams.

    There appeared less out-stripping opponents and exploding out of positions for blocks in excess of opponents similar efforts than recalled from prior Self teams.

    What there was was 16 pop tarts, or perhaps 2 or 3 times what this team can probably afford to make to win, and roughly three times what this team should probably make, considering the slow tempo it played at.

    KU has appeared to be playing like a bunch of mortals recently.

    Self has appeared to be coaching like a mortal recently.

    Amazing things appeared not to be happening in that building today.

    Coach Self appeared to be waiting for something.

    The question was: was it for later this season?

    Or next season?

    Either way…


    They appeared expendable.

    They did do their duties, except for Svi, who stunk up the floor to an astonishing degree, and the onrushing Guard U Sun Devils of Bobby “don’t talk about my real estate career” Hurley overwhelmed them.

    It did not turn into a death march.

    But it easily could have, if Vick had not been able to play with what ever phase of a tooth absess that reputedly afflicted him.

    After two straight home, or near home, losses, the Jayhawks now appear to be held up on their own private Bataan peninsula.

    Reports from Washington as to whether we fans, or the team, should expect reinforcements, or just a bloody fight and then a death march the rest of the season, have not yet been decoded and distributed, at least to fans.

    Thus, we fans await further orders CINCPAC Lawrence, whether we stand and fight, or melt into the jungle for a season of guerrilla warfare aimed not at winning this season, but holding out for next.

  • You’ve got me thinkin’…

    KU a bunch of “mortals.” Batten down the hatches. This is shaping up to be a rough ride.

  • This team just doesn’t have the athletes that most top tier teams do end of story. Our guards can’t keep guys in front of them, they aren’t quick enough. We currently have no bench (33 minutes of play today with 6 rebounds and a single point). Offensively we hit a drought early in the second half but hard to blame offense when you score 85. I can’t remember a team hanging 95 in our building baring a OT game let alone 58 points in a single half. We will find out just how tough this team is as the season wears on and also how good of a coach Self is. To be honest we are due a bad year and we weren’t gonna win the B12 forever people need to lighten up and be better fans when things aren’t peachy, is what I thought leaving the field house today. I know some even commented on the sellout streak ending. Surely we are a better fan base than that friends. “There’s a lot of reasons why Kansas is a great place and we’ve heard them all. I think Kansas is the best because no loves their players more than people right here in Lawrence, Kansas” - Bill Self

  • Wisconsin and KU down in the same year. But I don’t think KU is that down. They’ll still go dancing. Badgers…prolly not.

  • It’s a rebuild year. We’re going to take some lumps along the way. At least we aren’t as bad as Wisconsin.

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