• Marvelously sweet beat down and payback.

    KU punked Butcher’s Boyz without decent trey shooting. Inference for horn fans for B12 tourney? Wait till we bring our A game, you petro-cretins!

    Joel finally got his blocks/game stat back up. Maybe the knee rehab is finally for real.

    Every silver lining has a dark cloud: Ellis disappeared on glass for second straight game. 2 Reebs.

    Embiid quotes suggests Self was big time angered at what Barnes had his team dish out to KU in Austin.

    Self quotes missing usual kindness for opponents caught on a bad day.

    Barnes quotes missing usual praise for Self and KU, just a terse acknowledgement that KU really good.

    The apparent recent love affair between Bill and Butcher seems officially over.

    KU looked like they were trying not just for a W, but to give UT’s new AD an excuse to hire one of Self’s many disciples.

    The troubling take away for Self: now he knows for certain his team has been dogging it on him all season on defense. They have been able to play great D all along and just didn’t want to. Hence, Bill’s reservations about this only being one game.

    JNew predicted this beat down by close to the right margin. Kudos to him.

    Slayr had the right Rx for this team’s blues: quicken tempo.

    Closer: this is Embiid’s team now and apparently has been all along. It goes as far as he can protect the rim. With him at 5 blocks, not fouled up, and agile, the team’s gaps in perimeter D don’t matter. With the team also trying hard on defense, the team becomes tough too beat even without good trey shooting. But if Embiid re-injures, or gets fouled up, then KU is very beatable, even with Black rounding into being a very good big man. It was no coincidence that Tharpe appeared to play great defense once Embiid finally had his hops back. Embiid with hops and 5 blocks is like Wilt in this regard. Joel could make 4 cheerleaders playing perimeter defense look good. And even take away Wigs’ flashy 12 point run and it’s still a blow out. Bottom line: with Joel healthy, this is Self Ball with defense generating offense. Without Joel blocking and altering, it’s AAU Ball. Keep getting those treatments, Joel!!! Rock Chalk!



  • jaybate I have to agree about JoJo’s blocks and his presence while healthy in the paint.

    But to this concern, have our gaurds in the past been bailed out on D by JoJo this year, Withey the past two, Robinson as well? Has their D in the paint covered up our guards poor D?

    I’m not saying it’s terrible D, but while JoJo was less than 100% this years group was exposed a little on the perimeter.

  • @jaybate 1.0


    Maybe the KU players are such students of the game and they study while sitting on the basketballs. So the balls are no longer round. But they respond to the players’ warm treatment and go into the hoops regularly while the opponents can shoot straight so they only make 30% of their tries. And I’m fairly certain that’s why Black likes to feel the ball and turns the ball around in his hands just to make sure there is no odd feeling in them.

  • The big weapon in this rodeo was a cattle prod. But we didn’t “hot shot” the Longhorns… instead… we turned it on ourselves after falling behind the steers’ rears.

    After that, sparks flew from our ears and we removed our beaks from their rears.

    And that is a cowboy explanation for how we stuck it to the guys in 70’s burnt orange clothing with the common longhorn graphic that is so common it can’t even be trademarked.

    I guess the Longhorns left Kansas immediately after the game because I woke up this morning and the smell of cow s#it was gone!

  • A few thoughts in follow-up:

    1. Embiid was clearly hurt the last game vs. Texas. His knee was way below 100%. And I think that, in part, accounted for his poor performance. The other part was that Ridley shocked him a bit. Ridley was physical and simply played his game without regard to Embiid. I sensed that Embiid was ready for that this time around. He played stout, if that’s the right word. Part of maturing as a player.

    2. Wiggins was ready too. He put us on his back there for a stretch. The kind of guy that could carry a team to a title, if he continues to stay aggressive (and can you ever discuss Wiggins without using that word?). I just see him being active. Maybe that’s it. He isn’t disappearing anymore.

    3. Mason was spectacular in the open floor. The thing I look forward to most in 2014-15 is the leap he will certainly take.

    4. This was a our best, most complete game of the season, when considering the quality of our competition and the circumstance (rebounding from a tail-kicking by the same team). This is our conference. That was the statement. Period.

    5. Probably most importantly, great credit to coach Self for having these guys absolutely ready to play in every phase of the game. But perhaps, most importantly, psychologically. Remember the talk after the last Texas game? The discussion was concern about facing a team like Texas in the tournament. That meeting a team like Texas would spell doom. The kids knew that, too. But look what coach Self did with that? We played hard, we played physical, and we dominated. That bodes very, very well.

    6. The only negative takeaway for me was Ellis. It is apparent that no matter the circumstance, or importance of game, or demeanor/disposition of his teammates, big men like Texas’ will cause him fits on the offensive end. He did try to stretch the floor a bit. But his offensive m.o. is to shrink away from contact and avoid taking the ball through the defender. That pretty much is what it is.

    7. And @jaybate is right – @drgnslayr 's pace discussion after Texas Tech was on point. The pace yesterday was terrific. I think Mason had a lot do with that in his minutes. As I’m recalling correctly, we really took it to them with Mason in the game … both when he was in there on his own, and with Tharpe. However, Texas did not try to slow it down. I am interested in seeing how we would handle that moving forward, after being controlled by Tech. The rematch in Allen will be interesting (and thanks to Tubby Smith for making Tech relevant).

  • @jaybate Our defense was much improved during your absence from Jesse’s blog…coincidence?

  • @JRyman:

    You raise a great question about the interplay of individual perimeter defense and team defense including the bigs in the paint. To answer it adequately, I’ve got to go quite a ways around the barn. So: here goes.

    Good team defenses are a combination of good perimeter defenders and good interior defenders. But if you have one or more weak perimeter defenders, about the only way to compensate for them consistently is with a dominant center/rim protector that can also hedge defend; this is why Self works our big guys so hard on hedge defense. If he gets a rim protector that can hedge 15-20 feet out it makes a defense almost guarantied to take an opponents FG% down into the high 30 percentages. Aldrich and Withey could do this. Aldrich was so good at it that he could also rebound double figures, when healthy, but he had a real stud in Marcus Morris to take up the rebounding slack when needed (and Kieff was around too). Withey, who could block and alter even more than Cole, unfortunately, could not muscle the way Cole could, so his rebounding fell off when he tried to hedge and then fall back to rim protect. When Jeff had TRob to rebound, it didn’t matter much. When Jeff had Kevin Young to rebound, it was more of an issue, but Kevin was such a disruptive force, even at 180 pounds, Kevin could still usually get 8-10 boards when the chips were down. So Jeff was more or less still covered on the glass by Kevin.

    Notice that I have so far not addressed Kieff. The reason is that Kieff was kind of unusual. He was 6-10 in KU inches, and so probably 6-9. He became strong only his last season. He was late blooming. His last season was a nonlinear improvement in all facets of his game. He was a large talent still in crysalis stage his earlier seasons. Kieff’s was never a huge shot blocker even his last season. But he turned into an exceptional post defender and a guy that could hedge defense, too. And he had the weight and strength by that last season to punish people that crowded him. In fact, Kieff should be characterized as an alterer. He could hedge, fall back and guard, and muscle people out of their comfort zone on the way to the rim. It made him seen not quite such a dominant defender, but I suspect if one were to go back and grind the stats, Kieff had a very good defensive season that last year. Plus, he had the good fortune, like Cole before him, of playing with one of the best 4s KU has had. Marcus also was not spectacular, but he was sound and able to help Kieff in every way. And if anyone tried to pick on one, the other was sure to go to the wall for the other, as brothers are wont to do. So: I have separated Kieff, who arguably has turned out to be the first or second most talented guy Self has ever had based on what he has done in the NBA, not because he wasn’t exceptional, for he was. But because he was a different kind of 5. He was a natural 4 playing the 5 and so he played it a different way.

    But back to this year’s team, and after that to the issue of perimeter defense that you rightly raised.

    The problem this year’s KU team faces is that 220 pound Perry cannot get on the glass against guys bigger and stronger than him the way Kevin and TRob ad Marcus did. So: there is a much greater burden on Joel to hedge, then rim protect, AND rebound! Only very exceptional centers can do all three even against the LSAs. Joel is one of those, but only when he is healthy enough to have his hops and quick feet (this would be so with any exceptional center, too). If he has to stay on the floor, and if he loses his foot speed and his hops to injuries, then this exposes two things in this year’s team.

    First, it exposes Perry’s short comings on the glass, if the other team has an LSA 4. The Boolean Programming Logic for Perry is:

    LINE 1: If Opponent Has LSA 4, THEN Perry Rebounds = 2 AND GO TO LINE 2, ELSE Perry Rebounds > 8 AND <10 AND GO TO LINE 2. LINE 2: GO TO LINE 1 🙂

    Second, it exposes the gaps in our perimeter defenders.

    Before I proceed to analyze our perimeter defenders, understand that I am not knocking them. Every team has gaps somewhere. What makes Self such a great coach is that he finds ways to mask these gaps. I could go back over every Self team and show you where there were gaps big enough to drive a trailer truck through, except that 2008 team. Self’s genius is in his ability to string these teams in ways that one, or two, guys’ strengths can cover up the weaknesses.

    The above being said, the toughest place to mask perimeter defensive gaps IMHO is at point guard. Self has done it twice before Naadir. Sherron was a better defender at PG than Naa appears to be, but Sherron suffered short leg syndrome on his drop step from time to time against top flight guards. Self used Cole and Marcus to cover up this flaw in Sherron’s game later. And earlier, Self had defensive help wizards in RR, Chalmers, and Rush, that in some combination of two of those three that could cover Sherron’s mistakes outside and Kaun, Darrell, and DBlock could make it quite unpleasant for blow by’s inside. But Sherron had on great edge over Naa. Sherron played at a time when you could literally body a point guard all over the floor. And Sherron had the body to body any ordinary point guard, even the long ones, into the cheap seats. Naa does not have the kind of strength to play that way, even if the refs would let him. But if he could body PGs the way Sherron could, he would not look quite so bad as he does, when Joel is not there to back him up, and when Perry is disappearing due to an LSA.

    The other time Self has had to mask a deficient PG on defense is last season. EJ of the knee quilts could barely slide for parts of the season. At times he looked like a pirate with a peg leg. But EJ was a naturally great defender. Super anticipation. And a defensive players mentality. He was in short the kind of guy that could stiff screen a behemoth like McGary, if he thought that was what it took to screw with an opposing team’s head. Naa does not appear to have that mentality, at least not yet. Anyway, Self just told EJ to forget about conventional guarding for about two months and just said over play the guy and turn him into the paint. Shove him if you have to, but don’t worry about blow bys. Step in front of him as best you can, but get him to Withey. Hell, at times EJ actually seemed to use his hands to guide blow bys to Jeff. 🙂

    The key here of course is that Jeff was ALWAYS back there all season. It was one of the counter intuitive miracles of basketball history that sinewy tough Jeff Withey never got injured, once he quit trying to carry extra weight. But he didn’t. So: while we had to watch the ugly blow bys past EJ last season for a couple months, Withey was always there to block and alter, and the whirling dervish that Kevin was, was always ready to explode out of nowhere and strip, or block a blow by. And it also didn’t hurt that 23 year old Travis, one of god’s great gifts to old man’s defense, was always there shadowing and helping. And lastly, Ben was an L&A you always had to look out for coming out of no where too, just because Ben liked to do outrageously unexpected things by temperament.

    On this year’s team, Naa is being masked with Joel, who has been at half speed, or off the floor, for what seems a month and a half or so. And Perry watches his back unpredictably. When Perry has a slow wide body, or a skinny ninny his height, then he often can step in and catch the blow bys. But as the season goes on, and the competition gets better, more and more Naa cannot rely on Perry for masking tape. More and more he has had to rely on two freshman phenoms that have never really had to play much defense, and certainly never have had to help defend another position 25-28 feet out. Wiggins and Selden have gradually improved at helping, but gradually is the operant word. And, well, Wigs turned out not to be particularly comfortable as the 3 that had to body the other teams LSA perimeter player; that job seems to have fallen increasingly to Selden. But the point is: though perhaps even more physically gifted than Travis Releford, neither Wiggins, nor Selden, seems to have found the key to the difficult juggling act of locking down their own man, while also helping on the point guard. Thus, Naa has found his weakness more often unmasked than masked this season. And it is quite fair to say that he has found his weakness more unmasked than Sherron, or EJ, ever did. And when Naa has somewhat more deficiency to mask, it makes him appear an even worse defender than he really is. Naa just has the misfortune of playing the point on a team that is, unless Joel is feeling fresh as a daisy, that is ill-equipped to give him the masking he needs.

    Self undoubtedly recognized this from the beginning and so has put the spurs to Naa from the beginning. Self knew he wasn’t going to be able to mask him at times as well as he needed and so Self has pretty much constantly kept a fire lit under him about his defense.

    For Naa’s part, I think he has done perhaps as good of a job as he is capable. He has gotten a little better all the time on defense, despite having to constantly face new defenses thrown at him that he has to recognize and respond to, also.

    Naa has the toughest assignment of any one on this team.

    He is the one guy that has to play at the edge of his envelope most of the time to make the team work. His only totally comprehensive coverage insurance is Joel. And Joel has been a damaged aircraft carrier steaming at about half to 2/3s speed the last month even when on the floor.

    Naa has to be very happy to have Joel back.

    And Naa’s play is apt to improve considerably on both ends of the floor so long as he is back.

    Insurance is a good thing, when you can afford it.

    Naa is in good hands with Joel “All State” Embiid.

    Rock Chalk!

  • @VailHawk LOL! I wish I could say I had that kind of influence, for I would just crawl in a hole for the rest of the season, and bet every game on KU winning and making the spread. 🙂

    Alas, I suspect Joel getting his hops and twinkle toes back has more to do with it!!!

  • @jaybate You were missed. I thought wigs was gonna go for 40 w/out you!

  • @HighEliteMajor:

    Embiid and health. Copy and paste.

    Wigs and aggressiveness. Copy and paste.

    Mason spectacular. Mason is increasingly one of the most mysterious factors on this team. It is not entirely clear what makes him play well, when he does, and not when not. He seems to be doing many of the same things right and wrong during good games and during bad games. But if Self and Mason can isolate and either mask, or eliminate Mason’s problems, KU becomes an overwhelmingly powerful team when Mason is on to come in as an afterburner.

    Best, most complete game. Copy and paste.

    Great credit to Self. Copy and paste. But I do think Self is very puzzled at the team’s defensive performance vs. Texas, and the long term lack of that level of defensive effort. Self appears to hope it is the Embiid Wellness Factor that allows his team defense to come together, but he also seems to be implying, “Yes, but why didn’t these guys play hard on defense before this?” Self is wise this way. He is positive about what there is to be positive about without turning a blind eye to the negatives that individual players have the power to control simply through effort. Why haven’t these guys played hard on defense most of the season?

    Ellis takeaway. Copy and paste.

    Tempo was terrific and thanks Tubby. Copy and paste. All teams have a right speed they do the most things well at. It is good to learn to win at off speeds when you have to. But it is also good to learn how to play at your right speed when you can.

    Great takes,HEM. Thanks as usual for weighing in.

  • “Joel could make 4 cheerleaders playing perimeter defense look good.”

    Classic jaybate.

  • @VailHawk: I have been traveling for awhile, and was airborne yet again during the KU-UT game due to inexcusably bad scheduling on my part. But I am home again and do not expect to miss any more games this season, god willing.

    I watched it afterwards. Quite an incredible performance by everyone. I get on The Designer, but he was guarding well and helping, even he could not get on the glass, or get untracked scoring. The thing is: any game a guy cannot score, or board, due to match ups, all he has to do to REALLY help this team is guard like a demon and help defend more. The amazing thing about this team is that its got so much fire power, and its team defense is kind of loose, that if just one guy forgets looking for touches, or caroms, and just gets in his mans jock and stays their for 40 minutes, the team’s team defense lifts nonlinearly. The problem this team has faced much of the year is that too many of the guys have gotten their dobbers down when they could not score, or rebound.

    In light of what I have just written, I want to give Andrew Wiggins a big KUDO not for his offensive explosion vs. UT, but for his 6 boards vs. UT, and for his defense, and for his attempts to transform himself into a D1 defender these last several games when he labored through a slump. Wigs is so quiet and internal at times that it goes under the radar, but he has stretched about as much as anyone on the team to get outside of himself and find ways to help the team when he is off. He has been frustrating when he refused to go to iron at times, and has waited for the game to come to him, when it clearly wasn’t going to, but the guy has been laboring at learning how to guard and help, when doing so has clearly not been his natural easy going instinct. This says a lot about his potential to become a great player. Yes, he has to work on aggressiveness. He just didn’t have a clue about how players have to be willing to take no prisoners in a hostile environment, but he does just keep laboring in the best sense of a Self player. Notice Self does not get down on how hard Wiggins works at getting better. He harps at him about getting after it, about getting into the game, about aggressiveness. And he should. But it seems a reasonable inference that Andrew is grinding it out in practice on the unglamorous things even as he struggles with understanding aggressiveness and how hard you’ve got to go just to get into the flow of a game. Give me a guy with great talent and a good work ethic, and I know he will eventually get the energy and aggressiveness dialed in correctly. Look at Perry. The guy can hang 32 and he still is struggling with how to dial it in. But they will dial it in. It must be very strange to have so much talent, as Wigs and Perry have, and still be able to play the game even when you cannot get the energy and aggressiveness dialed in. The talent level may actually make it tough to read the dial on those two variables. Guys like Mason have to keep it turned up all the way to the peg to even stay on the floor. No questions for Frank. Just peg it. Wigs and Perry have so much talent that if they peg it, they leave the rest of the team flow behind. And if they dial it in part way, they lag behind it. If team flow were a steady thing, then it would be easy for them to find the right hash mark to set the dial on. But team flow varies from game to game depending on what the opponent can take away, and so it takes a young talented player quite awhile to learn “the range” on the dial that he has to stay within.

  • @brooksmd Thx. 🙂

  • @drgnslayr:

    slayr takin’ it into poetry.

    About damned time.

    Great take.

  • @jaybate 1.0

    “After that, sparks flew from our ears and we removed our beaks from their rears.”

    I’ve got to preserve that one in the quotes archives.

  • @drgnslayr


  • @drgnslayr

    I am not sure I want to…remove our beaks from their rears…that smell can’t be good; maybe the big yellow, size “21” Jayhawk shoe may be be a better option???

  • I’m not either.

  • @HighEliteMajor like to add on #1, Tarik was trying to come back from ankle sprain last time, wasn’t ready. He really worked Ridley over last pm too! Tharpe, except for first TO, played pretty darn good D! I know he couldn’t hit his shots, but saw a big improvement from him. Saw somewhere that he spent extra time in film w/coach Howard.

  • Me too.

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