Here's what I think Self did tonight...

  • “Hopefully it doesn’t hurt him moving forward,” Self said of Azubuike, who finished the game with nine points and six rebounds.

    “I’ve always been a big believer that you send a bad message to somebody when you don’t have confidence in him. Especially when you know he’s going to have to play every big minute late in the season against good competition.”

    On this bright bright stage – all eyes on the hyped up KU/OU match up – Self knew the scouts would be watching. So this was Azubuike’s opportunity to show he was ready for the NBA.

    Make the FT down the stretch, go to the next level. Miss, and stay another year.


    Well, we all know how the story ended. And for that reason, I think we just witnessed Self get Udoka back for his junior year.

    I don’t think Self will trust Doke in close games late the rest of the regular season at least. That will limit his opportunity to be a hero – with either a game-winning block, dunk or free-throw. This will sink his stock with scouts.

    Oh and one more silver lining given the recent turn of events:

    Now that Doke can’t be trusted in the game the final 5 minutes, he can be turned loose to play more aggressively the first 35. If he gets foul #5 any time after the 3min mark, it’s not the end of the world. And likely he’s created more havoc defensively blocking shots and scrapping for rebounds. This alone could change the games. Not that I think he’s been timid up to this point, but I do think Self has worked to protect him and his minutes. Once that becomes less of a priority, Doke should adjust his game accordingly.

  • I never could figure why you’d pull Dok for fouls unless the other team is in the bonus. I guess if he’s going to foul out in 5 minutes due to frustration he should be pulled, but there is no reason to sit Dok with 2 first half fouls.

  • If this was Coach Selfs insurance policy for next years title run then it was worth the L last night. It does really spot light the fact that Doke is not NBA ready and everyone saw it.

  • We may have have witnessed the biggest shift in Coach Self than any other time in Kansas. His entire Philosophy has centered on winning the Big 12 title. Everyone knows how close the race will be due to similar talent level among the 10 teams. For him to go into Norman, and not steal one on the road was a very risky move. He said it was about not wanting to take confidence from his big man, and on the surface, I guess that can make some sense. But everything coach has done previously has not aligned with that. Self is a hard-nosed, do it my way, tear you down and build you up coach. Worrying about someones confidence is a new approach as far as I can tell.

  • @bskeet yes, I was thinking that same thought about scaring nba scouts away from Dok this year. The main alternative to that theory is that Self, unlike everyone else, either didn’t realize that PokeADok was imminent and/or never looked at Dok’s obviously flawed mechanics. Both of those seem extremely unlikely coming from a smart guy like Self.

    Could this just be the loyal fan base simply rationalizing a total bonehead decision by him? Possibly, but that doesn’t seem to add up to me. Either way, intentional or not, the result is the same. We lost a game most of us circled as a possible loss (while still retaining first place) and, unless something extraordinary happens in the next month, Dok has been branded as unready for prime time.

    So I choose to be happy for our current 1st place status and that Dok is returning next year to a stacked line up.

    And I almost feel sorry for the Aggies on Saturday - we are going to make a big statement all over them.

  • If this loss yields another year of Doke, I will take it.

    My two cents:

    –Coach Self did not fail to make an adjustment. At heart, he is a basketball purist and he made an entirely conscious decision to allow events to unfold as they did.

    –Coach Kruger’s strategy, while entirely legal, is still a pitiful display of tactic and smacks the face of everything that is beautiful about the sport.

    –OU was outplayed, plain and simple, and it required a late game “gimmick” strategy from their coach to pull off the win. (National Player of the Year Frank Mason would not have stood for it.)

    –Over the years, I have watched Coach Self put individual players in the “toughening box”. This year, I believe he has put the entire team in it.

    –Reasons for losses are multifactorial. While it is necessary to find the root cause, attention must also be given to the many other factors that contributed. Otherwise, the next loss will be because of one of them.

    –I believe Coach Self said in a pre-conference interview that he believes a 13-5 record will take the conference outright this year. He is a low risk gambler – gambles when the probability of success is highest. This team’s current formula of squeaking out wins coupled with their struggles in AFH requires too much dependence on “luck” for Coach Self’s taste. He is trying to motivate them to find their next gear. Historically, a loss often helps.

    –I am very encouraged by the team’s play last night. They made progress. Selfishly, I want KU to wrap the conference up as fast as humanly possible but I have to constantly remind myself that every season is a marathon not a sprint.

  • I wouldn’t believe for a second that coach was motivated to keep Doke around another year by embarrassing him.

    Also, he gets paid millions of dollars to win games. If the other coach uses gimmicks, then he must adjust.

    I also don’t agree that it’s a gimmick, it is strategy–playing the percentage for the most favorable outcome.

    Do whatever it takes, within the law of the game, to win.

  • I just don’t know about the confidence argument. Yes, you leave him in to show you have confidence in him, but you don’t want to hang the loss on him. Think about how Doke is feeling this morning - he missed 7 FTs down the stretch, KU basically didn’t score and the lead disappeared. That’s a lot of responsibility to hang on a guy to do the specific thing he does worse than anything else on a basketball court. You’re asking him to perform the one specific skill he struggles with.

    In 1995, Nick Anderson of the Orlando Magic missed 4 FTs at the end of an NBA Finals game that the Magic ultimately lost on the way to being swept by the Houston Rockets. Prior to that, Anderson had never shot worse about 67% from the line. The next season, he shot 69%, but as he has admitted, his confidence at the line was shaky the entire season. The next year, his confidence cratered. He shot 40% from the line. He never shot better than 63% after that season. He went an entire season (21 games) toward the end of his career where he didn’t shoot a single FT as he basically avoided going to the line.

    Doke already struggles at the line, so I doubt his FT shooting gets worse, but as a big man, we cannot afford for him to avoid being fouled altogether, as Anderson did when he began struggling (averaged less than 2 FT per game in his two worst shooting seasons, despite playing starter level minutes). By the end of his career, Anderson basically stood out beyond the 3pt line because he didn’t want to go to the line. Doke can’t do that at his size. He has to be physical. I just hope last night doesn’t start eroding his confidence.

  • @blown Fair argument and I agree that regardless of strategies/tactics employed by others, Coach Self’s job is to make adjustments.

  • Maybe Self let Doke find out what the consequences are of not accepting coaching. Only half way thru the conf season, so there is time for a major Dok attitude adjustment.

    Lots of critics on this site have claimed Self wins the conference at the expense of March. I think we just witnessed Self risking the conference in order to prep Dok for March. “Scared straight.”

  • @mayjay After reading your post I was reminded of this recent quote from Malik:

    “Coach’s motto, every time the game gets close, is players make plays, coaches don’t win games,” Malik Newman said after the Baylor win.

    Yours is an interesting thought.

  • @CRH107 I also wonder what all the high school players out there that may be considering KU think. Are they thinking man if I go to KU and start having trouble with part of my game, are the coaches going to be able to help me, or they going to just let me struggle thru it on my own? Are the KU coaches competent enough to help me fix my problem? The debacle in Norman did not shine a very favorable light on Kansas. Hopefully all involved will be able to recover and we can continue a successful season. Will not take long to have the answer.

  • @Big-Clyde52 Ouch! Had not considered that angle. Thanks for sharing.

  • @Big-Clyde52 The other side of that, though, is that potential recruits see a coach that is going to believe in his players and believe that they can get through whatever struggles they have. Sometimes, that belief in your abilities coming from someone else (especially someone as respected as Self) is all you need to begin to get over the hump.

  • mayjay said:

    Maybe Self let Doke find out what the consequences are of not accepting coaching. Only half way thru the conf season, so there is time for a major Dok attitude adjustment.

    Lots of critics on this site have claimed Self wins the conference at the expense of March. I think we just witnessed Self risking the conference in order to prep Dok for March. “Scared straight.”

    So your point is Dok may not be accepting coaching? Possible, but unlikely. Look at how far he has come with his game.

  • @HawkChamp

    Doke may be accepting some aspects of coaching but not others. I agree with you that he has come very far this year on other parts of his game which makes his free throw situation all the more perplexing.

    So which is it: Has he not been taught technique or has he decided free throws are not his priority?

    Regardless of the answer, KU is not likely to go very far without Doke acquiring a serviceable free throw percentage and teams will use it to their advantage until he can prove otherwise.

    If our answer is Mitch then I suggest that we are in serious trouble. He is a wonderful role player and could possibly have made a difference last night. However, with no hope of another big on this year’s roster, our dreams to continue a streak and possibly go deep in the tournament are tied to Doke’s wagon, whether we like it or not. As the race tightens and the season continues, the option of taking him out will be as likely as taking Graham out when he is having a poor shooting night.

    I do not disagree that Coach Self’s approach last night was very harsh and costly (he is not a coddler) but his players present as boys and leave as men. I have faith in Doke.

  • @mayjay Ha, “scared straight”. Man, I’d take anything that worked, any ploy, gimmick, or strategy that would tuck that elbow straight under the ball, and have a straight follow-thru & release. For god’s sake, show Doke video of himself shooting FTs alternating with gifs of nba centers shooting FTs, so that he can learn to laugh at himself, like most of espn’s natl tv audience did, and get it corrected.

  • CRH107 said:

    If this loss yields another year of Doke, I will take it.

    I don’t think Coach has ever tried to keep a player from going to the NBA solely to advance KU.

  • @Gunman

    Agree with you…meant my comment only as an inadvertent benefit of a bad loss.

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