It's NOW or Never....

  • The verdict is out. This current Jayhawk team plays better on the road than in AFH. In the 50+ years I have followed Jayhawk basketball I have never wished our remaining schedule would have more away games than home games. Until now.

    This season is growing more frustrating for Jayhawk fans all the time. We have a lot at stake in this year’s results. This is the year where Bill Self and Kansas can eclipse a record many thought could never be reached; Wooden’s 13 consecutive conference titles. This is huge, and one more factor of historic importance that helps build the legacy of Kansas basketball.

    I want to move forward with addressing our inconsistent play. In order to do this, we need to clear the air first.

    NEGATIVE IDEAS: First, we need to get rid of some negative ideas. These always come about from negative emotions after a loss or losses. Many of us look to blame someone for a bad outcome. Many of us must rationalize our bad outcomes and the desire to be able to explain it can override our common sense or logic. This often goes negative; our guys aren’t motivated, they didn’t come prepared, they are lazy, they are not hustling enough. Let’s just nip that in the arse right now. Unless someone has substantial proof that any of our guys have a bad attitude or ulterior motives… let’s look for other understandings.


    A friend of mine recently turned me on to a book titled, “The Power Of Now” by Eckhart Tolle. I’m almost finished with this read, but felt I couldn’t wait to post on this after our huge disappointing home loss yesterday. This is not a book directed towards sports, but life in general. My own focus on sports allowed me to connect the dots; finally I found a solid tool to address the mental state of players during games! This book is a tool that should be on the desk of every coach everywhere. It addresses how players can shackle their performances by being stuck in the past or future, avoiding them the huge potential of ‘staying in the now’ where the game is being executed.

    One of the main premises of this book is to help us live in the now and to execute our existence in the now. It shows many examples of how it will help us all. It shows how we live in pain when we stray from the now, focusing on either the past or the future. Pain is a result of living in the past or the future, the same can be said of disfunction.

    Yesterday, we saw a team executing in pain. Where was our energy? Where did our ability to execute go? Is it possible our players are shackled in thoughts from both the past and future, instead of executing in the moment?

    Why does our team play better on the road than in AFH? When they go on the road, there is a sense of urgency and a survival mechanism opens up in our guys. That encourages them to bond tighter and it promotes their inner selves to STAY IN THE PRESENT! Think back in your life, in moments of perceived survival risk. Notice the heightened adrenaline. Notice your ability to execute at a much higher level than in normal times. Aren’t you more “in the moment” during these times?

    I feel sure this has always been an issue with our teams. I only have to think back to EJ as the ultimate example of a player who was hampered by playing in too much thought.

    What can we expect to gain by helping our players execute in the now? Our guys will no longer play slower because their physical actions are actually reactions to their own thoughts. Players that execute to their fullest are not shackled in their thoughts, they play at full speed, relying on their instincts. Just imagine how many of our players could play at a higher level, at a higher speed because the game would slow down considerably within them once they are free from the chaos of thoughts about the past or panic/fear about what the future will bring? Our guys know they are on the “hot seat” concerning our conference streak. They do not want to be the team that loses the streak. That is a clear case of being stuck in the thoughts of the future.

  • Reading this currently as well. Very challenging to incorporate some of these practices into this day and ages culture of “busy-ness”.

  • @Blown

    I think the biggest hurdle is to just learn to accept the premise. Once you can do that, you can start monitoring yourself to control those little voices inside.

    Once I made the connection to sports performance I was able to review my own history in sports. I can think of so many times where I took my own thoughts and emotions into games and didn’t let loose of them during the games. I probably thought I had. But in reality, I still played with voices in my head and actually a heightened mental backup trying to keep up with the game and “help” my performance. I was feeling that carrying this heightened thought process into game play would help me. It actually sped the game up for me because I had so much more to analyze. And then I couldn’t “react” until my mental process told me what to do.

    We have so much of this on display with our team. Just look at our more-extreme case of a player playing through his mentality instead of instincts; Silvio De Sousa. There is little doubt that he has a lot to learn in order to be successful at the D1 level. But he is also hindering himself because he is trying to “play careful.” I don’t think he will become an all-star right now if he is able to “execute in the present” because he also needs to learn more about the college game. But if you look at his high school play, he looks completely different. This is more than just the higher standard of play in D1. We see his hesitation; he is using a mental filter in front of his execution. He’s thinking about what to do. It is not my intent to come down on Silvio. I’m just using him as an extreme example of a player not playing “in now.”

  • @drgnslayr

    Wooden did not win 13 consecutive conference titles, UCLA did and that run was under 3 different coaches and on 2 conferences. The closest to Coach Self’s 13 titles is Mark Few at Gonzaga with 11 and that run was on the much weaker West Coast Conference where the only opposition is St. Mary’s.

  • @JayHawkFanToo So does KU’s run count as two different conferences since you consider UCLA’s to be in two conferences? The PAC added a couple of teams and the Big 12 lost a couple of teams.

  • @Texas-Hawk-10

    The conference name did not change like it did when the Big 8 became the Big 12. Regardless, the fact is it took 3 coaches at UCLA while the KU and Gonzaga streaks are all under one coach. Having said that, the UCLA streak is still considered to be 13. If KU wins #14 the issue is really moot.

  • @JayHawkFanToo

    Thanks for the clarification!

  • @drgnslayr

    No problem. Wooden is always mentioned with the UCLA streak but as coaches go, Self has had that record for 2 years now and it is one that might never be broken.

  • The pressure of the streak was at its peak last year, IMHO. Falling short by one conference title would have been the greatest abomination. I agree to living in the “now” and look very forward to seeing Coach Self and team work their magic to win games instead of trying not to lose games (credit @jaybate-1-0 for this thought)… hopefully this year but, if not, definitely next year when the pressure of the streak is finally put to bed.

  • @drgnslayr It might also help if our players cared enough about winning instead of being up all hours of the night playing on their phones, as was revealed by another poster. If they really cared about winning, their team, the streak, etc., they would get a good nights sleep, especially the night before a very early game. Maybe this is the reason we keep hearing the “tired” excuse. Boys get your arse’s in bed and show that you have some KU pride and care about KU tradition. There will be plenty of time to be night owls when the season is over.

  • Always a possibility. The coaches know they need their guys rested… but also relaxed. I think they give thumbs up to being on phones a lot, just not all night! Keep these young guys doing what makes them feel comfortable.

    But being too comfortable may be the problem! They need some tension to spark adrenaline.

  • By the way… the “tired excuse” doesn’t fly in this game. They hadn’t played a game in 5 days.

    Oh wait… the “too much time off” excuse going on into shooting woes and bad timing…


  • @drgnslayr

    5 days off apparently wasn’t enough time for Graham’s leg to return to normal function even with the hot wire firing his muscles for him. He was dragging his left leg and not taking on much air on his drives even at tip off.

    Vick also looked effectively pop-free even after 5 days.

    And what is scary is both these.guys were phenomenally quick and explosive for entire games before mid January. Remember the consecutive 30 point games by DG and flurry of 20 point games by Vick.

    Now even after 5 days they have no pop and Devonte labors for 17 measly points! And Vick throws near goose eggs!

    Maybe these guys need surgeries and a few months off?

    I keep hoping it’s just two slumps, but…

  • Graham has a bone bruise on his knee. It’ll take time to heal.

  • @dylans When Self described it, Self denied he was “injured.” Said it was a “bruised knee”, and then said “bone bruise.” He also said it wasn’t limiting him, but that DG wouldn’t likely tell him anyway. I heard this on an interview with Hanni. Sounds like he got banged on the knee is all.

    @drgnslayr The excuses are piling up. At some point, there has to be a realization that we have flaws. We aren’t going to be good at everything, we’re going to miss shots, we’re going to suck on the boards, we’re going to lose games that appear as if we should win. Self has us ready to play from a basketball end. We aren’t prepared mentally at home. I’m sure he’s searching for the right approach with this team. It’s clear a home game is different.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    Actually… this may be the team others have wanted for a long long time!

    This should be the team that doesn’t do well in conference play but does well in March!

    All of those March games are away games… right up our alley!

  • @HighEliteMajor I hope you’re right. But when has Bill been straightforward about injuries in season? It’s tactical.

    Last summer I hit my knee mid stride a nob on a dumpster. It was just bruised, but I had swelling, soreness, and somewhat limited motion for 6 weeks. Just a bruise I assume, but it was a mf’er to walk off.

  • @dylans dumpster diving?

  • @Crimsonorblue22 no lol, I was hauling trash off, parked my wagon in front of the dumpster and was standing between the two hanger that the trash truck grabs. My dog ran out of the open gate and I took off after her made it 3/4 of a step, banged my kneecap and crumpled up. Tara came back and licked my face before returning to the yard (good girl), but I had no idea a simple Bruise could cause swelling in my knee for over a month!

  • @dylans I’ve a friend, now in his eighties, who banged a shin on a car door a year ago. He is quite heavy. That injury turned into a major contusion from which he almost lost his lower leg. Took right at a year to heal properly. Devonte, of course, is in much better shape with maximum blood flow to extremities, so he will heal much faster than the average human. But those types of injuries can linger annoyingly, no doubt affecting highly competitive play.

  • I think the UCLA streak is more impressive because of what happened 3 weeks later!

  • @wissox

    Why would you think that? UCLA streak happened in a time where a dozen program dominated basketball and UCLA had talent superior to the other programs. Because of parity, it is now considerably more difficult to win conference titles let alone string several in a row. During KU’s 13 year streak do you know how many conference titles other program have won?

    • Duke - 2 and not in a row
    • Kentucky - 5 including 1 by Tubby and no consecutive titles
    • UNC - 8 total with longest streak being 3
    • Indiana - 0
    • Villanova - 5 with longest streak being 5 (current)
    • Louisville - 4 with longest streak being 2
    • UConn - 2 with longest streak being 2, 11 years ago
    • Michigan State - 3 with longest streak being 2, 8 years ago
    • Florida - 4 with longest streak being 2
    • Arizona - 5 with longest streak being 2
    • UCLA - 4 with longest streak bein 3, 8 years ago
    • Wisconsin - 2 and not in a row
    • Gonzaga - 12 with longest streak since the KU streak started being 7, although it goes to 11 if you go back another 6 years. Current streak is 5. Gonzaga’s titles were in a mid-major conference with basically one other decent team.

    As you can see, winning even 2 major conference titles in the current era is difficult enough, stringing 13 in a row is something that only KU has done and in my opinion, a much greater feat than UCLA.

  • @JayHawkFanToo

    Very impressive response! Looks like you did some work for that one!

    I think showing the other big teams and their conference titles says everything! I just hope we can get this one last conference title to put us above UCLA… period!

    Self will really have to earn this one. I hope he has some magic up his sleeve because we have to find a way to get better results.

  • @drgnslayr

    There is no question that when you put it in context, it is an extremely difficult thing to do and KU’s streak might never be broken. If KU can get #14, hopefully #15 will be easier with a loaded team next season.

    I always wondered why some people, including some KU fans, play down the magnitude of the achievement. All the knowledgeable announcers and analysts always mention the streak as a very special achievement regardless of sport.

  • @JayHawkFanToo Nice list! I was being a little snarky of course, don’t take my comment too seriously. I will say more seriously that, as has been oft discussed, the competition for conference titles has been more stout in other conferences. I know that will bring some responses, but we have had no Duke/UNC/Florida/Kentucky/UConn/Louisville/Nova type competition. Those are schools that have won titles during the streak. Heck, we’ve barely had to compete against FF teams in our league. I can pretty much guarantee we don’t win 13 titles in a row if we’re playing in the SEC, ACC, BigEast/whatever it’s called now/Big10/. Maybe the streak is doable in the PAC12? Dunno about that one.

  • @JayHawkFanToo

    I totally agree. Heck, I’d love to win another NC like everyone else. But to use the hunt for a NC to overshadow the merits of this streak is just nuts!

    The streak is mentioned so often on TV and will continue to be mentioned probably long after it is broken. NCs get mentioned, too, but unless it sticks out, like back-to-back titles, they fade away so much quicker.

  • Presumably the team wasn’t out partying last night. That should help for the game tonight.

  • BShark said:

    Presumably the team wasn’t out partying last night. That should help for the game tonight.

    I wonder if they have been sanctioned from partying after that came to light

  • @BShark

    Gosh… I don’t know. Maybe they need to stay out all night partying… no sleep.

    Doesn’t sound logical… but something needs to get these guys to kick in some adrenaline. I fell asleep in the OSU game because it was as fun to watch as watching milk curdle.

    Maybe our guys are just too coddled. They had 5 days without a game, and mostly resting, and we see what that did for them. Yet… they go on the road, sleeping in weird beds, eating weird food and dealing with some long hours and they look awake!

    There is a reason why most boxers intentionally punch their own faces before stepping in the ring.

    We need some way of pushing these guys’ adrenaline buttons, and I’m not talking about one of those kombaya circle dances. Maybe they should all bring boxing gloves and punch each other in the locker room! Sounds silly… but I bet it would help!

  • @drgnslayr Clearly partying isn’t the answer, you saw what happened against OSU. Vick could stand to toke a little less too, tbh.

  • Right now this squad teeters at the precipice of losing the streak. Back in December many of us envisioned a tie, perhaps even a 3-way tie for this season’s league title. That scenario looms real. Scary today to think that such a talented Jayhawk squad could be dribbling a path toward collapse.

  • @REHawk

    We will really get a better taste of who this team is when we know the streak is on the line in a game. Now we are tied again at the top. Will we blink first and fall to the second line?

    These guys play pretty well on the road, when they are challenged. They just play like the 300th-ranked team in the nation when in AFH… plushland… minutes from their posh dorms…

    This team seems to only stand up when there is real friction. Hey… maybe March is just what they need!!! (or maybe not)

  • Maybe Bill’s recent announcement will prompt Doke back to the free throw practice line before and after practices? Obviously, Doke’s rebounding numbers are miserable. But if he was working overtime in practice to remedy another glowing weakness, perhaps Coach would have not leaped so notably into his case. Right now, Doke looks to be a guy whose hasty travels to the NBA have been dampened so completely that he finds himself sleepwalking through many minutes of play. The guy has made many improvements to his offense, but is yet a defensive negative, overall, considering his size.

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