Is This Team Finally Ready for 'Self-Ball'?

  • Is this team finally ready for ‘Self-ball’?

    In recent weeks we have seen moments of solid defense. We almost played 40 minutes of defense versus Texas. We can’t compare this team to any other Bill Self team because the NCAA decided to make lock-down defense a thing of the past. But we can still play a decent M2M with plenty of weak side team help.

    And over the B12 season we have seen this team put up some of the best offensive numbers in the nation, thanks to the patented Bill Self hi/lo.

    Could it be? Could this team be ready to peak at tourney time by playing solid Self M2M while running effective hi/lo on offense?

    It seems the biggest part of this puzzle is Joel Embiid. He will be back soon, with a new set of batteries.

    Can you imagine what this team can do if they finally play the kind of team basketball envisioned by Self?

  • @drgnslayr To me the biggest part of the puzzle, in so much that it is a question mark, is Tharpe. You mentioned the Texas game; he completely locked down Isaiah Taylor in that game. But we’ve also seen him getting torched often. How will he fare tomorrow against Staten? Going forward, if Self doesn’t have to mask for Tharpe on defense and can have Selden & Wiggins commit solely to their man without worrying about helping on Tharpe’s, I think that will go a long way towards making this look like a “Self-ball” team.

  • @icthawkfan316 Problem is, we have to cover two guys on defense pretty regularly – Ellis and Tharpe. I believe that the only way we win the tournament is 1) a healthy Embiid protecting the rim, 2) Tharpe or Ellis not killing us on defense – at least one being adequate per game, 3) Tharpe not having brain cramp games like the OSU game, and 4) our offense getting hot, maybe out shooting teams from 3 range a few times.

    One guy to keep an eye in my book offensively is Ellis. His game is expanding its range and he could really exploit the right matchup.

    I think we can hope for the “Self-ball” that @drgnslayr suggests, but I don’t think that it is probable. Winning the tourney may be a bit of a different formula. This isn’t going to be a lock down defensive team. And I wonder, are we ready for the UNIs and VCUs of the world?

  • @drgnslayr You have laid out some of the most important pieces of the puzzle… and hinted at one more: How will the officials call the games?

    The tournament is officiated by officials from the various conferences and, while they all were indoctrinated together on the new rules at the start of the season, a lot of time has gone by and they’ve adapted to fit the styles of their conferences.

    I wonder if we will see some dramatically contrasting officiating from game to game and round to round as they try to figure out how to keep the spirit of the new rules, and balance with their adjustments throughout the year…

    Or am I over-thinking it?

  • @bskeet I sure hope you are, especially if Embiid is limited and we have to count on Tarik staying out of foul trouble. Just keep hoping the KU team that showed up for the Texas game comes back! That team can compete w/anyone!

  • @HighEliteMajor I agree Ellis is also a liability on defense. I just tend to think that it hurts teams in general more to have a weak link on the perimeter as opposed to the interior. The reason for this is pretty simple, and that is that perimeter offensive players handle the ball at a much higher frequency, thus they are more often in a position to score. Interior/post offensive players need the ball put in their hands by the perimeter players. The fairly recent proliferation of the “stretch 4” has somewhat evened that imbalance in recent years, with post players more able to come out to perimeter to get the ball and either be in a position to score from further away from the basket or put the ball on the floor and get to their scoring area themselves. As you mentioned, Perry himself is an example of this on offense. For whatever reason it hasn’t translated to the defensive end of the floor.

    We’ve seen Self teams have great success defensively despite the presence of a sub-standard post defender. Thinking back to the '12 team, TRob was in my opinion a below average defender. I think this was in large part at Self’s direction, as he could not afford for TRob to be aggressive on that end and risk foul trouble, but the result was the same - a superior defender (Withey) coupled with a deficient defender (TRob). Withey had to cover the entire post pretty regularly on that team. And the '11 team, while maybe not having any below average defenders, didn’t have a rim protector. I don’t think anyone would recollect stellar defense among the attributes that the rotation of the Morris Twins + TRob brought to the table. (Withey was the 4th post player that year, and didn’t see near the minutes that say Black/Traylor has seen this year in that role).

    I do agree that Embiid’s health is the biggest key, but I think Tharpe’s defense is the biggest question mark. What’s it say on a team with this many young pieces that the junior leader is #2 & #3 on your keys to success, behind only the health of somebody else which really has nothing to do with their abilities?

  • @HighEliteMajor As you say, I think Ellis could be even more effective if he more often steps outside and hits the jumper. This could offset how he gets taken advantage of down low when he is on defense. I feel like every time he takes a jump shot it is going in. Down low…it seems like we’re waiting for his shot to get blocked.

  • @HighEliteMajor-Glad you mentioned Smart’s team. I watched VCU rattle off a second half at Richmond the other night that was just scary good. One run was about 18-0, & they rained 3’s like water. I also cannot help but envision AWIII playing A-10 ball down the road. When they had open looks, whammo. Plus their guards were not only long & tall, but could drive like steering a Mercedes on a mountain road. Guys like that can go through Tharpe & Ellis like a knife in hot butter. Without help, they are what they are & so is this team-vulnerable.

  • @drgnslayr

    The kind of team that Coach Self would like to see, unfortunately is no longer feasible; the new rules have ensured that the “Self-Ball” that we grew accustomed cannot exist anymore. Some of the defensive bastions from prior teams, such as RussRob, Mario, Rush, Releford would foul out in the first half.

    This tournament might be remembered as one in which the refs and not the coaches or players dictated the style of play. If the refs swallow their whistles and let the players play, KU could be lethal. If they call every single ticky-tac contact, it would be a nightmare for some teams with short benches.

  • I think I agree with everyone on here.

    But look at this team again. Squint your eyes this time. I see a blurry vision of Self past.

    We all know the issues…

    Naadir’s consistency

    Perry’s defense and aggressiveness

    Officiating nightmare preventing lock down defense

    Young and inexperienced

    Those are huge hurdles. But let’s not forget what we DO have going for us…

    Joel is a monster

    Andrew is coming on

    Wayne hustles with less TOs and a range of scoring

    Naadir is awesome when he is ‘on’

    Our bench is deep and talented

    Through all of the hype and disappointment of fans and media from watching this team play like a NBA team one night, and the next time out look like high school… from blistering shooting or unforced TOs by our PG… to a superstar man from Cameroon capable of owning a game or fouling out quickly or tweaking his back… eventually, I knew it would come to what is really important. It comes down to this team executing Bill Self’s game.

    We can pinpoint a million reasons why this team should fail (we all have done it already)… but let’s pinpoint one solid reason why this team can win!

    S E L F - B A L L !

    Going back to the Texas game and ever since then, we have seen periods of solid defense. I can’t say that statement often before the Texas game. Offense wins games, defense wins championships! We’ve had offensive firepower for most of this season.

    If we can play solid Self-ball defense from here on out, we will be a contender. And if we can’t… we will fall victim to just about any team out there that shows up with a hot hand that only needs to be a touch hotter than ours.

  • “Is This Team Finally Ready for ‘Self-Ball’?”

    Maybe… but after today’s loss to WVU, it looks like we want to go into the tournament as a sleeper. So much for the “playing better defense” comments I made earlier. I was hoping we would step up with JoJo out and show some pride. Guess I shouldn’t have made that assumption, but then… you know what they say about making assumptions!

    Is it possible for Kansas to be a sleeper team?

  • @drgnslayr Don’t beat yourself up over the “playing better defense” comments. I’ve been a Kansas fan for around 50 years now and I don’t ever remember a team as unpredictable as this. (My memory ain’t that great, but still…)

    One day they look like they could beat any NBA team out there, the next day they couldn’t beat my local high school team. Notice I didn’t say they looked like they couldn’t beat my local high school team - they really couldn’t.

    So, yeah - pencil them in as a sleeper. Because there’s a whole lot of teams out there that aren’t going to take them seriously after some of our recent games. The coaches won’t say that, but the players will be thinking it.

  • @drgnslayr The other day I was going through some old articles from 2010 and 2011 when KU lost early in the tournament. The majority of the posters felt that the losses were a result of not getting up to play.

    Ask yourself this question: How many times in 2010 and 2011 did those teams get up to play? I’ll answer that for you: very few. And I’m not talking about playing well against St. Mary’s school for the poor. I’m talking about playing with full intensity and effort against Big 12 schools. Playing well is different than winning.

    This year’s team seems to be much worse at only getting up to play.

    The doom and gloom crowd was out in full force today on KU Sports live blog. What they don’t understand is that when this team plays with intensity, all of those “deficiencies” seem to be nonexistent. How do you explain that? Simple: effort.

    So to answer your question drgnslayr, is this team ready for Self ball? Yes. No doubt about it. But I would much rather have this team stay under the radar as much as possible and not have pressure going into the tournament.

    To put this into the proper perspective, look at Michigan at the end of last season. They had several losses in February and March, including getting blown out at Michigan St. by 22, losing at Penn State who was terrible, and losing in the Big Ten tournament. Very few people picked them to go to Atlanta. Yet they stayed under the radar, regrouped, and made it to the championship game.

    This is what I hope for this year’s team. The 2010 and 2011 teams did not have the luxury of going under the radar, similar to the championship team and the 2012 teams. They were expected to go the final four and win the championship.

    And no, I am not trying to be “optimistic” or “positive” as some would assert. I am making basic observations based upon the success of other teams that have made it to the final four in the past several years that have had the same scenario happen to them as Michigan last year, such as Michigan State in '10, Kentucky in '11, KU in '12, and Michigan and Syracuse last year.

  • @DinarHawk I lost my cool w/ that gloom and doom crowd!

  • @drgnslayr To answer your question “is it possible for KU to be a sleeper team?” Why YES, we often sleep on the defensive end. Ellis and Tharpe suffer from insidiously bad cases of somnambulism on the D end of the court. I’ve heard that Self has used a “pine”-scented cure for that in the past. I think its time.

  • Question at large is: Why couldnt we “ugly” this game up? Hack-a-Huggineer with some authority! Make that 1 hack hurt. Make him think about going in for an easy bucket, because you didnt make it easy. Come on, this is the Eddie Sutton part of Self-ball…where we muddy it up, and turn it into a Big10-style (think IzzoBall) bruiser game with a score in the 50’s…(whole point is it allows us to be a couple of possessions away). Self, former Sutton disciple, and former B1G coach himself knows this…but the players need to resort to whatever we have in our playstyle armamentarium.

    Notice how Tubby Smith has his overmatched TubbyTechies playing a slow-it-down style that was a 1pt win for KU on a lucky bounce to Wiggins. Sometimes a really good team, on an off night, needs to get its elbows dirty to gut-out a W. Or at least have a better chance at it…

    This party of SelfBall (make the opponent ugly) is called “insurance” for when your own offense isnt working. Right now, Ellis and Tharpe are not insurable. They dont help our policy. They give us too high of a deductible. We get way in the negative, then coach benches them, and the whole team has to labor. Which is unnatural, as we have to labor without 2 of our starters, so that may have an emotional impact for the rest of the team.

    Man, the starters are called “starter” for a reason. I thought Tharpe took notes from Tyshawn, and not so much EJ. We need the relentlessness on both ends of the floor that Tyshawn showed (just using Tharpe’s contemporary examples, players he personally knows and played with.)

    We cant take the next level of improvement, or consistency-jump, if we are still working on the SAME defensive issues all season. To be better, start Mason now, so he gets better with his decision-making. His shot is better than it was, and his D is better outta-the-box than Tharpe. So is his intensity level, which apparently is hard for even Bill Self to coach to some players (Ellis, EJ, Tharpe).

    As coach Harbaugh said: “energy tends to find the ball”. Let Andrew Wiggins’ play serve as a shining example of that. Mason was a net positive in this game (slightly. He did make a couple of key errors late…but he’s still learning!). Dont know what to do about Ellis.

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