40 minutes of hell

  • KU fans can get ready for a very different style of play for the 2018-19 season.

    The hybrid hi-lo which unclogged the lane and jacked up a record number of threes will revert back to the classical formula, played through the 4 spot, which will look very different from the last two years (get used to Dedric showing his lottery pick talent in the high post around the free throwline, nothing flashy but deadly in his efficiency, scoring and passing and rebounding).

    We might be less explosive and score fewer points and be a little less fast from end to end, but our play will be much more balanced and our offensive efficiency will be improved. Look for points per possession to be at an all time high by the end of conference play. Look for a very balanced allocation of minutes played and point scored and rebounds across the board.

    But the greatest and most exciting development this year will be on the defensive end of the court. We will not have to outscore opponents to win the game. We will guard and rebound and get the 50-50 balls at a much higher rate than the last few years. We can foul and play hard and get tired with no consequences to our level of play. Next man up!

    Slackers who do not block out or stay in front of their man or do not go 100% on every possession will sit early and often. No one will take any possessions off this year. So we should get after it in a very aggressive manner.

    Our individual D will be a tough man-to-man (no more zone) and our team D will jell after Christmas. Team D is the most underrated aspect of winning basketball. By the end of the season, we will be an elite defensive team who can play big, small and anywhere in between.

    Coach Self has always been a defensive guy first and foremost. He will get to adjust his schemes on D in the same way he has (remarkably) adjusted his offensive schemes over the past two years., to fit his talent and depth. We will see the lock down D we have not seen in many years, maybe since 2008.

    Coach: How about experimenting with a full court pressure defense from tip off to final buzzer? I know you have always said “we do not press, we pressure, not full court but (maybe) three-quarters, solid fall back man in the half court is our bread and butter.”

    For the first time in ages you have the athletes in number and quantity to wreck total havoc on the opposing team, and show another side of KU BB which has been missing for a while. I would love to see an ultra aggressive - in your face - D deployed in game after game and just wear the opponent down to the nub by half time.

    Furthermore, this would require our guys to be tuned up on every single possession. Let your man get by you, take a seat on the bench. Get up under their guards 30 feet from the basket. Fight through the screens, less switching. Tough, tough, tough until the opponent surrenders and we develop that killer mentality from game one.

    The decision to go full court on D, with some trapping and risk taking in an extremely aggressive style would be as innovative on the D side as you have been on the O side, adjusting to your personnel. Come on Coach, let’s see if we can keep the other team from running any offense at all, press them all the way past the three point line, give 'em 40 minutes of hell with no fall back positioning in the half court.

    Concerning predictions for this year’s group, once again 30 + wins, another Big 12 title, no home court losses, another Final Four. We will be less spectacular (flashy) but a better team. Please, none of this “anything but a national championship is a failed season.”

    No one on this rat board wants it more than the coaches and the players. Enjoy the process and watch the team get better every game. We will be very solid and hopefully able to elevate our game at the key moments, late in the season, to give ourselves a change to cut down some nets.

    Rock Chalk!!!

  • @jayhawk-007

    We will not have to outscore opponents to win the game.

    Well…actually we do…Just kidding, couldn’t resist. 😄

    I know what you are saying and I agree, the defense will be superior so we do not need high scoring games but I would not be surprised if the team scores in the mid to upper 80s; lots of scoring threats including 5 returning players that averaged double digits.

  • @jayhawk-007

    Very good read. Thanks for putting in the work.

    Here is the looming problem, however.

    This team, like last year’s team, is not well balanced.

    Last year’s team was perimeter heavy; this year’s team is paint heavy.

    These sorts of asymmetries between front and back courts lead a coach into a suboptimal choice in strategy.

    If a coach schemes his team’s play toward where he has the most numbers, it over relies on that kind of game and so heightens the risk of meeting and losing to a team stacked asymmetrically the other way, or almost guaranties a loss to a team even stronger than the team’s strength.

    Conversely, if a coach schemes to balance, despite an unbalanced distribution of talent, then he is squandering his advantage in numbers (this season Self has lots of bigs) in say the front court and exposing his lack of numbers and high percentage shooters outside.

    Thus, a team needs either to be supremely balanced to ensure the ability to meet and beat any kind of team it faces, OR…

    The team needs to be so awesomely dominant in say the front court that neither a hot trey team can beat it from outside, nor a balanced team can beat it from both inside and out, nor an inside team with better bigs is able to come along and beat its strength.

    KU with 5-6 credible D1 bigs certainly verges on the overwhelmingly dominant front court team, BUT…

    Last year, anyway, 3pt dominance trumped all comers in the case of NOVA.

    It is not yet clear to me how front court dominance can trump 3 point dominance, BECAUSE…

    Bottom line, 3>2.

    Some argue some combination of great defense, rebounding and scoring efficiency can beat a team like Nova last season, but I am not yet persuaded.

    Perhaps there will be no team like Nova this season. But most successful teams are copied quickly. And Nova did what it did with only two players ranked higher than Top 75, if I recall correctly. So it seems possible, even likely, that THERE MAY BE MORE NOVA LIKE TEAMS THIS SEASON, not none.

    So I see a problem.

  • @jayhawk-007 Great stuff. I’m with Jayhawk too on the offense, though. I think people are going to be shocked how well the ball moves on offense- the passing will be the best we’ve seen in a long time. The fast breaks will be much better than we’ve seen simply because the Lawsons combined with Grimes, Dotson,Vick, and even Garrett will bring an athletic speed element we haven’t had. I know the NBA scouts said Dedric was slow, but he has plenty of speed to be a formidable trailer on the break to finish. Him and KJ are both great finishers. Same with Doke, whose speed is very underrated. We’ll have the athletes to play nose to nose 94 feet on defense, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Bill reintroduce traps, which were very successful in our national title run. Full court? I’m not sure Bill would do that, but if he were ever going to do that, this would be the year.

    I still think our “demise” from the 3 point line are greatly exaggerated. We have a 40% Vick, a 35% Charlie, we have a Dedric who has hit 35% before in college, we have a Grimes who will get better and better from 3, same with Garrett, and KJ. Dotson might need work as well, but the cupboard is far from bare. The wildcard from 3 could be Lightfoot, who has worked his tail off refining his shot. UNC won the national title two years ago by out rebounding their opponents, and they only had 1 player on the team that shot better than 35% from 3. When you out rebound your opponents, you get a whole bunch more chances to score.


    I agree. I don’t understand why anyone would call this team unbalanced, if anything, last year’s team was a lot more inbalanced since it depended a lot more on the outside shot than inside scoring where the only real threat was Doke.

    Yes, the front line with its depth is probably the best in Division I but the backcourt is right up there as well. Moore, the likely starting PG is a proven player that averaged double digits in Division I before, has had one additional year learning the system and other players have indicated he is currently the best 3 point shooter. He played SG in HS where his height was not as much of a handicap as it is in college (same as Mason) and can really play both positions. Dotson is the #4 ranked PG in the class and one of the faster and better ball handlers we have had. Grimes is the top ranked combo guard of the class and one of the more NBA ready players we have had; he played PG for the U19 team and was selected the MVP of the tournament. Add to that Garret, who played PG in HS and was named the Gatorade POY for the state of Texas, a basketball recruiting hot bed, and one outstanding defender. That is 4 very capable PGs that can match anyone. Playing SG/wing we have Grimes, Vick a proven performer and solid 3 point shooter, K.J. who is one of the more versatile players we have and even Agjabi who came really strong last season. This is a very solid backcourt (top 3???) and a great complement to the front line. I am not worried about the 3-point shooting, I believe KU will surprise everybody in this stat. In any case, shooting 60% inside is a wash with shooting 40% from 3 and this team is plenty capable of shooting that high or higher from inside.

    In short, this team has more depth and balance than any other recent team; perhaps Coach Self’s best team ever and even better than the ‘08 team.

  • @JayHawkFanToo I’d wait until they play a game before anointing them the best Bill Self team ever. The synergy of RussRob and Chalmers on defense is something we have yet to see again. But I really hope you’re right!

  • @dylans

    The clip below is from a story from Myron, who shall we say is not a big KU fan…best backcourt and best roster since the ‘08 team…just sayin’


  • Best since is different than better than. I hope so, but these guys are all new together. Most of the 08 team had 3 years experience together.

    I’m guardedly optimistic, but want to see them gel before I put any money on a championship.

  • @dylans

    Point taken but keep in mind that of the projected rotation players only Dotson and Grimes have not been with the team for at least one season. The ‘08 team primary rotation had seniors RussRob, Jackson and Khan, juniors Chalmers and Rush and sophomores Wright and Collins. The experience gap is really not that big and this year’s team is much deeper and probably more talent, in my opinion.

  • Wright was under the goal posts watching Chalmers shot from the stands. I think you mean Arthur. The difference in game experience playing together is staggering in my opinion. Chalmers, Robinson, Rush, Kauhn, and Arthur started most of 2 years together. Throw in Jackson and Collins and all the main players had 2 years of game experience together.

    I hope Moore’s Cal numbers are more an indication of what he’s capable of than his poor showing in Italy. I worry he’ll get abused on defense.

    Dotson and Grimes are the players that need to develop quickly or a national title will rapidly slip away.

    I’m counting on Dedric to be as advertised.

  • dylans said:

    Wright was under the goal posts watching Chalmers shot from the stands. I think you mean Arthur. The difference in game experience playing together is staggering in my opinion. Chalmers, Robinson, Rush, Kauhn, and Arthur started most of 2 years together. Throw in Jackson and Collins and all the main players had 2 years of game experience together.

    I hope Moore’s Cal numbers are more an indication of what he’s capable of than his poor showing in Italy. I worry he’ll get abused on defense.

    Dotson and Grimes are the players that need to develop quickly or a national title will rapidly slip away.

    I’m counting on Dedric to be as advertised.

    Last year you could really tell the guards had a lot of experience playing together.

    I just want to see Moore play at KU/under Self. I’m cautiously optimistic at this point with him.

    Loads of the Dedric hype is coming out of the program itself, so that’s saying something. When Bill likes the team, watch out.

  • @BShark hey!

  • To remaster the obvious, unless Self refuses to use his 5-6 D1 grade bigs for 2 or 3 front court slots, this team is definitionally sharply unbalanced to paint. It’s speciousness, or willed blindness, to suggest otherwise.

    If Self arbitrarily reduces this team of 5-6 bigs to a best seven man rotation with a 2 big rotation, then KU will have no more effective depth than any other 7 man rotation team. And KU will not really be any more flush with talent against elite teams than any other elite team, and will likely have inferior 3pt shooting; this is NOT a recipe for a ring.

    And if Self goes instead to three bigs with a six big rotation (presumably Dedrick at 3), and two perimeter slots, unless one big and at most only 2-3 perimeter guys are 40 % trifectates, then he becomes even more vulnerable to a team with 4-6 >39% trifectates.

    We have entered the three point, high trey volume era, whether Nova’s 6 trifectates were anomalous or not.

    We are likely to encounter 4-5 trifectate, high, trey volume teams during regular season, almost certainly during the Carney, when apparent seeding and whistle asymmetries will further hamper us, especially with this cockamamie new Gavitt NET biasing technique replacing RPI.

    3>2 will work against us, unless 4 guys transform into high volume > 39% trifectates. What is the reasonable probability of this team of six bigs and several career sub 40% trifectates, even in high school developing 4 >39%, high volume capable, trifectates?

    Not trying to wet blanket anyone.

    Trying to trigger analysis that yields feasible probable solutions.

    Trying to win in the three point era with fewer >39% three point shooters on the floor at any given time than opponents, and more bigs is kind of like trying to win the WWII Pacific campaign by responding to Pearl Harbor (what Villa Nova was last season) with more battle ships and even fewer aircraft carriers and fewer land based long range bombers than your enemy. Note: it’s okay to add new battleships but you HAVE to add carriers and long rang bombers!

    Self needs at least 4 > 39% shooters to really leverage his surplus of bigs. Otherwise he will just get dragged into 3>2 sooner or later in the Carney. Name the four.

    Name the four likely >39% trifectates starting 3 bigs and so exploiting the surplus of bigs.

    Name the four likely >39% trifectates starting 2 bigs and squandering the surplus in bigs.

  • @BShark

    Bill tends to like teams this time of year, if the team is mostly a mix of young players and returning but first year starters and first year load bearers. He is trying to build up the inexperienced confidences about their abilities to measure up to new roles. He also tends in this situation to hype what certain players are likely capable of, when he is desperate for them to produce at a high level and uncertain if they will. Classic coaching strokes for those inexperienced about to receive baptism by fire. When the team is full of guys that have already proven they can handle the loads to come, he combats their overconfidence with skepticism and hand wringing.

  • @dylans

    Yes, I meant Arthur, thanks for the assist; Wright left early and missed being part of the championship team.

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