Here's a honest question for the masses

  • Now before I ask this I will say I like Bill Self and what he has done while at KU. Sure he didn’t have to turn a program around or rebuild it, but he has done some great things here, even though most of you would give them up for a NC.

    But here is my question, do you think the lack of being able to recruit and get a top flight D-1 PG is because KU plays the high low post game? Is it because KU is known for it’s Big Men like Georgetown was in the 80’s?

    Could that be an issue as to why we are not getting the prolific PG we all so much want and need?

  • @JRyman

    The title implies you think the masses are given a lot of dishonest questions. 🙂

    First, I am going to respond without considering the long debated influence of shoecos on such outcomes, which frankly seems significant but so far not sufficiently transparent to analyze much.

    With that caveat, no, I do not think the offense Self plays is the problem. Most successful teams now play high low, or very close variations off of it. Few persons seem to understand that Self’s High Low descends from Dean Smith’s Carolina Passing Offense that Larry Brown brought Dean after Henry Iba developed the hi low for the 1964 Olympic team. Larry coached it at KU. Self’s basketball philosophy is also heavily shaped by concepts of Eddie Sutton. Dean, Larry and Eddie have never had trouble attracting good point guards over the last half century.

    What you can sign depends on PT available and occasionally on recruits not working out at the last minute. Cat Barber seemed a go until he did something or other wrong, and Self pulled out of the sweep stakes. Josh, who he signed, was the number 1 PG and player in the country and Self only played him at the 3, because he didn’t want to have a PG for only one season. Sherron was a highly regarded PG prospect. And I think Self’s long time unwillingness to turn point guard duties over to an OAD for only one season caused him to fall out of graces with a lot PG prospects. But now that he has committed to signing and starting OADs, he will land one as soon as he has an open slot. It might even happen as soon as this off season, if he can get a recommit.

    Another of his PG prospects in Oklahoma had troubles academically.

    Also, PGs are probably along with centers the most hotly sought after players, so, not only is Self competing against other blue blood programs for these guys, he is competing against all the schools that reputedly want to pay big money to get a hot PG. Self appears to run into this phenomenon with centers,too. Centers reputedly get some pretty flashy cash under the table, more apparently than KU appears willing to give.

    Self came in a close second to Cal on both Derek Rose and John Wall, if you recall.

    Remember Cal wanted Thomas Robinson, and Andrew Wiggins. No one finishes first all the time at any position.

    Frankly. Cal’s offense does not favor PGs any more than Self’s does as far as I can tell.

    Year in and year out Cal’s heaviest hitters are his 3, 4 and 5 position players. Even when he had Derek Rose and John Wall, by later in the season, both of those teams depended very heavily on forwards and centers for their scoring. CDR was a bigger factor in our game against Memphis, than Rose, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was a bigger factor than Marcus Teague and Cousins was a bigger factor than Wall.

    This PG drought will end eventually, just as Self’s drought at getting a bunch of OAD grade talent finally broke.

  • @JRyman I think Jaybate is on target as usual. That said, I also think that the OAD phenomenon is changing how coaches work and recruit. Can a point guard get proficient in less than a year at a college program? Kentucky seems to be doing it this year but last year was a disaster (for other reasons, but still). Coaches may have to dumb down the offense if they have a OAD point guard. Seems to me that college basketball is taking a step back.

  • @Careful you

    Agree about the dumbing down. I think we saw that this year with Wigs and Selden starting. The actions seemed much simplified.

    And look at what complex stuff the teams in the Madness that have been together several years run vs. the newbies like UK!

  • @jaybate 1.0-UK runs a motion offense that is not complex but not that simple either. It’s also called a dribble drive by Cal himself & others who are under the impression he invented it. A hi lo has also been referred to as a pick & roll offense, which may be about the oldest play in hoops. As for the PG issue, some guys have better assistants to tutor them than others, & I see Rod Strickland as a huge recruiting influence for UK. I wanted to call him a carrot on a string but a grape on the vine might be more exposing. Sure hope they never put him in charge of curfew enforcement or driving lessons for new members of the team after umpteen DUI’s. That’s another big reason I don’t care for Cal’s programs. This is only my opinion about the ethics questions surrounding Cal, but the shadows around him grow darker & deeper every year. If he isn’t forced to vacate this year’s FF, it’ll be a Calipari first…I know I ain’t holdin’ my breath.

  • For the life of me I don’t understand why the nba pa wouldn’t want to put at least a two year out of hs rule in place.

    It would help protect roster spots for veterans and should improve the level of play.

    Isn’t it a win-win?

  • @VailHawk I am not an NBA fan, so there are probably better people to comment than me, but I’ll throw this out. I think they like the one year because it advertises their future starts for one year only. They get enough information on the potential future stars so they have fewer busts (like Kwame Brown), and they don’t have to wait (unless the kid decides to stay). Wouldn’t they rather have Wiggins, Parker, Randle, etc. this fall rather than in 2015? That is my take.

  • Ryman, yours is a good simple question. But to me, it is a complex answer.

    1 – Self has always tried to recruit multiple athletic, all around guards. RussRob, Chalmers, Sherron, EJ. He seems to have an eye for talent, picking Tyshawn (70th rank). EJ, 5star, top20 guard couldnt keep his man in front of him the first 2 yrs, frankly getting outplayed by Brady (who was a project-type of guard who overachieved/surprised, depending on your feelings on BStar). Reed also was highly regarded, but ended up not being playable his first 2 yrs. Josh Selby, overall 1st ranked PG, was a 6’2 version of Sherron, and made a serious mistake in leaving without generating solid year2 stats. But that’s on Selby forever, as it hurt himself, the team, and Self (& recruiting maybe). If Selby stayed and was SOLID in yr2, he might have went lotto, and we may have started a chain of top20 PGs. Dont forget Royce Woolridge (6’3, 30s ranked), yet it didnt work out mentally. Same for yet-another-Bill-Self-find Anrio Adams…maybe we call him a project guard, who we sorely could have used in the pipeline this year…but low ranked, perhaps because of his mental immaturity or delusions. Could have used Royce this year, too…and I think EJ could have used Royce last year as well, as recall 08 we had 3 combo guards.

    2 – We cant force kids to stay. We cant force others to pick KU. Same old recruiting debates: sometimes a kid just doesnt like the idea of flatland Kansas. Or doesnt want to play defense.

    3 – I consider Tharpe a project-type guard. He only plays if there isnt anyone better. Mason is different…much more like a Sherron, does most of the same things, running back body.

    4 – My note to Self: Stick with the big-combo-guards-w/hops. They are dangerous at both ends of the floor, especially when more than 1 on floor at all times, as '08 and '12 teams proved. And maybe recruit 10-30 ranked guards…no pretentions about leaving as a OAD. the 2AD and 3AD serve us best. Keep the pipeline guys coming. We cannot run SelfBall with inexperienced guys, PERIOD.

  • Point Guard is a difficult position to play. It’s hard to find a point guard at the high school level that is a true PG moving to the next level.

    I mentioned the other day in a thread that the last Top 25 true PG that Self recruited was Sherron Collins. Since then he landed Tyshawn Taylor (ranked in the 70s), Tyrel Reed (moved to SG), Elijah Johnson (moved to SG), Josh Selby (moved to SG in college due to injury/ eligibility issues), Naadir Tharpe (ranked in the 90s), Royce Woolridge (moved to SG, transferred).

    There’s always the possibility that a PG will get to college, struggle on the ball and move off the ball, where they excel. That is what happened to Elijah Johnson. He couldn’t find the healthy balance between scoring and facilitating at the college level. Some guys find that - some never do.

  • I really … really … don’t think that this is that complicated.

    It is not difficult to find a competent point guard. Look around. Who has this kind of problem?

    The question is, what do you want? Or another way, what type of player do you want to play that position?

    And what kind of player are you recruiting?

    I think the combo guard thing causes the problem. A combo guard, really, is just a 2 guard that can also (supposedly) handle the ball well enough to run the point. That’s it. A combo guard would not generally be thought of as a distributor in the pure point guard sense – Tyshawn Taylor, Elijah Johnson.

    @justanotherfan makes a great point about translating a high school point guard to D-1 college. The speed of the game at D-1 is incredible. It takes time to adjust . And I think another great point implicit in his comment is that great high school point guards many times are score first guys. They aren’t distributors first. They have to become that.

    Remind you of someone – excellent ball handling, score first mentality, becoming a better distributor? Right, Frank Mason.

    If you want combo guards, then do that. But understand that many times, ball handling will be lacking. And you’re not getting a distributor. You get Tyshawn Taylor and EJ (EJ being a true 2 guard).

    But if you want a true point guard, then you have to recruit that. And I think Self’s comment in Fall of 2012 saying that he needed to add a “point guard” was very telling, with all the combo guard stuff.

    We did not land 6 point guards ahead of Mason. We’ll see if he fits that bill.

  • @HighEliteMajor .So what is your take on why Tharpe has not worked out to date? I understand the ranking thing, but he is supposed to be a pure PG right? He should be able to do an adequate job. I’m at a loss.

  • @justanotherfan

    “Point Guard is a difficult position to play. It’s hard to find a point guard at the high school level that is a true PG moving to the next level.”

    I believe you nailed it.

    And I don’t think most D1 coaches know what to look for. It sounds silly… but most have never experienced the depths of what a true leader PG will bring to a team. Self fits in there. We’ve never had a PG who is also babysitter for the rest of the team. Someone who leads his team on and OFF the court.

    Self goes for athletic combo guards, especially if he can find one with height. That’s the same approach many D1 coaches have. Get some height out on the perimeter to defend the 3, and that same height will be able to shoot over defenses and nail the 3.

    Self doesn’t attempt to run dribble-drive offense. His big motto on offense is not letting the ball stick. His offense is about quick passing with well-spaced perimeter players, then look for hi/lo into the post.

    Self’s offense works very well throughout the main part of the season, like through league play. We can credit his offense for doing it’s part to win 10 conference championships. But there are problems with his offense in March.

    What beats Self’s offense is hustle. Defenses hustling throughout the entire shot clock. Defenses that know how to flex and not break. Teams get better at this as the season progresses, and March is a high motivator for teams to hustle on defense all game. (see Stanford)

    What wins in March is dribble-drive. There is no way to stop a super speed, quality guard from penetrating. Then the best defenses can do is offer good weak side help. That’s why teams like UCONN continue to win National Championships with less overall team talent. UCONN is a guard school, especially PG school. 6’1" Napier dismantled the best team in March last weekend. The PG position is not about height. Height will get you beat most of the time by a quality, little PG who can thrash through your defense like momma whips potatoes. Once Napier penetrates, the remaining 4 players for UCONN look to get open, or look to hit the glass for a rebound as the defense shifts to offer weak side help.

    That’s why UCONN has been a lot more successful than Kansas during the Bill Self era.

    Can we say… “Kembo Walker?” Does that name ring a bell?

    UCONN is the last team to beat Florida this year. It should be some pretty good basketball this coming weekend. And Wilbekin is no slouch!

    UCONN has doubled the success of Kansas over the Bill Self era, winning 2 NCs, and 4 FFs… we can now change that to 5 FFs, and we’ll know on Monday if it is 3 NCs.

    Might we have our heads shoved a bit too high up our backside and should remove it to take a look at why UCONN is kicking our arse in March?!

    Mason has some potential. Not sure he can be a premiere PG… but he at least has some serious dribble-drive potential. As the season progressed, he was throttled down off the drive. His drive seemed to be a bit more reserved for late in games when we sort of give up on anything else working. Tharpe just flat out stopped penetrating all together. That was our demise. But then… the other 4 players simply watched when Mason drove the ball. They weren’t coached into making something good happen. Mason was alone on his drive and it would often end without a score. We just didn’t work on dribble-drive offense… period!

    What I really, really hated with this team is we finally get into an open court possession, and Tharpe would drive into the lane, and then not finish. He would pull the ball out and start a half court possession. Very basic basketball here. When you have a 1-on-1 or 2-on-2 in the open court you finish at the rim or with a small pull up (especially when the ball is in the hands of your PG). It’s a situation where you have the advantage and must finish the play. You either get fouled, score the basket, or both (most of the time).

    Those open court bobbles we had not only cost us a few points, it gave a message to our opponents that we really weren’t a threat in the open court. Opponent guards could focus on scoring 100% of the time on their possessions, instead of worrying about us in a fast break opportunity.

    That was a major screw up we did all year. Self never reacted, and I guess he thought it might save us another costly TO.

  • Speaking of point/combo: A Conner Frankamp head and focus molded to a Rio Adams speedy body! Now there’s a combo which might dance to multiple Final Fours.

  • @REHawk I like what you’re thinkin’.

  • @Hawk8086 Speculation on my part … I think is he one of those passive, mentally weak, kind of guys. I think that he lacks mental and physical toughness. It shows distinctly on the defensive end. He’s a square peg in a round hole with coach Self.

    One of the things that bothers me most from his play is that he has very little acuity in running the break. Seems to move the ball to the wing too quickly, and backs it out too often

    So, lacking physical and mental toughness, I think that coach Self’s quick hook style has made him even more careful, and even more passive. Trying to avoid the mistake.

    Again, square peg round hold. Self doesn’t want passivity, and the right guys respond to his style. Tharpe ain’t the right kind of guy.

    Just my opinion from observation.

  • Picking up on what @HighEliteMajor and @drgnslayr were discussing from my previous post, PG in high school is different than PG at the D1 level.

    First, understand that a D1 level talent in HS is likely the best player on their HS team, probably by a wide margin. Look no further than our two freshmen, Frankamp and Mason. Frankamp was easily the best player on his team, and as such, he really turned into more of a SG in high school because his HS team needed him to score to maximize success for the team. He’s in a completely different role now at KU. Same for Mason. He was a dynamic slasher/scorer in HS. The offense was him taking the ball from the top of the key and making plays. Again, completely different role now for him.

    Those two guys were accustomed to being the best player on the floor, as most D1 level recruits at the PG position are. They literally have to re-program themselves to become primary distributors because they spend so much time as primary scorers in HS by nature of the skill level of the players around them. Their HS coaches discourage them from passing because they know they are better off with their PG taking 18 shots than passing it back out to a lesser player.

    This is where AAU ball is actually a benefit. True PGs can really shine by playing with more guys that are scorers at the more traditional spots, giving them the freedom to be a distributing PG. Still, the transition from a scoring guard to a true distributing PG is a tough climb.

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