Red Pill or Blue Pill?

  • All I offer is a choice.

    We just witnessed two programs win Final Four games to send them to the national title contest. The battle Monday night will not just be for the national title. It will be for the mantle of the greatest college basketball program in the last 20 years.

    Kentucky has on its shelf three national title trophies – 1996, 1998, and 2012.

    UConn’s trophy case is adorned with three national title trophies in the same time period – 1999, 2004, and 2011.

    One program will claim its fourth national championship in the last 20 years. That is greatness.

    I have read comments here, and elsewhere. It is the classic “crimson and blue Kool-Aid” moment – the rationalizations, the explanations, the excuses. Specifically, the apologists.

    What I ask of you is not easy. You have your life. You enjoy KU basketball. You love the history, and Allen Fieldhouse, and visiting broadcasters slobbering over the tradition. It’s quite satisfying to see highlight clips of former Jayhawks, and hearing Bob Davis scream “KU … has won … the national championship.”

    But there’s something missing. You know what it is. You have felt it your entire life.

    So I offer you a choice.

    Take the red pill, and you see the world for how it really is. It’s not what you expect. The harsh reality is that KU is not a top five program. See, if you take the red pill, you will realize that the world is much different than you imagined. The world does not value conference titles. The real world does not care much about black and white photos of Wilt Chamberlain. Thirty win seasons are nice, but standing alone, they are mere conversation pieces. Take the red pill, and what you will see is the truth. The horrible truth. National championships define greatness. National championships are all that matter. You will see other programs achieving greatness, while our program languishes in excuses and rationalizations that serve only to satisfy our need for peace of mind. The red pill is reality. The red pill does not provide peace of mind. By taking the red pill, you will see a program that under the leadership of coach Self has underachieved in the NCAA tournament time and time again, losing to lower seeded foes on a regular basis. You will see a coach that remains inflexible, and refuses to adjust his strategies and schemes. You will see a coach who routinely fails to take the blame for his teams’ ultimate failures in the NCAA tournament. You will see a coach so enamored with his system, and arrogant in his approach, that he fails to recognize the need to change. Taking the red pill will make you angry. Angry at the results, angry at the messenger, angry at the world. You will see the horrible reality of underachievement. I didn’t say it would be easy. I just said it would be the truth.

    Take the blue pill, and you will wake up Tuesday morning in your “10 there, done that” t-shirt and remember nothing. You will remain convinced that KU had a “great” season, as you do every season. You will believe that conference titles define greatness, or that they really mean something. You will believe that we “were are just so young”, and thus a national title was a fantasy anyway. You will believe that the tournament is mostly about luck. You will believe that other teams miss shots just like we do. You will believe that adjustments to scheme and strategy are too complicated to understand. You will hide behind the age old proclamation that “Self knows best.” You will believe that we have a great coach that has done everything in his power to win national titles. The failures will roll of the tongue – Bucknell, Bradley, UCLA, UNI, VCU, Michigan, Stanford. There is no way that Self was outcoached against lower seeded teams. It’s anything but that. But mostly, you will believe that national championships do not define greatness. And you will believe the excuses and explanations. If you take the blue pill, you will remain in a fantasy world. You will go about your life, to your job, on vacation – you will enjoy the ride. You will believe that KU has a place among the elite college basketball programs. You will believe that two national championships in 27 seasons is elite. And that three in 64 seasons is astounding. You will remain in a fantasy world. But you will be at peace. Rationalizations are a powerful tonic. Take the blue pill, and nothing changes.

    All I offer is the truth.

  • Here we go again

  • @HighEliteMajor You seem to have taken a blue pill of your own, if you imagine the only alternatives available are the ones you have described.

    If you are the Thought Master and those are the only choices, I’ll take blue.

  • @ParisHawk All I offer is the choice.

  • @HighEliteMajor The choice between alternatives of your choosing.

    By the way, why mention Self and not Williams? 3 of the 6 championships you mention happened when Roy was coach and a fourth during Self’s first season with Roy’s recruits.

    Your red pill and your blue pill are roughly equidistant from the truth as I see it. I choose blue just because I don’t “swallow whole” your preferences concerning college basketball.

  • National Championship and Final Four appearances remain a crapshoot. Just look at the way Kentucky has won its last 3 contests. Rankings of this year’s title contenders: #7 vs. #8. I’m not trading 10 consecutive league titles for that national trophy. Bill Self’s KU stats not yet salted away and filed in the dustbin.

  • Criteria, not rationalizations, or pharma, should drive this sort of conclusion. 😄

    At 20 years, independent of violations, probably yes.

    At 25-30 Duke.

    At 30-40 Indiana.

    At 50 UCLA.

    At 100 UCLA.

    At 15, UCONN Duke?

    At 10, UNC, Florida, UCONN, then KU, UK, DUKE, etc.

    Rules included?

    Gotta come down to KU and Duke and INDIANA and UNC (post Frank McGuire) in most all eras, despite each having had itsoccasional problems.

  • @jaybate 1.0 jb, your first sentence throws me off here. Please clarify for this aging mind.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    So I read your choices, responded in a way that well I did. I finished my coffee, went outside, the sun was rising the clouds were clearing and…


  • @jaybate 1.0 Thanks

  • @HighEliteMajor You are correct, if you use that narrow criterion, number of NCAA tournament championships in the last 20 years, KU is not a top 5 program. We are 6th, tied with 7 other teams.

    no. titles:

    Connecticut 3

    Kentucky 3

    Duke 2

    Florida 2

    North Carolina 2

    Arizona 1

    Arkansas 1

    Kansas 1

    Louisville 1

    Maryland 1

    Michigan State 1

    Syracuse 1

    UCLA 1

    However, I reject the premise that the 2 choices you offer are the only alternatives. I think reality is somewhere in between.

    I was going to take a combination of the red & blue pills, which would be purple. But I hate purple.

  • In 2008, we had Mario, Russ, and Sherron. In 2012, we had Tyshawn. In 2013, we had EJ and Naadir. In 2014, we had Naadir, and two freshmen. When this team had a good point guard, this terrible, inflexible, arrogant coach was one of the best coaches in America. Do you think for 1 millisecond if the Harrison twins had signed here, we wouldn’t be playing in that title game Monday? It’s all about match ups, and I think we need a great point guard a lot more than we need Miles Turner.

  • @tundrahok Ok, what would be the thought process under the purple pill (maybe we call it the green pill). What is a rational middle ground?

    I am hopeful that it will be devoid of excuses.

    What can be gathered from Self’s comments?

    After Stanford: “I thought we’d play well. The guys seemed loose (before game),” Self said, noting it looked like there were nerves during the game. “We were hanging out with the guys last night. They were excited. We had some good ‘pump up’ things to show them. But it’s a little bit different pressure (in NCAAs). When things don’t go well early, this and that. We’re a young team and played young a majority of the game.” He’s (Wiggins) been so good all year long. He wasn’t aggressive today, not shooting the basketball (but) going after balls, things like that. That wasn’t the guy we’ve seen the majority of the year,” Self stated. “A lot will be put on him or me or whoever. I guess that’s the way it should be, but the kid had a great year. I hate the last game he labored like this because he obviously is better than what was shown today.”

    After VCU: “When you put yourself in a position to cash in, you’ve got to take advantage of it,” said KU coach Bill Self, who fell to 1-5 in the Elite Eight. “Bottom line, as much as I’d like to think it, these opportunities don’t happen every year. You’ve got to make the most of them.”

    After UNI: “I said in the locker room to the coaches, not the players, it probably is,” Self said. “And the reason it is, is a credit to the players because you work your butt off for a long time. You operate under duress, you operate under pressures the whole year that a lot of teams don’t operate under because of where we were ranked and expectations. And to put ourselves in a position that we were in, they don’t come around every year. You’ve got to make the most of those opportunities when you are granted them. That’s probably what stings the most. I don’t know if I’ll watch the tape. I know that there’s just one or two plays here or there that was the difference in the game, but this stings a lot.”

  • @HighEliteMajor Assuming we accept your version of reality, what’s the remedy? Do you want to see Self fired?

  • @konkeyDong We either have to do better in the Tournament or less well elsewhere: sell the Rules, tear down the Fieldhouse and stop winning so many games in the regular season. Maybe the problem is not underachieving in the Tournament, but overachieving beforehand. Get a #8 or #9 seed, then if you knock off the #1 seed you’ve already overachieved, plus you inherit the #1 seed’s path to the Final Four.

    Outside of this thread, which is mostly an expression of frustration, HEM has already suggested several remedies, the gist of which is Coach Self has to learn more from his mistakes, adjust and evolve. Sure, why not?

    The immediate source of frustration is Self let us lose to Stanford. I won’t argue that point, but suppose Self came through and beat Stanford: we’re in the Sweet 16, big deal! HEM doesn’t give a flip if we don’t win the title.

    No way we win the title without Embiid at full strength: that’s my red pill. This wasn’t our year to win it all, period.

    So once the frustration becomes less acute, we’ll be back to what can we do? I’d say we have a better chance of improving our point guard play than improving our coaching. Funny how important PG play was in the semi-final games; just a coincidence?

  • @ParisHawk And here we are, heading into next season with the point guard situation still very much up in the air.

  • @REHawk Yes, and that is on Self too, no question. What isn’t?

  • On November 18, 1978, 918 Americans died in Peoples Temple-related incidents, including 909 members of the Temple, led by Jim Jones, in Jonestown, Guyana.

    the Order of the Solar Temple’s members began a series of mass suicides, which led to roughly 74 deaths

    1997, 39 followers of Heaven’s Gate died in a mass suicide in Rancho Santa Fe, California, which borders San Diego to the north.

    Here are just three real simple reasons I will not take your pills of any color.

    I do not conform to beliefs that are only one sided to get one answer. I like options, I like choice. I like my freedom and I like to speak my mind. Because the way you have set it up no matter any ones argument it will be “a straw argument” or and “excuse”.

    Being able to accept the hand that is dealt to you is huge in life. KU got a bad hand here and there and you are unwilling to acknowledge that. S@!t happens in life, you get tougher, you pull yourself up and you deal with it. Doc Marty and the Delorean are not here you can not go back in time, you can not have revisionist vision of 20/20, you can not say that it’s this way or this way. It is not a fork in the road.

    Again these are only three reasons I will not take any of your pills.

    Wait you are saying I am jumping off the deep end? Hello Pot, I’m Kettle.

  • @JRyman How many Buckets fans offed themselves after each tournament loss? I know I die a little with each tournament loss. This year was different; KU did just what I suspected they would do without Embiid - lose every other game.

    I choose to look forward to the future, not wallow in the self misery of the most recent loss. The Arizona loss still stings way more for me.

  • HEM: Here is why I cannot simply subscribe to either view (Red pill, you say is NOT for excuses. Blue pill is the eye-closed, kool-aid approach…)–> My issue is, with the losses, just like the wins…WHERE are the analytical reasons??? I like to break a loss down into “why” we lost…Do you know the satisfaction (superficially) that I get by knowing just how KU lost a game, by underperforming in whatever statistical area. Of course, deep down, any loss stings, and we know it stings Self too, because he cares about his kids, as do most of us, and we know how competetive Self is.

    Very briefly, consider our “list of shame” early exits: Bradley, Bucknell, UCLA, MichiganState, UNI, VCU, Michigan, Stanford. Every single one of those games has not 1, but a few “fails” in it, causing our loss in each game. Roy-recruits not buying in to Self ball. Highly ranked kids trying to go 1 on 3, coming up short, not playing team-ball that got us to that UCLA E8 game. 2man (Cole/Sherron) team with frosh, soft Twins, and frosh Tyshawn, and a tentative Xavier get manhandled by MichState. Yes, out-toughed, despite what Self wants. No 3, No D vs UNI. No 3, No D vs VCU. Why do we show up not able to hit 3s, and unable to play our “trademark” defense? Yeah, you can always lay that at the coaches feet in a Harry Truman buck-stops-here way, but isnt that a cop out? Wasnt it the players that just failed to shoot to their avg, and play D to their usual FG% effectiveness? The system construct (by Self) is/was fine, as there were plenty of games all season long to test lineups, etc…and I say “fine” because it keeps getting re-proven by several different sets of Self recruits.

    The worst win-total Self teams at KU are absolutely his “youngest”–> not an excuse, but an analytical fact that you can go back to 2006, 2007, 2009, and 2013 and see it. We watch the games. We know Selfball takes 2-3yrs to master. If you dont like the system, that is a fair critique…as Calipari has a system that is playable by frosh…barely. Coach K’s takes a couple of years to master also (more like Self’s).

    Analytically speaking: this squad had too many flaws, within its team offense and team defense, and also with individual players. What would Bill Walsh say, regarding his own system at Stanford, then with the 49ers. I always use that as a system-analogy. Can you plug in proper talent, and if they execute the system competently–does it still give the results. For Walsh, yes it did: unplug Montana, plug in Young, same with their WRs. It worked. Bill Self’s system is proven to win, better than anybody else’s, but that’s only when the kids duplicate the required performances. Which we did NOT. The defensive stats of the 2013 Jayhawks jump of the page to me as a huge negative example of us not getting it done. This is why we sit at home. Embiid, statistically, made us better on both ends, but without him, we were exposed. We got beat at home. That is reality, but it has root causes, found right there on game tape. Why did we lose in AFH to SDSU? And why did zone D bother this team SOOOO bad, while the 08Champs ate zone-Ds for appetizers? Hmm, both were coached by Bill Self, but tell me, analytically: What were the differences between the 08Jayhawks, and the 13Jayhawks? (Both had loads of MickeyD + nearMcD talent).

    Final thought: If you judge the NChampionship thing in such a polarizing way, do you find any happiness in watching any games prior to March Madness? Most of us know the Conf.Championship is nice, but is not the final prize. We are royalty fans, with the highest aspirations, just like Duke fans, UNC fans, KY fans. But look at all of those teams. Sitting at home for specific in-game reasons of why they lost.

    What would you say to the NChamp expectations of AZ, FL, WSU, Syracuse, MichState, Duke, UNC THIS year? Was that a “coaching fail”? Would you blame Bielein? Would you blame Boeheim for that collapse by Syracuse? Izzo? Kryzyzewski? I mean, some of those teams looked awful in their losses, while others lost a close, see-saw shootout. Hall-of-fame Roy tried x 15yrs, and got no NC at KU. Future HOF Self got a NC in his first 5yrs at KU, and should have had another 1 or 2 ('11 and '12). Roy should have had a couple ('97 and '03).

    The REALITY is 67 out of 68 teams will go home unhappy. Perhaps being a Final 4 team is a consolation to those fans, but not to royalty fans when you get that close. My whole analytical point is, that without Embiid, I just highly doubted this team could get that close. Not without luck, and our luck went bad when Embiid went down. Frankly, there was better basketball being played by AZ, FL, and now, finally by KY. Better than us, we sit out for several very good reasons.

    I know we’ll be better next year. Better able to execute the system.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    Bravo for the way you framed your post! Very creative, and it is hard to continue to talk about this subject framed differently, but you succeeded!

    BTW, I like what you are doing here. You are, without question, the poster in her most likely to find success in coaching. You know the game, and you are persistent! It really does take hammering this topic over and over to start getting people to remove their Jayhawk glasses. I, too, wear crimson-blue eye coverings… but some things glare out at me and I’m in YOUR corner.

    Everything we need to learn from this year’s tournament is being shown us here.

    Blue pill - We become another Kentucky, and fill our team with potential OADs and try to brute force over the real teachings of basketball with players that are not students attending classes.

    Red pill - We learn from UCONN what it takes to be a winning program in March. It is all about developing top notch point guard play.

    UCONN leaves a legacy in proving their point as the best March program (overachievers) in recent history. They never had the most talented team when they brought home the trophy (or even close). Let’s take a peek in their trophy cabinet:

    1999 - Richard Hamilton, a swing forward, was their big scorer. He was excellent, and steals much of the credit, along with the tournament MVP, but it didn’t happen without PG Khalid El-Amin… a 5’10" fullback who knew how to drive the ball, protect the ball, create assists, and could score. He was a true leader and averaged 13.8 PPG, 3.9 APG and 1.6 SPG. That last number counts big. Khalid put pressure on the ball and made it tough for teams to run offense… like what you witnessed yesterday with Florida.

    2004 - UCONN was actually one of the favorites in this tournament, and I believe they were a 2-seed. They were very well balanced, but were lead by 6’1" PG Taliek Brown, who is UConn’s all-time assists leader with 722 in 134 games.

    2011 - Who has forgotten Kemba Walker? 6’1" PG who carried this team all the way to the trophy. He was the MOP of the 2011 tourney by a land slide. Shabazz was a freshman that year, and the experience of the tourney, and playing with Kemba surely helped him and UCONN get to this year’s championship game.

    This year’s UCONN would be nothing without Shabazz.

    The 2008 Jayhawk team was loaded with talent, but it would have underachieved had it not been for their guard play. It took a miracle shot and overtime to beat a highly inferior team that had one super freshman PG in Rose. Had Rose been a senior, I’m doubtful KU would have won that game.

  • So… taking the red pill just makes me angry and filled with Self-loathing? That’s a bitter pill.

    If I take it (the red pill), does that mean I have to wish Rick Pitino, Tubby Smith, John Calipari and Jim Calhoun had been KU’s coaches for the past 20 years. If so, I’ll take any other color pill, thanks!

  • Nutshell answer: Better teams than this year’s KU also lost, so its very hard to call out Self’s system (which you have every right to do, anytime you want), when we saw our own team have multiple issues ALL season long.

    AZ, FL, MichSt, Syracuse all lost. Should they be questioning “their” system to its core? Im not discounting that every coaching staff will/& should look for any system or preparation flaws…but its a bit hard, even for KU fans, who are left looking at ‘coach-speak’ soundbites post-loss and trying to “analyze” Bill Self’s improvement or lack thereof in Tourney prep. We just dont know. And looking solely at the W/L result is something the casual fan or my non-sports wife might do…make NO attempt at analysis into a squad’s shortcomings to really understand if this loss was just like other “early exits”, thus qualifying it as a sign of system flaw or not. Just looking at the W/L is a cop out to doing true analytics. They flash those halftime stats, and the ESPN talking heads talk about it. Its the story of the game. Tape doesnt lie. But I want to know why the L, so I dig deeper. This squad did NOT have it, for a variety of reasons…all season long. (God, shouldnt going 3 of 6 in your last 6 games be a red flag?)

    Next season, please.

  • Maybe we should call up Bo Ryan, Pitino, Bielein, Boeheim, Izzo, Roy, S. Miller, Archie Miller, Matta, Alford, etc…and warn them to “look into their Tourney prep” because of their obvious fail? It’s clearly evident, right? They lost, so they gotta be doing something wrong! Or, lets talk about Kentucky, who were obviously doing something wrong all season to fall out of the top25…but do you tell Calipari he’s wrong, or he’s right?

  • I vote take a chill pill! We lost. I am most happy that we have Coach Self. I love the players that he recruits. We continue to be a solid program, with an excellent chance to win a tournament. That’s all the NCAA Tournament is. It’s a tournament. The winner of the tournament is named National Champion. It’s the rules of the game, designed to generate billions of dollars, and it is working quite well.

    If it were a 30 team tournament with only the regular season champions participating in it, then how many championships would KU have? Probably more than what they currently have. Who really knows, and who really cares. All the whining because we lose a game and this indirect fire against the University of Kansas Mens Basketball team by HEM when we lose is ridiculous. I appreciate every game we win. I don’t like the losses, but oh well. 25 times I celebrated victory this year and 10 times I endured losses. We have won 10 straight Big XII Titles, that means something. That’s a lot better than a 10-25 record. We have been there before, even though a lot of fans have never witnessed what it was like when we were pretty rotten.

    I am not saying that everything that Coach Bill Self does is perfect. No one is. I don’t expect him to be. What I do love and respect about Coach Self is that he is always giving us a winner, and the chance to compete for a National Championship every year he has been here. Yes there are teams with 3 and 4 Championships. That does not make them great, in my opinion. In the last 20 years, how many NIT Bids have the Kansas Jayhawks received? Zero! They are probably the only team that has not been to the NIT in the past 20 years. That, along with multiple Elite 8, Final Four, Title Game appearances, opponents storming the court each time we lose, and being the home of college basketball makes us an elite program in my book.

    I am not the coach of the Jayhawks, no one on this board is. I would not trade Coach Self for any other coach in college basketball. Thanks again Coach Self for keeping us out the NIT. Some on this board have a hard time with only winning year after year. Hard to imagine what a trip to the real world and a spot in the NIT would do for them?

  • Blue pill. But…we are a top 5 program. And I am not delusional. If UConn wins…yes that adds to the NC total. But are they the best team in the country? I think not. They will be the best team in a 3 week period. The season lasts 5 months. Yes, other programs are better because of regular season success and NCs combined…but we are still a top 5 program.

  • @Hawk8086 Well said. Thanks!

  • I am taking 1/2 of each pill. And I honestly believe we had the team with a good chance, but we lost Embiid

  • @Hawk8086

    Now you’ve opened up a different can of worms…

    What matters most… to be the best conference team or be the best March Madness team?

    We’ve had this discussion in here before. I’ve always praised Self for bringing home 10 straight. So I guess I value conference play more.

    But others in here value March more. I don’t think you can easily have it both ways. Even Calipari’s method of recruiting the most talent doesn’t seem to be the best way to go for conference trophies. And UCONN often has way to little overall talent and depth to be a good conference team. They just count on their PG and guard play to come on by March.

    Conference play and March play really are two different seasons.

    We have to pick which one is most important, then apply Self’s methods to success.

    I think Self may be the best conference coach of all times. And his is on his way to proving it with his streak!

    But I don’t put him at the top of my March coaches list.

    Heck… what coach would be at the top of both lists? Maybe Wooden?

  • @drgnslayr Wooden coached during a different tournament format. Hard to say.

  • @KansasComet Great point about the NIT. KY had a “NIT experience” last year. UNC had a “NIT experience” in 2010, causing Roy to pull out all his “old notes” from his UNC-asst, and KU coaching days, and he said he “wasnt doing anything different”. (Wow! There in lies Roy’s problem: He had the chance to realize his own system’s flaw: no defense, or D only played well by those that arrived with the ability, like Miles, Hinrich, Lee…). Defense is a FG% stat-monitoring mantra to Bill Self, perhaps the most basic of Self’s philosophies. And you dont turn it over. Take high% looks.

    But yet another season for UNC, and we saw Marcus Paige be red hot as a PG, hitting 3 after 3 in their loss to IowaState…yet UNC falling behind the times regarding defensive ability and intensity. They suffer in being unable to “stop the other guy”. It felled them in the Tourney, yet again. Not to mention their interior softness, with talented bigs settling for pullupJ’s, like latter-career MJ. They forgot their most famous alum was absolutely relentless to the rim, well before he developed a 3gun…and was voted DefensiveMVP multiple times in the NBA. Self’s 1seed 08 team demolished Roy’s 08 1seed UNC, again showing this game is played on both ends of the court.

    It took Bill Self being at KU x 2-3yrs, and me actually seeing what his own recruits experienced dedication and tenacity on the defensive end did for KU’s reliability, and win total. And to watch it demoralize opponents was very satisfying. We got away from that this season, but nothing that Self and the practice gym, and the doghouse wont fix. That, along with an eager-beaver jhawk in the rotation coming up right behind you and your roster spot…

    This year’s KU team only proved that Self’s system (& his redfaced sideline anger) wont help you if you leave 50% of it on the lockerroom chalkboard!

    Fellow jayhawks, I urge you to dig out tapes and DVD’s of Self’s past teams, preferrably 2008 (his best executing squad), to restore your faith…and realize we did not possess a competent Bill Self team this season.

    Here’s some quotes:

    Tyshawn Taylor: “Time to get back to the lab and work on things.”

    Darnell Jackson: “We got away from what brought us this far, got away from who we are.”

    Sherron Collins: “I gotta bring the young’uns along and look out for them.”

    Brandon Rush: “I didnt have a very good day shooting the ball, but I tried to really stick with CDR (defensively)”.

    Russell Robinson: “Better watch out, or I’ll steal that ball, and you just might get dunked on…”

    Andrew Wiggins: “I’d rather only have scored 5pts, if it meant my team won (instead of scoring 41pts in loss)”.

  • @ralster Thank you. That was very uplifting. For most teams this would be that NIT season. Losing 5 starters and still finding a way to win a 10th consecutive Big XII Championship, while earning a number 2 seed in the tournament. What an excellent basketball program. Hopefully we get back to our defensive/rebounding ways next season.

  • I’m not taking any pills (unless they’re ibuprofen. I’ve been working my butt off in the yard this weekend).

    Does anyone remember when Indiana was the mecca of college basketball? How about St. John’s? Temple? Notre Dame? The list goes on and on. There are a lot of great teams - great programs out there. They’re not all going to win a national championship every year.

    There’s nothing magical about U-Conn or Kentucky. They have great players. They have great coaches. Their schedule worked to their benefit. They didn’t have injuries to key players at the wrong time. They didn’t have stupid turnovers at the wrong time. They made key free throws. They had a lucky shot or two go down. The stars lined up - whatever terminology you want to use.

    Bottom line is - if your criteria of what makes a good team, a team worthy of spending your time, energy, money and stresses on is winning a national championship - GO. Root for U-Conn or Kentucky tomorrow. Root for Florida, North Carolina or Duke. Hell - jump on the Wichita State bandwagon, they’re a popular media choice right now. ** And prepare to be disappointed **

    Your team ain’t going to win every year.

    I’ve been a KU fan for 50 years and I’ll be one if lose 25 games next year. I’ll be a fan if we have Bruce Weber for our coach. I’ll be a fan when we win our 11th straight Conference Championship, or our 30th. I’ll be a fan when we recruit OAD’s and I’ll be a fan when they score 41 points a game and I’ll be a fan when they score 4 points a game.

    If you’re gonna be a fan - be a fan. Otherwise go be someone else’s “fan”.

  • @HighEliteMajor I think your pills are describing the extreme situations. In my opinion reality is somewhere in between.

    Bill Self is a great coach and I’d not trade him for any other coach. His system as some call “Self Ball” works very well. However, it is a complex system and requires experience for good execution.

    We are seeing College BB landscape changing at top programs where highly talented players are coming in but they are going to NBA at a much faster pace. As such it is difficult to get the continuity and experience that is an essential element of Self Ball. With that in mind I believe Self needs to adapt too. He needs to be more flexible. He needs to tweak his system a bit.

    Furthermore, he needs to get his mojo back and become a better game day coach. I am not saying that he is not good. But it seems that he is getting outcoached more often now. Other coaches are exposing his weaknesses. They are eating his lunch more often.

    I will give two examples. First one is the Big 12 Tourney semi finals against ISU. In the 1st half ISU was not doubling up on our post players allowing Ellis to score freely. In the 2nd half ISU changed the game plan and started effective double/trip teaming our post players. They pretty much took Ellis out of the game. But Self did not make any change to the plan despite seeing his guys struggle against ISUs double/triple teams.

    The 2nd example is the Stanford game. While Black was the only Big doing any scoring it was clear that scoring inside against the Stanford Bigs will be tough but we kept going inside and kept on missing the shots. It was very frustrating. In addition, Stanford was playing without a pure PG. Self should have recognized the weakness and put this in his game plan for more pressing. But he waited till about 10 mins left in the game to start pressing. By that time it was too late.

    In summary, Bill Self is a really good coach but he needs to adapt and make necessary tweaks in his system.

  • Interesting discussion. HEM’s question reflects the national perception of KU basketball.

    What makes the NCAA tournament so fascinating is that it so often does not render the best team in the country as its’ champion. When UConn won in 11 they were 9-9 in their league, they were not the best team in the country. They only had to defeat Butler to win the NC. Do you think Butler was the 2nd best team in the country? I don’t.

    In an NBA style playoff, KU wins national championships probably in 1997, 2002, 2003 and maybe several others.

    But the tournament is set up for favorable matchups, and by favorable, I mean favorable to teams that will draw the best ratings. UConn doesn’t leave the state of NY this year to get to Dallas. Kentucky, with their ballyhooed 8th seeded team gets to play up the road in St. Louis, and then in Indianapolis. Maybe without a lot of home cooking neither of those teams even makes it out of the regional rounds. Now KU has received some favorable draws too threw the years to be sure, so it’s not a major reason.

    So to answer the question, Red and Blue pills combined make purple so I will take purple, a little of both!

  • @nuleafjhawk I can appreciate every one of your comments. Thanks!

  • @nuleafjhawk love your post! Little problem w/Liberace. I read this pill post on ku sports, loved Tony Bandles aka oakville’s post. Didn’t know if we could copy and paste it here or not??? Wish I had yard work done.

  • @wissoxfan83

    “So to answer the question, Red and Blue pills combined make purple so I will take purple, a little of both!”

    You scare me with that… we definitely don’t like purple in here! hahahe…

    I’m watching the game yesterday with my wife and during the first half I told her that the Badgers will be in this game unless they miss at the FT line.

    Sure enough… wasn’t it their only miss at the line down the stretch… missing the one that ended up making them one short after Harrison hit his 3?

  • @HighEliteMajor We’ve essentially become the Boston Red Sox. We’ve been to the big dance several times, but ultimately left empty-handed. It’s undeniably painful.

    I can’t really add anything to what you’ve already said, because you are right on. Self is stubborn. We as KU fans have put such a premium on something that is really just not that important (Big 12 champs). They mean nothing. Absolutely zero. What Calipari has done this year is what he’s done before, and what other coaches have before him. Prepared their team for March. Kentucky has the real deal in Julius Randle. They know that, we know that, everyone knows that. We knew that in the second game of the season against MSU. What Calipari developed over the course of the season, on top of the talent that UK already had, was the same thing that Self didn’t develop, and the reason why we lost in the first weekend.

    Watching UK this season was like watching a pick up game. They took foolish shots, played spotty defense, and looked uninterested. But in the end, they only needed to get to the tournament. So many UK players, with the exception of James Young, would take terrible shots, miss them and UK would lose. No big deal though. However, over time those bad shots began to fall, and just in time for March. But UK doesn’t have a monopoly on good shooters. We have a few. But guys like Greene, CF, and AWIII really didn’t get much of a chance to really work on that shot over the course of the season. UK developed theirs and is playing for an NC tomorrow. Self didn’t develop our shooters’ outside shots and again, for the sixth time in the past 10 years, we lost to a team we should have beat. We relied on too much of the “same ol, same ol” with Perry “Finesse” Ellis of all people, and lost. To Stanford. In the round of 32. Undeniably painful.


    As many have pointed out, the question becomes, does KU look to another option besides Self? I vote no. Although I am beyond pissed off about the disappointments.

  • @MoonwalkMafia

    I wish we were the Red Sox, they’ve won all three World Series they’ve been in since 2004! I don’t recall them losing a world series since 86, just ask Bill Buckner about that one!

  • @MoonwalkMafia You can’t compare Greene, CF, and AWIII to Kentucky’s talent…it’s not even close. They have as much talent, although young talent, as has been assembled in quite some time.

  • @wissoxfan83 Haha, I was going for the pre-2004 definition of the Red Sox.

    @Hawk8086 you are right about that. But in terms of shooting the ball, I don’t think so. And honestly, while that comparison may even be somewhat true, the fact is we became so one-dimensional that when we needed to utilize a different aspect of the game we were unable to. And how you analyze that takes on different angles as well. Did we even have the ability to do what it takes to win it all? Or was it simply out of our reach no matter how the cards fell?

  • Thanks for the discussion … I read all the posts.

    @wissoxfan83 said - “HEM’s question reflects the national perception of KU basketball.”


    My point is to challenge our thought process, as we live largely in our little KU cocoons. I know everyone here is coming from a different perspective. My perspective is just one. But nationally, as noted above, we are tied for 7th in national titles the last 20 seasons. Folks see us as a great program, but one that has trouble winning the big one. It is what it is. The Red Sox analogy is a good one.

    I kind of think the Atlanta Braves is better. Yea, they won one, but with Glavine, Maddux, and Smoltz, they should have won three or four.

    So whether you’re the red pill, blue pill, a little of both, or you think the entire discussion is stupid, is there a cure for what ails us in March?

    I am very interested in what the group here thinks. I’m going to post my thoughts this week. Not in a “Self has failed” tone, but in a tone that is matter of fact. As basketball fans who live and die KU hoops, what do we thing marginally, and at the core, could help change our fate in March.

    I do believe that there is an answer, or groups of answers. Think to yourself, if there was one thing you would change, what would it be?

    Perhaps many will just think – keep choppin’ wood. It’s a matter of time.

    But I sense there will be more. @AsadZ touched on a few things above.

    @konkeyDong asked, “do you want to see Self fired?”

    That is the ultimate question, isn’t it. It would be a bold move, wouldn’t it? Crazy. Asinine. Beyond reason. Who fires Bill Self?

    It just depends on the analysis.

    Let me ask this – assume that your analysis concluded that coach Self, through system, scheme, or otherwise was holding back KU from achieving titles – would you fire Self?

    One thing is for damn certain. KU basketball survived before coach Self, and it will survive after coach Self. Coach Self is not KU basketball. We’re not some shy high school girl afraid to dump her boyfriend because no one will love her like he does. We are KU basketball.

    Everything needs to be on the table.

  • is there a cure for what ails us in March?

    @HighEliteMajor I started a thread entitled “Biggest Change Needed” about a week ago wanting to know fans’ thoughts on exactly this issue. I went back & forth quite a bit with konkeyDong on the issue of flexibility. Others suggested that the major problem was related to the 3-point shot, developing shooters, allowing them the freedom to take the shot at any point during the possession (early in the shot clock. Some focused on the PG position. And I believe there was a smattering of conversation about OADs.

    My personal belief is that being flexible with both general philosophy as well as in-game management would lead us to at least a partial answer.

  • @icthawkfan316 would you consider a change at head coach? What if you learned coach Self would simply not adjust his philosophy, would refuse to be flexible – as the evidence thus far suggests?

  • @HighEliteMajor I considered this, and my gut reaction is no. Mainly because I don’t see anyone out there right now that we could get that I would consider better. Sure, we might find someone more flexible. Rick Barnes or Bruce Webber might be more flexible, but they are not close to the complete package that Self is. Self has what I consider to be an excellent core philosophy. He is an excellent recruiter. He is charismatic. He is a great ambassador for the program. And even if he is unwilling to be flexible, we have evidence that he doesn’t always need to be. We can win it all with him not adjusting. Maybe not as often as we’d like, but we know it’s attainable.

    The other thing that I have a problem with people asking to replace Self because he is not meeting our standards or expectations of success is that Self has as many national championships as any other coach in the university’s history. When people say “this is Kansas” as if to say we should expect more, I wonder why. What success have we experienced in the past that would lead us to feel entitled to more than Self has given us? This is perhaps a harsh reality to face, but perhaps we should feel fortunate to be included in discussions with other blue blood programs.

    Back to my original point, who would we look to if Self wouldn’t change? Are we willing to take a risk on a lesser name or someone who is more unproven? The example here that comes to mind is Kentucky getting rid of Tubby Smith, and striking out with Billy Gillispie. Sure they got Cal with their second swing and are surely happy with the success he has brought the program, but there were no guarantees when they fired Tubby that if Gillispie didn’t work out that someone of Cal’s caliber would be out there and available. Look at UCLA. When (if ever) are they going to land an elite coach that elevates their program to what we would consider blue blood status? Ben Howland was supposed to be that guy, and he took them to some Final 4s, but was eventually replaced for not winning championships and letting the program fall off towards the end of his tenure. Now they’re trying Steve Alford. Does a Steve Alford/Billy Gillispie type hire fill you with confidence?

  • @konkeyDong asked, “do you want to see Self fired?”

    That is the ultimate question, isn’t it. It would be a bold move, wouldn’t it? Crazy. Asinine. Beyond reason. Who fires Bill Self?

    It just depends on the analysis.

    Let me ask this – assume that your analysis concluded that coach Self, through system, scheme, or otherwise was holding back KU from achieving titles – would you fire Self?

    One thing is for damn certain. KU basketball survived before coach Self, and it will survive after coach Self. Coach Self is not KU basketball. We’re not some shy high school girl afraid to dump her boyfriend because no one will love her like he does. We are KU basketball.

    Everything needs to be on the table.

    @HighEliteMajor With all due respect, that’s a total dodge. If Self is the man you believe him to be, the man you described, then I say fire him today and don’t look back. If you can make that post and can’t say the same thing without the slightest hesitation, then you lack the courage of your conviction. As for the question of do I see Self as the man who’s holding us back from March succes, it’s a resounding no. No. of titles won in the last 11 years under Self: 1. No. of titles won under Williams in 15 years? 0. Larry Brown? 1, but it took him 5 years, just like Self, then he bolted for the NBA leaving violations in his wake (and an unproven replacement who would go 15 years without winning a title). So even if KU isn’t the greatness we all want it to be, at worst, Self is allowing us to tread water, and at best (and what is my humble opinion) he’s setting us up for it. Does Self have flaws? Certainly. Does he make in game mistakes? Sure. Has he been upset by teams that have no business being on the same court as us. Undeniably. But the fact of the matter is, the same thing can be said for every other coach of any significant longevity at every other program, including those coaches that have won multiple titles.

    As for the issue of Stanford itself, can I ask you to swallow a red pill too? Will you recognize that you’d have to be blind to think that that result was an upset by any measure other than seeding? Can you recognize that without Joel Embiid on the floor, we weren’t a team that should have beaten Stanford. Can you see that we were a team that was lucky not to lose to EKU? I mean, for the love of God, we got smoked by WVU, burning every TO we had with 17 minutes left in the game and the only thing that kept it from being a complete and utter domination was a fluky (but fun to watch) 41 pt performance by Wigs. If we’re asked to embrace the facts, then let’s embrace them for what they are. KU was a flawed team this season that managed to coalesce around Joel Embiid’s amazing talents. Once he was gone, we were exposed for being a team with no dribblers, no shooters, and no hope in March. I am not at all upset with our performance against Stanford (beyond the fact that we lost), because I haven’t deluded myself into believing that without Embiid we were any better than the team that got spanked by WVU, and I recognized on Selection Sunday that we were in a bracket loaded with bad match ups for us. Yes, we relied on a finesse post player. Yes, we relied on going inside. Yes we struggled. Yes we lost, but we lost doing the only thing that gave us any prayer of winning. The only thing I would like to have seen done differently is for Frankamp to have played all of Tharpes minutes (and Mason to get the balance).

    Finally, what exactly do you want to see change? And don’t tell me that Self needs to be ‘more open minded’ or ‘more flexible’. Those are platitudes, not answers. They are the stock and trade of gurus, psychics, and self help columnists who refuse to offer real solutions in order to escape accountability for the results. If you have specific suggestions, suggest them. Have them debated. It’s easy to offer vague proposals because they only have strengths and no weaknesses. It’s the reason an unnamed Republican beats Obama in 2012, but Mitt Romney fails. So what do you want to actually happen on the court. What are you seeing that needs to be changed and why is it better than what’s happening today. You know my case. My case is that guys delivering you 30 win seasons will, sooner or later, deliver you the number of titles you’d think would be commensurate with that win rate. So what’s the secret of losing 10 games and still playing for a title or going 9-9 in conference and cutting down the nets? The ball is in your court, HEM.

  • Man I love this board! I took a few days off but enjoyed reading this thread in one sitting.

    1. I was devastated when HCRW left…but then got really excited when HCBS was rumored to be coming…I read everything I could find on him and distinctly remember the Chicago writers loving him.

    2. I don’t want him to leave for at least 5-10 years or 2 more national titles whichever comes first.

    3. I would like him to keep evolving as a coach. Resisting change is a recipe for mediocrity.

    4. He needs to implement more zone like @HighEliteMajor keeps harping on justifiably so. Maybe play it 20% of the time but it needs to be on the table.

    5. Mix in more full court, 3/4 court and half court presses like @jaybate has suggested.

    6. Point guard…argh what hasn’t been said on this?

    7. PT aka playing time. This has always been a head scratcher for me. Historically he’s always had a short leash with freshman (Russ Rob n Naa being two good examples). And he gives upper class men longer leashes (Naa, again & EJ). I wish he would have played CF and Brannen a lot more and taken away minutes from Selden and especially Naa. AWIII is a mystery.

    8. Conference titles matter. I loved the analogy above that if we played nba series we’d have a lot more national titles to go along w our conference titles.

    9. National titles matter, also. But I don’t think HCBS is somehow not preparing our kids properly for the postseason bc of his lack of multiple titles. Is the new coach at UConn a genius bc of this tournament run? I highly doubt it.

    10. Losing Beed cannot be understated. That’s why I’m in favor of him returning! If so, is there any reason we shouldn’t go 35-5 and win the title next year?

  • @HighEliteMajor Although you didn’t specifically state, I assume from the tone of your post that you’re a red pill kinda guy. All I can say is Welcome aboard! C’mon in–the water’s fine. I’ve been carping about these points since 05 (when Bill’s Okie hokie-pokie offense ruined a preseason #1 team) and on chat boards since I joined in '10–how does this offense “get a bucket” when it needs one?

    If we extend your scenario 5 more years and define it as the time period of Kansas’ NCAA tournament appearance streak, you get Duke with 4 championships, North Carolina-3, UConn-3, Kentucky-3 and Florida-2. We’re not even in that conversation. Is there anyone here who wouldn’t trade our streak for 2 or 3 more championships? Or even 1?

    Of course, we can take solace in winning our Cake Conference Shampionship every year. You know, our regular season over-rated conference that hasn’t managed to put ONE team besides Kansas in the Final Four in the last ten years? There’s a power conference for you.

    After the double debacles of 05 & 06, I came to the conclusion (perhaps hastily) that this coach was not ready for prime time. After 07 & 08, I decided that the coach had grown and achieved prime time performer status. But after two more debacles in 10 & 11, 08 began to look more and more like an anomaly, and Bill’s 08 pre game speech, where he THANKED the players for bringing him along on the ride, took on new layers of meaning.

    After another run at the title in 12 (aided by stud players that hardly any other team could match) I was ready to give Bill another pass. But once (or twice) again, he did not disappoint(?) in my original judgement of “not ready for prime time” – losing to Michigan in probably the biggest choke job in NCAA history, and to then to a western Ivy League team.

    To those who argue that other top teams get upset, show me another top rated team laden with NBA talent that gets upset in the tourney on a regular (more than every other year) basis by teams with NO NBA talent–or as one hilarious poster (whose handle I can’t remember) posted after UNI, a team full of future insurance salesmen. That’s the definition of getting out-coached.

    Add to that a coach who simply refuses to review tournament losses ( I still can’t comprehend that) and it begins to boil down to simple stubbornness. With that attitude, the game will simply pass you by. I read (in my ‘out of the Kansas bubble’ local paper) a profile of Billy Donovan, detailing how he agonized over tournament losses, watching them over and over, trying find what he did wrong, what he could have done differently, until his dad had to urge him to ‘let it go Bill, let it go.’ If only our Bill ‘Self-scrutinized’ a little more… But he’s probably too busy thinking about his motorcycle and disco outfit for next October’s Late Night.

    It’s not heresy to think of life after Bill. I"m not a Bill fan, I’m a Kansas fan. I was disappointed when they fired Ted, thinking “Who will they get?” And then came Larry, the greatest basketball coach ever. And then came Roy, and so on. Kansas Basketball goes on, no matter who is at the helm. It’s Kansas that makes the coaches great, not the other way around.

    I’ll ask this question one more time. I haven’t gotten a response yet. Is there anyone here who thinks Bill Self is doing a good job of preparing his team for tournament games?

  • HEM, you have really opened the floodgates with your brilliant red pill/ blue pill debate! Hell, I came onto this thread as an 11-year-long right hand hitter. Now I am at least considering stepping up to the plate from the other side. Thanks for setting the kettle to boiling.

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