The only way to travel…
I know many of you will be blasting out of here at any moment.
I just want to acknowledge KUBuckets ( @approxinfinity ) and all the awesome Jayhawk posters that made this a great season for talking up basketball!
I’ve had a great time and learned more about the game this year than any other year of my life!
You guys killed it this year!
Thanks to everyone!
This is it!
This is the “stir up” I’ve been waiting for, and I even feel like we got a bonus!
So… what am I talking about? Udunka stuffing at ease? Earning a starting spot to help lift his game? 4-guard x-axis basketball starting the game?
All good… but what I am talking about is the roles of Frank and Devonte. I have been pushing for Devonte as our PG for more than a year now. Technically speaking… hard to say if he was a PG last night or our SG. Turns out not to matter. Frank is probably our best ball handler to be responsible for getting the ball to half court. But once he crosses half court and is positioned in the middle atop the key, that is where traditional concepts are thrown out the window and the chemistry of Frank and Devonte take over.
Look at the stat book. Frank, our PG by name, scores 21 pts and had 5 assists. Devonte, our SG by name, scores 6 pts and had 11 assists. Who ran the show? Who was our real PG? I guess we will say BOTH just to avoid a senseless argument. Months ago, it was difficult for me to convince fans just how incredible Frank is at scoring… a true volume scorer. He has the aggression of a driving volume scorer and has a dead-on shot from trey when it is wide open.
I don’t think fans have thought much about how hard it is to score 21 points in a game while being the floor general. Frank can’t take full credit for this because he does have the help of Devonte. Devonte is growing as the team “play maker”… a role he needs to take and conquer. Devonte exploited the over-match last night by continuing to pound the ball to Udunka for slam after slam. That is what play makers do… something works, they keep going to it.
Now I will discuss the “bonus” I mentioned above. Coach Self is truly the “Riverboat Gambler.” In my past vision, I thought we should move Devonte into the traditional role of PG. But the guy with the cards has decided to not show his hand anytime soon. Perhaps Bill will keep it a shared role. How will teams prepare for that? Who do they put their best guard defender on? Coach’s “ace in the hole” turns out to be Devonte’s ability to step up for big offensive games. We can flip the roles and succeed, too… especially on those rare nights that we face a team with a gifted guard defender.
We are just at the beginning with this team. They are just now coming around to executing a few plays and twists, and perhaps more importantly, they are filling in their roles and starting to be held accountable. The removal of Landen and Carlton from the starting lineup was more about a message to the team. Everyone will be held accountable, even 5th-year seniors.
Udunka is now plugged in! He still has a long ways to go… but it was amazing to see him take advantage of his size, and largely do it without fouling. You can see the game is starting to slow down for him and he is just beginning to execute. Bravo! He certainly has picked up the pick and roll! Amazing how just one weapon can be utilized over and over! Imagine when he has several big weapons?!
There is always some drama on teams. And our current drama is about Landen and Carlton. Teams actually need a bit of drama. This drama should be a good thing as both players adjust to step up their games, and Christmas break is right around the corner. I expect both of these guys to really put their hard hats on during that developmental period.
Last. We have to realize who we played. It isn’t going to go this easy moving forward but at least we got a little taste of what these guys are capable of. And they got it, too! This should help them focus on a goal to play at such a dominant level on all our opponents and also away from home. We got a long ways to go, but one step at a time, and last night was a great step in our desire to climb to the top.
I am probably like a lot of others in here concerning last night’s game. The first half gave me a stomach ache… thinking back to the last few years. Our guys not prepared for a dogfight, more like a cat grooming.
But I did feel better for part of the second half, mostly in the first minutes. Perry and Wayne took over. It was great to see both of these guys awaken from their first half naps. They really need to stop napping during games. Though they did wake up in the second half for a few minutes… enough for us to create the winning gap in the score.
I am amazed at Perry’s offensive tool set. I am amazed at the positive impact Wayne can have on our guys. One or two steals, assists or baskets from Wayne seems to liven up our entire team! This is his team!
I recall many times over the past couple of years where we came out flat and we stayed flat. I’m not saying that won’t happen again, but it is encouraging to see our veteran players step up and right a wrong, all within the 40 minutes of game time.
In as much as the first half gave us a “bad sign” for things to come, the inspired bursts in the second half gave us a “good sign” for possible great things to come in the season ahead!
Perry still hasn’t figured out enough to take it to bigger defenders… but he did show basketball IQ last night by taking what the defense gave him. He is as much a threat from the outside as any of our guys because he can hit that shot consistently and is often given the gift from defenses not wise enough to guard him out there.
Regardless what happens at the C5 this year… this is NOT the same team we had last year! For many, many reasons.
Jo Jo made the historic step “out of bounds” that put black basketball players “in bounds” in college basketball.
In 1966, Kansas was in the Elite Eight game against Texas Western. In a key moment in the game, Jo Jo was called for stepping out of bounds. A crucial call leading to Kansas going down in defeat, 81-80.
As most of you know, Texas Western went on to win the National Championship. A historic game in more ways than one. Texas Western brought the first all-black starting five to the championship game and faced off against an all-white Kentucky team. In 1966, racial issues were tense in America. This game took on a different flavor than past championship games.
The Texas Western victory in the 1966 NCAA Championship game represented the final hurdle for college coaches all through America to come to an understanding that black players could be a huge benefit to their teams and worth the “risks” associated at that time for recruiting black players.
College basketball has never been the same since 1966, and Jo Jo White made the most-famous out-of-bounds play that changed the tint of college basketball all through America.
I remember that championship game. Not so much the game, but the firestorm that came afterwards. Racism was on full display during this period and there were many outlandish racial events occurring on a constant basis. Lynchings and police brutality were still common.
While our nation focused on these events and the uprising of black leaders, like Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., sports became the conduit for bringing black and white people together.
We shouldn’t forget our past. Jo Jo White was a true soldier for humanity. He represented himself with tremendous dignity and was rewarded with earned respect wherever he went, including his playing days in Boston, which was infamous for race intolerance at that time. Jo Jo has always been a part of my connection to the University of Kansas.
Rest In Peace, Jo Jo White. You will be missed by many and you will never be forgotten!
We’ve been short on depth all year.
Devonte plays almost 40 minutes per game.
Yet… we look a lot fresher than most of the teams we play.
A huge part of that surely must come from the efforts of Andrea Hudy. She is the training mom of all our guys and even travels with our team on the road.
Coach Self has mentioned a new strategy of carefully controlling our players’ legs both on the court (practice) and off the court.
I’m willing to place a bet that Andrea has teamed up with Bill to coordinate this strategy of saving our guys’ legs.
Can we really state that our Big 12 Conference Title #14 shouldn’t be credited largely to the efforts of Andrea?
I don’t think so!
So… here is a shout out to Andrea for everything she brings to our program! She deserves a ton of recognition (had to describe it in weight).
Who is responsible?
Who is responsible for bringing the team ready to play basketball?
Can’t we summarize everything into that single question? There were no areas of this game we played well in and there was no energy. How can that be?
I’ve always attacked this issue. I don’t mind losing games. I do mind when the team doesn’t show up. That was humiliating… and I believe it is games like this one that kill our recruiting. I know I wouldn’t send my son off to a school who decides sometimes not to show up. This is a character flaw. Plain and simple.
I wonder… how much fundraising does Bill Self do? It sort of feels like politics in Washington… where our elected officials spend most of their time fundraising instead of working.
When I see a team that appeared to be so disconnected to their coach, I wonder about this. When I see a team that can’t muster up energy for a screaming coach, there is a disconnect. Coaches that eat, breath and sleep with their players can’t help but be connected. Everyone is in one boat. I don’t see that.
This is what bothers me most about Kansas basketball. Games where we don’t show up. That doesn’t register with me. It’s not a part of my DNA. I’ve played in over 1000 organized games of basketball (at a far lower talent level) and I can honestly say that I have never played on a team that didn’t show up for a game. I would have been arrested last night if I was on that Jayhawk team because I would have physically assaulted some of those around me. I wouldn’t accept that kind of humiliation. Ever.
(Courtesy of KUSports.com)
We can examine shot forms, offensive sets and defensive toughness. But this is the engine that drives the train.
I’ve never seen Perry Ellis’ back molars before… until now.
As of Monday, Kansas will be uplifted in the National polls to #1. Usually, that is a curse. Players get over-confident, media chaos infects the focus of our team like a flu virus.
But this team is different. It has worked hard, including battling abroad in Korea, to find a true team identity.
What will carry this team forward has yet to be covered by sports media. Their focus is the allure of our perimeter shooting.
The secret sauce for Kansas in 2015-2016 is their “team focus” and to find “team happiness.”
Now that is something substantial, sustainable, and a REAL FORMULA for a destiny taking us all the way into April! (hint)
Carlton… Is That You?
Read some negative comments on various sites from KU fans blasting Carlton.
Disturbing to say the least. Carlton has been thrown under the bus, I hope he can hide under there until this is resolved after he gets to defend himself.
There used to be a valid statement “innocent until proven guilty”… but that appears irrelevant today with public opinion.
I just want Carlton to know that there are many of us who haven’t convicted him yet and believe he is innocent until proven guilty.
I’m a happy camper today.
There was some very nice signs we can take away from last night’s game.
D E V O N T E !
I noticed he stepped up big in the Baylor game, just had an off-night from the field. That same intensity he brought to Waco was back on display in AFH last night.
The THREE AMIGOS are getting it together for March!
C A R L T O N !
How great was he last night? Wasn’t this the Carlton we were expecting this year after his respectable freshman year? I loved his energy last night. His hands were good (meaning, his focus was there), and he had plenty of bounce in his game. Bravo!
I’m not worried about our depth in March. I have worried about “hitting on all cylinders.” As long as our top 7 guys all play to their capabilities, we will be just fine in March.
We really needed a game like this and it came at the right time. The game looked grim for a while. Josh went down with an ankle sprain while Landen was in foul trouble. There goes our depth! But wait a minute, not so fast…
I was counting the seconds until this happened after we reached #1 again.
Somebody out there who has their law degree…
Can the Jayhawk Nation create a class action lawsuit targeting the NCAA for their bogus allegations?
I’m sure we can substantiate actual damages and then there are punitive damages.
“Nuance… basketball is a game of nuance” - Maybe it’s just not right to say we should always foul or not foul. Doesn’t it matter who the players are on the court? For example… if we foul, we could put Doke on one side and Big Mac on the other side for rebounding. Then we put in the best defensive guard lineup on the floor. The play is dead off the foul so we are free to substitute.
What about going with a “hybrid foul?” That means… we tell our guys to defend aggressively, going for steals and knock away dribbles without worrying about fouling. What the stats from Kenpon don’t show is how many times did the defense prevent any kind of shot from happening? Like… making a steal?
If we are working on “end game strategy” maybe we play it like this:
Go full-tilt defense trying to steal, knock the ball away, or just create so must chaos a shot can’t be shot. Risk the foul being extra aggressive!
When the ball gets within 10-ft of the trey line, foul.
Think about all the things that have to go right for our opponent to win the game.
They have to survive our aggressive defensive attack before the foul.
They need to make the first free throw.
They need to miss the second free throw.
They need to make a shot off the rebound.
Adding in the first step of more aggression creates yet one more step a team has to succeed at in order to have a chance at winning.
I don’t see how a well-coached end game team will lose playing it this way.
“See… I told you so!” - no matter what happens, a game will finish with a win or loss and one side of this argument will get to say “I told you so” and the other side will eat crow. Had Baylor made the trey and won in overtime, people like me would be barking even louder!
Interesting read. So why do the pros foul? Well… probably because the pros are paid millions of dollars to execute the game. Pros are paid to make treys, including from deep deep.
Pros are also paid to seal off the rebounds.
Pros are also paid to execute defense against the winning shot off a rebound.
What I would like to know… how many times has Kansas been in this position during the Self era? We all know many times. It is something we should care about because Self wins a lot of games and winning those last few extra games makes the difference between good and great… and bringing home hardware!
This all just makes me more of a believer that we need to work on end game! Then foul!
I do think end of game situations has been a sticky situation for years. How do you replicate the type of pressure and intensity in practice for those moments?
That’s why Nova takes a little time from every practice to work on end game situations.
End game play is about coaching philosophy. There are many coaches who put everything into teaching end game. They will tell you to play the best you can all game, but in the least, play good enough to be close at the end, where you can play to your potential. Jay Wright is one of those coaches. He has won some hardware.
I have to admit, it is a different teaching philosophy. Only played once for a coach who thought this way. When you haven’t played with this strategy it is an adjustment. It was a huge relief to practice enough of end game to bring that confidence into real situations. It takes quite a bit of practice to get over the hump because at first you play nervous since so much pressure is put on execution. But after a while, it’s like riding a bike and you no longer have to over-think during end game. Things come natural and at real speed. The game slows down for you, as it should and what you want at the end!
Anyone who has played for an “end game coach” can instantly tell which teams are ready and which aren’t. It’s obvious. Baylor and Kansas are not trained up in end game.
Here is something you often see in college ball, indicating a team is not coached up for end game. You never let a team roll the ball in to half court, saving time off the clock. At least glad we didn’t allow that in the Baylor game.
Wish we spent more time teaching end game. I hate the idea of getting in the tournament and losing because of an end game screw up. I find it hard to believe we could lose any other way.
“Win the last 2 minutes!”
I’ve been in some of the worst parts of town in Wichita, KC and other places in Kansas. In no way does it compare to the worst parts of towns in just about any American city. That may not be the way to grade a place, unless you live in those neighborhoods. I’ve lived in many places and I feel good about living in Kansas again! I grew up here and life moves slower… great for raising kids. There is culture here, too, though you may have to search it out more, but it is here. People are friendly… maybe too friendly. I can’t go to the grocery store without spending an hour or so chatting with people, sometimes strangers.
I lived in Europe for two decades and made many great friends. Many of those friends still come over to Kansas to visit. Some come every year. They love it over here!
Sometimes it is hard to appreciate something until you have it taken away. I know I am thankful I don’t have to waste much time in traffic jams. It was common for me to suddenly get stuck in a 2 hour jam in Europe because of an accident. That happened constantly. And it can take an hour to find out where to park and when you do you might spend $100 a day to park it. Uncommon to have a garage on your home. Drive right up to the front door of a store? Ha… unlikely.
We had several screw ups at the end, including the jump ball call where we had 2 or 3 players right there… none knowing to call timeout (we had 2 timeouts left). Would have saved a possession.
I’m with the many, including the pros, that believe it is best to foul when up by 3. Several things have to happen for them to tie or win. Usually it means making the first FT, missing the second, getting the rebound, and getting off and making a basket. Compare that, where you have to have a chain of events happen, with just hitting one trey.
It is very clear to me that we are a bit lost at the end of close games. Think back to the Nova game. That took a complete collapse to lose that one.
So much of what needs to happen isn’t working on plays, but just teaching our guys what to do under certain situations. Boiler plate decisions. And what to be aware of. And then there are a few plays to master. Not many. Execute. And be ready for what is going to come at us.
I know one thing… I’m pointing out a few things. Doke is a monster, but why was he on the floor when we were up by 1 with the ball? Luckily, Drew didn’t know what to do. The answer was to come up and foul Doke without the ball. It would have stuck him on the line. Expect that to happen in March.
We were fortunate to win in Waco.
I know I’ve brought this up before, especially after our loss against Nova.
Are we working on end game strategy during practice? After the Nova loss it was mentioned that we discussed end game strategy. Meanwhile, Nova makes end game strategy a part of every practice, and you can tell.
We were fortunate to hold on to the Baylor win. And looking back at our losses, it was only the Baylor game at AFH that wasn’t because of a complete failure down the stretch.
This could cost us in March.
Right now if there’s a downside to yesterday it’s the favorite to win it all tag. Adds some heaps of pressure.
Maybe that is what we need. If Doke is going to continue to dominate like he did in Waco… who cares? Being pushed is probably good for him. He’s been talking about being pushed his whole life so maybe it is what he fuels on.
Hopefully Ochai just has to weather through some big games before he starts wearing “big boy pants.” He was trying to not make mistakes on offense and that means he wasn’t in time with the pace of the game. We’ve seen him when he “let his hair down” a bit and he can bring plenty to our offense. I’m not holding my breath that he will get this figured out this year. The games will just get bigger and he may struggle through the big games. Or he might not. What I do feel comfortable with is he will, one day, be a solid contributor more often than not.
It’s hard to beat down on players that are so young.
Speaking of young players… that Doke played an unreal game! I hope he can do that when we play teams with better post defense.
We did come into this game with a specific strategy. Very heavy focus on pick and roll offense right through the paint. Almost had the choreography of our chop. Not sure we can get away with that level of success from here on out, but it sure worked well against one of the best defenses in the country… just not a great post defensive team. I completely embrace using this when we can. It’s an offense that focuses on all the right things; Devon and Marcus driving the paint, Doke scoring off of lobes, and eventually it opens up Isaiah, Christian and Ochai for the trey. Also creates some trey opportunities for Devon. This is a much better way to approaching feeding the post, through focus on a motion offense. I’m loving watching Devon and Marcus taking their man off the dribble. Sometimes Isaiah and Ochai can do it, too. This would be a great way to get Ochai a bit more offense because he can finish in the lane and could use something to bump up his esteem.
I’m trying to be optimistic, so I’m hoping we come out and play above what we have done all year. It’s that pivotal game where we become a better team from here on out. Every team always has another gear… let’s hope we notch it up today!