KU fans can get ready for a very different style of play for the 2018-19 season.
The hybrid hi-lo which unclogged the lane and jacked up a record number of threes will revert back to the classical formula, played through the 4 spot, which will look very different from the last two years (get used to Dedric showing his lottery pick talent in the high post around the free throwline, nothing flashy but deadly in his efficiency, scoring and passing and rebounding).
We might be less explosive and score fewer points and be a little less fast from end to end, but our play will be much more balanced and our offensive efficiency will be improved. Look for points per possession to be at an all time high by the end of conference play. Look for a very balanced allocation of minutes played and point scored and rebounds across the board.
But the greatest and most exciting development this year will be on the defensive end of the court. We will not have to outscore opponents to win the game. We will guard and rebound and get the 50-50 balls at a much higher rate than the last few years. We can foul and play hard and get tired with no consequences to our level of play. Next man up!
Slackers who do not block out or stay in front of their man or do not go 100% on every possession will sit early and often. No one will take any possessions off this year. So we should get after it in a very aggressive manner.
Our individual D will be a tough man-to-man (no more zone) and our team D will jell after Christmas. Team D is the most underrated aspect of winning basketball. By the end of the season, we will be an elite defensive team who can play big, small and anywhere in between.
Coach Self has always been a defensive guy first and foremost. He will get to adjust his schemes on D in the same way he has (remarkably) adjusted his offensive schemes over the past two years., to fit his talent and depth. We will see the lock down D we have not seen in many years, maybe since 2008.
Coach: How about experimenting with a full court pressure defense from tip off to final buzzer? I know you have always said “we do not press, we pressure, not full court but (maybe) three-quarters, solid fall back man in the half court is our bread and butter.”
For the first time in ages you have the athletes in number and quantity to wreck total havoc on the opposing team, and show another side of KU BB which has been missing for a while. I would love to see an ultra aggressive - in your face - D deployed in game after game and just wear the opponent down to the nub by half time.
Furthermore, this would require our guys to be tuned up on every single possession. Let your man get by you, take a seat on the bench. Get up under their guards 30 feet from the basket. Fight through the screens, less switching. Tough, tough, tough until the opponent surrenders and we develop that killer mentality from game one.
The decision to go full court on D, with some trapping and risk taking in an extremely aggressive style would be as innovative on the D side as you have been on the O side, adjusting to your personnel. Come on Coach, let’s see if we can keep the other team from running any offense at all, press them all the way past the three point line, give 'em 40 minutes of hell with no fall back positioning in the half court.
Concerning predictions for this year’s group, once again 30 + wins, another Big 12 title, no home court losses, another Final Four. We will be less spectacular (flashy) but a better team. Please, none of this “anything but a national championship is a failed season.”
No one on this rat board wants it more than the coaches and the players. Enjoy the process and watch the team get better every game. We will be very solid and hopefully able to elevate our game at the key moments, late in the season, to give ourselves a change to cut down some nets.