For quite some time there has been a schism developing amongst KU fans. It’s an easy one to see both ways, but it is a divisive and polarizing issue for a reason. On the one hand you have the fans that stand behind Bill Self no matter the circumstance. Their arguments are more than understandable. Bill Self is a phenomenal coach; he has reached the mountaintop in 2008, he’s brought home a record number of Big 12 championships that has put him in company with some of the game’s greatest. On the other hand is the group that is trying to push our fan base in the direction that the vast majority of sports has gone. The direction that utilizes advanced statistics to determine correlated factors to reach the dependent variable that we are constantly pursuing. In our case that dependent variable is a National Championship.
This is a good post and a discussion that simply needs to be had. We’re all excited about the win against Oklahoma, and to be sure this was a great win. People are already making comparisons to the OT victory over Mizery, which, to me, was the final stake being driven through the heart of that poor, sad, pathetic fanbase. Unfortunately, HOW we win is often just as important and telling about our team as anything else. On that 2012 team there is little to dissect in terms of strategy. We played a 6-man rotation. There was little room to second-guess decisions. This team–as has been stated by pretty much everyone–has 11 players that could see extensive PT on just about any team in the country. The topic of discussion here is yet again, the playing time of Landen Lucas and Jamari Traylor.
I have a strong sense of affinity for most posters on here. However, my largest problem is the contingent of fans that believe that Coach Self is infallibly right because he coaches the game and gets paid a lot to do so. I’m sorry, but this way of thinking is sadly ignorant. Again, it essentially says anyone in a position of authority is right because they are in a position of authority. That goes against the very core of what we are as Americans and people living in Democracy. I am not a highly paid professional basketball coach, this much is true, but I can tell you that mistakes have been made by those in positions of authority throughout history, and most definitely throughout the history of basketball.
I am, of many things a historian. I have studied it extensively throughout my life and it is my passion. Robert E. Lee was a brilliant military strategist–much more intelligent than me. But I can tell you that Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg was a calamitous disaster. Possibly the worst decision he ever made. As a graduate student I have taken to studying economics. I’m no genius, nor will I be Chairman of the Federal Reserve anytime soon, but I can tell you that Alan Greenspan should have stuck to his guns when he said in 1995 that we should heed the warnings of Japan where overheated markets were not cooled by the Bank of Japan leading to the real estate-bubble that developed in the late 1980s and then burst in 1989. We experienced much the same in 2008 by the moves set in motion during the 1990s and then the early 2000s. I am no expert, but these disasters were obvious during their development and they’re obvious now. I fear that we may be treading down a similar path this season (of course, this is basketball and as a historian comparing the deaths of brave men, or even the economic wellbeing of an entire society are simply not comparable. However, I feel that you all understand the central point towards which I am pursuing).
Landen Lucas’s player efficiency rating is considerably higher than it has been in the past, yet it is still lower than other players we have on this team. As several other posters have pointed out, Bragg has reached this point, and while Diallo makes head-scratching-decisions, his mistakes are without a doubt correctable. That may be the most infuriating point of this whole conundrum. Diablo and Bragg have correctable shortcomings, whereas Lucas and Traylor have simply reached who and what they are as players and there is little that can be changed or adjusted. Jamari Traylor’s PER is…pretty much the same. Bad. Did you notice that Lon Kruger did not bother guarding Lucas at all? Just left him alone. At the top of the key, near the free throw line, in the post. Anywhere. Flat out ignored him. That is my concern. Lon Kruger simply addressed what we all know to be true: Landen Lucas is not a threat. He knows he doesn’t have anything close to a post move, so we have essentially conceded our offense to playing 4 on 5. This may be crass, and again, I have no problem with either of these two young men as students, people, or representatives of this university, but they are simply not good. IF they were suddenly erased from this team’s lineup I DO NOT for a second think it changes the trajectory of this team, our chances of winning the Big 12, a national title, games against top-tier competition, etc. In my opinion, it just simply would have no effect, other than positives, on this team.
As many of you are well-read basketball fans, I’m sure many of you are aware who Diamond Stone is. If not, he’s the 5-star center for Maryland. He, like most freshman, went through some growing pains up to this point. But Mark Turgeon hung with the young man despite his shortcomings. In a short while, Diamond Stone has become a pretty competent post player, putting up 39 points for No. 4 Maryland to erase a 10-point deficit. Can you imagine if we get a fraction of that production from Diallo or Bragg (keep in mind I said a fraction). I’m not lobbying for Bragg or Diallo to play 35 minutes a game, but having them ready by March makes us scary. Landen and Jamari’s ceilings have simply been met. Landen’s 8 rebounds and 5 points in 25 minutes is nice, but does little to impact or improve our chances of winning in March and April, and they are hardly a safety net (I have nightmares of double teams swarming LL and knocking the ball out of his sensitive hands). This is my concern. I want KU to win just as badly as anyone else on this sight, and I hope I’m wrong, but quite frankly the truth seems glaringly obvious to me and I fear, unlike other examples throughout history, we have ample alternatives the sad outcome that we may be sewing for ourselves.
All I ask of the old school fan base is to disenthrall yourselves with the idea that Bill Self cannot be wrong. He has been. Several times. Our season has ended in the past because he has been wrong. HE HAS ADMITTED AS SUCH. You are not being misled. These are not lies. It has happened.
I would have delved further into statistics and things of that nature, but it is my birthday, and I am going out to dinner with a very pretty young lady. Happy New Year to my fellow Jayhawks, and as always, RCJH.