I cannot explain what I've seen over the past 3 games. I'm hoping some of you can help me make sense of this situation. We can't blame it on injures, becuase the team is 100%. Noone has missed action. As far as I can tell, this is not a defensive problem. The defense has been solid. I was a little frustrated at the end of the Oklahoma game with the triangle and two, becuase it seemed like they could have a wide open 3 point shot whenever they wanted. Other than that, it isn't defense.
Rebounding has looked bad. OU killed us on the glass, and exposed our need for a wide body presence when Young is on the floor. Withey and Young lack strenth and tend to get pushed around against more physical teams like OU. I think going forward Self needs to increase the minutes of both Ellis and Traylor to get tougher on the glass.
Offense is pathetic. 2 points in 8 minutes against TCU ?!??! We can't shoot the ball from the outside. Can't make a free throw. Teams are sagging all the way into the lane on Young, daring him to shoot, and completely killing the High-Low system. Our guards look bad when they drive, real bad. We have no point guard. None. Turnovers are balooning.
What do we change?
Strengths of this team are the following:
Speed Depth Defense
Self is not playing the bench enough. We looked tired against OU, and it showed on the glass and at the free throw line
Young 18 Withey 35 Releford 35 McLemore 35 Johnson 36
We have got to push the tempo, increase the possesions, and play our bench more. We need to get more aggressive and reap the rewards of easy buckets in transition. Releford only taking one shot against TCU?!?? WTF****. You are a quality finisher. Drive the ball. Play to the strengths of this team. Traylor and Ellis need to play more. Get them competant and experienced for next month. Tharpe needs more minutes. He looks better than Johnson at this point in the season. He can handle the ball better, and shoot better. Play him. 8 minutes?!?? The starters aren't getting it done. Next man up. Lets push it, and play like the favorite. Agressive Basketball. Not Scared. Make a backdoor cut for crying out loud. Teams are overplaying the passes on the outside, becuase everyone and their dog knows we won't attack and drive. Make them pay for gambling.
<p>While compared to last year it would seem we are currently basking in an embarrassment of depth but to be honest I dont think this team really is that deep at all. Naadir comes in and runs the point to spell EJ and give him some minutes off the ball. Perry Ellis gives KY a break and even Withey in a small lineup. After that is there really anyone you truly would trust in big minutes? And honestly how much do you really even trust those guys? I know many are calling for AW3 and Rio to get more minutes and I'd be lying if I said I wouldnt welcome more of them but what we have seen from them I don't think they are ready to contribute at this level as freshmen... even if they had been given more time earlier in the season. Depth is actually a weakness of this team as it was last year, thankfully we are at the end of what was a couple years of thin recruiting classes where the guys we did get left early. If the naysayers want something to blame Self for I guess that is where they should be focusing their energy.</p>
I don't think there is much of a choice at this point. If this was the beginning of the season and they were playing like this then I would say give the guys on the bench more playing time especially against non conf. opponents, but seriously what coach is going to replace a bunch of seniors for freshmen players unless they were MCD all americans. I do agree that the seniors look tired and I would be willing to give players like Tharpe, Ellis, Traylor, White, and Adams more playing time, but mostly against upcoming teams like Texas, TCU, WV, and TT all at home.....but we must have a decent lead at the time. Withey needs to use that little hook he has more often as it seems unstoppable. When he does miss you usually see Young there for the rebound. I like to see them use that play more often because you almost have two shots at the basket instead of one long 3pt. shot from Johnson or Tharpe and no chance for a rebound because who knows where the ball bounces. When Withey misses I think he misses hard on purpose knowing that Young is on the backside for the rebound. At least it slightly increases the chances of points on the board because our outside shots are definately not falling. Hopefully we can get the ball to Withey more somehow now that defenses are sagging off the guards. We have to be able to hit those outside shots so hopefully they are practicing more in that area everyday. Right now I think they are just in a funk and need to play there way out of it. They should be pretty pissed off by now and sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you stop feeling sorry for yourself and pick yourself back up again. I would see how the first half of each game is going with Johnson and Tharpe. If one is hot then stick with him the rest of the game. If both are cold like the TCU game then I would tell them not to take anymore 3pt. shots the second half. Today is not your day, but you will definately live to fight another day. They can either drive to the basket or pass the ball to someone else. I would also make sure that Withey and Young know this fact in the second half so they can cleanup when Johnson and Tharpe drive and dish or miss the shot. I think it's imperative that Ellis and Traylor get more playing time, because look what happened when Young got into foul trouble last game. Hopefully they will pick up significant time against those upcoming teams I mentioned above. Johnson has as many turnovers as assists so he clearly needs more help bringing the ball up the court and look to pass more instead of shoot when possible. Maybe he needs more rest in place of Tharpe, but one thing is definately clear. Johnson has been in the system a long time and not improving. He has taken steps backwards. If Johnson is having a decent game then by all means keep him in. If Tharpe is having a decent game and Johnson is his usual self then I would have to sit him on the bench the rest of the second half. I would hate to do that to him, but I can't sacrifice the rest of the team for one player. It's not fair to everyone else on the team. The defense hasn't been that bad until the OU game, so hopefully that was just an anomoly. I kind of feel sorry for Releford though, because every opponent knows he is KU's best defender and they definately want to chuck him or put a pick on him every chance they get. I imagine he is a little sore by now. The main problem though right now is point guard play so hopefully when that is resolved then some of the other small problems will take care of themselves. They just have to put their big boy shorts on now suck it up and play with some intensity.
You think we might be able to get it into Withey more now that they're sagging off the guards? Logic tells you that makes it harder. We do have good depth in that we have 10 guys worthy of minutes compared to only 6 or 7 last year...but it's not quality depth and really many of those guys haven't had enough of a chance to show they can contribute. It might even help if somebody had a minor injury for a few games so we could get an extended look at a guy like White. With how much our offense is struggling, it's absurd that a shooter like that hasn't got an extended look in real game action. You just can't know how a guy will do based soley on practice. Maybe he's ready to help, maybe not, but neither the fans or coaches know cuz we haven't seen him enough in game action.
"As far as I can tell, this is not a defensive problem. The defense has been solid."
Eh, what? Did you not watch OSU hang 85 on us in AFH? Did you not watch TCU and OU shoot open jumper after open jumper? Our defense has been HORRIBLE the last three games:
When KU allows teams to shoot above 37% this year:
Michigan State - 52% = LOSS Ohio State - 40.6% = close WIN Iowa State - 41.1% = close WIN Texas - 44.6% = close WIN Okie State - 43.3% = LOSS TCU - 39.1% = LOSS OU - 44.8% = LOSS
Four losses and three really close wins. This KU team HAS to feed it's offense from the defensive end. When was the last time you saw KU get a steal that led to a runout dunk? When was the last time you saw KU get three or four stops in a row that helped to shift momentum in their favor and pressure the other team? KU isn't gojung to miraculously turn into a team that is a great offensive team. They do not have the roster for it and there is no fixing that in-season. It HAS to come from the defense and it simply ISN'T lately.
Slow rotations, bad ball-screen switching, bad decisions on how to cover in a screen, it all adds up.
"Rebounding has looked bad. OU killed us on the glass, and exposed our need for a wide body presence when Young is on the floor. Withey and Young lack strenth and tend to get pushed around against more physical teams like OU. I think going forward Self needs to increase the minutes of both Ellis and Traylor to get tougher on the glass."
Both OU and KU had 10 offensive rebounds, 25 defensive rebounds and a total of 35 rebounds on the game. I don't think that's getting "killed". It just hurts when the other team is getting rebounds when you are trying to come back, so it looks like they are getting more than us simply because you are noticing them more.
We have got to push the tempo, increase the possesions, and play our bench more. We need to get more aggressive and reap the rewards of easy buckets in transition.
What is the #1 point on every team's scouting report on Kansas? KEEP THEM OUT OF TRANSITION. Becuase we struggle in half court offense, teams are hyper focused on getting back and keeping us from getting easy buckets. Guards are pushing the tempo but find too many opponents back and have to dribble it back out and set up. You can't go at the bucket in transition when it's 1 on 3 or 4. That's basically a turnover or an offensive foul just waiting to happen.
"Tharpe needs more minutes. He looks better than Johnson at this point in the season. He can handle the ball better, and shoot better. "
Tharpe is shooting WORSE than Jophnson in conference play and has almost as bad of an A/To ratio as Johnson lately. It's great that he has been aggressive, but his bad shot selection has been crushing at several points in the last three losses. I'd be OK with him getting some more minutes, but not much. He's already playing 20 minutes a game in conference play.
"The starters aren't getting it done. Next man up. Lets push it, and play like the favorite."
Play more bench guys and we AREN'T the favorites becuas ethose guys aren't capable yet of pushing it.
"What are your guys' thoughts??"
I agree that KU needs to play more aggressively, but I truly believe that it has to start on defense. There should be a relentless assault on the opponent at that end of the floor. We have a true mistake eraser under the rim, so guards should be crawling up inside their opponent's jersey. Some more trapping, some more full court and 3/4 court presses. Come up with a better strategy if Withey's guy takes him out to the three point line and has some success out there. You wanna give a big man the ball outside? Trap that big lug and make him try to handle the ball and pass like a guard. Up the tempo and pressure at that end of the floor and make opponents tired and weary and force them to make mistakes that we can capitalize on. Teams aren't letting us get out in transition, our strong point, so we need to MAKE THAT CHANGE. If you want something on the court and they know that you want it, you have to force it to happen.
On offense, we have to have our bigs fighting for position better. Not just when the ball is on their side of the court but ALL THE TIME. Withey simply isn't strong enough physically to wait to try to get post position until after the ball swings to that side of the court. Most centers simply use a big strong base to bull their way where they want to go. Withey has to use positioning and footwork. That takes longer. He has to get an earlier start on the process. As soon as he see that things aren't developing on the side opposite of him, he needs to start moving his guy and getting ready. And he needs to bend his friggin' knees and get his a$$ stuck into a guys gut. He is too stiff legged, robbing him of what little power he has. A spring only has power when compressed and loaded. The same applies for your knees, thighs and hips. You still have the horitontal advantage on your guy with the longer wingspan. You don't always have to get a pass over the top.
McLemore HAS to take it to the opponent more. He needs to understand that he is open even when he's not open. If you have the ability to rise up over the guy covering you, you need to do it every now and then. He is looking too much for perfect.
Releford HAS to go back to how he was playing before Christmas. Take those open threes or drive to the damn rim and draw a foul. He's been in the program for five freaking years; he knows what has to happen out there.
Now is not the time to panic. That is what they did @ TCU and it does not lend itself to good basketball. Coaches aren't changing the system now, there is no time for that. These guys get 1 or 2 practices between games; you don't install a new system or dramatically change minutes for players at this point in the season. There is time for that over semester break but there was no need for it then as KU was playing great. They need to get back to playing aggressive, fundamentally sound basketball and they will be just fine. They have gotten away from the sound execution that they had in December and it has cost them. Big time.
Let's not all freak out, as hard as that may be. KU basketball fans should be smart enough to understand that kneejerk overreactions are never the right decision. They have good tape of how to play against Kansas State. All the coaches need to do is run that tape and say "Look, you have accomplished what needs to be done. Just go do it again." It's a lot easier to regain your confidence when you can see that you have already done before what you need to do. Just go beat K-State. Take care of that business.
"I know many are calling for AW3 and Rio to get more minutes and I'd be lying if I said I wouldnt welcome more of them but what we have seen from them I don't think they are ready to contribute at this level as freshmen... even if they had been given more time earlier in the season."
AGREED. It's more of the same as the Chiefs went through. Everyone wanted Quinn or Stanzi to play, not because they were good options but simply because they were pissed at how Cassel played. People think every other option HAS to be better than Johnson simply because they aren't Johnson and they are pissed at Johnson for struggling.
"Depth is actually a weakness of this team as it was last year, thankfully we are at the end of what was a couple years of thin recruiting classes where the guys we did get left early. If the naysayers want something to blame Self for I guess that is where they should be focusing their energy."
Agreed. We are still paying the price for having a virtually non-existant recruiting class two years ago. Even though we have BMac and Traylor from it, Traylor is still not where he would have been had he been able to play and practice all last year. Neither is BMac. And if KU doesn't land another big ofr next year, we may still struggle in depth. At least we will be fully stocked on the perimeter next year.
We all know that point guard play has been poor. A big part of being an effective PG is to get the ball to the right players in places on the court where than can score. Assuming KU takes 60 shots in a game here is how I think the shots should be distributed based on an eight man rotation.
Please note the * beside Young and Traylor, there should not be any plays ran to get shots for these two. Their production should come from garbage plays, ie offensive rebounds, steals, etc.
This teams offense has to run through Withey down low and BMac outside. Those two need to take half of the shots. One way to get BMac more shots would be to put the ball in his hands at the top of the key in late shot clock situations. I'd much rather see him taking a three point shot or driving to the hole that EJ or Tharp. Also when Releford is playing the four I'd like to see him go to the foul line and run some hi/lo sets. Defenders would have to honor his jump shot whereas they don't care if Young shots from there all day. Lastly the team may need to run BMac off more baseline screens and curls, whatever it takes to get him his touches. I'm not sure he's the next Ray Allen, but he's pretty good. I'd hate to look back on this season and say that he was under utilized.
The good thing is there is still a month to get this turned around. Except for Withey and Johnson, this is the first year that the rest of these players are seeing significant time. This team can still make significant improvements.
There are 8 games left this season (5 @ AFH). IF they can go 7-1 or 6-2 they will earn a legitimate top 3 seed and have another chance to make a deep run as a team filled with seniors.
At this point, a few home games in a row is just what this team needs. I'm sure the fieldhouse will be rockin tonight...
KU is done. no point guard and no defense all that = Disaster"
Why don't you go worry about your own train wreck of a team? Why don't you go post about your preseason first team all-american PG that is losing games for you and choking like Mizzou players do EVERY YEAR. Why don't you go worry about how Mizzou had a RANKED conference opponent in town in their first year in a new conference and STILL fell 1,000 short of a sellout. PATHETIC.
Why? Because Mizzou fans have already scurried back to their hiding holes. There have been a TOTAL of five posts on the Mizzou basketball message boards in the last three weeks. What a pathetic excuse for a fanbase. All you have left is to wander the boards and look to shoot off a few lame putdowns at other programs who still have a hope of success and still have fans that CARE about their team. Run along now little Tigger "fan"...
Turn on the Big Monday game against K-State tonight and see what actual fan support looks like, even when the team is having a rough time. It will look exactly the same as when KU is riding high.
I'm looking forward to tonights game. I still am hoping to see more play out of some of our bench guys, specifically Traylor, Ellis, Tharpe, and Adams. I think we will need the front line strength to match up against Gibson, Henriquez, & co.
I see what you are saying Two Coach on the rebounding. We haven't necessarily been killed on the glass, it just seemed that way late in the games when things are frustrating. We are breaking about even, when KU traditionally has had a 5-8 rebound advantage game in and out. Poor shooting could be more of that cause.
Hey look at that. Smothering defense, pushing the pace on offense and in transition and a dramatic cutdown of dumb turnovers and KU destroys a Top 10 team on national tv. McLemore hung a quiet 30 on K-State and Tharpe and EJ both played much better. Withey fought hard for position and Young ran wild like Animal from The Muppets. Welcome back KU. We hope this was your awakening.
Feels good to be back on top! Huge win for the Jayhawks! They finally got out in transition and pushed the tempo, gaining easy buckets in transition. In addition, the guards were much more aggressive driving to the hoop, creating open looks in the half court. We looked much better on the glass as well.
I think we may have found our point guard of the future :). Congrats on a great game Mr. Nadir Tharpe!!