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Another gutty win by the experienced Jayhawks. A few thoughts:
* What a game by Releford! He spends the entire game chasing McGruder around the floor on the defensive end of the floor, holding him to a 4-12 performance from the floor. Somehow he still has enough energy to be effective on the offensive end of the floor, shooting 5-6 and scoring 12 points and dealing out 3 assists. If there is a better wing defender in the country I would like to see him.
* Withey needs to get more touches...plain and simple. When Kansas feeds him inside it opens everything up. Unfortunately, at times they seem to forget about him with part of the problem being that our guards aren't looking inside and the other part that Jeff needs to consistently work for and want the ball. Withey is never going to be a guy that out jumps more athletic players but he has developed a tendency to release his shots inside near his shoulder instead of taking the ball up strong and finishing high. He also take the ball down around his waist to gather at times (Spradling stripped him once) instead of taking the ball up quick and strong. He played well and competed while still being in foul trouble...an encouraging sign.
* McLemore was more aggressive off the dribble early in the game than he has been all season, which is part of the reason that he picked up a couple of charging fouls in the first half. His aggressiveness off the dribble is a trend that all Jayhawk fans hope to see continue. Ben played fairly smart basketball despite being in foul trouble throughout the game. As usual, Ben rebounded his position well and made a couple of nice blocks when the Wildcats were making a run in the early part of the 2nd half.
* Elijah was also more aggressive off the dribble which opened up the Jayhawks offense, especially in the first ten minutes of the game. However, in what has become a disturbing trend lately, he picked up five more turnovers in this game. Right now Elijah is struggling with his shot and he just needs one game where the ball goes in consistently to snap out of it. It seems like he's pressing a little bit right now.
* While Young had another game where he simply didn't provide the little things consistently, he made a HUGE play grabbing an offensive rebound and dishing the ball out to the corner for a McLemore 3pt shot. Effort like that often goes unnoticed in the course of the game but that play ended up being a big one. Defensively is where I was a little more disappointed with Young as he spent a considerable amount of the game defending Southwell, who had a terrific game for Kansas State. It did seem though that Young backed off of Southwell on the perimeter when he had the ball and I wonder if this was part of the game plan to limit the Wildcats curl cuts. Young struggled to finish shots in the paint tonight but had a couple of outstanding touch passes which led to easy Kansas buckets.
* Tharpe was his usual self tonight...some good and some bad. He struggled guarding the ball, which is part of the reason that Rodriguez was able to get into the lane, and he didn't stop the ball in transition a couple of times. He isn't shy about shooting the basketball (there are times I wonder if he realizes that he has McLemore and Withey on his team) but overall I really like his aggressive nature. Kansas needs someone to get into the paint off the dribble and he has been able to do this as the year has progressed.
* Ellis is coming along very well and you can see his confidence growing by leaps and bounds. He had a nice drive to his left and has been more aggressive on the glass, finishing with four rebounds. He simply wasn't following through on his free throws tonight, which is why he struggled there. His emergence will continue to be something that we need to watch.
* The Jayhawks half court defense was outstanding tonight. They forced a lot of flare cuts and were able to contest nearly every shot taken by Kansas State beyond the arc. As Coach Fraschilla kept pointing out during the game they took away curl cuts from the Wildcats and kept them out of the paint. Forcing Kansas State to attempt 30 of their 57 shots from beyond the arc shows how well they were able to keep Kansas State out of the lane.
* I was very encouraged to see Kansas attack off the dribble repeatedly to start the game. That was an area that I thought Kansas could exploit as the Wildcat guards can struggle at times guarding the ball. They were able to get into the paint and create offense and get better ball movement as a result. This is why they were able to get out to such a quick start again in this game. As always though, I think the Jayhawks need to look inside more consistently. Jeff needs more touches in the post and when the ball gets into the paint this team is very tough to beat. To start the 2nd half you could tell that there was a big emphasis on post touches and that's when Kansas was able to extend the lead a little bit.
* With Spradling starting on Releford, I thought the Jayhawks may post Travis up for some easy looks. Something to keep an eye on in their next meeting.
* The staff had to be fairly pleased with their effort on the glass. They held one of the top offensive rebounding teams in the nation to 10 offensive rebounds on 37 missed shots. In addition, they were able to grab 5 offensive rebounds on only 10 missed shots in the 2nd half.
If there was a game that I was worried about, it was this one. Back to back road games, playing a good team, in a tough environment. It says a lot about the character of this team that they were able to pull out a victory. Kansas has another big game next as they will face off against a very good Oklahoma squad on Saturday.
Matt as a former coach I have to ask...why does everyone keep crediting Bruce Weber with having improved KSU's offense? I just don't see it in the stats or the results. It might look prettier but the objective is to efficiently put the ball in the basket and they are far worse at doing that this year than any year under Frank Martin. I get that this kind of is just a media talking point about the guy but the numbers are just stark and obvious. KSU took garbage shots (contested 3's for the most part) all night last night.
This teams' inability to score consistently ,particularly from the interior, is likely going to be the death nail. Withey and Young absolutely miss way too many gimmes. Posting up Releford next game is something I would absolutely do if Spradling is on him in Allen. Get someone in there that can make a point blank lay up.
I still don't understand why McLemore doesn't get any plays run to post him up. It was the perfect matchup for it with Spradling on him a lot (as with Releford).
Maybe it's because of our bigs' inability to be threats from outside 5ft?
I have to think Ellis is going to start getting more looks if he can bring that energy to te floor. He is going to be seen as a much greater offensive threat than Young in my view.
I see Ellis getting more floor time as hs game improves. It seems each game he's just a little closer to that light going on. You can see when he does attack he plays like "this is what they want me to do" but that he's not completely convinced yet. In the next month or so he's going to lose that lost freshman look and start taking more of Young's minutes. I love Young and his energy on the floor, but he's got to be able to put the ball in the hoop when there is a man between him and the basket.
Live to love, love to live
That's exactly why we can't post a guard up. Why would any opposing big step out on Young, Traylor, or Withey? I've said it before, and I'll say it again: this team will go as far in the tournament as our point guard play and Perry Ellis's development take us. Perry is the only legitimate post player on the team who can step outside and be a threat from beyond 4 feet. Young's greatest threat there is to throw it off the board hard enough to get a rebound for someone (usually himself because when he's unguarded, he's often not boxed out). If Perry Ellis can knock down 10-foot shots with any consistency while bringing the intensity he's brought the last couple of weeks, he'll play 20 minutes per game and the high-low part of the offense won't look like poo.
Moderately off topic, but as we discuss the development of our bigs, I can't help but think back to pre-season when we all thought Wesley would get decent minutes this year because no one else had experience.
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And now, for BigJayKU to blow a gasket, I present: The Idiocy of Jason King
Bruce Weber's Kansas State team lost to Kansas on Tuesday, but the Wildcats have reasons to be optimistic. Weber seems the right choice for the basketball program.
Is it bad that I read that, laughed, and thought the following was due to the sound of his voice:
"Weber had led Illinois to six NCAA tournament berths in nine seasons, but a new athletic director was hired, he and Weber rarely spoke and … you know how those things go. Things just weren't working out."
It just is what it is. The media is dumb as a bag of rocks on these kind of things and will never let go of a narrative once they establish it. The guy is doing a competent job but is not a great offensive coach.
Noty many teams have a guy who can all but shut down McGruder... is thast all it tas to be a great offensive coach? One player who is usually unstoppable.
I love that Releford got player of the game for his defensive effort.
The best line of his story is this one.
"We've played some good teams and we've competed with them," Weber said. "We're a good team now. Are we going to stay here or are we going to get better? Are we going to move forward, stay stagnant or go backward?"
Just three months into his first season, it's tough to see the latter occurring."
Weber was 15-3 and 4-1 last year at Illinois and finished 17-14 and 6-12 in conference with wins over Gonzaga and highly ranked Ohio State with the 73rd ranked KenPom team (they were 49th at that time).
Weber was 13-3 and 3-0 in 2011 with wins over UNC, Gonzaga, Maryland and Wisconisn and finished 19-12 and 9-9. That was with the 18th ranked Illinois team KenPom wise.
KSU is 15-3 and 4-1 right now and ranked 44th by KenPom. So yes Jason, it is totally flipping impossible to see a way that KSU could move backwards at all as the season progresses. That is unfathomable, unsupportable and unprecedented given the quality of coach we are dealing with. Dynamite work. Exactly the kind of quality one would expect from ESPN.
In my opinion, and in the opinion of coaches I've spoken to, they think Weber is an excellent teacher of motion offense. His movement not just on the ball side but on the weakside as well is very good. With the teams that try to run motion (and Texas is one of those) their movement on the weakside is often non-existant.
Weber's struggles come from recruiting the proper talent to run this system. Fewer and fewer kids want to run motion and instead want to be in an offense that prepares them for the NBA. By all accounts Weber is a nice man, but I can't see Weber as the guy that comes into a kids living room and sells the parents and kids on his vision for them as a player. Bill Self left him a perfect storm of what Weber needed to succeed at Illinois as he had players who could operate off the dribble and knock down open jumpers. During those early years at Illinois his offense was prolific. As the years went by and he had to recruit his own talent, he flat out failed. McCamey, by all accounts, wasn't a great teammate and his Paul / Richardson backcourt lacked a true point guard to set those guys up, which both of them need to be successful. The crazy thing is that the guy he needed and didn't recruit, Jacob Pullen, went to Kansas State. With Pullen, I'm guessing that he still has a job at Illinois.
In looking at this Kansas State team, it's far from perfect for what he needs. McGruder is a good piece but he is a shooter and struggles to put the ball on the floor. He needs two other players who can operate off the dribble to help get him shots and open him up. Part of me thinks this is a D'Antoni situation where he is forcing his offense on a team that just isn't well equipped to run it, instead of changing his system to fit his talent. However, as a college coach, I forgive him for this as it's important to establish your culture at a program so you can sell recruits on it.
I've looked at the stats on kenpom and totally understand what you're saying. However, let's use another guy who my coaching friends think is a great offensive coach, Greg McDermott, as an example. McDermott is a truly classy individual who I can imagine struggled to recruit top tier talent to Iowa State. While in Ames, his offensive teams, according to kenpom, averaged a finish of 154th. However, in his other stops at Northern Iowa and now at Creighton his offenses have finished an average of 64th, and that includes his first two seasons at Northern Iowa where they were very poor. Take those two seasons out and McDermott's offenses average to rank 40th. My point here is this...some guys aren't cut out to be high major coaches. Let's face it, at every elite college, those coaches must operate in the "gray area" and do some things in recruiting that they don't want to do. For a man like Greg McDermott who is pure class all the way, I can't see him getting into that gray area, or getting into as much as needed to secure wins. Does this mean that he's a poor offensive coach? No way. Again, he's very highly thought of in the coaching community. The same thing with Bruce Weber. I can see Bruce Weber being the same way in regards to that "gray area", especially in dealing with those AAU and high school coaches in the Chicago area. Do I think he will succeed at Kansas State in the long run? I don't. I do think that he's the type of coach that would be better suited to recruit at the mid-major level, especially in the Valley where he would get players that would be more well suited (and frankly more excited) to run his motion offense.
Honestly, I think coaches view an offense as effective because to them it looks pretty and they can (as you point out) see the coaching involved. My main point would be that the coaches and the media don't understand how to evaluate properly the effectiveness of an offensive system (or for that matter most things about basketball). That is why I have to listen to nonsense like this years UNC team being a great rebounding squad (they are not, they just play a lot of possessions which pushes the raw numbers way up) or Weber being a good offensive coach.
It reminds me of the baseball purist years ago who loved to talk about bunting and moving runners and so on. What matters in the end is how many runners cross the plate and how many balls go through the rim. The media and coaches are frankly awful at evaluating that kind of stuff which is the core of my gripe.
More pertinent to KSU...if you are teaching an offense that is hard to teach well and for which you cannot recruit the proper players at your school to make it work (because you need lots of NBA level shooting talent) and the end results are less effective than Frank Martin's throw it up and go get it with raw athletes approach aren't you(being the coach wasting their time teaching the system) the dumbass?
This post was edited by BigJKU316 18 months ago
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