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Kansas vs St. Louis: Game Thoughts

  • A good win and a great first 15 minutes against a solid St. Louis team. A few thoughts:

    * What a first half for Releford! During his first few games he couldn't buy a basket and seemed to be pressing a little bit but now he seems to have found his flow offensively. It's amazing what it will do for a player's confidence to see the ball go in the basket just once or twice. If he can continue to knock down open jump shots and play within himself it will take this Jayhawk offense to another level.

    * Kevin Young won't get much credit, as 2 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 assists don't immediately jump off of the stat sheet. However, his contribution in this game on the defensive end of the floor was critical. Young was everywhere and did an outstanding job of defending the pick and pop game used by St. Louis to free their bigs up for perimeter jump shots. He hedges the ballscreen well (and almost stayed with it too long at times in the 2nd half) and made a terrific effort to recover to shooters and contest shots.

    * The same reason Kevin Young got so much playing time in this game was the same reason that both Perry Ellis and Jamari Traylor didn't get as much time. At this point in their careers they are still finding their way in defending ball screens, especially against big men that are pick and pop threats. They need to improve their hedging technique if they want to see more action against teams that utilize this as much as St. Louis does.

    * I think Jim Crews is an terrific coach and it's obvious he has picked up a lot of things from Rick Majerus. The ball screen game that St. Louis runs is outstanding and once he saw how Kansas was going to defend the pick and roll / pop, he made the necessary adjustments to get his guys some great looks. His point guard kept dragging Kevin Young further and further out on the hedge and they used some excellent action to make it tough for Kansas to hedge. If you want to see some good X's and O's on how to play pick and roll basketball and how to make adjustments based on the way teams defend this, St. Louis is a good team for any coach to watch.

    * I was curious to see how Coach Self would defend the ball screen game of St. Louis since it is such an unusual team with guards that want to score in the paint and perimeter players that want to shoot the '3'. To me it looked like he wanted a hard hedge with Kevin Young and the younger bigs, while Withey started out hard hedging, he moved to a flat or soft hedge after the first few minutes. The guards at times went under the ball screen against Jett and Evans and over the top against McCall. The only other option I thought we may see would be to "jam" the ball screen (where the defender guarding the screener bodies up to him allowing the ball defender to go under the screen...really eliminates the pick and pop) but I'm guessing that the staff still wanted Withey to be able to protect the rim if the guard turned the corner. Overall not a bad job although the Billikens got some open 3pt looks on pick and pop situations during the 2nd half.

    * Withey had a terrific game against St. Louis but I was a little bit confused with their defensive strategy against him. As we've touched on here, I believe that Withey struggles to score with his back to the basket. Playing behind him would have forced him to score over high hands in the post and I believe is an effective strategy against him as long as the post defender forces him off the block. By fronting Withey, Kansas simply did a solid job of clearing the backside and was able to get the high-low pass to him in the post, as well as lob passes from the wing. This allowed Withey to shoot a high percentage and draw a lot of fouls.

    * During the first half the Kansas coaches had to be very pleased with the ball pressure and overall intensity of the defense. They forced 10 first half turnovers and were able to convert a number of them directly into points on the other end of the floor. That intensity decreased after the first 20 minutes of action as Kansas only forced 2 turnovers the rest of the way.

    * One comment from Stephen Bardo that got me going last night was his belief that Kansas doesn't have success developing post players because they get such easy looks on the interior through their offense. I would love to speak with Mr. Bardo regarding this comment. My initial fear was, if any post players are watching this it could hurt in recruiting. After reviewing this, I don't really believe that's the case as guys like Julius Randall see themselves playing on the wing anyway. However, it's obvious that he hasn't watched Kansas play since Bill Self took over as I have always thought that (with a very big assist to Danny Manning) the Kansas post players left school with more skills than any other group of big men across the country. Plus, and I would guess that he understands this, he was really giving Coach Self a huge compliment by saying that they don't develop because they get easy looks. Is that not the job of a coach, to put his players in the positions where they can be most successful? I hear comments like this from announcers often but this one really got under my skin.

    All in all, a good win for Kansas. I still believe that St. Louis is a team that, when everyone gets healthy, they will be a very tough team to play late in the season. While Kansas should be able to roll in their game against San Jose State, keep an eye on the Oregon State game next Friday. I've watched them play three times and, while it would be an upset for them to beat Kansas, they are a sneaky good basketball team, even after their starting center tore his ACL last week.

    This post has been edited 2 times, most recently by Matt Cumro 17 months ago

  • On your last comment that whole announcing crew was a joke. They should both be canned tomorrow for how awful and unprepared they clearly were.

  • Enjoyed the technical analysis. Now I can go back and re-watch the game without sound. Agree the announcers were horrible.

  • You know the crew doesn't do their homework or much preperation for these games when they started calling McLemore a McDonald's All American and were never corrected for both games. They obviously just assumed that given McLemore's ability that he had to be a Mickey D. They probably think John Wall was a Mickey D too.

    The quote about our system stagnating the development of big men is about as dumb a comment as I have ever heard. I thought the same thing that it would hurt recruiting if any bigs were watching. But then they probably weren't as top recruits don't really watch college basketball much, I am sure a coach or two with ties to another team probably caught wind of it and will try to use it against Kansas.

    And what about the asinine remark that Withey was a bust that fell into Self's lap? Quick check on facts would have revealed that Withey was a top 50 player coming out of high school by all services and chose to play for Lute Olson originally. But when Lute abruptly retired right before the season Withey preferred to play for a constant in Self than stay at Zona without knowing who was ultimately going to coach the program. Not sure how Withey could have been considered a bust after just two practices.

    And my last complaint on here although I have many more about the crew the last two nights was Bardo complaining constantly about officiating against SLU. If he wants to call KY for a flop then he has to call those flops on Ellis, the SLU Ellis. And Withey went straight up on that no call, and when the other guy called Bardo out on it he change his tune - I believe he only went straight up with his arms. Too much contact not to be called.

    Bardo has moved past Dickie V as my least favorite color commentator. I'd rather hear about Duke and UNC all game than Bardo's biased and terrible analysis.

    This post has been edited 2 times, most recently by Hawkbrand 17 months ago

  • Has anyone ever written the ESPN ombudsman? I haven't read anything from him in years, but back when ESPN was only 90% worthless, he always had a good column discussing (and sometimes criticizing) ESPN decisions.

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  • ESPN changes Ombudsmen every 12-18 months. The first one was pretty active, but the last two have been weak. I commend ESPN for attempting to have this as part of their checks and balances, but the Poynter Institute was pretty horrible the last 18 months. They kept promising an article on the situation with Bruce Feldman, but to my knowledge never wrote anything on the biggest PR disaster in the history of the self-proclaimed worldwide leader.