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I don't post when the team is losing and have not seen something like this streak in quite a while. A lot of ways to look at things. I am not even sure what we found out about the team tonight but I know we needed to get some swagger back and tonight did that for us. Looking back on the last 3 games there are a lot of ways to look at it in my view.
At this point I think it is important to get Tharpe as many minutes as possible on the floor to bring him along. We need him. Badly.
When I look back at those last three games I am not really sure what to think. OSU had an out of body offensive performance from one guy and a great game from Smart and it was still a very close game despite us not shooting all that well.
That TCU game was an abortion but we are not that bad on offense. Even with that abortion of a first half we had every chance to win that game as well. It can't be proven but I will believe until I go to the grave that if EJ makes 2 FT's right out of the gate none of that ever follows. He did that, then missed another shot next time down IIRC and you could see everyone tighten up like I have never seen before.
Losing at OU was no particular shame. A game you would like to have sure, but also a game that other teams will lose as well. That team has some quality pieces and while we played better it was not there yet.
Our offense has to come from Tharpe and EJ getting a piece of the paint off of ball screens. We don't have back to the basket post players that can get us 20 or draw a double consistently. But we do have a freak in Ben to throw it to if we can make people rotate. Travis is dangerous if he catches the ball in space to either shoot or get to the rim. Withey and Young are decent at catching the ball off the roll or getting offensive rebounds. Our offense has to be made on Tharpe and EJ driving the ball off those screens. Hopefully we have figured that out.
I want to watch some parts of this game again and will post more extensively later, but I think we learned a lot tonight about what to expect the rest of the season. I think we saw one of the biggest adjustments of the Self era. Historically, we run a "vanilla" scheme until Christmas break, at which point we install the full offense and move forward with a lot more structure. This season, that plan has totally backfired, probably because we are missing such key components of that style - a post player capable of shooting outside of 4 feet (and thus able to free space in the lane for drives as well as the main post guy's moves, and don't underestimate how difficult it is for Tharpr or Johnson or McLemore whomever to get to the basket when Young's man is parked there) and a point guard capable of initiating the offense. Tharpe showed tonight that he's capable of freestyling (which is what he was good at in AAU, honestly), but I really think we've seen the last 4-6 weeks that we can't run an offense like we have in the past. With such poor point guard play and the inability of our post guys to shoot outside of 4 feet, Self even identified that we sometimes "run the offense just to run the offense," and someone else said that we "run sets without ever looking to score out of them."
So, tonight (and maybe also in Norman, honestly), it looked to me like we almost pulled out the entire offense and went back to "vanilla" offense, with a lot more freedom of movement and even some things I can't recall ever having seen us do before, including down screens off the ball, and down screens "big to big." Matt and I talked at halftime, and he identified that and a couple of other things I'm sure he'll identify in his writeup, but I think we may have seen this team turn a corner in an unexpected way - by going back to what we were doing in December.
Oh, it also helped that we shot really well, both from the field and from the line.
Great breakdown but I think you summed it up best in your last sentence Aaron. It's amazing what making a few shots will do for a team's confidence. When this team makes a few outside shots everything flows.
I hope that Withey dunk is the play that turned the season around. Good to see some fire and emotion from the team after it.
It's partially confidence, and it's partially just the ball going in. If we took the exact same shot attempts we took at TCU and at Oklahoma and made exactly the same percentage of them as we did last night against K-State, the difference is astounding (particularly at TCU). I know the table may be difficult to read, so I'll try to break it down. Basically, I took the shot attempts in each game, and the percentage of the shots made in the KState game (T%) to create a different theoretical number of makes, and as a result a different theoretical number of points. IF we'd shot the EXACT same percent in Ft. Worth and Norman as we did last night, we'd have scored 87 points and 77 points, respectively, and that translates to the SMASHING and close wins we're accustomed to.
Makes Attempts % Points T% TMakes TPts Makes Attempts % Points T% TMakes TPts
FT 16 23 69.57% 16 86.36% 19.86 19.9 11 20 55.00% 11 86.36% 17.27 17.3
2-pt 15 39 38.46% 30 54.05% 21.08 42.2 20 39 51.28% 40 54.05% 21.08 42.2
3-pt 3 22 13.64% 9 38.10% 8.38 25.1 5 15 33.33% 15 38.10% 5.71 17.1
Total: 55 87.17 66 76.58
As I suspected, that table became completely unreadable. Maybe making it a picture will work better
This team, like any team, badly needs to play with emotion. Last night they played like someone took their money. It is the exact attitude they need. But lets move onto the biggest question raised over the past two week...do you (or can you) start Tharpe over EJ going forward?
I see positives and negatives to both.
1. Tharpe has actually gotten some things done where EJ just hasn't. Love or hate the kid he is willing to try to make things happen for the team.
2. EJ has the potential to come in and spell all three of the other guys better than Tharpe can. He has a bit more size and can play most wing players well enough.
3. You can't really sit Releford (for Defense) or Ben (for Offense) so to get Tharpe more minutes they have to come out of EJ's pocket.
4. In my view it improves our bench. EJ has the ability to be effective off the ball so we might get an effective all spots backup small out of the deal.
1. EJ might pout about it.
2. The team might not like it.
It probably depends on your read of the personalities involved if you are Self but at this point I think you have to pull the trigger on something like this unless you think that the team will implode because of it. If EJ pouts...well he can't play much worse anyway. More than likely in my view it ends up helping him. He can come in when one of our wings needs to sit down and work himself into the game from where he is comfortable then move over to the point for a while to spell Tharpe.
I don't think there's any way you can swap Johnson and Tharpe's roles at this point. I don't trust Tharpe (and I don't think Self does either) enough to put him into that role (and almost regardless of his recent performance, I think he stands VERY little chance of starting next year, despite being a junior and all other legitimate options being freshmen). I've been advocating going "small" in stretches for weeks now, and I still think the best way to get Elijah moving is to move him off the ball (like we've been doing) in the stretches when we can. Just because it's Tharpe coming off the bench doesn't mean that it has to be for Elijah - he can easily come in for one of the wings and slide Johnson to the wing.
Furthermore, let's make no mistake about this...this team CANNOT win anything of real merit (Final Four, National Championship, or really even the Big 12) without Johnson getting better. I don't think you run the risk of dumping his confidence by pulling him from the starting lineup.
Even with the big win last night, Elijah was still playing tight. I beleve we will get the EJ back we saw late in the season last year.
As well as Tharpe played I believe we will still see a lot of inconsitancy from him. When he's on he's explosive... even on defense last night he looked really good. But we saw this earlier in season where he had a big game, but the next 5-6 games he reverted back to taking bad shots and bad defense.
The thing that has to happen with all of these players is consistancy. The thing I saw starting several games before the losing streak was players getting lost on defense. Double screens were getting our guys completely out of position and leaving the opponents wide open. On offense we just flat out missed shots... even the game last night Young missed 2-3 shots within 3 ft of the basket. It seems more important to him to get the shot up quickly than to actually make the shot. The shots he did make was because Tharpe got him the ball where he was able to slam it home. I still think the lack of a PF is our achiles heel. We need a guy who can back a guy down and score, or at least demand a double team opening up the lane for our wings.
Live to love, love to live
Agreed with Elijah's play, but I just don't see it. We haven't really seen that consistently at all from Elijah this year. He was good last year when he was an afterthought with Robinson and Taylor. Being the man has not worked out well for Elijah.
I agree that our lack of a post player who can bring defenders up the lane is hurting us more than anything. It doesn't help that ALL of our post players are bad rebounders. Withey gets his mostly by being taller than everyone and establishing good enough position. He almost never rebounds out of position. I wondered aloud at the beginning of the year if TRob's rebounding would ultimately be missed more than his scoring, and I would have to say right now that it may not be what we miss most, but it's certainly up there.
I agree with this wholeheartedly. The thing is, a scenario exists on this team within which Elijah doesn't have to be the man this year as well.
One of the best - and sometime most frustrating - qualities possessed by Bill Self is his loyalty. I saw it when I covered the team for the past two seasons regarding Tyshawn. Ultra frustrating. Drove Bill nuts. But he would have thrown himself in front of traffic for the kid, and in the end it paid off. Tyshawn went from headcase into arguably the best college PG in the country for a huge chunk of last season.
Elijah flourished as option No. 3. Shoot spot up jumpers. Push the ball in transition and catch some lobs as well. We may not have Tyshawn and T-Rob this year, but we've got Ben and - as of last night - we've got Jeff. Those two should always be scoring options one and two.
The solution here seems simple on the surface, but only if Elijah can accept it and only if Bill will consider it instead of seeing it as a betrayal. Oh, and only if Ben keeps his foot on the gas pedal offensively.
Naadir needs to be the guy. I know he's inconsistent, but right now I think he gives us more of what this team needs. He's quicker than EJ with the ball (can't believe that) and does have natural PG instincts as a passer. He just shoots too much. Start EJ if you have to to keep him happy and his head right, but Naadir needs to be the one with the most minutes at the point when that final horn sounds.
The bigger issue I think is that we need the Kevin Young of last night to keep showing up. He was a mess for the past few games, but Perry is obviously not the answer this year either. Young is flawed but he does have strengths. If we can get a competent third big this year out of a combo of Perry and Jamari, that's all we need. And we can always go small with Releford at the four if absolutely necessary.
So I think there's an answer to this problem. It's just going to require a subtle shift in the way we're doing business.
This post was edited by PittsJay 14 months ago
We have to use Kevin Young differently than we have tried as well. The ball has to get to him moving towards the basket, preferably along the baseline where he makes some pretty good decisions with the ball. Giving him the ball with his back to the basket or at a standstill away from it is a waste of time.
I think you are right to key on Ben though and I think that plays a ton into what Tharpe does. If Ben is willing to take some more shots (ie some slightly contested shots) then Tharpe will throw him the ball I think. He will still take dumb shots but I feel at this point that he tends to take them most of the time when the wings just catch the ball and throw it back to him after accomplishing nothing. Ben has to learn that sometimes against good defensive teams him taking a slightly contested 3 with 15 seconds on the shot clock is not a bad thing for us.
We've seen Nadiir do this before though, just to play poorly for the next 4-5 games.
Last night Tharpe played pretty good on both sides of the ball... and it seems when He's playing well Young plays well. Young has next to zero offensive game on his own, but Tharpe was able to feed him the ball right where he needed it to get the bucket. I would hate to have to rely on that night in and night out. If a team keeps a body on him is he going to be able to get that close to the bucket? He does have some quickness and has the uncanny ability to slither into spots he shouldn't be able to get to... so he does have that going for him.
At this point the team is what it is, and if they are going to go very far in the tourney this year it's going to have to be the way they played last night. Prior to the 3 games we lost in a row, the previous 3-4 games we weren't playing very well either, barely eeking out wins.
After the Texas game we have some tough road games coming up... hopefully the team can come away from this stretch with maybe only one loss, or less, keeping my fingers crossed.
This post was edited by Tralfaz 14 months ago
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