Coming off its first Big 12 loss of the season (and first setback in nearly two months), No. 1-ranked Kansas (14-2 overall, 3-1 Big 12) returns to Allen Fieldhouse to face TCU (9-7, 1-3).
The day after KU returned from its road loss to West Virginia, Bill Self, the coaching staff and the players reviewed the game video as a team. What stuck out? Self said it was apparent the Jayhawks weren’t into the game emotionally.
“I think that they sped us up,” Self said of WVU, “and sped our minds up, and we didn't attack them very well at all.”
“You know, the press in the full court, we turned it over three or four times, but it wasn't what bothered us, it was after we got into the half court and then made so many careless mistakes,” Self added. “Now, they did do some things in the full court that bothered us in stretches, but we didn't attack their pressure very well to score, and certainly we'll have to do a much better job next time we play them to have a good chance.”
As far as Self was concerned a couple days removed from No. 11 West Virginia’s 74-63 defeat of the top-ranked Jayhawks, the lack of engagement on the part of KU’s players didn’t surprise him.
“It's sports,” Self said. “I mean, Patriots do it. Golden State did it (Wednesday) night. It happens a lot of times. And sometimes talent still prevails, but when you play a team that's as talented and as good as West Virginia, that's not going to work.”
And Self thought KU still had opportunities to reach a different outcome, despite an awful night.
“It’s a six-point game,” Self said of one point in the second half. “We're shooting front ends with eight minutes left and don't convert. But it's almost like we looked tired to me. And even the players said — some of the players, not all of them said afterwards — that it just had a little bit different feel than the other games we played of late.”
Tom Keegan asked Self about playing zone defense and whether KU’s staff considered abandoning man-to-man at WVU, even if that would mean a worse chance at getting defensive rebounds.
“You know what, we could have,” Self said. “You know, to me they shot 33 percent, and so that wasn't what killed us (referring to WVU’s field-goal percentage).”
More Self on KU switching things up defensively, with a zone:
“You know, we talked as a staff afterwards, should we have played our crappy 2-3 zone for a brief minute?” Self said, later adding KU hasn’t practiced it zone at all the past few weeks.
“… I mean, we obviously wanted to win the game, but if it's the last game of the season, then maybe you do that,” Self said of trying a zone, “but I really didn't want to bail our players out by telling them, OK, let's try something different. I wanted them to have to guard their guards and keep the ball in front of them, and we couldn't do it.”
Basically, Self wasn’t too concerned about KU’s defensive performance in the game — that might have been the one positive from the outing.
“I mean, it wasn't like our defense — it's just our offense was so inept,” Self said. “You go on the road and you play a top-10 team and you hang 49 on them the first 36 minutes of a game or 35 minutes, I mean, it doesn't matter what you do defensively, you're not going to win because you didn't score the ball.”
One potentially surprising development from the Jayhawks’ loss at West Virginia this week: Self came away saying KU isn’t as quick as WVU and might not be as quick as OU on the perimeter.
“That’s where we got beat the other night,” Self said.
The coach added that fans look at KU and think the Jayhawks are so quick. You take away transition and quickness is more defined on what you can do laterally — especially on defense in the half court.
Self said earlier this week senior forward Perry Ellis goes through phases when he feels like he can do big things on offense, and at WVU Self could tell Ellis felt he could be effective offensively.
The coach said Ellis’ scoring inside has “graded out very well” since Big 12 play began. The senior is averaging 20 points and 9.0 rebounds in league games, and hitting 45.7% from the field and 5 of 7 from 3-point range.
Big 12 standings coming into today:
West Virginia 4-0
Iowa State 1-3
Texas Tech 1-3
Kansas State 1-3
Oklahoma State 1-3
I asked Self the other day if he has been surprised by some of the outcomes in the Big 12 so far — particularly Iowa State’s 3 losses.
“Yeah, that one surprises me a lot because they're obviously a terrific team and their talent level is really high, but look at the losses,“ Self said. “You lose on the last possession when you play great at OU. If I'm not mistaken, it was Baylor you got a 12-point lead in the second half so you think you're probably going to win that game at home, and then Texas is a one-possession game late, and there's a lot of teams that would be happy to be able to flip a coin going on the road saying we've got a 50/50 chance to win, and they just haven't -- they've just come up short on two last-possession games against OU and Texas.”
“But that's surprising. I don't know if there's been a lot of other surprises. I think what is surprising is the competitive nature of all our games. I mean, all the games are going to be very, very close for the most part, and even our game against West Virginia the other night, I mean, we didn't play well at all, they had a ton to do with that, but still, it's a six-point game with eight minutes left on the road against a top-10 team. So it's not like it's -- like we never had a chance, although we never put ourselves in a position to put a lot of game pressure on them.”
KU opens on defense and Hunter Mickelson called for a foul less than 30 seconds in.
Parrish hits a contested 3 from the right corner and KU trails 3-0 off the bat. Will that be the largest lead of the game for TCU?
With shot clock winding down, Graham draws a foul on Williams on a fall-away jumper somehow.
Graham hits both FTs and shows great footwork defending the ball going the other way.
Selden really makes some great passes at times. Whipped one to Mickelson inside that went between TCU's arms but still had little chance of getting knocked away.