It sometimes can take quite a while for Kansas basketball players to earn the trust of their demanding coach, Bill Self.
That’s what made something Self said Monday afternoon so interesting when asked how much importance he puts on the first play of the game.
“Not much,” Self said, “although probably for the last 10 years we’ve scripted the first five plays every game, until this year. We haven’t scripted really this year much at all. We script the first play, obviously, but after that we really haven’t scripted much.”
Interesting. Why the change?
“I’ve found the best way to play with guys that we presently have is to let them play, not to try to tell them how to play,” Self said. “I think that’s worked out better for us and maybe save the scripted plays for an ATO (after timeout).”
Self is the Larry Brown of his era in turning ATO’s into points.
His backing off on scripting in general says a lot. First, I think it says he trusts his guards, which makes sense since senior Frank Mason and junior Devonte Graham are so experienced and such smart players.
It also might say that he what he trusts most about them and fellow perimeter player freshman Josh Jackson is that they will play with unbridled aggressiveness. Scripting too much can lead to too much thinking, which can temper aggressiveness.
Graham, Jackson and Mason put so much pressure on teams at both ends and they seem to enjoy playing together to such an extent that they feed off of each other and fuel each other’s attacking style.
The trio is terrific at collapsing defenses with strong drives to the hoop and nearly as good at collapsing offenses with Mason and especially Graham pressuring the ball and Jackson sniping in the passing lanes better than any Kansas player since Mario Chalmers.
It really is quite a compliment to the players that Self has minimized scripting plays. So for the starting perimeter trio has made the coach look smart for doing so.
1 - Frank Mason: Led the Jayhawks in scoring for the fourth time in five games with 19 points. He made 2 of 4 free throws and put the pressure on Georgia's defense until tiring late in the game and mixed it up well enough to grab five rebounds. Also had three assists and three steals. He disrupted Georgia's plans at both ends, even though it wasn't one of his cleanest nights, as evidenced by his five turnovers. Earned all-tournament honors.
2 - Josh Jackson: Named CBE Classic MVP after another big night. Totaled 15 points with a game-high 11 rebounds, did a nice job passing from the high post, showed extremely quick hands on a blocked shot and moved fast in both directions in transition. Rebounds like a big man, but is not equipped to defend the post. He does slide his feet well enough to guard a point guard, if needed. Jackson understands the value of good ball movement and does his part to promote it by keeping the ball moving most of the time. For a man who can do such amazing things at such high speeds and altitudes, has trouble when standing still in a quiet arena. Has made just 11 of 23 free throws.
3 - Devonte Graham: Did a nice job of shutting down high-scoring Georgia guard (two points, nearly 17 below his average) until Kansas went to a zone, which was for about 30 minutes of the game. Didn't stay hot from outside after coming out on fire Monday night. Made 3 of 9 three-pointers. Scored 14 points with two assists and four steals and had just one turnover in 36 minutes.
4 - Lagerald Vick: Has made just 1 of 11 three-point shots, which might be a disguised blessing because it will force him to look first for the drive, a good way for him to go because he's so quick. Had his second eight-rebound game to go with nine points in 24 minutes.
5 - Dwight Coleby: Foul trouble forced him into the game and responded well playing, "by far," the best of KU's bigs, coach Bill Self said. Coleby blocked four shots, had four rebounds and two points before fouling out after 20 minutes of action. He said his leg is almost all the way back, but he still does not run as if his surgically repaired knee is at full strength yet.
6 - Svi Mykhailiuk: Georgia had quick defenders in its zone and Svi tends toward shooting worse against quick defenders. Made 1 of 6 three-pointers, picked up three rebounds, an assist and a steal without turning it over.
7 - Udoka Azubuike: Self explained that he only played five minutes because he has not had enough practice playing in a zone defense.
8 - Carlton Bragg: I don't understand why Self played him 10 minutes and by that I mean I don't understand why he played him that much. Yante Maten had his way down low with 30 points and 13 rebounds and Bragg was not able to help out to make life more difficult for him. Bragg had just three points and one rebound, which came at the offensive end.
9 - Landen Lucas: Might his foot, which requires him to wear a boot, be hindering him more than he's letting on? Played 10 scoreless minutes, had more turnovers (three) than rebounds (two) and fouled out. He hasn't looked like the same player who played such a key role in helping Kansas advance to the Elite Eight last season.
More news and notes from Kansas vs. Georgia
- Perimeter-oriented attack carries KU past Georgia
- Keegan: Mason outplays height once again
- Notebook: Coleby steps up to contribute inside
- Report Card: KU 65, UGA 54
- Coleby surprises father with nice gift — playing time
- Keegan Ratings: Mason delivers another big night
Kansas opened the second half of Tuesday night's 77-75 victory against top-ranked Duke by going on a 17-5 tear. Junior guard Devonte Graham did not think the timing of the team's best stretch of the night was a coincidence. He sent credit the way of the coach.
"The halftime speech," Graham said of Kansas coming out of the locker room in such energetic fashion. "Coach was a little upset with us."
When an athlete shares that his coach was "a little upset," what he usually means is the coach was livid and didn't hold back.
"(We were) taking contested threes and we weren't making them," Graham said. "I think we were 1 of 12 at halftime, so he just got on us about our speed and quickness, (and said) just to get in the lane."
Self has a way of pumping up players' confidence when yelling at them by stressing what they do so well and blasting them for not doing it.
"He tells us nobody can guard us and stay in front of us," Graham said. "They have to put their hands on us or foul us. Either we're going to get in the lane and score or get fouled or drop off to a big man, so he got after us about driving the ball."
And after he did, the Jayhawks' perimeter players relentlessly drove to the hoop and turned a five-point halftime deficit into a 12-point lead with 8:03 remaining.
Self really does know how to get his players to respond to him, a gift partially responsible for Kansas defeating the No. 1 team in the nation, despite shooting .118 on three-pointers and .474 from the line.
— See what people were saying about KU's matchup against Duke during KUsports.com’s live coverage.
More news and notes from the win against Duke
- Fearless Frank: Mason drills game-winning shot for 77-75 win over No. 1 Duke
- Tom Keegan: KU’s bench delivers big punch during win against Duke
- Notebook: Jackson ‘sparked’ Jayhawks in second half; KU-Stanford create series
- Duke’s Krzyzewski on Kansas: ‘They’re really good’
- The Keegan Ratings
- Matt Tait's postgame Report Card
Kansas made it to the Elite Eight in the 2016 NCAA Tournament, where eventual national-champion Villanova bounced the Jayhawks in a close game.
Duke exited the tournament in the Sweet 16 in a 14-point loss to Oregon.
Kansas has added the No. 1 recruit in the nation, according to Rivals rankings, and Duke's three highest-rated recruits, Nos. 2, 3 and 11, are expected to be sidelined tonight because of injuries.
Perry Ellis and Wayne Selden were not selected in the NBA draft. Duke's Brandon Ingram was the second overall selection.
So why is Duke favored by 2.5 points? Good question and one that is not without legitimate answers.
The experience factor — Duke has 7,779 minutes of Div. I play in its rotation, Kansas 7,449 — is virtually equal.
As for hot-shot recruits, Josh Jackson will start for Kansas and Harry Giles (knee), Jayson Tatum (foot) and Marques Bolden (lower leg) are sidelined. Even though he was ranked fourth among Duke's recruits, guard Frank Jackson was ranked 12th in the nation and is off to a great start (19.5 points per game) as sixth man.
Another key factor in why Duke is better than when it was bounced from the tourney: Post player Amile Jefferson, limited to nine games by injury last season, is back, giving Duke 4 of 5 double-figures scorers back from last season, compared to 2 of 4 for Kansas (Frank Mason and Devonte Graham), which lost its top two scorers, Perry Ellis and Wayne Selden.
Duke's current starting five combined last season for 57.1 points per game, led by leading national player of the year candidate Grayson Allen's 21.6 scoring average. The four returning players in KU's starting five last season averaged 39.2 points.
All of those numbers speak only to scoring. Kansas will need to play its signature tough man-to-man defense to make Duke take contested, hurried shots. It's a lot to ask this early in the season, but it can be done.
That's one key. The other is that someone other than Allen will need to be the best player in the game tonight, the way Graham was the best player in the game last February in Norman.
Gary Woodland and wife, Gabby, had a front-row seat across the court from the Washburn bench upon which the PGA tour player once sat. Woodland scored three points in his freshman season in the exhibition against Kansas, before transferring to KU to play golf for Ross Randall.
"I made him dive on the floor once, I made him mad, I think he broke a finger. I'm still kind of regretting that one, but Gary could shoot it," Washburn coach Bob Chipman said. "I remember one game against Northwest (Missouri State), and Northwest is our big opponent, Gary had five threes the second half. He could shoot it. He was an all-state basketball player, great athlete."
Suggestion: Turn down the audio before watching the video of Woodland playing for Topeka Heights High or your ears might bleed to death.
Woodland finished 39th on the 2016 PGA Tour money list with $2,392,044.30 and finished 20th in the Fed Ex Cup standings to qualify for all the major tournaments for the 2017 season, which already has started.
Chipman said he will seek his former player's advice as to which golf clubs he should get to replace the ones Bill Self presented to him as a retirement gift. Chipman, retiring at the end of this, his 38th season as head coach of the Ichabods, ranks third on the Div. II all-time list with 788 victories.
In much the way someone wraps picture of a present that will be delivered in the future, Self threw some old golf clubs in a bag and made it clear they will be replaced by new ones.
"KU is so classy," Chipman said. "Bill is just incredible. I just really can't believe how fantastic they are in every way, such a class program. You watch, that team — it was the first game, both teams were pretty ragged, a lot of turnovers — but that KU team is going to be one of the, probably the most fun KU team to watch in recent history before Bill's done with them. They're going to be fantastic."
Frank Mason looked thicker, stronger during the Bill Self Basketball Camp games. In Tuesday night's exhibition opener against Washburn, Mason looked as if he might even have increased his already jaw-dropping vertical leap.
“I’m not sure, but I’ve been working hard with (strength and conditioning coach Andrea) Hudy all summer and all fall and she got my legs stronger, upper body stronger, everything," Mason said. "Just proud to have Hudy in my life and have her help me and I get the best instructions from her.”
Mason got way up for there for some of his 10 rebounds, nine at the defensive end. Backcourt mate Devonte Graham also soared high, ripping one of his four defensive rebounds from the air with one hand.
Mason, with 21 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, easily was KU's best player in the exhibition opener, although he had three turnovers. Graham (nine points, three assists) had a quieter night, but turned it over just once.
It's too early to say the Jayhawks have the best backcourt in the nation, but they definitely rank high in the conversation.
Dallas Skyline point guard Marcus Garrett, who on Monday made a verbal commitment to attend Kansas, wears No. 6 for the red team in the first video below.
Garrett, a 6-foot-5, 180-pound point guard who has the size to play the other two perimeter positions as well, is shown in the video below playing against Texas A&M three-star recruit T.J. Starks, a 6-foot pure point guard who led Dallas Lancaster to the state title last season.
Rivals does not include Starks in its top 150 for the Class of 2017.
In the next video, Garrett is wearing No. 23 in blue and Irving MacArthur point guard Andrew Jones wears No. 10 in white. Jones, a 6-foot-4, 180-pound, five-star shooting guard, committed to Texas to play for Shaka Smart. Rivals ranks him No. 22 in the Class of 2017.
It won't take long for the Kansas coaching staff to turn Garrett into a much more intense defender. Other coaches will have a tougher time trying to figure out how to defend a long guard with a quick first step and a touch so soft the net barely moves.
Rob Carolla, director of communications for the Big 12, distributed interesting NBA draft facts from the conference.
The Big 12 has had 28 lottery picks since 2000, which puts the conference second behind the ACC (31). Others: Big East 27, SEC 25, Pac-12 24, Big Ten 19.
The ACC also ranks first over the same period in first-round draft picks with 40, followed by the Pac-12 (33), Big 12 and SEC (28), Big East (24) and Big Ten (20).
Big 12 players drafted in the past 19 years: Kansas 28, Texas 17, Iowa State and Oklahoma State 8, Baylor and Oklahoma 7, Texas Tech 3, Kansas State 2.
Blake Griffin in 2009 and Andrew Wiggins in 2014 are the lone Big 12 players taken with the first pick of the draft. Three players were chosen with the second overall pick: LaMarcus Aldridge, 2006, Kevin Durant, 2007, Michael Beasley, 2008.
The record for Big 12 players chosen in one draft is 10, set in 2008 and tied in 2010.
The five Kansas players chosen in 2008 is a Big 12 record for one school in one draft. Brandon Rush was the first player chosen from the reigning national champions with the 13th pick, followed by Darrell Arthur (27th), Mario Chalmers (34th), Darnell Jackson (52nd) and Sasha Kaun (56th).
Although the Big 12 has had nine players or more taken in a draft three times since 2008, nobody expects anywhere near that total this season.
Draftexpress.com projects just four players: 5. Buddy Hield (Oklahoma), 23. Cheick Diallo (Kansas), 50. Wayne Selden (Kansas), 54. Isaiah Cousins.
The consensus seems to be that Perry Ellis won’t hear his name called in tonight’s draft, which wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. It would enable him, with the help of his agent, to select the team that best fits his talents, the roster that gives him the best shot at making the team.
It will be interesting to look back in 10 years to see which KU player eligible for this year’s draft plays the most NBA minutes. My guess: Ellis. Your guess?
I agree with colleague Matt Tait's opinion that Brannen Greene made the right decision in leaving Kansas, but disagree that he did the right thing by declaring for the NBA draft and hiring an agent.
Transferring to a school that would have built its offense around his three-point shooting touch, spending two more years in school, improving his ball-handling, earning credits toward a graduate degree and proving he can go two years without a suspension, all would have served to pique the curiosity of NBA talent scouts, maybe even enough for him to earn an invitation to the NBA combine.
As it is, he was left off the guest list, despite having one of the prettier jumpers on the planet. He carries the baggage of never having established himself as a major-minutes player, the baggage of multiple suspensions.
Greene wasn't the right player for Bill Self and Self wasn't the right coach for Greene. But that doesn't mean that with a long look in his mirror and fresh start, he could not have succeeded at another school.
Davidson and Wyoming are two programs that jump to mind as ones Greene could have explored as potential destinations. Davidson's Jack Gibbs averaged 23.5 points per game as a junior, and averaged 18.2 shots, 7.9 from beyond the three-point line. Wyoming's Josh Adams averaged 24.2 points, 16.1 shots and 8.4 three-pointers in his junior season. Greene could have practiced with either player for a year then inherited the available shots.
Those are just two examples of schools that might have been interested. An NBA franchise would be more interested in Greene coming off a stellar senior year. He wasn't going to get that at Kansas, where he had exhausted his chances.
Transferring would have required patience, a quality in short supply among basketball players seeking paychecks.
Starting with Bob Frederick, late athletic director of Kansas University, the Frederick family has built a rich Final Four tradition.
Bob served as the chairman of the NCAA tournament selection committee and hired Roy Williams, who took the Jayhawks to four Final Fours.
Bob’s son, Brad Frederick, director of operations on Williams’ staff at North Carolina, went to two Final Fours as a player at North Carolina and earlier this month was in Houston, where the Tar Heels lost at the buzzer to Villanova in the national-title game.
But a pint-sized patriot by the name of Sawyer Frederick, the youngest of Brad and Jocelyn’s three children, has become the most famous of all the Fredericks.
A video of Sawyer, all of 2 years old, shaking the hands of several military personnel on the tarmac after the North Carolina basketball team’s chartered flight landed for the Final Four has gone viral.
Jocelyn took the video with her phone, and her brother-in-law, Chris Frederick, a KU graduate student and bartender at The Sandbar, posted it on Youtube, triggering a frenzy of interest from global media outlets, including (London-based) The Telegraph.
“Sawyer is really funny because he is adorable to look at, but he doesn’t talk a whole lot,” Jocelyn said by phone from North Carolina. “But he’s a busy body, toddles around like a pint-sized version of an adult, so he’s very funny.”
Jocelyn said the "Pint-Sized Patriot," nickname has caught on in North Carolina.
Jocelyn and Sawyer appeared Thursday on “Fox and Friends,” and the video appears on the ABC news website.
Margey Frederick, Sawyer’s grandmother and a Lawrence resident, said she is “incredibly proud. We are a family that always supported the military. It was really fun. I had no idea it would mushroom into this much attention.”
Chris Frederick, the youngest of Bob and Margey's four sons, said that at last check, one of the Youtube postings had reached 1.3 million views.
“I read the comments under it and so many people posted that watching it brought them to tears,” Chris said. “So I sent my sister-in-law a text saying, ‘I bet you didn’t imagine when you were filming this you would make people all over the world cry.’ ”