“A goal shall be made when the ball is thrown or batted from the grounds into the basket.” – Rule 8, Naismith’s Rules of Basketball
Sounds easy enough, right?
Just put the ball in the basket. Almost like Happy Gilmore’s “tap it in.” How difficult can it be? You have world-class athletes that can run and jump and shoot and pass and dribble. You have tall guys and short guys. They have practiced putting the ball in the basket nearly every day of their lives. You have a coach that is one of the best ever at teaching guys to play.
So just put the ball in the basket. It shouldn’t be this hard.
But over the last month it has been hard. Extremely hard. Like “2nd grade kids that aren’t strong enough to throw it up a 10 foot goal” hard. So what’s the deal? Is it coaching and scheme? Is it confidence or personal make-up? Is it pressure?
It has to be, right? Because it isn’t a lack of talent. We know that because we’ve seen it. How hard is it to believe this same bunch of guys went on the road to Ohio State and dominated the game? It’s in there somewhere. We know it is.
If it’s confidence, I think we’ll be ok. If it’s coaching, I think we’ll be ok. If it’s dealing with pressure and the general mental make-up of the team then we could be in trouble. Because that’s a lot harder to teach, especially in the middle of a season.
Young guys look to seniors when the going gets tough. Good news is we got a whole bunch of seniors on this team. Hardened seniors that have played in the biggest and toughest of games. Seniors that say all the right things in interviews. Things like:
“Everything on the court falls back on me. I never rallied our team at the end of the game. I blame that loss on me 100 percent because no matter what was going on in timeouts on the court, regardless, a senior guard always rallies the team.”
That was Elijah Johnson’s quote following the Oklahoma State game. He followed it up with a 1 assist game. With 5 fouls. And 3 turnovers. And 3-12 from the field. What’s more is he didn’t have the answers when the going got tough. Neither did Travis, who played one of his worst games as a Jayhawk. Jeff played fine, but he’s not a leader either.
You hear everybody say KU is lacking a point guard. I’m not sure that’s true. I mean, it’s great to have a true point guard because most of the time that guy is a leader by default. Guys like Jacque Vaughn, Aaron Miles, Russell Robinson. I agree that we don’t have one of those. But you can get by without a point guard if you have guys that can create for themselves.
Anybody can dribble the ball up the court and initiate the half court offense. But when the shit hits the fan and nothing is working, you need a guy that can take matters into his own hands. Think about that Kentucky game early last year. Tyshawn Taylor had a similar stat line to Elijah’s tonight: 3-13 from the field and just 2 assists. Pretty bad, right? Except he got to the free throw line 17 freakin times. When nothing was working that second half he took it upon himself to get in the lane and do something about it. And he did. He personally kept us in that game.
This team doesn’t have a creator. And as long as KU fans try to mold Elijah into that guy, they’re going to be disappointed. Ben isn’t that guy either. He’s a phenomenal talent with incredible athleticism and a beautiful jump shot. But he is not a creator.
When this team is slumping it really only has two options: (1) shoot itself out of the slump or (2) defend itself out of the slump. Shooting has been difficult of late, but I think that it’s somewhat cyclical. It should improve because, frankly, it can’t really get worse. When it comes to defense, though, these guys get it. And that’s how we gotta win games.
Back to the big picture. Is this KU team doomed offensively? I don’t think so. Run through your mind the missed shots KU had tonight against TCU. Tharpe missed layups, Kevin missed put-backs, Elijah missed floaters, Ben missed 6 wide open 3-pointers, Travis shot the ball a total of 1 time. Normally most of those will go in. Tonight none of them went in.
Self always says in the course of the season you play 10 poor games, 10 average games, and 10 great games. I appreciate that we’re just about through our 10 poor game quota and good things are still to come.
Hang in there, KU fans. The ball will go into the ol’ peach basket eventually.
#kubball Kansas basketball, Basketball, Bill Self, Kansas, TCU