With Andrew Wiggins joining Kansas, the Jayhawks should stay at the Top of the Big 12. But the projection for West Virginia, Kansas St., and Oklahoma is entirely different from last season. Read More. Written by Dan Hanner on May 19, 2013
Deshaun Thomas is averaging a team-high 21.8 points per game during the NCAA tournament.
“When you’ve got a guy who’s averaging 22 a game for your team, going into the season you would think that’s for sure Jared Sullinger, and it’s not. It’s the guy who opens things up for Jared Sullinger,” KU coach Bill Self said of Thomas. “And that’s what makes me, you know, as worried as anything, is how do you give one guy all the attention where another guy’s getting 22 a game?”
Self has at times used a triangle-and-two defense to make non-shooters take shots, but Ohio State’s offensive weapons render that strategy untenable.
“We’re going to have to defend all five spots,” Self said. “That’s one of the biggest challenges, especially when they have a four-man who’s red-hot right now and can stretch it.”
Kansas assistant Danny Manning is expected to be named Tulsa’s next head coach. The two sides had yet to reach an agreement on the length of the contract
“I’ll comment: ‘not done deal,’’’ Jayhawks head coach Bill Self said. “He’s had talks with them and interviewed. I know that he was very encouraged and excited about the prospect of it. It’s not done. It’s not done, but there are talks going on. Who knows what will happen next?”
Manning has been an assistant coach on Self’s staff since 2007.
Bill Self pointed to something intangible as the reason for his team’s success.
“It’s unbelievable to me how much these guys enjoy competing,” Self said. “The longer they compete with each other, the more they like each other. We’ve had some close teams in the past, but I don’t think we’ve had a team this close.
“There is something about this team and how they get on each other and hold each other accountable. Only teams that really care about each other do those things. It sounds easy in theory, but unless you really love your brother next to you, you’re not going to jump his butt when he does wrong. These guys hold each other pretty accountable.”
Team chemistry has helped Kansas survive its first three tourney games — over Purdue (63-60), North Carolina State (60-57) and North Carolina (80-67), Self indicated.
“These guys, I don’t know if ‘cocky’ is the right word, but they’ve got something about them right now that they just think they can rely on someone to make a play,” Self said.
Kansas shifted into a triangle-and-two defense near the 8-minute mark of its 80-67 Midwest Regional final win over the Tar Heels.
“Everywhere you went, there was help defense right there and ready,” Harrison Barnes said. “I remember the one time: I caught it on the left wing, pump fake, Travis Releford goes in the air. I take one dribble and Elijah Johnson or Tyshawn Taylor is right there.”
North Carolina went scoreless over the final five minutes as the Jayhawks ended the game on 12-0 run.
“I don’t know what they were playing,” said John Henson, who had just four of his 10 points after halftime. “But they sagged the big man into the lane. And I think that really disoriented our offense.”
Barnes indicated that the North Carolina players didn’t know that the triangle-and-two scheme was part of Kansas’ defense repertoire.
“They haven’t done it in the past,” said Barnes, who finished with 13 points while missing all five of his three-point attempts. “But they tried it out against us.”