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BOTC Focus Group: Utter Frustration

Another week, another conference loss for the basketball team.  That constitutes the majority of our discussion this week, but we also delve into such important topics as football recruiting and who will be made to pay for Bill Self's recruiting indiscretion last week.

The questions!

1.  Four straight losses to start conference play.  What do we need to see the rest of the season?
2.  If we lose at Colorado on Saturday, will the world end?
3.  Frank took the blame for the Nebraska loss.  Is the problem him, or the players, or some combination of both?
4.  Football recruiting is heating up with he signing of approximately 42 defensive backs this week.  Your thoughts on Snyder & Cos. efforts thus far?
5.  KU cheats, which is as well documented as women having tiny brains and the sun setting in the west.  Which small school in Kansas will get hit with NCAA sanctions as a result of KU's latest -- admittedly, extremely minor -- indiscretion?


1. What I think we need to see the rest of the season would probably take up too much space, so I'll keep it to the most vital items. First, we need to see our guards play smart and look to open up the offense. Pullen can be a good scorer, and Clemente can penetrate, but they just force it too damn much to be effective. Neither of them looks to set anyone else up for a score, it looks to be too much a "me first" mentality. Second, I just want to see some rhythm on offense. We have no creativity on offense, and it looks like there are no plays to get anyone an open shot. Maybe I'm completely missing it, but most of our problems lie on that end. Third, our guys need to regain some of that confidence they had when they played Kentucky and Iowa. There is a defeatist mentality that seems to permiate through everyone on the court, and that needs to change. All of that said, I still haven't watched the Baylor game yet so maybe there was some improvement I haven't seen yet.   
2. While I'm not an apocolyptic maniac like some, I do think a loss at Colorado will destroy the confidence of the team. I do hold out hope that we put things together down the stretch and prepare for next year when we have a great class coming in. I hate waiting for next year, though. We need a blowout win over an unmatched opponent, and we need it now.
3. It's definitely a combination of both. Unfortunately for K-State fans, Frank is still growing and learning as a coach. He's a great recruiter, and he's a motivator, but he's not a great coach, yet. That was well evidenced in the Nebraska game as Doc Sadler outcoached him. WIth that said, it seems to me that the players don't always do what he asks of them. We take silly shots, force the ball into turnovers and don't run an offense that creates open looks. Defensively we have the talent to compete, but you can't say it was a good coaching move to stay in a zone while Nebraska shot lights out from behind the arc. On the other end, why isn't Fred Brown getting his number called more? If he's the best shooter on the team, why not run some plays to get him open looks (he needs open looks otherwise he gets blocked). Stuff like that shows Frank is a young, inexperienced coach. You know what I would like to see? I want Frank to implement the Roy Williams secondary break. It's meant for fast teams with athletic big men to push the ball in a controlled manner and create easy points. That's what we need. We can't rely soley on talent at this level. There has to be some balance and execution that goes along with the talent we have.
4. As Panjandrum said a while back, Snyder brings us instant credibility with some higher recruits. We are getting some solid guys coming in, and we are in the race for Raymond Cotton, a 4-star QB out of Maryland (go find some video if you can). It's becoming obvious that Snyder and his crew are able to garner some better talent that Prince was. How it all translates onto the playing field remains to be seen, but so far we are looking good, especially on defense. Oh, and no, Bryce Brown will not be coming to K-State. Just my opinion.
5. Pitt State. Their success in football is about to be hit with recruiting controversy involving a tractor to some player's dad.
On a serious note, if I hear one more person - KU, K-State, or otherwise - give the "stupid rule, everyone does it, Self just got caught" excuse, I'm going to scream. NOT EVERYONE DOES IT! There were several other college coaches at that tournament, yet none of them put themselves in the situation Self did. They chose to play it safe and not go down to the locker rooms to "say hi to the coaches". Yes, it's a stupid rule and there's too much gray area - just like the entire NCAA rule book - but the rule is in place and if you get caught breaking the rule, you should be penalized. Especially if you're school and program are already on PROBATION.


1.  At some point, we need to see the players, all of them, buy into what we're trying to do.  Jake Pullen clearly still thinks he is above the system, despite all evidence to the contrary.  Denis Clemente played pretty well against Baylor, but he also seems to think he can freelance and chuck from deep whenever the mood strikes him.  We need to get everybody on the same page, pick up a few wins, and get a little momentum for next year.
2.  In terms of this basketball season, yes, the world will end if we lose in Boulder on Saturday.  Our fanbase will be thrown into a conniption fit not seen since, well, never mind, we saw that as recently as this fall.  But I'm going to go ahead and say it right now.  Even if we lose to Colorado on Saturday, I'm going to dismiss as ridiculous any claims that Frank's job is in jeopardy.  He's a young coach with a lot of first-year guys trying to find their way, and we have one helluva recruiting class coming in next year.  More on this in the next question.
3.  It has to be partly Frank, but no way in hell is he telling Jake and Denis to turn the ball over and take bad shots, or telling Darren Kent to lob passes to nobody in particular, or any of the hundreds of other things that ail us right now.  For some reason or other, he's not getting through to these guys right now.  Maybe it's because he screams all the time and the players have just tuned him out.  Maybe it's because our players are too hard-headed to realize that it's their inability to play together as a team that's caused this 0-4 start.  Who knows?  The last 25 minutes of the Baylor game was encouraging to me, because it looked like Frank told them that anybody who chucked a three after two passes would have his nuts in a vice before midnight.  Once we started penetrating and getting shots in the lane -- surpise! -- we scored some points.  Let's hope the players learn a lot from watching the game film.
4.  Much more encouraged than I was about one week ago.  With the news that apparently we're going to a 4-2-5 defense next year, the influx of defensive backs is certainly a welcome site.  But I think we're all anxiously awaiting the signing of a quarterback.  I'm with Pan and EMAW on this one; Raymond Cotton would be a huge addition.  I would think we could get one of these bigtime recruits by reminding them that Josh Freeman is gone and we'll be moving to an offensive system that doesn't really fit the quarterbacks on the roster right now.
And I'm trying not to let myself think of what a backfield with Cotton and Bryce Brown could do.
5.  I'm going with Washburn.  The NCAA will get a little confused because the schools are so close together and will lay the wood to the Ichabods for their inability to get KU to stop cheating.  Then Fred Phelps will show up and protest that the NCAA is leading to the destruction of the world as we know it, and sports fans will finally have one reason to agree with him.


1. How about some wins? How about our guards dishing out assists? How about not letting anyone shoot the ball from three point land unless they are wide the f' open? How about giving the ball to Dom more often? How about covering the guy who goes 9-12 from beyond the arc?
2. Yes, because Colorado is awful. I don't see any reason they won't go 0-16 this year. So if we lose to this team, yes the world is going to end. An 0-5 start in conference play might be enough to deny access into any postseason tourney. We'll be lucky to get an invite to the NIT.
3. I'm guessing it's got to be the players. The more I watch the Cat's, there's just no way in hell that what they are doing on the court resembles any formal type of game plan the coaches have drawn up. Besides with the "talent" this team has, there should be no reason Chris Merrieweather should be seeing playing time that isn't garbage time. Makes you wonder just how terrible these guys are in practice.
4. I'm impressed. Even though we haven't actually signed one of the bigger named players, we are being considered. I think we'll see a drastic change of pace from what we've been seeing from the 2010 class. But the biggest need, QB still hasn't been addressed. I won't be happy until that is taken care of.
5. Wait, is this a joke – am I missing something here?

TB: The old joke is that when a "major" program gets caught cheating, a smaller school in the same state can expect to get landed on as a result of the other school's violations.  For example, "Indiana got caught making hundreds of improper phone calls, so it's only a matter of time before Ball State gets hit with sanctions."
So yeah, it's a joke.  And there's no right or wrong answer.

mystman995: I'd rather just see KU get hit with all of their actual violations. You know, the way it should be.


1.  I totally agree with you about Jake, TB.  Jake is going to be the determining factor the rest of the season.  When he does what he's supposed to do, and capable of - we're not that bad.  He's got to be a leader, and lately he's more interested in being a supporting cast member.  I really thought it looked like Denny was making an effort to put the team on his back in the second half night.  Yes, I wasn't impressed with his shot selection early on, he did eventually settle down and seemed to be one of the only people out there trying to establish anything resembling a rhythm.
Also, for the rest of the season we're going to have to shoot better than 40% and get a hand in someone's face when they are shooting.  Especially a team like Baylor.  They can't let a team go 13/22 from 3 point land and expect to win.  I know Baylor has good experienced shooters, but seriously.
2.  If we lose at Colorado, the world will not end.  But that won't stop me from occupying my Y2K shelter until next season as if it did.  I will be extremely embarrassed and ashamed of this team if we can't get a win against Colorado.  It will be really hard to face the world again for awhile.
3.  I think it's really nice of Frank to take the rap for that performance, but I don't love Frank for his kind and generous spirit.  Our players know what's expected of them, and that's not 140 turnovers in the first half.  It's everyone's fault.  Jake, Denny, DK, and you know - pretty much everyone we rely on to win, played like crap.
I really miss Frank being honest on the radio after the game and just calling people out for playing like crap.  I don't think he's been mean enough lately.  Call me crazy, but I think he's gone a little soft.
4.  It's incredible to see the higher caliber talent even looking in our direction because of Snyder.  I hope this sends a message to our athletic department about future head coach hires.  No more RPs, please.  Right now, I'm just trying to remind myself not to expect too much right away.  It's going to take a little time to get the sinking ship back on the right course.
5.  Me no undrstand questean.  Mawst b smawl bwrain.   : )

But seriously, I don't understand the question.

TB: See my response to mystman's simiar query about the question.
Also, you still have a Y2K shelter?  Shouldn't you have moved on to more modern faux crises, like global warming or manbearpig?

ksubailey: YES I still have a Y2K shelter, but the gypsy down the street who built it for me assures me that it serves multiple proposes.

mystman995: Everyone knows a Y2K shelter can't stop Global Warming. You'd better summon Noah and find out how he built his ark. But with recycled composite wood of course.....


1. Improvement. Of any kind. If this somehow gets worse (and it's hard to imagine at this point how it could, but I have a pretty active imagination), we have a real problem on our hands. My biggest criticism of Ron Prince was how his teams faded down the stretch every season. Well-coached teams improve as the season wears on. Maybe not consistently, maybe in fits and starts - but you should be able to point to a well-coached team at the end of the year and say, "That team is clearly better than they were in September/December."

Despite Beasley and Walker, the team clearly faded down the stretch last season, with the exception of the USC game in the NCAA Tournament. That team played its best basketball in January. I want to be able to say of this year's team that they played their best ball in February or March, after bouncing back from a tough start that would have done in most teams. I do NOT want to have to say that they played their best ball in December against nobody teams and that the Big 12 completely exposed our coaches. Right now I don't even recognize what we are displaying on the court as basketball, and haven't since before the Oklahoma game.

2. Not for me, because I have already completely abandoned any expectations for this season. I'm just going to evaluate what we have at the end. The Colorado game is the thin red line between total failure and salvaging something out of this season, though - of that I have no doubt. Losing begets losing. It becomes habitual. K-Staters are unfortunately all too familiar with that phenomenon.

3. I go back and forth on this. Sometimes I think he is telling them the same things over and over and they just aren't executing, other times it seems to me like he is too stubborn to change what isn't working. The latter is something that Ron Prince excelled at, so I am exceedingly worried at this point about what things are going to look like around this time next year. We obviously have personnel problems that won't even start to be solved until next season, and perhaps not even then. Judge, McGruder, and Russell will still be just freshmen, and none of them are as talented as Beasley was, so to expect the same level of impact is foolish. The current players are just going to have to step up.

Ultimately, it is all Frank's responsibility. He recruited all these players (except Kent), he builds the game plans, he is responsible for in-game coaching, etc. We have lost the last four games and we have not been competitive in any of them. Too much of that bought Prince an early exit from Manhattan. If it happens too many more times in men's basketball, the same will eventually happen.

4. Better than I expected, but this will still be a so-so class. If we can get 5-10 contributors out of this class, it will be a rousing success in my mind. Prince left him nothing and recruiting simply did not happen for three months. I've learned to be wary of juco players. If some of them pan out, great, but I'm not expecting anything too spectacular. It's a mental self-defense mechanism. Same goes with Fitzgerald - I'm tired of hearing transfers like Olu Hall and Denis Clemente hyped as the next big thing when the reality is much less impressive.

P.S. The most important verbal of the weekend didn't come from a defensive back. John Hubert has the potential to be the all-conference stud RB we have been missing since Darren Sproles graduated. Leon Patton had the potential to be that guy, but for many obvious reasons never realized that potential. Let's hope Hubert does not repeat his mistakes. With Bill Snyder coaching him instead of Ron Prince, I think he'll have success. How much is the only question.

5. LOL! I'm going to say Butler County. I don't think Lewcifer is very happy that another team in Kansas is bringing home national championships at a higher rate than the dirty birds. He'll get his dark minions in Indianapolis right to work on that, I suspect.

BracketCat: "We'll be lucky to get an invite to the NIT."

Well, there's always the College Basketball Invitational. LOL.

TB: The CBI.  I called it the CSI the other day, couldn't remember what its actual initials were.


1. If they lose to Colorado, I'd say that they just need to tear it down and build it back up.  Find the group that you think will be your main players going forward, and get them a lot of minutes.  Don't play to win; play to teach.  If the players keep getting screened, don't switch the defense.  Make them learn from their mistakes.  Treat the season like an exercise in tough love.  Emphasize that if you don't buy into what we're doing and listen to what we're saying, you will be awful, and guess what, you're playing that way.

2. No.  I think we all have had our expectations completely shot, so as I said before, just approach the season like Bill Snyder would; just focus on getting better every day.  Focus more on the teaching of fundamentals, and less on preparation for the upcoming opponent.

3. Both.  You can't say that Frank is without blame; he's the head coach.  I just think that everything is broken right now.  The guards are seriously under-performing, the inside players are just getting dominated, and no combination that Frank throws on the floor is working.  Turnovers are rampant, the offense has gone stagnant, and I think everyone, from the coaches to the players, are just kind of baffled as to what's going on.

Ultimately, Frank isn't a miracle worker.  I think he's a good coach (and a great recruiter), who is beginning to realize that he just doesn't have the tools right now to be successful.  You can't paint the Mona Lisa with bunch of crayons, and Frank can't win with guards that can't shoot and interior players that can't finish a layup.

I'm writing this season off as the transition season that never was.  In Huggins' year here, he had some senior leadership in Martin, Harris, and Wright.  He also had a pretty good player in Hoskins, and a point guard who had started for two years prior to his arrival.  They most certainly weren't an overly talented bunch, but they were experienced, and they played with a lot of heart.  Last year, a lot of the youth was masked by the sheer awesomeness of Beasley and Walker.  Having them around made everyone better.  Now that they're gone, Clent's gone, Blake Young is gone, etc., you have five new starters, and your best playres are all freshmen and sophomores.  While this current group was a pretty highly ranked recruiting class, they weren't the NBA ready players at the level of Beasley and Walker.  They were more raw and/or less talented, so the learning curve it takes to play ball at this level is higher, and they simply won't accelrate through that curve like the dynamic duo did.

Okay, that was longer than I thought it would be.  Long story short, Frank's not a horrible coach, but at this juncture, this current group is probably causing him more problems (on the court) than he's probably capable of dealing with.  He's proven that he can coach toe to toe when he actually goes to battle with a loaded weapon.  Ask Tim Floyd.

4. It's encouraging.  They have identified glaring areas of concern, and they've attacked them in a prudent matter.  They've got a few JUCO guys, a bevy of high school players (and grayshirts), and, get this, they have OFFERS FROM OTHER SCHOOLS.  That's something we haven't seen around here for awhile.

5. Washburn.  Most Washburn fans are KU fans by proxy, so the NCAA will simply punish them and hope KU feels bad about it.

Which they won't.