KU's small lineup explosive

By Steve Sell
November 30, 2016

Wednesday’s ramblings...

• KU GOES SMALL — Kansas basketball coach Bill Self is going small and it has paid off big.

Once again on Tuesday, Self started his one-big, four-small lineup and the result was a resounding 91-61 rout of Long Beach State.

I’m sure playing small (though Josh Jackson is 6-8, he’s still a guard) has to fascinate Self, even though he’s long been committed to having two bigs on the floor, in normal cases Landen Lucas and Carlton Bragg.

Going small allows Self to turn his team loose at warped speed. His backcourt of Frank Mason and Devonte’ Graham is arguably the best in the country, then you have the sleek Jackson and Lagerald Vick taking turns slashing to the basket. The ball movement among the four is like lightning.

In the middle is hulking Udoka Azubuike, who is starting to get things figured out. Once KU gets him in playing shape and he realizes how good he is, he’ll be a frightening player. Remember, he’s only 17, but his upside is off the charts.

The whole key to going small is rebounding. Azubuike is going to be a 10-rebound-a-night player at some point, but it’s on Vick and Jackson to also hit the boards. 

Offensively, though, this makes KU dynamite. Jackson, who always draws comparisons to one-and-done Andrew Wiggins, is a far superior passer to his predecessor and gets better every game. Vick isn’t going to shoot it as he did on Tuesday, but he can score.

Still, this is Mason’s team, with Graham a close second. They have to love this lineup because they want to fly up and down the floor.

Self will stay with this for a while, but I have a feeling once KU gets into Big 12 play and will need its better rebounders on the floor, he’ll go back to his bigs.

• SUB-STATE IN BUHLER — As I posted earlier today, McPherson High’s basketball teams go to Buhler for this year’s sub-state the first weekend of March.

It wasn’t surprising. MHS went to Ulysses last year and Hays the year before that. MHS was a host in 2014.

The MHS girls are probably going to be a heavy favorite as Buhler has lost All-Stater Jessica Steffen and didn’t offer up that much resistance last year even with her. Hays and Ulysses have been mediocre in recent years.

On the boys’ side, the story is the opposite. Buhler is always a tough out on its home court and Hays has been highly regarded in recent years. Getting the top seed will be imperative for the Bullpups, who play a murderous schedule this season.

• BIG 12 FOOTBALL MEDIOCRE — Wow, how bad has the Big 12 turned out to be in football?

When I look at Kansas State’s conference wins this year, it turns out none of them are against teams with a .500 record in league play. I thought the victory over Baylor could be considered a signature win, but the Bears have crashed and burned with five straight losses after a 6-0 start.

Right now, the Wildcats are in fourth place, but didn’t defeat Oklahoma, Oklahoma State or West Virginia. The game the Wildcats let get away was Oklahoma State, as they had the Cowboys beat in that game, only to give it away.

K-State’s final conference game is Saturday at TCU, which is 4-4 in the Big 12 and 6-5 overall. Just like most of the other teams in the Big 12, it’s been a down year for the Horned Frogs. Kansas State needs this one to get a better bowl slot.