Controlling the paint is key to slowing down Jayhawks
Posted: Wednesday March 21, 2007 1:28PM; Updated: Wednesday March 21, 2007 3:07PM
SI.com checked in with an assistant coach from a former Kansas opponent to get an anonymous scouting report on the West Region's top seed.
"Kansas is terrific in the open floor because its so athletic. [Russell] Robinson, [Mario] Chalmers, and [Sherron] Collins can all push it, and so can Julian Wright, who basically plays like an oversized guard. And in the half-court, they're better than any team in the country at stretching your defense and creating more driving lanes than you'd normally allow. [Brandon] Rush does a good job of playing off of his teammates; Chalmers shoots so well from the perimeter, and Collins, in Big 12 play, hit close to 47 percent of his threes. [Darnell] Jackson and [Sasha] Kaun are both physical, athletic posts who play their roles extremely well.
"What we told our guys, in terms of defending them, is that the first thing you have to do is get back on defense. If we could do that and make them play against our half-court D, we felt like we would be OK. Once you do get back, you want to control the paint, because their guards are really good at penetrating. Controlling the paint, we decided, was going to be the key. Once a shot went up, we had to be physical with block-outs, because they get so many offensive rebounds per game with their length and athleticism and don't need any more.
"In the half-court offense, they like to look high-low as their primary action. Their secondary action tends to be a hand-off on the perimeter, or a regular ball-reversal with a pass; if they don't get the high-low, they're almost immediately setting random ball screens. After that they tend to go into what most people call a triangle set, with the guard coming underneath and screening for the post, the post receiving the ball on the wing, and then the guards making cuts off of that.
"When the Jayhawks face a zone, they're terrific at moving the ball. They do a great job executing their zone offense and getting looks in rhythm, and it's tough to stay in that defense very long if they're knocking down outside shots.
"Wright is a matchup problem because of his versatility. If you put a bigger post on him, he'll play away from the basket, where he's comfortable, and then blow past the slower defender. If you go small against him he'll post the guy up, and on the other end, he'll get boards and lead the break. It's tough to find big guys who ran keep up with him in transition.
"When they're on the defensive end, Robinson and Chalmers do a great job of pressuring the ball. Both of them are good at running through passing lanes, especially Chalmers, because of his length and quickness. Taking care of the ball and making them defend movement is also key. Because they do such a good job of running through passing lanes, normally they create turnovers EARLY in a possession. If you can make them defend a long possession, it takes some juice out of them going the other way in transition.
"A team that has guards who can drive the ball and are smart enough to know what to do when they get in the paint will give Kansas trouble. Because of the pressure they use with Chalmers, Robinson and Collins you can drive on them, but it's the decisions you make after the drive that matter. The long post players -- Arthur, Wright, Jackson and Kaun -- are all good at rotating over and blocking shots, so you need to decide what the right play is: getting to the rim, pulling up, dishing off or kicking the ball back outside. This is an incredibly good Kansas team -- so much better than last year's -- but it will be interesting if they run into a team whose guards can cause problems."