As tune-ups against Team Canada and the departure to South Korea for the World University Games (WUG) approaches, the Kansas Jayhawks are practicing hard and scrimmaging under the umbrella of FIBA international regulations.
Bill Self talked to media recently and said his team is practicing faster than they ever have before. With a 24-second shot clock and an offensive rebound reset to just 14 seconds, the Jayhawks are speeding things up and getting up and down the floor at a blistering pace.
The only player not on campus as of yet is freshman Chieck Diallo, who will arrive in July but is not eligible to play for the USA representative Jayhawks.
SMU guard Nic Moore, who is joining Kansas for the summer trip overseas, arrived this week and immediately stepped in to help lead the players on the floor at the point guard position, exactly what Self anticipated the American Athletic Conference Player of the Year would do.
KU’s junior guard Frank Mason isn’t a true point, but more of a scoring guard, so his natural instincts have never been to play as an extension of the coach, but rather take the ball and score. In terms of his ability to make plays and get the ball in the basket, Mason is as talented a guard as Self has had.
Moore will serve as a tremendous help to Mason from the standpoint of seeing the floor as a whole and getting players into the right position, finding the open player, and running the show for Kansas.
Self has his youth camp under way on campus and during the two-week camp, the team, plus several former players, get together on Wednesday’s and scrimmage for the kids, a couple thousand fans, and media. The scrimmages have grown to be a big summer event in Lawrence, not only to get a look at the team and new players, but to see former all americans and fan favorites from the past.
Last week, with Elijah Johnson and Sherron Collins on hand, Frank Mason led the red team with 31 points, while Wayne Selden, Jr., scored 23.
This week, Mason scored 30—again leading all scorers—while former all american Ben McLemore dropped in 29.
Despite the fact the players aren’t putting out max effort, the scrimmages are a chance to see what players have been working on, how their shots are looking, and what kind of dunks they can throw down.
For the newcomers like Carlton Bragg and LeGerald Vick, fans get a chance to get a glimpse of what they bring to the table.
So far, Vick has shown flashes of what kind of athleticism and natural scoring ability he possesses, while Bragg is yet another athletic big man that can stretch the defense by facing up in the mid-range as well as scoring with his back to the basket.
With a 24-second shot clock, the Jayhawks will have to play much faster, which ironically is what most players always say they want to do, but as Self said, don’t understand what it actually means until they practice it every day.
With a shorted clock, inbounds passes cannot be walked up and plays cannot always be called as the ball crosses the timeline.
Mason, Moore, and the rest of the team are going to run a relatively basic offense and will try to get the ball up with 18-20 seconds left on the clock, which means you have time to get the ball to the second or third side of the floor with your rotations, but will leave time enough for one shot. In most cases, Kansas will take shots with somewhere around 6-8 seconds, which means offensive rebounding will come at a premium and should be a focal point for KU’s big men and wings.
Efficiency in shot-taking and not always searching the for most perfect shot will be important for the Jayhawks, but moving the ball with a purpose, not letting it stick, and attacking the basket with the idea of going up strong or driving and kicking will be the key to KU’s success on the offensive end.
The biggest adjustment will be the speed of the game on both ends, simply because of time. Kansas will need to get back down the floor on defense and know how they want to setup.
The trip overseas should serve as a tremendous test and a growing experience for Bill Self and his team.
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