Marcus Smart, Elijah Johnson

Bill Self lays into Kansas: “We don’t have a point guard”

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Bill Self was not happy about the way that his Kansas team lost to Oklahoma State on Saturday afternoon. The Jayhawks erased a 14 point deficit in the first half and took the lead for a stretch in the second half, but the Cowboys were able to close in the final four minutes thanks to a terrific performance from Marcus Smart. And Self? He let loose with some vicious verbal barbs in the post game press conference:

“We have been getting unbelievably poor play from some individuals and we have got to do a better job teaching them.”

“I wish we could play without guards to be honest with you, but that would be kind of an ugly game if you have five big guys playing out there at all times.”

“It’s a joke what we did today.”

“We are mentally tough in some ways, but physically this is our softest group of all time. We have never had a team like this.”

It’s atypical to hear a coach avoid the standard sporting cliches after a game and really unleash on his team like this, but Self has a right to be frustrated. The Jayhawks have not played well, especially on the offensive end of the floor, in Big 12 play. We’ve all seen the horrid turnovers that are starting to pop up, especially over the course of the last two games, but there’s more to it than that.

Kansas hasn’t been executing their sets well offensively, but that tends to happen in league play. There’s a familiarity in the league. Everyone knows what Self wants to run at this point in the season. Defenses are going to be more prepared and offenses are going to run into situations where they need to rely on individual creativity to score their points.

And that’s the crux of the problem for the Jayhawks.

“We don’t have a point guard,” Self told the Topeka Capital-Journal after the game. “It’s sad. […] We were definitely a better team with (Johnson) sitting down next to us and putting somebody else in the game.”

This isn’t a surprise. We knew heading into the season that Johnson would be making a transition to the point guard spot and that he would be doing so because Naadir Tharpe is not ready to run the show. But it is a concern to hear about it at this stage of the season, because at this point in the year, the problem isn’t getting fixed easily. If they haven’t come up with an answer by now, they aren’t going to.

That issue is exacerbated by the fact that the guy that’s supposed to be the Jayhawk’s go-to scorer is at his most effective in transition, coming off of screens, and when he’s spotting up and taking catch-and-shoot threes. According to Synergy, 58% of his offense comes out of those situation.

Only 16% comes in situations where McLemore has to create for himself — 11% in the pick-and-roll and just 5% in isolations. That totals 62 possessions for McLemore, and he’s scoring just 0.774 PPP in those 62 possessions. When you “don’t have a point guard” and your most talented offensive player can’t create for himself, your offensive is going to bog down at times.

The good news?

Those offensive struggles aren’t why the Jayhawks lost on Saturday.

They lost because they couldn’t stop Markel Brown in the first half and because Marcus Smart got two offensive rebounds and putbacks in the final four minutes. Those are issues that won’t rear their head too often for Kansas.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Creighton lands 2016 combo guard

Greg McDermott
Associated Press
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Sunday evening Creighton got on the board in the Class of 2016, as 6-foor-4 combo guard Davion Mintz made his pledge to Greg McDermott’s program. Mintz made the decision on the tail end of his official visit to Creighton, picking the Bluejays over Georgia Tech, Kansas State, Tulsa and Wichita State.

News of Mintz’s commitment was first reported by Rick Lewis of the Phenom Hoop Report, with Mintz confirming the news via Twitter shortly thereafter.

Creighton has just two seniors on its current roster in guard Jams Milliken and forward Geoffrey Groselle, but that doesn’t mean they lack for experience. Among the guards on the roster who will be around when Mintz arrives on campus are redshirt juniors Maurice Watson Jr., Malik Albert, and Isaiah Zierden, and Kansas State transfer Marcus Foster will be eligible in 2016-17.

Mintz, who attends North Mecklenberg HS just outside of Charlotte, can play either on or off the basketball. Creighton’s veteran guards should help Mintz with his transition to the college game when he arrives in Omaha in 2016. Mintz played for the Charlotte Nets grassroots program this summer.

Three-star power forward commits to WVU

Bob Huggins
Associated Press
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Three days after landing one power forward in Sagaba Konate, West Virginia received a verbal commitment from another big man Sunday evening.

6-foot-11 Mountain Mission School (Gurndy, Virginia) power forward Maciej Bender became the Mountaineers’ fourth commitment in the Class of 2016 on Sunday, with the Mountain Mission program announcing the news via Twitter. Bender is a native of Poland, and in addition to Konate he joins guards Brandon Knapper and Chase Harler in West Virginia’s 2016 recruiting class.

West Virginia will lose two forwards in TyQuane Goard and Jonathan Holton at the end of the 2015-16 season, and the additions of Konate and Bender will help the Mountaineers account for those departures from a depth standpoint. Bender can score around the basket, but he’s also capable of facing up and scoring in pick-and-pop situations out beyond the three-point line.

Bender officially visited West Virginia last weekend, and he was a player the WVU coaching staff wanted to get in the fold. Other programs to offer Bender included Arizona State (teammate Jethro Tshisumpa is an ASU commit), Georgia, Georgia Tech, Ole Miss and Providence. Bender played his grassroots basketball for the West Virginia Wildcats program this summer.