During last night’s broadcast of the smack down that Kansas State took from Duke, ESPN put the following quote from Jacob Pullen up in a graphic:
We live in transition. We really don’t want to set up an offense if we don’t have to.
Well, I got bad news Jake.
You’re probably going to have to learn how to play in the half court. Because, as Duke demonstrated last night, good teams aren’t going to let you get out in transition at will.
And, frankly, I don’t know if Kansas State is that good in transition. For starters, they don’t have a point guard. Will Spradling may end up being that guy, but he’s not all that quick and, as every freshman point guard in the country does, he makes too many mistakes with the ball. I love Jacob Pullen, but does he strike you as the kind of player that can lead a fast break? Is he going to be making 60 foot touch passes to Rodney McGruder streaking down the wing in stride? Does he have the court vision to see Curtis Kelly running to the rim and the passing ability to get the ball to him in the split second that he comes open?
Pullen’s a great scoring guard. He can play the lead guard role if he has too. I don’t think he can be a point guard in an uptempo system.
To make matters worse, Kansas State has been atrocious in their transition defense. How many times did Kyrie Irving take the ball coast to coast? How many times did he do it off of a made basket? If you go back and watch Kansas State tape, I guarantee that you’ll see at least two or three open layups a game simply as a result of an opponent’s big man beating the Wildcat’s big man down the floor.
What makes a transition team great is that they don’t just run to offense. They run to defense as well.
Perhaps their is a reason that Kansas State wants to play a transition game.
Their half court offense was pretty ugly last night. The Wildcats committed 21 turnovers last night. They shot 3-17 from beyond the arc. Players were getting ripped in the open floor. Pullen was losing the ball out of bounds. Passes were going through Kelly’s hands, and Kelly’s passes were going straight into the hands of a Duke defender.
Outside of Pullen, can anyone on this Kansas State team create their own shot? Kelly can, at times, in the post. He was 8-11 for 19 points last night. He also had six turnovers. He’s not exactly what you would call reliable.
Don’t get me wrong, a lot of the credit has to go to Duke. They are far and away the best team in the country right now. Their defense last night has been, for the most part, overlooked in the writeups I’ve read.
But every team that is competing for the Final Four is going to be able to defend.
If Kansas State can’t score in transition, are they going to have enough offense to compete?