Some things never change. A Kansas win tonight vs. Texas A&M would give Kansas beat Texas A&M Wednesday night to give the No. 2 Jayhawks at least a share of the Big 12 title, their seventh straight.
That’s by far the longest run by any major conference team, and trails only Gonzaga (11) among active streaks. Under Bill Self, Kansas (27-2, 12-2) has won its league every year except his first. True, there have been three ties (and could again this season), but it’s an impressive run regardless. (And don’t rip the Big 12. It’s been rated among the top 3 leagues in four of those seasons.)
For context, Roy Williams won 80 percent of his games while at Kansas. The best he did was four straight.
How has Kansas done it? Self values consistency above all. (Well, that and having really good players.)
Since the K-State loss, the Hawks have scored more than 1.2 points per possession three straight games. That’s nine of their last 10. Sure, I have beaten the significance of this streak to death, but that’s because it’s so damn impressive. That sort of offensive consistency does not happen in college basketball.
Teams adjust to what offenses are doing, and even if it’s just temporary, someone figures out a way to stop you. The amazing thing about what the Jayhawks consistency on offense is no matter what type of defense they’ve faced, they keep racking up the points. And Self doesn’t necessarily make adjustments to the adjustments. Every season – with minor changes here and there depending on personnel – the Jayhawks have been running the same offense. They just run it with such precision, with such consistency (and with two talented twins), that they cannot be slowed.
I used to view Self’s high post offense with some disdain. It was easy to bemoan its predictable moves and wonder when it would produce a team capable of making noise in March.
That was in 2005. Since then, Self’s recruited players better suited for his style, gotten them to play defense and stocked his roster with versatile, athletic guys and a few shooters (the lack of shooters being the issue early on). And that predictability? It’s now a good thing.
Perhaps his Kansas squads haven’t shown the same consistency in March (’05, ’06 and ’10 will stick with Jayhawks fans for a long, long time), but his teams also have cut down the nets (’08) and been to the Elite Eight twice.
What’s that mean for this season? As Moore writes, few teams display the Jayhawks’ offensive consistency. And perhaps no other team has Kansas’ ceiling. The last time that was true was 2008.
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