One of the recurring questions that always seems to pop up on my twitter feed these days involves Cheick Diallo.
More specifically, how come Kansas can’t — or won’t — find a way to get their top ten freshman more involved.
The answer I always give: Diallo just doesn’t quite know what he’s doing yet. Look, if the only thing that he had to do on a basketball court was to protect the rim on defense, crash the offensive glass and rim-run in transition, he’d be the best freshman in the Big 12 this side of
Chris Paul Jawun Evans. The athleticism, the physical tools, the effort. It’s all there. There were times last season where it didn’t look like Cliff Alexander was trying. I don’t think you can say that about Diallo.
He just doesn’t know yet where he’s supposed to be or what he’s supposed to do.
And after watching the tape of last night’s 86-67 loss at Oklahoma State, there are a few glaring examples that I figured I’d share.
The first came early in the first half, when Diallo got matched up on Leyton Hammonds after switching a big-to-big exchange with Perry Ellis. Hammonds isn’t a great three-point shooter, but he’s taking 3.5 threes per game and shooting 33 percent on them. He’s not a guy that you can simply leave open beyond the arc, but that’s precisely what Diallo — who begins this possession as the lone KU defender under the rim — does here:
That cannot happen.
Later in the half, there was this play, where Diallo doesn’t stop Evans — who finished with 22 points and eight assists and was a week removed from putting 42 points up on Oklahoma — from turning the corner off of the ball-screen, allows the point guard to get within six-feet of the rim and then tries to block a shot he had no chance of blocking while allowing his man to get into position to tip in Evans’ miss:
Those are both issues, but the straw that broke Bill Self’s back last night was when Diallo again messed up a play on offense.
Before I show you what Diallo did, here’s what the set is supposed to look like:
And here is what it looked like when Diallo ran it. Granted, it’s on the opposite side of the court, but the key here is that Diallo is supposed to fake a ball reversal and give the ball back to the guard receiving the pindown. He … reverses the ball, and the result is ugly:
That came with 17 minutes left in the second half.
Diallo never saw the court again.
– UPDATE (11:15 a.m.): My buddy Jesse Newell noticed the same thing I did last night, and he also picked up on another instance where Diallo messed up this exact same play. In this example, which came early in the first half, he doesn’t even pop up to the top of the key to receive the pass:
If you don’t know the plays, you better be a damn good defender. If you’re lost on defense, you better be putting up Jahlil Okafor numbers. If you don’t know the plays and you can’t properly guard a ball-screen, you’re going to be sitting next to the coaches.
It’s that simple sometimes.