Kansas Needs to Get Defensive

All coaches strive for perfection, and Bill Self is no different. The KU coach hasn't had much to nitpick this season, but he does have one great area of concern heading into the Jayhawks' game with Baylor (17-4, 5-2) today at Allen Fieldhouse.

“Defensively, our guards don’t guard,” Bill Self said after KU’s 90-71 victory over Missouri. “They got the ball wherever they wanted off the bounce and we have to correct that.”

Tigers’ guards Keon Lawrence (25 points) and J.T. Tiller (13 points) created problems for Kansas with their dribble penetration and helped get KU’s big men in foul trouble.

“Our guards don’t understand right now that the big guys foul more when their guards get in the paint,” Self said. “Certainly, we got to do a better job of guarding the ball. They were quicker than us. I shouldn’t say that, but their guards went anywhere they wanted. We have to focus on keeping guys in front of us. We’re not sound, we’re off-balanced, we lunge, we challenge in the backcourt and then they dribble past us and we put the big guys in harms way. ... That’s frustrating because their guards are quick, but our guys could have done a better job.”

Self, though, is not about to panic about the defensive guard play of Mario Chalmers, Russell Robinson and Sherron Collins, or the fact that KU has just nine steals in its last three games. After averaging 11.4 steals per game in non-conference play, the Jayhawks have averaged only 6.5 steals during the conference season. (Kansas still entered the week ranked seventh in the country in steals at 10.0 per game.)

“Everybody has stuff to work on,” Self said. “Every team throughout the season goes through phases where they don’t rebound as well or they do certain things better than others. In my opinion, that’s what we’re not doing very well right now is keeping guards in front of us.”

Baylor poses a tough guard matchup with its fabulous quintet of Aaron Bruce, Curtis Jerrells, Tweety Carter, Henry Dugat, and LaceDarius Dunn.

“Their guards are excellent,” Self said. “They are as good as guards as we have in our league. They can really put the ball down. We have to do a much better job defensively than we did (against Missouri).”

Self spoke more specifically about his guards’ defense.

“They’re not playing to their quickness level right now,” he said. “They’re not as quick as they were earlier in the year defensively. I think a lot of it is mindset, I think a lot of it is technique, a lot of it is playing your man before he catches it so that way he’s not in an area where you have to crowd him or he can get around you. There’s a lot of things we can do to get better at that.”

Robinson said the guards are up for the challenge.

“(We’re) just thinking a little bit too much defensively,” he said. “I think we’re still as quick, but we’re just thinking a little bit too much. Once we stop thinking a lot, our defense will step up.”

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