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Scouting Kansas: Get 'em away from the rim; slow the game down

by | CBSSports.com College Basketball Insider

Point guard Tyshawn Taylor sparks Kansas' transition game but is struggling from outside. (Getty Images)  
Point guard Tyshawn Taylor sparks Kansas' transition game but is struggling from outside. (Getty Images)  

Scouting: Ohio State | Kentucky | Louisville

How should you attack Kansas?

What's the secret to stopping Kentucky?

Where's Ohio State's most obvious weakness?

What's the biggest concern when facing Louisville?

These are questions various sportswriters have spent months answering, but the truth is that sportswriters are just sportswriters. They get paid to have opinions and type them into a computer. But they never have to, you know, actually figure anything out. Coaches do, though. That's what they get paid to do. So with that in mind, CBSSports.com college basketball writers Gary Parrish, Jeff Goodman and Jeff Borzello spent the past few days talking to men who have coached against either Kansas, Kentucky, Ohio State or Louisville this season.

Parrish, Goodman and Borzello spoke to at least three men who have coached against each team and asked them for what amounts to a scouting report. The coaches were promised anonymity to ensure complete honesty. Here is what they said:

Scouting Kansas: Style of play

"They are excellent in transition. They have two guards who are dynamic in terms of finishing. They run half-court offense and run it fast. The one difference from a year ago is they don't play as much high-low as they used to. They'll ball-screen you and drive you to the middle of the floor. They're a great passing team with a lot of lobs. The big guys really finish at the rim."

Final Four
More on Kansas

"They are great in transition. Tyshawn Taylor flies up the court. In the half court, they have two legit big men and then run high-low motion. They try and pound the ball inside. You have to make a choice whether to guard them one-on-one or double-team them. You can double off someone -- and it used to be Elijah Johnson -- but he's been much better lately so that's tough to do right now."

"They are tough and hard-nosed. They score off their defense better than just about anyone. They are inside-out oriented and are limited with their 3-point shooting. If they make 3's, they are tough to beat. They get more than 50 percent of their scoring from Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor."

Offensive strength

"They are a great dribble-drive team. They get the ball to the middle of the floor and into the paint. They create easy opportunities for their bigs and mix in enough 3-point shooting that you have to stop them. When Tyshawn is making 3's, it's a major problem."

"They play fast and they're crisp offensively. Robinson and [Jeff] Withey can both score on the block, but what's really tough is trying to deal with Tyshawn off ball-screens. They are great late in the shot clock."

"They play inside-out and can score with Robinson in the post or with Taylor and dribble penetration. He really makes them go and is really the only one -- well, he and Elijah -- that can create anything for themselves or their teammates."

Key player

"It's Taylor. He's the heart and soul of the team. At the end of the game, he's going to be the one who takes the shot. Look at the Missouri game where they were down, look at the Kansas State game when they were down. He drives the train and sets everyone else up for everything."

"Elijah Johnson. He's the X-factor. He can go 1 for 8 from 5 for 8. You know what you're getting from Robinson, Taylor and Withey, but you have no idea with Johnson."

"Withey. Defensively, that allows them to gamble and take chances. He protects the rim and changes the game defensively. He can dominate a game without scoring a point. He ignites the fast break by blocking shots, which leads to easy buckets."

Primary weakness

"Teams that have four-men that can step out and make shots cause them problems. Look at Ryan Kelly at Duke, or Purdue. It puts Withey in a tough situation and makes Thomas Robinson have to guard. Davidson drove them and shot the 3. Deshaun Thomas could give them problems. They are very effective when they can keep both bigs around the rim. They can't afford foul trouble with Robinson. At times, he doesn't even defend because he can't afford to be off the floor."

"They lack depth -- and they have trouble guarding with their wings. [Connor] Teahan and [Travis] Releford aren't very good -- and none of the bigs off the bench give them much at all. Their wings really struggle to guard. They don't move well laterally or off screens."

"Consistent shooting. They don't have a consistent marksman -- especially with Tyshawn struggling like he has in the postseason. You can really focus on two guys -- Tyshawn and Thomas. They aren't that difficult to guard."

How to stop them

"Texas A&M ground it out, slowed it down and played a hard-fought physical game. They can go through spurts when they don't score. When you don't allow them to get in transition and get fast-break opportunities with Withey blocking shots, they have trouble scoring. The key is not to give them easy opportunities."

"Get back in transition, don't let Robinson or Withey catch it deep. Make them catch it away from the basket -- and that way help can get there quick enough. Also, late in the shot clock, make sure you close the lane and don't let Tyshawn get in the lane and close to the basket."

"You need to try limit their fast-break opportunities and find a way to get Withey out of the game, which means having a pick-and-pop four-man who can step out and make shots from the perimeter. The easiest way to stop them, though, is to get back in transition."

Best way to score on them

"Get Withey in ball-screens away from the rim. Pull him out and that gives you opportunities to score in the paint. You have to attack Robinson and force him to have to guard."

"Pull Withey away from the basket. He doesn't guard ball-screens. If you have a smaller big man, that'll get him away from the basket. You also have to force the action inside, make Robinson move his feet."

"Make Robinson and Withey guard ball-screens. Bring both of them away from the basket, where they aren't comfortable. That way Withey isn't a rim protector anymore. Tyshawn is the energizer bunny, but he can be a ball-watcher and lose focus at times."

Ultimate concern

"Easy baskets and lobs at the rim. Regardless of what everyone says, they still have three pros on the floor. This team has made plays and shots when they have needed to. Robinson gets a rebound every 2½ or three minutes. The underrated aspect of Kansas is their offensive rebounding -- and it's not just Robinson and Withey. Releford and even Teahan sneak in there and get a few."

"They need to have balanced scoring. They can't just rely on Robinson and Withey down low. They need guys to make shots from the perimeter and when they aren't doing that, they will struggle."

"If I'm Bill Self, I'm worried about falling behind early. Can they make enough shots to catch up? They aren't a good 3-point shooting team, they only average about five a game. Who's going to make shots for them? That's a major worry."

Something extra

"Bill [Self] has really maximized this team. He's going to scheme you. He's definitely not going to just line up and play you man-to-man. You'd better be ready to handle the triangle-and-two. He usually does it and tries to take the guards out of the game."

"Teams with length can give Kansas some issues. I'm not sure how much length Ohio State has, but I think a guy like [William] Buford could give them problems. I'm not sure Releford or anyone can really match up with him."

"This team just isn't that talented. Let's call it like it is, but the kids are tough and believe they should be in the Final Four. They think they should win."


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