basketball kansas basketball

Pre-post-season thoughts / Containing Kevin Durant

In a pre­vi­ous post, I sug­gest­ed that the Kansas defense must "con­tain" Kevin Durant, there­by imply­ing that Kevin Durant could, in fact, be con­tained. I said: "he's going to get 10–15 points no mat­ter what you do," and any­thing in excess of that was a mat­ter of the oppos­ing team's defense shut­ting him down. Against Kansas on Sat­ur­day, he rat­tled off 12 points in a row between the 17:41 and the 14:14 marks in the first half, and had 20 points just five min­utes lat­er. (Thanks to ESPN's play-by-play for this). And it wasn't like the Texas offense was get­ting him a lot of open looks: He was bury­ing every shot, no mat­ter who was guard­ing him and no mat­ter where he was on the court. 22 feet away, Julian Wright's hand in his face: Rat­tled in. Pulling up from 27 feet at the tail end of a fast break: Swish. Texas didn't even need to run an offense, they just need­ed to get him the ball and then wor­ry about get­ting back and play­ing defense. In the first half, this worked. In the sec­ond half, dif­fer­ent sto­ry. Two things changed (at least): Bran­don Rush was on Durant, rather than Julian Wright. It was hard to say whether Durant just cooled off, or whether Rush cooled him off, but the fact was that he missed 4 of 5 shots before going down with a twist­ed ankle. Sec­ond thing: Anoth­er play­er imme­di­ate­ly dou­ble-teamed Durant on the perime­ter when­ev­er he got the ball, and Texas failed to exploit this for easy low-post bas­kets. (Nice call by Coach Self. Not sure why he didn't go to this ear­li­er, but I'm just glad that it worked). At the same time, I can't believe Texas couldn't exploit this. I mean, teams must be doing this all the time. Why weren't they able to find Dami­an James for easy bas­kets under­neath, or Augustin on cuts to the bas­ket? (I share Bill Simmons's assess­ment of Texas coach Rick Barnes, by the way: "How can you not run more plays for Kevin Durant? Post him up and he has 27 dif­fer­ent ways to score. Curl him off picks and he makes 15-foot­ers like they're layups.") Speak­ing of bad coach­ing, I was mys­ti­fied that Texas didn't start foul­ing soon­er. Kansas wasn't even in the bonus until the 2:20 mark, and Texas didn't start foul­ing until the 1:18 mark when they were down by 8. Russ­Rob missed the front-end of a one-and-one, and Texas cut the lead to 6. Then, on con­sec­u­tive pos­ses­sions, Mario makes one of two; Russ­Rob makes one of two; Julian makes one of two. HEART ATTACK TIME. Instead of a 6‑point lead, it's a 3‑point lead, and Texas has a chance to tie. This is a huge, huge issue going into the post-sea­son, both for the Hawks chances and my own phys­i­cal and men­tal health.Incidentally, with this in mind, I deeply enjoyed a recent piece by Gene Wein­garten about FT shoot­ing: "If I took a year off and prac­ticed all day, every day, I could then defeat the NBA's best free-throw shoot­er in head-to-head com­pe­ti­tion" (via kot­tke).