News Columns & Blogs

An attempt at explaining Cole Aldrich's minutes

One of the most baffling things that occurred during Kansas’ 85-77 loss to Oklahoma State on Saturday was that the Jayhawks did not utilize their size advantage with Cole Aldrich and the Morris twins.

The Cowboys had two 6-foot-8 players – Matt Pilgrim and Marshall Moses – who were rarely in the game together. That meant KU had potential mismatches inside for most of the game.

But as the Jayhawks embarked on a comeback attempt, Aldrich sat for 12 minutes of the second half despite having no fouls to his name. He finished with 11 points, 5 rebounds and 1 block in 24 minutes.

Of course, we wanted to find out after the game what KU coach Bill Self’s reasoning was in regard to sitting Cole. He mentioned in answering another question that Oklahoma State’s Obi Muonelo, a 6-foot-5 player who has enough strength to play the No. 4 spot in the Cowboys’ lineup, is a matchup nightmare for a team that plays a true center like Kansas because he makes it very difficult to guard ball screens.

I followed up with Self to ask him if Muonelo was the main factor in not playing Aldrich, and Self took me too literally. He thought I was suggesting Aldrich would be guarding Muonelo and said that had nothing to do with it.

So I would still think that the mismatch of having Cole switching ball screens with Muonelo coming off the screen had a lot to do with him not being in the game late. But it’s also possible that it was simply performance-related. Aldrich had just one block and seemed to be late to every play Saturday.

Anyway, I don’t see this becoming an issue but thought I could try to shed some light on why the big guy sat Saturday.