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A very lackluster effort tonight. It seems like we've said that quite often this season against the competition the Jayhawks should be blowing out. A few thoughts:
* Obviously another terrific game for Withey. Even though the perimeter defense by the Jayhawks was far below average tonight, it's nice having a 7'0 senior in the middle who can either block or alter shots to make up for those deficiencies. As Aaron told me tonight, it's very likely that Withey will put up numbers very similar to what Anthony Davis did during his Player of the Year season.
* Kansas has to have more out of Elijah Johnson. After tonight he has now attempted 31 of his 54 shots on the season from beyond the arc. Elijah has only attempted seven free throws all season and his assist to turnover ratio is 1.6:1. For Kansas to have a chance to get to Atlanta, the senior needs to step up his game more than any other Jayhawk because he is capable of getting into the paint off the bounce to create more scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates. An average Elijah means a disappointing end to the Jayhawks season.
* The staff has to be happy with Releford these past few games. He's playing within himself offensively, defending the opposing teams best player, and attacking the basket in his transition opportunities. If he can continue to knock down perimeter shots with regularity that should continue to open up the rest of the Jayhawks offense.
* I really liked McLemore's aggressiveness tonight offensively but if he's taking 16 shots, 7 of those shouldn't be from beyond the arc...especially if he makes zero long range shots. He has to continue to develop his ability to get into the paint into the half court. Another thing to like about McLemore is that he grabbed 6 more rebounds tonight and is averaging over 6 rebounds per game on the season.
* The Kansas bench must produce more than they did tonight, especially considering that they were going against a team they should have beaten handily. I'm hopeful that Perry Ellis can come along and knock down jumpers near the top of the key in the high-low offense, and he showed that ability early on tonight. He still just lacks the strength to compete in the low post offensively and defensively on a consistent basis. Tharpe was not very good tonight and is now 10-34 from the floor on the season, including a 5-17 mark from 3pt range. He has done a good job taking care of the basketball this season but had two turnovers and only one assist tonight.
* The Spartans did a nice job of clogging up the lane tonight, sagging off of the four man in the Kansas half court offense. The Kansas four men need to show the ability to knock down this shot (as Perry Ellis did tonight) so I'm not totally against Kevin Young attempting a couple of 3pt shots. However, once Withey caught the ball, I liked it when they cut to the hoop and cleared out their defender. This was particularly effective when Withey caught the ball on the left block, which allowed him to shoot a jump hook over his right shoulder. San Jose State also did a nice job of switching defenses once the Jayhawks started to cut on post catches. They continued to sag off of the four man but once Withey caught the ball they trapped with their guard on the weakside, taking advantage of Withey's struggles to pass the ball out of the low post. This is an area in which Jeff will need to continue to work on this season.
* A disappointing effort in guarding the basketball tonight, although Withey bailed them out on a number of occasions. The Jayhawks allowed 12 free throw attempts in the first half but were much better to start the 2nd half when their intensity level was very high.
* The ball movement and player movement were not a sharp tonight as they needed to be, especially after the Jayhawks had their big run to start the 2nd half. They had 12 assists on 16 made shots in the first half and only 4 assists on 10 made shots after the half. Just not sharp moving the basketball
* Kansas continues to struggle on the glass this season. The Jayhawks came in only 6th in the Big 12 Conference in rebounding margin at +4.4. Tonight they were even on the glass against the Spartans, giving up 13 offensive rebounds on 46 missed shots (including 9 offensive rebounds in the first half). Kansas only grabbed 11 offensive rebounds on 34 missed shots, which is below what the staff would hope for them.
The bottom line is that this team is lacking the killer instinct that it takes to put teams away. As the announcers talked about throughout the game, and as we've discussed on this board, they're also lacking a guy who can take charge and get a good look when the team needs a basket to stop a run or at the end of a close game.
Oregon State is a sneaky good team and is capable of pulling off the upset on Friday night. The Jayhawks need to come out with more passion and be ready to play. I'm sure Coach Self and staff will have their attention again after tonight's game.
This post has been edited 3 times, most recently by Matt Cumro 20 months ago
Great breakdown as usual, Matt. It's been awesome to watch Releford return to his form from the spring, and it's been exactly as you said - he's playing within his role and within his abilities now and not forcing shots or dribbles. Elijah has been pretty terrible for most of the season to this point. He needs to be more vocal AND better at leading by example. He has to dribble, get into the lane, and set up others. He did it in two flashes last night, and he actually made a really nice play to rise up and score at the end of a shot clock in the second half, but we need more of that and less settling for jumpers.
My 3 thoughts:
--- There's just not an alpha dog on this team. We don't have that Sherron Collins or Tyshawn Taylor type kid who just wants the ball and wants to attack when things are going south. This team looks and plays like a really good group of role players, but there just isn't a true "star" at this level...yet. Ben may get there, and he's more than talented enough, but I think that's expecting a bit much for him to become that star by season's end.
--- The bench is just....bad. I like these guys, but outside the top 4 kids (Elijah, Travis, Jeff, and Ben) there just isn't a whole lot to work with. Yes, Perry Ellis is a talented kid - but he's undersized, soft, and completely clueless right now. He may get there in the future, and I expect he will, but that's not "now". It's going to be really hard for us to get production from Tharpe, Traylor, and Ellis against good teams.
--- This team loves to shoot jumpers way too much. Travis is the only one that seems interested in attacking, but even he seems to have fallen in love with his jumper a bit. Hopefully once we hit Xmas break, Self will start introducing the pick\roll back into the offense some more. Our offense is still typically vanilla at this point in the season.
It may be a few games too early to state it, but I'm about ready to give up on Elijah stepping up and being the senior leader at PG for this team. He floats away from the ball instead of wanting it. It's clear as day when watching him on the court he doesn't want to be that guy. Why, I have no idea, but for this team to do anything this year he HAS to be that guy. When the big is trying to outlet and you're covered you get open if you're the senior PG who is leading this team. You don't float down the sidelines hoping he may pass it to you or maybe to someone else. Sherron demanded the ball and got open in those situations. Right now Elijah doesn't and that's the mentality of someone who isn't at the point in his confidence to lead this team.
This post was edited by Baumer 20 months ago
I couldn't agree more that there isn't an alpha dog on this team. Last year Self had two guys who he could get the ball to on any given possession and they were going to get you a shot. This team just doesn't seem to have that. It may be a bit too much to ask of McLemore, but I think he's the guy that has to come around and grow into that role. While I'm hopeful that Elijah will get there, if he's been in the program for 3 1/2 years and hasn't done it then I don't see how it's going to happen for him. He has star ability but needs to start playing like one.
Last year just over 29% of this team's shots came from beyond the arc (made 34.5%) and this year that percentage is just over 32% (and we are converting less than 30% of those attempts). I'm not too alarmed with the number of shots from beyond the arc, it's just how those shots are coming. Last year those perimeter attempts were not contested as much due to the scoring presence of TRob in the post and the playmaking ability of Taylor on the perimeter. This year those open looks aren't coming as easily. Again, the more the ball touches the paint, the more open the Jayhawk perimeter shooters will be.
This team falls in love with the jumper way too much for my liking. I've been pleased with Jeff's play since the CBE though. I wish Naadir would find a balance between shooting & passing as well.
It was just a poor shooting night. If it is open they should shoot it. Some nights they're going to fall... especially for players like McLemore and Johnson... If McLemore's shot had been falling, it would have been a completely different game... like a 30 point blow out.
Live to love, love to live
I don't know. We've shot more midrange jumpers, I guess, but our three-point attempts as a percentage of field goal attempts isn't out of line with what the staff wants (as Matt pointed out). I'm not always sure the right guys are shooting them (I'm talking to you, Fro), but I think the poor percentage is the problem right now.
That being said, I'd like to see Eijah and Ben spend more possessions getting into the lane and either shooting or kicking out for an open three.
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