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After watching Oregon State three times heading into this game I expected them to give the Jayhawks fits. A few thoughts:
* The staff has to be thrilled with Releford right now. He's playing within himself, taking open shots, attacking in transition, and playing great defense. Another terrific game.
* Elijah has to be more assertive and play up to his ability level. If he starts to play well this Kansas team will have a shot at Atlanta. While he passed the ball well last night (9 assists) he has to attempt more than four shots.
* Another solid game for Withey. His presence really changes things on the interior and as bad as the Jayhawks ball defense has been, and was last night, I would hate to think of where they would be without him. He needs to finish with more than five rebounds but otherwise it was a case of Withey being Withey again.
* The lack of ball defense is really alarming and must improve quickly. Oregon State has done a good job of getting to the line this season but allowing them to shoot 26 free throws (14 by Nelson alone) is unacceptable.
* A key going in was the ball pressure Kansas should have been able to apply as the Beavers were averaging nearly 16 turnovers per game. In this game, in part to their poor ball defense, Oregon State only turned it over 12 times.
* Free throw shooting came back to bite the Beavers again as they only connected on 17 of their 26 attempts.
* While the Jayhawks won the battle of the boards, they allowed Oregon State to grab 14 offensive rebounds on 38 missed shots. This is something that will not please the staff.
* You can see McLemore start to develop into the player that Kansas needs him to be. His overall aggressiveness and confidence are really starting to show. If he can continue to work on scoring off the dribble the sky is the limit for this kid.
* It should be a concern that this team cannot put teams away. At some point in the season this could come back to bite this team.
Overall, a good win against an underrated team. Offensively this was a solid performance but this team must improve in their ability to guard the basketball.
This post was edited by Matt Cumro on 12/1/2012 at 11:21 AM
I agree that our inability to put teams away is disturbing. It's almost palpable how this team lets off the gas when they get up 15. Instead of pushing to get it to 25-30 and really put it away, it seems like they let up on the defensive intensity and allow the other teams best player to get untracked. Last night it was Starks, the game before it was Kinney, the same with that kid from Chatanoga. It seems like the only perimeter player with much one on one guarding ability is Travis Releford. I know McLemore can get there, but he still gets hung up on screens a lot and looses his man. Elijah looks like he should be a better defender than he is.
On the same note, thank god for Jeff Withey. With him this is still a good defensive team, albiet a bit below Bill Self's standards. But without him we would be awful.
I know Naadir Tharpe isn't a trainwreck running the team this year like he was last year, but he's such a defensive liability that it seems that even if he's playing a good game on the offensive end of the floor, it's negated by the fact that whoever he's guarding seems to go off. Elijah Johnson, right now at least, seems to be the least capable starting point guard for KU since early in RussRob's tenure at KU, but he's MILES better than any other option we have. He's just going to have to live with playing at least 30 minutes a game.
I'm beginning to wonder how much of a factor Perry Ellis will be this year. I'm not saying he won't contribute. He will. But I think people who are expecting him to become a primary scoring option in the post are going to be disappointed. I think he'll have a few games where he plays well, but he's just a little too short and most definitely not strong enough to bang with the big guys of college basketball.
Overall, I know it's too early to say much of anything about how far this team can go. I know last years team was not thought of too highly after our game in Kansas City and certainly no one had dreams of the Final Four. However, this team has a LONG ways to go before it's as good as last years team defensively. Last years team felt like they could win the grind it out games. You also had players who you felt could score in the clutch. So far this year I don't see too much of that. Elijah could be that player and has had moments where he's been clutch but I'm not sure if he has the mental makeup of a Tyshawn or T-Rob where he really WANTED that last shot.
As far at the Big XII goes though, except for OSU, no one is really exceeding expectations and some (cough, Texas, cough) are well below expectations. I think this year KU could still win the Big XII and be a 4 seed come tournament time. It just looks like we have a weak league this year. It's still early, but that's what I've noticed for the first month of this season so far.
This post was edited by lfinger on 12/1/2012 at 1:01 PM
First, let me say I was impressed with Robinson's coaching an in-game adjustments. Other than his decision to start the game in a zone, I was impressed with his decisions and strategy.
The big thing this team is missing is a primary ball handler. The offense doesn't flow really well for us without one, especially at this stage of the season when we haven't really put in the whole offense and are running "vanilla" sets. I wondered before the season if Elijah would be ready for this role, and it's clear now that he wasn't. He may get there, but he's not there yet. He had 9 assists against Oregon State, but I also clearly recall two or three other situations where he forced passes that were not even close to open, and I wonder if his assist total was more a factor of him forcing himself into the "passing point guard" role more than anything.
The other thing we lack is a big time rebounder. Jeff is okay, but at 7-0 tall, he just about accidentally gets 5 every game. After him, our best rebounders are our starting wings, and that's disturbing. Ellis is a nice offensive player, but rebounding has never been a key part if his repertoire. Right now, we clearly miss TRob's rebounding more than his scoring.
Finally, this team is starting to resemble the 2009-2010 team to me. Not in quality as much as style and inability to close teams out. Collins was a better point guard than Elijah, but there are a lot of other similarities. Additionally, that team drove me crazy with its obvious inability to just jump on teams' throats. The 2006-2007 and 2007-2008 teams were really special in how they finished teams off when they got them down, and last year's team was pretty good at finishing as well (obviously), though not usually by getting big leads.
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