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Recap: How an 'awful' performance still nets a 21-point win
Note: Here is a listing of definitions for some terms used in this blog. Also, feel free to ask questions in the comments section below if something doesn't make sense.
OK, by now you've heard it. Or maybe you've seen it. Or maybe you're about to see it (look below).
Kansas coach Bill Self's first words out of the postgame press conference were this: "We were awful. Let that be your headlines." http://www2.kusports.com/videos/2010/...
I love the coach's honesty. Self didn't hold much back in the press conference following KU's 76-55 victory over Colorado State, opening up instead of clichéing up like many college coaches do.
This much is clear: Self is trying to get his team's attention, which isn't always easy to do after a blowout win. He sees good and wants great.
Still, I sat there and wondered. If KU played so horribly, then how the heck did the Jayhawks still almost win by more than they were favored (21.5 points)?
After looking at the box score, here are a few reasons that the game still wasn't close even when KU played "awful."
• KU was really, really good on the offensive glass. The Jayhawks picked up 52.9 percent of the available offensive rebounds in the game, which was their best offensive rebounding game in the last two seasons.
It's even more incredible if you think about it. When KU missed a shot on offense, there was a better chance that the Jayhawks would get the rebound than the Rams.
KU's 50 rebounds were a season-high, as were its 10 blocks.
• KU's defense was pretty darned good as well. CSU came in as the third-best shooting team in the nation, posting a 59.9 eFG%. The Rams' worst shooting performance was a 55.2 eFG% effort against Sam Houston State.
Against KU, CSU posted a 33.3 eFG% — its third-worst in four years under coach Tim Miles.
The Jayhawks turned the Rams' greatest strength into a glaring weakness. And they did so by shutting down the shots inside.
CSU came into the game with the third-best, two-point shooting percentage in the country (60.7 percent). The Rams shot just 25.6 percent from two-point range against KU (11 for 43).
Self talked about how CSU "missed shots" after the game, but obviously, KU's defense deserves some of the credit for that.
• KU held down Colorado State forward Andy Ogide. The 6-foot-9 senior came in as one of the best shooters in the country, making 68.2 percent of his field goals. In fact, the worst he'd shot in a game this season was 58.3 percent.
Against KU, Ogide shot 30.7 percent (4 of 13).
Give a lot of credit to KU forward Markieff Morris. After his brother, Marcus, left with an ankle injury, Markieff was able to avoid fouls and play significant minutes for the Jayhawks. Coming in, Markieff averaged a foul every 5.8 minutes he played. On Saturday, he played 28 minutes and had just two fouls.
When KU desperately needed Markieff in the game, he played smart while also holding down a gifted offensive player.
M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)
Tyshawn Taylor is playing at a high level, and he continued his hot streak against Colorado State on Saturday.
The junior guard posted a team-best 1.70 points per possession used and did so while playing three-fourths of the Jayhawks' minutes.
He only used 15.9 percent of the possessions he was in there (which is a bit below NCAA average for a player), but that's not a bad thing for Taylor. His job is to run the team, get others open shots, then take advantage of driving lanes and shots when they are available.
His standard box score line was efficient as well: 12 points, 3-for-5 shooting, 5-for-6 shooting from the free-throw line, six assists, three turnovers, two blocks and two steals.
It also should be noted that on a night when KU didn't pass the ball particularly well (recording only 13 assists), Taylor had nearly half of them (six).
Room for Improvement
For the second straight game, KU was careless with the basketball.
The Jayhawks turned it over on 25.4 percent of their possessions, making it their second-worst turnover game of the season, next to Memphis.
Though KU might be excused against a long and athletic team like Memphis, there isn't much excuse for turning it over against Colorado State.
The Rams entered the game almost exactly at the NCAA average when it came to forcing turnovers (CSU forced turnovers on 21.1 percent of possessions; NCAA average is 21.2 percent).
Though KU oftentimes plays "wild" as Self calls it, the last two games, the Jayhawks have been closer to "reckless."
Turning it over against high-steal teams (like Memphis) is one thing. Turning it over against every team, regardless of its defense, is a different problem altogether.
It's an issue that the Jayhawks might not be able to fix immediately, as freshman Josh Selby might make a wild team even wilder when he first enters the KU rotation.
It's Thomas Robinson. And this is one of the toughest-luck lines of the year.
Robinson was solid almost all the way across his statistical line. He grabbed 27.6 percent of available offensive rebounds and 20.4 percent of available defensive rebounds, which are both strong numbers. He shot a good percentage from the floor (60.0 eFG%), blocked 16.4 percent of CSU's shot attempts when he was in, and even posted 13.1 percent of his team's assists during his 17 minutes.
His poor free-throw shooting, though, overshadowed what was an otherwise encouraging night.
Robinson was just 1-for-7 from the line, which killed his offensive numbers. Mostly because of the free throws, Robinson posted just 0.67 points per possession while using a high percentage of KU possessions (31.6 percent).
The reason that this is tough luck is that I've talked to Robinson. I know he was frustrated with his free-throw shooting last year, so he dedicated himself to improving in the offseason.
I know he sought out Self, along with KU assistants Danny Manning and Joe Dooley, to help him fix his free-throw form. He also put up extra shots in the summer.
Early on this season, he was improved at the line, as he made 8 of 11 free throws in KU's first three games (72.7 percent).
With his recent struggles, he's down to 48.4 percent from the line this year.
That's not because of a lack of effort on his part.
I think we'll see him in the mid-60s by the time this season is over.
Though Self's harsh comments afterwards were a smart tactic used to get his team's focus, that doesn't necessarily mean that KU played horribly against CSU.
If you're looking for positives, KU's offensive rebounding was great and its defense — especially against Ogide — was stellar.
Colorado State coach Tim Miles gave a great quote after the game before Self even made it to the podium.
"I don't know what Self's complaining about," Miles said. "I thought their defense was just fine."
In reality, KU's defense was just fine. KU was just fine.
It's just that "fine" isn't always good enough for Self, who demands more than that out of his players.