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Recap: KU excels in "effort" statistics against Miami

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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.

In an interesting story about box scores by the Kansas City Star's J. Brady McCollough over the weekend, Kansas coach Bill Self outlined what he looks for first in a box score right after the game.

After glancing at field-goal percentage, Self's eyes go to compare the opponents' missed shots and offensive rebounds.

Or — in other words — Self wants to see what his team's defensive rebounding percentage is.

See, us being nerdy on this blog isn't as crazy as you might think. http://www2.kusports.com/photos/galle...

It all makes sense, as McCollough points out in the article. Self has tons of talent. That's usually not an issue with his teams.

But one of his biggest concerns is to get all those talented players to play hard and to play together.

Self didn't need to look at his box score for long last night to realize that KU played with as much effort last night as it has all season.

The Jayhawks dominated the boards, outrebounding the RedHawks, 46-17.

Let's put that in perspective:

The 17 rebounds by Miami tied for the 14th-fewest by a team in a Div. I game this year, and by my rough estimation, there have been about 2,000 Div. I games played so far this year.

KU's offensive rebounding percentage was 57.1 percent, easily its highest total of the year. Again, we have to think about this to appreciate it. When the Jayhawks missed a shot, they were more likely to get the rebound than the RedHawks were, even though, in theory, Miami should have the inside rebounding position.

The 57.1 percent offensive rebounding clip was the fifth-best effort by KU during Bill Self's eight seasons with the Jayhawks and the best in the last two seasons.

Kansas center Jeff Withey delivers on a dunk before Miami (Ohio) University forward Nick Winbush during the first half, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Jeff Withey delivers on a dunk before Miami (Ohio) University forward Nick Winbush during the first half, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

KU's defensive rebounding percentage was 85.7 percent, which again was a season-best.

In McCollough's article above, Self says the optimal goal is to come away with 80 percent of the other team's misses. The Jayhawks beat that optimal goal on Sunday by 5.7 percent.

KU's defensive rebounding percentage Sunday tied for the eighth-best mark in Self's era at KU.

After a week of tough practices that emphasized effort, Self spent most of Sunday night watching his players show the kind of aggressiveness that any coach would be proud of.

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

Speaking of inspired Jayhawks, Markieff Morris certainly played the part of one Sunday night.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris dunks against Miami (Ohio) University guard Allen Roberts during the first half, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris dunks against Miami (Ohio) University guard Allen Roberts during the first half, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

The junior couldn't have been much more efficient against Miami, posting 1.67 points per possession used.

Markieff didn't end a high percentage of KU possessions (16.5 percent), but that's partially because he didn't turn the ball over once in his 22 minutes. He made 9 of 11 shots and also was superb on the glass, pulling down 32.4 percent of the available offensive rebounds (a season-high for him) and 25.9 percent of the available defensive rebounds.

He also might have had made the best move on the perimeter of his KU career, faking a three before driving to the rim for a two-handed dunk.

http://www2.kusports.com/videos/2011/jan/02/33781/

I have to wonder if he's going to add that move to the repertoire now that teams realize they have to respect his three-point shot (8-for-21 this year, 38.1 percent).

Room for Improvement

There was one glaring negative from KU's easy victory over Miami: The Jayhawks, once again, were careless with the basketball.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor tangles with Miami (Ohio) University guard Orlando Williams as he drives to the bucket during the first half, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor tangles with Miami (Ohio) University guard Orlando Williams as he drives to the bucket during the first half, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

KU turned it over on 27.3 percent of its possessions — its second-highest total of the season.

In reality, though, this was by far the Jayhawks' worst turnover game of the year when you take everything into perspective.

Coming into the game, Miami was in the bottom 10 nationally in defensive turnover percentage. The RedHawks had forced turnovers on fewer than 17 percent of their opponents' possessions. NCAA average turnover percentage is 20.9 percent.

There was no reason for the Jayhawks to turn the ball over at a rate higher than their season average, which is 19.3 percent.

It's a bit scary to think about the pattern that KU is setting. The Jayhawks aren't just turning it over against good steal teams. They're turning it over against bad steal teams.

Now, it isn't every game. KU actually didn't turn the ball over on more than 20 percent of its possessions in any of its previous three games.

But it is a reason for concern looking ahead to a single-elimination tournament in March. KU has shown the volatility to have a huge turnover game against any team, whether that team is good defensively or not.

The Jayhawks posted a solid 1.26 points per possession, but that was despite turnovers. In the possessions where KU didn't turn it over (called an effective possession), the Jayhawks posted an astounding 1.73 points per possession.

Kansas guard Tyrel Reed celebrates a dunk by teammate Josh Selby against Miami (Ohio) University during the first half, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Tyrel Reed celebrates a dunk by teammate Josh Selby against Miami (Ohio) University during the first half, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

If the Jayhawks would have turned it over at an average rate (12.5 times would have been expected from this game) and kept that efficiency, they would have added 9.5 points to their total against Miami.

Those 10 points didn't mean a lot on Sunday, but they definitely could in closer games the rest of the way.

Tough-Luck Line

Part of KU's turnover problem came from an unexpected source: senior guard Brady Morningstar.

Kansas guard Brady Morningstar squeezes in for a bucket past Miami (Ohio) University defender Antonio Ballard during the second half, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Brady Morningstar squeezes in for a bucket past Miami (Ohio) University defender Antonio Ballard during the second half, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

The Lawrence native turned it over four times in just 18 minutes, which is a huge number for a role player.

The giveaways killed Morningstar's final line. He posted a (non-walk-on) team-low 0.74 points per possession used while ending an average number of possessions (20.2 percent). He also had three fouls, and though he finished 2-for-4, he missed both of his three-point attempts.

In a game where I believe Self was ready to hand over minutes to his best defenders, Morningstar had a tough night and wasn't his usual "do-no-harm" self on the offensive end.

Bottom Line

There are reasons to be encouraged if you're a KU fan following the victory over Miami.

The Jayhawks gave great effort, as evidenced by their domination on the glass.

KU played much-improved defense in the first half, allowing just 21 points before falling off a bit in the final 20 minutes.

The Jayhawks shared the ball the best they have since Selby has entered the lineup, posting assists on 68.6 percent of their made baskets — their highest percentage of the year.

In this sequence of images, Kansas guard Travis Releford tosses an off-the-backboard pass to Elijah Johnson for the dunk against Miami (Ohio) University during the first half on Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

In this sequence of images, Kansas guard Travis Releford tosses an off-the-backboard pass to Elijah Johnson for the dunk against Miami (Ohio) University during the first half on Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

We'll see if the Jayhawks show the same effort against UMKC on Wednesday — another team that should be overmatched from the tip.

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