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Recap: Thomas Robinson on amazing defensive rebounding pace
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.
This wasn't a game where one statistic screamed out to tell us why Kansas came away with a 67-63 victory over Georgetown.
As a whole, KU was just a little better in a few areas. KU shot slightly better (52 percent effective field goal percentage, compared to Georgetown's 46.4 eFG%), made it to the free-throw line more (free throw rate of 43.1, compared to Georgetown's 32.7) and was the better team on the boards (grabbing 54.1 percent of the total rebounds).
Speaking of the glass, now's a good time to talk about an overlooked aspect so far this season: just how good Thomas Robinson has been on the defensive boards.
Through three games, Robinson has pulled down 36.15 percent of the available defensive rebounds. That's fourth nationally out of all NCAA players that have played at least two games and even more impressive when you consider Robinson is averaging 29 minutes per game.
To put a little more perspective on 36.15 percent, Morehead State's Kenneth Faried led the nation in defensive rebounding percentage last season, and he grabbed 31.41 percent of the available defensive rebounds.
Robinson hasn't gone against slouches, either, as Kentucky and Georgetown both had legitimate big men inside. Those actually were his two best defensive rebounding games as far as percentage goes.
Perhaps the most amazing stat? Robinson has three times as many defensive rebounds (27) as any other KU player (Jeff Withey, nine).
Stay out of foul trouble, big fella. Right now, your team desperately needs you in there.
M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)
Tyshawn Taylor has put together an impressive start to the season, and that continued against Georgetown.
The KU senior posted 1.26 points per possessions used (best on the team of players with more than one field goal) while ending 20.5 percent of KU's possessions while he was in (second-highest on the team).
Taylor made positive contributions across his stat line. His eFG% of 72.2 percent was second on the team, while he was also able to get to the free-throw line (55.5 free throw rate) and effectively move the ball to open teammates (he handed out assists on 20.2 percent of KU's field goals while he was in).
The advanced statistics for Taylor have been great so far. Through three games, he's posting 1.25 points per possession used (125.0 offensive rating) while taking on a major offensive load for KU, ending 23.8 percent of the possessions he's in.
Last year, only five players nationally ended more than 20 percent of their team's possessions while they were in and had an offensive rating of 125 or higher.
Taylor will be in elite company if he keeps up his current pace.
Room for Improvement
The last two seasons, most of Georgetown's struggles offensively have come because of turnovers.
The Hoyas turned it over on 21.6 percent of their possessions in 2009-10, then 21 percent of their possessions in 2010-11.
That's why it was surprising that KU — which came into the game as a solid turnover-forcing team — didn't force many giveaways on Monday.
Georgetown turned it over on just 16.9 percent of its possessions, while KU had steals on just 6.2 percent of its possessions — its sixth-lowest total in the last two seasons.
In the past, a lot of the turnovers have come from the Hoyas' big men, and KU didn't seem to pressure those guys enough to get steals. Robinson oftentimes played well off his man defensively, while poke-away specialist Kevin Young didn't play in the second half after gambling on a defensive assignment on the final possession before halftime.
Because of that, Georgetown's big men combined for just six giveaways, while no Hoya had more than two.
Until Self develops more trust in Young, you'd have to think we'll see more "guard the basket" defense from KU's big men rather than "get out and pressure them."
This goes to Jeff Withey, who had his night end early after fouling out in just 13 minutes.
The big man also struggled offensively while he was in, posting just 0.55 points per possession used while ending 18.9 percent of KU's possessions. He also turned it over on two of the four possessions he used, though it is worth noting he grabbed 43.9 percent of the available defensive rebounds while he was in.
Yes, Withey's fifth foul was a phantom call, but avoiding fouls is still a skill he needs to improve upon.
So far this season, Withey has 12 fouls in 56 minutes — or one every 4.7 minutes.
The problem is made worse considering that teammate Justin Wesley is having the same issues, racking up 11 fouls in 50 minutes. That comes out to one foul every 4.5 minutes.
The extra whistles are costly for two reasons: They limit KU's big-man bench (which is already thin) and move opponents closer to the bonus. KU's defensive free-throw rate of 42.7 ranks 220th nationally, and giving away free points at the line isn't the best way to try to keep a team from scoring.
Both Withey and Wesley need to figure out a better way to play hands-off defense to take pressure off Robinson and the defense as a whole.
In an entertaining game, the final score and statistics looked about like you'd expect for a neutral-floor game between two good teams.
The game was played at a slower pace (65 possessions), with KU posting a solid offensive (1.03 points per possession) and defensive (0.97 PPP allowed) effort against a strong opponent.
Though KU didn't force many turnovers, it made up for it by shooting a better percentage and not allowing Georgetown many second-chance opportunities.
Robinson can't play the role of Superman on the defensive glass every night, though. KU needs to get him some help inside, and that starts with smarter play out of its big men.