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LJWorld.com weblogs The Newell Post

KU's bench and some numbers that are hard to believe

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Kansas head coach Bill Self waves to the fans after the Jayhawks' 83-62 win over Kansas State on Monday, Feb. 11, 2013.

Kansas head coach Bill Self waves to the fans after the Jayhawks' 83-62 win over Kansas State on Monday, Feb. 11, 2013. by Nick Krug

Let's start with a trivia question: In coach Bill Self's 10 seasons at Kansas, who had the worst shooting season with a minimum of 100 field goal attempts?

While you think about that, let's examine just how thin Self's bench is this season.

Since the 2006-07, KenPom.com has tracked the percentage of a team's minutes that come from its bench. NCAA average each year is right around 30 percent.

Self has only had one team — 2010-11 — that was above the NCAA average in percentage of bench minutes. The last two years, he's gone almost exclusively with his starters, as 22.7 percent of his minutes went to bench players last year and 22.2 percent have gone to reserves this season.

There is good news for KU: Final Four teams typically don't have deep benches.

In fact, only five Final Four teams in the last six seasons have had benches that have played 30 percent or more of their team's minutes.

Five other Final Four teams — including one national champion — actually played their bench less than KU has this year.

Bench minutes percentage for Final Four teams

Bench minutes percentage for Final Four teams by Jesse Newell

The bigger issue for Self isn't his team's lack of bench minutes, though — it's the lack of offensive production he's getting from those bench players.

Let's get back to the first question: In Self's 10 seasons at Kansas, who had the worst shooting season with a minimum of 100 field goal attempts? For, this, I'm using effective field goal percentage, which gives 1.5 times credit for threes, because they're worth 1.5 times the points.

Any guesses?

The student section throws confetti on Monday February 11, 2013 in Allen Fieldhouse.

The student section throws confetti on Monday February 11, 2013 in Allen Fieldhouse. by Richard Gwin

Out of 71 players that qualified, the correct answer is Naadir Tharpe this season.

His teammate, Perry Ellis, is second.

Worst shooters, min. 100 FGAs.

Worst shooters, min. 100 FGAs. by Jesse Newell

See the full list.

If that's not scary enough for Self, let's lower the bar to 50 field goals attempted in a season.

If we do that, KU's four top bench players (Tharpe, Ellis, Jamari Traylor, Andrew White III) all rank as four of the worst five shooters that Self has had at KU.

Worst shooters, min. 50 FGAs.

Worst shooters, min. 50 FGAs. by Jesse Newell

See the full list.

It's not impossible for a team with a thin bench to make a Final Four or even win a national championship.

Having said that, I'm sure Self would feel a lot better about his team's chances if his reserves started hitting a few more shots.

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