Posts tagged with Ku

Cliff’s Notes: Charlie Weis press conference, 12/20/12

Here is the Cliff's Notes version from Kansas football coach Charlie Weis' comments at his press conference today.

Full audio has been posted.

• Weis met with some of the older returning players on the Sunday after the season. He talked to several of them about the direction of the program. He let them know, between them and strength and conditioning coach Scott Holsopple, that it was their responsibility to set the tone for the team. Weis has been pleased with how things have gone after the season ended. A lot of the guys have been working out with Holsopple on their own.

Weis says the guys on KU's defensive line — those here and those signed — have some inherent pass rush ability. Weis believes it will be important for KU to get more heat on the quarterback than it did in 2012. Weis has made a list of things that KU's defense did that would give him problems as an offensive coordinator. Defensive coordinator Dave Campo does the same thing for Weis with the offense. KU is doing a big self-scout study. That's what a lot of the GAs — the guys that stay in-house during the recruiting time — are doing for KU: working on self-scout projects to help KU.

• When KU's coaching staff first got here, Weis said it was just taking bodies in recruiting. You do the best you can do at getting the guys you can. When you have a full cycle in recruiting, that's no longer the case. You have to fill the glaring holes, but you also have to fill those spots with guys you think will be an upgrade. There's going to be a great influx of good talent that will mix in with the guys that are already here. Some of the new signings will have to play catch-up, but Weis says KU has an opportunity to take what it did well this year and grow from that.

• Weis said if you don't have good offensive and defensive linemen, it doesn't matter what else you have. You could have the greatest skill guys in the world, but if you can't do well on the lines, it won't matter much. KU has added a couple of unique guys with unique skill sets on the lines.

• Weis said all he had to do to get defensive lineman Chris Martin was offer him a scholarship. That's all it took. His mom wouldn't let him go anywhere else. Weis and Martin didn't even talk about recruiting on his visit. Martin committed to Weis on signing day of his junior year. Then, when Weis got fired, he bailed out. Weis told Martin last year, if he toed the line, he'd offer him. That's what he did.

Weis helped quarterback Dayne Crist with the agent process. He's playing in a showcase bowl game in Tucson, Ariz., in January. They actually talk more about family than football. If his guys want to give the NFL a go, he talks to them about representation and workouts. But right now, he mostly talks to guys about family.

Weis wanted defensive lineman Ty McKinney to continue to take classes this semester to stay in a student state of mind. If you sit out academics a semester, it's much tougher to get back into the routine of doing it.

Weis says there's only way you measure success, and that's winning games. You can measure progress, but in the end, success is when you win games. KU won one game last year, and that's not what it's shooting for.

In all the good defenses he's gone against, Weis said there's always been a couple of good personalities — guys that the media can't wait to get to. Defensive lineman Marquel Combs is one of those players. Weis likes guys that have makeup, as long as they can back it up. Just like tight end Mike Ragone had a great personality last year, Combs is a "slam dunk" personality-wise, according to Weis. The coach calls him the "pied piper," as everyone wants to Facebook and message and Tweet him. Weis said he challenged a lot of the guys that signed to be a part of what turns KU from a 1-11 team to a successful program. Weis got in his face during a recruiting trip, asking him if he was afraid to come to KU. That was right up Combs' alley. Once he got on board, others believed they should jump too. Weis said these juco signees are like long-lost best friends through social media, and they're not even teammates yet.

• Weis says there's good and bad with technology. Everything you do can be out there five seconds after you post it on Twitter. If it's controversial enough, what you say will be on ESPN in 15 minutes. Everything is different now. You have to be very careful with technology today, because you're going to be held accountable.

The juco signees can talk whatever they want on social media — including having a "Dream Team" or potentially making a BCS bowl game ‚ until they get to campus. The rules are going to change for the guys once they get here. Weis said he won't put the clamps on Combs yet, at least not until Signing Day. Weis joked to Matt Tait if he hoped to have a new Twitter darling in Combs ... that might not be the case in the future.

KU cornerback Dexter McDonald originally didn't have any desire to come back to KU after he left. He met with KU running backs coach Reggie Mitchell and KU's other coaches. He and his family agreed this new situation was different and one he wanted to be a part of this new program.

• Weis said there are a lot of things he can say positively about quarterback Jake Heaps. He was scout team player of the week each week. He performed at a high level. Weis has known Heaps for a long time. Heaps called Weis when he took the coach took the KU job to see if he'd be interested in having him. Heaps has been grinding and working hard since he got here. He might win a vote of the team's favorite player, and he hasn't even played yet. Weis is not going to anoint him as the second coming, but what he's done so far is a good start.

You can't fake leadership. Either you have it or you don't. When you try to make guys into leaders, it doesn't work well. Weis hopes some of the leaders aren't even here yet.

Weis said it's tough for a kid out of high school to be a significant contributor at defensive tackle or defensive end without being a great pass-rusher. A lot of high school kids you bring in are purely projections. You can get a better idea of what defensive linemen might be at the juco level because there has been a couple years of college evidence of what they might become.

KU has a number of candidates at safety. The coaching staff also has a few people it feels good about that will be joining the team.

Having good running backs helps KU recruit offensive linemen. Those guys look and see, "Hey, those guys can run the ball." The offensive line signees were interested that James Sims, Tony Pierson and Taylor Cox were coming back. Weis also jokingly asked them if they could pass block as well, saying KU will have to improve its passing game.

• Weis says you start with a high number of juco kids in Year One, then you work your way down. You want to blend it, but KU has holes now. Weis says he's too old to wait. He wants to win now. He hates hearing how many games KU was close in last year. KU lost those games. He wants guys that can play, and he wants to blend juco guys with high school guys that want to play at KU. With those guys, this whole thing has a chance to work out.

• If returning guys can't see they need to be driven because of added competition with the juco guys coming in, then they're never going to see it. Those guys should be motivated.

Weis says he tells current players, when they're talking to potential recruits, to simply tell the truth about Weis and the program. If they tell the truth, whatever they perceive that to be, Weis can live with that. That philosophy has worked out for KU, especially with quarterback Turner Baty, who helped bring in guys from his old juco, City College of San Francisco.

After 1-11, no coaching staff member is getting thrown under the bus by Weis. He anticipates having the same coaching staff in 2013. The coach did tell his staff that if he hears any of them looking for another job, he's looking for another coach.

Weis likes defensive back Cassius Sendish's size and ability. He's a very polished student and polished young man.


KU dominating opponents in dunks

It might sound simple, but a huge reason for the Kansas men's basketball team's success so far has been making close shots while allowing very few.'s numbers list KU as the best layup/dunk/tip-in defensive team in the nation, with opponents only making 43 percent of those shots. In addition, KU leads the country by blocking 30 percent of those close tries.

On the other end, the Jayhawks have thrived at getting layups/dunks/tips, helped by strong transition play and good passing.

I wanted to dive a little further into the numbers to see just how much layups/dunks/tips are contributing to KU's success, so I went through the play-by-play of each box score to tally KU's close shots compared to its opponents.

Game by game

Game by game by Jesse Newell

Enlarge graph

As you can see, the Jayhawks have only been outperformed on close shots once this year, and that was during their 67-64 loss to Michigan State. KU has had double the easy baskets (or more) in nearly every other game this season.

The next graph shows how many points KU has gained each game on close shots over its opponent — a layup/dunk/tip margin if you will.

Close shot differential

Close shot differential by Jesse Newell

Enlarge graph

Through 10 games, KU has scored 176 more points on close shots than its opponents. That means the Jayhawks have averaged 17.6 more points per game than their opponents on layups, dunks and tips alone (For reference, KU's average margin of victory is 19.2 points.).

The Jayhawks' combined dunk and layup numbers are staggering as well (tips are excluded below).

Closer look at dunks/layups

Closer look at dunks/layups by Jesse Newell

Enlarge graph

The Jayhawks are outdunking opponents, 57-8. That means Jeff Withey has more than twice the number of dunks this year as all of KU's opponents combined (20). Ben McLemore can say the same thing (17).

Withey's presence also has made dunking difficult for opponents. According to the box scores, opposing players are just 8-for-13 on dunk attempts against KU. That means teams have had a better chance of making an attempted free throw against the Jayhawks (109 of 159, 69 percent) than making an attempted dunk (eight of 13, 62 percent).

Here's a look at all the close shot combined percentages for KU and its opponents this year. (Note: Hoop-Math's numbers slightly differ from mine.)

Close shot breakdown

Close shot breakdown by Jesse Newell

This will be a hard advantage to sustain as the competition picks up, but right now, KU is doubling up its opponents when it comes to easy twos.

By building a team that takes lots of the highest-percentage shots in basketball while not surrendering them, KU coach Bill Self appears to have found yet another formula for success — one that makes his team the heavy favorite to win the Big 12.


Cliff’s Notes: Bill Self press conference, 12/13/12

Here is the Cliff's Notes version from Kansas men's basketball coach Bill Self's comments at his press conference today.

Full audio has been posted.

Self said this Belmont game is a good RPI game. It's picked to win its division of the Ohio Valley conference. KU schedules the tough teams in small conferences by design. Belmont plays small and can't stretch it from all spots. That can cause potential matchup situations if KU doesn't guard it right.

• This was a maintenance week for KU because of finals week. KU's players took Wednesday off. Beginning Sunday, practices and film sessions will be more intense because there are no limitations.

Guard Ben McLemore still hasn't played like he can play yet. Just wait till he gets comfortable, Self said. He's scoring better than Self thought he might this soon, because he wasn't sure if he'd be aggressive. McLemore's becoming a much better player. He's unselfish, and he's learning to be more aggressive while being unselfish. He's one of the premier players in the Big 12.

McLemore and KU forward Jamari Traylor learned how to compete going against Tyshawn Taylor and Thomas Robinson in practices last year. Also, McLemore and Traylor were stellar in the classroom last year.

SMU coach Larry Brown watches all the KU games he can. Brown called Self after one of the games that KU struggled, and he told Self how good his team was. Self jokingly asked him if he watched the same game that Self did. Brown likes his team at SMU.

• Self doesn't think this year's team is as good as last year's team at this time, because last year's team was more seasoned. It was more battle-tested with its schedule and was more tough. If you take out clips of this year when it plays well ... KU plays just as well at its best this year as other KU teams in the past have played at their best. KU has been an average this team except for spurts.

KU played better against Colorado because of energy level. Self said Travis Releford and Kevin Young keyed that. Young is the only guy with natural energy. Taylor and Robinson had that natural energy. The Morris twins had that. KU doesn't have those personalities this year, those guys that can naturally amp other players up. Releford and Young are the only ones that Self believes do that consistently.

Self said it's not tough to get up for a non-name school. Belmont can beat KU. It could take advantage of ball-screen matchups and have success scoring. Self said KU's players can't pass up any opportunities to play, especially because you only run out of the tunnel so many times.

Self said Belmont could compete in the Big 12 if it played in the conference.

Self said Perry Ellis has done some good things in practice. He played well against CU, but he didn't have much statistical production. His minutes will go up if he continues to be aggressive. He thinks too much still. A lot of KU's guys still think too much.


Who feeds Jeff Withey the best?

Kansas center Jeff Withey soars in for an alley-oop dunk against Saint Louis in the first half of the championship game of the CBE Classic, Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

Kansas center Jeff Withey soars in for an alley-oop dunk against Saint Louis in the first half of the championship game of the CBE Classic, Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri. by Nick Krug

I'll admit it. I'm fascinated by how Kansas center Jeff Withey scores his field goals for KU.

This started last year when Ken Pomeroy, in one of his blogs, said Withey "was assisted on short 2s like few other post players."

The numbers in back this up.

Last year, 78 percent of Withey's made field goals at the rim were assisted. Compare that to then-teammate Thomas Robinson, who had 60 percent of layups/dunks assisted.

I wondered if that might change for Withey this season. After all, without Robinson as a go-to scorer inside, one might think that Withey would have to try to create more offensively in the post.

Amazingly, Withey's point production has gone up (13.8 points a game from 9 points per game) though his assisted rate remains almost completely unchanged on close shots.

According to Hoop-Math, 74 percent of Withey's layups/dunks are assisted this year, only slightly down from 78 percent a year ago. (In case you're wondering, Withey makes 67 percent of his layups/dunks, which is well above the NCAA average of 53 percent).

I wanted to take an even closer look at Withey's baskets, giving us a better feel on how he scores on all his field goals (layups/dunks and jumpers).

Going through the box scores, I went charted each of Withey's made twos, taking a look at who assisted him on each of his field goals.

Here's the breakdown.

Jeff Withey

Jeff Withey by Jesse Newell

A few interesting things I found:

If you take out Withey's seven baskets that came after offensive rebounds, you're left with a crazy statistic.

Only three of Withey's 42 field goals this year have been unassisted. Three. That's only 7.1 percent of his made field goals.

This much is clear: The big man is almost entirely reliant on teammates (or his own offensive rebounding positioning) to get his points.

Withey posted one unassisted basket against Michigan State, San Jose State and Oregon State. In KU's other five games, he had none.

There seems to be a learning curve here when it comes to feeding Withey, as the chart above is dominated by returning players.

KU senior guard Elijah Johnson is the best, and that's not surprising, considering he's KU's best passer.

Outside of Ben McLemore, though (five assists), no other freshman has more than two assists to Withey. Some of that might be contributed to limited playing time for the newcomers, but there still seems to be a bit of a difference between the two groups (For example, Kevin Young has played one more minute than Perry Ellis this year but has two more assists to Withey).

KU sophomore Naadir Tharpe might be the biggest surprise player on the chart above.

In 135 minutes, Tharpe has only assisted Withey twice. That especially doesn't look good when you see that in 233 minutes, Johnson has assisted Withey 12 times.

In addition to keeping his turnovers down, Tharpe might have another way to help his chances of staying on the floor if he's able to better feed the Jayhawks' center.


Cliff’s Notes: Bill Self press conference, 12/6/12

Here is the Cliff's Notes version from Kansas men's basketball coach Bill Self's comments at his press conference today.

Full audio has been posted.

Self said this year's Colorado team is probably the best one that coach Tad Boyle has had there. Andre Roberson has emerged as one the most elite 4 men in the country. Boyle has a really nice team.

Self said this home-and-home series with Colorado was set up mostly to help out those fans in western Kansas so they can get an opportunity to see KU play in Boulder. Self isn't mad at Colorado for leaving the conference, as it did what it had to do. With the league potentially breaking up, Colorado had to jump and take what was available.

• KU hasn't played with a true point guard for a while. Whoever got the ball in the past brought it up the court. This year, Elijah Johnson is having to bring it up. There's no complementary player with him. That's put pressure on him. He's played OK, but he hasn't played great yet. Self believes he will take the next step soon. Johnson is not as aggressive trying to score the ball because he's trying to get everyone else involved. That will come. Self says the big thing for Johnson is he has to increase his free throw attempts. Johnson took a hard fall last game and bruised his hand. Self didn't know about the hand bruise at the time. Johnson has played better the last two games.

Most teams don't score out of offense. They score out of loose balls or bad close outs or beating a man off the bounce or things similar to that. That's not designing anything. KU has suffered in that area this year without guys that can force help and create for others.

Self says bad teams can guard the first 15 seconds. Average ones can guard the first 22 seconds. Really good teams can defend the whole time. Like baseball, good pitching will beat good hitting. Good defense will beat good offense in basketball. But if a defense is really sound and can defend your actions, that's when you need someone to make a play.

KU practiced Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. KU has gotten a lot of stuff in, but it also should be well-rested. Self says practices have gone OK. The guys are trying hard, but they don't always bring the same intensity every day. Right now, KU's players go harder in practice than they do in games.

Jeff Withey's timing on blocking shots is unbelievable. It's unheard of that a guy could be that good at blocking shots without fouling. Withey's a pretty good rebounder, but he could be better. Self says he should be better at offensive rebounding. Self almost hopes his rebounding numbers on the defensive end go down a bit if that means other guys step up. Jamari Traylor, Perry Ellis and Travis Releford need to be better defensive rebounders.

KU is not pressuring defensively with its guards and it's still getting beat off the dribble. Self thinks you can pressure more if you have a shot-blocker like Withey in the back.

• Self says the team is looking at options. Maybe Rio Adams can play, and to take pressure off, you put Travis Releford at the point. KU still hasn't found Johnson's backup. KU tried Kevin Young bringing it up in practice, though that only lasted about 10 minutes. The coaches are trying some things.

KU has looked at some different things defensively this week with zone defenses.

The Big 12 has not gotten off to a good start. If you don't play good in November and December, then the perception is your league isn't going to be looked at favorably. The Big 12 still has a chance to be a top-three RPI team, but it needs some big wins soon.

Self thinks Releford should be penciled in as a double-digit scorer. It does help KU when he makes shots. Self said Releford needs to become a better defender, and he'd be the first to tell you that. He needs to be a great lockdown defender. If Releford gets back to guarding like he did last year, KU's defense will be improved.


Layup defense and how it affects KU’s perimeter players

Kansas center Jeff Withey swats a shot from Washburn forward Zack Riggins during the first half on Monday, Nov. 5, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Jeff Withey swats a shot from Washburn forward Zack Riggins during the first half on Monday, Nov. 5, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

There have been a few good pieces lately on Kansas center Jeff Withey's impact defensively, but I wanted to point out another facet that KU coach Bill Self touched on briefly during his Hawk Talk radio show Monday night.

Almost entirely because of Withey, KU's opponents simply are not getting easy shots.

Here's a look at the top five teams in the nation this year in layup defense, according to the cool nerd site Hoop-Math.

Layup defense

Layup defense by Jesse Newell

The reason for KU being the best defensive layup team, of course, is blocked shots. Here's a look at the top five teams in the nation at blocking layups.

Block percentage on layups

Block percentage on layups by Jesse Newell

As you can imagine, eliminating an opponent's easy shots is a great way to build a defense ... and we can reflect that with some simple arithmetic.

Hoop-math's numbers say that 36 percent the shots KU has allowed this year have been layups (actually slightly above the NCAA average of 34 percent). That means, out of the 405 field-goal attempts KU has allowed this year, about 145 have been layup tries.

Here's how many points that would be produced by opponents with 145 layup attempts against the defenses above, based on those defenses' season percentages.

Points allowed on layups

Points allowed on layups by Jesse Newell

Obviously, this is a rough approximation, as missing a layup doesn't necessarily mean no points (a team could rebound it and hit a three, for example) and a made layup doesn't necessarily just mean two points (it could result in a three-point play).

But, at a base level, this analysis would suggest through seven games, KU is saving itself about 8.7 points per game over the average NCAA team on layups alone.

It turns out KU's shot-blockers are having an even bigger impact than that. KU's opponents have made just 29 percent of their two-point jumpers (NCAA average is 35 percent) with the Jayhawks blocking 12 percent of those shots (seven percent is NCAA average).

KU's two-point defense has been so good this year it's led to an extremely rare stat: So far, opponents are shooting better from three-point range against the Jayhawks (35.5 percent) than two-point range (35.2 percent).

That statistic is pretty remarkable if you think about it.

This all makes me believe that KU might want to rethink the way it plays defense this year.

Obviously, a lot has been made of KU's perimeter players getting beaten off the dribble by opposing guards.

The thing is, KU's defense hasn't been killed by those players getting to the lane for shots; it's been killed by those players kicking the ball out or finding openings on the perimeter to get shots up.

Here's the breakdown of opponents' shooting percentages against KU.

KU defensive breakdown

KU defensive breakdown by Jesse Newell

Looking at the field-goal percentages on the right, the three numbers aren't too far apart. The only difference is that teams are getting three points for the bottom row but only two points for the top two rows.

Let's look at this another way. If opposing teams got 100 of each of the above shots against KU, they would score 80 points in layups, 58 points on two-point jumpers and 108 points on three-pointers.

That means at this point — statistically — KU's defense is much better off daring teams to take their chances inside the arc. (And conversely, opposing teams are better off taking as many threes as possible).

So far, according to, 35.7 percent of opponents' points against KU have come from three-pointers (17th-highest split nationally), while only 45.6 percent of opponents' points have come on two-pointers (317th-highest split nationally).

KU has a unique defensive weapon this year in Withey, as not only is he an elite shot-blocker, he's also one that doesn't get into foul trouble (1.1 fouls per 40 minutes).

Though it would be a luxury for KU's guards to not get beaten off the dribble, the real goal should be to recover quickly and defend the three-point line at all costs.

If the early season is any indication, there aren't many teams that are going to find success scoring over KU's athletic big men, even if they get it all the way to the rim.


Cliff’s Notes: Bill Self press conference, 11/28/12

Here is the Cliff's Notes version from Kansas men's basketball coach Bill Self's comments at his press conference today.

Full audio has been posted.

Andrew White III's best skill right now is his shooting. That's what he's best at. He needs to take care of the basketball and understand better what KU is doing. White is going to be a good basketball player, Self said. He reminds Self a little bit of Conner Teahan.

• Oregon State is really long. It'll be about as big of a team as KU will play. Oregon State reminds Self a little bit of Baylor last year with its length. Oregon State plays a little bit of a like Princeton offensively.

• At the 4-spot, Jamari Traylor is ahead of everybody on the team in terms of defense and rebounding. Perry Ellis is ahead offensively. Kevin Young is ahead as far as knowing what to do and stealing possessions. Those guys should be fighting for minutes every day. They didn't combine for much production against San Jose State. There have been times when that group of three has combined for good numbers, though.

During KU's 10-minute drought against San Jose State, it became more of a jump-shooting team. KU needs to drive more. KU gave San Jose State confidence then helped the Spartans score by turning it over and giving up points in transition.

KU has to have someone who can score, so Self wants Ben McLemore to be aggressive. The problem is, KU's guards don't shoot enough free throws. Elijah Johnson has taken seven for the year. Self knows that problem is fixable. It's a mind-set as much as anything. In practice, KU has looked better as far as executing and running offense to score. For whatever reason, that hasn't translated over to the games.

• Self said it's amazing to him that his team doesn't foul enough to get the opponent to the bonus at Allen Fieldhouse. KU hasn't been aggressive enough defensively.

Last year, Elijah Johnson pitched ahead in transition to Tyshawn Taylor, who was a playmaker. This year, he's pitching ahead to guys who can't make as many plays with the ball. Self said Johnson needs to be more aggressive on the break and needs to try to be a better playmaker.

Self said if Johnson is out there — banged up or not — he's got to produce. He said he learned that from Keith Langford's mom after he tried to make excuses for Langford with his knee. Langford's mother told Self, "If he's out there, he has to produce." Self joked he doesn't hear that from parents often.

Self says it's too early to worry about KU's poor three-point shooting. When White gets more minutes, that percentage will go up. Naadir Tharpe also hasn't shot it well yet. KU still is trying to climb out of a hole made by a 2-for-21 game against Southeast Missouri State.

• The crowd in K.C. will be bigger Friday because it's part of the season-ticket package. The crowds were poor for the CBE Classic, but Self still likes going over there to play.

Self says Withey having so many blocks with only five fouls this whole year is unbelievable. That shows his timing is off the charts and also that his ability to avoid body contact is impressive. KU played poor defense the other night, and Withey bailed the Jayhawks out.

Self played against Oregon State coach Craig Robinson in the NCAA Tournament in 1983 when Oklahoma State lost to Princeton. He's a good guy, Self said.

The movement that could occur in the immediate future in conference realignment is amazing to Self. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney has caused a big trickledown. Self says he's sure Bob Bowlsby and the presidents are in discussion about what the next move will be. Self doesn't know why the Big 12 couldn't stay at 10, but with the movement going on, the landscape could change over the next few years. Self still thinks KU couldn't be on any more solid footing right now. He doesn't think there should be any rush to do anything, but he thinks there should be a contingency plan just in case certain things happen.


Cliff’s Notes: Charlie Weis press conference, 11/27/12

Here is the Cliff's Notes version from Kansas football coach Charlie Weis' comments at his press conference today.

Full audio has been posted, along with the updated depth chart.

• Weis says West Virginia receiver Tavon Austin is faster than most receivers. Not only is he quick, he's also blazing fast, too. He's an unusual combination. He made Oklahoma's defense look silly, and if he can do that, that's a scary proposition. He doesn't play like he's 170 pounds. Weis says it's tough to find an analogy for a player like him.

WVU quarterback Geno Smith can sling it against anyone. The running game, though, has become a bigger part of the offense for the Mountaineers. Smith doesn't have to win the game by himself. He's really good at WVU does offensively. He can make all the throws.

Weis says he's playing under the old North Carolina basketball "four corners" offense. The best way for his team to compete is to hold onto the football and play ball possession. The longer KU can have possession, the better chance it has. Weis says you have to do what you do offensively, and hopefully, you do it a lot better this week.

KU quarterback Dayne Crist will play. Weis said everyone will have to see how it plays out. Weis says between Mike Cummings and Crist, KU got pretty good production out of the quarterback position against Iowa State.

Weis says if Brandon Bourbon could be a good defender, he'd be on defense. Weis says if that were to happen, it would be a change he would make in the offseason. Bourbon is a natural runner playing at a position with a lot of good players. Based on the evidence Weis sees, Bourbon is playing the position he's supposed to be playing.

• Weis says the development you get from 15 practices is the greatest benefit you get from a bowl game. When you're not playing in a bowl game, that's one thing you miss. The tradeoff, though, is that KU coaches can spend every waking second on recruiting after the season, which is something this team needs to focus on.

• The psychological lift of a win would be big for KU. The players would have a weight lifted off their shoulders.

Weis said the best year he had recruiting in the past was after his worst season, because the guys he brought in all saw an immediate opportunity to play.

Weis has already thought through what he will potentially tell his team after a win or a loss Saturday. He said he's filled up a lot of notepads with thoughts.

Weis says he can't recruit fast enough. He said if he could recruit Saturday night after the game, he would. A lot of head coaches don't like recruiting. Weis says he doesn't like being away from home, but he believes recruiting is a lifeline. He believes he's going to have to be a grinder in that area. Weis is very pleased with where KU stands in its recruiting for next year.

Recruiting at KU isn't tougher than Weis' previous coaching stop; it's just different. Weis didn't recruit junior-college players at Notre Dame. Those guys aspire to play on Sunday, so they want to get out to a place where they can play right away. Weis said there's a lot to like about the school, the facility and campus at KU. Lawrence is a great town. The only thing missing is that KU isn't winning football games. KU's coaches have to try to remove that stigma that is associated with being a losing program.

Weis said KU has 27 scholarships to give in recruiting, and there's a good chance KU will fill all of those 27 spots.

Weis says he tells all incoming freshmen not to come to campus with the intent to red-shirt. He tells them to come in with the intention of competing to earn a spot. Then later, if it works out best for the program and player, that's when you start to talk about a potential red-shirt.

Weis says almost every kid that comes to KU on a recruiting trip loves the place. There are way more positives at KU than negatives. The biggest negative is the losing, but you can flip that into a positive if kids want to come in and play immediately.

Weis remembers everyone telling running back Terrell Davis he was no good. People told him he couldn't do a lot of things, and he ended up with a successful career at Denver. Weis talked to him before the draft and told him he'd get drafted and would get a chance. Weis said Davis proved him wrong and turned himself into a great player. Weis doesn't like to make comparisons, but he said he saw something special in running back James Sims when he first got to campus. Weis doesn't believe Sims' career will end at KU next season, as he thinks he has a future in the NFL.

Weis was disappointed with the way his team performed against Iowa State. If KU doesn't show up Saturday, it could lose 100-0 to West Virginia. Weis wants to see his team show up Saturday and slug it out.

Weis said he could give 20 things he's happy about, but the glaring thing that stands out is that KU is 1-10. All those things on and off the field are important ingredients to getting things right. Until KU starts winning games, though, even the biggest fans are going to be a bit skeptical. Weis didn't take the job to go 1-10. He took the job because he intends to take KU and make it into a respectable winning football program again.


Cliff’s Notes: Bill Self press conference, 11/8/12

Here is the Cliff's Notes version from Kansas men's basketball coach Bill Self's comments at his press conference today.

Full audio has been posted.

Self said he saw the elbow Thomas Robinson threw on TV. It looked like Robinson got the guy pretty good. Self didn't see what led up to that play. He figures NBA commissioner David Stern will hand down some discipline.

• Self said offensively, against Washburn, his team looked like it did in Europe. His team didn't put pressure on Washburn on either end of the floor.

Self said Wednesday's practice wasn't great. It wasn't awful, but it wasn't anything special. It wasn't a lack of effort, but the circumstances probably didn't lend themselves to having an enthusiastic practice. Self said he talked to his team and reiterated leadership and enjoying the process of winning ugly. It's OK to win ugly, but you have to enjoy it, or you won't continue to do it over time.

Self says SE Missouri State is athletic. It runs sets similar to KU. It also has two active big men.

• A majority of Jeff Withey's blocked shots come from help defense. Withey needing to get more rebounds shouldn't affect him getting blocks this year.

Elijah Johnson is trying to do what he thinks the coaches want him to do, but he's forgotten about playing. He's thinking instead of playing, too. Self thinks the film session was good for him. Self wants him to penetrate more, along with the other guys. Self said he has a team full of guys that should be decent at it. Most of KU's team is explosive and athletic. Johnson should do that more than anyone, though. That hasn't been his mind-set with this team yet. He can do it, though. Johnson has to be a guy to get others easy baskets. ThisKU team doesn't have the natural low-post scorers that it's had in the past.

Kevin Young is definitely out for Friday's game with his broken hand.

• KU's preparation won't change because Michigan State is next after SE Missouri State. Three days is enough time to prepare for a team in college basketball.

Forward Zach Peters might be feeling a little better, but he's still out of practice. Self says if he doesn't get back soon, KU will have no choice but to red-shirt him.

Forward Landen Lucas will not play Friday and may not play Tuesday to keep the potential for him to red shirt. It's not certain just yet. Self says you don't red-shirt guys that you don't think can play. A red shirt would trade his age 19 year for his age 23 year. Peters and Lucas are the only two red-shirt candidates on this year's team.

Andrew White wants to be a complete player. Right now, his shooting skills are definitely ahead of his ball-handling skills. It appears that way now, but Self isn't sure that'll be the case a month or two by now. KU hasn't been practicing too long yet.

Self says Johnson has been as important to the success of KU's program as about anyone he's had at KU. Johnson has taken pressure off other guys prior to this year. It's going to be different for him this year, as he's going to have to have the ball in his hands a lot more.


5 things to learn about the KU basketball team from

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson grabs a steal from Washburn guard Jared Henry during the second half on Monday, Nov. 5, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson grabs a steal from Washburn guard Jared Henry during the second half on Monday, Nov. 5, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

A few months ago, I stumbled upon Jeff Haley's Hoop-Math website and was immediately interested by his analysis.

Basically, Haley breaks the shots of each team's possession using play-by-play data from box scores.

The data can be broken down by team and individually, giving us some insight into the patterns of players that we might not have had before.

Here are five interesting things about last year's KU basketball team I found from sifting through the Jayhawks' team page, followed some thoughts about what those numbers might mean for KU this year.

1. Elijah Johnson's wacky shooting splits

Haley's data breaks down each player's shots into three categories: shots that are at the rim (listed as layups in the box score), two-point jumpers and three-point jumpers.

Last year, the NCAA average for each was easy to remember: 34 percent of shots were at the rim, 33 percent were two-point jumpers and 33 percent were three-point jumpers.

Now, let's take a look at Elijah's splits.

%Close %2pt. jumpers %3pt. jumpers
23% 18% 59%

Ken Pomeroy had a similar finding about Johnson over the summer, as after sorting through shot-chart data, he discovered that Johnson took only 50 of his 330 shots from between six feet and the three-point line.

Perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise that so far that Johnson has looked a bit timid trying to get to the lane and create a shot off the dribble in the exhibition season.

In case you were wondering, Johnson took 19 shots in KU's two exhibition games. Fourteen of those (73.6 percent) were three-pointers, three of them (15.8 percent) were close shots and two of them (10.5 percent) were two-point jumpers.

It appears that Johnson has still has a ways to go if he's going to diversify his offensive game in 2012-13.

2. Jeff Withey's unassisted two-pointers

Jeff Withey earned the most praise because of defensive play last year, and deservedly so, as he was one of the nation's most feared shot-blockers.

He also averaged nine points per game, and without Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor on the team this year, I think quite a few people anticipated that those scoring numbers would go up significantly.

That perhaps isn't a realistic goal if you consider Withey's assisted layup splits from a year ago.

Withey %Close shots assisted Robinson %Close shots assisted
78% 60%

Out of the Final Four teams, there was no player with more than 25 field-goal attempts who had a higher percentage of layups that were assisted than Withey. Very few of his layups came from him making a move on his own; almost all came with the help of a pass from a teammate.

That's not to say that Withey can't improve his one-on-one game this season. And that's also doesn't mean that Withey couldn't increase his point production by making more two-point jumpers (though known as a good free-throw shooter, he made just 29 percent of his two-point jump shots last year, which is well below the 35-percent NCAA average).

It does mean, however, that last year he didn't necessarily display the skill set to create his own easy shots like Robinson did. That's a part of his game that will still need development if KU coach Bill Self continues to run the offense through him.

3. KU's best mid-range shooter

Any guesses as to which KU regular ended up as the Jayhawks' best two-point jump-shooter?

It actually was Travis Releford, who made 48 percent of his two-point jumpers (remember, 35 percent is NCAA average).

Releford wasn't getting too much help, either. Just 27 percent of those two-point jumpers were assisted, meaning the numbers would suggest that he is an effective scorer when pulling up off the dribble.

Kansas teammates Travis Releford (24) and Ben McLemore bump elbows after a bucket by McLemore against Emporia State during the first half, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas teammates Travis Releford (24) and Ben McLemore bump elbows after a bucket by McLemore against Emporia State during the first half, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

On a KU team that might struggle to score, Releford should at least consider being more aggressive in pull-up situations, where he was an effective player in 2012-13.

4. The importance of getting back

I touched earlier on Jeff Withey's defensive presence for KU, and that impact comes through pretty strong in these numbers.

Opponents shot just 54 percent on close two-point jumpers against KU last year, compared to the national average of 61 percent.

Kansas center Jeff Withey comes over the top to block a shot by Washburn forward Joseph Smith during the second half on Monday, Nov. 5, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse. Withey finished the game with seven blocks.

Kansas center Jeff Withey comes over the top to block a shot by Washburn forward Joseph Smith during the second half on Monday, Nov. 5, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse. Withey finished the game with seven blocks. by Nick Krug

One of the biggest problems for KU last year was allowing opponents to score against an unset defense — aka, when Withey hadn't made it back into the paint yet.

Let's take a look at some of the time splits for KU's defense last year on the opposition's layups (Note: For shot clock data, Haley only looks at the first shots of possessions).

Close FG%
After rebound
0-10 seconds into possession
Close FG%
After rebound
11-35 seconds into possession
77% 53%
Close FG%
After opp. score
0-10 seconds
Close FG%
After opp. score
11-35 seconds
71% 65%
Close FG%
After steal
0-10 seconds
Close FG%
After steal
11-35 seconds
67% 62%

Now you can see why Self goes so crazy on the sidelines urging his players to get back on defense after a missed shot.

The differences in the two percentages after a rebound are especially striking. If opponents grabbed the rebound, then raced down the court and were able to get a layup against KU in the first 10 seconds of the shot clock, they made 77 percent of those shots (NCAA average is 64 percent).

If those teams waited 11 seconds or more for those layups, they made just 53 percent of them (NCAA average is 58 percent).

After every KU missed shot with Withey on the floor, you can be confident in knowing that, if the shot clock gets down to 25, the opponent already missed out on its best opportunity to score against KU.

5. The value of waiting for three-point attempts

We only have one year's worth of data on Haley's site, but KU's numbers are fascinating when it comes to three-point percentage based on time remaining on the shot clock.

Take a look at the chart below.

After rebound
0-10 seconds into possession
After rebound
11-35 seconds into possession
34% 32%
After opp. score
0-10 seconds into possession
After opp. score
11-35 seconds into possession
31% 37%
After steal
0-10 seconds into possession
After steal
11-35 seconds into possession
17% 42%
After deadball TO
0-10 seconds into possession
After deadball TO
11-35 seconds into possession
37% 45%

If last year is any indication, KU would be smart to wait on three-pointers — especially after opponent turnovers.

The most shocking of the numbers above are that KU shot just 17 percent from three in the first 10 seconds of the shot clock after a steal (NCAA average was 36 percent), but 42 percent from three from in the final 25 seconds of the shot clock (NCAA average was 34 percent).

The same sort of trend held true after a dead-ball rebound. KU made quick threes 37 percent of the time and delayed threes 45 percent of the time (NCAA average was 34 percent on both).

In Self's quick ball movement offense, there appears to be a definite benefit to being patient before putting up a three-point attempt.