Entries from blogs tagged with “ku”

Kansas great John Hadl reflects on position switch

An All-American running back, John Hadl obviously didn’t let that get to his head. He had enough humility to look at two running backs on his team and figure they could beat him out. So he paid a visit to coach Jack Mitchell’s office.

Sitting in a leather chair in his Williams Fund office, where he holds a job as closer extraordinaire with the big-ticket donors, Hadl explained how that visit went: “I just walked into his office and said, ‘You’re looking for a quarterback. Why not give me a try? We’re running the Oklahoma split T so I’ll be like a running back anyway.’ He said, ‘OK.’ Then of course when he talked about it he said that the coaches had discussions about it and decided this would be the best option.”

Hadl became an All-American quarterback and had a great career at the position with the San Diego Chargers and Los Angeles Rams and also played with the Green Bay Packers and Houston Oilers.

What motivated Hadl to take the bold step of visiting his coach, the same coach who convinced Hadl’s father it was in the best interest of his son to switch his commitment from Oklahoma to Kansas?

“Curtis McClinton and Bert Coan were flying past me in practice every day,” Hadl said. “I figured I better change positions because those guys were so much faster than I was.”

Hadl said he never regretted turning down Oklahoma and legendary coach Bud Wilkinson.

“They would have put me on defense and nobody ever would have heard from me again,” Hadl said.

At Kansas, he played some defensive back, returned punts and once led the nation in punting with an average of 45.6 yards. He had a knack for big plays long before he made so many for the Chargers. At KU, he returned an interception 98 yards and had a 94-yard punt.

Hadl also has the distinction of having been Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young’s first professional head coach with the Los Angeles Express of the USFL in 1984, and Hall of Fame QB John Elway’s first professional quarterbacks coach with the Denver Broncos in 1983.

On the topic of position switches

For a man who weighs 218 pounds, fullback Brandon Bourbon runs so swiftly and exhibits so much agility that it’s tough not to picture him playing linebacker. Excluding quarterbacks, Bourbon ranks fifth on the team in rushing attempts (11 carries, 38 yards), behind James Sims, Tony Pierson, Taylor Cox and D.J. Beshears.

Couldn’t Bourbon help the team more at linebacker? One of the nice things about KU first-year coach Charlie Weis is you can ask him a question like that and he’ll give an honest answer. So I asked and he answered.

“If Brandon Bourbon were good on defense, he’d be playing defense,” Weis said. “OK. I love when people say, ‘God, he looks like he’d be a great linebacker.’ Well, come to practice and you’ll get answers to some of those questions.”

The early segment of Tuesday and Wednesday practices were open to the media this season, so I went out to Wednesday’s practice. Man oh man, you should have seen Bourbon get low and hit hard during a running back drill in which the players blast what looks like a boxing heavy bag.

“Those are the type of things you don’t do during the season,” Weis said of switching positions. “Those are the type of things if you’re going to give it a shot you do it in the spring time when you can do it full-time. I don’t think in a week or two, you can transfer a player from one side of the ball to the other. You can, if you see a guy buried in the depth chart, where there is no end in sight.”

Weis sounds as if he believes Bourbon will help Kansas carrying the football before he graduates.

“Remember, the kid’s only a sophomore and he’s got a lot of time left here,” Weis said. “OK? But the kid’s a natural runner and he’s playing at a position where there are a lot of good players. But if you’re buried in the depth chart and it’s the spring time and you want to take a look, that’s the time to do that. But based off the evidence I see I think he’s playing the position he’s best suited for.”

Must an athlete want to play defense to become a good defensive player?

“Well there’s hitting and then avoiding hitting,” Weis said. “So offensive guys are trying not to get hit. Defensive guys are trying to hit. So when you’re spending your whole life trying not to get hit and then have to go start hitting, it’s not usually a good match, in case you’re wondering.”

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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.

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Former KU coach Mark Mangino on Colorado’s radar

Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn swung and missed on his first two coaching hires, Dan Hawkins and Jon Embree. So it’s no surprise that the first name to surface as a candidate to become Colorado’s next coach is a proven winner hungry to get back into coaching: Mark Mangino.

Bohn, a 1983 graduate of Kansas University, where he played football and baseball, knows how tough it is to build a winning football program at KU. Bohn knows his KU history well enough to know that Mangino was the first football coach to leave Kansas with a winning record since Jack Mitchell.

Colorado is in the midst of seven consecutive losing seasons. Mangino inherited a Kansas program coming off six consecutive losing seasons.

If Bohn is allowed to make the hire, nobody should be surprised if he picks Mangino.

Living in Naples, Fla., Mangino’s interest in returning to the sidelines was put on hold last season while wife Mary Jane battled breast cancer. Friends are happy to report Mary Jane is doing well and has completed treatment.

“She’s given me a directive: Go find a coaching job,” Mangino told the Oklahoman in an October interview. “So we’ll see what happens. I don’t know where it will be. Could be anywhere.”

Could be Colorado.

If Mangino lands the job, he could become quarterback Jordan Webb’s first and fourth coach. Webb redshirted one season under Mangino at Kansas, played two for Turner Gill at KU and one for Embree at CU.

Mangino’s former assistants thriving

Dave Doeren left Mangino’s staff for Wisconsin, where he worked his way up to defensive coordinator. Doeren’s in his second season as head coach at Northern Illinois, where his team is 11-1 and ranked 19th in the nation. He has a two-year record of 22-4 (1-1 vs. KU) and is in line for a BCS conference job. His name has been mentioned in speculation for the Purdue job.

Doeren’s recruiting coups at Kansas included James Holt, Kevin Kane, James McClinton, Joe Mortensen, Mike Rivera, Darrell Stuckey and Aqib Talib.

Former KU defensive coordinator Bill Young left Mangino’s staff for Miami, where he spent one year and has been at Oklahoma State since then.

Ed Warinner, offensive coordinator for Mangino, left his job as Notre Dame’s offensive line coach to join Urban Meyer’s Ohio State staff as co-offensive coordinator/O-line coach.

Ineligible for the postseason, the Buckeyes went 12-0. He’s ready for a big head-coaching job.

John Reagan is offensive coordinator for the Rice squad that upset Kansas in Memorial Stadium in September.

David Beaty knows better than just about anybody the value of Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel’s Heisman Trophy worthiness. Beaty is the Aggies’ wide receivers coach. Brandon Blaney is a defensive assistant coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Bill Miller is assistant head coach/linebackers coach at Minnesota. Je’Ney Jackson is strength and conditioning coach for Tom Crean’s top-ranked Indiana basketball team.

Louie Matsakis handles special teams and running backs and is recruiting coordinator at Youngstown State, where Tom Sims is assistant head coach/defensive line.

Chris Dawson has been Kansas State’s strength and conditioning coach since getting fired with Mangino. Dawson reportedly accepted an offer from Washington State’s Mike Leach shortly after his hiring, but quickly changed his mind and decided to stay with Bill Snyder.

Tommy Mangino is Hutchinson Community College’s offensive coordinator. He apparently inherited his father’s fiery personality and was ejected late in an early season game Hutch won, 49-12.

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Former KU coach Mark Mangino on Colorado’s radar

Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn swung and missed on his first two coaching hires, Dan Hawkins and Jon Embree. So it’s no surprise that the first name to surface as a candidate to become Colorado’s next coach is a proven winner hungry to get back into coaching: Mark Mangino.

Bohn, a 1983 graduate of Kansas University, where he played football and baseball, knows how tough it is to build a winning football program at KU. Bohn knows his KU history well enough to know that Mangino was the first football coach to leave Kansas with a winning record since Jack Mitchell.

Colorado is in the midst of seven consecutive losing seasons. Mangino inherited a Kansas program coming off six consecutive losing seasons.

If Bohn is allowed to make the hire, nobody should be surprised if he picks Mangino.

Living in Naples, Fla., Mangino’s interest in returning to the sidelines was put on hold last season while wife Mary Jane battled breast cancer. Friends are happy to report Mary Jane is doing well and has completed treatment.

“She’s given me a directive: Go find a coaching job,” Mangino told the Oklahoman in an October interview. “So we’ll see what happens. I don’t know where it will be. Could be anywhere.”

Could be Colorado.

If Mangino lands the job, he could become quarterback Jordan Webb’s first and fourth coach. Webb redshirted one season under Mangino at Kansas, played two for Turner Gill at KU and one for Embree at CU.

Mangino’s former assistants thriving

Dave Doeren left Mangino’s staff for Wisconsin, where he worked his way up to defensive coordinator. Doeren’s in his second season as head coach at Northern Illinois, where his team is 11-1 and ranked 19th in the nation. He has a two-year record of 22-4 (1-1 vs. KU) and is in line for a BCS conference job. His name has been mentioned in speculation for the Purdue job.

Doeren’s recruiting coups at Kansas included James Holt, Kevin Kane, James McClinton, Joe Mortensen, Mike Rivera, Darrell Stuckey and Aqib Talib.

Former KU defensive coordinator Bill Young left Mangino’s staff for Miami, where he spent one year and has been at Oklahoma State since then.

Ed Warinner, offensive coordinator for Mangino, left his job as Notre Dame’s offensive line coach to join Urban Meyer’s Ohio State staff as co-offensive coordinator/O-line coach.

Ineligible for the postseason, the Buckeyes went 12-0. He’s ready for a big head-coaching job.

John Reagan is offensive coordinator for the Rice squad that upset Kansas in Memorial Stadium in September.

David Beaty knows better than just about anybody the value of Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel’s Heisman Trophy worthiness. Beaty is the Aggies’ wide receivers coach. Brandon Blaney is a defensive assistant coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Bill Miller is assistant head coach/linebackers coach at Minnesota. Je’Ney Jackson is strength and conditioning coach for Tom Crean’s top-ranked Indiana basketball team.

Louie Matsakis handles special teams and running backs and is recruiting coordinator at Youngstown State, where Tom Sims is assistant head coach/defensive line.

Chris Dawson has been Kansas State’s strength and conditioning coach since getting fired with Mangino. Dawson reportedly accepted an offer from Washington State’s Mike Leach shortly after his hiring, but quickly changed his mind and decided to stay with Bill Snyder.

Tommy Mangino is Hutchinson Community College’s offensive coordinator. He apparently inherited his father’s fiery personality and was ejected late in an early season game Hutch won, 49-12.

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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.

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Jeff Withey, Travis Releford the top ‘Hawks against Spartans

1. Jeff Withey: KU coach Bill Self said that Withey nearly single-handedly won the game for KU, and that's probably not far off. The senior notched his first triple-double in a regular-season game, posting 16 points to go with 12 rebounds and 12 blocks. The center did a great job offensively of taking his time, diagnosing whether a double-team was coming, then scoring when it didn't. Think about this: When SJSU put up one of its 44 two-point attempts Monday night, that shot had just as good of a chance of being blocked by Withey (12 instances) as it did of going in the basket (12 instances).

2. Travis Releford: Efficient night for the senior, who scored 13 points on 5-for-6 shooting. He showed nice range on a pullup jumper, nice confidence on a stepback three and excellent glide in transition on a leaning two. It was easy to tell when he wasn't guarding SJSU's James Kinney, as the tiny Spartans guard seemed to be scoring on everyone except Releford. The senior added four assists and three blocks to go with a turnover in 37 minutes.

3. Elijah Johnson: Self admitted that Johnson has been playing with a banged-up knee after the game and also said that injury has been hampering the senior's explosiveness. Despite some bad turnovers late, Johnson still contributed 13 points on 4-for-9 shooting while making 3 of 6 threes. He had five assists to go with four turnovers but is struggling on the ball defensively.

4. Kevin Young: Consistently brings energy, which is valuable on this year's team. Though many of Young's patented follow-tips didn't fall, he still posted six points and eight rebounds with an assist, two steals and no turnovers in 20 minutes. He also hit four clutch free throws during KU's second-half field-goal drought.

5. Ben McLemore: Bookended the game with highlight dunks but had a very poor shooting game in between. The freshman made just 5 of 16 shots, which included an 0-for-7 performance from three-point range. He added six rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block to go with three turnovers.

6. Perry Ellis: Had a few good offensive plays but always seems to get yanked for a lack of aggressiveness. The freshman had four points and four rebounds to go with two assists and a turnover in 14 minutes.

7. Naadir Tharpe: His shot selection was questionable at times, and his defense left a lot to be desired, as SJSU's Kinney got quite a few open looks over the KU sophomore. Tharpe finished with two points on 1-for-5 shooting with an assist, steal and two turnovers in 12 minutes.

8. Jamari Traylor: Two points, two boards, two fouls in seven minutes.

9. Andrew White III: Showed good anticipation in grabbing a steal that led to an SJSU intentional foul. Later, though, White didn't communicate well with Tharpe defensively, which led to Kinney being left open for a three. White finished with a point and a foul in four minutes.

10. Justin Wesley: Posted one rebound and two fouls in four minutes.

KUsports.com Season Standings
1. Jeff Withey (44 points)
2. Ben McLemore (40 points)
3. Travis Releford (37 points)
4. Elijah Johnson (34 points)
5. Perry Ellis (28 points)
6. Naadir Tharpe (25 points)
7. Jamari Traylor (24 points)
8. Kevin Young (21 points)
T9. Rio Adams (7 points)
T9. Justin Wesley (7 points)
T9. Andrew White III (7 points)

— Compiled by Jesse Newell and Tom Keegan. Written by Jesse Newell.

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San Jose State features good size, a go-to guy and a really bad free throw shooter

Team: San Jose State
Record: 2-2
KenPom (Ken Pomeroy) Ranking: 270

(Note: All team statistics are from KenPom and do not include San Jose State's win over Div. III UC-Santa Cruz unless otherwise noted.)

3 Strengths

Defensive rebounding: This has been the biggest strength of San Jose State so far, as the Spartans have grabbed 76 percent of the available defensive rebounds this year (11th nationally). The Spartans actually do have good size for a mid-major, which includes six-foot-11 Alex Brown and 6-9 Chris Cunningham on the front line. SJSU ranks 36th nationally in KenPom's "effective height" measure, which ranks a team's average height of the center and power forward positions (Pomeroy has found it is more vital — especially defensively — to have height at those two positions compared to the other spots on the floor).

Three-point prevention: Much like Saint Louis, San Jose State has done a great job of preventing opponents' three-point shots. Just 18.8 percent of the field goals against SJSU in D-I games have been threes this year, which ranks second nationally (Saint Louis is third). D-I opponents have made 36.4 percent of their threes against the Spartans, which means teams still have been able to make a few of the rare perimeter tries they get.

Three-point shooting: This might be a small sample size, but the Spartans have shown the ability to shoot it from deep this year. Though SJSU doesn't shoot many threes (averaging 14.5 per game through four contests), it has made 43.1 percent of them (25 of 58). Guard D.J. Brown has helped that percentage the most, making 9 of 14 threes (64.3 percent) this year.

3 Weaknesses

Turnovers: Though George Nessman's SJSU teams traditionally have been great at protecting the basketball (San Jose State ranked in the top 13 in turnover percentage in each of the last two years), this team has been careless against weak competition early. The Spartans have turned it over on 22.1 percent of their possessions against D-I competition (21.1 percent in NCAA average), and that's especially troubling when SJSU hasn't exactly been playing defensive juggernauts in New Orleans (337th in KenPom rankings), Houston (200th) and Weber State (196th).

Fouling too often: San Jose State has surrendered 20 free throws per game through four contests, which includes three home dates. Three of SJSU's rotation players also average more than six fouls per 40 minutes, meaning there's a good possibility for at least one foulout in Monday night's game (along with quite a few free throws for KU).

Forcing turnovers: SJSU has not been above NCAA average in forcing turnovers in any of Nessman's eight years with the school. This season hasn't been any different so far, as the Spartans have created turnovers on 20.3 percent of opponents' possessions (198th nationally) despite going against below-average NCAA teams.

3 Players to Watch

• Six-foot-2 guard James Kinney (No. 33) is the go-to guy and then some for SJSU. He has taken 37.7 percent of his team's shots this year, which ranks seventh nationally. He's actually been somewhat productive in that role, making 53 percent of his twos while turning it over at an acceptable rate for as much as he handles it. He's also not likely to foul (1.8 fouls per 40 minutes) and is the Spartans' best perimeter defender (4.5 percent steal percentage, 125th nationally).

• Six-foot-9 forward Chris Cunningham (No. 15) has been a welcome addition after transferring in from Santa Clara. Not only is he an elite defensive rebounder (grabbing 28.9 percent of the available defensive boards, which ranks 15th nationally), but he's also given the Spartans an offensive boost inside. So far this year, he's made 22 of 32 twos (68.8 percent), which puts him in the top 40 in effective field-goal percentage.

• The good news for 6-11 forward Alex Brown (No. 44) is that he does a great job of getting to the free throw line. The bad news is that he's truly awful when he gets there. The junior has made just two of 16 free throw attempts this year (12.5 percent), a percentage that is pretty astounding when you think about it. Brown's size still has given SJSU a nice lift defensively, as he blocks 8.9 percent of opponents' two-pointers while he's in (74th nationally) while coming away with a decent number of rebounds.

Prediction

This game could end up being a bit of basketball culture shock for SJSU. The Spartans haven't played an above-average D-I opponent yet this year and are coming to Allen Fieldhouse following a 40-point home win over a Div. III team.

The Spartans addressed one of their glaring weaknesses by bringing in more size this year, and the combination of Alex Brown and Cunningham could make it difficult on KU's bigs offensively if they are able to avoid foul trouble.

Still, this doesn't look like a game that should be close, especially if KU can force turnovers and get transition points against an SJSU team that hasn't taken care of it well so far this season.

Kansas 85, San Jose State 56

Hawk to Rock

This looks like another game where Travis Releford could thrive. The reigning Big 12 player of the week will most likely be matched up on Kinney defensively, so pay close attention to the matchup on that end. The senior should also get some opportunities in transition, where he's been one of KU's best players, making 65 percent of his shots at the rim this season. Mark me down for double-figure points, three steals and solid, on-ball defense from Releford.

Predictions tally
5-0 record, 57 points off (11.4 points off/game)

Hawk to Rock
SE Missouri: Perry Ellis (2nd in KUsports.com ratings)
Michigan State: Jeff Withey (4th)
Chattanooga: Andrew White III (10th)
Washington State: Ben McLemore (4th)
Saint Louis: Perry Ellis (7th)
Average: 5.4th in KUsports.com ratings

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Jeff Withey edges out Travis Releford for top spot

1. Jeff Withey: The senior played his best offensively when KU needed points down the stretch. He tied a career-high with 25 points on 7-for-12 shooting while also hitting 11 of 14 free throws. Defensively, he helped shut down his own man and also others who ventured into the lane with seven blocks in 33 minutes. SLU ended with a worse two-point percentage than three-point percentage mostly because of the seven-footer.

2. Travis Releford: He made Withey's second-half effort possible by forcing SLU to guard him in the first half. He scored 21 of his 23 points before halftime, which included 4-for-6 first-half three-point shooting. He also played great defense on SLU's leading scorer Dwayne Evans, allowing the bulky forward only five field-goal attempts.

3. Ben McLemore: He battled foul trouble in the first half but still ended with an efficient line, posting 11 points on 5-for-9 shooting with six rebounds in 25 minutes.

4. Elijah Johnson: He didn't shoot it well (2-for-7 field goals) but made up for it by delivering accurate passes to teammates. The senior posted nine assists, four rebounds and a steal to go with two turnovers in 34 minutes.

5. Kevin Young: Didn't attempt a field goal, but he still finished with eight rebounds and three assists to go with a turnover in 27 minutes.

6. Naadir Tharpe: He continues to avoid mistakes offensively, posting no turnovers for the third straight game. He made his only three-point attempt to beat the shot clock, finishing 1-for-5 from the floor for three points with four rebounds, two assists and a steal in 22 minutes.

7. Perry Ellis: The freshman once again frustrated KU coach Bill Self at times with his lack of aggressiveness. His line still wasn't bad for nine minutes: four points, 2-for-5 shooting, three rebounds, an assist and steal to go with a turnover.

8. Jamari Traylor: Had no points but two blocks, two steals and two rebounds in 12 minutes.

9. Rio Adams: Didn't return to the game after SLU's Mike McCall Jr. hit a three over him. Immediately after, Self called timeout, went on the court to yell at the freshman, then yanked his thumb back toward the bench. Adams missed his only shot and had a foul in two minutes.

KUsports.com Season Standings
1. Jeff Withey (44 points)
2. Ben McLemore (42 points)
3. Travis Releford (37 points)
4. Elijah Johnson (33 points)
5. Perry Ellis (27 points)
6. Naadir Tharpe (26 points)
7. Jamari Traylor (24 points)
8. Kevin Young (20 points)
9. Rio Adams (9 points)
10. Justin Wesley (6 points)
11. Andrew White III (5 points)

— Compiled by Jesse Newell and Tom Keegan. Written by Jesse Newell.

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Saint Louis a scary opponent for KU

Saint Louis players Dwayne Evans, left, and Mike McCall Jr. slap hands during a run by the Billikens in the second half of the CBE Classic, Monday, Nov. 19, 2012, at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

Saint Louis players Dwayne Evans, left, and Mike McCall Jr. slap hands during a run by the Billikens in the second half of the CBE Classic, Monday, Nov. 19, 2012, at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. by Nick Krug

Team: Saint Louis
Record: 2-1
KenPom (Ken Pomeroy) Ranking: 35

3 Strengths

Defense ... all of it: Former coach Rick Majerus turned his team into a defensive force a year ago, as the Billikens ranked 10th nationally in KenPom's overall defensive measure (adjusted defensive efficiency). Saint Louis hasn't forgotten its principles under new coach Jim Crews, ranking in the top 60 so far in forcing turnovers (58th), defensive rebounding (15th) and defensive free-throw rate, which measures how often an opposing team goes to the line compared to its field-goal attempts (27th).

Restricting three-point shots: Ken Pomeroy has blogged recently about the best three-point defense not being one that keeps an opposing team's percentage down, but one that limits an opponent's three-point shots altogether. Because three-point percentages can vary so much from game to game due to chance, one way to play more consistent defense, Pomeroy believes, is to limit three-point shots, thus limiting a team's chances at hitting the lottery on a certain night.

Majerus had this same way of thinking when he was with Saint Louis, and it's evident by the way SLU plays. Only 19.9 percent of opponents' shots taken against the Billikens this year have been threes, which is the fifth-lowest split nationally. In three games, opponents have attempted just 29 three-pointers against SLU. Don't expect the Jayhawks to get many open looks from the perimeter Tuesday night.

Free throws: Saint Louis thrives at getting to the free throw line, averaging 23 freebies per game in the early season. Forwards Cody Ellis and Dwayne Evans have been the leaders at drawing contact this year, with Ellis putting up 20 free throws compared to 25 field goal attempts, and Evans having nearly identical numbers (25 FGS attempted; 21 FTs attempted).

SLU also has been a good free throw shooting team the last two years, making 71.9 percent of its shots from the line a year ago and 77.1 percent this year (36th nationally).

3 Weaknesses

First-shot defense: This is most likely the result of an extremely small sample size, but so far, teams have made a high percentage of their shots against SLU. Opponents have made 56 percent of their threes against the Billikens, which is the most fluky of Saint Louis' defensive stats. What might not be as fluky is St. Louis' two-point defense, which ranks 203rd nationally (48.7 percent). If teams are able to get shots inside, they have been able to convert quite a few of them.

Depth: Saint Louis doesn't have a deep rotation, as only 19.8 percent of its minutes come from its reserves (335th nationally). As mentioned before, the Billikens haven't been foul-prone this year, but keep track of the whistles, as foul trouble will be more likely to hurt SLU than KU.

Blocked shots: SLU actually went crazy with blocks against Texas A&M on Monday, rejecting five shots. That moved the Billikens' season total for blocks all the way up to ... six. Blocks weren't a staple of SLU's defense a year ago (228th nationally) and shouldn't play a major factor in Tuesday night's game, either.

3 Players to Watch

• Six-foot-5 forward Dwayne Evans (No. 21) has shouldered the most scoring load for SLU this season and has done so successfully. He is the Billikens' most efficient player while also ending more than a fourth of his team's possessions. So far, the junior has been especially dangerous inside, making 17 of 23 twos (73.9 percent) and 17 of 21 free throws (81 percent). He also returns as one of the nation's elite rebounders, ranking 25th nationally in 2011-12 in defensive rebounding percentage and 147th in offensive rebounding percentage.

• KU will face its second straight Australian in the post in 6-8 forward Cody Ellis (No. 24).

Texas A&M forward Elston Turner defends against a shot from Saint Louis forward Cody Ellis during the first half of the CBE Classic, Monday, Nov. 19, 2012 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

Texas A&M forward Elston Turner defends against a shot from Saint Louis forward Cody Ellis during the first half of the CBE Classic, Monday, Nov. 19, 2012 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri. by Nick Krug

He's SLU's second-best player offensively behind Evans despite a poor shooting start (8-for-25 from the floor) because of his ability to draw fouls and make free throws (18 of 20 free throws this year). He's also sure-handed, posting the nation's 72nd-best turnover rate a year ago. This season, he has just two giveaways in 86 minutes.

• Six-foot-1 guard Jordair Jett (No. 5) isn't a great offensive player, but defensively, he's been a pest each of the last two years.

Saint Louis guard Jordair Jett and Texas A&M guard Fabyon Harris go for a loose ball during the first half of the CBE Classic, Monday, Nov. 19, 2012 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

Saint Louis guard Jordair Jett and Texas A&M guard Fabyon Harris go for a loose ball during the first half of the CBE Classic, Monday, Nov. 19, 2012 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri. by Nick Krug

He posted steals on 3.3 percent of his defensive possessions a year ago (161st nationally) and has upped that number to 5.3 percent in three games this season. He had three steals against A&M on Monday and could cause KU's sometimes-careless backcourt problems on Tuesday night.

Prediction

Saint Louis is a good team. A really good team. And one only needs to listen to KU coach Bill Self's quote about the Billikens to have that thought confirmed.

"They remind me of Davidson in that they are physical. They don’t give up easy baskets,” Self said Monday. “You’ve got to make shots against them. (Monday night), A&M didn’t. Their big guys can stretch it. The way they play they could present problems if we are not amped up and ready to go.”

If Sprint Center is as dead Tuesday as it was Monday, the Jayhawks will have to once again create their own energy early in a quiet arena.

Honestly, the elements are there for an upset: a slow-paced team (SLU is 307th in pace) that plays tough defense and, as Self mentioned, forces KU to make jump shots.

Also add in that SLU gets to the free throw line — and KU's perimeter defense is still shaky at best — and you can see why I'm talking myself out of picking the Billikens to win.

I'll say KU holds on and that the fans will get loud when the Jayhawks need them to.

But I'm not picking KU by much.

Kansas 62, Saint Louis 61

Hawk to Rock

Going against a defense that allows a lot of twos and doesn't block many shots? It's time for KU's Perry Ellis to take advantage of a matchup that suits him perfectly. Even if he doesn't start, I'll say Ellis puts in double-figure scoring to go with at least four assists in extended minutes.

Predictions tally
4-0 record, 44 points off (11 points off/game)

Hawk to Rock
SE Missouri: Perry Ellis (2nd in KUsports.com ratings)
Michigan State: Jeff Withey (4th)
Chattanooga: Andrew White III (10th)
Washington State: Ben McLemore (4th)
Average: 5th in KUsports.com ratings

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Travis Releford, Jeff Withey top ratings against Washington State

1. Travis Releford: The senior broke out of his shooting slump, going 6-for-7 from the floor and 2-for-3 from three to lead KU with 17 points in 23 minutes. The performance came after a lackluster first three games offensively when he was 0-for-11 from three and hadn't made any shots outside of layups. Releford also was 3-for-3 from the line Monday and added an assist with no turnovers.

2. Jeff Withey: His defensive presence had an effect on the Pac-12's leading returning scorer Brock Motum, who finished with 14 points on 6-for-18 shooting. Withey himself posted five blocks, changed many other shots and added eight points on 4-for-8 shooting with six rebounds in 19 minutes.

3. Perry Ellis: Nice bounceback game for him, as he was about as efficient as you can be offensively. He scored 14 points while attempting just three field goals, making all eight of his free throws to go with three rebounds, two assists, a block and a steal in 14 minutes.

4. Ben McLemore: Showed his tremendous athleticism with another putback dunk, leading one KUsports.com poster to nickname him, "StickMac" during our live-game blog. Had 11 points on 3-for-6 shooting (2-for-4 from three) in 24 minutes.

5. Kevin Young: Gave great energy in his first start of the year, contributing four points and 10 rebounds in his 18 minutes.

6. Elijah Johnson: Had a tough shooting night from deep, making just 2 of 8 three-pointers to finish with eight points, four assists and two turnovers in a team-high 26 minutes.

7. Naadir Tharpe: The sophomore forced up one ill-advised mid-range jumper in transition, but other than that, he played a solid game. He had five points on 2-for-5 shooting with four assists and no turnovers in 18 minutes.

8. Jamari Traylor: He picks his spots well in the post, driving to the opposite side of the rim for one layup while banging into a defender to put in a bucket with a foul another time. He finished with five points on 2-for-4 shooting with four defensive rebounds, a block and a steal in 15 minutes.

9. Andrew White III: Made his first three-pointer and finished with five points on 1-for-2 shooting with two rebounds and an assist in nine minutes.

10. Justin Wesley: Had three points, four rebounds and two turnovers in 10 minutes.

11. Rio Adams: Missed all four of his shots in eight minutes.

KUsports.com Season Standings
T1. Ben McLemore (34 points)
T1. Jeff Withey (34 points)
3. Travis Releford (28 points)
4. Elijah Johnson (26 points)
5. Perry Ellis (23 points)
T6. Jamari Traylor (21 points)
T6. Naadir Tharpe (21 points)
8. Kevin Young (14 points)
9. Rio Adams (7 points)
10. Justin Wesley (6 points)
11. Andrew White III (5 points)

— Compiled by Jesse Newell and Tom Keegan. Written by Jesse Newell.

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Inside-out threat Brock Motum the player to watch for Washington State

Washington State senior forward Brock Motum, left, and head coach Ken Bone, right, take questions during Pac-12 NCAA college basketball media day, Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012 in San Francisco.

Washington State senior forward Brock Motum, left, and head coach Ken Bone, right, take questions during Pac-12 NCAA college basketball media day, Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012 in San Francisco. by AP Photo/Eric Risberg

Team: Washington State
Record: 2-1
KenPom (Ken Pomeroy) Ranking: 87

3 Strengths

Making shots inside: Washington State has made 58 percent of its twos so far this year (21st nationally), thanks in part to last year's Pac-12 leading scorer Brock Motum, who has made 61 percent of his inside shots (19 of 31). The Cougars also thrived in the stat a year ago, ranking 30th nationally while connecting on 52 percent of its two-pointers.

Defensive rebounding: WSU has grabbed 77.2 percent of the available defensive rebounds, which ranks 10th nationally. The Cougars completely shut Pepperdine off the boards in their last game, pulling down 29 of a possible 35 defensive rebounds (83 percent).

Foul avoidance: Through three games, WSU has allowed just 31 free throws to opponents (10.3 per game). The Cougars also have just 34 fouls, meaning — so far — they have made opposing teams earn their points through field goals.

3 Weaknesses

Three-point defense: Much like Chattanooga, Washington State has struggled with limiting teams from the three-point line. So far this year, opponents have scored 46 percent of their points against WSU from the three-point line (second-highest split nationally). The Cougars defense also has allowed the opposition to make 39.1 percent of its threes, which ranks in the bottom 75 nationally.

Forcing turnovers: As the lack of fouls might suggest, WSU is not overly aggressive defensively. The Cougars ranked 307th nationally in steal percentage a year ago and haven't been much better this year, ranking 260th in the stat. Opponents are averaging 13.7 turnovers per game through three games against the Cougars.

Offensive rebounding: WSU has been below average in this stat the last two years, as the Cougars' best offensive rebounders this year are bench players. Six-foot-5 Will DiIorio and 6-7 Junior Longrus have been the Cougars' top two guys on the offensive glass percentage-wise, but neither has played more than 12 minutes per game this season.

3 Players to Watch

• We have to start with 6-foot-3 point guard Royce Woolridge (No. 22), who will play against Kansas after transferring away from the Jayhawks two years ago because of a lack of playing time. The sophomore has been forced into big minutes and also the point-guard spot following the dismissal of three-year starter Reggie Moore in September. So far, Woolridge has performed how you'd expect a combo guard to perform playing as a point guard: He's shot it well (4-for-8 from three) while turning it over too much (giving it away on nearly one-third of the possessions he ends). Woolridge is a nice kid and has always said the right things when talking about KU, but one has to wonder just how he'll react Monday night facing the team he verbally committed to as a sophomore in high school.

• Six-foot-10 center Brock Motum (No. 12) returns for his senior year after leading his conference in scoring a year ago. The left-handed Australian is the Cougars' unquestioned go-to guy offensively, attempting 34.1 percent of his team's shots so far this year (54th-highest nationally). Motum's range extends all the way to the perimeter, as he made 39.7 percent of his threes a year ago (29 of 73) to go with 59 percent of his twos (191 of 324). Motum also was adept at drawing fouls in 2011-12, ranking 97th nationally with 5.8 fouls drawn per game. This should be a tough inside-out assignment for KU's Jeff Withey.

• Six-foot-5 Mike Ladd (No. 2) has been impressive in the early season after fully recovering from a thumb injury a year ago. The Fresno State transfer is a threat to get to the free-throw line (shooting 16 free throws compared to 18 field goals so far this year) and also has proven to be a good scorer inside (11-for-18 on two-point attempts). Ladd doesn't turn it over often, and he's also a big reason WSU has been dominant on the boards, as he's grabbed 23.4 percent of the available defensive rebounds when he's been in (156th nationally).

Prediction

The last two seasons, WSU coach Ken Bone has elected for an extreme, slow-it-down style, with his team ranking in the 300s in tempo both years. Playing against an athletic team like Kansas, I wouldn't be surprised if Bone tried to slow it down even more, hoping for a low-possession, half-court game against a KU team that has struggled manufacturing offense in the early season.

Much like the Chattanooga game, this one could hinge quite a bit on how well KU shoots from three. WSU will play some zone, and the Cougars most likely will try to pack it in and force the Jayhawks to make open threes over the top.

Defensively, if the Jayhawks are "turned up" as KU coach Bill Self likes to call it, they should be able to force turnovers against a Cougars team that is short on ball-handlers. Woolridge is playing a team-high 31.3 minutes per game, and he's not a true point guard, showing exactly how desperate Bone has been to leave his best ball-handlers in the game.

Though the game is in Sprint Center, where KU hasn't always performed its best, I think the Jayhawks will pull away with their defense, getting some easy baskets in transition while making at least a few of the open threes they see.

Kansas 69, Washington State 54

Hawk to Rock

This has the potential to change over the course of the season, but so far, Ben McLemore has been far and away KU's best offensive player. I'll say his hot streak continues against Washington State, with the freshman continuing to stay aggressive on a KU team that needs him to take control.

Predictions tally
3-0 record, 22 points off (7.3 points off/game)

Hawk to Rock
SE Missouri: Perry Ellis (2nd in KUsports.com ratings)
Michigan State: Jeff Withey (4th)
Chattanooga: Andrew White III (10th)
Average: 5.3rd in KUsports.com ratings

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Ben McLemore, seniors take top five spots in rankings

1. Ben McLemore: KU coach Bill Self asked him to be more aggressive offensively, and the freshman showed more flashes of his potential while shouldering the scoring load for KU on Thursday night. McLemore finished with 25 points, which included a pair of dunks that sent the Fieldhouse crowd into a frenzy and shifted the momentum. He also added eight rebounds, three assists and a steal with a single turnover. Self also revealed afterwards that McLemore continued playing in the second half after having his dislocated finger popped back into place twice.

2. Elijah Johnson: After a dreadful first half, Johnson torched Chattanooga's sagging defense in the second half. Here's the senior's second-half line: 13 points, 5-for-5 shooting, 3-for-3 shooting from three, four assists, one steal, one turnover, 19 minutes. His final total included 18 points, four assists and four turnovers.

3. Jeff Withey: The slow starts are becoming troublesome for Self, but Withey — like Johnson — had a stellar second half. Here's his second-half line: nine points, seven rebounds and five blocks in 19 minutes. His final total was 11 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks in 28 minutes.

4. Travis Releford: KU might not win the game without his tenacious second-half, on-ball defense on Farad Cobb, but Releford's poor offensive performance keeps him from being any higher on this list. The senior finished with two points on 1-for-6 shooting (0-for-5 shooting from three) with six assists, three turnovers, two steals and a block. He's now 0-for-11 this season from three-point range.

5. Kevin Young: Showed great energy in the first half when few other players did. The senior tied for the team lead with four offensive rebounds in his 19 minutes. His final stats included five points (2-for-4 shooting) and seven rebounds.

6. Naadir Tharpe: Hit one of the biggest shots of the game, pulling up for a quick three that pushed KU's lead to 49-43 in the second half. He made just 1 of 6 shots (1 of 5 from three) but did contribute five assists with no turnovers. Still has a long ways to go defensively, as he was guarding UTC's Farad Cobb quite a bit during the freshman's 18-point first half.

7. Rio Adams: Made the most of his four minutes, driving into the lane for an impressive scoop-shot layup. He also had a couple of nice passes, though only one was rewarded with an assist. He finished with two points and a turnover.

8. Perry Ellis: Second straight rough game for Ellis, who still appears to be adjusting to the physicality of Div. I basketball. He had two points and four rebounds to go with a block, steal and turnover in 20 minutes.

9. Jamari Traylor: He started but played only four minutes in the second half. Had an impressive first-half block, but ended with just one point and three rebounds to go with two turnovers in 13 minutes.

10. Andrew White III: Missed his only shot — a three-point attempt — in two minutes.

KUsports.com Season Standings
1. Ben McLemore (27 points)
2. Jeff Withey (25 points)
3. Elijah Johnson (21 points)
T4. Travis Releford (18 points)
T4. Jamari Traylor (18 points)
6. Naadir Tharpe (17 points)
7. Perry Ellis (15 points)
8. Kevin Young (8 points)
9. Rio Adams (7 points)
10. Justin Wesley (5 points)
11. Andrew White III (3 points)

— Compiled by Jesse Newell and Tom Keegan. Written by Jesse Newell.

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Jayhawks should be able to bomb away against Chattanooga

Team: Chattanooga
Record: 1-0
KenPom (Ken Pomeroy) Ranking: 283

3 Strengths

Foul avoidance: I'll say this about Chattanooga — though it doesn't appear to be very good defensively, it isn't going to give up free points at the line. Coach John Shulman's teams have traditionally not fouled often, which includes averaging just 17.3 fouls per game a year ago despite playing at a very fast pace.

Defensive rebounding: This has been another staple of Shulman's teams, and though the Mocs lost four starters from last year's team, they should still be solid in this area. Chattanooga grabbed 70.8 percent of the available defensive rebounds a year ago (60th nationally) and returns one of its best rebounders in 6-foot-9 forward Drazen Zlovaric. The Mocs have finished in the top 100 in defensive rebounding percentage in six of Shulman's eight seasons.

Depth: I know this was just against Tennessee Temple — an NAIA team — but Shulman played 11 players for 10 minutes or more in his team's season-opening 88-53 victory ... something I'm not sure I've seen before in a box score. Shulman's teams typically run at a very fast pace, and it appears that the coach has enough bench players this year to substitute freely while playing his run-and-gun style.

3 Weaknesses

Three-point defense: This is the reason I'm interested to watch Thursday night's game: to see exactly what the Mocs do to guard the three, because statistically, it doesn't look like they do anything.

Last year, a whooping 48.9 percent of opponents' shots against Chattanooga were three-point attempts (NCAA average was 32.9 percent). That was the highest percentage in the country, and Shulman's teams have been in the top five in that statistic in each of his eight seasons.

Another way of looking at it: Opponents scored 41 percent of their points from three-point range last year, which again was the highest split in the country. NCAA average is just 27.5 percent.

KU should have plenty of opportunities to score from long range Thursday night.

Blocked shots: Chattanooga was next-to-last nationally in blocked shot percentage a year ago, rejecting just 3.3 percent of opponents' two-point attempts. Zlovaric was the only player on the team to have a block percentage above 1 percent (2.7 percent). To put this in perspective, all four of KU's big men a year ago (Jeff Withey, Thomas Robinson, Justin Wesley, Kevin Young) had higher block percentages than Zlovaric, and he was by far the best Moc at blocking shots.

Three-point shooting: Though the Mocs have traditionally jacked up a lot of threes under Shulman, they weren't successful at making them a year ago. Chattanooga made just 32 percent of its threes last season (265th nationally) and backed that up with a 2-for-22 shooting effort from three (9 percent) in the opener against Tennessee Temple.

3 Players to Watch

• Six-foot-9 senior Drazen Zlovaric (No. 20) was UTC's best shooter a year ago after transferring from Georgia. He made 55 percent of his twos last season (147 of 266) and was especially dangerous at the rim, making 71 percent of his layups (team average was 58 percent). He's also a strong defensive rebounder who limited his turnovers in 2011-12.

• Six-foot-5 forward Z. Mason (No. 30) will be relied upon more in his second season after transferring in from Ole Miss, where he played tight end for for the Runnin' Rebels for two seasons. Mason led the Mocs with 16 points (7-for-12 shooting) to go with five rebounds in 19 minutes against Tennessee Temple.

• Six-foot point guard Farad Cobb (No. 22) stood out defensively in the Mocs' opener, setting a freshman record with six steals in his first game. Cobb, who was ranked the No. 38 point guard in the class of 2012 by ESPN.com, also wasn't afraid to shoot, putting up 11 field-goal attempts in his 20 minutes. He made three of them to finish with eight points.

Prediction

Combine an up-tempo pace with a team that doesn't defend well, and this could be a game filled with highlight-reel plays for the Jayhawks.

Looking at KenPom's rankings, Chattanooga will probably end up being the worst team that KU plays all season.

KU coach Bill Self should have plenty of opportunity to empty his bench to get guys more game experience.

Kansas 81, Chattanooga 49

Hawk to Rock

Sharpshooter Andrew White III should get his longest look of the season, and he'll also be playing against a team that most likely won't bother covering him on the three-point line. I'll say that White puts in three three-pointers while limiting himself to two turnovers or fewer.

Predictions tally
2-0 record, 4 points off (2 points off/game)

Hawk to Rock
SE Missouri: Perry Ellis (2nd in KUsports.com ratings)
Michigan State: Jeff Withey (4th)
Average: 3rd in KUsports.com ratings

Reply

Jamari Traylor earns top honors against Michigan State

1. Jamari Traylor: Had the highlight of the night — a vicious, stickback dunk in the first half — and provided consistent play the rest of the time. He flew high for a second-half, fast-break block against the backboard, showed some good post moves and earned KU a couple extra possessions by winning 50-50 balls. He finished with six points on 3-for-5 shooting with four rebounds, three blocks, two steals and just one turnover in 25 minutes off the bench.

2. Ben McLemore: Once again, perhaps his only fault was not being more aggressive. McLemore scored an efficient 14 points on 5-for-7 shooting, adding in three rebounds and three assists to go with three turnovers. Afterwards, KU coach Bill Self said he would have liked to have seen the freshman drive more late in the game.

3. Elijah Johnson: Solid game for Johnson, who penetrated more and had a better shooting night than in the opener. He posted a team-high 14 points on 6-for-15 shooting (2-for-5 from three) and tied for second on the team with four rebounds. He added three steals but had just two assists to go with four turnovers.

4. Jeff Withey: Limited because of foul trouble in the first half, Withey actually had a pretty good second half. He finished with eight points on 4-for-6 shooting, putting in a couple of hooks while going across the lane. He led KU with seven rebounds, and it seemed like the official scorer might have skimped him on blocks (two) while blaming him for a turnover or two that weren't his (four).

5. Travis Releford: He had a chance to be at the top of the ratings before making a couple of poor plays that resulted in turnovers in crunch time. He finished with eight points on 2-for-6 shooting to go with three assists and two giveaways. The senior added four steals, but he also was beaten off the dribble a few times by MSU freshman Gary Harris.

6. Naadir Tharpe: Confidently stepped into a three and made both of his free throws to finish with five points in 13 minutes while posting only one turnover.

7. Justin Wesley: Played well in his limited time, showing nice touch in the lane to make his only field goal. He finished with two points and one rebound in seven minutes.

8. Perry Ellis: The freshman struggled against length, and after getting blocked, he seemed hesitant with his decision-making. Ellis posted four points on 2-for-6 shooting with three rebounds and one turnover in 17 miuntes. Twice in the second half, after poor plays, he was substituted out by Self for Traylor.

9. Kevin Young: Looked rusty defensively in his first game back. He had one point in three minutes, though he did come away with a crucial loose ball with 56 seconds left that led to a three-point play for McLemore.

KUsports.com Season Standings
T1. Jeff Withey (17 points)
T1. Ben McLemore (17 points)
3. Jamari Traylor (16 points)
4. Perry Ellis (12 points)
T5. Naadir Tharpe (12 points)
T5. Elijah Johnson (12 points)
7. Travis Releford (11 points)
8. Justin Wesley (5 points)
9. Rio Adams (3 points)
T10. Andrew White III (2 points)
T10. Kevin Young (2 points)

— Compiled by Jesse Newell and Tom Keegan. Written by Jesse Newell.

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Could Jeff Withey be in line for big game against Michigan State?

Michigan State center Derrick Nix (25) and Connecticut forward Tyler Olander (10), back, watch the ball during their NCAA men's basketball game on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012, on the Ramstein U.S. Air Force Base, in Ramstein, Germany.

Michigan State center Derrick Nix (25) and Connecticut forward Tyler Olander (10), back, watch the ball during their NCAA men's basketball game on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012, on the Ramstein U.S. Air Force Base, in Ramstein, Germany.

Team: Michigan State
Record: 0-1
KenPom (Ken Pomeroy) Ranking: 6

3 Strengths

Rebounding: Michigan State was a dominant rebounding team a year ago, and the Spartans did nothing to hurt that reputation against UConn. The Spartans were most impressive on the offensive glass, grabbing nearly half of their own missed shots (47.6 percent). Six-foot-6 sophomore Branden Dawson and 6-9 senior Derrick Nix are the two to watch on the offensive boards, as they combined for 15 of MSU's 20 offensive rebounds against UConn. MSU also controlled the defensive glass against the Huskies, allowing only seven offensive boards in Game One.

First-shot defense: It was tough to score against MSU from anywhere on the floor a year ago, as opponents shot just 30 percent from three and 42 percent from two (both numbers ranked in the top 15 nationally for defense). Though Big Ten player of the year Draymond Green has graduated, MSU should still be stingy defensively with above-average size on the wing and inside. MSU ranked third nationally in KenPom's adjusted defensive efficiency stat a year ago, and odds are, the Spartans will have a top-10 defense once again this year.

Swiping the ball: Michigan State was skilled at getting steals a year ago, ranking 61st nationally in steal percentage. Against UConn, the Spartans had nine steals, which included five from the aforementioned Dawson. Four other players registered steals in the game for MSU, meaning a sometimes-careless KU team will need to be wary of MSU's pressure.

3 Weaknesses

Shooting over length: Michigan State had problems getting shots off inside against UConn's size, as the Spartans had 10 shots blocked in the opener. Dawson and Nix appeared to have the most issues, as Dawson had four shots blocked, while Nix had three rejected. Partly because of those blocks, MSU made just 43 percent of its twos against UConn.

Three-point shooting: The big man Green actually was MSU's best and most frequent three-point shooter a year ago, and his departure (along with Austin Thornton and Brandon Wood) leaves the Spartans a little thin as far as perimeter shooting goes. It's a small sample size, but MSU made just 4 of 17 threes against UConn (23.5 percent).

Turnovers: A really good Michigan State team was only average at taking care of the ball a year ago, ranking 147th in turnover percentage (19.8 percent). The Spartans didn't do any better against UConn, turning it over on 23 percent of their possessions. MSU's big men appear to be the most turnover-prone, as the three frontcourt starters combined for eight of the team's 15 giveaways.

3 Players to Watch

• Six-foot-1 junior point guard Keith Appling (No. 11) is Michigan State's most dangerous player creating his own shot. He made 51 percent of his two-pointers last year while getting assists on just 29 percent of his shots at the rim and 15 percent of his two-point jumpers. He's also a threat to get to the line, as he had nearly as many free throws (170) as two-point attempts (211) a year ago. Though Appling was a good free throw shooter in 2011-12 (79 percent), he struggled from behind the arc, making just 25 percent of his three-point tries (24 of 96).

• Six-foot-4 freshman shooting guard Gary Harris (No. 14) was a McDonald's All-American last year and is known as an athletic player who has the ability to attack the rim. He struggled against UConn on Friday, making just 4 of 13 shots, including 1 of 7 from three-point range, though that's an extremely small sample size from which to draw. Harris has scored in double figures in each of MSU's first three games, which includes two exhibitions.

• Six-foot-6 sophomore Branden Dawson (No. 22) plays much bigger than his height. After tearing his ACL in March, Dawson showed no ill effects against UConn, posting 15 points and 10 rebounds (eight offensive) to go with five steals. The offensive rebounding isn't a fluke, as Dawson was the nation's 60th-best offensive rebounder as a freshman last season.

Prediction

This game could be ugly ... really ugly. Both teams play tough defense when set, and neither one was particularly impressive shooting the ball in its first game.

Though the Spartans dropped to No. 21/22 in the latest national polls, I think that might be a bit of an overreaction to one loss in an unfamiliar setting (the UConn game was played in Germany). Michigan State was ranked in the preseason top five by quite a few polls (including KenPom and Basketball Prosectus' Dan Hanner), so there's a pretty good chance that this Michigan State team ends up as a top 10 team by the time the season's over.

I'm expecting a close game, but I think Michigan State prevails, taking advantage of a young KU team that will struggle with turnovers in its first big-stage game.

Michigan State 60, Kansas 56

Hawk to Rock

This seems like the perfect game for Jeff Withey. It's no secret by now that the KU center plays better against true big men, and MSU has plenty of those. Also, Michigan State struggled getting shots over UConn's shot-blockers, meaning Withey should have plenty of chances for rejections. Withey has not always been known for his toughness, though, and he'll need to find his mean streak to fight for rebounds against MSU's bruisers. I'll still say Withey gets to 10 points, 12 boards and six blocks against the Spartans.

Predictions tally
1-0 record, 3 points off (3 points off/game)

Hawk to Rock
SE Missouri: Perry Ellis (2nd in KUsports.com ratings)

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Football pop quiz No. 3

Matt Tait and Nick Krug are snoring away in Lubbock, Texas, getting a solid nine hours of sleep.

After covering Friday night’s season-opening basketball victory, Jesse Newell and I are sitting in Kansas City International Airport, awaiting our first of two flights. With any luck, we’ll get to Lubbock in to time to catch kickoff for today’s Kansas football game against Texas Tech.

Tait will start the live-game blog before handing the baton to Newell.

As Tait and Krug snore and Newell and I fly, feel free to try your hand at a KU football pop quiz that’s not too difficult, but more challenging that the last one.

  1. He leads the Big 12 with 124.7 rushing yards per game.
    a.) Andrew Buie (WVU)
    b.) John Hubert (KSU)
    c.) Joseph Randle (OSU)
    d.) James Sims (KU)

  2. Seven Jayhawks share the team lead in sacks with one. Which player does not have any?
    a.) Tunde Bakare
    b.) Ben Goodman
    c.) Jake Love
    d.) Josh Williams

  3. Averages a team-best 23.6 yards per kick return.
    a.) D.J. Beshears
    b.) Brandon Bourbon
    c.) Taylor Cox
    d.) Tre’ Parmalee

  4. Three of these players are Texans, one a native of Tonkawa, Okla. Select the player from Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweeping down the plains.
    a.) Marquis Jackson
    b.) Dexter Linton
    c.) Jake Love
    d.) JaCorey Shepherd

  5. This player has more solo tackles (one) than he does touchdown passes thrown to a wide receiver.
    a.) Dayne Crist
    b.) Michael Cummings
    c.) Christian Matthews
    d.) Blake Jablonski

  6. Among players who have at least 25 rushing attempts, he leads the team with a 5.4-yard average per carry.
    a.) Taylor Cox
    b.) Michael Cummings
    c.) Tony Pierson
    d.) James Sims

  7. KU’s losing streak against schools from the Football Bowl Subdivision, formerly known as Division 1-A, stands at how many games?
    a.) 10
    b.) 13
    c.) 18
    d.) 20

  8. KU’s losing streak in Big 12 games stands at how many games?
    a.) 10
    b.) 13
    c.) 18
    d.) 20

  9. He leads the team with 54 solo tackles and ranks second to Ben Heeney with 70 total tackles.
    a.) Greg Brown
    b.) Jake Love
    c.) Bradley McDougald
    d.) Huldon Tharp

  10. Kansas is 1-12 all-time against Texas Tech. The only victory came in Lubbock in overtime by a score of 34-31. Name KU’s head coach in that game.
    a.) Terry Allen
    b.) Turner Gill
    c.) Tom Hayes
    d.) Mark Mangino

  11. Three of the four men on the case in Lubbock for KUsports.com graduated from Kansas. Name the Marquette graduate.
    a.) Tom Keegan (first career third-person reference)
    b.) Jesse Newell
    c.) Nick Krug
    d.) Matt Tait

Answer key: 1. d; 2. d; 3. c; 4. c; 5. a; 6. a; 7. c; 8. c; 9.c; 10. a; 11. a.

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Jeff Withey tops first ratings of year

1. Jeff Withey: He was KU's leading scorer with 17 points, but his biggest impact came on the other end of the floor. He had five blocks and changed numerous other Southeast Missouri shots, leading KU's stifling defense in the first half. Withey also tied a team-high with 12 rebounds, including five offensive boards.

2. Perry Ellis: After his first game, he's probably already established himself as KU's best scorer in the post. The freshman showed an array of moves — including a left-handed baby hook — on his way to 15 points on 5-for-9 shooting. He also posted eight rebounds and no turnovers in 23 minutes.

3. Ben McLemore: Though he wasn't as aggressive as he could have been offensively, McLemore still impacted the game in nearly every way possible. He posted nine points, 12 rebounds, five assists and three blocks with just one turnover. He also won a pair of 50-50 balls that led to layups, which should make his coach happy.

4. Naadir Tharpe: Attacked the paint more often in the second half and also looked confident in his jumper. He posted 10 points on 4-for-11 shooting, which included 3-for-5 shooting from two-point range. The sophomore also added two assists to go with two turnovers in 28 minutes, playing point guard for most of the night with Elijah Johnson held back by fouls and cramps.

5. Jamari Traylor: KU coach Bill Self commented afterwards that he thought Traylor did some good things. The freshman posted five points on 2-for-4 shooting, which included a composed spin move and two in the lane. He also added a rebound, assist, steal and block to go with two turnovers in 16 minutes.

6. Travis Releford: The senior struggled with threes (0-for-5) and turnovers (four), but he still provided some stability when Johnson went to the bench. His best offense was in transition, as he had nine points on 3-for-11 shooting to go with five rebounds in 34 minutes.

7. Elijah Johnson: Didn't look like himself, perhaps because of leg cramps. He also couldn't avoid the whistles, fouling out of the third game of his career after playing just 22 minutes. He posted three points on 1-for-5 shooting, missed all four of his threes and had just one assist.

8. Rio Adams: He's trying hard defensively but might need to back off the aggressiveness just a bit. He had two fouls in five minutes, but he did make both of his free throws for two points.

9. Andrew White III: He ended his team's stretch of 17 consecutive missed threes with a trey late. He posted three points on 1-for-2 shooting in his three minutes.

10. Justin Wesley: He had two rebounds, two fouls and two turnovers in eight minutes.

KUsports.com Season Standings
1. Jeff Withey (10 points)
2. Perry Ellis (9 points)
3. Ben McLemore (8 points)
4. Naadir Tharpe (7 points)
5. Jamari Traylor (6 points)
6. Travis Releford (5 points)
7. Elijah Johnson (4 points)
8. Rio Adams (3 points)
9. Andrew White III (2 points)
10. Justin Wesley (1 point)

— Compiled by Jesse Newell

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SE Missouri has punch in post, problems on D

Team: SE Missouri
Record: 0-0
KenPom (Ken Pomeroy) Preseason Ranking: 229

3 Strengths

Shooting, inside and out: The Redhawks thrived last year at shooting both two-pointers and threes. SEMO ranked in the top 63 nationally in both categories, which included an impressive 37.4-percent accuracy from three (though the Redhawks didn't shoot from the outside often). SEMO's best-three-point shooter, Marland Smith, returns for his senior year after making 63 of 158 treys in 2012-13 (39.9 percent).

Defensive rebounding: Six-foot-8 forward Tyler Stone ranked in the top 85 in defensive rebounding percentage a year ago, and teammate Nino Johnson has also turned additional playing time into production. The 6-8 sophomore Johnson had nine defensive rebounds in each of SEMO's first two exhibition games, giving the Redhawks two strong options on the defensive glass.

• Blocked shots: Stone was decent at blocking shots a year ago, rejecting 3.8 percent of his opponent's two-point shot attempts (308th nationally). Meanwhile, Johnson has excelled at this in the Redhawks' first two exhibition games, blocking three shots in each game. Teams shot just 46.3 percent from two-point range against SEMO a year ago, which was better interior defense than the NCAA average (47.8 percent).

3 Weaknesses

Forcing turnovers: This was Southeast Missouri's biggest weakness a year ago, as the Redhawks forced giveaways on just 15.9 percent of opponents' possessions (340th nationally out of 345 teams). SEMO hasn't shown signs of being much improved in that area, either, forcing just 14 turnovers per game against a pair of Div. II teams in exhibition play.

• Committing turnovers: SEMO was about NCAA average in this stat a year ago, but the two exhibition games should be reason for some concern. Junior-college transfer small forward A.J. Jones provided some scoring punch in exhibition play (15.5 points per game), but he also turned it over nine times in just 24 minutes. Also, starting guard Lucas Nutt had more turnovers (nine) than field-goal attempts (eight) in SEMO's two exhibitions. This should be a team that KU can get after defensively, especially on the perimeter.

Free-throw shooting: Southeast Missouri was especially poor in this area a year ago, making just 62.6 percent of its freebies (321st nationally). In the preseason, SEMO mirrored that performance exactly, making 37 of 59 free throws (62.7 percent). Johnson is the biggest liability, as he made just 8 of 18 tries in the Redhawks' two exhibition games (44.4 percent).

3 Players to Watch

Tyler Stone (No. 33) is the Redhawks' best returning player from a year ago. He displays a nice all-around game, as he's a good two-point shooter (54.3 percent) and excellent defensive rebounder that rarely turns the ball over. SEMO's offense will go through the 6-8 forward, who was a preseason All-Ohio Valley selection.

• Nino Johnson (No. 1) appears to be an emerging forward, taking the place of the graduated Leon Powell in the post. The 6-8 sophomore had a breakout game in SEMO's final exhibition win over Truman State, posting 20 points on 7-for-9 shooting with 15 rebounds, three blocks, three assists and just one turnover. He's someone KU will have to pay attention to on both the offensive and defensive boards.

Marland Smith (No. 23) joins Stone as a preseason All-OVC selection. At 6-foot-2, 155 pounds, the senior is SEMO's most consistent three-point threat, ranking sixth in the OVC in three-point accuracy a year ago. Almost all of his threes were assisted last year (98 percent), so he appears to be primarily a spot-up shooter on the perimeter. He also doesn't turn the ball over often and was slightly above average from two-point range last season.

Prediction

Southeast Missouri doesn't project out to be a very good defensive team, as Ken Pomeroy's preseason defensive efficiency ranking of 272nd suggests. The Redhawks fouled too often a year ago, and that's usually not a good characteristic to have when entering Allen Fieldhouse.

KU has some dangerous mid-major teams on the schedule, but this shouldn't be one of them. Be sure to pay attention to KU's turnovers, though. Though the Jayhawks were careless in a 62-50 exhibition victory over Washburn, there really is no reason to give the ball away Friday night against a Redhawks' team that should provide little to no defensive pressure.

Kansas 82, Southeast Missouri 60

Hawk to Rock

Perry Ellis will start in his first official game for KU, and this looks to be a matchup that suits him. The 6-8 freshman is one of KU's best players at getting to the free-throw line, and he shouldn't be overwhelmed by SEMO's size in the paint. I'll say Ellis leads KU in scoring in the opener while also going for a double-double.

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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.

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5 things to learn about the KU basketball team from Hoop-Math.com

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.

3pt.%
After rebound
0-10 seconds into possession
3pt.%
After rebound
11-35 seconds into possession
34% 32%
3pt.%
After opp. score
0-10 seconds into possession
3pt.%
After opp. score
11-35 seconds into possession
31% 37%
3pt.%
After steal
0-10 seconds into possession
3pt.%
After steal
11-35 seconds into possession
17% 42%
3pt.%
After deadball TO
0-10 seconds into possession
3pt.%
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.

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