Entries from blogs tagged with “ku”

Cliff’s Notes: Bill Self press conference, 2/6/12

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

Full audio has been posted.

• Self says flopping was something that has been talked about with officials in the past, but there haven't been a lot of games where KU has had a lot of that going on against it. Some players get reputations as being floppers. Self said he had the all-time greatest one at Illinois, Lucas Johnson. Self called him "Fake Hustle" because he fell down every possession, then acted tough when he got a call. Self thinks for the most part, officials have done a better job with the flop, and he's saying that after KU had six charges against Missouri.

Self has never had a team that has relied on its bench this little, but that's how it's going to be. The thing that was disappointing to Self on Saturday was that KU was forced to play small because Jeff Withey wasn't a factor. That forced Thomas to play out on the floor defensively, which is not KU's strength.

Self thought Justin Wesley did a great job against Missouri. He was energized and defended out on the floor better than what he's practiced. Self thought KU did a decent job with its bench against Missouri. Conner Teahan played pretty well and hit two big shots. The bottom line is, KU's starters have to be ready to play 32-35 minutes.

Self doesn't know what happened with Withey against Missouri. KU wanted to throw it inside early, and it didn't. That's on KU's guards too. KU was just a better team when it could play Thomas Robinson alone on the post. KU scored almost every possession the second half. MU's matchup didn't take advantage of KU, but KU's matchup didn't take advantage of MU.

If you study the game, MU didn't guard the perimeter in the first half. It's hard to get it inside when all of a team's defenders are around a guy in the paint. The best way to open it up is make a shot or two.

Self thinks his team is pretty tough. He's glad his team is not playing Monday. That would be a quick turnaround. He thinks his guys will bounce back. If KU doesn't play well or win Wednesday, it won't because of the Missouri game. Coaches don't let it go. Kids have girlfriends and go to class. They have other things that occupy their mind. Players bounce back better than coaches.

Self says his team made two bad plays down the stretch against Missouri. Taylor turned it over and he charged. Other than that offensively, KU didn't make any bad plays. Self doesn't consider missing free throws a bad play. Defensively, KU had to get stops, and it didn't. Robinson got called for a walk up eight, and Self hinted that he didn't see it on the tape. Self said the charge on Robinson ... he wants him to make that play every day of every situation of every game. That has nothing to do with closing. KU did make a couple bad plays, and MU made a lot of good plays. MU's Marcus Denmon made a lot of great plays. He made three straight three-point plays, and if any of those go the other way, the outcome's different. KU could have almost had a shot-clock violation every possession and won the game, if MU had backed off. That's what's frustrating as a coach. Self said he won't let this one go.

• Self says his team played well against Missouri. Self left the game with three things: 1. MU's really good; 2. KU has to close better; 3. KU's really good. If anything, Self is leaving out of Columbia thinking KU has a chance to be a really good team.

Self thinks Baylor will have a good home court on Wednesday. In the past, KU has had between 1,500 and 2,500 fans there. That might not be possible Wednesday because of the excitement at Baylor with this year's team. MU's home crowd didn't keep KU from leading by eight with three minutes left, though. It's not impossible to play in tough environments.

• Tyshawn Taylor played great against Missouri. If Self had it do all over again, he'd want Taylor on the free throw line more than anyone on the team. Taylor likes that moment more than anybody else. Self doesn't have anything remotely negative to say about Taylor. He lost the ball once and charged once. Self doesn't dwell on missing free throws. The first half, Taylor played so well, KU had a couple bad possessions because Taylor was feeling it too much. Self would run a play, and Taylor thought he saw an opening and would try to make something happen. Still, Taylor had 17 the first half, and defensively he was really good against MU's Phil Pressey.

• Baylor is long. But what makes Baylor different this year is guard Pierre Jackson. He's one of the premier players in the league. He's getting assists, but the Bears are putting the ball in his hands at game point, and he's delivered. Taylor could do a better job against Jackson than he did in KU's home game against BU.

• It's much easier for big guys to play better against big guys. You see that all the time in high school basketball. Big guys can dominate bigs, but playing against small guys throws them off a little bit. Self thinks Withey will play better against Baylor's tall guys.

Self says Baylor is best at playing around the rim and playing in transition.

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Re-introducing the KUsports.com App

The updated KUsports.com App is now available for download at the iTunes store.

The app — which is free — contains a new look and also added features aimed at providing more comprehensive coverage for those who follow KU sports. Those with the first version of the KUsports.com App will simply need to download the update through the iTunes store.

The new app features all the latest news and feature stories from KUsports.com's writers, along with an added feature of offline reading capability.

The app also will be a useful source of information during men's basketball and football games, providing live stats and also up-to-the-second commentary from KUsports.com writers like Tom Keegan, Gary Bedore and Matt Tait.

Another useful feature will be expanded statistics, which will include box scores and also comprehensive player and team stats. These statistics are available for football, men's basketball and women's basketball.

The app also provides an easy-to-navigate schedule, making it simple to reflect on KU's past games or plan for the ones coming up.

This version of the app has been updated for iOS 5 and also is current with the 2011-12 basketball season.

More features also will be added in the near future, which will include Android availability and access to photos, videos and other exclusive content from KUsports.com.

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No more chemically processed pink goo at McDonald’s, and the mystery of the McRib

By now you may have seen the bizarre photo of pink goo - more milkshake than meat - which in reality was a pre-production hamburger patty, treated with ammonium hydroxide, a chemical found in household cleaners and fertilizer. It's also used to kill bacteria. It was also used in burgers from fast food giants like McDonald's and Burger King.

Meat treated with ammonium hydroxide.

Meat treated with ammonium hydroxide. by Alex Parker

But no more.

British tabloid The Daily Mail reports that McDonald's ended the practice in the summer. The paper credited celebrity chef Jamie Oliver's campaign against meat treated with ammonium hydroxide as a catalyst for the decision, but McDonald's denied that. The Daily Mail reported that Taco Bell and Burger King have also ended the practice.

Oliver shocked audiences when he showed how meat - the cuts often left to make dog food - made its way into restaurants, school lunches and home kitchens.

I also came across some information about the bizarre, but oh-so-tasty, delicacy is the McRib, the limited-time-only meat patty that is literally shaped in a pan to look like pork ribs.

Chicago Magazine explains the evolution of the McRib, invented by Meat Industry Hall of Famer Roger Mandigo, and why it is so darn limited.

Here's how Mandigo and two co-authors described the general process in a 1995 article, the process which gives us the McRib:

Restructured meat products are commonly manufactured by using lower-valued meat trimmings reduced in size by comminution (flaking, chunking, grinding, chopping or slicing). The comminuted meat mixture is mixed with salt and water to extract salt-soluble proteins. These extracted proteins are critical to produce a “glue” which binds muscle pieces together. These muscle pieces may then be reformed to produce a “meat log” of specific form or shape. The log is then cut into steaks or chops which, when cooked, are similar in appearance and texture to their intact muscle counterparts.

Mandigo explained the principle behind restructured meat products in Food Chains: From Farmyard to Shopping Cart:

"Most people would be extremely unhappy if they were served heart or tongue on a plate," he observed. "But flaked into a restructured product it loses its identity. Such products as tripe, heart, and scalded stomachs are high in protein, completely edible, wholesome, and nutritious, and most are already used in sausage without objection." Pork patties could be shaped into any form and marketed in restaurants or for airlines, solving a secondary problem of irregular portion size of cuts such as pork chops. In 1981 McDonald's introduced a boneless pork sandwich of chunked and formed meat called the McRib, developed in part through check-off funds [micro-donations from pork producers] from the NPPC [National Pork Producers Council]. It was not as popular as the McNugget, introduced in 1983, would be, even though both products were composed of unmarketable parts of the animal (skin and dark meat in the McNugget). The McNugget, however, benefited from positive consumer associations with chicken, even though it had none of the "healthy" attributes people associated with poultry.

In other words, the McRib, or at least the restructured meat products like it, consists of staples—or even specialties—of other cuisines.

As for why it comes and goes, it's not due to a marketing campaign. It's not even a case of demand. It's all supply, according to the Lincoln, Neb. Journal-Star:

And to this day, the McRib comes and goes from the McDonald's menu for reasons that have to do with its intense popularity and a national supply of pork trimmings that's typically a lot more limited than the supply of beef trimmings.

"If you suddenly start to buy a large amount of that material," said Mandigo, "the price starts to rise."

As the cost to McDonald's rises, the McRib tends to go out of circulation again. And then the same parts of a hog tend to flow back into the processing lines for Spam, Vienna sausages and other specialized products.

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Cliff’s Notes: Bill Self press conference, 1/26/12

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

• Jeff Withey has developed as much as anyone this year for KU. He's developed into a presence defensively. He keys KU's success as much as anyone when he's on. He makes it tough for other teams to score in tight.

Most big guys in the NCAA now are 4 men. There are not as many true 5 men like Jeff Withey out there. Kentucky's dominant center is a 4 man. So is Ohio State's. North Carolina is playing with two 4 men. There just aren't that many anchors out there. The schools that can get those guys in recruiting have an advantage in some ways.

Iowa State's Royce White controlled the first game against KU. Self thought KU didn't play as active as it could have against ISU. KU isn't a good rebounding team if it's not amped up. KU needs to have its guards do a better job of cleaning up rebounds. Long shots mean long rebounds, so KU's big men need help defensive rebounding against ISU.

• Self says this is the toughest stretch of KU's season, starting right now. KU's next four road games are against ISU, Missouri, Baylor and Kansas State.

Self likes what he's seen on the road from his team so far this year. KU hasn't played unbelievably well on the road, but it's guarded well. Self doesn't think KU has had a performance on the road that would guarantee a win any of its next four road games, though.

Coaches can change gameplans from game to game against a team. Self doesn't think ISU dared KU to shoot in the first game, but the Cyclones didn't guard KU's high-post players out top in that game.

Self doesn't like to put numbers on guys, but he thought Taylor could be a 40-percent three-point shooter this year, which is a good percentage. He's shot it much better than that (Taylor is shooting 46 percent from three). If you take away a stretch to start Big 12 play, he's shot well above 50 percent from three. But still the best thing he does is get tot he basket.

• Self thinks Elijah Johnson has played better than his numbers. He struggled last game badly, but Self thinks he's really a good player. His numbers shooting the basketball haven't been good at all. He's shot 29 percent from three, and Self thinks he's a 40-percent three-point shooter at worst. It's going to happen. If it's going to happen, now would be a good time, because KU needs him to be a double-figure scorer from here on out.

Self thinks Johnson can still become a better defender. Self says there was an article not too long ago written about the pride he takes in his defense. He should have read that article before the last game. Self thinks he can become a much more solid defender, because there's been times he's been really good in that area, and there's times he's not. If you worry about your shot, you're not going to shoot it good. If you have to make shots to play well, you're probably not a complete player. Self just wants Johnson to focus in on being a guard.

The way Johnson was shooting threes the other day, he wasn't too worried about what happened on the previous shot. Self thinks that's a positive, though his shot selection wasn't great. It was almost like he was pressing, just trying to make one. He had a bad game against Texas A&M, but he also made the biggest shot of the game against Texas. So he's done a lot of really good things. He just hasn't shot consistently from behind the arc.

• Iowa State is good. That's an NCAA Tournament team. That's pretty good in just two years for coach Fred Hoiberg. He went through the transfer route. It seems to be working pretty well.

• Self isn't a big guy to mess with a player's shots, but he says you can make minor adjustments. Your release point can be too low, or your follow-through can be too flat. There are some minor things you can do. For some, though, to change their shot, you almost have to red-shirt them. In golf and basketball, if things don't go well, you go back to the way you've always done it. That's why Self thinks so much of shooting is between the ears. You can have poor form, but if you have a good follow-through, you have a chance to make shots. Tweaking is the most that Self would like to do for a guy that is playing. With a guy like Jamari Traylor, who is red-shirting, the coaches can work with his shot as much as they'd like, because it doesn't matter if he misses a lot of shots in the next week. With other guys, the coaches can't do as much. They might talk through minor stuff.

Self says there's nothing wrong with Johnson's shot. It can get a little flat sometimes. The thing about shooters ... if you're a good shooter, you miss short or long. You never miss right or left. Almost all of Johnson's misses have been a little long. He's just a notch off.

Self is confident putting Travis Releford defensively on the opponent's best guard, but that might not always be best for KU, because that might put Johnson on the other team's best rebounder. But Self is comfortable with Releford guarding anybody. He's become a smart defender.

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Testing Bill Self’s theory: How was KU’s late-clock defense against Texas A&M?

Kansas coach Bill Self had some interesting comments about his team's defense following the Jayhawks' 64-54 victory over Texas A&M on Monday.

The coach was most upset with his team's late-clock defense against the Aggies. Here's his quote:

"I think if you were to go back and look at us statistically — which I don't have any way to do this, but we probably need to start charting this — I would say the percentage of people scoring against us is far higher in the last seven to eight seconds of a possession than it is in the first 27. We don't finish possessions. How many times tonight did they score under five on the shot clock, or we foul? That's the thing that's so frustrating, because we're not finishing possessions, and that's something that we really emphasize."

So how poor was KU's late-clock defense against Texas A&M?

Let's take a look.

After going back to the tape, here is a graph showing each Texas A&M field goal, along with how much time was left on the shot clock. Please note I did not include Dash Harris' shot right before the halftime buzzer, as the shot clock was turned off.

As you can see, KU's late-clock defense doesn't appear to be as bad as Self remembered.

A&M scored only twice with less than 8 seconds left on the shot clock. That's only 10 percent of its field goals (two out of 20), which is much lower than Self's original prediction.

If you calculate it, the Aggies' average field goal came with 22.7 seconds left on the shot clock (among those 19 shots when the shot clock was on). That appears to be relatively early, especially considering A&M plays at a slow pace.

Here are the three times when KU was scored upon with less than 10 seconds on the shot clock.

With 12:20 left in the first half, KU center Jeff Withey switches on a ball screen, then doesn't get out far enough to contest Elston Turner's three-pointer.

On A&M's next possession (and perhaps this is why it stuck in Self's mind), A&M's Dash Harris gets by Elijah Johnson off the dribble, which forces help from Withey. Harris sees the help coming and dishes to Keith Davis, who puts in an easy layup.

Then, with 16:52 left in the second half, Withey helps with a ball screen, then trips and falls down in traffic. Elston Turner realizes this and is able to find David Loubeau for a wide-open layup.

To be fair, Self also said that KU fouling at the end of the shot clock should be considered as poor late-clock defense as well.

"I think it's breakdowns," Self said, explaining why his team was struggling late in possessions. "Travis (Releford) fouled twice because he reached. Or guys forget we're switching or trapping or whatever it could be. Then the other thing is, offensive teams are always most aggressive in the last five or six seconds of the shot clock because they've got to get a shot. So I think it's just a combination of things."

Going back to the tape, there were two instances of KU fouling with less than 10 seconds on the shot clock.

With 15:15 left in the first half, Tyshawn Taylor is whistled for an apparent blocking call ...

and with 17:40 left in the second half, Releford is called for a reach when he had help from Thomas Robinson behind him.

Taking the whole game into account, it doesn't appear that KU's late-clock defense is as much of an issue as perhaps the eye test told Self it was.

That doesn't mean the Jayhawks can't (and won't try to) improve in that area before their next game against Iowa State.


Postscript: A few commenters said they would like to see a graph that included KU's fouls and also the times when A&M scored points off an offensive rebound.

After going back to the tape, here's a graph that includes those two elements.

This seems to only support the statement above: KU's late-clock defense — at least against Texas A&M — did not hurt the Jayhawks as much as it might have originally appeared.

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Cliff’s Notes: Bill Self press conference, 1/19/12

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

Full press conference audio has been posted.

KU's players have pleased Self as of late. Self joked that he didn't like his players much — and they didn't like him much — up until after Christmas, except for a couple outings. The team has pleased Self with its toughness and effort. KU is a work in progress. Self thinks KU can play better. Some guys can make more shots. Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor can't play much better than they have been playing, but other guys around them could still be better.

More than any team he's had at KU, Self believes energy level keys this year's team. Before the common denominator was talent or depth. This year, KU has to be turned up to play really well.

Self doesn't believe Tyshawn Taylor is doing too much differently in his last few games. He's been making shots, and the basket has looked bigger to him. He's been aggressive all year. Most of the time, that's really good for KU. Self said Taylor made a great play against Baylor when he was wide-open in the corner, waited for about three seconds, then drove in for a layup. He's showing good patience, too. Talent-wise, Self thinks Taylor is one of the top five guards in the country.

Self doesn't think this team scores off its defense as well as the 2006-07 or 2007-08 teams. Those teams were relentless. It's hard to keep defensive pressure turned up for 40 minutes when a team doesn't sub much. So this team has become a good defensive spurt team. There are times when KU doesn't get any steals but still plays its best defense because it's solid.

Thomas Robinson was a very raw, energetic, active guy when KU recruited him. The coaches thought he could be really good. His hands have been a pleasant surprise. If he gets his mitt on the ball, more than likely he's going to get it. Also, his body has continued to develop. He also has a "want-to" that is about as good as anybody Self has had at KU. Right now, he's driven and focused. Coaches get too much credit when players improve. When you have a ball in your hands for three hours a day, you're going to get better. Robinson has been a guy that has wanted to get better.

This is the one-year anniversary for Thomas Robinson's mother passing. Self says he couldn't have handled the situation Robinson has been through as well as he has. He's a remarkable kid and deserves the things he has coming his way. Self is sure this weekend will be emotional for him. Robinson will be off-limits to the media before this game. Self is amazed at how well he's done. Robinson is playing with a smile on his face and seems happy, when we know he has a bigger burden than he's showing.

• Self was proud of KU's administration after last year and proud of the NCAA for allowing KU to help Robinson with his mother's funeral. Last year was an example of a group of guys becoming a family.

If Texas' J'Covan Brown played against KU every game, he'd have been national player of the year the last two years. He's killed KU. The Jayhawks need to do a good job with him. Texas is young and talented. KU will have to combat UT's speed.

Texas' Myck Kabongo will be a pro. He's fast. KU recruited him. He's got a great personality. He's a good leader.

• Self thinks you can pre-judge players inaccurately if guys don't play hard in high school. You shouldn't judge them then, because you need to see how they do in a different environment. When the Morris twins were in high school, Self sent Joe Dooley to watch them work out and asked to rate their work ethic from one to 10. Dooley rated it as a negative-3. Dooley told them they'd never make it through a practice. And they almost didn't early, but then their mind-set changed. Self says to give him athletes that can shoot and that are tough, and he thinks KU can get them to work hard.

It's hard to limit J'Covan Brown's touches. You have to try to limit his good touches. It's hard to keep the ball from guards.

Self says this isn't like a Kansas State or Missouri game, but it still feels like a big rivalry to KU. It should get more that way as the teams play twice a year.

Self remembers a lot about KU's 2001-02 team. While Self was coach at Illinois, the Illini had a wide-open 16-footer to put that game into overtime in the Sweet 16. KU got a bad draw that year, because Illinois was playing really well, and KU drew it as a 4-seed. Self thought KU was the best team in the country that year. Any team that can bring Wayne Simien and Keith Langford off the bench is going to be good. KU honored that team against Iowa State, but that team needs to be honored later as well so the guys that are playing now can come back when they're retired.

Self thinks it will be hard for any other team to go undefeated in the Big 12 like the 2001-02 team. Self believes that team was close to Roy's earlier teams in the late '90s with Jacque Vaughn, Paul Pierce and Raef LaFrentz.

• Brett Ballard is a rock. Baker is fortunate to have him as a coach. He's going to do a great job there.

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Recap: Why Thomas Robinson’s rebounding was more impressive than his points

Note: Here is a listing of definitions for some terms used in this blog. Also, feel free to ask questions in the comments section below if something doesn't make sense.

If you haven't yet do yourself a favor and read this well-researched blog by RealGM.com's Dan Hanner.

In it, he talks more about Kansas and the KenPom rankings, also why some teams are ranked as highly as they are.

Following Kansas' 81-46 victory over Texas Tech, the Jayhawks have jumped all the way up to second in KenPom's rankings, behind only Ohio State.

A toothless Justin Wesley laughs with Elijah Johnson on the bench late in the second half Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012, at United Spirit Arena. Wesley had the tooth knocked out during a recent practice.

A toothless Justin Wesley laughs with Elijah Johnson on the bench late in the second half Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012, at United Spirit Arena. Wesley had the tooth knocked out during a recent practice. by Nick Krug

A big reason for that was on display Wednesday: KU has drubbed the weaker teams it has played this year.

Against teams that are ranked 101 or worse in KenPom's rankings, KU is 7-0 with the second-best KenPom ranking in the country.

Hanner does a nice job of explaining that these types of blowouts aren't insignificant, while also discussing why margin of victory is one tool that is important when evaluating teams.

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

Thomas Robinson runs away with this award despite only playing only 19 minutes.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson stretches out while awaiting a couple of Jayhawk free throws after a technical foul against Texas Tech during the first half Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012, at United Spirit Arena.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson stretches out while awaiting a couple of Jayhawk free throws after a technical foul against Texas Tech during the first half Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012, at United Spirit Arena. by Nick Krug

The junior was efficient, posting 1.84 points per possession used while ending 26.7 percent of KU's possessions.

Still, what was even more impressive was his rebounding.

Robinson grabbed 12 rebounds in his 19 minutes, which left him with some ridiculous rebounding percentages. Not only was he able to grab 22.5 percent of KU's misses, he also came away with 52.6 percent of the available defensive rebounds.

Just think about it. When Texas Tech put up a shot and missed, there were 10 players on the court who could have grabbed it. While Robinson was out there, he grabbed those misses 52.6 percent of the time, while the other nine players combined for the other 47.4 percent.

Robinson's 77.2 effective field goal percentage also was second on the team to guard Naadir Tharpe, who was a perfect 3-for-3.

Through three games in conference, Robinson is playing at a national-player-of-the-year level. KU fans need to enjoy him while he's still here.

Room for Improvement

Man, this one's tough, as we're going to have to get really nit-picky to fill this category with something.

The Jayhawks and Red Raiders chase a rebound during the first half Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012, at United Spirit Arena.

The Jayhawks and Red Raiders chase a rebound during the first half Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012, at United Spirit Arena. by Nick Krug

I guess KU could have done a little better job of forcing turnovers against the Big 12's most careless team. KU forced turnovers on 19 percent of Texas Tech's possessions, which was below KU's season defensive average (22.8 percent) and also well below Texas Tech's season average (24.6 percent).

Still, Texas Tech finished with just 0.73 points per possession and also had its lowest point total in nearly five years (since March 2007 against Kansas State). So even without forcing a lot of turnovers, KU's defense was outstanding.

Tough-Luck Line

Other than an impressive dunk off a lob from Robinson, Elijah Johnson had a quiet night.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson flashes a smile during a Jayhawk run against Texas Tech during the second half Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012, at United Spirit Arena.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson flashes a smile during a Jayhawk run against Texas Tech during the second half Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012, at United Spirit Arena. by Nick Krug

The junior posted just 0.60 points per possession used while ending just 11.7 percent of the possessions he was in.

In his 27 minutes, he was 1-for-4 from the floor with three rebounds, two assists, two turnovers and a steal.

Johnson also is in his worst shooting slump of the season. With an 0-for-2 effort from three Wednesday, Johnson has made just five of his last 25 long-range attempts (20 percent) spanning the last five games.

With the two misses, his season three-point percentage is down to 29.3 percent (27 of 92). That's almost five percentage points lower than the NCAA average three-point percentage (34.2 percent).

Johnson should still keep firing away with open looks from three, but he's probably also at the point where he should pass up semi-guarded ones until he sees a few more go through.

Bottom Line

KU's 81-46 victory over Texas Tech ends up being even more impressive considering the slow pace.

Kansas forward Kevin Young elevates for a dunk on the Texas Tech defense late in the first half Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012, at United Spirit Arena.

Kansas forward Kevin Young elevates for a dunk on the Texas Tech defense late in the first half Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012, at United Spirit Arena. by Nick Krug

The game had just 63 possessions for both sides, which tied for the slowest-paced game KU played this season (the UCLA game also had 63).

It's harder to blow a team out by 35 when you don't have the ball as often. The Jayhawks posted 1.29 points per possession (their third-highest mark of the year) while holding the Red Raiders to 0.73 PPP (also the third-worst for a KU opponent this season). That's a PPP differential of 0.56 PPP that you won't see often, especially in conference road games.

Meanwhile, TTU's 0.73 PPP was its worst mark since March 3, 2008 — when it scored just 0.70 PPP in a 109-51 drubbing during KU's senior night.

The Red Raiders' effective field-goal percentage of 32.4 percent also was its worst since the 2006-07 season.

Kansas center Jeff Withey defends a shot by Texas Tech forward Jaye Crockett during the first half Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012, at United Spirit Arena.

Kansas center Jeff Withey defends a shot by Texas Tech forward Jaye Crockett during the first half Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012, at United Spirit Arena. by Nick Krug

In other words, it was another great night for KU's defense, which seems to only be getting better as this season continues.

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Cliff’s Notes: Bill Self press conference, 1/9/12

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

Full press conference audio has been posted.

Travis Releford has practiced well. When Self worries about Travis, it's when he's not aggressive. He's scoring more and not worried about scoring. Statistically, he's a good three-point shooter. He's not going to be a high-volume three-point shooter, but he's a guy you have to guard. Self likes it when the shot leaves his hand. He's a shot-maker.

• Some players have to shoot well to play well. Tyshawn Taylor is not one of those players. Self thought Taylor did a lot of nice things against OU. He tried to do a little too much late, but he was aggressive, and he's defending better.

• Self likes what KU has done in the last two games because it's scored off its defense. The Jayhawks have been more active with their hands defensively. There's a skill to that. Self is not saying to reach, but getting more deflections and touches defensively. That was the difference in the OU game.

Sometimes guys play to please the coach and not to screw up. Releford has gotten to the point where he's comfortable enough that he knows what he's doing and has figured out that being aggressive is what the coaches want from him as well.

• Texas Tech coach Billy Gillispie has had the itch to get back coaching the last couple years. Self thinks the time off probably was good for him, especially so he could spend some time with his family, as his mother had some health issues. He's going to be able to recruit guys down there.

Texas Tech had its chances against Baylor. It could have won the Oklahoma State game as well. It was a one-possession game late. The Red Raiders are getting better.

KU's coaches show their players film of opposing teams when they're running their stuff the best and playing well. Self thinks most coaches do that.

Self talked to Gillispie about getting back in the Big 12 last year and getting back to his home state and an area where he could recruit. Kentucky is a different deal. Gillispie will do a good job of taking good players and making them do great things.

TTU's Jordan Tolbert puts pressure on the defense. He's a prototypical undersized four-man that drive it. He's good. He's been the most dominant production freshman in the league.

Self thinks there are a lot of times when stereotypes are made about kids that are young who make mistakes that they wish they can have back. Athletics, in many instances, allow those kids to make a good life for themselves and be productive. Jamari Traylor is an example, not from a legal standpoint, but he's been able to use basketball to get an education. Sherron Collins is the same way. Self says it might be a bad analogy, but it's kind of like the movie, "Trading Places," where Eddie Murphy and Dan Akyroyd switch places. So much of decisions that are made are environment-based. Self rarely passes judgment until you give kids opportunities. If they screw those up, that's one thing. But everybody deserves a second chance.

• It doesn't do Self much good to watch last year's film of Texas Tech. This year has different players and different schemes.

Self believes Jeff Withey has been great the last two second halves. He thinks the biggest reason is that he's played with more fire and energy. When he plays with fire and energy, he plays athletically. KU needs him from the tip.

Travis is a great kid. There are a lot of things that depth does. It allows you to keep guys on the bench. It allows you to play through fouls. It also allows you to red-shirt guys. Three of KU's top six players spent an extra year here because of KU's past depth. The biggest reason why players get better is because they want to get better. If you have a mind-set of, "I want to do something with this," you're probably going to do it. Travis has bought it, both feet in, and he's benefiting from that. Releford is a defender, loose ball, energy guy that scores out of making simple plays. He's done a really good job of that. Travis knows who he is, and he plays to his strengths. Self says Releford needs to average double-figure scoring from here on out.

Red-shirting allows you to substitute age 18 for 23. That's the biggest thing that red-shirting does.

Self is picking Alabama in tonight's BCS Championship game. He would like LSU to win, because Les Miles has Oklahoma State ties, but he thinks psychologically, it's tough to beat a team twice in one year. Alabama missed some field goals in the first matchup. He doesn't see the Crimson Tide beating itself again in this game.

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Recap: The Jayhawks’ best two-point shooters this year are …

Note: Here is a listing of definitions for some terms used in this blog. Also, feel free to ask questions in the comments section below if something doesn't make sense.

Following Kansas' strong two-point shooting in Saturday's 72-61 victory over Oklahoma on Saturday, I thought we'd start this blog by looking at KU's most accurate shooters from inside the arc this season.

As you might have already read in Tom Keegan's column, KU made 25 of 39 two-pointers against OU (64 percent) in a game it only shot four of 19 from three (21 percent).

So who do you think the Jayhawks' best two-point shooters have been this season? Come up with a couple guesses before looking at the full list, which is below this picture.

Kansas head coach Bill Self gets fired up on the sideline during the first half against Oklahoma on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012, at Lloyd Noble Center.

Kansas head coach Bill Self gets fired up on the sideline during the first half against Oklahoma on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012, at Lloyd Noble Center. by Nick Krug

1. Travis Releford — 64.5 percent (40 of 62)
2. Elijah Johnson — 63.6 percent (28 of 44)
3. Kevin Young — 63.0 percent (17 of 27)
4. Jeff Withey — 57.1 percent (40 of 70)
5. Conner Teahan — 55.6 percent (10 of 18)
6. Thomas Robinson — 54.1 percent (100 of 185)
7. Justin Wesley — 52.2 percent (12 of 23)
8. Tyshawn Taylor — 44.0 percent (51 of 116)
9. Naadir Tharpe — 40.0 percent (4 of 10)
(NCAA average is 47.6 percent; source: KenPom.com)

I was surprised a bit that Releford tops this list, but he does get a lot of easy shots in transition and also is choosy with his field goal attempts.

Johnson is second for some of the same reasons: He gets quite a few lob dunk attempts and also doesn't force up a lot of guarded two-pointers.

Kansas starters Travis Releford, left, Tyshawn Taylor, Elijah Johnson and Thomas Robinson get a break to chat on the bench late in the game against Oklahoma on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012, at Lloyd Noble Center.

Kansas starters Travis Releford, left, Tyshawn Taylor, Elijah Johnson and Thomas Robinson get a break to chat on the bench late in the game against Oklahoma on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012, at Lloyd Noble Center. by Nick Krug

The two-point percentage that stands out the most is Taylor's — especially considering he's shot better from two-point range in the past.

Tyshawn Taylor two-point percentages
2008-09 — 56.1 percent (96 of 171)
2009-10 — 47.6 percent (70 of 147)
2010-11 — 50.5 percent (97 of 192)
2011-12 — 44.0 percent (51 of 116)

Taylor obviously has taken a bigger role in this year's offense, as he's taking 23.5 percent of his team's shots while he's in, compared to 17.2 percent last year.

The numbers above also don't take into account that he's been great at getting to the free throw line, as his free throw rate (58.6) ranks 132nd nationally.

Still, Taylor had made 51.6 percent of his career twos coming into this season. With that percentage this year, he'd have nine more made twos, which would be 1.2 more points per game.

I've thought about it, but I can't come up with an explanation for why Taylor's two-point percentage would be down that much this season. Any ideas?

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

Travis Releford's individual effort against OU should rank as KU's second best this year, trailing only Thomas Robinson's 30/20 game against North Dakota.

Kansas guard Travis Releford comes away with a steal from Oklahoma guard Cameron Clark during the first half Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012, at Lloyd Noble Center.

Kansas guard Travis Releford comes away with a steal from Oklahoma guard Cameron Clark during the first half Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012, at Lloyd Noble Center. by Nick Krug

Releford posted 1.87 points per possession used while ending a healthy 22 percent of KU's possessions while he was in.

The junior also was super-efficient, making 9 of 13 field goals and 3 of 5 threes to give him an effective field goal percentage of 80.7 percent — highest on the team among players with more than one shot.

During Releford's 34 minutes on the floor, KU outscored OU by 17 (65-48). No other Jayhawk was better than plus-12 against the Sooners.

In his last three games, Releford has averaged 19.3 points while making 20 of 34 field goals (59 percent) and six of 13 threes (46 percent).

Room for Improvement

The Jayhawks put the Sooners on the free throw line too often.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson comes over the top of Oklahoma guard Sam Grooms during the second half Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012, at Lloyd Noble Center. At left is KU forward Justin Wesley.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson comes over the top of Oklahoma guard Sam Grooms during the second half Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012, at Lloyd Noble Center. At left is KU forward Justin Wesley. by Nick Krug

Oklahoma's free throw rate of 56.0 was its highest this year and its 28 free throws attempted were its third-most this season.

Though KU was foul prone early in the season, it actually had done a nice job lately of limiting opposing free throw attempts. In fact, in the Jayhawks' four games before Oklahoma, they had allowed 13, 10, eight and 16 free throws.

KU's defense made up for the deficiency by forcing OU's highest turnover percentage this year (26.6 percent) while also holding the Sooners to their second-worst shooting game (41.0 eFG%).

Tough-Luck Line

Conner Teahan had a rough game offensively in his 18 minutes.

Kansas guard Conner Teahan elevates for a bucket between several Oklahoma defenders during the first half Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012, at Lloyd Noble Center.

Kansas guard Conner Teahan elevates for a bucket between several Oklahoma defenders during the first half Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012, at Lloyd Noble Center. by Nick Krug

The senior posted just 0.28 points per possession used while ending 20.8 percent of the possessions he was in.

Not only did Teahan make just one of five shots, he also was uncharacteristically careless with the ball. He posted three turnovers, which tied a career high. His only other game with three turnovers was against USC earlier this year.

Even including his 0-for-3 performance from three against OU, Teahan has still made 10 of 24 long-range shots in his last five games (42 percent).

If KU is in need of a three-pointer, he's still the Jayhawks' best option.

Bottom Line

KU's offense rebounded from a sluggish first half by getting lots of easy shots in the second half.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson ducks under Oklahoma forward Romero Osby for a bucket during the second half Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012, at Lloyd Noble Center.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson ducks under Oklahoma forward Romero Osby for a bucket during the second half Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012, at Lloyd Noble Center. by Nick Krug

Two-thirds of the Jayhawks' second-half points (26 of 39) came from inside the paint. That offensive execution helped KU to 1.13 points per possession overall, which is above its season average of 1.09 PPP.

Meanwhile, KU forced steals on 21.9 percent of its defensive possessions — the second-best mark this season behind the Towson game.

The Jayhawks have become a swarming defensive team since failing to force a turnover in the second half of Dec. 19's 80-74 loss to Davidson.

Kansas forward Justin Wesley chases down a loose ball with Oklahoma guard Steven Pledger during the first half Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012, at Lloyd Noble Center.

Kansas forward Justin Wesley chases down a loose ball with Oklahoma guard Steven Pledger during the first half Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012, at Lloyd Noble Center. by Nick Krug

In KU's first 10 games (including Davidson), it forced turnovers on 21.6 percent of its possessions. Since then, KU has created giveaways on 88 of its 331 defensive possessions (26.6 percent).

The Jayhawks will have the chance to keep that trend going against Texas Tech on Wednesday, as the Red Raiders have the highest turnover percentage in the Big 12 (25 percent).

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Recap: It’s been a long time since KSU’s defensive rebounding was this bad

Note: Here is a listing of definitions for some terms used in this blog. Also, feel free to ask questions in the comments section below if something doesn't make sense.

It's going to be hard to overstate just how important Kansas' rebounding dominance was in Wednesday night's 67-49 victory over Kansas State.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson wags his tongue with delight behind Kansas State forward Thomas Gipson during a Jayhawk run in the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson wags his tongue with delight behind Kansas State forward Thomas Gipson during a Jayhawk run in the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Surely you know by now that the Jayhawks outrebounded the Wildcats, 50-26, but the performance on the glass was even better when you compare it to recent history.

KU grabbed 57.6 percent of its misses on Wednesday night, which was the most ever by a Bill Self-coached KU team against a Big 12 opponent.

Looking at it from the other direction, it was Kansas State's worst defensive rebounding effort in nearly 10 years. The last time the Wildcats grabbed less than 42.4 percent of the available defensive rebounds was March 8, 2002 against Oklahoma.

Oklahoma's Jabahri Brown, left, and Daryan Selvy, center, battle
for a loose ball with Kansas State's Larry Reid. Oklahoma
outrebounded K-State 54-30 on Friday in the Big 12 quarterfinals
and rallied for a 63-52 victory at Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Mo.

Oklahoma's Jabahri Brown, left, and Daryan Selvy, center, battle for a loose ball with Kansas State's Larry Reid. Oklahoma outrebounded K-State 54-30 on Friday in the Big 12 quarterfinals and rallied for a 63-52 victory at Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Mo. by AP Photo

(Just to give you some context, also on March 8, 2002, Jeff Boschee had 21 points, while Drew Gooden and Kirk Hinrich added 18 points apiece as KU defeated Colorado, 102-73, in the second round of the Big 12 Tournament. ... And I was in high school.)

Ku's Jeff Boschee (13) triggers over Stephane Pelle.

Ku's Jeff Boschee (13) triggers over Stephane Pelle.

KU also limited KSU's offensive rebounding, which is one of the Wildcats' greatest strengths. K-State grabbed just 27.9 percent of the available offensive rebounds, which was its worst mark of the season and second-worst percentage in the last two years.

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

Travis Releford was about as good as we've seen him at KU on both ends of the floor.

Kansas State coach Frank Martin greets KU's Travis Releford at the end of the Jayhawks 67-49 win against Kansas State at Allen Fieldhouse, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2012.

Kansas State coach Frank Martin greets KU's Travis Releford at the end of the Jayhawks 67-49 win against Kansas State at Allen Fieldhouse, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2012. by Mike Yoder

The junior posted 1.31 points per possession used while ending a season-high 22.9 percent of the possessions he was in (meaning he was more involved in the offense this game than any other).

Releford also helped hold KSU's Rodney McGruder — who had made 16 of his last 18 shots and six of his last seven threes coming in — to 5-for-14 shooting (1-for-5 from three).

Releford also seamlessly moved into the post late after Thomas Robinson picked up his fourth foul. Playing as a 4, Releford muscled up to Jamar Samuels after chasing down McGruder most of the night.

The most interesting statistic for Releford lately has been his offensive rebounding.

Kansas guard Travis Releford and Kansas State's Jamar Samuels battle for a loose ball Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Travis Releford and Kansas State's Jamar Samuels battle for a loose ball Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Mike Yoder

In KU's first 12 games this year, the Kansas City, Mo., native grabbed a combined 10 offensive rebounds.

In his last two games, Releford has combined for 11 offensive rebounds.

Whatever the reason for the surge, Self has to hope it continues. On Wednesday, Releford grabbed 24.2 percent of the available offensive rebounds (first on the team) and 15.5 percent of the available defensive rebounds (fourth on the team).

He's also quietly become the Jayhawks' third-leading rebounder, as his 4.3 per game put him only behind Robinson (12.3) and Jeff Withey (6.0).

Room for Improvement

KU's outstanding rebounding made up for a horrible night with turnovers in a low-possession game (64 possessions).

Tyshawn Taylor, (10) left, loses the handle on a ball against Kansas State in the first half Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Tyshawn Taylor, (10) left, loses the handle on a ball against Kansas State in the first half Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Mike Yoder

The Jayhawks gave it away on 31.2 percent of their possessions, which was their highest mark this year and 10th-highest mark in the Self era.

Tough-Luck Line

This goes to Tyshawn Taylor, whose stat line will look worse than his actual production.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor looks to make a move against Kansas State guard Martavious Irving during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor looks to make a move against Kansas State guard Martavious Irving during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

The senior posted 0.75 points per possession used while ending a team-high 32.1 percent of KU's possessions.

Taylor's turnovers dragged down his numbers, as his eight giveaways were the second-most for him this season.

Still, it's hard to criticize too much, as Taylor's driving ability led to some offensive rebounds and also opened things up for KU.

This shouldn't be overlooked. KSU coach Frank Martin said after the game the main reason he switched to a zone defense was that the Wildcats didn't have anyone who could stay in front of Taylor.

That change ended up biting KSU, as the Jayhawks hit a couple of huge three-pointers (including one by Conner Teahan) against the zone that broke the game open.

Bottom Line

Kansas State's two biggest strengths offensively were getting to the free throw line and offensive rebounding, and KU neutralized both.

Kansas guard Conner Teahan and the Jayhawk bench go wild following a Jayhawk bucket during a run against Kansas State in the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Conner Teahan and the Jayhawk bench go wild following a Jayhawk bucket during a run against Kansas State in the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Along with the rebounding numbers above, KU also held K-State to a free throw rate (free throws divided by field goals) of 28.1, which was the lowest mark by the Wildcats this season.

With few offensive rebounds, limited free throws and a poor shooting performance (36 eFG%, second worst team mark this season), the Wildcats scuffled to 0.76 points per possession — their worst mark of the season and second-worst total in the Frank Martin era.

Mark this as another game won more by KU's defense than its offense.

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Cliff’s Notes: Bill Self press conference, 1/3/12

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

Full press conference audio has been posted.

Self thinks Kansas State is probably more balanced without Jacob Pullen, but Self also saw Pullen put up 38 points against KU, and KSU was pretty good that night. KSU is more balanced this year, though. Self is glad that Pullen graduated for KU's sake, though.

There are certain stats that consider effort. Self wishes they kept a stat of what percentage of the time that you get 50-50 balls. That's what determines who wins and loses games. That's more important than screening and feeding the post and things like that. Self says Frank Martin's teams are always good at getting those loose balls and stealing extra possessions. Kansas State gets 42 percent of its misses back, which is an alarming rate. Sometimes KSU's best offense is a missed shot, which is a compliment to the Wildcats.

Some things that go into good rebounding is forcing rotations defensively. A lot of it is effort. A lot of it is guards getting into the lane and forcing help. A lot of times people think floaters are bad shots, because they might have a 20-percent chance of going in, but you also could have a 60-percent chance of getting the rebound. For KSU, it's also just a mind-set of how hard to go after the ball. KU and KSU actually mirror each other, though KU has been better at defensive rebounding than offensive rebounding (whereas KSU has been better at offensive rebounding than defensive rebounding).

Self isn't mad at Jeff Withey or the other guys. He's just a little perturbed at how KU rebounded. If Self lets things slide in non-conference games, the chances are, when you have to be a great rebounding team and be physical, you aren't going to be able to turn it on and turn it off. Withey is going to be important in this KSU game, but the other bench guys are as well. Those guys have responded well in practice. They're excited to play.

Thomas Robinson statistically has played as well as Self as hoped. Self still doesn't think he's impacted possessions on both ends as much as he could. To Self, the other day was a good sign because, the more patient he was, the better shots he got. He was a good screener the other day, which opened up shots for him as well. Self still thinks there's a step he can take to become an even better player.

The game is going to be physical, and Robinson should enjoy that. The whole team should enjoy that. Robinson has gotten frustrated at times when he doesn't get touches, but a lot of players get frustrated across the nation when that happens.

• The culture for KSU is you play as hard as you can every possession in all ways. That's not just on the offensive glass. They deny passes defensively; they're in stances defensively as well. There are a lot of things they do that are part of the culture they're trying to accomplish.

• The times KU has struggled against KSU, it's when the Wildcats' defenders push KU's offensive players out of what they want to do offensively. When teams pressure like that, it may open up driving angles as well. Guards have to be good in this game.

• Tyshawn Taylor has played really well since the Davidson game. He's done a good job of taking care of the basketball. Though the game wasn't in doubt, the North Dakota game was Taylor and Robinson's game. KU was so aggressive against KSU last year in the Fieldhouse. But KSU also took six charges. The Jayhawks need to be under control but very aggressive on Wednesday against KSU.

This game is good for the state when both teams are ranked. It's good for Wichita State to be good. It's good for Missouri to be good. It's good for the league to be good, as long as it's not at your expense. Self likes the fact that there's an interest in the games that are going on around here.

Tyshawn Taylor is a pretty scrutinized guy, and he brings a lot of that on himself, partly just by being a guard on teams here that are really good. He makes a lot of plays you can't coach, but then he makes plays where you wonder if he's ever been coached. But that's him. Self is glad to have him. Self thinks Taylor has been getting better. KU can't afford to have him play to not screw up. He has to be aggressive. He's going to turn it over some. Self thinks there are some times when fans can watch a player too much and perhaps be more critical because of that. But Self has really enjoyed coaching Taylor. He's a kid that cares an awful lot.

If Taylor is being aggressive, Self thinks his mistakes are very limited. When he's not aggressive and not making a play, he becomes careless. That's not uncommon. Guys usually focus harder on a contested three than they do on a wide-open layup. Taylor can make hard plays look easy and easy plays look hard. Taylor has done a nice job tightening his game up in the last few games.

If players are listening to what fans are saying, then they're pretty soft. That's par for the course. When you play at a place like this, people are going to talk. But when you play well, people are going to talk. Self will live with Taylor's mistakes as long as he focuses in on what the coach thinks is important. And Self thinks it's important for KU to get a shot every possession.

Self thinks 14-4 would have a great shot to win the league. KU has won it a few times at 13-3. A 14-4 record might not win it outright, but you'd have a great chance to at least share the league title.

• Self doesn't know if KSU guard Will Spradling is the glue to the team, but he seems to be a steady influence all the time. When things seem to get out of whack for them, he reels them back in. He's a really good player. Self is impressed by him.

Self follows "Hawks in the NBA" in the Lawrence Journal-World. Josh Selby is getting a lot of minutes. Markieff Morris is kicking tail and is in there at gamepoint for the Suns as well. Marcus getting moved down to the D-league isn't necessarily a bad thing, because he can go get minutes and get better. The Rockets have several hybrid-type forwards. Self thinks the guys, for the most part, are doing pretty well. Brady Morningstar is putting up points in the NBA D-League that he didn't put up at KU. It's an adjustment period for everyone moving up a league.

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(Stats free) Recap: Why Jeff Withey ended up in the Bill Self doghouse

We're going to break away from the normal "Recap" format just for this game, as I was interested in what landed Kansas center Jeff Withey in the doghouse during the Jayhawks' 84-58 victory over North Dakota.

Though Withey started, he played a season-low eight minutes.

"Jeff has really had a pretty good year so far," Self said after the game, "but that was ridiculous tonight."

Let's take a look. I pieced together all of the significant plays that Withey had during the North Dakota game to try to figure out why Self was ticked off.

Withey's bad day starts in the first highlight (click for cued-up highlight) on a missed free throw from Travis Releford.

A potential offensive rebound his Withey in the hands, but bounces away as he can't secure it.

Withey actually makes a nice play in the next highlight, jumping to knock away a pass for a steal.

The next highlight is another nice play from Withey, helping on defense to stop a driver before blocking his shot (though I don't think this block made it into the box score).

What follows, though, is two more plays that typically drive Self crazy.

Following a missed three from Conner Teahan, Withey has weakside position only to let a shorter (and much smaller) UND player go right over the top of him for the rebound.

To hurt his case even more, Withey ends up falling down, and the ball ends up going out of bounds off his butt.

After failing to put in a tip on the weakside on another Teahan missed three, Withey once again lets a UND player out-tough him for a rebound.

Following a North Dakota missed shot, Withey has perfect rebounding position, only to let the man on his back go over him to swat the ball back to a Bison player. If you watch the video, notice Self goes to his bench to sub out Withey immediately after that.

Notice also in the screenshot on the right how far Withey's mid-section is in front of his feet. This appears to show that Withey was unable to stand his ground and was pushed forward by the UND player behind him.

This leads to my favorite video, which is taken just after Withey is benched.

I'm an amateur lip-reader, but I was able to make out what Self says in the cued-up video below. Give it a click.

"You missed three rebounds!" By the way, later video shows that Withey is the closest player to Self on the bench.

And, from the images above, you now know exactly which three rebounds Self was talking about.

Withey gets one more chance in the highlights to be tough on the glass, but he doesn't take advantage.

He appears to be in decent position for an offensive rebound on this shot by Naadir Tharpe, but Withey can't control the ball and loses it out of bounds.

The final straws for Withey are a three-second call (which looks like a questionable call, as Withey appears to step out of the lane 1 1/2 seconds before getting whistled) ...

and an ill-advised pass right into a defender for a turnover.

Withey checked out of the game after that and didn't return. His final line: Two points, 1-for-1 shooting, two rebounds, two turnovers and one steal in eight minutes.

I think I went into Saturday with the wrong thoughts about Self's mind-set for the final non-conference game. I thought this would be the perfect game for him to use his bench players and not have the final result be in jeopardy.

Instead, Self went the other way. He used this game to send a message, as it was the last game he could bench a starting player and not be in jeopardy of losing the game.

"The thing that concerns me is how soft we are," Self said after the game, and this quote I think relates to Withey pretty directly. "Everybody sees it. You have balls hitting guys in the hands, and they don’t come away with it, and we are getting ready to play big-boy ball starting Wednesday (against Kansas State). I am really concerned with our big guys because other than Thomas (Robinson). I don’t think we have a big guy that can get a rebound in traffic against men. That would be my biggest concern right now."

This blog isn't meant to rip Withey. The highlights above actually show good defensive plays from him here and here and a good offensive play here that we didn't even mention above. And he did that in just eight minutes.

Withey perhaps also hasn't gotten as much credit for KU's success this year as he deserves. For example, basketballreference.com measures a stat called "win shares," which estimates of the number of wins contributed by a player due to his offense and defense.

Thomas Robinson is first for KU with 3.1 WS. Withey is second with 2.4 WS.

KU needs Withey, and Self surely knows that KU's best chance to win will put Withey on the court for extended minutes.

Then again, Self also values toughness in players, and Withey didn't appear to show too much of it above.

It will be interesting to watch Withey's minutes going forward. Even if KU is softer when he's in, the team is also better when he's in.

Withey still is an efficient shooter, an outstanding defender and one of the nation's best shot-blockers.

Will any of that matter to Self, though, if Withey doesn't play tough enough?

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Top 10 KUsports.com videos from 2011

The following are the top 10 KUsports.com videos of 2011, based on views.

10. Tyrel Reed senior speech (5,822 pageviews)

9. Josh Selby consoles Markieff Morris in locker room (6,069 pageviews)

8. Brady Morningstar senior speech (6,069 pageviews)

7. Mario Little senior speech (6,227 pageviews)

6. The Morris twins are in agreement on which NBA team they'd like to play for (6,406 pageviews)

5. Marcus Morris tells Richmond players to 'be ready,' says he tries to get in their head (6,555 pageviews)

4. Markieff Morris rates Tyrel Reed's first dunk (6,631 pageviews)

3. Legends of the Phog postgame presser (6,797 pageviews)

2. Dream On video (7,443 pageviews)

1. Marcus Morris: 'I let everybody down' (8,240 pageviews)

See the top 10 KUSports.com videos from 2010

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Top 10 KUsports.com stories from 2011

It’s time to take a look back at the year that was in Kansas University athletics.

The following are the top 10 most-clicked on stories for KUsports.com in 2011:

10. KU men's basketball earns No. 1 seed (29,293 pageviews)

Following a 32-2 regular season, the Kansas men's basketball team earned the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament's Southwest region. Most of the talk on Selection Sunday was about Boston U., a potential "Killer B" following recent KU losses to mid-majors Bucknell and Bradley in the NCAA Tournament. The Jayhawks took a 72-53 victory over Boston but were later tripped up by VCU in the Elite Eight.

9. Recruit DeAndre Daniels delays decision (30,118 pageviews)

In a recruitment that never seemed to end, Rivals.com's 10th-ranked player in the class of 2011 announced that he was pushing back his much-awaited announcement for another day. The 6-foot-8 Daniels — who had a final list of Kansas, Texas, Duke and Oregon at the time — eventually ended up committing to UConn more than two weeks later.

8. Thomas Robinson cited for misdemeanor (30,962 pageviews)

Lawrence police cited Kansas University basketball player Thomas Robinson to appear in municipal court on a misdemeanor battery charge in connection with an altercation outside The Cave, a nightclub inside The Oread hotel and condominiums in Lawrence.

7. Josh Selby declares for NBA Draft (33,763 pageviews)

Josh Selby ended up being coach Bill Self's second one-and-done player at Kansas — just not the way everyone expected. After being hampered by a foot injury most of his freshman year, Selby left KU shortly after the NCAA Tournament and headed to Las Vegas to train and also weigh his NBA options. After a week and a half there, he alerted Self over the phone that he was turning pro. Selby was drafted 49th overall by the Memphis Grizzlies in the 2011 NBA Draft.

6. Ben McLemore commits (34,585 pageviews)

Rivals.com's 17th-ranked player made his college plans official following the NeXt All-America Classic in Hoffman Estates, Ill., picking Kansas over Missouri. The St. Louis prep had to convince his mother, Sonya, before deciding upon KU. “I will always be a Mizzou fan,” Sonya said. “But this is something he wanted. I’m proud of him and happy for him.”

5. Perry Ellis commits to KU (39,628 pageviews)

http://www2.kusports.com/weblogs/newell_post/2011/sep/21/live-from-wichita-perry-ellis-announceme/

Touted as perhaps the best Kansas high school recruit since Wayne Simien, Wichita Heights' Perry Ellis called together a Sept. 21 press conference in his high school gymnasium to announce his decision to attend Kansas University next year. The 6-foot-8 forward — ranked No. 22 by Rivals.com in the class of 2012 — chose KU over Kansas State, Wichita State and Kentucky. "I knew for so long. I've been there so many times. I felt so comfortable there," Ellis said. "It made me realize that was the school for me. All the schools were so great, but I was so comfortable there."

4. Turner Gill fired (41,200 pageviews)

After just two seasons at Kansas University, football coach Turner Gill was fired by athletic director Sheahon Zenger during a 4 p.m. meeting on Nov. 27. Gill went 5-19 during his two seasons in Lawrence; ten of his 19 losses were by 30 points or more. The former Nebraska quarterback later was hired as Liberty's football coach on Dec. 15.

3. Tyshawn Taylor suspended (46,622 pageviews)

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor — who already had a history of off-the-court incidents — was suspended indefinitely for violating unspecified team rules on Feb. 21. KUsports.com users posted 326 comments on the breaking news story. Taylor ended up missing two games before returning to KU's lineup on March 2 against Texas A&M.

2. Pac-12 not expanding; Big 12 lives (81,459 pageviews)

http://www2.kusports.com/weblogs/tale-tait/2011/sep/20/realignment-today-836-am-ut-decision-to-/

After months of speculation, the Pac-12's announcement that it would not expand past 12 teams was official word that the Big 12 — in some form — would be saved as a conference. Matt Tait's realignment blogs were some of the most-clicked-on items to ever appear on KUSports.com. Fifteen of his blogs had at least 25,000 pageviews, while five of those surpassed 40,000 pageviews and three had more than 50,000 pageviews.

1. Charlie Weis hired as KU football coach (88,780 pageviews)

http://www2.kusports.com/weblogs/tale-tait/2011/dec/8/coaching-search-2011-day-11-137-am-what-/

Following an air-tight search by athletic director Sheahon Zenger, KU announced on Dec. 8 that Florida offensive coordinator (and former New England Patriots offensive coordinator) Charlie Weis would be its next football coach. Much like Big 12 realignment, the coaching search brought back a huge following of people each day to KUSports.com. Tait's coaching search blog had 10 separate entries that had more than 25,000 pageviews, with three days' numbers topping 40,000 pageviews.

The rest of the top 20:

11. Recruit Landen Lucas picks KU (28,213 pageviews); 12. Recruit Andrew White picks KU (28,148 pageviews); 13. Tyshawn Taylor, Thomas Robinson to return to KU (28,014 pageviews); 14. Royce Woolridge to transfer from KU (27,602 pageviews); 15. Ben McLemore, Jamari Traylor ruled ineligible for 2011-12 season (26,468 pageviews); 16. DeAndre Daniels, Jamari Traylor, Trevor Lacey to pick schools Wednesday (25,583 pageviews); 17. Morris twins to enter NBA Draft (24,290 pageviews); 18. Recruit Jamari Traylor picks KU (24,276 pageviews); 19. Recruit Braeden Anderson commits to KU (23,863 pageviews); 20. Quarterback Jake Heaps announces transfer to KU (23,705 pageviews).

See the top 10 KUsports.com stories from 2010

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Recap: Has this year’s team found its identity?

Note: Here is a listing of definitions for some terms used in this blog. Also, feel free to ask questions in the comments section below if something doesn't make sense.

Holding a team to 34 points perhaps isn't as rare this season as it has been in years past.

For example, Wisconsin's basketball team has held an opponent under 34 four times in 14 games.

Still, KU's 89-34 victory over Howard is a little more impressive when we take another factor into consideration: possessions.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson hovers over Howard guard Prince Okoroh during the first half Thursday, Dec. 29, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson hovers over Howard guard Prince Okoroh during the first half Thursday, Dec. 29, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Because Thursday night's game had a relatively high number of possessions (68), limiting a team to just 34 points becomes much more difficult.

The Jayhawks ended up holding the Bison to just 0.5 points per possession. Amazingly, that's the third-lowest PPP total from any Div. I team in a game this season. Only Arkansas State (against Louisville) and Northern Illinois (against Purdue) had lower PPP totals.

Lots of credit for this number should go to KU's bench players, who kept up the intensity when receiving extended minutes in the second half.

Normally, a strong PPP number can be ruined when backups and bench players check into the game late, but that didn't happen Thursday. Howard scored just 14 points in the game's final 13 1/2 minutes ... and that included nearly 10 minutes of having all KU reserves on the floor.

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

In limited minutes, Tyshawn Taylor posted one of his best statistical games of the season.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor pulls up for a three pointer from the corner over Howard forward Mike Phillips during the second half on Thursday, Dec. 29, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor pulls up for a three pointer from the corner over Howard forward Mike Phillips during the second half on Thursday, Dec. 29, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

The senior guard posted 1.60 points per possession used (a season high) while still ending 21.3 percent of KU's possessions.

Taylor contributed 35.3 percent of his team's available assists and continued his hot shooting from the outside. He made 3 of 4 three-pointers and currently sits at 53.1 percent from three-point range this season (17 of 32).

He also had just one turnover, which puts him at just three turnovers in his last 55 minutes played.

Honorable mention here goes to Jeff Withey, whose defensive performance shouldn't go overlooked.

Kansas center Jeff Withey stuffs a shot by Howard forward Mike Phillips during the first half Thursday, Dec. 29, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Jeff Withey stuffs a shot by Howard forward Mike Phillips during the first half Thursday, Dec. 29, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

The 7-footer blocked one-third of Howard's two-point attempts while he was in the game. That's even more amazing when you stop to think about it.

The junior also had to have had some effect on the Bison's psyche offensively. During Withey's 20 minutes on the floor, Howard scored a total of seven points. Seven.

While Withey was in, KU outscored Howard, 47-7. Pretty crazy plus-minus numbers for the big guy.

Room for Improvement

KU's two biggest blowouts have been two of its worst defensive rebounding games.

Kansas forward Kevin Young fights for a rebound with Howard guard Prince Okoroh during the first half on Thursday, Dec. 29, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Kevin Young fights for a rebound with Howard guard Prince Okoroh during the first half on Thursday, Dec. 29, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Howard grabbed 35.6 percent of the available offensive rebounds Thursday, which was the third-highest number for a KU opponent this year behind Towson (42.9 percent) and Ohio State (35.9 percent).

Yes, some of that has to do with KU's bench players being in late. Still, Howard had an offensive rebound percentage of 31.8 percent in the first half, which is a bit higher than would be expected.

Other than that, it's hard to gripe about much regarding KU's performance.

Tough-Luck Line

Hard to pick one when KU played so well, but with a lack of options, we'll go with Naadir Tharpe here.

Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe shoots during warmups prior to tipoff against Towson on Friday, Nov. 11, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe shoots during warmups prior to tipoff against Towson on Friday, Nov. 11, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

The freshman guard posted 1.02 points per possession used (the lowest among KU's scholarship players) while ending 17.3 percent of the possessions he was in.

Tharpe did do a good job of distributing, notching 38.3 percent of the available assists while he was in the game.

Obviously, the biggest issue was his turnovers. He posted three in 17 minutes, including an awful one during a two-on-one break in the first half that drew a "What are you doing?" from KU coach Bill Self.

Because Tharpe doesn't shoot a lot, KU can't afford to have him turning the ball over at such a high rate — especially when he's still a bit of a liability defensively.

Bottom Line

Even against a poor opponent, KU put together an impressive defensive effort in a high-possession game.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor, right, and Thomas Robinson pressure Howard guard Simuel Frazier during the first half on Thursday, Dec. 29, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor, right, and Thomas Robinson pressure Howard guard Simuel Frazier during the first half on Thursday, Dec. 29, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Not only did he Jayhawks hold the Bison to 0.50 points per possession, they also limited them to an effective field-goal percentage of 25.0 percent. That tied for the seventh-lowest mark by a Div. I team this season.

KU's defense also forced turnovers on 35.3 percent of Howard's possessions, which was the highest number in the last two seasons.

With the strong defensive effort, KU has moved up to third in KenPom's adjusted defensive efficiency ratings, behind only Wisconsin and Ohio State.

If the Jayhawks didn't know it before, they should know it now: This should be a team that "hangs its hat" — as Self would say — on locking down other teams defensively.

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

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

Full press conference audio has been posted.

Regarding the red mark over Self's left eye: The coach had pre-cancer spots, and the doctor said that they needed to get rid of them. He tried to get time it so he could get them removed during a down period. Wednesday was his last day of medicine. He's been taking it for three weeks. He'll be back to normal in a couple days, the doctors said.

Self practice squad is decent — pretty good. Ben McLemore and Jamari Traylor have given KU some energy and athleticism since being allowed to join the practice squad at semester. Self wishes KU could play them now, because they'd help this year's team. Practices have been better with them. It's much more competitive out there.

Out of Ben and Jamari, one has a 3.3 grade-point average and another has a 3.2. Both did great in that aspect. Self was proud of them. The NCAA put pretty strict stipulations on them, and they both blew those away.

Self likes his guys' attitude. He thinks the team is pretty good when it plays with energy and passion. KU played like duds against Davidson. Self thinks energy is correctable.

Self thinks all his guys in some respect are tough. But KU wasn't tough against Davidson. A lot of teams don't appear mentally tough until they need to be in a game. KU just didn't close against Davidson. The team didn't get stops when it needed stops or execute on offense when it really needed to. People think that Thomas Robinson is tough, but there are times when he isn't. Same for Tyshawn Taylor. Same for Elijah Johnson and a lot of the guys. Toughness is when you miss four shots in a row and you want the fifth one. Statistically, KU has actually done well in toughness stats.

Self likes his guys, but he can't coach them and let things he feels go unsaid. Self has to say it. On Monday, the team had a meeting after practice. The thing that Self told them on Monday is that he's had a chance to self-evaluate, and KU isn't that far off. But if KU doesn't bring it on any night, it gets average quickly. But if KU brings it, it can play with anybody. He told players they can't afford to not have possessions without energy and emotion. Self wants KU to play with more energy and passion.

KU's bench isn't where Self would like it to be. Not yet, at least. KU's schedule is part of the reason for that. The Jayhawks haven't had a lot of time to get the minutes to get some bench guys confidence. Self still knows that isn't a total excuse. Guys have a chance to impress the coaches every day in practice.

The success that Baylor and Missouri has had has been eye-opening to Self. The team that has been the most pleasant surprise in the league has been Kansas State, with Missouri second.

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Recap: KU’s numbers this year strikingly similar to another recent season

Note: Here is a listing of definitions for some terms used in this blog. Also, feel free to ask questions in the comments section below if something doesn't make sense.

While surfing KenPom.com (doesn't everyone do that in their free time?), I went back and tried to look to see if this year's team, statistically, was starting to shape up like any other in Kansas coach Bill Self's tenure.

And I was shocked by just how much this team — so far — has resembled Self's 2008-09 KU squad.

Kansas guard Sherron Collins puts up a jumper over North Dakota State guard Mike Nelson during the first half Friday, March 20, 2009 at the Metrodome in Minneapolis.

Kansas guard Sherron Collins puts up a jumper over North Dakota State guard Mike Nelson during the first half Friday, March 20, 2009 at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. by Nick Krug

It starts with the most fundamental stats for Pomeroy: his adjusted offensive and defensive efficiencies (AOE and ADE).

Here's how KU ranked nationally in each of the statistics in 2008-09:

2008-09 AOE: 113.8 (26th)
2008-09 ADE: 88.0 (7th)

And here's where KU is ranked in both of those categories as of Dec. 23 for this season:

2011-12 AOE: 111.2 (26th)
2011-12 ADE: 86.4 (6th)

Kind of spooky, huh?

Those aren't the only stats that look remarkably similar for the two teams. Notice how close many of the offensive stats are this year compared to the 2008-09 team (national ranks are in parentheses):

So here's a question: If this team performs to the same level offensively as the 2008-09 team did, would KU fans be happy or disappointed?

Something to think about as we look further into KU's 63-47 victory over USC on Thursday.

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

Elijah Johnson edges out Jeff Withey for M.O.J. against USC.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson moves the ball up the court between USC players Maurice Jones (10) and Alexis Moore (3) after a steal during the first half Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011 at the Galen Center in Los Angeles, Calif.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson moves the ball up the court between USC players Maurice Jones (10) and Alexis Moore (3) after a steal during the first half Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011 at the Galen Center in Los Angeles, Calif. by Nick Krug

The junior guard posted 1.08 points per possession used while ending a healthy 19.8 percent of KU's possessions while he was in. He also posted the second-highest effective field-goal percentage on the team (63.6 percent).

Johnson's defense is what sealed his selection here, though. The Las Vegas native collected steals on 7.9 percent of his defensive possessions, which is the third-best mark for a KU guard this season (not counting walk-ons).

Before Thursday's game, Johnson had recorded just one steal in his previous four games.

The 6-foot-4 Johnson showed great anticipation against USC to come away with steals, which also led to some easy points in transition.

Room for Improvement

KU's offense struggled against USC's tough defense, especially on the interior.

Kansas guard Travis Releford is fouled on the shot as he splits USC defenders Byron Wesley, left, and Aaron Fuller during the first half on Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011 at the Galen Center.

Kansas guard Travis Releford is fouled on the shot as he splits USC defenders Byron Wesley, left, and Aaron Fuller during the first half on Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011 at the Galen Center. by Nick Krug

The Jayhawks posted just 0.97 points per possession, their third-lowest total this season.

Part of the problem was turnovers. KU gave it away on 24.6 percent of its possessions, which is even above the team's season average of 21.9 percent.

KU also struggled with two-pointers and free throws. The Jayhawks made just 42.8 percent of their twos, which was nearly 10 percentage points below their season average (52.1 percent).

KU also had its worst free throw shooting night of the year (12-for-21, 57.1 percent). After ranking in the top 50 nationally in free throw percentage through eight games, the Jayhawks have made just 30 of 52 free throws (57.7 percent) in their last two games to drop out of the top 100.

Tough-Luck Line

It was a rough night for Thomas Robinson.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson fights inside for a shot against USC defenders Byron Wesley (25) and James Blasczyk (31) during the second half on Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011 at the Galen Center.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson fights inside for a shot against USC defenders Byron Wesley (25) and James Blasczyk (31) during the second half on Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011 at the Galen Center. by Nick Krug

The 6-foot-10 forward posted just 0.63 points per possession used while leading the team by consuming 26.6 percent of the possessions he was in.

Though Robinson did some nice things defensively — including on the defensive glass (36.3 percent defensive rebounding percentage) and with steals (4.1 percent steal percentage) — he still was one of the biggest reasons KU's offense struggled against USC.

The junior's five turnovers matched a season high, as he gave it away on 38.4 percent of the possessions he used. His 41.6 eFG% was third-worst on the team, and when he ended a KU possession, the Jayhawks scored at least one point just 31 percent of the time.

With poor offensive games against Davidson and USC, Robinson's offensive rating (points per 100 possessions) has dropped from 111.5 down to 104.7, according to StatSheet.com.

USC coach Kevin O'Neill said afterwards that the team's goal against Robinson defensively was to "make him play in a crowd."

On those nights — and there are sure to be more of them — Robinson will need to do a better job of avoiding turnovers and creating open shots for his teammates.

Bottom Line

KU won because of an impressive defensive performance, holding USC to 0.72 points per possession — the lowest total for a KU opponent this season. During the 31-possession first half, KU held USC to 0.42 PPP.

The Jayhawks' defense was especially strong on the perimeter. USC's three starting guards combined to make just 5 of 22 shots (22.7 percent) with 10 assists and 10 turnovers.

The Kansas defense hovers around USC guard Maurice Jones on a shot during the second half on Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011 at the Galen Center.

The Kansas defense hovers around USC guard Maurice Jones on a shot during the second half on Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011 at the Galen Center.

So far, KU's profile is stacking up much like Self's team in 2008-09.

The ninth-year coach has his squad playing at an elite defensive level with the offense lagging a bit behind with fewer weapons than in years past.

That 2008-09 team finished 27-8 with a Big 12 regular-season championship and a Sweet 16 appearance.

Through 11 games, that squad was 8-3, with a loss to a perennial power, a loss in the championship game of a early-season tournament and a loss to a mid-major underdog at Sprint Center.

Nope, that doesn't sound familiar at all.

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A UFO in Cowley County?

Was that really a UFO being driven down U.S. 77 in Cowley County?

That’s what residents thought when they saw a 32-foot thing on the back of a flatbed truck Monday.

“It was this funny sphere that went through on this big trailer, and my first thought was that looks like a UFO,” resident Kammi Root told NBC affiliate KSN.

The strange sight was captured on video, and has set the Internet abuzz with claims that Kansas might have a new type of undocumented alien.

Local officials were told it was an aircraft, but “they asked us not to say a whole lot about it,” said Sheriff Don Read. "They" being the transportation company.

It appears, however, that the craft is not some celestial voyager, but a drone – the X-47B built by Northrop Grumman – being shipped from California to a naval air station in Maryland.

So why was it being driven through Cowley County, which is southeast of Wichita?

"It's difficult to fly an unmanned drone through commercial airspace," a Northrop Grumman spokesman told the website Life’s Little Mysteries.

“Piloted aircraft are one thing, but long trips for large aircraft without a human pilot on board are frowned upon for both aviation security reasons and practical concerns,” wrote LLM’s Benjamin Radford.

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Recap: KU’s second-half defense made comeback nearly impossible against Davidson

Note: Here is a listing of definitions for some terms used in this blog. Also, feel free to ask questions in the comments section below if something doesn't make sense.

For one half in Monday's 80-74 loss to Davidson, Kansas was on pace for its best defensive turnover percentage game since the opener against Towson.

The Wildcats turned it over 12 times before halftime, with the Jayhawks picking up nine steals — which was already the third-most in any game for KU this season.

Kansas guard Travis Releford scrambles for a loose ball in the first half against Davidson on Monday, Dec. 19, 2011 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

Kansas guard Travis Releford scrambles for a loose ball in the first half against Davidson on Monday, Dec. 19, 2011 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. by Kevin Anderson

The biggest reason for Davidson's win was a total reversal of this statistic in the second half.

The Wildcats, somehow, managed to play the entire second half without turning it over once — any extremely rare feat.

Here's the breakdown by half:

First half — 39 possessions, 12 turnovers, 30.8 percent turnover percentage.
Second half — 35 possessions, 0 turnovers, 0 percent turnover percentage.

KU did seem like it was in chase mode defensively after halftime against Davidson's motion offense, but it's still hard to believe the Jayhawks were unable to force one turnover in 35 possessions.

How does no turning the ball over once affect a team's offense? Here's a look at Davidson's by half numbers:

First half — 33 points, 39 possessions= 0.85 points per possession
Second half — 47 points, 35 possessions= 1.34* points per possession

* — To put 1.34 PPP in perspective, the NCAA leader last year in PPP was Ohio State at 1.20 PPP.

Interestingly, Davidson didn't shoot it particularly well from the floor in the second half. The Wildcats made 12 of 31 field goals (39 percent) and 5 of 17 threes (29 percent).

The thing is, you don't have to shoot it particularly well if you don't turn the ball over once (though it helps to be a great free throw shooting team and make 18 of 21 free throws).

KU's offense had virtually no chance at catching up in the second half because of Davidson's offensive efficiency.

After being disruptive defensively in the first half, the Jayhawks did nothing to bother the Wildcats' offense after halftime.

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

A poor outside shooting night from KU might have hidden the fact that Elijah Johnson had a nice night offensively.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson dunks on Davidson in the first half Monday, Dec. 19, 2011 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson dunks on Davidson in the first half Monday, Dec. 19, 2011 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. by Kevin Anderson

The junior guard posted 1.31 points per possession used while ending 17.4 percent of KU's possessions while he was in.

Johnson made 3 of 10 three-pointers, but also knocked in all three of his two-pointers with six assists and just one turnover in 34 minutes. His effective field goal percentage of 57.6 percent was his third-best mark of the season and also KU's third-best Monday night.

On a tough night offensively for KU, Johnson was the only KU starter who was able to remain efficient with a decent usage percentage and a high number of minutes.

Room for Improvement

As mentioned above, it wasn't KU's turnovers on offense, but instead, the lack of turnovers the Jayhawks created defensively.

Kansas head coach Bill Self talks with the team during a timeout in the second half Monday, Dec. 19, 2011 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

Kansas head coach Bill Self talks with the team during a timeout in the second half Monday, Dec. 19, 2011 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. by Kevin Anderson

Davidson ended up turning it over on just 16.2 percent of its possessions, which was the second-lowest mark against KU this season.

KU also had its worst shooting game from the free throw line. The Jayhawks made just 18 of 31 shots there for 58 percent; their worst free throw shooting game before Monday was a 64-percent outing against Georgetown.

Tough-Luck Line

Kudos to Tyshawn Taylor for playing 33 minutes just eight days after knee surgery, but if we're just looking at stats, he gets this game's "Tough-Luck Line."

Kansas center Jeff Withey helps up teammate Tyshawn Taylor after Taylor was fouled in second half against Davidson on Monday, Dec. 19, 2011 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

Kansas center Jeff Withey helps up teammate Tyshawn Taylor after Taylor was fouled in second half against Davidson on Monday, Dec. 19, 2011 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. by Kevin Anderson

The senior guard posted just 0.88 points per possession used while ending a whopping 31.1 percent of KU's possessions while he was in.

Though Taylor notched 42.1 percent of KU's available assists while he was in, he also spent 26.3 percent of his used possessions on turnovers. He also made just 4 of 11 shots and was 1-for-5 from the three-point line.

Taylor has been in quite the offensive funk as of late, as can be seen in the graph at the link below.

After notching better than 1.26 points per possession used in his first three games against Towson, Kentucky and Georgetown, Taylor has been under 0.93 points per possession used in four of his last six games*.

* — KU's team PPP this year is 1.08 to give you a baseline.

Bottom Line

KU had little chance to come back in the second half because of an inability to force turnovers.

Still, part of the reason the Jayhawks were in the hole to begin with was because of a horrible shooting night.

Thomas Robinson pulls up for a jumper against Davidson in the second half Monday, Dec. 19, 2011 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

Thomas Robinson pulls up for a jumper against Davidson in the second half Monday, Dec. 19, 2011 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. by Kevin Anderson

KU's effective field goal percentage of 45.2 percent was its third-lowest this year. I bet you can guess the other two games that were lower: Kentucky (37.3 percent, loss) and Duke (44.9 percent, loss).

It's going to be very difficult to win any game shooting like that. Last year, KU went 2-2 in games where it shot worse than a 45.2 eFG%. One of the wins (at Michigan) was in overtime, while the other (vs. Oklahoma State in Sprint Center) was by a single point.

KU finished at 1.0 PPP, its worst mark since the Duke loss.

Meanwhile, Davidson's 1.08 PPP were the most against the Jayhawks this season.

Credit that number to Davidson's incredible turnover turnaround in the second half.

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Video and quotes from Turner Gill’s introduction at Liberty University

Former Kansas coach Turner Gill was introduced as the Liberty Flames' eighth head coach on Thursday, and video of the press conference is below, starting with Gill's speech at the 5:15 mark. Gill was welcomed with a standing ovation.

I've pulled out a few interesting quotes from him, along with the synced-up video clips below in case you want to watch Gill speak yourself.

"It will be our mission to this program to build championships through Christ by preparing young men academically, athletically and spiritually. It is a great time to be a Liberty Flame*, and it is time to leap forward to have an unparalleled future."

* — Just as an aside, Gill's first words at his introductory press conference at KU were, "It's a great day to be a Jayhawk." Just thought that was interesting.

"There will be some people from the staff there at the University of Kansas. So I want to take my time just a little bit more to get that all right, because that's going to be very, very important."

"I want guys to be able to be physical. I want them to be mentally tough, and we'll put them through that process where they'll have a great situation when they get in the ballgame, that it's going to be actually less stressful on them in a game than it is in practice."

At the 10:52 mark, Gill goes back to phrases that KU fans should be accustomed to, saying Liberty will run a "multiple" offense while also striving to run the ball at least 55 percent of the time. He also says Liberty will primarily run a 4-3 defense — a change from KU's base 3-4 last season.

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