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Game observations: Perry Ellis best Jayhawk in final exhibition

The following is a quick breakdown of each Kansas player following the Jayhawks' 79-60 loss to AMW Team France on Sunday night.

Please note that if a player isn't listed, he did not play.

Naadir Tharpe — Tharpe had another solid game offensively without making shots. He had four assists and one turnover and is the best Jayhawk right now at pushing it in transition. Much like Tyshawn Taylor, when he does make a mistake, it sometimes looks really bad. He had one particular errant post pass that wasn't close and resulted in KU coach Bill Self yelling at him. Still, Tharpe played a team-high 30 minutes, and though it's very early, it looks like he'll have the first opportunity to grab the backup point-guard role. He also went 2-for-4 from three after going 0-for-5 Saturday. He finished with seven points and, like Elijah Johnson the night before, had to create a few times to try to beat the shot clock.

Rio Adams — Though it's early, he appears to be behind the other scholarship guards right now. Adams had another tough game Sunday, posting two points on 1-for-5 shooting in 13 minutes. In this game, he once dribbled it into traffic for a turnover and another time was beaten badly off the dribble, which led to a French bucket. Adams had two highlights: a stickback for two and a steal in the backcourt, though he immediately turned it over on a (questionable) double-dribble after that. He did grab four defensive rebounds but also had three turnovers in his limited minutes.

Andrew White — Up and down game for White. With few scorers on the floor, White once again showed confidence in his shot, scoring 15 points on 3-for-7 shooting from three and 2-for-6 shooting from two. His two consecutive three-pointers in the third quarter pulled KU to within three and was some of the last offense KU would get. White was a bit careless, though, turning it over five times, with many of those giveaways coming on poor passes. Though he gets beat occasionally on the drive, White has shown the ability to stop penetration when he focuses in. He had three of KU's seven steals and will likely be one of KU's first options off the bench in November.

Justin Wesley — I'm surprised that the statsheet shows Wesley with 20 minutes, as it didn't seem like he was out there that long. KU coach Bill Self cited him for good play after the game and praised him a couple times for his defense during the game. That didn't result in much on the statsheet: One point and three defensive rebounds in his 20 minutes.

Evan Manning — He played better in Switzerland than he did in Paris. Manning missed all three of the three-pointers he took and also struggled with a tough matchup defensively, as the guy he was guarding had him by at least three inches and 50 pounds. He turned it over once when he slipped on the court and also was blown by a couple times defensively. He finished with no points and one turnover.

Tyler Self — First time we got to see Tyler, who knocked in a running floater off the glass in the final seconds. That was his only mark in the box score in four minutes.

Niko Roberts — Played nine minutes, but dribbled it once out of bounds and another time forced up a three-pointer early in the shot clock that missed. He did come up with an assist and steal, though he also had two turnovers and missed all three of his field goals.

Christian Garrett — Garrett did some good things, as he tries hard defensively and also was able to get to the free-throw line four times. Two of his foul shots were ugly, but in five minutes, he contributed two points, a rebound and steal with a turnover. He was beaten on the dribble once and also couldn't hold onto a rebound another time, which resulted in a tie-up.

Milt Doyle — Doyle had his best game Sunday. On two transition possessions in the second quarter, he glided into the lane with two big steps and finished a drive with a scoop layup. On another occasion, he used a nice move to get by his man off the dribble before missing a shot in the lane. He forced up a couple bad shots, including a heat-check, stepback three, but he still showed some flashes of potential. He had a bad entry pass over Perry Ellis' head and sometimes isn't the most graceful passer. On defense, he stuck with his man on one occasion, which drew kudos from coaches. The freshman finished with two rebounds and two turnovers in 10 minutes.

Jamari Traylor — He had his best game on the glass, fighting for seven rebounds (four offensive) in 11 minutes. Traylor missed all three of his two-point tries but showed a good stroke at the line in knocking down two free throws. He elevated well for one block and also had an assist to go with two turnovers. Offensively, he had one quick spin move that reminded me a bit of Thomas Robinson as a freshman, as it looked like he was trying to make five moves at once while moving a bit too quickly. He appears to still be in the development stages on the offensive end.

Zach Peters — He was limited to just 11 minutes (probably because he'd already played a lot this trip), but he still managed to grab nine rebounds (five offensive) in that time. He missed a lot of chippies Sunday, going 0-for-5 from the floor, but he remains consistent in his effort and also his ability to shove his way into good rebounding position. He had an assist and a turnover and also needs to be careful about fouls, as he had four in his short time out there.

Landen Lucas — Lucas is a guy that appeared to get more comfortable as the trip went on. He told me after the game he'd been trying to do a lot of things too fast on the court — a problem he hasn't had in the past. He looked more composed Sunday, knocking in a 14-foot baseline jumper and also getting a stickback after muscling for an offensive rebound over NBA player Kevin Seraphin. Lucas still sometimes has problems catching passes in the post, as he lost another one out of bounds Sunday. In 13 minutes, he had six points on 3-for-6 shooting with five rebounds, one assist and two turnovers. Like Peters, he needs to watch his defensive whistles, as he fouled out while mostly going against Seraphin.

Perry Ellis — He was KU's best player Sunday, making his first five shots while also creating to draw five fouls on France. He was most impressive in transition, looking comfortable handling the ball (and passes) in traffic before putting the close shots in. He had a nice bounce pass to Kevin Young for a slam and had a great day on the glass, pulling down 12 rebounds (five offensive) in 24 minutes. The freshman had 16 points on 6-for-9 shooting and also made all four of his free throws. He still is careless at times, turning it over five times, with a few of those coming on deflected passes. Ellis added two assists and a steal, and even though Self wants him to be more aggressive, I have to believe that the freshman will be the favorite heading into the fall for the starting spot beside Jeff Withey.

Kevin Young — Quiet day for Young, though Self said earlier that he was going to play him in different roles on the perimeter Sunday. The senior drew four fouls in 14 minutes, both otherwise contributed three points on 1-for-3 shooting with two rebounds to go with one turnover.


KU video highlights from 79-60 exhibition loss to AMW Team France

Here are a few video highlights from the Kansas men's basketball team's 79-60 exhibition loss to AMW Team France on Sunday.


Video highlights/clips from KU’s 74-73 loss to AMW Team France, plus brief player observations

Here are a collection of video highlights/clips from Kansas' 74-73 loss to AMW Team France on Saturday in Game One. The final three clips are the final three possessions of the game.

As promised, here are some brief observations on each KU player from Saturday's game.

Naadir Tharpe — Probably played worse than his stat line indicated, though nine assists is quite a few. Made a few poor post passes in the first half and also went 0-for-5 from three, with most of those coming on open shots. He had a couple nice shots to beat the shot clock and also has thrived in the three games at pushing the ball in transition.

Rio Adams — Hit a three, but I don't remember much more about his game. Had one turnover and no other marks in the box score.

Andrew White — White stepped out of bounds on an inbounds play in the third quarter, immediately was subbed out and never returned to the game. The freshman did the same thing three times in KU's first game this trip, so my guess is KU coach Bill Self was trying to make a point. White had three points on 1-for-3 three-point shooting in just 10 minutes after leading the Jayhawks in scoring in the first two games of the trip.

Justin Wesley — Don't recall much from his time in. He played five minutes with one rebound and two turnovers.

Jeff Withey — I'm not sure that Self has been happy with him for most of the trip. Withey did finish with eight points and had easily his best post move of the trip (see video), making a back-to-the-basket move before banking in a turnaround. The senior had four rebounds and three turnovers and was subbed out for Zach Peters in the game's final minutes.

Evan Manning — Missed an open three then made an open three. He also had a bad turnover, losing the handle while trying to go around a ball screen from Landen Lucas. Manning played six minutes.

Elijah Johnson — Johnson hasn't shot it well this whole trip, and that continued Saturday, where he made just 2 of 10 field goals. He was good on the defensive glass, pulling down four rebounds, and appears to be KU's most vocal leader while he's in. The shortened shot clock has forced him to take a few extra shots with KU in desperation mode.

Travis Releford — He scored a team-high 10 points on 3-for-5 shooting. It didn't sound like Self was happy with the senior's game, which included three assists and three turnovers in 30 minutes.

Milt Doyle — Swished a three before leaving the game with a dislocated finger. He didn't return after that. The freshman played five minutes and should get more time Sunday.

Jamari Traylor — Showed better offensive game Saturday than he had the two previous contests. Scored four points with two rebounds in eight minutes, though he also was whistled for three seconds in the lane and had trouble catching a couple passes.

Zach Peters — He'd get my vote for best KU player on Saturday. Peters continues to show a solid offensive game and an ability to make moves in the post, which included a drive under the basket for a reverse lay-in. He had six points and a team-high seven rebounds in 22 minutes with two turnovers. Like Traylor, he fumbled a few passes, but he plays aggressively and always seems to be in the right spot for a rebound.

Landen Lucas — He seems to be becoming more comfortable every game with the ball. Without the ball, he had some problems, getting whistled for an obvious illegal screen and also an away-from-the-play offensive foul. Still, he powered his way to the rim once for a layup, and on another occasion, he was blocked before putting the rebound in. He had five points and three rebounds in his seven minutes.

Perry Ellis — The freshman continues to be KU's best scorer when he gets it in the post. Using a few different moves, Ellis racked up eight points in 11 minutes on 4-for-6 shooting. He had no rebounds, though.

Kevin Young — Just like the previous two games, Young did his best work in the fourth quarter, coming up with big baskets and boards down the stretch. He's still inconsistent, though, as he logged just 10 minutes Saturday. He ended with five points on 2-for-5 shooting with five rebounds.

Niko Roberts — Played a couple minutes but didn't appear on the final box score. Showed nice awareness to reach a hand in to force a jump ball on a rebound, then later came away with a defensive rebound.


A few KU video highlights from Game 2 win over Switzerland; plus, observations on each Jayhawk from Wednesday

Following Kansas' 83-79 victory over the Swiss national team in Game Two, I thought I'd share some KU video highlights from Wednesday.

I don't have all the best plays, but these are a few I was able to shoot when I wasn't blogging. The final clip is the Swiss team's offensive possession when trailing, 81-79, with about 20 seconds remaining.

Also, box score is up for those who haven't seen it.

Before I get to player observations, here's a general one: Both teams played much better Wednesday than they did Tuesday. The Swiss were making almost every jump shot between 15 and 18 feet and ended up making 21 of 33 two-pointers (64 percent).

Also, KU won despite an unfavorable whistle. Switzerland made 25 of 38 free throws, while the Jayhawks made 12 of 19. The discrepancy was worse in the first half, when the Swiss shot 20 free throws compared to KU’s four.

The officiating was better after halftime. The Jayhawks were definitely getting a tight whistle early, but in the second half, I don’t think the officiating impacted the game much for either team.

Here are my observations of the 15 players that checked in:

Jeff Withey — He played better in the second half after ending up in Self’s doghouse a bit in the first half. He contributed probably the biggest defensive play of the game, blocking a Swiss player’s shot with the game tied and around 30 seconds to go, which led to Kevin Young’s dunk in transition that gave KU the lead for good. Withey contributed three blocks but wasn’t as active defensively as he was in Game One, partly because the Swiss settled for a lot of jump shots. Withey once again struggled with isolation moves, missing badly when putting up turn-around shots while trying to take his defender in the post. The senior did come through for KU late, knocking down some crucial free throws in the fourth quarter. He finished 6-for-6 from the line and had 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Perry Ellis — His first half was better than his second. He scored on a few nifty plays in the post, including a dribble drive on the baseline to a reverse lay-in that looks like his go-to move. Self got on Ellis during one timeout about not communicating defensively, which led to a Swiss three.

Elijah Johnson — Johnson wasn’t afraid to the guy to take most of KU’s shots late when the game was on the line. He didn’t make many of those shots, but he did draw enough attention to allow Young some space to grab offensive rebounds. One of Johnson’s highlights came with the shot clock winding down, as he put on a shake move to create separation before knocking down a stepback three (see video above). Johnson hit a couple threes in the second half and, from his actions and words so far, appears to the leader of this year’s team.

Ben McLemore — Limited to just five minutes because of a nagging groin injury. KU coach Bill Self said after the game that McLemore’s status was unknown for the Jayhawks’ final two games of the trip.

Travis Releford — Not his best game. Tried to force too many passes inside from bad angles. He also picked up four fouls in 22 minutes, though I remember two of them were questionable. Had just two field-goal attempts after playing great in transition during Game One on Tuesday.

Naadir Tharpe — For the second straight game, Self talked after the game about how he was pleased with Tharpe’s play in stretches. The sophomore once again had a couple nice passes in transition that led to baskets and also went 1-for-2 from three. He finished with five points, three assists and one turnover in 22 minutes.

Evan Manning — Got an opportunity to play once again but got the quick hook from Self after getting beat off the dribble before fouling his man while going for a reach-in. Self yelled at Manning, then took him out after just two minutes. The freshman had one defensive rebound.

Rio Adams — Self was frustrated with his defense, yelling at him that he was letting his man catch it wherever he wanted to. Adams also received a quick benching after taking an ill-advised shot: an 18-footer with 21 on the shot clock with no teammates in rebounding position. Adams still played better Wednesday than he did Tuesday, putting in a mid-range jumper for two points with two assists and no turnovers in 10 minutes.

Andrew White — White drew lots of praise from Self after the game, with the coach saying he liked the guard's confidence the most. White didn’t hesitate when putting up jumpers, and he was hitting them Wednesday. The freshman went 2-for-3 from three-point range and 6-for-9 overall, with many of his twos coming in the 15-to-18-foot range. He led KU with 16 points to go with one assist and two turnovers. He’s working hard defensively too, as he came away with three steals and also received lots of positive feedback from KU’s coaches when he was able to stop a Swiss drive by shuffling his feet. Through two games, White has been KU’s best newcomer.

Milt Doyle — Had a quiet five minutes, missing one running floater. Also picked up a personal foul.

Jamari Traylor — Traylor only played five minutes and had a couple highlights, drawing a charge defensively and also finishing an and-one following a nice pass from Zach Peters. Traylor missed the free throw and also another close shot inside. Though he moves well and is a huge body, Traylor still appears to be developing his offensive game, as in the first two games, he’s been mostly a ball-mover on that end.

Zach Peters — Drew positive reviews once again from Self, who said Peters was KU’s best big man in the first half. The freshman showed great instincts after an offensive rebound, using an up-and-under move to get his defender in the air before putting in a bank shot with a foul. Peters also showed nice touch in hitting a fadeaway jumper from about 10 feet on the baseline. His second half wasn’t as good, as he posted three turnovers in a five-possession span. He also seems to get blocked at least once in each game I’ve seen him, though that hasn’t affected his aggressiveness. He finished with seven points (3-for-5 shooting) and five rebounds in 13 minutes.

Landen Lucas — Had a productive six minutes, and on one occasion grabbed an offensive rebound before knocking in a 17-footer from the left elbow. He had two points and two rebounds, though he did foul a Swiss player that resulted in a three-point play. The freshman looked a little more comfortable offensively Wednesday compared to Tuesday.

Justin Wesley — The junior finished one lob from Johnson with a dunk, but on a few occasions, KU’s coaches were frustrated with Wesley regarding his defense. He had two points, two rebounds and a steal in nine minutes.

Kevin Young — For the second straight game, Young played his best in the fourth quarter. He rebounded a Johnson missed free throw for a stickback, grabbed another Johnson miss for a tip-in and also beat everyone down the floor to break the tie with a dunk in the final 15 seconds. All this came after a subpar first half when Young was chewed out for letting a Swiss player around him on a boxout just a few seconds after the KU senior checked in. Young finished with 14 points, making 6 of 7 shots with five rebounds (one offensive), though I know we missed one of his offensive rebounds, as he had two in the final few minutes.


Game 1 observations: Zach Peters, Travis Releford two highlights for KU in win

Before we get started, here's some iPhone video of the final 1.6 seconds in KU's win.

The following is a quick breakdown of each Kansas player following the Jayhawks' 79-76 victory over the Swiss national team on Tuesday night.

Please note that if a player isn't listed, he did not play.

Elijah Johnson — He stood out most on the defensive glass, tying for the team high with six defensive rebounds (with eight rebounds overall). He made a three and also had an impressive move on one second-half drive, using a juke to get by his defender before putting in a contested runner off the glass from about eight feet. Self got after him once in the first half, calling his defense “lazy.”

Jeff Withey — I noticed an interesting sequence in the third quarter for the Swiss team. One big man drove the lane and was about to put up a shot before passing it at the last second to another big. He did the same thing, pump-faking before throwing the ball back to the perimeter. Yep, in two quarters, the Swiss team already knew who Jeff Withey was.

Though Switzerland don’t have a lot of bigs (and had even fewer after an ejection), Withey once again was the anchor of KU’s defense with his shot-blocking ability. Offensively, like last year, he was at his best when finishing off nice passes from his teammates, as most of his points came right under the rim. On two occasions, I can remember him making a conscious effort to take it at his man, and it didn’t turn out well. The first time, a left-handed hook became an airball, and the second time, a right-handed turnaround wasn’t close after Withey made an awkward pivot back into his defender during the shot.

Travis Releford — Along with Withey, Releford was KU’s best defender. He showed his ability to slide and stop dribble penetration again on Tuesday. Offensively, he was one of the highlights, especially in transition. He frequently was one of the first ones down the floor, and he made the most of the opportunities he had. His best play was in the fast break, as he cupped the ball in his right hand, jumped off one foot, and slammed the ball over a defender while getting fouled. When he took off, I didn’t think he was going to get to the rim, but he managed to get all the way there while finishing with contact.

Zach Peters — Self called Peters KU’s second-best big man behind Withey, which was high praise. The freshman seems to have knack for being in the right position underneath for rebounds, and he had a few occasions Tuesday when he used his body well to completely seal off a would-be Swiss rebounder. He wasn’t without mistakes, as Self got on him a couple times, but he had one of the most encouraging games from the newcomers. He also finished a high-low pass from Withey for two points, which gives the KU offense another dimension. Peters was blocked at least once Tuesday, and in the two times I’ve seen him in the last week, it seems like he sometimes has problems getting shots around defenders. Those bad memories haven't affected his aggressiveness, though, which appears to be a good sign.

Ben McLemore — Was best on the defensive glass. He struggled somewhat offensively, turning it over a few times while going 0-for-6 from the floor. He didn’t play much in the second half, which makes me wonder if his sore hip cut into his playing time (Self mentioned after the game a few players were playing through nagging ailments). McLemore played just 16 minutes.

Naadir Tharpe — He was mentioned by Self as one of the guys who had good stretches. Tharpe showed confidence in his shot, draining an 18-footer in transition during the first half when KU was struggling to score. He also was one of KU’s best passers in transition, once zipping a long pass to Releford in stride for a jam and another team weaving into the lane to draw attention before dropping back to Releford for another two. Self called him out for a couple things from the bench, but overall, Tharpe played well and — most importantly for him — under control.

Perry Ellis — He was one of KU’s best finishers around the rim in the halfcourt. One time, he used a nice move on the baseline, wiggling around his defender on the dribble before putting in a reverse layup to avoid getting blocked. Had four rebounds in 12 minutes.

Landen Lucas — His best play came in the first half when he dove for a loose ball to help create a turnover. He also hit two free-throw attempts after getting fouled early. The freshman still looks to be thinking a lot while he’s out there. He picked up three fouls in four minutes, one of which came because of a lack of body control.

Rio Adams — He struggled in his first exhibition game, perhaps because of jitters. He finished with three turnovers and didn’t play most of the second half. Was charged with a double-dribble when he lost control while not being pressured, and right after that, he jumped in the air in the lane without knowing where he was going with the ball. Though he avoided a turnover, I heard Self yell to his bench, “Go get him.” Adams was out soon after that. Self also got after him on one occasion in the first half for not running the correct assignment on an offensive play. He played just seven minutes.

Milton Doyle — Like Adams, he struggled with turnovers (two) and didn't play too many minutes, perhaps because of the giveaways. He logged just five minutes.

Andrew White — White’s highs were pretty high Tuesday. He was KU’s best player in the third quarter when the Jayhawks built their biggest lead. During that time, he put in a three off a screen, put in another jumper and also stuck with his man defensively, which resulted in a KU steal. White also drew frustration from Self offensively, as on three separate occasions, he stepped out of bounds with the ball for an unforced turnover. He finished with five giveaways in all. KU coaches also were on him all game to get out further defensively, as he would lay off his man too far to allow easy catches. White once again was a factor on the offensive glass (three offensive boards) while showing an impressive vertical. A couple of those rebounds were in traffic where he snatched it away from taller players.

Evan Manning — After Self checked him into the game in the second half, Manning came up a steal in his first minute. The freshman played solidly except for one offensive possession when he tried to do too much, as he got fancy with a dribble trying to go around a screen by Lucas and lost control. Don’t count Manning out of a possible spot in the rotation at some point this year. He was on the court during KU's last defensive possession (see video above), and his name was the first that Self mentioned after the game. Remember, the coach hasn’t been afraid to put in walk-ons in the past (Stephen Vinson, Christian Moody, Brady Morningstar) when their play warrants it.

Jamari Traylor — Showed great athleticism on first-half block when he raced down the floor trailing the play before swatting the ball out of bounds. He moved well Tuesday, getting up and down the court in a hurry. I don’t remember much from him offensively, but I get the feeling that energy and defense is what Self wants most from him anyways.

Justin Wesley — I don’t remember much from Wesley’s time out there Tuesday. He played six minutes with no points and a rebound.

Kevin Young — Extremely active on the offensive glass, posting six offensive rebounds. He also had the game's biggest play, a rebound and pass to Jeff Withey for a layup with 25 seconds left that extended KU's lead from two to four. Young admitted after the game he needs to improve his defensive rebounding, and Self has been getting after him hard to do that. Young made his first four shots and finished with nine points on 4-for-6 shooting with eight rebounds in just 13 minutes.


Observations from KU men’s basketball open practice

Kansas University freshman Ben McLemore scrimmages with his KU teammates on Saturday, August 4, 2012, at the Jayhawks’ practice facility near Allen Fieldhouse. McLemore tweaked a hip-flexor early in the practice, but should be ready to play when KU begins its European exhibition on Tuesday.

Kansas University freshman Ben McLemore scrimmages with his KU teammates on Saturday, August 4, 2012, at the Jayhawks’ practice facility near Allen Fieldhouse. McLemore tweaked a hip-flexor early in the practice, but should be ready to play when KU begins its European exhibition on Tuesday. by Richard Gwin

Kansas coach Bill Self opened up his full practice to media members Saturday, as the Jayhawks scrimmaged for about 90 minutes with all the European rules (24-second shot clock, wider lane, 10-minute quarters, international basketball) before spending the last half-hour or so installing plays and going over zone offense.

Here are some of the notes I jotted down about some of the players from the scrimmage:

Jeff Withey — To me, he was the best player in the gym, and it wasn't close. Defensively, he looked just as good as he was a year ago, blocking shots both at the rim and also away from it. On one instance, with time running down in the third quarter, he blocked Kevin Young's shot about 18 feet from the basket. Young retrieved the ball quickly and put up another shot, and Withey quickly bounded up to block that shot as well. The defensive effort even drew kudos from Self.

Offensively, Withey is trying to assert himself more, as he knows he'll be relied upon to score this year. Though he went after defenders when he received the ball in the post, I didn't see him attempt too many jump shots. His offensive game is still developing and isn't a finished product just yet.

Elijah Johnson — Nothing much to report with Johnson. He had a steal and dunk in transition and hit a few outside jumpers. It was basically what you'd expect from him.

Perry Ellis — Ellis this was the newcomer who impressed me the most. Offensively, he's further along than any other KU freshman. What he does with the basketball just appears instinctual. When he gets it in the low post, he knows what he's going to do and does it. He also has an ability to get by his defender off the dribble. Nothing about his game appears mechanical, and the game never appears to be going to fast for him. He also had a highlight throwing a high-low pass from the top of the key to Withey. Ellis spotted him, then threw a lob pass that was a bit to Withey's back shoulder, though Withey was still able to lay it in easily. Afterwards, though his team had just scored, Ellis still apologized to Withey for the pass. Ellis also looked comfortable shooting mid-range jumpers in the 15-to-18-foot range, making quite a few of them.

Naadir Tharpe — The sophomore looks to be making an effort to become more of a floor leader. He was one of the loudest encouragers on the floor and also a guy that was trying to help out younger players. He had one nice pass in the lane that drew a "Way to play" from Self. Still, there were moments where Tharpe — everyone at practice called him "Na" — was reckless. During one transition, he sprinted all the way under the rim before jumping in the air next to two defenders. Facing away from the goal, he forced up a blind scoop shot over his head that wasn't close. He was one of the primary ball-handlers, though, and on this team, that should earn him minutes.

Andrew White — I thought White was the second-best freshman after Ellis. Much like Ellis, White didn't appear to be affected by the speed of the game. For the most part, he made good decisions and smart passes. He also has good size at 6-foot-6. His best play came in the second quarter, when he went way above the rim for an offensive rebound. Though White is known as more of a shooter, it looks like he could provide KU a boost on the offensive glass as well. About that shooting ... White missed every three-pointer I saw him take — and he probably took around 10, with most of them coming from the right corner. Remember, it's just one practice in August, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't surprised that he didn't make one.

Rio Adams — The freshman struggled Saturday. Many of his issues came from trying to make difficult passes in traffic, which resulted in turnovers. One time, while driving, he also tried to get through a group of defenders by attempting a behind-the-back dribble, which resulted in an opponent steal. His shot was off Saturday as well, as one of his three-point tries bounced off the backboard, and he also was briefly in Self's doghouse for not hustling onto the court during an offensive drill. The one thing Adams does have going for him is that, during the scrimmage, he was trying hard. On one loose ball, he was the first to dive on the floor, earning praise from the KU assistant coaches. Adams also picked Johnson's pocket once in the backcourt, which stood out as the highlight of his day.

Milt Doyle — Like Adams, Doyle appears to be struggling with the quickness of the game. He tried to force too many passes into traffic, which many times resulted in turnovers. Doyle did show flashes of offensive skill Saturday, taking a couple dribbles before hitting an 18-foot pull-up jumper on one possession and later draining a three from the corner.

Zach Peters — The freshman doesn't look timid. He's not afraid to throw his body around and bang with the bigs inside. He also didn't look fazed even after getting blocked by Withey a couple times, which I thought was a good sign. One concern for him this year could be fouls, as he struggled to play defense without drawing a whistle.

Landen Lucas — He knocked down an 18-footer, but overall, it was a quiet day for him. He appears to be another guy still getting adjusted to college basketball, as coaches were on him a few times to go full speed up and down the court.

Kevin Young — Young was silent for the first half then really good in the second half, which reminded me a bit of what we saw from him last year. He appears to be a bit more athletic this year, skying high for an offensive rebound that I'm not sure he could have gotten to a year ago. He also showed nice touch in the post, spinning to a left-handed hook from about eight feet that went straight through. Young also routinely was one of the first players down the floor on offense, which resulted in at least one easy bucket for him. It looks like KU will rely on him more for rebounds this year with Thomas Robinson out of the lineup.

Ben McLemore — I missed the first quarter because of another assignment, so I didn't get to see McLemore, who didn't play past the second quarter because of a minor hip ailment. When I first walked in, I asked who was looking good, and McLemore's name was the first mentioned by Journal-World beat writer Gary Bedore. McLemore hit two threes and an inside shot in 10 minutes. Also, with McLemore in, the blue team outscored the red, 30-15, in the first quarter.

One other note I found interesting: Self stopped practice at one point to instruct the guys on inbounding the basketball.

It sounds like a tiny thing, but really, it's not. The person inbounding the ball has to call a play and make sure that everyone hears them.

Self told his guys to call that play while still standing on the court. The reason? If the player goes out of bounds to call the play, many times an official will hand him the ball, and the five-second count starts before the team's play is called. If a player calls the play from on the court, then there is no danger of the official handing him the ball and starting the count.

I thought it was a pretty interesting example of Self's attention to detail on something that many of us would never even think about.

Be sure to check back to KUsports.com over the next week and a half for coverage of the KU men's basketball team's exhibition games in Europe, as I'll be heading to Switzerland on Sunday.

The plan is to live blog each of the games from the arenas, starting with Tuesday's noon CST game against the Swiss national team.


Cliff’s Notes: Dave Campo press conference, 8/2/12

Here is the Cliff's Notes version from Kansas defensive coordinator Dave Campo's comments at his press conference today.

Full audio has been posted.

Campo says the coaches have a better feel for the guys that have been here. The fall will be more about fitting guys into roles. There are a lot of new guys competing for positions. KU needs a two-deep because of the fast pace of the offenses in this league. The coaches still need to look at guys this fall — especially new guys — while also implementing different things into the defense.

The Big 12 is unique in that it has a lot of teams that play with the spread offense. That's different among major conferences. Campo's had to make some changes to his defense to adapt.

• The coaches love safety Tevin Shaw. It was difficult to get guys with his kind of athleticism at the point that the new coaching staff came to KU. He's a versatile athlete, and he's smart. After one day of meetings, it looks like he picks up things quickly. He's one of the guys in the next two weeks that, if you were a betting man, you'd say he'd have a chance to play. But the coaches will have to see his instincts out there at safety.

• Campo says that he hopes by two weeks into practices, he has his guys picked out so he can start to prepare for the first opponent.

Campo wants his players to play from snap to whistle no matter what the situation. KU is talented enough to stop some offenses if it does that. Campo thinks his team made progress in the spring with its fourth-quarter attitude.

• Campo feels like the secondary starters are strong. Now, KU has to find some backups there. On the defensive line, KU feels like it has to play two groups, because those guys are going to get winded if they play all-out like KU's coaches want them to play. If the new guys up front are who the coaches think they are, the coaches think they can line up two groups and not lose much when either unit is out there.

Toben Opurum is rocked up now. The strength guys did a great job with a lot of the KU players. Toben is one of those guys. He has fast-twitch ability. He has quickness off the ball. He can play down or standing up, which makes him versatile. He's a good football player. Campo's more impressed with him now after seeing what he did in the offseason.

• Campo was impressed by the players with the conditioning drills this morning. He was pleased watching the guys today. He thinks the guys are in shape.

Linebacker Anthony McDonald is a good football player. He's had some injury issues, and that might determine how far he goes. He's got experience, and it's a plus to have an experienced guy at middle linebacker.

• Right now, South Dakota State has no idea what KU is going to do, because Campo has played four or five defenses in the last few years. Campo would describe his defense as multiple. It's versatile. If KU has three linemen that are warriors, then the team will play three linemen. If KU has four linemen that are warriors, they'll play four. KU will match the defense with its personnel.

Campo says he would have rated KU last in the Big 12 if he would have looked at it. If you go a couple years and don't win, the general perception is that you have guys that can't win. Campo would disagree with that. Now it's time to stop talking and to go out and perform.


Cliff’s Notes: Charlie Weis press conference, 8/1/12

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

In case you missed it, here's the depth chart released by Weis today.

Full audio has been posted.

Weis says part of the reason that some of the newcomers are so high on the depth chart is because he's had the spring to evaluate what he has and he figures those new guys will compete at their positions based on the knowledge he has.

Weis says you start by judging a team by wins and losses. Did you win all the games you were supposed to win, and did you win some of the games you weren't supposed to win?

Weis says he was disappointed going back to tape of last year and seeing how many games the Jayhawks "got the crap kicked out of them." He said he knows there are sometimes talent discrepancies, but there were too many games last year where games got away from KU way too early. He said that if he were a KU fan last year, he would have probably left at halftime and not come back in certain games.

• Weis joked tight end Mike Ragone is a legend in his own mind. Weis said he'll be a great interview. He's a hungry young man, as he knows this is his last shot. This is as healthy as he's been in a long time.

The players will go through a conditioning test at 6 a.m. Thursday, and there will be a penalty if players don't reach a certain mark. The test is based on stamina, and the time needed is based on a player's position.

Weis says he can't see why anyone would rank KU football anything but last in the Big 12. KU has hired a new coach, has a new staff and has changed things to match up with the personality of the new coach. KU has to go out and prove it is better than that. That's why you play the games.

Weis says offensive lineman Aslam Sterling is competing for first team mostly based on his size. Weis joked he's about a cheeseburger short of 400 pounds.

Right now, Toben Opurum is a rush end. But if teams try to mismatch you in games and get bigger on you, then Opurum becomes a linebacker, and KU will put another defensive end on the field.

Weis says he's more motivated than he's ever been to make this program successful. There might be more unknowns, but he has the same obligation to get this team as good as it possibly can be as quickly as possible. Fans are fans. Alumni are alumni, whether you are at KU or Notre Dame. Weis is here to make this program successful.


Video: Dayne Crist, Toben Opurum give their reasons for optimism in 2012

With everything going on at Big 12 media days, there's not always enough time to get every video downloaded and posted into the live blog.

With that in mind, here are five more short video responses from KU players and coach Charlie Weis that we weren't able to get up Tuesday.

If you missed any of our videos from Tuesday, you can check out our live blog from that day or go to the KUsportsTV YouTube channel.

KU senior defensive end/linebacker Toben Opurum explains specific instances where he's already seen leadership from new quarterback Dayne Crist.

Speaking of Crist, I asked him which players he thought might surprise fans in 2012. He actually came up with five.

During his time on stage, Weis made a few reporters laugh when he referred to Notre Dame transfer linebacker Anthony McDonald and tight end Mike Ragone as 'my blockheads.' Weis explains what he meant by the nickname here.

Opurum talks here why he's optimistic about this season, hinting perhaps that this offseason has been different from past years at KU.

And finally, Crist also talks about why he's optimistic for 2012, saying he can sense a desire from KU's players to win and improve.


Lunch links: Bill Self video welcomes West Virginia; behind the scenes with Mario Chalmers in New York

A few summer links in case you missed them ...

While doing some research on West Virginia's football team, I stumbled onto this video, which was displayed on the WVU football athletics site. Basically, it's KU coach Bill Self introducing KU (and Kansas) to West Virginia.

Which made me wonder: What's the first thing I would tell West Virginia fans about Kansas if they knew nothing about it?

I came up with two things:

  1. Not everyone here wears cowboy hats.

  2. Every single person here has already seen a "You're not in Kansas any more" sign in an opposing Big 12 arena or stadium. Therefore, if you make one, it will not be seen as funny and/or clever, so try to be a bit more creative.

I'm guessing there'll still be at least one of those during KU's first trip to Morgantown for basketball.

• Former Kansas guard Mario Chalmers made his way back to Lawrence last week for his annual golf tournament, but before that, he was in New York City to do multiple interviews after winning an NBA championship.

This video from The Daily gives an interesting, behind-the-scenes look at his day in NYC, which includes more wardrobe changes than I would have expected.

For those folks interested in memorabilia ... a 1915 KU basketball jersey is being auctioned off online.

The suggested value for it: $30,000. Though right now, if the price holds, it looks like someone could get a steal for under $10K.

Last week, CBSsports.com's Matt Norlander recorded a podcast with longtime announcer Verne Lundquist.

During the chat, Lundquist brought up this year's KU-Missouri game at Allen Fieldhouse. (He starts talking about it at the 26:35 mark.)

"That's one of the great games I've ever seen, and more because of the setting, Matt," Lundquist said. "Allen Fieldhouse, if I had to pick my favorite college basketball arena, that would probably be it."

That's pretty high praise from a guy that has seen a lot of arenas and college basketball over the years.

Producer Kevin Willmott and former Kansas basketball player Scot Pollard are continuing to ask for KickStarter donations for their proposed independent film, "Jayhawkers," which would examine the story of KU coach Phog Allen, how he recruited Wilt Chamberlain and how that changed Lawrence.

For more information on the project, check out the video below.

• And finally, the Kansas City Chiefs are having a contest to determine the National Anthem singer for their Aug. 24 preseason game against Seattle, and one of the potential singers has deep KU ties.

Ron Gutierrez attended KU and also has performed the National Anthem at KU basketball games.

Here's his official tryout video from his audition at Arrowhead, and those who want to vote for him can do so at the same link.

Another of the five finalists, Mandy Peck, also lists a connection to KU in her bio, saying she has performed the National Anthem at Jayhawk events.


Elijah Johnson, Jeff Withey unlikely to assume same offensive roles as Tyshawn Taylor, Thomas Robinson

With eight new scholarship freshmen on the roster, it's hard to predict exactly how the Kansas men's basketball team's offensive roles will establish themselves for the 2012-13 season.

If history is any indication, though, KU fans shouldn't expect seniors Elijah Johnson and Jeff Withey to do the same heavy lifting offensively that departed players Tyshawn Taylor and Thomas Robinson did in 2011-12.

Elijah Johnson (15) along with from left, Jeff Withey, Tyshawn Taylor, and Travis Releford, laugh during a huddle in the second-half of the Jayhawks 60-57 win over North Carolina State in St. Louis Friday, March 16, 2012...

Elijah Johnson (15) along with from left, Jeff Withey, Tyshawn Taylor, and Travis Releford, laugh during a huddle in the second-half of the Jayhawks 60-57 win over North Carolina State in St. Louis Friday, March 16, 2012... by Mike Yoder

The reason for this is a 2007 study from Ken Pomeroy that attempted to look at players' offensive roles from one year to the next.

For this study, he used possession percentage, which is the percentage of possessions a player ends by making or missing a shot or creating a turnover with a few adjustments made for offensive rebounds and assists (20 percent is average).

After looking at possession percentages of players one year to the next, Pomeroy came to the following conclusion in his study:

"Players do jump from being decoys to go-to guys in one season, and some even regress the other way. Those are the exceptions. By and large, a player's role on his team in one season is a good indicator of his role the following season."

One of the examples he used from the time was Duke's Josh McRoberts. After playing his freshman year with J.J. Redick and Shelden Williams, most Blue Devils fans expected him to carry the load offensively during his sophomore season.

There was only one problem: McRoberts played passively his freshman year (17.1 percent possession percentage), and it's hard for a player to dramatically shift his role from one year to the next.

Though McRoberts' possession percentage went up to 21.9 percent his sophomore year, Pomeroy said the forward still received criticism for not taking over games.

Let's take a look at last year. Did Taylor and Robinson have the offensive profiles to suggest they could become go-to guys?

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson, top, hugs teammate Tyshawn Taylor after Taylor's feed to Robinson for a dunk against South Florida during the second half on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson, top, hugs teammate Tyshawn Taylor after Taylor's feed to Robinson for a dunk against South Florida during the second half on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Here are both of their possession percentages from the past two seasons, according to KenPom.com:

2010-11 — Taylor 21.2 percent, Robinson 26.7 percent
2011-12 — Taylor 27.7 percent, Robinson 29.7 percent

Taylor's jump in offensive involvement was significant — according to Pomeroy's study, only about 1 in 20 players will experience a usage increase this large from one season to the next. Still, Taylor was an above-average offensive contributor his junior year, so a jump to 26.7 percent wasn't completely crazy.

Robinson, meanwhile, was a high-usage guy even when he wasn't the focal point of the offense his sophomore year. It shouldn't have come as any surprise that he could handle a go-to guy role for KU last season.

So what about Johnson and Withey, the two guys who are being expected to produce the most offensively for KU next season?

Here's a look at their possession percentages from a year ago:

Johnson — 17.5 percent
Withey — 18.0 percent

At times last year, both players drew criticism for being too passive offensively. For Johnson, this was mostly focused on his lack of aggressiveness with penetration, as he had just 46 free-throw attempts while hoisting up 64 more three-pointers than two-pointers.

Withey also rarely looked for his own shot, with many of his attempts coming off open looks created by assists (before the Final Four games, a whopping 79.7 percent of his "close twos" were assisted last year).

So what does this all mean?

Well, if Pomeroy's study holds true today (he told me that it should with the amount of data he used), KU fans shouldn't expect Johnson and Withey to immediately step in and become the offensive contributors that Taylor and Robinson were a year ago.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson, center, jokingly pushes center Jeff Withey away from his golf cart as the players prepare to be shuttled to interviews on Saturday, March 24, 2012 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. At left is KU guard Elijah Johnson.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson, center, jokingly pushes center Jeff Withey away from his golf cart as the players prepare to be shuttled to interviews on Saturday, March 24, 2012 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. At left is KU guard Elijah Johnson. by Nick Krug

Though Pomeroy told me it's not impossible for players to make possession percentage leaps from the teens into the high-20s, more than likely, both players will end up in the 20-24 percent range.

That would leave a lot of possessions unclaimed for KU.

So who might pick those up?

Kevin Young is a possibility (19.3 percent), though he needs to improve his defense and reduce his fouls to pick up increased minutes.

Travis Releford, meanwhile, seems unlikely to take on a huge role, as he posted the second-lowest possession percentage of KU's regulars last season (13.9 percent).

It appears, then, that there is an opportunity for freshmen Ben McLemore and Perry Ellis (and potentially Anrio Adams and Andrew White) to make a big offensive impact for KU in their first years.

In all likelihood, KU's offense will be more balanced in 2012-13, with the Jayhawks needing a few good freshmen to immediately step into scoring roles.


A note about recent changes

You may have noticed that our sites look a bit different this morning. That's because our content management system has been updated to allow for new and improved features.

I'll talk a bit about those in a moment, but first you should know that, as with any major change, we're experiencing some bugs. So we've been troubleshooting, identifying problem areas and compiling issues so that our Web development team can fix them.

Some of the issues we've experienced so far are: - missing comments; - inaccurate comment counts; - problems with the mobile site of ljworld.com; - email editions are not going out; - problems reading private messages

We apologize for these issues, and we're working to fix them.

Now, for the good news. Our upgraded system has a number of new features that we're excited about.

Social networking

You can now sign into LJWorld.com, KUsports.com and Lawrence.com. using your Twitter, Google or OpenID accounts.

In comments

  • Users can now edit posts; you have a several-minute window to make changes;
  • An updated "reply" function that makes threaded comments easier to follow;
  • A thumbs-up button that lets users like a comment, as you might on Facebook.
  • Links to photos and videos will now show in the comments section, and users can upload photos with a caption; remember, with great power comes great responsibility


If you're tired of trying to navigate our sites on your phone, you'll be pleased to know that the sites now automatically redirect to stripped-down mobile versions, which are easier to read. We're still working out some kinks, but we're especially excited about this. If you liked reading the regular site on your mobile device, there's a "view full site" button at the bottom of the page, which loads the normal site. This feature is not yet available for the mobile versions of KUsports.com and Lawrence.com.

We anticipate more features rolling out in the near future. If you're experiencing any of our growing pains, please be patient as we work out the kinks.

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More links: Audio from Missouri representative who is really opposed to KU license plates; T-Rob labeled ‘jackpot’ player

A few more links in case you missed them ...

I heard this audio on the radio Wednesday and it's too crazy not to share.

Missourinet.com downloaded the full audio of Missouri Rep. Stephen Webber's impassioned speech to the Missouri House earlier this week, saying the state should not allow KU-themed license plates.

I would try to describe the speech, but whatever I say won't do it justice. Just give the link a click and be sure to sit down for the whole 3 1/2 minutes.

ESPN's Jason King posted three KU-related pieces Wednesday.

The first was a well-written feature on KU strength coach Andrea Hudy with lots of cool anecdotes from her life.

There's also a video with Self and a Coaches' Corner Q&A that includes many of the responses from Self in the video in text form, just in case you can't watch videos at work.

This is an ESPN Insider story, so a subscription is required, but ESPN Recruiting Nation gives KU's 2012 men's basketball recruiting class an "A," saying KU coach Bill Self's five signings "should be able to keep Kansas near the top of the Big 12."

SI.com's Sam Amick rates former KU forward Thomas Robinson as one of the four "jackpot" picks in this year's NBA Draft.

Amick labels a "jackpot" player as one whose "talent is immense and the upside is as trustworthy as there is in the draft."

The other three Jackpot players, according to Amick, are Kentucky's Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Florida's Bradley Beal.

• And finally, the NCAA sent out a release Wednesday regarding the sites of the 2013 NCAA men's basketball tournament, and Kansas City is included as a second-/third-round site.

The Missouri Valley Conference will serve as the host for the games, meaning all Big 12 schools are eligible to play at Sprint Center.

The closest Sweet 16/Elite Eight regional to KU, if you were wondering, is in Arlington, Texas. The Final Four will be played in Atlanta.


Daily links: Notre Dame still making significant payments to Charlie Weis; KU to be featured on ESPN’s 30 for 30

A few links in case you missed them ...

The Chicago Tribune examined some federal tax documents and found that, during the 2010-11 school year, Notre Dame paid former coach and current Kansas coach Charlie Weis $2,054,744.

Weis was fired by Notre Dame in November 2009.

Perhaps the most startling part about that number is how high it was in comparison to other Notre Dame coaches. Current football coach Brian Kelly made $2,424,301 during the 2010-11 school year, while men's basketball coach Mike Brey earned $1,311,843 — just over half of what Weis made while he wasn't even with the school.

According to the article, Weis' is scheduled to receive buyout payments from Notre Dame through December 2015, though the amounts could be reduced in the future.

Speaking of Weis, he talked last week to the Hutchinson News' Lucas Fahrer about learning from two mistakes he made at Notre Dame.

I also enjoyed this quote in the article, as Weis was talking about his evaluation of KU before accepting the head-coaching position: "I didn't spend any time before I took this job looking at their players. I looked at who they were but when you're 2-10, what're you going to look for? A bunch of silver linings?"

It looks like KU becoming home for James Naismith's original rules of basketball will be featured on ESPN's 30 for 30 documentary series this year, as a trailer for the new season was released on ESPN.

Josh Swade has been working on this project for a couple years now. Here's a video preview of the project from his vimeo site.

A really good read for college basketball fans here by SI.com's Luke Winn, who examined the different ways that teams are guarding three-point shots.

Winn explains it well in the article, but recent analysis by Ken Pomeroy could change the way the game is coached and played in the future. Though teams find success many different ways defending three-pointers, Pomeroy has found evidence that he defense has little control on whether three-point shots go in. What the defense can control more certainly is the number of three-pointers an opposing team attempts.

This becomes especially important for teams that are favorites in the NCAA Tournament. For favorites to maximize their chances of winning, they should want to minimize the opponents' three-point attempts, which basically are a high-risk, high-reward strategy.

The perfect example of this was the 2010-11 VCU team, which didn't apologize for jacking up tons of three-pointers while riding the hot-shooting wave to the Final Four.

If you look back, KU probably received a favorable draw on its way to the championship game this year. KU, which allowed an average number of three-point attempts to opponents, faced only one team in the tournament that shot an above-average number of three-pointers.

That team was Purdue. And for more than a half, it sure looked like a three-point shooting underdog was going to send the Jayhawks to an early exit.

Our own Matt Tait tweeted this a couple days ago, but in case you missed it, former KU linebacker Steven Johnson received the Denver Broncos' highest signing bonus for an undrafted rookie, as he picked up a $12,000 signing bonus, according to the Denver Post.

That doesn't guarantee Johnson will make the team, but the fact that Denver gave him that much probably doesn't hurt his chances of making the roster, either.

If he does latch on with the Broncos and get an official paycheck, I can't help but wonder if some of the money will go back to Steven Sr. and Suburban Hair Company in Upper Darby, Pa.

And finally, this video has been floating around the Internet for the last day or so, but if you haven't seen it, comedian Rob Riggle, who will host the upcoming ESPY awards, shows KU a lot of love in this video.

There's also a funny moment toward the end where Riggle — who was raised in Overland Park and graduated from KU — blames his assistant for the Jayhawks' loss to Kentucky in the NCAA championship game. Definitely worth a look.


Potential KU transfer Damontre Harris’ stats at South Carolina show promise

Last week, we looked at how potential transfer and former Xavier point guard Mark Lyons could help Kansas statistically if he chose the Jayhawks over Arizona and Kentucky.

Now, with news breaking that South Carolina forward/center Damontre Harris is visiting KU this week and will choose between the Jayhawks and Florida Gators, I wanted to take a look at what the statistics can tell us about the 6-foot-9 sophomore, who was Rivals.com's No. 64 player in the class of 2010.

(All statistics courtesy of KenPom.com. Keep in mind that South Carolina played the NCAA's 47th-toughest schedule according to KenPom, which is something to consider when looking at these statistics.)


Let's first look at Harris' basic offensive numbers from his sophomore year at South Carolina, where he averaged 25.9 minutes per game.

Here's a quick reminder on the stats above: Offensive rating is simply a measure of a player's individual efficiency, or the points per 100 possessions he creates himself. An offensive rating of 100 is considered average.

Offensive rating is used hand in hand with possession percentage, which is a measure of what percentage of a team's possessions a player ends while he's on the floor. Basically, this measures how involved in the offense a player is. Average possession percentage is 20 percent.

Shot percentage is the percentage of shots taken when a player is on the floor. Again, average is 20 percent.

From those numbers, we can see that Harris did not assert himself offensively, as he was only a minor part of the Gamecocks' offense when he was on the floor. To give you some context, his possession percentage was about that of KU guard Conner Teahan (14.1 percent possessions percentage) and his shot percentage was close to that of KU small forward Travis Releford (14.3 percent shot percentage). Neither of those players were a focal point in KU's offense.

The positive sign here is that when Harris did play a part in South Carolina's offense, he was extremely efficient. His offensive rating of 112.4 was tops on his team, and he was one of only four players on the Gamecocks to have an offensive rating of over 100.

So what made him so efficient? Let's look at some other numbers.

While his turnover rate (which shows what percentage of a players' possessions were used on turnovers) was a little bit higher than you'd want, Harris made up for it with great shooting.

His 55-percent shooting from two-point range was significantly better than the NCAA average of 47.8 percent, and his free throw percentage also added to his value, as his 80.4-percent free-throw shooting was second on South Carolina and also would have ranked second out of KU's rotation last year behind only Teahan.


When analyzing Harris' statistics, one number stands out the most: his 10.7 percent block rate.

This means, when Harris was on the floor last year, he blocked 10.7 percent of his opponents' two-point shot attempts. That number was good for 19th nationally, behind premier shot-blockers like Jeff Withey (first nationally, 15.3 percent) and Kentucky's Anthony Davis (third, 13.8 percent) but still ahead of well-known swatters like UConn's Andre Drummond (24th, 9.9 percent) and North Carolina's John Henson (28th, 9.6 percent).

Let's look at Harris' other defensive/rebounding numbers.

The first statistic that sticks out here is Harris' high steal percentage, as he came away with a steal on 2.3 percent of South Carolina's defensive possessions last year.

That 2.3 percent might not seem like a lot, but it's the exact same steal percentage that Releford had for KU last year. Considering Harris plays inside and still was able to poke away that high a number tells us something about his athleticism.

His other strength appears to be his offensive rebounding percentage, as he grabbed 10.8 percent of his team's misses, which ranked 238th nationally. To compare, Harris' offensive rebounding percentage was between that of the 2012 numbers of KU's Thomas Robinson (11.2 percent) and Withey (10.2 percent).

His defensive rebounding percentage is probably a little lower than you'd want from a defensive stopper, though it still would have ranked third out of KU's rotation last year, behind Robinson and Withey and just in front of Kevin Young.

Harris also was a bit foul-prone at South Carolina, fouling out in two of his 31 games and picking up four fouls in 10 other contests.

Bottom Line

Statistically, Harris appears to be a player that could help KU two seasons from now.

Most promising is his block percentage, and if Harris did come to KU and sit out a year because of transfer rules, he would be able to practice with the nation's best shot-blocker (Withey) before having the opportunity to step into Withey's role for the 2013-14 season.

Though Harris is not yet assertive offensively, his efficiency would seem to indicate that he will be a player that, at worst, should not hurt the offense when he's in the game (much like Withey in 2011-12). His strong shooting numbers also tell us he isn't a player that forces up too many bad shots while showing that he might be a player that can develop into having a larger role while still maintaining an above-average offensive rating.

The 2013 Value-Add ranking formula — an all-encompassing player-evaluation statistic (like WAR in baseball) developed by John Pudner and frequently used by SI.com's Luke Winn — also likes Harris, as it ranked him (assuming he stayed with South Carolina) as the 125th-best player in college basketball next year. Only one KU player on next year's roster ranks higher (Elijah Johnson, 99th).

We've seen how elite shot-blockers have thrived with KU's defense in three of the last four years, as Cole Aldrich (2008-09, 2009-10) and Withey (2011-12) posted top-30 block percentages in each of those seasons.

Self's defenses have also prospered with those swatters in the middle, as KU ranked fourth in defensive two-point percentage in 2008-09 (40.8 percent), first in defensive two-point percentage in 2009-10 (40.1 percent) and second in defensive two-point percentage in 2011-12 (39.8 percent).

If Self is looking for another defensive stopper to guard the rim after Withey graduates in 2013, it appears he'll have a tough time finding a better option than Harris.


Statistically, potential transfer Mark Lyons would help KU

Our own Gary Bedore reported Wednesday that Xavier point guard Mark Lyons will be transferring to either Kansas, Kentucky or Arizona, and because of the new NCAA rules, he will be eligible to play next season as a senior.

Because the 6-foot-1, 190-pound guard has already played three years at Xavier, this gives us a chance to break down his numbers to see what kind of impact he might have for KU if he picks the Jayhawks.

Before we get started, I think it's important to note that I'm only going to be looking at Lyons' stats in this blog. Obviously, the guard — who played prep school at Brewster Academy, the alma mater of both Thomas Robinson and Naadir Tharpe — will join a new school with some baggage.

The reason Lyons is leaving Xavier is because of a falling out with XU coach Chris Mack, as the story linked says "the guard repeatedly tried to take over games by driving into crowds of defenders or taking long shots."

Lyons also was suspended two games following the ugly Cincinnati-Xavier brawl on Dec. 10, 2011, and didn't help his cause with his postgame comments (He's No. 10 in the video and the second one to talk at the postgame press conference).

Obviously, KU coach Bill Self is aware of what's above and is willing to accept it if Lyons is planning on visiting campus, so let's look at some of the numbers.

Mark Lyons vs. Tyshawn Taylor

After looking at his profile, I couldn't help but notice how similar some of Lyons' numbers were to that of Tyshawn Taylor.

So instead of trying to conceptualize the type of player that Lyons is, I figured we'd compare his numbers last year to that of a player that KU fans know well*.

* — One thing to keep in mind with this exercise: These numbers don't take into account both teams' strength of schedule. According to KenPom.com, KU played the nation's No. 1 schedule last season. Xavier still faced a good slate on its own, finishing with the 30th-best schedule, according to KenPom. It's just something to be aware of when we compare the two players. All stats from KenPom.com.

OK, let's explain the statistics above. Offensive rating is simply a measure of a player's individual efficiency, or the points per possession he creates himself. One point per possession is considered average.

Offensive rating is used hand in hand with possession percentage, which is a measure of what percentage of a team's possessions a player ends while he's on the floor. Basically, this measures how involved in the offense a player is. Average possession percentage is 20 percent.

Shot percentage is the percentage of shots taken when a player is on the floor. Again, average is 20 percent.

From the numbers, we can see Taylor and Lyons played similar roles for their respective teams last year. Both were well-above-average offensive players that took on a huge offensive role for their teams.

The two players did this in different ways. Lyons shot more often than Taylor, but despite his reputation in the article above, this didn't stop him from being an efficient player while he was in.

Taylor, though he shot less, burned a higher number of possessions on turnovers.

Turnover rate (which shows what percentage of a players' possessions were used on turnovers) shows Lyons to be a much more secure ball-handler than Taylor.

So how did both players obtain their efficiency offensively? Let's take a look.

First off, the two players had nearly identical three-point numbers:

Both players helped their teams when shooting three-pointers, making them at a high percentage without taking too many (and yes, we're looking at the whole season and not just Taylor's NCAA Tournament shooting).

Let's look at a few more stats.

This is where Lyons lags behind Taylor just a bit.

Though Lyons took 56 fewer twos than Taylor last year, he was only a 44.4 percent shooter from two-point range (NCAA average last season was 47.8 percent).

Lyons also wasn't as good at getting to the free-throw line, though he was a significantly better shooter than Taylor when he got there.

Taylor also was easily the better passer last year, handing out assists on 29.7 percent of KU's field goals, while Lyons dished out less than a-fifth of his team's assists while he was on the floor.

Lyons' effective field-goal percentage (a number that gives 1 1/2 credit for three-pointers because they're worth 1 1/2 times the points) also is lower than Taylor's, though as we mentioned earlier, his efficiency is still about the same because of his much lower turnover number.

Defensively, with the statistics we have, the two appear to have about the same net impact, though they contribute in different ways.

Lyons helped his team much more on the glass, especially on the defensive end (a 10.3 percent defensive rebound percentage would have ranked fourth on KU last year, behind only Robinson, Jeff Withey and Kevin Young).

The two players' steal numbers are almost exactly the same, while Lyons also blocked one percent of the two-pointers taken against his team.

The one big advantage Taylor had over Lyons was his ability to avoid fouls. Though Lyons fouled out of just two games last season, he had four fouls in eight other contests.

Bottom Line

Though Taylor had the better year last year against tougher competition, Lyons' production wasn't far off from KU's senior point guard.

In 2011-12, Lyons was a gifted three-point shooter who was able to play at a high level without turning it over often, though he shot far too many two-pointers considering his poor percentage from inside the arc.

Defensively, Lyons gave Xavier a boost on the boards but oftentimes found himself over-aggressive and in foul trouble.

If he came to KU, the senior would immediately provide experience and scoring on a team that could need it with the departures of Taylor and Robinson.

Though Lyons' high shot percentage will need to be toned down a bit, he could be a nice one-year stopgap for the Jayhawks if Self doesn't believe that Tharpe is ready for a starting role.

Lyons would come with some off-the-court questions discussed earlier, but as far as immediate help goes, Self will have a hard time finding a bigger impact player at this stage in the basketball calendar.


Cliff’s Notes: Charlie Weis press conference, 4/24/12

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

Full audio has been posted.

Weis said you have to set a mentality that matches your philosophy on how things are going to be done. Weis told his players when he first came in that there would be a different way of running business. He also told his players that he was better at being a dad than a coach. The most important thing in college is growing up. But there comes a time when players have to determine when enough is enough. You can give players a couple of hiccups, but there comes a point when 1. things that happen are too severe, or 2. a player has had multiple things occur, and you give them an ultimatum that they start doing the right things, or they're off the team. Usually when a guy is dismissed from the team, it's because of the latter instead of the former. Usually, players are dismissed because of a few incidents instead of one incident. Weis isn't in the business of running guys out of here. But the players need to know that the team is most important.

In addition to dismissing linebacker Collin Garrett and cornerback Chris Robinson Monday, he talked to them about leadership and tried to put the onus more on the team. Weis isn't going out looking for guys on Saturday nights in Lawrence. Weis believes in letting his players have the normal quality of life of typical college students during the spring when they are not fully in football season.

The team voted for permanent team captains Monday. When the staff is gone throughout May while recruiting, there will be little guidance from the coaches. Also, the coaches cannot coach players in June because of NCAA rules. So Weis thinks it's important for a team in transition to have leadership. Weis will tell the team today who the captains are, and those captains will be made available to media members later this afternoon.

•  Weis says he's excited about the spring game. He's fired up about it. As long as the team doesn't sustain any injuries in the next few practices, KU should have two teams (other than the defensive line, which will have one unit that will play for both teams) and should be able to have some fun.

Weis says he needs the leadership from the team now. That's why he didn't wait until other players showed up on campus to vote for captains. Those guys coming in don't have the right to come in and be captains without practicing with the team thus far.

Weis says you only have one opportunity to get it right at a school. He learned a long time ago that it's a lot easier to set that table in the beginning. It's always easier to loosen up on a team when it's been rigid than it is to tighten up on a team that's been loose. Weis is not trying to be a drill sergeant. He's just trying to make practical decisions based on what's happened on and off the field. When you deal with young men, there are going to be issues. But there comes a point when enough becomes enough.

• You want each kid to be successful. You don't want any of them to fail. But at some point, you put them in a situation where they have to decide to grow up.

KU will actually play a game Saturday for its spring game. The team won't show everything, but it will come out and run it and throw it. If somebody wants to do enough study, the majority of things Weis has done offensively are already on tape somewhere. Offensively, you want to see if you can run and see if you can have good pass efficiency. Weis said he wouldn't call it a glorified scrimmage, because it's going to be more competitive than that.

Weis will tell his players Thursday which of the two teams they will be on for the spring game.

•  Weis believes the team has made great strides in the spring. There's still a bunch of questions, but there area a bunch of answers, too. Weis has a much better feel for his football team, but he said there's still a long road ahead.

Right now, Weis is disappointed in KU's kicking game in general — not just the kickers, but the kicking game in general. Weis says he's watching the game a different way than reporters do. On kickoff coverage, he's looking for who the first guy down the field is. That guy's probably going to be playing on special teams.

•  Weis would like to see his team defensively run around and have some fun during the spring game. At the end of the day, he also wants to see everyone walk off the field healthy.

Weis has sat at Allen Fieldhouse, which he believes is the mecca of college basketball. He doesn't just watch the game ... he studies coach Self, because he thinks he's a great coach. He like the psychology involved. But Weis also likes the whole experience and how the fans interact with the team. Weis knows when KU is 2-10 and 0-9 in the Big 12, it's tougher for the students to buy in and show loyalty to the football team. Weis thinks the team needs to do something on the field to help with that. if you don't try to make that bond between the football team and students, fans and band, then it's not going to happen. Weis doesn't believe things happen by accident. Weis has made the decision that KU's players will sing the alma mater with the band and students at the end of each home football game. Weis says KU has to be willing to bite the bullet in case it doesn't work out, as it's not easy to sing the alma mater with students after a loss. KU's players will be there after every game, though. It takes effort for the KU students to stay there the whole game, so will they be there? If it all works out, Weis thinks the change will be a really good thing for KU.

Weis sat down with all of KU's graduating seniors and told them about the NFL Draft process. He talked about the thought process of the teams and how it goes down. He also talked about what their thought process should be if they don't get drafted. Weis gets more questions from kids that he coached at previous schools than the ones at KU, just because he knows those kids better.

From what Weis has heard about former KU linebacker Steven Johnson, he believes he has a good shot at being on someone's team in the NFL. As a player, that's all you ask for.


Cliff’s Notes: Dave Campo press conference, 4/17/12

Here is the Cliff's Notes version of Kansas defensive coordinator Dave Campo's comments at his press conference today.

Full audio has been posted.

Turnovers have been a mainstay in almost every defense Dave Campo has been involved in. If you look at the statistics that mean the most, Campo would say that turnovers are at the top of the list. KU's coaches are stressing it. If you look at the year the New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl, their defense was probably middle of the pack, but they forced lots of turnovers.

If KU has players that buy into the program and buy into the fact that the only way KU can make up ground is by playing hard ... if KU gets those types of guys on the field, then it's going to get turnovers. If KU can come out this spring knowing the guys it can count on, then it will come out ahead.

Linebacker Michael Reynolds is the type of athlete that KU needs to get on the film if he's the right guy. He's athletic, can run and can play in space.

• Campo says his linebackers run OK. Part of that might be because they are a bit undersized compared to other linebackers in the Big 12.

Campo says he's nervous about the guys being able to compete at this level against the guys they have to compete against. The coaches came in knowing this was a challenge. KU ranked around last in defense in Div. I last year. When Campo came in, he felt like the players KU was recruiting could compete in the Big 12. This is a spread offense league, so you've got to have the guys out there that can move in space.

• The first thing everyone told Campo when he moved from a job with the Miami Hurricanes to a job with the Dallas Cowboys was that his players were too small, because he had small 4-3 linebackers. Dallas was faster than everyone else, though. KU's defense will have to sacrifice some size for speed. As long as the players run to the ball, that's all KU's coaches can ask for.

Campo felt like the offense won the scrimmage that KU had last week. But Campo felt like the defense won a 7-on-7 drill the team had last week.

Campo has told his group that no one on campus should think that a freshman or junior-college guy is going to go to third-string just because he's new. If he's the best player, he's going to line up No. 1. A lot of places, the guys coming in are immediately third- or fourth-string. This is a different scenario. Campo likes a lot of the guys here, but this is a tryout situation for them right now.

• Campo feels good about KU's secondary as a whole. There are some players there. KU has three DBs coming in that can run, so it's going to be a competition still. Campo feels better about that position than the others on defense.

• Campo thinks the guys' enthusiasm is better now than at any time. The players realize they have to take the field with the attitude that they're going to be a four-quarter ballclub no matter what. The guys are excited about the newness and change and also about the philosophy of the people talking to them.

When he first got here, Campo didn't think his team ran as well as it needed to. Some guys do. It's not all about running, though. Otherwise, you would only put track athletes on the field.

No other players have switched from offense to defense in the last two weeks. There are some guys the coaches feel like could be two-way players. The coaches are going to try to get the best 11 guys on the field on offense and defense no matter who it is. The New England Patriots do some of that in the NFL, putting guys on both sides of the ball if it helps the team.

Campo believes you learn more about your guys when they go live, so the Spring Game will mean something. It's an individual evaluating tool, rather than a group evaluating tool. KU's coaches will go back and see which players perform well instead of looking at which position groups do well. KU is playing more base defense this spring than it will all next year, just because the coaches want to make it easier to evaluate and see which players can perform.


Cliff’s Notes: Dave Campo press conference, 4/5/12

Here is the Cliff's Notes version of Kansas defensive coordinator Dave Campo's comments at his press conference today.

Full audio has been posted.

Campo apologized for being a little late, saying he was a little discombobulated today. Joe Avezzano, whom Campo worked for at Oregon State and with at Pittsburgh and for about 14 years with the Dallas Cowboys, just passed away in Italy today of a heart attack. He was coaching an Italian football team. Campo conveyed his condolences to Joe and his family.

Toben Opurum has a chance to be a really good football player. At this point, he's trying to figure out where he is. He started on offense, then moved to outside linebacker/defensive line, and that's a radical change. He had a good year last year, and the coaches feel like he's making good progress. He has a ways to go because it's a new position. Campo thinks Opurum should be on defense. Opurum's an aggressive guy. Campo can't see him having an opportunity past college football as a running back, but defense allows him to show his athleticism.

• Being at KU has been great for Campo. He had known Charlie Weis for a long time, as an admirer more than anything else. When Weis called, Campo took a look at it. Campo wanted a challenge. That's why he's here. Campo feels good about the move and is happy with his decision.

What makes college exciting is that Campo thinks his strength is teaching, and you can do more of that at the college level. The guys he liked most at the NFL level where the new guys coming in who still wanted to learn more.

• Campo told his players they should know one thing: This is a tryout. It's about running to the football. It's about guys the coaches can rely on in the fall. The tryout isn't just about how they play but also their mentality.

Campo says right now, the coaches are trying to evaluate who the players are. Scheme is the least of his concerns. Campo wants to know which guys he can rely on.

There has been a drastic improvement from first spring practice to now as far as guys understanding what the coaches want from the snap of the football to the end of the play.

Campo says he's going to make sure guys are accountable and make sure those guys on the field are the ones that coaches are going to rely upon to play for four quarters of football.

• The depth chart is fluid. Different guys can move to the top each day. Campo is excited that the guys are starting to realize what the coaches want.

Campo says three defensive backs were in the facility on their day off to watch film. That's a good sign.

• Campo told his defensive players this is a two-way street. Campo has to prove to them that he can help them get better and that KU is doing things the right way on defense. But at the same time, it's the players' responsibility to prove to him that they can do what he asks them to do. But the only way KU can be successful is if both sides have to buy into each other.

Campo says his team's speed is not the best. He says he has some guys that can run. But KU doesn't need 30 players on defense that can run. Campo needs 11 guys that can run. KU's 30 best speed guys aren't as good as the top 30 at Oklahoma, but maybe the top six at KU are as good as anybody at OU. KU has to fill in from there. Then you have to find guys that do what you want them to do and do it at full speed.

• Some guys are being evaluated that might move from offense to defense or defense to offense. Campo said he wouldn't mention names as of yet, though.

Campo thinks KU needs to get better at defensive line. KU also doesn't have a lot of guys there. After coming in, the coaches immediately identified that as an area of need.


Five-minute scouting report on Kentucky

All statistics courtesy of KenPom.com and are current as of April 2.

Team: Kentucky
Record: 37-2
Seed: 1
KenPom (Ken Pomeroy) Ranking: 1

Kentucky head coach John Calipari responds to a question about his thougts on meeting Bill Self and the Jayhawks again in the national title game during a press conference on Sunday, April 1, 2012 at the Superdome.

Kentucky head coach John Calipari responds to a question about his thougts on meeting Bill Self and the Jayhawks again in the national title game during a press conference on Sunday, April 1, 2012 at the Superdome. by Nick Krug


Much like Ohio State, Kentucky enters as one of the most balanced teams in college basketball.

The Wildcats rank second in adjusted offensive efficiency and 11th in adjusted defensive efficiency. Ohio State and UK are the only two teams nationally to rank in the top 11 in both.

Offensively, Kentucky has few weaknesses. The Wildcats are especially strong inside, where they make 53 percent of their twos (19th nationally) and grab 38 percent of the available offensive rebounds (20th nationally). UK almost never turns it over, giving it away on just 17 percent of its possessions (21st nationally).

Kentucky forward Terrance Jones moves between Kansas defenders Jeff Withey (5) and Thomas Robinson for a bucket during the first half on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011 at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Kentucky forward Terrance Jones moves between Kansas defenders Jeff Withey (5) and Thomas Robinson for a bucket during the first half on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011 at Madison Square Garden in New York. by Nick Krug

The Wildcats don't shoot many threes, but they are accurate when they do, making 38 percent (43rd nationally).

And, yes, this is a pretty good free-throw shooting team for coach John Calipari, making 72 percent of its tries (67th nationally).

Defensively, Kentucky has the best effective field-goal defense in the nation (42 eFG%) while also limiting opponents to a 40-percent two-point percentage (second nationally). Most of the reason for this is blocked shots, as UK leads the nation by swatting 20 percent on the opposition's two-point field goals.

Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe extends to the bucket as Kentucky forward Terrance Jones swoops in to swat his shot during the first half on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011 at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe extends to the bucket as Kentucky forward Terrance Jones swoops in to swat his shot during the first half on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011 at Madison Square Garden in New York. by Nick Krug

Even with the high block numbers, the Wildcats have done an outstanding job avoiding fouls. Opponents average just 15 free throws per game against UK compared to 59 field-goal attempts.


Defensively, Kentucky's greatest weakness is that is doesn't force the action.

The Wildcats create turnovers on just 18 percent of their defensive possessions, which ranks 297th nationally.

Kentucky also isn't the best defensive rebounding team, as the Wildcats grab 69 percent of the available defensive rebounds (121st nationally). Louisville took advantage of this Saturday, when it pulled down 41 percent of the available offensive rebounds (19 of 46) against UK in a 68-61 loss.

Kentucky's bench is even thinner than Kansas', as the Wildcats get just 22 percent of their minutes from reserves (323rd nationally).

Though UK is immensely talented, it doesn't have many veterans on the roster; KenPom's "experience" measure ranks Kentucky as the sixth-youngest team in the NCAA.

Players to Watch

Six-foot-10 forward Anthony Davis has won almost every national-player-of-the-year award thanks to his disruptive defense and efficient offense.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson vies for a rebound with Kentucky forward Anthony Davis during the second half Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011 at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson vies for a rebound with Kentucky forward Anthony Davis during the second half Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011 at Madison Square Garden in New York. by Nick Krug

The freshman blocks 14 percent of opponents' two-pointers (third nationally) while also grabbing 24 percent of the available defensive rebounds (49th nationally). Davis also has been able to avoid foul trouble, averaging just 2.4 fouls per 40 minutes (373rd nationally).

Offensively, almost all of Davis' shots come from point-blank range. He's made an eye-popping 67 percent of his twos this year (206 of 307) and also is a good free-throw shooter, making 71 percent of his tries there.

Davis also the best offensive rebounder in Kentucky's rotation, grabbing 11 percent of his team's misses while he's in (184th nationally).

Six-foot-7 wing Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and 6-9 forward Terrence Jones are similar players, as both rank in the top 300 nationally in offensive rebound percentage and in the top 500 nationally in block percentage while posting identical defensive rebounding percentages (16.3 percent) and two-point field-goal percentages (53 percent). Kidd-Gilchrist is more turnover-prone than Jones, but he's also a better free-throw shooter, making 75 percent of his tries compared to 63 percent for his teammate.

Sophomore guard Doron Lamb and senior guard Darius Miller both enter as accomplished shooters. Lamb has made 47 percent of his threes (73 of 157) while averaging just 1.1 turnovers per game.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson and Kentucky guard Doron Lamb collide while going for a loose ball during the second half on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011 at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson and Kentucky guard Doron Lamb collide while going for a loose ball during the second half on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011 at Madison Square Garden in New York. by Nick Krug

Miller, meanwhile, has been efficient inside and out, making 57 percent of his twos (86 of 150) and 37 percent of his threes (55 of 147).

If UK's lineup has a weak link offensively, it's point guard Marquis Teague. He makes just 44 percent of his twos and 31 percent of his threes while turning it over at a high rate.

Bottom Line

The national championship game will feature the nation's two best two-point defenses, as both KU and UK have allowed opponents to shoot just 40 percent from inside the arc this year.

The good news for KU is that it won't have to change how it plays. The Jayhawks will be able to play big-for-big against Kentucky — a team that boasts the second-tallest team in the nation in terms of average height according to KenPom.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson hangs on the rim after a dunk over Kentucky forward Anthony Davis during the first half on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011 at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson hangs on the rim after a dunk over Kentucky forward Anthony Davis during the first half on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011 at Madison Square Garden in New York. by Nick Krug

I think the two biggest keys for KU will be rebounding and the play of Tyshawn Taylor.

The Wildcats are stingy on first shots, but they haven't always been the best at limiting second chances. Though KU has spent most of the tournament shooting like my college intramural team, the Jayhawks have been really good at giving extra energy to track down loose balls and gain extra possessions on the offensive glass.

Also, if you're looking for KU's most favorable matchup, it's Taylor against Teague.

UK's freshman doesn't come away with many steals and also is prone to turnovers himself.

Though Taylor has had some rough offensive games this tournament, this is a game where KU needs him to take advantage of his matchup.

KenPom gives KU a 40-percent chance of winning while predicting a 71-68 UK win.

That score seems a tad high to me, as I'd expect a slow-paced, defensive struggle, especially when you consider it's a tough shooting gym with an officiating crew that shouldn't call many fouls.

Still, this is no David-Goliath. The stats say KU has a legitimate chance at a national title, especially considering the fact that the Jayhawks only have to win a one-game series.