Entries from blogs tagged with “ku”

Cliff’s Notes: Bill Self press conference, 1/21/11

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

If you want to get live updates from each week's press conference, be sure to follow us on Twitter (@kusports).

Full audio has been posted. • Jordan Hamilton will probably be the toughest matchup for KU in Big 12 play because of his size. He posts up a lot.

Texas guards well. The Longhorns are good defensively, and their pieces fit. They're bringing a guy off the bench (J'Covan Brown) that scored 26 points against KU last year. That tells Self that UT is good.

Cory Joseph allows other guys be who they are. He makes Dogus Balbay and Jordan Hamilton better.

• Last year, KU played great at Texas. But it wasn't easy. It was hard for KU's guys to get open. This year, UT's defense is quite a bit better. Self says Texas is a top-five defensive team in the country. Both teams are worried about how to guard each other, but KU has to figure out how to attack as well.

Travis Releford is about 70 percent. He will be available to play.

The Baylor first half wasn't 2008 North Carolina good, but it was good. That was about as well as KU has played offensively in a long time.

The team doesn't talk about the home-court winning streak. It's in the back of the players' minds. It runs across the TV every once in a while, but it's not a major factor looking at the big picture.

The Big 12 is tough every year, but this year is really hard with the strength of the Big 12 North teams.

• Nebraska guarded KU as hard as anyone has guarded KU, and the Huskers did it man-to-man. That type of game can help the Jayhawks prepare for Texas. Saturday's game is going to be a game where people get after it and offense isn't going to look good at times.

Self was surprised a little bit how well KU played against Baylor's zone. Self joked that it's amazing that when you get a shot, there's a better chance of scoring than when you don't get one.

The biggest thing that Self remembers about the Kevin Durant game in the Fieldhouse was that Durant had 25 points at halftime. Self turned to KU assistant coach Danny Manning and said, "What do we do?" and Manning replied, "I don't know. That's a bad boy." The KU fans knew they were seeing something special that day — something they knew they might not see again.

Hamilton can get his shot where he wants to. You can do a good job defensively on him and limit his good touches and he can still make 7 out of 10.

Texas is bigger than KU in a lot of spots. It'll be a tough deal for KU. But Baylor was bigger than KU, too. The Jayhawks won't be bigger than a lot of the teams they play the rest of the way.

Self's opinion on the Texas deal with ESPN is that it forces other schools' hand to lessen that gap. Instead of sitting around complaining, the schools have to look at, "What can we do to close that gap?" There's money about there to be had. Instead of whining about Texas' officials doing their job, other schools have to work their butt off to catch up.

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The Sideline Report with Justin Wesley

During our live-game blogs on the site (you should check them out!), I've noticed that two questions seem to pop up more than any others:

1. Is there a live stream of this game somewhere on the Internet?

2. Who is that player in street clothes at the end of the bench that I don't recognize?

Though I'm not able to help much with question No. 1 (www.espn3.com is probably your best bet), this Sideline Report should hopefully help with No. 2.

That player at the end of the bench is Justin Wesley. He is a walk-on transfer from Lamar that has to sit out this season because of NCAA rules. He's a 6-foot-8 forward, and he's also Keith Langford's younger brother.

Kansas players Conner Teahan, left, Jeff Withey, Justin Wesley and Josh Selby laugh as they watch warmups prior to tipoff against Washburn, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas players Conner Teahan, left, Jeff Withey, Justin Wesley and Josh Selby laugh as they watch warmups prior to tipoff against Washburn, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Here's a bit more about Wesley in today's Sideline Report, which took place back at media day in October.

Jesse Newell: I want to talk about your brother first off. What did he tell you about KU before you got here?

http://www2.kusports.com/photos/2010/jun/16/193690/

Justin Wesley: He told me it’s a lot of tradition. It’s a great basketball atmosphere. And he told me that the time I spend here, I’m going to really enjoy. It’s going to be some of the best years of my life.

JN: What was your earliest memory of KU?

JW: I came to a lot of games when I was young, sitting in the student section, getting thrown up during the games and going back into the locker room right after the games. I have a lot of childhood memories here at KU.

JN: How old were you when you were getting thrown up in the stands?

JW: About fourth grade was Keith’s freshman year. So through those years — fourth, fifth, sixth grade.

JN: So did everybody know that you were Keith’s little brother?

JW: Uh huh. Even sometimes when he would sign autographs after the game, I would sign autographs, too.

JN: Really? How often did that happen?

JW: I can only remember once or twice. Not that many times.

JN: So you said they threw you up?

JW: I don’t know if they still do it, but they would throw me up. It was nothing dangerous or anything like that.

JN: So you said you went to the locker room. What was that like? What do you remember about that?

JW: Being around Wayne (Simien) and Aaron (Miles) and Nick Collison, Kirk Hinrich when they were here, just being around them, just watching everything they do was just overall a great experience.

JN: Who’d you like most out of those guys?

JW: My brother, of course. (laughs)

JN: After that, who did you kind of stick to?

JW: Wayne. They were roommates at the time, so next to my brother, I was close to Wayne.

JN: What would he do with you?

Kansas University's Wayne Simien, left, guards ex-Jayhawk Scot
Pollard in this file photo. The two played in a pick-up game in
June at the Roy Williams basketball camp.

Kansas University's Wayne Simien, left, guards ex-Jayhawk Scot Pollard in this file photo. The two played in a pick-up game in June at the Roy Williams basketball camp. by Scott McClurg/Journal-World Photo

JW: I would come in, and he would just joke around with me whenever I came into town or whatever. If I wasn’t with Keith, I was with him. It was pretty fun.

JN: Those guys have a nickname for you? What did they call you?

JW: They just called me, ‘Little Justin.’

JN: Did you know you wanted to go to KU at that point? Did you think about it at that point?

JW: As a matter of fact, I did. When Keith came on his visit and committed to Roy Williams, I also committed. (laughs) I think back in fourth grade, I knew I wanted to come here.

JN: Tell me more about that. He committed, and you told Roy you were committing the same day?

JW: Yeah, I told Roy I was coming.

JN: What did he say?

JW: He said, ‘Well, we’ll be glad to have you.’

JN: So you actually committed in fourth grade, just nobody held you to it.

JW: It wasn’t scripted. It wasn’t scripted. But if you call up Roy, he’ll tell you I committed in fourth grade.

Kansas University coach Roy Williams chats with his players during
the final minutes against Tulsa. The Jayhawks outlasted the Golden
Hurricane, 89-80, Wednesday night in Tulsa, Okla.

Kansas University coach Roy Williams chats with his players during the final minutes against Tulsa. The Jayhawks outlasted the Golden Hurricane, 89-80, Wednesday night in Tulsa, Okla. by Scott McClurg/Journal-World Photo

JN: How close were you to going to Oklahoma State out of high school?

JW: I was actually going to commit to them my junior year, but they got a new coaching staff. After that, I lost contact with them. Senior year didn’t go how I wanted it to, so my recruiting went downhill. I went through a lot of adversity, but I’m glad to be here now.

JN: I saw that maybe ... are you going to study journalism here?

JW: No, communications. I changed to communications.

JN: I was going to say, because your brother kind of had a reputation as a columnist here for the student newspaper. I didn’t know if that was something you were going to be interested in or not.

JW: No. I’m more communication. I’m more a business man.

JN: Gotcha. Did you hear any stories about his columns in the Kansan back in the day?

JW: No I haven’t. I need to ask him about that.

Kansas University guard Keith Langford reminds the Tulsa student
section what his jersey says during Wednesday's game in Tulsa,
Okla.

Kansas University guard Keith Langford reminds the Tulsa student section what his jersey says during Wednesday's game in Tulsa, Okla. by Scott McClurg/Journal-World Photo

JN: Does everybody tell you that you look like him?

JW: Some people. They say they see it a little bit. I don’t see it. When people say I look like him, I don’t really see it. They say in basketball pictures when I’m playing, we make the same faces.

JN: What is that face?

JW: I mean, I can’t do it. (laughs) You’ve just got to catch me in action.

http://www2.kusports.com/photos/2010/jun/16/193697/

http://www2.kusports.com/photos/2003/mar/29/182397/

[Ed. note — Any resemblance?]

JN: What area of basketball are you better than Keith?

JW: Jumper.

JN: Jumper? Would he say that, too?

JW: I think I’m a better athlete.

Kansas walk-on Justin Wesley comes down with a rebound over Blue Team defender Conner Teahan during the Late Night in the Phog scrimmage, Friday, Oct. 15, 2010.

Kansas walk-on Justin Wesley comes down with a rebound over Blue Team defender Conner Teahan during the Late Night in the Phog scrimmage, Friday, Oct. 15, 2010. by Nick Krug

JN: Oh, OK. Would he say that?

JW: I mean, I don’t know. I think his pride would get in the way a little bit. But deep down, he knows.

JN: All right, some crazy ones here. What would I find in your refrigerator? Anything good?

JW: Probably nothing good. Probably just a carton of milk and some pickles.

JN: You like pickles?

JW: Yeah. (laughs)

JN: What makes you the most angry on the court?

JW: I’m not really much of a trash-talker, but when somebody starts talking trash, it kind of gets me revved up.

Kansas walk-on Justin Wesley warms up prior to tipoff against Emporia State, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas walk-on Justin Wesley warms up prior to tipoff against Emporia State, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

JN: What’s the very first memory you have of KU?

JW: It’s probably when we came on Keith’s visit, and they took us to the football stadium, and they had a picture of him on the Jumbotron in the Kansas jersey, basically saying, ‘We want you, Keith,’ and stuff like that. He was so elated. I was so elated. It was just an overall good experience for the whole family at that time.

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Recap: Jayhawks’ offense better than the final score indicates

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

Before we start, it's time for a little pop quiz.

If you had to describe the pace of KU's 85-65 victory over Baylor, would you say it was:

A) Pretty fast. Both teams' athletes got up and down the floor.
B) About average for KU.
C) Really slow. Like, slower than Nebraska slow.

http://www2.kusports.com/videos/2011/jan/18/33921/

It might have been hard to notice, but the correct answer is actually C. Though both teams had enough athletes to bring 35 NBA scouts to Waco, Texas, KU played at its slowest pace (63 possessions) of the entire year.

Which makes the Jayhawks' offensive performance even more impressive.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris (22) fades for a bucket in front of the Baylor defense during the first half. Morris had 25 points in the Jayhawks’ 85-65 victory over the Bears on Monday in Waco, Texas.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris (22) fades for a bucket in front of the Baylor defense during the first half. Morris had 25 points in the Jayhawks’ 85-65 victory over the Bears on Monday in Waco, Texas. by Nick Krug

Coming off three of their worst offensive performances of the season against Michigan, Iowa State and Nebraska, the Jayhawks showed their offensive ceiling on Monday against Baylor.

KU posted 1.35 points per possession, which was the third-highest mark of the year and the most PPP given up by Baylor since the 2006-07 season.

The Jayhawks also had their best shooting night of the year, notching an eFG% of 68.8 percent.

Not only that, KU gobbled up most of the few misses it had. The Jayhawks grabbed 47.6 percent of the available offensive rebounds against a great rebounding team.

The Bears' defensive rebounding percentage of 52.4 percent was seven percent worse than their previous worst defensive rebounding game this year. It was also more than 20 percent below Baylor's season average for defensive rebounding (73.5 percent).

The Jayhawks' offensive effort was so good that, in one game, KU jumped from 18th to 11th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency.

Kansas guard Josh Selby swoops in for a bucket over Baylor defenders Perry Jones, left, and Anthony Jones during the first half on Monday, Jan. 17, 2011 at the Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas.

Kansas guard Josh Selby swoops in for a bucket over Baylor defenders Perry Jones, left, and Anthony Jones during the first half on Monday, Jan. 17, 2011 at the Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas. by Nick Krug

Though KU appears to have a roster built to run, it had its best offensive effort of the season (considering the opponent/location) in the slowest of its games.

That's not something I would have expected, especially against Baylor.

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

Let me first start by offering apologies to Marcus Morris.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris delivers a jam on the Baylor defense during the first half on Monday, Jan. 17, 2011 at the Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris delivers a jam on the Baylor defense during the first half on Monday, Jan. 17, 2011 at the Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas. by Nick Krug

The 6-foot-9 forward posted 1.36 points per possession used while ending 30.7 percent of KU's possessions (average is 20 percent) when he was on the floor, which are All-American numbers. He also pulled down 24.5 percent of the available offensive rebounds and scored at least one point on 70.4 percent of the possessions he ended.

If he puts up those numbers any other game, he wins M.O.J. in a landslide.

Against Baylor, those numbers weren't even best on the team.

That's because, somehow, his brother Markieff was even more efficient.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris powers in a bucket past Baylor forward Perry Jones during the first half on Monday, Jan. 17, 2011 at the Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris powers in a bucket past Baylor forward Perry Jones during the first half on Monday, Jan. 17, 2011 at the Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas. by Nick Krug

I did a double-take when I first saw the 6-foot-10 forward's numbers: He posted 2.03 points per possession used (2.03!) while ending 15.3 percent of the possessions he was in.

Markieff's floor percentage was 87.9 percent, meaning 87.9 percent of the time he ended a KU possession, the Jayhawks scored at least one point. He also grabbed 33.9 percent of the available defensive rebounds and 11.5 percent of the available offensive rebounds while turning it over just once in 33 minutes.

It was probably the most efficient effort for a Jayhawk all season, and I would think would rank as one of the top two KU individual performances this year along with Marcus' 33-point, 13-rebound showing against Iowa State.

Room for Improvement

KU's defense actually wasn't all that great against Baylor, as the Jayhawks allowed 1.03 points per possession — their second-worst defensive game this season.

The big reason? The Jayhawks had troubles playing defense without fouling.

Kansas head coach Bill Self yells at his defense as Baylor cuts the lead during the second half on Monday, Jan. 17, 2011 at the Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas.

Kansas head coach Bill Self yells at his defense as Baylor cuts the lead during the second half on Monday, Jan. 17, 2011 at the Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas. by Nick Krug

Baylor's free-throw rate (free throws divided by field goal attempts) was 63.4 — the highest number by a KU opponent since the Jayhawks' 2008 game against Syracuse at Sprint Center.

The worst culprits were Elijah Johnson (four fouls in nine minutes) and Brady Morningstar (four fouls in 18 minutes).

The Bears' 26 free-throw attempts helped them keep their efficiency high on a day when they were even more careless with the basketball than they normally are.

Tough-Luck Line

This wasn't Thomas Robinson's night, partially because Baylor was not a good matchup for him.

Thomas Robinson goes over Nebraska's Jorge Brian Diaz in the second half on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Thomas Robinson goes over Nebraska's Jorge Brian Diaz in the second half on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Kevin Anderson

With the Bears' zone, one of the openings that KU tries to exploit is the elbows — a spot where Robinson wasn't comfortable receiving the ball. When Robinson did get the ball there, he seemed hesitant, and that turned him into a liability offensively.

The sophomore posted just 0.31 points per possession used while ending 39.6 percent of the team's possessions (about twice an average player) during his eight minutes.

Robinson's turnover woes (four in eight minutes Monday) hurt KU offensively, and it's the reason that the forward has gotten the quick hook recently when he's started off the game poorly.

Bottom Line

After three straight bad offensive games, the Jayhawks responded with their best offensive game of the year against a tough opponent.

Kansas guard Tyrel Reed roars after a dunk by teammate Thomas Robinson against Baylor during the first half on Monday, Jan. 17, 2011 at the Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas.

Kansas guard Tyrel Reed roars after a dunk by teammate Thomas Robinson against Baylor during the first half on Monday, Jan. 17, 2011 at the Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas. by Nick Krug

KU carved up Baylor's 2-3 zone, using quick, crisp passes to get good shots inside. It was the kind of performance that will make opposing coaches think twice before deciding to go primarily zone against the Jayhawks.

Though KU fouled too much defensively, it still was able to force lots of turnovers. The Bears had their third-highest turnover percentage of the year (28.6 percent); coming in, BU had turned it over on 22.7 percent of its possessions.

The Jayhawks will now have the rest of the week to prepare for Saturday's home game against Texas — a game that could go a long way toward deciding the eventual Big 12 champion.

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Recap: Putting preseason rankings in their place

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

Kansas coach Bill Self had a funny answer the other day following the Jayhawks' victory over Iowa State in Ames, Iowa.

Kansas head coach Bill Self calls a play during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas head coach Bill Self calls a play during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

One of the local TV reporters — trying to get a sound bite he could use — asked Self if Iowa State had played like a team that had been picked 12th in the Big 12.

"No," Self said, giving the Cyclones a compliment before finishing his answer. "Preseason doesn't mean jack." At this point in the season, preseason shouldn't mean jack.

So let's look at some facts.

The Jayhawks, following Saturday's 63-60 victory, have now defeated Iowa State and Nebraska. Preseason tells us those aren't good wins — hey, those teams were picked 12th and 10th in the Big 12 respectively, right?

http://www2.kusports.com/videos/2011/jan/15/33913/

Without studying the teams, most college basketball fans assume Iowa State is no good and Nebraska is a football school. KU should roll both.

But Baylor ... well, Baylor made the Elite Eight last year. The Bears have star power in LaceDarius Dunn and Perry Jones. Monday's contest is assumed to be the biggest game of the season for KU so far.

But guess what? Iowa State, Nebraska and Baylor all are ranked in the top 50 in Ken Pomeroy's rankings for this year.

Guess which team is last of the three?

Yep, that's right. It's Baylor*.

* — ISU is 33rd, NU is 36th and BU is 41st, in case you're wondering.

Surprised? Remember, preseason doesn't mean jack right now.

I'm not saying KU's game at Baylor on Monday will be easy. And I'm also not saying that the Jayhawks shouldn't have been expected to win by more than three against Nebraska at home.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson comes down from a dunk against Nebraska during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. The Jayhawks hung on for a 63-60 win over the 'Huskers.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson comes down from a dunk against Nebraska during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. The Jayhawks hung on for a 63-60 win over the 'Huskers. by Nick Krug

I am saying that no one should frown upon KU picking up two wins against Iowa State and Nebraska to start conference play.

By the end of this season, both teams could very well be in the NCAA Tournament, no matter what their reputations were coming into the season.

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

In a close race between Tyrel Reed and Marcus Morris, Reed gets the nod.

Kansas guard Tyrel Reed goes up for a shot after being fouled by Nebraska guard Caleb Walker during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Tyrel Reed goes up for a shot after being fouled by Nebraska guard Caleb Walker during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Reed posted a team-high 1.74 points per possession used, while ending 15.1 percent of KU's possessions (which is slightly above his season average of 13.9 percent possessions used). When he used a possession, KU scored at least one point 68.8 percent of the time, which was second-best on the team behind Thomas Robinson.

In a game where KU's guards had trouble holding onto the basketball (Tyshawn Taylor, Josh Selby and Elijah Johnson combined for 10 turnovers), Reed committed no turnovers in a team-high 33 minutes. He also added assists on 20 percent of KU's made field goals when he was in the game.

Room for Improvement

There are a few ways we could go with this one. But let's focus on the two biggest problems for KU on Sunday: defensive rebounding and turnovers.

Kansas guard Tyrel Reed gets up for a rebound with Nebraska defenders Andre Almeida (32) and Caleb Walker (25) during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. At left is Kansas guard Josh Selby.

Kansas guard Tyrel Reed gets up for a rebound with Nebraska defenders Andre Almeida (32) and Caleb Walker (25) during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. At left is Kansas guard Josh Selby. by Nick Krug

Coming in, Nebraska ranked 282nd nationally in offensive rebounding percentage, coming away with 28.8 percent of the available offensive rebounds.

On Saturday, the Huskers grabbed 45.2 percent of the offensive rebounds — their highest percentage of the year by 4.3 percent.

Though the Huskers have a big front line, they still shouldn't have been brought down as many offensive rebounds as they did.

NU also entered as a team that didn't force many turnovers, ranking 195th in that category (20.3 percent).

Kansas forward Marcus Morris pushes the ball up court past Nebraska center Jorge Brian Diaz to teammate Tyshawn Taylor during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris pushes the ball up court past Nebraska center Jorge Brian Diaz to teammate Tyshawn Taylor during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

KU still turned it over on 23.4 percent of its possessions.

The craziest part? The Jayhawks didn't turn the ball over in the game's final 17 minutes and still had a turnover percentage that high.

This team's turnover issues don't seem to be going away, and Self might have to adjust playing time accordingly if Taylor and Selby don't start valuing possessions more than they do right now.

Tough-Luck Line

Selby gets this distinction for the third time in his eight games played.

Josh Selby scrambles for a ball with Brandon Richardson in the first half Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Josh Selby scrambles for a ball with Brandon Richardson in the first half Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Kevin Anderson

This might have been his worst game, as he posted a team-low 0.37 points per possession used while consuming a huge number of possessions (33.6 percent). When he ended a KU possession, the team scored at least one point just 21.1 percent of the time.

Selby's biggest issue was turnovers, as he had four in just 13 minutes. After committing two to start the second half, he was benched for the final 18 minutes, and the numbers above show why.

It will be interesting to see how the freshman responds Monday, as he could be a key to helping KU beat Baylor's zone defense if he is able to quickly put this bad game behind him.

Bottom Line

In a game where KU's offense once again struggled (0.98 points per possession, second-lowest this season), it was the defense that lifted the Jayhawks to the victory.

Kansas forward Mario Little stretches to defend Nebraska forward Brandon Ubel during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Mario Little stretches to defend Nebraska forward Brandon Ubel during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

After hitting 12 of its first 22 shots (54.5 percent), Nebraska made just 10 of 39 shots the rest of the way (25.6 percent).

The Huskers' 0.94 points per possession tied for their second-lowest total this year, while their 38.5 eFG% also was their second-worst mark of the season. NU also tied for its third-highest turnover percentage this year (23.4 percent).

In a game where KU was outrebounded 43-32, the Jayhawks made up some ground in three-point shooting. Though KU didn't shoot a great percentage (7 of 21, 33.3 percent), it did defend NU well from long range (3 of 13, 23.1 percent).

Kansas guard Tyrel Reed defends against a last-second three from Nebraska guard Caleb Walker on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Tyrel Reed defends against a last-second three from Nebraska guard Caleb Walker on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

KU now will travel to Waco for its toughest test of the year against Baylor.

Or — if you're a believer in reality over preseason rankings — KU will travel to Waco for a game that should be about the same difficulty level as the Iowa State game was on Wednesday.

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Recap: Morris twins’ rebounding just as valuable as their points against Iowa State

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

Marcus Morris' 33 points in Kansas' 84-79 victory over Iowa State on Wednesday night will steal most of the headlines, but his (and his brother, Markieff's) rebounding was just as important in the Jayhawks' win.

No, Iowa State doesn't have a lot of size. But in a game that had a season-high 81 possessions, the Morris twins completely blocked the Cyclones off the boards. http://www2.kusports.com/videos/2011/jan/12/33886/

Iowa State grabbed just 17.1 percent of the available offensive rebounds against KU — its worst percentage against any team in the last two seasons.

Consider also that the Morris twins did most of that rebounding by themselves, as Thomas Robinson played just six minutes against Iowa State.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris fights for a rebound with Iowa State guard Darion Anderson during the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris fights for a rebound with Iowa State guard Darion Anderson during the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. by Nick Krug

If KU gave a dangerous shooting team like ISU even three or four more second chances, the game had the potential to turn out differently.

Instead, it was the Morris twins production the defensive glass — along with their offensive contributions — that led the Jayhawks to a victory in a tough road environment.

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

It's Marcus Morris. And his statistics were in the superstar range against Iowa State.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris turns for a shot over Iowa State forward Jamie Vanderbeken during the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. In front is Kansas forward Mario Little.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris turns for a shot over Iowa State forward Jamie Vanderbeken during the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. In front is Kansas forward Mario Little. by Nick Krug

The 6-foot-9 forward posted 1.39 points per possession used, while taking on a huge number of possessions for KU (34.7 percent possessions used). The more shots a player takes, the harder it is to keep his efficiency up, as he's taking tougher and tougher shots. You'll hardly ever see a player with an offensive rating that high while using that many of his team's possessions.

Marcus also had arguably his best rebounding game as a Jayhawk, pulling down 7.4 percent of the available offensive rebounds and 32.5 percent of the available defensive rebounds.

His 33 points and 13 rebounds were both career-highs in just 27 minutes.

Then again, you guys already knew to expect a big game from him, right?

Room for Improvement

I'm going to give the Jayhawks a pass on their free-throw shooting. KU only made 19 of 31 on Wednesday (61.3 percent), but it had shot above 69 percent from the line in each of its previous five games. In fact, in KU's last six games, it's still shooting 73.7 percent from the line (98 of 133).

Instead, we'll look at three-point shooting, where KU struggled for the second straight game.

From left, Kansas players Tyrel Reed, Brady Morningstar, Marcus Morris, Mario Little and Josh Selby come together after a timeout against Iowa State during the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa.

From left, Kansas players Tyrel Reed, Brady Morningstar, Marcus Morris, Mario Little and Josh Selby come together after a timeout against Iowa State during the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. by Nick Krug

The Jayhawks made just 5 of 19 threes against Iowa State (26.3 percent) after making 4 of 24 against Michigan (16.7 percent).

Before the last two games, KU's worst three-point shooting in a game this year was 31.3 percent against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

Honestly, I think most of KU's three-pointers in the last two games have been open shots, so it's hard to criticize too much. Most likely, the Jayhawks have just hit a bit of a slump after shooting well from the perimeter early.

Then again, it might be in KU's best interest to force-feed the ball inside like it did most of the second half against Iowa State. The Jayhawks are leading the nation in two-point percentage (59 percent), and playing inside-out is less risky (though also potentially less rewarding).

The main concern for KU might not be the three-pointers it's getting, but instead the struggles of the three-point shooters it has. Brady Morningstar (26.7 percent, 1-for-3 Wednesday), Tyshawn Taylor (27.8 percent, 0-for-3 Wednesday) and even to an extent Tyrel Reed (34.2 percent, 1-for-3 Wednesday) don't have the three-point percentages that KU might have expected from them at the beginning of the year.

Tough-Luck Line

Thomas Robinson hasn't been the same player since missing the UMKC game.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson goes up for a rebound with Iowa State guard Diante Garrett during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson goes up for a rebound with Iowa State guard Diante Garrett during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. by Nick Krug

Robinson was his usual active self in six minutes against Iowa State, but unfortunately, most of that activity was negative for KU.

The 6-foot-9 sophomore posted just 0.31 points per possession used while ending a high number of possessions (32.9 percent).

Robinson once again struggled with turnovers, tying the team-high with three in just six minutes. Though he made his only field-goal attempt and had three rebounds and a steal, it's still not enough to make up for the giveaways.

Though KU coach Bill Self hinted on Tuesday that Mario Little might not play much, the coach was forced to put him out there 19 minutes because of Robinson's struggles.

Kansas forward Mario Little looks for an outlet from the floor as he is pressured by Iowa State guard Scott Christopherson during the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa.

Kansas forward Mario Little looks for an outlet from the floor as he is pressured by Iowa State guard Scott Christopherson during the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. by Nick Krug

Robinson is KU's best rebounder, but until he takes better care of the ball, it's going to be difficult for Self to put him out there over some safer options in Big 12 games.

Bottom Line

The Jayhawks might not have shot a good percentage from the free-throw line, but their ability to get there helped them top the Cyclones.

KU's free-throw rate (free throws/field goal attempts) was 48.4, which was much higher than ISU, which had a free-throw rate of 14.1 (second-lowest of the year).

On its second straight poor shooting night, KU won by limiting the Cyclones' second-chance opportunities, playing pretty good perimeter defense (ISU shot 28.1 percent from three, 10 percent below its season average) and getting the ball to Marcus Morris.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris (22) clenches his fists as he and twin brother Markieff head back on defense after a Jayhawk bucket against Iowa State during the second half. Marcus had 33 points and Markieff 17 in the Jayhawks’ 84-79 victory Wednesday in Ames, Iowa.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris (22) clenches his fists as he and twin brother Markieff head back on defense after a Jayhawk bucket against Iowa State during the second half. Marcus had 33 points and Markieff 17 in the Jayhawks’ 84-79 victory Wednesday in Ames, Iowa. by Nick Krug

Though the Jayhawks didn't have a lot of guys that performed well Wednesday, Marcus and Markieff ended up being good enough to carry their team to the win.

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Recap: Jayhawks can take positives from close win

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

When I first started driving, I was terrified of merging onto highways.

I had no feel for it at all. When I was sure that my yellow 1986 Buick Century could outgun another car, it rarely did, and I'd have to slam on my brakes to make it safely on.

My car while at Fort polk 1992

My car while at Fort polk 1992 by PT4life

[Ed. Note — Not my car, but just like it, courtesy a Flickr user. Memories ... ]

The next time, I'd overcorrect, and even when I had plenty of room, I'd slow down to let a car pass me no matter how far it was away.

The point of this story: Merging onto a highway isn't a problem for me any more. I've gained a feel for it, just like most of you out there have.

The only way I was able to get better, though, was by getting experience in that high-stress situation.

Which brings us to the Kansas men's basketball team.

I know there's going to be some frustration from fans after KU's 67-60 victory over Michigan on Sunday. The Jayhawks held a 15-point lead and couldn't hold it, allowing Michigan to get back into a game it probably shouldn't have.

After last year's second-round NCAA Tournament loss to Northern Iowa, though, the general consensus seemed to be that KU hadn't played in enough close games in the regular season to prepare itself for the tournament.

In other words, KU was a 16-year-old staring down the on-ramp of a highway trying to check each of its mirrors three times per second.

Like the game or not, the Jayhawks were able to play in a close game Sunday. Not only that, in the most important stretch of the game, the Jayhawks played their best.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris hugs teammate Tyrel Reed (14) after holding off Michigan for a 67-60 overtime victory on Sunday, Jan. 9, 2010 in Ann Arbor, Mich. Morris had 13 points and 11 rebounds against the Wolverines.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris hugs teammate Tyrel Reed (14) after holding off Michigan for a 67-60 overtime victory on Sunday, Jan. 9, 2010 in Ann Arbor, Mich. Morris had 13 points and 11 rebounds against the Wolverines. by Nick Krug

Here's a look at KU's offensive possessions once the Jayhawks fell behind by three in overtime with 4:21:

Marcus Morris hits two free throws
Markieff Morris hits three-pointer
Marcus Morris hits two-pointer and free throw
Tyrel Reed hits three-pointer
Josh Selby misses three-pointer
Tyshawn Taylor makes one free throw
Tyshawn Taylor makes two free throws
Tyrel Reed makes two free throws

In a game where KU scored a season-low 0.91 points per possession, the Jayhawks scored 2.0 points per possession in the highest pressure situation of the game (in a hostile environment on the road).

There's going to come a time in the NCAA Tournament when KU has a close game and it's going to have to simply make enough plays to survive and move on.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris defends as Michigan guard Darius Morris redirects his pass during the first half on Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011 at Crisler Arena.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris defends as Michigan guard Darius Morris redirects his pass during the first half on Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011 at Crisler Arena. by Nick Krug

The Jayhawks not only played at a high level with the game on the line, they also built some confidence to know that they can perform well in pressure situations that will surely arise in the future.

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

Marcus Morris takes this honor in a runaway.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris goes up for a bucket against the Michigan defense during the first half on Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011 at Crisler Arena.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris goes up for a bucket against the Michigan defense during the first half on Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011 at Crisler Arena. by Nick Krug

On a day when KU's offense struggled, the 6-foot-9 forward carried the Jayhawks on that end of the floor. Marcus posted 1.09 points per possession used while also stepping up his involvement in the offense, ending 26.5 percent of KU's possessions and putting up 37 percent of KU's shots during his minutes.

I'm going to start using floor percentage more in this blog, with floor percentage simply answering the question: "What percentage of the time did a team/player score at least one point when it/he used a possession?"

On Sunday, Marcus' floor percentage was 60.1 percent, meaning when he ended KU's possession, the Jayhawks scored at least one point 60.1 percent of the time. That mark was second on the team behind Brady Morningstar (68.3 percent).

We also shouldn't overlook Marcus' rebounding. After failing to grab an offensive rebound against UMKC, Marcus snatched 13.7 percent of the available offensive rebounds and 13.4 percent of the available defensive rebounds against Michigan.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris rips away an offensive rebound from Michigan defenders Jordan Morgan (52) and Zack Novak (0) during overtime on Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011 at Crisler Arena.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris rips away an offensive rebound from Michigan defenders Jordan Morgan (52) and Zack Novak (0) during overtime on Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011 at Crisler Arena. by Nick Krug

Away from the box score, Marcus did a great job of keeping his composure even after he was getting shoved around inside early and even when he didn't receive a couple foul calls on what seemed like obvious whistles.

By keeping his head, Marcus allowed himself to be in the game at the end when the Jayhawks needed him the most.

Room for Improvement

Does "offense" work here?

Kansas guard Josh Selby topples over Michigan forward Jordan Morgan after losing control of the ball during the first half on Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011 at Crisler Arena.

Kansas guard Josh Selby topples over Michigan forward Jordan Morgan after losing control of the ball during the first half on Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011 at Crisler Arena. by Nick Krug

The Jayhawks 0.91 points per possession were the fewest this season and the second-fewest in the last two years (only the Memphis game in 2009-10 was worse).

Though the Jayhawks seemed to get good looks from three-point range, they only made 4 out of 24 for 16.7 percent, which again was their worst performance of the year and second-worst in the last two years. It's a bit ironic that KU coach Bill Self just mentioned last week how pleased he was with his team's three-point shooting before that area of the Jayhawks' game completely deserted them in Ann Arbor, Mich.

It might be time to worry just a bit about KU's offense, which has slipped to 11th in the KenPom rankings after being top five most of the year.

KU had a tough shooting night, which is going to happen, but the Jayhawks also haven't produced as well this year as one would expect against good defensive opponents.

Tough-Luck Line

It's not necessarily a good thing for the team when this is a close race, but Josh Selby's tough shooting night makes him the pick.

Kansas guard Josh Selby is fouled as he goes up to the bucket between Michigan defenders Zack Novak (0) and Stu Douglass (1) during the first half on Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011 at Crisler Arena.

Kansas guard Josh Selby is fouled as he goes up to the bucket between Michigan defenders Zack Novak (0) and Stu Douglass (1) during the first half on Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011 at Crisler Arena. by Nick Krug

The freshman — who finished 1-for-10 from the floor — posted just 0.62 points per possession used. To his credit, he didn't hog the possessions on his off night, ending just 16 percent of KU's possessions when he was on the floor.

His floor percentage — our new stat explained above — wasn't pretty: When he ended KU's possessions, the Jayhawks scored just 17.4 percent of the time.

Obviously, guards' floor percentage is going to be lower than forwards' because they shoot more threes, but still, 17 percent isn't good.

Thomas Robinson (three turnovers, 1-for-4 free throw shooting in nine minutes) and Elijah Johnson (0 points, 0 assists in 10 minutes) also had rough games, but they didn't have as much impact on the game as Selby did.

Bottom Line

KU's defense was superb, holding Michigan to 0.81 points per possession. On the Jayhawks' worst shooting night of the year (39.3 eFG%), they proved they could still win in a road environment by hunkering down and playing tough, pressure D.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris (21) pressures Michigan guard Stu Douglass during the first half on Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011 at Crisler Arena. At left is Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor and in back is Josh Selby.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris (21) pressures Michigan guard Stu Douglass during the first half on Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011 at Crisler Arena. At left is Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor and in back is Josh Selby. by Nick Krug

Though perhaps the Jayhawks shouldn't have allowed Sunday's game to be close, they did get to play in a high-leverage situation and performed better in overtime than at any other point in the game.

The experience should help the Jayhawks be more comfortable (and less panicked) when that same type of scenario arises in March.

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2011 Big 12 basketball stock report: Sleepers, busts and contenders

With the Big 12 conference season starting today, it's time to carry on a tradition from last year: the Big 12 stock report.

So which teams does KU need to look out for? And which teams are due for quite a few losses in conference play?

The following is my list of sleepers, busts and contenders in the Big 12 from this point in the season forward. All advanced stats are from KenPom.com. Sleepers


Nebraska
http://www2.kusports.com/photos/2010/feb/06/186196/ Current record: 12-2
Preseason Big 12 coaches poll rank: 10th
Current AP/Coaches poll rank: Unranked

Reason to believe: So far, Doc Sadler's team has been spectacular defensively.

The Cornhuskers are ninth in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency, giving them the third-best defense in the conference behind Kansas and Texas. In its first 14 games, NU has allowed 60 points or more in just two of its games.

Though Nebraska has been known as a short team in the past, this year's squad is defined by its height.

NU's Jorge Brian Diaz (6-11), Andre Almeida (6-11) and Brandon Ubel (6-10) have made it nearly impossible for opposing players to get decent shots inside. The Cornhuskers' two-point percentage defense is first in the nation (38.2 percent) and add that to an impressive three-point defense (27.6 percent, ninth nationally) and you have the recipe for a team that should surprise in the Big 12.

Reason for concern: Nebraska has played one of the worst schedules in the nation so far, as Kenpom ranks it 324th out of 345 teams. The 'Huskers have been blowing out most of their weak opponents by a wide margin, but sometimes blowing out bad opponents and beating good ones are two different skills entirely.

NU also has a tough opening to its Big 12 schedule, hosting Iowa State before playing at Missouri and Kansas. An 0-3 start would kill a lot of the positive momentum that the Huskers have built up.

Fearless Prediction: Nebraska goes 9-7 in conference play and earns its first trip to the NCAA Tournament since the 1997-98 season.

Iowa State

Iowa State guard Scott Christopherson celebrates a three-pointer in the second half against Iowa earlier this season.

Iowa State guard Scott Christopherson celebrates a three-pointer in the second half against Iowa earlier this season.

Current record: 13-2
Preseason Big 12 coaches poll rank: 12th
Current AP/Coaches poll rank: Unranked

Reason to believe: Much like Nebraska, Iowa State has gotten off to a strong start because of its defense.

Right now, the Cyclones' adjusted defensive efficiency is 22nd nationally, which gives them a better defense than Texas A&M, Kansas State and Baylor — three teams that were known for their defenses a year ago.

Iowa State forces a lot of turnovers (23.8 defensive turnover percentage, 44th nationally) and also rarely fouls, giving up only 0.25 free throws per field-goal attempt (ninth nationally). Six-foot-11 Jamie Vanderbeken gives the Cyclones a shot-blocker inside, and he's a big reason that ISU ranks in the top 10 nationally in two-point defense (40.1 percent, ninth nationally).

Reason for concern: Iowa State, like Nebraska, has feasted on some cupcakes early, playing the 321st-toughest nonconference schedule according to KenPom.

ISU also plays at a dangerously fast pace (46th nationally) for a team that is down to seven scholarship players and recently added two football players as walk-ons to the roster.

ISU also has the third-worst offense in the conference according to adjusted efficiency numbers, though that number is a bit misleading. The Cyclones play a risky offensive style, jacking up a lot of threes while trying to keep their turnovers to a minimum.

That kind of high-risk, high-reward offense should lead to inconsistency, but it also could lead to an upset or two if the Cyclones heat up against a better opponent in Big 12 play.

Fearless Prediction: Iowa State — the unanimous pick for last in the Big 12 — will finish the conference season 8-8 and pull off two Big 12 upsets against ranked teams.

Busts

Kansas State
http://www2.kusports.com/photos/2010/jan/30/185767/ Current record: 12-2
Preseason Big 12 coaches poll rank: 1st
Current AP/Coaches poll rank: 17th AP/17th coaches

[Not basketball-related I know, but have you guys seen this video? Tough crowd.]

Reason to believe: Kansas State was the pick to win the league a few months ago and hasn't been at full strength for most of the year. The Wildcats now have preseason first-team all-Big 12 selection Jacob Pullen back from a three-game suspension, and fellow first-teamer Curtis Kelly will be back from his six-game suspension on Jan. 15. KSU also has been playing better as of late, with 34- and 31-point blowouts in its last two games.

Reason for concern: The Wildcats, even with Kelly and Pullen on the floor, haven't performed nearly as well as they did a year ago. Pullen is not as efficient without the graduated Denis Clemente, as his three-point percentage has dropped from 39.6 percent last year to 34.2 percent this year.

KSU is still a good offensive rebounding team, but doesn't get to the free-throw line nearly as often as last year. Even when the Wildcats are fouled, they're only making 56.6 percent of their free-throws, which is the third-worst mark in the country. The result is a team that has dropped 43 spots (13th to 56th) in adjusted offensive efficiency from last year to this year.

Fearless Prediction: The 'Cats are saying all the right things and still claiming that their goal is still to win a Big 12 title, but that won't happen this year. KSU will finish 9-7 in conference (tying with Nebraska) before picking up an eight seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Colorado

Colorado guard Alec Burks (10) reaches for the ball while covered by Texas Tech guard David Tairu (13) at the Big 12 Conference Tournament on Wednesday, March 10, 2010, in Kansas City, Mo.

Colorado guard Alec Burks (10) reaches for the ball while covered by Texas Tech guard David Tairu (13) at the Big 12 Conference Tournament on Wednesday, March 10, 2010, in Kansas City, Mo.

Current record: 11-4
Preseason Big 12 coaches poll rank: 9th
Current AP/Coaches poll rank: Unranked

Reason to believe: Colorado has two of the best guards in the conference: likely future first-round pick Alec Burks (22nd in the latest 2011 mock draft on Draft Express) and potential pro Cory Higgins. Because of this, CU was a popular darkhorse pick by analysts to challenge the top teams in the Big 12.

Reason for concern: Colorado is the worst defensive team in the Big 12, and it's not close. Though the Buffs' pace is barely above NCAA average, they still have allowed 80 or more points in six of their 15 games.

CU isn't big inside, and the Buffs have been giving up too many offensive rebounds to opponents. Burks and Higgins haven't guarded on the perimeter well either, as opponents are shooting 36.7 percent from three-point range against Colorado this season. That number looks worse when you consider that the Buffs' opponents have included Idaho State, Alcorn State, Texas Pan American, The Citadel, Longwood, Maryland East Shore, Cal State Bakerfield and Western New Mexico.

Fearless Prediction: The Big 12 North — though it doesn't technically exist in basketball — looks to be stacked this year. All those teams play each other twice, and it appears Colorado is the worst of the bunch. The Buffs will go 4-12 in their final year in the conference.

Contenders

Texas

Oklahoma State guard Obi Muonelo, right, pressures Texas guard J'Covan Brown.

Oklahoma State guard Obi Muonelo, right, pressures Texas guard J'Covan Brown.

Current record: 12-2
Preseason Big 12 coaches poll rank: 3rd
Current AP/Coaches poll rank: 12th AP/12th coaches

Reason to believe: Texas, more than any other Big 12 team this year, has proven it can beat good teams. The Longhorns have a neutral-court win over Illinois, an away victory against North Carolina (in Greensboro, N.C.) and a 33-point stomping of a good Arkansas team at home.

UT's strength is defense. The Longhorns' two-point defense ranks third nationally (38.6 percent) and their adjusted defensive efficiency ranks seventh. Texas doesn't get a ton of steals, but it does force teams to be selfish in their sets. UT allows assists on just 39.7 percent of its field goals allowed — the second-best mark in the country.

Reason for concern: Texas has talent, but it is still not an elite team offensively. The Longhorns don't shoot it particularly well, ranking 162nd in two-point percentage (47.9 percent) and 266th in free-throw percentage (65.1 percent). Texas has a great player in sophomore forward Jordan Hamilton, but as of now, the Longhorns don't have another player who can step in as an efficient, high-volume scorer. Freshman guard Cory Joseph could be the guy if he asserts himself a bit more.

Fearless Prediction: Texas will go 12-4, dropping a game it shouldn't somewhere along the way.

Missouri
http://www2.kusports.com/photos/2010/jan/25/185522/ Current record: 14-1
Preseason Big 12 coaches poll rank: 5th
Current AP/Coaches poll rank: 9th AP/8th coaches

Reason to believe: The Tigers might have the conference's player of the year in Marcus Denmon. He has posted 1.35 points per possession used, which is the second-best mark in the country among players who end at least 20 percent of their team's possessions. Denmon, who is averaging 17.2 points per game, has shot 86 threes this year and made exactly half of them (43).

MU continues to cause problems defensively with its pressure defense, forcing turnovers on 26.8 percent of its opponents' possessions (fifth nationally).

Reason for concern: Because pressing is such a high-risk, high-reward proposition, teams that use it often aren't as consistent with their performance from game to game. This could leave the Tigers open to some unexpected losses, especially on the road, where they lost four games in Big 12 play last year.

MU has some good size, but it still isn't a good defensive rebounding team. The Tigers also have put their opponents on the free-throw line quite a bit, which is one of the risks with going to an extreme pressure defense.

Fearless Prediction: After going 10-6 in conference last year, Missouri improves a game and goes 11-5 this year to finish in third.

Kansas

Kansas players Tyrel Reed (14) and Travis Releford (far right) congratulate Tyshawn Taylor during a timeout in the first half against UMKC on Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas players Tyrel Reed (14) and Travis Releford (far right) congratulate Tyshawn Taylor during a timeout in the first half against UMKC on Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Current record: 14-0
Preseason Big 12 coaches poll rank: 2nd
Current AP/Coaches poll rank: 3rd AP/3rd coaches

Reason to believe: The stats are on the Jayhawks' side. Ken Pomeroy recently ran simulations for each conference, and KU won the Big 12 in 8,352 of his 10,000 simulations.

The Jayhawks have changed their image drastically from a year ago. Following a season when KU relied on center Cole Aldrich to alter shots in the middle (KU was first in defensive two-point percentage last year), the Jayhawks have succeeded defensively this year by pressuring the opponent into mistakes. After finishing 198th in defensive turnover percentage last year, the Jayhawks are 38th nationally in the stat this year. KU also has the second-best three-point defense in the nation (25.7 percent). Add it all up, and KU is leading the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency at this point in the year.

Offensively, KU is a great shooting team, partly because it is a great passing team. The Jayhawks lead the nation in two-point field-goal percentage (59.8 percent) while also making 40.2 percent of their threes. They have posted assists on 62 percent of their field goals, which ranks 31st nationally.

Reason for concern: The Jayhawks have had their best games against their weakest foes. KU squeaked out a one-point home win against UCLA and a two-point home victory against USC, and while those two teams aren't bad, one wouldn't expect them to have a chance to win at Allen Fieldhouse. Though KU's turnover percentage number isn't horrible (19.2 percent, 96th nationally), the Jayhawks have some wild guards in Josh Selby and Tyshawn Taylor that are sometimes careless. The potential is there in any game for KU to struggle because of its own mistakes.

Fearless prediction: KU wins the Big 12 outright with a 14-2 record.

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Cliff’s Notes: Bill Self press conference, 1/7/11

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

If you want to get live updates from each week's press conference, be sure to follow us on Twitter (@kusports).

Full audio has been posted. • Elijah Johnson has played well. He's shot it well. He's confident with his stroke. He doesn't have a ton of assists, but he doesn't turn it over. He's playing consistently right now. He's earned a spot in the rotation.

KU will most likely have a nine-man rotation, but that doesn't mean a tenth or 11th player couldn't sneak in there. What's best for this team with foul problems is that KU plays four bigs and five guards.

There's a chance Mario Little will rejoin the team. Self wants what's best for the team more than anything, but he wants what is best for Little as well. Self has gotten information on Little's incident, but he knows he needs to make a decision soon.

• Self said his team pressed pretty well against UMKC. Self thinks his team makes the extra pass about as good as any team he's seen.

• Self says KU might be shooting better from the outside than he thought. And Brady Morningstar and Tyrel Reed haven't shot that well from the outside. Self is pleased with KU's outside shooting.

• KU needs to have a good scout team for Michigan week, as the Wolverines play a variation of the Princeton offense. The Wolverines play the 1-3-1 zone as well. KU has to do a better job of attacking it than it did last year.

• Self will tell his guys that they have a chance to do what last year's team didn't do: Go undefeated in nonconference play.

• Michigan is a better team that it was last year. The Wolverines shoot the three well. KU did a good job defensively against them last year.

Thomas Robinson was in good spirits on Thursday. He has a great attitude. He could have been back for the last game, but as a man of the house, he chose to stay with his family.

• Self doesn't know if his players have done as good of a job adjusting to Josh Selby as Selby has done adjusting to the other guys. He only took six shots the other night. Self joked that in high school, that would have been a bad first quarter for him. Selby has bought in.

• Selby hasn't been a major factor on Tyshawn Taylor's play. Taylor just hadn't been in tune before the UMKC game. Self thinks the two like playing with each other.

Selby is better defensively than he was a few weeks ago. A pillar could have gotten some baskets on him a few weeks ago, and it doesn't move. He's getting better. He has more confidence on offense than defense, but that will come. Selby wants to learn.

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KU football offense historically bad in 2010, and what it means for 2011

I know, I know. The offseason is supposed to be about optimism, especially for the Kansas football team and coach Turner Gill in year two.

There's a problem with hoping for great things from KU's offense in 2011: The Jayhawks were so bad in 2010, that it's probably unreasonable to expect anything but a modest improvement in 2011. http://www2.kusports.com/photos/galle...

Let's take a look back at KU's offensive stats in 2010 and what it might mean for the Jayhawks' offense in 2011.

History of bad BCS offenses and how KU fits in

For this blog, we will use the advanced statistical measure S&P+, developed by Bill Connelly of Football Outsiders.

The S&P ranking measures a college football team's offense by both its efficiency and explosiveness.

Connelly makes it easier for us to compare teams with his S&P+ ratings, which take into account a team's schedule then sets the baseline at 100. Therefore, an NCAA average offense is 100, anything above is better than average and anything below is worse than average.

Here's how KU's offense ranked in the S&P+ rankings in the 2010 season:

Offensive S&P+ — 73.3 (117th out of 120 teams)

Connelly has been keeping the S&P+ statistics for the last six seasons, and only four schools from BCS conferences in those six seasons have had worse S&P+ offensive rankings than KU posted last year.

Most of those teams showed only mild improvements the next year — if they showed improvement at all.

As you can see, none of the teams above rebounded from their bad offensive seasons to have an NCAA average offense the next season.

It's a small sample size, but the four teams averaged an increase of 27 spots in their NCAA ranking.

If KU increased its ranking in S&P+ 27 spots like the teams above, it would rank 90th, which would have ranked 11th in the Big 12 last year (Texas was 98th; Iowa State was 67th).

The odds don't appear to be good that a BCS offense like Kansas' could make a huge leap after having such a poor season a year ago.

Passing even worse

Here are the other S&P+ numbers for KU from 2010.

Rushing S&P+ — 81.9 (111th)
Passing S&P+ — 65.2 (120th)

Yep, that's right. After taking into account all the numbers and factoring in schedule strength, KU's passing offense was dead last out of 120 FBS teams. That means it was worse than 1-11 Akron, 1-11 Memphis, 1-12 San Jose State, 1-11 New Mexico, and yes, even 2-10 New Mexico State.

The Kansas defense line stops NMSU running back Seth Smith in the first half Saturday, Sept. 25, 2010 at Kivisto Field.

The Kansas defense line stops NMSU running back Seth Smith in the first half Saturday, Sept. 25, 2010 at Kivisto Field. by Kevin Anderson

Here's a look at the six teams that finished last in passing S&P+ and how they fared the next season:

Some interesting things from above.

For one, this isn't the first time that KU coach Turner Gill will be leading an offense that finished dead-last in the NCAA in passing offense the year before. Though Gill didn't coach Buffalo to its last-place showing in 2005, he did take over as coach in 2006. The Bulls improved 15 spots in the pass ranking that next season.

Kansas head coach Turner Gill gathers his offense during a timeout against Nebraska during the third quarter, Saturday, Nov. 13, 2010 at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln.

Kansas head coach Turner Gill gathers his offense during a timeout against Nebraska during the third quarter, Saturday, Nov. 13, 2010 at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln. by Nick Krug

Obviously, there is one team in the list above that did go on to have great success the year after having the worst passing offense in the nation, and that was 2007-08 Notre Dame.

That still shouldn't be much consolation for KU fans, as Notre Dame had an offensive guru as its coach (Charlie Weis) and a future second-round draft pick as its quarterback (Jimmy Clausen). After throwing for 1,254 yards in 2007, Clausen exploded for 3,172 yards in 2008.

The Jayhawks, at this point, don't have any quarterbacks that project as NFL players, much less high draft picks, so a Notre Dame-like turnaround shouldn't be expected.

Even if you include Notre Dame, the average last-place passing team improved only 24.4 spots in the passing game the next season. If KU was 96th instead of 120th last year, it would have ranked 11th in passing in the Big 12.

Take out the Notre Dame outlier, though, and the other four teams averaged a bump of only 9.3 spots. That would put KU's passing game at 111th next year, which would most likely make it the league's worst passing offense for the second straight season.

Poor "second" grade

In addition to pass offense, KU also ranked last in the nation in two other S&P+ offensive categories.

The Jayhawks were 120th in S&P+ during the second quarter and also 120th in S&P+ on second downs.

We'll get more to what finishing last on second down might mean a little later in the blog.

Does Gill bring hope?

We mentioned above that Gill already has experience with coaching a team the year after it registered the worst passing offense in the nation.

Kansas head coach Turner Gill calls a timeout against Georgia Tech during the second quarter, Saturday, Sept. 11, 2010 at Kivisto Field.

Kansas head coach Turner Gill calls a timeout against Georgia Tech during the second quarter, Saturday, Sept. 11, 2010 at Kivisto Field. by Nick Krug

So what kind of passing numbers did Buffalo have under Gill? Let's take a look:

The above list shows that Buffalo did improve into an above-average passing team under Gill, but most of the improvement didn't take place until year three.

Keep in mind that KU's passing offense was worst in the nation last season, meaning if Gill took the same amount of time to make KU's passing offense above average, it would take place in his fourth season, not his third.

Just for fun, here are KU's S&P+ pass rankings from the last six years:

What to make of KU's numbers

For help analyzing exactly what all KU's 2010 advanced statistics mean, I went to the numbers wizard himself: Bill Connelly.

I asked Connelly five questions about KU's 2010 advanced statistics and what they might indicate for 2011. His responses are below.

Jesse Newell: KU's offensive S&P+ in 2010 was 73.3 (117th), while the next lowest BCS school was Purdue at 82.8 (107th). Can you give some perspective on KU's offense from what you see in the numbers?

Bill Connelly: This really was an incredibly bad offense. It was so bad that it is hard to figure out where to locate fault. In general, I tend to overlook anything that happens in a coach's (or coaching staff's) first year on the job. Sometimes it takes you a while to install your own culture and figure out what you've got. I can't imagine that it took Turner Gill and his offensive co-coordinators long to realize that they just didn't have much.

James Sims showed flashes, and as a freshman he's got plenty of time to improve, but I expected much more out of Daymond Patterson (who looked phenomenal against Georgia Tech) and Bradley McDougald.

Iowa State defenders David Sims (1) and defensive end Jacob Lattimer pull down Kansas receiver Bradley McDougald after a reception by  during the fourth quarter Saturday, Oct. 30, 2010 at Jack Trice Stadium.

Iowa State defenders David Sims (1) and defensive end Jacob Lattimer pull down Kansas receiver Bradley McDougald after a reception by during the fourth quarter Saturday, Oct. 30, 2010 at Jack Trice Stadium. by Nick Krug

Gill and offensive coordinator Chuck Long better hope that some of the incoming talent — Brock Berglund, Darrian Miller, JaCorey Shepherd — is ready to contribute from day one because there was almost no playmaking ability on this offense.

JN: In your S&P+ rankings, KU finished last in the nation in second down offense. What does KU finishing last in that particular stat indicate to you?

BC: There is something mystical about second downs that I have yet to figure out. So many teams are great on first and third downs but terrible on second, or vice versa, and it just makes no sense to me. Kansas was actually semi-mediocre on third downs (79th) but brutal on first (101st) and second (120th).

JN: KU was dead-last in your pass offense ratings. Can you put that in perspective?

BC: It really does take a group effort to finish dead last in a major category as a major-conference team. You must have bad/young quarterbacking, bad pass blocking, bad play-calling and a bad receiving corps. Teams turn things around rather quickly sometimes, especially in a coach's second year, but I think it's safe to say it's going to take a while for KU to work back up toward the middle of the pack in the passing game. If Sims and the young runners continue to improve, that will take pressure off of the quarterbacks, but still.

JN: KU's offensive S&P+ was 110.0 in the 2009 season (31st). Since you've been keeping your offensive stats, is this about the furthest drop (110 to 73.3, or 31st to 117th) in one season?

BC: KU's Off. S&P+ fell 33.4% in 2010, which is impressive, but is not the biggest drop since 2005. Notre Dame fell 40.3% from 2006 to 2007, Central Florida fell 39.9% from 2007 to 2008, Rice fell 39.7% from 2008 to 2009, Washington State fell 38.2% from 2007 to 2008, New Mexico State fell 34.4% from 2008 to 2009 (my personal favorite, since they were bad in 2008 too), and Washington fell 33.4% from 2007 to 2008. The 33.4% figure means they'll tie for sixth out of the 700+ teams that have played since 2005.

JN: A lot of folks are making the argument that KU struggled because it didn't have talent offensively. Because your S&P+ rankings take into account schedule strength, etc., would you say the S&P+ numbers suggest that KU's offensive coaches didn't make the best of the talent they had? Even a team like Akron finished better in offensive S&P+, and I can't imagine there's more talent there.

BC: Recruiting rankings suggested that the "talent" on Kansas' roster was far too good to finish so poorly on offense, that's for sure. I think when there's this much of a failure, some of it has to be pinned on the coaches ... just because there's more than enough blame to go around. Playing that poorly on standard downs (all first downs, second-and-7 or less, third- or fourth-and-4 or less) suggests that the coaches had no idea what plays to call; playing that poorly on passing downs (downs that are second-and-8 or more or third- or fourth-and 5 or more) suggests that there was no play-making talent whatsoever. Playing so poorly in the first quarter suggests that the gameplans weren't very good, while playing that poorly down the stretch of games suggests that gameplans weren't the whole problem — again, the talent just wasn't there.

I do think Sims and the runners are the key for 2011.

Kansas running back James Sims heads toward the endzone for a touchdown against Colorado during the fourth quarter, Saturday, Nov. 6, 2010 at Kivisto Field.

Kansas running back James Sims heads toward the endzone for a touchdown against Colorado during the fourth quarter, Saturday, Nov. 6, 2010 at Kivisto Field. by Nick Krug

The passing game was so hopeless that improvement simply isn't going to happen unless the running game is so good that opponents have to account for it.

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Recap: KU plays the part of bully against UMKC

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

More than any other win this season, it seemed that KU controlled UMKC in its 99-52 victory Wednesday.

The numbers seem to confirm this as well.

The Jayhawks dictated the pace of play, especially by using their newly implemented full-court press.

KU wanted to play fast and it did, pushing the game to a season-high 82 possessions. And that was against a UMKC team that ranks as a slower-than-average-paced NCAA team (averaging 69 possessions per game).

The Jayhawks also dictated how the 'Roos played offensively, forcing them into turnovers, tough shots and one-on-one play.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson defends UMKC  guard Bakari Lewis during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson defends UMKC guard Bakari Lewis during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

UMKC had assists on just 25 percent of its field goals (KU's second-best defensive effort this year in that stat) while posting four assists to 26 turnovers.

KU, meanwhile, came away with steals on 22 percent of its defensive possessions, which easily was its best mark of the year.

Offensively, the Jayhawks' high assist percentage (76.5 percent of its field goals were assisted, the highest percentage this year) and below-average turnover percentage (18.3 percent) indicate that the Jayhawks weren't forced into uncomfortable situations on that end, either.

Kansas guard Brady Morningstar squeezes a bucket past UMKC forward Trinity Hall during the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Brady Morningstar squeezes a bucket past UMKC forward Trinity Hall during the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Wednesday's game was exactly the kind of game that fans of powerhouse teams love to see in the first couple rounds of the NCAA Tournament: a talented team playing how it wants to play and imposing its will on an overmatched opponent.

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

I've promised myself that, with this category, I'm never going to declare ties, as it seems like an easy way out of a tough decision.

Against UMKC, though, three Jayhawks were worthy of M.O.J. status: Tyrel Reed, Tyshawn Taylor and Josh Selby.

Reed was about as efficient as you'll ever see, posting 2.45 points per possession used, though he only ended 7.8 percent of KU's possessions.

The Kansas bench and the Fieldhouse crowd watch Tyrel Reed put a three over UMKC guard Michael Gholston Jr. during the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

The Kansas bench and the Fieldhouse crowd watch Tyrel Reed put a three over UMKC guard Michael Gholston Jr. during the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

His eFG% was 110 percent, he came away with steals on 9.7 percent of his defensive possessions (a very high number) and also pulled down 14.8 percent of the available defensive rebounds from the guard position.

Taylor, as many have already written, had his best game with Selby in the lineup.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor flies over UMKC guard Trinity Hall during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. Hall was called for a blocking foul on the play.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor flies over UMKC guard Trinity Hall during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. Hall was called for a blocking foul on the play. by Nick Krug

He notched 1.83 points per possession while using a well-above average number of possessions (23.2 percent). He had assists on more than half of the field goals made when he was in the game (50.5 percent) while also drawing fouls and getting to the line effectively (free-throw rate of 77.7, which is calculated by dividing free throws attempted by field goals attempted). He also grabbed seven percent of the available offensive boards and 8.8 percent of the available defensive boards while posting seven assists and no turnovers in just 21 minutes.

Selby contributed 1.77 points per possession used — which would have most likely topped the Jayhawks on any other day — while using up 20.3 percent of possessions.

Kansas guard Josh Selby goes up to the bucket over UMKC forward Bernard Kamwa during the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Josh Selby goes up to the bucket over UMKC forward Bernard Kamwa during the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

His strength was the other numbers: assisting on 42.6 percent of the field goals during his time in, stealing the ball during 8.1 percent of his defensive possessions, posting a free-throw rate of 100 and grabbing 15.5 percent of the available defensive rebounds.

Reed played a great game, but the M.O.J. goes to Taylor.

Not only was he efficient, he was one of the most involved players offensively for the Jayhawks by passing, scoring and also getting to the free-throw line.

Room for Improvement

Two numbers for the Jayhawks jump out of the box score needing improvement: KU's offensive rebounding percentage and defensive free-throw rate.

It might have been easy to miss in a 47-point blowout, but the Jayhawks had their worst offensive rebounding game of the season. And their worst offensive rebounding game under coach Bill Self. And their worst offensive rebounding game in at least the past 15 seasons.

Kansas head coach Bill Self calls a play against UMKC during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas head coach Bill Self calls a play against UMKC during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Take a look: KU's offensive rebounding percentage of 18.5 percent was the lowest for KU in a game since at least the 1996-97 season, as KU posted just five offensive rebounds.

You can blame the low numbers on a lot of factors. Obviously, first and foremost, KU's best offensive rebounder (Thomas Robinson) missed the game. KU's second-best offensive rebounder (Markieff Morris) played just 12 minutes after getting a second-half technical foul. UMKC also came into the game as one of the top 80 defensive rebounding teams in the nation.

Still, an offensive rebounding percentage of 18.5 percent is too low, especially considering the Jayhawks were coming off their best offensive rebounding game of the year against Miami (57.1 percent). KU received no offensive rebounds from Marcus Morris (25 minutes), Markieff Morris (12 minutes) and Jeff Withey (14 minutes), a number I'm sure the three big guys will be reminded of during film sessions/practices this week.

KU's defense also allowed its highest free-throw rate of the year to UMKC, allowing 0.59 free throws per field-goal attempt.

Though the Jayhawks played great overall defense against the 'Roos, the performance would have been even better if they could have avoided fouling so much.

Kansas center Jeff Withey sends a shot by UMKC forward Jay Couisnard soaring during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Jeff Withey sends a shot by UMKC forward Jay Couisnard soaring during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

For more on how a team (Ohio State) can dominate defensively by foul avoidance, be sure to check out Luke Winn's excellent piece on Ohio State from SI.com.

Tough-Luck Line

Markieff Morris didn't get off to a great start Wednesday night then didn't get the minutes to correct his stat line after picking up a technical foul early in the second half.

So his final numbers look pretty bad: a (non-walk-on) team-low 0.44 points per possession used while ending an above-average 24.3 percent of KU's possessions in 12 minutes.

Markieff's biggest problem was turnovers, as he posted a team-high (four) while playing only half the minutes of most of his teammates.

The technical/benching comes at an unfortunate time for Markieff, who was one of KU's most consistent players as of late.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris delivers a dunk between Miami (Ohio) University defenders Drew McGhee, left, and Julian Mavunga during the second half, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris delivers a dunk between Miami (Ohio) University defenders Drew McGhee, left, and Julian Mavunga during the second half, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

The 6-foot-10 forward had averaged 15.7 points and 8.5 rebounds per contest in the six games before UMKC.

Bottom Line

Because of the high number of possessions, the final score was a bit deceiving.

Though KU scored 99 points, its defense was actually better than its offense. The Jayhawks allowed 0.63 points per possession against the 'Roos (third-best mark this season) while putting up 1.21 points per possession (seventh-best mark out of 14 games).

KU did an excellent job of speeding the game up and making UMKC play at an uncomfortable tempo.

Kansas players Tyrel Reed (14) and Travis Releford (far right) congratulate Tyshawn Taylor during a timeout in the first half against UMKC on Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas players Tyrel Reed (14) and Travis Releford (far right) congratulate Tyshawn Taylor during a timeout in the first half against UMKC on Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

A quick look at the assist and turnover numbers tell us most of what we need to know about the game: that KU controlled it both offensively and defensively and never allowed UMKC to play the kind of style that it wanted to.

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Cliff’s Notes: Sheahon Zenger press conference, 1/3/11

Here is the Cliff's Notes version of new Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger's introductory press conference today.

If you want to get live updates from all KU press conferences, be sure to follow us on Twitter (@kusports).

Full video will be posted later. • Zenger starts by saying he's humbled and honored to be joining KU.

Zenger said his parents surprised him and showed up at the press conference. "That's how you know you're home."

Zenger's first memories of life are basketball games at Allen Fieldhouse and football games at Memorial Stadium. Growing up, he always picked No. 10 for former KU player Bobby Douglass. He also had a class picture taken in a Gale Sayers jersey.

Tearfully, Zenger says there's a special place in the middle of Illinois— Illinois State University. He says he stands on the people's shoulders from there.

Some athletic directors dream of other colleges. Zenger dreams of KU.

• Zenger says there is no place equal to Allen Fieldhouse in the nation.

Zenger has fond memories at Kansas State during those chapters of his life. He now welcomes the healthy competition between the two schools.

Everything you do in an athletic department is about people skills. He'll take his time getting to know the people in the athletic department.

Zenger joked that he'd only tell coach Turner Gill nine or 10 plays per game. Seriously, he said he would be hands-off when it came to X's and O's.

Zenger said his decision to accept the KU position took about 10 seconds. He wants to be here. KU's footprint throughout the nation is huge.

Zenger has a plan that is broken down into three 30-day segments. The first 30 days is getting to know coaches and student-athletes. Throughout all three 30-day segments, he will attempt to get to know donors.

Zenger said he will use private planes on occasion, but also said he has no problems getting behind the steering wheel of a car to get places.

Zenger felt very comfortable with all the discussions he had with KU and the contract he signed.

When it comes to possible realignment, Kansas just needs to continue being Kansas.

Zenger on KU basketball: "We're going to keep it where it's at."

Zenger says he's met football coach Turner Gill and said that he's a good man.

Zenger says the fact that he was chosen after Tulsa athletic director Bubba Cunningham turned down the job makes it a little sweeter right now. Zenger says the KU search committee chair Ray Evans called him after that. Zenger says that nobody has ever given him anything. His father taught him resilience. With the tortoise and the hare, Zenger doesn't mind being the tortoise.

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Recap: KU excels in “effort” statistics against Miami

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

In an interesting story about box scores by the Kansas City Star's J. Brady McCollough over the weekend, Kansas coach Bill Self outlined what he looks for first in a box score right after the game.

After glancing at field-goal percentage, Self's eyes go to compare the opponents' missed shots and offensive rebounds.

Or — in other words — Self wants to see what his team's defensive rebounding percentage is.

See, us being nerdy on this blog isn't as crazy as you might think. http://www2.kusports.com/photos/galle...

It all makes sense, as McCollough points out in the article. Self has tons of talent. That's usually not an issue with his teams.

But one of his biggest concerns is to get all those talented players to play hard and to play together.

Self didn't need to look at his box score for long last night to realize that KU played with as much effort last night as it has all season.

The Jayhawks dominated the boards, outrebounding the RedHawks, 46-17.

Let's put that in perspective:

The 17 rebounds by Miami tied for the 14th-fewest by a team in a Div. I game this year, and by my rough estimation, there have been about 2,000 Div. I games played so far this year.

KU's offensive rebounding percentage was 57.1 percent, easily its highest total of the year. Again, we have to think about this to appreciate it. When the Jayhawks missed a shot, they were more likely to get the rebound than the RedHawks were, even though, in theory, Miami should have the inside rebounding position.

The 57.1 percent offensive rebounding clip was the fifth-best effort by KU during Bill Self's eight seasons with the Jayhawks and the best in the last two seasons.

Kansas center Jeff Withey delivers on a dunk before Miami (Ohio) University forward Nick Winbush during the first half, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Jeff Withey delivers on a dunk before Miami (Ohio) University forward Nick Winbush during the first half, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

KU's defensive rebounding percentage was 85.7 percent, which again was a season-best.

In McCollough's article above, Self says the optimal goal is to come away with 80 percent of the other team's misses. The Jayhawks beat that optimal goal on Sunday by 5.7 percent.

KU's defensive rebounding percentage Sunday tied for the eighth-best mark in Self's era at KU.

After a week of tough practices that emphasized effort, Self spent most of Sunday night watching his players show the kind of aggressiveness that any coach would be proud of.

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

Speaking of inspired Jayhawks, Markieff Morris certainly played the part of one Sunday night.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris dunks against Miami (Ohio) University guard Allen Roberts during the first half, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris dunks against Miami (Ohio) University guard Allen Roberts during the first half, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

The junior couldn't have been much more efficient against Miami, posting 1.67 points per possession used.

Markieff didn't end a high percentage of KU possessions (16.5 percent), but that's partially because he didn't turn the ball over once in his 22 minutes. He made 9 of 11 shots and also was superb on the glass, pulling down 32.4 percent of the available offensive rebounds (a season-high for him) and 25.9 percent of the available defensive rebounds.

He also might have had made the best move on the perimeter of his KU career, faking a three before driving to the rim for a two-handed dunk.

http://www2.kusports.com/videos/2011/jan/02/33781/

I have to wonder if he's going to add that move to the repertoire now that teams realize they have to respect his three-point shot (8-for-21 this year, 38.1 percent).

Room for Improvement

There was one glaring negative from KU's easy victory over Miami: The Jayhawks, once again, were careless with the basketball.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor tangles with Miami (Ohio) University guard Orlando Williams as he drives to the bucket during the first half, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor tangles with Miami (Ohio) University guard Orlando Williams as he drives to the bucket during the first half, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

KU turned it over on 27.3 percent of its possessions — its second-highest total of the season.

In reality, though, this was by far the Jayhawks' worst turnover game of the year when you take everything into perspective.

Coming into the game, Miami was in the bottom 10 nationally in defensive turnover percentage. The RedHawks had forced turnovers on fewer than 17 percent of their opponents' possessions. NCAA average turnover percentage is 20.9 percent.

There was no reason for the Jayhawks to turn the ball over at a rate higher than their season average, which is 19.3 percent.

It's a bit scary to think about the pattern that KU is setting. The Jayhawks aren't just turning it over against good steal teams. They're turning it over against bad steal teams.

Now, it isn't every game. KU actually didn't turn the ball over on more than 20 percent of its possessions in any of its previous three games.

But it is a reason for concern looking ahead to a single-elimination tournament in March. KU has shown the volatility to have a huge turnover game against any team, whether that team is good defensively or not.

The Jayhawks posted a solid 1.26 points per possession, but that was despite turnovers. In the possessions where KU didn't turn it over (called an effective possession), the Jayhawks posted an astounding 1.73 points per possession.

Kansas guard Tyrel Reed celebrates a dunk by teammate Josh Selby against Miami (Ohio) University during the first half, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Tyrel Reed celebrates a dunk by teammate Josh Selby against Miami (Ohio) University during the first half, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

If the Jayhawks would have turned it over at an average rate (12.5 times would have been expected from this game) and kept that efficiency, they would have added 9.5 points to their total against Miami.

Those 10 points didn't mean a lot on Sunday, but they definitely could in closer games the rest of the way.

Tough-Luck Line

Part of KU's turnover problem came from an unexpected source: senior guard Brady Morningstar.

Kansas guard Brady Morningstar squeezes in for a bucket past Miami (Ohio) University defender Antonio Ballard during the second half, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Brady Morningstar squeezes in for a bucket past Miami (Ohio) University defender Antonio Ballard during the second half, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

The Lawrence native turned it over four times in just 18 minutes, which is a huge number for a role player.

The giveaways killed Morningstar's final line. He posted a (non-walk-on) team-low 0.74 points per possession used while ending an average number of possessions (20.2 percent). He also had three fouls, and though he finished 2-for-4, he missed both of his three-point attempts.

In a game where I believe Self was ready to hand over minutes to his best defenders, Morningstar had a tough night and wasn't his usual "do-no-harm" self on the offensive end.

Bottom Line

There are reasons to be encouraged if you're a KU fan following the victory over Miami.

The Jayhawks gave great effort, as evidenced by their domination on the glass.

KU played much-improved defense in the first half, allowing just 21 points before falling off a bit in the final 20 minutes.

The Jayhawks shared the ball the best they have since Selby has entered the lineup, posting assists on 68.6 percent of their made baskets — their highest percentage of the year.

In this sequence of images, Kansas guard Travis Releford tosses an off-the-backboard pass to Elijah Johnson for the dunk against Miami (Ohio) University during the first half on Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

In this sequence of images, Kansas guard Travis Releford tosses an off-the-backboard pass to Elijah Johnson for the dunk against Miami (Ohio) University during the first half on Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

We'll see if the Jayhawks show the same effort against UMKC on Wednesday — another team that should be overmatched from the tip.

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Top 10 KUsports.com videos from 2010

As promised, here are the top 10 KUsports.com videos from 2010, based on views.

Interestingly, all 10 of these videos were posted on the site either in March or October.

Here's the list ... 10. Late Night scrimmage highlights (4,966 views)

9. Sherron Collins talks to media after Northern Iowa loss

8. KU ends season with second round loss (6,471 views)

7. Sherron Collins senior speech, part 2 (7,008 views)

6. Vandals target Manhattan sign (7,060 views)

5. Bill Self addresses media after NCAA loss to Northern Iowa (7,066 views)

4. Collins goes out on top during Senior night (7,833 views)

3. Late Night in the Phog: Dream On video (9,113 views)

2. A Sherron Collins retrospective: A timeline of the guard's career, shown through photos (9,519 views)

1. Sherron Collins senior speech, part 1 (13,917 views)

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Recap: Bill Self has reason to be upset with his defense

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

Travis Releford played 13 minutes in the second half. And I think that might be the most important thing to take from KU's 82-57 victory over UT Arlington on Wednesday.

This really isn't a point about Releford. It's more about KU coach Bill Self. After watching KU's postgame press conference, and hearing Self talk frustratedly about his defense, I came away thinking that the coach's philosophy might be altered a bit from this point forward in the season.

Self isn't going to change. He's always going to emphasize defense. He loves getting after a team. He loves when his players take pride in taking an opposing team out of what it does offensively.

Right now, KU's players' mentality doesn't seem to match that of their coach. And it looks like it bugs him more than it does them.

Which is why Releford's 13 second-half minutes might be important, especially after Self said that Releford was the best defensive player for KU on Wednesday.

Kansas guard Travis Releford celebrates a dunk by teammate Thomas Robinson against UT Arlington during the second half, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Travis Releford celebrates a dunk by teammate Thomas Robinson against UT Arlington during the second half, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Through recruiting, Self has loaded his lineup with gifted offensive players. He has numerous guys who can shoot, leap, run and penetrate.

But right now, he only has a few guys that are giving him the defensive effort that he's looking for.

The coach has the ultimate motivator, though: He determines playing time.

All things being equal, I wouldn't be surprised if he increasingly opts for the players that are playing the best defensively.

Kansas head coach Bill Self yells at his team for poor defensive play against UT Arlington during the second half, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas head coach Bill Self yells at his team for poor defensive play against UT Arlington during the second half, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

A couple times in the press conference, Self talked about how interesting practices in the next week would be for his players. It sounds like an open audition for more playing time for about 10 Jayhawks, as few have been consistently playing well over the last handful of games.

This might be the time for someone — Releford would be a good example — to make a case for more playing time by guarding better than his teammates.

If Self can't convince his players on the court to be better defensively, I have a feeling he might start looking for other options.

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

Thomas Robinson probably just played his best game as a Jayhawk.

The sophomore forward combined efficiency with high usage, posting 1.39 points per possession used while taking on a huge offensive load for KU (ending 25.2 percent of possessions).

He also continued to be dominating on the glass, taking down 32.2 percent of the available offensive rebounds (to put in perspective how high that number is, his 20.4 percent offensive rebounding percentage coming in ranked sixth in the nation) and 19 percent of the available defensive rebounds.

And he did it all without turning the ball over, which has been the biggest obstacle for him since arriving at KU.

A stat line of 20 points, 8-for-10 shooting and 10 rebounds is a good effort on any night, but the fact that Robinson pulled it off in just 24 minutes makes the feat even more impressive.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson delivers a dunk before the UT Arlington defense during the second half, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson delivers a dunk before the UT Arlington defense during the second half, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Self would prefer to have Robinson be a boost off the bench, but it's getting harder for the coach to do that with as well as the Washington, D.C. native is playing lately.

Room for Improvement

After the game, Self said that he believed his team's defense had gotten worse over the last month.

Statistically, it'd probably be hard to argue with him.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor forces a turnover against UT Arlington's Darius Richardson during the first half, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor forces a turnover against UT Arlington's Darius Richardson during the first half, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

UT Arlington had the type of offense that the Jayhawks chewed up and spit out at the beginning of the season. Some examples: KU allowed 0.64 points per possession against Valparaiso, 0.61 points per possession against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and 0.56 points per possession against Ohio.

On Wednesday, the Jayhawks allowed 0.86 points per possession against the Mavericks — a team not as good offensively as the three listed above.

UT Arlington played a much slower pace than is normally does (66 possessions, compared to an average of 73), but it still was able to get good shots off late in the shot clock.

Because of that, the Mavs were around their season averages across the board offensively.

Their eFG% was 47.3 (compared to their season mark of 49.8 percent). They turned it over 24.2 percent of the time against KU (their season mark is exactly 24.2 percent).

KU's defense roughly held UT Arlington's offense to an average output this season. That's not a good thing, considering Mavs have played four non-Div. I schools in their first 11 games.

Tough-Luck Line

We'll probably look back and say that this was the worst game of Josh Selby's career at Kansas.

Kansas guard Josh Selby wipes his face off with a towel after coming out of the game in the second half against UT Arlington, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Josh Selby wipes his face off with a towel after coming out of the game in the second half against UT Arlington, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

The freshman contributed just 0.52 points per possession while struggling to a 1-for-9 shooting night.

There's both good and bad to take from Selby's line. One good thing for KU fans is that, on an off shooting night, the guard didn't force the issue offensively. He used only 13.9 percent of KU's possessions when he was in, meaning he deferred to teammates more than we saw in the first two games.

Kansas guard Josh Selby runs down a loose ball against UT Arlington during the second half, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Josh Selby runs down a loose ball against UT Arlington during the second half, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Selby's misses also weren't always a negative for KU's offense. Because he draws so much attention defensively, oftentimes Selby allows KU's post players easy opportunities for offensive rebounds. That happened Wednesday, as four different times off Selby missed shots, one of KU's big men grabbed the offensive rebound and put in a stickback.

Then again, when Selby isn't producing offensively, KU might have better options on its bench. We've talked all along about how Selby's defense will improve, and it looks to me like the freshman is trying hard on that end. He's just not there yet.

Tyshawn Taylor, Tyrel Reed and Elijah Johnson all are more consistent defenders as of now, and all have the ability to keep the ball moving offensively if they are in. If Selby isn't scoring or creating for teammates, Self has the luxury of putting in a guard that might be a lower-risk, lower-reward player if the situation calls for it.

Bottom Line

The Jayhawks used their advantage inside to pull away from the Mavericks. KU came away with 48.4 percent of the available offensive rebounds, (second-highest total of the year) and 74.3 percent of the defensive rebounds (third-highest total of the year). The Jayhawks also made 21 of their 33 two-point attempts (63.6 percent).

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson grabs an offensive rebound between UT Arlington guard Darius Richardson (2) and Jordan Reves (55) during the second half, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson grabs an offensive rebound between UT Arlington guard Darius Richardson (2) and Jordan Reves (55) during the second half, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Still, KU didn't take a step forward defensively on Wednesday. Though UT Arlington slowed down the pace, it was still able to get off good shots at the end of the shot clock by beating KU's defenders off the dribble and making jump shots.

Coming in, one would have expected the Mavs to struggle much more offensively against the Jayhawks than they did.

Don't be surprised if Self tinkers with his rotation to see if he can boost his defense, even if it means the Jayhawks don't have their most gifted offensive players on the court at the same time.

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Top 10 KUsports.com stories from 2010

Before focusing on 2011, it’s time to take a look back at the year that was in Kansas University athletics.

The following are the top 10 most-clicked on stories for KUsports.com in 2010:*

* — Check back Friday for the top 10 most-clicked on videos in 2010. 10. Mangino leaves Lawrence, moves to Florida (20,023 pageviews)

After serving eight seasons as Kansas University football coach, Mark Mangino resigned from the position on Dec. 3, 2009. The final chapter of his stay in Lawrence took place on May 18, as Mangino, his wife Mary Jane and dog Yogi packed up moving vans and headed to a new home in Naples, Fla. Many of the 100 comments on KUsports.com sent their best wishes to the coach responsible for KU’s 12-1 season in 2007-08, which included an Orange Bowl victory over Virginia Tech.

9. KU football uniforms changing (20,990 pageviews)

In what was the first of a few controversial moves by new Kansas football coach Turner Gill, the Jayhawks elected to go without names on the back of their uniforms for the first time since 1981. Gill said he made the change “to support what we are expecting from our team and program. Our program is about team. We are representing the University of Kansas. You will see that name on the front of our jerseys.” KU also removed the red stripe from its blue helmets. In an online poll, 56 percent of respondents didn’t like the new uniforms, 32 percent said they did like them, and 12 percent were undecided.

8. KU athletic director Lew Perkins to resign at the end of the 2010-11 school year (21,981 pageviews)

A few weeks after it was revealed that five KU athletic department employees and a consultant were involved in a massive ticket scandal, Lew Perkins announced he would retire from his post as KU athletic director following the 2010-11 school year. The news shook many KU fans, who feared for the school’s future conference affiliation if the Big 12 dissolved. Perkins ended up retiring even earlier than expected, putting his immediate resignation on Sept. 7 — three days after his newly-hired football coach, Turner Gill, lost his debut at home against North Dakota State, 6-3.

7. Mayer: Kentucky basketball victories tainted (24,363 pageviews)

Though Kentucky was the first NCAA men’s basketball team to 2,000 victories, Lawrence Journal-World columnist Bill Mayer said the Wildcats cheated to get there. Mayer outlined the transgressions of former Kentucky coach (and KU grad) Adolph Rupp, which included payment to his players. The pageviews show how a story can spread quickly on the Internet, as more than 10,000 of the clicks came directly from links on Kentucky men’s basketball pages/message boards.

6. Zach Peters to announce college decision (26,274 pageviews)

Rumors swirled on April 19, 2010, that high school sophomore recruit Zach Peters was about to commit to KU over Kentucky, North Carolina and Texas. The next day, the 6-foot-9, 235-pound Peters made things official, committing to KU during a press conference at his school. Peters, from Plano, Texas, is the 97th-best player in the class of 2012, according to the latest Rivals.com rankings.

5. KU gets No. 1 seed in NCAA Tournament (26,724 pageviews)

Though the KU men’s basketball team earned the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, many analysts believed the Jayhawks received a tough draw in the Midwest Regional. KU’s side of the bracket included Ohio State, Georgetown, Maryland, Michigan State and also the only two teams KU had lost to all season (Tennessee and Oklahoma State). “The first thing I thought was, ‘Wow, are we No. 1, or is somebody else No. 1?’” KU forward Marcus Morris said after watching the selection show. The Jayhawks didn’t end up getting far enough to face any of those teams, losing to Northern Iowa in the second round of the tourney in Oklahoma City.

4. Cole Aldrich declares for 2010 NBA Draft (29,685 pageviews)

As expected, KU center Cole Aldrich announced on March 29 that he was declaring for the NBA Draft. By doing so, he was able to help out his parents, who both were struggling to keep steady work in a tough economy. “I don’t think the public or media would possibly know what his family members have gone through this year,” KU coach Bill Self said. “I think it was a very, very easy decision and one that needed to be made.” Aldrich was later taken 11th overall by the New Orleans Hornets, who traded his rights to the Oklahoma City Thunder. The NBA’s rookie salary scale indicates that Aldrich will make about $1.8 million in the first year of his contract and $1.9 million in the second year.

3. Xavier Henry declares for 2010 NBA Draft (30,991 pageviews)

Though Aldrich’s departure from KU was expected, some fans held out hope that freshman guard Xavier Henry might return for his sophomore season. It didn’t happen, as on April 7, Henry announced at a press conference that he would enter the NBA Draft, becoming KU’s first “one-and-done” player. Though Henry had shown little emotion during the season, he had tears in his eyes when he told reporters that he would be leaving Lawrence. “I didn’t know I’d love it here this much at KU,” Henry said. “All the people here ... they really made it a place for me to love.” Henry was drafted 12th overall by the Memphis Grizzlies in June.

2. KU basketball player Mario Little arrested after altercation (33,387 pageviews)

Kansas senior Mario Little was arrested early in the morning on Dec. 16, on charges of battery, criminal damage and criminal trespassing. According to a police statement, Little pushed his girlfriend — a former KU men’s basketball manager — into a sink. KU coach Bill Self announced later that day that Little had been suspended indefinitely. “(The charges) are misdemeanors, but are still very major and serious in our eyes,” Self said. “We’ll wait and see how that plays out.” Little remains suspended from games.

1. Conference realignment saga/Big 12 Conference saved (48,258 pageviews)

Following the departures of Nebraska (Big Ten) and Colorado (Pac-10/12), the Big 12 seemed to be on the verge of extinction. Teams like Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State were receiving strong interest from other conferences, while schools like Kansas, Kansas State and Iowa State worried they might be left to scramble for a conference if major realignment took place. On June 14, Texas ended the speculation with a late-afternoon press release; the Longhorns announced their athletic programs would continue to compete in the Big 12 after the 10 remaining teams in the league pledged to stay together. The conference realignment drama gripped KUsports.com readers throughout the week, as three other blog entries on the topic received at least 25,000 pageviews.

The rest of the top 20
11. Quarterback recruit Brock Berglund commits to KU (18,688 pageviews); 12. Northern Iowa stuns KU in second round of NCAAs (18,614); 13. Talk at Jordan Brand Classic indicates Josh Selby will choose KU (18,271); 14. Basketball recruit Zach Peters picks Kansas (18,163); 15. North Dakota State football coach rips KU (18,012); 16. North Dakota State stuns Jayhawks, 6-3 (17,892); 17. Sherron Collins explodes for 32 points in NBA summer league finale (17,832); 18. Keegan: Next-best fit for KU? Big/Pac-20 (17,457); 19. KU’s Self disagrees with Bob Knight, who said Collins should have been benched to start second half against Texas A&M (17,207); 20. Keegan: Notre Dame, Arkansas: Come on down (16,982).

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Recap: How to comfortably win a game you don’t dominate

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

The box score for this game makes it look closer than it was.

KU won 78-63, but both teams were nearly even on the glass (KU held the edge, 40-39). Cal had more turnovers, but not a lot more (three). The Bears also made it to the free-throw line a lot more than the Jayhawks.

So how did the Jayhawks come away with a comfortable victory? http://www2.kusports.com/videos/2010/...

You never want to only say that shooting is the only reason for winning or losing a game, but in this game, it made quite a bit of difference.

The Bears weren't shy about taking threes, but they made just 4 of 22 (18.2 percent).

KU also was three-happy (especially in the first half), but that turned out OK, as the Jayhawks made a decent percentage (7 of 19, 36.8 percent).

As Cal coach Mike Montgomery said appropriately after the game: "(KU) didn’t light it up (from three), but it’s certainly better than 4-for-22."

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor extends to defend against a shot by Cal guard Gary Franklin during the first half, Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010 at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, California.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor extends to defend against a shot by Cal guard Gary Franklin during the first half, Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010 at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, California. by Nick Krug

The Jayhawks' defense certainly had something to do with the Bears' poor shooting numbers. Montgomery admitted that KU's defense did a good job of closing off the inside, which forced Cal to jack up shots from the outside (where it had only made 32 percent of its attempts coming into the game).

Cal also didn't help itself at the free-throw line, where it made 19 of 33 shots (57.6 percent), well below its average of 67.2 percent.

In short, Cal had lots of chances to be close to KU at the end but couldn't make enough shots.

KU's defense held an already poor Bears' offense to a 38.6 eFG%, which was Cal's third-worst shooting effort of the year.

Kansas guard Josh Selby defends Cal forward Harper Kamp during the first half, Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010 at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, California.

Kansas guard Josh Selby defends Cal forward Harper Kamp during the first half, Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010 at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, California. by Nick Krug

On a night when KU didn't separate itself in other areas, the Jayhawks' half-court defense was good enough to carry them to the victory.

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

Though it's close between Tyrel Reed and Markieff Morris, Reed gets the nod here.

Kansas guard Tyrel Reed celebrates with Travis Releford after grabbing a bucket and a foul from a Cal defender during the second half, Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010 at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, California.

Kansas guard Tyrel Reed celebrates with Travis Releford after grabbing a bucket and a foul from a Cal defender during the second half, Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010 at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, California. by Nick Krug

The senior guard was KU's most efficient player offensively, posting 1.57 points per possession used. He didn't use a lot of possessions (14 percent), but then again, his role really isn't to do that. He's in there to hit the open threes he gets (he made 3 of 8 against Cal) and also score off the occasional drive (he was 3-for-3 from two-point range).

Reed also was a steady hand when KU needed it. He played 35 minutes and turned it over just one time, which was much needed as KU's other two primary guards (Tyshawn Taylor and Josh Selby) combined for eight turnovers.

The Burlington native also has been great on the boards in the last two games. He grabbed the defensive rebound on 18.6 percent of Cal's misses, which was the third-highest defensive rebounding mark on the team behind Thomas Robinson and Marcus Morris. Reed's 18 points, seven rebounds and 35 minutes were all career-highs.

Kansas guard Tyrel Reed lays in a bucket between Cal defenders Harper Kamp (22) and Jorge Gutierrez (2) during the second half, Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010 at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, California.

Kansas guard Tyrel Reed lays in a bucket between Cal defenders Harper Kamp (22) and Jorge Gutierrez (2) during the second half, Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010 at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, California. by Nick Krug

So far, Reed has been the KU player that has meshed the best with Selby on the court, and the senior should continue to get big minutes as long as that trend keeps up.

Room for Improvement

The most glaring weakness from Wednesday night was KU's poor defensive rebounding.

Coming in, the Bears had averaged just 9.2 offensive rebounds per game, which ranked last in the Pac-10.

Against KU, Cal had 15 offensive rebounds — its highest total of the year.

Kansas players Markieff Morris, left, Josh Selby and Thomas Robinson go after a rebound against Cal during the first half, Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010 at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, California. At left is Cal forward Harper Kamp.

Kansas players Markieff Morris, left, Josh Selby and Thomas Robinson go after a rebound against Cal during the first half, Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010 at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, California. At left is Cal forward Harper Kamp. by Nick Krug

The Bears gathered 34.9 percent of the available offensive rebounds, which is much higher than their season average of 28.8 percent.

For KU, I'm not sure there's a good explanation. With the defensive rebounding problems against Cal, though, I was surprised that KU coach Bill Self didn't throw Jeff Withey in for a few minutes, just to see what he could do.

Kansas head coach Bill Self screams at his defense during the first half, Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010 at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, California.

Kansas head coach Bill Self screams at his defense during the first half, Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010 at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, California. by Nick Krug

Withey's first "did not play, coach's decision" of the year — in a game where KU needed a big rebounding body — probably tells us that Withey has some work to do in practice to convince Self he's ready to re-enter the rotation.

Tough-Luck Line

Tyshawn Taylor runs away with this category for the second straight game.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor reacts to a foul called against him during the first half, Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010 at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, California.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor reacts to a foul called against him during the first half, Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010 at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, California. by Nick Krug

The junior once again looked out of sorts while playing with Selby. Taylor posted a miserable 0.47 points per possession while using up 18.8 percent of possessions (which is about average).

I thought Tom Keegan put it best in his latest Keegan ratings: "It’s as if he’s trying to show he has as much talent as Josh Selby."

It is worth noting, though, that while some of Taylor's individual numbers were ugly (1-for-8 field goals, five turnovers), KU actually didn't perform that poorly when he was out there.

I'll warn again that we shouldn't put too much stock in plus-minus numbers, as they can be misleading, but during Taylor's 29 minutes, KU outscored Cal, 62-46.

Offensively, KU scored 2.1 points per minute when Taylor was in. During the 11 minutes he wasn't in, KU scored 1.5 points per minute.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor elevates for a bucket against Cal during the second half, Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010 at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, California.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor elevates for a bucket against Cal during the second half, Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010 at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, California. by Nick Krug

I can't explain the numbers, and maybe they don't mean anything. But they might indicate that Taylor did have some positive impact for KU that didn't show up in his individual stat line.

Bottom Line

Take away all the fighting and fouls, and KU claimed a comfortable road victory by shutting down the lane and forcing Cal into a shooting contest that it didn't win.

Kansas guard Josh Selby puts up a floater over Cal forward Bak Bak during the second half, Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010 at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, California.

Kansas guard Josh Selby puts up a floater over Cal forward Bak Bak during the second half, Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010 at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, California. by Nick Krug

It's worth noting that KU has moved into KenPom's top spot in terms of adjusted defensive efficiency. Quietly, the Jayhawks have improved their defensive standing over the last few weeks without anyone really talking about it.

The Jayhawks now have three home cupcakes in a row to try to figure out how to be more consistent offensively with Selby before their next road test at Michigan on Jan. 9.

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Recap: I thought that game looked familiar …

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

When watching the replay of KU's 70-68 victory over USC, I had the feeling I had already seen a game very similar to it before at Allen Fieldhouse. http://www2.kusports.com/videos/2010/dec/18/33710/

It turned out I had.

Take a look at the KU-USC game stats compared to another KU game played recently, one we'll call "Game X."

In both games, KU shot significantly worse than its opponent, but made up for it by getting to the free throw line and also by minimizing turnovers.*

* — KU also helped its cause against USC by grabbing 13 offensive rebounds to the Trojans' seven.

Any guesses as to which contest "Game X" is?

Kansas forward Markieff Morris elevates for a dunk as USC defenders Alex Stephenson and Maurice Jones (10) trail during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris elevates for a dunk as USC defenders Alex Stephenson and Maurice Jones (10) trail during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Yep, KU's game against USC on Saturday was almost identical to the KU vs. Cornell contest at Allen Fieldhouse on Jan. 6, 2010.

Even more interesting? Both games were helped by a crucial three-point play by a confident KU guard.

With KU trailing 64-63, Sherron Collins split two defenders before putting in a layup with a foul to give the Jayhawks the lead for good with 41 seconds remaining.

The Fieldhouse crowd watches as Sherron Collins penetrates the Cornell defense for a bucket to give the Jayhawks the lead late in the second half, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2009 at Allen Fieldhouse.

The Fieldhouse crowd watches as Sherron Collins penetrates the Cornell defense for a bucket to give the Jayhawks the lead late in the second half, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2009 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Meanwhile, on Saturday, Josh Selby's three-pointer with 26 seconds left turned a 68-66 deficit into a 69-68 lead.

Kansas guard Josh Selby celebrates his last-minute three pointer against USC with Markieff Morris Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Josh Selby celebrates his last-minute three pointer against USC with Markieff Morris Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Richard Gwin

Because KU didn't shoot as well as USC, it had to perform well in other areas to come away with the victory.

Here are a few of the Jayhawks' unsung heroes from Saturday's win:

Thomas Robinson (four), Tyrel Reed (two) and Brady Morningstar (two) for their offensive rebounding. These three players allowed KU to steal extra possessions to make up the difference in shooting percentages.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson dunks on the USC defense Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson dunks on the USC defense Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Richard Gwin

Coming into the game, Morningstar had only three offensive rebounds all year.

Reed, meanwhile, had none.

Robinson (zero), Reed (zero), Morningstar (one), Marcus Morris (one) and Markieff Morris (one) for limiting their turnovers.

In a game where KU's two primary ballhandlers (Tyshawn Taylor and Josh Selby) combined for 10 turnovers in 59 minutes, the five players above combined for just three turnovers in 115 minutes.

As a team, KU had just 13 turnovers. One or two more, and the Jayhawks' home-court winning streak would have ended at 64.

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

The numbers aren't going to tell you anything you didn't already know.

Josh Selby was KU's best player on Saturday.

In his debut, Selby gave KU an offensive boost it desperately needed. He posted 1.18 points per possession used while carrying a heavy offensive load, using 30 percent of KU's possessions (average is 20 percent). His 68.1 eFG% was the highest on the team and helped him overcome four turnovers.

Kansas guard Josh Selby laughs with Markieff Morris on the bench during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Josh Selby laughs with Markieff Morris on the bench during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

His ability to draw fouls also helped KU's free-throw total, as Selby shot seven free throws, making six of them.

Though he was great offensively, there's still plenty of room for improvement for Selby defensively. It's hard to take too much stock in plus-minus numbers because there are so many variables involved, but I thought Selby's numbers were interesting this game.

In Selby's 27 minutes, KU allowed 52 points (1.93 points per minute). In the 13 minutes Selby wasn't on the floor, KU allowed 16 points (1.23 points per minute).

Again, plus-minus is not the greatest indicator of an individual's performance, as a player can't be responsible for everything that occurs on the floor. Still, it appears that while KU's scoring went up with Selby on the court, USC's scoring did the same.

Self admitted afterwards that Selby was being asked to play a type of defense that he'd never been asked to execute before in a game, so the guard's instincts should improve as the season goes on.

Room for Improvement

KU had its worst offensive effort of the season against USC.

The Jayhawks scored 1.01 points per possession, their lowest output of the year.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris fights for a rebound with USC players Nikola Vucevic (5) and Maurice Jones (10) during the first half, Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris fights for a rebound with USC players Nikola Vucevic (5) and Maurice Jones (10) during the first half, Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

A big part of KU's problem appeared to be that the Jayhawks' passing wasn't very good — or, as Self often says, the ball stuck too much.

KU had just 12 assists, which was the lowest number this season. It's the second straight game that the Jayhawks have set a season-low for assists (KU had 13 against Colorado State).

The assist numbers are usually a good indication of how well a Bill Self team is performing offensively.

Last year, during a 33-3 season, KU was just 1-3 during its four lowest assist games of the year.

Tough-Luck Line

This one shouldn't be a surprise, as Tyshawn Taylor had his worst game of the year.

USC's Donte Smith steals from Tyshawn Taylor in the second half Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

USC's Donte Smith steals from Tyshawn Taylor in the second half Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Richard Gwin

With Selby in the lineup, Taylor looked like a guard that was trying to do way too much. He posted just 0.55 points per possession used (his previous low this year was 1.05 points per possession used against Memphis) while using up more than his fair share of possessions (21.7 percent).

Until Saturday, Taylor hadn't had a game this season where he'd registered more turnovers than assists; against USC, he had six turnovers to just one assist.

It'll be interesting to see if Taylor and Selby play better together against Cal.

Bottom Line

KU's home-court win streak is still alive because Selby gave KU a boost offensively while other players helped KU steal possessions.

Kansas guard Josh Selby salutes the Allen Fieldhouse crowd as he leaves the court following the Jayhawks' 70-68 win over USC, Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010. Selby made his debut with 21 points and hit what proved to be the game winning shot with 24 seconds left.

Kansas guard Josh Selby salutes the Allen Fieldhouse crowd as he leaves the court following the Jayhawks' 70-68 win over USC, Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010. Selby made his debut with 21 points and hit what proved to be the game winning shot with 24 seconds left. by Nick Krug

Much like last year's Cornell game, KU used a free-throw advantage and also limited its turnovers to make up for a shooting discrepancy.

The Jayhawks are in a bit of a slump offensively, though, and they'll need to pass the ball better if they hope to break out of that funk in their next game against Cal on Wednesday.

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Blog gives interesting perspective from anonymous KU football player

Those wanting to get a bit of insider information on what's going on inside the Kansas football program should be sure to read Owen Kemp's latest blog post on his blog, Rock Chalk Talk. In the post, Kemp has a conversation with someone he calls a "source," but judging from the quotes, it appears to be an anonymous player still on the KU football team.

The "source" makes it through a lot of topics, including some recent changes in the team's conditioning.

"Offseason conditioning right now the team was doing close grip bench," the source told Kemp. "Big John (Williams) says keep your feet flat. Someone didn't, the whole team is doing up downs. They're on us, nobody wants to be 3-9 again. We're learning to do everything right and then there won't be any extra up downs. Tired of them."

The "source" also talks about special teams (including the punt formation KU used), reasons for why KU struggled in 2010 and players to look for in 2011.

Definitely worth a click on the link above if you haven't seen it yet.

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Recap: How an ‘awful’ performance still nets a 21-point win

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

OK, by now you've heard it. Or maybe you've seen it. Or maybe you're about to see it (look below).

Kansas coach Bill Self's first words out of the postgame press conference were this: "We were awful. Let that be your headlines." http://www2.kusports.com/videos/2010/...

I love the coach's honesty. Self didn't hold much back in the press conference following KU's 76-55 victory over Colorado State, opening up instead of clichéing up like many college coaches do.

This much is clear: Self is trying to get his team's attention, which isn't always easy to do after a blowout win. He sees good and wants great.

Still, I sat there and wondered. If KU played so horribly, then how the heck did the Jayhawks still almost win by more than they were favored (21.5 points)?

http://www2.kusports.com/videos/2010/dec/11/33657/

After looking at the box score, here are a few reasons that the game still wasn't close even when KU played "awful."

KU was really, really good on the offensive glass. The Jayhawks picked up 52.9 percent of the available offensive rebounds in the game, which was their best offensive rebounding game in the last two seasons.

It's even more incredible if you think about it. When KU missed a shot on offense, there was a better chance that the Jayhawks would get the rebound than the Rams.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris delivers a put-back dunk over Colorado State forward Andy Ogide during the first half, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris delivers a put-back dunk over Colorado State forward Andy Ogide during the first half, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. by Nick Krug

KU's 50 rebounds were a season-high, as were its 10 blocks.

KU's defense was pretty darned good as well. CSU came in as the third-best shooting team in the nation, posting a 59.9 eFG%. The Rams' worst shooting performance was a 55.2 eFG% effort against Sam Houston State.

Against KU, CSU posted a 33.3 eFG% — its third-worst in four years under coach Tim Miles.

The Jayhawks turned the Rams' greatest strength into a glaring weakness. And they did so by shutting down the shots inside.

Kansas guard Brady Morningstar collides with Colorado State guard Dorian Green during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. In back is Kansas guard Elijah Johnson.

Kansas guard Brady Morningstar collides with Colorado State guard Dorian Green during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. In back is Kansas guard Elijah Johnson. by Nick Krug

CSU came into the game with the third-best, two-point shooting percentage in the country (60.7 percent). The Rams shot just 25.6 percent from two-point range against KU (11 for 43).

Self talked about how CSU "missed shots" after the game, but obviously, KU's defense deserves some of the credit for that.

KU held down Colorado State forward Andy Ogide. The 6-foot-9 senior came in as one of the best shooters in the country, making 68.2 percent of his field goals. In fact, the worst he'd shot in a game this season was 58.3 percent.

Against KU, Ogide shot 30.7 percent (4 of 13).

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson works for position against Colorado State forward Andy Ogide during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson works for position against Colorado State forward Andy Ogide during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. by Nick Krug

Give a lot of credit to KU forward Markieff Morris. After his brother, Marcus, left with an ankle injury, Markieff was able to avoid fouls and play significant minutes for the Jayhawks. Coming in, Markieff averaged a foul every 5.8 minutes he played. On Saturday, he played 28 minutes and had just two fouls.

When KU desperately needed Markieff in the game, he played smart while also holding down a gifted offensive player.

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

Tyshawn Taylor is playing at a high level, and he continued his hot streak against Colorado State on Saturday.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor gets a bucket past Colorado State forward Andre McFarland during the first half, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor gets a bucket past Colorado State forward Andre McFarland during the first half, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. by Nick Krug

The junior guard posted a team-best 1.70 points per possession used and did so while playing three-fourths of the Jayhawks' minutes.

He only used 15.9 percent of the possessions he was in there (which is a bit below NCAA average for a player), but that's not a bad thing for Taylor. His job is to run the team, get others open shots, then take advantage of driving lanes and shots when they are available.

His standard box score line was efficient as well: 12 points, 3-for-5 shooting, 5-for-6 shooting from the free-throw line, six assists, three turnovers, two blocks and two steals.

It also should be noted that on a night when KU didn't pass the ball particularly well (recording only 13 assists), Taylor had nearly half of them (six).

Room for Improvement

For the second straight game, KU was careless with the basketball.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris catches a pass in the paint as Colorado State guard Wes Eikmeier defends during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris catches a pass in the paint as Colorado State guard Wes Eikmeier defends during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. by Nick Krug

The Jayhawks turned it over on 25.4 percent of their possessions, making it their second-worst turnover game of the season, next to Memphis.

Though KU might be excused against a long and athletic team like Memphis, there isn't much excuse for turning it over against Colorado State.

The Rams entered the game almost exactly at the NCAA average when it came to forcing turnovers (CSU forced turnovers on 21.1 percent of possessions; NCAA average is 21.2 percent).

Though KU oftentimes plays "wild" as Self calls it, the last two games, the Jayhawks have been closer to "reckless."

Turning it over against high-steal teams (like Memphis) is one thing. Turning it over against every team, regardless of its defense, is a different problem altogether.

It's an issue that the Jayhawks might not be able to fix immediately, as freshman Josh Selby might make a wild team even wilder when he first enters the KU rotation.

Kansas players Josh Selby, left, Niko Roberts, and Jordan Juenemann celebrate a dunk by teammate Markieff Morris during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.

Kansas players Josh Selby, left, Niko Roberts, and Jordan Juenemann celebrate a dunk by teammate Markieff Morris during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. by Nick Krug

Tough-Luck Line

It's Thomas Robinson. And this is one of the toughest-luck lines of the year.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson dribbles behind his back as he comes away with a steal from Colorado State forward Travis Franklin during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson dribbles behind his back as he comes away with a steal from Colorado State forward Travis Franklin during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. by Nick Krug

Robinson was solid almost all the way across his statistical line. He grabbed 27.6 percent of available offensive rebounds and 20.4 percent of available defensive rebounds, which are both strong numbers. He shot a good percentage from the floor (60.0 eFG%), blocked 16.4 percent of CSU's shot attempts when he was in, and even posted 13.1 percent of his team's assists during his 17 minutes.

His poor free-throw shooting, though, overshadowed what was an otherwise encouraging night.

Robinson was just 1-for-7 from the line, which killed his offensive numbers. Mostly because of the free throws, Robinson posted just 0.67 points per possession while using a high percentage of KU possessions (31.6 percent).

The reason that this is tough luck is that I've talked to Robinson. I know he was frustrated with his free-throw shooting last year, so he dedicated himself to improving in the offseason.

I know he sought out Self, along with KU assistants Danny Manning and Joe Dooley, to help him fix his free-throw form. He also put up extra shots in the summer.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson salutes his teammates while waiting to check in after a Jayhawk bucket against Colorado State during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson salutes his teammates while waiting to check in after a Jayhawk bucket against Colorado State during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. by Nick Krug

Early on this season, he was improved at the line, as he made 8 of 11 free throws in KU's first three games (72.7 percent).

With his recent struggles, he's down to 48.4 percent from the line this year.

That's not because of a lack of effort on his part.

I think we'll see him in the mid-60s by the time this season is over.

Bottom Line

Though Self's harsh comments afterwards were a smart tactic used to get his team's focus, that doesn't necessarily mean that KU played horribly against CSU.

Kansas head coach Bill Self has words for a game official during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.

Kansas head coach Bill Self has words for a game official during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. by Nick Krug

If you're looking for positives, KU's offensive rebounding was great and its defense — especially against Ogide — was stellar.

Colorado State coach Tim Miles gave a great quote after the game before Self even made it to the podium.

"I don't know what Self's complaining about," Miles said. "I thought their defense was just fine."

In reality, KU's defense was just fine. KU was just fine.

It's just that "fine" isn't always good enough for Self, who demands more than that out of his players.

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Cliff’s Notes: Bill Self press conference, 12/9/10

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

If you want to get live updates from each week's press conference, be sure to follow us on Twitter (@kusports).

Full audio has been posted. • Self says KU is shooting 57 percent from the floor because it takes really good shots and gets lots of easy baskets. Against Memphis, if KU had 14 turnovers instead of 22, the game probably would have been a much bigger margin. KU still needs to become a better passing team.

One of KU's advantages is that opposing teams have to guard all five guys on the court.

Tyshawn Taylor frustrates Self in a good way, because the coach sees potential. It's kind of like a quarterback. He can play great, but with two mistakes, it can be 12 points in the other direction. Taylor is like that. He loses focus sometimes. When you talk about the most valuable player on KU this year, Taylor has to be the guy. He does what no one else on KU can do. Self sees a really high ceiling for him.

Taylor needs to get better, but he's a kid. Kids go through "stuff" all the time. His stuff happened to be public in social media. The reason last year was up and down for him was because of things outside of basketball. When Taylor feels good about himself, he performs at a high level. He feels good about himself right now.

• Thomas Robinson can be a guy that allows KU to bring in a bench player without dropping off. Self loved what Robinson did in New York City. That might be a good number of minutes for him (15 minutes), because he got an awful lot done in that time. Self thought Robinson was the best player against Memphis.

Self says KU's free throws have been awful lately. If you take Tyrel Reed off the percentages, KU is about 55 percent. KU has to get better. If you're an opposing coach, though, you might wonder what happens if the Jayhawks start hitting their free throws. Self is not worried about KU's free-throw shooting improving.

Colorado State has a nice team. The Rams took Colorado to overtime in Boulder. It will be a good test for KU. Dorian Green is a good player coming home. KU needs to play better. The Jayhawks, honestly, haven't played as well the last two weeks.

KU is proud to be a part of the Champions Classic. It will have a Final Four-type feel in November. It will be a cool event.

KU doesn't play to its strengths defensively. It doesn't play to its quickness or length. The Jayhawks are behind defensively. The guys understand that.

Tyrel Reed and Brady Morningstar are playing really well in spots. It was nice to see Morningstar hit shots. What he does well, which is moving the ball and getting others open shots, he didn't do well against Memphis.

Self likes traveling away from home for early-season games. You have a better chance to bond with your players, as the guys spend hours together. Those things are good for any team.

If Kansas City received an NBA team, it definitely could affect KU. NBA season tickets are expensive, and some basketball fans might have to choose between college basketball and pro basketball season tickets. Kansas State, KU and Missouri enjoy being the "professional" franchises in the area. Self loves how "college" K.C. feels in basketball. It would be nice for K.C. to have an NBA team, but the current setup doesn't stink now.

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