Entries from blogs tagged with “ku”

OMG! What did you do with my LJWorld.com?

Well, we've done it again. We've taken your LJWorld.com and shaken things up a bit.

While we've been busying redoing KUsports.com, re-redoing lawrence.com, building and rebuilding WellCommons, venerable LJWorld.com has continued with almost no major changes in several years.

Today, however, that changes. We've unveiling a host of subtle changes that we think will make it easier for you to find the variety of content on a variety of topics that our journalists are creating. Here, in detail, are the biggest changes we've made. If you have feedback, questions, or concerns, feel free to post them below and Whitney, Ben Spaulding, our designer, or myself will try to get you answers.

So, the biggest change is "The Latest" — a constantly changing feed of the latest content from our staff. On the previous homepage, it was only a list of the latest stories and blogs on LJWorld.com. Now, it's a list of the latest multimedia content from any site in our network — and it can be a video, a photo gallery or even a special feature. Here's a before and after:

The new latest (left) vs. the old latest (right). We've included more media types in the feed, plus included links to content on the other sites in our family of sites.

The new latest (left) vs. the old latest (right). We've included more media types in the feed, plus included links to content on the other sites in our family of sites. by Jonathan Kealing

Next up, you'll notice in that same picture that we've added a third tab: a most discussed feed from lawrence.com and WellCommons. There's a lot of good content and good discussions on those sites and we want to put them in front of our largest audience, on LJWorld.com. We don't have KUsports.com discussions anywhere on the homepage yet, but we have some other plans for that, down the road.

In addition, you'll notice that we've rearranged and change our featured content boxes. Instead of being stacked down column two, they're now split between column two and column three, with sports and state government occupying prime positions. Next are our WellCommons and lawrence.com features, which replace the large WellCommons box and Arts and Entertainment feature we had on the old site. These link you directly to those two sites. Here's a before and after look at that.

The old version of features are at top, the new version is below. You can also see that we've moved our videos module down a bit, in acknowledgement that our videos will now also cycle through the latest.

The old version of features are at top, the new version is below. You can also see that we've moved our videos module down a bit, in acknowledgement that our videos will now also cycle through the latest. by Jonathan Kealing

The last significant move is the editorials, which have moved from under The Latest above the user blogs and letters to the editor. We think this reflects that all of this content is, fundamentally, opinion-based. In fact, in a previous iteration of the homepage, those two modules were located together. Here's a look at where you can find that content now.

The previous location of editorials, below, has been replaced by a new location near user blogs and letters to the editor, at top. It also helped make our columns more even!

The previous location of editorials, below, has been replaced by a new location near user blogs and letters to the editor, at top. It also helped make our columns more even! by Jonathan Kealing

That brings us to what didn't change. Most discussed is exactly where it has always been and its function is the exact same. The navigational bar is the same as well, though we do expect some changes there in the not-too-distant future. The top ads, visual tours and green edition remain where they've always been, as do our lists of special features, events and the ever-popular on the street question.

If I've missed something or you have a question or concern, leave it in the comments. I'll be checking in all night and again tomorrow to help out and take your feedback.

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Recap: Low-turnover KU a dangerous team offensively

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

It didn't make my story Wednesday, but I thought Texas Tech guard John Roberson gave the Kansas men's basketball team a pretty high compliment following the Jayhawks' 88-66 victory on Tuesday.

"They weren’t going to take any bad shots. They’re a well-coached team," Roberson said. "It’s pretty hard guarding them for 35 seconds, and then going back on the offensive end and not getting the bucket, then you have to guard them again."

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor passes around the Texas Tech defense on Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011 in Lubbock, Texas.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor passes around the Texas Tech defense on Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011 in Lubbock, Texas. by Richard Gwin

Most fans want to talk about how much a team runs. Will the team play faster this year? Does it have the athleticism to win an up-and-back game? I even think most of KU coach Bill Self's excitement for this year's team was that he did have a squad full of players that can all move well.

It's interesting, because things seem a little backwards right now.

Yes, the Jayhawks are still running. They rank 37th in adjusted tempo, and if that number stands, it will be the fastest team Self has ever had at KU.

The weird thing, though, is that recently, this team is playing against its speediness: The Jayhawks are having trouble converting shots in transition, yet have been extremely efficient in a half-court game.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris throws down a dunk on Texas Techs D'walyn Roberts on Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011 in Lubbock, Texas.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris throws down a dunk on Texas Techs D'walyn Roberts on Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011 in Lubbock, Texas. by Richard Gwin

KU was perhaps better than it has been all season in a half-court set on Tuesday.

The Jayhawks turned it over just six times in a 70-possession game, which put their turnover percentage at a minuscule 8.6 percent.

Not only was that the second-lowest turnover percentage in a game for KU during Self's tenure — it also tied for the second-lowest turnover percentage for a KU team in the last 15 seasons.

KU's low turnover percentage didn't occur because of quick shots, either. The Jayhawks were patient offensively, worked the ball around and were able to get easy shots, as 48 of KU's 88 points came from in the paint.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris skies for two points over Texas Tech's Jaye Crockett on Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011 in Lubbock, Texas.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris skies for two points over Texas Tech's Jaye Crockett on Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011 in Lubbock, Texas. by Richard Gwin

KU coach Bill Self talked afterward about the difficulty of trying to defend post players when the ball is reversed to all sides of the floor.

The Jayhawks showed the patience to do that Tuesday night, along with the ability to take care of the basketball.

If that formula is replicated, opposing teams are going to have a hard time stopping KU's offense, especially with as much talent as the Jayhawks have in their frontcourt.

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

Marcus Morris had the best start, but Thomas Robinson wins the M.O.J. with the most complete performance.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson put in a bucket against Texas Tech on Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011 in Lubbock, Texas.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson put in a bucket against Texas Tech on Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011 in Lubbock, Texas. by Richard Gwin

Robinson posted 1.45 points per possessions used while ending an above-average number of possessions (24.4 percent). He scored at least one point on 82 percent of the possessions he used.

That was only the start of his contributions, though. Against a poor rebounding team in Tech, Robinson grabbed 15.4 percent of the available offensive rebounds and 30 percent of the available defensive rebounds, many times simply on effort alone.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson fights for a rebound with Texas Tech's Javarez Willis on Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011 in Lubbock, Texas.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson fights for a rebound with Texas Tech's Javarez Willis on Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011 in Lubbock, Texas. by Richard Gwin

I wasn't expecting to see Robinson's points per possession used that high, but there was one main difference between this game and others: He didn't hurt his efficiency at the free-throw line.

The sophomore forward was a perfect 5-for-5 from the stripe; it was only the third time this year he made all his free-throw attempts (and he's had 17 games where he's attempted at least one free throw).

Robinson also had no turnovers, and now has just one giveaway in his last 49 minutes played. If he continues that trend, there's no reason he can't be a player that averages 20 minutes per game for KU from here on out.

Room for Improvement

Again, this is nitpicky, but KU didn't offensive rebound as well as might have been expected against Texas Tech.

Kansas guard Mario Little fights for the ball with Texas Tech's David Tairu on Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011 in Lubbock, Texas.

Kansas guard Mario Little fights for the ball with Texas Tech's David Tairu on Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011 in Lubbock, Texas. by Richard Gwin

KU pulled down 35.1 percent of the offensive rebounds, which was below the Jayhawks' season average (35.9 percent).

That number might not be so bad against a normal Big 12 opponent, but Texas Tech came in as the worst defensive rebounding team in the conference. The Red Raiders' opponents had come away with 36.5 percent of the available offensive rebounds this year, and KU (a good offensive rebounding team) couldn't get to that number.

Looking back at the stats, the problem seems to be in an unlikely place.

KU's bigs grabbed a combined 11 offensive rebounds (Markieff Morris 4, Robinson 3, Mario Little 2, Marcus Morris 1, Jeff Withey 1). KU also had two team offensive rebounds, which are ones that went out of bounds off Texas Tech.

That left KU's guards — Tyshawn Taylor, Tyrel Reed, Josh Selby, Royce Woolridge, Brady Morningstar, Elijah Johnson, Niko Roberts and Jordan Juenemann — to combine for zero offensive rebounds. None.

Obviously, guards aren't expected to get a lot of the loose offensive caroms, but it's rare to have a game were no KU guard even grabbed one — especially against a bad offensive rebounding team.

This won't matter much in a 22-point blowout, but it might indicate that KU's guards could do a bit more to try to gain their team some extra possessions.

Tough-Luck Line

For the third straight game, it's Tyrel Reed, though it's hard to know how much of this we can place directly on him.

Kansas guard Tyrel Reed dribbles against Texas Tech on Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011 in Lubbock, Texas.

Kansas guard Tyrel Reed dribbles against Texas Tech on Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011 in Lubbock, Texas. by Richard Gwin

After the game, Self said Reed had a sore foot that has been bothering him, and perhaps that is the reason for his recent cold shooting.

Reed posted 0.77 points per possession while ending 14.2 percent of KU's possessions in his 16 minutes. The senior made just 1 of 4 threes, and over his last three games, he's gone 4-for-15 from three-point range (26.7 percent).

Luckily for KU, Brady Morningstar has played some of his best basketball in the last three games to take some of the scoring pressure off of Reed.

Bottom Line

After a shaky start to the Big 12 season offensively, KU has responded with three strong offensive performances in a row.

Kansas freshman Josh Selby goes up for two points against Texas Tech on Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011 in Lubbock, Texas.

Kansas freshman Josh Selby goes up for two points against Texas Tech on Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011 in Lubbock, Texas. by Richard Gwin

Against Texas Tech, KU put up 1.26 points per possession — its third-highest of the Big 12 season and its third straight game with at least 1.23 PPP.

Though the Jayhawks have oftentimes struggled this year with turnovers, they thrived Tuesday by taking care of the ball and also staying patient in half-court sets to make for easier feeds inside.

We'll see if the Jayhawks stick to the same gameplan Saturday against Nebraska — a team that will present much more of a defensive challenge inside.

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Great Expectations Now!

Wait until the next recruiting class, wait for the next great point guard, wait, wait, wait... I am so tired of waiting.

I am referring to the Kansas Women's Basketball team. It is time to expect great results. I once heard a player say in an interview that the women's basketball team expected to finish about 6th in the Big 12. This was a couple of years ago but that expectation hasn't changed. Every player on that team should say and believe that their goal is to finish first in the conference every season.

Our point guards struggle mightily. I thought that it might be the point guard coach but she left after last season. I am still seeing the same disappointing play this year even with 2 new assistant coaches. The guards are stifled during the game. The season always begins with hope as we watch the team run with reckless abandon scoring 85 points in a game even while turning the ball over too often. As the season progresses the coaching works its magic..hmm, hmm.. causing the scoring to decline and the wins to disappear. Point guard after point guard look to the sideline constantly. This creates a very disjointed, predictable, and boring offense. During a couple of the games the the ball was stolen while the point guards were waiting for the play call from the bench. The head coach always looks the same standing on the sideline with arms folded and a facial expression that says the game smells bad. Yes, sometimes my face probably has the same expression.

I must ask if the coach listens to her assistants. Do they actually agree with this process?

I like Head Coach Bonnie Henrickson and wish her only the very best but, as a long time season ticket holder, I EXPECT better results after 7 years, a large salary and incredible support.

The players work hard and do well in the classroom. The team graduated 7 people last spring which is excellent.

It is time for Great Expectations for the KU Women's Basketball team on the court and the results to go with them.

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Recap: What a complete statistical performance looks like

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' 90-66 victory over Kansas State on Saturday is an interesting one to diagnose statistically.

At some point in the game, KU seemed to play well in every facet. The Jayhawks rebounded and defended well early, while getting good shots and shooting the ball well late.

What we end up with is a game where the Jayhawks were good both offensively and defensively, with neither area significantly better than the other. http://www2.kusports.com/photos/galle...

KU scored 1.23 points per possession, which is great against a defense like KSU's but still only ranks as third-best in six Big 12 games.

Meanwhile, KU allowed 0.90 points per possession to KSU, which was its best effort in Big 12 play but just the 10th-best effort of the year.

Here's a breakdown by half to further break down KU's play on Saturday:

First Half
KU — 1.06 PPP
KSU — 0.57 PPP
(35 possessions)

Second Half
KU — 1.39 PPP
KSU — 1.18 PPP
(38 possessions)

If we were only talking about the first half, we'd talk about KU's smothering defense. If we were only talking about the second half, we'd discuss the Jayhawks' tremendous efficiency.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor cuts to the bucket past Kansas State defenders Wally Judge (33) Jacob Pullen (0) and Will Spradling (55) during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor cuts to the bucket past Kansas State defenders Wally Judge (33) Jacob Pullen (0) and Will Spradling (55) during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

As it was, we once again saw that these Jayhawks are balanced enough to dominate a good opponent offensively or defensively — and sometimes both ways in the same game.

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor both had great games, but the M.O.J. goes to Markieff Morris.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris gets up for a rebound over Kansas State forward Jamar Samuels during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris gets up for a rebound over Kansas State forward Jamar Samuels during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

The 6-foot-9 forward posted 1.45 points per possession used while ending a high number of possessions (26 percent) while he was in. He also scored at least one point on 78.8 percent of the possessions that he ended.

Markieff was at his best in the first half, dominating the defensive glass when KSU 6-foot-8 forward Curtis Kelly was still in there (and during the time when the game was still in doubt).

Overall, Markieff pulled down 27.7 percent of the defensive rebounds and 15.8 percent of the offensive rebounds while he was in, giving KU the rebounding presence it desperately needed against an aggressive team like K-State.

Add in 8-for-10 shooting, two steals and two blocks to go with just one turnover and two fouls, and it's easy to see why KU coach Bill Self afterwards said that Markieff was terrific.

Room for Improvement

This is really tough, as KU was pretty good in every statistical category.

Looking at the box score, K-State performed worse than average in almost every advanced statistic listed (efficiency, eFG%, floor percentage, free throw rate, assist percentage, assist-to-turnover ratio, steal percentage, block percentage, offensive rebound percentage, defensive rebound percentage). The Wildcats only were better than average at turnover percentage, and barely so at that (21.9 percent, compared to 22.7 percent this season).

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson and Kansas State forward Jamar Samuels wrestle for position during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson and Kansas State forward Jamar Samuels wrestle for position during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

KU, meanwhile, was better than average in all the statistics above except for assist percentage (58.8 percent compared to 60.8 percent), block percentage (4.4 percent compared to 8.0 percent) and defensive rebound percentage (60.4 percent compared to 70.6 percent).

We'll go with something more eye-based for today, and that was KU's inability to guard KSU's Jacob Pullen without Taylor on the floor.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson defends against a shot by Kansas State guard Jacob Pullen during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. At left is KU guard Elijah Johnson and at right are KSU forward Jamar Samuels and KU forward Marcus Morris.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson defends against a shot by Kansas State guard Jacob Pullen during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. At left is KU guard Elijah Johnson and at right are KSU forward Jamar Samuels and KU forward Marcus Morris. by Nick Krug

By my count, when Taylor exited the game in the second half, Pulled scored 15 points on 5-for-7 shooting. Take out that part, and Pullen's final line is six points on 3-for-15 shooting.

KU's guards weren't good defensively against Colorado, and though Taylor played superbly on Saturday, there still has to be some fear that KU might have issues defensively if Taylor is tired/injured/has foul trouble at any point this year.

It's time for some other guards — especially Elijah Johnson — to show they can hold their own defensively when called upon later this year.

Tough-Luck Line

For the second straight game, Tyrel Reed had an off-shooting night during a game when his teammates thrived offensively.

Tyrel Reed (14) takes a layup to the basket during the second half of the Jayhawks' game against the Kansas State Wildcats, Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. Former KU star Wayne Simien had his jersey retired in a halftime ceremony at the game.

Tyrel Reed (14) takes a layup to the basket during the second half of the Jayhawks' game against the Kansas State Wildcats, Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. Former KU star Wayne Simien had his jersey retired in a halftime ceremony at the game. by Mike Yoder

The senior guard posted just 0.85 points per possession used — the lowest among KU's nine primary rotation players. In fact, Reed was the only player in that rotation to produce less than 1 point per possession used. Having said that, his impact was limited, as he only used up 13.6 percent of KU's possessions while he was in during his 1-for-6 shooting night.

One trend to watch with Reed going forward will be his turnovers. During Reed's first 17 games, he was remarkably sure-handed, turning it over just 12 times in 499 combined minutes.

In the guard's last three games, though, he's turned it over seven times in just 85 minutes.

One reason the Burlington native has been so consistent this season is because of his ability to avoid giveaways on a team filled with other careless guards.

It'll be interesting to track if Reed can revert back to his low-turnover form in upcoming Big 12 games.

Bottom Line

Though KU was better than KSU in nearly every facet, the Jayhawks' advantage Saturday was most evident in shooting percentages.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris delivers a jam before the student section and the Kansas State defense during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris delivers a jam before the student section and the Kansas State defense during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

KU's 66.4 eFG% was its fourth-highest of the year (and the highest KSU has allowed all year), while KSU's 39.0 eFG% was its second-lowest of the season.

The most impressive part about KU's victory might have been how complete it was. The Jayhawks weren't dominated in a single statistical area, making it difficult to nitpick about any part of Saturday's blowout win.

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Recap: No defense, no problem for KU

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.

On its worst defensive night of the year, Kansas still came away with an 82-78 victory over Colorado.

You can take that one of two ways. I think it's a positive for KU.

Kansas players Tyshawn Taylor, left, Markieff Morris, center, and Elijah Johnson come together for a flying, celebratory bump following the Jayhawks' 82-78 win over Colorado on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011 at the Coors Events Center in Boulder.

Kansas players Tyshawn Taylor, left, Markieff Morris, center, and Elijah Johnson come together for a flying, celebratory bump following the Jayhawks' 82-78 win over Colorado on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011 at the Coors Events Center in Boulder. by Nick Krug

It's been proven over the years that the teams that fare the best in the NCAA Tournament are the most balanced teams. It makes sense.

To get to the Final Four, a team has to win in different types of games. One team might be a slow-it-down, defensive specialist, like Nebraska, while two days later, it could be a penetrating, quick, guard-oriented team like Colorado. Though KU was far from perfect against both of those teams this year, the Jayhawks showed that they could win in vastly different ways.

Against Nebraska, KU won by hunkering down and picking up its own defense.

Against Colorado on Tuesday, KU defeated a great CU offense by elevating its own offense even more.

Kansas guard Brady Morningstar shoots a three over Colorado guard Levi Knutson during the first half on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011 at the Coors Events Center in Boulder.

Kansas guard Brady Morningstar shoots a three over Colorado guard Levi Knutson during the first half on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011 at the Coors Events Center in Boulder. by Nick Krug

In a relatively slow game (65 possessions), the Jayhawks allowed 1.20 points per possession to the Buffaloes on Tuesday, the most allowed by KU since the 2008-09 season.

For most teams, that effort would probably result in a loss; KU still managed to turn it into a road win.

KU was spectacular offensively against CU, putting up 1.26 points per possession, which was its second-best offensive showing this year behind the Baylor game.

The Jayhawks also were great on the glass, pulling down 38.7 percent of the offensive rebounds — again, second best of the Big 12 season behind the Baylor contest.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris (21) battles for a rebound with Colorado guard Cory Higgins (11) and Marcus Relphorde (5) during the second half on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011 at the Coors Events Center in Boulder.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris (21) battles for a rebound with Colorado guard Cory Higgins (11) and Marcus Relphorde (5) during the second half on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011 at the Coors Events Center in Boulder. by Nick Krug

Listening to CU coach Tad Boyle talk afterwards, he didn't seem upset with his team's effort or his team's defense, despite the Jayhawks making more than half their shots.

KU just out-Colorado'ed Colorado on Tuesday.

And the Jayhawks showed the ability to simply outscore another team if it has to — a skill that might be needed against a good offensive team during a tournament game in March.

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

We have a clear-cut winner here, and it's freshman Josh Selby.

Kansas guard Josh Selby flashes a smile after hitting a three-pointer against Colorado during the first half on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011 at the Coors Events Center in Boulder.

Kansas guard Josh Selby flashes a smile after hitting a three-pointer against Colorado during the first half on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011 at the Coors Events Center in Boulder. by Nick Krug

After a few tough offensive games in a row, Selby starred for KU on Tuesday, posting 1.59 points per possession used while ending a high number of KU's possessions (24.6 percent). KU scored at least one point on 55.2 percent of the possessions he used, which was his second-highest mark of the year.

Selby also posted his highest assist percentage as a Jayhawk, assisting on 44.9 percent of KU's made field goals while he was in the game.

The 6-foot-2 guard also contributed on the boards, grabbing 16.5 percent of the available defensive rebounds and 5.1 percent of the available offensive rebounds while he was in.

Though a turned ankle limited his effectiveness late, Selby's early-game scoring helped the Jayhawks maintain a lead when they were having problems stopping Colorado defensively.

Room for Improvement

The KU guards could not stop Colorado's guards, especially on dribble penetration.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor fouls Colorado guard Alec Burks (10) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011, in Boulder, Colo.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor fouls Colorado guard Alec Burks (10) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011, in Boulder, Colo.

Going down the line, nearly every CU guard had a great offensive night. Alec Burks put up 1.21 points per possession used, while ending a Michael Jordan-esque 35.4 percent of CU's possessions.

Cory Higgins had 1.15 point per possessions used, while Levi Knutson had 1.73. Even Nate Tomlinson, who hadn't hit a field goal in his last five games, posted 2.06 points per possession used while making 3 of 6 field goals.

KU's perimeter defense also didn't force CU into mistakes. The Jayhawks forced turnovers on just 9.2 percent of the Buffs' possessions, their worst mark in a game this year.

Colorado's offense is difficult to guard, as Burks and Higgins both are gifted penetrators and shooters.

Colorado guard Alec Burks pulls up for a three-pointer over Kansas guard Elijah Johnson during the first half on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011 at the Coors Events Center in Boulder.

Colorado guard Alec Burks pulls up for a three-pointer over Kansas guard Elijah Johnson during the first half on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011 at the Coors Events Center in Boulder. by Nick Krug

One still wouldn't have expected Colorado to have scored that easily against a KU defense that ranked as one of the best in the nation coming into the game.

Tough-Luck Line

Let's start with a disclaimer here, as this is going to be an unfair "tough-luck line" as nearly every Jayhawk had impressive offensive statistics against Colorado.

The two candidates here are Markieff Morris and Tyrel Reed, though I can make a great case against either being selected here.

Markieff was the only KU player to not post at least one point per possession used, as he posted 0.55 points per possession used while ending 18.9 percent of KU's possessions.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris (21) shoots against Colorado forward Austin Dufault (33) during the first half Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011, in Boulder, Colo.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris (21) shoots against Colorado forward Austin Dufault (33) during the first half Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011, in Boulder, Colo.

Still, his rebounding was one of the biggest keys to the game. Markieff grabbed 19.8 percent of the available offensive rebounds and 37.1 percent of the available defensive rebounds.

In a game where both coaches said that second-chance points were the difference (KU had 21, while CU had two), Markieff was a big reason that the Jayhawks dominated that facet.

Reed, meanwhile, posted 1.03 points per possession used, which was the second-lowest on the team Tuesday.

Kansas guard Tyrel Reed (14) drives past Colorado forward Marcus Relphorde during the first half Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011, in Boulder, Colo.

Kansas guard Tyrel Reed (14) drives past Colorado forward Marcus Relphorde during the first half Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011, in Boulder, Colo.

Somewhat unexpectedly, Reed ended a huge percentage of KU's possessions (29.6 percent), which is more than double the number of possessions he normally uses. That's not a good thing on an off shooting night. He also had a season-high three turnovers in 27 minutes.

Still, Reed helped the Jayhawks in other ways. Like Markieff, he rebounded well, pulling down 14.3 percent of the available offensive rebounds and 10.2 percent of the available defensive rebounds. He also hit two of the biggest free throws of the game with 28 seconds left after missing a couple earlier in the game.

I'm going with Reed here, simply because he used up an uncharacteristic amount of possessions when he wasn't one of the most efficient players on the team. On any other night, he wouldn't have even been in the running for this distinction.

Bottom Line

On a night when KU's defense was poor, the Jayhawks won by playing well offensively and thriving in one defensive statistic: rebounding.

Kansas guard Josh Selby (32) celebrates with teammates Markieff Morris (21) and Marcus Morris after a KU bucket against Colorado during the second half on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011 at the Coors Events Center in Boulder.

Kansas guard Josh Selby (32) celebrates with teammates Markieff Morris (21) and Marcus Morris after a KU bucket against Colorado during the second half on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011 at the Coors Events Center in Boulder. by Nick Krug

KU pulled down 86.2 percent of the available defensive rebounds — its best mark in the last two seasons and the sixth-best mark during KU coach Bill Self's eight years at KU. And that was without Thomas Robinson, who would have been a great matchup against the undersized Buffs.

The Jayhawks are one of just eight teams currently ranked in the top 25 in adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency, and one of just four teams ranked in the top 15 in both (13th offense; fourth defense).

That kind of balance allows the Jayhawks to be able to beat many different styles — and should make the Jayhawks one of the most dangerous teams in the nation come NCAA Tournament time.

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Recap: Offense — not defense — to blame for Kansas’ first loss

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.

Our eyes usually see what we want them to see.

Following Kansas' 74-63 loss — and most losses, actually — I think most fans' first tendency is to immediately blame the defense.

That would seem be easy thing to do after Saturday's game as well. http://www2.kusports.com/videos/2011/jan/22/33955/

After holding a 12-point lead at half, the Jayhawks allowed 51 points in the second half. You don't need me to tell you that that's not good.

But, looking back at the numbers, that kind of analysis ignores one thing.

The Jayhawks' defense was pretty darned good in the first half.

Kansas guard Tyrel Reed takes a charge from Texas guard J'Covan Brown in the first half on Saturday, January 22, 2011 in Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Tyrel Reed takes a charge from Texas guard J'Covan Brown in the first half on Saturday, January 22, 2011 in Allen Fieldhouse. by Richard Gwin

By my calculations, with 34 first-half possessions, KU allowed just 0.68 points per possession in the first half, which would be in the running for the Jayhawks' best defensive half of the year.

In other words, the Jayhawks had an outstanding defensive half followed by a terrible one, which led to the final numbers being a bit below average (Still, Texas' 1.03 points per possession was its sixth-worst offensive outing this year).

Offensively, though, KU had a below average first half (1.03 PPP) followed by a horrible one.

And the numbers tell us that, in a high-possession game (72), it wasn't the Jayhawks' defense that let them down on Saturday.

Instead, it was the offense.

Playing against a great defensive team in Texas, KU posted just 0.88 points per possession — its worst total of the year.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris goes up against a Texas defender on Saturday, January 22, 2011 in Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris goes up against a Texas defender on Saturday, January 22, 2011 in Allen Fieldhouse. by Richard Gwin

The Jayhawks were awful offensively almost any way you slice it.

• KU's eFG% was 40.6 percent, the second-worst mark of the last two years (only 39.3 percent against Michigan was worse).

• KU's floor percentage was 44.7 percent, meaning the Jayhawks scored at least one point on only 44.7 percent of their possessions (KU's season average is 57.4 percent). That also was KU's second-worst number of the year behind the Michigan game.

• The Jayhawks' 28 second-half points also were the second-worst of the season, and that's made even worst considering that there were approximately 38 possessions in the final 20 minutes.

Against a top-10 team, it's going to be hard to even hold many halftime leads if your team only scores 0.74 points per possession in the final 20 minutes.

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

It's close between Tyrel Reed and Brady Morningstar, but Reed gets the nod after giving the Jayhawks a bit more offensive production.

Kansas guard Tyrel Reed gets the Fieldhouse fired up after a three-pointer against Texas during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 22, 2011.

Kansas guard Tyrel Reed gets the Fieldhouse fired up after a three-pointer against Texas during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 22, 2011. by Nick Krug

Reed posted 1.22 points per possession used, while ending 16.3 percent of KU's possessions (lower than NCAA average, but higher than his own average). Those numbers are especially good on a day when KU mustered just 0.88 points per possession as a team.

The Burlington native also provided KU help on the glass, pulling down 16.2 percent of the available defensive rebounds — his third-highest this year — and 5.1 percent of the available offensive rebounds.

Though his final shooting line was 5 of 10, his eFG% was 75 percent, second-best on the team behind Morningstar (80 percent). Reed's five threes were a career-high for a game, and his steal percentage of 3.2 percent also was highest on the team.

As Journal-World sports editor Tom Keegan mentioned in the Keegan ratings, Reed is now 12-for-21 from three (57.2 percent) in his last three contests.

In a game where little was going right offensively for KU, Reed continued to be one of the Jayhawks' most steady performers.

Room for Improvement

"The offense" would work here, but we've already discussed many of those struggles above.

So let's look at the other big concern for KU from Saturday's game: fouling too much defensively.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris hacks Texas forward Tristan Thompson in the first half Saturday, January 22, 2011 in Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris hacks Texas forward Tristan Thompson in the first half Saturday, January 22, 2011 in Allen Fieldhouse. by Richard Gwin

We talked about this same issue in the "Room for Improvement" section last game, and KU coach Bill Self has to hope that this won't become a trend.

After allowing a free throw rate (free throws/field goals attempted) of 63.4 against Baylor, KU gave up a free throw rate of 64.6 to Texas (KU's season average allowed is 31.4). It was the highest free throw rate allowed by the Jayhawks since the 2007-08 season.

Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor both had four fouls, while Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris and Brady Morningstar all had three.

The Jayhawks haven't struggled with this problem until the last two games, but it's definitely an issue that needs to be addressed going forward. It's almost impossible to keep an opposing team's points down when that team is shooting that many free throws.

Tough-Luck Line

This one could easily go to Josh Selby (0.43 points per possession used; 23.8 percent possessions ended), but this time, Marcus Morris is the tough-luck player.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris pulls a steal from Texas guard Gary Johnson during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 22, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris pulls a steal from Texas guard Gary Johnson during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 22, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

The junior, who has been a model of efficiency so far this season, wasn't himself on Saturday against Texas' bigs. He posted just 0.75 points per possessions used while ending 31.7 percent of KU's possessions while he was on the floor — his fourth-highest percentage this year.

In essence, it was a tough shooting night for Marcus made worse by the fact that he shot quite a bit. His eFG% of 35.2 percent was his worst this season, while his floor percentage (41.8 percent) was his second-worst mark this year.

Honestly, though, I don't see much of a problem here. Yes it was a tough shooting night, but Marcus is KU's best player, and he should be the one taking the shots down the stretch in close games. He actually played some of his best basketball in the final minutes, putting in consecutive twos to bring KU within six with 2:29 left.

It's probably not a coincidence that when KU's best offensive player was off, the whole team seemed to struggle with him.

Bottom Line

Though KU didn't play well on Saturday, a lot of the credit has to go to Texas' man-to-man defense, which completely took the Jayhawks out of what they wanted to do offensively.

The Longhorns' size bothered KU inside, as they blocked 14.1 percent of KU's two-point shots, which was the highest mark of the year against the Jayhawks.

The rebounding numbers are a bit misleading.

Kansas forward Mario Little fights for a loose ball with Texas guard Cory Joseph on Saturday, January 22, 2011 in Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Mario Little fights for a loose ball with Texas guard Cory Joseph on Saturday, January 22, 2011 in Allen Fieldhouse. by Richard Gwin

Though UT finished with a 42-33 rebounding advantage, much of that discrepancy was because of the free throw differential. Because KU had more missed shots that UT, it had fewer chances to grab defensive rebounds, which are easier to pick off than offensive rebounds.

On Saturday, UT's defensive rebounding percentage was 76.1 percent; KU's was 75.9 percent. Texas' offensive rebounding percentage was 24.1 percent; KU's was 23.9 percent. Those numbers don't exactly scream rebounding dominance by the Longhorns.

Though many folks will point to the defense as the reason for the Jayhawks' loss, the real reason was an inability to score — especially on the inside. KU made just 37.7 percent of its two-pointers after coming in as the top team in two-point field-goal percentage (59.6 percent).

The Jayhawks will have a great chance to bounce back offensively against Colorado on Tuesday, as efficiency-wise, the Buffs are the second-worst defensive team in the Big 12.

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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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