Statistics are like silly putty. You can do whatever you want with them.
For example, to demonstrate New York Knicks point guard Stephon Marbury is a good basketball player, cite his scoring and assist numbers and ignore the fact he dribbles away so much of the shot clock he's going to have a hand in nearly every basket his team scores.
To tell the truth about Marbury, cite the win-loss record of the teams he leaves and note that almost always his former team improves while his current team falls apart.
Liars figure and figures lie.
Nonetheless, stats can be entertaining. (So can silly putty, come to think of it.)
With Sasha Kaun (knee) and C.J. Giles (this, that, and the other) not available, Darnell Jackson will fill many of the minutes at the center spot for Kansas University. A study of last season's numbers reveals Giles (14.6 points, 11.4 rebounds per 40 minutes), Jackson (16.4, 12.8) and Kaun (16.9, 11) scored and rebounded at roughly the same rates.
Jackson (.769) was a far better free-throw shooter than either Giles (.588) or Kaun (.535) a year ago.
Moving from taking uncontested shots to contesting shots, Jackson falls to the bottom. In 351 minutes, Jackson blocked three shots. Another way to put that would be to say he blocked a shot every 117 minutes. Giles averaged 3.4 blocked shots per 40 minutes, Kaun 2.3 per 40.
"I'm going to have to drink some of C.J.'s water," Jackson said. "Hopefully, I can get longer arms from that and go block a couple of shots for him."
In the past decade or so, the word "long" has been used to describe players who used to be known as "tall with long arms." Jackson is tall, 6-foot-9 to be exact, and he's wide, but he never has been described as long. His range, for a center, is long. His coach, Bill Self, repeatedly has raved about his jumpshot.
"I think he's come a long ways offensively," Self said of Jackson. "Defensively, I can't say that. He's a good shooter. Darnell can do a lot of good things, but my biggest concern is rebounding the ball and having a low-post presence and impacting the game on the defensive end by not giving up easy baskets and changing or altering shots, and that's an area he's got to get a lot better in."
Jackson will share minutes at center with freshman Darrell Arthur, a natural power forward with a small-forward designation in his NBA future. An explosive leaper, Arthur has shot-blocking potential.
"I'm enjoying the more minutes I'm going to get, but looking to the side and knowing Sasha's not going to come get you when you're out there on the court breathing for air, we're going to miss him," Jackson said.
If Julian Wright plays 30 minutes, that would leave Jackson and Arthur splitting the remaining 50 minutes in the post. Foul trouble could mean playing time for walk-on Matt Kleinmann.
Of guarding centers, the 6-9 Arthur said: "Pretty hard, but I'll just move my feet a lot. Coach says I have the skills of a 5 because I move my feet. So I'll just use my footwork to try to guard him and we'll do a lot of trapping also. I'll just try to beat 'em up and down the court, try to get 'em tired. I get tired a lot, but we have to step it up because we only have four posts instead of six."
There will be no impatient clamoring for this freshman to play more minutes.