Friday, November 23, 2007

Walk-on living up to bomber reputation


KU 'bigs' shine in NAU victory

Kansas big men Darrell Arthur, Sasha Kaun, Darnell Jackson and Cole Aldrich dominated in Wednesday night's win over Northern Arizona University.

Conner Teahan arrived at Kansas University with a reputation as a "pure shooter" with range past the 3-point arc.

He hasn't disappointed yet this young season, cashing five 3s in six tries - including three of three from 3-point land - in Wednesday's 87-46 rout of Northern Arizona at Allen Fieldhouse.

"When the ball leaves his hand, it looks as good as anybody in our program right now," KU coach Bill Self said of the rookie walk-on from Rockhurst High in Kansas City, Mo.

The 6-foot-5, 205-pound Teahan, who actually has scored more than a point a minute (17 in 14 minutes while entering three of KU's four games) has done his damage in the final minutes of blowouts.

Yet he insists he'll be ready if Self calls on him during the heart of important games, like Sunday's 7 p.m. home tipoff against 3-1 Arizona.

"We have plenty of 3-point shooters," Teahan said. "I guess I didn't miss any (Wednesday), but there are enough guys that can make a 3: Mario (Chalmers), Brandon (Rush), Tyrel (Reed), Russell (Robinson) is a great 3-point shooter, other guys, too. I could see him (Self) going to one of those guys. If he needed me to ... I don't have a problem coming off the bench. I feel right when I come off the bench I can make it. When I get open shots, I try to make them."

One of Teahan's 3s versus Northern Arizona was way beyond the arc, perhaps as far as 25-feet?

"I know it was kind of far. I guess until I really thought about it I didn't realize how far it was," Teahan said. "I feel if I have the shot, I have confidence in it no matter how far away from the basket. I feel I can shoot it and make it."

Sounds like a guy who blistered high school competition with 3 after 3. Actually, Teahan did more than that at Rockhurst.

"I did pretty much everything in high school. I was pretty much all-around," said Teahan, who averaged 25 points, eight rebounds and three assists for Missouri's state runner-up team. He was named Mr. Show Me Basketball by the Missouri State High School Coaches Association and also earned the DiRenna Award as the KC metro area's No. 1 player.

"I realize coming here I have to kind of focus on more or less one point of the game so I can put in more minutes."

He wasn't KU's only freshman to shine against Northern Arizona. Tyrel Reed hit two 3s and had eight points and five assists in 21 minutes. Cole Aldrich had seven points, three boards and two blocks in 17 minutes. The freshmen accounted for 27.6 percent of KU's points against the Lumberjacks.

"Not really," Teahan said, asked if the frosh's production surprised him. "Tyrel is a great scorer, so is Cole. Coach Self always tells us to make open shots. When Cole is strong, he scores a lot. When Tyrel is aggressive with his shot, he scores a lot. I can score."

He grinned when asked if he has been given the "green light" from Self to fire away at any time from any where.

"I don't know about that," Teahan said. "I definitely have a green light when I'm open. There may be a green light in the last four or five minutes of a game when we are beating a team like that."

Like the 16,300 fans who packed Allen Fieldhouse on Thanksgiving Eve, Teahan was impressed with KU's defensive effort against the Lumberjacks, who scored 10 points the first half.

"We shut them down, especially the first half. They had 15 turnovers and 10 points," Teahan said. "I don't know if we backed off or just didn't play as well the second half (in outscoring NAU 43-36). That can happen when you are blowing a team out that much. We definitely could tell they were a little rattled. It looked like nobody on the team really wanted the ball in their hands the first half."


jaybate 11 years, 9 months ago

KU had only 9 TOs vs. UNA; that was down from a high of 19 earlier in the season. Just think about how much tougher KU is to beat at 9 TOs rather than 19. The opponent has TEN more scoring opps. Assuming the opponent converts half the time on TOs, that is 5 baskets. Assuming one of those five is a trey, that's an 11 point spread.

Part of being a great defensive team, it seems, is not turning the ball over on offense.

One could view the stat through an offensive lens; i.e., one gets ten more chances to score one's self. But Self's philosophy is defense first, so it makes sense to view it as a defensive stat that just happens to occur on the offensive end of the floor.

I've always disliked it when coaches focus heavily on not making mistakes, however, because it so inhibits the players' performances.

But low TOs are such an important statistic to achieve in order to help a team be its best that I think coaches should begin to focus on teaching the prevention of turnovers positively. They need to start praising "keeps"--a possible name for the positive of "not turning the ball over."

On defense, coaches already emphasize the positive of getting "stops," rather than the passive, negative of keeping an opponent from scoring. Likewise on offense, they need to emphasize the positive of keeps. Forget harping on the number of turnovers and focus on the number of keeps. Coaching must teach players the fundamentals of getting keeps, not how not to make mistakes. The opposite of a "mistake" is a "good execution." You can't not make mistakes, but you can execute better. You can try to achieve keeps.

Coaches need to emphasize that they are teaching fundamentals, techniques and strategies in order to achieve "keeps", because keeps retain the ball to score.

Stops and keeps give you the advantage in total scoring opportunities.

Call it playing for keeps.

actorman 11 years, 9 months ago

I like your analysis, jaybate, but I don't get why you're comparing DJ to Kaun, considering that they play different positions. A more apt comparison would be Aldrich to Kaun.

CasperCorps 11 years, 9 months ago

Undefeated in two sports.. Rockem Hawks..

jaybate 11 years, 9 months ago


Its never too early for empirics, as long as one realizes that they do represent a short, early stretch and so can change significantly in the future. Thank you immensely for bringing my contemplation out of the ethers of surmising and into some hard numbers.

Your numbers quantify exactly what I have been saying regarding scoring, but they also make clear why Kaun is playing as much as he is.

Kaun is only lagging behind DJ by one and a half rebounds per game based on per minute production extrapolated to 40 minutes. I really thought DJ was outrebounding Kaun by much more.

And Kaun's number of blocks at least suggests he's not only a good defender of the oppoent's post, but generally more active in help defense than DJ--again something I have not intuited.

Based on these numbers, its clear why Kaun gets to play as much as he does. KU has tons of scorers, so the fact that DJ is such a productive scorer is not quite so valuable as it otherwise might be if KU lacked lots of scorers. Kaun's slightly inferior rebounding and more active defense provide more of what KU needs to get its bounty of scorers the ball...unless of course one considers steals, which you no doubt included for just this reason.

DJ's 2.7 steals effectively wipes out Kauns advantage in blocks. 2.7 steals are as good or better than 3.2 blocks. Why? Because 2.7 steals equate to 2.7 stops, whereas 3.2 blocks probably equates to only 2-2.5 stops at most. Alot of blocks wind up in the hands of the opponent who then gets another shooting opp and 50% of the time a made basket. A steal is a stop.

So: based on these numbers from competition to date, I still think DJ should be getting more minutes.

But what about when the competition improves? What is likely to happen to these numbers then?

jaybate 11 years, 9 months ago

Well, Kaun has been getting his blocks against really lame big men and less than stellar penetrators, so I would guess his blocks are going to fall sharply against talented teams. And his rebounding and scoring have a history of plummiting to almost nothing against teams with good big men. So: as competition improves, Kaun's productivity is apt to fall sharply vis a vis DJ.

Against stiff competition, we can expect DJ's scoring productivity to fall off some, but he has proven in the past, even with a bad back, that he could score from the 4 or 5 position against good teams. And he has proven that his defense and rebounding, while not brilliant, can continue at least respectably. His steals will probably fall of the most, though he just is VERY strong and able to strip some balls even against very good opponents because of his strength and ability to muscle them out of position as passes come into the paint.

All in all, considering what has happened so far, and what seems probable to happen as opponents improve, I'd say DJ deserves at least 5 more minutes per game, maybe ten, unless he has health limitations, or does not need the additional stress and responsibility during his continued coping with and growth beyond his personal losses.

Post Script: I suppose his minutes could also be being held down so that Aldrich can get some battle hardening so that KU will be fully four deep in the paint down the stretch. If that is the case, then I would expect to see DJ's minutes rise significantly during the conference season, especially the last half of it in preparation of getting the most out of him in the dance. He just is a potent weapon that KU will need when the opponents get really good and have big men capable of locking down the blocks, unless a guy with DJ's valuable combination of muscles and skills is there to counter the lock down.

Hawklin 11 years, 9 months ago

Landry = Really lame big man?

Those were legitimate blocks by Kaun that would have been layed down on any player that put them up.

I'd write less and watch more if I were you.

JNgohawks 11 years, 9 months ago

Conner looks great out there. He looks comfortable and confident. I really like Cole and Tyrel as well. They could be great four year players.

jaybate 11 years, 9 months ago

Perhaps I recall incorrectly, but I thought DJ often subbed for Kaun last year and thought he had this year, too. If he does not step in for Kaun, then of course you are quite right that my comparison is inappropriate. Sorry 'bout that.

jaybate 11 years, 9 months ago


You don't seriously think Landry is the equal of the bigs Kaun will face from the top 4 teams in the B12, or the bigs Kaun will meet from round 16 on in the Dance, do you? Tell me you're putting me on.

Hawklin 11 years, 9 months ago

Did I say he was? I questioned what really lame means. If you are going to make this site your own personal blog at least you could divulge a little deeper than "really lame" when discussing someone that went 17 and 8 against Arizona.

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