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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Newell

Kansas State offense dandy

If Wildcats can pick up defense, they could contend for Final Four

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Each week in this space, KUSports.com online editor Jesse Newell will take a statistical look at one of the 10 teams that has the best chance of taking this year’s NCAA title.

Team: Kansas State

Record: 14-2

AP/Coaches Ranking: 13th/12th

KenPom (Ken Pomeroy) Ranking: 10th

Strengths

The Wildcats have one of the top offenses in the nation, scoring at least 85 points in six of their last seven games. According to KenPom, KSU ranks 11th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency, which is second in the Big 12 behind Kansas. The Wildcats’ surge offensively has been brought about by two main factors. For one, KSU is relentless on the offensive glass, grabbing offensive rebounds on 42.8 percent of their missed shots, which is fifth nationally. Also, Kansas State is one of the best in the nation at getting to the free-throw line. The Wildcats average 32.75 free throws per game, which is an astounding number.

KSU also isn’t too shabby defensively, ranking 30th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency. A main reason for the success is forcing turnovers, as the Wildcats force giveaways on 24.8 percent of their opponents’ possessions, which is good for 20th nationally.

Weaknesses

Though the Wildcats shoot a high number of free throws, they also don’t shoot very well from the line (65.8 percent). As we’ve seen from many NCAA Tournament games in the past, usually at least one contest will be determined by late free-throw shooting. The Wildcats also foul too much, putting the opposing team on the free-throw line an average of 26 times per game. Because of that, opponents score 27.4 percent of their points against KSU on the foul line.

K-State also relies heavily on guards Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente for its scoring. KenPom’s numbers show that 29.8 percent of the Wildcats’ scoring has come from the point guard on the floor (ranking third nationally), but that means the Wildcats might be vulnerable if teams force other positions (small forward, 16.1 percent; or center, 15.9 percent) to produce offensively. Also, in the last six years, no Final Four team has been ranked outside the top 25 in adjusted defensive efficiency. KSU, at 30th, still has a ways to go in that area.

Players to watch

Six-foot guard Jacob Pullen is one of the best offensive players in the Big 12. Not only does he average 19.8 points while making 45 percent of his threes and 79 percent of his free throws, but he also distributes 3.4 assists per game. He has KSU’s highest shot percentage (shooting it on 29.8 percent of the Wildcats’ possessions when he’s on the floor) and also puts immense pressure on the defense, drawing an average of 7.3 fouls per 40 minutes played (ranking 29th nationally). An injury to him would be devastating for the Wildcats.

Though Denis Clemente is second on the team with 14.9 points per game, he has reached that number by shooting quite a bit (In fact, he has 18 more field-goal attempts than Pullen, but 4.9 fewer points per game). Clemente’s three-point percentage also has dropped off quite a bit since last season (29 percent this year from 41 percent last year). Curtis Kelly and Dominique Sutton, meanwhile, have been carrying the Wildcats on the boards. Kelly has pulled down offensive rebounds on 14.4 percent of his team’s misses while he’s in the game (52nd nationally), while Sutton has grabbed the offensive board on 12.6 percent of KSU’s misses during his playing time (135th nationally). Highly touted 6-9 freshman Wally Judge (4 points, 3.2 rebounds per game) hasn’t even begun to show his potential, and this KSU team could be even more dangerous come March if there is additional development from him.

Bottom line

If the Wildcats step up their defensive pressure just a bit, they have all the makings of a potential Final Four team.

Comments

Scott Lippoldt 11 years, 2 months ago

Great read, Jesse! As much as I hate the idea of K-State having a Final Four caliber team (I shudder to think what their fans would be like if that happened!), I know it's great for the Big 12 to have K-State strong in basketball again. Just as long as we don't lose to them too often... :-)

Chris Shaw 11 years, 2 months ago

Jesse, I have to rain on your parade a little bit. Although, I think defense efficiency according to Ken Pom can be a a very telling stat, I don't think it tells the whole story. I've watched a lot of college basketball this season and I've had a chance to watch quite a few of Kansas State's games. Out of all the teams in the country I've seen play, I think Purdue and Kansas State have the most "Intensity" and on the ball pressure in the country.

However, there is a catch. Does pressure and intensity relate to good defense? In Kansas State's and Purdue's case I think it does even though they only have a Top 30 defense efficienty rating. There is no denying that Kansas State's fouls per game is top's in the country (363 Team fouls through 16 games), which means they are sending more teams the free throw line. Is that good? It depends whether or not your team is a good free-throw shooting team. I think Kansas State takes a lot of risks on "D", but I think it's a brand of basketball that can be commended and can take you far in the tourney.

The only reason I brought it up is because I love the intensity of KSU on defense individually. Team wise their defense isn't as good as KU"s, but IMO KSU makes their opponent a little more uncomfortable on the perimeter than KU. It's interesting, but I honestly feel KSU's "D" is not their weak point. Teams are going to have to knock down free throws to beat them. Live and die by your bread butter.

Texas: 16 games 304 fouls Missouri: 17 games 334 fouls Kansas: 16 games 290 fouls Kansas State: 16 games 363 fouls Baylor: 15 games 256 fouls Okie State: 16 games 312 fouls A&M: 16 games 300 fouls Colorado: 16 games 337 fouls OU: 16 games 246 fouls Iowa State: 16 games 248 fouls Tech: 16 games 334 fouls Nebraska: 17 games 314 fouls

Purdue: 16 games 322 fouls

Chris Shaw 11 years, 2 months ago

I also forgot to mention Villanova! Villanova, KSU, and Purdue would be my Top 3 in terms of fire and intensity. Guess what Villanova has in terms of fouls? 340 fouls through 16 games. It's an interesting stat. Those 3 teams definitely get after defensively.

Steve Brown 11 years, 2 months ago

Love KANSAS Love Big 12 KState strong in BB helps us. Final Four, a long shot.

As long as Mizzery never gets out of the elite eight, I'm good with a Big 12 F Four.

PS: How the heck is UNC ranked and that Iowa kid should decomit.

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