Saturday, January 10, 2015


Column: Believe your eyes when watching Jayhawks

Kansas forward Jamari Traylor (31) fights for control of a rebound with UNLV guard Cody Doolin (45) during the second half on Sunday, Jan. 4, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Jamari Traylor (31) fights for control of a rebound with UNLV guard Cody Doolin (45) during the second half on Sunday, Jan. 4, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.


Newfangled statistical analytics have shed some light on how certain players and teams perform, but they carry way too much weight in that some people don’t trust what they see with their eyes unless it’s when they are using those eyes to read analytics.

I’ll never forget a story I read about how a computer figured out that the Catherine Zeta-Jones had the perfect facial features, bone structure, etc., for the big screen. Really? A computer can make an objective, definitive statement on a subjective topic?

Always trust what your eyes see live, first, and then see if the computer verifies, and if not, ask why not?

As enjoyable as analytics can be at times, it’s still instructive to look at old-fashion, stand-alone numbers and see what stories they tell.

Such as:

1.) Kansas is shooting .905 from the free-throw line in the final five minutes.

What does it say? The players are in the right physical and mental condition to withstand fatigue and pressure. It also says the ball gets into the right hands at times when opponents are likely to commit fouls.

2.) Brannen Greene is 17-for-17 from the free-throw line.

What does it say? His form never varies. He nods at whatever the ref tells him, takes two quick dribbles, looks at the rim, swish. His shooting touch is soft, and he loves to shoot, whether it’s with the ball in play or he’s alone at the line, the target of barbs on the road, the center of attention in a silent building at home.

3.) Greene has played 198 minutes and does not yet have a steal.

What does it say? His defensive instincts pale compared to those at the other end. He doesn’t have that super-quick first step some have, and he doesn’t make playing disruptive defense a priority.

4.) Wayne Selden’s two-point percentage (.348) actually is worse than his three-point percentage (.358).

What does it say? Some of those misses at the rim have come on attempted spectacular dunks. Although such plays do fire up crowds if the ball goes in, it’s generally a better idea to take the highest-percentage shot available. Another possible explanation: He speeds himself so much to make moves, trying to spark a stagnant offense, and puts up the shot before slowing himself down enough to take a soft shot.

5.) Jamari Traylor ranks first on the team with 24 floor burns, and Perry Ellis is second with 21.

What do those stats say? They have been around long enough to know that the way to earn minutes is to dive for every loose ball as if it were a pot of gold.


Joe Ross 5 years, 9 months ago

Funny you should mention this, because Ive actually been thinking about it: there is a contradiction between what I see and the results. Anywhere else, the record that this year's team has achieved against the level of competition it has faced would leave the fans quite satisfied. So why are we (some of us) left feeling like a wet sock? Lack of consistency, lack of intensity, worst field goal percentage in a decade, lack of defense, inability to score in the paint over bigger competition, poor passing, no transition game and, worst of all, no "wow" factor (dunks). Somehow it all adds up to a 12-2 record and a No. 12 ranking. Id love to know what the secret sauce is for THAT recipe. Somehow this Kansas team finds a way to win. Until it doesnt.

Bryce Landon 5 years, 9 months ago

That "wet sock" line cracked me up. To answer your question, there's more to why we feel like a "wet sock" than what you mentioned. You forgot to mention that our two losses were by a combined 57 points. When we are bad, we are F-minus bad.

Aaron Paisley 5 years, 9 months ago

It mirrors the 2012 team. Frank Mason is willing this team to victories the way Tyshawn did in 2012. This is a very mentally tough team that expects to win every close game they play. This team won't blow a lot of people out and most wins will be ugly. Can this team duplicate the postseason success of 2012 is the biggest question at this point.

Sarah Jane Watson 5 years, 9 months ago

Jamari with 24 floor burns, Perry with 21, but Perry has played 396 minutes while Jamari has played only 265. Now what do those stats say?

John Randall 5 years, 9 months ago

They say, to me at least, that our bigs with the most tenure (3rd year) want the ball enough to go after it.

Suzi Marshall 5 years, 9 months ago

I recently read where Stephen Hawking predicted with Artificial Intelligence the masters of the future will "end of the human race.

It seems the NCAA NC Tournament was set up to defy that prediction for as long as possible. For all the uncertainty variables to not bite a team over 6 games makes the race for the NC a gamblers paradise.

2) Shooting only 17 FTs always tell you that Self does not want him driving to the basket like Mason or Selden. Apparently Self wants Greene hanging around outside for the 3 ball, like Paxton and Kern with the Bulls.

4) With regards to Selden's low percentage finishing, he's far to good of an athlete and has probably been "unlucky" to be that low. Plus, Selden has suffered from all kinds of fouls but receiving numerous no-calls, Selden can finish at a high percentage. We he does, Kansas will be exponentially better.

James Miller 5 years, 9 months ago

Stephen Hawking is so smart...he is dumb!

Raymond Wright 5 years, 9 months ago

We used to call them scify authors, now we call them astro theorists.

Joe Ross 5 years, 9 months ago

Reality is truly stranger than fiction at times.

Joe Ross 5 years, 9 months ago

Suzi...this particular comment of yours is unusually disjointed. Incomplete sentences, distracting spelling errors (probably expected from most, but not from you), missing bullet points, and points which dont seem to directly relate to the observations above them. Somehow I went from Stephen Hawking and AI to Wayne Selden finishing around the rim...all in a handful of sentences. I'm Lost In Space...

Suzi Marshall 5 years, 9 months ago

i had a golf t-time to rush out to make. It's a little warmer in Houston than KC.

Rodney Crain 5 years, 9 months ago

Statistics are only history, either long or short term. History can be argued, even video history (see NY), by anyone. Most coaches, I believe, look at a few of key stats to determine trends or aspects of their teams performance up to a certain point to see if modifications need to be made, or improvement in certain areas must be made overall. Even Self read off most of the key stats for our nonconf season to his team over the holiday break.

We measure ourselves in everything we do (our weight, sports, public opinion, our jobs, our status, etc...), some stats are more meaningful than others, some can determine if you will retain your job. Since stats are written down, in the field of play during the match they mean very little. You cannot measure intangibles, heart, luck, mistakes, the officials, nor will.

As they say this is why we play the games.

To Tom's old school review, 1 - does not mean much if you only get a few FT tries (like Baylor) - with my eyes I saw Frank miss the last three throw attempt and put us in a touchy situation at the end of that game. I agree it is a nice stat but was meaningless in that game and others this season. Also if you miss a ton of FT's during the game you do not get those back at the end of the game. 2,3 - not sure I need those stats... Greene is streaky shooter, but a great free throw shooter, knew that. He is not and has not defended well. He could have had his first steal against UNLV if he would have just bent down to pick up the ball. The reason he only has 17 attempts? He gets taken out of the game a lot for bad defense.
4- Maybe all it means is he is just not that good a shooter too? He shot 45% FG, 34% from 3 last year. For a guy playing around 30 mins. a game, I would hope for more efficiency.
5- I will applaud effort every time.

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