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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Tait

Matt Tait: Jayhawks embracing quality 3-point attempts

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) puts up a three from the corner against Vanderbilt during the second half, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015 at Lahaina Civic Center in Lahaina, Hawaii.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) puts up a three from the corner against Vanderbilt during the second half, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015 at Lahaina Civic Center in Lahaina, Hawaii.

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— It makes little sense that, with its best shooter sitting at home back on the mainland, the Kansas University men's basketball team would roll through the field at the Maui Invitational with the three-pointer serving as the team's most dangerous weapon.

But, so far at least, hasn't this been the season of little sense for the Jayhawks?

A day that began with the long overdue clearing of Kansas freshman Cheick Diallo by the NCAA, ended with the Jayhawks blistering the nets at Lahaina Civic Center for the third consecutive day en route to knocking off No. 19 Vanderbilt, 70-63, in the title game.

Suspended junior Brannen Greene could only watch from Lawrence, Kansas, as his teammates filled up the nets in his place. At this rate, with Greene in the dog house and Diallo headed into the rotation, it's only logical to think that the group that delivered coach Bill Self his first Maui Invitational championship might be the guys this team rides with the rest of the way.

The Jayhawks entered Wednesday's championship game having drained 43 of 93 three-point attempts in four games this season. That's good for 46.2 percent and an average of nearly 11 threes per game. The number went up to 46.8 percent by game's end.

In Wednesday's first half alone, KU (4-1) drilled 5 of 10 from downtown, led by the hot stroke of junior guard Wayne Selden Jr., who hit 3-of-4 from the outside and, during one stretch, looked unstoppable. KU finished 8 of 16 from three for the game, marking the fourth time in the past five halves that the Jayhawks shot 50 percent or better from three-point land.

“We felt like we had to take away the three-point line from them in order to win the game,” said Vandy coach Kevin Stallings. “And we didn't do that.”

After particularly hot-shooting nights during the recent past, Self has referred to the three-point shot as “fool's gold,” and he likely will go to his grave saying that making shots is no way to win basketball games.

But his Jayhawks sure challenged that theory these past three days in Maui, and even though Self probably has not changed his philosophy on the shot, the best indicator that he's at least OK with his team letting 'em fly was that the Jayhawks did not stop shooting them in Hawaii. KU averaged 23 three-point attempts per game at the tournament. And 37 percent of the shots KU took this week came from behind the arc.

Get this: the Kansas teams with the four highest three-point shooting seasons in school history (271 in 2010-11 and 2007-08, 262 in 2009-10 and 231 in 2006-07) all were coached by Self.

Here's the thing about the three-point shot, basketball's great equalizer: It can be a lot like the cool kid in class. When it's forced, it looks awful and rarely works out well. When it comes within the flow of the offense and is the result of touches in the post and an extra pass or two, it looks as smooth as silk.

These Jayhawks, at least so far, have the discipline to understand the difference. There are a bunch of guys on this team who love shooting the three, but few who have fallen in love with taking it. That was on full display during Wednesday's title game. Selden flashed his step-back game and drove to the rim like he was in Korea. Devonté Graham and Frank Mason III continued to attack the rim and set up teammates. Heck, even Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, who factored into this tournament almost exclusively as a three-point marksman, drove to the rim and finished off the glass a couple of times during the victory.

So maybe those folks pumping out the popular Twitter hashtag #FreeTheThree should consider adding a word to the slogan — #FreeTheQualityThree.

This team may never shoot it like Self's squads that had Tyrel Reed and Brady Morningstar in 2010-11, or the '08 championship team — each group made a KU record 271 three-pointers during those seasons — but with all of the weapons the current KU team possesses, both inside and out, they might not be able to avoid it. 

— See what people were saying about the Maui Invitational title game (and Cheick Diallo) during KUsports.com’s live coverage





More news and notes from Kansas vs. Vanderbilt


By the Numbers: Kansas 70, Vanderbilt 63

By the Numbers: Kansas 70, Vanderbilt 63

Comments

Steve Zimmerman 3 years, 11 months ago

Finally coach Self realized he can't always depend on hi-lo offense. Ellis gets denied regularly, Lucas can't move his feet, Traylor always kicks the ball out. Now, we've got options from outside, or clearing out the inside for penetrating guards. Great adjustment in offense. This win wouldn't have been possible without the bench production. Svi doesn't settle for 3s all the time. This guy has a great bball IQ. Bragg also has a great court vision - better than Ellis. I wish coach will give more minutes to the bench. Playing them more will only help the team. They will become more confident, more comfortable. Just like our guards getting more comfortable shooting 3s.

Kent Richardson 3 years, 11 months ago

Svi is lanky with some hops. He truly looks like a 6'8" guy. I agree on Bragg he looks composed and talented with a mid range and rim game. If they do get more touches this team will be very hard for most teams to handle. If we can score, which we can, then look out Iowa State and OU.

Jared Reeves 3 years, 11 months ago

Steve, I couldn't agree more. If HCBS ever learns that offense is equally important as defense in winning games, and learns to spread the floor more when you have athletes (like Duke does) we will go to the Final Four more often than not.

Great article.

Dale Rogers 3 years, 11 months ago

There are two ways to win games: Offense (score more than the other team scores) and Defense (make sure the other team scores less than you do). Combine those and we have a championship caliber team.

Ashwin Rao 3 years, 11 months ago

I feel that “fool's gold” comment that Coach made once will be with him all the way through his career, and I am sure some of the competing coaches are also using that right now. I think we should retire that for now... times have changed since the comment was made, and it looks like Coach is beginning to change too (esp. after 2nd half)...

The two comments above mine are very relevant. Offense needs to get a higher focus, and 3 ptr has it's place. We need to move on from hi-lo offense when it is not working, especially with the type of Bigs that we have (Cheick may change this). But I am very happy with our progress, especially after the loss against the Spartans earlier this year.

Bill Meyer 3 years, 11 months ago

Get this: the Kansas teams with the four highest three-point shooting seasons in school history (271 in 2010-11 and 2007-08, 262 in 2009-10 and 231 in 2006-07) all were coached by Self.

Steve Zimmerman 3 years, 11 months ago

Ummm.. last champs Duke, UConn, Cards: drained 283/732, 287/741, 230/691 attempts. While KU attempted only around 500-600 3s during those seasons. KU's 2008 champ made 271 out of 683 attempts. Right after that, the 3 attempts had diminished season after season. Looks to me team that 'loves to shoot from downtown' has more chance to win it all. How do you win basketball games? You outscore the other team. The more a team can score the better off they will be. Let the players fall in love with the 3s. Let them feel more comfortable shooting them. The more 3 scorers we have the better we are. Hint:Warriors.

W Keith Swinehart II 3 years, 11 months ago

Great article after a terrific game. Love the three. Hate the three. But you gotta do it; just don't fall in love with it. I believe that Self's "fool's gold" comment likely followed a game where the team "forced" the three, and got lucky. Last night's game clearly illustrated that the three, when inserted in the flow of the game, is a highly effective weapon.

Adam Collins 3 years, 11 months ago

Great article. Coach Self has been forced to make a decision regarding how to run his teams the past few years. Ellis is great in the post as long as he isn't going against somebody with great length (the half time show commentators could even see that) which has been demonstrated multiplease times last year and certainly last night. When that happens and we don't have an Embiid, Morri, Aldrich, or Withey to score, how do you win the game? It seems like Self has decided driving and kicking for a three or mid range jumper is how we will do it.

Day Shepherd 3 years, 11 months ago

Coach Self is a great coach and I think he values 3pt shooting. However I think developing shooters requires a willingness to let them be gunslingers rather than require them to be all around players with great defense. Let them first be free to fly then develop the rest. Even Paul Pierce was reigned in too much at KU. NCAA hopes at KU have often been lost by conservative shooting methodology early in the season that produce hesitation for fear of being benched. You cant suddenly change your mentality. Greatness also requires hitting the shot when well guarded. Steve great stats on attempts in NCAA Champions. Jeff Boschee was the last KU player with 800 attempts.

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