Monday, December 5, 2016

Gameday Breakdown: No. 3 KU basketball vs. UMKC

Kansas head coach Bill Self questions one of his players during the second half on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas head coach Bill Self questions one of his players during the second half on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.


No. 3 Kansas Jayhawks (7-1) vs. UMKC Roos (6-3)

Time: 7 p.m. | Location: Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, Kansas

TV: Jayhawk TV/ESPN3 | Radio: IMG Jayhawk Radio Network

Log on to for our live game blog coverage and follow the staff on Twitter: @KUSports @mctait @TomKeeganLJW @bentonasmith & @nightengalejr

Keys for Kansas

1. Defend the three

KU coach Bill Self said the thing that impressed him most about UMKC’s team was its offensive freedom. The Roos shot 34 three-pointers in their most recent game and are shooting .430 from three-point range for the season.

The UMKC offense features six players (minimum 10 attempts) that are shooting .423 or better from three-point range this season.

KU senior Frank Mason III said that was the thing that jumped out to him the most when doing a little scouting of his own on KU’s next opponent.

“They’ve got a lot of guys that like to shoot the three-point shot,” Mason said. “They compete a lot, they’ve got a good coach and we’re looking forward to the game.”

2. Be ready for multiple looks

Before landing at UMKC, Roos head coach Kareem Richardson spent one year (2012-13) in the Louisville program, coaching with Rick Pitino.

Richardson also has stops at Xavier, Drake, Evansville, Wright State and Indiana State on his assistant coaching resume.

Although Self made sure to point out that one year with Pitino did not mean that Richardson has tried to make UMKC a Louisville clone, it did at least force him to take a refresher course on what Pitino does to make sure his team was prepared for anything.

“Whether or not they play a match-up zone a lot (like Louisville), I don’t know,” Self said. “But (we need to be able to) attack that. I think, for the most part, it’s can our quickness match their quickness.”

3. Free throws, free throws, free throws

During last weekend’s win over Stanford, KU’s struggles from the free throw line (.598 as a team so far this season) continued, as the Jayhawks knocked down just 13 of 22 attempts in the 15-point win.

Self said after the game that he was not going to make a big deal about the free throw woes because he did not want the issue to become something even more mental than it already was. But on Tuesday he elaborated a little.

“We’re not gonna work on it much,” he admitted. “We’ll shoot free throws and there’s ways you can incorporate more free throws in practice.... (But) we’re not a bad free throw shooting team. If you eliminate the freshmen and our walk-ons, I think we’re shooting about 70 percent, which isn’t bad.... The reality of it is, we’re a 70 percent free throw shooting team and I’m sure stats will play out that way over time. But we’re not a great free throw shooting team.”

In addition to some first-year players bringing down the average, Self also said the Jayhawks were not getting the right guys to the line. While Mason (32-of-44) and Josh Jackson (23-of-41) have been their share of times, shooters Devonte’ Graham (14-of-18) and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (1-of-2) have not been to the line nearly as much as Self would like.

Mega Matchup

UMKC’s LaVell Boyd vs. KU’s backcourt depth

With senior guard and Kansas City native Martez Harrison still suspended for the Kansas game, a big portion of the pressure to carry the UMKC offense will fall on guard LaVell Boyd, a 6-foot, 180-pound senior from Chicago who leads the Roos in scoring (19.1 ppg) and ranks 22nd nationally in three-pointers made (28) and 35th nationally in total points (172). The Jayhawks have the luxury of throwing multiple defenders at Boyd, from 5-foot-11 Mason and 6-2 Devonte’ Graham to 6-5 wing Lagerald Vick and even 6-8 freshman Josh Jackson. The last time the Jayhawks faced a similar situation, they held Georgia leading scorer J.J. Frazier, a 5-10 senior guard, to two points on 1-of-10 shooting in an 11-point Kansas win.

Jayhawk Pulse

The Jayhawks have been in a bit of a holding pattern of late, with the guards carrying the team to seven consecutive victories and the big men still trying to find themselves.

Like it or not, that approach has worked — thanks in part to Self’s coaching and also to the tremendous talent of KU’s backcourt — but in order to ensure that his team is ready for the rigors of Big 12 play (which tips off 24 days from today), Self wants more.

The Jayhawks still have plenty of areas in which they can improve, with low-post play, consistent rebounding and free throw shooting being at or near the top of the list.

With just four tune-ups remaining before Big 12 play (counting tonight), the opportunity to fine tune and fix these concerns is running low.

“We’re gonna get better,” Self said. “I really think, starting next week and then over the course of Christmas, we’ve got a chance to really try to get better, doing some things that we haven’t really put in the two-hour practices to date because of our schedule.”

Probable Starters

No. 3 Kansas

G – Frank Mason III, 5-11, 190, Sr.

G – Devonte’ Graham, 6-2, 185, Jr.

G – Josh Jackson, 6-8, 207, Fr.

F – Lagerald Vick, 6-5, 175, Soph.

F – Udoka Azubuike, 7-0, 280, Fr.


G – LaVell Boyd, 6-0, 180, Sr.

G – Isaiah Ross, 6-4, 195, Fr.

G – Broderick Robinson, 6-1, 195, Jr.

F – Kyle Steward, 6-7, 195, Sr.

C – Darnell Tillman, 6-8, 250, Sr.


Kent Richardson 4 years, 2 months ago

We are not shooting about 70% but about 58%. Out of 350 teams we are 340th approx. Not necessarily a killer stat but we are giving up 10 points a game in made FT's to OSU. We suck and in a future game where it matters it's a definite concern. I will say that when a game is on the line even 90% shooters miss and the greatest ever,Ted St. Marten, said shooters miss at crunch time when they tend to fall away instead of their usual follow through. The FT missed by Derrick Rose at the end of our title game helped us tie it up. Watching Steve Alford miss last week at Rupp brought back that memory.

Baylor, Huggy Bear U and OSU have all impressed me so far. Texas' frosh big man (Allen?)looks really raw and unsure. ISU misses Niang as much as we miss Perry.

Carlton is scoring within 4 ppg of where I projected him to about 11-12 ppg so that's acceptable. Our guards are so great that it will be a shame if big men like IU's and Stanford's kill us and deny us a 13th straight title or early tourney exit. There's plenty of time and we don't need Udoka or Lucas to score a lot but we do need to deny the easy '"and ones" and stop foul after foul.

Marius Rowlanski 4 years, 2 months ago

I think Coach Self was saying that he believes as the season progresses our percentage at the free-throw line will move up to the 70% level. But as both you and Jay point out, our percentage so far this season is under 60%.

Azubuike is shooting 33% at the line and both Bragg and Lucas are above 60%. Jackson is surprisingly low at 56%, Mason, Graham and Vick all shoot over 70%.

Good post Kent.

Kent Richardson 4 years, 2 months ago

I tried not to overstate it because WVU and Baylor we only give up about 4 points a game.

RJ King 4 years, 2 months ago

"If you eliminate the freshmen and our walk-ons, I think we’re shooting about 70 percent, which isn’t bad.... "

Mason, Graham, Vick, Svi, Bragg, Lucas and Coleby are a combined 69%. Almost exactly what Self thought.

Jay Scott 4 years, 2 months ago

Welcome back. Your excellent observations and ideas were missed.

Gerry Butler 4 years, 2 months ago

Thank you RJ - - - need to read everything that was said

Gerry Butler 4 years, 2 months ago

he said we are shooting around 70% without the freshman stats and walk ons

Harlan Hobbs 4 years, 2 months ago

Free throw shooting is always a big factor in success. However, it won't be needed in this game.

Hopefully, we will get better in "crunch time" as most of our guys should be naturally good free throw shooters. Certainly, if Landen steps up his game and gets more playing time, the percentage should increase. On the other hand, if Udoka becomes more of a force inside, then maybe that production will compensate some for his poor free throw mechanics.

Unfortunately, poor free throw shooters can be a real handicap in the final minutes of a close game. Unless they change the rules, "hack a Shaq" could become a normal strategy.

Marius Rowlanski 4 years, 2 months ago

Surprisingly, I have found myself wishing for a renewal of our rivalry with Missouri. Even though Kansas State is our natural rival, I don't remember it ever reaching the level of KU v Missouri.

Originally, after Missouri left the Big 12, I felt that they no longer should get the honor of playing inside Allen Fieldhouse but the only other time I feel the same intensity is during the Conference championship and of course the NCAA.

Was wondering if anyone else felt the same?

Jay Scott 4 years, 2 months ago

I plan trips west on I-70 from KC so that no stops are needed in that vile place.

Henry Joseph Hofmeister 4 years, 2 months ago

Not at this point, no. Their athletic dept has been so sketchy as of late I don't know why good players would choose to go there. There is no stability. Their best selling point is the away games at this point so we can do much better playing other teams. I'd rather develop a non-con rival in Wichita State than misery at this point.

Steve Grimm 4 years, 2 months ago

No and No. While I admit that I am surprised how fast the rivalry embers between KU and MU fans died out after they vacated, in no way do I really care to play them - EVER. I like the fact that they keep asking to play us and we keep saying no. They are not getting their cake and eating it too. I would rather enjoy watching their program dissolve into complete irrelevance than to offer some kind of life preserver that they can use to recruit. They are dead to me and dead they shall remain. Can I get an Amen?

Jay Scott 4 years, 2 months ago

Lucas, Bragg, Azubuike, Coleby and Lightfoot should ideally play a combined 80 mins.

Suzi Marshall 4 years, 2 months ago

Which of our 5 outstanding guards would you want to take off the court to get those bigs to 80 minutes? I'd be happy if we could get one game or 40 minutes from those bigs. I'm thinking Self will go without a true 5, moving Jackson to the middle for maybe 10-20 mpg and Bragg to the stretch 4 spot.

Marius Rowlanski 4 years, 2 months ago

Any chance of that happen depends on Lucas returning to late last season form and Bragg to start playing to his potential. If you have Bragg making midrange jumpers and grabbing rebounds then we can give our guards a little more rest as conference play begins.

Lightfoot has been dreadful in just about every aspect and should have redshirted his first season as we might need him to contribute more next season unless we land another big in the spring. I don't know if our Bigs could play a combined 80 minutes without fouling out. 80 minutes of quality play would be great, I just don't think they can achieve that number.

Suzi, I think you come in at the low end with only 40 minutes per game. Lucas and Bragg along should be able to play 50 minutes. At 40 minutes, you're basically playing four guards and one big for the entire game. That might work against the majority of the teams we play this season but it won't get us very far in March. Jay says 80, I'd be happy with 60+.

Henry Joseph Hofmeister 4 years, 2 months ago

dok is developing so quickly just like Joel did. I could see him starting the rest of the year if landen doesn't come around. Foul trouble is a major thing although he seems to get it better than landen or bragg. I agree that it will be hack-a-shaq on him by the end of January if he doesn't get better from the line. I'd like to see less smiling from Carlton and more determination and concentration on what he is doing. He seems to be playing the guard fast game when he may need to slow it down and play more like Perry. He has the explosiveness where he can stop and slow down then blow by a defender. Be a consistent 10 and 10.

Barry Weiss 4 years, 2 months ago

dok also pays dividends as a rim protector we do not get out of any other big. They ALL had foul problems last game against Stanford's legit big.So I'm for starting Dok as long as he is as least as equal to Lucas in scoring and rebounding.

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