Visiting kenpom.com is a nice way to get a feel for how the numbers for your favorite college basketball team stack up nationally.
The adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency rankings are particularly interesting. Purdue is the nation's only squad to rank in the top 10 in both categories.
Adding the schools' offensive ranking to its defensive ranking offers a little insight as to what teams play well enough at both ends to create problems for the opposition.
A look at the top 10 schools, blending Kenpom.com's offensive and defensive efficiency rankings:
|School (AP rank)
|1 - Purdue (3)
|2 - Michigan State (9)
|3 (tie)- North Carolina (15)
|3 (tie) - Villanova (1)
|5 (tie) - Gonzaga (13)
|5 (tie) - Virginia (2)
|7 (tie) - Kansas (10)
|7 (tie) - Ohio State (22)
|9 - Tennessee (21)
|10 - Texas Tech (8)
Three of last season's Final Four participants — Gonazaga (18), North Carolina (20) and Oregon (34) — finished with a top 10 blended total. South Carolina (94) was the exception, but the Gamecocks were exceptional at one end of the floor, ranking third nationally.
Duke, second-most efficient offensive team, and West Virginia, the nation's ninth-most efficient defensive squad, lurk as potential Final Four participants who are decidely better at one end of the floor than the other.
The nation's top 10 offensive teams, according to Kenpom.com.
|1 - Villanova||1||27||28|
|2 - Duke||2||78||80|
|3 - Saint Mary's||3||123||126|
|4 - TCU||4||131||135|
|5 - Arizona State||5||127||132|
|6 - Purdue||6||5||11|
|7 - Gonzaga||7||23||30|
|8 - Xavier||8||75||83|
|9 - Marquette||9||145||154|
|10 - Kansas||10||30||40|
The 2016 Final Four featured three schools with top-10 blended rankings (Villanova, North Carolina and Oklahoma), plus Syracuse, which ranked 50th in adjusted offensive efficiency and 18th defensively, thanks to its stingy 2-3 zone defense. A look at this season's top 10 in adjusted defensive efficiency rankings, per kenpom.com:
|1 - Virigina
|2 - Cincinnati
|3 - Texas Tech
|4 - UCF
|5 - Purdue
|6 - Texas
|7 - Miami (Fla.)
|8 -Michigan State
|9 - West Virginia
|10 - Texas A&M
Kansas State landed the biggest surprise of the week so far in the Big 12, blasting Oklahoma, 87-69, in Manhattan by holding Trae Young to 20 points Tuesday night.
That result, coupled with Texas Tech losing to Texas, left Kansas alone atop of the Big 12 with a 5-1 record.
K-State coach Bruce Weber threw a little second-hand credit for the job the Wildcats did on Young to former Kansas guard Frank Mason.
Junior Barry Brown was the primary defender against Young and had plenty of help from teammates adhering to what seems to be the book on how to play Young: be physical.
“I think we wanted him to try to make him make big plays and stay in on him,” Weber said of defending Young. “And Barry’s a good defender. I’m not sure people realize how good he is. He was one of the leading steal guys in the Big 12 and in the country last year. He’s guarded all the team’s best players. He’s taken it upon himself.”
Mason, national player of the year last season, was among Brown’s assignments.
“You go against Frank Mason for two years, you’re going to get cooked, but you’re going to learn from it,” Weber said.
Young’s 20-point output was his lowest since scoring 15 points against Omaha in his college debut.
“Barry locked into him and he’s a little bigger, a little more physical,” Weber said.
Young made 2 of 10 3-pointers in the loss to Kansas State.
If Brown had done better in the final possession of the 73-72 loss to Kansas, when his low-percentage, 25-footer kissed off the front of the rim at the buzzer, five teams would share the Big 12 lead with 4-2 records.
Many will go to their graves believing that the $12.5 million Charlie Weis was paid to coach Kansas for two-and-one-third seasons was his primary motivation for accepting athletic director Sheahon Zenger’s surprising job offer.
I never believed that. I thought it ranked second to his chief motivation, which became obvious at his introductory press conference. Weis took the Kansas job to use it as a vehicle to launch his son Charlie Jr.’s coaching career. The $12.5 million was a nice fringe benefit, but helping his son on his way to a coaching profession meant more to Tom Brady’s former offensive coordinator.
It worked. Florida Atlantic head coach Lane Kiffin hired Weis Jr. as his offensive coordinator, ESPN reported this morning.
“He's way ahead of his time in how he sees the game, his football IQ and just his overall intelligence," Kiffin told ESPN. "He's been around the game with his dad being a coach, a lot like I was when I was growing up, and has a bright future."
Monte Kiffin, a defensive assistant for eight different NFL franchises, works on his son’s staff.
In hiring Charlie Weis, Jr., Lane Kiffin has the youngest offensive coordinator in the nation. Charlie Jr., 24, worked as a student assistant under his father at Florida, where Charlie Sr. was offensive coordinator, and at Kansas. Charlie Jr. graduated from Kansas in 2015.
Charlie Jr. worked under Nick Saban as a non-recruiting offensive analyst in 2015-16 and then worked for the Atlanta Falcons as an offensive assistant.
At KU, Charlie Jr. earned a reputation as an intelligent, hard worker with a more low-key personality than his father.
At his introductory press conference, Charlie Sr. shared aloud his fantasy: Turn around the KU football program in five years or so and then turn it over to a more affordable Weis, Charlie Jr. Sure, Jr.'s name put him on the fast track, but he'll make or break a career on his own. Players and coaches who came to know Weis Jr. as nice, hard-working young man will be rooting for him.
All three bowl-game starting quarterbacks for Kansas were vertically challenged by Big 12 standards, but not challenged at stretching the field vertically, which of course is far more important.
Bill Whittemore, Jason Swanson and Todd Reesing combined to go 3-1 in bowl games at Kansas. Reesing was listed at 5-foot-11, Whittemore and Swanson at 6-foot.
Miles Kendrick, a native of San Jose who spent one semester at San Mateo Community Collge before enrolling at Kansas, is even shorter at 5-10.
That doesn’t mean he’ll be good, but it does take the air out of the inevitable question: If he’s any good, why didn’t anyone else offer him a scholarship? The bigger the program, the less likely the coaching staff will take a chance on a short quarterback.
Kendrick started the season second on San Mateo’s depth chart behind Shawn Akina, son of Stanford defensive backs coach Duane Akina. Despite Akina playing well, Kendrick beat him out from the fourth game on and took his team all the way to the California state juco championship game.
In his first start, Kendrick completed 14 of 21 passes for 263 yards and threw touchdowns without throwing an interception. He rushed for 84 yards on 10 carries and was on his way.
Kendrick wasn’t KU’s first choice. When it became obvious to the KU coaching staff that Texas high school standout Clayton Tune merely was using Kansas to get better offers, he was scratched off the list. Lindsey Scott, Jr., a 5-11 dual-threat QB from East Mississippi CC, visited Kansas but didn’t sign during the early period, which meant he was going elsewhere.
Kendrick will have a chance to show during spring football whether he has the arm strength to make the throws favored by offensive coordinator Doug Meacham. If Miles can beat out Peyton Bender and Carter Stanley, great. If not, he could always spend a year as a redshirt, spending four-and-a-half years at Kansas. Either way, his addition to the class means that the coaching staff doesn’t have to force the issue in making sure a high school quarterback is part of this recruiting class.
At this point, not as many prospects are available as in the Class of 2019, so might as well delay that a year. Best guess as to how many scholarships KU has left this season: Four. Why waste one on a high school quarterback unless a must-have prospect surfaces?
KU will have a senior (Bender), junior (Stanley) and two sophomores (Kendrick and Tyriek Starks) on scholarship in 2018, and four is the right number to have on a roster.
Obviously, without better blocking and fewer receiver drops, it will be tough for any QB to get much accomplished this coming season.
Morgantown, W. Va. — Four schools established themselves very early in this Big 12 season as the top tier of the conference and sure enough all four are tied atop the standings with a 4-1 record. The other six schools all have losing records and everyone has at least one victory.
A deeper look at the standings reveals that some 4-1 records are better than others.
Kansas coach Bill Self, who has won at least a share of the Big 12 title in 13 consecutive seasons, keeps a different sort of standings in his head. It credits teams one point for road victories and subtracts one point for home losses. Home victories and road losses are neutral results in the Self-made standings.
Per Self’s standings, West Virginia is alone in first place and the other three 4-1 schools are tied for second.
I also include here each of the four schools’ record against other Tier I schools and labeled it the Tier I round-robin standings. In those, Texas Tech is alone in first, Kansas alone in fourth.
If Kansas, the only school with a three-game winning streak in conference play, can score a mini-upset tonight, that would move the Jayhawks to the role of favorites in the minds of many and, at least temporarily, would move KU into first in the Self scoring system as the only school at +2.
If the Mountaineers, four-point favorites, can extend KU’s Morgantown losing streak to five years, they would remain atop the Self standings and move into a tie in the Tier I round-robin competition.
Big, Big Monday game tonight.
Big 12 standings:
|1 - West Virginia
|2 (tie) - Texas Tech
|2 (tie) - Oklahoma
|2 (tie) - Kansas
|5 (tie) - Kansas St.
|5 (tie) - Texas
|7 (tie) - Oklahoma St.
|7 (tie) - TCU
|7 (tie) - Baylor
|10 - Iowa State
Tier I round-robin standings
|1 - Texas Tech
||2-1||Home: KU, OU
|2 (tie) - West Virginia
||1-1||Home: KU, TT
Road: KU, OU
|2 (tie) - Oklahoma
||1-1||Home: KU, WVU
Road: KU, TT
|4 - Kansas
||0-1||Home: WVU, OU
Road: WVU, TT, OU
Once cleared — could today be the day? — Kansas freshman Silvio De Sousa needs time before he can play long stretches in games for reasons that extend beyond learning the plays and understanding defensive principles.
“I do think his conditioning is lacking,” Kansas basketball coach Bill Self said. “So when your conditioning’s not as good, I do think sometimes you pace yourself.”
That’s where the coaching staff , including strength and conditioning director Andrea Hudy, comes in to push an athlete past his comfort zone.
“Andrea will take him after every practice, whether it’s to do extra in the weight room, where he’s primarily doing what his teammates do, so it is primarily running,” Self said.
Self also looks for opportunities to give De Sousa extra conditioning.
“Like yesterday, I made him do a drill in front of the team, which was a totally exhausting drill, and he was all excited when he finished it,” Self said. “I said, ‘OK, now on the line you’ve got this, this and this.’ He knows he needs to get in better shape. He’s the first one to tell us that, but it’s a big difference from high school to college. When you stop and think, this dude was playing high school ball just three weeks ago.”
If De Sousa is cleared in time to play Saturday against Kansas State, an 11 a.m. tip in Allen Fieldhouse, those in attendance can expect to see him make his on-court debut.
“He’s been with us long enough that I’d trust him to play in the game,” Self said. “I don’t know if I’d trust him to play in the last three minutes or four minutes, but play in a close game midway through the second half, no question.”
Self said he doesn’t expect it to take long for De Sousa to get into game shape.
“He’s been here now for two weeks and I think it’s expecting too much for him to be 80 or 90 percent of what he can be in the first couple of weeks,” Self said. “But I certainly think by February 1, I believe that to be the case that he can be 100 percent of what he can be.”
His early role will be to bring energy off the bench in short stretches to give Udoka Azubuike rest.
"He’s not going to play enough early on that we’re going to expect him to play 10 straight minutes," Self said. "It’s going to be short spurts so there’s no reason he can’t give us two to three to four minutes where his energy level’s very high, knowing that he’s not going to be in much longer than that anyway.”
I know you have read this opinion in many previous seasons only to be disappointed, but this time it seems as if it can't possibly be anything but accurate: Kansas should have a better defense this coming season than last.
Now that Daniel Wise decided to return, that means that KU has 10 of its leading 11 tacklers, its two sack leaders and its only two players to pick off passes (Hasan Defense and Mike Lee) back for David Beaty's fourth season.
Plus, several defensive players from junior college were recruited with the intention of helping immediately.
Sure, defensive end Dorance Armstrong will be missed a great deal, despite being limited to two sacks a year after totaling 10 as a sophomore. Still, he led all Big 12 defensive ends in tackles and played a part in KU's big improvement against the run.
In 2015, opponents averaged 5.67 yards per carry, placing KU 123rd in the nation. The numbers improved to 5.17 (106th) in 2016 and 4.19 (55th) in 2017. Other than Armstrong, all the players who brought about that improvement return.
The linebackers all are back and the hope is that speedy Kyron Johnson will improve enough from his true freshman to sophomore season to take on a bigger role.
J.J. Holmes, mobile for his size but still in need of shedding a few pounds, Isi Holani (with a medical redshirt gaining him an extra year) and juco recruit Charles Cole have a chance to make defensive tackle a solid position.
Azura Kamara, juco defensive end, is considered by some the jewel of KU's juco class, and Najee Stevens-McKenzie arrives from juco with a reputation as an explosive edge rusher. Josh Ehambe has one more season remaining.
Four juco defensive backs were recruited to try to shore up a shoddy secondary. Will they make KU better against the pass? Can't get much worse. Plus, top 100 high school recruit Corione Harris could win a job right off the bat.
Most importantly, the driven, energetic, talented, experienced Wise is back, which enables the rest of the front six fall into place.
Devonte' Graham knows how to feed the hot hand, but it's also on shooters to know when they have the hot hand and senior Svi Mykhailiuk seems to be doing a better job of it than in past years.
On the topic of hot hands, I'm here to tell you, I have one at the moment. In a column displayed on the front page of the Journal-World sports section Tuesday, I wrote that it's time for the real Malik Newman to stand up. Sure enough, Newman responded with by far his best game for Kansas, dropping 27 points and eight rebounds on visiting Iowa State.
How did I make such a timely call? Pure luck.
Now it's time for me to ride my hot hand and see if my luck can continue. Here goes:
It's time for the NCAA to clear Silvio De Sousa so that he can make his debut Saturday against Kansas State.
It would be a shame for De Sousa to have to wait much longer, given that he gave up his second semester at IMG Academy to join Kansas, which needs the muscle he can add to a thin front-court.
Once De Sousa makes his KU debut, coach Bill Self predicts it will be "three or four weeks" for him to get comfortable. He can still help a little before he's comfortable and probably a lot once he settles in.
For now, we can only rely on Youtube videos to get a feel for what type of player De Sousa is. Highlight tapes show only the good plays, obviously, but even so it's tough not to be impressed with this "Hoop Diamonds" collection of highlights from the 6-foot-9, 245-pound native of Angola.
He doesn't appear to have a particularly long wingspan, but is a quick leaper and perhaps best of all, understands that he can help his team most by staying close to the basket at both ends. It doesn't look as if he'll use his time at Kansas to try to prove to NBA scouts that he has a reliable jump shot. That's the impression Cheick Diallo gave, which is one reason he never logged many minutes for Kansas after making an impressive debut on Dec. 1, 2015, when he totaled 13 points, six rebounds and three blocked shots vs. Loyola (Maryland). In Diallo's remaining 26 games with KU he never surpassed any of those totals.
De Sousa (pronounced deh-SOE-suh, like once-inflated slugger Sammy Sosa) was named MVP of the FIBA Africa Championship in 2016. Silvio Fernando, also of Angola, was an all-tournament selection for that team. Fernando, a 6-10, 245-pound freshman for Maryland, is averaging 11 points and 6.5 rebounds for the Terrapins, coached by former Kansas point guard Mark Turgeon.
De Sousa is at a disadvantage compared to Fernando in that he joined his team mid-year, but still it's encouraging that a player who has not been hyped quite to the extent as De Sousa is making such a big immediate impact at a Big 10 school.
It’s becoming increasingly popular for top NFL prospects to blow off bowl games so as not to risk injury.
No such players fill the rosters for the Tropical Bowl, where non-prospects attempt to remove the word before the hyphen one last time.
The Tropical Bowl, played at 8 a.m. Central time Sunday in Daytona Beach, Fla., is not televised, but is available via subscription at FloFootball.com.
The “all-star” game and two practices that precede it give players a chance to be watched by NFL scouts in attendance. It could result in some players bypassed in the draft gaining invitations they otherwise might not have received to NFL camps.
For three former Kansas football players the game also serves as a mini-reunion of sorts in that all three players were at least part-time starters as juniors on the Jayhawks’ 2016 offense.
Guard Jayson Rhodes and receiver LaQuvionte Gonzalez each started 11 games and quarterback Montell Cozart seven for the 2016 Jayhawks and are teammates on the American Team (Red) vs. the National Team (Blue) in the Tropical Bowl.
The KU offense for which the three players started the majority of games ranked 117th among 128 FBS schools with 4.96 yards per play and led the nation with 36 turnovers. The three Tropical Bowl selections who combined to start 29 starts as juniors combined for three KU starts as seniors. Rhodes, replaced in the starting lineup by Andru Tovi in the starting lineup, was the only of the three to play for KU as a senior.
Offered a chance to switch positions, Cozart instead graduated without participating in spring football and then transferred to Boise State.
Sharing the job with Boise State starter Brett Rypien, Cozart had by far the best season of his career. He completed 62.9 percent of is passes, threw 10 touchdowns, was intercepted just once, and averaged 7.8 yards per pass attempt. He also rushed for 361 yards and four touchdowns, averaging 4.2 yards per attempt.
In parts of four seasons at Kansas, Cozart threw 14 TD passes, 19 interceptions and averaged 5.7 yards per pass attempt. He also averaged 2.5 yards per rush and ran for two touchdowns at Kansas.
Gonzalez caught 62 passes for 729 yards (11.8 yards per catch) and three touchdowns during his lone season at KU. His hands weren’t as sticky when fielding punts as in other areas, such as catching passes.
Gonzalez was dismissed from the team before his senior year and transferred to an NAIA school in Lakeland, Fla., so that he could be eligible to play immediately. Gonzalez caught 60 passes for 1,018 (17 ypc) and 10 touchdowns at Southeastern.
One reason the Big 12 has exceeded preseason expectations has to do with conference point guards, hyped plenty, performing even better than projected.
Numbers guru Ken Pomeroy of kenpom.com uses a statistical formula for his player-of-the-year rankings and has four point guards among his top 10. Three of them play in the Big 12 and one is not West Virginia’s Jevon Carter, who just outplayed Oklahoma freshman phenom Trae Young in West Virginia’s victory at home against the Sooners on Saturday.
A look at the kenpom.com top 10 POY standings:
|1 - Trae Young
(Oklahoma, Fr. PG)
|2 - Jock Landale
Saint Mary's, Sr. C
|3 - Bonzie Colson
Notre Dame, Sr. PF
|4 - Keenan Evans
Texas Tech, Sr. PG
|5 - Marvin Bagley
Duke, Fr. C
|6 - Jalen Brunson
Villanova, Jr. PG
|7 - Deandre Ayton
Arizona, Fr. C
|8 - Mikal Bridges
Villanova, Jr. SF
|9 - Devonte' Graham
Kansas, Sr. PG
|10 - Keita Bates-Diop
Ohio State, Jr. PF