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Recap: How an 'awful' performance still nets a 21-point win

Note: Here is a listing of definitions for some terms used in this blog. Also, feel free to ask questions in the comments section below if something doesn't make sense.

OK, by now you've heard it. Or maybe you've seen it. Or maybe you're about to see it (look below).

Kansas coach Bill Self's first words out of the postgame press conference were this: "We were awful. Let that be your headlines." http://www2.kusports.com/videos/2010/...

I love the coach's honesty. Self didn't hold much back in the press conference following KU's 76-55 victory over Colorado State, opening up instead of clichéing up like many college coaches do.

This much is clear: Self is trying to get his team's attention, which isn't always easy to do after a blowout win. He sees good and wants great.

Still, I sat there and wondered. If KU played so horribly, then how the heck did the Jayhawks still almost win by more than they were favored (21.5 points)?

http://www2.kusports.com/videos/2010/dec/11/33657/

After looking at the box score, here are a few reasons that the game still wasn't close even when KU played "awful."

KU was really, really good on the offensive glass. The Jayhawks picked up 52.9 percent of the available offensive rebounds in the game, which was their best offensive rebounding game in the last two seasons.

It's even more incredible if you think about it. When KU missed a shot on offense, there was a better chance that the Jayhawks would get the rebound than the Rams.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris delivers a put-back dunk over Colorado State forward Andy Ogide during the first half, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris delivers a put-back dunk over Colorado State forward Andy Ogide during the first half, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. by Nick Krug

KU's 50 rebounds were a season-high, as were its 10 blocks.

KU's defense was pretty darned good as well. CSU came in as the third-best shooting team in the nation, posting a 59.9 eFG%. The Rams' worst shooting performance was a 55.2 eFG% effort against Sam Houston State.

Against KU, CSU posted a 33.3 eFG% — its third-worst in four years under coach Tim Miles.

The Jayhawks turned the Rams' greatest strength into a glaring weakness. And they did so by shutting down the shots inside.

Kansas guard Brady Morningstar collides with Colorado State guard Dorian Green during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. In back is Kansas guard Elijah Johnson.

Kansas guard Brady Morningstar collides with Colorado State guard Dorian Green during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. In back is Kansas guard Elijah Johnson. by Nick Krug

CSU came into the game with the third-best, two-point shooting percentage in the country (60.7 percent). The Rams shot just 25.6 percent from two-point range against KU (11 for 43).

Self talked about how CSU "missed shots" after the game, but obviously, KU's defense deserves some of the credit for that.

KU held down Colorado State forward Andy Ogide. The 6-foot-9 senior came in as one of the best shooters in the country, making 68.2 percent of his field goals. In fact, the worst he'd shot in a game this season was 58.3 percent.

Against KU, Ogide shot 30.7 percent (4 of 13).

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson works for position against Colorado State forward Andy Ogide during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson works for position against Colorado State forward Andy Ogide during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. by Nick Krug

Give a lot of credit to KU forward Markieff Morris. After his brother, Marcus, left with an ankle injury, Markieff was able to avoid fouls and play significant minutes for the Jayhawks. Coming in, Markieff averaged a foul every 5.8 minutes he played. On Saturday, he played 28 minutes and had just two fouls.

When KU desperately needed Markieff in the game, he played smart while also holding down a gifted offensive player.

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

Tyshawn Taylor is playing at a high level, and he continued his hot streak against Colorado State on Saturday.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor gets a bucket past Colorado State forward Andre McFarland during the first half, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor gets a bucket past Colorado State forward Andre McFarland during the first half, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. by Nick Krug

The junior guard posted a team-best 1.70 points per possession used and did so while playing three-fourths of the Jayhawks' minutes.

He only used 15.9 percent of the possessions he was in there (which is a bit below NCAA average for a player), but that's not a bad thing for Taylor. His job is to run the team, get others open shots, then take advantage of driving lanes and shots when they are available.

His standard box score line was efficient as well: 12 points, 3-for-5 shooting, 5-for-6 shooting from the free-throw line, six assists, three turnovers, two blocks and two steals.

It also should be noted that on a night when KU didn't pass the ball particularly well (recording only 13 assists), Taylor had nearly half of them (six).

Room for Improvement

For the second straight game, KU was careless with the basketball.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris catches a pass in the paint as Colorado State guard Wes Eikmeier defends during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris catches a pass in the paint as Colorado State guard Wes Eikmeier defends during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. by Nick Krug

The Jayhawks turned it over on 25.4 percent of their possessions, making it their second-worst turnover game of the season, next to Memphis.

Though KU might be excused against a long and athletic team like Memphis, there isn't much excuse for turning it over against Colorado State.

The Rams entered the game almost exactly at the NCAA average when it came to forcing turnovers (CSU forced turnovers on 21.1 percent of possessions; NCAA average is 21.2 percent).

Though KU oftentimes plays "wild" as Self calls it, the last two games, the Jayhawks have been closer to "reckless."

Turning it over against high-steal teams (like Memphis) is one thing. Turning it over against every team, regardless of its defense, is a different problem altogether.

It's an issue that the Jayhawks might not be able to fix immediately, as freshman Josh Selby might make a wild team even wilder when he first enters the KU rotation.

Kansas players Josh Selby, left, Niko Roberts, and Jordan Juenemann celebrate a dunk by teammate Markieff Morris during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.

Kansas players Josh Selby, left, Niko Roberts, and Jordan Juenemann celebrate a dunk by teammate Markieff Morris during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. by Nick Krug

Tough-Luck Line

It's Thomas Robinson. And this is one of the toughest-luck lines of the year.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson dribbles behind his back as he comes away with a steal from Colorado State forward Travis Franklin during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson dribbles behind his back as he comes away with a steal from Colorado State forward Travis Franklin during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. by Nick Krug

Robinson was solid almost all the way across his statistical line. He grabbed 27.6 percent of available offensive rebounds and 20.4 percent of available defensive rebounds, which are both strong numbers. He shot a good percentage from the floor (60.0 eFG%), blocked 16.4 percent of CSU's shot attempts when he was in, and even posted 13.1 percent of his team's assists during his 17 minutes.

His poor free-throw shooting, though, overshadowed what was an otherwise encouraging night.

Robinson was just 1-for-7 from the line, which killed his offensive numbers. Mostly because of the free throws, Robinson posted just 0.67 points per possession while using a high percentage of KU possessions (31.6 percent).

The reason that this is tough luck is that I've talked to Robinson. I know he was frustrated with his free-throw shooting last year, so he dedicated himself to improving in the offseason.

I know he sought out Self, along with KU assistants Danny Manning and Joe Dooley, to help him fix his free-throw form. He also put up extra shots in the summer.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson salutes his teammates while waiting to check in after a Jayhawk bucket against Colorado State during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson salutes his teammates while waiting to check in after a Jayhawk bucket against Colorado State during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. by Nick Krug

Early on this season, he was improved at the line, as he made 8 of 11 free throws in KU's first three games (72.7 percent).

With his recent struggles, he's down to 48.4 percent from the line this year.

That's not because of a lack of effort on his part.

I think we'll see him in the mid-60s by the time this season is over.

Bottom Line

Though Self's harsh comments afterwards were a smart tactic used to get his team's focus, that doesn't necessarily mean that KU played horribly against CSU.

Kansas head coach Bill Self has words for a game official during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.

Kansas head coach Bill Self has words for a game official during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. by Nick Krug

If you're looking for positives, KU's offensive rebounding was great and its defense — especially against Ogide — was stellar.

Colorado State coach Tim Miles gave a great quote after the game before Self even made it to the podium.

"I don't know what Self's complaining about," Miles said. "I thought their defense was just fine."

In reality, KU's defense was just fine. KU was just fine.

It's just that "fine" isn't always good enough for Self, who demands more than that out of his players.

Comments

William Blake 3 years, 11 months ago

"Recap: How an 'awful' performance still nets a 21-point win"

How? You play a high school team, that's how. I can't scorn the team in any way on their performance yesterday because it is tough to come out and play well against teams that don't even belong on your planet.

Scheduling is costing KU big. I'm glad for the news of playing some bigs next year, but this year's highly laughable pre-conf schedule is hurting this team in a big way. Arizona... joke... UCLA... joke... Memphis... joke. We should be playing the Dukes, Memphis States and other top tier teams early on in order to know where we are and put some urgency on improvement.

We, maybe, will find out where we are during conf play. Last year we didn't know where we were until after losing to a Mo Valley team in March.

Marc Frey 3 years, 11 months ago

UCLA was hit hard by players leaving early and almost beat us. AZ is improving. Some games are scheduled out way before anyone has a solid idea of who will be playing. Granted we have had some "cupcakes" but KU always gets the opposing teams best efforts. Most of the cupcakes will win or fight for their conference title. Many will make the dance. Memphis was ranked top 15. and a couple of Big 12 teams are ranked. Calm down.

Ron Franklin 3 years, 11 months ago

Scheduling is done a good deal in advance...It's not KU's fault that once-top-tier programs like UCLA, Cal (not really top tier but competitive), Arizona, Memphis have fallen off this year.

If I remember correctly KU played Michigan State & Michigan in their last two seasons.... besides the Big 12 is enough of a grind. Last year KU had the top RPI d in the country didnt they?

slowplay 3 years, 11 months ago

There are 2 schools of thought on this. Tough, early season competition could make you a better team (or possibly destroy your confidence, see MSU) or an easier schedule will help you work out the kinks and be better down the road (but not be prepared for the nation's elite teams). The key of course is a blend of both. Regardless, KU has has two major weaknesses, FT's and TO's. If those areas do not improve, they will not have a successful season.

KU_FanSince75 3 years, 11 months ago

Self can be demanding, that's for sure! Cool comments from CSU's coach. I did not realize that the Rams had the best 2-point shooting % in the Nation coming into this game and KU's defense will lower that %. But again, it's all about pleasing HCBS. They will get better.

Jacobpaul81 3 years, 11 months ago

Tyrel Reed + Tyshawn Taylor = ZERO Offensive Boards on the season. That's what I've said after every game and it continues to be true. KU was good on the offensive boards because Marcus and Thomas. Brady now has 3 on the season. Not impressive, but certainly touch better. Considering Brandon Rush averaged 1.5 per game from the 3 spot, 3 in 9 games isn't exactly picking up the change. Chalmers and Robinson average .5 per game... in comparison to Reed and Taylor's ZERO. The argument from most would be "There were more available rebounds in 2008" which is wrong. Why? Kansas shot at a 50.8 % clip in 2008, good enough for 2nd in the Nation. The current team is shooting 55.8% against nobody teams. That 5% is of little room for argument and will fall off. However, the offensive rebounding of the guards is not likely to improve against stronger competitors.

Scott Smetana 3 years, 11 months ago

This team needs a tough game against a top 10 team badly. I'm bummed that we not only haven't played a ranked team yet, but likely won't play a team worthy of the NCAA tourney until mid-January (Baylor). I think our patsy schedule is gonna really hurt us in a couple of months.

Can we ditch the Pac 10 hardwood challenge for a conference with decent basketball?

didjabuti 3 years, 11 months ago

Seriously? First, Memphis was ranked #14. Also, very likely Arizona and USC, not to mention Memphis will be tournament teams. The schedule has not been tough, but it hasn't been as horrible as you're trying to make it. Oh, and UCLA played like a tournament team against us. It's not our fault it's the only game they played like that all year.

Scott Smetana 3 years, 11 months ago

I don't believe any of the teams you mentioned made the tourney next year, and I don't see it happening this year. USC is something like 5-4 right now. Memphis was horrible, admit it.

KUbsee69 3 years, 11 months ago

PPS ... you're rigth, NONE of those teams made the tourney NEXT year! What a seer you are. Let me predict that KU has not made the tourney next year either ... yet.

Oh, yeah, did you notice kenpom's ranking of those "awful" teams?

avaholic 3 years, 11 months ago

I don't know what you people want. They go out and schedule UCLA, Memphis, and Arizona. I'll give you that when the games were set up that Arizona was not going to be the Arizona of old. But both of the other games were scheduled two years ago. At that point, you have no clue how good those team will be. Does it suck that they aren't where we thought they would be? Of course!! By the way, that "joke" of a team UCLA lost by one point. Also Memphis was ranked when we played them and will most likely still be ranked tomorrow.

Scott Smetana 3 years, 11 months ago

I (we) are not really blaming anyone. By the way, I think we're awesome. I'm just jealous of teams like Syracuse, Mich St., Kentucky, UNC that are playing top 10 teams seemingly bi-weekly. That said, our schedule is pathetic this year. A piece of humble pie might do our team (and us) good right now. Thankfully we have some tough opening games set up the next few years.

Memphis has an outside chance of making the tourney by winning their pathetic league, but I doubt anyone we see until Baylor is a legit top 25 team.

Michael Gentemann 3 years, 11 months ago

PikesPeakSmitty,

You may want to remove Syracuse from your list if you're trying to prove a point about scheduling. Year in and year out, Syracuse plays the softest early season schedule of any major program and this year is no exception.

Bear86 3 years, 11 months ago

Completely agree. The schedule is fine. There will be plenty of tough conference games. Both AZ & Memphis are ranked in the Top 25 . USC, Michagan and Cal will be challenging games especially the ones on the road. By the way no one mentions how good the schedule is for recruiting. Playing on the West Coast has yielded some top players over the years and the Alumni in the West alway's show up for any Hawk's game that is played in the region. I know I'll be at the Cal game next Thur night. Playing at MSG at the Jimmy V classic in the Big Apple was great exposure in the east. There are more concerning things with this team than the schedule. Rock Chalk!!! F-Texas !!!!!!

KU_FanSince75 3 years, 11 months ago

Hey Pikes----Memphis was ranked. Are you excluding that team? I think this is why HCBS won't let this team be satisfied with their performance---yet. It keeps them humbled and grounded. I know what you're saying and I get your point. Like avaholic (nice name BTW) said, the schedule is created two years before the games transpire. It's just the way it is. We'll be alright. I have the Jayhawk spirit and I am keeping the faith!

REHawk 3 years, 11 months ago

Check out our RPI and Strength of Schedule current stats. In Div. I, the Jayhawks rank right up there. No doubt that the contest at Baylor will be a huge challenge. But as of Friday, Baylor's SOS was 180. No one else in the Big 12 had as good numbers as the Jayhawks in either RPI or SOS.

cobbob 3 years, 11 months ago

"When Taylor was in the game, 38 percent of KU's assists came from him."

How exactly is that possible? Taylor had 6 assists (which I am assuming came while he was in the game) and the team only had 13 total (also mentioned in the article). Even if every other assist came while Taylor was in the game (which I'm doubting) it would still be 46%. Am I misunderstanding this stat?

Jesse Newell 3 years, 11 months ago

cobbob — Good point. I used the assist percentage stat in a poor way above. It's been removed from the blog, as your comment is correct.

Joe Ross 3 years, 11 months ago

I am not envious to prove that the basketball team is terrible. They are certainly not. But I don't understand the gist of this article. Is it to prove that a national championship coach is wrong about his professional assessment of his team?

I wrote a week ago that expert analyst Jay Bilas had concerns about the Jayhawks as well. It is quite obvious no matter how you slice it up that Kansas has not played as well or as efficiently in the first few games. Let's not make it harder than it is. It's not rocket science nor does it require statistical analysis. KU has been playing tougher competition of late. But the fact that the issues have carried over to a game against CSU is concerning to a coach. Arizona...UCLA...Memphis...um, CSU? And for the record, what Vegas odd-makers say we are supposed to beat a team by is a guess, pure and simple. An educated guess, perhaps, but a guess just the same. If they say we are supposed to beat a school by 20 points, I guarantee you they didn't look into a crystal ball to divine the margin; consequently, there is no such thing as "supposed to beat a team by...(insert your margin of victory here)", despite the language that is used. To answer the question, "If KU played so horribly, then how the heck did the Jayhawks still almost win by more than they were favored?", one need only consider that the margin they were favored by is perhaps not a true reflection of the difference in caliber of two teams. This isn't hard, people.

When one judges KU one certainly does it by different standards. I think one judges KU against itself and other top tier programs. KU has NOT played to its potential the last four games. Furthermore, in comparing against other top programs I'd worry, frankly, about losses to a group of top-25 teams right now based on how KU is playing. Remedy? Play better. Simple. This is what Coach Self sees. We have to get better, I assure you. His word "awful" may be extreme but I am not a coach, neither am I one of his caliber, nor did I coach a national championship team. On those grounds I can't challenge it. What I CAN do is state the obvious: we are not playing well and there is MUCH room for improvement. Next case...

AsherFusco 3 years, 11 months ago

Pythagorean Strength of Schedule (KenPom.com) — Big 12

Big 12 rank — Team — (National rank)

  1. Kansas State (78th)
  2. Kansas (83rd)
  3. Texas (103rd)
  4. Texas Tech (123rd)
  5. Oklahoma (143rd)
  6. Texas A&M (172nd)
  7. Missouri (182nd)
  8. Oklahoma State (196th)
  9. Nebraska (231st)
  10. Iowa State (279th)
  11. Baylor (295th)
  12. Colorado (298th)

Just throwing that out there.

John Randall 3 years, 11 months ago

Comparing actual winning margin to the "Las Vegas line" is an exercise in idiocy, unless you have money on the game.

The "line" is not for prediction purposes – it is, purely and simply, a betting tool. That number is established (by the bookies), then adjusted daily, to balance the amount of money bet each way on a game. If most bets are for KU, the "line" is raised to attract bets against KU. Conversely when more bets are made against KU, it is lowered so more (people dumb enough to wager on games) will bet on KU to "cover" the lower number.

Joe Ross 3 years, 11 months ago

I didn't know this. Good point, KU62. Brilliant! I think it underscores the idea that one should not look at the outcome of the game and draw conclusions about a team's performance (whether that be good or bad) as in the following:

"KU played so horribly, then how the heck did the Jayhawks still almost win by more than they were favored (21.5 points)?"

Tony Bandle 3 years, 11 months ago

The answer to the stength of schedule is simple..come league play, 14 of our 16 games are against teams with SOS's out of the top 100. By these numbers, the Big 12 sucks as a basketball league this season!

Kent Wells 3 years, 11 months ago

Jesse: So, about these turnorvers.

If the national average is 21% and KU turned it over 25%, it would seem that it would take 25 posessions at this 4% difference to equate to 1 turnover. Meaning, the difference between 25 and 21% really isn't all that bad.

But looking at the turnover percent stat, in their worst game, they had 22 turnovers (almost 30% turnover difference) against Memphis and in the best, 8 against UNT (14% in turnover difference). So, the difference is 14 turnovers against a 17% difference in turnover percent. It would appear that looking at it this way, it is about 1 turover less for ever percentage of TD. So, 4 less turnovers against CSU. When you are playing 33% defense, those 4 additional turnovers aren't going to account for much on the opponents score.

Can I have an honorary MBA now, or is my logic drastically flawed?

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