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Recap: I thought that game looked familiar ...

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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.

When watching the replay of KU's 70-68 victory over USC, I had the feeling I had already seen a game very similar to it before at Allen Fieldhouse. http://www2.kusports.com/videos/2010/dec/18/33710/

It turned out I had.

Take a look at the KU-USC game stats compared to another KU game played recently, one we'll call "Game X."

In both games, KU shot significantly worse than its opponent, but made up for it by getting to the free throw line and also by minimizing turnovers.*

* — KU also helped its cause against USC by grabbing 13 offensive rebounds to the Trojans' seven.

Any guesses as to which contest "Game X" is?

Kansas forward Markieff Morris elevates for a dunk as USC defenders Alex Stephenson and Maurice Jones (10) trail during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris elevates for a dunk as USC defenders Alex Stephenson and Maurice Jones (10) trail during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Yep, KU's game against USC on Saturday was almost identical to the KU vs. Cornell contest at Allen Fieldhouse on Jan. 6, 2010.

Even more interesting? Both games were helped by a crucial three-point play by a confident KU guard.

With KU trailing 64-63, Sherron Collins split two defenders before putting in a layup with a foul to give the Jayhawks the lead for good with 41 seconds remaining.

The Fieldhouse crowd watches as Sherron Collins penetrates the Cornell defense for a bucket to give the Jayhawks the lead late in the second half, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2009 at Allen Fieldhouse.

The Fieldhouse crowd watches as Sherron Collins penetrates the Cornell defense for a bucket to give the Jayhawks the lead late in the second half, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2009 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Meanwhile, on Saturday, Josh Selby's three-pointer with 26 seconds left turned a 68-66 deficit into a 69-68 lead.

Kansas guard Josh Selby celebrates his last-minute three pointer against USC with Markieff Morris Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Josh Selby celebrates his last-minute three pointer against USC with Markieff Morris Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Richard Gwin

Because KU didn't shoot as well as USC, it had to perform well in other areas to come away with the victory.

Here are a few of the Jayhawks' unsung heroes from Saturday's win:

Thomas Robinson (four), Tyrel Reed (two) and Brady Morningstar (two) for their offensive rebounding. These three players allowed KU to steal extra possessions to make up the difference in shooting percentages.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson dunks on the USC defense Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson dunks on the USC defense Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Richard Gwin

Coming into the game, Morningstar had only three offensive rebounds all year.

Reed, meanwhile, had none.

Robinson (zero), Reed (zero), Morningstar (one), Marcus Morris (one) and Markieff Morris (one) for limiting their turnovers.

In a game where KU's two primary ballhandlers (Tyshawn Taylor and Josh Selby) combined for 10 turnovers in 59 minutes, the five players above combined for just three turnovers in 115 minutes.

As a team, KU had just 13 turnovers. One or two more, and the Jayhawks' home-court winning streak would have ended at 64.

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

The numbers aren't going to tell you anything you didn't already know.

Josh Selby was KU's best player on Saturday.

In his debut, Selby gave KU an offensive boost it desperately needed. He posted 1.18 points per possession used while carrying a heavy offensive load, using 30 percent of KU's possessions (average is 20 percent). His 68.1 eFG% was the highest on the team and helped him overcome four turnovers.

Kansas guard Josh Selby laughs with Markieff Morris on the bench during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Josh Selby laughs with Markieff Morris on the bench during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

His ability to draw fouls also helped KU's free-throw total, as Selby shot seven free throws, making six of them.

Though he was great offensively, there's still plenty of room for improvement for Selby defensively. It's hard to take too much stock in plus-minus numbers because there are so many variables involved, but I thought Selby's numbers were interesting this game.

In Selby's 27 minutes, KU allowed 52 points (1.93 points per minute). In the 13 minutes Selby wasn't on the floor, KU allowed 16 points (1.23 points per minute).

Again, plus-minus is not the greatest indicator of an individual's performance, as a player can't be responsible for everything that occurs on the floor. Still, it appears that while KU's scoring went up with Selby on the court, USC's scoring did the same.

Self admitted afterwards that Selby was being asked to play a type of defense that he'd never been asked to execute before in a game, so the guard's instincts should improve as the season goes on.

Room for Improvement

KU had its worst offensive effort of the season against USC.

The Jayhawks scored 1.01 points per possession, their lowest output of the year.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris fights for a rebound with USC players Nikola Vucevic (5) and Maurice Jones (10) during the first half, Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris fights for a rebound with USC players Nikola Vucevic (5) and Maurice Jones (10) during the first half, Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

A big part of KU's problem appeared to be that the Jayhawks' passing wasn't very good — or, as Self often says, the ball stuck too much.

KU had just 12 assists, which was the lowest number this season. It's the second straight game that the Jayhawks have set a season-low for assists (KU had 13 against Colorado State).

The assist numbers are usually a good indication of how well a Bill Self team is performing offensively.

Last year, during a 33-3 season, KU was just 1-3 during its four lowest assist games of the year.

Tough-Luck Line

This one shouldn't be a surprise, as Tyshawn Taylor had his worst game of the year.

USC's Donte Smith steals from Tyshawn Taylor in the second half Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

USC's Donte Smith steals from Tyshawn Taylor in the second half Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Richard Gwin

With Selby in the lineup, Taylor looked like a guard that was trying to do way too much. He posted just 0.55 points per possession used (his previous low this year was 1.05 points per possession used against Memphis) while using up more than his fair share of possessions (21.7 percent).

Until Saturday, Taylor hadn't had a game this season where he'd registered more turnovers than assists; against USC, he had six turnovers to just one assist.

It'll be interesting to see if Taylor and Selby play better together against Cal.

Bottom Line

KU's home-court win streak is still alive because Selby gave KU a boost offensively while other players helped KU steal possessions.

Kansas guard Josh Selby salutes the Allen Fieldhouse crowd as he leaves the court following the Jayhawks' 70-68 win over USC, Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010. Selby made his debut with 21 points and hit what proved to be the game winning shot with 24 seconds left.

Kansas guard Josh Selby salutes the Allen Fieldhouse crowd as he leaves the court following the Jayhawks' 70-68 win over USC, Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010. Selby made his debut with 21 points and hit what proved to be the game winning shot with 24 seconds left. by Nick Krug

Much like last year's Cornell game, KU used a free-throw advantage and also limited its turnovers to make up for a shooting discrepancy.

The Jayhawks are in a bit of a slump offensively, though, and they'll need to pass the ball better if they hope to break out of that funk in their next game against Cal on Wednesday.

Comments

KU_Alumn_2000 10 years, 10 months ago

A lot of people are not going to like hearing this...but it's clear to see that Selby's minutes messed with our team chemistry.

The lapse in defense when Selby was in the game...vs...when Selby was out of the game is huge when explaining the outcome.

Also...the lack of assists suggests that our offense wasn't playing as a unit.

I'm not saying that I don't like Selby...but it may take a few games to get our chemistry back with Selby playing so much. But rest assured...when we start playing as a unit again...we'll be even better than we were a month ago.

One last final thought...people need to stop throwing Morningstar under the bus. He and Reed do the little things that provides their teammates success. That close out Morningstar had on the USC ball handler that forced him out of bounds was the play of the game. The fact that Brady and Tyrel combined for 4 offensive rebounds was also huge. Then you have to throw in the fact that either one of them had any turnovers.

We're gonna miss the stability and experience that these two guys bring to our team after they graduate this year.

TenaciousD 10 years, 10 months ago

USC's defense causing much of the struggles can't be overlooked. That probably had much more to do with the struggles than team chemistry, Josh Selby, or anything else. Bill Self said it himself that this may be the toughest defense we face all year.

That also has a LOT to do with Tyshawn struggling. He had a bad game, but that USC defense should be given credit for that and our lower assist numbers. This team needs Tyshawn and every other player to be it's best. Ty will bounce back.

I totally agree with you re: Brady and Tyrel. Brady is still a great defender and maybe KU's best. Like Self said, he just needs to get his shooting confidence back. Tyrel played GREAT defense early and not so good later. He needs to keep that going all game.

USC did a great job of scouting our offensive plays. They shut down many of our plays: lobs, three man weave, etc. Hat's off to USC for playing this one down to the wire. Good experience for us.

LAJayhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

"USC did a great job of scouting our offensive plays. They shut down many of our plays: lobs, three man weave, etc."

Great point. They sagged back quite a bit the entire game which limited our outside/inside play (essentially eliminating the lob). What that did was open up the 3 ball, and thankfully Josh was hot.

One point on that, however, which was made by both Self and Bob Knight: the ball stuck once it got inside. Our bigs are excellent passers and great at rotating the ball when they don't have a play. However, yesterday they held onto the ball, often to our detriment. I do think there was a degree of guys trying to figure out how to play together with a new natural scorer in the game, and it will take a another game or two to figure that out. I have no doubt they will, though.

Steve Corder 10 years, 10 months ago

Ditto. Selby is one talented player. I wonder when ESPN will start making comparisons to John Wall?

lxjayhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

My observation is that Selby is better than John Wall in shooting the three. John Wall's release is not pretty and is slow. When John Wall shoots three, he doesnot jump much, which makes him unable to shoot above quicker guards. Cannot tell If Selby is better than John Wall in open floor, but his passes are not behind that of John Wall. Selby can make unblieveble passes, like the one he did yesterday but was called offbound.

Vic Janeway 10 years, 10 months ago

Its mainly clear that (redundant) that USC figured out offensively how to attack the Hawks. HCBS even stated that they discovered some weaknesses in the defense and hit them hard. They'll fix it, I agree a little (w/Alum) and was expecting team timing to get rattled, but it was a flaw in the system that help USC to score well against the Hawks.

slowplay 10 years, 10 months ago

KU would have won this game by 12-15 points without Selby. KU is not going to miss Little at all.

Scott Smetana 10 years, 10 months ago

Wow. I'll be watching your future posts. You have the potential to be entertaining.

Kent Wells 10 years, 10 months ago

He has the potential to be a complete tool. And off to a strong start. However, I think the contention here is that they were more of a "team" with Selby sitting on the bench during the game. But to be quite fair, his presence is stunning. I cant imagine not wanting to watch what he can do. Self will correct this and they will be amazing in their next game. Selby may score less. He is a Danny Manning. He makes everyone better. AND the team was pretty darn good already. The Big 12 will be fun to watch. Two games will be a problem. The rest, should be easy wins.

As for Little, of course he will be missed. But, Selby will create so many opportunities that I think that by the end of the season, folks wont remember 23. T Rob will continue to be a beast, and Selby will make his athletic dominance magnify.

Chill!

ATexasJayhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

Man I cannot even believe I am reading this comment.

LAJayhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

Hmmm... Two sentences that are both equally wrong, and, yet, have no relation to one another.

Is this supposed to be beat poetry without the beat? ....or the poetry?

NJHAWK 10 years, 10 months ago

Jesse, Thanks for the great analysis and putting proper perspective to yesterday's game. Some of the posters since yesterday are too quick to judge KU's performance.

Jacobpaul81 10 years, 10 months ago

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

You sure you didn't just re-write my posts from the last two weeks? =)

I disagree with you on Selby though. Trob was clearly the best player in this game.

Selby:

The Good: 5-8 from 3pt - Great. Ain't going to happen every game. But he shot the 3 well. 6-7 from Free throw line - We really needed this 5 defensive boards.

The Bad: 1 Assist, 0 Steals, 0 Offensive Boards -- As I've been saying for weeks, A 2 guard has gotta contribute Assists, Offensive boards and Steals. It didn't happen.

The Ugly: 4 Turnovers Defensive lapses - He's not Division I ready at defense. Looked better than a certain Senior you just compared him to though. 0-3 from inside the arc. He hit zero high percentage shots. Just hit the low ones. This can't be a trend.

Thomas Robinson: Clearly the best player in this game even if the sports writers say differently. Why? Look at the line.

5-8 - 10 high percentage points. 4 Offensive Rebounds - Got the 3 he missed back plus grabbed a 4th. 3 Defensive Boards 1 Steal 1 Block ...and did it all in 16 minutes of play. He missed his 1 free throw opportunity. That's really the only bad thing you could say. His defense was very good (Better than the Morris Twins for once) and his stat line was clearly the best on the team.

LAJayhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

"The Bad: 1 Assist, 0 Steals, 0 Offensive Boards -- As I've been saying for weeks, A 2 guard has gotta contribute Assists, Offensive boards and Steals. It didn't happen."

Definitely true. However, this is his first game and he is learning the flow of the team. No one expected him to come in and dish 10 assists. He will learn the flow and the assist numbers will certainly increase. As someone else pointed out, he was an excellent passer at the high school level. Once he figures out the speed, he will undoubtedly be one here to. That also covers the turnovers. A kid's first college game under this much hype... you knew he would be pumped up and throw the ball away. I saw several posters predict as much over the last week. We knew that would happen.

As for his defense, I definitely agree. He has some things to work on. But, again, this is his first game at a totally different speed with much more athletic players playing a defense he was not used to. Currently he is a bit of a liability on D, but what he brings in other aspects more than weighs that out at the moment. With his athletic ability, however, I expect by conference play (6 games under his belt) he will be dramatically improved in that area. Maybe wishful thinking, but I don't find it unreasonable.

"0-3 from inside the arc. He hit zero high percentage shots. Just hit the low ones. This can't be a trend."

While inside the arc, those certainly were not high percentage. Two of them were guarded, fairly ugly floaters. I don't remember the third specifically other than it was guarded as well. I actually think his problem with those shots were they were much more forced than his 3s -- thus why he made the outside shots. Again, still learning. As long as he can handle the rock better than what I saw, he will dominate "high percentage shots" as the year progresses.

Totally agree with TRob. Can't necessarily say he was the best on the team, but he was absolutely (quietly) fantastic. I said in Keegan's grading blog that he is developing consistency which is enormous for us.

KU_FanSince75 10 years, 10 months ago

Missed the game but glad KU won and happy for Selby he got a "Hollywood" debut. Thanks Jesse, for your always good analysis!

AirCapJay 10 years, 10 months ago

I think all the hype over Selby messed with the other player's heads a little... especially Tyshawn. There were a lot of "bunnies" missed in this game, that if were made, we would have won by double digits. This was a good experience game early to help prepare for the Big 12 and March.

Joe Joseph 10 years, 10 months ago

Does "the streak" ever become a burden??

RawkChawkJHawk 10 years, 10 months ago

I hate the streak. I love the streak. I want each game to be about THE GAME, not "the streak." I love celebrating that THE STREAK JUST GOT LONGER after each game. I want the DISTRACTION known as "the streak" to go away. I do not want to see the streak end. I hate the streak. I love the streak.

Andrew Moore 10 years, 10 months ago

I think USC's defense was very very good. Their game plan was to go after the front line in the second half. Once they got that going, that opened up the floor for their shooters. Josh probably wasn't the worst defender on the floor considering the chaos caused by Stephenson and Vucevic.

I thought the chemistry the first game w/ selby would be an adventure, and it was. However, I think they will adjust and improve into a spectacular unit. they just love playing together.

Greg Lux 10 years, 10 months ago

Great win, Great experience, Great lesson for Ty ( don't try to compete with anyone but yourself ). Also not to be lost in the Selby hype. Another very good game for T-Rob. His continued improvement is great. Now figure out how to make your free throws or you will become a liability late in the game when we need you most.

Rock Chalk

LAJayhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

Jesse,

You do fantastic work. Thanks. Please keep it up and don't abandon the LJW for bigger and brighter things. No career advancement please; KU fans desperately need you here!! :-)

Well, unless you move on to Sports Editor. That would be ok :-)

LAJayhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

I'm going to assume you knew the part about advancement was sarcasm -- thus, the :-) smiley face...

My point was Jesse clearly is going to advance in his career. He is an excellent writer, and great reporter and ridiculous fact guy (which used to go along with the great reporter part, but in this day of editorial, speculation reporting that apparently isn't as necessary).

He's very good at what he does which is why I REALLY don't want to see him leave....

Lacy Mohler 10 years, 10 months ago

Stupidmichael---not a stupid question.

I said the same thing yesterday. Love the streak, but it is getting to be a pain in the butt.

I think the team was off balance yesterday due to Selby. They seem to like him though and he will fit in.

I disagree that Mario wasn't missed yesterday. He was a talker, encouraging the guys and provided a spark off the bench. It added to their being rather flat yesterday, but they will recover from that too.

Joe Satterwhite 10 years, 10 months ago

i was thinking the same thing jesse, it seemed like taylor was playing outside of his game and trying to one-up selby...

Scott Smetana 10 years, 10 months ago

Na, I think several of you are being too hard on Taylor here. He just missed a few shots. He's still on track for an awesome year and looks much more mature this year. I'm betting a couple of his turnovers came by feeding the post on those lob passes. Those passes are almost like shots. If it gets there, it's a goal.

I'm also surprised to find Selby critics here. I know he's a bit raw (DUH), but I haven't seen a set like those since Mario and Sherron!

KU_FanSince75 10 years, 10 months ago

Unfortunately, the streak will continue to be a burden and a distraction if the players let it be a burden and a distraction. Jayhawks need to just go out and play and not worry about the streak and when will it end. The twins and all the bigs need to toughen up and the Jayhawks need to hit their free throws. Hopefully, games will not have to come down to "last-second shots."

lee3022 10 years, 10 months ago

The chemistry issue was probably not chemistry but a coordination issue. Integrating Josh's talent well into the season is bound to cause adjustments and take some time. This is the exact point each season when Coach Self's teams take their biggest leap forward. He has the time to work them.

Even if we lose a game or three between now and March it will be worth it to fully get Josh up to speed. As his game progresses doesn't it make for easier shots for his teammates? The goals are not undefeated season first but conference champion first and national championship second. Undefeated is not likely to happen.

KU_FanSince75 10 years, 10 months ago

@ lee3022----That last paragraph is spot on. A lot of Jayhawk folks would agree with you with your last sentence. Still, would be fun to keep the streak alive going into 2011-12 season!

Chris Bruning 10 years, 10 months ago

i have a better comparison......josh selby's game winning shot, any guesses as to what that play reminded you of????

Michael jordans freshman year shot against georgetown.....even the cross court pass by marcus morris was similar to (whoever passed it to MJ).....sweet stroke and all...very similar and about the same amount of time left after the make....

HawkBBall 10 years, 10 months ago

How does Tyshawn "Turnover" Taylor manage to keep his starting role? He isn't making assists. He misses free throws. He isn't scoring. Coach says TTT had a "bad" day. When will Coach realize TTT isn't that good? Coach says that if Selby starts, Reed or Morningstar will sit. I can't figure out why Coach is so enamoured with TTT.

Tony Bandle 10 years, 10 months ago

I say, let's win the next three games at home then lose, leaving the streak at 69...an awesome number no one would ever forget!!!

Wait a minute....aw crap, the 70th game is Nebraska. We couldn't lose to those guys even if everybody played opposite-handed, were only allowed to shoot hook shots and everybody had to wear snorkel gear.

OK..I give up...let's go for 100!!

LAJayhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

You realize by saying that we are now going to lose to Nebraska.....

Chris Bruning 10 years, 10 months ago

jayhawkinnebr...morningstar is KU's BEST defensive player jackazz.....he is where he needs to be. and he can hit shots. i believe reed is the one who has been turning the ball over and missing his usual automatic three pointer ....do you watch these games??? dumbass

yovoy 10 years, 10 months ago

I don't think he's messed up any of the chemistry. Players that are truly talented like to play with other truly talented players.

The rub is finding the right combination. IMO EJ almost HAS to play with TT, and the other 3 out there don't really matter much. EJ seems to get into the flow better when he's in w/ TT for a little while. Once he finds where the game is, TT can come out, and EJ is fine by himself. If he messes up, TT comes in for him. I'd guess that little things like that will get ironed out for Selby's combo as the season progresses. It looks to me like he doesn't care who he's in there with. I'd say that he, TT, and EJ would be a great combo if you were looking for offense - the defense would suffer w/ those 3 in there at the same time. EJ gets lost, and Selby's defensive footwork belies his athletic ability (he closes-out like his feet are in cement, or like he's on stilts). I'd guess get EJ and TT into the game and going until Elijah gets used to the flow, substitue JS for TT, and see how it goes for about 2 min. Sub TT back in for EJ, then EJ for selby at some point. I'm not intentionally neglecting Releford, Sleeveless, nor Reed, I'm just trying to work out a rotation w/ the other 3. The other 3 could rotate around that other guard position similar to the way these 3 take those 2 positions.

I'm interested to watch how ourSelf rotates the guards for the next 3-6 weeks. His ability to do that is one of the things that will dictate how we fare over that time.

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