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Recap: Hey, that looks more like a Bill Self defense ...

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.

One of Kansas coach Bill Self's best accomplishments since he arrived at KU is his ability to get his team to play the type of defense that forces the other team to miss shots.

It doesn't matter what personnel he has in a given year. You can always count on Self's Jayhawks to hold the other team to a low effective field-goal percentage.

The numbers, from KenPom.com, are below.

Opponents' effective FG% against KU

2003-04 — 44.3 percent (7th nationally)
2004-05 — 44.3 percent (9th)
2005-06 — 42.9 percent (2nd)
2006-07 — 43.5 percent (3rd)
2007-08 — 44.3 percent (9th)
2008-09 — 44.0 percent (8th)
2009-10 — 43.2 percent (4th)
2010-11 — 44.5 percent (14th)
2011-12 — 45.0 percent (80th)

Amazingly, Self's teams at KU have never been worse than 14th nationally in the statistic and have ranked in the top 10 in seven of his eight years.

Not only that, opponents have never shot better than a 44.5 eFG% in a season against KU under Self.

Kansas head coach Bill Self talks to the Jayhawks after a slow start against Florida Atlantic during the first half Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas head coach Bill Self talks to the Jayhawks after a slow start against Florida Atlantic during the first half Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

It's early, and KU has played a difficult schedule, but so far this year's KU defense isn't close to its predecessors.

The good news for KU is that it took a big step forward in the statistic against FAU in a 77-54 victory on Wednesday.

The Jayhawks held FAU to 35.4 eFG% shooting, which was its best effort in that statistic this season.

One major reason for that was blocked shots. KU blocked 20 percent of FAU's two-pointers on Wednesday, which was the fourth-highest mark in the last 15 years of KU basketball and the highest block percentage since the 2006-07 season.

Kansas guard Travis Releford rejects a shot by Florida Atlantic guard Omari Grier during the second half on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Travis Releford rejects a shot by Florida Atlantic guard Omari Grier during the second half on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Though both teams played sloppily, the biggest positive KU should come away with is that, defensively, it hounded shooters and started to perform statistically like a normal Bill Self team does.

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

Not much to choose from here after an ugly offensive performance, but the offensive stats, at least, show Conner Teahan to be the most deserving.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson gives a slap to teammate Conner Teahan after a three-pointer against Florida Atlantic during the first half Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson gives a slap to teammate Conner Teahan after a three-pointer against Florida Atlantic during the first half Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

The senior guard posted 1.30 points per possession used while taking on a large offensive role (for him) by ending 19.3 percent of the team's possessions during his 17 minutes.

Teahan contributed a strong eFG% (64.2 percent) while also helping out in other ways. He pulled down 14.4 percent of the available defensive rebounds (a season high) and 6.5 percent of the available offensive rebounds. He also gave out assists on 13.8 percent of KU's field goals while he was out there and came away with steals on 3.2 percent of his defensive possessions (second on the team).

Teahan's 3-for-5 three-point shooting on Wednesday has continued an interesting home/road split. In two home games, Teahan in 6-for-9 from three (66.7 percent). In four games away from the Fieldhouse, he's 3-for-11 from three (27.3 percent).

The Leawood native helped KU offensively when it needed it most in the first half, hitting three three-pointers in a three-minute stretch to help turn an 11-9 deficit into a 22-16 lead.

Room for Improvement

Turnovers continue to be a problem for KU offensively.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson is called for a charge as he collides with Florida Atlantic guard Pablo Bertone during the first half Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson is called for a charge as he collides with Florida Atlantic guard Pablo Bertone during the first half Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

The Jayhawks turned it over on 23.3 percent of their possessions against FAU, and that's actually the lowest turnover percentage KU has had in its last three games. The Jayhawks turned it over at a 28.6-percent clip against UCLA and in 26.6 percent of its possessions against Duke.

It's rare for a KU team to have this much trouble with turnovers for three consecutive games. In fact, I looked it up, and the last time a Self team had three games of at least a 23.3 percent turnover percentage was midway through his first season at KU in 2003-04.

Self also used some stats after the game to vent his frustration about his guard play. After the Towson game, KU's starting point guard (Tyshawn Taylor) has 16 assists and 21 turnovers, KU's starting shooting guard (Elijah Johnson) has 14 assists and 15 turnovers and KU's starting three-guard (Travis Releford) has seven assists and 10 turnovers.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor hangs for a shot before being fouled by Florida Atlantic forward Andre Mattison during the second half on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor hangs for a shot before being fouled by Florida Atlantic forward Andre Mattison during the second half on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

KU also struggled with takeways on Wednesday, creating turnovers on just 13.7 percent of its defensive possessions — its fifth-lowest mark of the last two seasons.

Tough-Luck Line

Elijah Johnson played the worst game of his KU career.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson splits Florida Atlantic defenders Dennis Mavin (10) and Andre Mattison (4) for a loose ball during the second half on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson splits Florida Atlantic defenders Dennis Mavin (10) and Andre Mattison (4) for a loose ball during the second half on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

The junior guard posted just 0.20 points per possession used while ending a healthy 20.2 percent of KU's possessions while he was in. KU scored at least one point on just 9 percent of the possessions he ended, while 70 percent of his ended possessions resulted in turnovers.

His basic stat line didn't look any better, as he was 0-for-4 from the floor with seven turnovers in 27 minutes. There have been only 10 instances in the last 15 seasons where a KU player has had more turnovers than Johnson had on Wednesday.

Afterwards, Self said the most frustrating part was that Johnson wasn't able to change his night once it started out poorly. Other than grabbing four rebounds, Johnson was able to contribute little despite his extended minutes.

Bottom Line

In a high-possession game (73 possessions), KU was able to get back to its Bill Self roots defensively by making it tough on the other team to make shots.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor fights through a screen as he defends Florida Atlantic guard Greg Gantt during the first half Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor fights through a screen as he defends Florida Atlantic guard Greg Gantt during the first half Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

The Jayhawks held the Owls to just 0.74 points per possession, which was KU's fifth-best defensive effort in the last two years and best since holding UMKC to 0.63 PPP on Jan. 5, 2011.

KU wasn't great offensively (1.06 PPP), mostly because of turnovers, which has become one of the biggest weaknesses of this year's team.

Though Self wasn't happy with many of his players' performances on Wednesday, he was especially upset with his guards, whom he called out at his press conference for their careless play.

It's been eight seasons since the Jayhawks had a three-game turnover stretch like this, so we'll see Saturday if KU's guards make a concerted effort to clean things up against South Florida.

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Comments

jaybate 2 years, 10 months ago

I suppose you realize you are comparing apples and oranges, but I applaud your attempt to analyze the defense.

Here is what compromises analysis validity.

Sample size bias: Comparing six games with 36 games is almost certain to fool you and us.

Quality of Competition bias: four of six games against D1 bluebloods is a much richer blend of high quality opponents than occurs in a 36 game plus or minus season, so it is hardly surprising that KU looks vastly worse over 6 games than it has in the past over full seasons. And including all the seasons in the comparison does not remedy the bias.

Next, drawing conclusions from an N of one game against a height challenged mid major that not only shot poorly from the field,but shot horribly from the FT line, where KU's defense was probably not much of a factor :-) is pretty apt to give little indication about where this defense ranks relative to past teams.

I am not saying your conclusions are certainly wrong. I am saying the way you have parsed the data ensures that you are probably wrong.

But I believe you could parse your data differently and come up with a very informative analysis.

Each pre conference season, KU averages playing about 6 of 12 games against bonafide Division 1 major programs. Sometimes they are a bit better, some times a bit worse, but there are always about 6 bonafide D1 majors.

So: randomly select 4 of six majors from each season and two of the six minors and mid majors, then calculate an average defensive statistic and an average W&L statement for each team, and then compare that with this 4-2 team with 4 games against majors and 2 against mid major/minor programs, and I expect you will be able to say with quite a bit of confidence where this team's defense ranks with those.

Sample size bias will fall out.

Competition quality bias will fall out.

And time of season sample bias will largely fall out.

I hope you do it.

It would tell us a whole lot.

KU_alum_2001 2 years, 10 months ago

Jaybate, this is a bit off-topic, but I "believe" I saw you post something y'day about this perhaps being Self's best coaching effort yet given the 4-2 record despite the quality of competition we've played. Is that right?

First off, let me just say that I respect your posts. They're always well thought out, well-written, thorough, etc etc so please take my post with all due respect. With that said, I'd have to disagree with such a statement IF in fact that was your post.

KU is 4-2 with obvious wins over Towson and Florida Atlantic. Those are no-brainers and a KU team should almost never get "Coach of the Year"-type credit for those wins. I doubt anyone disagrees there.

And there are the two losses, UK and Duke. First off, UK trounced us by much more than the score showed. And yes, that is/was an inexperienced KU team but it was also a very inexperienced UK team.

The Duke effort: very impressive but ultimately just short (and perhaps a little less impressive after OSU destroyed them).

So that brings us to UCLA and Georgetown. So... can we consider the UCLA victory a big win? I'm going with no. I mean KU was ranked 14th, UCLA was unranked, and UCLA had already compiled losses to Loyola and Middle Tenn State. That program has embarassed itself this year. And then they followed up their loss to us by losing to Michigan (no slouch) but they still lost. By point is that I don't think KU gets more than a pat on the back for winning that game.

Finally, Georgetown... also unranked when KU played them and I believe picked to finish 10th in the Big East before the season started. Now they are 5-1 but witht that said, four of their wins are against powder puffs with the last against Memphis, an early-season Top 10 that's now 3-2, ranked #22, and needed double OT to beat Tennessee.

My point isn't to rip on KU or Self. God knows I love them both. My point is simply to say that 4-2 is exactly where we should be this year and thus isn't exactly worthy of being considered Coach Self's best coaching yet. Now if we go out and win the conference, then I'll definitely agree with you. Or if we finish second but have some big victories over Baylor or Ohio State, then I'll agree with you. But until then, I think Self is doing an admirable job but nothing unlike what he's always achieved, and I'd still say his 2009 year was his best coaching yet (aside from an unlikely 3 from Northern Iowa).

Anyway, again, with all due respect because your posts are solid.

actorman 2 years, 10 months ago

Excellent post, KU alum. I agree with everything you said.

deepind 2 years, 10 months ago

Agree with everything except I think you confused the years 2009 and 2010. If my memory serves me right, we lost to Michigan State in 2009 and Northern Iowa in 2010. I consider 2008-09 (the season that ended with a loss to Michigan St) as Self's best coaching performance.

jamsim3 2 years, 10 months ago

I think both your post and Jaybates are excellent but I have to side with Jaybate on this one simply because this KU team could easily have been 2-4. UCLA was staring to get its act together plus had their best player coming back for the game against KU. Not to mention a high motivating factor, losing to KU by 1 in Allen last year.Georgetown basically an unknown factor but they are Georgetown and always difficult to play. I don't think any KU fan knew exactly what KU had until they played Duke and should have won. Duke is not very good as Ohio State showed but that being said I don't believe Ohio State is a boogyman either. TRob is better than Sullinger and more physical. If TyShawn and EJ limit their TO's less than 4 between them. KU wins in Allen by 4.

AsadZ 2 years, 10 months ago

I have different opinion on two points:

  1. Duke is actually quite good and they will get better. They are well coached. They had an off night against Ohio State after Maui tournament, Hawaii hangover.
  2. T-Rob is stronger but Sullinger is most definitely an overall better basketball player. He has such great post moves and his IQ is excellent.

Jesse Newell 2 years, 10 months ago

The sample size issue is important. In the blog, I tried to make sure to stress that it was early, and that KU had played a tough schedule so far.

A couple things:

  1. Though the schedule has been tough early, how much tougher will it be than KU's conference schedule? The Jayhawks might not play as many top-five teams as they have so far, but they won't be playing any puds like Towson to help out the stats. Nine of the Big 12's 10 teams are in KenPom's top 90, so I'm not sure it would be fair to say that KU's schedule is going to drop off later in the season.

  2. I didn't have KU's eFG% numbers before the game, but they had to have been much worse. In other words, KU's best defensive effort of the year (by far) only moved that eFG% number down to 45.0 percent.

Yes, it's very early, but I think it's a stat worth watching. KU's national ranking in the stat will move up as other teams face tougher competition, but I'm more comparing KU to its past years under Self.

AsadZ 2 years, 10 months ago

I hope that this was an isolated case where team was simply not amped to play, and that, going forward, we will see continued improvement, especially from our guards.

Chuck Woodling 2 years, 10 months ago

Jayhawks had better play defense because this team's 46.5 percent shooting to date is abysmal. Note that Thomas Robinson, by far KU's best player, is shooting a dreadful (for a player who takes mostly inside shots) 45.7 percent.

actorman 2 years, 10 months ago

"After the Towson game, KU's starting point guard (Tyshawn Taylor) has 16 assists and 21 turnovers, KU's starting shooting guard (Elijah Johnson) has 14 assists and 15 turnovers and KU's starting three-guard (Travis Releford) has seven assists and 10 turnovers."

Not to be a stickler, Jesse (okay, to be a stickler, but c'est la vie), but that wording is a little confusing. It should be something like, "Since the Towson game, KU's starting point guard ... has had 16 assists ..." or "From the Kentucky game on, ..."

actorman 2 years, 10 months ago

That's also a little unclear, oldalum. From the wording before it, it appears that it could be a quote from Self, but that part isn't in quotes so it's hard to tell.

jayhawkjunior 2 years, 10 months ago

Arrrgh. This is a case where percentile ranking is fairly useless. If the 80th percentile is only a fraction of a percent away from the 7th percentile then it means that there isn't much difference between the two so looking at that as a metric is useless.

Imagine that the best hitting team in the majors was hitting .285 and the 20th best hitting team was hitting .283 then looking at percentile ranking isn't very instructive. If 44.5 is great and 45 is awful then it doesn't make much of difference.

Percentile rankings with such a small sample size is also useless. This is by far the toughest schedule that we have started with in the past few years. UCLA and Georgetown are down but they aren't FAU and Alcorn State. That number will probably improve in the next two games and go the other way for the OSU game.

The worrying number is an assist to TO ratio of less than one for our three main guards. It is so off right now that we might be able to get it above one before the OSU game.

milehighhawk 2 years, 10 months ago

What would be interesting there is to chart where we ranked after 6 games in each of those seasons.

Ben Kliewer 2 years, 10 months ago

Still, holding an average of 45% over 6 games including UK and Duke is pretty good in my book...and we'll pull it down that 2% to get back to our normal "Self"s this season. :)

champs528808 2 years, 10 months ago

This hasn't been talked about much, but Tharpe needs to play more than 10 minutes! EJ and TT are not facilitators - they don't create shots for others, only themselves. How about starting Tharpe, TT, Releford, TRob and Withey with EJ coming off the bench (using that as a wake-up call like Bill's done with TT). I believe our best scoring line-up by the end of the year will be Tharpe, TT, EJ, TRob and Withey. Right now we have too many offensively retarded periods of time during games (bad shots, TO's, etc.)

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