Recap: Looking at which KU players are having the toughest time with turnovers
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.
Once again, Kansas' inability to keep from turning the ball over was one of the biggest stories following the Jayhawks' 88-80 victory over Long Beach State on Tuesday.
And while Tyshawn Taylor takes criticism for many of KU's turnover problems, a look at the numbers shows that other KU players are having their own issues with carelessness.
Turnover rate is a better number to use than raw turnovers because it gives us more context. This number divides a player's turnovers by the possessions he ends.
Thus, a player like Taylor — who is a major part of KU's offense — can be more fairly compared to a guy like Travis Releford — who doesn't end as many possessions and, thus, shouldn't turn it over as often.
So far, here are KU's leaders in turnover rate for this season, according to Statsheet.com.
1. Travis Releford (28.5 percent)
2. Naadir Tharpe (27.7 percent)
3. Tyshawn Taylor (26.2 percent)
4. Elijah Johnson (24.6 percent)
5. Jeff Withey (23.3 percent)
For those wondering why Tharpe didn't get in on Tuesday, this might be part of the answer. So far, he hasn't been a reliable ball-handler, and add to it that he's not a great defender yet and has made just 3 of 16 shots this year (18.8 percent), and you can see why he might not be in Self's trust circle as of yet.
Just for comparison's sake, here were KU's leaders in turnover rate last year:
2010-11 Turnover Rate
1. Tyshawn Taylor (26.8 percent)
2. Elijah Johnson (25.6 percent)
3. Royce Woolridge (25.0 percent)
4. Josh Selby (24.5 percent)
5. Jeff Withey (21.4 percent)
In case you were wondering, Releford was fourth-lowest on the team in turnover rate last year at 16.8 percent.
Brady Morningstar was fifth-lowest on last year's team with an 18.7 percent turnover rate, while Tyrel Reed was lowest with a 12.5 percent turnover rate.
Two things stand out to me from the numbers above:
Releford could stand to be much be more careful with the basketball, as his turnover rate has jumped significantly from last year to this year.
Self has very few options at the guard position if he wants to put in someone who is sure-handed and will be sure to take care of the basketball. Last year, he had Morningstar and Reed. This year, Teahan (13.9 percent) is the only KU guard not in the top four on the team in turnover rate, and that might be one reason for the senior's increased minutes (35) against Long Beach State.
M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)
Though Self said afterwards that the best player in the game was Jeff Withey, this blog declares the M.O.J. is Thomas Robinson.
The junior posted 1.34 points per possession used while taking on a huge offensive load, ending a team-high 27.6 percent of the possessions he was in. That high of a PPP number combined with that high of a usage percentage is an All-America-type performance.
Robinson posted an impressive effective field-goal percentage (71.4 percent, second on the team among those who took more than two shots) and also a strong free-throw rate of 71.4.
Though he didn't have one of his best rebounding nights, he wasn't totally absent on the glass, either. He pulled down 28.5 percent of the available defensive rebounds and 11.7 percent of the available offensive rebounds.
He also contributed 18.2 percent of the available assists while on the floor while turning it over on just 16.6 percent of the possessions he used.
Robinson is now 16-for-23 (69.6 percent) in his last two games and is starting to separate himself statistically as KU's best option offensively.
Room for Improvement
KU was awful statistically in three areas: turnovers, creating steals and sending Long Beach State to the free throw line.
The turnover problem is nothing new. KU turned it over on 27.8 percent of its possessions against LBSU, which was the second-highest number this season behind the UCLA game.
In their last five games, the Jayhawks have turned it over on 25.7 percent of their possessions. To put that in perspective, the NCAA average is 21.3 percent. Also, Self has never had a KU team turn it over on more than 22.2 percent of its possessions.
KU also had a remarkably low number of steals (three) considering the game had a high number of possessions (79). The Jayhawks came away with steals on just 3.8 percent of their defensive possessions, which is the seventh-lowest for a KU team during Self's nine seasons.
This low steal percentage also indicates just how well KU played offensively in the first half, as the Jayhawks finished with a solid PPP number (1.11) despite getting almost no production from transition points off steals (KU had only four fast break points).
KU also put LBSU at the line way too often, as the 49ers' free-throw rate of 69.8 was the highest by a KU opponent since the 2007-08 season.
The 49ers' 37 free throws were the most shot against KU in a non-overtime game since Kansas State shot 41 on Feb. 7, 2007.
Though KU needs to do a better job of not fouling shooters, that number also was inflated because of the Jayhawks' turnovers. There were quite a few occasions where KU players were forced to foul after a turnover to prevent an easy basket in transition.
Travis Releford takes this spot after an inefficient game offensively.
The junior posted a team-low 0.81 points per possession used while ending a high number of possessions (20.9 percent) for a role player.
He also didn't bring much in terms of other statistics, grabbing no offensive rebounds and just four percent of the available defensive rebounds.
Releford's offensive numbers also are suffering because of an inability to make open threes. The junior was 0-for-3 from long range Tuesday, which pushed his season total to 5-for-18 (27.8 percent).
Coming into this season, Releford was a career 37.8 percent three-point shooter, so I think we can expect his shooting numbers to improve from this point forward.
Though KU had few steals and allowed LBSU too many trips to the free-throw line, it held on for a victory defensively by blocking shots and dominating the defensive glass.
The Jayhawks blocked 22.6 percent of the 49ers' two-point attempts, which was the second-highest percentage in KU's last 15 seasons. Jeff Withey, meanwhile, blocked an astounding 34.1 percent of LBSU's two-pointers while he was in the game.
KU also grabbed 85.3 percent of the available defensive rebounds — the fourth-best mark in the last two seasons.
The result was holding the 49ers' high-powered offense to 1.01 points per possession, which was below their season average of 1.07 PPP.
Offensively, KU posted 1.11 PPP despite turning it over at an alarming rate.
The Jayhawks had their second-best shooting night of the year (59.3 eFG%), helped mostly by strong performances by Robinson and Teahan.
KU's biggest issue continues to be turnovers, though, and that's not a good sign going into Saturday's game, as Ohio State is fourth in the nation in defensive turnover percentage (29.2 percent).
In other words, KU's guards need to get better. In a hurry.