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Recap: Is this the best five-game stretch of any KU offense in the last 15 years?

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.

Pop quiz time again. We'll see how good your eyes are.

If you had to describe the pace of KU's 103-86 victory over Missouri, would you say it was:

A. Very fast. Well above KU's average pace this year.
B. Right at KU's average pace this year.
C. Very slow. Well below KU's average pace this year. http://www2.kusports.com/photos/galle...

Congrats to all those of you who picked B.

Though both teams came in with run-and-gun reputations, Monday night's game actually on featured 71 possessions — just above KU's 70.8 possessions per game it was averaging this season. KU actually had more possessions in both the Texas game earlier this year (where it scored 63 points).

The average number of possessions in Monday's game, of course, makes KU's 103-point effort even more impressive.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson delivers a tomahawk jam between Missouri defenders Steve Moore, left, and Justin Safford during the second half on Monday, Feb. 7, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson delivers a tomahawk jam between Missouri defenders Steve Moore, left, and Justin Safford during the second half on Monday, Feb. 7, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

The Jayhawks scored a lot of points without needing a lot of possessions. In other words, KU was efficient with the possessions it had.

Just how efficient? It turns out historically so.

I almost fell over when I saw the final numbers: KU scored 1.45 points per possession on Monday night — its highest total of the entire year against any team.

I went back to Missouri's statistics, looking at each of its defensive efforts from the last 15 years. Turns out, this was the most points scored per possession against the Tigers in any game of the last 15 years. Only one opponent during that time had even topped 1.40 PPP, and that was KU back in the 2001-02 season (1.42).

The highest any team other than KU has scored against Missouri in the past 15 years was Texas A&M in 2004-05 (1.38 PPP).

Missouri coach Mike Anderson, left, and players huddle up in the second half against Kansas on Monday, February 7, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Missouri coach Mike Anderson, left, and players huddle up in the second half against Kansas on Monday, February 7, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Richard Gwin

Here's the breakdown of KU's two halves on Monday:

First half
KU — 1.24 PPP
(37 possessions)

Second half
KU — 1.67 PPP
(34 possessions)

How good is 1.67 PPP? No Div. I team has scored 1.67 PPP in a game this year — not even against an opponent from a lower division.

Yet, KU posted 1.67 PPP for a half against a top-25 opponent with the 42nd-ranked defense according to KenPom.

Friend-of-the-blog Bill Connelly took it a step further at his MU-based site, Rock M Nation, breaking down that KU actually scored 39 points in its first 19 possessions of the second half for 2.05 points per possession that stretch.

Kansas guard Travis Releford gets the crowd to its feet after scoring a basket against Missouri on Monday, February 7, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Travis Releford gets the crowd to its feet after scoring a basket against Missouri on Monday, February 7, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Richard Gwin

Just when I think KU's offense can't get better, it does.

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

Mario Little tops the Morris twins to take his first M.O.J. honor of the season.

Kansas guard Mario Little bemoans a foul called against him during the first half on Monday, Feb. 7, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Mario Little bemoans a foul called against him during the first half on Monday, Feb. 7, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Little not only was terrific offensively — posting 1.58 points per possession used — he also took on a major scoring load, putting up 36.8 percent of KU's shots during his time out there while ending 21.8 percent of KU's possessions.

The Jayhawks scored at least one point on 76.4 percent of the possessions that Little ended.

Somewhat unexpectedly, Little also was a big help on the boards as well. He pulled down 25.8 percent of the available offensive rebounds and 16.6 percent of the available defensive rebounds.

Little also went 3-for-3 from three-point range and now has made five three-pointers in a row.

Room for Improvement

Statistically, KU had its worst defensive performance of the season. And still beat Missouri by 17.

Kansas defenders Tyrel Reed and Marcus Morris defend a shot by Missouri guard Matt Pressey during the second half on Monday, Feb. 7, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas defenders Tyrel Reed and Marcus Morris defend a shot by Missouri guard Matt Pressey during the second half on Monday, Feb. 7, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

The Jayhawks allowed 1.21 points per possession to the Tigers, which topped their previous defensive worst of 1.20 PPP allowed this year at Colorado.

Those two teams seem to share a similar offensive strength: Quick guards that have the ability to penetrate and get to the rim or get fouled.

This appears to be the kind of team that KU fans might want to avoid in the bracket come March, as KU's guards haven't done a good job of cutting off dribble penetration in numerous games this year.

Kansas players Brady Morningstar (12) and Marcus Morris (22) defend Missouri's Phil Pressey on Monday, February 7, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas players Brady Morningstar (12) and Marcus Morris (22) defend Missouri's Phil Pressey on Monday, February 7, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Richard Gwin

As crazy as it sounds, this actually is illustrated in the free-throw percentages from this year.

Connelly made this great point in his preview on Monday, and rather than steal it and act like I'm smart, I'll quote him:

"Kansas' biggest defensive weakness seems to be that, like other recent Mizzou opponents, they foul guards a lot. They rank 230th in Def. FT%, which means they tend to send good shooters to the line. ...

"On offense, Kansas has the exact opposite problem — they don't send guards to the line very much. They rank 230th in Off. FT% because their most frequent foul shooters — Marcus Morris (66.4%), Markieff Morris (66.7%), Thomas Robinson (52.8%) — aren't very good."

What I take from that is this: If you're hoping for a huge improvement from KU's free-throw shooting this year, it's probably not going to happen because of the way the team is set up. KU's big men are the scorers, so they get fouled a lot.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris delivers two points in the second half against Missouri on Monday, February 7, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris delivers two points in the second half against Missouri on Monday, February 7, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Richard Gwin

The twins/Robinson will need to shoot above-average from the line to make KU above-average from the line — an expectation that might not be reasonable.

Meanwhile, KU's defensive free-throw shooting could improve quite a bit with improved defense (and fewer fouls) from KU's guards. Thirteen of MU's 22 free throws last night were taken by guards, and not surprisingly, the Tigers shot a great percentage from the line (81.8 percent).

Tough-Luck Line

Tyshawn Taylor goes here after a tough shooting night, but honestly, his offensive numbers weren't as bad as I expected.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor drives through the lane against the Missouri defense in the first half on Monday February 7, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor drives through the lane against the Missouri defense in the first half on Monday February 7, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Richard Gwin

Taylor still posted 1.20 points per possession while ending 19.3 percent of KU's possessions — a number I would have assumed to be much higher with 14 shot attempts.

His eFG% was only 32.1 percent — lowest on the team — but Taylor did provide plenty of positives for KU against Missouri.

For one, he only turned it over two times in 35 minutes against the Tigers' pressure defense. Taylor, often criticized for his lack of focus, was a great primary ball-handler for KU on Monday.

Kansas guard Tyshwan Taylor drives against Missouri's Phil Pressey on Monday, Feb. 7th, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Tyshwan Taylor drives against Missouri's Phil Pressey on Monday, Feb. 7th, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Richard Gwin

Taylor also had to play extended minutes because of a struggling Elijah Johnson, as Taylor's 35 minutes were his second-most all season.

Though Taylor's shot filter could have used a bit of tweaking against MU, he still provided enough in the other areas to make this a bit of a tough-luck, "Tough-Luck Line."

Bottom Line

KU's offense, right now, might be better than any Jayhawks offense we've seen in the last 15 years during conference play.

Kansas guard Brady Morningstar connects on a three-pointer from the corner over Missouri forward Steve Moore during the first half on Monday, Feb. 7, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Brady Morningstar connects on a three-pointer from the corner over Missouri forward Steve Moore during the first half on Monday, Feb. 7, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

I went back and looked, and only two KU teams have put together five straight league games in that time frame with at least 1.20 points per possession: the 2001-02 Jayhawks and this year's Jayhawks.

Even that doesn't tell the whole story. That 2001-02 team — with Drew Gooden, Nick Collison and company — had three games during the five-game stretch when it posted less than 1.23 PPP (1.42, 1.22, 1.29, 1.21, 1.21).

This year's team has scored at least 1.23 PPP in each of its last five games (1.26, 1.23, 1.26, 1.25, 1.45).

In other words, enjoy this offense. It's going through one of the best five-game stretches in Big 12 history.

;

Comments

ajhk 3 years, 2 months ago

Nice work Newell. Great job bringing more meaningful stats for analysis. It's a job never completed trying to satisfy the basketball crazy KU fans (myself included).

I haven't been able to view most of these last five games but from what I have seen, it looks like this team is capable of what most of us fans here were expecting.

I'm glad CS wasn't satisfied when it seemed like the offense couldn't get much better. More than just motivation, I think he legitimately sees a ceiling that has yet to be reached.

It's a lot of fun watching these guys play with the amount of confidence they've had lately. If these guys keep it up, I'm going to quit my job for at least the season. At this point I'd rather die unemployed than living with the regret of missing this season. Gotta keep perspective!

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William Blake 3 years, 2 months ago

While we are busy posting stats.... let's look at some fan stats. Here is mine, hope others will post their stats.

DVR Playback Average Per Game = 3.2 times. Tonight I'll watch us pounce MU for the fourth time!

TV Stats = 58" Samsung Plasma with Samsung 5.1 surround sound.

On-Season Daily Average on kusports.com = 2.4 hours per day. My winter hobby!

Off-Season Daily Average on kusports.com = .15 hours per day. Just a quick peak to see if we landed a recuit or something happened somewhere.

KU Clothing = 9 t-shirts, 2 ballcaps... but hope to add a banner and neon sign for the mancave by March.

Annual Average Time Hating Antlers = 24/7/365 for the last 40+ years.

Ownership of Purple Items = 0

Times Intentionally Running MU-marked Cars off the Road = 0 (but thought about it several times)

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William Blake 3 years, 2 months ago

I was always taught, "Offense wins games, defense wins championships."

I just did a bit of internet research and the original statement was coined by Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant Jr. and went, "Offense sells tickets; defense wins championships."

Bryant didn't even give offense credit for winning games...

Guess we will put this all to the test come March. Granted... the reference relates to football instead of basketball, but I always loved the quote and applied it to all team sports.

I will say that this has been the most entertaining year for watching Hawk games!

2011 Jayhawk Basketball Entertainment Rating: +10

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Michael Leiker 3 years, 2 months ago

Does it seem to anyone else that it is almost as simple as Self sitting down with Taylor and having a conversation about him needing to finish in close? Sometimes I feel like he gets in there and kind of just throws it up instead of truly attacking the rim and/or getting fouled. I sometimes also think that he's gotten so used to the bigs getting the boards over the years that he isn't as concerned with finishing as he is with just getting the ball up on the rim.

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KGphoto 3 years, 2 months ago

This has been a good thread.

Nominees for Best Nicknames:

ralster, for "Reedster", and "Bstar" (Sooooo much better than BM) Oakville, for "Iowa State SnoCones", and "Luka Brasi"

Nominees for Best One Word Post:

stupidmichael, for "Bananas" dagger108, for "Winces"

Nominees for Best Scenario:

Alohahawk, for "Meerkats" REHawk, for "65% point guard, 65% shooting guard" *ralster, for "Kieffed"

Honorable Mention:

*kenshinU, for "Fergie"

And the winners are...

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jhox 3 years, 2 months ago

Jesse points our our guards seem to get beat off the dribble frequently. I don't disagree, but it is a very rare team that doesn't have that problem. A quick offensive player simply has an advantage over a quick defensive player. They can cross over, get the defender off balance and, besides, they know what direction they're going. When a quick guard is also a good outside shooter, it makes things that much more difficult because the defender can't take a step off.

I feel the problem is more with our bigs being poor at helping, so it makes the guards getting beat off the dribble much more noticible. I know people will argue this, but Jacque Vaughn got beat off the dribble frequently, but he was perceived to be a great defender. I would argue that the bigs Vaughn played with had as much to do with that reputation as Vaughn did.

Watching that game Monday night, half the time our big guys has no idea where the ball was on the floor, they were not in good position to see both man and ball. MU did a very good job of screening our big men, so that they couldn't get in position to help (it's very rare to see a team do that.) Even when our bigs did see the ball and attempt to help, MU's bigs were screening them from making the play.

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Scatterhawk 3 years, 2 months ago

Taylor had a very good game. He missed a lot of shots, but they weren't jumpshots, or long threes- he was getting to the lane. MU's guards want to body up on their men even well past the three point line, so he was using his superior speed to get to the rim. This forced MU's guards to foul him, or let him get a shot up- and if some of you haven't noticed, our big men are superior to MU's so even if (when) he misses those floaters/tough lay-ins, KU was able to get rebounds and put backs. Tyshawn understood MU's defense and he took advantage of it, and if you can't see that you're blind.

Also, he made his FTs.

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actorman 3 years, 2 months ago

Jhawkerman, it's a little strange that you call out TT now, after he played a solid game (his missed shots notwithstanding). As Jesse pointed out, he made only 2 turnovers in 35 minutes against a tough, pressing defense. So after that, why would you talk about him being "to" sloppy?

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BillConnelly1 3 years, 2 months ago

As always, thanks for the shout out, Jesse!

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REHawk 3 years, 2 months ago

I think it's a mathematical miscalculation of Tyshawn's: Hey, Coach, this year I understand my role. I'll play 65% point guard, 65% shooting guard. Doesn't that compute just about right for my role as a combo guard on this team?

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Greg Lux 3 years, 2 months ago

Selby needs to play 1 and Taylor needs to watch from the bench. Taylor is just to sloppy and if we are going to make the run we need to get Josh into the position he belongs "Point Guard". Yes he is going to make mistakes and thats the point of getting him there NOW so he will be ready for post season action. I love TT but he just has to learn to not have these constant mental breakdowns. Even if he was playing well .. With EJ's lack of improvement we need another point guard who we can depend on and that has to be Josh. Now is the time, ISU is the game.

Rock Chalk

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COJayhawker 3 years, 2 months ago

Jesse Newell, God-bless your impressive OCD in regards to stats.

Off topic. Did anyone else wonder WTF the court-side reporter (her name escapes me) was doing wearing K-State purple?

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Dirk Medema 3 years, 2 months ago

"Taylor also had to play extended minutes because of a struggling Elijah Johnson, as Taylor's 35 minutes were his second-most all season."

I almost expect it from Brent & Bobby, but I would have expected Jesse to have noted that there was a significant change in the personnel used last night, including TT's minutes, b/c Tyrel sat for huge minutes with foul trouble.

"If you're hoping for a huge improvement from KU's free-throw shooting this year, it's probably not going to happen because of the way the team is set up. KU's big men are the scorers, so they get fouled a lot."

If DJax had not been forced to sit out the first 9 games of '06 (?) so that all he could do was shoot FT's before hitting a ridiculous % the rest of the year then tapered back 10% the following year when he was practicing like normal, or the '07-'08 team hadn't improved 10% from non-con to the BigXII season (semester break when you have extra time to devote to the little points of your game like FT's), then I would say this is a valid point. Unfortunately, history says that it is possible for players to become better shooters (jump shot, hook shot, floater, ..., FT) if they devote the necessary time to developing the proper muscle memory through repetition. FT's aren't glamorous, but the '03 and '08 teams will tell you that they do win championships.

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Alohahawk 3 years, 2 months ago

Add your quote to the top pick of the Misery team and Coach Anderson. Do they look a bit shell shocked? It's like they're a family of meercats who have just ventured above ground to check for predators.

"Do you see that, Coach?" " Yeah,and I don't know that I want any part of it."

"I feel safer here in back. Don't send me out there, Coach, I'll get pulverized."

"Hey Coach, what does that sign mean, 'Scat cats' " "I think it refers to a tiger's dietary habits."

"I've got to go, Coach." "Hmm...Male... Female.. Sorry, I don't see a restroom for coprophagists?"

"Beggars can't be choosers, guys. You've each got to pick someone to guard."

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Tony Bandle 3 years, 2 months ago

There is no reason to believe that the scoring streak will be broken with the Iowa State SnoCones coming to Allen this Saturday.

Burn me as a heretic, but I think we would win this game even if MM, MM and TT didn't set foot on the court.

My point is, let Josh rest it for five more days and have him rarin' to go against the Kitties on Monday!!

Something tells me ESPN was expecting something a little different when they scheduled Monday's game last summer!!!

Sidenote: Calipari looks like the sadistic little gangster boss and Frank Martin looks like his hulking assasin, Luka Brasi.....but Frank is OK.

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justinryman 3 years, 2 months ago

People are forgetting what robinson brought to the floor last night, he played very well, sure he missed a few FT's and was slow on help d, but what KU big guy has done better in the amount of minutes this year?

It's nice to be able to go to your bench and bring in size(Robinson), speed(EJ, Little, Relleford) and leadership(Morningstar). Most teams when they get to thir 7th man they show a drop in production, KU can go 8 or 9 deep right now and not a lot changes. Plus it has to push the starting 5 to keep going hard or else....

HCBS showed he isn't afraid to yank either Morris if they play bad D and get out rebounded as they did last night early in the game. Now if he and Manning can get the schoolyard bully out of them....WOW!!!

Started slow, never panicked and just kept going. Thought they finally went for the kill last night and got it. It seems before the Texas game KU would get up 15 and then coast to a 7 pt win, not last night. Hopefully they keep doing that, and when they play texas again they will beat the Horns by 25.

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kenshinU 3 years, 2 months ago

Definitely a more productive stretch than Fergie singing 'Sweet Child O Mine'

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melrank 3 years, 2 months ago

Jesse - thanks for shedding some light on the intangibles that Taylor brings to the table - even though he drives us nuts at times. His ability to weather Missouri's pressure was a key element in getting us into our offensive sets. Plus, he allowed our other ball handlers the freedom to catch a breath while he took on the heat of bringing the ball up.

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Nicholas Cederlind 3 years, 2 months ago

Offense wins games but defense wins championships. I'd trade our offensive stats in for equivalent defensive ones, right now. I'm sure our defense will tighten by march.

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Dillon Davis 3 years, 2 months ago

Too bad we can't make free throws, otherwise we would be unstoppable. I don't want that statistic hanging over our head when we go into tourney time.

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amaldy 3 years, 2 months ago

Does KU's defense struggle when they play GREAT offense? It seems to the naked eye that when the offense is clicking, they are ok with trading baskets for awhile. Just curious if the numbers reflect this.

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Jacobpaul81 3 years, 2 months ago

I've been saying it all year: Mario Little and Travis Releford give the Jayhawks the necessary players to make a championship run. While Selby and Morningstar are both quality players, the 3 spot requires someone with both the ability to post up and the ability to shoot from outside. It requires a great deal of size and it also requires extreme offensive efficiency (something neither Morningstar or Selby have managed while at the 3 spot). Mario Little is shooting 53% from 3 (8-15) and 47-83 overall (56%). Travis Releford is shooting 14-32 from 3pt (43.75%) and 36-66 overall (54%). That's insane. Morningstar shoots 50% and Selby 40%, but their lack of interior ability and lack of size is problematic at the 3 spot. Both are perfectly solid 2s and Selby can play the 1 in relief of Taylor.

I've said it all season and I still believe the lineup will shift, especially with Mario and Travis back. Others have noted the lack of sync between Selby (who certainly doesn't look like a one-and-done right now) and the rest of the team. I don't see that. I just see a freshman point guard trying to play the 3 spot. I think the last three games have demonstrated how much we need Little and Releford at the 3 and what Morningstar can bring if he's aggressive and not passive at the 2 spot. I certainly wouldn't pull Selby from the rotation when he returns, but it's clear he needs to be moved into a backup role behind Reed and Taylor where he can be most effective to the team, and let Little,, Releford and occasionally Morningstar hold down the 3 spot.

The real beauty of this team is that it can rotate so many players in multiple positions if it needs to:

Taylor - 1 Selby - 1 & 2 Reed - 2 Morningstar - 2 & 3 Releford - 3 & 4 Little - 3 & 4 Morris - 4 & 5 Morris - 4 & 5 Robinson - 4 & 5

And you've still got Johnson -1 and Withey - 5 in reserve if you must buy minutes.

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