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Recap: Jayhawks can take positives from close win

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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 I first started driving, I was terrified of merging onto highways.

I had no feel for it at all. When I was sure that my yellow 1986 Buick Century could outgun another car, it rarely did, and I'd have to slam on my brakes to make it safely on.

[Ed. Note — Not my car, but just like it, courtesy a Flickr user. Memories ... ]

The next time, I'd overcorrect, and even when I had plenty of room, I'd slow down to let a car pass me no matter how far it was away.

The point of this story: Merging onto a highway isn't a problem for me any more. I've gained a feel for it, just like most of you out there have.

The only way I was able to get better, though, was by getting experience in that high-stress situation.

Which brings us to the Kansas men's basketball team.

I know there's going to be some frustration from fans after KU's 67-60 victory over Michigan on Sunday. The Jayhawks held a 15-point lead and couldn't hold it, allowing Michigan to get back into a game it probably shouldn't have.

After last year's second-round NCAA Tournament loss to Northern Iowa, though, the general consensus seemed to be that KU hadn't played in enough close games in the regular season to prepare itself for the tournament.

In other words, KU was a 16-year-old staring down the on-ramp of a highway trying to check each of its mirrors three times per second.

Like the game or not, the Jayhawks were able to play in a close game Sunday. Not only that, in the most important stretch of the game, the Jayhawks played their best.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris hugs teammate Tyrel Reed (14) after holding off Michigan for a 67-60 overtime victory on Sunday, Jan. 9, 2010 in Ann Arbor, Mich. Morris had 13 points and 11 rebounds against the Wolverines.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris hugs teammate Tyrel Reed (14) after holding off Michigan for a 67-60 overtime victory on Sunday, Jan. 9, 2010 in Ann Arbor, Mich. Morris had 13 points and 11 rebounds against the Wolverines. by Nick Krug

Here's a look at KU's offensive possessions once the Jayhawks fell behind by three in overtime with 4:21:

Marcus Morris hits two free throws
Markieff Morris hits three-pointer
Marcus Morris hits two-pointer and free throw
Tyrel Reed hits three-pointer
Josh Selby misses three-pointer
Tyshawn Taylor makes one free throw
Tyshawn Taylor makes two free throws
Tyrel Reed makes two free throws

In a game where KU scored a season-low 0.91 points per possession, the Jayhawks scored 2.0 points per possession in the highest pressure situation of the game (in a hostile environment on the road).

There's going to come a time in the NCAA Tournament when KU has a close game and it's going to have to simply make enough plays to survive and move on.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris defends as Michigan guard Darius Morris redirects his pass during the first half on Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011 at Crisler Arena.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris defends as Michigan guard Darius Morris redirects his pass during the first half on Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011 at Crisler Arena. by Nick Krug

The Jayhawks not only played at a high level with the game on the line, they also built some confidence to know that they can perform well in pressure situations that will surely arise in the future.

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

Marcus Morris takes this honor in a runaway.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris goes up for a bucket against the Michigan defense during the first half on Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011 at Crisler Arena.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris goes up for a bucket against the Michigan defense during the first half on Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011 at Crisler Arena. by Nick Krug

On a day when KU's offense struggled, the 6-foot-9 forward carried the Jayhawks on that end of the floor. Marcus posted 1.09 points per possession used while also stepping up his involvement in the offense, ending 26.5 percent of KU's possessions and putting up 37 percent of KU's shots during his minutes.

I'm going to start using floor percentage more in this blog, with floor percentage simply answering the question: "What percentage of the time did a team/player score at least one point when it/he used a possession?"

On Sunday, Marcus' floor percentage was 60.1 percent, meaning when he ended KU's possession, the Jayhawks scored at least one point 60.1 percent of the time. That mark was second on the team behind Brady Morningstar (68.3 percent).

We also shouldn't overlook Marcus' rebounding. After failing to grab an offensive rebound against UMKC, Marcus snatched 13.7 percent of the available offensive rebounds and 13.4 percent of the available defensive rebounds against Michigan.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris rips away an offensive rebound from Michigan defenders Jordan Morgan (52) and Zack Novak (0) during overtime on Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011 at Crisler Arena.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris rips away an offensive rebound from Michigan defenders Jordan Morgan (52) and Zack Novak (0) during overtime on Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011 at Crisler Arena. by Nick Krug

Away from the box score, Marcus did a great job of keeping his composure even after he was getting shoved around inside early and even when he didn't receive a couple foul calls on what seemed like obvious whistles.

By keeping his head, Marcus allowed himself to be in the game at the end when the Jayhawks needed him the most.

Room for Improvement

Does "offense" work here?

Kansas guard Josh Selby topples over Michigan forward Jordan Morgan after losing control of the ball during the first half on Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011 at Crisler Arena.

Kansas guard Josh Selby topples over Michigan forward Jordan Morgan after losing control of the ball during the first half on Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011 at Crisler Arena. by Nick Krug

The Jayhawks 0.91 points per possession were the fewest this season and the second-fewest in the last two years (only the Memphis game in 2009-10 was worse).

Though the Jayhawks seemed to get good looks from three-point range, they only made 4 out of 24 for 16.7 percent, which again was their worst performance of the year and second-worst in the last two years. It's a bit ironic that KU coach Bill Self just mentioned last week how pleased he was with his team's three-point shooting before that area of the Jayhawks' game completely deserted them in Ann Arbor, Mich.

It might be time to worry just a bit about KU's offense, which has slipped to 11th in the KenPom rankings after being top five most of the year.

KU had a tough shooting night, which is going to happen, but the Jayhawks also haven't produced as well this year as one would expect against good defensive opponents.

Tough-Luck Line

It's not necessarily a good thing for the team when this is a close race, but Josh Selby's tough shooting night makes him the pick.

Kansas guard Josh Selby is fouled as he goes up to the bucket between Michigan defenders Zack Novak (0) and Stu Douglass (1) during the first half on Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011 at Crisler Arena.

Kansas guard Josh Selby is fouled as he goes up to the bucket between Michigan defenders Zack Novak (0) and Stu Douglass (1) during the first half on Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011 at Crisler Arena. by Nick Krug

The freshman — who finished 1-for-10 from the floor — posted just 0.62 points per possession used. To his credit, he didn't hog the possessions on his off night, ending just 16 percent of KU's possessions when he was on the floor.

His floor percentage — our new stat explained above — wasn't pretty: When he ended KU's possessions, the Jayhawks scored just 17.4 percent of the time.

Obviously, guards' floor percentage is going to be lower than forwards' because they shoot more threes, but still, 17 percent isn't good.

Thomas Robinson (three turnovers, 1-for-4 free throw shooting in nine minutes) and Elijah Johnson (0 points, 0 assists in 10 minutes) also had rough games, but they didn't have as much impact on the game as Selby did.

Bottom Line

KU's defense was superb, holding Michigan to 0.81 points per possession. On the Jayhawks' worst shooting night of the year (39.3 eFG%), they proved they could still win in a road environment by hunkering down and playing tough, pressure D.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris (21) pressures Michigan guard Stu Douglass during the first half on Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011 at Crisler Arena. At left is Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor and in back is Josh Selby.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris (21) pressures Michigan guard Stu Douglass during the first half on Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011 at Crisler Arena. At left is Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor and in back is Josh Selby. by Nick Krug

Though perhaps the Jayhawks shouldn't have allowed Sunday's game to be close, they did get to play in a high-leverage situation and performed better in overtime than at any other point in the game.

The experience should help the Jayhawks be more comfortable (and less panicked) when that same type of scenario arises in March.

Comments

KU_FanSince75 10 years, 10 months ago

Jesse--- Do you walk on water? Your prediction from the Cram Session was perfect!!!! Nice going.

Jesse Newell 10 years, 10 months ago

Thanks. You know what they say about blind squirrels ...

waywardJay 10 years, 10 months ago

Wow....that's the most obscure link I have ever seen posted on Kusports.com.

Kudos.

Jayhawk444 10 years, 10 months ago

A couple of things I expected to see here but didn't...

(1) What was Tyrel Reed's points/poss. and % of possessions used? I'm guessing he wasn't much better than Selby. Not a good night for TR from what I saw.

(2) Also - it seemed we allowed Michigan a lot of offensive rebounds/second chance points. I know Self looks at this statistic...and I would guess he wasn't pleased.

ancient_hawk 10 years, 10 months ago

INRE Offensive Rebounds allowed:

I was concerned about that also. But then, when you consider that almost 1/2 of their shots were long distance, and only 4/28 went in, that's a LOT of clangers. A lot of those end up being 50:50 balls, as the D is blocking out in the paint.

Jesse Newell 10 years, 10 months ago

Jayhawk444 — Here you go ...

  1. Reed posted 0.98 points per possession used, which was actually KU's fourth-best. His 4-for-4 free-throw shooting and low turnover numbers (1) helped him out quite a bit.

  2. Michigan grabbed 27.9 percent of the available offensive rebounds against KU. The Wolverines' season average for offensive rebounding percentage is 28.8 percent. KU didn't dominate the boards, but it did hold UM just under its season average, so I wouldn't call it a poor rebounding effort for the Jayhawks.

Jacobpaul81 10 years, 10 months ago

Free Throw shooting saved Reed.

Reed + Selby went 3 for 16 from 3. That's 18%

They took a combined 16 of 19 from behind the arc. That's 85% of their shots from outside. Reed took 100% of his shots from 3 land.

Some more fun stats:

KU went 20-56 in the game. 4-24 (16% as a team) from 3.

They went 16-32 from 2pt (50%).

They took 42% of their shots from 3, 58% from 2pt.

If you want to know why this one went to overtime, all you have to look at is all the wasted possessions this team had shooting 3s.

HCBS rmight not agree with Bob Knight about the 3 pt shot but if his team would quit settling for bad 3s and look for more 2s, they wouldn't find themselves in a unranked team's gym fighting in overtime.

DevilHawk 10 years, 10 months ago

The last point is one among many points that Self will use the game film to teach - yet again.

Jacobpaul81 10 years, 10 months ago

If I needed proof (like that was ever even the case), one need only look at last night's Texas Texas Tech game:

Longhorns: 29-53 .547 shooting 3-12 from 3. 83 points

Raiders: 23-59 .390 shooting 0-11 from 3.

If you take higher percentage shots, it's a heck of a lot easier to throw big numbers up on the board. I would love to see us cut our 3 pt shooting down to about 20-22% of our shot selection (right now, it's 32%).

AsadZ 10 years, 10 months ago

One positive from the game is FT shooting. Without the improved FT shooting KU would have lost this game.

SoCalAlum 10 years, 10 months ago

Great job Jesse in these recaps. To extend your "Room for Improvement" point, the offense will likely look worse over next two games as the team faces two KenPom top-25 defensive teams...Iowa State with #19 ranking on defense and then Nebraska at #12 (with a couple of #1 stat ranks). Of course, these two teams get to face the #1 ranked defensive team in KU and they're each offensively challenged...so, should be two ugly plodding games. In that sense, Michigan was a great prep.

lxjayhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

Good team shouldnot have many off nights in shooting. Those off games could cause the results like UK vs. WV. If a team didnot solve the problem, getting deep in turnaround would be hard. However, I do notice that we have better D than UK last year.

John Mueller 10 years, 10 months ago

Jesse- Aplologize in advance for the dumb question, but can you please tell me where on the website i can find the box score?

Also, I think the sight would be much improved if all the content related to the days game was grouped in a Game Coverage box.

For example, i love reading the article that contains feedback from the other team, but sometimes the headline causes it to get lost in a long string of stories.

Much appreciated on any feedback on box score. I am sure it is here somewhere in my bedroom, but I cannot find my other sock!!!! Pls help.

Jesse Newell 10 years, 10 months ago

springtxhawk — You can find the box score at the link here: http://www.sportsnetwork.com/merge/tsnform.aspx?c=kusports&page=cbask/scores/final/boxscore.aspx?GAMEID=51300

Also, our men's basketball schedule page is a good place to look if you're searching for all of the coverage from a particular game:

http://www2.kusports.com/schedules/mens-basketball/2010-11/kansas/

kesmithstl1 10 years, 10 months ago

Great article! Best thing is there is very little opinion and a lot of facts! Journalism at its finest.

Regarding the game, I highly doubt KU will shoot that poorly again this season (I hope). With both teams struggling from the field, you have to wonder about the rims. BTW that is not an excuse, it is a poor attempt at sarcasm!

Tuskin 10 years, 10 months ago

Nice job, Jesse.

I thought your analogy to your Buick was going to be compared to KU trying to figure out how to play against the zone. In that area, this game may have highlighted an area where we can work on our driving...

kusayzone 10 years, 10 months ago

I have always figured that when on the road you should always shoot closer to the basket than when you are at home. I am bothered even with the Morri output, that there was not more thunder dunking. How many passes before a shot? How long into the shot clock does this team average.Do we make then other teams defense work hard enough? ps. Looks like a nice car to me!

Marcia Parsons 10 years, 10 months ago

Great article, Jesse, and great pictures by Krug.

Joe Ross 10 years, 10 months ago

I've never been a conspiracy theorist in my life. I don't believe in unicorns, an illuminati that wields any political influence, UFO's, or the tooth fairy. But I left a comment on this story this morning and now for the second time in as many weeks, my comment has disappeared without the usual "this comment has been removed by the staff" explanation. Now I've paused to consider that I could be an idiot and believe me when I tell you I have been accused of that more than once in my life. Perhaps I could have had an idiot moment, but having two such episodes in short succession after none for years is very highly improbable. Could it be that my comments are being removed? I've had what I've considered to be gentlemens' disagreements with Jesse Newell in terms of his synopses of the team's performance (some of which I left in the comments sections of his stories; others have been highlighted in my fan blog). Neverthless, Coach Self's recent comments have been in line with observations I made weeks ago.

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/seth_davis/01/10/hoop.thoughts.kansas/index.html

I made these observations when Mr. Newell seemed to suggest that there was little wrong with the team, and yet there has been a crescendo of late in the very troubles I highlighted. Now before I assume that there is some malicious will at work, I will be watching for the removal of comments which are incongruent with the authors' takes. Surely censorship is not the norm at kusports.com.

Jesse Newell 10 years, 10 months ago

Joe — I'm not quite sure what happened, but I can assure you that your comment was not taken down. I don't even have the ability to delete comments without having the "This comment has been removed" message showing up.

Joe Ross 10 years, 10 months ago

Incidentally, my last comments were that I was in agreement with Jesse's take on what could be taken away from this last game. So I'm not a reckless pugilist.

Jim Roth 10 years, 10 months ago

You could be right. Jesse wrote,

"After last year's second-round NCAA Tournament loss to Northern Iowa, though, the general consensus seemed to be that KU hadn't played in enough close games in the regular season to prepare itself for the tournament."

I don't quite agree. I recall several close games near the end of the regular season where we played poorly and were in danger of losing a game that shouldn't have been that close. But we finally got serious, put forth some effort, and pulled it out at the end.

We saw the same thing with Northern Iowa, but just didn't quite get there. We came close, but the effort needed to start sooner. Perhaps if we'd lost a game or two near the end of the season to teams we should have beaten, we would be reigning national champs right now. The lesson would have sunk in.

didjabuti 10 years, 10 months ago

I remember the same thing, and have pretty much the same feeling about it. I would have had no problem if we had ended up with 4 or 5 losses heading into the tourney. Specifically I think a loss to Cornell could have helped prevent the loss to Northern Iowa. You never know what's going to happen, that's why the games are played, but every experience shapes your future actions.

Can't wait to see how we learn our lessons this year.

ksyank 10 years, 10 months ago

I think we all just need to calm down, take a deep breath and realize they just didn't make shots. They had good looks, they just didn't fall. They did get a little careless in terms of offensive execution, should have realized it was poor shooting day and banged it inside a little more. Funny thing is that after Michigan made the 3 in overtime, I thought we had a pretty good shot at winning. It was a wake up call. Michigan just didn't have the horses to hang with KU playing well.

kusayzone 10 years, 10 months ago

This team seems to have the inability to play a full 40 minutes....so it has been said. It has also been said that this team can play 5 good minutes when they have to. So... which one will win a national championship? What about those 3 minute commercials that delay any type of run when March madness comes? Discuss!

fenix_hawk 10 years, 10 months ago

Does anyone have the points per possession percentage difference between when Michigan ran man to when they switched to zone? Thanks

Tony Bandle 10 years, 10 months ago

Jesse, my friend...you are a fine journalist and, even better, a straight shooter who never takes cheap shots at anyone.

There is a raging debate about Brady Morningstar among us posters. The sentiments run from he is the "glue" guy to he should be "glued' to the bench never to leave.

Can you give your opinion what Brady offers or doesn't offer to the team's performance, please? He seems to be the touchstone of an almost vicious debate that needs to be quelled.

Thanks and keep up the good work!!

Larry Ewart 10 years, 10 months ago

It is difficult to say that this team has weaknesses since it has not lost a game yet. But, it does and it starts at the point guard position. I know that Tyshawn is a talented player. His speed, quickness, and defensive prowess is outstanding. But in my opinion he lacks leadership at the point and you must have that in order to win a championship. Maybe HCBS will make a change during conference play as our games will become much closer but it was evident on Sunday watching Michigan come back. Michigan was not a good team. Pretty weak for a Big 10 team actually. TT walked the ball up mostly, passed the ball poorly, and made some other poor decisions. I am not suggesting that he should not play, of course he should be on the floor, just not at the point guard position.

hawksince51 10 years, 10 months ago

I expect we will see quite a bit of zone D in conference play after we handled the Michigan zone so poorly. That is good because it does not seem that practicing it has taught us how to break it. If we progress deep into the NCAA tourney we could very well face the Syracuse zone which is way better than Michigan, and so it their O.

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