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Recap: The Jayhawks' best two-point shooters this year are ...

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.

Following Kansas' strong two-point shooting in Saturday's 72-61 victory over Oklahoma on Saturday, I thought we'd start this blog by looking at KU's most accurate shooters from inside the arc this season.

As you might have already read in Tom Keegan's column, KU made 25 of 39 two-pointers against OU (64 percent) in a game it only shot four of 19 from three (21 percent).

So who do you think the Jayhawks' best two-point shooters have been this season? Come up with a couple guesses before looking at the full list, which is below this picture.

Kansas head coach Bill Self gets fired up on the sideline during the first half against Oklahoma on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012, at Lloyd Noble Center.

Kansas head coach Bill Self gets fired up on the sideline during the first half against Oklahoma on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012, at Lloyd Noble Center. by Nick Krug

1. Travis Releford — 64.5 percent (40 of 62)
2. Elijah Johnson — 63.6 percent (28 of 44)
3. Kevin Young — 63.0 percent (17 of 27)
4. Jeff Withey — 57.1 percent (40 of 70)
5. Conner Teahan — 55.6 percent (10 of 18)
6. Thomas Robinson — 54.1 percent (100 of 185)
7. Justin Wesley — 52.2 percent (12 of 23)
8. Tyshawn Taylor — 44.0 percent (51 of 116)
9. Naadir Tharpe — 40.0 percent (4 of 10)
(NCAA average is 47.6 percent; source: KenPom.com)

I was surprised a bit that Releford tops this list, but he does get a lot of easy shots in transition and also is choosy with his field goal attempts.

Johnson is second for some of the same reasons: He gets quite a few lob dunk attempts and also doesn't force up a lot of guarded two-pointers.

Kansas starters Travis Releford, left, Tyshawn Taylor, Elijah Johnson and Thomas Robinson get a break to chat on the bench late in the game against Oklahoma on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012, at Lloyd Noble Center.

Kansas starters Travis Releford, left, Tyshawn Taylor, Elijah Johnson and Thomas Robinson get a break to chat on the bench late in the game against Oklahoma on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012, at Lloyd Noble Center. by Nick Krug

The two-point percentage that stands out the most is Taylor's — especially considering he's shot better from two-point range in the past.

Tyshawn Taylor two-point percentages
2008-09 — 56.1 percent (96 of 171)
2009-10 — 47.6 percent (70 of 147)
2010-11 — 50.5 percent (97 of 192)
2011-12 — 44.0 percent (51 of 116)

Taylor obviously has taken a bigger role in this year's offense, as he's taking 23.5 percent of his team's shots while he's in, compared to 17.2 percent last year.

The numbers above also don't take into account that he's been great at getting to the free throw line, as his free throw rate (58.6) ranks 132nd nationally.

Still, Taylor had made 51.6 percent of his career twos coming into this season. With that percentage this year, he'd have nine more made twos, which would be 1.2 more points per game.

I've thought about it, but I can't come up with an explanation for why Taylor's two-point percentage would be down that much this season. Any ideas?

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

Travis Releford's individual effort against OU should rank as KU's second best this year, trailing only Thomas Robinson's 30/20 game against North Dakota.

Kansas guard Travis Releford comes away with a steal from Oklahoma guard Cameron Clark during the first half Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012, at Lloyd Noble Center.

Kansas guard Travis Releford comes away with a steal from Oklahoma guard Cameron Clark during the first half Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012, at Lloyd Noble Center. by Nick Krug

Releford posted 1.87 points per possession used while ending a healthy 22 percent of KU's possessions while he was in.

The junior also was super-efficient, making 9 of 13 field goals and 3 of 5 threes to give him an effective field goal percentage of 80.7 percent — highest on the team among players with more than one shot.

During Releford's 34 minutes on the floor, KU outscored OU by 17 (65-48). No other Jayhawk was better than plus-12 against the Sooners.

In his last three games, Releford has averaged 19.3 points while making 20 of 34 field goals (59 percent) and six of 13 threes (46 percent).

Room for Improvement

The Jayhawks put the Sooners on the free throw line too often.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson comes over the top of Oklahoma guard Sam Grooms during the second half Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012, at Lloyd Noble Center. At left is KU forward Justin Wesley.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson comes over the top of Oklahoma guard Sam Grooms during the second half Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012, at Lloyd Noble Center. At left is KU forward Justin Wesley. by Nick Krug

Oklahoma's free throw rate of 56.0 was its highest this year and its 28 free throws attempted were its third-most this season.

Though KU was foul prone early in the season, it actually had done a nice job lately of limiting opposing free throw attempts. In fact, in the Jayhawks' four games before Oklahoma, they had allowed 13, 10, eight and 16 free throws.

KU's defense made up for the deficiency by forcing OU's highest turnover percentage this year (26.6 percent) while also holding the Sooners to their second-worst shooting game (41.0 eFG%).

Tough-Luck Line

Conner Teahan had a rough game offensively in his 18 minutes.

Kansas guard Conner Teahan elevates for a bucket between several Oklahoma defenders during the first half Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012, at Lloyd Noble Center.

Kansas guard Conner Teahan elevates for a bucket between several Oklahoma defenders during the first half Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012, at Lloyd Noble Center. by Nick Krug

The senior posted just 0.28 points per possession used while ending 20.8 percent of the possessions he was in.

Not only did Teahan make just one of five shots, he also was uncharacteristically careless with the ball. He posted three turnovers, which tied a career high. His only other game with three turnovers was against USC earlier this year.

Even including his 0-for-3 performance from three against OU, Teahan has still made 10 of 24 long-range shots in his last five games (42 percent).

If KU is in need of a three-pointer, he's still the Jayhawks' best option.

Bottom Line

KU's offense rebounded from a sluggish first half by getting lots of easy shots in the second half.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson ducks under Oklahoma forward Romero Osby for a bucket during the second half Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012, at Lloyd Noble Center.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson ducks under Oklahoma forward Romero Osby for a bucket during the second half Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012, at Lloyd Noble Center. by Nick Krug

Two-thirds of the Jayhawks' second-half points (26 of 39) came from inside the paint. That offensive execution helped KU to 1.13 points per possession overall, which is above its season average of 1.09 PPP.

Meanwhile, KU forced steals on 21.9 percent of its defensive possessions — the second-best mark this season behind the Towson game.

The Jayhawks have become a swarming defensive team since failing to force a turnover in the second half of Dec. 19's 80-74 loss to Davidson.

Kansas forward Justin Wesley chases down a loose ball with Oklahoma guard Steven Pledger during the first half Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012, at Lloyd Noble Center.

Kansas forward Justin Wesley chases down a loose ball with Oklahoma guard Steven Pledger during the first half Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012, at Lloyd Noble Center. by Nick Krug

In KU's first 10 games (including Davidson), it forced turnovers on 21.6 percent of its possessions. Since then, KU has created giveaways on 88 of its 331 defensive possessions (26.6 percent).

The Jayhawks will have the chance to keep that trend going against Texas Tech on Wednesday, as the Red Raiders have the highest turnover percentage in the Big 12 (25 percent).

Comments

Ted Toulouse 2 years, 11 months ago

My thought on Taylor's sub-par 2-point percentage is that he usually misses the layup when he gets fouled.

Eric Baker 2 years, 11 months ago

I may be wrong, but if I recall correctly, if you're fouled while shooting, it doesn't count as a miss. It can only count as a make if it goes in.

Ted Toulouse 2 years, 11 months ago

Shows how much I know. Been playing this game most of my life but never realized that was the case.
So I retract my statement above. I don't know why Tyshawn sucks @ 2 pointers :)

meremy 2 years, 11 months ago

True that a foul doesn't impact the shooter's percentage directly, but a "good" foul prevents an easy basket from existing and thus robs the shooter of the would-be improvement to his percentage.

jhox 2 years, 11 months ago

Ttoulouse, you're sort of on the right track but a shot doesn't count as a miss if you're fouled in the process of taking it. However, he does seem to be forcing a lot more shots inside the paint, when well guarded, and he's not getting bailed out by foul calls on a lot of those. I do believe it is the forced shots in the paint that have lowered his two point percentage so much this year. It really comes down to poor decision making once he's broken down the defense and gotten himself in the paint.

I'm not a Tyshawn hater, I'd rather he be on my team than playing against me, but his decision making does frustrate me much of the time.

Eric Baker 2 years, 11 months ago

I don't think that's the reason for the change. Tyshawn's been making hard, many times ill advised drives to the basket his entire collegiate career, and if anything he's getting more fouls called in the process this year than he ever has.

hawkinNE 2 years, 11 months ago

I agree he is forcing more out of control shots. I like to see a drive to get a foul but i think hes forcing to much.

Joe Joseph 2 years, 11 months ago

Taylor sure seems to make easy shots into difficult ones. How many times has he double pumped at the rim trying to draw or avoid contact? I think that's a big part of it.

Brendan Connolly 2 years, 11 months ago

I think we are overthinking the Taylor shooting percentage. You a`re saying so far over the entire season he would have made 9 more shots. He shot 2 of 11 in the Kentucky game.....make that 6 of 11 (4 more) and then take the KSU game where he went 5-13 and make that 7 or 8 of 13 (2 or 3 more) and you have made up 6-7 of the 9 extra shots. He had a bad couple of games shooting. He also had a game that he went 4-5 and another he went 4-4. So in essence we are looking at too small a sample. One or two bad games can skew the appearance.

It's like looking at Brady's first 4 games (517, 423, 387, 226) and projecting it out to a season of 6,212 yards with 52 touchdowns. It does show the characteristics of a trend, but you need a larger sample to get a full picture. The hot start contributed to Brady having such a huge year, but it did not quite make out to the year you would project based on the first quarter of the season and Tyshawn's likely won't project out to the level it is right now.....probably like a 49 or 48%.

justanotherfan 2 years, 11 months ago

I think Taylor's percentage is down, particularly from last year because there is more size helping on his drives this year than last year. As a freshman Tyshawn had Cole inside, along with the Morris twins as freshmen. Last year, he had the Morris twins playing at an elite, All American type level. With that, most of his drives weren't being challenged by the bigs because they didn't want to leave Cole or the Morris twins.

Now you look at the year in between (his Soph year) and wonder, why the drop? Well, that year, the Morris twins hadn't fully established themselves. Marcus exploded, but Kieff still hadn't shown his full ability. A lot more teams were sagging down on Cole, so drives to the basket were going to be met by whoever was guarding Cole. Also, Marcus and Markieff didn't step away from the basket as much that year, so there was more traffic, and particularly more big traffic.

This year is more similar to his soph year in that Jeff is typically closer inside on offense. That means the other teams center is going to be around the rim a lot, unlike last year, when Markieff would draw the other teams center outside, or his freshman year when people weren't leaving Cole as often as they did in Cole's junior year. A center around the rim means that guards will have a few more shots blocked (maybe only 4 or 5) and altered (maybe twice as many as get blocked). That could explain the drop right there.

jaybate 2 years, 11 months ago

Jesse,

A series of triple stack bar charts adding one game at a time one really give your analyses a time series dynamic that would drive your points home.

Stops Index: Strips/Blocks/Rebounds game by game would really give people a sense of the progress of the team.

Shooting Percentage index: 2pt%/3pt%/FT%

Shot Distribution Index: FGAs/3ptA

And so on. Cluster the related stats on the same indices.

And maybe put on all the players on a single line graph and track their Points per possession game by game.

With this plotting of the data added game by game for 35-40 games, then it is easy to calculate rolling averages and rates of change for each stat for season, last ten games, last five games. This is where statistical analysis gets powerful and informative and emulates what coaches are actually looking at, or should be.

Statistical analysis only becomes truly useful when rates of change are quantified.

These rates of change and their directions would be basketball dynamics quantified.

Static statistics are always signs of unsophisticated QA folks looking backwards.

Without putting too fine a point on it, most sports statisticians, even the ones with the big web sites, are apparently unsophisticated QA persons, or alternatively, are lazy, or doubt their abilities to explain rates of change and direction to laymen.

Good statisticians can explain such things even to children.

All one really cares about in performance analysis is magnitude, rate and direction of change in any statistic measuring performance.

Why?

Because reality is dynamic.

Human beings are dynamic. They are changing. He not busy being born is busy dying, as Bob Dylan sang.

Coaching is about intervening positively in magnitude, rate and direction of getting better.

jaybate 2 years, 11 months ago

Being a fan (or especially a gambler) is about understanding magnitude, rate and direction of change.

Why are magnitude, rate and direction of change over time so important?

Because their quantification indicate the legacy dynamics that influence the future as path dependence.

Board rats here are some times surprised at my success at anticipating what Self, or other teams will do, how players will perform, and when they will finally become useful players, or bloom into big time players. They are sometimes surprised at my success at forecasting game outcomes.

I love the game, so it holds my attention.

I am trained in a variety of kinds of QA, so though I do not grind numbers, I am conditioned to notice trends in performance numbers and trends in strategy.

So I my forecasts tend to have these things as drivers.

Nothing is perfect. I am often wrong. But when one looks at the world through the lenses of magnitude, rate, and direction of change, and one knows something of how coaches implement pieces of the offense as the season goes along, one can begin to get a "feel" for what is happening game to game.

From a coaching stand point, also, magnitude, rate and direction of change are key things to extract from historical data, because...

Changing direction of performance is one kind of problem.

Changing magnitude of change in performance is another kind of problem.

And changing rate of change in performance is yet another kind of problem.

Effective coaching ploys with players depend to some degree on knowing which of these problems one is dealing with in a player's performance.

Regardless, thanks for the continuing flow of stimulating stats and here's to hoping you go graphic in charting it.

One picture worth a thousand words say old Chinese proverb. :-)

jaybate 2 years, 11 months ago

Repeat after me:

Rate of change.

Magnitude of change.

Direction of change.

That is your mantra for the rest of the season, if you are a Buddhist.

Or your creed if you are Christian.

Or your technique, if you are a rational empiricist operating without a sky god, or even with one.

Yeeeeeeee hawwwwwww, I love distillates.

Joe Ross 2 years, 11 months ago

Im sorry, stupidmichael. Youll have to deal with Jaybate's undeserving condescension for as long as you post he're, for you see...he knows all. Or thinks he does.

Joe Ross 2 years, 11 months ago

I am NOT impressed at all by your "abilities" to predict game outcomes or to properly construe the meaning of stats. Your self-love had me in hysterics!

"Board rats here are some times surprised at my success at anticipating what Self, or other teams will do, how players will perform, and when they will finally become useful players, or bloom into big time players. They are sometimes surprised at my success at forecasting game outcomes...I am conditioned to notice trends in performance numbers and trends in strategy. So I [sic] my forecasts tend to have these things as drivers."

Tell me honestly how someone of your prognostic capabilities, O Great and Mighty Jaybate, can see the Turner Gill firing as unwarranted and at the same time be pessimistic about Weis. Different sport, you say? True, but the same mind that generates perspectives. You are a joke!

jaybate 2 years, 11 months ago

I love you, my little Benedictine monk. :-)

Joe Ross 2 years, 11 months ago

Thought Id check back. Yep. Still dumb.

BCRavenJHawkfan 2 years, 11 months ago

And Saint Benedict and Saint Scholastica love you both.

REHawk 2 years, 11 months ago

I would say that defenses are focusing much more on stopping Tyshawn this season. Big 12 coaches, especially, will have loads of tape and 3 years of actual competition to help them study his moves. Without the twins and Selby to draw defensive attention, Tyshawn and Thomas have become the focus of coaches who design ways to shut down our top scorers.

REHawk 2 years, 11 months ago

With the emergence of Releford as a scorer, Tyshawn should draw a bit less attention from defenses. Next to step up as lightly guarded scorers should be EJ and Jeff. It appears that Conner has gradually found more ways to slip inside defenses for 2 pt. shooting, as he is viewed by defenders primarily as an outside shooter, and opponents are not well prepared for his inside game.

2 years, 11 months ago

I would say Taylor's lower 2-pt percentage has to do somewhat with the fact we don't have many great 3 point shooters this season so defenders are helping more on Taylor's drives and making his shots more difficult. Plus, he is probably forcing it more this year than past season's due to our limited offensive options (up until the recent push of Releford).

Steve Gantz 2 years, 11 months ago

"Oklahoma's free throw rate of 56.0 was its highest this year " Can someone clarify what "free throw rate" is?

Also regarding Taylor, his 3 point percentage is higher than his two pointers. Interesting

Jesse Newell 2 years, 11 months ago

Free throw rate is simply a team's (or player's) free throws attempted divided by its field goals attempted. That number is multiplied by 100 so we don't have as many decimals.

The stat gives us a little more context than talking only about free throw attempts, as 25 free throw attempts is a lot in a 50 possession game, but it wouldn't be many in a 90 possession game.

By comparing free throws to field goals, we can better tell just how successful (or unsuccessful) a team was at getting to the line.

For reference, the NCAA average FTR is 36.6. KU's on offense is 40.6. On defense, it's 35.6.

OU's FTR of 56.0, then, is pretty high.

Ben Kane 2 years, 11 months ago

I think everyone is over-analysing this TT percentage a bit too much. The important thing is that he takes it to the basket when it is there, and not force the situation as sherron used to always do, and with that in mind I think TT has done a great job of that lately. A lot of his misses also generate favorable rebounding situations resulting in slams in or layups.

texashawk10 2 years, 11 months ago

KU is dependent upon Tyshawn to score this year whereas in the past he was the 3rd or 4th option meaning if his shot was off, Self would quit running plays for him which would limit the damage a bad shooting night would do to his FG%. Self doesn't have that luxury this year so Tyshawn still gets plays called for him in hopes of him breaking out a bad night and when he doesn't, the misses pile up and 2-3 really bad shooting nights can do some major damage to a shooting %.

jayhawker_97 2 years, 11 months ago

forget about TT's 2s. i think he should take charge of 3s more. we need more 3 shooters. i think he can be that guy. he used to shoot 3s well in the past, i recalled. not sure if the game plan has changed, or he lost confidence, but i do think we can show a team with good % of 3s.

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