A look at where KU's offense is better — and worse — than a year ago
The Kansas men's basketball team ranks 17th in Ken Pomeroy's adjusted offensive efficiency — a measure that takes into account a team's points per possession while adjusting for schedule strength. A year ago, the Jayhawks finished 19th nationally in the stat.
So the Jayhawks are following the same offensive formula for success, right?
Actually, what's interesting is that this year's team varies greatly from last year's in the way it produces offense.
Let's take a look. The following chart takes a look at 10 advanced statistical measures: adjusted offensive efficiency, effective field-goal percentage (shooting), turnover percentage, offensive rebound percentage, free throw rate (the frequency a team gets to the free throw line), two-point percentage, three-point percentage, free throw percentage, three-point attempt percentage (the percentage of field goals shot that are three-pointers) and assist percentage.
The red line is the 2011-12 season (final stats), while the blue is 2012-13. The higher up the dot, the better the team's national rank in that category.
All statsitics from KenPom.com.
Let's start with the positives for KU: The Jayhawks are a much better shooting team this year, which makes some sense considering they are more balanced offensively compared to a year ago.
What is surprising — especially after I watched passes sail into the stands more than once while covering the team during its August exhibition trip in Europe — is how well the Jayhawks have taken care of the ball. KU has only turned it over on 18.8 percent of its possessions so far, and if that number holds up, it would tie the best mark for a Bill Self team at KU (2007-08 also turned it over on 18.8 percent of its possessions).
Though the Jayhawks' shooting is better — especially on three-pointers and free throws — that hasn't made as much impact as it could because of the team's struggles with offensive rebounds and getting to the free throw line.
KU has grabbed just 32.5 percent of its missed shots this year. If that number stands, it'll be the lowest percentage by a Self team at KU (last year's team was second-lowest at 34.6 percent).
The Jayhawks' free throw rate (37.0) also is on pace to be the lowest in the last five seasons.
Two numbers that remain mostly unchanged from a year ago are three-point attempt percentage and assist percentage. KU once again does not rely a lot on three-point shots, and that's a good strategy to have as an elite team in the NCAA Tournament, as two-point shooting is much more consistent game to game compared to three-point shooting.
Meanwhile, the Jayhawks continue to be a team that shares the ball well, though part of that high assist percentage this year might speak to the fact that the Jayhawks don't have many players that can create for themselves off the dribble.
In the end, KU is having similar offensive success this season compared to last while producing those points in an entirely different fashion.
Though this team doesn't get offensive rebounds or to the free throw line like a typical Self team, it has made up for it by shooting a high percentage while taking care of the basketball better than any Jayhawks team in the past decade.