Recap: Aldrich's defense an unsung hero
In a contest full of many superlatives and standout performances for Kansas, one facet of the game — particularly the first half — stood out more than any other: Temple's hesitance, nay, absolute refusal to run its offense through junior forward Lavoy Allen.
The Owls' inability to throw the ball inside was not necessarily a bad coaching decision or poor execution. Temple's veteran coach, Fran Dunphy, clearly knows a bit more about basketball than the proprietor of this blog. Instead, I thought it a testament to just how crucial Kansas' junior center Cole Aldrich is to the Jayhawks' success. With Aldrich blanketing Allen, Temple didn't just fail to score in the post: The Owls didn't even think to try.
Entering Saturday, Allen was an efficient piece of Temple's offense, using 19.1 percent of the team's possessions and scoring an above-average 1.15 points per possession used. Of the Owls' starters, Allen was the third most likely to shoot and the most efficient offensive player.
Against Kansas, Allen used just 16 percent of Temple's possessions during his 29 minutes. Sophomore guard Juan Fernandez and freshman guard Ramone Moore used those extra possessions to score 17 points on 4-for-21 shooting. Ouch. It was evident in the first half Temple's offense could not find its rhythm. The Owls chucked three-pointers and contested jumpers over and over. They chucked early in the shot clock. They chucked late in the shot clock. Temple finished the game with a 28.9 percent Effective FG% and was fortunate to have mustered .79 points per possession (the Owls committed turnovers on a miniscule 9.1 percent of offensive possessions). KU's perimeter defenders deserve credit for playing Fernandez tough. But Aldrich was the player who forced the Owls out of the paint and into some unsavory shooting situations.
M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)
This could go to Aldrich, who posted 10 points and 10 rebounds on top of his fearsome defense. Senior guard Sherron Collins gets the nod today, however. As Journal-World sports editor Tom Keegan pointed out, Collins' toughness is a key piece of KU's puzzle.
The stocky guard's offensive efficiency doesn't hurt, either.
Collins scored 14 points on 6-for-9 shooting Saturday, upping his season average to 1.20 points scored per possession used. For the 11th time in 13 games this season, Collins scored more points than he attempted field goals. He also tallied four assists and zero turnovers Saturday.
http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2010/Jan/03/ku_bkc_temple_04vert.jpg KU guard Sherron Collins takes the ball to the hoop vs. Temple — Nick Krug/LJW Photo
Room for improvement
Honestly, KU was stellar in almost every way Saturday en route to its 32-point road rout of a ranked opponent. The only aspect of the game Temple won was the turnover battle — and KU wasn't particularly turnover-prone. The Jayhawks committed a turnover 15.2 percent of the time, about three percent less often than usual.
Hard luck line
Saturday's hard luck stat line goes to Temple's Fernandez. Entering the game, he wasn't the Owls' most efficient scorer, but was their most electric and active offensive player. The Argentinian guard posted his fourth-worst Offensive Rating of the season (72.6) while attempting more shots than he had in any previous game. That's a bad combination. KU junior guard Brady Morningstar seemed to have the most success limiting the Temple star's open looks.
The Bottom Line
A great victory for KU — its best of the season — meant even more, considering losses by previous undefeateds Syracuse and West Virginia earlier in the week.