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Column: KU’s three-point shooting on upward arc

Just for comparison, here is the progression of three pointers made per game/three point attempts per game/three point percentage, in the seasons under Self:

1. 2003-04: 5.69/17.03/33.5%

2. 2004-05: 6.6/17.96/36.7%

3. 2005-06: 6.21/16.33/38.0%

4. 2006-07: 6.07/15.36/39.6%

5. 2007-08: 6.77/17.07/39.7%

6. 2008-09: 6.2/16.71/37.1%

7. 2009-10: 7.27/18/40.4%

8. 2010-11: 7.13/18.68/38.2%

9. 2011-12: 5.69/16.48/34.5%

10. 2012-13: 5.83/16.05/36.4%

11. 2013-14: 5.4/15.88/34.5%

12. 2014-15: 6.2/15.7/39.5% (through 10 games)

Going into Utah, the numbers were 5.5/15.37/35.8%. Last couple of games has boosted the percentage a touch.

The issue is as much three point shooting as approach -- playing outside/in vs. inside out. After the Utah game, Self was still pounding the inside/out theme. Then after the game Saturday, he said: "We need Perry to score. In games where it’s a struggle to score, we’ve got to have somebody to throw it to. Perry will be that guy.”

That seems different to me. It's not "first option", or "inside-out", or "we're not getting it inside" -- it's "In games where it's a struggle to score, we've got to have somebody to throw it to."

None of this means we can't pound it in there when Cliff or Ellis has an advantage. But as Self has preached "identity" in the past -- this is a much better "identity" for this team.

December 22, 2014 at 11:28 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Jayhawks show off depth in rout of Lafayette

Self said in the preseason press conference that he wanted his team to have an identity established by conference play. If Self is willing to moderate, change slightly, see what his stellar recruiting efforts have created, well -- we have an identity. If today is an indication, Self may be embracing the transformation.

I fully expected today to be about pounding it inside. While Lafayette wasn't a good team at defending threes, we certainly had a skill advantage inside with Ellis and Cliff (who was expected to start). But somehow, we played our game. We played outside-in. And it was magnificent.

Only 32 of our 96 points were from shots near the rim. I can't rewatch the game since I couldn't DVR it, but of the 32, many were of the driving variety. Very few were pure post play moves. Astonishing, really. But this is the 2014-15 Jayhawks. I hope Self embraces it.

Did I read that right? 12 of 23 from three? Did I read that right? 96 points? I feel complete. Some nights it won't be 12 of 23. It might be 7 of 23. But this team simply needs to shoot threes. 20+ most nights. Oubre looks like he has the stroke. Svi got it going. Mason is what we thought CF might be, without the tail dribbling. Selden perhaps can challenge 40%, but likely an acceptable 37%. And Greene is the best of the bunch. This is a spectacularly talented perimeter team.

The three point shooting enhances the ability to drive the ball. Defenses have to play tight and close out completely. Oubre appears to be all he was billed to be. Svi is solid in that phase with some nice agility. Selden a bee-line bull. Mason a quick, gap exploiter. Ellis a reverse pivot machine. And Traylor (who initiated not one bit of offense today, by the way) has that quick first step.

Three-Point shooting + Driving = Outside/In. This team has chance at a national championship playing this way. Playing this way, we can beat Kentucky. We can beat Duke. We can beat anyone we might face. Self just has to accept the identity and embrace it. Admittedly, it is riskier than shoveling it in to Marcus, Markieff, or TRob. But it is less risky with *this* team.

I'm looking at the box score. I can't stop looking at it. 23 three pointers. Mickelson played more than Ellis. Mason 9:1 assist/turnover. Oubre a spectacular double-double. We scored 96 points on only 8 made free throws.

Perhaps I'm just too optimistic here. But this game -- the style in which we executed our offense -- seems like an incredibly positive development. **This is how you "manufacture" points.** No need for gimmicks. Just play to our strength. And that ain't fool's gold.

December 20, 2014 at 5:29 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Manning could provide KU valuable minutes

Selden plays point when Mason is out, and Selden gets his sit time when Mason is in, which if Selden is playing point when Mason is out, would happen anyway. I don't think Self is saying anything we don't already know.

It also follows with what Self said about Manning -- "emergency" only. Heck, Self couldn't put Manning in last week -- remember his statement: “But when we’re playing well, don’t sub; playing badly you can’t put him in that situation." So he talked himself out of playing Manning just that easily.

"Emergency" is really foul trouble or injury. The good news is that Mason has the lowest foul rate per minute of the 10 players that have played substantial minutes.

I'm glad to see Svi's name now mentioned. He's a better passer than Selden, is a better at penetrating as a point guard might (Svi's a little slipperier/Selden more point A to point B), and Svi seems to see the floor better. Self had said last week "We’ve got to have a ball-mover back there” -- Svi might be our best ball mover.

For my money, I'd rather give Svi the minutes that might otherwise go to Evan Manning just to see.

The issue is always ball handling -- that's where we're deficient w/o Mason or Graham. I have no idea how Manning would stack up in a high pressure game, or if he could deliver the ball under pressure. Last season, Selden struggled with both. Don't know how Svi stacks up in that situation yet, either.

I'd suspect that another team's game plan might include an attempt to get Mason in foul trouble, and then some high pressure. Remember how we struggled in Atlantis, and against Ok. St. last season? I can't imagine why an opposing team wouldn't try to get Mason out and then ratchet up the pressure.

December 20, 2014 at 9:02 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Jayhawks take annual Christmas shopping trip

Actually, that is the real world result of his suggestion. Nicely done.

December 19, 2014 at 2:50 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Self: Kansas grades out OK so far

Look at our first half scoring. Five three pointers = 15 points. 10 free throws = 10 points. Traylor jumper, Ellis jumper, Selden jumper, Greene a runner = 8 points. And just two Ellis buckets near the hoop, and one for Traylor = 6 points. In the first half run, we made 23 points from outside shots, and just 6 points from near the hoop buckets. (note: on the ESPN play-by-play, it shows Ellis' second shots as a jumper, but it was the pivot, over the shoulder). Now, I don't mind getting the ball inside. Ellis got two free throws, and so did Traylor inside in the first half. But Oubre had four free throws and Mason two in the first half run. But this run was nearly entirely outside/in. Then we focused on looking inside the entire second half.

Self said after the game that our offense was "stagnant" in the second half. I wonder why? If you re-watch the second half, we stagnated because on nearly every possession we looked to get it inside. We shot only three, three pointers, two coming on one possession, one of which came as a rushed shot as the shot clock expired. Ironically, the first three attempt of the second half stopped Utah's run (Mason).

Self even mocked Ellis' big outside shots that got us going, claiming that his best big guy scoring away from the hoop was "fool's gold." The fool's gold is trying to play inside out with *this* team.

This team is much better suited for an outside/in style of play. The fool’s gold will be when we play well inside against smaller, less athletic teams. Then, how will that shape up in March vs. a bigger team? To beat a bigger team, this KU team needs to hit three pointers, and slash to the hoop – as the primary focus over pounding it inside. This could help the inside game as a result.

This is about winning a national championship, and this team isn't winning one with the post game as the main focal point of the offense.

Self said after the game that he needs to find ways for this team to “manufacture” points. The answer is staring him in the face.

Self talked in the preseason about shooting more threes. The talk is cheap. This season, we are actually shooting fewer three pointers per game than any team under coach Self. Including the Utah game, we're shooting a paltry 14.88 three pointers per game. Our number of three pointers per game has declined steadily since peaking in 2010-11 (which was the epitome of the inside/out team). This has to change.

This team can’t reliably score inside against bigger teams. This version of the KU Jayhawks needs to play outside/in.

December 15, 2014 at 11:30 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Self: Kansas grades out OK so far

Benz made this point above: "*If the guards were better at passing the ball into the post we would not be having this discussion because the post guys would be scoring at will. They have to score OVER big guys right now because they aren't getting the ball in time and in position to score easily. It's DUMB to go away from easy shots so we can chuck a bunch of long distance shots. Learn to pass better so you can get easy shots.*"

This response ignores reality. Someone is not watching the games. We can't get shots off. Ellis can't score against long, athletic, big guys. Ellis is great against certain players, but struggles mightily with.

The stats back up our struggles. Look at Jesse Newell’s column yesterday. We are making just over 50% of our shots at the rim, compared to prior teams making appx. 65%. We get 14% of our shots blocked, which is way above prior teams (at 9% or below). And here's the big one -- we are shooting just 50.3% on shots at the rim, and are ranked 288th nationally in 2 point percentage. In the Self era, all teams except one have been in the top 30, and that team (2005-06) was 69th.

This is incredibly instructive.

Look at the second half Saturday with Ellis. There were times when we did get some drives to the hoop in the second half. Ellis drove a few times. Turned it over, got it blocked. Mason drove on another possession, dished, and Ellis got his shot blocked again. Early in the half, second possession, we had a run out and Ellis got blocked yet again. He is not Marcus Morris. He just struggles against bigger guys.

**This team is much better suited to play outside/in.** It's not even really a debate. Self said after the game that we need to play more inside/out. Based on everything we’ve seen with this team, that makes no sense.

Compare first half and second half Saturday. In the first half, our outside game pushed us to our 21 point lead.

We were down 12-6. In those first number of minutes, Ellis scored twice inside, and then got two free throws. Those quick inside baskets accounted for two of our three inside baskets in the first half -- where we led by 21. Greene got his one attempt three point attempt. Down 12-6. Then, guess what? Selden hits at three, Ellis hits a three, and Ellis hits a two just inside the line, and we're tied 14-14, and off to the races. We hit 3 more three pointers, stretching the lead to 21.

(continued)

December 15, 2014 at 11:30 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Self: Kansas grades out OK so far

I'll toss in that Cliff is not a foul magnet. That's a myth. Black was a foul magnet. Cliff has not fouled out once this season, and I can't even recall him getting a 4th.

Self is the one making the decision. But it is valid to suggest Cliff is not meeting coach Self's standards. And that goes to Chris' point -- Self tends has a higher bar perhaps than other coaches when it comes to freshman PT.

December 15, 2014 at 11:05 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Kansas will have to wait and see about Graham's availability

**Traylor Absurdity**

This is typical Bill Self absurdity. In yesterday's game, Traylor got stuck once dribbling the ball down the court. I'm sure that's what triggered the ridiculous comment by Self in the post game press conference.

Personally, I don't know why he does this. I would say that it makes him look like an idiot, but I know that he doesn't mean it. It is patently absurd.

Think about every basketball game you have seen. Have you ever seen someone with Traylor's skill set play point or initiate the offense for any stretch? Of course not. Absurd.

Remember the 2011-12 season when talked about having Kevin Young play point guard? Self says stupid cr** like this every so often. Self talks in the preseason about how we're best with more ball handlers, and then he tosses this out?

The Young comment was nearly as absurd as this. Traylor can't dribble the ball, he's poor passer, he barely qualifies as a full time big off the bench. I feel embarrassed saying the obvious. Yesterday was one of his better efforts of his career, but we've seen the other Jamari Traylor, too. Traylor is our third post player, and he's lucky to have that job.

**Manning No Answer**

As for Evan Manning, right, he could get some PT vs. Lafayette. But other than that, our two best options to assist Mason are Svi and Selden, in that order. Manning has no business on the court in high powered games. We know that. More Self absurdity.

More of Self's quote on Manning: **“I meant to play him today,” Self said of Manning. “But when we’re playing well, don’t sub; playing badly you can’t put him in that situation. We’ve got to have a ball-mover back there.”**

Ah, a nugget of truth -- we need a ball-mover back there. Who fits that bill? Svi does. Svi appears to have the ability to handle the ball, and he appears to control the ball better than Selden (or certainly equal to Selden). Svi also seems to be one of the best passers/delivers of ball on the team.

Between Selden and Svi, we can cover the Graham minutes. Mason will be playing more, of course. Not ideal. It is the hand we are dealt. But it can make us better.

December 14, 2014 at 8:22 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Self: Georgetown took 'pretty strong stance' with T-shirts

Perhaps folks that are protesting might get the courage to actually protest the horrific violence that occurs every day in urban neighborhoods. Perhaps they might gain the courage to be completely intolerant of the culture of violence that takes lives every day. Just this morning, I saw that there was going to be a balloon release in memory of a 6 year old little girl who was killed by yet another urban drive by shooting. The folks that protest the police are cowards. They are cowards because they refuse to gear their energies, emotions, and anger toward the folks that are killing people every day.

If the lives of black folks are the issue, as much of the protests suggest -- "black lives matter", then why not take such actions against the thugs in their communities? Instead, they put great energy into protesting folks that have to patrol their neighborhoods in inordinate numbers because of the robbery, murder, drive by shootings, and general mayhem we see daily. Somehow, though, that is unimportant. Somehow, that is just how it is. Where would many of these folks that live in urban areas be without the police? They'd be overrun by the thugs. In no way does this excuse police misconduct, but we have an ocean of inner city violence, and a small cesspool of police misconduct. The energy is completely misdirected. I was in Oakland this summer. Saw more police cars in two hours than I see in a month here. Why? Because of the crime. Police are engaged to protect citizens. That protection is not as needed in low crime areas. The protesters are too cowardly to actually express intolerance for the real scourge in this country. It's easier, as usual, to cast blame outwardly, instead of in their own laps where it belongs.

December 11, 2014 at 8:03 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Big challenge: KU wary of Hoyas’ massive center

Game plan might be pretty simple. When we have the ball, try to get Smith away from the basket and create situations where he might pick up a cheap foul or two. Since Cliff and Perry both can hit the 15 footer, that's our best combo (as it usually always is). Also, quick double teams of Smith if he gets the ball on the block to disrupt. It's doubtful anyone will have the anchor to stop Smith from backing the ball down. Not that complicated.

December 10, 2014 at 8:30 a.m. ( | suggest removal )