History repeats itself in KU's loss to Northern Iowa


"In the end, a bad shot is better than any turnover.

"I’d expect the Jayhawks, a year older and wiser, will understand this better in 2009-10."

I wrote those words last year in my blog, "The Jayhawks (literally) gave the Michigan State game away," following KU's 67-62 loss to Michigan State in the Sweet 16 last year.

Unfortunately for the 2009-10 Jayhawks, history repeated itself a round earlier and with expectations much, much higher.

There are a lot of things you could look at when examining why KU fell to Northern Iowa, 69-67. KU didn't shoot well*. Northern Iowa played great defense. And so on and so on.

* — KU's field-goal percentage and effective field-goal percentage were both higher than UNI's during the game, but that's for another blog.

It seems very few people, though, talk about the turnovers in the game.

As great as UNI's defense was all season, there was one area the team didn't thrive in: forcing turnovers. In fact, the Panthers force turnovers on 20.6 percent of their possessions — NCAA average is 20.4 percent.

So, KU was facing an average team defensively when it came to turnovers. And the Jayhawks had actually taken care of the ball well during the season, averaging turnovers on just 18.8 percent of their possessions (89th nationally).

So what happened when KU was faced with a pressure-packed NCAA Tournament game? The Jayhawks reverted to their 2009 Michigan State form.

KU — which looked, once again, to play extremely tight — turned it over on 24.6 percent of its possessions against UNI, its sixth-highest percentage of the season.

Again, KU was facing an average defensive team when it came to turnovers; one would have predicted the Jayhawks would turn the ball over a shade above their 18.8-percent average for the season.

So, let's do the math. KU had 61 possessions in the game and 15 turnovers. That means, when the Jayhawks didn't turn it over, they scored 67 points in 46 possessions, or 1.46 points per possession in non-turnover possessions.

If KU would have had its season average of 18.8 percent turnovers, it would have turned it over 11.46 times instead of 15.

With 3.54 more possessions at 1.46 points per possession, KU would have scored 5.17 more points. A two-point loss is instead a three-point win, even with the Jayhawks' poor outside shooting.

Here's what should be frustrating for KU fans: The Jayhawks pulled down the offensive rebound on 47.8 percent of their misses — their fourth-highest total of the season.

So missed shots actually weren't even bad for KU, as nearly half the time, the Jayhawks were getting the rebounds anyway — sometimes in a position to score under the basket.

KU wasn't hurt by turnovers only on the offensive end, though.

UNI came in as a solid team offensively, only committing turnovers on 18 percent of its possessions. KU, meanwhile, had forced turnovers on 20 percent of its opponents' possessions.

So what happened? The Panthers turned it over on just 14.8 percent of their possessions — a number much lower than both KU and UNI's season averages.

UNI scored 69 points in 52 non-turnover possessions, meaning it scored 1.33 points per possession in which it put up a shot*.

* — Which brings up another point. KU scored 1.46 points per possession in non-turnover possessions, while UNI had 1.33 points per possession in non-turnover possessions. If neither team turns the ball over in a 61-possession game, KU wins by eight. It's hard to argue that turnovers didn't have a major impact on the result of this game.

If UNI hit its season average in turnovers, it has 10.98 turnovers instead of nine. Take away 2.69 points.

If KU forces its season average in turnovers, UNI has 12.2 turnovers instead of nine. Take away 4.26 points.

The numbers get worse if you break down the play-by-play.

In the Panthers' final 10 possessions against KU's full-court press, they turned it over four times. That means in UNI's first 51 possessions, it turned it over just five times (9.8 percent).

So KU's defense, in the first 37 minutes of the game, was forcing turnovers at less than half the rate it did during the rest of its season.

Here's one more statistic: Going against UNLV two days earlier (the Rebels full-court pressed most of the game), UNI turned it over on 27.4 percent of its possessions. Perhaps it shouldn't have been too much of a surprise when KU's press worked so well in the final minutes.

If the game would have played out just average in regards to turnovers, KU would have gained around five points and UNI would have lost between three and four points. That's an eight- or nine-point swing. KU would have won the game by six or seven.

It was interesting to hear KU coach Bill Self's comments immediately after the game.

"The game came down to one guy, who's a tough, tough kid, making a shot that you would probably never want your guy to shoot, at least I wouldn't," Self said.

It's funny, because the way I look at it, the Jayhawks didn't need to rebound better. They didn't need to shoot any better. They simply needed to get more shots up.

Sure, it was a late-game situation, and UNI probably would have gotten fouled anyway, but more important than anything else was that UNI didn't turn it over on that crucial possession. Ali Farokhmanesh didn't hesitate in putting up a wide-open shot.

Many times, KU's players did hesitate, trying to make the perfect pass or perfect play, which resulted in an unforced turnover.

In the end, a bad shot is better than any turnover.

I’d expect the Jayhawks, a year older and wiser, will understand this better in 2009-10.

I guess there's always 2011.


Kent Wells 12 years, 1 month ago

Jesse, I am in denial. Could we please have a Game Day Cram Session for our upcoming game against Michigan State? With Lucas out, what are our chances of avenging the defeat last year?

pitthawker 12 years, 1 month ago

I believe it actually had more to do with UNI and getting second chance points. I cant find it, but I believe Self said, that UNI had 18 points off of 11 offensive rebounds. Pure and simple right there.

Mike Kendall 12 years, 1 month ago

Nice picture of Self jumping up and down in frustration. Funny, that was what I was doing in front of my big screen TV. Imagine that?!!!!!!!!!!!!!

justinryman 12 years, 1 month ago

I feel like I just read a scropt to the TV series Numb3rs, holy cow, how many scientific calculators did you smash trying to get all those numbers Jesse?

As Coach Self was Jumping I was throwing my hats, yes I said hats across the livingroom in anger.

There's always a sign that some fan holds up at Wrigley Field right after the first pitch of the season that reads, "Theres Always Next Year", I I guess that 2008 is a lot better than 1908.

Rock Chalk

Joe Joseph 12 years, 1 month ago

And now you all understand why I was so scared all season...

Turk 12 years, 1 month ago

Ks did not improve the entire season. Very good at getting good runs after horrible play. I saw this defeat coming. I was heart sick as every KS. fan was. Have to have more consistent 3-pt shooting. Didn't get up and down on fast breaks on turnovers like previous teams. We need a Mario Chambers taking the ball away. Collins seemed to have lost a step. X Henry could be alot better if he stayed in school. Aldrich seems to have a breathing problem. S------ happens in sports. It hit KS. at absolutely the wrong time.

Scott Smetana 12 years, 1 month ago

"this story ruined my day"... haha StupidMichael. I kindof agree, let the bleeding stop!!!

In my itoldyouso, UNI was very dangerous when I looked at the bracket. We would have had less troubles advancing in the Regionals than facing a nothingtolose senior laden scrappy, 3 pt shooting team from Iowa.

KPOP 12 years, 1 month ago

lots of excuses , but the bottom line was too many turnovers in a low possession game. I was trying to call the coaching staff early in the first half to tell them to press. I watched the first round match up UNLV vs UNI and UNI was clearly uncomfortable in a sped up game. I would like to scout next years second round game, if thats OK with you guys and gals. I'll await my orders.

Reba Baker 12 years, 1 month ago

I would like to comment on Henry and Aldrich leaving. They are very good but they are not ready for NBA. Look what happend to Darnell Jackson, where is Dorrell Arthur, Russell Robinson. They were excellent players but haven't made it to NBA very well. I wonder if they wish they had of stayed in school?

Reba Baker 12 years, 1 month ago

Another comment - thank goodness the Morris twins are staying.

milehighhawk 12 years, 1 month ago


Aldrich is ready for the NBA - if you don't get that, you don't get hoops.

Darnell and Russell were SENIORS and had no option to stay in school. If you were trying to come up with examples, two out of your three were flat-out wrong.

"Dorrell" Arthur had 16 points and 13 boards in 26 minutes the other night.

GilbertAZ 12 years, 1 month ago

Some people forget that Arthur was named a starter this year in preseason but got hurt. Thats the only reason he hasn't been playing.

Rybarns 12 years, 1 month ago

Julian Wright may have been a better example. He left a year too early and missed out on the title run and now he plays less than 5 minutes a game for New Orleans.

jayhawkjoe98 12 years, 1 month ago

Sometimes being ready for the NBA and knowing when to leave for the NBA are two very different things.

Paul Pierce was ready for the NBA.

Julian Wright knew when to leave for the NBA.

Cole Aldrich is ready AND (presumably) knows when to leave for the NBA.

Julian Wright was in an interesting situation. NBA scouts had taken noticed of his tremendous potential & athleticism and was projected as a very high draft pick. Had Julian returned to school for another year, he would have risked hurting his draft status by not improving his game(this would have caused scouts to question his true potential).

I'm not sure Julian would have improved drastically, and ultimately, I think this is why he left. He could have only hurt his draft status and the amount of money he would have received. Julian made the right financial decision. No one should fault him for that.

kkoenig 12 years, 1 month ago

hawknhutch interesting bit on who did the scouting. that thought had crossed my mind but didn't know where to get the info.

Kye Clark 12 years, 1 month ago

rebabaker - are you serious? You wonder if they wish they had stayed in school? Darnell & RussRob were seniors. That was not an option for them. As for Darrell Arthur, no he's not lighting the league up, but he plays. It's not as if he's at risk for not being on an NBA roster. I'm not saying this to disparage you, but given that you didn't know Jackson & Robinson were out of eligibility, and that you misspelled Arthur's first name (I'm not the spelling police, but I've never seen anyone mispell it like that. One "R" or "L" sometimes, but never like that) I have to wonder if you're really a Jayhawk fan.

As has been pointed out numerous times, there is a difference between being ready to get drafted, and being ready to impact the NBA game. Both X & Cole are ready to be drafted.

ParisHawk 12 years, 1 month ago

I'm in the mood for "I told you so". Here's my post several hours before game time (March 20, 2010 at 6:17 a.m.)


Here's something that might make you feel better: a full court press!

If the guys start out so slow, how about Coach Self making them come out at 110% by pressing after the first few made baskets? Get a little out of character for a few minutes, knock'em on their heels, change the pace.

If the other team sees that and calls a timeout, immediately go back to our normal defense. Then a few minutes later, change the pace again."

Mike Kendall 12 years, 1 month ago

hawknhutch----thanks for giving me a good laugh at a rather boring, dull day at work!!!! Pretty funny stuff, thanks!

kufan1472 12 years, 1 month ago

The reason we didnt win was because UNI got so many offensive rebounds and second chance points. they had like 18 points of 11 Off. rebounds and that picture of self junmping up and down is exactly what i was doing the whole game aswell screaming "rebound the ball!!". hopefully Selby or Lamb can come to Ku and lead us to victory next year. I dont know why but i cant see brandon knight at kansas.

JayhawkSteve 12 years, 1 month ago

"Jayhawk with an Attitude"....None of these comments address the main problem behind our embarrassed performance. I blame the NCAA Tournament structure. KU is overexposed and is know to all of the nation. Their games are broadcast more then the boring Lakers. Every team in the country knows of our body of work and players. The NCAA is designed for headlines and money. They want the "most" lowly teams to beat the finer programs for "HEADLINES ONLY" : Whatever they can do for the most TV exposure and press/media mania. The unnatural anit-GREEN" nature of the tourney is seen by them providing charter jets for all the teams. The NIT Tourney is a better Program. They reward the better teams with full house games in home courts...not empty seats and boring cross country games and game structure...NIT is much more exciting and local. NCAA is doomed as the blue-blood programs should boycott the ridiculous NCAA Tourney because their hard work and dedication is not respected. This "boycott" subject should be explored because of the unfairness of the NCAA seedings and the entry of sub-standard programs into the elite arena. Sorry to all the empty arena programs, but we have worked too hard for 112 years to see our efforts become the laughing stock of the nation. Yes, we are "Jayhawks with an Attitude" and we shall remain that way...

keeb1211 12 years, 1 month ago

As far as the draft talk that has been brought up Cole and X need to go. The NBA is far different than college ball. The NBA does not draft the best college basketball player #1 or else we would have seen guys like Juan Dixon, Mateen Cleaves, Khalid El Amin taken higher than they were. They draft based on potential that is why there are so many Sebastian Telfair's or Stromile Swift's that are taken based on athletic size and potential. Staying another year in college would only benefit KU and not Cole or X.

As far as the game goes, all of those numbers are nice and I really enjoyed looking at them but that game comes down to 1 play...If Tyshawn gets to that ball and it never gets to Ali then I think there is a 90% chance KU wins but that is a moot point because he didn't

kualuminohio 12 years, 1 month ago

Got to post here, the writing was on the wall... Forget about the numbers... There were key signs of KU's weaknesses all year. You dont have to be a rocket scientist. Now if they had pulled it off and won the national championship or something would this post exist NO. But seriously Jesse you nailed it on the head in the last couple of paragraphs. The guys couldn't figure out what to do with the ball, how many times did we see this throughout the season, countless. I cant count how many times I was screaming just shoot the Ball. Listen I love Sherron but he wasn't allways the best person to have the ball. He often struggled to get the ball to the basket when up against the other teams big men.

Anyway, blah blah blah, boohoo hoo...

Love the Jayhawks, Oh I just lost my job here in Ohio, the Economy here stinks, my house value has plummeted... Moving back to KC as soon as possible... Do not move to Ohio the place is a total dump...

Dyrk Dugan 12 years, 1 month ago

it's a good article with good stats....broken down to the the 100th of a point....tee he.

i said before the game, that the team that imposes it's defensive will, wins the game. and that's what happened.

Our star couldn't hit shots...and we couldn't handle the ball. then, when we figured it out, we couldn't quite make it all the way back.

this loss goes to everybody...players, staff and head coach. if we ever play another veteran team, that protects the ball and can shoot....i will be sending the coach an email, and will blast long and loud on the message 'em for forty minutes...empty your bench, play everyone..... and spread 'em and drive 'em on offense.

it's real simple stuff. this is a survive and advance tourney, bottom line. you do what you have to do, with the match up in front of you, to win the game. period.

JayHawkCafe 12 years, 1 month ago

Side Note to ponder: The stats are great, but I remember a Self quote a week before the tourney: "A lot of games will come down to one possession." He listed the Davidson and Memphis games in the '08 championship run. So many of our tourney losses have come down to a single possession (UNI, Arizona, UK, Cuse (twice), MSU, Bucknell, others that I forgot). I never coached or played basketball. What I do know is that we're blessed with a great tradition and the capability to make a deep run every year. Not many schools can say that.

Stiwkot 12 years, 1 month ago

Couldn't agree with Jessie more. It was turnovers that did KU in. That problem, evident throughout the season was not corrected. TOs are unavoidable in any game but a large number of them in unenforced situations will prevent any team from winning the championship.

Sparko 12 years, 1 month ago

Officiating allows a slower, less athletic team to "force" turn-overs by overlooking fouls. While you can't blame officiating per se for the loss, you can for the turn-over margin in this case. Kansas does not get the deference Duke, UK, or UNC would get. And there is where statistics break down. I would like you to look at the 50-50 calls that go against the top seeds.

William Weissbeck 12 years, 1 month ago

A team that is ranked no. 1 shouldn't be ranked 89th in T/O's. Teams that advance consistently - Duke, MSU commit almost no T/O's. I also noted that NIU appeared to have a plan not to allow any 3-point plays off of shooting fouls. If any KU player appeared to have a lay up or put back, they were corralled by mulitple players to prevent the basket. Also need to remember, white guys shooting 3's is what the tournament is about. If they make them, they're heroes, but no one blames them for missing. Need to guard them. Just like Roy, I don't understand Self and the lack of pressure. If you go 10 deep, use them.

KULongrtimer 12 years, 1 month ago

Sparko & Ralster -- I agree with you about the Refs and poor choices on who would shoot the 3 balls. I have played BB for several decades on a variety of teams, have coached, and even ref'd. The NIU fouls committed in order to get offensive rebounds, and the moving screens by the 2 bigs were ridiculous - I had to quit watching. Conversely, Michigan State received the benefit of all the calls in the last half of their game.

I couldn't understand why SC and TT were taking 3's when they had 2 others on the floor that were hitting 50% of their shots. XH and MM had the hot hand and they had to exist on rebounds and steals to get points. Is there a good reason why the guards forgot that their primary goal is to win the game with team playing? SC could have easily driven in and used the floater to improve his game, only the most used shot by point guards.

Looking forward to next season!

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