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Recap: KU's defense even better at second glance

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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.

These are the types of games that don't receive enough fanfare.

Kansas players Tyshawn Taylor, front, and Marcus Morris have a laugh in the closing minutes of Monday's 79-44 win over Valparaiso at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas players Tyshawn Taylor, front, and Marcus Morris have a laugh in the closing minutes of Monday's 79-44 win over Valparaiso at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Kansas' 79-44 victory over Valparaiso won't be one that is remembered much when talking about the 2010-11 season. In fact, I'll bet in two months, fans will struggle to remember much about the game at all.

Here's the reality, though: Valpo was talented enough offensively to come in and put a scare into the KU, much like Cornell did last season.

Only it didn't happen.

After struggling a bit defensively in its opener against Longwood, KU overwhelmed a strong Valpo offense with its defense Monday.

Consider this: After posting 1.44 points per possession in its first game against Indiana Northwest, Valpo notched just 0.64 points per possession against KU.

Kansas guard Tyrel Reed looks to strip the ball from Valparaiso guard Matt Kenney during the first half, Monday, Nov. 15, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Tyrel Reed looks to strip the ball from Valparaiso guard Matt Kenney during the first half, Monday, Nov. 15, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

It was the worst offensive performance by a Homer Drew-coached team in nearly four years, as the Crusaders put up only 0.60 points per possession against Ball State on Dec. 16, 2006.

What's encouraging for KU is that it turned a weakness into a strength in just three days.

Longwood's 54.0 eFG% in the first game was a number only three KU opponents achieved last year — and two of them beat KU.

The Jayhawks responded Monday by holding Valpo to 29.0 eFG%, the lowest mark by the Crusaders have posted in Statsheet.com's database, which goes all the way back to the 1996-97 season.

It's hard to fully appreciate that kind of defense when the box score simply says Valpo scored 44.

After relying on turnovers defensively in the first game (Longwood had turnovers on 30 percent of its possessions), KU shut down a better offensive team in Valpo without forcing many turnovers (17.4 percent, which is well below the NCAA average).

Kansas guard Travis Releford jumps in to defend against a shot by Valparaiso guard Matt Kenney during the second half, Monday, Nov. 15, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. Also pictured is Kansas center Jeff Withey.

Kansas guard Travis Releford jumps in to defend against a shot by Valparaiso guard Matt Kenney during the second half, Monday, Nov. 15, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. Also pictured is Kansas center Jeff Withey. by Nick Krug

Though Valpo did miss some easy shots inside, KU's defense deserves the most credit for turning a talented Crusaders offense into one that roughly resembled my scholarship hall intramural team.

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

I'm not going to lie: After taking over this blog, I was worried that it might be difficult early on to single out the Jayhawks' best player each night by their advanced statistics.

Marcus Morris made it easy for me on Monday.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris comes down form a dunk against Valparaiso during the first half, Monday, Nov. 15, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. At right is Valpo guard Howard Little.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris comes down form a dunk against Valparaiso during the first half, Monday, Nov. 15, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. At right is Valpo guard Howard Little. by Nick Krug

The 6-foot-9 forward was ridiculously efficient offensively. He made 10 of 12 shots and also posted four assists to go with just one turnover.

Marcus created an off-the-charts 1.71 points per possession while still using 19.3 percent of KU's possessions.

Normally, you'd like go-to players like Marcus to be using at least 23 percent of their team's possessions; Marcus was at 22.8 percent last season, and he had to share the ball with Sherron Collins (23.3 percent) and Xavier Henry (21.9 percent).

So far, Marcus hasn't had high usage numbers because he simply isn't turning the ball over at all.

Marcus attempted 27.5 percent of his team's shots against Valpo, meaning he still was able to get a decent number of shots up.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris gets physical as he clears out Valparaiso guard Jay Harris, left, while going for a loose ball during the first half, Monday, Nov. 15, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. Also pictured are Valpo defenders Kevin Van Wijk (55), Cory Johnson (4) and Ryan Broekhoff (45).

Kansas forward Marcus Morris gets physical as he clears out Valparaiso guard Jay Harris, left, while going for a loose ball during the first half, Monday, Nov. 15, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. Also pictured are Valpo defenders Kevin Van Wijk (55), Cory Johnson (4) and Ryan Broekhoff (45). by Nick Krug

Naturally, when a player's usage goes up, his points per possession used will come down, as he is attempting more difficult shots.

If anything, Marcus' numbers indicate that he still isn't involved enough in the offense. With a tad more assertiveness, Marcus would do more than help his own numbers: He'd also help the Jayhawks' offensive numbers as a whole.

Room for Improvement

Does it seem like turnovers hurt KU a lot more than other teams?

That might actually be true. College Baskeball Prospectus (great read, by the way) did a study in the offseason regarding turnovers and found that KU was second in the nation last year in points per effective possession (1.42).

So what is an effective possession? It's one in which the team does not turn the ball over.

The Jayhawks can take pride that KU coach Bill Self's offense is one of the most efficient in the nation ... as long as they don't turn it over first.

The Jayhawks talk strategy during a timeout against Valparaiso during the first half, Monday, Nov. 15, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

The Jayhawks talk strategy during a timeout against Valparaiso during the first half, Monday, Nov. 15, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

KU turned it over on 21.7 percent of its possessions against Valpo. While that's not a horrible number (it would have been KU's 11th-worst turnover performance last season), it was the lowlight of an otherwise solid effort for KU offensively.

And now I have cursed you, as every time KU turns it over, you will think about the 1.42 points the Jayhawks just gave away.

Tough-Luck Line

Though he was fourth on the team in minutes, KU senior guard Brady Morningstar didn't have much to show for it in his stat line.

Kansas guard Brady Morningstar elevates to the bucket over Valparaiso forward Cory Johnson during the second half, Monday, Nov. 15, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Brady Morningstar elevates to the bucket over Valparaiso forward Cory Johnson during the second half, Monday, Nov. 15, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

He wasn't a huge factor in KU's offense (9.2 percent possessions used), but his 1-for-4 shooting to go with two turnovers kept him at 0.75 points per possession used.

The Jayhawks could certainly use another reliable shooter, and Morningstar's underlying statistics from last year indicated that he was a player that could take a greater role in the offense without having his efficiency decrease significantly.

It's way, way, way too early to say that Morningstar's offensive struggles are anything more than an early-season shooting slump, but he seems to be the Jayhawk most out of sync at the moment.

Bottom Line

KU fans witnessed an amazing defensive performance Monday night, whether they realized it or not. The Jayhawks shut down an experienced, powerful Crusaders' offense, and did so without relying on a high number of turnovers. Self will always say his defense is a work in progress (he did again Monday night), but KU proved against Valpo that it has the potential to be just as dangerous defensively as many of Self's earlier Jayhawk teams, even without center Cole Aldrich manning the middle.

KU fans couldn't have asked for much better out of game No. 2.

Comments

William Blake 11 years, 6 months ago

I'm not ready to crack the champagne just yet. I do think we played a bit better defense... we definitely showed better movement, but we still have a long way to go on d. What got to Valpo was our tempo. They couldn't keep up with themselves! This is a team capable of hanging a lot of points, but our athleticism quickly tired their feet, their minds, their eyes. Our overall intensity wore them down. This worked out much like what happens in football. One team gets the momentum and controls the ball, leaving the other team's defense on the field too long... having a downward spiraling effect as they wear down.

Our offense helped wear down Valpo in whole.. including their offense. They missed some pretty open 3s that they normally hit. Let's credit our offense as much as our defense.

I'm still impressed with how much better our defense looked over a few days ago. Since this team is so quick I'm assuming they will also be fast learners to the CS system. We can expect some big games in the coming weeks... games where we really mug some teams if we can improve so quickly because most teams can't. I just hope we keep some fuel in the tank all year. We've got to continue to improve at a fast rate all the way through March. We need to be a mirage for other teams and keep them frustrated when they scout us for their games.

I can't wait to see this team with Josh at the helm... but maybe it has been good to start without him. As of right now, we don't have a player that can take over a game completely. This forces our entire team to step up to their responsibilities. Something that didn't happen last year. We had the Cole and Sherron show... one of those co-dependency situations psychiatrists always describe when marriage problems arise.

So when Josh gets rolling on the court, we've got to make sure everyone else keeps up with their current effort level. If they do.... wow!

f8 11 years, 6 months ago

Good point about the Josh Selby NCAA fiasco working for the benefit of the TEAM.
Although I don't think that we want to continue to work on our chemistry without him much longer :-( WE WANT JOSH!

KUbsee69 11 years, 6 months ago

But ... but ... Soobawls says Valpo's poor shooting didn't result from KU's D. So, Jesse, you must be wrong! (Ref: Satire)

REHawk 11 years, 6 months ago

It begins to look as though Bill Self might shock even himself this season by working so many players on and off the court, esp. when the Prophets, Elijah and Joshua, join the team. Will be Very difficult to whittle this bunch down to a rotation of 8 or 9 players by late February. We might even leave Mike Anderson's hellbent racers lying beneath the bench with their tongues drooping.

REHawk 11 years, 6 months ago

p.s. That Prophet tag originated with OakvilleJHawk.

jayhawkjoe98 11 years, 6 months ago

This team can be just about as good as it wants to be, so long as Selby is cleared and everyone stays healthy.

ParisHawk 11 years, 6 months ago

Elijah was a Prophet. Joshua was a general and a Judge who took possession of the Promised Land.

waywardJay 11 years, 6 months ago

I'm stupified no one has mentioned it, yet. That intramural Video was funnier than the hangover. I imagined watching it with Bob Knight on one side of me and james Naismith on the other. Bob kinght throwing chairs in disgust, and James Naimsmith occasionally pulling the pince nez off to clean them as his game was thoroughly destroyed.

Never have I seen so many pull up Jumpshots taken so unnecessarily.

Yes, I was a Jayhawk Fan when Giddens was on the team.

Now, onto the actual game. While Valpo is a talneted shhooting team as evidenced by the amount of shots they put up, Clearly they had issues handling our Size, which appears to be our strongest threat right now. Through two games the Morris Twins have more rebounds than they did their entire Freshman year. Robinson is about a half year from becoming Battleship on the interior, and Jeff Withey .... He maybe just as atheltic as Marcus, but It seems his feet have yet to get under him at his current weight.

I said this during game one, and I am more self assured of it right now.

We are light years ahead of the Front court from 2008 in comparison. Defensive positions is the only area i would grade them lower than 2008's front court.

We are still missing our "rush"- read selby- but our guards took much better care of the ball this game. I absoultely love tyshawn running this team even though he's only pulling down 2-1 A to TO so far.

FInal thought, We need to Sink Brady Morningstar to the Depths of the Pacific. His shot is off, He's not really doing anything well out there, and there are other guys who could use the minutes.

rpboy06 11 years, 6 months ago

I've said the same about Brady. People always talk about his defense, but I didn't see anything particularly impressive about his defense that would warrant a spot in the rotation in lieu of EJ or Reed

Jayhawk444 11 years, 6 months ago

How many of you have clicked on the "scholarship hall intramural team" link? If you didn't you should. It's hilarious.

Jesse - I've always liked your articles. I like you even more now. I was a schol hall guy myself. We had some epic battles with Pearson on the court - usually with beer on the line.

JJHawq 11 years, 6 months ago

that video was funny! I played many a game @ battenfeld schol hall!

I'm a proud member of the unofficial 2001 3 on 3 schol hall tourney Champs! we felt like the valedictorians of summer school!

Eric Dyck 11 years, 6 months ago

Jesse, fellow Pearsonite, I hope you are giving Tom a lot of grief about his prediction for this game.

-- Jarvis Lunt

Tony Bandle 11 years, 6 months ago

Check out the top picture at the far right.....Coach Dooley wouldn't be smiling if we lead Duke 100-0 with 10 seconds to go. I just love the guy.

If looks could kill, he'd make "Dexter" look like a day care teacher!! :)

Tony Bandle 11 years, 6 months ago

Jesse...I am a fellow Scholarship Hall guy, Stephenson to be exact.

Which Scholarship Hall were you in...and please don't say Battenfeld.

Tony Bandle 11 years, 6 months ago

Pearson...thank God...not great but better than nothing:}

Studogg 11 years, 6 months ago

I loved the photo of Marcus blocking out with FOUR valpo defenders behind him. Great shot.

Studogg 11 years, 6 months ago

Oh, and Jesse that video of your intramural adventures was hilarious!! Best part of my day so far.

Tony Bandle 11 years, 6 months ago

KU fans couldn't have asked for much better out of game No. 2...........

.......unless the little red-headed girl from Texas had shown up topless!!!!!

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