Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Kansas/Arizona Recap

While the beat writers turn to the record books to put last night's offensive ineptitude into temporal perspective, I'll just look back at my pre-season post that identified eight areas of concern for the 2005-06 season.

1) Ball-handling: I assume that teams who turn the ball over on 37% of their possessions have a winning percentage somewhere near zero. When you consider that other 63% of the possessions include CJ Giles and Brandon Rush losing the ball while going up for dunk attempts, Christian Moody struggling to control some of the rare aggressive, accurate passes, and Brandon Rush repeatedly trying to beat Hassan Adams off the dribble, you could argue that the ball-handling looked even worse than the box score indicates.

2) Interior scoring: Sasha Kaun is clearly much improved in his ability to get post position, catch the ball, and make an agressive move. He did not, however, do anything with his back to the basket. CJ Giles attempted a couple of post moves (again, an improvement over last year) but couldn't finish. Giles didn't get to the line, either. Their was some contact on a couple of his shot attempts, but, as he'll likely be shooting over opponents most of the year, he'll need to finish better rather than hope to get calls. Giles and Kaun each made a nice pass from the elbow on backdoor cuts which lead to easy baskets on two of the rare occassions when Kansas ran their half-court sets.

3) Perimeter scoring: The perimeter shooting was terrible. I don't how much blame to assign to the ability of the shooters and how much to the general inability to create good shots of any kind.

4) Offensive rebounding: Kansas rebounded 43% of their missed shots. Kaun led the way with four offensive rebounds in 22 minutes. Christian Moody made his lone positive contribution with a couple of tap-ins. If the Jayhawks can keep their offensive rebounding rate around 40%, it will help make up for their other, obvious shortcomings.

5) Ball pressure: I'd like to see a little more basketball before commenting definitively on the defense. Arizona looked plenty dreadful on offense themselves, struggling to score unless Kansas gave them the ball and an open path to the basket. Thus, I hesitate to give too much credit for Arizona's 31.6 eFG% or 21.2 TO% to the young Jayhawks. Their effort looked solid, but they were obviously trying hard when they had the ball as well, but to little purpose. I was surprised to see Micah Downs effectively guard Chris Rodgers for a couple of possessions.

6) Off-the-ball pressure: Arizona, the players content to challenge the Jayhawks off the dirbble throughout the game, didn't challenge Kansas's team defense much. A point of concern for Kansas fans: Arizona's free throw rate in this game was about the same as Kansas's against Idaho St.

7) Shot blocking: Not a huge factor in this game as Arizona showed little interest in getting into the paint in their half-court offense. Giles blocked 3 shots in 27 minutes and Julian Wright 2 in 22 minutes.

8) Defensive rebounding: Kansas only rebounded 52.4% of Arizona's misses. That's an embarassingly small number for any team, much less one that starts two centers and features a number of young, athletic players. When Giles goes for the block only Rush seems aware enough at this point to react to this and block someone out. Kaun looks like he's limited toi rebounding one spot right now and Moody continued last year's poor performance on the defensive glass. On an encouraging note, Russell Robinson grabbed 3 defensive rebounds, at least momentarily giving hope that he's not constitutionally opposed to rebounding.

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