Three Thoughts on Kansas’ Second Obliteration of the Season

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 23rd, 2014

Brian Goodman filed this report right after Temple’s stunning 77-52 upset over #10 Kansas Monday evening in Philadelphia.

  1. When the Jayhawks get the bad Perry Ellis, the wheels come off quickly. The junior forward that many were counting on to lead the Jayhawks has been a total no-show over the last two games, going a combined 3-of-16 from the floor. He’s been fighting off an illness, which excuses part of his play, but Kansas was expected to win last night’s game without too much trouble despite being on the road. It may not be completely fair that Ellis needs to shoulder so much of the load, but until Cliff Alexander and Jamari Traylor start producing in the paint, he’s all Kansas has there, so when nobody produces, this is what happens. During the game, there was some talk on Twitter about the need for point guard Frank Mason to become a more vocal leader. That may be true to an extent, but if an unheralded point guard already playing above expectations in his first year as a full-time starter is a primary source of your disappointment with this team, you’re looking at the wrong guy.

    It was party time in Philly after one of the more improbable blowouts in recent history. (AP)

    It was party time in Philly after one of the more improbable blowouts in recent history. (AP)

  2. There was more to it than Temple just getting hot (although the Owls were). The Owls came into last night’s game as the AAC’s third-worst shooting team inside the arc and the worst-shooting team outside of it, but they shot a season-best 58.3 percent from the floor in the upset win. However, that may not be the most telling thing about this game. Had Temple merely shot its pedestrian season averages from the field, they still would have prevailed, which is another indictment of Kansas’ rough offensive performance (0.80 PPP). The Jayhawks’ defense isn’t nearly as bad as it looked last night (giving up 1.18 PPP), but the margin by which they got outscored in the paint (34-18) was just staggering. Kansas went on to pack it in down the stretch, which allowed the Owls to turn the unlikely upset into a full-on party.
  3. It’s taking longer than many thought it would for Bill Self to settle on a frontcourt rotation. It’s tempting to think that it’s still early in the season, but with most teams having now played 10 games or more, you’d be mistaken. One-third of the regular season is in the books, and while teams can still be reasonably expected to improve, the vaunted Kansas frontcourt rotation doesn’t look any more definite than it was at the start of the season, and that’s troubling. Even with plenty of options, Bill Self has struggled to get more than a couple games’ worth of reliable production at a time from the group of Alexander, Jamari Traylor, Kelly Oubre and even Hunter Mickelson, who received a long look over the weekend against Lafayette. Part of the issue is a lack of opportunity (a tough non-conference schedule that hasn’t allowed many minutes for the role players); part of it is due to slower-than-expected player development (Oubre); and part of it just a lack of overall talent (Traylor and Landen Lucas). The Jayhawks still have a resume chock-full of quality wins, but the Big 12 is home to some of the nation’s best frontcourts, so for Kansas to win its 11th straight league title, Self needs to find something that works. With conference play gearing up in just two short weeks, he’s running out of time to settle on something viable.
Brian Goodman (987 Posts)

Brian Goodman a Big 12 microsite writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BSGoodman.

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