Kansas’ Three-Point Shooting Woes Continue to Mount

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 13th, 2015

At one of the most important times of the season, Kansas continues to go cold from deep. The Jayhawks pulled out an ugly, foul-plagued, over-officiated win versus an improved TCU team on Thursday, but their prolonged slump from beyond the arc also hit a new level of futility. For the second time in 10 days, the Jayhawks failed to hit a single three-pointer, making Bill Self’s club the only power conference team this season to go without a long ball in two separate games. Kansas’ dip hasn’t been confined to just those two outings, though. Over the Jayhawks’ last five contests, they’ve converted just 8-of-56 attempts for a ice-cold clip of 14 percent. With all due respect to Division I’s low-majors, you’re practically guaranteed to see eight threes find nylon if you flip on one of their games.

A return to normalcy from deep would put Bill Self more at ease.

A return to normalcy from deep would put Bill Self at ease with Selection Sunday two days away. (USA Today)

What’s especially confounding is that Kansas is supposed to be a team stacked with shooters. Even amid its current streak of ineffectiveness, Self has six players who are hitting 35 percent or better on the season from distance. In the press conference following yesterday’s quarterfinal win, the head coach tried to spin another tough shooting day however he could, saying that this kind of a stretch can lead to sharper focus on defense and rebounding. To the Jayhawks’ credit, they defended well against the TCU offense and won the rebounding battle for the first time in three games against the Horned Frogs.

While Self doesn’t want his team to fall in love with the three, he’d likely be the first to say that advancing in the NCAA Tournament will prove extremely difficult without hitting them with some regularity. The Jayhawks have pieced wins together in spite of their ongoing cold snap, but he knows all too well how one bad shooting day can end a promising season on a sour note. Against Stanford in last year’s NCAA Tournament, Kansas made only 5-of-16 shots from beyond the arc. A run to the 2012 title game was nearly cut short twice when the Jayhawks shot a combined 4-of-25 from distance in nail-biting wins over NC State and Ohio State. When VCU upended Kansas in 2011, the Jayhawks were 2-of-21 from deep. Against Northern Iowa in the year prior to that, they were 6-of-23. Self’s teams have seen this problem arise in March before.

Even though he’s been quoted as saying that three-pointers are “fool’s gold,” Self needs players like Brannen Greene, Wayne Selden and Kelly Oubre to find their perimeter shooting strokes. This is probably one of the weakest teams Kansas has fielded during its improbable run of 11 straight Big 12 titles, but consistently strong three-point shooting (37.7%; 47th nationally) has been a key reason why the Jayhawks have continued winning despite the absence of a reliable post threat and struggles to generate turnovers. The Jayhawks will have favorable crowd support for as long as their stay in Kansas City lasts, and contributions from Oubre and Landen Lucas have kept Perry Ellis‘ sprained knee and Cliff Alexander‘s eligibility issues from becoming bigger factors. Furthermore, Kansas looks like a safe bet to for a #2 seed no matter what happens this weekend. Whether the Jayhawks snap out of their long-range shooting funk tonight against Baylor or continue to clank all of those deep shots won’t make much of a difference as far as Selection Sunday is concerned, but a return to the level of shooting we’re used to seeing with this group would help alleviate concerns heading into the Big Dance.

Brian Goodman (987 Posts)

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

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