Wayne Selden’s Potential Resurgence Could Key Kansas Run

Posted by Chris Stone on March 14th, 2015

It wasn’t pretty, but Kansas advanced to the Big 12 tournament championship game on Friday night with a 62-52 win over Baylor. Jayhawks’ head coach Bill Self joked afterward, “There for a while, I think both teams set basketball back.” It’s becoming a common theme for Kansas to both play and win ugly basketball games. The Jayhawks have scored better than a point per possession in only one of their last four outings. The Kansas offense, once ranked in the nation’s top 15 in adjusted offensive efficiency, has gone cold, having made just 11 of its last 71 three-point attempts.

Wayne Selden finishes an alley-oop against Baylor on Friday. (Kansas City Star)

Wayne Selden finishes an alley-oop against Baylor on Friday. (Kansas City Star)

One factor in that poor offensive production has been the Jayhawks’ lack of a consistent second scoring option to side with forward Perry Ellis. In some odd way individual inconsistency has become a Kansas point of pride with Self describing his team’s identity as capable of always “finding a way.” It has certainly manifested during the Big 12 Tournament with freshman Kelly Oubre picking up the scoring load against TCU on Thursday and sophomore Wayne Selden coming to the rescue against Baylor. Selden, according to Self, “mirrors [the] team from an inconsistency standpoint.” His 20-point, eight-rebound performance against the Bears was his first double-figure scoring output in a month. As a sophomore, Selden’s two-point shooting percentage has declined nearly 15 percent and his offensive rating is down nearly seven points. The talented wing was an explosive finisher last year, scoring on 69.1 percent of his chances at the rim; that number is down nearly 20 percent this season as his overall offensive game has regressed.

Selden on Friday returned to form, however, slashing inside the Baylor zone to score 16 second half points and lead the Jayhawks to victory. While the Massachusetts native missed both of his three-point attempts, he finished a perfect 7-of-7 from inside the arc and went to the foul line 12 times. “It was just old Wayne,” Oubre said. “It was good to see him back to his normal self.” The “old Wayne” allows his outside shooting to come as a result of his drives when opponents are take a step back because of his quickness. When Selden is aggressive, Kansas has a reliable second scoring option. When he isn’t, the Jayhawks’ consistent inconsistency returns.

Perhaps this was just another example of what we’ve come to know from a team where any one of the Jayhawks’ starters can score 20 points on a given night, but trying to figure out who will show up is an exercise in futility. Kansas will have to find a consistent second scorer to go alongside Ellis on a regular basis in the NCAA Tournament. Many analysts likely would have penciled Selden into that role prior to the season, but so far he’s failed to live up to the hype. Perhaps, though, this is more than just a blip on the radar. Maybe Selden can find some consistency at least for a few weeks to give a Kansas offense that has struggled over the past month a legitimate boost. If he’s willing to let his outside shooting flow from his ability to get to the rim rather than the other way around, then these Jayhawks will be in a much better position for a run starting this weekend.

Chris Stone (136 Posts)

Chris Stone is a contributor to the Big 12 microsite. You can find him on Twitter @cstonehoops.

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