LAWRENCE KS - JANUARY 22: Marcus Morris #22 of the Kansas Jayhawks walks off the court during a timeout during the game against the Texas Longhorns on January 22 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence Kansas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
As move on from this game and look at the bigger picture heading forward, the plus/minus shows what we already knew about the team but also might highlight those flaws a little more than we realized previously. We know the team is dependent on Marcus and Markieff Morris. We know Josh Selby has struggled since his first 5 games. Hopefully everyone has also realized just how valuable Tyrel Reed has been. Speaking of Reed, I heard yesterday that this was the first home game Tyrel Reed has lost in his basketball career. His Burlington team never lost in middle school and lost one game at home in high school, a game he didn't play. If true, interesting.
As for the Texas game, this was about as poor of a "team" performance as it gets. The Jayhawks had four guys end up with a positive number, four who recorded zeros, and two in the negative. For a team, that's just bad but it shouldn't surprise those who watched the game and are familiar with the formula I use. Missed shots and fouls are bad, Kansas had a lot of each. Texas on the other hand had six guys in the positive and four at +9 or better.
Click the jump for the KU/UT chart and a look at just how reliant the Jayhawks have become on the Morri.
Nothing groundbreaking here but I wanted to share these numbers before looking at the team's last few games. One thing I think we all know is that when Reed and Morningstar are the team leaders in the plus/minus, Kansas had a rough day. In the game thread, KGRTC asked if Releford would have made a difference in this game and my immediate response was no. However, looking at this I have definitely changed my mind. It wouldn't have taken much to be better than Johnson and Selby, throw in Releford's defense and I think he could have altered the outcome.
Looking at the team's production since the Michigan game highlights the team's need for another player. For a team that prided itself on depth early in the year, it has disappeared the last five games. The Jayhawks have been carried by the Morri and Reed. That's not a huge problem, lots of teams would love to have three guys like that to count on. But when nobody else is coming close to consistency, it creates a problem when there's an off game by one of the leaders.
- Before getting into some of the worries, I want to make sure to mention Tyrel Reed. He has become a very important piece to this team and much more than a spot up shooter. The only guard to be in the positive for each of the last five games and is averaging a very strong +8.4, tied with Kieff behind Marcus at +14.4
- The inconsistency is why we get Morningstar for 25+ minutes in three of the last five games. He hasn't been playing outstanding, he's just taken care of the ball for the most part and let the other guys have at it.
- As fetch said in the game review, Josh Selby just isn't a very good player right now. His ceiling is sky high but until his shot starts falling and he starts taking better care of the ball, he's not helping. An easy way for him to get going again would be to find a way to get to the foul line. In the last two games, he hasn't shot a free throw. For a guy with his speed and ability to get to the basket, that is unacceptable. Quit driving and avoiding contact, go to the rack hard and get to the line.
- Staying on the guards that just aren't cutting it, Elijah Johnson has struggled mightily. He gets in the game and either commits a foul or a turnover and is back out. Focus or lack of confidence could be a part when he is in and out so much but it's on him to fix it.
- The Baylor game really shocked me when I figured the numbers here. For a game that we all loved, it was heavily dependent on the Morri and Reed. Again, that's not all bad but it highlights the lack of balance going forward.
In the end, two things are keeping my hopes up for this being an elite team as we get into conference play and March. First, Thomas Robinson has had one good game over the last five. The guy has been through more in the last month than most people face in years, so in no way am I calling him out. Just saying that as time goes on, he might become a little more stable as a contributor. Second, Travis Releford being out with injury has limited the guards available. He has shown a strong outside shot and good defense, once he joins the team and gets back in the flow everything is going to be better. Until then, be ready for a few more bumps.