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The Jayhawks have struggled offensively lately, but is it because the wrong people have been shooting too much?
It is no secret that the recent three game losing streak has been a struggle offensively. The Jayhawks have put up PPPs of 1.11, .83 and 1.00, ironically posting the best number against the best defense, and the worst against the worst. But it highlights a recent trend in which we have seen the offense slip to 27th in the Pomeroy ratings, and in Big 12 play the Jayhawks are 6th in offensive efficiency and 4th in eFG.
There has been a lot of talk recently about how few shots Travis Releford has taken over this three game losing streak, and then I thought about how rarely the ball went inside to Withey despite him being taller than everyone on TCU's front line and him scoring relatively easily against Oklahoma. The fact that the Jayhawks three best eFG guys (including McLemore) seemed to take so few shots while Johnson and Tharpe and Young were dominating the ball puzzled me.
Johnson and Tharpe start possessions with the ball whereas none of McLemore, Releford or Withey is a creator, but I still decided to chart how often they shot over the last three games (as a percentage of total shots attempted) and how efficiently they shot:
Here, Trio means Releford, Withey and McLemore, and non-trio is everyone else. I am actually surprised given how little Releford has shot the ball lately that those three have still taken almost half the shots, but it should probably be closer to about two thirds if Kansas wants to have the type of offense that can make a final four run, especially if Johnson is going to continue to struggle from the field.
It's no secret that Johnson (9-37 in the last three games) and Tharpe (8-27) have been struggling from the field, but Kevin Young playing the four has allowed defenses to sag off him and clog the lane, hampering their ability to get the ball to Withey. Young hasn't been bad from a percentage standpoint, but he has scored mainly on putbacks.
The bottom line is that the team needs to shoot better from three, and probably shoot more of them. That will open up the lane for Withey and allow Kansas to get back do doing what it does best. Secondly, while this team will only go as far as the point guards will take them, their trio of high efficiency stars (especially Releford) can do a lot to take the pressure off the point guards by asserting themselves even more. It wasn't too long ago when Kansas had a top 5 offense in the nation, and the pieces are there to get back there again.