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What Has Been The Difference For The Kansas Jayhawks?

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AHHHHH....now I get it!  Thanks Warden.
AHHHHH....now I get it! Thanks Warden.

We're going to start with this:

Team_snapshot_medium

The blue bar is the team average for plus/minus in the first four games of conference play (plus Michigan) compared to the average since the Texas loss.  In the last five games, the Jayhawks have doubled their previous average.  A few explanations could be made about why the team has taken off and I'm not going to get into those.  The question we're going to tackle is what has happened on the court to cause such a dramatic jump in production for the team. 

Diagnosis after the jump.

First up, averages for each player from the first five games and the last five of this 10 game stretch in graph form.

Plusminus_change_medium

When that many players are trending up, things are going to look good.  The individual numbers are below with special attention given to the four who have had the biggest positive change.

First 5 Last 5 Big12 Games Change
Thomas Robinson 0.4 11.25 10.85
Josh Selby -2.8 7.67 10.47
Brady Morningstar 3.2 9.6 6.4
Elijah Johnson -2.6 2.4 5
Markieff Morris 8.4 13 4.6
Mario Little 1.5 5 3.5
Tyshawn Taylor 2.6 4.6 2
Travis Releford 0 1.75 1.75
Marcus Morris 14.4 10.2 -4.2
Tyrel Reed 8.4 3.2 -5.2

 

  • Thomas Robinson's increased production is almost entirely a result of just being on the court more.  In the first part of this stretch, he played 9 minutes a game and in the last five he's played 18 per game.  His rebounds per 40 minutes have actually decreased a little bit.  He's shooting better (70% to 50%) and turning it over half as often.  This last stretch has also been his only four games where he's been able to be around consistently after the month he's had.  Hopefully he can keep channeling whatever power he is and keep it going.
  • Check out Josh Selby coming in with the second biggest change.  The question of whether KU is better without Selby has popped up since Monday, the answer depends on which Selby we're talking about.  The one that struggled at the start of conference play averaging 7.6 points a game and shooting 28% OR the one that has averaged 14.3 points while shooting 56%.  If it was just his shooting, I might be tempted to write it off as a mini-hot streak like he had when he started.  However, his rebounding numbers (1.4 to 3.3), assist numbers (1.8 to 4.33), and his turnovers (3 to 2.3) have all improved as well.  Looks like he might have turned the corner before the injury.
  • And the guy causing people to even ask the question about Selby is Brady.  In the first part of this stretch, he was playing 23 minutes a game and averaging 3.4 points a game and shooting 37% from the field.  Over the last five games, he's scoring 11.4 points per game and shooting 58% from the field (carried heavily by going 12 for 21 on three pointers).  His assists have almost doubled in the last five games (2.8 to 4.8), likely due to him being able to make a shot now and people have to guard him.  I'll be the first to admit that when he's not shooting well, I'm a "hater".  But the one thing he hasn't done in conference play is turn the ball over, that's very valuable on a team that has a couple other guards that are a little more turnover prone.  Even though he scares the hell out of me every time he drives baseline, he has came out smelling like a rose lately.
  • The fourth biggest jump surprised me.  EJ hasn't stuck out in my mind as playing great lately and I don't think he really has, this was more a 'dead cat bounce'.  It's tough to get worse from where he was.  The encouraging thing about his jump is that it's mainly due to assists (though 6 against KSU makes that look inflated), rebounds (1 in the previous five games and 8 in the last five), and fouls.  In 40 minutes during the first stretch, he had 8 fouls.  In the last five games, he's played 56 minutes and only been whistled for 2 fouls.
  • Quick hitters on the rest: Releford had a +8 against Missouri in his first taste of solid action back.  Markieff has been on another tear, going for +7, +20, +14, +7, and +17. 
  • Don't let Marcus's numbers fool you here, he's gone down over the last five games but it's not like he has struggled at all.  +7, +14, +6, +11, +13

The numbers here show that even though this current pace is likely unsustainable, nobody is really playing that out of their minds and carrying the team.  This many guys doing this many things well would seem like a great recipe for March success. 

*Plus/Minus= Points + Rebounds + Steals + Assists + Blocks - FGA - FT Missed- Fouls- Turnovers