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A Closer Look at Pace

The Jayhawks' offense has been struggling lately, but where specifically?


There is no doubt that KU's offense has been struggling as of late. They have scored under a point per possession in three of their last six games, but beyond just the statistics, the Jayhawks offense has looked sluggish and unable to get off good shots. Their point guards each have their own problems, they don't have a post player who can hit a mid range jumper, and their best two offensive players aren't creators.

I also noticed that their pace is slightly slower than it has been the past couple seasons, especially 2011 when they led the nation in eFG. There probably is nothing to that, but it got me thinking further about pace. I went to hoop-math and crunched some numbers to dive further into the pace of the offense based on when they take their first shot.

The chart below lists eFGs based on four shot types: shots after a rebound, shots after an opponent score, shots after a steal and shots after a dead ball turnover. They then are further broken down into initial shot time: from 0-10 seconds and 11-35 seconds.

It stands to reason that quick scores after a steal would be the most fruitful for the offense: the stealing team either has a breakaway layup or they generally have multiple people going towards the basket against an unprepared defense. This chart also shows the importance of Kansas getting those steals: their eFG as a team is 52.1% (and just 46.8% in conference play) but it spikes when they can steal the ball. And, weirdly enough, while they aren't forcing many turnovers as a whole, their steal rate in Big 12 play is 11.8%, which leads the league. So perhaps, perhaps, there is hope for the offense yet (more on this later today).

Another reason I'm not terribly worried about the overall lack of turnovers is in the first and fourth groups: After a dead ball turnover Kansas doesn't do very well, but because they can take the ball off a rebound and immediately run they can sometimes catch the defense off guard, as evidenced by their eFG of 62% on quick strikes after rebounds. And, what's more, that represents the third most frequent type of shot the Jayhawks take.

So while the offense has looked terrible lately, and it sure looks like teams have adjusted, if they can pick up the pace a bit, keep stealing the ball, and keep forcing a lot of misses, the offense should get back to normal sooner rather than later. Or at least, they'd better hope it does.