Periodically, I've been checking in on how the Jayhawks' statistical profile has stacked up against both the rest of the Big 12, and the rest of the country. Now that we're more than ten games into the conference schedule, I thought I'd change our focus to look at the team's play in conference. We all know that Kansas has stepped it up since Big 12 play began, and the sample size is getting large enough to where we can look at their efficiency without the noise of their inconsistent non-conference play.
I've started each of these posts by taking a look at possessions per game, which showed early on that Kansas had slowed their play noticeably from previous years, relative to the rest of college basketball. Poss per game is still up all the way across the conference. Last year in conference play, TCU played the slowest ball with 62.1 per game, while Oklahoma State led the way with 70.0. This year, six teams average more possessions than last season's league leading Cowboys team, with Iowa State on top at 75.5 per game. Kansas has climbed to 70.5 per game, up from last year's 68.2, indicating that they are catching up to the pace of this year's conference game (though we're still playing slower than the average team, nationally). If I had to guess, I'd attribute this to our young players acclimating to the offense, as we're seeing fewer possessions where they swing the ball around the perimeter for 25 seconds with little noticeable intent to accomplish anything. I'm open to other ideas, though.
Here are the Jayhawks' numbers in conference play. I did include their national rank, but take those numbers with a whole spoonful of salt, as obviously teams from other conferences are playing completely different schedules, making it difficult to compare teams' in-conference numbers
Remember when I posted these tables early on, and we were lamenting the low we ranked compared to the rest of the conference/country? There are an awful lot of ones in that conference ranking column now, aren't there? I also remember when our biggest concern about this team (at least offensively) was 3 point shooting. Not surprisingly, this young team has improved significantly over the course of the season and bears little resemblance to the team that struggled to put away our early easy opponents. Obviously the TO% stands out more than anything here, and not in a good way. While we've been turning it over a little less in recent games, we probably need to accept that this team is going to turn it over too much. Also notice that while we shoot a lot of free throws, we're being whistled for the 3rd most fouls in the Big 12, meaning it's time to send another check the way of Big 12 officiating. Are they really due for another bribe already?
Below are the numbers that our conference opponents are putting up against us, and how we stack up
|Opponent Stat||Value||Conf Rank||Nat'l Rank|
|Def reb %||62.6%||2||32|
|Off reb %||28.3%||1||64|
|Fouls per game||21.5||3||29|
Again, considering our financial investment in Big 12 refereeing, they're sure giving our opponents a lot of trips to the free throw line. As in, only 45 teams in all of Division 1 basketball have seen opponents shoot more free throws in conference play. Moving on to reality, outscoring our opponents by .13 points per possession is pretty impressive, as is holding them to a 102 o rating. FG% defense, a stat where we're using to ranking 1st, is down to 3rd this year, but it hasn't been bad. Not surprisingly, teams are getting too many steals and blocks on us, but like the overall turnover issue, I don't see that issue going anywhere.
Is anyone else surprised by our rebounding numbers? They confirm that we're both a top offensive and defensive rebounding team, but it feels like I keep watching opponents outhustle us around the basket and grab too many misses. The stats just don't support it though, showing that we lead the Big 12 in preventing opponents from grabbing offensive boards.
Does anything stand out to you? Do these tables change your opinion of the team at all at this juncture, or is this in line with what you've been watching?