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Jayhawks Buoyed by the Three Ball

They may be "fool's gold" to their coach, but three point shooting may be this year's Jayhawks team's most valuable asset.

Nick Krug

When asked about his Jayhawks setting the net on fire from beyond the 3 point arc last Tuesday afternoon against Texas Tech Bill Self replied, "It's fool's gold. You can't bank on making 55 or 50 percent of your threes."

Bill is right. When your team is bombing away at a 55% click from beyond the arc - at one point in the Texas Tech game it was closer to 60% - you can easily feel godlike, but more often than not you aren't going to shoot anywhere near that. More often than not teams can and do chuck themselves right out of the gym with missed shots if their opponents are answering those misses with consistent 2 pointers on the other end.

Self has racked up almost 550 wins at four different schools because he knows that consistent strength and success comes from solid low post scoring. He wants his offensive system to go inside to out. In his own words, as stated to Lawrence Journal World reporter Jesse Newell, "We want our shot selection to be about 70% inside vs 30% outside." He's built his teams accordingly. Wright, Kaun, Jackson, Arthur, Aldrich, the Morris twins, Thomas Robinson, Jeff Withey and Joel Embiid, all big, imposing, low post scorers who could play above the rim. I'll take a team built like that over a jump shot reliant team any day.

However, what if your team is not built like that? What if your best low post scorer is a better jump shooter and can't play above the rim unless he's got about four feet of free space, a sprinkle of Peter Pan's fairy dust and the crowd thinking happy thoughts for him? And, as a result, what if your team is shooting almost the same from beyond the arc (41%) as they are inside it (46%)?

Is it still "fool's gold"? Or is it Bill Self's reluctant reality that it might be his team's best chance to win?

This is the "problem" Bill now finds himself with. You can see with every passing game the confidence of Wayne Seldon Jr. growing as he's been locked in from three range. You can see it whenever Brannen Greene puts up his sick shot that goes down an unreal 52% of the time, most of his makes so smooth that the net barely moves. You can see it with Kelly Oubre's sweet lefty stroke, and Frank Mason's fearlessness. This team's strength may fly in the face of everything that Bill Self would prefer to have, but man, when they're on, go ahead and allow yourself to believe that gold is pure, Coach.

Bill's 2015 Hawks' .406% from three point range is currently ranked 10th in the nation. The only other time one of Bill's teams has shot this well from behind the arc was the 2009-10 Hawk team that shot an almost identical percentage at .404, which was good enough for 7th in the nation that season. That was the team with Sherron Collins, Xavier Henry, Tyshawn Taylor, Tyrell Reed, Brady Morningstar and even the Morris brothers chucking up threes like crazy.

To Bill's point though, it's important to remember that 2010 team was the one that went a mediocre 6 for 23 (26%) from 3 point range in most important game of the season, the second round loss to #9 seeded Northern Iowa in the NCAA tournament. The three point loving 2010 Hawks tried to match Northern Iowa's mad flying 3 pointers with desperate offense of their own.  Sherron Collins and Tyshawn Taylor went a combined 0-11 beyond the arc in that game while the Morris brothers and Cole Aldrich were giving the Panthers all they could handle down low and were the driving force behind the near comeback.

However, the only reason Northern Iowa was in that game, and eventually won it, was their fearless chucking of 3 pointers. Same story a year later when VCU lit Kansas up with 12 three pointers in the 2011 Elite Eight, making a crazy 9 in the first half.  It's been said plenty of times, the three point line is the great equalizer. When you're making them it can mask a lot of other deficiencies.

So until Kansas starts playing like Bill would prefer them to, like a true Bill Self team, he should make like Major Kong at the end of Dr. Strangelove. If his team's gonna bomb away, then go ahead, Coach, and at least enjoy the ride.