Although Kansas ended up winning by 16, Vermont illustrated some problems Kansas is likely to have this year, at least in the early going.
First, while the Jayhawks were able to wear Vermont down, getting the ball into the post and scoring from there was an adventure. Defensively, the Jayhawks showed that while they’ll be tough to score on inside the arc, they still have a lot of work to do outside the arc, and still really need to work on their pick-and-roll defense.
The Jayhawks ended up scoring a very good 1.17 points per possession thanks in large part to shooting 63 percent from behind the arc. The rest of their numbers were pretty pedestrian (48 percent shooting from two against a small team, 26 percent offensive rebound rate, 18 percent turnover rate against a team that doesn’t force many), but sometimes it is just that simple that if you make a lot of threes you score a lot of points.
The defensive analysis probably needs some video, but take my word for it that the pick-and-roll coverage was bad. There were multiple instances of leaving good shooters open (and even leaving good shooters to guard bad shooters), and Kansas probably got more than a little lucky that Vermont shot just 34.6 percent from three.
The Jayhawks probably can’t allow teams to take around half their field goal attempts from three and keep winning, so I’m looking forward to see how much Bill Self adjusts. The rest was about what you’d expect. Vermont didn’t shoot great from two, didn’t grab a ton of misses, and didn’t turn it over a lot. This probably should be a longer post at some point but a lot of games this year look like they’re going to come down to a bit of a three point lottery, and I don’t necessarily think that’s a good thing.
- Udoka Azubuike struggled a bit early, but eventually imposed his will on Vermont, finishing with 23 points on 10-17 shooting and 11 rebounds. He had 3 turnovers, all early, but eventually settled into the game, passed out of the double teams well, and was patient in the post, leading to a lot of easy baskets.
- Lagerald Vick had a performance for the ages, going 8-8 from three and 4-6 from two for a total of 32 points. Just as importantly (OK, maybe not quite as importantly) he was active on defense and did a good job both on and off the ball.
- Quentin Grimes took a bit to get into the flow of the game, but finished with his first career double double. He looked better as a facilitator and spot up shooter to me than he did a driver, but there’s no doubt he has a full set of skills offensively.
- Devon Dotson had 7 points and 6 rebounds, but 0 assists as he had a tough time getting into the flow of the offense. It’s obviously unfair to expect him to adjust to college basketball immediately, but he is (oddly enough) too fast right now and needs to slow down a bit.
- Dedric Lawson had what I am confident saying will be his worst game of the year. It’s fair to say he had some makeable looks rim out, but he finished scoreless on 0-6 shooting, didn’t get to the free throw line, and had 3 turnovers. I think Kansas will eventually realize having Lawson up top as a creator is their best offense, but there are certainly some struggles with he and Azubuike playing together right now.
- Marcus Garrett had a very Marcus Garrett game, with 4 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, some good on ball defense, and a couple head scratching off ball defensive decisions.
- Charlie Moore had 7 points, 2 assists, and a steal, and provided a nice spark off the bench. He’s a little shiftier at getting into the lane than Dotson (for now anyway), and better off the ball defensively (although worse on the ball).