Stylistically, this is probably the opponent you would want to draw up if you’re Kansas. Monmouth takes among the fewest number of threes in the country, and it hasn’t really resulted in making a ton of twos either. The last couple years they’ve scored via getting to the free throw line, but even that has deserted them thus far.
While Kansas may not force as many turnovers as Monmouth opponents as a whole have, I’ll be surprised if the Jayhawks allow a point per possession. Monmouth has some size, but mostly they can’t shoot (and don’t shoot), rebound, or take care of the ball.
Defensively they’ve been better, but their numbers get a bit of a boost from Kansas State having a poor outside shooting day in their last game. The Wildcats figure to be one of the worse offenses in the league and still shot 60 percent on twos against Monmouth. One thing the Hawks (of Monmouth, that is) have going for them is they’re doing a good job at limiting 3-point attempts this year, with opponents taking just 31.6 percent of their field goal attempts from beyond the arc.
Of course, they have ranked worse than 300th in seven of head coach King Rice’s first eight seasons at the helm, so there’s probably some sample size magic going on. And, although Monmouth has decent size across the roster, they have just one player taller than 6-8, which probably points to a successful night for Udoka Azubuike and maybe the two-bigs lineup.
Players to Watch
Ray Salnave, 6-3 junior guard
Salnave is 6-11 from three so far this year, and also ranked 4th in the conference last season in assist rate. Kansas struggled a bit at times to defend UNCG’s ballhandlers, and Salnave will be a similarly tough cover.
Delon Hammond, 6-4 junior guard
Hammond is Monmouth’s major outside threat, averaging over 7 attempts per game from three so far this season. He doesn’t have a ton of all around value, but a 39 percent shooter on that kind of volume is definitely something to get the attention of a defense.
As you can tell by the abbreviated preview, Monmouth isn’t very good. This will probably be a good night to try out some 2 big looks, as well as figure out if some of the lesser used rotation pieces are going to have a role this season. It’s also probably a good opportunity to get Udoka Azubuike, who has had a frustrating offensive start to the season, some dunks. I’ll take the Jayhawks to cover by quite a bit and make a rare blowout pick, 90-57.
Season record ATS: 0-2 :(