Inside the Numbers: California vs. Kansas
by Donald Davis

Related pages

Coach's comments

Box score

Season stats

Possession analysis

Explanation of NEP

Give me a “D,” give me an “E,” give me an “F,” give me a... okay, you know the rest. Watching this game was a very satisfying experience for a Jayhawk fan. We’ve talked before a little bit about the motion offense and the up-tempo game. It can wreak havoc for an opponent if it is executed well. The reason it can be so devastating is that when well executed, it yields a very good PPP (point per possession). The motion offense, as well as the running game, gives a team better percentage shots so theoretically the team should realize a better FG%. The primary risk of the motion offense, at least in the fashion designed by Roy Williams, is increased TOs. So you have two primary factors impacting the PPP: FG% and TOs. Increasing the FG% increases the PPP and increasing the TOs decreases the PPP. So to simplify the situation it sort of boils down to whether you can increase your FG% more than you increase your TOs. Of course, it is ultimately more complicated but these tend to emerge as the primary drivers.

The wildcard in all of this is the defense. In 1992 Bill Clinton won the presidential election with a simple slogan, “It’s the economy, stupid.” Well, when it comes to basketball you can talk all you want about FG%, PPP, TOs and such but in the end, “It’s the DEFENSE, stupid!” Why would I say the defense is more important than the offense? After all the goal is to OUTSCORE the opponent, so if you score enough, it really doesn’t matter how many points your opponent scores, right? The reason the defense is the key is very simply because defense is something you ultimately have more control over. There are times when you step onto the floor and regardless of how prepared you are, you just have a bad offensive game. You have days when shots won’t fall. Theoretically, every time you step on the court you should be able to play a strong defensive game. Defense is about concentration and preparation. Roy and staff have occasionally not prepared his players with proper scouting and practice. That is rare, very rare. Most of the times when our defense breaks down it is a matter of concentration. If you think back to the Tulsa game, Kirk Hinrich seemed to have residual effects from the back injury and was shooting very poorly. It was just one of those days, yet Kirk played a team high 38 minutes. Why keep the kid in the game for 38 minutes when he was clearly not on his offensive game? Kirk shared the duties in covering Jason Parker and played maybe the best defensive game of his career. His presence on the defensive end was invaluable. This is an example of how defense can come to play even when the offense is on vacation.

There are many ways to measure defense, but once again we’ll go to PPP. Last year KU was last in the Big 12 in scoring defense. We are in last again this year. Does this mean we were and are the worst defense in the league? Of course it doesn’t. We play such an up-tempo game that our opponents had many more possessions than the opponents of other Big 12 teams. In order to meaningfully compare defenses you have to normalize against the number of possessions, hence, the PPP. Last year the average PPP for all 320 NCAA teams was 0.85. So far this season we have been slightly better defensively than last year. Of course several of our games so far this season have been against D-II teams.

Year KU Opp
2001-02 0.946 0.816
2002-03 0.934 0.798

Only two teams so far this year have really left us cold on defense. Florida and Oregon also had an average game, but once again our offense was AWOL.

Opponent W/L KU PPP Opp PPP Diff
Holy Cross W 0.920 0.687 0.234
UNC-Greensboro W 1.071 0.725 0.346
North Carolina L 0.683 0.859 -0.176
Florida L 0.745 0.943 -0.198
Central Missouri St. W 0.980 0.753 0.227
Oregon L 0.736 0.857 -0.121
at Tulsa W 0.918 0.909 0.008
Emporia State W 1.189 0.685 0.504
UCLA W 1.061 0.761 0.300
California W 1.067 0.807 0.259

So what’s the net-net of all this? First of all we should never allow our opponents a PPP above 0.85 and preferably above 0.80. That is something we should be able to control to a degree. I don’t think any rational person would assess our loss to North Carolina as being overmatched. We were capable of much better defense. Our defense against UNC, Florida and Oregon was not representative of what we should be able to achieve. We lacked defensive concentration, intensity, and teamwork in all three losses and especially UNC and Florida. Even though we lacked execution on defense against UNC we still held them to an average PPP. One could easily and validly make a case we could have, and should have, held all three of those teams below a 0.85 PPP. I think you have seen a much better intensity and concentration on defense in the last four games. One can make a good argument that this group has had to come together as a unit, and it has just taken a few games. If that is the case it is good news for Jayhawk fans. It would indicate we will only get better and better.

Player of the Game: Aaron Miles is making his mark on this team. He, perhaps more than any other player, shoulders the blame for the Jayhawks three losses. His performance against Oregon can only be described as pitiful. Much was made in the press of his little talk with Roy after the Oregon game. Whatever Roy said he should have recorded it, because since that time Aaron has been spectacular.

Aaron Miles NEP n-NEP
First 6 games 17.3 22.4
Last 4 games 34.2 43.9

The Aaron Miles of the last 4 games is a different Aaron Miles than we saw in the first 6 games. Since the Oregon game he has just about doubled his productivity as well as his productive efficiency. I would venture to say there is not a PG in the country playing any better than AM in the last 4 games.

KU vs. California
Miles 37.4 41.52
Collison28.4 32.42
Hinrich23.5 26.81
Simien21.8 23.61
Langford14.4 17.44
Lee5.2 17.18
Graves0.6 4.04
Hawkins0.0 0.71
Olson0.0 0.71
Vinson0.0 0.71
Moody0.0 0.71
Niang0.0 0.71
Nash-0.1 -5.29

Aaron was head and shoulders the POG for the Cal game. Keith was the only starter that was off a little bit. He broke his nose the day before the game and understandably was not in top form. Actually the only area where Keith was deficient was his rebounding, but as the small forward he needs to hit the boards. He was a little tentative to mix it up inside with a tender nose.

2002-03 YTD
Collison270.0 34.62
Miles240.7 29.72
Simien223.1 30.25
Langford210.7 27.28
Hinrich203.7 27.52
Lee62.8 23.27
Nash35.0 12.72
Graves34.9 14.37
Hawkins24.0 17.44
Niang17.2 12.27
Moody4.2 12.77
Vinson-1.7 -5.15
Olson-2.6 -8.55

Aaron Miles has moved up to second on the team in total NEP for the season. He is averaging 7.6 APG which puts him on a pace for more than 300 for the season. This would blow away the KU season record of 282 held by Cedric Hunter. We need to stop and take a minute to appreciate what Aaron brings to the table. He will rewrite the record books for assists at KU before he is done.

Significant Stats of the Game: One stat that really stands out is the percentage of minutes by the 5 starters. The starters played 88% of the minutes in the Cal game and 86% of the minutes in the last two games. Compare this to last season where the starters logged only 59% of the minutes. This is not all bad. We have perhaps the best five starters in the country, so why not play them? The downside is obvious. 30+ games of wear and tear plus the increased chance of injury poses a significant risk. If we can make it to the NCAA tournament intact, I will feel pretty confident.

Another significant stat is %LoB. The Jayhawks had their 2nd worst %LoB this season at 24.0%. That would indicate a close game or perhaps a loss under many circumstances. At the very least it would certainly yield a poor PPP. Below is a chart of the relationship of PPP to %LoB. As you would guess this is an inverse relationship and has a pretty good linear coefficient. In laymen’s terms, there is a pretty good relationship between PPP and %LoB. The California game was not even close to fitting into this relationship. How could we have a %LoB of 24% and still have a PPP of 1.067? The magic of shooting efficiency. The bible teaches us that “love covers a multitude of sins.” Well the basketball equivalent is “shooting efficiency covers a multitude of turnovers.” TOs are never good, but if you have a shooting efficiency of over 60% you will cover a multitude of TOs.


As a reminder, shooting efficiency (SE) is the total points scored divided by the total possible points scored if every shot (FG & FT) were made. Look at the SE for the season so far.

Opponent FG% 2FG% 3FG% FT% SE A/FGM
Holy Cross 52.8 52.1 60.0 59.5 54.7 0.43
UNC-Greensboro 54.9 64.2 27.8 66.7 54.4 0.54
North Carolina 40.7 44.4 22.2 62.5 42.1 0.50
Florida 37.5 43.8 18.8 61.1 40.6 0.63
Central Missouri St. 53.6 56.5 28.6 75.0 56.1 0.57
Oregon 39.7 40.7 35.7 63.3 43.3 0.33
at Tulsa 47.7 51.9 27.3 66.7 50.3 0.52
Emporia State 62.3 73.9 39.1 66.7 60.1 0.60
UCLA 51.7 55.0 44.4 67.9 53.7 0.73
California 63.3 69.2 40.0 77.8 63.5 0.71

The astounding SE of 63.5% against Cal is a result of tremendous offensive execution. If you watched the game, think back of the patience these guys exhibited, even when faced with shot clock violations. The A/FGM ratio is another indicator of that efficiency. Note the last two games we have averaged north of 70% of our FGs have been assisted. This is a hallmark of KU basketball. We have typically been around the A/FGM of 0.6. The last two games have had outstanding offensive execution. This is a testimony to Roy and staff and their ability to teach and grow a team. I am excited about this team as the season develops. There have been changes in this team since the New York debacle. I am not predicting there will not be another stumble or two. What I am saying is the way this team has shown growth and the way they have responded to what has obviously been a push by Roy and staff to build on the losses is very encouraging.

The Internet goes bonkers after a loss and totally bonkers after three. There was all sorts of speculation about Roy and his lack of recognition of the teams deficiencies, etc., etc. etc. Let’s give equal time when we see such tremendous demonstrable evidence Roy has taken decisive action to grow this team through the trials in exactly the manner many speculated he should. Go Roy, go Jayhawks.

Stats all for now, folks.

Email Don

| Share

News | Daily Links | 2015-16 Jayhawks | Historical Stats | The Rock Chalk Board
Tradition | Recruiting News | Fan Zone | Links

Further information: privacy information, about this site, feedback, advertising info

Copyright ©1995-2015 Rock Chalk Zone, All Rights Reserved