The Kansas basketball team has the talent and the potential to go all the way, but much work is left to be done. The young team needs to continue to learn and grow every game.
Freshman phenom Andrew Wiggins is the Jayhawks leading scorer, averaging 15.3 points per contest as well as 5.5 rebounds. Perry Ellis follows closely behind, averaging 14.5 points per game and nearly 7 rebounds. The Jayhawks lack a third dominate scorer this season that could be key to their success. Three players average just under ten points per contest (Joel Embiid – 9.3, Frank Mason – 9.1, Wayne Selden Jr. – 9.1). The Kansas Jayhawks obviously have a plethora of young talent on their roster but are still in the process of learning to play together cohesively.
Kansas Keys to Winning:
The Kansas Jayhawks have struggled on both the offensive and defensive glass this season. The KU front court is simply too good and too big to be ranked 109th in rebounds per game, averaging only a little under 38 per. With a NBA sized front court, the Jayhawks need to control the glass each and every time they touch the floor.
2. Off-Ball Defense
Anybody who watched the Jayhawks performance against Colorado on Saturday knows that Bill Self has a huge concern with the teams ability to guard off the ball. When it comes to on-ball defense, the Jayhawks are simply spectacular. However, they are easily beaten off the ball and lock down defense is a key component of the Bill Self program. The Kansas players need to get their heads on a swivel and know where they are at on the floor, all things that will come with time.
3. Point Guard Play
The Point Guard play will hold key to the Jayhawks success this season. Freshman Frank Mason has replaced Junior G Naadir Tharpe at the starting Point Guard position as of Saturday due to Mason’s toughness and aggressiveness. The Point Guard position, however, is producing only 7.5 assists per game between the two guards. Tharpe or Mason, whichever it may be, need to take control of the game and put their fellow teammates in positions to score and make plays.
4. Three-Point Shooting
The Jayhawks are atrocious from the three-point line, shooting just under 30% on the year. On 121 attempts, the Jayhawks have managed to only make 36. The outside shooters (Tharpe, Mason, Wiggins, Selden, Greene, etc.) need to step up and knock down three-point shots when they are given to them. If they can’t start converting from outside, they will likely see a lot more zone throughout the year.
5. Joel Embiid: X-Factor
When the big fella is in the game, he is a force to be reckoned with. With exquisite foot work and upper body speed, the Freshman 7-footer has gotten many comparisons to Akeem Olajuwon. He is a monstrous mismatch in the paint and can make a number of moves to the basket. The Jayhawks need to find him early and often every time he is in the game. Embiid started off the Colorado game shooting 4-6 from the field and scoring ten points. For the entire second half, Embiid went just 0-1 from the field with 0 points. The Jayhawks need to establish that inside presence and it will open the opportunity for the outside game to flourish as well.
The 6th ranked Kansas Jayhawks (6-2) head to Gainesville, Florida to take on the 15th Florida Gators (6-2) in a non-conference Top 25 match-up Tuesday, December 10th. Both teams are coming off a tough road losses, the Jayhawks to Colorado in Boulder and the Gators to #12 Connecticut.
Be sure to tune in Tuesday December 10th at 7:00 EST on ESPN/ESPN3.
And for all future Kansas Jayhawks home games, PrimeSport has NCAA Men’s Basketball tickets available for every home game this season so make sure to check them out and see Kansas play live.