Kansas started four freshman for the first time in school history and, for the third time in four games, lost away from Allen Fieldhouse. The Florida Gators were so dominant at times in the first half that they Jayhawks didn’t even look like the belonged on the same floor. The second half was more competitive and the Jayhawks were able to pull to within four late, but couldn’t get defensive stops when they needed them. They fell to Florida, 61-67. Here are some takeaways from the game:
1. Wiggins is making progress. Andrew Wiggins who has gotten off to a slower-than-expected-but-still-pretty-good start to the season was truly dominant at times against Florida. For the second time this season, he put the team on his back when nobody could get anything going offensively or defensively. It was another step in the right direction to be sure, but still wasn’t enough to overcome a very poor performance from his teammates. He finished the game with a double-double: 26 points, 11 rebounds and 2 blocks.
2. The Jayhawks still can’t attack a zone. I am starting to sound like a broken record on this one, but until KU can figure out how to attack a zone properly, or until they improve their perimeter shooting substantially, every team is going to primarily zone them. Attacking a zone is one part fundamentals and one part confidence. The fundamentals of zone offense, Self can preach. But the confidence to attack it effectively is something the ‘Hawks are short on at the moment. And who can blame them? They have been utterly ineffective against it to this point. There is a reason hall-of-famer coach Jim Boeheim has defaulted to his zone look over the years. The entire feel of running an offense changes against it. There is less physicality down low to read in order to make the proper post move. Passing lanes seem more congested. It’s harder to read where help is going to come from. In general, you have to be more confident in your ability to run the offense properly without making mistakes. The brand of zone defense opponents are using against the Jayhawks right now is an even more difficult nut to crack because its packed in tight. KU hasn’t been able to shoot from outside and teams aren’t respecting them as a deep threat because of it. This congestion down low makes finesse guys like Perry Ellis have a more difficult time maneuvering down low. It makes it harder to Mason, Selden and Wiggins to penetrate. The Jayhawks lack this confidence right now and look timid against these zones.
3. Turnovers. The Jayhawks gave the rock away 16 times in that first half. They gave it away another 8 times in the second. Simply unacceptable. Especially when your point guards combines for 8 of them. But really, nobody could hold onto the ball. The starters had a total of 17 giveaways.
4. Trial by fire is over. Look, this Jayhawk squad was never going to run the table. They are too young and their non-conference schedule too brutal. Did I think that they would lose five of four like they have? No. But if you told me they went 2-for-4 in this stretch, I wouldn’t have been shocked. Needless to say, I can’t be completely surprised at this recent run of losses. That said, while the schedule is certainly not easy from here on out, it is more than manageable. The Jayhawks are going back to Kansas, first to play in Kansas City and then to play in Allen Fieldhouse. The time for excuses has passed. The time for losing has passed. This team has had their time to face adversity and to learn from it. It is time to start winning, and I believe that they will.
What to Watch for Recap:
1. Another Duke? It looked like it for the first four minutes, but by the end of the first half you could see just how far these Jayhawks have fallen from that game in November.
2. Does Embiid start? In short, yes he did. He also managed to log 30 minutes by staying out of major foul trouble.
3. Can KU turn the corner? Not this night. However, the cumulative adversity from this long road trip may be enough to serve the purpose if the Jayhawks can come home and find some success.
Beware of the Blog’s Player of the Game
Andrew Wiggins put the team on his back and posted his best performance as a Jayhawk. If even one or two of his teammates had stepped up, the Jayhawks might have been able to withstand the Florida onslaught in the first half. It was because of Wiggins that KU made its run in the second half.
- 1. Andrew Wiggins (5)
- 2. Perry Ellis (2)
- T-3. Joel Embiid (1)
- T-3. Frank Mason (1)
You Let The Whole Team Down Perry Ellis. Something this team needs more than anything is some leaders to fall back on when the going gets tough. Perry has not been there when the team needs him most. As I mentioned above, scoring in a zone offense can be tough for post guys like Ellis who rely on the feel of the man to man defender to make the proper scoring move. Still, he has to do better than four points, four rebounds and three turnovers.