Kansas has already played two thrilling basketball games against Top 10 opponents, and the calendar has yet to reach Thanksgiving. Looking at small sample size numbers can cause some fans to overreact, so let’s do just that.
All Five KU starters have already fouled out of a game
There’s no question that the college game has been called a little bit tighter so far this season. Frank Mason, Devonte’ Graham, Josh Jackson, Carlton Bragg, and Landen Lucas have all fouled out of a game. Even further, all of the starters beside Graham have nine total fouls through two games.
Unquestionably, Indiana and Duke are two of the toughest offenses that the Jayhawks will face this season. The combination of tighter whistles and the prolific offenses that KU has had to defend have surely played a part in this staggering figure.
Kansas is currently ranked No. 23 in the country in total personal fouls.
18 of the 22 teams ahead of them have played three games to KU’s two.
Kansas is shooting 22.5% from three-point range
A year ago, KU was the fifth best three-point shooting team in the country, hitting at a 41.3% clip. This season, the Jayhawks are struggling to get going from deep, shooting 22.5%, good for 305th(!) in the nation. Losing shooters like Brannen Greene and Wayne Selden Jr. was sure to have an effect on the ability to shoot the three, but there are some encouraging signs to draw from this.
First of all, there’s no way KU shoots remotely this poorly over a larger sample. Guys like Devonte’ Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk will surely get going from deep and will add an element to the Jayhawk offense that has been largely absent thus far.
Secondly, Kansas beat the #1 team in the country while shooting 2-17 behind the arc. It also lost in overtime to Indiana shooting 7-23. In those two games combined, the Jayhawks have been outscored by 42 points on three-pointers.
While they may not be as prolific from three as they were last season, they aren’t going to be nearly as bad as they have been through two games.
That’s great news for an offense that is already ranked fifth in adjusted offensive efficiency, according to KenPom.
Frank Mason and Devonte’ Graham have played in 89% of KU’s minutes this season
Graham (89.4%) and Mason (88.2%) have played a ridiculous amount of minutes so far this season. Combining those minute figures with KU’s brutal travel schedule to this point would surely result in a decline in production as the season wears on if such usage continued.
Luckily, Kansas’ schedule gets much more manageable in the coming weeks, hopefully allowing Graham and Mason to accrue some much-warranted rest.
As the Jayhawks turn toward the conference portion of their schedule, it’s likely that Graham and Mason’s minute numbers will again increase.
With the perceived lack of point guard depth that KU possesses, it’s hard to envision their usage not playing a factor as the calendar turns to March.
Kansas has played a brutal schedule, not shot well, and fouled as much as anyone in the country. Yet here the Jayhawks are, 1-1 with a huge win at Madison Square Garden over the #1 ranked Duke Blue Devils. While an 0-2 start against these opponents would not have been a major cause for concern, a big win like that can do a lot for a team moving forward, and it also allows fans the ability to breathe a little bit.
Kansas is only going to get better, and the early returns are already quite impressive.
This is going to be a fun season.