Three-pointers ended KU’s championship hopes last season, and long range shots continues to cause problems for this year’s undefeated team.
While it is hard to find anything glaringly wrong with an unbeaten Kansas squad that is ranked second in the country, the Jayhawks’ long range defense has been highly suspect at times. Through six games, half of KU’s opponent have recorded above average nights from three, with Michigan State (+10.7%), Marquette (+9%) and most recently Stanford (+4.2%) all exceeding their season averages.
Joshua Langford of Michigan State (66.7%), Sam Hauser of Marquette (46.2%) and Isaac White of Stanford (71.4%) have torched Kansas from behind the three-point line. Other Power Five schools in Louisville, Rutgers, Indiana, Kansas State, North Carolina and Wisconsin have all held common opponents to lower three-point shooting percentages this season.
In looking at Kansas’ Final Four loss to Villanova, three-point shooting and three-point defense should have been a huge initiative for KU coming into the 2018-2019 season. While Lagerald Vick (59.6%), Devon Dotson (50%) and Quentin Grimes (40.9%) are shooting high percentages, Vick is the only player attempting a high volume of threes, 25 more than Grimes who is a far away second in attempts.
On defense, far too often an opposing player with a hot hand is given the freedom to set up shop from the corner, with Kansas half heartedly putting pressure on shooters. Against inferior opponents, KU may be able to leverage their talent in other aspects of the game to still emerge with a victory. However, against top-tier programs and in conference play, the Jayhawks will not be able to erase deficits so easily.
At 6-0, a very young Kansas roster still needs to be developed and nurtured to reach their full potential. A major area of focus must be from three if Bill Self wants to position himself for another National Championship.