After a poor showing against Baylor in Allen Fieldhouse last Saturday, KU corrected course in a 66-52 win in Norman against Oklahoma on Tuesday. Despite winning by 14 points, the contest was close until some very late threes blew the margin open. While KU got the win, it become apparent to me that it has some serious issues it must overcome if it wants to make a deep run in March.
The first flaw I see in Kansas is the passing – it’s bad. In the last two games, KU has turned it over a total of 25 times. Not terrible by any stretch, but I would bet that at least half of those were from bad entry passes into the post, which really hurts the big men. Furthermore, I think the big men’s passing leaves room for improvement. The guards are open on the three-point line, but the big men are unable to find them. Other times, a guard will make a nice back cut when Udoka gets double teamed, and he just isn’t able to make a good pass to them. The poor passing is what really hurts the two big lineup (which I still think should be used more, but whatever). Self said in a recent interview with the media that passing is particularly hard to improve, so we’ll see what KU can manage in the next few games.
The second flaw I see is the inconsistency in shooting the three. I know everyone in KU Twitter-verse wants the Jayhawks to play four guards, and that’s fine… if we can get more three-point production from the guards. So far, it seems that only Moss and Agbaji are a real threat from three, but they both are very streaky. If KU wants to run four guards more successfully, Agbaji and Moss need to be shooting at least six threes a game, and Dotson, Garrett, and Braun should all be taking at least two or three attempts each. In my opinion, the more 3 point focused four guard lineup has been just average so far. The offense has been more successful relying on feeding Azubuike and running pick and rolls than it has been on trying to rely on the three. This was never going to be the 2018 squad that rained in threes, but there is still much to be desired, and if they can start making more threes in combination with the high-low game with Udoka, KU can be really dangerous. We saw this against Iowa State.
The final flaw I see isn’t so much a flaw with Kansas, but rather with the fans’ (including myself) expectations of both Agbaji and De Sousa. Is it time we start admitting that maybe their ceilings aren’t as high as we originally thought? I’m hesitant to include Ochai here because we’ve seen his athleticism and scoring potential, but he isn’t the best driver, and he still struggles to create his own shot. I would never speak for a player and would be supportive no matter what he decides, but at this pace I can’t imagine him declaring for the draft after this season, right? He’s still projected to get drafted in the first round though, so we’ll see I guess. And I don’t really need to talk about De Sousa. Again, the athleticism is there, but he just hasn’t found a groove this year, which is a shame because I love De Sousa’s attitude.
This Kansas team has plenty of strengths and weaknesses, and I still trust Self to fit all the pieces together by March. The good thing about conference play is that it really exposes a team’s weaknesses, and I’m excited to see how KU can adjust to overcome the flaws that keep them from being truly elite.