[For background info, see my original Project Defensive Score Sheet post.]
When I started this project, and saw that the Jayhawks’ first three opponents were Michigan, Iowa State and Nebraska, I figured the defensive charting would be what helped me stay interested in what I assumed would be fairly easy victories. Not so much.
Nebraska’s first half defense was the most impressive I’ve seen from any unit in the few games that I’ve charted. The help was coming at the exact right time, and recovery back to shooters was great. To be honest, I’m not sure whether Kansas made adjustments at halftime, or if Nebraska just didn’t quite play as well, but my subjective “Wow, these guys are good” feeling wasn’t nearly as strong in half two. I guess allowing 4 straight dunks will do that.
Here are the numbers (click to enlarge). Notes after the break.
First, let me point out the 2 free throws credited to Nebraska’s “Team” line. These resulted from a foul by Caleb Walker with 14 seconds left. It was clearly a case where whoever was near the ball handler after the inbounds pass was supposed to foul, so I didn’t think it was fair to credit the free throws to Walker. His DRtg becomes 95.5 if you add those free throws to his stat line.
- Brady Morningstar lived up to his reputation in this one. I think a couple of his forced misses (FM) were a little bit more on the shooter than on his defense, but he still gets credit in the numbers. Note that his %DPoss in the three games has been 12.9, 12.8, and 11.1. I suspect this may be an indication that he does a good job denying his man the ball (and/or open shots).
- Elijah Johnson looked good in this one, unlike the last two games. I think the main difference was that he didn’t commit any fouls, and hence gave away 0 free points this time.
- Markieff Morris had KU’s 2nd-best defensive rating for the 3rd game in a row.
- Marcus Morris fouled a 3-pt shooter in the closing minutes for the second game in a row. I said it didn’t matter last time, but I probably should have qualified that with “to the final outcome.” It does matter if he has a tendency to make these fouls.
- Brandon Richardson was a tremendous pest. I credited him with 4.8 forced turnovers (FTO), but since some of those were shared, he actually played a role in 8 of Kansas’s 15 turnovers.
- Fraction of a team’s forced turnovers that I credited as solo efforts: 50% for Kansas (7 of 14), 40% for Nebraska (6 of 15).
- Note the 11 “Team” forced misses by Nebraska. Most of these were three-pointers. The fact that Kansas missed a lot of these probably heavily influenced my subjective view of Nebraska’s first half defense as “impressive.”
- Nebraska pulled out a zone for a few possessions in the second half. After Kansas’s struggles against Michigan’s zone, I didn’t expect them to fare well, but by my count they scored 7 points on 5 possessions against the zone – far better than their efficiency against Nebraska’s man-to-man defense.