After all, it’s not very often that Kansas — or any team in college basketball for that matter — shoots 80 percent from the field (24-30 FG). The Jayhawks cooled down in the second half (48.6 percent field-goal shooting), but still ended the game shooting a hot 63.1 percent.
It was indeed a very impressive offensive display by Kansas, led by
Sherron Collins’ 22 points (7-9 FG) and Cole Aldrich with 17
While KU’s offense captured the fans’ attention,
what can’t be lost in Kansas' final exhibition game is the
Jayhawks’ defense. Coming into the game, I was anxious to see
how KU would respond after its lackluster defensive performance against
Washburn last week. The Ichabods outscored Kansas, 44-41, in the second
half and won the rebounding battle, 37-36.
KU coach Bill Self challenged his players to turn up the heat
defensively against the Hornets.
And they responded.
The Jayhawks swarmed on the perimeter, dove on the floor, and crashed
the boards. KU had 11 steals and scored 25 points off 17 turnovers,
while controlling the boards, 44-23. Aldrich was a defensive presence
in the middle with three blocks and 10 rebounds in 18 minutes.
Perhaps most important, KU didn’t get comfortable with a
56-30 lead at halftime. The Jayhawks continued applying defensive
pressure and limited Emporia State to just 37 percent shooting in the
second half, outscoring the Hornets 47-28 in the final 20 minutes. ESU
shot 36.2 percent for the game.
While KU still suffered some defensive breakdowns, the ‘Hawks
certainly improved their ‘D’ from the
“We definitely played some good defense tonight,”
Aldrich said. “We really tried to come out with a
lot of energy. We kept the energy level that we had the first half. We
just kept putting it to them. It’s easier to play ahead than
Self was pleased with the defensive effort, although he said his team
is far from being a finished product.
“It was better,” he said. “Our young
players don’t do a really good job of jumping to the ball and
hugging their man when the ball’s away from them and things
like that, which hopefully we can correct in time. But I thought we did
some good things defensively.”
And KU “did some good things “ on the boards. Every
Jayhawk recorded at least one rebound except walk-on Jordan Juenemann.
However, Self said the plus-21 rebounding edge over the shorter Hornets
(their tallest player was Shang Ping at 6-8) is “misleading
... because I don’t know if that’s a true indicator
of where we are rebounding the ball.”
While there’s much room to grow defensively, KU took a step
in the right direction against Emporia State and can build on that
momentum heading into its regular-season opener versus UMKC on Sunday
night back in the Phog.
Of course, Kansas can’t count on shooting 80 percent in the
first half against the Kangaroos or any other team they’ll
play this season. The Jayhawks must find other ways to win.
“We’re trying to find our identity,”
Aldrich said. “Defense is one of the things we really want to
be good at because if the other team can’t score and you
score a bucket, you can win games that way. ... (Defense) was the
identity of our team last year. Not many teams could score on us. If
they did, we made them make shots.
“That’s (what) we really need to emphasize again
this year is playing defense.”
Jayhawk Defense Highlights Win Over ESU
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