The way Bill Self sees it, there is a distinct difference between desiring to shoot more three-pointers and understanding that his team will likely be more active from the outside.
In an ideal world, Self says, he would prefer to pound the ball inside and find easy buckets in the paint. But with a roster that features a list of unproven inside scorers, Self expects Kansas will shoot more three-pointers this season.
“There’s no question we’re going to shoot more threes,” Self said this week, “just because we don’t have anybody we can throw it to on the post, other than Perry (Ellis), that you just know you can come away with two points.”
Last season, the Jayhawks averaged 15.8 three-point attempts per game and made just 34.1 percent from behind the arc, which ranked 181st nationally. According to numbers compiled at KenPom.com, just 20.5 percent of Kansas’ scoring came from three-point range. That ranked 320th in the country.
That will likely have to change.
For now, Self is bullish on his team’s three-point-shooting prospects. Last season’s team average was dragged down by Andrew Wiggins (34.1 percent), Wayne Selden (33 percent) and Frank Mason (33 percent). Even KU’s supposed good shooters, like Brannen Greene (33 percent) and Conner Frankamp (31 percent), struggled in limited roles.
When asked where the improvement can come from, Self first mentioned freshman guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk and then Greene. He also believes freshman point guard Devonte’ Graham can be a consistent threat from deep.
“Svi is a great shooter, and Brannen Greene is a great shooter, and Frank Mason is a much, much better shooter,” Self said. “Devonte’ shoots it good. I think Wayne will shoot it better than he did last year, and Perry can stretch it. I think we’ll be a lot better three-point-shooting team.”
This week, Self went so far as to project that Ellis could shoot upwards of “80 or 90” three-pointers this season. During an 85-53 victory over Washburn in its exhibition opener, Kansas made nine of 21 from three-point range and shot 15 threes during the first half. Mason finished two of three, while Mykhailiuk made two of five.
“Even though it wasn’t smart ball …” Self said, “What we’d shoot, 15 threes the first half? That wouldn’t surprise me if that happens again. That’s way too many, but that’s the natural looks that we’re going to get.”
Concerned with youth
It’s college basketball tradition for coaches to reference how young their teams are each season. But as the Jayhawks enter their final exhibition game against Emporia State on Tuesday, Self believes this could be the least experienced team he’s had at Kansas.
“I think that we’re younger this year than we ever have been,” Self said. “I think last year, Naadir (Tharpe) had good feel. We started three freshmen, but (Joel Embiid) was smarter than any senior we’ve ever had, for the most part.
“We’re younger in our mind this year, too. Last year, we were beyond our years some from our basketball IQ. This year, I think we got a lot more to learn.”
Looking ahead to Kentucky
In just 11 days, Kansas will face preseason No. 1 Kentucky at the Champions Classic in Indianapolis. During preseason interviews, John Calipari has repeatedly said that he will separate his deep team into separate five-man platoons, substituting in waves.
The Wildcats feature a roster of nine McDonald’s All-Americans, which doesn’t include former Olathe Northwest standout Willie Cauley-Stein.
On Thursday, Self was asked if he believed Calipari would stick to the platoon scheme.
“I have no idea,” Self said. “I have my thoughts about it, which I think could be kind of fun. I can’t believe he wouldn’t do that based on how adamant he is that he was going to do it.
“There are still situations in which they can certainly exploit you from a depth standpoint and wear you down, without question. That would be a huge advantage.”