No. 4 Kansas Jayhawks (4-0) vs. Dayton Flyers (2-3)
Time: 12:30 p.m., Friday November 26, 2021
Site: HP Field House, ESPN Wide World of Sports, Kissimmee, Florida.
TV: ESPN / ESPN2 | Radio: IMG Jayhawk radio network
Keys to Kansas
1. Cut the rotation?
There were times Thursday when the Jayhawks looked like an absolute juggernaut and the No. 4 ranked team in the country.
And there were other times when they looked like a regular team that could end up in the middle of the pack in their conference. This was especially true of the KU defense, which offered little resistance to the North Texas Guards when moving to the basket.
While fixing this will require some pride to boot, cropping the rotation might help as well.
Kansas coach Bill Self played 10 players for 10 minutes or more in the win over North Texas – and another who played eight minutes – and it’s assumed here that Friday’s clash at Dayton won’t put in feature as many guys who will have so many minutes.
What this means and who it will have an impact remains to be seen. But Self looks set to focus on defensive performance, meaning those who don’t deliver to that end won’t be around that long until they do.
2. Finish at the rim
Dayton coach Anthony Grant said after Thursday’s 76-60 victory over Miami, Fla. That a strong defensive presence inside was key to Dayton’s offense.
Dayton’s 2-point defense percentage and block percentage both rank better than the national average in these categories, according to KenPom.com.
Not only does the rim protection help prevent points on the board, it also creates opportunities for Flyer athletes to run, relieving some of the pressure from DU’s offensive half-court.
Dayton’s length in the half court, both on the rim and halfway and on the perimeter, caused fits for Miami, which has seen players go into seemingly open shots to see a Dayton defender close and get hold of the ball before the shot is mounted.
Asked how long the Flyers were on Thursday, Self said the Jayhawks would talk a lot about it in the hours leading up to the whistleblower.
“Obviously that makes the tribunal look smaller; it makes the court feel more crowded, ”Self said. “They start out as four guys in that 6-5 to 6-10 range, something like that. So that’s something we’re going to have to deal with. ”
A clean ball motion to throw the Flyers off balance, pump feints to miss out on closing defenders, and strong rim holds by players preparing for contact are some of the ways the Jayhawks can cancel out the length of the Flyers.
3. Be prepared for the pressure
Self said on Thursday that Grant’s team is pressing harder than they usually have in the past. But the Flyers’ all-round look is only half the equation.
Dayton’s defense on the half court also choked at times against Miami on Thursday. The Hurricanes regularly struggled to corner on the rim runs and suffered a handful of shot clock violations.
Self was not impressed with KU’s ball movement in their first-round victory over North Texas. And he’ll have to be a lot sharper against Dayton if the Jayhawks are to find any offensive success.
One thing that will help thwart Dayton’s ability to build his pressure defense is to get out and run in transition. Kansas have shown their willingness to do so throughout the season so far, and the offense had additional equipment on Thursday, with second student Jalen Wilson back from suspension and ready to push the ball whenever possible. .
“We’re going to have to tackle the pressure,” Self said after Thursday’s victory. “And then even if we beat the pressure, we have to score with a shorter clock (Friday) because they will make us use the time to beat the pressure.”
KU’s 3-point D vs. Dayton’s 3-point shot
The Flyers managed 11 of 19 3-pointers in their victory over Miamin on Thursday, hitting 58% of 3-pointers in the 16-point victory.
If that number had fallen to just 40%, this game could have been a one or two possession contest.
Instead, the Flyers cashed in a high percentage of their open looks, some of which came in half-court and others in transition.
Five different Dayton players scored 3 points in this one, with 6-foot-6 junior guard Elijah Weaver hitting four of five and 6-foot-9 freshman forward Mustapha Amzil hitting three of seven.
Dayton entered the game shooting just 23% on a 3-point range, so it remains to be seen whether this team is what it was in the first four games of the season or what it was in wins. convincing Thursday against the ‘Canes.
KU limited North Texas to just four marks in 27 attempts at a 3-point range Thursday. But just like the Dayton-Miami game, if the Mean Green had only touched three or four more from the outside, this game could have been a lot tighter than it was most of the time.
For the season, KU is keeping their opponents at 28% of 3-point shots while hitting nearly 40% of their own 3-point attempts.
With Alabama’s No.10 falling to Iona in Game 3 of Thursday’s action, it’s Kansas and a trio of mid-majors for the ESPN Events Invitational title.
KU will play Dayton in a game that Las Vegas sees as a 15 point advantage for KU. And Iona will face Belmont in the other semi-final.
That being the case, the Jayhawks become the big favorite to win the tournament, and anything less will likely be seen as a major disappointment. But that’s the farthest thing from Self’s mind at this point, and her players don’t seem to think that way either.
Kansas’ goal remains the same as when they arrived – to play things one possession at a time, perform at a high level, defend and find a way to improve each day.
After opening the season with a 10-point win over Illinois Chicago, the Flyers lost three straight home games to UMass Lowell, Lipscomb and Austin Peay before Thursday’s victory over Miami.
The Flyers start off three freshmen and are a very different team than the one KU faced in the Maui Invitational Finals in 2019, which was led by future NBA lottery pick Obi Toppin.
But the core values of the Dayton program remain intact and Grant and his company will have this team ready to compete with intensity and effort from start to finish. The Jayhawks will need to be prepared to match that in order to avoid it negating some of KU’s specific basketball advantages.
G – Dajuan Harris, 6-1, 180, Soph.
G – Rémy Martin, 6-0, 195, Sr.
G – Ochai Agbaji, 6-5, 210, Sr.
G – Christian Braun, 6-6, 205, Jr.
F – David McCormack, 6-10, 265, Sr.
G – Malachie Smith, 6-0, 170, fr.
G – RJ Blakney, 6-6, 200, RS-Fr.
G – Elijah Weaver, 6-6, 205, Jr.
F – Toumani Camara, 6-8, 220, Soph.
F – Daron Holmes II, 6-10, 220, Fr.