Mid range shooting

  • Two things stood out during the Kentucky game.

    The first was our apparent inability to drive and dish. We drove and we drove and we drove but nearly every one of those drives ended with an attempted shot against a taller, more athletic defense that had collapsed down upon them.

    The second was the lack of mid range shots. We saw attempted layups swatted out routinely and we saw pressured threes from time to time.

    Did anyone else feel that a game such as that was set up to be a mid range shooting clinic. Drive the ball and hit the open guy at the elbow or diagonal for a shot off the box. Is it that people don’t teach those shots anymore due to the hype surrounding dunks and raining threes? Is it that coaches feel that the percentages are more favorable for a set three or a dunk than the old diagonal mid range shot?

    First time poster is curious what others think about the lack of mid range shooting in the game and whether it would have been effective in this game in particular.

  • @Kong

    Statistically speaking, midrange shots are the worst shots to take in basketball. Analytics has led to showing us that smart basketball takes basically the three high value shots on the basketball court - layups/dunks, three pointers and free throws.

    Layups/dunks are high value because they are the only shot that is converted at above 50% in basketball. These shots also offer value because individuals shooting or attempting to position themselves to shoot these shots are generally the players that draw the most fouls.

    Three pointers are high value shots because they are worth an extra point. No need for analysis here. It’s worth more, therefore it is valuable. In addition to the extra point, three point shots are more likely to be open (generally classified as a shot with no defender within 4 feet), which drives up the successful percentage ever so slightly

    Free throws are valuable because they are the shot that is converted at the highest percentage - even the poorest shooting FT team last year shot 60%. The best teams shoot in the high 70’s. The average team will shoot a bit north of 70%, meaning a trip to the line (for two shots) should result in about 1.4 points per possession for an average shooting team.

    Midrange jumpers don’t offer any of these advantages - only the very best shooters can convert mid range shots at anywhere near 50% in game situations. Most of these shots don’t come open because mid range shots are closer to the basket and generally defenders are somewhere near the hoop. And to top it off, most good mid range shooters are also good three point shooters, meaning it is much more valuable to have them taking threes than taking twos that they can make at roughly the same rate.

    That’s not to say that no one should ever take a 17 footer. However, these shots should not see high usage. The better play is to get to the rim or kick the ball back out to the perimeter.

    This is what makes the dribble drive offense so dangerous - it is predicated on producing the three highest value shots in basketball. You drive to create either layups or fouls. If that is cut off, you kick back out to shooters on the perimeter. If they have an open shot, they take it. If not, they drive and the whole thing starts over again.

    Add in some stout post players and you have this year’s UK squad, although they play through the post more than a typical DDR team, but they have the personnel that would make it foolish not to play through the post.

  • @Kong Welcome to the group. Thanks for the post.

    The lack of value placed on the three point shot is something that I’ve always taken issue with during Self’s tenure.

    Easy math – 40% from three equals 60% from two. The reason Self runs things through the post is because making 60% inside is generally easier than making 40% from three (at least after years of listening to him, I’m making that leap of faith).

    My main issue is that you can have both, and you can scheme for both; and neither will devalue the other.

    There are times when you can’t get points inside. Self does have a terrific record. But too many times a season is defined by that one game that doesn’t go as planned.

    Stanford was one.

    The UK game does not define our season. It is now pretty much irrelevant. What I have always desired is for coach Self to be flexible and recognize that his system, while great 95% of time, needs to be flexible enough to adjust when necessary.

    Just value, cultivate and game plan for the three point shooter.

  • @ justanother

    I understand that it is statistically not the most advantageous shot to take, but there are a lot of factors that go into that. Generally the shot is taken in motion decreasing the effectiveness of the shot. However, if you don’t have shooters who can hit the three with regularity and the lane is shut down, it has to be a better percentage shot than what we have been doing and with the personnel that we currently have.

    @ Highelite

    “My main issue is that you can have both, and you can scheme for both; and neither will devalue the other.”


    To both, I think I saw a shot chart someplace and the number of midrange shots made was 4 of 9. I would argue that given the number of shots taken and the percentages made the other night, I think one would be hard pressed to say that it wouldn’t have been a valuable tool. If nothing else it would have given Kentucky something else to defend.

    My points isn’t to rely solely on the mid range, but to use it as a weapon in the arsenal. We have not been a historically strong three point shooting team. So, to rely on that tool when our strengths lie elsewhere, seems like a recipe for disaster.

  • @Kong during this game, I agree w/you! Selden starting taking that shot and made a few. Perry should have shot from FT line. He was open there. You take what the D gives you, and they weren’t going to give us anything inside the paint. Shot fake in there all you want and the guy behind you or beside you, blocks you too. They were guarding the perimeter pretty tough too. I’m ready to put this game behind us, like I did the Stanford game from last year!!!

  • @Crimsonorblue22 I’m sorry, I said “Stanford” again, didn’t I … dang it!

  • @Crimsonorblue22 said:

    You take what the D gives you, and they weren’t going to give us anything inside the paint.

    YES! You take what the D gives you – especially when the D is focused on guarding the two most statistically important spots – Under the basket and the 3 pt line.

    Here’s the secret to the statistics: the low risk/high reward regions are based on equivalent defense everywhere.

    An uncontested mid-range shot is a higher-percentage shot than a heavily contested shot under the basket or on the perimeter.

  • Bill Self has never cultivated the mid-range shot as part of his game plan. I first noticed this during the 08 season, when it seemed the whole offense was 3 pointers and alley-oops. That’s all those guys needed, cuz they were all studs. But I nearly pulled my hair out Tuesday late in the game when Landon got the ball eight feet out and didn’t even look to score. Seriously, if you’re more than seven feet out, you’re gonna look for someone to pass to? Pathetic. And extremely easy to defend.

  • @KUinLA I think you make an interesting point. When you see our big guys (like you said) about eight feet out, they don’t even look like they’re considering putting up a shot. It makes us extremely predictable and easy to defend. From about 2007-2011, I had no concern that we could hit a mid-range shot. No concern that Arthur, Wright, the Morii, etc. could all hit that shot. Is it a matter of not having the talent or not cultivating it?

    I’m not disagreeing with people who say that Self wants to stick with the inside game, that much is obvious, but we haven’t always been this way, have we? Remember the Big 12 Championship against Texas in 2008? That was a three-point shoot out. That’s all we did. What changed? Not that we relied on it by any means in the NC run in 2008, but we put up a lot of three pointers (if I wasn’t in class, I’d look up the numbers) that season. Both seasons of our Final Four runs we were able to shoot the ball well. The last two seasons it’s looked like we aren’t even entertaining the thought. What has happened? Someone said the other day that losing Dooley may have set us back a lot more than people realize. I think they’re right. Of course the same can be said for Danny. Now Bill is all by himself and we continually see this bash your head against the wall result of just continuing to pound it inside for no reason. I liked Jay Bilas analogy the other night: “Like trying to play frisbee golf in the Redwood Forrest.”

    So I ask, what has changed? We haven’t always been this way, have we? Is Self kind of being exposed as ignorantly stubborn without two great assistant coaches? I don’t want to get crucified for questioning the 82% win percentage, I’m just asking.

  • Although the 2pt jumper is the worst shot in basketball, it’s also the most under-utilized weapon at the college level. If you look at NBA teams, they shoot a lot of 2pt jumpers, and a lot of the NBA all stars are the ones who can make those looks with a high degree of consistency. Of course, there are very good reasons for that difference (talent level, shorter clock, # of iso plays), but the way modern college teams are coached, 2pt jumpers are hardly defended at all (you’ll notice that on screens defenders that switch drop into the lane to defend the roll rather than close out to prevent the pop). So if you have or can cultivate players who can consistently knock down looks from the horns or the short corners (areas where jump shooters are usually given spacing), you can put yourself at a real advantage, especially when you’re over matched on interior size. Last year, Tharpe was actually a really strong pull up shooter (50%). Graham showed flashes of this the other day against UCSB. Mid rangers certainly aren’t a good substitute for 3pts, as HEM demonstrated, but they are easier looks to manufacture and can be a real killer if you can exploit them.

  • Good content posts.
    Good news: D is back and active and we are pressing/pressuring the ball more full court and higher out…: I love our D with this team. Bad news: O is stale and high-low is useless against long, athletic defenders. Dribble-drive is more modern and efficient.
    Coaching changes have improved recruiting and D but O has moved backwards over the past three years. And…we do have shooters on the perimeter (all the guards + Perry can stroke it with average results Greene and Svi being above average). Shoot 15 threes a games (drive and dish) and make 5 in these elite competition games and we will be a better offensive team against length and superior competition. Mid-range game is important and needs to be used more in spite of the percentages argument…especially against athletic length. Good comments about having forgotten the fundamentals of good ball from 10 feet in on O. We can hit these shots for a high percentage. This issue with the O against length and height is not new and a pattern (flaw?) in Self’s outstanding coaching philosophy. Rock Chalk!

  • @Kong Is there anyway you could send your post to Frank? His game could sure use a short/mid range jumper.

  • I think we will quickly see an improvement from what we saw against Kentucky. Their size impacted us in many ways. Part of it was their ability to swat shots in the paint off the drives of ALL of our guys, not just Frank! We had NOTHING good in the paint.

    I think we are all a bit unfair with Frank. At least Frank had the fortitude to drive the ball. I think our perspective of the game wasn’t fair. We didn’t experience what Frank experienced.

    When playing a normal size team, what Frank did would have worked. Yes, he took too many ill-advised shots. But I think many of those shots he didn’t want to take, but was forced into it because no one was open. The length of Kentucky closed passing lanes for Frank. Long wingspans were extended and when Frank drove the ball, he then had no where to go but to try another shot.

    The problem I see with Frank is control. This is the exact problem all our guards have had over the years. One that sticks out with me is TT. He constantly drove the ball and was out of control and got stuck throwing up a bad shot, throwing a TO, or just losing the ball. We watched him learn the game before our very eyes his senior year, when he finally learned to take control of his drives. This was something he learned from John Lucas. Lucas was the master of little guys who could penetrate and be effective in the NBA surrounded by trees. The key is to keep control while driving.

    The way to keep control of your drives is to learn to variate your speed on drives and position your body and feet properly, always having your feet under your body and be angled and pointing in the right direction. The biggest thing, IMO, is to manage your speed and variate. Be explosive blowing by a guy then slightly slow it down once you have the driving lane owned. The speed reduction is minimal, but it allows the driver to maintain control. He should be able to stop and not travel, or charge, or be forced in the air with no one to pass to or ability to shoot over the trees. Tyshawn learned this and look what he did his senior year! He took a team without a single McDs AA to the championship game!

    Frank is a great candidate for a visit to John Lucas. He will really blow it if he doesn’t get the proper coaching to turn his game up a notch. He’s a guy that could play in the NBA and be one of those little guards that can be effective in certain situations.

    We really shouldn’t throw Frank under the bus. We should realize where he is in his development, realize what he needs to reach the next level, then plead our case for him to get the right help to get there.

    We are kind of contradicting ourselves when we want to see more dribble-drive offense, and then we chop off the head of probably our best driving guard! We all know Frank has a learning curve ahead of him, but we don’t help the cause if we just criticize him for trying. I also think Self has a learning curve, too. His forte is hi/lo, not dribble drive. He has to figure out how to teach dribble drive. In that area I give an advantage to Calipari… one area where he knows more about it than Self.

  • @MoonwalkMafia Did you notice how tightly our three point shooters were guarded outside the arc? Greene didn’t even get off a shot and Svi only got a couple uncontested looks. Okay, this guy’s not gonna shoot inside the arc, so guard him tight in 3pt range. And their bigs aren’t gonna look to score outside seven feet, so stay in the paint. Pretty simple. And they say Cal can’t coach, lol. That’s three straight (convincingly) over Bill. The game has moved on.

    And btw, by the end of this year, coupled with last, I bet that glowing 82 number will have tarnished quite a bit.

  • @drgnslayr I thought Frank was actually one of the bright spots for KU. He seemed to consistently be able to take advantage of the overplay and get the ball in the paint (remember what Bill said about TT’s ability to get in the paint). Now he just needs to learn, or be coached (Bill?) what to do when he gets there, like dish to a big, pull up midrange, or kick out for an open 3

  • I agree. After rewatching the game I noticed a lot of Frank’s shots, especially early were really good looks and they just didn’t fall. I remember particularly a couple of nice, under control, floaters that bounced all over the rim before falling out. His stats also weren’t helped by the fact that nobody could make a shot. A point guard has zero assists because there were only 11 shots made the whole game. That is not all his fault.

    This game was a combination of having an awful shooting night against a great defensive team. It certainly wasn’t all them or all us that led to 13% in the second half. A lot of that was just bad luck.

    I felt before the game we were probably 10 points worse than Kentucky, meaning at their place it would be a blow out, at ours it could go either way and at a neutral cite it would be close. The first half that proved to be true. We had some bad luck early, played good defense, but couldn’t score and went into the half down 10 but with some positive momentum.

    I don’t have anything to say about the second half as it was a complete mess and I don’t like to think about it anymore. Why did I force myself to rewatch it. I have a problem.

  • @benshawks08 we all have those same problems!! I sure do.

  • @benshawks08 I was planning to rewatch the game last night, but my wife had deleted it from the DVR.

  • @DanR your wife must like you. that was kind of her 😉

  • @Kong I apologize, I’d like to blame my computer, but more likely it’s my eyes - if you’re so inclined, could you please tell me what your avatar is? I can’t quite make it out. Thank you.

  • @nuleafjhawk

    That is a picture of me climbing here:


    (Sorry, not certain how to embed a link or any pictures.)

    The climb is heading up to the South peak on a route called Gunsight (5.4). One of my favorite, though low in grade, climbs due to its exposure. Of particular note though not easly seen in that picture is that another climber unclipped me and crossed my route all while my belay partner was taking the picture. Essentially for a brief moment I was on my own.

  • Great thread, and great post on Frank, drgn! Maybe Frank needed a timed-arrival of a wing or post player to throw a lob assist or pass to? Give the PG some options/targets to pass TO

    Let me start with a quote from preseason Perry Ellis: “I watched a lot of tape of Marcus, as he is also 6’8, 220lbs…”. Well, Perry, you’re a bright kid, but I hope you saw that Marcus Morris was absolutely deadly with the face up, shot fake, and pullup or fadeaway J from 10-15ft/mid post region. And he could hit the 3. Marcus Morris was a matchup nightmare in college. Thats why he went lotto. Banging down low improved for MM, but he was a guy with a shotfake that led to penetration dribble OR a pullup J– that was the impression he left, most noticeably on TRob, who tried to do the same stuff (& also went lotto his jr yr). So, YES: Ellis could definitely improve his midrange game. Sarcasm: yes, its the worst shot, but is a 10-12 ftr the same as a 17ftr? Some guys just have a knack & shooting form to shoot pullup Js.

    Here’s some good reliable midrange/pullup J shooters in KU’s Self-history: Wiggins, Taylor(late), EJ (one of the best at the elbow pullup J), Sherron, Reed, Brady, Marcus, Chalmers, RussRob.

    Other people call the midrange jumper “a lost art”. Let me say maybe UNC relies on it too much, guys shooting that are inconsistent at it, and 2 of UNCs Tourney losses to KU, were a ton of MJ-imitation pullups that missed.

    If guys want to add it to their arsenal…put in the reps & get deadly w/it…like Marcus…

  • I didn’t give myself the option of watching this game again. I’m surprised I made it through the entire game. I wanted to hear the last criticisms and kudos after the game… but when I was done I tossed it off my DVR. It would probably help us all to watch it again because the first time was too emotional and easy to remember things incorrectly. I just don’t think I have the stomach to see it again.

  • @Kong Oh! That’s very cool - I did go to that link and check it out. (and I’m not sure how to link it either, usually some good samaritan will come along and do it for us…)

    It looks very similar to some terrain (not really sure they’re mountains) that my family and I traversed in South Dakota a few years ago. It’s funny - now that you told me what it is, it looks pretty clear to me…

  • @ralster

    Good post… especially your take on midrange. You really nailed it when you talk about putting in the reps. It takes patience to work on these reps because players will practice shooting midrange, get hot and then quit practicing them and go back out to treysville. They have to realize that the more they practice in midrange, the more deadly they will be in a game situation. It is very easy to hit those shots without defense and a crowd with big lights on.

    I remember back in my day… and I’m thinking of a guy I played with who became a real stud offensive player, and his forte was midrange. Other team members would heckle him for working in so many reps at midrange. He definitely got the last laugh as he raised his ppg to probably high 20s.

    Midrange is a mindset. Some guys need to tweak down their egos and be real about the game. No one is saying to abandon the 3-point line, or stop finishing at the rim. I think Kobe made his mark in midrange before mastering the entire offensive end. Jordan did, too.

    And while we are talking about midrange… our most needed midrange shot is only worth 1-point but can and will lose us several games this year if we don’t become proficient: FREE THROWS! We missed 12 against Kentucky, and several of those were the front end of a 1-and-1. There’s about half the points in making up that deficit!

  • @nuleafjhawk

    And another link on that particular route with some nice pictures.


    I have climbed Devils Tower out that way. As well as done some climbing in Yosemite. Mostly an East Coast climber though, climbing at Seneca in WV and the Gunks in NY. Sadly I have not been able to climb a great deal lately.

    I shall return to it though. Just need to get back in to shape.

    More than you ever wanted to know. I know.

  • @drgnslayr

    Amen on the free throws.

    But to be fair, Kentucky’s free throw defense is superb! 😉

  • @Kong

    You’ve got more balls than a bucket on a driving range!

  • @Kong not more than I ever wanted to know. Hang around a while - you will find out “amazing” things about all of us - lol. From our favorite music to gardening tips to serious things like losing beloved pets and friends and family members.

    This really is a special forum (at least to me) and I really want to apologize sincerely for not being very welcoming to you at first. I’m usually a pretty nice guy. That’s what I keep telling myself…

  • @nuleafjhawk funny, and very sarcastic!! We like you that way!!

  • @benshawks08 any of you guys that tortured yourselves re watching game see graham fall? I didn’t notice the first time.

  • @KUinLA

    " I thought Frank was actually one of the bright spots for KU. "

    You and I must have watched different games.

  • @JayHawkFanToo I think YOU and I were watching the same game though.

    Until I turned to watch " Buying Alaska ". Lol.

  • @nuleafjhawk

    "Until I turned to watch " Buying Alaska “. Lol.”

    Seriously? My wife doesn’t want me to watch that show because she’s afraid I might try to uproot the fam and move north!

  • @drgnslayr If Buying Alaska was a drinking game for every time they said “Now THIS is Alaska!,” you’d be dead at the end of the show. I’m a sucker for HGTV, but that show is stupid.

  • @DanR I have a serious case of stupid goin on. I’m hooked on Alaska. TV shows, anyway.

    Buying Alaska.

    Living Alaska.

    Alaska: The Last Frontier

    There’s about 20 more that I don’t watch. Only because there’s not enough time in the day. Oddly enough, I’ve never seen “North to Alaska”.

    It’s not my fault - Mario Chalmers started it.

  • "But…"but…“but…But” Lotsa “buts” in Bill Self’s comments today. Maybe he is working up to issuing one of those football style GAME PLANS: something about BUTTS.

  • quote from Jesse

    Stat of the day: KU scored only 12 second-half points against Kentucky. During the entire 2013-14 season, only four teams scored 12 points or fewer in a second half (Louisiana-Monroe, Campbell, San Jose State, New Hampshire).

    Now that’s rarified air.

  • @dylans Like the rarified air in my house last night, after ham & beans.

  • @KUinLA

    “Bill Self has never cultivated the mid-range shot as part of his game plan. I first noticed this during the 08 season, when it seemed the whole offense was 3 pointers and alley-oops.”

    I am curious, what do you think the percentage/distribution of 2-point and 3 point shots should be? 50-50? 70-30? 90-10?

  • @nuleafjhawk Let me tell you, I spent over 5 years at Eielson AFB near Fairbanks, and it was the best time of my 20 year career. My original assignment was for 2.5 years and stayed an extra 3. Not much we didn’t do and see while there. Alaska Airlines used to run a commercial showing Alaska from the air. No music, no voice, no sound until the end. Then a voice said “Alaska…everything else looks like Kansas.”

  • @brooksmd I’ve always been a fanatic fisherman. I used to hunt and probably would again, especially for self-defense or food. I like everything I see about Alaska. The scenery is unparalleled. I would definitely live there -

    during the two months of good weather they have each year!! And the TV shows never talk about the bird sized mosquitos. Wonder why?

  • @nuleafjhawk Even in the interior we had at least 4 good months of summer. And you’re right about the skeeters. Huge! When out fishing during the summer always wore a net over the head and used lots of repellant. There are also little gnat like critters we called “no-see-ums” that attack also. The people who hated it up there were the one’s who stayed indoors during the winters. We never let cold stop us. My ex worked in Fairbanks which was a 26 mile drive one way and never missed a day of work. During the winter put studded snow tires on all four corners of her VW bug, couple of sandbags in the front, turn on the gas heater and off she went. Even at -65. We had trail bikes for summer and snow machines for winter. Miss it. That’s why like you I watch alot of the Alaska shows.

  • @brooksmd If I remember correctly, you’re in Looziana now ? Wow, talk about some major culture shock. It sounds like you’re quite the outdoorsman. I guess if I lived there, I’d probably do the same. Get out there in the snow and have some fun!

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