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Those Kansas turnovers are driving Bill Self crazy


Mike Miller

Kansas doesn’t have much to complain about thus far.

The Jayhawks lost four starters and six key players overall from last year’s 35-3 squad, but are 4-2 this season, with their only losses coming to Kentucky and Duke. The offense is scoring efficiently, the defense is even better and forward Thomas Robinson is a double-double machine.

Still … there’s a turnover problem. And it’s driving coach Bill Self batty.

“Since Towson, when we had 30 assists and five turnovers, our starting point guard (Tyshawn Taylor) has 16 assists and 21 turnovers, our starting two-guard (Elijah Johnson) has 14 assists and 15 turnovers, and our starting three-guard (Travis Releford) has seven assists and 10 turnovers. That tells you, right now, that’s probably the poorest ball-handling backcourt of anyone in the country when you talk about assist-to-turnover ratio,” Self told the Kansas City Star.

“That can’t happen when you’ve got good guards. Our guards are too good to play like this.”

He’s right to expect more of that bunch. Taylor’s a three-year starter (mostly), Johnson’s stepping into a featured role as a talented scoring guard and Releford’s a redshirt junior. He also doesn’t have a choice.

As C.J. Moore writes at Basketball Prospectus, this is the rare season when Self doesn’t have any reliable depth with which to tinker and experiment. At all. Guys like Conner Teahan would normally be the 10th or 11th man. This year, he’s the 6th man. Freshman Naadir Thrape is progressing slowly. That’s about it for guard depth.

It’s up to Taylor and Johnson to be better with the ball and improve that 20.2 TOrate (though it should be noted that’s only slightly worse than the last two seasons). Self doesn’t have any other options.

But I’m guessing that if the first six games are any indication, Self will make it work.

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