Travis Releford needs to be more offensive

Posted on: February 28th, 2013 by jayhawktalk No Comments

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Travis Releford needs to be more offensive.

Not like Anthony Jesselnik offensive, but more aggressive on offense. If you have watched much Kansas basketball this season (and since you’re reading this blog I think that’s probably a safe bet) you have probably heard commentators like Fran Fraschilla and others praise Travis Releford for his great perimeter defense. And while his defensive contributions cannot be discounted, he is much more than just a stopper on that end.

Carrington Harrison of 610 sports radio likes to point out that KU is 43-1 all time when Trav scores in double figures, which might just be a coincidence, but during the 3 game skid this season Travis scored 8, 1 and 8 respectively. So why do I think that Travis needs to be more offensive (or maybe just aggressive)?

Because the numbers back me up.

DISCLAIMER: If you don’t like advanced statistics just skip down to the last two paragraphs.

At a glance, it might be easy to mistake Ben McLemore as the most offensively efficient Jayhawk, but the numbers don’t back that up. According to KenPom.com Travis has an Offensive Rating (ORtg) of 129.8 (good for sixth in the Nation) to McLemore’s 120.1 (80th).

So why am I making a big deal about Travis being more offensive? The problem is that Travis, while playing the most minutes per game of any Jayhawk, uses the fewest number of possessions of any starter. Not only that, he actually has only the SEVENTH highest usage of any KU player.

Let that sink in for a second.

The sixth most offensively efficient player in the nation uses fewer possessions (by percentage) than six of his teammates.

Ben McLemore

ORtg – 120.1
% Possessions – 22.2

Elijah Johnson

ORtg – 96.4
% Possessions – 22.0

Jeff Withey

ORtg – 112.5
% Possessions – 21.7

Perry Ellis

ORtg – 105.4
% Possessions – 20.9

Naadir Tharpe

ORtg – 96.2
% Possessions – 20.0

Kevin Young

ORtg – 110.8
% Possessions – 19.3

Travis Releford

ORtg – 129.8
% Possessions – 15.7

Adapted from KenPom.com

Travis’ offensive numbers cannot be overstated. He leads the nation in True Shooting percentage, which is the new fancy way of saying points per weighted shot, at 71.3%. After starting the season 0-11 from deep, he now leads the team in 3pt FG % at 46.2%. In addition to his ridiculous ORtg, he has a very impressive 60.63 Floor Percentage, good for third in the Big XII, behind only Corey Jefferson and Romero Osby. He also is second in the NCAA in effective FG% at 69.1% and has the second highest free throw rate of any KU player (with a qualifying number of field goal and free throw attempts) at 41.2 (Jeff Withey leads at 63.4).

In other words, Travis has a multifaceted offensive game from a numbers perspective. While his offensive numbers are certainly helped by a high number of transition baskets, he not only can be, but needs to be, more assertive in the half-court. He is too valuable and too efficient to defer to the likes of Perry Ellis and Naadir Tharpe.

The necessity of another efficient scorer to emerge has never been clearer since the mysterious disappearance of Ben McLemore in both Stillwater and Ames the past two weeks. Not many teams have the luxury of a fifth year senior with the abundance of experience to call on in a time of need. For Kansas to have a successful March, Travis needs to become more aggressive and finish more possessions for the Jayhawks.

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