Kansas State's offense is shooting a woeful 42.1% in conference play, and an absolutely atrocious 35.8% on the road. Of course, there isn't one simple explanation, or one simple fix.
Part of the blame goes to the coaches and players for far too often, not being able to execute good halfcourt sets or anything resembling an offense. Another part lies with the fact that K-State is simply devoid of elite creators (Rod could be there by the end of the season) or sharpshooters (Will Spradling is close on some days) and wings or post men that can consistently hit midrange jumpers, both of which are crucial to opening up a defense and creating better opportunities for everyone.
But the most fixable part of K-State's shooting problems is that some guys simply haven't figured out their roles on the basketball team. Much like Carson Coffman did during his at-times-frustrating-but-surprisingly-successful senior year, these guys need to realize what they can do, and what they can't.
With that in mind, I've got some player-specific tips, as well as a short preview of the worst Big 12 team since, well, I'm not sure, but perhaps in quite some time.
Jamar Samuels is not a 3-point shooter. Every time he shoots one, I cringe, and even on the rare occasions it does go in (6 of 26 times this season), it feels kind of like when you're sneaking down an old staircase and it doesn't creak. You know you didn't do anything to deserve your luck, and it's only tempting you to push forward until inevitable disaster.
The fact that Jamar isn't even shooting 42% from the field in conference play (and 44% overall) is absolutely disgraceful, and eliminating 3-pointers from his game still won't make him as efficient as he should be. But it's a start.
Shane Southwell is not Rodney McGruder. Unfortunately, from time-to-time, Shane tries to replicate the beautiful Rodney floaters from five to ten feet out, and it almost always ends in disaster. Keep up the great work passing the ball and stick to layups and straight jump shots from 15 feet or closer, please.
Angel Rodriguez may one day be good enough to take ill-advised, contested 3-pointers like Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente did before him. But that day has not come yet, unless the shot clock is under five.
Jordan Henriquez* will hopefully be back on the floor tonight, but I'd be really happy if we never again saw him fade away on a jump shot. When you're seven feet tall (or close enough), you have to be going up strong every time.
Then again, it's possible JO shies away from contact because he knows what a terrible free throw shooter he is. 5 of 15 is almost bad enough where he could start faking injuries every time he has to go to the line.
*I guess I missed the part where JO dropped the Roberts from his name, but I've noticed this season it's not on his jersey or the roster anymore. When did this happen? Before the season started?
Rodney McGruder needs to stay away from shots outside of about 25 feet. I'm not saying this because it's been a problem, but rather to emphasize the fact that he has pretty much earned the right to take any shots from anywhere else at this point.
Of course, if these guys want to get all of their bad shooting habits out of their systems, tonight might just be the night to do it. Texas Tech is beyond awful, as the Red Raiders are 0-11 against RPI top 175 opponents and have lost in conference play by an average margin of 17 points, with their closest game being a 64-55 loss at OSU.
They have one player (Jordan Tolbert) averaging better than 9 points per game, and he's a 6-7 freshman who averages 23.3 minutes and 3.4 fouls per game. Attack him on the offensive end and be prepared to block him out and maybe help a little, and everything should be fine.
Javarez Willis and Ty Nurse are two relatively small guards that the 'Cats should be able to defend and hopefully exploit on the offensive end. Playing inside with Tolbert is Robert Lewandowski, who isn't going to overpower anyone but he can shoot and is coming off a career-high 20 points against Iowa State.
The only possible way K-State fails to win this one is if it badly loses the turnover or rebounding battle, or both, due to a lack of effort. It would be awesome to see the 'Cats shoot better than
70% 60% from the free throw line, but I know that's asking a lot.