When Ken Pomeroy was a guest on our podcast two weeks ago, I was fascinated with one of his answers to a reader’s question.
Pomeroy — advanced numbers expert and creator of the KenPom rankings — was asked which stat he’d like to see cited more on TV broadcasts and in publications.
The man who dutifully tracks measures like offensive rating and possession percentage gave an unexpected answer: two-point accuracy.
It’s changed how I’ve thought about basketball since.
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Pomeroy’s point was this: The stat is simple. Everyone understands it. European broadcasts already include it to help their viewers understand the sport.
Without it here in the States, we’re likely missing out a perspective that could better explain how numerous games are won and lost.
A perfect example was Kansas’ 93-87 exhibition victory over Missouri on Sunday. When someone asked me, “How did KU pull away late?” a few minutes afterward, I had trouble with the answer following a quick glance at the box score.
It took a little math. But here was the correct response:
Second-half two-point shooting: KU 13-for-16 (81 percent).
A few years ago, I asked KU coach Bill Self his biggest belief when it comes to offense, and he responded with this: “I just think basketball can be summed up very easily: If you’re good, you get easy baskets and don’t give them up.”
The final 20 minutes, then, was much closer to Self’s ideal of scoring success.
Udoka Azubuike went 5-for-5, while Billy Preston was 2-for-2. Azubuike in particular skillfully nudged Missouri’s players up the lane, then showed improved hands while catching passes high before finishing with layups and dunks.
Self said his team was a bit tight in the first half, as it didn’t get the ball from side to side and wasn’t as crisp as he’d seen in earlier practices.
That improved after halftime. KU’s big men worked to get open, the guards found them, and the Jayhawks offense churned to 1.29 points per possession — up from 1.00 in the first half.
KU clearly has a talented backcourt. Malik Newman should be one of the team’s top two scorers, while Devonté Graham is already showing up on most first-team All-America lists.
It’s still important to listen to Self’s words when he talks about this season’s offense. He admits this team might shoot more threes than any squad he’s had, but he also has made it clear that getting angles and scoring inside needs to be a top priority.
That should all make sense when rewatching the Missouri tape.
KU wasn’t able to get it to the rim off the drive like last season — something to be expected with Frank Mason and Josh Jackson now in the NBA. The Jayhawks also didn’t shoot their way out of problems, making 8 of 25 threes overall.
Instead, KU went back to Self’s old reliable, using ball rotation and big-man fundamentals to carve out uncontested shots when it needed them most.
It should be a familiar formula for KU fans, as many times, a complicated game can be summed up pretty easily.
If you’re good, you get easy baskets.