In two days, the Big 12 Tournament will begin in downtown Kansas City. The basketball will be awesome. The weather solid. The Power & Light District, sketch as it may be for 50 weeks a year, will be flooded with basketball fans and revelry.
As my colleague Sam puts it, this is the best week of the year in Kansas City.
In other words, it’s a week to look forward to, so we’re only going to spend a few minutes on the Big 12 player of the year award. On Sunday, the coaches version of the award went to Oklahoma junior guard Buddy Hield. On Monday, the media version will be announced. The Star, meanwhile, also tapped Hield for the award.
From a KU perspective, of course, this is interesting because junior forward Perry Ellis also had a more-than-respectable case for the award. He was the best overall player on the Big 12 regular-season champion. He also played his best down the stretch — though an injury kept him out of the last 1 ½ games.
But did Ellis get snubbed at all? To answer that question, The Chalkboard set out to conduct a super scientific, objective and super official breakdown of the player-of-the-year race. Disclosure: We are looking at full-season stats here. There’s an argument to be made that only conference statistics should matter. But there’s also an argument to be made that how a team performs in the nonconference will have some bearing on the conference season. Second full disclosure: We may be overlooking Rico Gathers. Anyway, here we go …
Buddy Hield: 109.3 (using 26.8 percent of possessions)
Perry Ellis: 109.6 (using 25.3 percent of possessions)
Effective field-goal percentage (giving more weight to threes)
Buddy Hield: 52.2 percent
Perry Ellis: 49.4 percent
Buddy Hield: 4.7
Perry Ellis: 3.9
Player Efficiency Rating
Buddy Hield: 22.8
Perry Ellis: 22.9
Total rebounding percentage
Buddy Hield: 9.2
Perry Ellis: 13.4
Buddy Hield: 2.6
Perry Ellis: 1.2
Turnover percentage (estimation of turnovers per 100 plays)
Buddy Hield: 12.0
Perry Ellis: 11.3
The final takeaway: As you might expect, Hield has the edge in steals, and Ellis has the edge in rebounds. Hield was a slightly more efficient shooter from the field while using a few more possessions. The overall offensive ratings and player efficiency ratings were similar; Hield, meanwhile, had an edge in win shares.
Did Ellis get snubbed? Probably not. It’s hard to find too much separation here.
In addition to being the best player on the league champions, Ellis’ statistical case is strong, too. But it’s hard to argue too much against Hield as player of the year.
A look at the Jayhawks’ schedule
After Saturday’s loss at Oklahoma, Kansas has now lost 17 times in the last two seasons. To put that number in perspective: The Jayhawks suffered just 22 total losses over five seasons from 2006-07 to 2010-11.
Here’s some more context, though: The Jayhawks finished the regular season with the nation’s hardest schedule for the second straight year, according to KenPom.com.
What’s more? Some research by Friend of the Chalkboard Jesse Newell found that Kansas’ strength of schedule this season was the toughest in more than a decade.
Bill Self has lost more often than usual during the last two seasons, and perhaps the last two teams have not been as good as Kansas teams of recent vintage. But here’s a good reminder: the Jayhawks’ strength of schedule during that span is a factor that shouldn’t be ignored.
The GIF of the Day
It ended up coming in a loss, but here’s one more look at the play that helped Kansas tie the game at 73-73 in the final seconds on Saturday at Oklahoma. The most underrated part of the play? The full-court pass from Wayne Selden
The stat of the day
Kansas finished 4-5 on the road in the Big 12 — the first time in the Self era that KU finished with a losing road record in conference play.