Work in Sports
There are changes in motion for the Jayhawks, who have a new look on offense
Frickin' agitated, as he might say, Kansas coach Roy Williams reaches into his desk drawer for a stat sheet. "Let's see, 53.3, 53.2, 51.8, 51.5," he says, reading off the Jayhawks' sterling field goal percentages over the years. Then he comes to last year's stat and winces. "Forty-four point eight. That's awful." Indeed, Williams's 23-10 ironworkers not only shot worse than any team in his 11 years at Kansas, but they also scored fewer than 80 points a game (72.1) for the first time in his tenure.
So over the summer Williams did the unthinkable: He shelved his treasured motion offense. In an attempt to maximize the effectiveness of his eight players who are 6'7" or taller, he has concocted a hybrid offense that uses John Wooden-inspired cuts, a part of Tex Winter's triangle and some Dean Smith-style motion. The goal is simple: "We have to establish the inside game," he says. "We took too many three-point shots last year, and that's not going to win."
Although Williams's other concern is the Jayhawks' lack of speed, he hopes his increased depth will allow Kansas to run more this season. Point guard Jeff Boschee, last year's Big 12 freshman of the year, came of age by hitting six treys in the Jayhawks' 92-88 loss to Kentucky in the second round of the NCAA tournament, and swingman Kenny Gregory is a highlight-reel finisher. They're joined by four talented newcomers: Texas transfer Luke Axtell, a pure outside shooter, and three ready-to-play freshmen led by 6'9" forward Nick Collison.
But whether or not Williams sticks with his new offense -- he says he'll go back to motion if the new system isn't working -- expect 7'1" junior center Eric Chenowith to get the ball more often. After leading Kansas with 13.5 points and 9.1 rebounds a game last year, Chenowith has added a jump hook to his repertoire, and already he's being compared to Bill Walton, sort of. During the summer Chenowith traveled to eight concerts by the Dave Matthews Band. "I'm friends with Bill," Chenowith explains, "and he always talks about how the Grateful Dead gave him the rhythm he needed to play basketball."
Issue date: November 15, 1999