Tag: Travis Releford


The Chase for 180: Joseph Young climbs into Top 10

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Who is the best shooter in the country?

It’s a tough question to answer, isn’t it? Does being a “shooter” simply mean merely being a high-level marksman from beyond the arc? Can a player who thrives in the mid-range but rarely ventures out into three-point land be eligible? How heavily should we be valuing stats like efficiency and effective field goal percentage when taking all of this into account?

One number that we like to use is “180″. How do you become a 180 shooter? By shooting 50% or better from the field overall, 40% or better from three and at least 90% from the charity stripe. From this point forward we’ll track this until the end of the regular season, providing weekly updates as well as a look into how some of the nation’s best find (and connect on) their quality looks.

When Joseph Young made the decision to transfer from Houston to Oregon during the summer, it was known that the Ducks would be gaining a player more than capable of putting points on the board. As a sophomore Young averaged 18.0 points per game, shooting 45.8% from the field and 42.0% from beyond the arc. Different programs mean getting used to different systems, and for much of the 2013-14 season Young has adjusted well offensively. Young’s raised his field goal percentage up to 48.2%, and one reason for the increase has been the increase in the number of shots he’s attempted at the rim.

According to hoop-math.com just 19.3% of Young’s shot attempts last season were at the rim and nearly 42% of his shots were two-point jumpers. In his first season at Oregon, 36.3% of Young’s shot attempts have come at the rim and 20.9% of his shots have been two-point jumpers. And with that change his offensive rating (131.6), effective field goal (57.2%) and true shooting (63.9%) percentages have all increased while his shot percentage has remained about the same (26.9; 26.6 last season) per Ken Pomeroy’s numbers.

However it hasn’t all been smooth sailing for Young (or his teammates, for that matter) this season, as evidenced by a four-game slump he was mired in last month.

Beginning with a loss to Stanford on January 12 and ending with a win at lowly Washington State on January 26, Young shot 11-for-39 (28.2%) from the field and 5-for-20 (25.0%) from beyond the arc. On the season just over 41% of Young’s field goal attempts have been three-pointers. During that four-game stretch the percentage rose to 51.3%. When attacking the opposition Young has proven to be a difficult matchup, something that wasn’t the case during a stretch in which the Ducks went 1-3.

Young got back on the right track, shooting 50% or better from the field in four of the seven games that followed that rough patch. And while the schedule has helped Oregon win three straight games ahead of their trip to Los Angeles this week, the improved offensive production of players such as Young has also been a factor. Can a team that was at one point ranked in the Top 10 fight its way into the NCAA tournament? If Young (Sunday’s 4-for-12 night against Washington State notwithstanding) can continue to perform at the rate he has for much of this season, the Ducks will most likely hear their name called on Selection Sunday.

THE TOP TEN (Note: Players much be eligible to be ranked in FG%, 3PT% and FT%. And here’s a glossary that includes the stats you’ll see used in these posts. Tempo neutral numbers per kenpom.com.)

1) Matt Kennedy (Charleston Southern)
50.7% FG, 51.2% 3PT, 91.0% FT = 192.9
Shot %: 18.8
eFG %: 58.5
True shooting %: 63.1

2) Austin Tillotson (Colgate)
60.5, 53.0, 73.6 = 187.1
Shot %: 18.8
eFG %: 68.9
True shooting %: 70.4

3) Jason Calliste (Oregon)
51.5, 48.4, 85.0 = 184.9
Shot %: 17.1
eFG %: 64.6
True shooting %: 70.4

4) Doug McDermott (Creighton)
52.1, 44.3, 88.4 = 184.8
Shot %: 37.6
eFG %: 59.2
True shooting %: 64.3

5) Brett Olson (Denver)
47.5, 43.0, 92.6 = 183.1
Shot %: 22.1
eFG %: 57.5
True shooting %: 63.6

6) Johnny Dee (San Diego)
44.0, 43.8, 93.8 = 181.6
Shot %: 29.9
eFG %: 54.8
True shooting %: 60.6

7) Phil Forte III (Oklahoma State)
45.5, 45.8, 89.5 = 180.8
Shot %: 22.2
eFG %: 63.1
True shooting %: 67.7

8) Trevor Releford (Alabama)
50.8, 40.4, 88.6 = 179.8
Shot %: 27.7
eFG %: 60.5
True shooting %: 65.5

9) Joseph Young (Oregon)
48.2, 42.1, 89.5 = 179.8
Shot %: 26.9
eFG %: 57.2
True shooting %: 63.9

10) Jay Hook (Tulane)
46.7, 49.6, 83.3 = 179.6
Shot %: 22.3
eFG %: 60.0
True shooting %: 65.6

Five Perimeter Marksmen (25 or fewer two-point attempts)

1) Ethan Wragge (Creighton)
50% 3PT; 2-for-6 2PT

2) Anthony Lindauer (High Point)
49.2%; 8-for-25

3) Ben Cherry (Charlotte)
47.7%; 9-for-24

4) Jeff Elorriaga (Boise State)
46.9%; 8-for-17

5) Kikko Haydar (Arkansas)
46.3%; 2-for-10

Previous Installments
November 11
December 4
December 11
December 18
January 8
January 15
January 22
January 29
February 5
February 12
February 19

Travis Releford likes being KU’s ‘Glue Guy’

Travis Releford

Travis Releford’s jersey will never hang in the rafters at Allen Fieldhouse. Mario Chalmers is the latest to join the likes of  B.H. Born, Wilt Chamberlain, Danny Manning and Paul Pierce in that rarified air, and he might not even be there had he not canned the miracle shot that preserved the Jayhawks’ 2008 national title run.

Stars at Kansas are relatively easy to come by, but very difficult to really know. The great ones go on to play professionally and become property of the world. Hardworking, loyal jack-of-all-trades types tend to live on as local legends, sometimes remembered only by long-term hometown fans with encyclopedic memories of seasons past.

That’s the kind of player Travis Releford seems destined to be. The fifth-year senior from Kansas City, Missouri is a classic ‘glue guy’: a program player who does the little things to help his team win. And that’s fine with him. In fact, it’s a dream come true.

“I’ve always wanted to be here,” Releford said of KU. “All through high school I knew I wanted to come. I’ve seen guys who played before me and how fans support the guys who go through this system. They graduate, and they come back to Lawrence and fans still show them the same amount of love as if they were still playing on the team today.”

The rewards of playing for a blue-blood team that owns the Big 12 and expects to be in the Final Four every season might seem obvious to you and me, but recent Bill Self recruits like Quintrell Thomas (UNLV) and Royce Woolridge (Washington State) have transferred rather than wait their turn. Releford averaged just 6.8 minutes per game as a freshman, then took a redshirt in the ’09-’10 season, when the late signing of blue-chipper Xavier Henry made it clear that he would see even less action if he wasn’t willing to bide his time.

When Henry did the expected and joined the NBA draft after a single season in Lawrence, Releford returned and began his quest for more playing time in earnest. He was up to 10 minutes per game in ’10-’11, then his floor time skyrocketed to 30.8 mpg the next season. At 6’6″, 210 lbs., Releford’s versatility and work ethic made him a crucial cog in the KU machine that made it to an unexpected berth in the national title game.

In tough games, when an opponent makes a run, Releford is the guy who’s supposed to help settle a young team down. It’s an important role on this year’s team. “Anybody can get rattled,” said KU head coach Bill Self. “The thing that I don’t like about it is that when we get the lead late, we can play passive. Or we can have some guys trying to make great plays instead of good plays.”

That’s where a glue guy comes in. Rarely the leading scorer, Releford is more often the player who makes the easy layup or grabs a contested long-ball rebound to buy his team some time to get un-rattled. Asked if he minds taking a backseat to his teammates, Releford was philosophical.

“That’s good for me, because if I come into the game and the other team’s not focused on me, I’m going to get up my shots and see what happens,” he said. “Get stops, control the ball and don’t make any dumb turnovers.”

It sounds easy, but the difficulties of being the glue guy were never more evident than in KU’s 85-80 home loss to Oklahoma State on February 2. It was a loss so frustrating that Bill Self tore into his team afterward, declaring that “We don’t have a point guard.” Releford did everything he was supposed to do, playing 38 minutes, dishing three assists to zero turnovers, canning both of the deep shots he attempted, and stealing the ball three times, and his team still lost. He finished the game with just eight points.

Never the focal point, Releford could easily side-slip the responsibility for tough losses. But that’s not the kind of guy he is. He’s the guy who got splinters on the bench, sat out a season, learned how to play within himself and earned a starting role on a top-ten team. He wants to be here, badly. He doesn’t cop out.

“At the beginning of the season, coach told us we were going to have bad games. But all those bad games, we’ve got to win them.”

That’s your classic glue guy talking.

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.

Travis Releford is no Anthony Bourdain

Final Four Kentucky Kansas Basketball
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This time of year, I spend quite a bit of time being jealous of college athletes, for reasons that are, for once, unrelated to their superior athletic ability.

In summer, I envy the hundreds of college kids who take overseas basketball trips. Travel broadens the mind, after all. And, in my case, it almost always broadens the stomach, as well. Exploring exotic cuisine is one of the true joys of going on sabbatical in another country. For most of us, that is.

Travis Releford, who will be a redshirt senior for the Kansas Jayhawks next season, isn’t such a fan of the movable feast.

“I can’t say I’ve had anything good that’s not American overseas,” Releford told the Lawrence Journal-World. “I don’t have a favorite food here. I eat everything.”

It’s not that Releford hasn’t had his opportunities, either. Basketball has taken him to Canada, Argentina and China thus far. This August, the brasseries of Paris and Zurich will vie for the opportunity to charm Releford’s palate. Or, more likely, they will be completely unaware that a gourmand of home-cooking is in their midst, silently judging them.

Then again, there’s always french fries, french toast and swiss cheese for the discerning American palate. Right?