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  • Who is KU's Answer?🧐 Elmarko Jackson vs. Jamari McDowell vs. Nick Timberlake vs. Johnny Furphy

Who is KU's Answer?🧐 Elmarko Jackson vs. Jamari McDowell vs. Nick Timberlake vs. Johnny Furphy

A Ph.D statistician looks at KU's fifth-man situation plus the latest on Austin Booker

In this Hearings newsletter:

  1. Elmarko Jackson vs. Jamari McDowell vs. Nick Timberlake vs. Johnny Furphy

  2. What KU fans thought of Assembly Hall

  3. Austin Booker Hearing 🔒

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Elmarko Jackson vs. Jamari McDowell vs. Nick Timberlake vs. Johnny Furphy

I spoke with a Ph.D statistician-turned-college basketball analyst to go deep on KU’s fifth-man situation. Here’s what I learned:

Ph.D. statistician-turned-college basketball analyst Evan Miyakwa is one of the best college hoops minds out there. Miyakawa’s work has been featured in ESPN, CBSSports, The Athletic, and more. His website, EvanMiya.com is a great tool to go deep on college hoops. It’s a paid site, but he’s letting me share the data with you here.

Here are some of my takeaways from the conversation (these are my words, not his)👇

Elmarko Jackson

  • This matches the eye test, but Jackson is KU’s most impactful player outside of the ‘Core Four’ of Hunter Dickinson, Kevin McCullar, Dajuan Harris, and KJ Adams.

    • His impact numbers come a little below where KJ Adams scored last year and a bit above Ernest Udeh’s 2022-23 mark.

  • The Jayhawks average 6.6 more points when Jackson is on the floor, compared to when he’s on the bench (per 100 possessions). This is a pretty good mark.

  • Jackson is also the most efficient starter to pair with Dickinson.

    • Miya measures how well the team plays when two specific players are on the floor together. Essentially it’s a way to tell how well two guys play with each other. He calls this a two-man lineup. 

    • So, Dickinson scores a higher rating with Jackson than any other starter.

  • One thing I’ll watch for moving forward: KU’s worst combination of starters is Harris and Jackson together. I’m not shocked by this. Jackson’s most natural role is playing point guard with the ball in his hands. He’s being asked to play a bit out of position this year.

    • Want proof he’s a bit out of position? Jackson can throw it down.

Nick Timberlake

  • Timberlake’s offensive impact ratings are OK… but his defensive metrics are notably worse than the rest of the team.

  • KU’s defense is 4.9 points worse when he’s on the floor (per 100 possessions). His defensive value rating is the worst mark on this year’s team and lower than anyone scored last year.

  • Four of KU’s five worst two-player lineups include Timberlake paired with a ‘Core Four’ player.

    • The other low-scoring pair is Braun with Harris.

  • It’s bad, but I want to remind you that his offensive impact ratings are positive even as he’s struggling.

  • His overall value number to the team is scoring just above where Jo Yesufu finished last year. It makes me think there’s some untapped potential if his confidence can improve. He was hyped up for a reason.

Jamari McDowell

  • McDowell hasn’t played as much as the other players mentioned here, so it’s a little more challenging for me to lean on the numbers.

  • Ultimately, KU’s offense is a little worse when he plays, while its defense gets a little better.

  • I was surprised to see McDowell and Dickinson combine for KU’s second-best, two-man lineup.

  • McDowell is in three of KU’s best six overall lineups.

    • Some garbage-time minutes early in the season might too much weight here.

  • The individual numbers don’t show much for impact for McDowell yet. We’ll need need to see him get more minutes to understand the difference he can make.

Johnny Furphy

  • This year, KU’s No. 1 performing five-player lineup is Furphy playing with the ‘Core Four.’

  • Furphy’s offensive efficiency numbers on Kenpom and Synergy are promising, while Miya’s numbers show KU’s defense gets a little better with him playing.

    • Side note: Furphy and McDowell together have not been a good lineup combination.

  • I think KU limited his minutes early as he recovered from shin splints, but I’m thinking we’ll get more Furphy as the season goes.

  • We need a Furphy dunk like this in the Fieldhouse!

Related! VIP Subscribers got texted this Furphy news earlier in the week. You can sign up here to get info and chat 1:1 with me as news breaks in real time.

Summary

While none of the four players discussed have taken the leap KU is hoping for, Jackson clearly measures as the most impactful player of the group so far. Both Furphy and McDowell have shown the ability to make life easier for the guys around them. And Timberlake better turn it around soon.

What KU Fans Thought About the Assembly Hall Experience

I got the text message below from a subscriber after the Indiana game and thought it was a great idea. So I sent out a message looking for feedback from fans who made the trip. Here are some of the responses (sorry that I can’t include them all!)

Overall the environment was outstanding. It is hard to gauge crowd noise on the road because when you aren’t on the side of the majority, then I think it seems louder than if you were. But they were really into the game, which was fun.

It took me a bit to think of an analogy for IU Basketball fans and I think I finally figured it out. It’s like a guy that grew up in a $10M home, had club memberships, exotic vacations and a life of true privilege. Then they lost it all and are now working in a job that pays $60,000/year and living in a random, nondescript suburban house. They remember their former life, are frustrated as hell about where they are now and wish they could return for their former life, but they can’t

Richard B

Assembly Hall is a kickass place to watch a basketball game. After having gone to Rupp last year and being somewhat underwhelmed, I was thoroughly impressed by everything Assembly had to offer. I thought the crowd throughout the game was terrific. At the end of the day, I still found myself coming back to the Bill Self quote “those places are great, but there’s no place like Kansas.”

J. Reber

We were in the 3rd to last row up in the bleeds and the seats were so steep. We stood up almost the entirety of the game and it was super rowdy up there. Got some kettle corn thrown at us right before the momentum shifted our way, but regardless their fans were awesome. Assembly is a truly unique experience. Every Jayhawk should go.

@BonusArc

Overall great experience. Hate to say it but the atmosphere is right up there with AFH (we’re still #1). Concourse way too narrow but balcony level was fine. Had more than two gentlemen (definitely over 50) go out of their way to tell me they hope I had a great experience at Assembly Hall. Would visit again. Unique experience and bucket list item for me regardless of opponent.

Blake P

Wow, what a game! Had a blast going up to see the Jayhawks win! Assembly Hall is a GREAT college basketball environment. They get loud, bring the energy, and their fans were engaged and good to banter back and forth with. However, there NO place like the PHOG! We are blessed with the best in Lawrence, Kansas and it truly is the greatest college basketball arena in the world. Pay Heed, All Who Enter… Rock Chalk, Jayhawk!

Caden F.

Thanks to everyone who shared their experience! Will try to do this more in the future.

Hearing: The Latest on Austin Booker 🔒

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