(Since KU is now my adopted second team by marriage - JW is going to give us some running commentary on their season, and some national coverage as well. He's starting off the season with a quick preview of what to expect from the very young Jayhawks, should sound familiar to GT fans - Nathan)
So begins the five month long pleasure-fest that is NCAA basketball. Usual eager anticipation of a late March run has turned into an immeasurable anxiousness that many KU fans have not felt in a long while. From head coach Bill Self, to internet trolls like myself, this upcoming season is all one big friggin mystery. Sure we’re already a handful of games into the non-con but little if anything has been answered. We already knew coming in that Brandon Rush was most likely the real deal and our number one scoring option……..no brainer. We already knew that our most talented point guard was also our youngest and least experienced in Mario Chalmers, and the PG’s we have on the roster are shaky floor generals at best……..duh. After that it’s pretty much in the air, and I think that’s what’s exciting.
Sasha Kaun has started to show that he finally realizes he’s one of the larger people on the court and that he can use 6 ‘11” 250 lb frame to bash on guys smaller than him, let’s see him do it against the Lamarcus Aldridges and Taj Grays of the world. Our other viable option in the post CJ Giles, has shown (I know it’s a cliché) freakish athletic ability near the hoop but has absolutely nothing in the way of a back to the basket game, all while lacking discipline on both sides of the floor. His arms and leaping ability let him get to a lot of balls most can’t, but his inability to box anyone out or not leave his feet at the mere thought of a pump fake from an opposing player will cost us a lot of fouls and missed rebounds. If this kid ever gets “it”, the sky is the limit for him, his (damn another cliché) upside is immeasurable. He should be a 10 and 8 guy this year on pure physical ability alone.
Pre-season Big 12 Freshman of the Year Julian Wright continues to be, and I think forever will be an enigma. Everything he does with his 6 ‘8” frame looks awkward, but he does it all well. Outside of a consistent jumper, this kid has quite a few tools. He runs the court and passes extraordinarily well for his size, but I don’t think he or even Coach Self knows where he is going to fit in. He looks like a small 4 but has the game of a 3. He has the length and athleticism to guard under the basket but outside of taking it to the rack, his offensive game doesn’t hang around the rim all that much. This kid is going to be a work in progress, but once he understand where he belongs on the court he could really be a game changer.
Guard play has been shaky at best and I’ll be damned if we could find ourselves a point guard who can hold on to the freakin ball. I can’t see any of the three (Robinson, Hawkins, Chalmers) with a lead in who’s going to be the primary ball handler. The only bright spot now with the trio is that they are all above average defenders. Hawkins stays in front of the ball as well as anyone, Robinson absolutely hounds you for 90 feet, and Chalmers is relatively long for someone guarding the point and can close up passing lanes. Chalmers is easily the most skilled of the three on the offensive end but has yet to show he can make game decisions. I think Coach Self will soon see that Chalmers needs to eat a majority of these minutes as the season goes on, his overall offensive game is too good to keep off the floor. As much as I enjoyed the success with him at the helm, the days of uber-unselfish/pass first Aaron Miles run offense will soon be forgotten. Whether or not this is a good thing will remain to be seen.
Not much to say on Brandon Rush really, the dude’s game is amazing. He really is the complete package, with the only knock from Coach Self being that he’s been a little too unselfish. If he ever decides that he needs to start forcing the action he could easily be a 17-18 ppg guy as a freshman. The other wing he looks like he might be our diamond in the rough is a thuggy looking white dude from Washington who might jump up and bite a few teams in the ass. Micah downs can move like a 2 guard, but at 6-8 with a great set of hops will be able to get his shot off against nearly anyone guarding him. He has easily the best looking stroke on the team and has an incredible amount of range. Whether or not he gets the minutes and can get some confidence to knock down the 5-6 good looks a game he’s gonna get all remain to be seen.
So basically a roughshod analysis of what we might expect from the Jayhawks this year. It would be unwise to spout of anything in the form of prognostication as to where this team will finish visa-vi Big 12 play or Tourney action. I truly believe it will take us at least til the end of conference play to see what kind of team this is and what kind of game we like to play. Regardless, this squad has the talent on it right now to be scary-good in the next year or so,….I plan on relaxing a little more this year than the least few and watching these kids develop.