Sunday, November 5, 2006


Bedore: Kansas the talk


I swear I wasn't trying to eavesdrop on fellow passengers as we patiently stood in line awaiting the start of the cattle-call boarding procedure on Southwest Airlines.

Yet, being the inquisitive - OK, nosy - sports writer I am, I couldn't help but stand at attention early Friday morning at Kansas City International when strangers began discussing Kansas University basketball.

It seems some of the folks flying to Chicago had attended Thursday's 99-69 exhibition victory over Washburn in Allen Fieldhouse.

"Does it look like KU has a good team?" one flier asked another.

"They have two good teams - their second five could win the Big 12," was the response.

I didn't butt in to give my opinion on the matter, yet had to admit to myself that guy might be right. Thursday's starting five of Russell Robinson, Mario Chalmers, Brandon Rush, Julian Wright and Darnell Jackson is as good as it gets.

The second five that took the floor Thursday - Sherron Collins, Darrell Arthur, Rodrick Stewart, Brady Morningstar and Matt Kleinmann - would not win the league title.

However, add the injured Sasha Kaun and Jeremy Case and formerly suspended C.J. Giles to that mix and, yes, you have a possible league champ.

Anyhow : another person in line wanted to know how freshman Arthur looked.

"Unbelievable," was the response, the Jayhawk fans shaking their heads in amazement.

Had I butted in, I'd have agreed with that assessment. The 6-foot-9 Arthur, who reminded Robinson of Wayne Simien, reminded me a little bit of Drew Gooden with higher upside. Arthur, as KU coach Bill Self pointed out, is darned athletic, perhaps the most athletic player Self ever has coached.

Arthur is dangerous because he can stroke the mid- to long-range jumper and hit the blocks. He cashed one three in two tries, prompting Self to say he approves of Arthur's hoisting beyond the arc.

"I don't mind if it's within his range," Self said. "He can make that shot."

Arthur is a much better shooter than, say, the troubled Giles.

And, yes, his name came up in the KCI line, also.

A woman who recognized me from somewhere wondered aloud whether Giles would be back with the team. I told her "yes," and I felt an announcement was imminent.

"Good," she said. "He should get a second chance to make something of his life."

I have mixed feelings about the matter. I would have understood had Self decided to boot Giles for academic and behavioral issues, including missing a morning practice just a couple days into the season for gosh sakes.

Yet I also have been around long enough to realize it takes an awful lot for a coach to remove a scholarship player from the roster.

Self has given the lanky junior a break. Giles still has a chance to get his act together and make some money playing the game of basketball, at this stage Europe a more likely destination than the NBA.

He'd better embrace this chance. Another screwup and he'll be gone. This team is too talented to have major distractions sidetrack it from its chase of Big 12 and national honors. Just ask the folks in line at the airport. They'll tell ya the same.


ejohnson 13 years, 2 months ago

Good football games and keep up your winning ways!

mitch 13 years, 2 months ago

I agree about not giving up on the football team. They have shown a lot of heart and deserve our support. I suspect the remaining three teams on the regular schedule wish they could have faced them earlier in the season. Still, it's hard not to get excited about the Hawks' basketball prospects for this season. The Big 12 in general looks like they may give other teams around the country quite a bit to handle. Regarding Giles, I think Self's decision is a good one. It gives Giles another chance to make a better future for himself. It also reminds people that one of Self's responsibilities is to groom these young men for success in life. It is how one deals with adversity that makes a difference. Remember that the 1988 Jayhawks national championship team faced adversity and countless doubters. The tale of how they overcame those challenges makes that team truly special in sports history. The team this year just seems so blessed with talent that surely they can afford to give Giles another chance to succeed. He might just surprise a lot of people and be the intangible element that takes the Hawks past the 1st round of March Madness. If that turns out to be true, people will look back on this moment and proclaim Self a humanitarian and a genius for giving Giles another chance. If, on the other hand, Giles does something else to create a distraction, at least Self and Jayhawk fans can look back and know they at least tried. It's now up to Giles to live up to his potential as a person, as a student, and as a basketball player. If he succeeds, we all win.

William James 13 years, 2 months ago

While all you guys sit at home and talk about how many points our basketball team can beat Washburn and Emporia State by, I was up in Ames this weekend and saw our football team beat a conference opponent by 31 points. I believe our basketball team one by 30. Dont give up on these kids yet, they are making our school and the state proud.
Im going to KUs last 3 games and then I will worry about the basketball season. Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

tankshot 13 years, 2 months ago

I love how one day after the loss to oklahoma state everybody is like, "wow, we suck, lets start b-ball." But, now we are all so excited and eager to root for football, lets not be fairweather fans.

jaybate 13 years, 2 months ago

With Giles and Kaun even as sound 10-20 minute backups, this team can go all the way. At first I thought the team's finish would be determined by Kaun's development. Having reviewed last years stats, I've changed. I think the key is trey shooting. Rush shot a phenomenal 47% from the trey. And the departed Hawkins shot 40%. And they hoisted quite a few. It is almost certain Rush can't shoot 47% again, because he is going to be hounded from the beginning of the season the way he was the last 15 games last season. The best he is likely to shoot is 45% (if we're lucky); that means someone else has to shoot two percentage points better to cover Rush's decline. I'm hoping RR can improve from 32% to 34%; that doesn't seem like too much to expect from someone with his nerve and experience. But who replaces Hawkins 40%? I figure Chalmers has to improve from 37.5% to 40% to replace Hawkins treys, again that doesn't seem an unrealistic expectation from a guy with Mario's gifts and added experience. Add in a much more efficient and productive Julian Wright, plus an apparently efficient frosh in Darrell Arthur and our mid range two point shooting percentage could spike considerably. Finally, if Kaun heals, and splits minutes with Darnell, both of whom shoot a good percentage inside, then our short game should not suffer and we'll be just as efficient offensively, overall, if not more so.

The chief risk to the scenario I've just outlined is the rise of muscle ball in the B12. Last year Texas and OU were the only dedicated, full service muscle ballers. Now Knight has enough talent to play Big Ten rough. And Huggo will play Muggo for sure. And Capel down at OU will definitely keep OU physical. And the Nolan Richardson disciple at MU will do the 40 minutes of hell thing. So right there, between TTech, KSU, and MU, that's six more games of thug ball on the schedule and shooting percentages tend to fall in thug ball. Fortunately, KU under Self has pushed and shoved with the best of them, so the decline in shooting percentages alone will probably not factor directly into fewer points and more losses. We'll just win those games by fewer points, maybe losing one more than last year because of an injury or better opponents and coaches.

All of this assumes of course that sophmores under the jinx will play defense as well or better. A big assumption. But what the heck? Its November. Let's make it.

Daniel Kennamore 13 years, 2 months ago

Good thoughts jaybate...some food for further thought, however. I think you spend a bit too much time worrying about stats, especially when the season hasn't even really started. Let me give an's a story of a little boy named Gerry McNamara from Syracuse (yes i know I'm supposed to hate them for numerous reasons such as stupid east coast bias and a certain April game in '03). At this time last year someone probably spent a great deal of time using his stats to justify how Syracuse would be at the top of the big east at the end of the year. Well, looking at his stats on average from last year he wouldn't (on paper) look to be all that great of a player with only scoring a mediocre 15 ppg which wasn't even in the top 5 of the big east much less the country while playing a majority of every game. The reality, though, was he was one of those players the mitch referred to as 'intelligible element' that wins games in April...proof in point was how he solely carried his team in the Big East tourney last year. If you didn't see it you missed one of the most emotional and invigorating runs of any of the conference tourney's last year.

Ku will be competitive in if not win the Big what. Ku will make the NCAA for the 17th year in a row...big whoop. We all know right now we won't count this year as a success unless we cut down the nets in April...and winning in March and April has nothing to do with stats.

bangaranggerg 13 years, 2 months ago

"He'd better embrace this chance. Another screwup and he'll be gone. " Bedore you called this one buddy! Wish you'd been wrong, but so right on.

jaybate 13 years, 2 months ago

Yep, that's me. I think too much about stats. I blame my education for that. :-) I argued three quarters of last season that they couldn't keep running into teams having off shooting nights, before I was finally persuaded that they were just an exceptionally good defensive team.

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