Some thoughts...from Allen Fieldhouse
Gary Bedore, Journal-World KU men's basketball beat writer
"KU rolled in scoring its most points in an opener since 1991.
Nice job by Darnell Jackson in coming off the bench for a career high. Also the guards were very good, especially Sherron Collins. Short break before the next game, Sunday against UMKC."
Tom Keegan, Journal-World sports editor
"Let the scoreboard measure how Kansas compares to Louisiana-Monroe, UMKC, Washburn and Northern Arizona. It's a far more enjoyable exercise to ponder how KU measures up to last year's team. The answer, based on one regular season game: This team is better. It shoots better, runs even faster and is deeper and more experienced. Provided Brandon Rush's recovery goes as smoothly as it has, there is no reason not to believe this team will do even better than last season's, at least offensively. Defensively, the team has a lot of work to do."
Ryan Greene, KUSports.com editor
"It's hard to fathom how much KU would have scored tonight with a healthy Brandon Rush. Actually, it probably wouldn't have been much more. He would have rather fit in nicely into this well-oiled offensive machine.
As far as the defense goes, KU has got to shore up. Of course, it's impossible to be that explosive offensively, running at breakneck speed, and be a lockdown defensive ballclub - there's simply not enough expendable energy. But KU can definitely be stronger defensively. Look for that to be a point of focus Sunday night, when the KU-UMKC game will either be the cherry on top of a great sports weekend for KU fans or consolation for a tough football weekend. I wouldn't predict the latter."
Inside the numbers
7: Seven different Jayhawks scored at least eight points in this one. It was as balanced an offensive performance as there has been in recent memory. Sherron Collins was one point off his career high of 23, while Darnell Jackson's 21 set a new career benchmark for the senior forward. Tyrel Reed hit a trio of three-pointers, giving the freshman guard 11 points in his first official game as a Jayhawk.
26: The biggest reason for the Jayhawks' offensive balance was just how well they passed the ball. KU had assists on 26 of its 40 field goals, including several kick-out threes early on the separate the Jayhawks from the Warhawks on the scoreboard. KU finished 12-of-24 from deep.
51: Bill Self's one frown after the game was at his team's defensive performance, as the Jayhawks allowed ULM to shoot 51 percent from the floor. That marks just the second time in KU's last 74 games in which it has permitted an opponent to shoot at over 50 percent. The other one was the team's last official game - an Elite Eight loss last spring to UCLA.
6: Freshman big man Cole Aldrich has looked markedly improved from his first Allen Fieldhouse showing at Late Night. Coach Self pointed out the effect going against KU's three forwards ahead of him on the depth chart everyday at practice has had, and it showed, as Aldrich not only notched six points and six rebounds, but he played confident ball.
Just in case you missed it...
Talk about a couple of highlight-reel dunks. Darrell Arthur posterized ULM's Mitchell Hampton, going over him and stretching his arm in the second half to convert a lob pass from Mario Chalmers - who had six assists and three steals - and drew a foul in the process. Hampton was basically whistled for simply being an innocent bystander. Darnell Jackson also had a one-handed throwdown in the first half coming down the lane on which he took off from about 10 feet from the hoop and aroused the entire crowd. Arthur also banked in a three at the buzzer to end the first half. It was definitely a weird offensive game where nothing went wrong for KU.
Hopefully you didn't miss it...
Sherron Collins is simply a man on a mission early this season, apparently completely ready to shed the image he brought with him to start his freshman year, as an overweight guard who was uncomfortable from go and took a couple of months to get settled. The game is coming to him at a much more natural pace right now, and his shot has benefitted. He casually stroked four threes and made 22 points look rather routine.
They said it...
Darnell Jackson on taking his career-high 21 points in stride: "I don't consider myself being a great sixth man. I just consider myself just being a teammate. That's what I am, I'm playing for my teammates out there. It's no sixth man. Yeah, I had 21 points, but it's no big deal. We still have a lot of games to go and I just have to try to keep that same intensity on defense the whole time."
Darnell Jackson on the team's defensive woes: "We were just fouling a lot of three-point shooters, they were getting free points at the free throw line and we know better than that, jumping into guys when they're shooting a three."
Darrell Arthur on the team's offensive balance: "That's how we want it. Because when we have a lot of people scoring, it's going to be harder for people to guard us. I think it's good for everybody to chip in and get some scoring. I think our freshmen did a good job coming in. Tyrel hit a couple of threes and stuff like that to get us going, so I think it's pretty good."
Darrell Arthur on whether he would have counted his banked-in buzzer-beater three if it were a pick-up game: "Yeah, I would have counted it. Especially if it was the last shot."
Darrell Arthur on getting himself started offensively with dunks when all else failed: "It was pretty good. When they were doubling the posts, we had open looks on the weak side, so Sasha passed to me and I got an open dunk, got a couple of lobs. If I'm not scoring, I just try to get in and do other things like rebound and get the team extra possessions."
Bill Self on his team's defense: "That's as poor a defensive performance as we've had in a long time...To get hung on 78 in your own building, first one to 70 should always win. It's kind of a fine line, because I've got them a little bit screwed up. Because the faster you play, the looser the possessions, gamble and miss and that kind of stuff, and so there's not as much pride in getting stops. And if you play a team that can attack you inside and have good guard play, which Louisiana-Monroe's guards were very good. I thought in all honesty, our guards didn't guard their guards very well at all tonight. We've got to get better in that area."
Bill Self on Darnell Jackson's offensive versatility and how it fits the offensive gameplan: "We were just trying to play through our big guys, because they weren't very big, obviously. And we did a decent job with that - not great, but decent. But the big thing with Darnell is he's a very good perimeter face-up shooter. He's a guy that's made shots here, but not consistently. When he made that 17-footer on the wing tonight against the zone, that's a shot that he makes everyday. And I think he'll become better offensively, and it'll help us because if people have to guard him out there, it'll open up some things for us."
Bill Self on the play of freshmen Tyrel Reed and Cole Aldrich: "They did play well. And Tyrel made shots, and I thought Cole was really good the first half from a production standpoint. Those guys are going to get better and better, and they can't help but get better playing against those other guys everyday in practice. If Tyrel can go against Rod and Sherron and Russell and Mario everyday, then he's going to be pretty good in the games, because there's not too many people that can just rotate guys like that and guard him everyday. Those are big bonuses. Same thing with Cole. He's going against Sasha, Darnell and Shady everyday, and we'll play against other good big guys, but for him, that's unbelievable to go have a chance to go against those guys every possession, and he can't help but get better."