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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Keegan

3 steps to ruling Big 12 and contending for No. 1 seed

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Three things transpire and the 2009-2010 Kansas University basketball team strikes out the Big 12 competition, wins the conference title and contends for a No. 1 seed in next year’s NCAA Tournament.

Strike 1: Sherron Collins returns for his senior year.

Strike 2: Cole Aldrich returns for his junior season.

Strike 3: Lance Stephenson, the major talent from Abraham Lincoln High in Brooklyn, N.Y., signs with the Jayhawks.

All that happens and KU coach Bill Self has an embarrassment of riches similar to the one he turned into a national champion. He also has 15 scholarship players, raising the question of how the roster would be trimmed to the limit of 13. Things tend to have a way of working themselves out when a player as talented as Stephenson is interested in signing up. A player or two transfers. Maybe a scholarship player offers to pay his way for a year.

Self’s rotation generally features four inside players and four or five perimeter players. Figure Mario Little, overmatched in attempting to guard post players, will shift to the perimeter. Now take a look at how the roster breaks down.

Perimeter players: Collins, Stephenson, Tyshawn Taylor, recruit Elijah Johnson, Brady Morningstar, Tyrel Reed, Little, Travis Releford, Tyrone Appleton. Post players: Aldrich, Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris, recruit Thomas Robinson, transfer Jeff Withey (eligible at the end of the first semester), Quintrell Thomas.

The quest for a third consistent scoring threat won’t be an issue next year. It won’t take Stephenson long to become that guy. If he signs with Kansas, he projects as Self’s first one-and-done player. He’s that talented.

A starting five of Collins, Taylor, Stephenson, Marcus Morris and Aldrich would mean Kansas gets ranked in the top five in the 2009-2010 preseason poll.

Robinson, described as “freakishly athletic” by those who have seen him play, will push for instant playing time at power forward. That competition hastens the development of the Morris twins. Withey, according to those granted admission to closed practices, has a soft shooting touch and moves well, but tends to get shoved around by stronger players.

Johnson, an amazing athlete who needs to prove he can develop better shot selection and feel for the point guard position than he showed in high school, has a very high ceiling and will help once he figures out how to play efficiently and with consistent effort.

Once the swelling of the sting from finishing the year on the wrong end of a 12-2 run subsides, reasonable minds will be able to brand the just-completed season a success.

Sure, Kansas fumbled away a game it should have won, but does anyone really believe that was an Elite Eight roster Self coached the year after winning the national title and playing the year with one player (Collins) who logged more than four minutes in the 45-minute championship game against Memphis?

Collins didn’t finish the Michigan State game well at all, which will serve as all the more motivation for him to finish his college career on a high note. He’ll have a lot more help when he next takes the court for Kansas. He’ll have reason to believe he can win his second national title.

Comments

jman18562 10 years, 9 months ago

If Stephenson comes to Kansas and we win another Championship..... Collins will be remembered as one of the greatest players in Kansas history. If Sherron tries to go pro...... Collins will be remembered as the guy who made the assist to Mario in 08'.

kansaspike 10 years, 9 months ago

Awkward situation with the # of scholarships.

I mean what if no one wants to transfer? You recruit them, then kick them off the team?

Obviously it will work out when we land Lance S., but awkward.

No mention of red-shirting in the article....but that seems a viable option for a couple of guys right? (Thomas, Releford)

kufan1993 10 years, 9 months ago

I hope Cole and Sherron both stay next year. We could really use them and I think each of them could really use another year of college ball and improve even more.

Even if Releford or Thomas red-shirt they won't be giving up their scholarships. Hopefully this can all work out! We need everyone!

AsadZ 10 years, 9 months ago

In that case I believe Reed and Brady will pay their tuition for 1 year.

gongs4ku 10 years, 9 months ago

It's funny how people always think the white kids are the ones who are going to pay their tuition. Does anyone even know anything about Tyrel Reed's finances? Maybe I'm way off base, but I think it's revealing of typical American attitudes...

Matt Bowers 10 years, 9 months ago

First of all Keegan, Sherron did not screw up this game. Fresh MSU legs were the only advantage. Sometimes you have an odd way of putting a spin on things.

It will interesting to see what happens and if Coach Self and Manning can keep this roster plus three together. My main concern is a big man that can produce if Aldrich leaves. Jeff Withey better hit the weight room, play a lot of AAU ball, and eat his wheaties. Being a big man in basketball means your body takes a pounding every day. It is the most brutal position and at times not so glamorous.

I have faith in Coach Self and Manning to get this figured out and to deliver. Coach Self is going to bring as many championships to Kansas as we had before he got here...at least. When he ends his career we will have between 8-10 National Championships because he is that good and he figured something out last season.

Rock Chalk

topekahawk 10 years, 9 months ago

gongs4ku, Race has nothing to do with it. Reed and Morningstar are the only scholarship athletes on the roster from Kansas. They qualify for a cheaper in-state tuition rate than the other players. If Travis Releford had lived a few miles west, his name would be in the mix too.

Alan Braun 10 years, 9 months ago

Plus Brady's dad has already gone public with a statement that he'd pay his son's tuition if the scholarship was needed for someone else.

John Strayer 10 years, 9 months ago

I believe red shirt players still count against the scholarship limits...the only what out of this mess is either players leave KU or drop off of financial aid.

Jack Wilson 10 years, 9 months ago

Of course the redshirt counts against scholarship limits. Q. Thomas transfers to Temple; Brady goes off scholarship. Problems solved.

Jacobpaul81 10 years, 9 months ago

I disagree Keegan.

I think this:

  1. Collins Leaves.
  2. Cole Aldrich stays and gets tougher.
  3. Someone other than Little, Taylor and Aldrich develop into scorers.

Collins is a talented player, but lets face it: Collins isn't interested in having 3 scorers on the court. He's said it over and over, "I want to be the guy", and over and over, he's proven to not quite have the head for it. He's a talent, but he's not got Super Mario's head for the game. He's the one who dribbled into Izzo's well coached trapping defense time and time again, and big shock, got trapped! And he's definatly the one who threw the horrible pass at the end of the game (kinda reminds me of his end of the game coast to coast rejection in the National Championship last year).

Aldrich needs to get tougher. He's not NBA ready. He got pushed aorund like murder in this game. Quit flopping Cole, and shove back.

Mario Little and Cole are scoring threats. If Collins leaves, that eliminates the "Collins must shoot 20 shots" stigma that the current team has. To win a national title, you need at least 3, and preferably 4-5 guys averaging over 10 points a game. Tyshawn will do it. Given a shot at the 3 position, so will Mario, and we know Cole will. We need at least 1 or 2 more guys to average more than 10 a game. That's how we'll advance.

hawksince51 10 years, 9 months ago

This article is too pie in the sky for me. There are probably at least 10 teams who could name 3 things that would win their conference and earn a number one seed. Cole would benefit from another year at KU and should come back next year. I am less certain about Collins. His only limitation at the next level is his lack of heigth so how does another year at KU help him?
And projecting any freshmen, even 5 star ones, to come in and put us over the top their first year is a very iffy proposition. How long did it take for Rush, Chalmers, Arthur and Wright to be top level college players? Those are only recent examples--I could name many more from the past. I hope that both Cole and Sherron return. Beyond those two, our success next year will depend more on the twins and Taylor developing significantly than signed and unsigned freshmen. Rock Chalk

bg97 10 years, 9 months ago

Do you really think Collins will have "motivation to finish his career on high note"? That's the dumbest assumption i've ever read. Did he hint that to you in an interview recently?

Fact is, Collins has a national championship and was a MAJOR contributor. I'm confident guaranteed money in the NBA will help him feel "ok" about jumping to the NBA.

Keckadek 10 years, 9 months ago

Jman18562... Sherron is one of the best basketball players KU will ever see, regardless of whether he comes back or not.

Doug Merrill 10 years, 9 months ago

This is one of those threads you hope the players don't read. I do hope it comes out the way Keegan imagines. However,

  1. Collins had a great year, is not the selfish player indicated in some of the posts above but clearly did have to step up and be the go-to guy; that was expected and appropriate.
  2. Aldrich will benefit from another year learning and growing, but may have "lottery pick" thrown at him and that would be tough to resist, I would think. If he stays, my guess is he will have a shot at POY and we will have a shot at the NC. If he doesn't, we might still have a shot but will have to do it with small(er) ball.
  3. Taylor will blossom with or without Collins presence and will become a scoring threat. He was only a freshman this year and still played many of the games with 'presence'. He just needs consistency in protecting every possession, just as Self preaches.
  4. Morris twins will make tremendous improvement over the summer. They will have had more time with DManning and 'in the system' and - like Taylor - will naturally become more consistent and comfortable thinking of themselves as a good option to score, and definitey in positioning for rebounding.
  5. Little will be a great surprise, I believe, next year. His confidence in fitting in will have to be much improved with a summer in the fold and I bet he would do better as a perimeter player with freedom to 'lurk and slash' from the outside.
  6. Stephenson, if he comes, would of course be a great addition. If he doesn't and Aldrich stays, I still think we have a better shot at the NC than I gave us this year. We will have more non-freshmen/ returning starters, meaning that even the newcomers will be able to grow into the system without the pressure of starting. In any event, I think it is going to be fun. Can't wait to play MU in Columbia next year...that should be a GREAT game! RCJH

areyouserious 10 years, 9 months ago

Strike 1 and Strike 2 will happen:
Read all the latest mock drafts and you can see that 5'10" point guards are a dime a dozen, as well as 6'11" slow centers (no offense, fact is fact). Most of them list both of these guys late second round at best, some dont list either one of these guys getting drafted. If you are not a first round lock, history says dont leave school yet. Cole must get stronger and more foot speed and more touch around the basket if he wants to get guaranteed money in the lottery next year. Sherron has the deck stacked against him because of his size. Willie Warren, Tyreke Evans among many others have more value to NBA GM's than he does. Dont get me wrong, SC is a hard nosed bulldog, and will fight, but bottom line is: NBA pg's avg about 6'3", so the choice for SC is do you wanna sit on an NBA or NBDL bench or do you wanna show the world that you can win a NC by leading KU, and possibly improving your draft value?

Strike 3 is anybody's guess, but Im not sure it will be required in order to contend for a NC, but what will be needed is one more guy to step up and play a bigger role (brady, tyshawn, or mario, or Mc/Mk Morris).

Strike 3 will be required if Sherron leaves.

Bill Kackley 10 years, 9 months ago

I repeat, both Collins and Aldrich need to come back. Collins really needs to work on his decision making. Very inconsistent. Alrich, at best would be the 5th center taken in the draft. There are to many out there that are stronger. Cole couldn't stand flat footed and block shots in the NBA

Greg Lux 10 years, 9 months ago

Collins Can't jump that far (NBA) at a high enough level to meet his ego. He needs another year of building his DEFENSE. Let's face facts .. he's not a good one on one defender ( watch the NDSU game if you don't believe it ). His ego will keep him at KU. Sherron likes being the Big fish in a small pond. No matter who starts for KU next year Sherron is going to be the Big Fish and his ego loves it. I have said it many times I love Sherron and want the best for him. If I thought going to the NBA would work I would be for it. but he is too short, too slow on defense and that's too much to overcome right now.. He can't change his height but he can improve his defense and that will get him into the NBA hopefully. As for the numbers problem I would not be surprised if Thomas transfered or even Releford. Probably Thomas is more likely. Whatever happens the Jayhawks are going to be a great team and I can't wait for the first Tip off.

Rock Chalk

ColfromCO 10 years, 9 months ago

It was Collins' team this year because there was no one else to lead it. He showed the ability to take some games over. Those were out of necessity to get the games won. I was surprised to see he could do that to that degree. He had a better defender in the MS game and couldn't produce as much as he had in other games.

He was valuable to KU this year.

Cole can grow and improve with another year at KU.

I sense Collins wants to lead the team far past the Sweet 16. The only way he can do that is to stick around another year.

With all the Freshman talent becoming Sophomores they can develop and start adding much more to the team. They moved that way this year. None of them accomplised it on a steady basis.

The the start of the season this year KU may well be ranked in the top 5 nationally. And they will deserve it. KU fans have a lot to look forward to this year.

Mike Barnhart 10 years, 9 months ago

If we need to clear space for Stephenson, I'll be honest, Quintrell Thomas and Travis Releford would get a LOT more minutes at another program.

I like having Morningstar's defensive presence in the starting five. If he earns it, he should start ahead of Tyshawn.

jayhawkboogeyman 10 years, 9 months ago

Morningstar should not be starting at Kansas. He can't handle the ball, he is reluctant to shoot, he can't drive the lane. If Morningstar is still starting at Kansas next year, there is no chance of this team going further than they did this year.

jaybate 10 years, 9 months ago

You heard it here first. If Stephenson wants to be an OAD, he goes to St. Johns; St. Johns is the place for Stephenson to do what OJ Mayo did at USC. Play in a big media market, maximize hype and PT and jump to the L. If Stephenson comes to KU, it will be because he wants to maximize development of his game a la BRush. If he comes to KU, it will be to stay two years--just like KU's last OAD, BRush would have done had he not blown a knee and had to stay 3. Anyone who comes to D1 gets their weaknesses exposed. It takes two years to work them out.

jaybate 10 years, 9 months ago

jayhawkboogeyman,

You are as always entitled to your opinion, but you are also entitled to hear that it is wrong.

Frankly, if Collins stays, Stephenson comes, Stephenson is better at everything than Taylor and Brady (unlikely but possible), then the logical guy to sit is Taylor. Brady is a better defender and shooter than Taylor by a considerable margin, an equal or better ball handler, makes fewer TOs, feeds the post better, and is a better free throw shooter. The only advantage Taylor brings is more ability to get to the rim, but if we have Collins and Stephenson to get to the rim and both can hit 38-40% from trey, Self would be crazy not to play a 43-45% trey shooter like Brady again. Hence, Tyshawn, good as he is, is the most vulnerable, unless he can sharply improve his three point shot, which is doubtful. And Tyshawn's ball handling is so suspect that in a big game, Self prefers to have Tyrel bring the ball up than Tyshawn. I am a huge Tyshawn fan, but he is in a very difficult position if Stephenson comes.

Michael Bratisax 10 years, 9 months ago

'Maybe I'm way off base, but I think it's revealing of typical American attitudes...'

Cograts gong4ku for one of the most ridiculous statements I've seen on these boards.

Jacobpaul81 10 years, 9 months ago

Ralster,

I agree 100% with your comments about team building. We need a team, not the two man offense if we want to make it back to the big show. You can build decent teams at the college level around a singular player or 2 players, but you don't build a top tier team that way. You need at minimum 3 scorers, and preferably 5-6 scorers on a team. The introduction of the 3 in 1986 forced teams to recruit that way, and not focus an offense around a singular weapon. Last year, we had 7 guys I wouldn't have feared taking the shot. In addition, we had 6 guys (RR, Mario, Sheron, Rush, Jackson, and Arthur) who could bring the ball up the court. So anyone on the team apart from Sasha and Cole could initiate our offense.

I agree with many that Collins isn't NBA ready and would benefit from another year. Personally, I do not expect him to succeed in the NBA. You look at all the bad--- guards who have come out of the NCAA in the last 5 years, and you look at who has succeeded, Collins doesn't really fit the bill. His defense alone will get him the glance over. Right now, he's a late second round pick, and would probally go undrafted if he enters.

That being said, our team would benefit greatly from the absence of Collins. His presence limits the touches our future sophomores and freshman will recieve, and really hurts their confidence and development. With Collins on the court, the offense completly revolves around him. Without him, the younger players can get a feel for their own game and own relationship and develop their own personality as a team. I've been saying all season long, how much of a benefit it would be for Collins to have gotten hurt for a period mid-season. Did I wish hurt on Sheron? No. But the team needed to play without him in order to develop confidence in themselves and to minimize the over-emphasis on Sheron. Too much has been placed on his head. He's not Jo-Jo White, and he doesn't play in a time when a singule player like Jo-Jo could dominate a game.

It reminds me a bit of Bill's first two seasons with Wayne, Keith, Aaron and Mike. Everyone else on those first two teams were just filling space. Hell, Russell almost left after his Freshman year because he didn't feel he fit in. What would have happened if RR had left? He was the glue of our championship run!

kc_wildfire 10 years, 9 months ago

jaybate...

I agree with you on Morningstar starting ahead of Taylor next should everything fall into place like we are hoping it will.

As for those bashing on Morningstar for his lack of offense in the MSU game, have you not followed KU lately? Brady's shot has been off for a few games, it happens to the best shooters at some point and time. He was 6 out of his last 25 attempts. He tried a couple of threes and missed them, he stepped in a couple of steps and almost air-balled it. His shot wasn't on again so he tried doing something else. I can't blame him for that.

Maybe it was from tired legs from having to play more minutes than he can really handle and be a full-time contributor. But you knock him down to 24-28 mpg next year to keep him fresh and have Collins and Stephenson drive and take it to the rim to score, or if they draw defenders they can dish it out to an open Morningstar, a 43% marksman from beyond the arc.

pmohr13 10 years, 9 months ago

ok no one else is thinking about the scholarship situation like I am.

Reed was academic all Big 12 right? So he loses his basketball scholarship and gains an academic scholarship. I'm sure the school can work with the athletic department on this one. Kind of like what Matt K had.

Then Brady's dad has already said that he would pay for Brady's school for a year.

That's two scholarships down like we needed. No transfers and no forcing someone to pay their way that hasn't already said that they will.

pmohr13 10 years, 9 months ago

To add. I don't think Self would be pursuing Lance if he didn't already have something planned out with Brady's dad and someone else on the team.

COjayrocks 10 years, 9 months ago

I'm tired of everyone bashing Sherron for his "ego" or his "selfishness" shooting 20 times a game. The fact of the matter was his team NEEDED him to show the confidence in shooting when we needed a spark, or shooting at the end of a game to put this team on his shoulders. This was his role, and the rest of the team was not spiteful because of it. When Sherron didn't score, our team looked flat and confused. So shut up with this glory days talk about how guards in the "old days" used to shoot sparingly and pass often. Sherron can play that role well, but this year, we needed him to carry us to the Sweet Sixteen.

Also, I think everyone is underestimating what Lance Stephenson will do for this program. He is not just a top rated prospect, he is a level-headed scorer that holds the all time NYC scoring record. Pretty damn impressive. He wants to come to KU because of the coaching, prestige, and the fact a 4 year old came up to ask for his autograph on his recruiting visit (a small example, but he stills refers to it in interviews as him being taken aback). He could easily go to St. John's if he wanted the media hype and the green light to do whatever he wanted, however, he won't go there and shows that that is not his motivation for college choice. I'm 99% sure he's coming to Kansas according to my source, so let's sit back and look forward to next year by appreciating what everyone did for KU THIS year. Sherron did what was asked of him and showed great leadership. END OF STORY

COjayrocks 10 years, 9 months ago

Jaybate - Stephenson is coming to KU. For sure.

Lacy Mohler 10 years, 9 months ago

I am a huge Jayhawk fan going back to the early 60's, but you will not hear me touting the wonders of Collins. I agree with others posting on here that in the MSU game plus other games this year Collins kept driving down the lane into the trap. He was the most easily trapped player on KU's team---maybe because he always had the damn ball. Getting caught in the trap once or twice maybe--but it gets ridiculous. Unfortunately he will be back next year because his NBA propects aren't that great, but maybe some competition from the new players being discussed on here will do him some good. I also agree that a game or two without Collins might have helped some of these young player learn to step up, but that didn't happen and they still had a better than expected season.

People don't have to like every player on a team to be a fan. I also was not a Kirk Hinrich fan or a Jared Haas fan---there are just some style of players --some personality of players I don't like, but I still love KU basketball. I also was never a Roy Williams fan and have been very happy with Bill Self, but don't always agree with his decisions.

If a national championship under one's belt was required to post on this site--I guess there wouldn't be any posts. I enjoy the posts--some are a little long winded--but I didn't recognize any as coming from national champion players.

Robert Brock 10 years, 9 months ago

Thomas and/or Releford have to see the writing on the wall. If Collins and Aldrich return and Stephenson signs, Thomas will be the sixth big vying for playing time and Releford could be around the fourth to seventh wing depending on how much he improves over the summer. KU has Wooldrige coming in in 2010 and is still in the process of possibly bringing in more five star perimeter players in Barnes, McCallum, etc.

I think Thomas and Releford are really nice kids, but no matter how much their skills progress, the reality is that they may not see significant playing time until their senior years (or they may never see any). Somehow this will all work out, and I'm very curious how this will unfold. I'd love to be a fly on the wall in Self's office the next 6 months.

pmohr13 10 years, 9 months ago

Not to bash Sherron or to say that he wasn't the main reason for what we did this year. But he made some decisions that just made me sit and wonder why, and then he would make another one of those decisions. On the other hand he has also made plays that just made me say wow. All the people on here are saying is that he has made some bad decisions with the ball this year. They said absolutely nothing about how he didn't help this team to the Sweet Sixteen or that we would be further without him.

Dan Pawlowski 10 years, 9 months ago

I disagree with step 3. There is no guarantee that Stephenson , if he comes here, would integrate into the system in such a way to make us a #1 seed. I contend that if 1 and 2 happen that would give a great shot at being a 1 seed. It is a team sport and parts must integrate and play their role. The freshman this year can only get better. To the Collins critics , I myself criticized him early for turnovers. I believe he addressed that issue and cut down on them. When you have a team as we did last year, it is easier to run the point and appear not to make many bad decisions. Talent around you can hide bad decisions. There is no way this teams makes the Sweet 16 without Collins. What happened against Michigan is reality. They were young and needed more consistency, scoring wise, from other players. Those other players were mostly freshmen and freshmen do not play at a consistently high level . That is just reality. This was a learning experience. Mark my words , next year they will show us they studied well.

yates33333 10 years, 9 months ago

I agree with you, Jacobpaul81. Collins may as well go pro he won't improve in decision making by staying at KU. His physical skills are already good enough to make the roster of many of the pro teams as constituted this year. I hope Morningstar just wore down as the year progressed, but both he and Reed were less effective as the season developed. I hope we get Stephenson, but if we do I shall be very, very suprised.

Sparko 10 years, 9 months ago

You know what? Self has the talent to make any team a winner. Kansas was a call or two away from winning the National Championship this year. It is fun being a fan.

I am angry that Villanova, UNC and UCONN had two home games before the Sweet 16. That is something that needs to be addressed. The way the Tournament is playing out, Kansas was under-seeded this year.

jaybate 10 years, 9 months ago

To All:

First, I'm not married to Brady. I don't like starting 6'3" guys at the 3 spot regardless of what tools they have. I bet Brady doesn't like lining up looking at knee caps half the time he starts either. He's got to be saying, "Coach, I can dribble better than Tyshawn, why can't he play the stinking 3?!" I wouldn't like starting Tyshawn Taylor at the 3 either. In fact, I'm really not keen on starting Lance Stephenson at the 3. He's only 6'5" and he's probably played the 1 or 2, since he was in diapers. And as we learned each time we saw Tyshawn try to move to the 1, or Sherron move to the two, there really are differences between the 1, 2, and 3 in Bill Self's offense, whether he thinks so or not. Where you line up as the offense initiates and on which side of the floor you find yourself most of the time, matters unless you are freaking Kobe or Magic.

Brandon Rush was my ideal at the 3, even though he needed a lot more left hand (so much more that he can't play the 2 or 3 in the L the way I thought he would be able to do). Every night, Brandon guarrantied us a clear match-up advantage at the three and then whenever needed he could be switched off to contain any other player with a hot hand from 1-4. Lance Stephenson may be the second coming of Michael Jordan offensively at the three, but neither Lance Stephenson, nor Michael Jordan, are/were the second coming of Brandon Rush defensively at the 3 in college (though Michael admittedly took his defense up to the stratosphere in the NBA). MJ, to my knowledge, never guarded a four in his freaking career--college or pro--the way Brandon did, whenever KU's bigs lost their nerve.

To me, the best teams go big at the three. Not 6'5" big. They go big big. Michigan State rotates 2 guys 6'7" and 6'8" at the three and bring in a girlie man 6'4" guy once in awhile to swat gnats.

jaybate 10 years, 9 months ago

So: everyone, I want Self to get a 6'7" to 6'8" 3 who can defend like Brandon and go to the rim like Sherron, and shoot the three like Brandon. The only way you want to go to even 6'6" is if you've got a wide body like Paul Pierce or some super wide freak like 6'4" Charles Barkley, who is actually wider than he is tall and can jump with Jordan. Otherwise, he's got to be 6'7" or taller to get the every night match up advantage. To me, it is that big three who can do it all that separates the great teams from the not so great. You gotta have a great PG. You gotta have 4-6 bigs and 2 of them have to be able to score. Basically every Elite Eight has these parts. What tips the balance is the teams with the above and the big 3 I'm talking about. Some years, there is no big do-it-all 3 and a team like Arizona grabs the ring with three combos. But any year there is one of these big threes on a team with all the other pieces, they almost always get to the Final Four and win whenever the team shoots well.

Who could it be?

I had hoped Marcus Morris would be that 3. But Self was short handed in the paint and so Marcus played the 4. And after watching Marcus for a season, it is a little bit much to think that he will be the big 3 of my dreams, even though he appears to give good trey, because the defensive chops just do not appear to be there, nor, frankly does the offensive quickness appear to be there. Remember that Self put the team on Brandon Rush's back when Rush was a freshman and he carried the team as a freshman. I shudder to think what might have happened had Self moved Marcus to the 3 and put this year's team on his back.

Thomas Robinson? Well, he might be able to do a Dennis Rodman immitation at the 3, with a lot coaching, but I have to say, having watched freshman big men of less than super star status for the last 30 years, I do not plan to hold my breath about him stepping in and being an impact 3 next year.

Quintrel Thomas? Umm, not yet.

Jeff Withey? This to me is the most interesting possibility that probably has no chance of happening. No one has ever played a 7 footer at the 3 before that I can recall. But the guy is already a sophomore going on a junior and people are already saying he's getting pushed around by the current KU team, which is not exactly a collection of prison bodies. Can Jeff pop the triceratop? Can he arch the holy trinity. Can he bet the trifecta? Can he rhyme in triplets? Can he ice the thrice? And can he get his butt down and slide against guys 5-8 inches shorter than him? Probably not, but what an intoxicating thought, if he could. Can you imagine the rebounding we could muster if we sent him to the glass along with Cole and a player to be named later at the 4?

jaybate 10 years, 9 months ago

So: the above do not appear the solution, and clearly we have no one remotely capable of being a Brandon Rush at the 3 coming in, or even a low profile Michigan State style thug baller 3.

Which brings us back to Brady and Stephenson and Taylor and Little and what may happen at the 2 and 3.

Taylor seems out of the question at the three. He just couldn't handle the violence there. He can't even stand the violence at the 2. And he can't dribble, so he can't play the PG consistently either.

Stephenson at the 3 seems a terrible waste of a potentially great 1 or 2. Stephenson at the 3 doesn't really guaranty every night match up advantage at the 3 the way he would at the 1 or 2. So Stephenson at the 3 seems as incongruous as putting Wilt at the 4. But Self has a history now of playing guys out of position for several years at a time, so he might go this route, especially since it might only be a year anyway. But again, Stephenson is sweet at the 1 or 2 and just a big question mark at the 3.

Which brings us to Brady and Mario.

Up front, Mario wins the beauty contest for best 3, as he did this season, but Brady wins the Time Zero what can you actually do at the 3 contest, again, as he did this season. Mario Little has less than zero chance to shoot 43% from trey. Mario Little's only chance next year is if Lance Stephenson can gun the trey from the 2 at 40-45%. If Lance could do that, then Self could afford Little at the 3. Can Lance do this? Don't know.

But even if Lance could do this, Self would be mighty tempted to have Brady in the game. 43% doesn't talk, it swears. And when it combines with low TOs and excellent, proven defense at 35mpg the previous year, well, it shouts profanity at the top of its lungs.

And there is, frankly, another question about Mario Little: can he actually defend the great 3, as well as everyone fantasizes about? What little we saw of Mario Little this year, I saw no lock down evidence at the three. And given Brady's occassional difficulties handling some of the big 3s this year, and given how little Brady was required to score in games, if Mario Little could have locked down 3s, it seems highly likely that Brady would have been collecting rectal splinters a lot more frequently than he did.

jaybate 10 years, 9 months ago

Brady's talent is, it seems to me, widely under-recognized, because he is only 6'3" and not cut and buff like so many athletes today. He is a throw back to the pre butcher ball days with Jeff Hornacek, if that is, he ever gets asked and proves that he can score prolifically and put it on the deck and go to the rim the way Horney did. These are of course big 'ifs.' I don't know if Brady will ever be given the green light Horny got at ISU and in Utah. But I really believe the kid is a natural offensive player, who was forced to play a defensive role this year. He is fast. He is quick. He has hops. He can shoot. He showed he can stuff effortlessly vs. MSU, where beheadings on breaks inhibit the less courageous. He could dribble the point, if he were asked to do it regularly. He's got all the skills and, as I said, he was playing the three with his best hand tied behind his back. He was only supposed to take about 3-5 treys a game and skip penetrating, and the opponents scouting reports said so.

But despite the fine resume noted above, the fact is he's too damn little to play the 3 on a team going to the Final Four unless they have a 1 or 2 guard who is really tall and could guard the big 3s on the schedule on an intermittent basis. With Lance Stephenson at the 2, Brady is probably going to become Self's preferred option at the 3. Little will back up. But unless Little develops a stellar trey, he is a backup.

jaybate 10 years, 9 months ago

Now, a just a bit more about Mario Little and Brady.

Mario Little had two years of juco experience coming in. Mario Little was supposedly guarrantied to start almost whereever he went after juco. Mario had an injury, but supposedly he recovered, though he obviously never got into great condition. Regardless, Mario Little failed the Time Zero test. For awhile it was the injury. But after awhile, it was that he didn't have the goods. He couldn't shoot 43% from trey. He couldn't make 0-2 TOs per 38 minutes played. He couldn't figure out the offense. He couldn't blend his strengths--rebounding and mid range jump shooting--at either the 3 or the 4. Mario Little is the college equivalent of a tweener in the NBA. He's a heck of juco player that landed on a D1 team that, even after he got healthy, had guys at the 2, 3, and 4 that he could not beat out, at least the way this team was strung. Life is F!@#$%ing tough in D1, even on a reloading team at the level KU plays.

I want Mario Little to roar back next year and have a terrific, beasting good year. He sacrificed mightily for his team. He gave it his all. He got us at least a couple of wins we would not have gotten without him.

But at this level, Mario has to have more than good midrange game and rebounding to do it.

Finally this point about Brady and my comparison of him to Jeff Hornacek. All through Jeff Hornacek's career, people said he wasn't good enough. He looked like a bozo with acne in college. People said as soon as he got to the pros, he wouldn't do squat. Wrong. He proved to be the perfect fit for Stockton and the Mailman. The thing is these great shooting, fundamentally sound, gym rats like Hornacek and Brady fit in with a lot of different kinds of teams. As a result, their chances of getting to play go way up. If Russell Robinson could pop the triceratop like Brady, RR would be playing in the show right now. Well, Brady's got the gun and just about everything else RR had but the lightening hands for strips. Brady could easily add some muscle. He'll probably never have the hands for strips. But neither did Hornacek. These kinds of guys often don't need to. They just are kind of like putty. They can fit in to almost anything.

Jacobpaul81 10 years, 9 months ago

Hmmm, Apparently people don't actually read posts? Cause I wasn't Sherron bashing. I'd have brought up his defense if I wanted to do that. I was discussing team chemistry, which I feel would have benefited this year (and definatly would benefit next year) from the absence of our current "go to" player. I personally feel that a team is weakest when it has a player who "has" to get his shots. In this case, Bill made a big deal out of Collins having to take 20 shots a game this season. To me, that's a weakness, not a strength. And as I stated, we would have benefited from not having Collins for a period this season, so that the other players would have had to step up in order to win. Instead, we saw plays in the michigan state game, where when given an open look, a player like Brady would dish off to an unopen Collins rather than take the open shot. From that perspective, Collins presence hurts the team. Am I saying it's his fault? No. I am looking at it from a coaches perspective, and stating what I think most people on these boards knows is obvious... team chemistry does not exist when a team is limited to one or two players (one of which has to take 20 shots a game).

KULA 10 years, 9 months ago

jayhawkboogeyman, You're absolutely right about Brady--should not be starting for KU. He won't shoot unless he's ten feet open. You've got to make yourself a scoring threat (especially when there are only two other scorers on the team. Little should have been playing 20 min. a game this year to get into the swing of the game. Brady is nothing near the player Hornacek was. H wasn't afraid to shoot, could score off the dribble and didn't have to be wide open to take his shoot. It's absolutely predictable that Brady is going to look to pass first, look to pass second, and look to pass third. That's the kind of thing opposing coaches see in film and coach their kids for. Your small forward/big guard has got to be a double digit scorer.

kansasYEA 10 years, 9 months ago

bg97 (anonymous) says... Do you really think Collins will have "motivation to finish his career on high note"? That's the dumbest assumption i've ever read. Did he hint that to you in an interview recently?

Seriously? Did you hear/read Sherron's interview after the loss to MSU? Obviously not.

JayhawkCasey 10 years, 9 months ago

Jaybate, Jeff Withey is not a sophmore going on junior. He is a freshman going on sophmore. Still a lot of time to build some muscle, but will never play the 3 spot.

jaybate 10 years, 9 months ago

JayhawkCasey,

Thank you for the correction on Withey's age; that makes me feel better.

About your claim that Withey will never play that 3, you are mastering the obvious. As I said, Withey playing the 3 is the most interesting prospect that will never happen.

rockchalk007 10 years, 9 months ago

Here's the bottom line for the year end game: The young Jayhawks (by that I mean first year to KU BB) coupled with the physical limitations of Reed and Morningstar caused the very slight breakdown of a team which dominated the first 30 minutes of the game.

Playoff bb is different from regular season and even league play. Especially the ability to elevate the level of play, make a play, make a stop, get to the line...superior talent will most of the time win out because of this ability to elevate the level of play for a few key minutes on the biggest stage. In my opinion MSU has superior atheletes to KU. Just look at the bodies. We did not give it away, they took it away and we could not stop it from happening. This is not choking, just reveals a team's limitations, especially in college basketball.

The KU coaching staff and big Cole Aldrich did a GREAT job getting those cherry picks in the first half. Wow! That surprized them, and me too. The second half was more a grind it out affair and the MSU boys are stronger. No more easy ones.

The only second guess might have been why not play Mario a little bit more, especially towards the end, the last 6-8 minutes. He can and will next year elevate his game at the peak moment, not cosistently unfortunately, but at crunch time (remember Missouri, he was almost the hero). We needed him to drive and shoot and get fouled and make free throws and steal an extra possession or two in the second half of the second half.

KU did as a team play tight in the Big 12 tourney and the first 3 rounds of the Dance. At the end, Taylor and Reed and Morningstar just did not want the ball and were looking to pass it back out as soon as they touched it. This is understandable as they just did not have the physical strengh to attach or even shoot under such strong defensive pressure. The Morris boys were not used to that level of physicality. Sherron and Cole did elevate their level of play, and played even better. What a great group of guys and what great competitors. Go Hawks!

Someone said it, we did not have a wing capable of elevating his level of play at the hardest time. (That would have gone to a healthy Mario - maybe next year to Lance?).

Great. great season Jayhawks! Next year for sure!

rockchalk007 10 years, 9 months ago

One last thought on this comment, Tom: "Sure, Kansas fumbled away a game it should have won..." No, Kansas got wrestled away a game it could have won...

MSU beats KU 7 (maybe 8) out of 10 times they play. They have a better team this year, but yes of course we COULD have won, especially up by 5 with 3 min to go...but all credit to MSU and their staff. Very tough kids in a very tough city.

How about Coach Self in his political correct speach making that bold prediction prior to the next MSU game - he was right about that very tough man to man and the law of averages in Louisville's shooting the long ball and jumps shoots. They too (MSU's next victim) got out played at the end by a physically superior team.

KU's hardest games were in the first and third rounds this year, not the second and fourth. What a scappy and tough and classy bunch this year. Nice job, guys, and nice job by the Coaches.

Go Hawks!

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