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Friday, May 1, 2009

KU roster could be best ever

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UCLA has not been kind to Kansas basketball, so it’s exciting that KU will go to Los Angeles come Dec. 6 with a loaded arsenal that can hibernate the deadly Bruins in their home den. Working further in KU’s favor is that the legendary Ukes are losing three of four of their top players to the pros and may be down a notch or two.

Kansas will head west with all the difference-makers from a stimulating 2008-09 season and will feature one of the best newcomer groups in its history.

Kansas is 4-10 against UCLA overall, 1-4 in trips to Los Angeles and 0-5 in NCAA Tournament competition.

Along with the tested veterans, coach Bill Self will add freshmen Elijah Johnson and Thomas Robinson. Transfer Jeff Withey won’t turn eligible until second semester. However, touted yearling Xavier Henry could be raising eyebrows by then; if brother C.J. can regain his basketball legs, he could add to UCLA’s problems.

Point is, Kansas may be assembling the best top-to-bottom personnel chart in its history, one sure to be picked preseason NCAA champ by many. Some even contend the coming newcomer group might be the best ever for the Jayhawks. There’s fabulous potential. But remember how football icon Bear Bryant responded when asked about touted new kids: “Potential means they ain’t done it!”

The newcomers have much to prove. Can they beat out those able returnees? Nice “problem” to have, huh?

Everybody has an idea of the best newcomer group in a school’s court annals. Kansas certainly has had a batch of such; we could argue all night about their relative merits. However, nationally, I’d have to pick the 1965-66 UCLA frosh as the best yearling crew ever, not only for that school but for any program.

The key men were Lew Alcindor, Lucious Allen from Kansas City Wyandotte, Lynn Shackelford, Kenny Heitz and Bill Sweek. They hubbed a Bruin onslaught that posted a three-year record of 88-2 and waltzed off with NCAA titles for 1967-68-69. Veteran Mike Warren, who became a fine actor, was the quarterback in ’67 and ’68, but the other five were the constants for the fabulous run of coach John Wooden (10 titles, seven in a row).

A sad footnote on Lucious Allen was that he couldn’t share fully in the ’69 glory. He got tangled with police on a marijuana possession charge. It was dismissed but a year later, he was nailed again. He hadn’t been enrolled enough for eligibility.

Yet he factored heavily in propelling the Bruins to that 88-2 victory level and had a solid pro career. Wooden was one of the saddest over this turn of events since he always said Lucious had unlimited potential if he could keep his ducks in a row.

KU won’t go to Los Angeles with a newcomer group as good as UCLA’s Alcindor-Kareem Abdul-Jabbar gang. But the 2009-10 Jayhawks are speculated as college champions — and at this point should be. Potentially, anyway.

So do it, as The Bear might growl.

Comments

Larry Smith 10 years, 8 months ago

UCLA in the 60's and 70's were a bunch of cheaters. Players bought and paid for. Sam Gilbert paid the players and Wooden did nothing about it. As soon as Sam Gilbert was forced to be disassociated with the program, UCLA was put on probation. It's funny how John Wooden was an average coach until Sam Gilbert started buying players.

actorman 10 years, 8 months ago

So true, Jayhawk86. Of course you still have to give Wooden credit for doing a great job of getting all that talent to play as a team. But it would have been nice to see what he would have done with a level playing field.

As for Lucius Allen, oh my God, he was busted for smoking pot -- in college -- in the '60s. Clearly he should have gotten the death penalty.

Eurekahwk 10 years, 8 months ago

I don't think the Henry brothers will have any problems beating out a couple guys for starting spots. I do believe however that the Morris twins won't surrender their playing time so easily.

No matter who starts, it isn't important. The bench quality will be top notch. And we aren't providing beach front condos like Wooden's people to get those guys.

Wizard my #ss. Let's see Wooden try to win a few games without overpaid blue chip recruits!

KUBlue0809 10 years, 8 months ago

Congrats to Wooden for dominating the 32 team tournament. Anyways, as far as best Kansas ever team assembled? No. I love this incoming roster, top to bottom we are very, very good. So good in fact we may cut down the last net in 11 months. But from an 8-9 player perspective, you can't compare to our teams past. Base it on lottery picks and all american status and you'll see my point.

minnhawk84 10 years, 8 months ago

Bill: You brought back memories for me of Lucius Allen (not Lucious - he played at Michigan State) when my older brother played basketball for Shawnee Mission West and the Wyandotte games. In the old Sunflower conference, of course Wyandotte dominated the all-white suburban teams, but Lucius was really special. He was the first really, really good player I had ever seen. Glad he was graduated and gone before I played at SM South.

JJHAWK 10 years, 8 months ago

njjayhawk,

Sorry to see such lack of respect for one of the games greats coming from a jayhawk. Remember the 30 - 0 season and national championship he fashioned out of Goodrich, Hazard and Washington. Tallest starter was the 6'7" Washington. I believe that is a great example of how he would do with 'only' above-average talent in Bruin uniform.

The fact that Coach Wooden got Lew Alcindor, Bill Walton and others to come to UCLA, which is little more than a glorified commuter school, is another glowing mark for his respected stature within the game. Wooden was a great recruiter, a very good x's and o's coach, was well respected by his players (and peers) and thus won a lot of games and more than his share of national championships.

Coach Self is a great recruiter, a very good x's and o's coach, is well respected by his players (and peers) and Jayhawks everywhere can only hope that combination will bring us many future victories and multiple National championships as well.

I think the interesting question is how Wooden would fare in today's college environment. Alcindor, Walton, Allen and others - can you say one and done?

keith horinek 10 years, 8 months ago

Maxhawk, I disagree. Collins will play in the NBA and has the skills to be a starting point guard on the right team. The Morris twins can play if they improve their skills. I didn't get on board with Sausha Kaun right away, I thought he was a "project" but now he has an NBA offer from Cleveland and is playing for the Russian Team. don't underestimate the talent of this team. I'm a little put off by the article about past UCLA teams though, Bill. Why write about deceptful teams in the 70's when we are building something special right here in Lawrence that will mean so much more to us. It is probably a more difficult feat to win now than it was 30 some years ago. Wasn't there a movie made about that prorgam starring Robbie Benson back in the late 70's?

KUPROUD 10 years, 8 months ago

Maxhawk, I think you underestimate the future for some of these youngsters. A few years ago, would you have thought Darnell Jackson would be seeing the floor for an NBA team? Or Mario starting for an NBA team? I doubt it. Give Marcus, Markieff, Tyshawn, Elijah, and Thomas some time to develop and then we'll talk NBA.

Tony Bandle 10 years, 8 months ago

I think the movie was "Blue Chip" and it was awful....but you kind of got the picture of what was going on. Actually Shaq and Hardaway were pretty hilarious trying to act. Worth a freebie look from Big Mac.

To even considering annoiting this group the strongest KU squad ever is presumptuos to say the least. As with NFL draft classes, wait till after they perform, then evaluate.

Another tip about St. John Wooden...he was the foulest mouthed coach in the NCAA. He used to berate the opponent players during the game and the refs would look the other way!!

JayhawkPurist 10 years, 8 months ago

JJHAWK, UCLA is a glorified commuter school? Really? Let's see, top-flight faculty and facilities, tremendous graduate programs and professional schools, and one of the most beautiful campus locations in the world, perched between the hills and the Pacific Ocean. If that's a commuter school, sign me up. It's comments like that that detract from the credibility of all else one says.

Jerry Rockhold 10 years, 8 months ago

Oakville, Blue Chip was a pretty bad movie, but it was loosely based on Bobby Knight & Indiana with Nick Nolte playing Knight.

Doug Merrill 10 years, 8 months ago

Nice column. As one who lived through the desperation of being beaten over and over again in the 60s and 70s and CANNOT STAND UCLA, I don't think it is appropriate to write off the Wooden coaching as based upon recruiting violations. We have seen far too many teams filled with great players (UNLV) who couldn't make it through the tournament (of any size). The "32 team tournament" rebuke is ridiculous - Ruth wasn't really a great hitter, he just facd fewer pitchers - if you excel with what you have given and against whom you play, you excel, period. One of my favorite memories was sitting in the stands in Pauley and seeing a high school senior Paul Pierce (who was deciding between KU and UCLA) introduced by the PA and hearing the chants of Paul Come Here...and then have him declare for KU. Sweet! I would say we cannot ever compare those frosh (Alcindor, Allen, etc) to any current or future incoming group, since no group will ever have a shot at that 3 year record. The NBA is too attractive. Tough news for us college fans. Great news for us NBA fans.

Steve Brown 10 years, 8 months ago

I recall hearing Wooden say that he told his players not to worry about the score or clock just play every possession like it was the last one, he would watch the score and clock & let them know if they needed to know something.

Which is the best Kansas recruit class of all time: I'll submit my freshman year Rick Suttle, Danny Knight, Marshall Rogers, Dale Greenlee & Tommy Smith.then we had freshman team and they rocked.

TaTownHawkFanBase 10 years, 8 months ago

does anybody have any clue when these tickets will go on sale?

jayhawker85 10 years, 8 months ago

Maxhawk...

Considering how Aldrich would have been a lottery pick this year if he had gone in the draft, what makes you think he'll be a career back-up center? If you really look at it, with three years of Danny Manning coaching him, possibly four, he has a chance to be a great NBA center. Your basis is probably that because he's white, he'll be a back-up.

As far as making an NBA roster goes, I'd say that any of last year's freshman class has the potential to make an NBA roster after four years in BIll Self's camp. And I would suggest looking at some video of Elijah Johnson and Thomas Robinson too...

And Collins... I think you'll be surprised how high his draft stock rises this next year when he actually gets a chance to play as a true point guard.

chicagoeddie 10 years, 8 months ago

can we still get lance stephenson...? would he play with what we have now?

Joel Hood 10 years, 8 months ago

Wow – Bill – Best Ever?? NCAA history?? Hummmm……. I think we might be counting our Baby Jays before they are hatched.
Mayer leaves out the experience factor. Some of the best KU teams in my memory are from 1986, 1997, & 2008. Each team had seniors, juniors, & sophomores that won and lost a lot of big games together before going into the NCAA tourney in their respective years.

Without a doubt, this 2009-10 KU team has the greatest talent depth of any KU team going into the season. But, experience hardens and sharpens teams that win the national title. Those tough wins against Texas in 2007 thru 2008 were invaluable experience for the NC win against Memphis.

The chemistry and resolve of the 2008 team was built over the course 3 season together that included some ugly losses (remember ORU.) Going into the 2010 NCAAs, the core of next year’s team will have two years together with some key additions. I believe they should win the Big 12 (obviously) but will the non-con and Big 12 provide them the collective experience to win another NC? I hope the rest of the Big 12 is loaded next year or we may not get the experience necessary to hone this team in time for the NCAAs.

B60 10 years, 8 months ago

This looks like a team that goes as hard as they can with nobody pacing themselves. No need to. Quality players to come in and keep up the pace. I think that Mario Little at the 3 is going to surprise people. His leg restricted him all year. Healthy he is a good shooter off the bench.

bayareajhawk 10 years, 8 months ago

I cannot believe some of these comments. Wooden was far from an average coach. Before he went to UCLA he coached Indiana high school basketball and had a record of 218-42. I doubt he recruited many players to South Bend Central High. He then went to Indiana State for three years. In his second year he took his team to the NAIB finals, where he refused to play due to the NAIB's refusal to let black players play. This caused them to change their policy and the next year he took them to the final where they lost to Louisville. I doubt he was luring many top recruits to Terre Haute. After that he went to UCLA, which had just started its basketball program, and we all know what happened after that.

And thank you, Jayhawk purist, for pointing out the folly of calling UCLA a "glorified commuter school." That might be the stupidest comment I have ever read on here, and that is really saying something. JJhawk has obviously never set foot in Westwood.

FYI, UCLA is an excellent academic school. Pretty much every freshman lives on campus in the dorms, and there is a sizable "student ghetto" in West Westwood where many upperclassmen live. The campus is beautiful. I don't know what the hell you're talking about calling it a commuter school. I went to law school there and found it to be anything but. Look at the rankings of its academic programs. If that is a glorified commuter school then what is KU? I have a greater love for KU than UCLA but let's just be honest here.

Andrew Ledell 10 years, 8 months ago

Mayer: what happened to the "Recruits won't work miracles" column you wrote less than a month ago when X was trying to decide where to go to school?

Joel: from what I've heard (especially considering big-time impact freshman at places like K-State, Texas and Oklahoma) the Big XII should indeed be loaded next year.

Tommy Tripp 10 years, 8 months ago

Sorry but the NCAA all time best incoming Freshmen class had to be the Fab Five for Michigan.

bdubbya 10 years, 8 months ago

Just a thought. I think it's conceivable, if not probable, that KU will struggle to win the Big 12 next year, but could still go on to a Final Four, if not a National Championship next year. Just a thought.

minipman 10 years, 8 months ago

i wouldnt agree that this is the best incoming freshmen class in KU history..but i stated long ago before this article came out that this is the deepest, most talented team KU has ever had..they could run 13 or 14 deep...i've said it once and i'll stick to my word and say it again..most talented and deepest team EVER for KU....

Andrew Moore 10 years, 8 months ago

Wooden cheated. That is why they bash him. His recruits were bought and paid for. He was a good coach, but he was also a scoundrel. If Calipari was coaching in that time period, he'd have had the same sort of success. But now that sports media has become such an industry, and fans actively follow recruiting year round, guys like Cal can't get away with what Wooden got away with. Sampson was publicly guillotined for making too many phone calls for crying out loud. Wooden's a lot like Barry Bonds and A-Rod. He cheated. Wooden would be castrated operating like he did in today's scene.

Joe Ross 10 years, 8 months ago

Wisdom:

"There’s fabulous potential. But remember how football icon Bear Bryant responded when asked about touted new kids: “Potential means they ain’t done it!”

100 10 years, 8 months ago

It's amazing to me the NCAA never took any of UCLA's titles away. Not one.

I guess UK got away with an equally outrageous offense without losing their titles -- point shaving in the late 40's & early 50's tainted 3 titles in 4 years for them. The NCAA never closed the case entirely on this one -- in fact, like UCLA, the NCAA's biggest headache back then was trying to see if the players who were paid to shave points on UK's teams during these NCAA tourneys, were in fact also paid by the same gambling group (NY mob) to be on those famous UK teams to begin with, this setting the wheels in motion for the eventual load of money to be made off of shaving championship games.

Needless to say, the big joke back then was how many UK betters and alumni were on the NCAA investigations committee.

In this day and age, unless you coach at a kingdom called Memphis, the titles are taken away & your school is Eddie Suttoned (aka put on probation) & banned from the tournament for at least a year.

kansas22 10 years, 8 months ago

Simply saying that this will or will not be the best team KU has ever assembled is wrong. I totally agree with Bill Mayer on this one. This team COULD be the best ever. The potential is there and if Xavier is anything like a Michael Beasley or a Carmelo, then next year will be unreal. We would then have 3 guys who could average 20 points a game on any other team, and potentially 3 first round picks. I don't think there's any doubt Tyshawn Taylor is a future star as well, and the athleticism of E. Johnson is out of this world. If T. Robinson is the rebounder scouts tout him to be then it'll be hard for the Morris's's's to keep him off the floor. Anyways, I'm done rambling. All I know, is that this team is LOADED and it definitely has a shot at being the best team this University has ever assembled.

LAJayhawk 10 years, 8 months ago

dougmd,

I completely understand and agree with your point. However, I would say this quote:

"Ruth wasn't really a great hitter, he just faced fewer pitchers"

should actually be reversed. The fact that he faced fewer pitchers means it was MORE difficult to hit. Today there are so many more teams that the pitching is much more watered down, and great hitters today get to face far less talented guys on a daily basis. Imagine facing guys like Cy Young every other day! Plus the pitching mound was higher giving pitchers a greater advantage (and supposedly the ball today is "juiced"). Ruth still hit better than anyone without the help of steroids, and, in fact, hindered by his tendency to drink excessively.

Of course, that wasn't your point -- you were saying he was a great hitter -- but I just felt I should point it out that couldn't be someone's argument against Ruth, as that statement actually helps prove how good he was.

TommynBigD,

Completely agree. Michigan's starting lineup with the fab five was made up of all freshman who made the championship game. Then did it again the following year. And if it wasn't for Webber's infamous timeout, they very well may have been national champions. If the argument is about a young class, then there's no way you can argue against that team. If you're talking about an overall team, well, that's an entirely different argument.

As to our team, they are very deep and have a chance to be very good. But the ridiculous build up for this team has already started and it's only May 1st! Everyone needs to take a step back and calm down. It's a long season (and off season).............

Eurekahwk 10 years, 8 months ago

Lottery picks and AA's are a horrible way to guage talent. They are both completely subjective measures. NBA teams take players to fit their immediate needs. And All-American lists are voted on by media that follow the east coast a lot closer. The best way to examine the talent on a team is this:

When you take starters off the floor, are you counting the clock until you can get them back in? like we did with Sherron this year or Oklahoma did with Blake Griffin around the 12 minute mark OR.....Does it really not matter, because the sub is just as adequate as the guy who replaced him. Like Sherron subbing for RusRob or Chalmers last year or Sasha Kaun subbing for Darnell or Darrell. We had seven starters last year to put in 5 spots. It will be even more crazy this next year.

Kyle Crenshaw 10 years, 8 months ago

The Fab 5 are easily the greatest freshman class ever! What are you talking about Mayer!?

100 10 years, 8 months ago

I'd take

  1. Withey
  2. Robinson
  3. X
  4. Johnson
  5. CJ

Any day of the week over the 1989 Michign fab 5. Our 2009-2010 new kids still have to work hard, but I guarantee they'll beat that team in a dream matchup of "freshmen" come April.

Why? The Fab 5 practiced against nobody. The 1989 fab 5 were...

L

A

Z

Y....

KU's fab 5 next year will practice all summer, fall & part of spring semester, against a team next year that, by April, would be very capable of beating the '82 Tar Heels

LAJayhawk 10 years, 8 months ago

100,

That's interesting that the Fab Five were lazy in 1989 since they were not playing together and still in high school in different parts of the country.

Meanwhile, the University of Michigan with Glenn Rice was busy winning the National Championship over Seton Hall that very year.........

100 10 years, 8 months ago

Trojanhawk,

Will you take it back if the 2009-2010 Jayhawks go 40-0?

Doug Merrill 10 years, 8 months ago

LA Jayhawk, Interesting take, but I meant it the way I wrote it. Consider this: Mariano Rivera is ineffective against teams he has a. seen only a few times in the season b. seen over 10 times. Yes, b, for Beantown.

A modern pitching staff MAY be watered down, but if you see a pitcher more often you are more likely to hit him. I would also venture to say that compared to the 1920s, pitcher development beginning at age 8 and working up through American Legion ball, college or whatever makes the 'watered down' argument less than likely (I think, but it is worth several beers to debate).

LAJayhawk 10 years, 8 months ago

dougmd,

True, but if you look at ERA, you will see it's gotten worse in more modern times. In the teens and 20s, the ERA leader was generally around 1.5, were as today it is usually around 2.75, with a few exceptions. And that's the best pitcher in the league. I can't seem to find stats that show average ERA across the MLB by year, but my guess is it's dramatically more than it was in Ruth's time.

You are right that pitchers are developed from an early age, but don't forget that so are the hitters. So, theoretically, they should cancel each other out. And really that doesn't have anything to do with what I mean by "watered down." Instead of having the 10 best arms in the world on 8 different teams, you have them spread out onto 30. The rest of the guys are mediocre to poor, etc. So hitters face a great deal more weak pitchers than they would if there were only a fraction of the pitchers in the game. Great hitters will hit far better off of poor pitchers than they will against great pitchers who they've seen a lot. Because even know they may know the pitcher well, he still has a great arm. Thus, the reason why Mariano Rivera has had such a great career: he's a great pitcher.

Anyway, I see your point, and it definitely would be a great question to debate seated on a bar stool.

jaybate 10 years, 8 months ago

I am going to attribute all this delusional thinking about Wooden to the current hysteria related to the wildly hyped swine flu epidemic. Things have not been this spooky and media manipulated since the run-up to Iraq.

Suffice it to say Wooden is the greatest tournament coach in history by a factor of slightly over two.

He was the first coach to play an African American. He did it at Indiana State.

The Wooden approach to planning and administrating a practice is probably the most widely aped thing of all the great advances that he made.

There is not a facet of the game he did not impact.

He actually had several good teams at UCLA before he started his incredible string. And UCLA had never been a basketball power prior to his arrival, so he built the program pretty much from scratch.

He is a giant among pygmies.

He is so great that coaches don't even aspire to equal him.

Next.

aerohawk 10 years, 8 months ago

I can't wait until the fall. I think we could have 4-5 guys that average in the mid to high teens for points. Last year only Cole and Sherron were averaging double digits (14.9 and 18.9 respectively). Tyshawn was at 9.7 and Marcus was at 7.4. It is conceivable that one or both of them could add 5-6 points per game. X would round out my 5, but one of the other recruits could surprise too.

With that kind of depth you can deal with an off night from one of the stars and still look good. When all the cylinders are firing, watch out.

The last time we had 4 guys with scoring averages in double digits was 02-03 (01-02 also did). You all remember the final fours appearances.

jaybate 10 years, 8 months ago

100,

I too detested the Michigan Fab Five for being on the take and being arrogant, but I diverge with you on how good they were.

Chris Webber was better than Withey, for sure, and unless Aldrich improves quite a bit this season better than Aldrich will be this season. Webber was a great talent, on the scale of Danny Manning, but he was not coachable as Manning was, and he never had a good coach either.

Juwann Howard was better than Marcus Morris, or Thomas Robinson will be this season. Howard was Darrell Arthur good, but with a much better head on his shoulders.

Jalen Rose was better than Johnson or CJ will be. The guy was a 6'8" PG for crying out loud and he could defend on a level Bill Self would love, as well as handle the ball superbly. He wasn't much of a jump shooter though. But neither was Magic in college.

Therefore, three out of the Michigan Fab Five were better than this year's KU Fab Five (and some of its upperclassmen), so it is moot whether Xavier is better than 6'5" Jimmy King (he probably will be), or 6'6" Ray Jackson (he certainly will be), depending on who you match Xavier up with.

I would also add that since I heard Xavier shot only 32% from trey his junior year of high school (only breaking 40% from trey his injury shortened senior year), it is not an absolute given in my mind that XMan is solid gold. If he can't shoot 38% plus from trey, he is going to find, despite his hype, life can be pretty tough in D1, just like all the other perimeter players do that shoot under 38%.

The way I look at the Michigan Fab Five is: they were so good that they could get to the National Finals their first two years in a row with a no talent coach--Steve Fisher--playing crap for a scheme.

Of the Michigan Fab Five, only Ray Jackson was not drafted. Webber went first. Howard went 5th. Rose 13th. And King 35th. The shortest guy on their starting five was 6'5". They could all run and jump and defend and score. They were all hard nosed kids, except for Webber, who was spoiled rotten. If they had had a decent coach, they would have won it all twice. Fisher won a ring with Glenn Rice the year by stepping in for the tourney, but Frieder had built the team, not Fisher. Fisher quickly proved he had risen to his level of incompetance with the Fab Five. It was the greatest single waste of talent in the game's history.

I would say that even if the KU Fab Five were to have gone somewhere where they could all start, the KU Fab Five would not be anywhere near good enough to reach the National Finals their freshman and sophmore years, and certainly not with a mediocrity for a coach.

The Michgan Fab Five did.

LAJayhawk 10 years, 8 months ago

jaybate,

Very good analysis of the Fab Five. I used to follow Michigan rather closely, and you summed up the team well.

However, you are still stuck on the 3 point shooting thing, and I have to disagree.

"If he can't shoot 38% plus from trey, he is going to find, despite his hype, life can be pretty tough in D1, just like all the other perimeter players do that shoot under 38%."

All the other perimeter players??? Here are a plethora of players for you who had a good deal of success while shooting under 38% from 3. Let's start with the Fab Five that you just got done praising:

Jalen Rose -- career 33.6% Jimmy King -- career 35.1%

Others in no particular order (** call attention to some big time players):

Derrick Rose (Memphis) -- 33% Mateen Cleeves (MSU) -- 31% Johnny Flynn (Syracuse)-- 33% Eric Devondorf ('Cuse)-- 37% Eric Gordon (Indiana) -- 33% Gerry McNamara ('Cuse) -- 35% Chris Douglas Roberts -- 37% **Acie Law IV (T-A&M) -- 35% Rajon Rondo (UK) -- 28% Damien James (UT) -- 35% Brandon Roy (UW) -- 34% Jordan Farmar (UCLA) -- 33% Willie Warren (OU)-- 37% Tony Crocker (OU)-- 37% Keith Langford (KU) -- 32% Aaron Miles (KU)-- 34% Russell Robinson (KU)-- 32%

I could go on all night, but I believe I made my point. Obviously it is great if you shoot over 38%, but clearly you can have a great deal of success shooting under that from 3.

100 10 years, 8 months ago

100,

Jaybate, you have a great memory of the Michigan Fab 5 (and yes I was off by a year or two, sorry TrojanHawk).

That aside, our Fab 5 would still whoop them in April.

How?

  1. Our Fab 5 has Self coaching them.
  2. Our Fab 5 has 5 (five) incredible, well coached players to go against every day in practice.
  3. KU's 2009 fab 5 = Work hard or go home Michigan's 1991 Fab 5 = Show up & play

Jaybate, you make great points -- but you & I both know that Mich Fab 5 was mentally soft. They were always too busy being "cool". Their D was so ugly to watch. Robinson & Withey, X would eat them up, assisted by some perfectly executed Bill Self offense that frustrates & squashes the weak ego of a lazy Defense.

Self & his stacked fab 5, given 9 months to prepare, would eat their lunch. (Recall the Michigan fab 5 saw real D for the first time against Duke).

Lastly, the only position we'd be small at wiould be the2. We'd lose 2 inches there. But our Center would be bigger & have more length. Could Withey beat him now? Probably not. Give him 9 months to prepare & get better.

If I'm in Vegas, I know where my money goes -- KU's fab 5...

I seriously think KU fans are having a difficult time grasping "how good" this class is. All five of these new kids have a legit shot, with hard work, of playing NBA ball. A couple of them of could be big impact players down the road.

LAJayhawk 10 years, 8 months ago

I just want to clarify from my post as to exactly why I put the ** asterisks next to a couple of those players. I pointed out those 5 guys not just because they were immensely important to their respective team's success, but also that they shot inadequately -- by jaybate's standards -- from the 3 point line.

When you see that Mateen Cleeves shot 31% for his career or Johnny Flynn shot 33% or, even better, Derick Rose hit 33%, you realize that there is a whole lot more that a big-time college guard can contribute than simply hitting 3s.

There is so much more to a perimeter players game than the outside shot. To think otherwise is to simply close oneself off to the truth of the game.

KU83OU79 10 years, 8 months ago

Two factors make the UCLA run the most overrated in sports history.

  1. There were never more than 25 teams in the tourney when they won any of their titles. So they never had to win more than four games each year.

  2. This one's huge. Only ONE team per conference was allowed in the tourney! So imagine if Duke made it each year but North Carolina didn't. Or if we use 2009 as an example, what if Connecticut made it in but NONE of the other Big East teams even got in the tourney! The entire tournament was watered down each year to an incredible degree.

John Wooden is a great man and coach but the rules at the time made UCLA's run much, much easier.

kesmithstl1 10 years, 8 months ago

Wooden overrated? Are you nuts? Coach Wooden is what every man should strive to be. An honest, hard-working, family man, who wants what is best for everyone around him. I don't have the numbers in front of me but he won everywhere he played or coached. He put UCLA on the map. To tell you how bad UCLA was when he started, he almost took the Minnesota job.

jaybate 10 years, 8 months ago

KU83OU79,

I appreciate your sincerity about your argument, and your recognition of Wooden being a great man.

But here is the problem with your argument: if it were so much easier to win a four game tournament with only the best teams from each conference invited, then other great coaches of the time like Dean Smith, Adolph Rupp, Dean Smith, Al Maguire, and so forth should have won their shares of championships; i.e., if it made it so much easier, then the easiness should have been evenly distributed among all the great coaches. Wooden should not have been able to win 10 out of 11 unless he were an order of magnitude better coach. They didn't and he was. Under the same circumstances of the time, none of the excellent coaches of the time, and there were many, could come close.

Also remember that John Wooden won all ten of his rings at a time when the best players played college basketball for three full seasons before going pro, so this means that Wooden was coaching against mature, experienced teams loaded with the best talent in the game. Compared to today, where the greats play only one season, or to the interim period when the greats did not even play college ball, Wooden time was much tougher to coach and win consistently in, because opposing teams had so much more time to mature, stock up on great talent, and meld physically into tremendous teams, instead of today's short timer teams with talent diluted by early departures to the NBA. In Wooden's time, the contribution of the coach was actually much greater IMHO than it is today. Coaches had years to build cohesive units and built them. The coach's ability and contribution to the development of the team and individuals was thus magnified over what it is today.

You can see the magnitude of the input of coaching and development today when the occassional team sticks together for even three years (e.g,, UNC this year, KU last, and Florida the previous two years). These teams have a stacked deck, so to speak, and tend to win the rings.

jaybate 10 years, 8 months ago

In Woodens time, every (I repeat every) team had three years to be thoroughly coached and developed to the max of its abilities with the best players available. Wooden's coaching abilities were so far beyond his peers that they could not come close to winning ten of eleven rings.

Oh, and people forget that Wooden probably had the most undefeated seasons and the best ten year W-L record of any coach in history.

Wooden was not only a great man, as you rightly point out, his accomplishment of 10 rings in 11 years and 6 or seven straight remains along with the Yankee Dynasty of the 40s/50s and the Celtic dynasty of 50s/60s the most sterling accomplishment in team sports in American sports history.

He was incomparable among college coaches.

Frankly, your argument can and should be inverted. Because only the best teams were invited to the 32 team dance, there were none of these crappy warm up games against low seeds that gave teams time to recover and heal up before getting down to serious competition.

jaybate 10 years, 8 months ago

LAJayhawk,

Great players do not have to be great three point shooters.

But give me a choice between a Mateen Cleeves and Sherron Collins and I pick Collins every time. Collins can shoot the trey. Cleeves couldn't. Collins gives you more fire power.The game is about putting the ball in the whole more than the other team does. Sherron makes it happen, even against a great defender like Cleeves.

Next, every college championship team can get by with one lousy three point shooter on the perimeter, if he is very good ball handler, distributor and defender (e.g., Magic Johnson, Cleves, Flynn, or Rose) and if the team has other perimeter guys who can pop the triceratop at around 38-40%. But not if not, at least, if they want to win a ring. Check out the ring winners the last ten years. I haven't taken the time, but I am betting that almost everyone of the ring winners had at least one perimeter guy on the team shooting around 40% from trey and another shooting around 38%.

You appear to make a straw argument, as you do more than occassionally.

You suggest that I think the only way a guard can be worth having on a team is by being able to shoot the trey at 40%.

Suggesting I would think this is just plain goofy. I would have taken Magic any day. Suggesting anyone within the confines of the known universe thinks one would rather have a trey shooter than Magic Johnson is also just plain LA ga-ga (and I did the LA thing for ten years and know LA ga-ga). For straw arguments to be even briefly effective rhetorically they have to at least be logical. This one is not.

To flesh it out, my argument is not that guards have to be able to shoot the trey to be great guards. Bob Cousy nor Magic, nor the others you mentioned were good long range shooters and they ranged from good to great.

But Cousy, Magic, Cleves, Rose and Flynn all brought a lot of other sterling skills to the table. They just were lousy shooters from outside. You could add Jason Kidd while at Cal to this mix, too. I don't know his pro numbers from three. Some guys, like Magic, do become proficient trey shooters in the pros.

jaybate 10 years, 8 months ago

Now compare these guys to Oscar Robertson, easily the greatest PG of all time,who could easily have shot the trey had there been a stripe, and did shoot the long ball effectively without it.

Throw in Jordan along side Robertson after Jordan really figured out how to shoot the long ball.

These guys are just sooooooooooooooooo much better than players like Derrick Rose it is not even funny. Derrick can join them if he learns to shoot the long ball...not if not.

My argument is essentially: each of these lousy long ballers would have been fabulously more effective guards had they been able to shoot the three, because defenders would not have been able to sag off these guys, as they in fact did much of the time. They could have scored a ton more points themselves, and put much more pressure on opposing teams' defenses--the way Sherron routinely does--simply by shooting the not too phenomenal 37% that Sherron shoots. The validity of the logic of this is, shall we say, beyond question.

So can Henry and Woolridge be great, or even just worth having on your team, without the long ball? Yes. But presently, putting either of these guys in the category of the potential superstar who can deliver KU to the promised land without the long ball in their repertoire is goofy. Why? Because they don't play PG and don't seem to have the skill set of a PG. Great and even very good 2s and 3s can shoot the long ball.

Now regarding Henry's questionable trey shooting (32% junior year and 42% in an injury shortened season in h.s.)--I brought this up precisely because Henry is supposed to be the ne plus ultra 3 who can come in and replace the allegedly inadequate Brady Morningstar, who shoots 42% from trey. People kept saying what a great outside shooter XMan was. I bought into it having not bothered to look up his stats. But, alas, they were basing this on an injury shortened season. When you look back to his last full season, he was a 32% trey shooter his junior year, which puts him smack dab in the weak class of trey shooters. I raised a valid question about just how good of a fit he may turn out to be at the three. Teams with dominant post men need a long bomber at one or both remaining perimeter positions. Will X be that man? It is a fair question.

KU already has one dubious trey shooter (and weak dribbler) on the perimeter in Tyshawn Taylor. They could afford Taylor last year, because they had Sherron at 37% and Brady at 42%. Plug XMan in the three next year and let him shoot 32% from trey and he costs the team a lot regardless of what he brings in shake and bake driving. And no matter how good of a defender XMan is, he is not going do sharply better than Brady did on defense last year, because Brady did so well defensively. Again, the logic of this is beyond question. Hence, it is crucial that XMan be a good trey shooter, at least as good as Sherron's 37%, in order to take most of Brady's minutes and make KU better equipped to win a ring.

jaybate 10 years, 8 months ago

Regarding Woolridge's weak three point shooting (low 30s his junior year), college basketball history is full of high scoring, wildly athletic high school players who could not hit the three and found themselves as glue guys, or no-shoot PGs in college. Ted Owens used to recruit these sorts of guys all the time to play the point. So did Roy. Russell Robinson was not quite such a high scorer in high school as Woolridge, but RR was an offensive force in high school to be sure. He ended up glue and not getting drafted either. These kinds of players come and go. They are not in short supply; this is why Woolridge is ranked low.

Help me fight the hype here!

X Henry is hyped to the sky. Woolridge is waaaaaaay down the recruiting charts, but some how is hyped in KU fans' minds.

Please don't compare X Henry and Woolridge to some of the great PGs of all time that could not shoot very well. Neither Henry, nor Woolridge are PGs. Neither of them could play the PG even as well as Mateen did. They are 2/3 position players (positions where three point shooters are often slotted) and they both appear at significant risk for not being 40% trey shooters. This is a potentially big hole in their games at the 2 and 3 positions, without a long balling PG in the rotation, too.

Frankly, comparing X, or Woolridge to Rose and Cleves and Flynn seems poorly focused analysis. To reiterate, they're PGs. But I had to take what you gave me. :-)

I'm excited X is here. I just am not hearing from anyone define exactly what his skill set is. The refrain has been he has an NBA body already, the NBA wants him, and he can shoot the three.

So do it, X...for a whole season...not an injury shortened one. If you do, KU is solid gold next year. You have an NBA body after all. But if you can't, well, there are going to be a lot of crestfallen Jayhawk fans singing the Kenny Gregory Blues.

Post Script: Chalmers, Rush, Collins, Morningstar and Reed have all made me a believer in the power and critical importance of the trey in the repertoire of perimeter players today. I really have no desire to go back to the athletic perimeter player who shoots 32% from trey. In the days of thug ball ubiquity, the mid range game, and even much of the slashing game, is dead. It is a game of bigs muscling, one driver/distributor and the more trey shooters on the perimeter the merrier.

kennethst 10 years, 8 months ago

J BATE!!

Hello, my friend. You ....as always.....are spot on!!

Hey could you clarify how our players will be used next season.....ie-starting 5,subs,etc. Seems like we have too many players??? A good problem to have .....yes.....but still the question remains.

THX!!

NH_JHawk 10 years, 8 months ago

Good discussion/debates going on here. It's utterly amazing that our incoming freshman class is so good that we're even able to draw comparisons to Michigan's Fab Five or some of UCLA's late 60s classes.

I have to agree with the posters above who mentioned that UCLA's consecutive title runs were "easier" back then than it would be in today's college game. Granted, there were some dominant players on those UCLA teams, but from a broader perspective it seems like the overall level of talent at each position and the grooming of young players today (at a very early age) is much better than it was back then. Perhaps I'm incorrect in saying this because I truly don't know, but back in the 60s/70s did college coaches start actively recruiting players in Junior High and early High School? I would imagine not to the extent they are today.

John Randall 10 years, 8 months ago

"And really that doesn't have anything to do with what I mean by "watered down." Instead of having the 10 best arms in the world on 8 different teams, you have them spread out onto 30. The rest of the guys are mediocre to poor, etc."

How do you compare '10 best arms' in the (less than a billion population) world to the (how many) best arms of nearly seven billion ? ? ? If the pitching today were spread over 70 or 80 teams, and used only 5-7 innings, the league would have to 'juice' the ball to keep ERA the same or better. Wait, you say they thought of that already?
Well, keep up the nonsense that inter-era comparisons are anything more than highly biased opinions.

LAJayhawk 10 years, 8 months ago

jaybate,

Quickly off the top, Jordan was a career 32% shooter from three.

Now, firstly, I'm glad you clarified your argument. I actually agree with a good deal of what you said. My purpose in my previous posts was not to make the "straw man" argument; rather I was disagreeing with a point -- one that you yourself called illogical -- that I drew from your own posts. It appears to me that in a few of your statements that you had misrepresented yourself and your position. Let me point one of them out, not to draw out the debate, but instead to make clear exactly why I was interpreting your point in the manner that I did:

"If he can't shoot 38% plus from trey, he is going to find, despite his hype, life can be pretty tough in D1, just like all the other perimeter players do that shoot under 38%."

Here you are stating -- unintentionally I now understand -- an absolute truth. Saying that "life can be pretty tough" on "ALL the other perimeter players" says to me, quite frankly, that a perimeter player will struggle 100% of the time if he cannot shot at a rate of 38%, and I don't think, by any means, that is a stretch to interpret that statement that way . This point is, of course, illogical as you had pointed out in the following:

"You suggest that I think the only way a guard can be worth having on a team is by being able to shoot the trey at 40%. Suggesting I would think this is just plain goofy. ......To flesh it out, my argument is not that guards have to be able to shoot the trey to be great guards."

This directly contradicts the statement above. But the latter statement was entirely my point, so it seems we agree.

Perhaps I shouldn't have taken your statement as you had written it. Maybe you assumed readers would reinterpret that statement to NOT be an absolute truth and instead assume your position was more complex. I responded simply to the words you had written.

LAJayhawk 10 years, 8 months ago

Now, one quick side note before I move on to X and Woolridge. I do not believe that I made a "straw man" argument based on my understanding of the straw argument definition: one that purposefully misrepresents an opposing argument. My misunderstanding of your point was not intentional; rather it was based on your own misrepresentation of your own argument. Understand that I have no intention of trying to make you look silly or purposefully making you sound wrong or illogical. Quite the contrary, I enjoy debates of all kinds, especially those concerning sports. Furthermore, I only concern myself with those who actually have the intelligence and willingness to flesh out their own argument and make a solid point. So you should take my disagreements with you not as an affront, but instead as a measure of respect. I would not waste my time debating someone who cannot defend his or her own argument or point out what he or she perceives as flaws in mine. That is the whole point of a debate.

LAJayhawk 10 years, 8 months ago

As to X and Woolridge, understand first that I am not "compar[ing] X Henry and Woolridge to some of the great PGs of all time that could not shoot very well." Nor was I comparing them to Rose or Flynn. I will refrain from calling that a "straw argument." :-)

Let me clarify, what I was saying is that even if they don't shoot well from three, they still have the potential to be very good at the next level. And I was using those players stats as proof that it can happen. Obviously they have a better shot at success if they shoot at or above 40%. And, yes, I completely agree with you that a team has better success when they have at least one guy who is hitting at or above 40%

I also share your hope that they will shoot at a very high rate from 3 point range. If X can shoot 40% -- or better yet, a Brandon Rush level of 43% -- we will undoubtedly have a dominant team that will reach a whole new level of success. But if he doesn't, he still can be a solid player and we will still have a better team for it. But here is why X helps this team out a lot and why I believe he has so much hype:

1) He can shoot from the outside. You keep mentioning the "injury shortened senior season," but that season wasn't that short. He played 16 games which is about 3/4 of the season and shot 50 for 116 from 3. Certainly 116 attempts is a pretty solid range from which to grasp his ability from the outside. Also, he is accepted as a good outside shooter from his time in the AAU circuit. I apologize as I don't have the stats to quote you (nor the energy to look it up today), but my understanding is that he has been quite successful from 3 in those games (granted they don't play great D, however).

2) He can drive. Don't underestimate the importance of this for our team next year. One of our biggest downfalls this last season was the fact that the only player on the floor who could create his own shot was Sherron. We desperately needed another "play maker." The biggest difference between Brady and X is that X can find his own shot -- and I do know this first hand as I have seen him play a little bit.

Unfortunately, I cannot speak to X's defense, so hopefully that will be a pleasant surprise much like it was with B-Rush.

For Woolridge, I hate to speak for others, but I believe the reason why people are "up" on him is because many people were big fans of Russell Robinson's contribution to our team, and I think some see him as a Russell-style player with more offensive fire power. Personally, I do not know his game first hand, so I have and will refrain from commenting in such a way. However, I will also refrain from saying KU needs him "like it needs a cranial entry wound" as well. Having not seen him play, I think both is unfair at this point.

LAJayhawk 10 years, 8 months ago

Forgot to mention one more thing with regards to X, his rebounding. Having a solid rebounder at the 3 slot will also greatly improve this team. And with X's strength, speed, jumping ability, and overall athleticism he will undoubtedly be able to rebound well, certainly better than Brady could.

However, I do also believe that we will see Brady and X on the floor together quite a bit next season. With X's abilities and Sherron's skills, Brady will see some very open looks and will continue to shoot above 40% from 3.

In that, I have no doubt.

rockchalk007 10 years, 8 months ago

Back to the 2009-10 Jayhwaks, if you please.

Good points about the potential of this team. Maybe the best rooster ever? Potential and pure talent ... and luck .. will determine if this squad can realize its full capabilities and win all of its games, Big 12 Champs, National Champs. It will require healthy players - limited injuries, team-oriented mind-set (we take this as a "given" but that's really hard work by Coach Self and staff and uperclassmen role models to get the chemistry right), defense first offense second, and a little luck along the way.

Shooting is over-rated. The thing about basketball is that any team or player can have an off night where nothing falls ("a lid on the basket"). This is especially true when the competition is very tough and the pace is frenetic and the team is tight (single game elimination is brutal on the nerves), but even in normal games too. Shooting the trey is the cherry on the cake, never the cake itself. The key to the 3 position (wing) next season will not be the 3 point shot, but defense and the ability to drive and shoot and get to the line. Brady is just not gifted enough physically to go man-to-man with the elite players at the three, on offense and defense, but X and Mario are.

So, defense and rebounding and driving to the basket and getting fouled and extra possesions and getting over 50% of the loose balls, and taking a charge, etc make up for weak offensive play when the shots are just not falling, or when the competition is very hard, or when we get into foul trouble, etc. This is what carried the Jayhawks in 2007-08 to the National title - tough, team-oriented defense and scoring balance. Of course, when the shots are falling, every team looks a lot better than they really are.

Here is the key to the season next year: how much will this team improve from Nov to Feb? If they can improve as much as last year's team, and come together as a unit, they very well could be the best squad top to bottom that the Jayhawks have ever assembled, ever. The Big 12 will be better (TX and OK will be very good again and the others teams will be hard to beat way from Allen Fieldhouse). Pre-conf schedule is better and tougher than years past, so plenty of tests from start to finsih. Practice will be harder than most games, and that is what makes this incoming group so very special - with such a high ceiling - depth baby depth. Go Hawks!

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