Bill Self has absolutely no idea how his Kansas Jayhawks will fare in the 2011 NCAA Tournament.
What the 2008 national championship coach does know for certain, though, is he’d rather be coaching this KU squad than any other team in the field of 68.
“I like our team,” Self said of his No. 1-seeded Jayhawks, who take a 32-2 record into the Big Dance.
“I know there’s not room for a ton of margin for error like that team in ’08, but I do like our team. We’ve got a good team. It’s what we are — a team. We are not a bunch of individuals. Marcus (Morris, 17.3 ppg) is probably the lowest-scoring player of the year we’ve had in a long time.
“We have a bunch of good, solid players. When the ball moves and we play smart, we are a good team. We can get average pretty quick. I like our guys. Of course, I’d like us to make all our shots.”
Here’s a quick Q and A regarding KU:
Q: Why will KU make a strong run to the Final Four?
A: The Morris twins, if they are fed the ball properly, rarely disappoint. The junior forwards are double-double machines.
They also both are highly motivated, not only because of last year’s second-round loss to Northern Iowa, but the likelihood this is their final NCAA Tournament.
Seniors Brady Morningstar and Tyrel Reed are also hungry. Proud Kansans, they want to leave with not one, but two, NCAA title rings.
Q: What could prevent KU from reaching the Final Four?
A: Defense. Self has said he’s not crazy about his team’s work on the not-so-glamorous end of the court.
However, KU did get a major stop to save an otherwise awful first-round Big 12 tourney game against Oklahoma State. The Jayhawks also played great defense in Saturday’s title victory over Texas, as strong a team as there is in the country.
Another possible road block could be three-point shooting and free-throwing. Consistency from Reed and Morningstar from beyond the arc will be vital to a deep run.
Q: What intangible could best help KU avoid an early exit in 2011?
A: Team leaders stressing the Jayhawks enjoy, and not fear, the Big Dance.
The Jayhawks, who were tight on Senior Night and again in the first round of the Big 12 tourney against an inferior Okie State team, need to relish the NCAA Tournament ride.
They need to be in attack mode at all times, not feeling pressure but putting the heat on the other team.
KU, in short, has to play as it did against Texas. The Jayhawks last year looked just as great in a Big 12 title game victory over K-State, then played tight in the NCAAs both against Lehigh and Northern Iowa. KU must build on the Texas game, not regress following it.
More questions: Can undersized inside player Mario Little hold his own and contribute solid minutes in the NCAAs? ... Will Elijah Johnson continue his run of brilliant defense? ... Can Josh Selby provide eight to 10 points a game and limit his turnovers? … Can Tyshawn Taylor build on brilliant Big 12 tourney and play the best basketball of his career? ... Can Thomas Robinson turn in consistent effort after consistent effort in a somewhat inconsistent, yet inspiring, season?