No other two-letter word that says nothing real has inspired so many words written about it as “if.”
Rudyard Kipling penned the best in his signature poem “If,” which starts,
“If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you ...”
Coaches and baseball managers generally hate questions that begin with “if” because it often means a hypothetical follows.
“If,” Tommy Lasorda routinely snarled. “If a bullfrog had wings, it could fly.”
Good point. Additionally, if the queen refused to stop to ask for directions even if it meant driving aimlessly for hours, fired a sexual thought every seven seconds and hogged the TV remote, she would be the king.
Put the word “what” in front of “if” and it becomes even more meaningless. What’s the point in wasting time on “What if?” “What if I won the lottery?” First purchase: the Batmobile, behind the wheel of which I could bomb around the streets of Lawrence, hoping not to get flagged for speeding by the cop parked at the bottom of the hill heading east-bound on Ninth Street, just east of Iowa.
But just this once, indulge me in “What if,” before Kansas University’s basketball season starts, and I promise to leave it alone forever.
What if Marcus and Markieff Morris had decided to return for their senior years for fear the NBA lockout would keep them idle for too long?
Before considering what that would have meant to KU’s chances of winning an eighth consecutive Big 12 title, look at what it would have done for the twins’ development. For a young basketball player, every day not spent getting better is a day spent getting worse. No matter what individual workouts or scrimmages athletes engage in — regardless of the strength of the competition — nothing substitutes for being pushed with peers by a coaching staff and competing for a team. Plus, Marcus Morris could have used this season to show off his perimeter skills.
The problem with this scenario is that it can apply to a number of schools that lost players early to last year’s NBA Draft. Suspend that reality and go with the fantasy, just this once. The starting five for today’s 7 p.m. opening tip against Towson: Tyshawn Taylor, Elijah Johnson, Marcus Morris, Thomas Robinson, Markieff Morris. Fast, big, experienced, explosive and skilled. Coming off the bench: Travis Releford, Jeff Withey, Naadir Tharpe, Conner Teahan. An answer for every need.
That lineup would ensure KU entering the NCAA Tournament as a No. 1 seed for the fifth time in six seasons, numbers of fantasy. That just doesn’t happen. Not for Duke. Not for North Carolina. Not for UConn. Not for Michigan State. Not for UCLA. Not for anybody.
Kansas enters this rebuilding season ranked No. 13. Come to think of it, who needs to ask “What if” to enjoy it?