No Jo Jo?: What an Embiid-less lineup would mean for Kansas
With the news that Kansas University men's basketball center Joel Embiid won't even practice for the next couple of days as he tries to recover from some knee and back issues, it's feasible to think his coach, Bill Self, and the training staff might decide to hold him out for a game or two, if necessary.
The No. 7 Jayhawks (18-6 overall, 9-2 Big 12) lost in overtime at rival Kansas State on Monday with the freshman center limited to 18 minutes.
Looking at the next two games on the schedule — TCU (9-13, 0-10) comes to Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday and KU travels to Texas Tech (12-11, 4-6) on Tuesday — they might not miss him quite as much in those matchups. If Kansas decides to give the 7-footer some extended time off to heal, the Jayhawks' next marquee game wouldn't be until Feb. 22 against Texas.
The uncertainty around Embiid's immediate future started becoming evident Monday night, so naturally members of the national media began to speculate on how KU would adjust to the valuable big man's absence, if that is indeed how the situation plays out.
• Brian Hamilton at SI.com wrote that Kansas could still thrive if freshman guard Andrew Wiggins asserts himself on offense.
Hamilton referenced Wiggins' play in the closing seconds of regulation at K-State, when he put back his own miss, as an example of what the 6-foot-8 guard can do with his athleticism.
"…Kansas had a chance because Andrew Wiggins decided to give his team one, and it’s clear by now there’s no harm in the Jayhawks demanding more of that."
He goes on to suggest KU's offense is better off — especially if Embiid is out — with Wiggins taking an active approach.
"Meanwhile, his effective field goal percentage, a measure that takes into account success (or failure) from three-point range, has been up and down. That figure has soared as high as 75 percent against Iowa State on Jan. 29 before plunging to 20.8 percent in the next game, at Texas on Feb. 1. But a correlation between Wiggins’ willingness to be even slightly more selfish, and the offensive efficacy that follows, has become clear."
Obviously, Self knows that more than anyone, and the coach will continue to try and get the best out of his explosive one-and-done guard.
• ESPN.com college basketball reporter Myron Medcalf discussed what an injured Embiid means for Kansas in a video chat.
"That's a big blow for that team," he said.
Medcalf, like many watching the Sunflower Showdown on Monday, thought it was "mysterious" when Self kept his talented center out of the game for extended stretches, even though Embiid wasn't in foul trouble.
He said the key to how this impacts KU depends on how long Embiid is ailing. Medcalf hypothesized it could become more difficult for Kansas to win a 10th straight Big 12 title and/or earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament if he misses much more than a couple games, because he is a "defensive force."
• As far as Embiid's personal longterm value on the basketball court goes, the NBA still loves his potential.
Ford has Wiggins as the No. 2 prospect, and Goodman has him getting chosen third, after Duke's Jabari Parker.
On Ford's board, KU freshman Wayne Selden is 27th. The 6-5 guard goes 22nd in Goodman's mock draft.
• KU's OT loss at K-State dropped the Jayhawks to No. 9 in ESPN.com's power rankings.
Oddly enough, Duke, which lost to Kansas earlier this season and plays in the weaker ACC, has moved past Kansas and up to No. 7.
Over at Gary Parrish's Top 25 (and one) rankings for CBSsports.com, which are updated daily, the Jayhawks are No. 7.
Parrish said he had no reason to drop KU in the rankings because of its six wins against RPI top-30 teams and eight victories against the top 50.
• Finally, here is the Twitter roundup of some of the top media tweets during and after KU's Big Monday loss at K-State.
ESPN's Fran Fraschilla sat courtside for the live broadcast, but had plenty to say afterward.
Yahoo's Pat Forde enjoyed the atmosphere and competition of the overtime rivalry game.
Goodman couldn't help but praise Brannen Greene after the freshman guard scored on an offensive rebound and stole the following in-bounds pass for another layup in KU's late rally:
And, of course, anyone who saw KU's late surge, capped by Wiggins recovering his own miss to tie the game in the final seconds, had to be wowed.
Basically, as Medcalf tweeted, who else is looking forward to the Big 12 Tournament?