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20+1 KU basketball questions for 2017-18

Photo illustration by Scott Chasen

Photo illustration by Scott Chasen by Scott Chasen

The 2017-18 KU men's basketball season is right around the corner.

Before KU gets things started at home against Tennessee State on Friday, our staff came together to answer 21 fun questions about KU basketball. The topics range from things in pop culture to specifics about lineups and projected minute totals.

The entirety of the list was discussed on two recent episodes of our KU Sports Hour podcast. The links to those episodes are below.

Part 1: Questions 1-10

KU Sports Hour: Nov. 1, 2017

Part 2: Questions 11-21

KU Sports Hour: Nov. 8, 2017

Here is the list of questions. Feel free to comment your own answers below!

1. Pick the most important word for Billy Preston: Fouls, interior, rebounding or other (list).

Matt Tait (@mctait): Other (consistency)

Tom Keegan (@TomKeeganLJW): Other (versatility)

Benton Smith (@BentonASmith): Interior

Bobby Nightengale (@nightengalejr): Interior

Scott Chasen (@ChasenScott): Other (mentality)

2. Pick the most important word for Udoka Azubuike: Fouls, stamina, turnovers or other (list).

Matt Tait: Fouls

Tom Keegan: Other (underhanded)

Benton Smith: Stamina

Bobby Nightengale: Other (rebounding)

Scott Chasen: Fouls

3. Rank KU’s scoring leaders 1-5.

Matt Tait: 1. Malik Newman, 2. Devonte’ Graham, 3. Udoka Azubuike, 4. Lagerald Vick, 5. Svi Mykhailiuk

Tom Keegan: 1. Malik Newman, 2. Devonte’ Graham, 3. Billy Preston, 4. Lagerald Vick, 5. Udoka Azubuike

Benton Smith: 1. Devonte’ Graham, 2. Malik Newman, 3. Lagerald Vick, 4. Svi Mykhailiuk, 5. Udoka Azubuike

Bobby Nightengale: 1. Malik Newman, 2. Lagerald Vick, 3. Devonte’ Graham, 4. Udoka Azubuike, 5. Svi Mykhailiuk

Scott Chasen: 1. Malik Newman, 2. Devonte’ Graham, 3. Lagerald Vick, 4. Svi Mykhailiuk, 5. Udoka Azubuike

4. Over/under 26.5 minutes per game for Marcus Garrett?

Matt Tait: Under

Tom Keegan: Under

Bobby Nightengale: Under

Benton Smith: Under

Scott Chasen: Under

5. Who will have the quickest foul out (player, minutes)?

Matt Tait: Billy Preston, 14 minutes

Tom Keegan: Mitch Lightfoot, 14 minutes

Benton Smith: Udoka Azubuike, 9 minutes

Bobby Nightengale: Mitch Lightfoot, 6 minutes

Scott Chasen: Billy Preston, 12 minutes

6. What movie title describes what KU needs out of Devonte’ Graham?

Matt Tait: The Fast and the Furious (2001)

Tom Keegan: Walker, Texas Ranger (pilot, 1993)

Benton Smith: Step Brothers (2008)

Bobby Nightengale: Iron Man (2008)

Scott Chasen: Phone Booth (2002)

7. What player shocks KU fans the most and how?

Matt Tait: Lagerald Vick’s dunks drop jaws of KU fans

Tom Keegan: Lagerald Vick throws down a ridiculous in-game dunk

Benton Smith: Udoka Azubuike goes end to end and destroys a rim

Bobby Nightengale: Svi Mykhailiuk plays like a first-round talent

Scott Chasen: Lagerald Vick has a monster season

8. Assign a Halloween costume to describe Mitch Lightfoot’s season.

Matt Tait: U.S. postal worker

Tom Keegan: Jack Nicholson with an ax from The Shining

Benton Smith: Scream costume

Bobby Nightengale: Rocky Balboa

Scott Chasen: Headless Horseman

9. More technicals: KU basketball players, Bill Self or push?

Matt Tait: Players

Tom Keegan: Players

Benton Smith: Bill Self

Bobby Nightengale: Bill Self

Scott Chasen: Push

10. Who is KU's most replaceable player between Devonte’ Graham, Malik Newman, Lagerald Vick and Udoka Azubuike?

Matt Tait: Malik Newman

Tom Keegan: Lagerald Vick

Benton Smith: Lagerald Vick

Bobby Nightengale: Lagerald Vick

Scott Chasen: Lagerald Vick

11. What will KU’s best late game defensive lineup be at the end of the year?

Matt Tait: Graham-Garrett-Vick-Preston-Azubuike

Tom Keegan: Graham-Garrett-Vick-Preston-Azubuike

Benton Smith: Graham-Mykhailiuk-Vick-Garrett-Azubuike

Bobby Nightengale: Graham-Garrett-Vick-Lightfoot-Azubuike

Scott Chasen: Graham-Garrett-Vick-Preston-Azubuike

12. What will be Bill Self’s biggest adaptation this year?

Matt Tait: KU shooting a higher percentage of 3s

Tom Keegan: Living with mistakes

Benton Smith: Playing bigs through foul trouble

Bobby Nightengale: Five-guard lineups

Scott Chasen: Malik Newman

13. What will Sam Cunliffe’s biggest play this year look like?

Matt Tait: Dunk-contest moment in a game

Tom Keegan: Put-back dunk in a game

Benton Smith: Late-game 3 on the road in Big 12 play

Bobby Nightengale: Dunk in warmups

Scott Chasen: First-half 3 in an early NCAA tournament game

14. Will Chris Teahan’s first FGM come before or after January 1?

Matt Tait: Before

Tom Keegan: Before

Benton Smith: Before

Bobby Nightengale: Before

Scott Chasen: After

15. Predict KU basketball’s worst day in the 2017-18 season?

Matt Tait: Day after Stanford game (Dec. 22)

Tom Keegan: Elite Eight loss

Benton Smith: Sweet Sixteen loss

Bobby Nightengale: FBI investigation resurfaces in college basketball

Scott Chasen: Non-conference injury

16. What odds would you have to be given to bet $50 against KU winning the Big 12?

Matt Tait: 50-to-1

Tom Keegan: 12-to-1

Benton Smith: 50-to-1

Bobby Nightengale: 11-to-1

Scott Chasen: 25-to-1

17. Which player’s success will hinder another’s the most?

Matt Tait: Malik Newman, Svi Mykhailiuk

Tom Keegan: Billy Preston, Svi Mykhailiuk

Benton Smith: Lagerald Vick, Svi Mykhailiuk

Bobby Nightengale: Svi Mykhailiuk, Lagerald Vick

Scott Chasen: Marcus Garrett, Svi Mykhailiuk

18. What anthem should Bill Self have for the 2017-18 season and why?

Matt Tait: Everybody (Backstreet’s Back), returning to the Final Four

Tom Keegan: Down by the River (Neil Young), Final Four in San Antonio

Benton Smith: I am a God (Kanye), Self has total control of the program

Bobby Nightengale: What is Love (Haddaway), "Baby don't hurt me"

Scott Chasen: Everybody (Backstreet’s Back), KU's best lineups will be 3-guard, 2-big

19. More losses for KU: vs. the SEC (Kentucky, Texas A&M) or in the rest of non-conference play?

Matt Tait: Rest of non-conference play

Tom Keegan: Rest of non-conference play

Benton Smith: Push

Bobby Nightengale: SEC games

Scott Chasen Push

20. What former Jayhawk and former Big 12 player from the streak would cause KU the most trouble to play against?

Matt Tait: Josh Jackson, Michael Beasley

Tom Keegan: Joel Embiid, Kevin Durant

Benton Smith: Joel Embiid, Kevin Durant

Bobby Nightengale: Joel Embiid, Blake Griffin

Scott Chasen: Thomas Robinson, Kevin Durant

21. Pick one player in the nation to add to KU.

Matt Tait: Miles Bridges, Michigan State

Tom Keegan: DeAndre Ayton, Arizona

Benton Smith: Miles Bridges, Michigan State

Bobby Nightengale: Michael Porter Jr., Missouri

Scott Chasen: Miles Bridges, Michigan State

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How Marcus Garrett can channel the mold of a recent Bill Self favorite

From left to right, KU coach Bill Self, freshman guard Marcus Garrett and former KU player Josh Jackson.

From left to right, KU coach Bill Self, freshman guard Marcus Garrett and former KU player Josh Jackson. by Scott Chasen

For a Kansas basketball freshman, no descriptor should carry more weight from Bill Self than the word “tough.”

It’s a word the KU coach doesn’t throw around. Players have to earn it. Self assigns it far less frequently than a word representing the opposite — soft — which he can be heard shouting in disgust from the sidelines of games and practices, usually with a matching facial expression.

In that regard, Marcus Garrett fits the mold of one of Self’s favorite freshmen. The raw materials are just a little different.

“Marcus is going to be a really good player,” Self said. “I think he’s one of our tougher guys.”

Now press pause and jump back a year.

Josh Jackson’s days were numbered from the moment he stepped on campus.

Everyone knew he was a one-and-done and likely top-five NBA draft selection, despite what the swingman said, asked about that very topic in a press conference in February.

At the very least, the Big 12 coaches had a pretty good idea of Jackson's future. That included Self.

“We had a 6-8 guard that could rebound and block shots and defend, and he wasn’t a normal guy,” Self said of Jackson. ‘He was a guard, but he could do anything. And he was a matchup nightmare for others.”

Garrett will not be those things, at least at first. He doesn’t have Jackson’s athleticism. At 6-foot-5, 180 pounds, Garrett doesn’t have Jackson's size

Garrett can, however, replicate some of the things that made Jackson what he was. His Allen Fieldhouse debut was a step in the right direction.

The do-everything, hybrid guard-wing-whatever-he-is was asked to play the four, as well as in the backcourt. Garrett defended in the post and on the perimeter. He both threw and received inbounds and outlet passes. He didn't let a veteran opponent take advantage of him.

via GIPHY

Same mold. Different material.

“He’s a really tough guy and that’s going to help us a lot,” said guard Svi Mykhailiuk.

Defensively, Garrett was tested. Several Pittsburg State players tried to go at him, to varying success.

Late in the first half, Demetrius Levarity received a pass on the right wing. He tried a hesitation dribble to get by Garrett. Then he spun back to his left to attempt a hook over his right shoulder. Garrett forced a tie-up and then ripped the ball away.

One possession later, Garrett was hounding Jabari Antwine. Antwine was trying to get the ball into the post, where the 6-foot-7 Levarity was being guarded by 6-foot-2 Devonté Graham.

Garrett’s activity forced the Gorillas to look elsewhere. They ended up getting called for a shot-clock violation.

“He gets his hands on a lot of balls. That’s what he does,” Self said. “He’s not going to be a guy that’s going to average double figures as a freshman. But he can be a guy that can steal us a lot of extra possessions.”

And yet, there are still the moments that will drive his coach crazy.

With just over two minutes to play in the first half, Garrett trailed Graham up the court.

Graham passed Garrett the ball and he shot a contested 3. The ball didn’t move from side to side, a staple of not only Self’s offense, but also that of Garrett’s former coach. The possession lasted seven seconds.

Earlier in the first half, Garrett poked a ball away. Rather than passing it to an open Mykhailiuk, who was running up the floor, he began to dribble.

Garrett turned it over and Billy Preston had to step in and take a foul to stop a layup. Self screamed in frustration from the bench.

In those moments, the freshman looked like a freshman, as compared to the “freshman, but he’s not really a freshman” Self had a year ago.

“Maybe the biggest dog in college basketball as a freshman last year,” Self said of Jackson. “I mean, he was an assassin.”

The good news for Garrett is that he doesn’t need to be just yet.

It’s unlikely Garrett will play a meaningful minute this season without two of Graham, Mykhailiuk, Malik Newman and Lagerald Vick on the floor, meaning his developing 3-point shot won’t need to come around overnight.

For now, Garrett can play his way. That means straight-line drives to the basket to draw fouls — he shot a game-high eight free throws — and a little bit of everything else, like the five rebounds (two offensive), three assists, one steal and one block he tallied against Pittsburg State.

By the time he’s an upperclassman, though, would it shock anyone if these words that Self spoke of Jackson last year were being spoken about him?

“God, did he play good. I mean he played good. He showed America tonight that’s about as versatile of a player as there is in the college game.”

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