It's probably just a small number of people out there on Twitter, and I realize that social media sites can be dangerous places to do any kind of real research.
But I'm going to head down that path anyway because I just don't get it.
During the past 24 hours I've seen more than a few dozen KU fans — I think they are, anyway — jump on Twitter and various message boards claiming that KU absolutely should go after former Georgia head coach Mark Richt, who was fired by the Bulldogs this weekend after a 9-3 season that looked much better on paper than it actually was. Georgia beat just one FBS team with a winning record all season and, once again, fell short of the enormous expectations people have for that program.
So Richt, the 55-year-old veteran head coach who compiled an overall record of 145-51 in 15 seasons, including SEC championships in 2002 and 2005 and runner-up trophies three other times, is out of a job and UGA is moving on.
That doesn't mean KU should be.
Whether you're a David Beaty believer or you think he's the latest in a long line of KU coaches who will go down having got his shot and failed, the one thing I think all supporters and followers of KU football can agree on is that this program is in no position to continue changing head coaches.
What in the world about fielding five head coaches in the past eight seasons sounds so appealing that you'd want to make it six in nine?
As long as he shows progress, for better or worse, Beaty is going to and should get the length of his five-year contract. Giving him — or anyone — that kind of time is the only way to really see if something of substance can be built here. And it's the only way to find out, yet again, if, when something substantial is built, it can be sustained for any real length of time.
So while Richt, who would be a fine choice to lead any program, will go on to find another job, there's no reason for anyone around here to think that it will or even should be at Kansas.
For the first time in a long time, it can be said with certainty that KU has its head coach and he's a guy an overwhelming majority of the fan base has gotten behind.
Thanks to a pair of blowouts in the opening rounds and a hard-fought 70-63 victory over 19th-ranked Vanderbilt in Wednesday's title game, the Kansas University men's basketball team hoisted some hardware in paradise.
Taking the Maui Invitational was the first step in what fifth-ranked Kansas (4-1) hopes will be a handful of celebrations like it during the 2015-16 season.
Here's a quick look at some of the fun on the floor following KU's Maui Invitational triumph.
During Friday's long flight over the Pacific Ocean, I spent some time looking over the stats for the Chaminade Silverswords, KU's first opponent at the 2015 Maui Invitational — 8 p.m. central Monday night — and a couple of things jumped out immediately.
The biggest, by far, had to do with Chaminade's scoring.
Despite dropping their first two games of the season, the Silverswords have averaged 96 points per game. Six Chaminade players have averaged double digits in scoring to start the season, with Oscar Pedroso (20), Kuany Kuany (16) and James Harper (15) leading the way.
A closer look at how those points have come created a bit of a head-scratching moment until I got to one key statistic.
Chaminade has scored the exact same number of field goals as its opponents — 61-of-122 shooting vs. 61-of-133 shooting — and even outshot opponents, 28-21, behind the three-point line.
Those numbers, especially this early in the season, likely would lead one to believe that the Silverswords had won both of their games instead of losing them.
But that's where that key stat comes in. During losses to Alaska Anchorage (92-90) and at Alaska (112-102), Chaminade surrendered 75 trips to the free throw line and got to the line just 55 times. Those numbers led to a 61-42 free-throw-shooting advantage for the two Alaska schools and ultimately led to both losses.
Chaminade has out-fouled its opponents 55-46 and had three players foul out, including junior guard Kiran Shastri, who started one of the two games and fouled out of both of them.
Without having seen the Silverswords play, it's hard to know exactly what kind of team they field and how they run offense and play — or don't play — defense. But based on the stats, it looks like they're a fast team that likes to chuck up three-pointers and doesn't worry too much about defending.
It will be interesting to see if the Jayhawks get caught up in that style and try to run up and down with the Silverswords or if KU coach Bill Self elects to make this more of a half-court game, perhaps in response to KU's struggles in the half-court in last week's loss to Michigan State at the Champions Classic in Chicago, where KU senior Perry Ellis led Kansas with 21 points but did not get nearly enough touches in the paint, especially in the second half.
The nice thing about Ellis' game and the Wichita native's versatility is that it allows KU to play just about any style necessary without having to worry about him being taken out of the game. Ellis seems to be equally comfortable doing work inside, both on the block and out of the high post, or running the floor, leading the break and knocking down outside jumpers.
Either way, you can bet that he'll be a huge point of emphasis for Kansas (1-1) in Maui, against Chaminade in the opener, simply because it's the next game after Michigan State, and as the Jayhawks try to run past the rest of the field to deliver Self his first Maui title in four tries.
The Kansas University men's basketball team had a golden opportunity to start the season with a statement victory in a prime-time event that would have served notice that this season was going to be different.
It still might, but the Jayhawks blew that opportunity by collapsing down the stretch against a scrappy, hard-charging Michigan State team that made all of the plays on offense and defense in Tuesday night's 79-73 victory over Kansas in the Champions Classic in Chicago.
By all accounts, this was a bad loss. And not because Michigan State (2-0) is a bad team or because the Jayhawks no-showed. Worse. Because Michigan State is a good team, Kansas (1-1) had 'em beat and still could not close the deal.
After building an 11-point lead midway through the second half and looking like they were about to turn the lights out on the Spartans' chances, Kansas forgot how to run offense, gave up too many easy buckets on defense and, despite never quitting, never could regain the upper hand. Kansas played catch-up basketball down the stretch and Michigan State never blinked.
The loss dropped KU to 1-1 this season and 1-4 all-time in the Champions Classic.
Like our sports editor Tom Keegan wrote in today's paper, the Jayhawks blew this one by not understanding the importance of Perry Ellis. And I'm not just talking late or in the second half. From the very start of the game on, the Jayhawks far too often failed to give Ellis a touch on the offensive end, instead allowing for crazy driving shots at the rim that, in all reality, weren't even close. Even if he's not scoring, Ellis is the man that nearly every possession should run through night in and night out. Doing that makes Kansas a better team. Not doing that makes Kansas lose to Michigan State in a game they had no business losing. Ellis easily should've gone for 30 points in this one but the KU perimeter players — veteran guys who should know better — did not emphasize getting him the ball and KU came away empty. It's not an end-of-the-world type of loss for Kansas. But it definitely should not have happened and it will be interesting to see what this team learned and/or gained from the defeat.
1 – There's not a single player on KU's roster that can score and impact the game in as many different ways as Perry Ellis. And that was on full display in this one. He scored in the post, finished through contact and hit from the outside. Because of the loss, several KU fans already have jumped on the “Perry's soft” bandwagon. They're missing the point. He's not soft. He's KU's best player. By far. And he needs to be the focal point of everything the Jayhawks do on a more consistent basis.
2 – The Jayhawks were solid from the free throw line, shooting 24-of-30 for 80 percent, and got there nearly twice as much as the Spartans. With guys like Perry Ellis, Wayne Selden and Frank Mason in the starting lineup, getting easy points at the line should be a point of emphasis for the Jayhawks all season. Five different Jayhawks were perfect at the free throw line in Tuesday's loss.
3 – KU won the turnover battle in a big way on Tuesday night, coughing up just six turnovers and forcing 16. It could be argued that poor shot selection at times actually accounted for more turnovers, but on the stat sheet it went down as six give-aways. That's the product of a veteran team understanding the importance of each possession and being locked in enough to avoid careless mistakes.
1 – Sophomore guard Devonte' Graham was sped up all night and tried to play beyond his ability. Graham's a great athlete, a good shooter and has a knack for finding the open man and running good offense. Last night he displayed none of that. He fired hard-driving shot after hard-driving shot off the backboard, missed his three-point tries and appeared to be a little overwhelmed by trying to put on a show on the big stage. That's not what Kansas needs from Graham and he knows that. Don't expect to see anything similar the rest of the year.
2 – Big man Landen Lucas may have tied for the team lead with seven rebounds but he had next to no impact on this game. He struggled mightily in the post on offense — why KU still throws it in there to him is beyond me — and he had defensive lapses that just can't happen. Give him credit for grabbing seven boards, but his size advantage alone in this one said that number should've been attainable. There will be games down the road when Lucas' size and rebounding ability can help this team, but he needs to improve significantly in a few other areas to warrant big minutes. After the performance Hunter Mickelson put up in Korea this summer, I'm shocked that he played just three minutes on a night when neither Lucas nor Jamari Traylor really had it going.
3 – Smaller Michigan State out-rebounded Kansas by 10 on the boards and dominated stretches of the second half by getting second and third chances off of pure heart. KU had the size and depth advantage and you could not have paid me to believe that they would get out-rebounded in this one.
Here's a quick look at the updated all-time win totals in NCAA history.
• Kentucky – 2,180
• Kansas – 2,154
• North Carolina – 2,142
• Duke – 2,064
• Syracuse – 1,922
The Jayhawks head to paradise next week to open play in the Maui Invitational against Chaminade at 8 p.m. (central) on Monday. Win or lose, KU will play Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday in Hawaii.
There's just something about Kansas and TCU on the football field that tends to create entertaining and competitive games.
But who would've thought that would be the case this year, when the winless Jayhawks traveled to No. 13 TCU on Saturday?
Not me. I picked a TCU blowout, both because of the strength of that TCU offense and the fact that KU was on the road. But the Jayhawks played what was without question their best defensive game of the season — even when Trevone Boykin was in the game — and almost did enough offensively to pull off the upset.
KU's latest loss, a 23-17 setback at TCU, provided Kansas fans, players and coaches with plenty of reasons to be encouraged, excited, optimistic and hopeful. And this team should feel good about its most recent effort. But the bottom line remains the same — KU is still making too many mistakes to expect to win games. From false starts and other silly penalties to not converting at key times and struggling to score points, David Beaty's team continues to shoot itself in the foot too often and that's costing them a chance to both be in and win games.
1 – The defense looked sensational and played with a ton of fire, passion and toughness. Credit defensive coordinator Clint Bowen for coming up with another solid game plan against the Horned Frogs and credit the KU players for executing that game plan and not giving a damn about who they were playing, what the records of the teams were or where the game was played. This kind of defensive effort in the next two games could make things very interesting.
2 – Led by Ben Goodman, KU's much-maligned defensive line was darn good in this one. There was a reason linebackers Marcquis Roberts and Joe Dineen made so many tackles in this one — because the D-Line got good push and allowed those guys to clean up the mess. But KU's D-Line was not just in a complementary role. Goodman, Corey King, Damani Mosby, Dorance Armstrong and Anthony Olobia also made a bunch of tackles. KU's defense finished with three sacks and eight tackles for loss.
3 – Kansas did a good job on dynamic freshman KaVontae Turpin. In fact, had it not been for Turpin's 49-yard punt return for a TD that got the scoring started, KU would have received an A-plus here. Turpin finished with just 21 yards on four receptions and -8 yards on the three other punts he got his hands on. He also carried once for seven yards, but, for the most part, KU did a great job of keeping him from hurting them.
1 – Wanted: More points. Sure, KU is dealing with a bunch of young guys playing on the offensive side of the ball, but this was the 10th week of the season and the excuses about youth don't carry as much weight. Bottom line: This team is not going to win any time soon if it can't find a way to put up more points. I really thought we'd see more razzle-dazzle out of this offense than we have and it looks like the offensive line's inconsistent play has taken a portion of the playbook out of the equation. After outgaining TCU in the first half, Kansas had just 18 yards of offense on nine plays — three three-and-outs — in the third quarter.
2 – This is pretty specific, but it was a perfect indication of exactly what's keeping this team from breaking through. Early in the game, with Kansas driving into TCU territory, the Jayhawks faced a fourth-and-seven and, believe it or not, head coach David Beaty called to go for it. Before the fourth-down snap, however, Jacob Bragg was called for a false start. That turned a manageable fourth-and-seven into a fourth-and-12, yet Beaty waved to his offense and said go for it anyway. It seemed as if the same play they called to gain seven yards was available to gain 12. One problem. Before the fourth-down snap could come a second time, right tackle Larry Holmes was whistled for a false start, as well. That turned it into a fourth-and-17 and forced Beaty's hand. The punt team trotted onto the field and an opportunity was lost.
3 – Freshman QB Ryan Willis took another beating. Already playing at less than 100 percent, Willis was beat up in this one and that significantly impacted his effectiveness. Last week, we talked about giving Willis major credit for his toughness. And that still applies. But at some point KU is going to have to do a better job of keeping him clean or else the exciting young quarterback is not going to be able to finish the season.
KU's close call at TCU...
• Dropped Kansas’ all-time record dropped to 579-608-58.
• Meant the Jayhawks now have lost 38-straight games played outside of Lawrence. Kansas has also lost 32 straight league games away from Lawrence. A Kansas team hasn’t won a true conference road game in 28 tries. The last Big 12 road win occurred Oct. 4, 2008, in Ames, Iowa.
• Made Kansas 0 for its last 24 against opponents ranked in the top 25. The last time KU won a game against a Top-25 team, the Jayhawks defeated No. 15 Georgia Tech on Sept. 11, 2010. The last time KU beat a Top 25 opponent in a true road contest occurred on Oct. 6, 2007, when the Jayhawks beat No. 24 Kansas State 30-24 in Manhattan.
• Featured the first time in the David Beaty era that the Jayhawks were tied with an opponent after the first 30 minutes. In fact, the last time a Kansas team didn’t trail at halftime was in 2014 when the Jayhawks held a 13-10 lead against TCU in Lawrence.
KU will return home to Memorial Stadium to take on the West Virginia Mountaineers at 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 21, before closing the 2015 season with a home game on Nov. 28 against Kansas State.
The scoreboard shows another beating suffered by the overmatched and outmanned Kansas University football team. But those who witnessed Saturday's 59-20 loss at Texas — including the 90,000 UT fans in attendance — know that things got pretty intense there for the Longhorns in the second quarter.
After racing out to a 17-0 lead, UT hit cruise control and KU hit back. Had it not been for a couple of bad mistakes and two empty trips that ended inside the Texas 10 yard line, Kansas might have been winning at halftime.
Had that been the case, I talked to plenty of Texas media folks who said the Longhorns very well might have folded. And wouldn't THAT have been interesting.
As it turned out, KU fell short, made far too many mistakes and the Longhorns easily ran away from the Jayhawks with a strong second half.
KU continues to stay the course. And, at this point, it's really all they can do. The players prepare hard and play harder. Head coach David Beaty has stayed consistent with regard to the expectations in the program and the opponents, like Texas did Saturday, have continued to find areas to exploit the Kansas defense and make life tough for the young KU offense. Many wondered if KU's match-up with the Longhorns would give the Jayhawks a better chance to compete, given the fact that UT did not feature one of those nasty, break-neck offenses like Baylor, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech. And, for a little more than a half, compete they did. Maybe that gives reasonable cause for KU backers to think the same thing can happen against West Virginia and K-State. Then again, maybe not.
1 – It's worth something to point out that the KU defense did respond to that awful start. For a group that has been brutalized most of the season, it would've been real easy for those guys to lay down after Texas got up 17-0. But they didn't. They stayed strong against the run, got good pressure on UT QB Jerrod Heard and forced a huge turnover, all of which gave the offense time to crawl back into the game. The D wore down severely in the second half, but that first-half bounce-back is notable.
2 – Forget about Ryan Willis' skills and ability to throw the football. It's time we applaud the young man for his toughness. Willis, making his fifth consecutive start, took big hit after big hit and kept getting up. Beaty pointed out after the loss that a lot of the punishment was Willis' fault, but he also said he admired the heck out of the young man's toughness. It's that kind of showing, especially from a quarterback, that can get a whole team playing harder.
3 – It's debatable whether this is good news or bad, but I'm going to side with good news because of the message it sends. Wideouts Tre' Parmalee and Steven Sims Jr., were suspended for this game and did not travel to Austin after violating a team rule. Beaty did not disclose the violation and, from the sound of things, it was pretty minor. But the first-year KU coach realizes that when you're in Year 1 of a major rebuilding project, nothing can be considered minor and he clearly is willing to take advantage of every opportunity to send a message, prove a point and make it clear what is expected of the players in this program.
1 – I'm sure he's a great dude but I think we've reached the point where David Beaty can't trot place kicker Nick Bartolotta onto the field any more. The missed 26-yard field goal was a devastating blow to this team's momentum and chances on Saturday and Bartolotta, after starting the season strong, has been woeful for the past several games. His confidence appears shot and even though it's a lot to put on Matthew Wyman, he's the guy that should be handling all of KU's kicking duties right now.
2 – Texas did not enter the game known as a passing team, but the UT coaching staff clearly saw enough holes in KU's secondary on film to design their game plan around exploiting the Jayhawks' pass D. It worked. Both Texas QBs who played hit the KU defense with big passes and the KU cornerbacks struggled to both stay on top of UT's wide receivers in coverage and to offer much help in the running game.
3 – With Sims and Parmalee sitting in Lawrence, the Jayhawks needed a couple of wide receivers to step up. No one really did. Darious Crawley led the team with 63 yards and a TD on three catches, but the touchdown catch, a 19-yarder, came with 1:07 to play. Parmalee has been by far KU's most reliable receiver this season and Sims also has stood out as one of the top options. Without them, the KU passing game struggled. Tight end Kent Taylor was more involved — and should be the rest of the way — but KU's version of the Air Raid offense is far less potent with Parmalee and Sims sitting in street clothes.
KU's loss at Texas on Saturday night:
•Kansas’ all-time record dropped to 579-607-58.
•The Jayhawks have lost 37-straight games played outside of Lawrence, the last win occurring Sept. 12, 2009 at UTEP. Kansas has also lost 31-straight league games away from Lawrence. A Kansas team hasn’t won a true conference road game in 28 tries. The last occurred Oct. 4, 2008, a 35-33, win in Ames, Iowa.
•After a rushing touchdown with 8:49 to play in the second quarter, bringing the score to, 24-14, in favor of Texas, Kansas tied its season-high for points scored in the first half of a game. The Jayhawks also scored 14 points against South Dakota State in the season opener.
•KU’s 236 yards of total offense, compared to Texas’ 190, marked the first time Kansas out gained an opponent in the opening half of play since putting up 333 yards and allowing Iowa State just 89 yards in the opening 30 minutes in 2014.
•KU’s four fumbles in the first half were the most in an opening period since putting the ball on the ground a total of five times against Texas A&M in the first portion of the game in 2011.
Falling under the category of awful timing, the way KU's meeting with Oklahoma came one week after OU lost to Texas, the Jayhawks next week will have to travel to TCU to take on the Horned Frogs who likely just saw their national title and Trevone Boykin's Heisman Trophy hopes go out the window with a loss at Oklahoma State.
Before leaving Austin, Texas, I spoke with one of the Big 12 officials who worked Saturday's KU-Texas game to see if I could get a clarification on the situation surrounding the punt that was muffed by Derrick Neal in the first half of KU's 59-20 loss.
The ruling on the field was that Neal touched the ball and a Texas player recovered it at the KU 17. Replay during the game confirmed as much — according to the official, the camera angle showed Neal's fingers bend back after making contact with the ball — but KU coach David Beaty continued to have discussions with the referees for several minutes after the replay confirmation.
Beaty said after the game that he was arguing that the UT player who recovered the ball "clearly went out of bounds" and was the first one to touch it after returning to the field of play. By rule, that would be deemed illegal touching and possession would be given to Kansas.
The official this morning told me that the refs on the field missed the call during live action and that replay could not get involved after the fact. It falls in the same category as a play in which a team challenges the spot of the football and on replay officials see a facemask penalty. Because the penalty was missed on the field — and penalties are not reviewable — the infraction cannot be flagged after being discovered by replay.
In short, the missed call on the field cost Kansas because the rules were on the Jayhawks' side.
These things happen, though, and the officials had nothing to do with Neal's poor decision and inability to execute the fielding of the punt.
The official, who said he was impressed with how hard the Jayhawks played, added that Beaty was very calm and respectful during his discussions and "asked his questions in the right way."
The first thing I saw when I woke up Monday morning was a text from a friend informing me that someone had quite literally broken into Memorial Stadium, torn the goalpost down in the south end zone and dumped the broken metal in Potter Lake, as is the custom when the KU football team pulls off a victory that sets off a rockin' celebration.
I get the whole kids-will-be-kids narrative and the lighten-up-what's-wrong-with-having-a-little-fun mindset. But I gotta tell ya: The whole schtick did not sit right with me from Minute 1.
I'm not going to judge you or even call you crazy if you choose to applaud the way a few dozen fans — whether they're Royals fans, KU fans, both or neither remains unknown — celebrated Kansas City's first major sports title in 30 years.
But can we at least agree on one thing? You have to admit it looks a little foolish.
I mean, did supporters of Stanford tear into the school's football stadium and do more than $10,000 worth of damage to celebrate the Golden State Warriors NBA title last summer?
Did anybody hear about a bunch of UMass students breaking into the gymnasium and cutting down the nets last winter when the New England Patriots won the Super Bowl?
Of course not. And if they had, it would have made each of those schools look stupid the way this made KU look lame.
And that's to say nothing of the automatic and unnecessary shots that people across the country since have fired at KU football over this whole mess. What do those guys do? All they're trying to do is find a way to climb out from underneath one hell of a mess created by the past two football coaches and going about it rather quietly and respectably.
Kansas football has got enough problems without the rest of the country being given a gift-wrapped reason to make fun of the struggling program.
Look, I'm not so old that I can't remember what it was like to be a kid, to celebrate with wild abandon or even to do dumb things that I now look back on and scratch my head about. I'm not sure you ever actually get old enough to lose sight of those things. But you do grow up. And I'm pretty sure I never thought it would be OK to represent my school or town by damaging property, trespassing and putting myself and a bunch of others in harm's way while celebrating the accomplishments of a team in another city.
Sure, a huge chunk of KU's enrollment is made up of Kansas City kids. And good for them. Whether they've been pulling for the Royals since their mothers and fathers first introduced them to baseball at age 5 or just jumped on the bandwagon and only have been Royals fans for the past 18 months, their team winning the World Series is good reason for a great celebration.
And to the credit of hundreds of KU students and Lawrence residents, celebrate is what they did. Downtown, with chants and screams, high-fives and hugs. Not vandalism. Thousands more did the same thing across Kansas City.
So to let the action of a few hardcore party people — many of whom might actually be decent people — ruin what otherwise was a pretty cool scene, would be unfair. That's not what this is. Instead, this is the voice of logic and reason, something that was clearly missing when these guys and gals blew their own minds by deciding to wreck Memorial Stadium because a baseball team from a city 40 miles away won the World Series.
It was another rough day for the overmatched Kansas football team, which was drubbed, on Homecoming weekend no less, 62-7 by an Oklahoma team that probably could have scored a lot more.
OU's Baker Mayfield and Sterling Shepard did all kinds of damage through the air and the three-headed monster of Samaje Perine, Joe Mixon and Alex Ross bullied the Jayhawks on the ground.
Saturday's 52-point spread was the second worst of the season, trailing only Baylor's 66-7 beating earlier this year.
At this point, we're kind of facing the old it-is-what-it-is deal with this football team. The Jayhawks are overmatched every week and despite preparing hard and playing to the final whistle, there really isn't much you can point to that, if done right or better, would make that much of a difference. Of course this team still wants to get a win this season. And, yeah, three of KU's final four opponents combine to be four games under .500. So maybe there is an outside shot at finding a little hope. But I wouldn't bet on it. This season has taken on the feel of one that KU will close out with the goal being to get as many young guys as much positive experience as they can get so there's at least some reason for optimism heading into 2016.
1 – Matthew Wyman continues to make a difference in the punting game and appears to have solved KU's issues there. Beaty said the kicking game was one of the few highlights from Saturday and Wyman's 42.8-yard average, with two downed inside the OU 20, has definitely made a noticeable difference for this team. If nothing else, it's at least forcing KU opponents to have to put together longer drives to pile up the points.
2 – It doesn't matter much on the scoreboard or in the stats, but it's pretty impressive to watch these guys never get down. Now, I'm not saying that the Jayhawks enjoy these beatings, but you really don't see guys hanging their heads or sulking on the sideline any longer. They stay up and they keep playing. That's not easy. And they should be applauded for that if nothing else.
3 – Let's be honest. It was Halloween and I was surprised there were as many people there as there were. With that in mind, KU made sure everyone got out of there in plenty of time to get ready for Halloween and trick-or-treating. Can you imagine the conflict if this game had gone down to the wire?
1 – Oklahoma was not forced to punt one time during Saturday's victory over Kansas, and the defense that, just a couple of weeks ago appeared to be making significant strides, struggled big-time against a pretty dominant offense.
2 – In-game coaching issues still seem to be popping up at a regular rate. Whether you're talking about strange timeouts, slow adjustments or general uncertainty, it still seems that this group of players and coaches working together for the first time are figuring things out on the fly a little bit. That's to be expected in the first year of a new coaching regime, but it makes for a few head scratchers.
3 – KU's running game continues to struggle big time. In this one, Kansas managed just 35 yards on 36 carries. Seniors De'Andre Mann and Taylor Cox run hard when they get the ball and usually gain every yard available. That's the problem. There just isn't much there. Instead of getting better, it seems to be getting worse. But KU has faced two of the Big 12's best defenses during the past couple of weeks. So maybe there's hope that the tough sledding the Jayhawks have experienced in the past couple of weeks will lighten up in the final month of the season.
KU's 55-point loss to the Sooners on Saturday:
• Dropped KU's all-time record to 579-606-58.
• Prolonged a streak of 21-straight losses to ranked opponents and extended a streak of 10-consecutive losses to a top-25 opponent in Memorial Stadium.
• Featured Kansas starting five true freshman on offense against the Sooners. The total number of freshmen who started offensively can be increased to six with the addition of red-shirt frosh Jacob Bragg.
• Pushed OU's all-time edge in the series to 73-27-6 and 35-15-4 in Lawrence. In the Big 12 Conference era, the Sooners hold a 21-1 advantage (6-1 in Lawrence). KU’s two Big 12 wins over OU came in 1996 and 1997, the first two years of the league. OU is now 6-0 on the road against the Jayhawks under Bob Stoops.
Kansas heads south to Austin, Texas, to take on 3-5 Texas at 7 p.m. Saturday. After back-to-back wins over OU and K-State seemed to right the ship, the Longhorns were blanked by Iowa State on Saturday, 24-0, in Ames, Iowa.
They banged into walls, tangled for loose balls and committed fouls without the whistle blowing to stop the action.
There is no denying the insane amount of depth and talent on the 2015-16 Kansas University men's basketball team. A legit argument could be made that KU's second five could finish in the top half of the Big 12 Conference, while the first five — which, at this point, we presume to be Frank Mason, Devonte' Graham, Wayne Selden, Perry Ellis and, at least to start the season, Jamari Traylor — works toward winning a 12th consecutive conference title.
But there's one thing about this year's team that might be a getting overlooked. Sure, you've heard, written and read about the skills, returning experience and chip-on-their-shoulder mindset this team possesses. But for the first time in a long time, this year's squad seems to have a little more physicality behind it.
That was obvious during a recent practice, when guys not only looked bigger and badder, but also played like it. And that's the beauty of these practices. Bumps and shoves that almost certainly would get called during games are ignored completely. You either handle it and execute anyway or get exposed and lose reps because of it.
Whether the gains made from the physical practices — where teammates even have been known to get under each other's skin a little from time to time — carry over to game days and show up at Allen Fieldhouse remains to be seen. But Traylor, a senior who has been in Lawrence for five years and, because of his brawn, drawn comparisons to former KU standout Thomas Robinson, said he believed this year's team was more physical, throughout the roster, than the past couple of Kansas teams.
Asked to size up the guys who made the biggest jump in terms of their willingness to mix it up and play a more physical brand of basketball, Traylor focused on his fellow big men and a couple of perimeter players.
“Since Cheick (Diallo) has been here, he's gotten more physical,” Traylor said. “He's really been working hard. And Perry's a lot (emphasis on a lot) more physical. Carlton (Bragg is) getting better physically, and Svi, too. Just how they play and looks-wise. Guys are out there flying around, guys checking you all the time. They're getting you ready.”
Speaking of Ellis, he looks a lot leaner and a lot more athletic than in the past. Almost like a different player altogether. It should be fun to see what that does for his game.
Traylor said the trip to Korea, where the Jayhawks won gold in the World University Games and spent a couple of weeks battling with grown men, along with extra work in the weight room with Andrea Hudy — especially by Svi, who did not make the trip to Korea — has added an extra edge to the Kansas roster.
When that edge shows up in practice and teammates are battling each other like sworn enemies, it doesn't take long to realize how much that could help this team during the season.
This is nothing new, of course. When you battle the same guys day after day, week after week, and teammates begin to learn and understand each others' tendencies, frustrations can boil over from time to time. That happens at KU every year and, in many ways, is a good thing.
With the first exhibition game of the season a week away, Traylor said the Jayhawks were still feeling each other out and trying to fall into proper form for the upcoming season. Korea helped that, too, according to Traylor, who said the young guys appear to be ahead of the game because of their experience this summer, when freshmen Carlton Bragg and Lagerald Vick got regular minutes in KU's run to the gold medal.
Diallo, who hails from Mali, Africa, was not eligible to play for Team USA, but Traylor said he, too, has shown the ability to pick things up quickly.
“These young guys right here, they listen and they're coachable, so that's about the best thing,” he said. They have high accolades and stuff, they're McDonald's All-Americans, Jordan Brand guys, but they still listen. That's the main thing. And that's a good thing.”
Every year, no matter the identity of the players, it takes KU's freshmen and newcomers a little bit of time to adjust to the college game. Sometimes that lasts for a few weeks of practice and other times it can last until conference play begins. Traylor said this group has had its share of growing pains during the past couple of weeks, but added that most of those were from Diallo because Bragg and Vick gained such a head start by playing in Korea.
But whether you're a fifth-year guy like Traylor or a raw freshman like Diallo, basketball is still basketball. It's just getting comfortable with the demands of playing at Kansas and for Bill Self that can take time.
“The hardest thing to get is just all of the plays,” Traylor said. “It could be one play but there's like six variations to it and there could be 10 things to one play that you have to do and know. There's a lot going on in your head. I feel like your head's going 100 miles an hour. But you've just gotta slow down and just work on it.”
That's where Traylor, the veteran leader, has tried to impact this team the most during the preseason portion of the current season.
“I've been here for so long, I know about everything. I'm like another set of eyes out there for the coaches out there so I pretty much know when guys are doing something wrong. When I know they're gonna mess up, I try to step up before they mess up.”