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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Keegan

KU men’s basketball team might be even better next season

From left, Kansas players Markieff Morris, Marcus Morris (22) and Thomas Robinson (0) watch a highlight reel of the season following their 81-68 win over Oklahoma, Monday, Feb. 22, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

From left, Kansas players Markieff Morris, Marcus Morris (22) and Thomas Robinson (0) watch a highlight reel of the season following their 81-68 win over Oklahoma, Monday, Feb. 22, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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A thought made its way into the massive wind tunnel that is my brain and before it died of loneliness, I decided to write it down: Bill Self’s next basketball team just might find a way to win more games than his last one.

Faster than you can say Ali Farokhmanesh, Self reloaded a roster that went 33-3 and lost three starters. And all he had to do was take the red shirts off two players, Mario Little and Travis Releford. Well, that and recruit the most highly ranked player he ever has enticed into signing.

Getting ranked No. 1 in a recruiting class by Rivals.com is no joke. Josh Selby, the do-it-all 6-foot-3 guard from Baltimore recruited by Self, earned the distinction. The names of five of the past seven players ranked first: John Wall, Michael Beasley, Greg Oden, Dwight Howard, LeBron James. Stud, stud, stud, uber stud, uber-duper stud.

That superstar list gives credence to some who say Selby today is better than Sherron Collins at his best. Start with that premise, that KU has upgraded slightly at the point guard position, especially defensively. That takes care of one of the departed starters.

Moving from point guard to small forward, Xavier Henry’s early exit created another void. It’s not preposterous to think Mario Little as a fifth-year senior can bring more to the table than Henry as a freshman. Little better knows the tricks of posting up, has a wider array of shots and has moves in both directions, whereas Henry was all left-handed all the time. Little won’t get as many steals as Henry and isn’t as long, but whatever he lacks defensively compared to Henry, he’ll make up for offensively, where he is a matchup nightmare for opposing coaches. Releford and Brady Morningstar supply depth here.

Now for the player who doesn’t have a comparable replacement. Center Cole Aldrich defended such a large area of the floor, he disrupted teams that liked to take it to the hoop. His long arms, strong focus and excellent timing in blocking shots made drivers gunshy.

Not that KU doesn’t have a skilled shot-blocker. Jeff Withey, a long-armed 7-footer with good timing, blocked six shots and scored 19 points in just 45 minutes. His playing so sparingly suggests Self isn’t sure he’s the answer. If Withey plays well enough to make Self trust him, he’s the best equipped to help soften the blow of Aldrich’s departure.

Elsewhere in the post, added experience will bring improvement for Marcus and Markieff Morris and Thomas Robinson.

The three shooting guards — Tyshawn Taylor, Tyrel Reed and Morningstar — return and will be joined by freshman Royce Woolridge. Self will get more production out of the position because he no longer will reward minutes to Taylor based on potential. Taylor either beats out Reed, the team’s best shooting guard at the season’s conclusion, or he doesn’t. Early reports on how committed Taylor has been this offseason are encouraging. If he doesn’t improve, Reed alone can steady the position that was the team’s most uneven a year ago.

Last season’s team went 29-2 in the regular season, 3-0 in the conference tournament and 1-1 in the NCAA Tourney. No reason to think Self’s next team can’t go 27-4, 3-0 and 4-1, for a 34-5 finish, yet another remarkable season.

Comments

tbbucboy21 12 years, 3 months ago

i dont think people understand how good this team is going 2 be. selby will be next years john wall. add that with athletic freak taylor, sweet shooting tyrell, mr pesky morningstar, 5 star stud recruit eliah johnson with a year experience with bill self, seasoned mario little, lengthy travis releford, all american cand marcus morris, and another trio of big men with t.rob, whithey, and makieff that other colleges dream of. this team is going to be great, can win in so many different ways, and no one in the big12 will even compete. (lets b real k.state, had one good year where u beat byu, xavier, an lost 3 butler. not so great and mizzou bein ranked in top 25? any1 else see nebraska(yes nebraska) dominate them) ku will dominate b12 and have great shot at winning it all

Brad Avery 12 years, 3 months ago

I hope Selby is far better than Wall who was awful from the perimeter.

tical523 12 years, 3 months ago

Wall can't shoot, simply said. Jason Williams from ESPN, DUKE, lost to Selby in a couple of games of horse and was blow away at Selby's range, he could shoot from almost half court without changing his form Williams said. Every other skill equal or better to Wall. Just wait!!! LOL

KGphoto 12 years, 3 months ago

Eloquently said tbbucboy21.

I tink they r 4 perty gud 2.

Ryan Richey 12 years, 3 months ago

yo - me think so 2. we be so good it aint funny. ya know what me sayin?

rockchalkAZ 12 years, 3 months ago

we all know that the success of a season is determined by how well the team does in the NCAA tournament. going off of that, i'll bet my entire worth (about 200 bucks) that we do AT LEAST as well as last year. bold prediction, i know

JHWK 12 years, 3 months ago

AZ, you are my kinda risk taker! LOL ;)

100 12 years, 3 months ago

Agree with this article. Can't wait to see Little again.

And as much as we all loved the Cole Train, his year (and lungs) were a bit off this year at times. His bronchitis was probably the reason. We had a hard time taking him out of the games when his out-of-shapedness was hurting us (UNI for example where the twin towers should have been deployed if we weren't gonna run)...

Next year's Center:

It does seem like we could even take a leap up at our Center spot too, simply by having a player(s) whose are not winded! Hit 'em with fresh lungs Coach Self!

And Withey can alter shots -- several players said last year in practice he was the best shot blocker we had.

tical523 12 years, 3 months ago

I agree, Withey is going to surprise people next year. I really have a feeling he is going to be a stud for us.

tical523 12 years, 3 months ago

I agree, Withey is going to surprise people next year. I really have a feeling he is going to be a stud for us.

JayhawkRock 12 years, 3 months ago

I think this will be more of a team under the Morris Twins. I really like their leadership over Sherrons lack of leadership. I really like this team next year...Should be much more disciplined

dylans 12 years, 3 months ago

Don't knock the winningest player in KU history! Without Sherron we don't win the championship in '08. Never doubt his heart. It is up to Bill to make sure we have a disciplined team not the point guard.

Ron Prichard 12 years, 3 months ago

Agreed. Knock Sherron for forcing shots at time but don't knock his leadership.

JayhawkRock 12 years, 3 months ago

What leadership did he show the last 15 games? And I agree about the incredible steal at the end of the 08 game but come on guys he was seriously pathetic at the end of last season.

John Brown 12 years, 3 months ago

What's up with Aliajah Johnson and CJ? They had to develop some with Withey and Robinson last season on the practice squad. I think that Woolridge should redshirt. I don't see much PT for him nor early departure for the NBA. If Withey doesn't start then he is relief for Marcus. MK and Robinson would rotate in the 4. I'm looking forward to watching Mario Little play. It's been a long time coming.

Paul Mitten 12 years, 3 months ago

Aliajah Johnson? Is he related to Sharon Collins?

John Brown 12 years, 3 months ago

I spelled in the biblical form to accentuate his God given talent.

ejlumus 12 years, 3 months ago

EJ & RW need to be redshirted to build depth for the future.

John Brown 12 years, 3 months ago

I agree, I think Selby will be on the floor most of the time and Self would probably bring Reed in to sub at that position. I would imagine that Taylor, Selby, Reed, CJ and Releford will be rotating in various combinations at the guard postions. I think EJ will be like Russell Robinson and that redshirting will benefit him. Robinson was overwelmed as a freshman taking the point under Self.

RockChalk1225 12 years, 3 months ago

Finally something from Keegan I agree with! I was thinking this before the season was ever over. Dont get me wrong, love Sherron and what he did in his four years on the Hill, but it was time to make a change. Losing Xavier along with the departure of Sherron I hope makes more of a 'team', something we lacked at crusial times last year. How many days to Late Night??

Alec White 12 years, 3 months ago

I feel like this an article that has captured the thoughts of many posters since we acquired Selby a few weeks back. With his addition, we will become a combination of the 09-10 UK team and the 09-10 Jayhawks (minus the post dominance that Cousins and Aldrich brought). I think our fans ought to expect a few speed bumps early on but this team should be steamrolling teams when conference season begins.

It will be tough losing Sherron and Cole, but bringing in the #1 rated player definitely softens that blow! Also, those two players just didn't seem to fit with Self's system of constant movement of the ball and cutting. They more than made up with it over the long haul but I can't help thinking it's what cost us that UNI game.

Anyways, my last thought is that if Tyrel beats out Tyshawn for the starting PG spot, we won't come close to that 35 win total...not that Tyrel isn't very talented, just that we all should expect Taylor to make that jump in consistency we know he is capable of. Also, it should be noted that Selby isn't a pure PG so it's more than likely Taylor will at least start out in that role until proven otherwise.

Martin Rosenblum 12 years, 3 months ago

100 -

Have you applied for some sort of grammatical patent on your new adjective "out-of-shapedness"? You should!

NH_JHawk 12 years, 3 months ago

Should be interesting to see how the minutes at the guard positions are split up. Selby is a no brainer. Where does EJ fit into the equation? My big question mark is Taylor at the 2. TT + "shooting guard" in the same sentence seems a total contradiction having witnessed his lack of O from the perimeter...especially from 3. I'm also excited to see how well M. Little can do. I remember him having a sweet stroke so between that, being injury free, and him slashing to the basket (hopefully a bit more than X did) that should solidify the 3 spot. McMorris and that sweet 10' turnaround jumper from down low is unstoppable. Now, if we can just teach TRob to shoot free throws we might be in business!

I love the summer, but I can't wait for Late Night!

Martin Rosenblum 12 years, 3 months ago

Withey and the Morris twins should provide a different transition game than Cole did with them. Cole had that great outlet pass off of a rebound where I think Withey will rely more on his footwork and ball handling skills to find the best people to take the ball down court, like Selby. I believe we'll see a different type of ball handler in Selby from Sherron. Selby will be more of a control style player than a full back dribbling a basketball. Elijah (or, Allajah as jbrownjib called him) will need to avoid his turnovers by bringing his dribble down and paying attention to the play as it presents itself, not just looking for his shot.

In any regard, I agree with Keegan. It should be an extremely exciting and profitable year for this "new" team.

swjhawk 12 years, 3 months ago

Do you have enough qualifiers in that first sentence, Keegan, or should you sprinkle some more in there? If you don't stand for anything, you stand for nothing.

ejlumus 12 years, 3 months ago

I believe DeCourcy knows a little more than katz!

HawkInAL 12 years, 3 months ago

Hey soobawls, you still haven't responded to my question- Who would you have picked to succeed Mark Mangino as head football coach at KU instead of Turner Gill?

I'm on pins and needles to find out who your "ideal" choice is.

ldjayhawk 12 years, 3 months ago

We will at least be a consistent top 5 ranked team next year. We will probably make to the Final Four but won't win it all. Sorry guys here is WHY:

  • Our team will not mature enough.
  • The senior leadership will not be strong as they all won't be firm starters.
  • Potential problem at the centre position.
  • The only reliable player we can count on is Marcus. Selby maybe but is he as good John Wall, Beasley or Oden? Even those guys didn't help their teams to win it all.

I think the next after next will be a real break through. I expect Selby to stay, the twins to finally become seniors, and T-Rob, EJ, Withey and one or two incoming freshman sensations to contribute immediately.

2011-2012 will be the big time year guys. Remember that I said it.

Alec White 12 years, 3 months ago

I think senior leadership is pretty overrated...as long as you've had some tournament experience and spent a lot of time in the national spotlight that qualifies you to be a leader. Look at Duke this year---Jon Scheyer played like poop for most of the tournament but the junior Kyle Singler carried them in the championship game. Marcus, Markieff, Tyshawn, Selby, and hopefully Little will all lead the team at certain points during the season next year...which will mean this team is much more similar to our 08' squad than any year's past. I mean, look at the 08' team---Self himself was quoted as saying Sherron (as a sophomore) was that team's vocal leader. I'm not predicting a NC, but I say we have a good as chance as any other team to cut down the nets next year.

DevilHawk 12 years, 3 months ago

At the moment we won't win it all because we are favored to do extremely well, but we do much matter as underdogs.

As to Selby: the key difference is team play - just ask Danny Manning.

Waylon Cook 12 years, 3 months ago

ldjayhawk your post is a little laughable.......

  • Our team will not mature enough.
  • The senior leadership will not be strong as they all won't be firm starters

Our team is actually going to have upperclassman(this years team was ACTUALLY young other than Sherron and Cole).

SENIOR LEADERSHIP? Odd I guess you didn't watch the UNI game and see the only person on the floor with a desire to win was the Kansas boy named Tyrel. O ya or the fact a redshirt that will be a senior was crying on the sidelines in a game he didn't even play in................

KEEGAN isn't making a bold prediction to a true Kansas fan but he is to the outside world who thinks we graduated or lost everyone to the NBA...............

tical523 12 years, 3 months ago

COULD NOT SAY IT BETTER MYSELF. ABSOLUTELY AGREE WITH EVERYTHING!!!

ldjayhawk 12 years, 3 months ago

Haha onlyoneuinkansas you clearly don't watch basketball to get my points:

  • Our team will mature but not enough because of an unsettled TT, the twin's modest mindset, inexperience of Selby (yes even through the nation's No.1 guard) and most of our "supposed to be much-improved" players are sophomores (EJ, T-Rob, Withey). Where do you see that killer instinct from?

  • Senior leadership will not be strong, because the seniors are Brady, Tyrel and Little. You honestly think these three will dominate the floor and give you 30-odd minutes each game and score 10+ points each?

And just for the record I did watch the UNI game but not the rest of the tournament.

Ron Prichard 12 years, 3 months ago

Before you mock the points of others, think about your's for a second.

  1. To have senior leadership, your seniors do not have to dominate.
  2. You automatically assume Taylor will be unsettled. He has freakish athletic ability and with another year of experience I think he will round into a solid, if not fantastic, player.
  3. I don't think there's any indication the twins are going to be modest next year. I see Marcus having a near-all american type year.

Clearly I don't have a crystal ball, but neither do you. This really should be a fantastic team next year. I don't think expecting more out of them is an unwarranted expectation.

Kevin Studer 12 years, 3 months ago

You don't need 30+ minutes from your seniors to have a "mature team". Case in point: The best players on KU's '08 championship team were underclassmen (3 of them, including the Final Four MVP, left early for the draft). You just need leaders. There are any number of guys on this team capable of filling that role, and they don't necessarily have to be the ones taking all the shots.

tical523 12 years, 3 months ago

I agree with the article because even if we can't make up the talent we lost, the effort and team chemistry will be much better next year for sure. I have already heard that basically the entire team is participating in the strenuous, 6 a.m. conditioning sessions this summer, not just the Morris Twins. Last year there were wins that didn't even feel good to me, because of the inconsistency and effort displayed, it was very weird and hard to take. I would have rather lost some more games but play hard every minute, and I mean that. . . probably would have paid off in the end. Our upcoming team is made of guys with the attitudes of 2-Star recruits on some mid-major team, but we are full of blue chips. I really, really can't wait for this.

Jonathan Allison 12 years, 3 months ago

it's reminiscent to the '08 team, in that the '07 team was viewed as a top team and in fact won something like 33 games. They lost in the elite 8 to UCLA. The only significant loss from '07 to '08 was Julian Wright.

Last year's team won 33 games and then underachieved in the tournament. They lose Sherron and Cole, but have a wealth of talent coming back.

These guys are going to be driven. It starts with the upperclassmen. Tyrel, Marcus, Markieff, Mario, Brady, Tyshawn, Travis (technically will be a sophomore, but brings upperclassmen experience much like Brady in '09). These guys are hungry.

Tyrel and Brady are the seniors and they want to taste another championship, this time as featured contributors. They may not be our best players on the team, but they will be the hardest workers on the team and everyone respects them.

The twins were driven last year, and expect more of the same this year. They are working hard already. Expect them to come back bigger, faster, and stronger. They will play harder and shoot better. Marcus flourished this year. Expect Markieff to catch up next year.

Tyshawn will improve his decision making and work on his jumper. Travis and Mario are gonna be fired up and ready to compete after sitting out last year. I expect the upperclassmen to dominate.

So if we can get steady contribution from the Prophet, TRob, Withey, and Josh Selby we'll be title contenders.

That's eleven guys who are going to be battling for playing time. I expect a nine man rotation. Who's gonna be the odd men out of the rotation? Look for one or the other of Travis and Mario to be on the outside looking in, and also for Brady and Elijah to be competing for PT (much like Brady and Tyshawn did last year).

justinryman 12 years, 3 months ago

How many times must it be written or said? Kansas basketball dosen't rebuild, it just reloads. It's been that way since uhhhhhhh, uhhhhhhh 1983. Yes Kansas is going to have a good team, yes they could be better than last years, yes they could do this, and they could do that. I mean if "If's" and "Butts" were candy and nuts we'd all have a Merry Christmas. We can projuect, think and believe what we want, but nobody has brought up chemistry, what if there is an injury, another suspension for a semester.....I don't want to be Debbie Downer, but lets not count the chickens before the eggs hatch.

What too many cliche's for one post?

BCRavenJHawkfan 12 years, 3 months ago

According to Self in an interview on KFH radio Wichita yesterday, he doesn't see this team winning as many games. His reason, other teams get better too.

And as far as this little snipet, "The names of five of the past seven players ranked first: John Wall, Michael Beasley, Greg Oden, Dwight Howard, LeBron James"....... No National Championship, No National Championship, No National Championship, No National Championship, No National Championship, respectively.

tical523 12 years, 3 months ago

Yea, but nobody is asking Selby to lead us to the ship and almost all of those guys went to the NBA so. . . . .. Selby is not going to have to take every game over for us to win. By the way Elijah Johnson could still compete for that starting spot.

Ben Kane 12 years, 3 months ago

anybody have the info to carry this analysis further? #1 recruit ever win a national championship?

kufreak1512 12 years, 3 months ago

Well Carmello Anthony was the #1 ranked small forward in the 2002 recruiting class but I'm not sure if he was 1 overall.

Kurt Eskilson 12 years, 3 months ago

Yes … but not as a freshman. Manning was a senior for the National Championship. If Selby is with us as a senior, well … dream on!

Kevin Studer 12 years, 3 months ago

Kinda hard to knock Howard and James for not winning a championship, you know, seeing as how they didn't go to college and all.

BCRavenJHawkfan 12 years, 3 months ago

True. And I hesitated at first to include them in that sharply pointed barb. But I remembered a few days ago reading a comment by Kareem Abdul Jabar that he felt King James should have spent a few years at the college level. Jabar by the way advocates for the NBA to put a minimum age of 21 for entry.

To follow with Selby and his potential as a One & Done. I am reading that it is a greater than 50% chance there is a lock out next year. As that chance increases one should expect more guys to stay put in college. Just as more have taken the chance early this year.

Andy Hess 12 years, 3 months ago

first, Beasley and Oden are most certainly NOT "studs." Beasley has been criticized by his team for not living up to potential, while Greg Oden has played about 15 minutes of basketball in 2 years because his body is as fragile as a 65 year old woman with osteoporosis.

secondly, when you discussed the SGs, you didn't even begin to mention Elijah Johnson, who (before Selby) was the most athletic guard Self ever recruited here. oversight much?

other than those two things, i agree.

Alec White 12 years, 3 months ago

I think the point being made was that they were studs in college. Beasley certainly was (us fans can attest to that) and Oden simply dominated some games in college and led Ohio State to the championship game. Rivals predicts success in college, not necessarily the pros.

Mike Kendall 12 years, 3 months ago

I am excited to see Selby play next season! Enough said. Everything else---wins, especially tournament wins will take care of themselves, if Bill's boys will take care of business down the stretch. Rock Chalk!!!!!!

Tony Bandle 12 years, 3 months ago

I am Crimson and Blue through and through as well as a huge bball fan so please take this comment in context:

What the heck is this fascination with Brady Morningstar? What did he do last year that warrants this kind of support?

His defense was no where near what is had been in the past. { if any of you disagree then I must have been watching different games.} His shooting was way off from previous years. Come crunch time, he'd disappear faster than Harry Potter under his Cloak of Invisibility. Tyrell Reed was Mr. Clutch, Brady was Mr. Choke.

I am sorry...I just don't get it. If anyone is going to be on the outside looking in, I think it's going to be Brady. Don't get me wrong, I like him and I know he bleeds KU Blue but he's going to have to show me something more than last year.

Is he better the Marcus, Markieff, Selby, Taylor, Reed, TRob, Elijah, Withey, Mario, Travis? Based on what we know today, I say no.

Just because he is a Lawrence guy and his Dad was a Hawk and he's a Senior, it's not enough. He has to fight to win his way back into this rotation. I truly hope he does, because that would mean we are very, very good.

Tuskin 12 years, 3 months ago

Elijah is really smooth and fun to watch. He sat on the bench a lot this year because Self stresses defense - and there were quite a few times an opponent would just run past him. I'd really love to see him improve his defense and get a lot more playing time this coming year.

jhox 12 years, 3 months ago

I completely agree. We could actually be better next year. I loved Sherron but, let's be honest, at crunch time we had too many guys standing around waiting to see what Sherron was going ot do. I believe the other guys will be less tentative with him no longer around. The biggest thing we'll miss is Cole's defense and, especially, his defensive intimidation.

One positive to Cole being gone that our talent will be more suited to an up and down style of play. We won't be so hesitant to press on defense or run on offense.

Look for Releford to explode on the scene next year. His freshman year I'd be surprised if anyone on the team avereaged more points per minute than he did. He has a knack for getting to the basket. Jump shot or not, he's a natural scorer.

Also, don't be surprised to see Woolridge contribute big time. I've seen a number of videos, and he's a very big guard who can score in the inside, he's got the intermediate game and the long range game. I believe his being in Arizona kept him off of the major all star teams. He is going to be much better than advertised. He'll have to play defense to get on the floor, but if he can figure that out, he'll be hard to keep out of the line up.

Robinson may be key for us. If he can improve the way Marcus improved between his Freshman and Sophomore years, look out. He's got All American athleticism. Once he figures out how to play the game, and especially how to play defense, we're going to have a jewell.

I thought by season's end Markief was playing at a level similar to Marcus, and Marcus was probably the best all around player on the team last year. I'm not disputing Cole or Sherron's importance, but Marcus was much more consistent than either of them last season.

Unfortunately for us, the top tier teams in the NCAA will probably be stronger next year than this past year. Duke has nearly everyone back. Look for Carolina to be much improved with Barnes. We missed a golden opportunity this past season, when it was a generally down year for college basketball's elite teams.

JayhawksUberAlles 12 years, 3 months ago

Duke is overrated, whether they won the NC or not. Their bracket was clear from the start, and I think any top-25 team will be able to play with them. Carolina won't be that good unless they fill in their roster. We missed golden opportunity for sure, but like everyone knows and has mentioned in the past, there was something inconsistent about last year's team. Too many close games, not enough Temples. The UNI game was terrible to watch, because they finally played a team whose tempo and defense wasn't going to let them back in. Say what you will about its youth, defense, etc., next year's team should have guys who want to score. A lot. Have you seen video of Selby? Amazing.

jayhawkinATL 12 years, 3 months ago

Funny to think the KC Star had a link to a Fox Sports article the other day that had pre-season rankings of:

KSU #5 MU #9 KU #11

No way in hell those two teams are going to be better than us next year. KSU will be good again, but they will be w/o Clemente, which will allow teams to focus more on Pullen (who, BTW, can't be counted on regularly because he's as streaky as they come).

keith horinek 12 years, 3 months ago

Please! Tom, go take a vacation. Clear your head and come back and rewrite this article with a little more humility. At best we go 25-9 next year and take second in the big 12 behind KSU. We can't lose 3 starters and be better than this year, it won't happen. In 2008 we lost 5 starters, 6 total that had significant playing time and in 2009 we struggled to get the sweet sixteen. Stop putting so much pressure on this team. Selby will require some time to fit in, Little has been off for almost two years and it will take time for him to gell, Elijiah, probably will be our point guard to start the season and he didn't get much PT this year, so he will need some time too. The only spots we will be good at from the start will be the 2 and the 4, with TT and MM coming back into their form. Other than that we will struggle for a while. Give this new team some time before you put them up on that pedistal. Jaybate, your comments please.

CP 12 years, 3 months ago

Keegan should be bolo punched for perpetuating this absurd propaganda ... Chuck Woodling would never have been guilty of drinking the Kool-Aid in a ridiculous fashion such as this.

Scott Smetana 12 years, 3 months ago

Rivals has us number 7 (perfect, I like that spot). I agree with KSU being a little better than us on paper (#5)... if they can replace Clemente, they will be awesome.

What I don't get is Mizzery getting such high ratings. They'll get pounded in the big 12. They'll likely have a cupcake preseason again, playing only Illinois. Their high ranking just before league play is gonna make me sick.

As for us, are we loaded at guard or what? If we can find a defensive rebounding force (?TRob), and some consistent play at 3, we're the best! I'm seriously worried about Mario's footspeed on defense.

Kye Clark 12 years, 3 months ago

Well this is pretty much an article trying to capture what we've all been discussing since the UNI loss. Surprisingly no one has posted how they think the line-ups will look. I guess I'll throw my two cents in (again).

The way I see it, there are four issues that are key to making next year a special season. (1) Player developement. There are only 5 guys on our current roster have seen significant minutes at the D-1 level - the Twins, Brady, Tyrel, & TT. There are so many unknowns. I think what ultimately may solve this problem is our strength in numbers. We have so many potentially viable players that next season won't hinge on one or two specific guys making big strides. If Little doesn't pan out, we have Releford. If TRob doesn't pan out, we have Withey. And so on and so on. I think out of everyone the one guy who will need to progress the most is Selby. I can't think of many examples of teams having great success with a freshman point guard. Again, it's not critical that he progresses far beyond his years and carry the team as we have other options, but he has the most upside (of the "unknowns") over his peers at any position.

(2) Team chemistry. This goes for both on the court and in the locker room/at practice. With so many players vying for minutes, we can only hope that those that don't see the playing time they think they deserve don't rock the boat. It is also going to be quite a task for Coach Self to sort through all the talent we have and determine what are the right combinations of players. I think that probably has something to do with his preference for an 8 man rotation. The more guys you rotate in there the less comfortable they are, both with each other and with their own roles. The season is long enough and Self is a great coach so I expect him to get it figured out, but we'll probably take some lumps along the way.

(3) Defense. Last year's team was not all that good defensively, but we had the equalizer in the paint with Cole playing the ultimate defensive stopper at the rim. They were pretty awful at guarding the 3. With Cole gone everyone must step their game up on the defensive end. You can always count on having at least one game in the tournament (as well as several throughout the season) where your offense just isn't clicking, shots just aren't falling, and you have to knuckle down and win the game on defense. And even in games that you don't have to grind it out, there is almost always a game or two where there are times that you just have to have a stop. This, in my opinion, will be the greatest obstacle to overcome for next year's squad. Few young teams are great defensively, and even though we're not technically young, I'd say we are in terms of minutes played (again going back to only 5 guys with significant minutes played at the D-1 level). I don't expect Withey to contribute much, so we will need to be more of a pressure - creating havoc kind of a defense.

Kye Clark 12 years, 3 months ago

And (4) three point shooting. Tyrel Reed is the only returning player who could be counted on to hit a 3. Maybe Selby can be a reliable threat. Maybe EJ, Releford, or Little have developed that part of their game. Maybe Brady bounces back. It's just hard to fathom making a deep tournament run without a few more shooters, especially since the only one we can count on now will in all likelihood be coming off the bench.

As for some of the other issues that have been brought up, I don't think leadership will be an issue. I expect Marcus & Mario to provide much of that. I think we can survive an injury or suspension to just about everyone except Marcus, and maybe Selby depending on how good he is. Again, because of the number of quality players we should be able to sustain almost any loss of a player or two for periods of time. I've said before that I think the center position is not a problem, because I don't think you need to fill that position, atleast not in the starting line-up. Shady & Darnell weren't centers. Playing two 4s is preferable. All Withey will need to do is be able to come in as match-ups injuries, and injuries dictate.

So better than next year? Well I find it hard to believe we won't make it out of the tournament's first weekend, so in that regard yes. Probably not as good of an overall record, and might not win both the Big 12 regular season & conference tourney.

Kye Clark 12 years, 3 months ago

should be "as match-ups, injuries, & foul trouble dictate."

Eric Schneider 12 years, 3 months ago

oljhwk, you might want to come back from your own vacation and realize its 2010. With all the AAU and all-star games these kids are used to adjusting to new teammates on the fly. Did you not watch Kentucky last year. Selby will be fine, and will start from day one. Not saying there won't be the occasional rough patch, but we'll adjust just fine.

Cole is going to be huge loss on the defensive end. One guy can't replace what he brought. It should actually help the offense, though. Not having Cole in the middle gives Marcus, Kieff and TRob a lot more space to exploit their athleticism. That is if they both put in the work this off season.

The big question is at the 3. Neither guy played last year. So none of us know what to expect. The potential is there to be the most solid position on the team. We'll just have to wait and see.

niemoth 12 years, 3 months ago

Regardless of Selby's #1 ranking, losing Sherron will be our biggest hit. It seemed like nobody but Sherron wanted the ball in the closing minutes of a big game. Tyrel took huge steps last year from 2 years ago, but Brady didn't. He seemed like he never wanted the ball on the offensive end. Selby will have a little of that arrogance that is needed to be a PG and leader, I just hope it isn't too much. Wall showed a little too much arrogance at times. Tyshawn will be a stud this year when he doesn't just feel like he needs to give the ball to Sherron. He started hitting the 3 toward the end of the year as well. I saw a mock draft that had Tyshawn going in the 2nd round of this year's draft, ahead of Sherron. My hope of a lineup would be this: -Selby starting at PG with Tyshawn running it when Selby is out. -Tyshawn as the starting SG with Tyrel as his main back-up with a little PT for Johnson (Johnson won't like a minor role again and could see him as being the transfer talk this year). -Little as the SF with Releford backing him up some but also some time with the guards above and hopefully just a small amount of Morningstar (just seems too timid, but I'm betting Self will play him more because of being a starter 2 years ago and is pretty good defensively. -PF and C will be mostly the twins. Withey will be huge at C if he can learn to alter shots without fouling. He seemed to rack up the fouls pretty quickly. That's where losing Cole hurts us. When he was in guards didn't try to drive much because of his presence (like Lebowski said above). They will take it at the twins. Robinson will also get a decent amount of PT in either of these spots. I don't see much PT for Woolridge. I disagree with Lebowski about the 8 man rotation. I hope its just 8. I don't feel like we can get into a rhythm if we play much more. My 8 who would get 90% of the PT would be Selby, TT, Tyrel, Little, twins, Withey, and TRob. Johnson, Brady, and Releford getting the other 10%. Johnson and Releford and Woolridge will be big for us the year after.

Steve Gantz 12 years, 3 months ago

Of course if we hurt team chemistry be getting in fights, arrested, etc, then we're destined to repeat the disappointment of last season.

justanotherfan 12 years, 3 months ago

KU faltered last year in large part due to inconsistent production. Offensively, there wasn't anyone that brought it every single night. Not Sherron, not Cole, not X, nobody. Marcus was, by the end of the year, probably our most consistent offensive producer.

On defense, Cole was a stud and X got into the passing lanes a lot, but I never really thought of last season's team as a great defensive team, even with Cole's shot blocking. I'm not trying to be a revisionist here because of how the season ended, but they were a good defensive team, not great.

Next year, we will be much more athletic and agile, particularly in the frontcourt. Withey is more agile than Cole, and Robinson and the twins are all very mobile. That should help us defensively. On top of that, we have a lot more scoring ability next year. Releford is a natural scorer. Little is a very good scorer. Selby can light it up. Woolridge can fill. That's four additions that can outright put the ball in the basket. Add Withey, who didn't play much last year but is a much more natural scorer than Cole, and I think offensively we will be fine.

Defensively, our added athleticism and mobility should allow us to play good to great defense as long as people commit to working hard on that end. And since this is a Bill Self team, I think we all know where that is headed.

So yeah, we will be good. Probably very good. The question is whether or not we will be great.

Tony Bandle 12 years, 3 months ago

Better is relative...

better record - NO - losing three starters will take time to find new team chemistry.

better performance in the NCAA - YES [That shouldn't be hard, the #1 Seed Overall losing in the second round}

The bigger question is HCBS - doing it his way, he has had success at every level, won more than 80% of his KU games, won a NC and is a Coach of the Year. Do any of you truly believe he is going to change his basic modus operandi and go with anything more than an 8/9 man rotation?

He may substitute people in that rotation based on performance, injury, etc. but, come game time, that is what we are going to see. If any of you are expecting an up tempo game...forget it!

Marcus, Markieff, Tyshawn, Josh, Mario, Jeff, Thomas, Tyrel and Brady [not my choice, his]

If I'm Elijah, I'm looking for a new school. Royce, might as well get your shirt size for the red one. Travis, maybe just maybe. CJ, bettter see if your brither needs a business agent. Conner, too bad the football thing didn't work out.

I think that a run and gun offense would drive Coach Bill crazy no matter how many athletes he has to pull it off.

gongs4ku 12 years, 3 months ago

I like the way you think, Keegan.

But I don't think this team will be better, per se. I think they could get more wins, as you describe at the end of the article. If that's one's definition of 'better,' then sure, next year could be better.

Last year, most people expected KU to win the championship based on their actual talent and experience. For the whole regular season, they arguably played the best in the nation.

Next year, people rightfully won't expect that sort of performance. So, to me, next year's team isn't better--they'll be good but if they play to where it's reasonable to expect them to play, they'll be an also-ran.

Paul Mitten 12 years, 3 months ago

I honestly don't know why analysts even bother picking teams to finish better than Kansas in the Big 12. It's like they never learn.

DutchMo 12 years, 3 months ago

I hope next years team will be better then last year's team, but last years team was pretty good. Coach Self will have some work to do to get the guys playing better then they played last year, but I still think they are gonna be better!

Mark Lindrud 12 years, 3 months ago

I believe next year's team can be better because of chemistry and the expectations won't be so high nationally. I am disappointed EJ wasn't mentioned in the article since he did start a few games in front of Taylor. I wished he stayed in the starting lineup personally.

As far as Withey and his minutes he had an injured foot that kept him from playing much during the rest of the season. We have depth in all the positions and as long as Self manages everyone's minutes everything will be fine. I can see EJ and RW redshirting if neither will be used, but I would love to see EJ on the floor next year.

Either way I think we should end up in the top 3 in the conference and do well overall. I want to see a good TEAM next year who hustles everyone night while playing smart basketball. Those things happen and I will be happy because I know we will have an exciting season.

NickCederlind1 12 years, 3 months ago

Tom you are right on the money. Thanks for saying what I've been thinking since March.

Scott Smetana 12 years, 3 months ago

OKJhawk, earlier last season I would have disagreed completely. I think Brady is/was the glue of the team, similar to a RussRob. He makes no mistakes, makes beautiful passes, and is pretty good on defense. However, I think something changed after he double clutched the freethrow at Texas. I agree with him disappearing come crunchtime. I was hugely impressed with Reed in crunchtime and thinks he needs bigger minutes next year. Reed is underrated and was better than X last year. We need more mistake free basketball (Duke style). I think Sherron was a mess at times last year and am worried about TT this year.

Chris Shaw 12 years, 3 months ago

As "Sheed" always says in the NBA, "Ball Don't Lie"! Let's only hope that statement holds true for the Jayhawks in 2011.

KANSTUCKY 12 years, 3 months ago

I think if we get the kids here this summer and get everybody "on board" getting used to each others playing styles and get in playing shape early, we have a great shot at a deep run in March. If we can keep the distractions to a minimum this could be a special season. Regardless, I plan to enjoy the ride.

Kye Clark 12 years, 3 months ago

Oakville - I think you nailed it. I don't think Self changes, and really why would he? Run & gun teams don't often win championships. In order to win with that style you have to be head & shoulders above everyone else talent wise. It's why Roy never won a title here, why he didn't win one in '08 with basically the same group that won it in '09. In '08 with all the #1 seeds and no one clearly better than the other, talent wasn't enough. In '09 Carolina was so much better than everyone else, so an up-tempo style worked. KU won't have that advantage over everyone next season.

Sadly you may be right regarding Elijah. I hope not, but I suspect the only chance he has is if he has improved his defense enough to be as reliable as Brady or Tyshawn. The only thing I think that remains to be seen regarding your 9 player rotation is if Withey makes the cut. Self typically only has 3 post players in his rotation, with a 4th on the periphery picking up scraps of playing time here and there, sometimes going multiple games without seeing the court. Cole in '08. TRob last year. Maybe being the only true center gets him onto the court, but it was apparent last year he was behind everyone else.

niemoth 12 years, 3 months ago

If Calipari bolts for NJ, Chicago, or Cleveland, would Kanter come to KU? He could be like Cousins last year.

JayhawkCasey 12 years, 3 months ago

I think he signed a letter of intent, and I believe there is a new rule against breaking the letter of intent even if the coach leaves. I thought I read something about this after Calipari went to Kentucky and chaos ensued. This is why Knight did not sign a letter of intent, but just a scholarship agreement.

kennethst 12 years, 3 months ago

Tyshawn Taylor is considered a "shooting" guard?????

Ok....except that he can't shoot.

I'm not saying he doesn't add anything....he does have great speed and will help. but i would love to see Tyrell Reed start. He is in such great shape that it will make up for his weaknesses(of which there are few). And wow can he shoot the 3!!!

Theutus 12 years, 3 months ago

EJ should be starting over Taylor. EJ is a freak athlete, solid all around. He is what Taylor could be if Taylor had a decent head on his shoulders.

Reed is strictly a shooting guard, as much as I love the guy. We still need someone like EJ who can split the defense and create. I really hope Self plays him for considerable minutes this season.

kennethst 12 years, 3 months ago

Ah Theutus.....good to see you.

Do you really think next year's team could be better? I'm looking forward to seeing what Mario Little and others can do. Only about 6 months!!

jchief40 12 years, 3 months ago

No mention of Elijah Johnson??? Come on! That guy is just as athletic as Tyshawn.

rockchalkjayhawk4ku11 12 years, 3 months ago

Keegan:

Please try to refrain from using the word "uber."

Chris1955 12 years, 3 months ago

Is Keegan allowed to use the word "tap"? hahahaha!

hawksince51 12 years, 3 months ago

Clearly next year's team will not start out better than this year's due to the loss of Collins and Cole and to a lesser extent X. However, they certainly should finish better and that is what really counts.
By mid-season I see Selby as a better contributor than Collins was during the 2nd half of last year. Same for Little over X (I would have said for the whole year but X did start out strong and finish mediocre.) While no one replaces Cole on D, I figure Mk and Withey improve enough to do better on O than Cole so it will somewhat average out. Mc gets better and is team leader, 1st team All-American. The other big concern pains me to mention after 2008; that is Self getting the team ready to play at the opening tip-off in the early rounds of the NCAA's. I do not know what has been lacking but he has had 3 early round losses that simply should not have happened. All were with different players so Self is the only common denominator. I hope he does some introspection and maybe even seeks some outside help to resolve this issue.

rockchalk10jk 12 years, 3 months ago

I love all the analysis just as much as the next KU fan, but there are so many weird things about college basketball. So far all I have read is about winning the ship. this is a great goal but lets look to see if this team can get conference wins first. I mean remember what happened to the overall number 1 seed in last years tourney? its a flukishly weird system that we all love/hate at times and its impossible to put any sort of analysis on it. The only thing we can do is hope these kids stay in shape and out of trouble, and wait impatiently until late night. I know I am!!

Chris Shaw 12 years, 3 months ago

I don't know about the rest of you, but my favorite teams are the ones that "Exceed" expectations. Too many times I've been let down by #1 seeds as a Jayhawk fan. I know KU has had two different coaches and it's unfair to cross over the tenures of both coaches, but as "Fans" we're stuck with the results.

As a #1 seed KU has participated in the Big Dance 9 times and only gotten to a Final 4 3 out of 9 times. Only once have the Jayhawks made the Championship being a #1 seed and that was obviously in 2008. 5 times the Jayhawks have been bounced in either the Second Round (3 times) or Sweet 16 (2 times). The only other run KU had as a #1 seed they lost in the Elite 8 to Syracuse in 1996.

What I found most compelling is that KU has had the most success being a #2 seed in the tournament making it to the Championship game twice, Elite 8 once, and got bounced in the second round once.

I really enjoy being a #1 seed, but it seems like there has been so much disappointment that comes with that seed when having the potential of having "Great" Jayhawk teams.

Let's look up the numbers.

1985-#3 seed lost to Auburn in Round 32 1986-#1 seed lost in the Final 4 to Duke 1987-#5 seed lost in the Sweet 16 to G-Town 1988-#6 seed Won National Championship 1989-NCAA Probation 1990-#2 seed lost to UCLA in Round 32 1991-#3 seed lost to Duke in Championship-One of my Favorite Teams 1992-#1 seed lost to UTEP in Round 32 1993-#2 seed lost to UNC in National Semis-One of my Favorite Teams 1994-#4 seed lost in the Sweet 16 to Purdue 1995-#1 seed lost in the Sweet 16 to Virginia 1996-#2 seed lost to Syracuse in Elite 8 1997-#1 seed lost in the Sweet 16 to Zona 1998-#1 seed lost to URI in Round 32 1999-#6 seed lost to UK in Round 32 2000-#8 seed lost to Duke in Round 32 2001-#4 seed lost in the Sweet 16 to Illinois 2002-#1 seed lost in National Semis to Maryland 2003-#2 seed lost in National Championship to Syracuse-One of my Favorite Teams 2004-#4 seed lost in Elite 8 to G. Tech 2005-#3 seed lost in First Round to Bucknell 2006-#4 seed lost in First Round to Bradley 2007-#1 seed lost in Elite 8 to UCLA 2008-#1 seed won National Championship 2009-#3 seed lost in the Sweet 16 to MSU 2010-#1 seed lost in to UNI in Round 32

hawksince51 12 years, 3 months ago

Good job with the history and observations. I agree that no. 2 seed is the best because (1) there is only a small difference between being 1 or 2; and (2) you do not have the big bullseye on your back. However, with the glaring exception of 1988, being lower than 2 is not good for us.

NH_JHawk 12 years, 3 months ago

As diehard Jayhawk fans, its often difficult for us to see beyond the last loss of the season as anything but a disappointment. What's remarkable to me, when viewing this list in the context of historical perspective, is the consistency of excellence in our program since 1985. We've only been excluded from the NCAA tourney 1x and that was because of the probation in 1989. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't KU hold the current active longest streak of consecutive tournament appearances? Bottom line, it's good to be a Jayhawk fan!

Chris Shaw 12 years, 3 months ago

Yes! 21 years consecutive now! Zona had the record from 1984-2009 (26 straight) until they missed out in 2010. UNC holds the all-time record at 27 straight years.

Chris Shaw 12 years, 3 months ago

I misspoke above-They one time KU lost in the Elite 8 as a #1 seed was UCLA in 2007. I got the 1996 #2 seed KU team mixed up when they lost in the Elite 8 to Syracuse.

Kevin Studer 12 years, 3 months ago

If EJ continues to develop, he will be the sole backup PG, spelling Selby, which should mean at least 12-15 minutes per game. He will be fine.

jaybate 12 years, 3 months ago

"Some Chances Next Year:"

Chance that a team losing 3 draft choices and signing only one potential draft choice will be better: 10^ -7

Chance Mario Little will score more PPG than Xavier: 10%

Chance that Withey next season will be better than Cole last season: 5%

Chance that Selby will shoot 40% from trey: 20%

Chance that Selby his first year will make as many impact plays as Sherron his last year: 10^ -5

Chance that Selby will be a fine player who makes a lot of freshman mistakes, as the XTReme Muscle Ball starts in early February and is literally ovewhelmed in the Madness: 60%

Chance that Tyshawn will shoot 40% from trey: 1%

Chance that Elijah will shoot 40% from trey: 1%

Chance that Tyrel will shoot less well from trey, but still above 40%: 60%

Chance that Brady will bounce back and shoot 40%, or more, from trey: 50%

Chance that Marcus' ppg will go down, because he will now begin to be double teamed: 50%

Chance that Withey will be able to hedge defend the pick and role and dribble drives as well as Cole: zero

Chance that Withey will be badly roughed up six times by February 1st, and bloodied at least once, by teams testing him: 90%

Chance that CJ is healthy: 20%

Chance that Releford becomes an impact player: 40%

Chance that KU will reach the Sweet 16, if it fails to bulk up and play XTReme Muscle Ball in March: 20%

Chance that Kieff is going to have a big year and become KU's greatest trey shooting 4/5 big man: 75%

Chance this team can go deep in the Madness playing traditional Bill Ball: 20%

Chance this team can go deep in the Madness playing XTReme Muscle Ball: 50%

Chance this team will play XTReme Muscle Ball: 30%

tstanlick1909 12 years, 3 months ago

Chance that any of your percentages are accurate and/or logical: >1%

jaybate 12 years, 3 months ago

tstanlick,

Gee, that's what I call a sure bet on your part. I, also, agree that there is a greater than 1% chance of any of my predictions being right. In fact, I would say there is a greater than 50% chance of any one of my predictions being correct, given random chance (though I did not attempt to randomize my picks). :-)

Seriously, I expect at least 75%-95% of my predictions to come true. And I would not be very surprised, if the outcome of the predictions were 100% accurate.

actorman 12 years, 3 months ago

"we do much matter as underdogs."

I surprised at you, DevilHawk, I thought you were a true KU fan. I don't know about you, but KU matters to me as underdogs OR favorites ...

I find it interesting that when Keegan writes a negative article about KU he gets blasted by people for not "supporting the home team," yet when he writes a positive article he gets blasted for wearing rose-colored glasses. If only he could figure out a way to write that would please everyone at all times ...

I think his basic premise is right: this team will be better next year. I went into the tournament this year thinking that the team was destined to win, but the truth is that I was fooling myself. If I had been honest, what I would have thought is that KU would win if Sherron didn't have a terrible game. But given how often Sherron had terrible games (despite his brilliance in many other games), it was highly unlikely that he would go through the entire tournament without one of those games. Unfortunately he had it early in the tournament.

What should make KU better next year is that they won't be so reliant on one person to take over at the end of the game and have their entire fortunes resting on how well that one player does.

Greg Lux 12 years, 3 months ago

Quote - No reason to think Self’s next team can’t go 27-4, 3-0 and 4-1, for a 34-5 finish, yet another remarkable season.

Why 4 - 1 in the NCAA why not 6 - 0 .. If we are better then the #1 ranked favorite of this past season why are we so weak in the Tournament next season???

I always believe we can win it all ..

Rock Chalk

Mark Lindrud 12 years, 3 months ago

When people asked me how I thought we would do this past tournament I honestly did not know how to answer. I feared getting knocked off early because we did not have true leadership and the concept of a team.

Two years ago when we entered the tournament I told everyone we were going all the way and winning it because that team understood the idea of unselfish play and was hungry. That team had the attitude of not only were we going to win, but we were going to destroy teams.

I am not a big fan of Taylor because he is a head case and can't shoot. Since he is not transferring I hope he steps up his game and learns how to keep his mouth shut and think of the team first. I hope Self runs a tight ship next year because I feel there were too many loose cannons with little guidance. I am hoping I am wrong, but next year I want a team that is consistent.

Selby has the chance to be a star and I think we will need to rely more on our guards because we do not have a true big man now. The twins are good, but Cole was able to protect them by taking a lot of the pressure off of them. Now we get to find out how good they really are and if they keep improving like they have then we will be in good shape. Also, Little and Releford have spent a year dedicated to improving their games and are hungry to show off what they can do for the team so this team should have a new attitude overall that should be fun to watch.

jaybate 12 years, 3 months ago

baldjedi,

Not bad for a bald jedi. :-)

Seriously, you summed the incoming team up pretty well.

My post above stated most of the reasons to curb irrational exuberance about next season.

But the biggest reason to be hopeful about next season is that this incoming KU team is already a very physically and mentally mature team given current standards for such things in D1, and by next March, it will be a bunch of grizzled old veterans.

As a result, once this team finds its mojo in January, or February, it could do very well in the Madness...if it is bulked up and playing much rougher than last season.

A second reason for optimism is: each year there are a couple of surprises and a couple of let downs. You want your surprises starting, or playing big minutes in reserve. You want your let downs at the margins. Such could easily occur with this team.

The big question mark with this team is Withey.

Will Withey be a legitimate, 20-25 minute, D1 post man, or will he be a 10 minute back up?

If Withey bulks up and can become the player that I thought he could before his no show last season, KU would be constituted more or less along the lines of Duke's team last season. They would have to cheat and play very rough, but if they shot well in March, they could well go all the way.

Why?

Because next season is shaping up a lot like the past one in that there appears to be no super dominant team.

sdku 12 years, 3 months ago

Jaybate, I see Withey getting 15-20m by the end of the season. Marcus's spot is taken. So, that leaves Markieff and Trob. Both players were unreliable last year. So, I don't think both will play great the whole season and Withey will get his shot. I truly see Whitey being a dominant player at some point from the footage I've seen. I feel Self will eventually see that a 7 footer who can alter shots and score will be more valuable than Markieff or Trob. This only holds true if Withey knows the system, gains some more lbs, and is healthy.

hawksince51 12 years, 3 months ago

I hope you are right about Withey. However, the starting spot at the 5 is Markieff's until someone takes it away from him. And, I certainly would not lump Mk and Trob in any sense. Mk was a solid contributor most of the time whereas Trob was about as raw a talent I have seen in a KU uniform. Mk has 2 years of experience and has shown consistent improvement. Trob has hardly any experience and has shown little except for a propensity to turn the ball over.

kansasYEA 12 years, 3 months ago

Bottom line- MUCH better feeling about the team chemistry. We just didn't have that killer instinct, and if Sherron didn't/failed to step up, nobody else was willing to fill in for him.

Disappointed to not see any discussion re Elijah Johnson, I really like to watch him play, and love his intensity. I hope everybody gives him a decent shot, including HCBS.

justanotherfan 12 years, 3 months ago

Why KU could be better next year (note: not WILL be - COULD be):

  1. Better inside scoring. As I noted for much of his career, Cole Aldrich was not much of a scoring threat in the post. He is not a natural scorer. Look back to his high school numbers. Averaged 23 points as a senior. 16 as a junior. For a guy that big, those aren't dominant numbers. Cole never was a "score whenever he wanted" kind of guy. That's not a knock, because Cole is a great player. It's just his greatest strengths are NOT on the offensive end. I think Withey's strengths are more on the offensive end, which means we will get more easy scores.

Quick aside - Do you remember how easily it seemed like the 2008 team scored? Or how easy UNC scored in 2009. Or how easy those back to back Florida teams scored? Championship level teams find ways to constantly get easy baskets. Layups in transition. Wide open threes. Post up scores. All of those teams got those easy baskets. The last two years, KU hasn't scored as easily. Not consistently anyway. The jury is out on whether or not they will next year. If they do, they could be VERY good.

  1. More versatility and athleticism. Selby is a point, but he can play the 2. Tyshawn can play the 1 or 2. Releford can play the 2 or 3. Little can play the 2, 3, or 4. EJ can play the 1 or 2. CJ can play the 1 or 2. Marcus can play the 3, 4 or 5. Markieff can play the 4 or 5. Brady and Tyrel can both play the 2 or 3 (against smaller teams). Thomas can play the 4 or 5 (against smaller teams).

And look at the athletes. Selby, EJ and TRob would be considered top notch athletes at their position. Tyshawn, Travis, Mario and the twins are all above average athletes at their positions. CJ, Brady and Tyrel would probably all qualify as slightly above average. I think that all converts into a team that could actually be much improved, particularly in team defense because of the ability to switch.

Imagine for a moment having Selby, Taylor and Little on the floor as the 1, 2, and 3 with the twins up front. Now imagine a team trying to run a weave. Any of those guys, because of their size and athletic ability, could switch out and guard the PG, SG or SF. Either of the twins could step out and guard anyone except for some of the smaller, quicker guards in a pinch. Remember, both twins have shown the ability to step away from the basket and stay in front of guards at various times. That versatility means you don't have to avoid switching screens, and can just stay with guys, neutralizing the pick and roll, as well as the pick and fade.

justanotherfan 12 years, 3 months ago

  1. Defense. As noted above, the athletic ability should lend itself to some top notch defense. Selby has been observed as being a good defender coming out of high school. Tyshawn, towards the end of the season, was our best perimeter defender. The twins made HUGE strides on that end last year, particularly Markieff. Withey has very good timing, and moves well. Releford and Little are both good defenders, with Little probably being the type of player that can lock guys down. Brady at one time was a high quality defender. Reed has improved his defense every year. We have a lot of players that are either already very good individual defenders, or have the skills to be such, so while we may not have Cole's shot blocking to rely on, we may have better overall team defense as a unit.

  2. More transition opportunities. As I mentioned in the inside scoring part, easy baskets are a big key to success. With the ramped up athleticism, we could see more easy buckets, particularly when Selby is on the floor with either Tyshawn, Royce or Elijah since all three of those guys were primary ballhandlers in high school. With multiple ball handlers on the floor (as in 2008 when we saw lots of action with RussRob, Mario and Sherron, or two of the three at least on the floor) it's easier to push and get into fast break or secondary break situations. Last year, with only one ball handler on the floor about half the time, we couldn't get out into transition after missed baskets very easily. With two, you can outlet to the open side since it is harder to cover up both potential outlets and push an odd man break. Kentucky did that a lot this season, with tremendous success hitting either Bledsoe or Wall and creating transition opportunities for their guards, or trail opportunities for their big men if they outran the opposition. We did that a lot in 2008, when DBlock, Sasha and Shady got countless transition layups by trailing after a strong push from the guards. Easy baskets people. Easy baskets.

  3. Junior Class. They have all improved significantly. Although Tyshawn had a rough sophomore campaign, there were signs that he was an improved defender. Both twins made huge leaps, and word from everyone out of the basketball circles is that Releford was a tough matchup on both ends all last season as a redshirt. They could be a catalyst for this team.

tstanlick1909 12 years, 3 months ago

One question I pose to any other team in the country. Any other college team in history for that matter.

How many teams have ever had two players that could each do the eastbay dunk (Between the legs)?

Because we have Selby and EJ. Both of whom could win the NBA dunk competition, today, right now

Tony Bandle 12 years, 3 months ago

If either of them try that move in a game, HCBS will kill them.

I'd rather have two guys who can consistently cut off the cutting guards and force the ball back to the line and not dunk the ball once!!

tical523 12 years, 3 months ago

This years team is made up of selfless and high character guys with work ethic, some of Roy's Boys teams are hard to compete with, but this year we have some tough dudes with no ego. I think that Brady is going to be determined and dedicated after his DUI last year, atleast I am hoping for his sake. Don't know much about C.J. but he seems like a competitor with a few more years experience under his belt, but we are tough all over the place. Redshirts giving it up for the team: Little and Releford. Tough love but cheering hard from the bench: E Johnson and Withey. In the gym five days a week at 6 a.m. all summer: Marcus and Markeiff. Golden child example of hard work, discipline and the team spirit: Reed. I don't care if the writers have us picked behind half of the Big XII. . . . just wait!!!!!

hawksince51 12 years, 3 months ago

This is a little off topic, but I wonder how the UK fans who like to comment on here feel about not only their players using UK as a stepping stone to the NBA, but now their coach doing the same. http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news?slug=aw-lebroncalipari051410

tstanlick1909 12 years, 3 months ago

During the Celtics game the other night, the commentators talked about the size of Rondo's hands as he was shooting free throws, commenting on the fact that he struggled even in his days at Kentucky. One mentioned that while he was there, Kentucky fans would discuss "hand reduction" surgery for Rondo.

After he said this, the other broadcaster goes, "Sounds like people in Kentucky think a little too highly of themselves."

dynamitehawk 12 years, 3 months ago

So, I was thinking... If I were 16 or 17, and could jump over my Mom's head, spin one full revolution, then take the basketball and create thunder on a rim and then hang, turn, then gently tap my nuts on the back of the guy's head that I am "trying" to avoid... I would want to play for this guy:

http://basketballboogie.org/

...because he's funny.

Benjamin Piehler 12 years, 3 months ago

our team last year had chemistry issues. i think probably only the temple game we controlled start to finish. otherwise we beat teams we should have killed with spurts of efficient play.

Jeremy Caudle 12 years, 3 months ago

I have watched every ku game over the past few years faithfully and from what I have seen from the national championship game until now I believe this will be the lineup for next year. Starters first followed by backups.

PG Selby Johnson SG Reed Taylor SF Little Releford PF Morris Robinson C Morris Withey

I placed Taylor as the back up SG but I expect either Woolridge or Henry will most likely push him out of that spot. Little and Releford are interchangeable at the three. I think Withey could very well surpass Markieff for the starting position as well. Withey played HS ball in San Diego and was at Arizona for a year before practicing most of the year with the twins and Aldrich. Have you seen the videos? The kid is no sloth out there with the basketball. He has skills for a seven footer.

Being politically correct will only get you so far in basketball. Morningstar and Taylor will need to produce consistently at a higher level if they expect to continue to get the minutes they are used to.

One last comment on the bigs for next year...one of the four could very well end up on the short end of the minute stick if they fall behind any of the other three. If all four can perform close to the same level...we will see the best front court in the nation. nuff said

Jeremy Caudle 12 years, 3 months ago

btw...

Thank you to everyone who comments here. I read every article and every comment. I am a Kansas boy out here in the northwest where it's all Gonzaga for the most part. I live and breath KU basketball since the early nineties. After every win or loss it is nice to be part of a KU conversation... even if it is only reading all of your thoughts.

RCJH!

Kevin Huffman 12 years, 3 months ago

Xavier still not being projected as a Lottery pick. I think it's still a mistake he left for just that fact. That's a pretty big step in $s!!!

Kevin Huffman 12 years, 3 months ago

No mention of C.J. Henry or Elijah Johnson in the article. Am I missing something?

Kevin Huffman 12 years, 3 months ago

Boston

Xavier Henry Position: SG Height: 6-7 Weight: 220 Age: 19 School: Kansas

Analysis:If Henry falls this far, it will be a pretty dramatic development since he was once considered a lottery pick. Henry does bring a few things to the table, however. He already has an NBA body and he can shoot the NBA 3.

He may be a little one-dimensional, but with Paul Pierce beginning to age and Ray Allen hitting free agency, he'd be a nice fit in Boston.

I KNEW it was a mistake!!!! - - - Putting him down at 19. now (5/19/10)

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