The excitement level of the fans, as one might expect, is already at a fever pitch, but believe it or not there exists a small group of individuals even more excited for the season opener than Jayhawk Nation:
The players themselves, who are ready to finally face an opponent wearing a jersey colored in something other than Crimson and Blue. Thankfully, the Washburn Ichabods, Kansas' opponent in the Nov. 2 exhibition opener, fit the bill.
"That's an exciting time for us, when somebody has a different jersey on," said senior shooting guard Tyrel Reed. "And we can beat on them and attack them."
This year's squad is dealing with the oft-discussed loss of arguably its top three talents from a year ago – Cole Aldrich, Sherron Collins and Xavier Henry – and the Burlington, Kan. native said the transition was going well.
"It's just a different team," he explained. "We've got three NBA players gone from us, but I think it's good to have change sometimes."
His head coach would seem to agree. While Aldrich, Collins and Henry were all fantastic talents and Jayhawk icons in their own right, Bill Self said during the program's local Media Day event Oct. 12 that he expects this year's squad to be a close athletic match for the 2007-2008 National Championship team.
Expectations are high at Kansas every year, and Reed said the practices have provided evidence of just how hard everyone has worked in the off-season. While everyone on the team has their moments, he singled out junior twins Marcus and Markieff Morris as perhaps the most impressive.
One area in which this year's team, on the surface, might have something of a question mark is perimeter shooting. With Collins and Henry gone – two of the Jayhawks' most reliable long-range bombers from a year ago – there doesn't appear to be an obvious heir to that three-point production.
However, Reed feels that when the lights are on, players who might not have had as much of an opportunity in the past will respond. Hitting from range is about confidence as much as it is anything else, Reed explained, and this team has a great deal of it.
"I think that there's a lot of guys (who have been) improving their shooting over the summer," he said, pointing to players like himself, Elijah Johnson, Brady Morningstar, Travis Releford, Tyshawn Taylor and the aforementioned Twins as potential zone-busters. "You've gotta have that confidence factor. Anyone can make shots, but when you have confidence to knock them down in big situations, that's the key.
The Jayhawks kick off their season against the Ichabods on Tuesday at 7 p.m., at Allen Fieldhouse.
Self updates Selby situation: Rumors swirling regarding the eligibility of star freshman Josh Selby prompted the Kansas head coach to issue a statement Wednesday afternoon.
"Josh's status for competition hasn't changed. While he has met NCAA academic requirements to be on aid, practice and compete this year, we continue to work with the NCAA as we review his amateur status. We will not play Josh in games until that process is complete and a decision is rendered.
"We support and respect the process, and hope that it is over sooner rather than later. But we don't expect a decision on this before the regular season begins. We will not comment further until the process is complete."