First Impressions

Sure there's just one game in the books but like everyone else, Phog.net has its first impressions of this season's new look Jayhawks.

First impressions don't always equate to lasting impressions. And we are a long way from writing the script on how this Kansas Jayhawks squad will be remembered.

Judging Bill Self's 2010-2011 team against Division II Washburn is not really the barometer you're looking for to judge future success, but certainly, just like the coaches, we all have our first impressions.

First off, it's clearly apparent that Josh Selby will make a huge impact in this lineup. Kansas fans want him out of street clothes as soon as possible. Not to say that the variety of mixing and matching Self can do didn't impress, but Selby will take this team to a whole new level. It won't just be about what his game can add it will largely be about what he can do for the rest of the roster's production. Players like Selby make the game easier for others.

Secondly, the AP All-American team was announced on Tuesday and Marcus Morris' name was left off of it. My opinion – it's a huge mistake. This kid – to coin a phrase from ESPN's Digger Phelps – is on a mission. Morris was a rock for Kansas last season and still appears to be highly underrated for the level of talent he displays. In 22 minutes vs the Ichabods Marcus netted 28 points on 8-10 shooting from the floor and went 11-11 from the charity stripe. Again, Division II undersized Washburn is not how players should be judged but this kid is going to make a huge impact for KU and his name will be on the tips of every analyst's tongue by the end of the year.

"Marucs is versatile. He can play anywhere offensively. He's going to get where he can guard anybody defensively. He's a talented kid," Self praised. "He has really worked hard. To me, it looks like the game is in slow motion about as well as anybody that we've coached."

Thirdly, the one thing you can count on this time of year no matter the opponent is Self lamenting about the defensive effort of his squad. It happens every single year in an early season game or an exhibition tilt. The fact that the Ichabods shot over 50 percent from the floor in Phog Allen Fieldhouse naturally stuck in the craw of the defensive-minded Self.

"Looking at it from a philosophical standpoint, you can't give up 50 percent shooting," Self pointed out. "We got up 22-4 and did some good things but then we quit guarding at the end of the half and didn't guard very well in the second half at all."

Self also specifically pointed to the interior defense as an issue and knows that the services of Jeff Withey and his 7-0 body will be needed in the post. Self is not afraid to utilize big-to-big post trapping but at this time of year usually never goes to it.

"We need to guard better," Self stated adamantly. "I was very disappointed in some of our defense, especially the second team when they came in late. That was poor, poor defense and we have to get in better shape too."

Sounds like some interesting practices are ahead for this team.

Sure there were good things to point out too and Self always does a good balancing act, at least for the press. But let's just say now he has film to work with and he'll go into the next session with plenty on his mind.

One thing in the stats that he will be pleased with is forcing 24 turnovers to KU's 12 and also taking 14 more shots than the opposition. KU shared the ball on offense which is always a big sticking point for a Self-coached team.

"We're pretty unselfish. I thought we made the extra pass. We are not yet a good passing team," Self continued. "Right now offensively we are not really a good passing team but we had some great possessions."

There's always a "but" at this time of year but that's what coaching is all about and no, the offense was clearly not exempt from criticism.

Again, only one game but I have to admit this team played with a little more discipline and ran through sets more than I have seen other teams coached by Self at this time of year. That might change a bit when the break down ability of Selby enters the fold but for now I saw plays with ball reversal several times and the Hawks got further into their sets than they did last season.

They just played hard and were disciplined. They did all the things that they didn't do two years ago," Ichabod senior center Logan Stutz said. "They might have relied on their talent with Cole Aldrich and Sherron Collins but this year they stepped up. They hit us every time, they hit the boards hard and they played defense hard."

 It is always fun after you haven't seen a group of kids perform in awhile to notice the marked improvement and it is noticeable in several KU players.

Tyshawn Taylor appears more mature and ready to make better decisions with the basketball.

"He knows he has to be the leader on the floor," Marcus Morris answered when asked if there was a difference in Taylor this year. "He's a general. I can be a leader too at the power forward position, but the point guard is usually the team leader. I tell him day in and day out he has to talk and be a leader."
 
Mario Little has been praised during the offseason and is finally healthy and ready to contribute.

I was comfortable. I was excited, but I knew I needed to stick to detail and try not to rush anything; just go out there and have fun," Little said after scoring 8 points in Tuesday's contest.

This is the time players like Travis Releford, Elijah Johnson, and Thomas Robinson are working to own the coach's trust. That type of dependability doesn't come over night it comes with repeated solid performances and mistake-free ball against Washburn is simply just a stepping stone.

But these Jayhawks appear to be getting off on the right foot as team.

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