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