Lofty Expectations

When Josh Selby hits the floor for the first time in a Kansas uniform on Saturday he will carry with him the burden of expectations. Fair or unfair a top notch high school recruit is expected to produce right away. Phog.net explains the impact Selby will have on the KU program.

Will he make KU better? Absolutely. 

Will he be a player on the floor who can go get a shot when he wants it? Highly likely. Will his penetration be key to making his teammates better? The staff is certainly counting on that.

But will every game be a stellar performance? Probably not.

"He's going to give us some scoring punch and he's certainly a threat when he catches the ball," KU head coach Bill Self told reporters on Monday. "He's gotta figure out how to play to our other guy's strengths and they have to figure out where to get him the ball in certain situations and how to play to his strengths. And it's going to take a little bit of time but I don't think it's going to be a huge deal."

So with that KU fans need to understand that they'll have to take the good and the bad with Josh Selby and there will be some of both. If you need proof just take a look around the country at the other freshmen who were the most hyped heading into the season.

Harrison Barnes of North Carolina was a preseason All-American selection, an honor never before bestowed upon a freshman. Its almost an unfair label to place on a high school kid who has never laced them up in a college game. Barnes is averaging nearly 12 points a game and over six rebounds – modest numbers so far for the Iowa-born freshman. He's shooting a shade over 29 percent from three and has already had an 0-12 game from the floor against Minnesota. The point is even the most skilled freshman struggle at times and that will likely include KU's Selby.

"He may not look great all the time but I don't know of any freshman - with maybe the exception of (Kevin) Durant and (Michael) Beasley a few years ago - that does look great all the time," said Self.

"I think he will," junior Tyshawn Taylor told reporters when asked if he thinks Selby will live up to the hype. "I think people are putting a lot on him right now. He's still a freshman. This is still his first game and it's still new. It might take him some time. I think he will be fine though."

College basketball is an adjustment and every first year player deals with the rollercoaster-like twists and turns and ups and downs. For Selby the learning curve has been a bit different while sitting on the sidelines waiting for his much-anticipated college debut. He hasn't had the luxury of exhibition games or even a full load of reps with the starting team (though he is getting all his reps with the first team right now). The one big thing a college freshman usually develops over time is consistency but that's a rarity in year one.

Just look at John Calipari's talented crop of youngsters at Kentucky. Terrance Jones, the talented lefty has been so impressive and he's had a 3-17 game and a 3-11 game. Point guard Brandon Knight – who some considered the top prospect from the 2010 class – is averaging over 17 a game but has had the keys to the Kentucky offense since day 1. He's done an admirable job but even he hasn't been exempt from the "off" game. Knight had 18 turnovers in three games in Maui.

Grooming freshmen is hard enough but fostering a freshman point guard can be a delicate balance. Running the offense, taking care of your own game, and getting others involved can easily overwhelm even the most talented players and Self has a plan for how he can avoid the same pitfall for Selby. Josh will play primarily off the ball when he's in the game at the same time as junior Tyshawn Taylor.

"I'm a big believer in this because I saw it firsthand with Mario (Chalmers)," Self said comparing Selby's situation to Mario's as a freshman. "We tried to make Mario a point guard from day 1 then when we moved him off the ball and let Russell do it the game was so much easier for him.

"Josh is going to be a point guard for us. He will end up being a true point guard in time but that's a lot to throw at a guy – ok you're responsible for yourself, you're responsible for every single possession and if we don't have good ones it's basically going to be your fault. I'd rather put that on Tyshawn right now than him."

Alleviating the burden of constant ball handling will likely make the transition smoother for Selby. But the ups and downs will come. Now its up to Selby to deal with the excitement of a first game and the hype of being touted as a possible one-and-done. 

"My teammates don't expect much because they just want to win, just like I do," Selby told the media. "I'm going to come out and fit right in and do what the coaches ask me to do. I'm just ready to play Saturday and get this over with."

"I think expectations should be tempered somewhat – not from a talent standpoint, but just from the role that we will have him play. He will be one of five. He won't be THE guy. Just like we won't have the guy this year and we really haven't had the guy when we've had our best teams," said Self referring to the balanced scoring his teams have featured.

The talent Self was referring to will put points on the board but if you're expecting 20 a night that won't happen according to KU's eighth year head coach. 

"Josh is not going to average 20 for us. He may have games where he gets 20 but we're not going to have anybody do that," Self told reporters.

Selby's debut is generating national attention. On the internet they're chatting about predictions for Selby's line in game number one at USC. Even predicting how many dunks he might have. The point totals and production depicted in numbers is usually what generates water cooler talk but Self may be judging Josh's impact in other ways.

"I'm just looking for consistency I talked to him the other day and I said Josh if you played every minute – which you're not going to nobody is - but if you played every minute and everybody on the court has the ball the exact same amount of time then you only have the ball 4 minutes a game and what are you going to do the other 36? That's basically what I'm trying to convince him how to play is how you play without the ball so I may see a lot of improvement people may not see just because it won't be from a production standpoint."

It will take time for Selby to find his rhythm and learn what Self is talking about playing without the ball but when and if he does "get it" and plays both ends of the floor like Self demands he just might help lead this Kansas team to a seventh straight Big 12 title.

Finally, Saturday after months and months of waiting the 6-2 Baltimore stud will take his talents (sorry LeBron) to Phog Allen Fieldhouse. It's a welcome sight no matter what type of numbers Josh produces, and if KU comes out with the "W" in everyone's mind his debut should be deemed a success.

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