Well, that kind of demonstrated some of the things we will see on occasion with this young team. It is definitely a work in progress. We aren't always going to shoot the ball well, and our athleticism and defense are going to have to step up and keep us in ball games.
The perimeter shooting has to be of some concern. We definitely have more players this year who are capable of knocking it down from outside, but they still have to get it done on a consistent basis. While it's nice to see someone drive the lane and dish it back out, I thought on more than one occasion we had a great chance of taking the layup instead of the 20 footer. Sometimes we are a bit too unselfish - we need to finish some of those plays.
I was pleased with what I saw of Darnell Jackson. I thought he was tough on the boards and went to the hoop a couple of times offensively. I think that he has a chance to be a big impact on the rotation, especially if C.J. Giles and Sasha Kaun both get into foul trouble at the same time. Kaun kind of reverted back to the "bull in the china shop" syndrome to start the game, but he was much better during the late stages of the game when we played a little better. It's not enough just to be bigger than everyone else. He still needs to work on position. If he could seal his player off like Wayne Simien was so efficient at, then he would get so many opportunities. He needs to make himself be a really big target in there because he is.
We tried to force too many passes inside by going over the top from out front. We need to get better angles on those passes by ball rotation. Teams aren't just going to watch us toss the ball over their heads. We did a decent job when we moved the ball to the sides, but we sometimes didn't take the time and just tried to throw it in there right away.
Obviously you have to like what we saw from Giles. The guy is a leaper, but he has such a soft touch for a big guy. He isn't going after every shot to try to block them like last year, and being more selective is helping his foul situation.
I thought Brandon Rush was trying to make too much happen. He is a freshman, too. I think after the first game some of us expected him to be Superman or something. Both he and Julian Wright will be just fine as they "slow" down a little and let the game come to them. They have a wealth of talent between them, and it's only a matter of time. We just have to be patient. The same can be said of Mario Chalmers. He has to learn the speed of the college game. There are other players that are quick, too. He just needs to settle in.
I was glad to see Russell Robinson look for his shot early. But, then, when he missed, he kind of backed off. He needs to take it when he has it. I know he works on getting others the ball, but we will need some point production out of that shooting guard position. I still believe that he can fill that role, but again he just needs to take it when it is available to him. He takes the ball to the hole very well, but I can only remember once or twice where he tried to finish instead of passing it back out. The layup towards the end where he laid it back to Rush is a perfect example.
I thought Micah Downs tried to move on defense and stay with his man, but he got beat off of picks often. He just wasn't strong enough to fight his way through them. I was surprised when he missed the two free throws. Shooting is his strongest asset right now, and he needs to show that he can contribute that way. Jeremy Case continues to have a hard time converting during the game, and it is going to move him further down the bench because that is the one thing that was going to get him on the floor.
It'll make some happy that Christian Moody and Stephen Vinson didn't see as many minutes. Moody did some "small" things - like keeping rebounds alive. He will continue to hustle and play to his ability. Whether that gets him much time or not is yet to be determined. Vinson didn't come in until late, and I think that will be the case for much of the season. The exception would be if we are not putting the ball in the hole then I'm beginning to have a little more faith in his ability to do it rather than some of the others.
Right now I would consider letting Wright play some at the wing. My four bigs would be Giles, Kaun, Jackson, and Moody. I would go with Robinson, Giles, Chalmers, Jeff Hawkins, and Rush at the smalls. That leaves Downs, Case, and Vinson off the bench as far as scholarship players. When Stewart is eligible, then he takes one of the small positions, and Wright moves back to the #4. That puts either Moody or Jackson back on the bench. There are some games left to decide that one. Of course, that is if we go with the 9-man rotation that Coach keeps saying that he wants. But, like a lot of you, I think those 9 men could change periodically.
Good thing I'm not the coach. But I have fun imagining that I am.
It's a great day to be a Jayhawk!