This is the situation we have all talked about. We are young and inexperienced. We have to be patient. A lot of teams have to use a freshman or two. But we don't really have those experienced upperclassmen to throw in with them. The two we have really haven't played that much. It's definitely a learning curve.
The worst thing that could happen, did. We needed to come out and have some good things happen early in order to establish some confidence. Obviously that didn't happen. We were fortunate that UA was as off of their game as we were of ours. It could have been a lot worse.
I'm not going to write about individuals too much. There's no use in pointing fingers - I don't have enough. But pointing fingers is not the right terminology either. I guess it would be more correct to say that no one person needs to get better - we all do, as a team.
There are several areas of improvement that we need to see. One, of course, is the ball handling and turnovers. I remember the discussions being that we had so many different options in guys that could bring the ball up the court this year. It looked like our guards are really going to have to improve their decision making. Jeff Hawkins, Russell Robinson, and Mario Chalmers all made a lot of bad decisions. I agree that we were just trying to do things too fast, especially at first. Chalmers will be fine once he understands the D1 game. He's not playing against other high school athletes where some of those passes or cross-over dribbles will work. These guys are bigger, better, and more experienced than anybody he has faced before. Did anybody also catch them saying that Julian Wright should give the ball up and not try to bring it up himself? That definitely looked true in that situation, but I know that was supposed to be something he was able to do.
Another big concern has to be rebounding. Rebounding is position and attitude. We were getting beat to the ball continually. We did have some good rebounds - Rush sticks out in my mind again - but they kept getting inside position on us. I know a lot of the rebounds from their 3-point attempts were long, and that helped them retrieve them; but they got a lot of inside, offensive rebounds also.
The third thing that concerned me the most was where the points are going to come from. We had a hard time getting too many good shots. Obviously Brandon Rush can create, although he had some trouble handling the ball. I thought Micah Downs showed an ability to get his own shot a couple of times. And Sasha Kaun can get the ball inside with some good assists. We are going to have to develop that "go-to" guy. We are also going to need some production from the perimeter. I was surprised at the end when Coach took Micah back out and put RR back in when we needed some treys. Jeremy Case tried to do "his job" by coming in and firing up threes. Unfortunately, none of them connected.
We have to hope that the guys respond the right way - not get too down on themselves and come back to play another way. This might have been the year where it would have been nice to start the schedule out a little weaker and build into it. However, being thrown into the fire certainly lets them know where they have to go to be competitive at the top level. We have said it before - it might be by the end of the year. It might be next year. But hang with the guys. They need our support, and they are working hard. I didn't see anybody give up yesterday when it was 20 - 4. They continued to give the effort. That's all we can ask right now. It will get better.
On a personal note, this is the third year I have done The Morning After, and I have not missed a game in that time. However, today could end my streak. I don't think the game will be available in my area. I will return, like it or not, at the next available opportunity.
It's still a GREAT day to be a Jayhawk. Good things are on the horizon. Aloha.