It sounds like Julian Wright and Micah Downs made some good strides again last night and will be pushing for more time in the rotation. Julian definitely moves into the 3rd big man role (if Self doesn't start him to preserve fouls on the other two), and Downs has showed better at both ends of the court. At one time we had Mario Chalmers, Brandon Rush, and Downs as the "smalls", and it worked out pretty well. Downs can handle the ball well enough to help out there. However, the question would have to be the mismatch on the other end when he has to guard a smaller guard. He's going to have trouble getting a lot of minutes at the #3 opposite Rush. It will be an interesting scenario to watch. I was down on Downs early on, but he has risen rapidly based on the last couple of games.
The pregame interviews with Milt Newton, Kevin Pritchard, and Mike Evans (former KSU guard) were interesting. I enjoyed hearing from them. One of them said that the NBA people were already impressed with Rush and WRIGHT. You mean the same Wright that many here were ready to write off after the exhibition games? If we don't know basketball around here, then we certainly know emotions. It's going to be very much a roller coaster ride around here with each win and each loss. We need to keep trying to look at the big picture and give the guys a chance to develop.
It was good to see us hit some perimeter shots. Maybe the defense didn't cover us all that well - I don't know. But we needed to start hitting some against anybody in order to hopefully start getting some confidence. I still say we have some good shooters on this team even if the statistics don't show it. I think as they relax and feel more comfortable in what they are doing that the shooting will come around. Hopefully that is sooner than later.
It sounded like Rush just kind of took over there for awhile in the 2nd half. He hit from outside, he took the ball to the hole, and it sounded like he had a couple of really impressive dunks. I'm glad he's not as selfish as some originally feared, but I want him to be more selfish at times. It looks more and more like he will be the go-to guy on the team. He can be that and still be unselfish when the situation calls for it.
C.J. Giles obviously had a huge first half. He talked about coming "ready to play". He needs to do that each and every game. He can be such a force because of his leaping ability, shooting touch from 15 feet in, and shot-blocking ability. He can't afford to take any nights off - for lack of a better description. He still has to learn to play defense without reaching or keeping his hand on the other player, but his upside is unlimited.
Take it for what it's worth, but the Chaminade coach said we were the best team they played. Of course, it was the 3rd day of competition, and I'm sure they were a little worn out playing against all the superior talent. I look at it this way. We were definitely better than the team that played against Arizona. We were so up-tight at the start of that game. We didn't execute, and our heads (as well as the ball often times) were way up in the air. We played much better against Arkansas, but we just haven't learned yet how to finish a close game off. Against Chaminade we were able to relax and play a different brand of basketball. If we ever get to the stage where we can relax against the Arizonas of the world, then look out.
This team has such an upside. Amazing how we talked about it before the season began, and we all knew it would be fun to watch them as the season progressed. But when it comes right down to it, then we'd all like immediate results. We have to be realistic.
And, I have to share one more personal opinion. I think Bill Self was the right man at the right time for this job when he was hired. I think he's going to be great. If you listen to the interview with "any" (not just Rick Majerus) of the basketball people, they have nothing but great things to say about him. At times I am embarrassed about how our fans talk about him - almost implying that he should be replaced. He gets paid big bucks, and I'm sure he realizes that the responsibility stops with him. It's a free country, and fans will be fans. I also realize this board would shut down if there wasn't any controversy. But I look around and one of the major factors, IMO, of every successful program is continuity. Most of the successful coaches have been with their programs for a very long time.
It's a great day to be a Jayhawk. It's a great day to support such a hard working, energetic group of young men. It's a great day to have a program with a lot of class. It's great to have Coach Self aboard. Aloha.