2011-2012 College Basketball Preview Series – Kansas Jayhawks (AKA: “One and a Half Men”)

(EJSIC is previewing several college basketball teams.  Check out our writers’ takes on Memphis and Duke.)

The 2011-2012 Kansas Jayhawks will see Bill Self hit the court with just six returning scholarship players from last year’s Elite 8 squad. In addition to this core group are nine eight seven six new faces – Freshmen, redshirts and transfers – looking to contribute.

Yo dawg, are we it?

The ultra-thin Jayhawks should still, somehow, be in the mix for a conference title in what’s left of the Big XII. Tough non-conference match ups against Kentucky and Ohio State are presumable losses, and the first-time full round robin conference schedule is likely to take a toll on the young Kansas team.  They will lose games they shouldn’t, possibly win games they shouldn’t and end up winning a game or two in the NCAA tournament come March.

This season will be dominated, however, by anxious Kansas fans collectively holding their breath every time forward Thomas Robinson steps onto the floor. If he happens to get hurt, the team will be entirely on the shoulders of guard Tyshawn Taylor.  And nobody wants to see that.

The Year of the “Half-and-Done”

Move over, ‘Melo.

Derrick Rose?  Kevin Durant?  John Wall?  Next.

The days of the infamous “One-and-Done” college basketball player are behind us.  Welcome to the dawn of the “Half-and-Done-ers.”

Josh Selby donned #32 for Kansas literally dozens of times in his career

To the surprise of nobody, Kansas Freshman guard, Josh Selby, announced today – via Twitter – that he will forgo his sophomore, junior and senior seasons and enter this June’s NBA draft.  This on the heels of last week’s announcement out of Durham, NC which saw Duke guard, Kyrie Irving take the same step.

Due to the NBA’s age restriction, we have witnessed a host of talented players pass, briefly, through the ranks of amateurs for a full season while they placed their dreams of professional basketball on hold for one, often spectacular year.   It’s not a new phenomenon.

But most of these players PLAYED an entire season in college before heading off to richer pastures.  So, the announcements from Selby and Irving offer a rare glimpse at two young players who both missed significant portions of their one and only collegiate season.  Selby missed the first 9 games of the season awaiting the NCAA’s decision on his eligibility…and then 3 additional games later in the season due to a foot injury.  Irving missed the last 3 months of the regular season for the Blue Devils before returning in the NCAA Tournament.

On the bright side, he never had to learn how to spell "Krzyzewski"

 

In their short time on the court, each player made contributions to their team.  Irving was second on the team in points per game (17.5) and assists per game (4.3) while playing and was a significant factor for Mike Krzyzewski’s squad.  Selby, while never finding the stride he showed when he was so heavily recruited out of high school, showed flashes of the player he could be with impressive offensive numbers in several games for the Jayhawks.

 

But, both Selby and Irving – rivals.com’s No. 1 and 2 point guards, respectively, in the 2010 class – played partial seasons at best.  And, now that their time in college is done, they can move on to bigger (richer) and better (MUCH richer) things without leaving too much of an impact at all on the college game.

Here’s hoping they both get more of a chance to show the nation what they’re capable of at the next level.

 

Sports, The Media, and The Rumor Mill

I’m guessing by this point everyone interested in sports has heard about the controversy surrounding Kansas football head coach Mark Mangino. What started as an “internal investigation” has turned into an absolute circus, with everyone chiming in to put in their two-cents. Former players, current players, family members, radio personalities, sports writers, and just about any fan you come into contact with has an opinion on the matter.

I have been a KU fan my entire life. I remember the rumors about Roy Williams when he was first offered the North Carolina job, and I remember the rumors leading up to him actually departing for North Carolina. Rumors are a part of the sports world, I mean Sports Illustrated has a section on their website entitled “Truth and Rumors” for Pete’s sake!

"Look at all these rumors, surrounding me everyday"

"Look at all these rumors, surrounding me everyday"

However, in these types of circumstances the media has to be more careful as to the rumors they are creating and/or spreading. I’ve heard radio reports that are taken from message board posts which offer no proof other that the usual, “I’ve heard from my inside source….” I mean come on! Sports media should strive to be more credible than The National Enquirer. I’ve looked at the message boards, but you have to take all that with a grain of salt, sports media should not report anything unless it’s from an official source. Plain and simple. They do no one any favors by spreading false information.

When did it it become acceptable for mass media outlets, such as sports radio, to report without valid sources? Does this take away from the credibility of sports radio? Does anyone really take sports radio that seriously anyway?

EJSIC College Basketball Preview Series: Kansas

Kansas players emerge from the locker room shortly before a routing practice

Kansas players emerge from the locker room shortly before a routine practice.

The fighting Jayhawks will take to the court this season as the preseason number 1 and a heavy favorite to reach the Final Four next March in Indianapolis.  Writers, coaches and pundits are all touting Kansas as the odds-on team to beat.

So, who are we, here at EJSIC, to disagree?

Bill Self’s squad is gearing up for a special season in Lawrence.  Led by the BigXII preseason Co-Players of the Year, guard Sherron Collins and center Cole Aldrich,  the team will be ready to face all comers.  Sophomores Tyshawn “Thumbs” Taylor, Travis Releford and twins Markieff and Marcus Morris look to improve on their solid freshman campaigns and become the solid core of the rotation that fans and coaches wanted them to be last year.  Added to the mix this year, of course, are the talented freshmen Elijah Johnson, Thomas Robinson and Xavier “Don’t Call Me Zay-Vier” Henry.  Jeff Withey and Xavier’s brother, C.J., also look to contribute as redshrit freshman transfers.

The only major question that surrounds this team will be whether there are enough minutes to go around.  Self has not ruled out, but also not directly alluded to, a possible redshirt or two this season.  Either way, the team will be (rock) chock-full of talent, athleticism, size and depth.  However the active roster and starting line up play out, the Jayhawks and their fans have plenty to be excited about.

Kansas will move quickly through the early part of their non-conference schedule, facing and dismissing mid-major fodder like Hofstra, Tennessee Tech, Central Arkansas and Memphis.   These games will build confidence for the ‘Hawks and end abruptly when they get too cocky and drop an embarrassing game to either Alcorn State or Radford at home.  To regain focus as a cohesive unit, the team will attempt to knock over a liquor store together.

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