Thursday, August 24, 2006

The great Andy Katz ranks Jayhawks in His "Sizzlin Summer 50"...

2. Kansas
What we like: The starting five returns and the Jayhawks once again picked up the best remaining player the class of 2006 in Darrel Arthur. He along with Brandon Rush, Mario Chalmers, Julian Wright, C.J. Giles, Russell Robinson and Sasha Kaun make up one of the most talented rosters in the country.

What concerns us: Just have to make sure the Jayhawks don't become like UConn last year, when it was hard at times to find a rotation with so much talent.

Power-rating push: Kansas plays Florida and Boston College, two games that show (as always) that this team isn't running from anyone.


  1. The rest of the top 10:

    4. Pittsburg
    5. LSU
    6. Arizona
    7. Georgetown
    8. Wisconsin
    9. Texas A & M!!
    10. Ohio St.

    And, no, I did not make up the "sizzlin summer 50" name.

  2. I'm not sure KU should be ahead of UNC until this squad proves something.

  3. Yet another alternate spelling for Darrell?

    Andy is being awfully charitable about our strength-of-schedule. No, we're not "running from anyone"--except, just to name two, Wichita State (#22) and Creighton (#24), powerhouses right in our backyard.

    Our schedule does start to look better, though, if his projections for Boston College (#13) and for Texas, OSU, and Texas Tech (all between 25 and 30) are accurate. I didn't see any of those teams being ranked that high.

    A&M in the Top 10? Why the hell not? As for the others, I'd like to believe the Big 12 is that good, but the word that comes to mind is "dubious."

  4. Also, you may be right that we're ranked too high, SJ, but I think we deserve to be ahead of UNC. Their '06 was comparable to ours, but they're losing one or two starters, which we aren't.

    If their freshman are as good as people say, they may be better than us, but I think the burden of proof is more on them than us.

  5. And speaking of burdens, UNC's schedule isn't exactly non-stop action either. High Point? Sacred Heart? Now, there's a Kentucky on there, and the ACC/Big Ten thing gives the The Ohio State, but those are the toughest non-conference games I spotted. In conference, it's tough, but so is ours, arguably.

    Similarly, Duke's schedule doesn't make ours look light, as I see it. Yeah, there's Gonzaga and Holy Cross, but I don't know. Texas Tech's on the CBE thing, but you never know. Of course, there's the ACC/Big Ten thing (Indiana), but, again, I think our schedule survives the comparison.

    Deron, I'm looking at you for rebuttal.

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  7. Okay fine: the NIT Tip-Off (?) potentially gives the Heels Gonzaga, Tennessee, or Indiana. But still . . .

    Man, some days I just cannot type.

  8. I'm sure you could find several schedules weaker than KU's, but the two you mentioned only prove my point.

    On UNC, you overlooked a late-season trip to 'Zona (ranked #6 by Katz). Combine that with Ohio St. (#10 but ranked higher by some), Kentucky, and those potential NIT matchups and you've already outdone KU, which has only two marquee games, none in a hostile gym.

    Duke has been especially smart and scheduled the mid-Majors that KU and others shy away from: not only the 'Zags but also Holy Cross, Kent State, and George Mason (have we forgotten them already?). If that's not good enough for you, they have teams from almost every major conference on there as well: Big East (three times, including #7 Georgetown), Pac-10, Big 10, Big 12.

    All this despite the fact that Duke, like UNC but unlike KU, is in a rebuilding year. Why doesn't OUR schedule look like that?!



  10. Deron, I guess what I meant was that Bill Self needs to prove that he belongs ahead of Roy Williams with a similarly talented roster. I think all things being even (or even close to even) Roy's squad gets the nod.

  11. Self does have more to prove than Roy, but he hasn't exactly been proven inferior, either. Roy himself had quite a few years when his teams underachieved in the tourney, (although incredibly, he's still never lost in the first round).

    I've been relatively disappointed in KU's performance under Self, but he's still young and deserves the benefit of the doubt for several more years. He certainly has the potential to be as great as Roy.

  12. Fox Sports is up with their Big 12 breakdown, listing KU as "the team to beat" in conference.

    Concerns? Like Katz, this writer wonders "whether one basketball is enough" for this seemingly overloaded team. I hope we don't see dissension or transfers on the horizon.

    But that's a good problem to have. The upside for this team is unlimited. Too bad about that schedule. (Sorry, that's the last time I'll mention it--for now).

  13. testing, testing, 1, 2, 3

  14. So I'm finally able to post... thanks for the invite scott! Unfortunately it's late and I'm too tired to offer any meaningful opinions. But in the future I will try to contribute my thoughts concerning KU basketball on a regular basis (for what they're worth). However, I must say, as much of a KU fan as I am, ranking KU 2nd seems absolutely crazy to me. Especially considering KU's last two NCAA tournament performances. We have a lot to prove and I'm utterly baffled as to why anyone would give us a #2. On what possible criteria could anyone rank us ahead of UNC... or any of the other top ten teams for that matter?

  15. Welcome, Z. Are you back from Deutschland? I'm glad we'll be able to hear you "spake" about KU hoops on a regular basis.

    I agree we're a questionable 2, but I think it's legit. The reasoning is that, with the exception of Florida, we're the best team from last year that hasn't lost any starters. Not only that, we've added some great players in Darrell Arthur and Sherron Collins.

    UNC is going to be damn good, but they did lose some guys who were, believe it or not, better than Jeff Hawkins and Christian Moody.

  16. I think that, ultimately, UNC had only a marginally better season than we did last year.

    The obvious big difference between Roy's tenure in N.C. and Self's at KU, is the disparity in '05 of a first round loss vs. a national championship.

    That's a big gap, but other than that, their records, their talent on hand, & their conference seasons are pretty comparable.

    Did anyone see Agassi last night?

  17. I do feel that, on balance, Self has underachieved a bit at KU while Roy has overachieved a bit at UNC. But it's early yet in both tenures.

    (Both have overachieved in recruiting. No coach has out-recruited them the last three years).

    In fairness, Roy had more talent in '05 than Self (just look at the subsequent NBA draft). But there was still no excuse for KU falling anywhere short of the Elite 8 that year. '06 was better for KU, given the expectations; the Bradley loss was much more forgivable than Bucknell.

    I missed Andre last night, but from what I read he's going to need some steroid shots if he wants to survive the early rounds (and I do mean "survive" in the literal sense).

  18. There has been some underachieving under Self, but I would argue that it has pretty much happened only in march.

    In his first season, the team underachieved a bit during the regular season, but did better than expected in March. Otherwise, I'd say the seasons were good, but March has been trouble.

    Of course, what could be more important in college basketball than March? But to say that he's underachieved over 3years is a stretch, i think. He's underachieved and overachieved.

    I would say that last year he overachieved, and that pretty much any big program other than fla, lsu, & ucla underachieved in the tourney. how many wacky early exits were there last year? i don't think we can hang much on self for the '06 early loss.

    there were odd sluggish ruts in self's first two seasons - which concerned me. but last year put those concerns to rest.

    and it's important to note that Roy began and ended well at KU, but in between was much hearbreak, either in march in the mid 90's, or through the conference season in the late 90's.

    and with the parity explosion - Bradley wasn't much of a scrappy underdog- the tournament will become more of a graveyard for major programs. when was the last time Duke went far in the tourney? It's time to adjust our expectations.

  19. Don't subject our players to the soft bigotry of your low expectations, Chris. After all, Kansas hasn't experienced the massive NBA defections that have leveled the playing field in the NCAAs.

    I don't expect Final 4s every year; I defended Roy all through the late '90s (you're welcome, Roy). But, as I noted above, Roy has still never lost in the first round, nor has Coach K, I believe. These are the comparisons Self has to live with.

    March hasn't been the only problem. We lost a lot of games we shouldn't have in '04; anyone remember Richmond at the Field House? Nebraska? The tourney run was great, but we lucked out with upsets and homecourt advantage; considering our talent and experience we should have been better that year than a 4 seed.

    We underperformed in '05 as well. After a great start, we choked down the stretch and ended up with a 3 seed--still the highest we've achieved under Self. Bucknell was only the icing on the cake of our late-season collapse.

    I agree that Bradley was excusable, and the '06 regular season was great, but don't forget how weak the conference was. On balance you'd have to say Self hasn't (yet) met expectations.

  20. I guess he has to live with those comparisons. If the only standard is Roy & K, then I suppose every other coach will suffer.

    I just think that's a pretty narrow way to evaluate Self's tenure.

    If we must bring up bad, unexpected losses (which never happened in Roy's day) then we should bring up the unexpected wins. Didn't we overachieve when we won the Big 12 tournament? How many times did we do that with Roy? Or tied for first in the Big 12 regular season? Or beat Kentucky at Kentucky and Ga Tech w/out Simeon two years ago?

    If we compare Self to the vast majority of other coaches in major programs with big talent, I'm not sure he has underachieved.

    On an emotional level, it makes sense to compare him to Roy, and to see how he matches up with Scowly coach K, but I'm not sure that's the only (or best) way to grade Self.

    We can have high expectations as fans, but that doesn't mean a coach underachieves just because he doesn't meet our over the moon hopes. Lute Olson lost in the first round more than once, but he won the big one long before Roy - and upset Roy in the process. Is it worse to lose the first round as a 3 seed, or in the second round as a one seed?

    First round losses suck, but i don't see how they make Self worse than Roy. The problems with the '04/'05 team was the same problem Roy had in 99/00, the old guard and young guard didn't mesh. Plus injuries - happens to every coach.

    I'd say Self hasn't yet lived up to our, & probably his, hopes. Roy also had to grapple with this - not for 1st round losses, but by other criteria.

  21. How can we NOT ask Self to live up to the standards of Roy and Mike? Either we want to win championships or we don't.

    I'm not saying fire the guy if he never meets those standards. I just don't think he got the most out of his talent on hand until last year. So the trend is good; maybe all he needs is his own players. We'll see.

    As for '04 and '05, those teams had much more potential than Roy's '99 and '00 teams. I'll take Simien, Miles, and Langford over Chenoweth and Kenny Gregory any day.

    But you're right about Lute going down in the first round; it's also true of Billy Donovan and others. If Self's career at KU consists of national championships interspersed with a few first-round flameouts, I'll take it.

    So we've had the flameouts; now we're due for the championships.

    Call it unfair expectations if you like, but with our talent and schedule, anything less than an outright Big 12 title, a #1 seed, and an Elite 8 run will be a disappointment. Hell, any more than 3 losses would be a disappointment!

  22. Even Mike K. hasn't lived up to Mike K's standards. He had the player of the year, and lost in the Sweet Sixteen. Which he's done a lot of lately. I don't think he's made the final four since '01.

    Calhoun, who so desparately wanted his 3rd ring and had the guys to do it, didn't make the final four last year. Is it worse that he didn't make the final four with that group, or that we didn't make the 2nd round with freshmen and walk ons?

    Simeon, Langford, & Miles were better than Chenowith & Gregory, but they weren't Gooden, Hinrich, & Collison & they sure weren't May, McCants, etc.

    And if you're disappointed if we lose more than three games . . . well, that's a tough standard for even Roy & Mike. And I mean that even if they had our schedule.

  23. Coach K made the Final Four in 2004, where they lost to your other nemesis, Calhoun's Huskies. I don't like those guys any more than you do, but their records speak for themselves.

    As for '04 and '05, I can't believe you think Wayne, Keith, and Aaron weren't capable of more than they achieved in those years. The experience factor alone should have counted for something. Roy never had a late-season collapse like we saw in '05, certainly not with veteran players.

    And I know I said I'd shut up about KU's schedule, but honestly, do you see any games on there besides Florida that we should lose? As it currently stands, we'll be favored to win every game this season but one.

    While even the best teams are liable to lose maybe two games they shouldn't have, I'd have to say if we lose more than a few against this schedule we'll have underachieved (barring injuries).

    Besides Florida, all our toughest opponents--BC, UT, A&M, OSU--have to play us at the Field House. So if we really are a great team we should win all of those, no? I expect we'll drop a road game or two--maybe KSU, maybe Southern Cal--but beyond that who can beat us besides ourselves?

    In the minefield of the Big Dance, it's a different story. I could understand if we fell short of the Final 4, simply because these guys have no Sweet 16 experience.

  24. ah, i didn't remember duke getting there in '04. Okay, bad example. But my point aout Calhoun is that he's trying to become the next Coach K, but he's falling short of those expectations. UCONN has been great this decade, but we could argue that they have underachieved as they should have at least made it to the final four last year - they did have the easiest road of the 1 seeds.

    I'm just saying by the crazy high expecations we're throwing around, pretty much every coach is underachieving.

  25. Per Calhoun: if a championship in '04 and an Elite 8 in '06 is underachieving, I'll take that kind of underachievement any day.

    I'm judging Self against the great coaches, not average or decent ones; I assume that's how he'd prefer to be judged. We're talking Kansas basketball here, not Kansas football.

    What are your expectations for this year?

  26. i think calhoun was probably pretty pissed he couldn't get to the finals. i mean, he went pretty far to bend the rules for Marcus "laptop" Williams, cause he thought last year was his best chance at getting 3 rings - tying Coach K.

    okay, my expectations? winning the big 12. would i be shattered if that isn't met? no.

    and i don't know, sweet sixteen. but i'll obviously hope for more. i guess i'm saying you can expect to be good, but greatness is elusive and there are many variables beyond coaching. we don't want to become ungrateful kentucky-type fans.

  27. did anybody see this?

    from luke winn's blog on cnnsi:

    This is the strangest story I've read all summer. In the Aug. 24 issues of the Lawrence Journal-World, Tom Keegan wrote a column after receiving an unsolicited phone call from the father of ex-Jayhawk forward Micah Downs, who transferred to Gonzaga midway through his freshman season. Steven Downs wanted to make a clarification, in the press, that when his eldest son left KU, it wasn't Bill Self's fault.

    "It wasn't Bill at all," Steven Downs alleged in the LJ-W. It was Micah's own fault, man. You can't blame the coach or the staff."

    Papa Downs then went on to pledge an awkward allegiance to the Jayhawks, rather than Micah. He told Keegan that he wishes Micah would've stayed in Lawrence, and that he still wants his other son, Steven Jr., a prep sophomore, to play for the Jayhawks. "I want everyone to know how much our family appreciated Bill Self and Kansas University," Steven said. "I feel like I owe you guys a basketball player. If I could afford it, I'd be coming down to Kansas for every game. I've been a Kansas fan all my life. I still wear my Kansas Jayhawk cap. We still have our Kansas Jayhawk flag hanging up in our room."

    Now, here's the real stunner: The reason there is no objection to all the KU paraphernalia still hanging in the Downs household ... is because Micah no longer has a relationship with his parents. Tough for pops, then, to know the whole truth.

    "He hasn't spoken to me for months now," Steven said of Micah in the LJ-W. "We have personal issues because of his girlfriend. I never approved of her."

    A very sad tale. And unfortunate, I think, that it had to be aired through the press.

  28. Yes, I saw that in the LJW. Bizarre. I think it says more about Downs Sr. than Jr.

    Unfortunate that it was "aired through the press"? Isn't that exactly what Winn is doing?

    As for your previous comment, I hope I won't be "shattered" by any result this season, but there's no excuse for us not winning the conference by a significant margin. The only teams that can even touch us (UT, A&M, OSU) all have to come to our house. It's being laid out for us on a silver platter.

    What's annoying about our schedule is that we can win 95% of those games and still not be sure whether we're a "great" team or just "good," because we won't have been seriously challenged.

    If you couldn't tell, I am a bit "ungrateful" for what I consider squandered opportunities in Self's first two seasons. But I'm not calling for anyone's head (a la Kentucky fans, I guess), and the program would have to take a serious nosedive before I would.

  29. Expectation: Final Four. And the Big XII title. Anything less would be shattering. I apprecaite all the fine points above, but on an emotional level, I just can't bear anymore soul crushing disapointment and sadness.

  30. Ismail doesn't post much, but when he does, it's intense ...

    IP, I just want you to know, whatever happens in March, we're all here for you. Don't do anything rash! I know how suicide-prone you Pacific NWesterners are.

  31. You would be suicide prone too if no team from your region has ever achieved anything. When my Ducks do manage a tremendous seasonthey are screwed out of their chance to prove they belong among the elite. Another cause for suicide- Oregon's new football unis. It is enough to make you go to the reservation drink and get mean.

  32. you lazy bums should made another post instead of all these d*** comments, but yep, Coach K sure blew it. They should gotten Roy.