By all accounts, this year's "Late Night at the Phog" was the usual cheesy affair, complete with a "Boot-Scootin' Boogie" rendition (is it 1989 again? am I back in Oklahoma?) and a procession of limos and humvees leading to a red carpet.
All the talk in the media post-Late Night was about Brandon Rush, who did some dancing but no scrimmaging. He won't play until December and apparently may not be right all season, even though he says otherwise. Coach Self tried to cast it in a positive light but only confused the issue further: "Brandon will not be the Brandon we saw at 100 percent last year, but I think he can be 100 percent of the new Brandon."
Maybe because of the uncertainty over Rush, it seems everyone's predicting North Carolina to cut down the nets rather than KU. CNNSI's Luke Winn has KU all the way down at 5th, below UNC, UCLA, and two teams from the Volunteer state. Any thoughts on that, Scott?
CNNSI does list us as the top backcourt, however, and says, "Anything less than a Final Four with this group will be a colossal disappointment."
Self also indicated at Late Night that he's feeling the pressure this year: "The only thing last year's team didn't have was seniors. A team is only as good as its seniors allow it to be. This year, we've got five studs. We've got to get the big prize. We've got to cut down the nets in April."
The heat is indeed ON in a way that often makes a season less enjoyable than it should be. We'll undoubtedly lose more than just seniors after this year, and so far there isn't an influx of sexy recruits lined up in waiting (though that could change any time). This needs to be the year.
But is there any reason to think our guys can't handle that pressure? Even if Rush's new 100% is only 80% of last season's 100%, it's still hard to identify any real weaknesses on this team. With all our offensive weapons and with Self's defensive program firmly in place, I wouldn't rank anyone ahead of us.