Usually this time of the year I offer up my first assessment of Kansas basketball. This will undoubtedly be the most interesting ride since Bill Self replaced Roy Williams in 2003. An 11th straight conference title will mark Self's best coaching job ever, despite the fact that he has the most athletic team I've ever seen at K.U.
Here's the problem. When I watched the Jayhawks step out onto the court last night to face Kentucky, my jaw dropped. It was men versus boys. Kentucky is big. Kentucky may have the finest collection of talent since John Wooden ruled basketball at UCLA with Bill Walton at center. Now don't get me wrong, Kentucky is going to lose a game or two this year, sorry Larry Brown. Great teams playing 40 games always have one slip up.
Kentucky exposed Kansas in ways I've never seen a Bill Self team exposed. This version of the Jayhawks looks like a squad straight out of the Roy Williams era. They played soft. Super frosh Cliff Alexander is the only interior beast Kansas has this season. Jamari Traylor simply shrank when it was his turn to take over the spotlight. Perry Ellis is a perimeter big man. Traylor and Ellis never worked the high-low post the way we're used to seeing the Jayhawks play it. This is really troubling.
Kansas fans will never admit it but they missed Nadir Tharpe. His presence would have brought the much needed toughness that Self seeks from his point guards. Frank Mason tried to play the way Self needs his point guard to play, but pushing the ball into the post on foolish runs to the basket only exposed his inexperience.
Worse still, Wayne Selden, who will be expected to be the go to guard this season, is probably K.U.'s fourth best option on the perimeter. The three freshman, Kelly Oubre, Jr., Sviastolav Myhailiuk and Devonte Graham are already better than Selden. Kansas will have to be an inside-out team this season rather it's normal outside-in team, unless Traylor finds his inner Marcus Morris and Cliff Alexander can learn to stay out of foul trouble.