We're a more than a quarter of the way through the college basketball season and I've been remiss in not sharing my thoughts about this year's edition of the University of Kansas Jayhawks. I guess I've been too scared to share my feelings about this team. As much as I resist the comparisons, this as close as having a complete unit as what Bill Self served up in the championship run of 2008.
One thing separates this team from the national championship Jayhawks is interior toughness. Sasha Kahn with a side of Darrel Arthur and some beastly end of the year freshman heroics from Cole Aldrich made the team's interior defense intimidating. Percy Ellis, Landon Lucas, Jamari Traylor, Hunter Mickelson, Carlton Bragg and Cheick Diallo don't even compare. Yet the faint glimmer is the unfathomable depth in the Jayhawks frontcourt. They have a ton of fouls to give and the athleticism of Bragg and Diallo are undeniable. Ellis can score like Arthur and bring a 3 point shot than even Darrel dare not hoist.
Where this team measures up with 2008 is the front court. Where Russell Robinson, Sherron Colllins, Mario Chalmers and Brandon Rush were tough as nails, Robinson lacked any offensive punch and the three point shooting while good, pales in comparison to the 2015-16 squad. Every backcourt contributor on this year's team can shoot the 3. It's almost to the detriment to Self's bread and butter scheme of working the high/low post.
Yet I think Bill Self has seen that he's got to live and die by the 3 ball. Wayne Seldon has shown he's worked on his long range shot. He sparkled at the World University Games. Frank Mason III has shown every bit of toughness as Robinson and Collins and Devonte Graham will be a better all round player if he stays another year than Mario Chalmers. Then comes the bombs away overload provided by Brennan Greene and Svi Mykhailuk. The scariest part is out of this wealth of backcourt talent, the short man on the end of the minutes, Mykhailuk, has the most upside potential in professional basketball.
These guys play just enough defense to get by. They are the best all round shooting team in Kansas history. That's even with the spotty interior scoring. Yes, Perry Ellis is hell on wheels, but he struggles against bigger, physical postmen. Kansas has guards and guards by and large win national championships. I'm not saying K.U. will win it all this year but this very talented team will have underachieved if they don't make it to the Final 4.
Oh, and if by some miracle Bragg, Diallo, Mykhailuk, Graham and Mason all come back for another season, next year's team will be even better.