Monday, December 14, 2020

The Miseducation of David McCormack

This may be the most confusing Kansas basketball team of the last decade.  The squad lacks a talented big man yet has a roster of eight guards, yes Jalen Wilson is a guard, that is as deep and talented as any in the Bill Self era.  The confusion stems from David McCormack and whether or not he can find the game that his teammates raved about before the season started.

McCormack is a physical specimen.  He has a sweet jump shot from 12 feet and in and is an enthusiastic rebounder.  He is a solid defender.  Yet he play seems rushed and unsettled.  His frenetic presence in the low post is downright confusing on the offensive end.

I think Self has bent over backwards to give McCormack minutes when the steadier Mitch Lightfoot plays a more polished low post game.  He lacks McCormack's physical presence but he is a better shot blocker and ball handler.  Yet Lightfoot's minutes will likely be limited because the best Kansas lineup doesn't involve a big man.

Kansas plays its best with five guards on the floor.  Jalen Wilson at 6-8 is big enough to handle many of the interior big men he will face as the season grinds on and creates massive matchup headaches with his ability to handle the ball and shoot the three.  Plus Wilson is a fierce rebounder.  He is the best Kansas freshman I have seen standing at 6-6 or more since Paul Pierce.  It's unfortunate that he will be a one and done.

Christian Braun and Ochai Obaji are the ying and yang of the back court swing players.  Both are deadly from beyond the arch, can handle the ball and are fearless rebounders.  With Wilson, Braun and Obaji should average 15 a game night in and night out.

The problem is Marcus Garrett.  Bill Self has put too much on K.U.'s best lockdown defender.  You can see his game suffering with the added responsibility of playing the point.  His offense is down and he seems tired on the defensive end.  At some point Self needs to consider finding a way to get Dajuan Harris, Jr. into the game more as the point to free Garrett to be the defensive spark that Kansas desperately needs.

The other guard part of this abundance of guard goodness is freshman Bryce Thompson who should also get more looks at point.  Thompson has an old school mid-range game that we haven't seen in years.  Plus he's a sure ball handler.  

Sadly lost in this depth at Tristan Enaruna.  He's got a great three point stroke but seems another year away from being the mature player that can contribute on a consistent basis.  My guts tell me he may transfer given the wealth of talent Kansas seems to recruit every year.

JUCO transfer Tyon Grant-Foster is an athletic freak.  He can jump, handle the ball, and play defense.  I suspect he'll have some conference games where he comes to the rescue but he's a role player at best.

This Kansas team lacks a Frank Mason, DeVonte Graham, Devon Dotson, who could pressure opposing defenses with their drives and outside shooting ability.  And that will be the achilles heel of this squad, the lack of a consistent penetrator from the guard spot that can get the other team in foul trouble.

This is not a Final 4 team.  A trip to the Sweet 16 is the best the Jayhawks can hope for.

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