Thursday, August 21, 2008

Kansas: 2008-09 Team Preview

2007-2008 Record: 37-3, 13-3 (1st Big XII, NCAA Champs)

Key Losses: Brandon Rush, Mario Chalmers, Darrell Arthur, Darnell Jackson, Sasha Kaun, Russell Robinson

Key Returnees: Sherron Collins (9.3 ppg, 3.0 apg), Cole Aldrich (2.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg)

Newcomers: Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris, Travis Releford, Tyshawn Taylor, Tyrone Appleton, Mario Little, Quintrell Thomas

I know what you're thinking: how can a team lose six of their top seven players (with five of those guys getting drafted) and still be good enough to reach the NCAA tournament. Look what happened to UConn after the 2005-06 season, when they lost their top six. Kansas, however, may be a little better off than that UConn team. They return Sherron Collins, who has battled injuries and weight issues during his career at Kansas, but is a bulldog of a point guard. He can put up points is a hurry, and as long as he protects the ball he is very effective.

They also return Cole Aldrich. The Mickey D's all-american did not get a lot of playing time as a freshman (only about 8 mpg) because he was playing behind three NBA draft picks, but was productive in his limited action (12 points and 15 boards per 40 minutes). He had a coming out party against UNC in the Final Four (only 8 points and 7 boards, 4 offensive) but if you saw that game and saw the way he took over that game for about four minutes, you know this kid is going to be good.

Bill Self earned his $30 million contract recruiting this year as he landed the #2 class, according to Rivals. The prize of the class was signing Marcus and Markieff Morris, 6'10" twins from New Jersey that, when combined with Aldrich, will give Kansas a very good front court. Self also landed PG Tyrone Appleton and wing Mario Little, the top two JuCo recruits in the country. When you add those four to top 150 recruits Travis Releford, Tyshawn Taylor, and Quintrell Thomas, Kansas has a roster loaded with young talent.

Yesterday, the news broke that not only are both of the Morris twins still not academically eligible for the season, but Markieff was arrested for (possibly) underage drinking and shooting a BB gun out his window and hitting a woman in the arm. Kansas's Big XII hopes will take a big blow if one or both of the twins are unavailable.

Outlook: Although I've always believed experience is a bit overrated, in this case it is not. Kansas will have one player in their rotation that has played more than 8 mpg in a season, and only two that aren't freshman. If Sherron Collins can shoulder the leadership role, the Morris twins get eligible, and all of the freshman can grow up quickly, Kansas should be a tournament team and in the conversation for the Big XII. If not, it will be a long year in Lawrence.

No comments: