Going into the 2011-2012 basketball season the expectations were not as high in past years. This year’s team had 4 new starters and all of them were essentially role players at best on last year’s team. With the expectations not as high people wondered how good KU would be this year. Everyone had heard that Thomas Robinson was going to be a great player for KU this year, but how good was he really going to be. Tyshawn Taylor was going to assume a leadership role with the team this year, but after uneven play and suspension the previous three year many wondered whether he was going to become the leader Bill Self wanted him to be. Lastly, many people wondered about Jeff Withey and how good he would be with KU. Last season in limited action Jeff Withey looked average at best and often looked lost on the court. In the end many people thought KU would compete for a Big 12 regular season title, but fall short and end up being a 3 or 4 seed at best in the NCAA Tournament.
To begin the season KU had a hard non-conference schedule with games against Georgetown, Kentucky, Duke, and Ohio State. KU played Kentucky first and looked outmatched for most of the game, but stayed in it do to experience which Kentucky’s freshman laden team did not have. KU eventually lost 75-65. In the semifinals of the Maui Invitational KU played an underrated Georgetown team and squeaked out a victory 65-63. In the finals KU played a high ranked Duke squad and hung with them the whole game, but in the end lost 68-61. Late in their non-conference schedule they played an Ohio State team without their best player Jared Sullinger. During that game KU found a new role player in Kevin Young who scored a fourteen points in the win against Ohio State 78-67. Immediately following their impressive win against Ohio State they lost to Davidson, which is their worst loss of the season. With their non-conference schedule over many still wondered how good KU had actually be this year. The team need to play with more consistency, by this time everyone knew that Thomas Robinson was the best player on KU; yet Tyshawn and Jeff Withey were needed to score with more consistency. Connor Teahen the KU sharp shooter had been shooting very poorly from the 3 point line and for KU to get better he would have to make the 3 point shot with more consistency during the Big 12 conference season.
In KU’s first conference game against in-state rival Kansas State, KU played its best game thus far beating Kansas State 67-49. KU started conference play 7-0 and KU was starting to play its best basketball. Tyshawn Taylor seemed to be scoring at will against teams often scoring 20 or more points. Tyshawn was also not turning the ball over as much as he used and finally looked like leader Bill Self had wanted him to be. Jeff Withey picked his play up to in conference play. Jeff Withey was scoring the ball more consistently often putting up ten points, but playing superb defense. KU hit a rough patch losing two of three games to Iowa State and to rivals Missouri. After this rough patch KU went on to win the rest of its conference games and went on to win its eighth conference championship in a row. At the end KU finished with a record of 25-6 and is a favorite to be a number 1 seed in the NCAA tournament which will be there third straight year of being a number 1 seed.
For KU to be down the nets in New Orleans on April seecond it will need role players such as Kevin Young and Conner Teahan to give them solid minutes off the bench. Also, KU will need Jeff Withey and Tyshawn Taylor to be at there best to take pressure off Thomas Robinson. Finally, I predict KU will not make a final four because I don’t feel it has the depth to play well if Thomas Robinson or Tyshawn Taylor get in foul trouble.