A new basketball season is right around the corner, and Jayhawk fans should expect a few new things from this year’s team. Coming off of a devastating National Championship loss to Kentucky last year, coach Bill Self’s squad is hungrier than ever for not only another National Championship appearance, but a title. After winning the title in 2008, Kansas wants to win their second championship in five years, and with Bill Self coaching, their is a great chance KU could earn another title. Self has won 476 games in his career. He is also only 49 years old. Bill has won an average of 84 percent of games he has coached at Kansas, putting him on track to achieve the most wins of all time in NCAA history. The 2012 Kansas basketball team has the right coaching and attitude, but lacks the needed experience.
This is a relatively young team. Led by only four seniors, this team may struggle. The Jayhawks will be centered around Elijah Johnson, a three point specialist, Jeff Withey, a possible All-American center, and Travis Releford, who can control the momentum of any game. Kansas basketball will be a small team height wise. There is one true center on the team in Jeff Withey, and he can not play the entire game. However,
Kansas is stacked in the guard position, and has plenty of talent. Freshmen Jamari Traylor and Ben McLemore, who were both suspended by the NCAA last season for eligibility reasons, are dynamic players who can play both ends of the floor with ease. What Jamari Traylor lacks in height, he makes up for in his 220 pound frame. Ben McLemore is one of the most athletic players to come to Kansas. He can leap in the air for rebounds like a forward, and drive to the basket and finish like the guard he is.
There are no major injuries on this Kansas squad. Forward Kevin Young broke his hand a few weeks ago, but is expected to be fully recovered by the start of the season. Other than Young’s minor injury, the team will be ready to go versus Southeast Missouri State on November 9th.
Kansas’ non-conference schedule this year is easier than in years past. Only three preseason ranked teams are on the Jayhawks’ schedule. The first test for Kansas will be when they take on Michigan State in Atlanta, Georgia. However, the toughest test will take place in Columbus, Ohio, where the Jayhawks will face off against Ohio State. This will be a revenge game for the Buckeyes, as they look to avenge the losses they suffered against Kansas in both the regular season and the Final Four last season. Kansas will have a few competitors for the Big XII Championship this year. The most likely of teams to dethrone Kansas this year is Baylor. They beat Kansas in Waco, Texas, last season. These two teams, in the end, will be duking it out for the top spot in the Big XII.
This should be an exciting year for Kansas basketball. There is a legitimate chance that the Kansas Jayhawks could end the season with their sixth national championship in school history. The coaching is there, but is the maturity in the young players? Maturity comes with time, so time will ultimately tell.
The clock showed that there were two minutes and twenty-eight seconds left in the game. That’s how long the Kansas defense needed to withstand the Texas Longhorns to pull off an unexpected upset. 40,000 fans came into the homecoming game expecting a Texas blowout win over the struggling Jayhawks. However, fans from both sides got their money’s worth, and got to watch a great game as Kansas almost got their first Big 12 win this season.
The Kansas defense was average until the fourth quarter, when they collapsed. The Jayhawks gave up a total of 342 total yards, of which, 211 were rushing yards. At the same time, Kansas forced two interceptions against a traditionally great passing team. The Texas quarterbacks could not do anything against KU. Throwing only 23 passes combined, David Ash and Case McCoy completed only 13 of the thrown passes. The passing game was not working for the Longhorns, so coach Mack Brown resolved to a multitude of runners. The running game made up for much of the Texas offense Saturday, but it did not rock Kansas. This Kansas defense held Texas to 21 points, a team who averages over 44 points per game. The Jayhawk defense did everything they could to propel Kansas to their first win over a ranked opponent since 2010. Unfortunately for Kansas, this was not the day to end that streak.
The Kansas offense played decently against Texas. Tailback James Sims played well with 28 carries for 176 yards. Along with Sims, running backs Tony Pierson and Taylor Cox ran for a combined 79 yards. With all of the running by Kansas, the passing game was nowhere to be found. After quarterback Dayne Crist was benched a few weeks ago, freshman Michael Cummings has become the new offensive leader. However, the Jayhawks only threw the football nine times. Not only did they throw nine times, but Cummings only completed a total of three passes. As an offense, that is unacceptable. In order to beat a historically successful Texas football team, the opponent’s offense has to be balanced. With Kansas’ offense putting up very lopsided numbers, it was surprising to see Kansas competing. Texas’ defense allows over 229 passing yards per game and Kansas Coach Charlie Weis and his offensive staff failed to take advantage. This proved to hurt the Jayhawks’ chance of winning.
It is obvious that KU football has one major problem to fix. There is a shaky quarterback situation that needs to be resolved. Dayne Crist is not what fans expected, and it is now up to Michael Cummings to take over. This is not what Coach Weis and the fans were expecting. Although there was optimism among Kansas fans, their football team is already out of contention for a bowl game through 8 games.
Fortunately, there were some positives taken from the game. The Jayhawks have a great rushing game with threats from three different running backs. Their rushing tandem can prove to be lethal next week in Waco, Texas, against the Baylor Bears. Another positive from Saturday’s loss was how strong the Jayhawks defense was. The defense is what kept the game alive, until the very end.
There are definitely a few holes to fill for Kansas, but they can do it. The slogan “We Believe” is used in Lawrence regularly now. This clearly isn’t a type of bowl season that was shown in 2007, but Kansas can get back to a BCS bowl game someday. Until then, the Kansas Jayhawks need to come together, put points on the scoreboard, and beat somebody.