Expectations for the season

  • Well bucketeers we’re 6 days away from the first game of the season. Crazy to think after what has transpired the past 8 months that games are on the horizon. I have a lot of mixed feelings about this years squad and the level of play we’ll see from the Jayhawks. Bill Self is presented with one of his most difficult transitions from year to year he’s had as a coach. The lack of an off-season, some recruiting pains, replacing your Top 2 scorers and several other factors have made this upcoming season a challenge.

    I figured I’d start some discussion on what everyone thinks about this years team, how good can they be? Who’s going to step up and become leaders and our top scorers?

    The Schedule looks extremely difficult this year. 6 of KU’s first 10 games are against ranked opponents, including 3 of the first five against teams ranked in the Top 11. Preseason rankings are tough to gage but the fact remains KU is playing good teams. Game 1 against Gonzaga presents a big challenge for KU. I happen to think both teams are similar, replacing a lot of scoring, experience from arguably the two best teams in the Nation last year. The matchup should be fun and hopefully the Hawks will prevail.

    I’ll start with what I think will be the starting 5 to start the season. The 4-1 look will be KU’s base offense and due to the roster construction a 5 guard look will likely be something we see during the year, maybe even every game. Going to be interesting to see the lineup combinations used this season.

    PG- Garrett. DPOY of year from last season steps into Dotson’s role as a leader, facilitator and maybe even an improved scorer in his 4th year in the program. The word on Marcus was he spent a majority of the off-season working to improve his shooting touch. We already know his defensive ability and this is his team.

    G- Thompson. 5 star freshman and jewel of the 2020 class steps into a starting role right off the bat. The main reason I think he starts is to give the lineup a secondary ball handler (something Self loves to have). He also brings a high level BBIQ, + size at the position, court vision and shot making ability.

    Wing- Agbaji. The other full time returning starter for this team steps into his Jr year with a lot of expectations on his shoulders. There’s video of his improved shooting form and Self has mentioned wanting to see Agbaji be aggressive on offense in order to keep him from blending in. Already a good defender, consistency on offense will be the biggest thing I’m looking for with him. Hopefully we’ll see improved ball handling, shooting and decision making.

    Wing- Braun. Christian steps into his 2nd year as a full time starter after playing well enough to gain a handful of starts and playing some big time minutes in the 2nd half of last year. I’m a fan of this man’s game and has a chance to expand his role even further on offense as the teams top 3 point shooter. Word was he grew a few more inches in the offseason. Expecting big things from this guy.

    Center- McCormack. Big Dave leaves the shadow of Udoka Azubuike and steps into a primary scoring option for KU in his 3rd season. Self recently said Dave had separated himself. He’s the anchor in the post and we’ll see just how much he’s improved his game and his body in the offseason. If he followed in Doke’s footsteps look out!

    6th man and rotation- I expect Self to play 9 to 10 guys regularly early as he figures out rotations and what works.

    Wing- Grant-Foster. I believe as the season progresses the Junior College product will earn the 6th man spot and potentially crack the starting lineup at times. A preseason injury has slowed him which may leave him a bit behind early. Self recently had some glowing remarks regarding some practices in which Tyon showed some serious offensive potential. He might have a bit of Moss role from last years squad as a human microwave coming off the bench to score points. Don’t expect Grant-Foster to be a knockdown 3 point shooter but his blend of skill, athleticism and size will earn him minutes.

    Wing- Enaruna. After showing some potential early last season Tristan hit the proverbial “freshman wall”. He was a late bloomer in High School and learning how to fit in Self’s system can be challenging. Year 2 we should see some positive gains from him on both sides of the ball. The experience he gained playing last year hopefully helps him earn a bigger role this season.

    Center- Lightfoot. Mitch is back for his 88th season at KU after redshirting last season. Will be Big Dave’s primary backup and will bring some rim protection and experience to the floor. We know what we’re getting from Mitch.

    PG- Harris. If Marcus ever leaves the floor for a break expect redshirt freshman Dajuan Harris to get some minutes. Not a prolific scorer but brings + court vision, passing ability, defensive instincts to the court that could blend in well with this team. His main role will be to be a sponge learning the position and give KU the ability to steal some minutes without Marcus on the floor.

    Wing- Wilson. The highest rated recruit from KU’s 2019 recruiting class enters year 2 after missing almost the entire season due to injury. Jalen reported he’s lost 15 pounds in the offseason in order to improve his athleticism and ability to help this team. It remains to be seen what role he’ll have this year but Self has consistently mentioned him as one of 4 battling for the 5th starting spot. Could be a versatile piece used as a Wing or 4 man in lineups with the ability to stretch the floor from the perimeter.

    Expecting both Muscadin & Jossell to be non-rotation guys unless injury or Covid impacts the other 10 players. Both came to KU with some promise but needing to be developed in the system. With the free year of eligibility any playing time they may get is an added bonus for their development.


    It’s difficult to project the ceiling of this team right now. The media thinks they are a Top 10 team but anytime your replacing two stars in Devon Dotson & Udoka Azubuike that were matchup nightmare’s I’m left tempering my expectations to start the season. Devon & Doke had elite skills that are not easily replaced. I don’t see a star on this years squad but hopefully I’m wrong and someone steps up into that kind of role.

    Thankfully Marcus Garrett is back to lead this team at the PG position, Agbaji & McCormack are in year 3 with tons of experience and the rest of the roster has a blend of talent and skill that can be molded into a good team. Unfortunately the schedule did KU no favors early as mentioned above. My worry is this squad is a year away due to the lack of an off-season to build chemistry. Most of this roster can return next season which makes me think the true potential of this nucleus could be a year away. The homer in me and historical evidence with Self says every year he reloads and makes the pieces fit. We shall see. I’m hopeful for a good season. I’m very excited to see how the 4-1 scheme runs for a full year. A five guard look could be exciting at times to see how that works. Too early to tell if this is a championship type squad. We just had one that was robbed.

    What’s everyone’s thoughts?

  • My gut tells me this team is going to be an elite defensive team that has games where they struggle to score. We will have a nail biter or two against teams that are WAY below our level. And we will win games by 25 where the hoop is like throwing a rock into the ocean against a top 10 team.

    The two big questions in my mind are how we will be able to function with Mitch as our backup 5 and will we be able to shoot the ball consistently enough that the four guard rotation works well.

    My biggest concern is the post depth. Big Dave picks up two quick fouls and then we are playing Mitch and Gethro 25 minutes in a game. Tshiebwe would be dunking the ball every single possession.

    As far as projecting this team, it really is tough. There isn’t anyone on the roster that I have super high expectations for. At the same time, there really isn’t anyone that I think shouldn’t be getting minutes that will be. Will the depth give us enough of an advantage? Will TGF play his way into starting? Will Ochai have the All-American breakout? Can Garrett make a leap offensively? How good is Bryce going to be day 1?

    Last year, we knew we’d be good. Doke and Dot coming back virtually assured they would be a Top 5 team. But even with Dave, Ochai and Garrett coming back I definitely don’t have that same feeling.

    If this team wants to be FF good, they will need Ochai or Thompson to be a walking 15 ppg imo. Otherwise I just don’t know that we will be able to score consistently enough to make that type of a run.

  • @Kcmatt7

    Pretty much all my concerns you added on about.

    I hope this team can stay healthy. Marcus or Dave being out for any reason for any extended time changes the direction of the season. You look at the backups at those positions and we are just lacking a backup where there isn’t a big drop in play. Last season if Devon was out it was Marcus to cover and if Doke was out it was Dave. All we can hope for is neither becomes an issue.

    I’m not as high on the defense being Elite this year despite having two of best defenders in the country at their positions. I have concerns how we will guard teams who can throw size at KU in the post. Dave is not a rim protector nor proven to be a good rebounder so he must prove himself in both those areas. I know those same concerns were there for Doke going into last year but he was a freak athlete. One of Selfs earlier pressers mentioned how Dave must become someone who can switch and guard. I think our perimeter defense will be good but we are going to miss Doke protecting the back end and therefore I think the defensive numbers slide up into the bottom half of the top 10, low teens. Hopefully Dave can improve in the areas on defense that make the guards jobs a bit easier.

  • Ochai’s shot is wonderful now, it really is. This staff is so good at taking guys that have a workable shot and ironing out the kinks. The evidence is undeniable at this point.

  • Jalen “Morris” Wilson?? 👀

  • @BShark no attitude👊🏽💪🏽

  • @BShark

    Ochai worked his ass off… building his body and tightening his gate. He’s going to be a big time producer this year.

  • @BShark more Perry imo

  • I think that Wilson is more athletic than Ellis. By the way, I know he hasn’t contributed anything, but Muscadin has some handles.

  • @Marco

    He has some quick burst athleticism to him that has been a pleasant surprise to see out of him. That didn’t show on HS film either. So credit to Jalen and the Strength coach for making sizable gains in his physical ability.

  • @BeddieKU2 agree

  • @Marco

    The weight loss and work he put in to improve his body are great signs of a player dedicated to his craft. I’m so happy he didn’t end up at Michigan.

  • Me before the season “Jalen is a poor fit for Bill”

    Bill: alt text

  • @BeddieKU23 @BShark

    I am definitely happy that he did not end up at Michigan. The guy is a player, with a feel for the game. Wilson, Harris and Braun play very well together.

  • I think Wilson has made some big time steps in improving his athleticism. Every little bit helps… especially when you match it with a scrappy mind. The kid loves to go to the rack and that is always appreciated. We’ve had so many gifted players where many were so picky about applying that kind of aggression. As the St. Joe game progressed and we got into a flow in the second half, Wilson showed us a bit of what he has to offer by scrapping for extra rebounds, etc. I’m impressed with him and think he will contribute quite a bit this year.

  • @Kcmatt7 said in Expectations for the season:

    My gut tells me this team is going to be an elite defensive team that has games where they struggle to score.

    Oh my! 😉

  • @BShark haha oh yea boy did I swing and miss…

    Somehow still ranked 6 on Kenpom D 🤔

  • @Kcmatt7 said in Expectations for the season:

    @BShark haha oh yea boy did I swing and miss…

    Somehow still ranked 6 on Kenpom D 🤔

    Last year’s games are still a big chunk of that ranking. It’s going to get ugly when it’s only 20-21 numbers 😩

  • @Kcmatt7 said in Expectations for the season:

    @BShark haha oh yea boy did I swing and miss…

    These kids just got one kind of test under their belts now. Let’s see how they react to Big 12 play. At least they probably won’t face the nasty home court fans en masse in some of these venues… like WV, Hilton, Bramlage… but league play is so different from these early games… especially concerning scouting and previous match up experiences.

    I still expect us to have some bad offensive performances. Though it sure looks like we’ve got some serious fire power, especially from players like Braun out on the trey.

    Let’s hope we settle down on defense and start figuring out how to move our feet and play smart.

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