2008 Team Revisited

  • @jaybate-1.0 purposed an interesting question awhile ago. He asked if anyone on the current Kansas roster could compete for playing time for the 2008 national championship squad. If we can hope for a National Championship this year, then the 2008 squad is a nice measuring stick.

    My first instinct was gloom as many of you commented. But I feel that was an unfair assessment. We have immortalized the 2008 team as a well oiled machine that man handled UNC in the Final Four.

    I have gone back and looked at Ljworld, Cjonline, and the KCstar. I read articles and their comments at the beginning and middle of the season. What I can say is that a lot of us (including myself) did not view this team as a GREAT team. I also watched some games and was surprised at how bad we looked during that season. Here is what our view of the players are now compared to what I felt/witnessed others viewed during the season. (DISCLAIMER: I am not saying ALL of you felt this way, but these views were not unpopular.)

    Brandon Rush:

    Now: The ultimate do-it-all player. The boy could shoot the 3, put it on the floor, lock down their best player, and had a selfless personality.

    Then: A lockdown defender and we always felt good when he shot it. But he disappears for long stretches and never shows fire. He needs to take over and show that he cares.

    Mario Chalmers:

    *Now: *Lockdown defender, a ballhawk, excellent shooter and comes up big time when we need it the most.

    Then: Ballhawk and great shooter. But he takes to many chances on defense and gets burned because of it. He should be more of a distributer at times and has trouble finishing contested shots in the lane.

    Russel Robinson:

    Now: The ultimate competitor. Tough as nails. He stops their offense from getting where they want to be the moment they cross half court. Great leader.

    Then: Lock down defender and takes care of the ball. But he cannot score to save his life! Is he pouting? Put in Collins!!!

    Darrell Auther:

    Now: Supremely talented. Scores with his back to the basketball and has a face up game. Big enough to get rebounds and quick enough to get by most people his same size.

    Then: Lots of potential and a good all around scorer. But he disappears and is soft. Gets out rebounded by smaller players.

    Darnell Jackson:

    Now: A tough, gritty big man. He is everything Self loves about his post players. Scores nicely but is a great big man passer and rebounder.

    *Then: *I actually couldn’t find a lot of negatives mid season. He pretty much is what we remember him to be. Even though he wasn’t a great scorer. But if we can remember back to before the season, not a lot of people expected him to be more than another body.

    Sasha Kaun:

    Now: Came in and couldn’t dribble a basketball. Developed into a tough player who can rebound, pull off the occasional hook, but was an ally-oop master!

    Then: Below average offensive player but was big and athletic. And stop freaking traveling!

    Sherron Collins:

    Now: Spark plug off the bench. A powerful, tough player that could finish in traffic and hit the three.

    Then: Spark plug off the bench but is out of control.

    2008 Squad as a Whole:

    Now: What a team! One of the best of all time! Amazing defense, hardened, battle tested, perfect mixture of shooters and slashers to compliment the inside-out game Self loves.

    Then: Great perimeter defense and mature team that you can’t count out. But become flat on offense and seem robotic at times. We would love this team if Julian Wright didn’t declare early. Can you imagine what we would look like having Wright in there!?

    I know I over generalized and simplified the opinions of each player, but I didn’t want it to be longer than what it already is. These qualities even came out during that remarkable comeback KU made on Memphis.

    Collins- Steals the inbounds pass, then slips and falls out of bounce to give memphis another shot to tie the game in overtime.

    Auther- Swishes that big time long 2 when we needed a quick basket, then gets pushed in to give up a crucial offensive rebound on a missed free throw.

    Chalmers- KU trying to make a comeback and puts up a layup only to get block when he could have dished it to a wide open wing for the 3, then the Mario Miracle happens.

    Kaun: A momentum changing ally-oop but travels twice.

    I could go on and on with examples. The point is the 2008 teams had flaws. Those flaws were exposed at times. But their strengths were better than the opposing teams strengths. Lets compare the 2008 team with reality and not the white horse riding off in the sunset.

    As for this years squad, it doesn’t have the lock down D that the National Championship team had. But can they develop a strength to beat other teams strengths? I believe this is a much better shooting team than the 2008 squad. We didn’t have someone with the versatility Ellis, we have 10 players deep that can play and in 08, we had 8 (including Cole), and God willing, we didn’t have anyone like Cheick.

    Can Selden be a consistent 12-15 point scorer? Will Self let the 3 loose? And for the love of God, will Self bench Jamari!? (somewhat jokingly)

    This year has too many question marks to say they can’t achieve great things. Let them set the bar, not us with an arbitrary ceiling that makes the 08 team pee gold.

  • I think you broke it down very well and provided great insight on the here and now and the there and then perspectives.

  • Great job, @JhawkAlum, regarding the myth of the '08 team. Every player on that team had some serious flaws at that point in their careers, but other players made up for it.

    Rush, Arthur, RussRob and Collins drove me nuts all that season. I kind of knew what we had with Sasha, Dammit Mario, and Jackson. But when those guys all put it together, they could move the ball around the court better than any team since.

    Look for some games on YouTube.

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