Matrix Decision Time....

  • pill.jpg

    Take the blue pill… and this team will remain the same throughout the rest of the season.

    Take the red pills… notice how many of the red pills are available. The red pills are optimism on our upside for this year. Take them and for everyone you take, you are optimistic of one of our players making a vast improvement still this season.

    Think I’ll take a pile of red pills:

    Cheick - He has to improve vastly in the coming weeks. All of that hype wasn’t for nothing. He has a lot to learn, but with his high-rev motor, hustle and potential, he is bound to make more noticeable improvements soon.

    Hunter - He seems to play better every game. You can see his confidence growing, and with that comes execution. He has been doing a great job of defending the post, and his rebounding seems to be improving dramatically almost from game-to-game.

    Brannen - He came to Kansas with a big-time reputation for offense. He may leave Kansas with a big-time reputation for defense! His defense has picked up lots of intensity recently, and he should continue to improve as the season progresses.

    Devonte - He is receiving a ton of minutes this year. Look at how his tool set is developing; excellent shooter from trey, great at steals, meshing in well on offense, and doesn’t turn the ball over while pressing the action. All the PT is bound to keep pushing his execution up higher.

    Wayne - Just how high can he go? He continues to impress, not only the Jayhawk faithful, but media across America, including back East… where they tend to see Lawrence, Kansas as a far west town located in China.

    Perry - Perry is raising his stats higher again this year. One can only wonder what he will bring to the party in March? He seems to understand the need to peak in the late part of the season.

    Svi - He hasn’t come out blazing this year. We all know he has the talent, but he hasn’t been able to convert his ability to productive play. Might he still be a bit anxious? Chances are… yes. Maybe he can gets some mentor advice from Wayne. Wayne has overcome plenty of mental challenges during his days at Kansas. Imagine if he starts coming on big over the coming months?!

    Landen - Seems like one of the tougher cases for showing upside. He definitely plays a role in the greatness of this team.

    Jamari - When Self mentioned earlier this year that the light bulb hasn’t come on for some players, he must be thinking of Jamari as one of those players. His athleticism, team cohesion, and energy are big pluses. But his execution has been lacking and pushing him to the back of the C5 pack. I think it is time for him to truly realize what role he can take with this team to offer a net positive. He sort of touched on this last year with his desire to have the high-energy role on the team. We can use a guy like Jamari to fill that role again. He does have to play smarter ball, because just bringing energy into a game usually isn’t enough to make a net positive. I hope he figures it out because he does have some good tools to offer and can make a positive difference.

    Lagerald - Almost forgotten. Starting to ice-up on the bench. He can find ways, like Jamari, to take on a role and offer a few minutes of help to this team every game. He is going to be a big talent someday.

    So if we continue to hammer through the start of Big 12, piling up victories… our competition will be fighting hard to catch us… the team they thought we were in the beginning of January. Meanwhile… we will not end up being that team in the coming months. We will be vastly improved.

    Does it seem possible? That as well as we are playing now we could still vastly improve this season?

    I believe so!

    We need to peak in April!

  • @drgnslayr Perry I think realizes that this is his last chance for a final four and he needs to bring it every night.

  • @drgnslayr What I find interesting in Div 1 right now is this question. Who are the best teams right now that give KU the biggest threat to potentially face in March? Villanova, Michigan St, Xavier, OU, Purdue, Virginia. NOT Duke or UNC or Kentucky. A lot has changed from last year.

    KU playing tough and improving throughout the season can beat any of those teams above. No question.

  • I’ll take five red pills on noticeable improvement this season, from this point forward - 1) Carlton Bragg, 2) Cheick Diallo, 3) Hunter Mickelson, 4) Brannen Greene, and 5) Devonte Graham.

    But then again, I’ve always been a red pill guy ….

  • @Lulufulu

    My knee-jerk reaction is that any team with quality bigs can be a major problem for us because we typically struggle against them. But I’m not sure about that now. Our C5 has been performing well. Hunter has made a colossal difference. I’m hopeful that Cheick will make another huge difference within a month. Carlton has been pretty consistent and hopefully will still show improvement as the season progresses.

    Of course, we typically have problems with mid-majors. That could still be our weakness heading into March because we refuse to schedule these kinds of teams.

  • A big key to March success is that we continue to improve at a rapid clip from here on out.

    Let’s say we stay #1 for quite a while, and we take the Big 12. Will our guys stay hungry during practices? Will they put in the extra personal reps it takes to keep improving?

    Guess that is up to them.

    That is what teams with a chip do… regardless of their success in the moment.

    This team is very good. But I doubt they are good enough to win in March at their current level of play. Where they are now… it will be passed by several teams later this month and in February.

    We MUST continue to improve!

  • @drgnslayr

    About this time each early conference season, KU wins a couple, steals one on the road it wasn’t supposed to and loses one. It winds up in the lead having to pick up the split on the back nine. About that time, we think we have a team set to run the table, the team runs into a “funk,” and some player enters a mother of all shooting slumps. KU loses to a team no one thought it would lose to. It regroups. it labors for a couple wins. It gets its mojo back and starts a tear. An injury hits. Players play through some injuries. Heroism becomes common place for a time. Boom! Another title.

    I’m not a big believer in great improvement over the course of a season.

    I’m a big believer in one or two guys getting it at one moment, or another, over the course of the season, and another one or two, sliding backward down the curve, then into the cryogenic tank.

    I think Brannen, or Svi, are the candidates remaining that might “get it.” One or both.

    I think Hunter and Landen have gotten it the first semester.

    I doubt Carlton, or Cheick, get much better.

    But I do think Cheick will stop shooting 15-18 foot Js out of the offensive flow.

    Or Cheick will experience cryogenic ice for January and be thawed February 1st to see if he has learned not to take those Js.

    I also think that Carton and Cheick will continue to give the C5 important points and production that guaranty double doubles for C5.

    I will take the red pills and call them crimson.

    I will hope the red pills help me pick out Agent Smith in a crowd.

    Rock Chalk!

  • @drgnslayr

    I’ll take some red pills.

    I do think we know what we are getting for the most part from everyone not named Bragg & Diallo. We can hope that these two will continue to work as hard as the vet’s and become reliable options off the bench. I thought they both played really well against Baylor.

    Svi is a guy who is now getting lost in the shuffle because of Greene’s stellar play and Svi doesn’t look as comfortable out there. As young as he is, he still doesn’t seem to have great confidence when he misses open shots. He should be making more than he is and at some point I’m sure we will need him to come off the bench and produce. All that being said, Svi is a guy who probably needs 15-20 solid minutes a game to get that chemistry with his teammates. He won’t get that unless he finds a way to perform above Greene at this point.

    Graham is really starting to blossom in his role. If he can keep his shooting %'s steady he is just another part of the machine that becomes unstoppable. I’ve been impressed with his development and his chemistry with Frank is unmatched in the country.

    It still remains to be seen what kind of team we are on the road against the best in the league. We always perform great in Allen, its almost impossible to have off nights in the greatest home court advantage in sports. I’m sure tonight we will bring our best because we have to. How this team performs against Texas Tech & West Virginia (it’s next 2 foe’s) is just as important as how we do against Baylor/OU at home.

  • We just play so much more difficult teams in conference game in and game out than most of the other contenders, its not even funny. I was looking at schedules, and Maryland doesn’t play a ranked team in the big 10 for the first 7 games. UNC doesn’t play a ranked team for their first 8 games, etc. We play ranked Baylor, 2nd ranked OU, on the road against Tubby and the 11-1 Red Raiders, then onto 18th ranked Huggy bear’s Mountaineers. At least for the first 4 games, it’ll be more about survival. Long term, I think Devonte and BG will make a strong case for most improved from those not named Wayne Selden. Bragg should make a big leap, and I’m hoping Diallo begins to get it. I would like to see Vick get more time, although it is probably not going to happen. Svi…I dunno what’s going on. He’s young and talented- just needs to show more confidence, imo.


    Wow, I didn’t realize Roy and Turg were playing such weak schedules. Thx for the heads up!!!

  • @Lulufulu

    Any team that can get physical inside and bully KU in the paint is a potential threat. From the top contenders, that really only describes Maryland with Diamond Stone and maybe UNC. Michigan State can get physical overall, which could take KU out of its game.

    But the real threat to KU remains itself. If this team plays the appropriate uptempo, perimeter oriented style, we will see games like Saturday.

    But if this team tries to grind it out, something they aren’t really designed to do, they could really get into trouble. The benefit that KU has is that every team in the Big 12 either flat out isn’t good enough, or needs to play uptempo to succeed. OU and Iowa State played a very interesting game on Saturday night, but it was interesting to see that the game was decided on the perimeter even though several inside players (Niang, Spangler in particular) had nice games. The path to the Big 12 title is on the perimeter. I just hope we stick with that plan.


    West Virginia is now a borderline top 10 team and ranked between 9 and 14 in most polls I have seen. The big 12 has 5 teams in the top 25 and 8 teams in the top 50…that is half of the conference teams are in the top 25 and 80% in the top 50!!! No other conference is even close.

  • @jaybate-1.0 No insult intended to Roy and Turg. They don’t play in conferences where half the conference is ranked, although they will certainly play some rugged games at some point.

  • @JayHawkFanToo The Big East should have 5 ranked in the AP today.

  • @wrwlumpy I’m glad I placed my bet when they were 12/1. 🕶

  • @drgnslayr I don’t have a lot of problems with Bragg, good player now, but can be really good in time. I think the thing for him right now is, during the off season petty simple- - -just add a few ponds, bulk up a little same with Cheick. ROCK CHALK ALL DAY LONG BABY

  • @RockkChalkk

    Very smart. Save a total collapse or serious injury to one of the key players, you are not likely to get those odds again this season.

  • @JayHawkFanToo That is really crazy. I was quite surprised the other day watching KSU and Texas Tech. Both teams looked solid. Those were 4 games I expected to win easily and now I realize that they will be real tests.

    Bad news for OSU today. They think Forte will be out for the season. That may make them one of the easier games on our schedule this year.

  • @joeloveshawks

    The Big 12 will be…as Coach Self said…brutal. Other than TCU and maybe OSU, all the other teams are solid and ranked in the top 50. Absolutely no gimmes this year…

  • @JayHawkFanToo Okie state seems to always have our number at their place. Most likely it wont be that way this time around but still.

  • @Lulufulu

    With Forte out they don’t stand a chance…

  • @joeloveshawks

    " I was quite surprised the other day watching KSU and Texas Tech. Both teams looked solid. Those were 4 games I expected to win easily and now I realize that they will be real tests."

    That’s a good thing. We need to be tested as much as possible. If these teams are better than we expected perhaps that is to our advantage. Not only might that help prepare us better for March, but the rest of the B12 teams have to face these teams, too.

    So what teams in the B12 play well on the road? Right… only one. Starts with a “K.”

    Everyone always states that the road to the B12 title goes through Lawrence. BS.

    We do win almost all our home games.

    But what really separates us is our ability to win on the road. Other teams in our league just don’t win enough games on the road, not just in Lawrence.

    If we only win at home in B12 play, chances are we won’t win the league title.

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