One thing is certain: this team has a long way to go. Kansas looked spectacular at times, but between the flashes of excellence there were stretches of utter chaos.
The offense is clearly ahead of the defense at this point: That is not unusual with a Bill Self coached team, especially a young team at that. However this team, unlike some of the more recent KU squads, has enough length and athleticism to be able so shut down an inferior opponent on effort alone. That was not the case tonight. At the start of the second half, you saw what this team can be defensively. I am sure it was on the heels of a butt-chewing from Self in the locker room, but the energy and activity were off the charts for about three minutes. Guys were jumping passing lanes, hedging on picks with pace, fighting over ball screens, trapping the corners and crashing the boards. This led to run-outs for Wiggins and Ellis early. They didn’t sustain that effort. KU gave up 75 points in this contest. That shouldn’t happen and I am sure Self let them know it.
The Mason show was better than expected: In an expanded role, Mason really shined. It must have been nerves in game one because he didn’t look like a freshman out there at all tonight. In 19 minutes, he posted six assists to one turnover and that one wasn’t even his fault. He also contributed four points on 2-for-4 shooting which is fine. He is the kind of guard that will be able to explode for 12-15 points when Self needs him to but as long as he is distributing the ball efficiently, fans can all be happy with 4-for-8 points off 50 percent shooting. The next game is all his as Tharpe has to sit, and I think Self can be more confident in his ability to lead the team after tonight.
Wiggins off to a slow start: Unfortunately, this was not the breakout game for Wiggins many (including myself) expected. I suspect the next one won’t be either. If the rumors are true, sometimes it takes a challenge to get the best out of the kid and I think we may see what he can do against Duke. For Kansas to be successful this year, he will have to figure out how to turn it on at will. But for now, Kansas may have to rely on big games to spark Wiggins. Fortunately, Kansas has a lot of those early in the season.
Selden recovers: Selden was the biggest disappointment for me in the first exhibition game. He looked much more like the Selden I expected to see tonight. He was almost unstoppable when he decided to get to the rim. His physicality should make that a common theme this season. However, he is going to get fouled a lot due to the rule changes and his style of ball, so he needs to work on free throws. I know he acted disappointed when he missed them but they didn’t even look good.
This was another sloppy win but KU was able to piece together 92 points. Last year’s team didn’t reach 90 in its exhibition efforts. In fact, KU only eclipsed 90 points four times all year long. This team doesn’t even know what they are doing yet and they are putting up impressive offensive statistics. It will only get better. I am willing to give this team a pass on their defense because I know that is one thing Self can coach teams into doing. You can bet it will be a major focus going forward, as if it wasn’t going to be already. The potential is clearly there for this to be an elite defensive club. For now, it’s time to take the training wheels off. First up is Louisiana-Monroe on November 8th at 7:00 pm in Allen.