It is hard to believe that when KU plays Georgetown on Saturday it will have been one day shy of a full month since the young Jayhawks last played in the friendly confines of Allen Fieldhouse. What have we learned since the final buzzer on November 22nd when KU beat Towson by 30? A lot actually. We have learned how important the play of Naadir Tharpe is going to be. We have learned that Wiggins can put the team on his back when he has to. We have learned that Joel Embiid is going to be a superstar before all is said and done in his career. We have learned how spoiled we have been the last few years to have a stable of juniors and seniors on the roster that can play meaningful minutes. We know that KU has yet to find the range, and that team will zone them until they prove they can shoot. Most importantly though, we have learned that the ceiling for the young Kansas squad is as high as it has ever been, but that expectations after the Duke game as to just how fast they would approach that ceiling may have been a little unrealistic.
The win against New Mexico a week ago was a very solid one for this team. As close to a home game as you can get on a neutral floor, the Sprint Center has been very kind to KU. But New Mexico is a very good team and it was a decisive victory in the end. Now the Jayhawks get just what they need. A chance at a long week of practice before a home game at long last. The only thing that could make the scenario any more perfect would be if a bunny were rolling into Lawrence. A nice 30-point win would be great for building confidence. As it is, the Jayhawks take on Georgetown. Here are a few things to watch for.
1. How good is Georgetown, really? Georgetown is somewhat of a wildcard right now. Their 7-2 record is good enough. Their loss to Oregon is legitimate. But then they go and lose to Northeastern by seven (a game where they were heavy favorites), before dismantling Kansas State by 27 points. When you look at the rest of their schedule, they have only played 2 team in the RPI top 100 and they are 1-1 in those games. As a comparison, Kansas has only played two teams outside the RPI top 100. They won those games by an average of 25 points. Georgetown’s schedule so far has been pretty weak and they have had some mixed results. I am interested to see how they hang in the first half in what is sure to be a hyped Allen Fieldhouse. Not exactly the venue of choice for your first true road game of the season. These comparisons with Georgetown put into perspective the kind of schedule KU has played. KU has been tested, and the Hoyas haven’t. Playing at home, if the Jayhawks are feeling it, I wouldn’t be shocked if this game gets away from Georgetown early.
2. Can KU find the range? Both KU and Georgetown have shot the 3-ball miserably to this point. Both rank the mid-200’s nationally in 3-point field goal percentage. Sometimes, the home rims are just what shooters need to get in the groove. It has been a while since a KU sharpshooter has been able to rely on his own practice rims for support when launching from deep. KU is averaging less than five makes per game. I look for them to make seven or more Saturday.
3. Rebounding leads to run-outs. Georgetown is a miserable rebounding team. With the size of KU, I think they should easily be able to dominate the boards. One thing that we have seen when KU is playing their best is that opponents’ missed shots can be the first pass in transition for KU. That is especially true when Embiid is the one who snags it. KU’s pace has been dictated for them so far this year. As such, they are ranked 181st in possessions per game. KU should be looking to push. They have a decided schematic advantage when they can run in the open court. Hint: he is Canadian. Plus the other guys aren’t half bad at it either. I want to see KU push the ball and dictate the pace.