The loss to Tennessee is nothing to fret about, even if they were severely undermanned. In the short-term that can bring teams together, and they certainly played fired up on Sunday. Don't freak when Tennessee starts to plummet because they won't be able to keep that effort up in the long-term. It will catch up to them.
Losses happen. The way to win it all in College Basketball is to respond well to losses. You have to be able to build from them. I'm sure Bill Self didn't mind seeing a loss at all, and is now able to get his point across to his players. They all have gigantic heads now (cough cough, Tyshawn), and now its time for Self to shrink those. I see no reason to think that Self won't get his team to respond well from this loss, and see little chance that KU isn't a number 1 seed come March.
Now why did KU lose? If I had to put blame on one soul, which is hard to do, I'd go with Xavier Henry. He took but 1 shot in the second half of the game, which happened to be an impressive blow by and easy layup. He has to be more aggressive. He looked scared, along with a number of other players, which forced Sherron Collins to take shot after shot. I'd blame Sherron, but he's seeing the same things I'm seeing, that nobody else WANTED to take a shot. We also might have to start admitting the fact that Cole Aldrich isn't the player that he was last year for whatever reason. He seems disinterested in getting involved on the offensive end.
I look for KU to implement the style of basketball that they hope leads to a championship this year starting Wednesday against Nebraska. Look for them to go high-low and hammer the ball inside until all 5 defensive players collapse, and then dish out it to any of the shooters on the outside. Self knows the way to win in March is with inside toughness. He thought that long before his National Championship proved the point. I predict a season-high in points for Cole Aldrich against Nebraska (19).
I would also suggest making a change to the starting lineup. I would insert Tyrel Reid in place of Tyshawn Taylor. The results of this are three-fold. First, I believe Taylor's ego is a little out of control, most likely from playing on the under-19 USA team, and this shrinks it down a bit. Second, they need more of a spark coming off the bench, not Reid and Morningstar, who are too similar of players (racist jokes aside). Think Sherron coming off the bench for the 2007-08 team. You need a scoring threat, an instigator, to come off the bench. This fits Tyshawn perfectly. He can be the main threat on the floor that he's looking to be and do it against the other team's bench, who he's more apt to go against. Thirdly, this frees up all the scoring threats to get more of their looks, and puts the best pure shooter just floating in the corner for when any of them get double-teamed. Reid has finally gotten big enough that he is no longer a liability on the defensive end. Think Lee Humphrey from the Florida Gators' championship teams.
In the long run, this loss is not a big deal to where KU wants to be come the end of the season. Nobody will look back at this season and remember anything about this game really. It's best chance to be remembered will be as the turning point in a National Championship season.
P.S. I smell upset-city in either Kentucky-Florida tonight or Texas-Iowa St. tomorrow