Those who have been following my KU analyses throughout the year know that I'm all about the ridiculousness - from Withey's golden slumbers, to a slew of perfected nicknames (Mar-Mo, Marqueef, Thryrell, Morningstarch, Ratatat Ty Tay, Selby Don't, T-Robb The Backboard Slobb, The Mid Ranger Banger, ChenoWithey, BobbleHeadeford, and The Book of Eli-Jah Rule), to the angel who descended from heaven and graced us with the Yaya's of the Century (YOTC - pronounced Yahtzee) inside the Fieldhouse - but that's what the College Basketball regular season is all about.
Now, it's time to get serious.
Duke wasn't the best team last season by any means. What they did better than any other team in the country was know their roles. A wise man once said, "Knowing your weaknesses can be your greatest strength." So when Zoubek was grabbing offensive rebounds, he wasn't looking for his own shot, but was looking for one of his plethora of shooters around the 3-point arc. Simply, they never played outside of themselves. Duke used this strategy all the way to a National Championship.
Fast forward to this season with KU. How well do the players from top to bottom know their role right now? In a word, not. Which makes this Big 12 Tournament extremely important for the Jayhawks. It's more important that they make it to the Championship Game than it is that they win it. They need the experience because the team's dynamic has changed since the Tyshawn suspension and the Selby implosion. Players are now being casted in new roles, and the biggest question I have moving forward is...
Is there enough time?
The change in the team's infrastructure centers around 3 players. Tyshawn Taylor was the starting Point Guard for the majority of the season up until his suspension for posting a double-double on Marisha Brown at mid-court of the Fieldhouse. Josh Selby had been starting until his man-pon fell out and landed on his foot, sidelining him for 3 games. His spot has been long lost to M-Star by now. Elijah Johnson has filled in gracefully as the starting Point Guard, and has kept the job even since Ty-Tay's return. So how will Bill But-Butta Self juggle this threesome heading into the most important games of the season?
Josh Selby - Ranting time. For the record, I've been against the recruitment of Josh Selby from day one. I feel like I'm the only one that gets it when it comes to 1-and-dones, but I'll explain once again. They may benefit a program like Baylor or Kansas St, but Kansas has no business recruiting these types of players. Not only do they not breed National Championships (the most repeated line in His Dirknesstory), with Carmelo Anthony as the lone exception (and that was 8 years ago!), but they leave your program in worse shape for the next season. If Xavier Henry (who some people still try to argue was successful at KU - SPOILER - he wasn't) and Selby hadn't enrolled at KU, then a player like Travis Releford would have two years of game experience by now and would be ready to contribute not only this season, but for the next two as well.
The most mind-boggling part of it all is that Self hasn't seemed to figure this out, even though it's not how he won his National Championship at KU. But will this experience with Selby change his recruiting strategy? They can't be getting along. And, now, Selby finds himself in a pickle. He can either cut his losses and go to the NBA with a depleted draft stock, or try and repair his relationship with Self and come back and improve his game with one more year of college experience. You have to wander what NBA scouts are thinking about Selby not playing a single minute in the 2nd half on Saturday. Whatever happens, I'm sure nobody hates the rule forcing players to wait a year to enter the NBA Draft more than Josh Selby.
That's enough ranting. Sorry, it's just difficult to listen to people discuss the situation and get it so wrong. Lets address Selby's current situation with KU. I was so sickened by his performance against Missouri on Saturday that I scribbled down in my notes, "I don't even want to look at Josh Selby's face anymore." Well, my guess is that he finds himself 9th in the rotation now, which might not crack more than 10 minutes a game (if he ever takes his warmups off). I would let him see the floor, but wouldn't let his time extend beyond two missed shots, to see if he decided to mentally show up for that game. However, my nightmare of him costing us a game in the NCAA Tournament may no longer be realistic, because I don't think he'll see enough meaningful minutes.
Tyshawn Taylor/Elijah Johnson - I figured Tyshawn would've regained his position in the starting lineup after his suspension, but Self's decision to go with Elijah in the Missouri game may have been telling as to where they stand in his mind. We may be seeing a Point Guard-by-committee situation developing. I really don't know who to expect in the game come crunch time with the season on the line. That's something you need to know this time of year. And maybe Self does. That's what he must get ironed out though, and the Big 12 Tournament is the last opportunity to tinker with his many pieces. I'm in favor of starting Elijah from here on out, and using Ty Tay as more of an off guard, coming off the bench, specializing in transition and getting to the rim. EJ provides something that has been lacking from this team throughout most of the season, which is great on-the-ball defense. I'm talkin Russ-Rob style defense. It's very refreshing, and may give KU the defensive spark they've needed all season.
It's up to Self to get this figured out in time for the NCAA Tournament. I just hope there's enough time. The wrong decision and KU could be headed for another early round upset. However, if Self can find the right combination to these three guards, he might just crack the safe's code, and potentially unlock another National Championship.
For my Big 12 Awards including 1st team, 2nd team, Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, Freshman, Most Overrated/Underrated: Click here.
For my Big 12 Tournament predictions: Click here.