Rock Chalk Talk’s Owen Kemp agreed to exchange a few questions with us in preparation fro the Kansas game. You can find the questions that I answered for them over there.
Just how good is this Kansas team? They seem to be mentioned a breath after Duke and Ohio State, are they on that level, better, or worse?
It’s tough to say because at this point I’ve seen a limited sample of Duke and Ohio State, while Kansas has played VERY good at times and looked a little "bored" at times.
I think from a talent standpoint, they are absolutely right there with Duke and Ohio State and they absolutely have a chance to win the whole thing IF they play to their potential. This team is extremely deep and has a very high ceiling it’s just been a matter of getting that maximum effort and focus on a consistent basis. If they have it, they’re a fun team to watch.
Breakdown Josh Selby’s addition to the lineup. What does he provide that Kansas was missing earlier in the year?
Josh Selby has added a lot and it’s been obvious in a hurry. He most likely represents the best three point threat on the team and at the same time he has the ability to break you down off the dribble and create. He’s definitely catching up to the speed of the game after some adjustment early, but I think he’s getting there. In his limited time playing, there have already been two games where he’s easily been the MVP if you will.
I think the biggest concern was and maybe still is how the team chemistry will work out, but from my standpoint those fears are already beginning to ease as the team seems to be hitting their stride in the last few contests.
Again, very fun player to watch. He’s no Sullinger at Ohio State, but he’s a weapon and a potent weapon in what is becoming a 10 deep rotation.
A quick run down of Kansas’ stats doesn’t yield many weaknesses, do the Jayhawks have any weaknesses that have been masked by the numbers?
I’d say the biggest weakness is in hurting themselves. As I mentioned before Kansas has the ability to absolutely blow a team out of the water in five minutes and then let you crawl right back in over the next five. It’s defensive intensity and offensive focus for 40 minutes. That’s what Bill Self wants and when he gets that, this team will be very difficult to stop.
But since nobody’s perfect and I didn’t really answer your question there, I’ll give you my non-homer answer. If there was one weakness to exploit it might be the Jayhawk interior defense. Kansas struggled with big athletic players. The Kansas bigs are good sized athletic guys, but they weren’t playing like that early. When one gets in foul trouble, the dropoff can be significant at times but they have improved quite a bit of late.
Break down the Morris twins — how are they most effective offensively and what have teams done to slow them down?
The only way I’ve seen a team slow them down is by getting them in foul trouble, which isn’t all that difficult if you’re aggressive.
As far as their effectiveness. Marcus Morris is more of a jump shooter. Very good facing the basket, can step out and hit the three but also has the ability to attack the rim. I’d say that’s the weakest part of his offense but he’s a pretty versatile big man as a whole.
Markieff is more your back to the basket, traditional big, but he also has every bit the ability to step out and knock down a jumper and a three pointer. That doesn’t seem to be where he’s most comfortable, but he can do it and that makes him just as difficult from a matchup standpoint.
With 10 players that play between 15 and 27 minutes per game, who are some of the players in that 3-10 range to watch?
Just the other night there were three guys that stepped up big time in that 3-10 range that I think people are very excited about. Tyrel Reed is a senior guard and a three point threat. He’s a leader and a smart player that can have a big game in a quiet fashion.
Tyshawn Taylor is extremely athletic and when he’s on, the team is that much better. He’s not a dynamic scorer, but when he plays smart it’s huge.
Thomas Robinson is the big off the bench and he’s a specimen. The guy can run, jump and most importantly he’s a rebounding machine and no the offensive end he’ll try to rip down the backboard any chance he gets.
Last one, Travis Releford. He’s a player that doesn’t put up gaudy numbers, but he sets a tone defensively off the bench and he’ll rarely if ever hurt the team. I could go on and it is a team that is deeper than last year, but those are four that stand out right now assuming that Selby and the Morris twins are your 1-3.
In a perfect world, what are three things that need to happen for a team to upset Kansas?
- Marcus Morris needs to get into foul trouble.
- Kansas needs to lack focus on the defensive end.
- And Michigan needs to be the benefactor of a higher than normal number of Jayhawk turnovers.
Michigan can contribute to two of those three by taking the ball directly at Marcus Morris and tightening things up defensively, but if Kansas is on defensively…I think they can overcome both of the other areas.