#9 Kansas: 2010-11 Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #9
Conference Rank: #2 Big 12 Conference
2009-10: 33-3, 15-1
2009-10 postseason: NCAA
Coach: Bill Self (234-45 at Kansas, 441-150 overall)
Kansas will not quite be the same without point guard Sherron Collins, multi-faceted scorer Xavier Henry and big man Cole Aldrich. However, Coach Bill Self has brought in another great recruiting class and the recruiting classes of years past have yet to reach their full potential with so much talent in front of them. The result will be a less experienced team, but a more athletic team that should be just as dangerous by March of 2011 as they were in March of 2010.
Key Losses: G Sherron Collins, G Xavier Henry, C Cole Aldrich
Josh Selby is not the point guard of the future; he is the point guard right now. The 6-2 freshman will likely be done with his collegiate career after one season and he will be up for the task of taking over this team. Selby may be young, but he can create opportunities for his teammates or score himself from just about anywhere on the floor. Royce Woolridge is the only other scholarship newcomer and his ability to shoot and attack the basket could be valuable to the Jayhawks right away.
The backcourt is not full of big time names quite yet, but Tyshawn Taylor is a returning starter who can do a little bit of everything. Taylor was second on the team in assists last season and should make a fine backcourt mate for Selby. With Taylor’s experience, Selby will not have to handle the load himself. Taylor is not much of a shooter, but he is a fine scorer who will attack the basket with ease. Tyrel Reed and Brady Morningstar are the shooters in the backcourt. Reed connected on an amazing 47.3 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc and Morningstar nearly reached the 40 percent plateau. Those two will likely come in off the bench for a quick offensive spark. Another guard to keep an eye on is sophomore Elijah Johnson. By the time conference play rolled around, Johnson barely saw the floor, but he will compete for more minutes with a year of experience under his belt.
The Morris twins are ready to take over this frontcourt. Marcus Morris was a starter last year and is Kansas’ leading returning scorer and rebounder. Marcus has emerged into a consistent interior scorer and a strong power forward who most opposing defenses have trouble dealing with. It is Markieff Morris who played fewer minutes and came in off the bench last season who needs to turn his moments of brilliance as a sophomore into a consistent threat as a junior. Markieff, at 6-9 and 232 pounds, has a little more size and strength than his brother and could be the better interior threat. What makes both Morris’ so threatening is their ability to stretch out the defense with their shooting. While neither will neglect their interior duties, both can step out beyond the arc. Sophomores Jeff Withey, who is coming off of a broken foot, and Thomas Robinson never saw much action as freshmen, but they will be asked to contribute more this season…and both have the talent to play at least ten minutes per game.
Who to Watch:
Mario Little and Travis Releford both redshirted last season after having relatively successful campaigns in 2008-2009. Releford is a good shooter and this team could use another shooter, but it is Little who could make a big impact on this team. Little has the size and strength to fill in at the small forward position. Without an obvious starter at that spot, Little will be right in the mix. Releford could be too if Coach Self can afford to play a little smaller.
Usually relying on a freshman point guard is not a good thing, but Selby is different. The fact that he is a freshman and not a senior may keep Kansas from winning the Big 12, but by March he will be a few months away from being in the NBA. Everywhere else on the floor this group has plenty of weapons and, for the most part, plenty of experience as well. However, they were experienced last year and became the biggest disappointment in the NCAA Tournament.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Josh Selby, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Tyshawn Taylor, Junior, Guard, 7.2 ppg
Mario Little, Senior, Guard, DNP last season
Marcus Morris, Junior, Forward, 12.8 ppg
Markieff Morris, Junior, Center, 6.8 ppg
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