It’s finally the time of year that Jayhawk fans love: basketball season. Throughout football season, fans defend the Kansas Jayhawks 0-8 record with, “Just wait until basketball season.” It’s here, and the football team is suddenly irrelevant.
Each year, like most fans, I proclaim the new season as an NCAA title season. Unlike all those other times, though, I’ve done some research.
In the first exhibition game (the next on is November 10) against Pittsburgh State, coach Bill Self started: Wayne Selden Jr., Frank Mason III, Devonte Graham, Perry Ellis, and Landen Lucas. All of the starters, but Lucas, played more than 20 minutes in the game. Unlike in previous years, the roster is comprised of mostly upperclassmen (or experienced sophomores). Carlton Bragg Jr., a true freshman, outplayed Lucas last week. If Kansas continues to see Bragg’s aggressive play fans are in for a treat. KU’s roster downside: The NCAA still hasn’t declared freshman Cheick Diallo eligible for play.
Kansas’ schedule is far from easy. I’d argue that Kansas is in one of the best basketball conferences, which makes for a tough schedule every year. On Kansas’ non-conference schedule this year: Michigan State, UCLA or UNLV, Harvard and San Diego State. I think all of these teams will give the Jayhawks an important test before the NCAA tournament in March. The biggest non-conference match-up is on January 30 when Kentucky comes to Allen Fieldhouse. Clear your schedules now.
Cliche? Maybe. I graduated from the University of Kansas last spring. All I wanted while I went to school was an NCAA title. The team was extremely close my freshman year of college, but Kansas lost to Kentucky 59-67. I cried. A lot. The Jayhawks haven’t come close to a deep run in the tournament since then. Second-round exits in consecutive years is disappointing (Kansas also lost the Big 12 championship to Iowa State in consecutive years). Self knows the team needs to do better, not only for its fans, but because he knows the team’s potential.
As an alumna, this is the only gift I want every year: to run down Massachusetts Street in Lawrence with my best friends (make that thousands of them), a drink in my hand, and an NCAA title to chant about.