This is going to be a down year.
A down year. Any KU basketball fan has heard that phrase countless times this season. They forced themselves to accept it before the season was even underway. Honestly, who could blame them? This year’s inconsistent, turnover-prone backcourt makes any Jayhawk fantasize about the days with Mario Chalmers and Russell Robinson at the helm.
After attending KU’s first preseason game against Pittsburg State, I will admit that I was among the non-believers clad in Crimson and Blue. We had lost the dominating inside presence that was the Morris twins, and key outside shooters like Tyrel Reed. We would have a senior point guard in Tyshawn Taylor, but after spending his first three years in and out of Bill Self’s doghouse, I don’t think anyone was counting on him.
A simple online dictionary refers to a down year as, “a year with less production or output.” So in this “down year”, the Jayhawks are the 10th ranked team in the country, currently have a 19-5 record and are tied for the top spot in a very competitive Big 12. A season like this is something that Kansas State and Missouri fans dream about having. In a year when the team is supposed to be rebuilding, they remain one of the country’s elite.
So, who should be getting the credit for this success? Initially, the credit has to lie with the head coach; Bill Self. Self has set his team up for a shot at an eighth straight Big 12 title, and he hasn’t lost back to back games since 2006. Three of the Jayhawks’ five losses on the season have come to top ranked teams such as Duke, Kentucky and Missouri. They have beaten top-ten Baylor twice, and even squeaked one out at home against third-ranked Ohio State.
Although Self’s accolades should not be overlooked, the majority of the credit has to be given to Thomas Robinson. He went against phenomenal players like Cole Aldrich and the Morris twins in his first seasons, and it has paid off. Last season, he got his glory as the sixth man, playing only about 14 minutes a game. This season, Robinson is the only player in the country to average 18 points and 12 rebounds a game. The last player to do that was Blake Griffin, no further explanation needed. Robinson is the frontrunner for national player of the year, and the undeniable leader of the Jayhawks.
So far, it would be unfair for any KU fan to say that they are unsatisfied with what this team has done. We have beaten K-State, given Missouri all they could handle at home, and still have another shot when the Tigers come to Allen Fieldhouse on Feb. 25. Kansas has just beaten the sixth ranked Baylor Bears on their home floor to complete the regular season sweep. I won’t have my mind made up on this team until the season is over, but this “down year” shouldn’t have any Jayhawk faithful feeling down.