Kansas prepares for the challenge
With the first season victory under their belt, the KU Men’s basketball team must now refocus themselves for the next challenge. This next game might just be one of the toughest they face in the regular season.
On Nov. 12, the Jayhawks will face the Duke Blue Devils in the Champions Classic in Chicago, Illinois. This match up features not only two top-5 teams, but also what could be the top two draft picks in next years draft: Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker.
Parker, a 6-8 235 lb forward, had a fantastic debut for the Blue Devils in their season opener Friday against Davidson. He scored 22 on 8-10 shooting and hit all three of his 3-pointers. He also showed some elite athleticism but throwing down an alley-oop from teammate Quinn Cook. Parker is not the only player that the Jayhawks have to worry about though.
Rodney Hood also had 22 points for Duke. Cook had 21 points as well as eight rebounds. Rasheed Sulaimon added 20 points in 25 minutes off the bench. The Blue Devils as a team shot an amazing 70.4% from the field. It is worth keeping in mind that they played a not very good Davidson team that featured a 6-7 forward as their tallest player in their starting five. But either way, this Duke team is going to be scary good. They have a ton of weapons and one of the elite coaches running their team in Mike Krzyzewski.
In the Jayhawks season opener, KU defeated LA-Monroe 80-63 in Lawrence. While KU won comfortably, a lot of areas of weakness were exposed that they will have to work on. Andrew Wiggins scored team high 16 points in his freshman debut. Perry Ellis and Andrew White III also chipped in 12 a piece for the Jayhawks. White has been one of the more impressive players for the Jayhawks in this very young season. He has come off the bench and played with an enormous amount of hustle. He did have a couple of lazy mistakes against LA-Monroe, but overall looked like he was ready to be a huge part of this Jayhawk team.
Frank Mason played limited minutes due to foul trouble even though he started at point guard for the suspended Naadir Tharpe. He had three points and five assists in 18 minutes of play.
One area of concern for the Jayhawks, right now is their free throw shooting. They shot a collective 62.8% from the line, 27-43. In a closer game, those FTs could make all the difference.
Something to keep in mind going into Tuesday’s game against Duke is the foul calling. There were 58 fouls called in the game against LA-Monroe due to the new rule changes that severely limit the amount of contact you can have with a player on the perimeter. While I’m sure the game against Duke will be a great game to watch pitting two potentially fantastic teams against each other, expect a lot of fouls. This could make lineups interesting early on in the game if players are dealing with foul trouble. It will also make free throws critically important. I predict the team that wins will be the team that shoots better from the free throw line.
We are all hoping for a Jayhawk victory this Saturday. It would be a fantastic victory for a very young team. After the game against Duke, KU will come back home to face Iona and Towson before flying to the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis.
Follow Tim on twitter @CornellTim