- The KU Hearings
- 15 Takes from Kansas' First 15 Games 🔥
15 Takes from Kansas' First 15 Games 🔥
An anonymous college hoops writer dishes on the Jayhawks
15 KU takes from ‘Writer X.’ 🔥
Could Be Wrong returns 🎙️
Mike’s Quick Links: What Bill Self said and a Jalon Daniels interview 📝
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EVERYTHING IN THIS NEWSLETTER IS BASED UPON WHAT I AM HEARING FROM PEOPLE I TRUST. PLEASE DO NOT MISTAKE THIS FOR FACT OR FOR ACTUAL JOURNALISM, WHICH HAS VERIFICATION STANDARDS THAT I HAVE NOT ADHERED TO. I DO NOT GUARANTEE THE ACCURACY OF THE CONTENT.
15 Takes from Kansas' First 15 Games 🔥
I’ve been waiting a long time to make this happen. I’ve brought in a special and prominent guest writer on the condition of anonymity to deliver his takes on the Jayhawks. I’m calling him ‘Writer X.’
College Basketball ‘Writer X’ has covered college hoops for most of this century. He also has takes. Here are his 15 on the Jayhawks after their 65-60 loss to UCF. Please share this link with your KU friends if you found it valuable.
By Writer X:
1. I think it’s clear now that most of the national media whiffed on the Arterio Morris story. It was understandable, of course, because the allegations were ugly and nobody wanted to spend too much time discussing the basketball ramifications after his dismissal. There were bigger issues at play. Still, the general consensus was that Kansas would be mostly fine and was still a worthy preseason No. 1.
In reality, not only did Kansas lose its fifth best player. But in terms of need and fit, it probably lost one of its most important players. Bill Self loves his combo guards — and playing multiple little guards/handlers at the same. But that’s become more difficult with the roster they have.
There’s not much use bringing Morris up all the time now. But considering that one of the dominant story lines of the first part of the season has been KU’s short bench, it does feel like some broadcasters and national scribes might be inclined to mention it from time to time.
2. It’s hard to criticize Dajuan Harris because he’s so good at what he does. But he’s never been great at the end of the shot clock. You can’t rely on him to create offense when stuff breaks down. His passivity still allows defenders to sag. I wonder if Morris would have been useful at those situations, too.
3. The weirdest thing about Elmarko Jackson is that it really should be easy to play alongside Harris. Jackson doesn’t have to be the primary handler. Harris never wants to shoot and he’s the most unselfish guard in the country. He’s plenty content to distribute the ball or go stand in the corner for an entire possession while Kansas runs a set for someone else.
4. I don’t see the NBA hype with Jackson. He has NBA attributes, but he seems like a two or three-year player at least, and that’s fine. You can see the makings. But it’s not just that the game seems fast for him. It’s that the skills need polish, too. You can’t blame him too much for the poor shooting; he’s young. But the stroke isn’t too pure. He’s athletic and you could see him growing into an elite finisher in traffic. But he’s not freakishly athletic, and maybe the most surprising thing is that he doesn’t handle the ball that well. He doesn’t flash much when breaking guys off the dribble, and he’s been prone to turnovers. He doesn’t seem to have any feel for playing off the ball. He’s taken four shots in a combined 46 minutes in two BIg 12 games.
Again, this would all be fine if Kansas had another combo guard soaking up most of the minutes and pushing Elmarko in practice.
5. I actually like Johnny Furphy better than Elmarko, both in the present day and as a pro prospect. You can see the stroke. You can see the court awareness as a floor spacer and passer. He plays hard. But the game seems a little fast for him, too, and in terms of fit, he doesn’t really offer what Kansas needs. Shooting? Oh, yeah. But a perimeter of Harris, McCullar, Furphy and KJ seems a little awkward with not quite enough playmaking and ball handling — and the defensive assignments can get awkward. But I’m curious to see how Furphy looks a month from now.
6. Furphy clearly was the better option when Central Florida went to zone on Wednesday.
SCOOPMEISTER’S NOTE: Earlier this week, I wrote about why I’m Hearing we’ll see more Furphy minutes. That Hearing was accurate ✅ I’d give that a read here if you haven’t seen it yet.
7. The Nick Timberlake thing is an interesting cautionary tale about “up transfers” — or players that transfer up a level. He put up numbers at Towson, and the highlight tape seemed to suggest a level of athleticism that would play in the Big 12. I didn’t watch Towson much last season, and maybe the tape was misleading a bit? Timberlake is a good leaper off two feet, but he’s not laterally quick, at all. And I don’t think he’s been a great defender.
Still, it’s a little odd that, 1. He hasn’t shot it better; he shot 40 percent from three last season. 2. That he hasn’t been better at filling a role as a floor spacer, shooter, energy guy. 3. That he’s looked so clumsy at times. You can understand some growing pains from Elmarko Jackson, who is playing a supporting role for the first time. But Timberlake is 25 years old. He presumably knew what he was getting into by transferring to Kansas.
Here’s guessing he didn’t forget how to shoot. So maybe there’s still some upside.
8. Kansas has to figure out the turnover issue. Some of that’s on Dajuan Harris and McCullar, the veterans. But their fifth starter never appears on the same page as the veterans, and it’s gumming up the works on offense.
9. Kansas fans and broadcasters have spent the year lavishing praise on KJ Adams—and he’s still the most underrated player on the team. There’s something odd about the way people describe Adams’ game, as if he’s all grit and hustle. He does play his ass off. And it’s fun to watch.
But it’s kind of selling short how terrific he is at every single thing on a basketball player (other than shooting). He’s always in the perfect spot on defense. He can guard everybody on the floor. He’s a great finisher around the rim — both on floaters and with his back to the basket. His basketball IQ is off the freaking charts. In the games I’ve watched Adams play, my favorite quality is how quickly he always reverses the ball on the perimeter. It’s like he can see two passes ahead. I saw Danny Hurley’s quote about Adams —”He's a big strong guy but he flies around like a guard" — and I thought it sounded right. It’s weird to say this considering how much analytics have helped us understand the value of the three-point shot, but Adams really is close to the perfect complementary college basketball player.
10. I know Adams was great in the short-roll situation last year. But he’s such a good passer. I think Bill Self could give him the ball and let him initiate the pick-and-roll with Hunter Dickinson. You’d have Dickinson rolling to the basket, Dickinson popping for three, or Adams with a full head of steam toward the basket, and he usually makes the right decision.
11. There’s not much to say about Kevin McCullar. I think his offense (and shooting) will probably regress a bit. But whatever. He’s one of the best defenders in the country. I sometimes wonder if he tries to drive a little too much. But he’s second on the team in free throws behind Dickinson and he’s making them at an 85 percent clip.
12. Hunter Dickinson probably needs to shoot more threes. He’s well over 50 percent. It’s tough, of course, because Dickinson’s threes come in pretty specific ways. He’s either trailing the play or popping after a screen, and he rightly spends so much time inside. But Kansas needs to find some ways to shoot more threes as a team, too. I think it’s one reason their offensive efficiency numbers are a little low, which has weighed down their overall efficiency numbers.
13. Earlier this week I heard a national college basketball writer sound the alarm about Kansas’ bench, stating that they could survive in Big 12 play but that it wouldn’t work in March. I actually think that the writer had that backward. The bench is an issue. The metrics backed it up. And it seemed inevitable that a stretch of two losses in three games or three in five was coming at some point. But I think a team can make the Final Four and compete for a national championship with four great players. Especially if the other guys improve a little bit. You just don’t need depth in March. It will probably just come down to three-point shooting variance and matchups. Boring and obvious? Yeah. But that’s probably how it’s going down.
14. There are no superteams out there. Purdue would be a great matchup. Their guards wouldn’t overwhelm anyone, and Dickinson has experience with Edey. Houston will be (and would be) a rock fight. A fully healthy Kentucky and UConn might be the best teams. Kansas already beat them once.
15. Kansas is about to start losing some games. But the lack of the true round-robin schedule should make the Big 12 schedule less brutal. If they can win the Big 12 and secure a No. 1 or No. 2 seed, they’ll have a fighting chance in March.
Thank you to ‘Writer X’ for saying what a lot of people are thinking. We won’t see many other people publish takes like that beyond social media. Speaking of social media, I saw this and wanted your opinion. Let me know what you think in the poll below.
Kansas fans with quick recall: Where does tonight's loss rank among the worst (or most surprising?) in the Self era?
— Matt Norlander (@MattNorlander)
Jan 11, 2024
Where does this loss rank in the Bill Self era?
Could Be Wrong Podcast Returns 👏
My podcast ‘Could Be Wrong’ with former KU radio icon Nick Schwerdt returned after a brief holiday hiatus. We brought in former KU beat writer Tully Corcoran for the first episode of 2024. We discussed:
The shock of seeing Memorial Stadium demolished
Would they ever do that to Allen Fieldhouse in 30 years? (Tully makes a surprising point on this one)
What if KU hired Jim Harbaugh in 2009?
KU basketball overreactions and..
Who should be the fifth start for the Jayhawks?
Here’s Bill Self’s entire postgame press conference after the UCF loss.
Jalon Daniels discussed his injury and return as a guest during a 30 minute podcast. The injury update starts around the 18 minute mark and confirms much of what I Heard here in the newsletter.
If you want to smile, re-watch Johnny Furphy’s dunk from the first half last night.
What'd you think of today's Hearing?
Click to vote ⬇️