It is what it is, an exhibition opener vs. an in state school that honestly doesn't stand much chance in the Fieldhouse. At the same time, an opening game can look sloppy or an opening game can show a lot of positives. At first glance, last night was a pretty good night.
With that, 10 quick thoughts from the Kansas v Washburn contest.
- Ball movement - it looked good. The team moved it quickly. The Jayhawks didn't waste a lot of time sizing up the rim hoping someone would take the shot, they whipped it around, penetrated and kicked, passed out of double teams and found the open guy for the best shot available.
- The Morri - Are you kidding me? Did anyone think we'd be here talking about the twins in this way after their trial by fire freshman year that had us pulling our hair out? These two were EXTREMELY efficient going a combined 13-18 from the floor and Marcus Morris a staggering 11-11 from the free throw line. If Marcus can be consistent from the charity stripe, that's huge for getting easy buckets.
- Free throw shooting - While we're on it, this team went a combined 32-35 from the charity stripe. Kansas will play a certain team this year that plays physical and likes to foul. That team went 21-40 from the line last night. Provided it's not an aberration, the Jayhawks foul shooting could become a major strength this season.
- 21 Assists on 28 Field Goals and that didn't rest with one player. Everyone got involved in passing and everyone seemed willing to find the open man. The last two seasons we've relied heavily on Sherron Collins taking the big shot and sometimes too heavily. The team seems to have embraced a mentality that anyone can help at anytime. Let's hope that continues.
- 16 Steals. Some of it falls on the opponent, but Kansas did have an active defense at times. Again, my feeling is that this is a product of the athleticism and speed that this team has across the board.
- Leadership. Tell me it isn't the greatest feeling to have a Jayhawk team with great leadership. The Morri and Tyrel Reed played with a ton of confidence last night and the team seems ready to respond to that. Tyrel's shot wasn't necessarily falling, but to me Reed has surpassed Morningstar and the Burlington Kansas native is at 120% every minute he's on the floor.
- Tyshawn Taylor. Did he go spend the offseason on VH1's G's to Gentleman? I hope what we saw last night is for real because he looked like a player who's head is in the right place, a player who knows his role and a player who has matured a great deal after a pretty tumultuous Sophomore season. You've earned that twitter account T2!!
The "Needs to be Better"
- Perimeter defense. This needs to improve and it can improve. Despite this area being a concern on the first night, it's a bit understandable considering the size of the lead. The expectation for Bill Self however will be 40 minutes of defense on a nightly basis. The good news here is that while they didn't completely accomplish it last night, Tyshawn Taylor, Elijah Johnson and Travis Releford all showed the potential to be perimeter defenders on par with guys like Robinson, Chalmers and Rush.
- Interior help. We missed Cole, no doubt about it. And that's to be expected. Our help D on the interior seemed a smidge slow at times but that should improve. There will definitely have to be a little more help closing off lanes and disrupting shots now that we don't have the big guy roaming the interior.
- Sophomore progression. Both Robinson and Johnson have the freakish athleticism that makes you want them on the floor to see what they'll do next, but neither showed a huge uptick from a year ago on the first night. Nothing to be overly concerned with yet, but as KG eluded to in the game thread...these two have the ability to affect the season in a big way. High ceiling guys, that Kansas needs to start climbing the ladder.
- Perimeter shooting. Off night...I hope. 4-19 isn't a good thing any day of the week from the three point line.