Kansas took the floor for a final preseason tuneup against Division II Emporia State on Tuesday night and while it wasn't always pretty, the Jayhawks did run away with a victory by a final score of 90-59.
It had all the makings of a Coach Self game designed to put a team outside it's comfort zone early in the season. The game tipped with an unexpected starting lineup of Markieff Morris, Thomas Robinson, Brady Morningstar, Tyrel Reed and Travis Releford.
Coach Self let the early group work uninterrupted for some time before going small and athletic with Elijah Johnson, Tyshawn Taylor, Mario Little and Marcus Morris entering the ball game to join Reed. To begin the second half he again switched things up going big with both Morris twins, Thomas Robinson, Tyshawn Taylor and Travis Releford. Let the competition to make Bill Self's rotation begin?
The Jayhawks spent a good deal of the first half pressuring defensively with a half court trap. The Jayhawks committed to pressure and at times showed a tendency to give up a few more open shots than normal due to the rotation and nature of the gameplan. Offensively Kansas pushed the tempo on a missed bucket. The outlet passes were long, the guards pushed but then settled.
Once again outside shooting looked to be an area that will have to improve. The Jayhawks interior defense is definitely adjusting and Bill Self walks away with plenty of "coachable" moments after this one.
On the bright side, Kansas was able to score in a variety of ways and they do attack the rim very effectively. Markieff and Marcus Morris continue to prove very efficient underneath and the strength they show under the basket is night and day from two seasons ago. Thomas Robinson and Travis Releford each turned in strong performances after getting the start and could prove to be key role players as the season continues.
At the end of the day it was an easy win against an opponent designed to provide that. It's hard to be critical of a 30+ point win, but I think Coach Self has exactly what he wants after this one. You can beat Emporia State on talent alone, but you can also find plenty to work on when you throw some challenges out to your team in the process.