Kansas dropped a game in embarrassing fashion last night to the Kansas State Wildcat team that came out with something to prove. Fortunately for Kansas fans losing isn't something that happens very often in life. Unfortunately that means it's sometimes difficult to keep things in perspective and it without question becomes very easy to overreact.
A loss is just one loss, the sun came up and not letting that one loss turn into two, three or a trend is what's important. In all reality we know that isn't going to happen. But with five games to go before the Big 12 Tournament and then the NCAA tournament, the game against Kansas State does raise a few questions and Kansas has five games to answer those before a loss starts to mean more than just a loss and it means you go home for good.
2/19 - Colorado - Responding Defensively
The Buffaloes are a team that is weak on the interior and at the end of the day they really don't have the horses to keep up with Kansas so from that perspective it isn't a great test. The game is also in Allen Fieldhouse so it makes recovering from a loss a little bit easier and I don't for a second believe this team won't respond, nor do I intend to take too much away from that response for that reason.
What I'm watching against Colorado is how we handle defending two guards that gave us trouble in the last matchup and two guards that on a given night have the ability to pull a Jacob Pullen. Alec Burks and to a lesser extend Cory Higgens are good offensive players and Kansas didn't do a great job on them defensively in Boulder. Obviously no one wants to run into a guy that can go Jimmer Fredette on Kansas come March and Saturday against Colorado will be a chance for the Jayhawk guards to show they can defend a big time offensive threat.
Allow either one to have their way and it might not end up in a loss, but it certainly wouldn't ease the concern.
2/21 - Oklahoma State - Value The Basketball
What does Oklahoma State do well? Honestly, not a great deal but they do have a decent defense and they force a fair amount of turnovers. Since the start of league play the Cowboys are second in the conference in terms of steals per game trailing just Missouri.
After last nights absolute collapse at the point guard position, the play of Tyshawn Taylor and Elijah Johnson will be a focus every step of the way. But Oklahoma State at home will present a fairly good measuring stick because the Cowboys are athletic, a little undersized, but just pesky enough on the defensive end to force mistakes if a team or a player takes them lightly.
2/26 - Oklahoma - Poise Away From Allen Fieldhouse
Oklahoma offers up the first road game after the loss in Manhattan. On paper the Sooners shouldn't present much of a challenge for the Jayhawks but one thing that came through last night and is a little concerning is the continued "attitude" of this team at times.
When Kansas is winning, it's swagger. It's confidence, borderline cockiness but it works because you somewhat expect that of someone who performs at a high level. The bad news is that when things took a turn for the worse in Manhattan, that attitude seemed to show a little bit of it's true colors and the result wasn't pretty.
For all the talk about being a team and pulling together, this didn't look like a group on the same page at all. It's easy to say those things when you aren't facing adversity, but when you're back is against the wall, what truly shows up on the court? It's ok to lose, it shouldn't be ok to be embarrassed.
Again Oklahoma should be a win, but show that you can win with some class and without all the extra fluff, just win.
3/2 - Texas A&M - Win Inside Against A Team That Can Actually Compete Inside
Yes the Morris twins and Thomas Robinson pose a mismatch for a great deal of teams across the country. The trio will more often than not hold the edge on the interior against a given opponent. But after the first weekend of the NCAA tournament you can bet that Morris, Morris and Robinson are going to have to put up against a tough physical group of bigs somewhere along the way and they're going to have to do that without getting taken out of their game.
It's about attacking the basket, it's about playing EFFECTIVE defense without fouling. Depth is a concern underneath because Jeff Withey doesn't look to be ready. Morris, Morris and Robinson will still have the advantage against A&M, but A&M competes as well as anyone Kansas will face in the final five games on the interior. David Loubeau and Nathan Walkup don't back down from a challenge and again Kansas needs to win the matchup and show they can be good against better than average competition. And Baylor doesn't count because they don't have better than average coaching.
3/5 - Missouri Tigers - Handle A Legitimate Opponent In A Tough Environment
This season hasn't tested the Jayhawks very often. Fact is the Big 12 is very top heavy with Texas and Kansas being noticeably better than the second tier. Go back to the non-conference and yes there was the Arizona game, but minus that I can't honestly point to any game and say, that's a win away from Allen Fieldhouse where we truly showed what we can be.
Mizzou is probably a game that has a more likely or just as likely chance at being a loss as last night's game in Manhattan. A loss is ok, it's not the end of the world. How you lose however, does matter.
Ideally you win. Ideally the Jayhawks show up, the bigs assert the advantage on the interior and Tyshawn avoids the meltdown that occurred in Manhattan. But if all doesn't set up perfectly Kansas has to be in this game and they have to push back.
Mizzou is a top 20 team and it's one last opportunity for this team to truly show that they can handle quality competition and handle it away from Allen Fieldhouse.