I’m reading about this a LOT these days.
What if Kendall Marshall had never been hurt? Would UNC have won yesterday?
What if Sullinger had played in KU/tOSU 1, would OSU have won in Dec?
What if Missery hadn’t lost that one tall guy they had this year…would they have won the conference?
This is one more reason why I love this KU team so much. It’s not a “what if” team. It’s a team that goes out, does what it does, and we all (here on RCT at least) accept that. (I don’t account for people that post on ESPN, etc, because basically, they need to shut those boards down. I skim them at times while I wait for recaps, and it’s…horrid. Embarrassing for everyone there who posts).
No, this KU team has done stuff, and is doing stuff, and there’s no “what if” involved. Since the start of games this year (pre-season is a free-pass where everyone can and should discuss at will anything), I can count on one hand how many times I’ve read where people have said, “What if Ben and Jamari were eligible”? What if even Markieff had forgone the draft (looks like that might have been a mistake to stay now…but a year ago, we all wondered)? What if Selby had come back to raise his draft stock? What if…what if…?
What if Withey had never transferred? What if TRob decided he needed the money after last year, and bolted (Yeah, we might have said it was a questionable move, but no one would have blamed him.) Here’s what might have happened IF some of those things had occurred:
-TT might never had matured into a team leader if Markieff came back. We would never had seen the transformation he’s had from a player I personally wanted to strangle like I was named Latrell, into this dynamic, sometimes-efficient, but always entertaining leader, and a truly electric player.
-If Withey hadn’t transferred, or if Markieff came back (yeah, yeah, I know, it was a long shot, and this is a stretch, but you know he was the twin that would have done it if either had), we would be able to read a tweet from KenPom saying, "Withey has a better block rate than Anthony Davis. People know this, right?" That’s two days old, and I still smile reading it. We wouldn’t be wondering if the big oaf is gonna get a haircut before the next game, because trust me, we want him to!
-If Selby had come back, there no way we’d be seeing as much of EJ and Travis as we have this year, and don’t tell me they both haven’t reinvented themselves like, 4 times since last year alone. The Prophet has gone from a “seldom used substitute, and disappointment (you know he had a higher rating than TRob from Rivals?), to just this entity on the floor that was eating up minutes but producing little, to a defensive specialist who put up paltry numbers but we knew was doing well, to what we have now…a rabid defender who occasionally just says, “You know what, it’s too close, lemme make this shot, and this pass, and we can win this and be happy.”. Yeah, he’s that guy now. And Travis…don’t get me started. Last year he seemed to be this guy that came in once every 3 games and hit like, 5 3’s, and then we’d never see him again for a month. Now he’s being called by the national media as an all-american glue-guy. And, to top it off, (for the most part), he’s stopped whining! Yes, take a look at games from early in the year, and every play that didn’t go his way, he’d be a 3-year old whining to the refs and looking sullen and indignant to all of us. Now, for the most part, he’s stopped doing that. People talk about TT maturing throughout this year, but I think for Travis to stop being a baby at times, that’s HUGE, and you can see it in his game. He’s now playing to make the next play…not bitching about the last play. Makes me really, really proud of him, and he’s so much of a better player for it.
-What about this “short bench” we have? Let’s not get started on Teahan, because I still have issues I need to work out before I write about him, but Young? We’ve been told that we have a terrible bench, and no one there to help out. Dude, Young started for Loyola, and put up some numbers. I’m not in the LEAST bit surprised about him. Wesley, I am surprised about. He’s not actually a player, he’s a robot from the future, sent back in time to “play” basketball, and collate data on how little time a player can actually be in a game before fouling out of the game. This season, I do not know if I can recall a time he subbed into the game without fouling within 2 possessions. Is he capable? You betcha, he’s got to be. I just don’t know if he fouls because he’s told to go in and be physical with the other team, or if he does it because he’s practicing against T-Rob all the time and what he thinks of as a “soft-foul” would be a “Mugging” in most civilized parts of the nation. And Tharpe has had some moments where you go, “Can’t wait to see more of him”, and some moments of “Get him off the floor before someone throws a bottle at him!” But I gotta ask you….if you put Teahan, Wesley, Young, Tharpe, and …uh…say….whatever…Junebug on a team of their own….do you think they’d be the worst team in the B-12? I bet they’d win a few games. Hell, even if you took away HCBS and had Danny and Dooley and Townsend coaching the team, I bet you they can surprise a lot of teams out there. Our bench is “short”, but it’s as underrated as this team has been.
-And here’s a new one…what if we still had Roy coaching? Dadgum, it’d be different for sure. But Roy leaving was more like a Divorce than I think we realized at the time. And I don’t think we knew how cool it’d be after he was gone. Time has passed, and I’m still not wanting to get back together with him. He had some great success, and still does have success, out east. But, he never won it all for us. Bill’s done that, and has laid down this blueprint for success where he pulls in a few great players now and then, and then fills out the roster with others that are VERY good, and then makes a great team out of it. I’m not mad or angry or happy or sad or anything for Roy anymore. He’s just another coach out there, coaching a team that I don’t like (mostly because of ESPN and other national media coverage). But he’ll never go down as one of the best coaches in KU history….he never won it all. Hell, we only forgive Naismith for his record because he invented the damn game. Phog, well he was the one that really started this whole coaching mess for everyone. And maybe we deserved to lose Roy to UNC because we GOT Larry Brown from them. Larry won it all, and you haven’t forgotten about that, have you? And we did get Larry Brown from UNC, at least for this year. How many times in the last month have you seen him in the stands, rooting for KU? Hell, during HCBS’s recently-famous “take a leak” speech, you can see Larry pat TT on the shoulder at the end of the video. That’s half of why I forgive Larry for having Calipari as a grad assistant. The other half is because Bill Self took that job after Cal left.
You know what, I love this team. I’ll forgo any “what ifs” there are out there, and I’ll keep things just as they are. Win it all, or lose next week, it’s been a helluva ride. Danny and the Miracles….Mario’s Miracle….they’re all amazing, and will always be special to me. But this team, even if they lose next weekend or the Monday following, it’s been epic. This team’s given us adversity, a few losses to make winning sweeter, a conference title, 127db’s and the final win in the series with Misery (I was there!), and yes…it’s now my favorite KU team (until maybe next year).