It's almost here. Late Night in the Phog tips off the college basketball season in Lawrence on Friday night and signals the start of basketball season in Lawrence. This year brings with it a little extra buzz after a changing of the guard so to speak as Kansas turned over a starting five last year that featured four seniors and one extremely talented freshman. Enter into the picture a dynamic recruiting class with one of the most hyped prep players in the last decade. On top of that Kansas will be looking forward to the emergence of Perry Ellis in what has become a common theme throughout the Bill Self era, next man up.
Kansas has won an incredible nine straight Big 12 Conference titles. This was supposed to be the year that streak ended. Then Self knocked it out of the park adding Andrew Wiggins, Tarik Black, Joel Embiid, Wayne Selden, Frank Mason, Conner Frankamp and Brannan Greene. The group represents what is arguably the best class in the country and possibly the one with the most upside going forward. The offseason and those additions have changed the anticipation level in Lawrence and while in some sense expectations never change, fans were ready to accept a dip and this sent that excitement level through the roof and reset those expectations to include a 10th straight Big 12 title.
There will be growing pains, there will be a learning curve. Kansas has competition this year in the Big 12 and they play THE most challenging schedule in the country hands down. Games against Duke, Florida, Georgetown and more will set the table for a Big 12 season that should be a battle between Kansas, Oklahoma State and Baylor. Tomorrow marks the beginning. Hopefully the end doesn't happen for about 7 months and that includes a trip to Arlington. Either way it's going to be a fun ride as always and another reminder of how lucky Kansas is to have Bill Self running the show.