Kansas Downs Pitt State in Exhibition Opener

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, Wayne Selden and the rest of the newcomers entered as the feature story, but the real stars may have been the new rules.

Last night may have exposed the best case and worst case scenarios for Kansas in terms of the new rules, all in one 40 minute game. The Jayhawks committed 27 fouls, with 5 players committing 3 each and Tarik Black committing 4. Because of the potential foul troubles, I find it harder to believe that Kansas can redshirt anyone.

However, because of all the fouls, teams are going to need depth. Kansas can play 11 (!) guys before they would be forced to insert someone who probably doesn't belong out there in say an NCAA tournament game (and really I think it's 12 because I think Justin Wesley can play as well. He might foul out in 2 minutes, but still).

As for how the team played, I always caution others (and myself, hey I'm a fan too) against reading too much into how a team plays in exhibition games. Especially this year. With so many Freshmen the team was obviously going to be nervous and come out making weird mistakes, having their shooting be off, etc. And that's what happened. The fouls were one thing, but Kansas turned it over 19 times and shot just 6-18 from three.

Since statsheet doesn't do exhibition games, I had to make my own 4 factors graph:

As we can see, even though the game looked a bit fragmented and Kansas has some things to work on, they still dominated Pitt State. We should temper expectations because it was just a D2 team, but if they can play this well while looking quite frankly pretty bad, the sky is the limit for this team in terms of what to expect in March.

Onto some player notes:

  • Everyone else is starting with Andrew Wiggins, so I am starting with....Landen Lucas. I tweeted it last night but the big man had 6 rebounds in 10 minutes and might end up the best rebounder on the team so while he was lackluster in other areas, Kansas might have to put him on the floor because I'm skeptical of how well everyone other than Black will be able to rebound in terms of bigs.
  • OK fine, on to Wiggins. He shot 50% from two, but his overall line gets depressed a bit by going 0-3 from three. Once he shows just how well he can drive there's going to be no one in the nation who won't give him space to shoot, so I think he'll have quite a few open looks. He was also 6-8 from the line and with how explosive he looked going to the rim he'll probably be living there this year. He also put together quite the highlight reel for 25 minutes of playing time

And oddly enough none of those was my favorite play of his of the night, when he missed a layup and then grabbed his miss with one hand and laid it back in.

  • Naadir Tharpe played just how Kansas fans (and coaches) want him to, with 9 assists and 0 turnovers. He also made all 3 of his shots, including a three. This is the third straight year he has shone in the exhibition season, and he did make a giant leap from his Freshman year to his Sophomore year, so while we should temper expectations due to the competition, there's little doubt in my mind he's going to do exactly what Kansas needs from him
  • Joel Embiid had 9 points on 3-7 shooting and didn't rebound very well, but he had 2 blocks and showed glimpses of what he's capable of. His first possession in terms of getting the ball he had a really nice seal down low and he showed off amazingly good footwork as well as the ability to score with both hands. It's going to take some time for it to click, and I think it's impossible to know when it will click, but when it does he's going to be a monster.
  • Tarik Black held it together down low, which is probably doing a disservice to how good he was. 7 points, 11 rebounds, 2 blocks and you could tell he was the player with the most college experience.
  • Perry Ellis had an efficient 16 points, added 8 rebounds and played really solid defense. I said it when the teams were released earlier but I think people are going to look pretty foolish leaving him out of consideration for All-American teams, to say nothing of him being preseason honorable mention all Big 12.
  • Andrew White III showed that his improvement could carry over to games against other people as well. He was 2-3 from three, had 4 rebounds, and played pretty good defense on the wing. He also showed what a year in Bill Self's system can do in terms of awareness on the court, as he was one of the few guys who never really looked lost last night
  • Brannen Greene sprinted out to a big lead in the don't get redshirted contest, as he was 3-4 from three, grabbed 3 rebounds and had a steal as well. The one thing to nitpick with him is he's not quite there defensively yet, but I think that's more of an adjustment to how games will be called vs. him not being quick enough. Still, even if he ends up a liability defensively his shooting ability and the ability to get it off whenever he wants because of his height could end up a major asset.
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