The usual reminder: if you want your question answered, tweet us at @rockchalktalk or send an email to rockchalkmailbag at gmail dot com. Following the theme of this fortnight, today's mailbag is brief.
@RockChalkTalk If Embiid is gonna be out, KU loses its shotblocker their Halfcourt defense is built around. Is it time to spring a press?— Bradley Hope (@Brad_Hope) February 12, 2014
In a word, yes. I have been arguing this all year, even with Embiid in there. I know Bill Self always points to not wanting to press because you give up easy baskets. While that is definitely true, they aren't exactly stopping teams from getting easy shots as it is. The perimeter defense has been, frankly, a disaster outside of Andrew Wiggins. Some of it is because the Big 12, as a whole, is the most efficient major conference in the country by a pretty wide margin, but it has been a problem all year. A press would hopefully lead to some more rushed shots, some more turnovers, and if nothing else maybe make teams delay in getting into their offense.
The other major justification for running a press is Kansas's depth. Self has used a lot of 6 and 7 man lineups, but there's no doubt in my mind he could stretch that to as many as 10 if he needed to. Obviously that doesn't mean press as hard as possible all game, but turning games into exhausting track meets could only benefit Kansas in my opinion.
With the Olympics going on, who is on the United States' Olympics Mt. Rushmore?
-From Jeff N.
This is a great question. Because no season was specified, I am going to assume this is a Mt. Rushmore covering both Summer and Winter. After thinking about it, I was actually able to make it 2 summer and 2 winter. It might show a bit of a recency bias, and I had to leave off a ton of tough omissions. In fact, let's go through the toughest omissions now:
Jesse Owens (track): Owens marched into the 1936 Olympics held in Nazi Germany, and walked out of there with 4 medals. He also was reportedly helped along to one of those Gold medals by a German athlete, Luz Long.
Mark Spitz (swimming): The original golden boy, Spitz won 7 golds (out of 7 events) in the 1972 Games in Munich. However, because the United States relay teams were free Golds back then, he was narrowly eked out by another swimmer on this list.
Apolo Ohno (short track): The most decorated US winter Olympian, Ohno won 2 gold, 2 silver and 4 bronze in perhaps the most chaotic event in either Olympics program.
Bonnie Blair: (speedskating) Blair won 6 medals, 5 gold, over 4 Olympic games. She gets a minor asterisk however, benefiting from getting to compete in both 1992 and 1994 after the Olympic program switched from having Winter and Summer Games in the same year to different years.
Babe Didrikson Zaharias: (track and field): Babe won 3 medals at the 1932 games (2 gold, 1 silver) and did it in hurdles, high jump and javelin. Had the heptathlon been contested in those Olympics she would have been a certain Gold medalist there as well. She forfeited her amateur status thereafter and thus couldn't compete in the Olympics anymore, but she's still possibly the best female athlete ever.
The Dream team (basketball): They blitzed the competition in Barcelona, winning by an average of over 30 points per game. Some team somewhere might eventually be better than the dream team, but none will have its impact on the game of basketball.
And now, the winners:
Michael Phelps (swimming): Phelps is the most decorated Olympian of all time, so it makes sense he'd be on here. He was the leading medal winner for the United States for three straight Olympics (2004, 2008, 2012), something no one else has done. His most famous achievement is going 8 for 8 in the Beijing Olympics, the greatest Summer Olympics performance ever.
Eric Heiden (speed skating): Though Phelps had the best career, Heiden is the man who had the best single Olympics ever. In 1980, the best Olympic Games ever possibly, he won all 5 speedskating events (500 m, 1000 m, 1500 m, 5000 m, 10000 m). Not only did he win all 5, he set the Olympic record in all 5, and the world record in the 10,000m.
1996 US Women's Gymnastics team: The Magnificent Seven went out and won a team Gold medal on home soil. Though they ended up not needing it to win, Kerri Strug landed a vault on basically one leg, securing a legendary Gold for the United States
1980 Men's Ice Hockey Team: When I think Olympics, the Miracle on Ice comes to mind. The Soviets had won gold in 1956, 1964, 1968, 1972 and 1976 (and would go on to win in 84 and 88 as well). But the United States, with a bunch of (not very good) college kids, took on the world and defeated the Soviets in perhaps the most famous hockey game of all time. They then had to go on and beat Finland for the Gold, coming from behind to win its second Gold ever.