Note: We will hardcore preview the Jayhawk basketball team starting tomorrow and ending next Friday, the night of our first regular season contest against UL-Monroe. I couldn't get anything up prior to tonight's "game", so this will have to do.
The first basketball game of the year. Granted, it means nothing and is only an exhibition game, but expectations are always, always high for Kansas basketball. I'm talking 50-point blowouts as the expected margin of defeat, not 20.
So, with that in mind, here are a couple of things to watch out for in tonight's good-for-nothing exhibition game.
1) Who Will Take Julian Wright's Minutes?
Obviously, this is only an exhibition so the starters will likely just rotate in and out for the first half. Still, those first 20 minutes have the potential to tell us a lot about who will take the brunt of the 32 minutes departing along with Julian Wright. My money is on a combination of two guys. First off, incoming freshman Cole Aldrich figures to see some action, probably around 8 minutes a game to start out the year and that figure will slowly rise, depending on his play. But I think a sizeable portion of the minutes will go to Darrell Arthur, who figures to be this year's 'Breakout Player'. In my opinion, he is the difference between a 'good' year and a 'absolutely tremendous year' with numerous possibilities in-between, which leads me to my next question.
2) Can Darrell Arthur Become a Leader On This Team?
We all know how talented he will be, and the actual 'leader' aspect is mostly mute because of the wealth of senior leadership on this year's team. However, he needs to be our 'go-to-guy' when we need a basket, especially down low in the post. Our guards are fantastic, best in the country according to some, but that will also lead opponents to key on the perimeter game. If DA can be a big factor in the post, even bigger than Julian who liked to hang around outside a little too often, our entire team dynamic will change. Our biggest strength last year was our ability to play both slow-down ball and speed-up ball, but without big-time contributions from DA and, to a lesser extent, DJack and Sasha we won't be able to say the same this season. In some ways, the season lies on DA's shoulders.
3) How Will the Freshmen Fare?
Only two incoming freshmen this season, Tyrel Reed and Aldrich, but both figure to get at least some mintues in the early going. Reed can take advantage of Rush's knee injury (his December 1st target date is still a go as far as I have heard) with some early PT and earn some mintues even when Rush comes back, and with Julian's departure there is a 8-10 minute slot open for minutes in the post that Aldrich can fill in. It will be nice to see them on the court in Allen Fieldhouse, even if it is against Pittsburg State.
Score Prediction: Kansas 106 Pittsburg State 58
No graphics for tonight's open thread, that will all start on Monday night's exhibition game.