It certainly wasn't a fantastic debut. Obviously, this season is going to be jam-packed with ups-and-downs, because of the immense youth on our team. And that was what was hyped coming into last night; the seven incoming recruits, including five freshman, who all figure to vie for playing time early. Those seven, plus the returning contributors in Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich, were hyped as the players who would carry us through the tribulations of the season.
Yet, on this feaux opening night, in a game that means absolutely nothing to the vast majority of those in the stands and not much more to the players, there were two people who stood out over all others. And they were niether a returning 'contributor' from last season nor an incoming recruit. No, it was Tyrel Reed and Brady Morningstar who stood above all others, clearly staking out an early lead in the season's MVP race.
In the ten-or-so-minutes of game action I saw, as pixellated and hard-to-see as it was (I saw it on the internet via someone putting a webcam in front of the TV set, so you can imagine), it was clear that those two, the Kansas kids, played better than all others. And this is their shot. Hate to sound harsh or anything, but this is likely the make-or-break moment in both of their careers. Sure, both will be able to come off the bench late in blowouts and, if there's an injury or two, work themselves into a short-term rotation, but if they want to play a particularly significant role in Bill Self's rotation at any point in their collegiate careers, now is the time. When we only have nailed down two starters, neither of which have ever consistently started before in their careers, it is quite the opportune time for Morningstar or, particularly, Reed, to step up and stake a claim. We are searching for a #2/wing-style player to match up with SC in the backcourt, and if Reed keeps on playing like he did Tuesday night, he is as good-a-guy as any to end up starting. They are obviously the current favorites, given them starting on Tuesday night, and both only could have improved their stock. Reed scored 16 points on five three pointers in 29 minutes, while Morningstar scored 15 points in those same 29 minutes.
Well, I suppose they didn't deliver the two best performances. That would have to go to Mr. Sherron Collins, who showed up in a big way. Considering that he is the most important player on this team, that was kind of important. A healthy, lightweight Sherron Collins combined with some simple progress from the young players and just one-or-two recruit breaking out makes us a contender for the Big 12. No healthy, not-so-lightweight Sherron Collins and start hoping and praying. 22 points, 7 assists and a team-leading 30 minutes is a line we can hopefully get used to.
Cole Aldrich had a pretty decent game, I suppose. 8 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks. Nothing too special, nothing too flashy, but awfully important to a team that has, literally, no other proven post presence. He will need help eventually, but I think we can make it through the early-season slate with him alone as our post presence.
Moving beyond that, the game was all about the freshmen. Well, the freshmen and incoming JUCO recruit Tyrone Appleton. None played particularly well, although I suppose Quintrell Thomas had the best game of the bunch. He has Darnell Jackson written all over him, simply a rebounder who can play really solid defense and score when needed. 10 points and 6 rebounds is solid, and I would not be surprised to see him starting along with Cole come November 16th and the season opener.
The Morris twins, Marcus and Markieff, did not play well, combining for only 8 points on 3-9 shooting and 5 rebounds. Still, they showed up later than all of the other recruits, so hopefully they are simply still learning. And all that fun stuff.
Tomorrow, we'll get more into rotation business and stuff. For now, though, just remember this: Tyrel Reed is going to start for awhile. And I'm a big fan.