Tonight's game against the Arizona Wildcats, being the first road test and all, reminds me a lot of the 2005 contest against Kentucky at Rupp Arena, as that was that year's first road game. That team, just like this one, was jam-packed with youngsters with some veterans mixed in (Aaron Miles and Keith Langford, namely) to make it competitive.
So, that got me thinking about the two teams' rosters. And, after a couple of obvious pair-ups, I figured there were enough similarities between the two squads to make it interesting. Of course, there are some noticeable differences, like there is no one comparable to Cole Aldrich (not by a long shot) on the 04/05 team, but it ends up doing pretty OK overall.
The comparison isn't perfect, but here's what I was able to come up with comparing that 2004/2005 team as it stood on January 9th (remember, Simien is hurt at the time...) to the current unit. We, of course, were undefeated way-back-when in 2005, beat Kentucky and ended up starting 20-0 before falling to Villanova. This year's unit boasts a much-worse record with even less experience, but it is still pretty valid overall.
Comparisons after the jump...
Just remember, though, I am comparing our current players to who these players were in 2004/05. Not who they ended up being, or anything. Keep that in mind. I'm not saying that Travis Releford is the next Russell Robinson; not by a long shot.
- Aaron Miles --> Sherron Collins : Obvious. The two leaders of the team, both of which happen(ed) to be point guards.
- Keith Langford --> Cole Aldrich : A stretch, given the difference of like 7 inches and the obvious differences in style of play, but both were veterans, so it fits. Yeah. Of course, Langford had been tested on the road prior to this road trip to Rupp, so this one isn't terribly close, but it's the best fit I've got. If Mario would have returned, the comparison would have made a lot more sense, I swear...
- J.R. Giddens --> Tyrel Reed : No, Tyrel isn't going to be involved in any stabbing incident, at least I hope not, but this fits nicely. Neither were terribly good defenders, although Tyrel is getting better, while J.R. never seemed to really improve. Both are three-point shooters at heart, though, and both shoot plenty of 'em.
- Mike Lee --> Brady Morningstar : The comparison would have fit perfectly, as well as the above one, if Self had decided to start Lee instead of Giddens, but oh well. Morningstar is a lot like Mike Lee, when you think about it; good-but-not-great defender who can knock down the three and move the ball around, but not much else on offense. Also, both are best friends with the point guard leaders of their respective teams.
- C.J. Giles --> Marcus Morris : Both uber-athletic forwards who were forced into early playing time because of an immense lack of experience on the front line. Both were, by far, the favorite members of their respective freshmen classes. Let's just hope that Marcus doesn't end up like C.J.
- Christian Moody --> Matt Kleinmann : This one is obvious; walk-on senior getting playing time over other, more talented freshmen. Except, Kleinmann doesn't receive playing time except for extreme situations. I suppose that has as much to do with Moody being better than Kleinmann as the superior freshmen, although it's nice to think that this crop of freshmen is better than the one who won four straight Big 12 titles.
- Sasha Kaun --> Markieff Morris : This is selling Kieff short, but he fits here more than his brother, and one of the two had to fit in here in this jigsaw puzzle-of-a-comparison. Still, Sasha was better than I remember as a freshman, and both certainly have/had the propensity to get into foul trouble.
- Darnell Jackson --> Quintrell Thomas : Sure, Quintrell looks pretty awful for the most part right now, but so did Darnell his freshman year. Both are undersized 4's who played above their height (Darnell obviously did, and Trell should if you trust his scouting report) and were scrappers. Hopefully Quintrell can reach the point that Darnell eventually did; where he had a good enough senior year to make it to the NBA. That would have to be his best case scenario, I'd think.
- Russell Robinson --> Travis Releford : The position doesn't fit, but how they're being treated by Self fits perfectly. Both came into KU as High School stars, and were asked to be big-time role players, or glue guys as it were, for the team. Russell had a slow transitition to that role, and it appears Releford is having a similarly slow transitition. However, once it clicked for Russell, he began to play much better and by sophomore year he was a 20-minute-a-night contributor (IIRC). I think the same will happen for Releford, it just might take a little while.
That's the best I could figure. Obviously, I left one quite large name off the list ('05 Alex Galindo and for '08 Tyshawn Taylor), but neither really fit in with any other player on the opposite team. I suppose I could have slid Taylor with Giddens and Reed with Galindo, and considered it, but Giddens' and Taylor's playing styles are just about exact opposites of each other, and they match up terribly with the whole experience thing.
If you have any objections to any of the comparisons, let me know. It doesn't work perfectly, but it is an interesting comparison, given the 04/05 team's future success. Of course, I hope we don't lose to Bucknell in the First Round, but whatever.