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Kansas Defeats Emporia State in Exhibition Opener

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The Kansas Jayhawks took care of Emporia State in impressive fashion during Tuesday night's exhibition opener

Jamie Squire

Kansas kicked off their 2013 season (kind of) with a win over Emporia State that, other than the first few minutes, was relatively simple and normal as far as exhibitions go. But as always in these games, there was plenty good and bad to go around (note: I had to get to bed relatively early because I had to be up at 6:30 this morning, so bullet points are all you get)

  • It's just one game and there are a lot of new faces who need to gel, but offense is going to be a struggle. There were a lot of turnovers and more to the point there were a lot a lot a lot of jump shots and not much attacking the basket. Kansas did end up shooting 38% from three, but as the season goes on they're going to need to go inside, whether by post up or penetration, to open up those jumpers.
  • Defensively I thought they played fine, though it's always tough to evaluate when they have such an athletic advantage over everyone. We'll see how things progress.
  • The player I was most impressed with from purely a talent standpoint was Ben McLemore. Defensively he wasn't giving 100% all the time and it was still easy to see that he had all the tools to make Bill Self say that he'd be the best defender he had at KU. He has the wingspan to bother ball handlers and the foot speed to stay in front of them. He's also amazingly athletic, as evidenced by his putback dunk. He went 1-2 from three and made a really nice jumper curling into the free throw lane off the dribble. I came away tremendously impressed and excited.
  • The player I was next most impressed with was Naadir Tharpe. Expectations should be tempered because of competition, but his shot looked so much better from last year it was unreal. He went 2-2 from three and had 4 assists next to 1 turnover. He won't be a lockdown defender by any stretch but he was very aware of where he was on the court and can play good team defense. Again, still not sold because he did really well in the exhibitions last year, but he should get a lot of minutes at backup PG this year.
  • Perry Ellis was fantasic. I have questions about how he will do matched up against guys who are as athletic as he is (or more) but for now I could not be more impressed. He didn't miss a shot for one (and shot 7 free throws) and he knew where to go on offense and defense incredibly well. He also defended out on the wing really well for a guy his size, and with a game high 7 rebounds was obviously comfortable down low as well.
  • Rio Adams is a guy who got a lot of buzz because of the defense he played, but I think we should temper things a bit because it's pretty easy for a guy recruited to play at Kansas to play pressure D against D2 guards. I'd like to see him do it against at least half decent D1 competition before we make a call on him either way.
  • Andrew White (the third, apparently. AW3?) looked really nervous out there, as evidenced by his 5 turnovers, but his stroke looked so smooth to the point where I was yelling at him to shoot 5 feet beyond the line instead of trying to make an entry pass. I think he has a shot to shoot 45%+ from three this year, and the CBS people are going to look stupid for leaving him off their top 50 shooters list.
  • Elijah played well enough. He had 12 points but was just 2-8 from three and missed to the side a lot, which is bad. I am not backing off him having an excellent year this year, but his stroke does need to improve quite a bit. He also needs to attack the rum a lot more. He did have an impressive 5:1 assist to turnover ratio though.
  • Jeff Withey struggled big time. He did affect a lot of shots on defense but on offense he was a step slow all night and his hands were just awful. I doubt he's ever a real go to guy on offense but they do need to find a way to get him to the line.
  • I was impressed with how Landen Lucas played when he was in there. He brought a lot of energy and grabbed a game high 9 rebounds in just 12 minutes. He might get playing time this year just because of that, but he did look pretty lost on the offensive end of the floor so if they redshirt him I wouldn't be too shocked.
  • All in all not a bad effort. Another chance to gel as we take on our big I-70 rivals Washburn on Monday.