You could use a lot of different adjectives to describe Kansas Basketball under Bill Self, and none would be as accurate as "consistent." Year after year, the man wins the league and takes Kansas into the tournament as a high (or low, whichever way you want to look at it) seed. Every time we are expected to have a "down" season (See 2006, 2009 and this year) Self's teams still wreak havoc on the league. I need to know how. Immediately. So I've decided to develop some different hypothesis as to why Self and the Jayhawks own the Big 12. Self is a great coach and one of the best in the game. Still, there has got to be a little something that gives Kansas even more of an edge. What is that something?
Theory One - Kansas Simply Has More Talent than Everyone
Let's take a close look at this year's team. We all worried about the talent drop off after losing the Morris twins, TyBrady MorningReed, etc. Oh no. Well, even this year's team is still loaded if we take into account the player's recruiting rankings (the only metric way I have to rank talent). Kansas has a starting five that was highly touted, and better yet, they are all experienced.
Tyshawn Taylor, SR ****
Elijah Johnson, JR *****
Travis Releford, RS JR ****
Thomas Robinson, JR ****
Jeff Withey, JR ****
Talented and experienced (we'll ignore the "lack of depth" thing for the time being.) It is hard to find a year where Kansas didn't have a starting five made up of 4 and 5 star players. I can't think of one in the Self era. Sure, he has had young teams, but he has always had talent. Could Kansas' winning simply be a product of having better players?
Theory Two - The Big 12 Is Not That Strong Of A League
Calm down, stop grumbling at your desk, and bear with me. These are all "theories" remember? Look, we all have an inflated sense of pride in our league. No one wants to hear the league we own and win every year isn't that great. Still... how good is it? There are some good teams every year, but often, there is a bevy of easy wins for Kansas. Traditionally, Kansas has had a 9-1 guaranteed record (if not better) most years against its North opponents. KU was simply better (if not insanely better) than Nebraska, Colorado, KState, Missouri and Iowa State over the last decade. Now throw in that some teams in the south have given Self some decent competition (Texas, Oklahoma State). A pattern starts to emerge. Kansas has dominated weaker opponents, and then won say 2 out of 3 against the top tier teams. Isn't that what the most talented (or one of the most talented) team in the league is supposed to do?
Theory Three - Kansas Has A Ridiculous Home Court Advantage
Bill Self is 141-7 at home. Let that sink in for a minute..................ok. 141-7! Are you kidding me? However, he isn't the only person to destroy opponents at home. Since the opening of Allen Fieldhouse in 1955, the Jayhawks have a home record of 679-107. Since 1994, the Jayhawks have lost only 13 regular season games at home, good for a 243-13 record. 243 wins, 13 losses. Just insane. Now a lot of that has to do with the fact that most of those Kansas teams have been very good, but winning the league gets a lot easier when you have one of the toughest places for opponents to play in the country. Heck, look at KU's record just playing in Kansas City for non-conference games. In front of a home crowd (just not at the Phog) Kansas hasn't been nearly as successful.
Theory Four - Self Has a Fantastic Staff
Watch tape of Jeff Withey playing when he first arrived at Kansas. Heck watch tape of Withey from last year. Now do the same for the Morris twins. Darnell Jackson. The list goes on. Now tell me how Danny Manning isn't the best assistant coach in America in regards to developing players. Self's staff has proven time and time again to be great at recruiting talented individuals and developing them into all-league caliber players.
So, Jayhawk fans, which theory are you buying? Self is one of the best coaches in America, but if you had to pick one of these as the biggest boost to his success, which would you choose? Vote in the poll and then argue your reasoning in the comments.