This week we are going to tackle the questions in order from easiest to hardest:
@RockChalkTalk who has the best basketball team in the state of Kansas this year?— TJ Carpenter (@TJCarpenterWHB) January 6, 2014
@RockChalkTalk given what we've seen so far, how do you honestly see KU's season ending?— Andrew Freeman (@andrewfreeman04) January 7, 2014
I think predicting NCAA tournament success, or lack thereof, is a dangerous business. It's really about getting the best matchup more than anything.
This is an old example now, but I keep going back to 2010 when Kansas got upset by Northern Iowa, Georgetown (the 3 seed) lost to Ohio, and Ohio State (the 2 seed) lost to Tennessee, and it paved the way to give Michigan State a road of (12) New Mexico St, (4) Maryland, (9) Northern Iowa, (6) Tennessee, (5) Butler all the way to the title game. And the MOST they won one of those games by was 7 points. They weren't even close to a Final Four caliber team, but got luck after luck after luck and somehow made the title game. So that's a long way of saying that really anything can happen to Kansas in the NCAA tournament.
@RockChalkTalk who should replace selden in the starting line up (if anyone)— Matthew Ruder (@billikenhawk) January 8, 2014
I think it should probably be White. The problem, obviously, is you're screwing with chemistry if you change the starting lineup. The other problem is that that's pretty much replacing like for like. Selden at this point is a shooter who doesn't offer much else, which is the opposite of what I thought he would be. That might be what White or Greene is as well.
I don't think there is a good answer. At this point I would leave Selden in there because he offers the highest ceiling, but he needs to get a lot better at defending and passing for him to stay there.
@RockChalkTalk Do you think next years team will actually be better than this years? (assuming wiggins Embid black gone)— Rob O'Shea (@RobRB23) January 7, 2014
It's obviously way too early for this talk, but it's a good and interesting question and I love good and interesting questions. Let's look at whom we know or think will be on campus next year
Selden (maybe but looking like probably)
That's a pretty formidable team. There are still going to be point guard concerns, but less so than this year (especially if Lyle comes), and the front court will be stout as always. Cliff Alexander is the MFer that the team has been missing since Thomas Robinson left, and Perry Ellis will have a monster Junior year.
For me, there are two locks and those don't need to be discussed much futher: James Naismith and Phog Allen. Naismith, while being the only losing coach in KU history, invented the game we are obsessed with, and his impact on KU is staggering: They play on Naismith Court. They go to games on Naismith Drive. Students live in Naismith Hall. You could probably grab a Naismith burger but for the gross connotations.
Allen is one of the idea men behind this little thing called the NCAA tournament, which has become the best annual event in sports, and the third best event in sports behind only the Olympics and World Cup. He is known as the father of basketball coaching, and he was also a big factor in basketball being added as an Olympic sport.
Now is where it gets tough. I thought about this question for seriously an hour, and it makes one realize how much basketball tradition Kansas has. The main candidates, though, are these:
Danny Manning - An All-American, national champion, national player of the year, first overall pick, and all time leading scorer in Big 8 and Kansas history, as well as all time rebounding leader in Kansas history, Manning further cemented his Jayhawk legacy as one of the best assistant coaches in the country, helping mold guys like Cole Aldrich and the Morris twins from raw talent into NBA lottery picks. He's one of the frontrunners to take over for Bill Self when his contract runs out.
Max Falkenstien - Max had a 60 year run with the Jayhawks, announcing almost 1,800 basketball and 700 football games. He also announced every game in Allen Fieldhouse from when it opened up until his retirement. He's been inducted in the college athletics Hall of Fame, and is the only non athlete to be hanging in the rafters at Allen Fieldhouse
Mario Chalmers - Chalmers hit the shot heard round the world on April 7, 2008 when he hit a three pointer with seconds remaining to send the 2008 title game into overtime. He was the MOP of the 2008 tournament, and led Kansas to its first title in 20 years. Beyond that, he's a 2 time NBA champion with the Miami Heat.
Larry Brown - Brown rescued Kansas from mediocrity, and was 135-44 at Kansas, where he won the 1988 national title. Brown did, however, leave Kansas under a cloud of NCAA suspicion.
Dean Smith - Smith is one of the best basketball coaches of all time at North Carolina, but before that he was a player at Kansas. Smith was an innovative Xs and Os guy, something he didn't get enough credit for, and was one of the first major people to think about college basketball in tempo free terms.
Clyde Lovellette - Clyde is the last and only player to lead the nation in scoring and win a national title in the same year. He's also the first player to win a national title, NBA title, and gold medal in the Olympics. Unfortunately for Mount Rushmore purposes, he was also a giant racist.
Wilt Chamberlain - I thought about this for so long that Wilt slipped my mind. But Wilt is, statistically, the best basketball player of all time. He scored 100 in a game. He won 4 MVPs. He scored 50 in his first game at KU. He won the Big 8 high jump championship three years in a row. He led the NBA in assists one year. You could fill up a whole SB Nation longform piece on amazing Wilt anecdotes and still not come close to describing how amazing he was.
Bill Self - After Roy Williams left coming off back to back trips to the Final Four, there was uncertainty in the air about whether the next guy would be able to continue that success. Well, Bill Self zoomed right past it. From 2006-2012, Bill Self had the best record in college basketball history. He's been named National Coach of the Year by Sporting News three times, most recently in 2011, and in 20 years has won 507 games as a head coach, which puts him ahead of the pace of Mike Krzyzewski, college basketball's current all time wins leader. Self has won 30 games in 6 of his 10 years at Kansas, has won or shared 9 straight Big 12 titles, and has as many Big 12 titles as he has home losses in his time at Kansas
The winners? Your mileage may vary, but for me it's Manning and Self. Manning helped rescue the program and usher in a new age of dominance, and Bill Self is currently the best coach in the country, is already maybe the best coach in Kansas history, and we might have to build a second gym so that we can have Allen Fieldhouse and Self Fieldhouse. There are only two statues outside of Allen Fieldhouse, but it's a good bet that once Self retires, the groundswell for a third will begin.