It's time for one of my favorite in-season games I play in my own mind, and will now force you to play in yours: Am I worried or excited? How worried or excited am I? Then, at the end of the year, I like to go back and review how I felt in the moment, mostly to laugh at myself. For example, in 2008-09, I thought there was almost no chance that KU would win the Big 12. Then the Jayhawks went 14-2 in conference play, the streak rolled on, and I felt foolish for doubting it so much. On the other end of the spectrum, I couldn't have been much more excited about JR Giddens in March of 2004....and we all remember how his career ended up.
I'll come back to this from time to time throughout the season. Since we're only six games in right now, we'll call this column Worried or Excited: Small-Sample Edition.
Kelly Oubre- On a scale of 1-10, I'm worried about an 8. Yeah, he's a freshman. Yeah, it's only been six games. But even the biggest Oubre fan has to be at least a tiny bit concerned. This hasn't exactly been a case of Coach Self burying a guy who is deserving of minutes. Oubre has looked almost completely lost, almost every second he's been on the court-- with the possible exception of the Kentucky game, when he had a few competent moments. Do I think that Oubre will eventually turn it around? Yes. Highly-ranked recruits don't disappear for an entire season without explanation. Am I still concerned about how bad he has looked so far? Very. If not for Svi holding down the wing position right now, I'd be at level 9 or 10 worried. Then again, if Svi wasn't around, Oubre's leash would undoubtedly be a lot longer than it has been thus far. Speaking of...
Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk- How do you say "11" in Ukrainian? "Odynadcjat"? That's how pumped I am (and I think just about all of us are) about Svi so far. I am at Excitement Level Odynadcjat. That play against Kentucky, when he grabbed an offensive rebound, ran straight for the three point line and jacked up a fadeaway three-ball like he was playing NBA Live '95 with the turbo button held down? Maybe my favorite random sequence of the season. His shooting percentage (29% from beyond the arc) isn't quite there yet, but his style of ball is exactly what KU needs right now to open things up down low. Keep launching those treys, Svi-3PO.* They'll start going in more often.
*I've been calling him Svi-3PO, because he shoots 3's; is tall, skinny and sorta talks like a robot; because I'm a Star Wars nerd; and because the new teaser trailer has me all aflutter. Whatever. We all die alone.
Backup point guard minutes- Worry Level 5. With the transfer of Frankamp (Ugh, how predictable was it that he ended up at Wichita St.? Not exactly a twist on the level of "Bruce Willis is actually a ghost"), now Selden is the third string PG. Any foul trouble or an injury, and all of a sudden he's doing a lot of the primary ball-handling duties. Selden looked great dropping nine assists vs. Rider...but in order to do that, he literally didn't score a point that game. That's not exactly the balance KU needs from him in order to be successful. Here's hoping that Devonte Graham's shoulder is not a lingering problem for the rest of the season.
Perry Ellis- Excitement Level 3. We've seen great stretches like this from Perry before; I want to see what happens next time he faces some length in the opposing frontcourt before I go all Drunk Ron Swanson over his efficiency the last few games. That being said, his offensive arsenal does bring a smile to my face. That dribble left, spin move into righty jump hook is killer.
Big 12 title streak- Worry Level 7. Have you guys been scouting Texas? They look GOOD. We'll know more after Friday night, when they go to Lexington to face Kentucky. As long as they don't lose by 32, in the process making their fanbase question everything about basketball, love, and life itself, then I'll still have a healthy fear of the Longhorns this season.
Cliff Alexander high-fives- Excitement Level 8.5. For now, you're just gonna have to take my word for it, and watch for the next one when it happens. It's kind of a limp-wristed slap, almost like he doesn't want his enormous muscles to inadvertently tear off his teammate's hand, and it's hilarious every time. 8.5 feels about right here. I'm not quite willing to spend 20 minutes searching youtube trying to find an example, but every time it happens on TV, I'm going to rewind it at least three times, and annoy everyone in the room who doesn't find it funny that a 6'8", 240lb. monster high-fives like a preschooler.
The 2014-15 uniforms- Excitement Level 10. They're already classically good-looking on their own, and when you stack them up to last year's duds, they look even better. When your ex burns your house down, your new girlfriend doesn't have to build you a mansion in order to win your heart-- but if she happens to do so, well then hey. Even better.