We will bust out a summer mailbag or two I'm sure, so be on the lookout for that. As for the rest of what will happen in this space between now and the start of football season, I have no idea. Maybe some longer video breakdown type stuff, maybe a look at recruits, no idea. If you have any ideas or requests, put them in the comments or email rockchalkmailbag at gmail dot com.
@RockChalkTalk Why didn't KU press more this season? Why didn't they go small vs. Stanford and make them adjust? WHY?????— Bradley Hope (@Brad_Hope) March 25, 2014
I imagine they didn't go small because of defense, and the defense was actually doing some nice things in that game. Conner Frankamp struggled off the ball a bit, though I would counter that by saying a lot of those issues would have been fixed by actually playing him this year, but I can see where Bill Self would trust his offense, one of the best in the country, to fix things a lot more easily than if he adjusted to a better offensive lineup and the defense started sucking again.
As for the press, I have no idea. They struggled at forcing turnovers all year, and the press clearly would have helped with that. The press got them back into games against Kansas State and West Virginia (and Stanford), yet for some reason they didn't go to it more. Self said he doesn't like the press because it gives up easy baskets but hey I have a newsflash they gave up their fair share of easy baskets all year. With Embiid out, it would have been perfect to unleash the press.
@RockChalkTalk Stats and such aside, where would you rank this team in terms of fun to watch? Compared previous Self teams?— c-bit (@longdistncejhwk) March 25, 2014
I mentioned this in the comments yesterday, but I really didn't have a lot of fun this year. It seems selfish to say, because I got to witness the biggest recruit in recent memory come to Kansas and live up to all of the expectations, only to be surpassed as a #1 pick by an unheralded recruit who had been playing basketball for only a handful of years. Perry Ellis shot 55% from two, Naadir Tharpe finally shot the ball how I expected him to, etc. etc.
And yet....between a grueling nonconference slate in which there were few games to really gel and enjoy playing with each other, and the pressure to keep a conference title streak alive in what was at worst the second best conference this year, as well as the poor perimeter defense (other than Wiggins) it really was not a lot of fun to watch a really good, and sometimes great, basketball team. Again, it's selfish to think this way, but it seemed that for 85% of the games this year I felt like I did the night before a big test.
@RockChalkTalk serious note: say Embiid leaves and Turner comes, what’s Self’s starting lineup? (plz don’t say Perry @ the 3)— Tom (@TJFsports) March 25, 2014
What I think the lineup probably will be is:
Selden (if he says; his new unofficial nickname)
If Selden leaves, then things get interesting. Do you put Frankamp and Tharpe in the same backcourt, knowing what you'd be giving up defensively at the two? Or do you start Tharpe and Oubre in the backcourt and put Ellis at the three? I'd probably do the latter.
What I WOULD do, though, is this:
I love Perry Ellis, but I think his skillset is more suited to come off the bench. He's good on the glass, but he's not a great passer. I think if he got to run the second unit similar to how an NBA 6th man does, he'd be able to get up a ton more shots and ensure that Kansas has a scorer on the court at all times. Of course, it could also be argued that he serves best as a complimentary piece on offense, but I think with a year to add to his ballhandling and improve his jumper even more (and it doesn't really need that much) he could be a 15 ppg or so scorer off the bench.
@RockChalkTalk Whats the typical timeline for announcing NBA declarations? Predictions on what Embiid/Selden will do?— Derek Simpson (@dereksimpson) March 25, 2014
The early entry deadline is April 27th at 11:39 PM eastern time, and obviously Wiggins will be going. I think Selden will stay. Generally my rule (outside of some sort of nebulous "do what is right for you") is if a guy is projected in the lottery, he should go. Currently, Selden is not listed on DraftExpress's 2014 mock draft, and is 34th on their top 100 prospect list.
Embiid is 2nd on that list and in the mock draft, which obviously makes his decision a lot tougher. If he's picked 2nd, he'll make a minimum of $12 million, which in my mind means he should go no questions asked. If you're the #1 or #2 pick, even if you don't pan out, you get chance after chance to prove otherwise (see Kwame Brown, who has made almost $64 million over his career, or Michael Beasley, who has made $31.5 million in his 6 years in the league). Still, Steve Kerr has noted that it's tough to learn a post game in the NBA, so if Embiid thinks he can learn some post moves and improve his game better in college, it could be the best way to go. I won't pretend to know what is best for a kid, because being in the NBA is a lot more than just playing basketball, it's all of the lifestyle changes that goes with it, and only Embiid knows whether he is ready for that. I think he'll end up leaving, especially considering his back, but I know he'll be successful regardless of what he does.
I've been running this through with my wife. I know this sort of thing gets difficult and can be an excuse for navel gazing, but there's an interesting what-if scenario. What if Andrew Wiggins had signed with Florida State instead of Kansas (and many were sure was going to happen)? No question it would have been better for FSU (they're almost certainly a tourney team with him). Would it have been better for Wiggins to be at FSU and a tough defensive coach like Leonard Hamilton? Would there have been fewer expectations for him at a program like that - particularly at a school where there's already a "BMOC" in Jameis Winston and absolutely zero pressure on the basketball program? Likewise, would Kansas have been better off without Wiggins? I'm suspecting not, btw - but the case can be made that certain players might have developed differently this season if Wiggins' minutes/shots were in other places.
-From Trevin S.
I know for a fact Kansas wouldn't have been better off without Wiggins. Their perimeter defense would have been a disaster without him, and he took more shots than anyone on the team, and set the KU Freshman scoring record.
As for whether Wiggins would have been better off, who knows. Maybe it would have forced him to be the alpha dog a bit more, maybe he would have faced added scrutiny from being the only great player on the team. Maybe the offense would have been tailored to him, etc.
I'll leave this last one open to the commenters, because I think it is at least an interesting question.