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The Maulbag: Preseason Edition

NCAA Basketball Tournament - Second Round - Salt Lake City Photo by Brett Wilhelm/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Normally I think mailbags are a somewhat lazy post, but then I thought of calling it the maulbag and I couldn’t resist, so you’re now all obligated to send me questions either via twitter @rockchalktalk or to rctsbn at gmail. Let’s get to the questions.

There are quite a few good choices out there. Kansas doesn’t need another big man, so even though West Virginia’s duo of Derek Culver and Oscar Tshiebwe are both excellent players, they’re out. So too is Baylor big man Tristan Clark.

I think it’s clear to everyone that if Devon Dotson goes down with an injury, Kansas is in trouble. This is true even after Marcus Garrett played well at the point Thursday and assuaged some of my concerns for what will happen when Dotson is on the bench. I also am of the opinion you can never have too much shooting, so someone who can combine shooting with the ability to handle the ball is my main target.

This leaves out two of the better shooters in the Big 12 in Desmond Bane and Lindy Waters. Bane shot 43 percent from three last year and Waters was at 45 percent, and while their ability to space the floor would be huge for Dotson, I think their impact would be lessened without Dotson’s ability to get into the lane and kick out for open threes. Nor can they handle the ball all that well.

I think it comes down to two guys: Texas Tech guard Davide Moretti and Iowa State guard Tyrese Haliburton. Moretti shot 46 percent from three last year and ranked 5th nationally in free throw shooting. Haliburton meanwhile shot 43 percent from three and ranked 3rd nationally in offensive rating. Neither player is a high usage guy, and both work best as complimentary pieces, which I think Kansas needs. Because of his size and length, not to mention versatility (Haliburton outpaces Moretti in terms of rebounding, assist rate, block percentage, and steal percentage), I am going to nab the Iowa State guard/wing, who I think could play both with Devon Dotson and also take over the ballhandling duties without him.

I think we unfortunately saw some of them last Thursday in the exhibition, where spacing was a huge issue, particularly with Udoka Azubuike on the floor. Obviously Udoka can’t make a shot outside of 5 feet or so, so he’s not going to stretch the floor. I don’t think either David McCormack or Silvio De Sousa is a floor stretcher either, so spacing is going to be a problem. Still, I think Kansas can do just enough offensively to have to bigs on the floor, whether it be from offensive rebounding or getting the big men enough deep post touches against mismatches and forcing a bunch of fouls. The issue is going to be defensively. Can whomever the four man is move around well enough to limit 3-point attempts? If so, I think Kansas can play two bigs and live with the ugliness on the other end of the floor. If not, they probably have to adjust.

When Isaac McBride announced his transfer, I was a bit worried. The former Arkansas player of the year was thought to be able to step in and be a bit of a spark off the bench, and with his speed and scoring ability, maybe a poor man’s Frank Mason. But after watching Christian Braun play in their first exhibition, I’m starting to think McBride left because he wasn’t as good as Braun. Braun showed a knack for always being in the right spot, has a good looking shot, and tools wise looks like he can at least play passable defense right away.

As for other teams who can win the big 12, I don’t think there is another team out there who can unless Devon Dotson gets hurt. Even if Azubuike goes down, I think there is enough depth inside and on the wing this year where Kansas can get through it, but if Dotson is out for an extended period of time the Jayhawks will have trouble scoring, and that takes away their 2nd best perimeter defender as well. If Dotson does remove himself from the picture, I think anyone from 2 to 6 in my preseason Big 12 rankings could end up taking home the title.

It sure seems that way. He’s pretty slight physically, and getting into the weight room for a year should do wonders for him. I do think having a pure point guard type could help this team, but even with the potential of sanctions down the road (which again, I don’t think will be as bad as the general doom and gloom seems to suggest), it’s worth getting Harris’s best four years out of him rather than three.