A KU big man stole the show last weekend in Kansas City, but it wasn’t Udoka Azubuike.
David McCormack’s stat line from Saturday against Kansas City has only been replicated six times by four different Jayhawks in the past 10 Kansas seasons. That line would be scoring at least 28 points on 75% shooting from the field while grabbing at least seven rebounds.
There was a big difference between McCormack’s performance and the rest. And it wasn’t just the quality of opponent (TCU was 212th in KenPom when Perry Ellis put up those numbers in 2014, and West Virginia was 123rd in 2013 when Ben McLemore went off).
McCormack compiled his numbers in essentially four media timeouts (16 minutes of play), while everyone else on the list played at least 31 minutes. That’s 1.75 points and .44 rebounds per minute of action for Big Dave. Efficient.
The fact that McCormack played so well is encouraging in and of itself. Azubuike hasn’t run into much foul trouble yet this season, but it will likely come, and McCormack is proving more and more capable as the lead post presence if Doke is on the bench.
The way McCormack put up those numbers is more encouraging. It wasn’t just overpowering dunks and easy layups against a smaller opponent. He displayed an arsenal of mid-range jump shots and post moves—looking as much like Dedric Lawson as Doke, starting further from the basket before either knocking down a shot or backing his man down and attacking the rim.
For anyone, including Self, still holding out hope that Doke and Big Dave can coexist in a two-big lineup together, this is how it could, and would need to, happen. It only works if McCormack can bring the defense out of the paint and free up space for Doke to work down low. This was also the best the two big men passed and operated together, though it’s still to be determined if this can continue against more athletic competition.
In the bigger picture, this is a bright spot that brings excitement and hope for what McCormack could be as the primary five man next year when Doke has graduated. The jump from year one to year two has been steady, and that’s without a huge jump in minutes (16.9 compared to 10.7 as a freshman). His offensive moves look more refined and he’s been efficient, shooting 62.7% from the field, while still stretching the floor.
The consistency from game to game is still an area of growth, but the ceiling is high. And when McCormack is drawing as much offensive attention as Dotson and Doke, the defense is left in a no-win situation.