The record books show Michigan recently topped Kansas in basketball by 12 points, 86-74. To a Jayhawk zealot watching the game via television in the early hours of Dec. 31 in Florida, the Wolverines looked about 20 points better during that Humiliation in Honolulu.
Yet the upside to me is that four of KU's key men played pretty lousy games. They're sure to perform far better in a similar meeting later this season. While Kansas has no counterpart to 6-8 Chris Webber or 6-8 Jalen Rose, the Jayhawks as a team unit are fully capable of handling the Wolves, Kentucky and even the Dukesters in late March or early April.
What happened in Hawaii should have seeped painfully beneath the skin of three Jayhawk seniors who were far from up to par against Michigan. If they're not disgusted with themselves, they should be. That burr of disappointment will remain under their saddles another 2 months.
If that leads to inspiration, efficiency, poise and cohesion the next go-around, with eight rather than two or three Jayhawks playing well, KU is capable of beating anyone in the country.
IN HONOLULU, KU's Rex Walters sometimes looked half asleep making those Carl Casual passes which helped create six turnovers. Granted, Rex came alive in the second half, but was nowhere near as effective for a full game as he must be. We began to see the real Rex Walters again during his smooth-flowing outing against Wichita State.
Adonis Jordan at 5-11 was outsized by Michigan's talented 6-8 Rose. Nobody else could extend a finger to stick in the dike to deter Jalen from a 25-point night. But better overall KU team defense could minimize Rose in a subsequent meeting. Meanwhile, every Kansas opponent with a taller guard will be trying to exploit Jordan as Michigan did. That's good. It will help KU prepare for a rematch.
Losing in Hawaii altered KU's status in the national ratings for a while, but so what. Better to get a sobering wakeup call now, when there's plenty of time to adjust. Nobody dares get prosperous. Coach Roy Williams has plenty to talk about to keep his team from getting delusions of grandeur with the Big Eight Conference grind rolling around.
STEVE WOODBERRY and Darrin Hancock weren't too shabby against Michigan, and Patrick Richey provided some effective help. But like Jordan and Walters, Richard Scott and Eric Pauley were far from even average. Scott resorted to his previous bad habit of blowing gut shots, failing to finish on close-in pokes that could have helped aplenty. He's not likely to have many games that bad and, like The Terminator, he'll be back.
Pauley's foul troubles created major difficulties against the Ann Arbor dandies and he like several of his teammates actually looked lost and intimidated at times. That's not hard to understand when Chris Webber, Jalen Rose and Juwan Howard are on a roll. But Pauley's a much better all-around player than he gives himself credit for. It's time for him to accept that, play up to his capabilities and get in the kind of groove he enjoyed against Wichita State. (By the way, anyone else think Eric looks like the guy who plays Brian Bodine in the TV soapie ``All My Children?)
Aiding Pauley's cause (and once he realizes how good he really is, watch out) is the return of wide-body Greg Ostertag, who could be a major factor by February.
These Jayhawks are so much better than they showed against Michigan it's not funny. They'll have plenty of chances to prove it, and next time, don't bet too much money on the brash and cocky Wolverines.
ALL-AROUND ATHLETES have abounded in KU sports history, and easily one of the most illustrious was basketball All-American Charlie Black, who was only 71 when he died recently. Black could have been a brilliant football receiver with his speed, strength and leaping ability. There was no college dunking in the 1940s when Charlie played. If he'd worked in the modern format, he might have shown Michael Jordan a thing or two about hang-time and productive gyrations. He had a marvelous sense of where the ball and the basket were and, oh, how this hall-of-famer could respond to a challenge. On defense and in rebounding, he could devastate most anyone.
One year, Charlie entered the Kansas Relays decathlon without a whit of practice and darn near won it. How new was he to the event? When it came time to run the finishing 1,500 meters, he had to ask which direction and how many times around the track.
It wasn't surprising he was an honored World War II fighter pilot. You could feel more confident with Charlie on your side.
The jersey KU retired is blue. Kansas under Phog Allen wore red in those days. But the number's right, and that's enough for anyone who was blessed to see Charlie Black at his finest.