Ames, Iowa Some might be ready to concede the Big Eight title to Kansas if the Jayhawks beat Iowa State today.
They'd be making a big mistake, Roy Williams says.
"I do believe it's way too early. I don't put a lot of stock in the league (standings) right now. When you get to the halfway point, then you can talk about what the league is starting to look like," Williams, KU's seventh-year coach, said.
The Jayhawks will take an 11-1 record (1-0 in the league) into today's 3:01 p.m. battle at 12-2 (0-1) Iowa State. The Jayhawks won at Missouri Monday night, while the Cyclones dropped their league opener at Colorado last Saturday.
"In 1991-92, we started 2-0 and both were road wins (at CU and MU)," Williams said. "With five games left in the season, everybody was worried about the Jayhawks and how they were floundering around, peaking too soon and all that kind of garbage."
KU did go on to win the title that year.
"One year (90-91) we were 0-2 and still wound up co-champs with Oklahoma State," he added.
Despite stumbling at CU, the Cyclones still figure to challenge for the title under first-year coach Tim Floyd.
ISU has won at Iowa (76-63) and also defeated Wyoming (82-63) and Illinois State (88-71). The Cyclones have lost to CU (71-57) and Purdue (88-87).
"They have the most experienced team in the league. They have the most firepower returning," Williams said.
The Cyclones, who average 84.6 points a game, welcomed back three seniors who averaged 20 or more points a year ago.
Fred Hoiberg, a 6-4 guard/forward from Ames, averages 19.1 points and 5.4 boards. Julius Michalik, a 6-10 forward from Slovakia, averages 16 points and 6.3 boards. And 6-10 center Loren Meyer contributes 16.6 points and 8.6 boards.
"They've got three guys who can get you 20 any night," Williams said. "It's not a three-man team by any means, but in basketball, you only play five at a time. If three are really outstanding, it usually is a good deal."
Derrick Hayes, a 6-3 sophomore, starts at shooting guard, while 5-11 soph Jason Kimbrough splits time at the point with Jacy Holloway, a 6-0 sophomore from McPherson.
Holloway contributes under two points a game.
"I look and see Jacy has 79 assists and 19 turnovers. That catches your eye. It's a good ratio," Williams said.
The Cyclones appear to have adjusted to the coaching change. Johnny Orr retired after last season and was replaced by Floyd, who led New Orleans to a 127-58 record in six years.
"Johnny gave 'em a lot of confidence on the offensive end of the floor and made them feel good about what they were doing," Williams said. "Tim puts greater emphasis on the defensive end. It's been a heck of a combination."