It remains to be seen if juco transfer Jeff Graves can measure up to expectations for this year's Kansas basketball team. Will he force-condition himself to become the 6-foot-9, 275-pound package he's listed at in the Jayhawk media guide?
A current KU starting lineup would consist of Nick Collison, Wayne Simien, Kirk Hinrich, Keith Langford and Aaron Miles. But the emergence of Graves as an agile blunderbuss so he could join Collison and Simien, at 255 pounds each, for frontline duty would give Kansas quite a beef trust. We'll see.
Big problem is getting Graves beyond the stage where he orders a salad, they just sprinkle dressing on the Allen Fieldhouse lawn and say, "Graze!" KU can't afford his continuing as a Prince of Pork.
Miles has a potential point guard backup in Jeff (Jay) Hawkins and Langford has Michael Lee to step in as a shooting guard. Hinrich at "small forward" could benefit from help by a banger such as Graves could become.
If Jeff doesn't deliver, will 6-10, 215-pound freshman Moulaye Niang or 6-6, 205-pound Bryant Nash be up to the challenge?
Too frail? Nuts. If Hinrich at 6-3 and 190 physically can handle a No. 3 spot, so can the taller, heavier Niang and Bryant.
We keep hearing Niang is "too frail" to do much this year and needs to bulk up. That may be true, but bear in mind that one of the retired jerseys hanging on the fieldhouse wall belongs to B.H. Born.
Bert won all sorts of honors, including most valuable player in the 1953 NCAA tournament, at 6-9, 190 pounds. That was as a junior and I'll bet he never went beyond 205 at any time in college.
Born was broken in during practice for two years (freshman and sophomore) by the 6-9, 240-pound Monster of the Music Hall, Clyde Lovellette. When it came time for Bert to take charge, he faced hulkier dandies such as Washington's Bob Houbregs and Dean Parsons and Indiana's Don Schlundt, and never backed down an inch.
That "frail" battler from little Medicine Lodge logged the first documented triple-double in KU history in the title game against Indiana 26 points, 15 rebounds and 13 blocked shots. All this with a terrible cold and as the only KU starter over 6-2.
Bulk can be wonderful, and if Kansas can get mobility along with the bulk of Collison, Simien and Graves, all well and good. Maryland outmuscled the Jayhawks last spring with the likes of Lonny Baxter and Brandon Mouton. That might not work against this year's team if Graves comes around.
But you don't have to be a mastodon or behemoth, now or before. Danny Manning wasn't any massive monolith. If their skills are good, a la B.H. Born, and your "want-to" is intense enough, again like Born, you can excel.
If Graves, Niang, Nash or anyone else really want to contribute, they can, at 275 pounds or 210. Even being as massive as KU's Victor Mitchell (1981) won't cut it if you aren't good.
l Recently I cited the disparity between a lot of football coaches' salaries and those of college professors. The average grid assistant at Oklahoma makes $48,000 more a year than the average full professor. At Texas, that gap is $41,000; at Kansas it's about $20,000, something like $104,000 to $84,000.
That drew a detailed response from Thom Park, a Ph. D. adjunct associate professor at Florida State U. He played college ball, assistant-coached at Maryland, West Chester State, The Citadel and Connecticut and has served as contract agent and financial consultant for a number of sports celebrities.
He suggests that "the dollar compensation you used in your logic completely ignored the quantifiable qualitatives you ignored to reach your conclusions, so your article compared apples to oranges. Not good." Sounds like a Ph.D. sports agent to me, right?
Park has written a number of articles and has been featured in major forums about coaching salaries and benefits; he stresses that the towering salaries paid coaches amount to job insurance. One study has indicated the average Division 1 head coach's job tenure is only about three years.
He adds: "The profession suffers from lack of tenure, deficient pension portability and no real advocacy group that understands or cares about the career and vocational plight of the coach. High job turnover, real estate transaction costs and equity losses, broken pension vesting and relocation costs serve well to keep young coaches poor." Talk American, boy!
Granted, profs get tenure and don't have to parade their wares before 50,000 people regularly. And they're responsible for a whole lot of irresponsible kids. But dollars are dollars whether they're apple red or citric orange. A prof-assistant coach gap of $48,000?
Asserts Park, who considers Bobby Bowden's lifetime contract at FSU the right approach:
"People who assert coaches to be overpaid simply do not grasp the facts. The top 10 paid football coaches in America hardly approach the compensation of the top 100 of anything else, be they lawyers, doctors or businessmen. Moreover, when most professionals are hitting their stride at mid-life and the peak earning years, it is highly likely that most football coaches are retiring from the game or struggling to hold on. Considering all that they endure, the notion that coaches are overpaid is indeed a myth."
I know a lot of fellow profs who'd disagree with colleague Park, who's based in Tallahassee where the Seminoles roam.