Editor's note: This is the first in a series of columns in which Journal-World assistant sports editor Gary Bedore answers questions about Kansas University men's basketball.
Hi again. I was going to say it's nice to pen this Q-and-A session during baseball season -- Opening Day is THE No. 1 day of the year, you know -- but baseball season already appears to be over around here.
The once-proud Royals are off to one of the most horrific, embarrassing starts in Kansas City-area sports history.
If this is the best product major league baseball can give to Kansas City -- the MLB's monetary inequities have turned the Royals into I-70 roadkill -- maybe the team actually should be contracted.
Baseball in Kansas City used to be like NFL football in Kansas City, competitive and exciting.
Now it is a virtual disgrace. To be so many games out this early in the season is ... wait ... I said "early in the season." The season is over!
On that note, here are your Q's and my A's regarding Kansas University men's basketball, which, unlike baseball, is in the news around here virtually all year long.
Q: Nick Bahe is one of my favorite players. Why is he leaving KU?
A: He actually is one of my favorite players, too.
One good thing about covering KU basketball is that it is SOOOOO big, even the walk-ons get covered heavily.
Thus, media members like me get to know guys like the seldom-used Bahe, who is -- I guess I should say was -- one of the most likable players on the squad.
Bahe is leaving because he has discovered, after playing two years here, that he has the ability to log significant minutes at a mid-major school.
So he's off to Creighton University, where he should fit in nicely as one of the Blue Jays' three-point bombers.
Nick could have stuck around here and continued to help the team out at practice and played mop-up minutes in games -- there's nothing wrong with that role; a lot of guys would give anything to have that role on KU's team -- but Nick's goals are to get back on the court and be a factor in games like he was in high school.
Q: Who do you think will win the Big 12 Conference and the NCAA title next year?
A: It's early, but I'd have to go with Duke for the NCAA title and Missouri for the Big 12 title.
Relax ... just kidding on Mizzou.
I can't even come up with the Big 12 winner. Oklahoma and Texas are the popular choices, but I don't know 'bout that. I'll tap Iowa State No. 1 if Curtis Stinson stays in school. Look for the league champ to have four to six losses.
Q: I am trying to find a Scot Pollard Kansas University jersey. Do you have any local contacts to get one? I want to pick up two. Huge Indiana Pacers fans in Cincinnati are looking.
A: Unfortunately, I can't help you.
I do not know how you can get a KU Scot Pollard jersey. It's been awhile now since the zany Indiana Pacers' forward played here.
You might check eBay or post something on one of the many fan message boards -- kusports.com's message board should work.
Fans sometimes have such items for sale.
I'm sure there are a lot of Pollard jerseys floating around out there, probably some picking up dust in somebody's closet, so give that a shot.
Q: Do you think KU switching from Nike to adidas will hurt the basketball program? A lot of recruits like to wear Nike, don't they?
A: True, a lot of preps prefer Nike shoes over the other brands.
I can't imagine love of Nike versus adidas being a deal-breaker in recruiting, although I guess it's possible. Anything's possible in recruiting.
Remember, it's a free country. KU's players can wear whatever brand of shoes they want going to class and walking downtown.
They just must wear adidas at practice and on game day in front of the national TV cameras.
Frankly, if a kid doesn't want to come to KU because of the brand of free shoes he's wearing, I would think he's got some other issues and might be better off elsewhere, anyway.
Q: What did you think of the performance of Downs, Chalmers and Wright in the all-star games?
A: I was quite impressed with the Talented Trio.
Julian Wright exudes excitement. He's long, wiry and sure can run the floor. In the Nike Summit, he twice caught baseball passes and glided in for impressive dunks.
He's not known for his outside shot, but he did hit a mid-range jumper or two during the games I watched.
I thought Mario Chalmers played great in the McDonald's game.
He looks like he's the real deal at point guard. In the old days, you could pencil Mario in for four years, and he'd probably accomplish as much as Vaughn, Miles, Hinrich, etc. But in this day and age, I guess KU would be lucky to have him run the point a year or two before the NBA beckons.
Then there's Micah Downs.
He didn't get to play much in the McDucks game, but while in there he hit a long, long NBA-range three-pointer.
It sure looks as if he has the outside stroke. But so did Alex Galindo. The question is: Will Micah buy into major-college basketball and come to play defense as well as offense?
He definitely has some talent, no question about that. He's going to be able to stretch the defense as long as he's willing to play defense and earn himself some playing time. You've got to do more than shoot to play for Bill Self.
Q: I'm doing a speech on KU basketball 2005-2006, and I wanted to know how far do you think the team will go this year? How good will they hold up against highly ranked teams? Do you think that the team this year will be a better team than last year? Who do you think will be the leader or the key player or players? Please e-mail me back as soon as possible -- the speech is six days from now!
A: I'll help you out a bit, but if you get an A on the speech, you owe me a gift certificate to my favorite downtown coffeehouse.
That said ... I think the 2005-06 KU team will be the type of squad that improves as the season goes along.
The '05-'06 Jayhawks might struggle early because of the loss of top players Keith Langford, Wayne Simien, Aaron Miles and Mike Lee. Those guys could be counted on for a lot of points, rebounds and assists. They will be missed.
It certainly will take awhile for the three incoming McDonald's All-Americans to mix and match with all the returnees. It will be a very, very young, inexperienced team.
For that reason alone, I'd say the Jayhawks will be picked to place third or fourth in the Big 12 and probably be in line for a No. 5 or 6 seed, maybe even a 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament when all is said and done. It's the type of team that could drop double-digit games.
I didn't say will drop double-digit games; I said "could" drop double-digit games.
While the squad doesn't figure to win the regular-season league title, it might be the type to catch fire late and win the Big 12 tournament and make a mad dash in the Big Dance.
As far as leaders ... senior Christian Moody probably will be the team leader, along with whomever emerges as the point guard -- Russell Robinson or Mario Chalmers.
J.R. Giddens will need to mature and lead, also.
In fact, much of the team's success will hinge on how Giddens plays. A breakout year for Giddens would help offset some of those senior losses.
If J.R. doesn't turn into a poor-man's version of Paul Pierce next season, KU could be in trouble. He simply has to break out and show the potential that once had NBA scouts drooling.
The development of the freshmen and the development of C.J. Giles and Sasha Kaun will be vital if the Jayhawks hope to make something memorable out of what, on paper, is a rebuilding season.
Good luck with your speech!