Unlike in this picturesque, sports-apathetic, western-most Big 12 outpost, where Colorado University's basketball team doesn't rate even an occasional daydream on the ski slopes, observers of Kansas University care deeply about their basketball team.
Everyone has an opinion on this rendition of Kansas hoops, just as in every season. Sometimes perceptions gain so much momentum, are repeated so often, and take such deep root they become outdated.
So with Kansas due to take the court against its polar opposite tonight, on the 11th anniversary of walk-on T.J. Whatley sparking the Jayhawks to a 15-point victory over Colorado, it's time to take stock of perceptions and weigh in with a true or a false.
1. Kansas remains a maddeningly inconsistent team.
No team plays to the same grade every night. Look at the outcomes of Tuesday night's Big 12 games. Plus, North Carolina lost to Virginia Tech for the second time this season.
Back when the Jayhawks were losing to Oral Roberts and DePaul, and even when they labored against Iowa State and in the first Missouri game, the inconsistent label fit. Now that Sherron Collins has become such a huge factor and made most teammates better, it doesn't fit. And if it doesn't fit, you must acquit.
2. This season's team isn't really any better than last season's.
Last year, when the offense stalled and an energizer was needed to pick up the pace, former walk-on Stephen Vinson was called upon. This year, it's Collins, a McDonald's All-American. In the past two games, Collins has averaged seven assists and one turnover.
3. There is a downside to having such balanced scoring because on the final possession no player is absolutely convinced he is the one who should be taking the shot.
Acie Law took it upon himself to take the game-tying, three-point shot Tuesday night for Texas A&M; and made it. Jarrius Jackson came right back down and won it for Texas Tech with a buzzer-beater.
Still, it shouldn't be a major problem for Kansas. The ball usually will be in Collins' hands, and he'll have a good feel for whether to shoot or feed someone with a high-percentage shot.
4. Since the emergence of Collins, everyone on the team has played better.
Most players have improved, most notably Brandon Rush, Julian Wright, Russell Robinson and Darnell Jackson. Collins speeds up the game, which isn't to Sasha Kaun's benefit. Also, because he makes so much happen when he drives and makes the defense collapse, it makes sense for Collins to dominate the ball more than any KU player has the past two seasons. That means less time with the ball for Mario Chalmers, who does his best defensive work off the ball and his best work on offense with it. In Big 12 play, Chalmers is hitting 41 percent of his shots and 33 percent of his three-pointers.
Against weak ballhandling teams, Chalmers and Robinson make a terrific backcourt, forcing turnovers that trigger the break. Look for Chalmers to have a big night against the hapless Buffaloes.