Two technical aspects of college basketball keep bugging me as speculation broadens about next season and how Kansas fits into the 2011 Big 12 picture.
One item goes clear back to the Kansas-Missouri game at Columbia on March 6. KU’s Marcus Morris had a violent cranial collision with an “officials” table that looked as if it would gong him into the next century. Was the table too close to the combat court, and if so, was it as fully padded as it must be? If the answer is affirmative, no problem. If not, MU and every other school with tables in similar positions should get out the foam or something even friendlier to human body parts and provide the right protection. That one blow could have left Marcus addled for life. He and every player in any gym needs to be fully protected.
The second issue is whether KU can somehow provide handrailings in the aisles of Allen Fieldhouse. You don’t have to be a Mikhail Baryshnikov to get up and down those steps with ease or security, but it would sure help. I notice most all the first-class arenas featured during the NCAA Tournament had the railings, particularly the final setting in Indianapolis. Thing is, KU might lose a few revenue-producing seats to install solid railings, but the fear and misery eliminated could do wonders for the more feeble and unstable among us. Doubt the need? Ask some acquaintances if they have stopped coming to games because of the aisle perils, or that they dread another sortie into the Phog because of them. And a lot of such sources are not really old.
As for the KU team that will be sashaying around in no-railing AFH next season, I think it’s being blindly downrated in favor of the likes of nouveau riche Kansas State, Baylor and even rebuilding Missouri. Even with Cole Aldrich, Sherron Collins and Xavier Henry gone, I’m asking, “Who dat team gonna beat our Hawks?” Even if KU doesn’t add one other prospect to the roster. Indications are, coach Bill Self is about to sign some savior to take over the point guard slot, a la Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans or John Wall. Note: Don’t shortchange viable candidates already in the stable. If there are no additions whatever, Kansas should be a contender not only for Big 12 but national honors.
Self put too much on Sherron Collins’ plate, and he wasn’t able to digest it suitably at crunch time. He’s a senior and done. I’m thinking whoever takes over the quarterbacking duties could do the team more good than Collins in his stretch-run slump. Sherron may struggle to stick in the NBA.
KU has the Morris twins, Jeff Withey, Thomas Robinson, Elijah Johnson, Tyrel Reed, Brady Morningstar, Tyshawn Taylor, Mario Little, Travis Releford and C.J. Henry due back, and if Self can’t fashion a major winner from that package, he should take a pay cut. Two star recruits could put more icing on that tasty holdover cake.
Sure, the league will be tough, but KU has the potential for another Top-10 status, and maybe a better chance to survive and advance in the NCAA Tourney without the Collins-Aldrich-Henry stay-or-go distractions.
This year’s erratic, lag-lag-lag-tie-then-lose team never got as steady and cohesive as next year’s might well do. Low-key KU tried to mail in the Northern Iowa victory, but UNI hijacked the postal truck.