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KU men's basketball straw poll: Jayhawks give opinions on current team

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During media day sessions in the last two weeks, I was able to talk to all 15 Kansas men's basketball players to ask their opinions for an anonymous poll. Players were not allowed to vote for themselves.

Here are the results (and a special thanks to Nick Nelson for making the graphs look really nice):

Question: Who is the best offensive player?

Thoughts: This surprised me quite a bit, as I was actually expecting Thomas Robinson to win in a landslide. This shows the respect that teammates have for Taylor's ability to drive and score. The fact that Elijah Johnson snagged a couple votes also could be a positive sign for KU in 2011-12.

Question: Who is the best defensive player?

Thoughts: Releford should have the chance to thrive this year, and he has the length and quickness to become one of the best perimeter defenders in the league. KU coach Bill Self just has to hope that injuries don't force Releford into the post. If Robinson or Withey were to go down with an injury, Releford would quickly become one of KU's only options left to play inside, a role he accepted last season because of KU's depth. The hope, of course, will be that everyone stays healthy, and Releford is allowed to thrive on the wing.

Question: Who is the best newcomer?

(Thirteen of the 15 players were interviewed on Oct. 13 when both Jamari Traylor and Ben McLemore were still expected to play.)

Thoughts: This illustrates how big of a blow KU suffered when McLemore was ruled a partial qualifier by the NCAA. Like Self often says, no one will be feeling sorry for KU, but B-Mac appeared to be set to play major minutes this season.

Young will be an important player for KU, as the Jayhawks desperately need depth in the post. Tharpe, meanwhile, appears to be in the Aaron Miles mold as a pass-first point guard.

Question: Who is the best leader?

Thoughts: I was surprised by the results on this question as well. I expected a few more Robinsons and Teahans, but this just shows that this is Taylor's team.

This year, the Jayhawks are relying more on Taylor than ever, and because of that, they can't afford a silly suspension or off-the-court antics from him. My gut tells me that this will be the year where he keeps himself out of trouble and plays every game for KU.

Question: If you couldn't play for KU, which Big 12 school would you most want to play for?

Thoughts: Though I tried to get responses from every player, a few said they wouldn't be in the Big 12 if they didn't play at KU. I was mostly just asking to see which Big 12 school the players most respected, and, not too surprisingly, Texas was at the top of the list.

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