How good is KU basketball??Good question
Ann Arbor, Mich. ? If not for an overtime in which Kansas University’s basketball team played like its confident, aggressive self, it might have been time to wonder just how good the Jayhawks are despite their undefeated record and No. 3 national ranking.
Some might still ask that question in the wake of Sunday’s 67-60 overtime victory in Crisler Arena against a young Michigan squad that can’t shoot straight.
After all, none of KU’s 15 victories has come against a team that now resides in the Top 25, and two of them came by a combined margin of three points against UCLA and USC teams that don’t beckon memories of the John Wooden/Bobby Boyd years.
Some will call the Jayhawks (15-0) overrated, but to do so would be to forget that Iowa and Minnesota both just gave No. 2 Ohio State fits.
This much is certain: Kansas wasn’t very good for the final 23 minutes of regulation, getting outscored 41-26 by the Wolverines (11-5).
The KU guards looked a little confused by Michigan’s 1-3-1 zone defense.
“We work a lot against the 1-3-1, and we meant to do different things than we did,” KU coach Bill Self said. “We reverted back and didn’t attack. Of course, we didn’t make shots, but certainly, that was about as bad as you can attack a zone.”
Kansas made just two of 20 three-point shots during regulation.
“A lot of it was them, and a lot of it was us,” Self said. “The more we missed and the tighter we got, the more compact their zone got, and we couldn’t play through our bigs as much.”
KU guards Tyshawn Taylor and Josh Selby have the quickness to blow by most guards checking them man-to-man. Experience tends to be as important as quickness working against zones, and Sherron Collins was a master at it by his senior year.
Neither Taylor nor Selby ran a college team until this year, and they’ll experience growing pains, particularly against zones.
It was a particularly trying day for Selby, who is so talented he sometimes makes it easy to forget he’s a teenager. He played like one Sunday and carried himself as a young player. As is the case with most freshmen, Selby’s body language tends to be more reflective of his own play than the team’s performance, as was evidenced by how disappointed he looked when the team had double-digit leads in the first half when he couldn’t find his shot.
Selby made one of 10 shots and one of seven three-pointers. Tyrel Reed didn’t shoot much better from long range, making two of nine, but did hit one in overtime.
KU will face zone defenses with increasing regularity, given how well it worked for Michigan, which is a good thing because the more experience the Jayhawks get, the better they’ll attack them. If it continues to rely on bombing away from long distance, KU will bury teams when it shoots well, underachieve when it doesn’t.
The Big 12 schedule awaits plenty of environments just as difficult as Michigan’s, an appealing one thanks to a spirited band that belts one of the coolest fight songs in the land and thanks to the seating of the students close to the court.
Far from an encouraging performance for KU, it still counts as a good win.