Now that the Big 12 basketball season is over, we will take a look back at all of the conference teams to see where they were, and where they’re going. Today we’ll look at the Kansas Jayhawks.
2010-11 Record: 35-3
Big 12 Conference Record (standing): 14-2 (1)
Our Preseason Predictions:
Joe: 1st in the Big 12
Evan: 2nd in the Big 12
Matt: 4th in the Big 12
Season MVP: Marcus Morris (Junior)
Marcus Morris was one of the most efficient players in the country this year. He shot over 60% from two (though his three point percentage tailed off to a slightly subpar 34.2% by the end of the year) and almost never turned the ball over. Morris averaged 17.2 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. Morris led a brutally efficient Jayhawk offensive attack that probably highlighted the prettiest offense in the country. A lot credit for Kansas' offensive efficiency should be given to Morris and his twin brother Markieff, as both brothers were able to spread the floor effectively and score almost automatically when they got the ball inside 12 feet. For his outstanding play, Morris was selected to the 2nd AP All-American team.
It was another bittersweet ending in Lawrence this year. Kansas was clearly one of the top two teams in the country (jockeying with Ohio State for the top spot) this year and showcased impressive depth that led it to blitz through the regular season (falling once to a peaking Texas defense and once to a motivated K-State team in Manhattan). Likewise the Jayhawks cruised through the Big 12 Tournament, with their only close game coming in the second round. Unfortunately for Kansas, the Elite Eight was as far as the Jayhawks would make it before running into a VCU team sporting a date with destiny. The VCU game was tough to watch, as Kansas produced its lowest point per possession total on the season thanks to an effective field goal percentage of 37.1% (Kansas led the country in effective field goal percentage on the season, coming in at a red-hot 57.0%). It seems like people have been quick to blame Bill Self for the early exit (and several recent "underachieving" teams since the 2008 National Championship), but I'd like to point out two things: (1) without Self's recruiting and coaching Kansas wouldn't be in the position to make an early exit (one man's garbage is another man's dream); (2) this year's game was a combination of a statistical aberration (probably on both sides of the court to tell you the truth) and the Jayhawks just didn't have that leader who could takeover when things weren't going right. In some sense, Marcus Morris is a perfect reflection of this team: super talented but just missing a few of the intangibles.
The first point is pretty self explanatory. Remember, Kansas lost Sherron Collins, Cole Aldrich and Xavier Henry from last year's squad and put up a nearly identical season. That's impressive. The second point probably deserves a story of its own. For now, I'll keep it short. VCU played its best basketball of the season in the tournament (until the Butler game), and it wasn't even close. Jamie Skeen, Bradford Burgess and Joey Rodriguez played the best basketball of their careers. And the Kansas game might have been their finest showing. After the Jayhawks jumped out to a 6-0 lead (the moment where all of America pretty much called the game a blowout, despite it being the first five minutes), the Rams came storming back. Never intimidated, VCU played like the better team the rest of the way. Kansas clearly got frazzled (especially in the second half when it couldn't quite get over the hump and take the lead), never having that player who could be counted on to make a big play when it counted. Instead the team fell in love with threes that weren't falling and struggled with turnovers. Definitely, give credit to VCU for playing extraordinarily well, forcing the Jayhawks to take threes and never looking back. But don't put all the blame on Bill Self for not having "the guy" on a team as deep and as talented as this one.
See our schedule for Season Recaps after The Jump
Tuesday, April 5 Baylor Season Recap
Wednesday, April 6 Colorado Season Recap
Friday, April 8 Iowa State Season Recap
Monday, April 11 Kansas Season Recap
Tuesday, April 12 K-State Season Recap
Wednesday, April 13 Mizzou Season Recap
Thursday, April 14 Nebraska Season Recap
Friday, April 15 Oklahoma Season Recap
Monday, April 18 Oklahoma State Season Recap
Tuesday, April 19 Texas Tech Season Recap
Wednesday, April 20 Texas A&M Season Recap
Thursday, April 21 Texas Season Recap