As the Billy Preston saga wrapped up in February someone posted the following list of how KU’s recent top front court recruits had performed in the NCAA tournament their freshman year:
2014 – Joel Embiid played 0 minutes in two games due to injury.
2015 – Cliff Alexander played 0 minutes in two games due to eligibility issues.
2016 – Cheick Diallo played 7 minutes and scored 9 points in a first round win over Austin Peay. He played zero minutes in the remaining three games due to coach’s decisions.
2017 – Udoka Azubuike played 0 minutes in four games due to injury.
2018 – Billy Preston will play 0 minutes due to eligibility issues.
Clearly the Hoops Gods are upset with KU about something. Maybe it because the Jayhawks keep winning the Big 12 despite the Gods’ best efforts and this is the punishment earned for that offense. But, seriously, come up with a new trick, fools.
I think a lot of KU fans looked at that list, shook their heads, had a few “What if so and so played…” thoughts, but then said, “Well, at least we’ll have Big Doke this year.” Hahaha!
The Hoops Gods were not done with the Jayhawks, though.
Azubuike will miss this weekend’s Big 12 tournament because of a partially torn MCL suffered in practice. There is a chance that he’ll be ready to play next weekend in the NCAA tournament, but even if he’s on the court he won’t be at full strength.
This weekend isn’t an issue. I’m fine with KU losing early in Kansas City to, hopefully, fall off the #1 Seed line. I still don’t think this team has a deep NCAA run in them, and losing to a lower seed as a two rather than a one will hurt approximately 13% less.
KU should be able to get through their first round game without Doke, or with him playing limited minutes. Mitch Lightfoot should matchup reasonably well with a big man from a 15/16 team if he can stay out of foul trouble. I think it’s a lot to ask Silvio De Sousa to match his performance against Oklahoma two weeks ago, but getting 15 solid minutes out of him would be huge.
Playing the second round without Doke is frightening. That will likely be a decent team from a Power 5 conference. Even if they don’t have a stud center, they might have a few 6’9”+ guys they can roll out to wear down Lightfoot and De Sousa. I’m already having terrible visions of KU trailing an eight seed by seven points midway through the second half with a lineup of five guards on the court because Mitch has four fouls and Silvio has already fouled out.
March is just the worst.