It would be nice to say a dizzying three months of roster flux at Kansas came to an end Tuesday when Ochai Agbaji and Remy Martin both announced they were pulling their names from the NBA draft list and would be playing as Jayhawks in the coming season. But given how crazy college hoops is at the moment, can we be sure anything is locked in?
For the sake of discussion, let’s assume there will be no more roster changes between now and when KU plays Michigan State in November’s Champions Classic.
I just surprised myself by being able to immediately name all 14 players who are currently under scholarship to play next season. I figured I would forget someone along the way. Which, honestly, is probably the second biggest story for the coming year: some kids are going to get forgotten.
We’ll get to that in a moment. The biggest story, obviously, is that KU’s likely starting lineup is pretty sick. Martin, Agbaji, Joseph Yesufu, Jalen Wilson, and David McCormack is a terrific top five with Christian Braun as a super sixth man.
Beyond those top six, there’s a backup for every spot on the floor. There is athleticism and length and shooting and defensive ability.
KU might be the deepest team in the country. At least on July 7, which if I’m correct, has zero bearing on games next November through March.
Lots of folks are super excited about this ultra-stacked lineup and already arguing that KU should be ranked no lower than #2.
Which is fine, I get it, and I, too, am excited about what’s to come in the ’21–22 season.
There will be plenty of time to go over potential starting lineups, what bench players get the most minutes, etc.
For now, though, what fascinates me most about this team is how Bill Self is handling all these bodies. How has he communicated with the guys already on the roster the thinking behind adding players. I’m sure DaJuan Harris wasn’t thrilled when Self brought in not one, not two, but three point guards.
What did he say to guys like Cam Martin and Yesufu, who committed in April/May when he brought in more transfers in June that added more competition to already limited playing time?
Most of all, how has worked with the incoming freshmen and their families to prevent a mass exodus by them next spring after they sit on the bench for an entire season? Baring a rash of serious injuries, Zach Clemence seems to be the only freshman who has any path to even limited minutes this year.
I’ve won about 800 fewer games than Self, but my advice to him would be to get guys like Ben McLemore and Travis Releford, who sat out seasons because of academics or choice and saw their games blossom during their year of practice but no play, talk to those young guys and explain how this year can greatly benefit them if they remain patient.
So here, in July, I’m far more interested in the psychological angle of how Self will keep an absolutely stacked KU roster together through six months together than how that group matches up with Michigan State, Kentucky, Missouri, Baylor, Texas, Alabama, and the other teams the Jayhawks will play during the 2021–22 season.
This has been a glorious few weeks for European sports, if you’re into that kind of thing. Theoretically, I am. Although in practice I have not watched as much as I should have.
In the European soccer championship, I watched a ton of early games but checked out last week when we had company. I tuned in for the final 10 minutes of extra time and penalties of Tuesday’s Italy-Spain semifinal. A treeeemendous atmosphere at Wembley Stadium, which seemed to be dominated by Italian fans.
Long time readers may recall that I’ve long been a fan of the Azzurri, so you would expect that I was happy with the win. Well, things have changed. One of Italy’s most notable players has made several either borderline or overt racist statements in recent years. While it’s not fair to damn the entire team for one player’s actions, he is a veteran and leader of the national team, and hasn’t gotten a lot of pushback from other Italian players for his comments.
So I was rooting for Spain? Well, not exactly. Someone on Twitter, having a similar dilemma as me, pointed out the Spanish coach has also made blatantly racist comments.
Sad that these days if you are a neutral fan, it might come down to which team has the fewest racists on it.
I would imagine today’s game between England and Denmark will be spectacular, and an England-Italy final be truly over-the-top as English fans get to cheer on their perpetually disappointing squad in person. To win their first trophy since 1966 on home soil would be epic.
Once upon a time Wimbledon was appointment viewing for me. I can’t get into to it too much these days. Too few Americans, too many random players with Russian-sounding names that all kind of blend together to me.
I have been watching a bit of the Tour de France each day. But that, too, is difficult because I’m not sure who to pull for. It was easier when you just followed Lance Armstrong and slowly figured out the race by the coverage of his performance. Look at where that got me.
I’m sure I could still dive into the media surrounding the event and really get into it. It’s easier to just casually watch and enjoy the magnificent visuals.
Oh, and the British Open is next week. That I will be getting up early to watch.
Man, they suck. I watched a game a few weeks back, maybe the second week of June, which they pissed away in glorious fashion, and haven’t watched a game since. I didn’t expect them to contend this year, but I did expect better than what they’ve given us. The fact every young pitcher has either regressed or fallen on their face makes it hard to believe contention is a year or two away. Pitching coach Cal Eldred might need to go.
L and I have been watching moments of the playoffs, but rarely get locked in. It doesn’t help that so many games start relatively late for us in the Eastern time zone. We made it to halftime last night, watched a few minutes of the third quarter, and as Phoenix pulled away both bailed for bed. She wants the Suns to win, which I get since they are more fun to watch and loaded with great stories. I’d kind of like to see Giannis get a ring, but don’t have strong feelings for either team. I’d say I’m rooting for a great series, but when you can’t stay up to watch the whole game, what’s the point of even saying that?