KU fans have put in their time suffering through the bulk of another football season. College basketball has finally arrived! The Jayhawks will take on Michigan State at Madison Square Garden tonight to kick off the hoops season.

I think this is going to be a very interesting and important year for KU.

Like most of the college hoops world, the Jayhawks took advantage of the relaxed transfer/eligibility rules and plugged a number of holes on their roster. Perhaps as much as any program, KU hit the Fast Forward button and brought in talent that would have normally taken a couple recruiting cycles to get to campus. That means established players like Ochai Agbaji, David McCormack, Christian Braun, and Jalen Wilson (when eligible) will be joined by dudes with experience rather than freshmen you hope figure things out by March.

Will it work? Can all these new guys fit in with the returning players, pick up on Bill Self’s system quickly, and mesh into a team that has the potential to be really, really good if everything works? Or are there too many egos, not enough playing time, and too compressed of a window to get them on the same page for it to work?

I was mega-pumped for this season when Remy Martin, the final transfer, was added in mid-summer.

I’m am now a little more reserved in my expectations for this year. It’s not because I doubt Remy’s ability, or any of the other newcomers who are expected to play major minutes. It’s more that I keep thinking back to the 2018–19 season, when Self was also relying on several transfers to fill key roles, most notably Dedric Lawson. Lawson was a hell of a player, but I don’t think he was ever a great fit with the guys around him. His slow-down, pound-the-ball big man game was about the worst possible match for Devon Dotson, maybe the fastest point guard KU has ever had.

But, as I remind myself, that season didn’t fall apart because of Lawson. It fell apart because Udoka Azubuike had a season-ending injury in early January and LaGerald Vick, the team’s only real shooter, left the team around the same time. It was the other transfers – KJ Lawson and Charlie Moore – who never blossomed into rotation players and left the team lacking in playmakers and shooters.

A do worry some that Martin and the other newcomers, who all got their first taste of Self’s system over the summer rather than the normal redshirt transfer year, will be able to play freely and not have to think about where they’re supposed to be and what they’re supposed to be doing.

Yet I think it probably ends up working out ok. There’s almost too much talent for it not to. It could take awhile for them to look good doing it, though, with an ugly loss here or there because Remy shoots 2–18 or the offense breaks down late in a close game because the new guys and the old guys are trying to do different things.

I don’t think this team has a bunch of future NBA stars. Ochai Agbaji seems like a rotation guy in the right situation at the next level. Freshman KJ Adams has the body of an NBA player and oozes potential, but he’s not likely to play much this year. What KU does have is a lot of really good college players, and a lot of guys behind them who will likely turn into really good college players before their careers are over. The talent is there.

That’s the interesting part.

As for the important part, sometime between now and next fall, the NCAA will finally rule on their investigation into KU’s relationship with Adidas. Most indications point to it happening after this season ends. Which means this could be the final year that KU plays without being affected by any penalties for the foreseeable future.

In a KU newsletter I receive the author suggested that Bill Self will not fuck around this year. I took that to mean not just that Self knows he will only have Remy, Ochai, and McCormack together for a single year and has to capitalize. It also means that this time next year, Self could very well not be the KU coach, or could be coaching under severe restrictions on his recruiting and postseason opportunities.

To me, that line meant this could very well be Bill Self’s last shot at a second national title, and he is not going to waste time dealing with dickheads who won’t curb their egos, with guys who get lost on defense, or with any other headaches. His short leash will be shorter than normal, and kids that don’t perform will spend most of their time on the bench.

A year from now the KU basketball program could be in a very different place than it is today, or really has been since Larry Brown arrived on campus in 1983.

I’m probably being too nit-picky, too critical of the potential flaws of this year’s squad. They are LOADED with talent. They have athletes and shooters and bigs. They have multiple guards who can initiate the offense. The bulk of the roster can play at least three different spots on the court. They have experience. They have protection against injuries at most positions. They have guys who may play zero minutes this year who will be pushing the rotation guys in practice every day.

Every team has weaknesses. Later tonight I may be grousing about ones I never thought of that Michigan State exposes. For the moment, though, KU fans should relax and get excited about a team that has a great chance to add to the banners in Allen Fieldhouse.

Rock Chalk, bitches.