Today I begin a new series. After most KU basketball games, I will do a brief collection of thoughts.[1] My goal is to keep these in the 500-word range, although exceptional performances may require more than that.

The season opener went from concerning to a snoozer. KU could not shake Michigan State early, but a 9–1 run to end the first half and Ochai Agbaji taking over in the second half made the last 10 minutes of the game kind of boring.

Agbaji was obviously the star. Without Jalen Wilson and with several other guys having off nights, the senior took over. He was efficient, confident, and clearly the best player on the court. He scored from everywhere. He played solid D. Because of KU’s depth, that won’t be expected every night. But it’s great to know he can do it.

Remy Martin is going to be one of the most interesting KU players to follow in awhile. He’s still fighting to find his role and comfort in the system, as his zero shots/zero points first half showed. He sat for a long stretch late in the half, too. And then he came out and scored 15 points and grabbed 6 rebounds in the second half. I think the entire season will be like that, always feast or famine. When he’s on, he and Ochai next to each other are going to be a serious problem for KU’s opponents. When he’s off, he may sit long stretches on the bench.

I was thrilled with the freshmen. Zach Clemence looked confident offensively and made a couple heady plays on defense. It made sense that Cam Martin announced he’s redshirting; Zach can play. After suffering an ankle injury in the offseason, I wondered if Bobby Pettiford might redshirt. But that kid has to be in the rotation. He’s been compared to Frank Mason III. He looks ahead of Mason at the same point. And KJ Adams, who is loaded with potential, made several high IQ plays in his limited minutes. Even if these guys are deep in the rotation, they show that the future is bright at KU.

Concerns from the night? I think KU would have done well to grab a long, twitchy inside player from the transfer portal. Long teams may give them fits again. It’s one night, but Joseph Yesufu seems like the odd man out in the backcourt. Which is a surprise because he was viewed as a starter much of the summer. I think he, Pettiford, and DaJuan Harris will have ebbs and flows all year where they take each other’s minutes. For all the talk of his great summer, Christian Braun looked terrible in the first half. He was better in the second half but he has to provide something on offense to deserve starter’s minutes.

Michigan State isn’t a classic MSU team at the moment, but it was still good to seize control of the game and win going away. Nine turnovers with a bunch of new guys playing serious minutes against a solid defensive team was a great boxscore note.

  1. Exceptions will be when we travel or when I’m not able to watch the game live.  ↩