There was no time for a full Friday Playlist, but there is time for some words about the Jayhawks.
Thursday’s game against Stony Brook was about what you expect this time of year. KU – especially David McCormack – was sloppy early; they struggled to guard a smaller, faster team; and generally muddled through the first 20–25 minutes. Then Ochai Agbaji caught fire and scored 10 straight points, the rest of the team relaxed, and a 20+ point run put the game away.
My big thought from last night regards Remy Martin. We are three games into the season and KU Twitter loves losing its shit when it looks like Remy is uncomfortable or deferring too much. Last night’s performance comes with a big asterisk: he is apparently fighting a minor back injury that flared up during the game and kept him on the bench most of the last 15 minutes of the night.
That said, I have a theory about Remy. I’m not sure if it holds much water, but here it is.
Three years ago Malik Newman was the hotshot, pure scorer who had transferred in and was supposed to make a huge impact. That was eventually true, but it took Malik a loooong time to get comfortable. He played so poorly during one stretch in early January that some of us were suggesting he should get benched.
In February he finally started to get comfortable and in March he ignited. He shot about as pure as you can shoot the ball on his way to being the Big 12 Tournament MOP. He famously almost single-handedly destroyed Duke in the Elite 8.
Their situations are obviously very different – Remy is a super senior, Malik was a redshirt sophomore; Malik sat out a transfer year, Remy arrived on campus in August – but I think we can learn a little about Remy by recalling what Malik went through. Remy, too, is finding his way. The nation’s leading scorer is playing next to him, and while he might be deferring to Agbaji a little too much, that is pretty smart basketball.
Assuming his back injury remains minor and does not linger, I think he will continue to have growing pains for the next six-to-eight weeks. With Jalen Wilson re-joining the rotation next week that will add another wrinkle to the acclimation process. But Remy will figure it out. He will eventually have games where he is gunning and scores 25+. Those will be balanced with plenty of games where he scores 10–15 points but has 5–6–7 assists. And with him and Agbaji both high-confidence scorers, it gives KU terrific options late in the shot clock or in close games.
I know some folks wanted Remy to come in and just go off. He came to KU to win, though. And he’s on the path to figuring out the best way to make sure his talents are focused on team success rather than his numbers.