A couple flawed yet fairly easy wins after the Thanksgiving tournament for the Jayhawks. Now everyone can look ahead to Saturday’s game. Not me, though. Or at least not yet.
The last three games have brought a very nice and surprising development: Christian Braun is good. Really good. He struggled so much in the opener against Michigan State that I think a lot of us kind of wrote him off as just being a role player again this year. But he’s been scoring in a variety of ways, getting rebounds, making plays on defense, and moving the ball when needed on offense. He’s become an ideal counterpart for Ochai Agbaji, who just keeps pouring in 20 every game. As Jalen Wilson continues to struggle, Braun appears to be the player we thought Wilson would be. As long as CB is playing this well, there’s no urgency for Wilson to reclaim a starting spot or became the #2 option.
People on Twitter are still freaking out about Remy Martin. I watched him closely last night and two things stuck out. 1) He’s working hard to be a different guy than he was at Arizona State. He’s thinking pass-first every possession. Which, when you have Agbaji and Braun on the two wings isn’t a bad thing to do. I think he’ll swing back to the proper balance of shooting/looking for others. 2) His attitude seems great. He is usually smiling, doesn’t pout when Self gets on him, and is active in team celebrations.
I’m sticking by my Malik Newman comparison: he’s going to be fine and we’ll wonder what the worrying was about when February rolls around.
I had another thought about Remy last night. He is reminding me a little of Andrew Wiggins in his one year at KU.
When Wiggins made his recruiting visit, KU was playing an overmatched West Virginia squad. Self told his guards to throw lobs all day, whether they were open or not, to show Wiggs how the KU offense could be molded for his skill set. It worked, gloriously. KU got about 800 dunks in a blow-out win and Wiggins signed a couple months later.
But when he got to KU, Elijah Johnson, Travis Releford, and Ben McLemore were all gone. That left Naadir Tharpe as the only returning guard. And poor Naadir could not throw a lob to save his life. Only late in the year, when freshman Frank Mason III started getting more minutes, did KU find consistent success on lob plays to Wiggins. It felt like a waste.
I thought of that last night as Remy threw multiple sweet passes to David McCormack. One would have been the greatest pass in KU history, had McCormack not blown the layup. Poor David. After having a very solid game against St. John’s on Friday, he looked like trash again last night.
If only Remy had played with Udoka Azubuike, who caught everything you sent his way and then threw it down with authority. ESPN would have reserved a spot for the Remy dime for a Dok dunk in their Top 10 each day KU played. Alas, Remy is not playing with Dok.
Two of the next three games are against former Big 8 foes. That’s interesting…
- If BIFM had played more that year, would that have changed the course of that season? Maybe. The Joel Embiid injury was the biggest reason for the early tournament exit, but a more confident Frank could have steadied the ship against Stanford, and then maybe Jojo plays in the Sweet 16, and then… ↩