Talk hoops all year long in Luke Winn's blog, a journal of commentary, news and reader-driven discussions about the college game.
10/11/2006 01:26:00 AM
The Supergroup In Kansas (And By That, We Don't Mean The Leftoverture Guys)
Brandon Rush spent his offseason focusing on weight training to aid his explosiveness.
Nearly all of the best bands have broken up. At Villanova, Randy Foye, Kyle Lowry, and Allan Ray are all gone to the NBA, leaving Mike Nardi as a lonely leftover. Veteran point-men have departed from UCLA, Tennessee, UConn and George Mason, leaving varying degrees of offensive uncertainty in their wake. As I was compiling my Power Rankings for the end of this week, weighing the various teams, it became clear that at only one place in the country does a truly great backcourt reside:
Maybe that's a blasphemous statement if you're a fan of UNC, Memphis, UCLA, Arizona, Marquette, Hofstra, Creighton, Southern Illinois and a few others ... but no team stacks up with the sheer volume of talent the Jayhawks have at the guard position: three returning standouts -- Russell Robinson, Mario Chalmers and Brandon Rush -- and one incoming McDonald's All-American, Sherron Collins. The real question is, how will they coexist?
For the answer, the Blog went straight to the source: coach Bill Self, who talked to us three days before he'll unveil his loaded squad in Late Night at the Phog. In the same vein as the "New Identities" series from September, here's what was gleaned:
• Self has no intention of becoming this year's Villanova. He said he intends to get all four guards 25 minutes per game, but would only consider playing them all at once to maintain a late-game lead by protecting the ball. He simply has too many quality big men -- Julian Wright, Darrell Arthur, Darnell Jackson, C.J. Giles and Sasha Kaun -- to keep them off the floor.
The possibility of using Robinson (at 6-foot-1), Chalmers (6-1) and Collins (5-11) together on the perimeter, though, has crossed his mind -- but it hinges on a situation outside the backcourt: "We'll play small at times," Self said, "but a lot of it will depend on who emerges as Brandon Rush's backup [at the three]. I'd like for Julian to become more of a wing guy for us, but more than likely he'll start at the four."
If Wright remains a power forward, we could see Mount Oread's version of the Three Musketeers.
• Robinson may be the least dangerous scorer in the quartet, but he's the leader of the Jayhawks. "Russell is the pulse of the team," said Self. "Especially with the intangibles: He's the toughest, most consistent worker, and he's as focused as anybody. He's the best initiator of the offense, and the best at getting in the paint and making things happen." Self also called Robinson his team's top perimeter defender, and while Chalmers may have had more steals (89) than Robinson (76), the two fed off of each other so much that Robinson's ball-hawking often resulted in thefts by Chalmers.
• Collins will be ready to contribute from Day 1. "He's such a fast study that I think he'll have an impact right out of the chute," Self said of the freshman guard. However, even though Collins was a 30-point scorer last year in high school, expect him to rein that in and serve more as a pure point guard this season. "Sherron is the best guy we have in our program right now as far as getting other players shots off the dribble," Self said. "Russell is good, but Sherron is the best guard we've had at it."
As long as Collins is steady in relief of Robinson, Chalmers -- who's a combo guard by definition -- won't have to play much point. Which is fine by Self, who defines the Alaska product as "a natural scorer who's become a pretty good shooter -- and likes to have the ball in the clutch."
• Last, and perhaps most obvious: No matter what happens, Brandon Rush should remain KU's leading scorer. He averaged a team-best 13.5 points as a freshman, shooting 47.2 percent on 3s, and although he was already a well-built guard, he focused his offseason weight training on becoming more explosive. Still, Self assured that "we're not going to have a team where anybody scores 18 a game -- it's going to be different guys stepping up on different nights."
For now, it seems like a dangerous formula for opposing defenses. And according to Self, everyone is happy on the eve of the official beginning of full-team workouts. "There's always good chemistry in practice," he said. "Because then, you can get 10 guys on the floor."
Readers, does Kansas really have the nation's No. 1 backcourt? Sound off in the comments section.
I'm not sure KU has the best backcourt in the country, but I do know they have a pretty darn good one. As a student at KU (who's gone to every game in the past two years) it is evident that RussRob is the man when it is time to lock someone down. He may not shoot lights out, but he always makes the other team work for points. Brandon Rush is just about as dominant of a three I remember watching at KU since Paul Pierce. Mario got better at the end of the year and by March, was the team MVP. This Jayhawks squad is loaded for bear.
The group is world class on paper. Collins has some learning to do, Chalmers needs to avoid a "sophomore slump", Robinson can still be more aggressive, and Rush needs to put a full season together. If 2 or 3 of those things happen, they may be the best bunch.--Kansas fan.
yeah i think they have the best back court on the land, if they can have any consistent play from the big men the guards will be able to open things up, with the addition of the athletic Darrel"Slim Shady" Arthur I see big things for these Hawks
Can I get an article on the best frontcourt in the country at Georgetown? Roy Hibbert, Jeff Green, Pat Ewing Jr., the freshman All-American in Vernon Macklin and another top rated freshman forward in Summers. No group in the country can match up and a dominant frontcourt will always beat a dominant backcourt.
KU's backcourt is outstanding, and Collins is going to be the pure PG that they've been missing, but don't forget about UNC's backcourt with former McDonald's All American Bobby Frasor, Quentin Thomas, and Wes Miller combining with the top rated PG and SG coming out of high school in Tywon Lawson and Wayne Ellington.
Kansas should have the best backcourt in the nation the year Kansas lost to syracuse in the ncaa championship they had a great team this year they can even be better than that team. If everyone stays healthy and not get into trouble heck no one can stop them
This may be the year Jayhawk fans have waited for a long time... Not only is this the best backcoI court in the nation, but also the best team! KU better produce this year, I don't see some of these guys hanging around too long in Lawrence.
Without a doubt in my mind, KU has the best backcourt. I have watched every KU game over the last few years. I have watched Robinson develop from very streaky to the leader of the team. Rush looks lost sometimes, but is still very smooth. Chalmers is a beast on the perimeter. Can't judge the freshmen yet. However, having the best backcourt doesn't make them the best team though.
KU had possibly the best backcourt in the nation last year (minus Collins, add Hawkins) and some years before that (Aaron Miles and Keith Langford). I just don't know, for now, if Bill Self can win in the Big Dance.
Georgetown has the best frontcourt? Are you forgetting about the Gators, with Noah, Horford, Richard, and co.? Please. The Gators frontcourt dominated Georgetown last year, and I would be willing to put them up against any other frontcourt in the Nation.
I have watched every KU game for the past three years and I have to say this: KU has the best backcourt in the country and it just got better with Sherron Collins. I will enjoy watching the ballhawking Jayhawks getting up and down the court this season. The basketball gods knew something special could happen when they put this team together on the court.
Keep in mind, Bill Self has taken three separate teams to the Elite Eight. Three separate teams. And he's a young guy. Mr. Self has no problem coaching in March. But I can't even think about March yet. With their depth, athleticism, and interchangeability at just about every position, Kansas might be the most exciting team in the country to watch this year. Oh, and not to mention they'll be a classic, shut-down Bill Self defensive team. So sit back and enjoy the show!! I know I will
KU may end up with the best backcourt, but I am more than happy with UNC's. Bobby Frasor was excellent last year as a Frosh PG, and Jr. transfer Wes Miller emerged as a major 3 point threat and surprisingly tough defender at WG. Frosh WG Wayne Ellington and Frosh PG Tywon Lawson will give the Heels backcourt depth equal to that of KU. And like Self, ole Roy has far too much frontcourt talent to play more than 3 of those Gs at a time.
KU has always been my favorite team and I'm jacked for the upcoming season, especially the game vs. Florida. Florida easily has the best frontcourt, KU easily has the best backcourt, and I think KU edges out Florida when it comes to depth. HOWEVER, we all saw what having 10 superstars on one team means, NOTHING (that means YOU Connecticut). Chemistry is the most important thing in basketball. Oh man I'm peeing my pants just talking about this, ROCK CHALK JAYHAWK!!!
On paper I would have to agree with the Jayhawks having the best backcourt in the nation, but all in all I would give the nod to the Heels due to their depth at every backcourt position and now bringing in Ellington and Lawson. Those two bring a new dimension to what was an already pretty solid backcourt with Ginyard showing some promise. So tight now I would give a slight advantage to UNC but the Jayhawks' group could easily take that title if Chalmers starts off as fast as he finished and if Sherron (Crane alum like Will Bynum) proves to be a good point guard and not a shoot first guard. Also don't forget about the established Florida veteran backcourt of Humphrey and Green, those two should not be written off.
KU has the best backcourt?! Are you kidding me. UNC had the best backcourt last year( they outplayed duke and every other backcourt they played near the end of the year even in their lost to George Mason)and now they get the best point and the best two guard from this years high school class. Lawson and Ellington are two special players who should end up in the NBA. You combine that with two McDonalds all americans from last year and the experience they have coming back there should be no question who has the best backcourt. Kansas leading score is a Rush brother, nuff said.
Winn never played the game, obviously. Hard to overlook UNC where a very good group of guards (Frasor, Miller, Ginyard, Green and Thomas) welcome two awesome frosh (Lawson and Ellington). Those were Self's recruits at Illinois being out-played by UNC, wasn't it?
KU may have the best talent, but last year KU lost to every non-conference team with a pulse. Whether it's the coaching or the fact they can't play well together, let's see them prove something on the court before we start calling them the best.
I find it interesting that the columnists lists Villanova, UConn, George Mason and Tennessee as backcourts from last year who lost something.
It's interesting because Florida's backcourt got past each of those last year, yet they are not even mentioned among the also-rans for this year's best backcourts.
Don't get me wrong, this makes sense considering the frontcourt talent that Florida has, but Taurean Green's 8 assist/1 turnover performance in the championship game along with Lee Humphrey breaking the record for 3-pointers in an NCAA tournament should at least be mentioned.
Florida's backcourt is the most underrated in the nation.
Kansas backcourt is solid but I'd have to say that Florida has a superior backcourt. Brewer, Green and Humphrey are battle tested, have a championship under their belts, have proven they can coexist and have the best frontcourt in the country to take some of the pressure off. Plus Bill Self is an underachieving choker that will forever shackle his teams with mediocrity so discussions of Kansas are irrelevant until they find a real coach
No mention of the Gators? Kansas (and perhaps UNC) probably have the most athletic talent in the backcourt. However, Florida has the most effective in their trio of Green, Humphrey, and Brewer. While not the most talented, Florida's backcourt is the best due to a nice mix of proven complimentary skills, team chemistry, tenacity, and coaching. It will be fun to watch the early season match-up between these teams. Nice job writing a hoops blog that Gators would respond to in the middle of football season!
Luke, I love your column, but when you speak of backcourt volume how is UNC not clearly better?
Tywon Lawson, PG from day one. B Frasor, Wayne Ellington, Danny Green, Marcus Ginyard, Wes Miller, Quentin Thomas and depending on the line-up Reshaywn Terry. All of these guys are either Top 10 recruits or battle tested in the ACC with serious minutes and serious success.
I'm a UNC fan, but I still think its hard to put UNC as the best backcourt right now, mainly because we have no idea of what is going to happen.
Frasor, Miller, Ginyard, and Thomas all played well last year, but it was an off season for guards in the ACC, and I would def not call them the best in the country last year. With the addition of Lawson and Ellington, who knows what's going to happen. Frasor isn't a natural PG, but he knows the system. Lawson probably is a better PG, but he's a freshman. So can you move Frasor to SG?, no, because there you have Miller (who plays with all kinds of heart and is a good shooter, but I feel like will see the bench a lot more this year b/c of more athletic players), Ginyard, Ellington. We have a weird mix of players who are really talented but young and inexperienced, or veterans who maybe don't have the overall talent that others do. This group could easily turn into the best if all the pieces come into place, but its hard to say that right now.
KU's backcourt will be the best in the Big 12 if not in the country because of their experience (big 12 champs after starting poorly), motivation (loss in the 1st round of NCAA's), coaching (all Self's players), and athleticism (McDonald's anyone?). UNC will be talented and fun to watch, but unless Roy has a starting five filled with 4 NBA lottery picks, they will find a way to choke. Florida's backcourt is good, but their frontcourt makes them great. KU has interchangeable players, it will be a real test to Self and how well he can handle all the talent and make them work together. I'm not a spoiled KU fan, but I would like a change of luck in the NCAA's. With all our March mediocrity, we're starting to give mediocre teams like Mizzu & K-State false hope. The Big 12 is rebuilding on the court and on the sidelines. As a KU fan, I would like nothing better than for our rivals to finally be able to challenge us year-in and year-out and increase national interest for Big 12 basketball. It gets old winning the Big 12 and then choking because we play scrubs all year. Rock Chalk Jayhawk Baby!
I can see how intelligent some of the posters are on here. Please, learn how to put your personal feelings about Kansas and/or Bill Self and look at the talent regardless of how they've done in the past or how you THINK they will do in the tournament. Grow up. Somebody call a WAAAAAAmbulance for the Illini fans that are still all sour grapes over Bill Self leaving.
Mizzou beating KU this year? Wake up dude, mizzou sucks and has never been better than mediocre. Any of you morons that think KU won't get passed the first round and into the final 4 this year have no idea what you're talking about. Sure none of you have even picked up a bball. Mizzou, that's a laugher.
When it comes to recuiting, Bill Self "Is Da Man!!!!" Kansas has the talent of an NBA Team and i'm sure could beat some of them with this monster roster of Mc Donald All Americans. UNC and Florida do, at this time have the bragging rights, but come 12:00am on 10-14-06, there's a new sheriff in town and their names are "The Kansas Jayhawks Mens Basketball Team" Booh Yaah!
I hope that all of you Kansas fans havn't forgotten your last NCAA tourney run, or should I say, lack there of? Anyway, the Bradley backcourt accounted for 41 points, 15 assists, 6 steals, and only 6 turnovers. This is in comparison to your so-called "best backcourt in the nation" which had a line of 53 points, 9 assists, and 14 costly turnovers. What now? Need I also remind you of playing defense buzzer to buzzer? What about Will Franklin's half court shot at the end of the first half that ended up being the difference in the game? A backcourt that turns the ball over 14 times in a NCAA tourney game, is that something you really want to brag about? As for Bill $elf, everyone in Illinois is glad he is in Kansas. Take care, we are looking forward to seeing you next March.
Enoughs Enough already! Nobody wins championships in November and December. I believe that KU has one of the best back courts in the nation but that isn't going to matter unless our big men play great ball inside. As soon as the 2006 tourney schedule came out I thought we were in for a battle. Bradley has/had NBA caliber big men and I really don't see us doing much as long as our post players allow other teams to dictate their game. You can't be one dimensional here. I've never seen Darrel Arthur do anything on the court. I hope he is as good as everyone hopes but we need a solid production by the boys inside the paint in order to go where we want to go.
In case you didn't know, this whole area is under some funky jinx. It stretches out to a 200 mile radius from Kansas City. Kansas State can't win, Nebraska no longer wins like they did in football, Missouri has a new coach, the Chiefs haven't won a playoff since Joe Montana and the Royals...ugghhh.
I think this team can be special but lets not put the cart ahead of the horse.
After the game on Saturday, November 25th, that small group of Florida fans who continually pump their fists about how incredibly superior Florida's backcourt and frontcourt are may be forced to quickly self-brainwash this thought away: "Gosh, maybe Bradley DID play pretty well that night they beat Kansas in the first round." Bradley would have beaten just about anyone that night. I like Donovan a HECK of a lot, but this small group of fans who have been gloating on the KU message boards really have no idea what their Gators will be up against. It's just wiggidy-wack that they don't respect Kansas. Carry on My Wayward Son. Of course, seriously, Kansas, Florida, and UNC are the cream of the crop, backcourt AND frontcourt.
Nice to see a non ACC/big East basketball article.. yes, Kansas is gonna rock.. win or not win, KU will continue to have the best following in college basketball .. bar none .. that includes kentucky/unc and I am not even considering the dukies!!
Self has coached 3 different schools to the elite 8, so don't knock his coaching abilities. We'll see how they compare with Florida Thanksgiving weekend in Las Vegas. Try checking out Sherron Collins on youtube, and you'll see why everyone in Lawrence is excited this year.
If you are going to try to talk trash on someone "Bucknell Bill", make sure you are smart enough to spell you insults correctly idiot. I believe the college is calle BrighaM Young...not sure who Brighan young is???
I would have to say that not only do they have an outstanding backcourt, but also the have an extremely underated frontcourt. Just think what Sasha Kaun will be able to do after Self's off season "booot camp". He's gonna have 10-15 pounds of extra muscle and that will be dangerous for foes.
Wow, thanks for that insightful analysis. I'll "jus" get over the fact that, once again, KU will be one of the top teams in the country, and regardless of our success in March, I'll be able to enjoy the hell out of this season and look forward to many more successful ones. I would assume based on your need to trash-talk that your favorite program is nowhere near that type of status. So enjoy your sub-par program, and please do keep making middle-school level comments, it really makes everyone else sound so much more intelligent. I don’t usually respond to stupid comments online, but I just went to late night in the phog, and it’s going to be a great year for the hawks. Also, no one has mentioned Roderick Stewart, but I think he has a chance to be a solid bench player this year. I don’t mean to say that he deserves mention with the rest of these backcourt players from the various teams, but if he can be a solid contributor (after somehow breaking into the rotation), I believe we’ll have the deepest, if not absolutely best backcourt.
This Jayhawk team is rediculously talented (maybe too much), probably evenly so with UNC. However, I have to give the edge to Florida going into the season because of their post play and they've been there and done it. At this point, Noah and Horford would dominate both UNC's and KU's frontcourts. On the other hand, Humphrey couldn't guard any of KU's or UNC's gaurds, which means Florida would have to take their best shooter off the floor. This is why they play the games.
What a complete bunch of morons. How do you talk trash on last years team or Coach Self for what they did? They started THREE FRESHMEN and TWO SOPHOMORES for Christ's sake!!! It took them until February to even make the polls and they were projected by some to be an NIT team. They ran through the league for a share of the regular season title and CRUSHED Texas in the Big 12 tournament championship. After all that they had one bad game against a team that played a style of ball that they had never seen before and a team that also had a 7'2 NBA bound center. The teams that can consistently compete with Kansas could be counted on one hand, which probably means your team isn't one of them except for you bandwagon jumpers who trade teams each March, so get over it. Kansas has a proud tradition which your school can't match, and they also have more talent than any other team in the country. There will be at least seven kids on this team that make the jump to the next level (Rush-Duh, Wright-Duh, Arthur-Duh, Robinson-Defensive All American, Chalmers-Ditto with scoring ability, Collins-Pure point with great quickness and range, Kaun-laugh if you want but 6-11 doesn't grow on trees. Watch an NBA game and tell me he couldn't do at least as well as most teams backup center).
Every year I hear about Kansas having the best player, team, frontcourt, and this year backcourt...Until, they prove themselves Florida has da best backcourt with proven players. Remember guys, you're only as good as your last game.
Hint:Kansas wasn't that good in their last game, losing to Bradley!
KU always has great back court talent. KU always underperforms in the tournament. This year will be no different. The only consistency for KU is the fans who always start the year with "this is the year..."
Lots of games to be played and we all know championships aren't won in November. Smart fans also know that winning the tournament takes a lot of luck: who you draw, who's hot, injuries, etc. Just ask UNC, UConn, Duke about last year's tourney, just to name a few. Which of you picked last year's Final Four? Florida to win it all last year? No way. If we did this like the NBA, either KU, Duke, UNC or UConn would win the thing nearly every year. Also, let's not forget KU's two Final Four and Elite 8 appearances in 2002, 2003 and 2004. Who else can match that? Florida fans have no business talking about other teams underachieving in the tournament, by the way.
KU had a great season last year. Winning the Big XII regular season and tournament titles with a team dominated by freshmen and sophomores was remarkable. Bill Self deserves a lot of credit for that.
This year's team should be significantly better, but may very well lose to Florida in November (experience and chemistry differences). I'll take a win in the rematch in April.
Kansas can't win in March or April? Get over it. Only 4 schools have more NCAA tournament wins, and only 4 schools have been to more Final 4's. Get over the fact that your team can't win consistentley. Apparently due to the success that the following schools have had over the history of college basketball, Duke, Kansas, UNC, UCLA, Kentucky, and Indiana have earned the right to get trashed on year after year by all of you guys/girls who wish your school could be listed with the elite teams. Keep them coming. If you have a problem finding us, we'll be at the top.
PS: who cares if we can't beat Missouri at Missouri. Missouri barely wins at Missouri.
PSS: congratulations to K-State, I look forward to many hard faught battles with you guys, and getting some respect that you guys DESERVE
As a proud KU alum, I am looking forward to the upcoming season. I believe the talent we have on the team is among the best in the country. But... I am keeping my fingers crossed regarding the post-season. If Bill Self can't get KU further than the 1st round, I think Lew Perkins (KU's AD) needs to start making some phone calls...
Hey KU Fans, with the arrest record of Jayhawk players getting longer with each passing month and the recent NCAA Sanctions imposed on Bill Self's program, it's getting more and more difficult to distinguish KU Basketball from the corrupt program at K-State (with Bob Thuggins). It sure didn't take long for Thuggins and his corrupt ways to rub off on KU.....or was it the other way around??
Something to consider with Kansas' inability to get it done last year is their utter lack of experience. There were precisely 2 seniors last year, and the starting line had but one of them, a sophomore, and the remainder were freshmen, if Im remembering right...however, this year, the 'Hawks have seen what its like, theyve been to the dance (even though they lost early), and they know how to function together. Best backcourt or not, looking back on how well they came together last year, Kansas is just downright scary, and will be even more so next year.
So what does everyone think of the backcourt after the loss to Oral Roberts.....Weakness somewhere that was exploited. I still can't wait till January for this team, to see how they gel. They just happen to prove that the wars are not on paper but on the court and they need to play like it's their last chance to get into the dance every game and not lose focus.