LAST SEASON: 35-4; lost to Duke in NCAA Final Four.
GOODBYE TO: g Calvin Thompson; f Ron Kellogg; c Greg Dreiling; f Archie Marshall (knee inury).
SUPPORTING CAST: g Cedric Hunter; g Mark Turgeon; f Chris Piper; f Milt Newton.
INTRODUCING: 6'9" freshman f Mark Randall; 6'10" juco transfer Sean Alvarado.
SEE YOU IN THE SUPERDOME IF: Brown's kiddie corps can shoot well enough to neutralize Danny Manning-inspired zones.
Danny Manning pointed at a spot on the floor of Allen Field House 20 feet from the basket. "This was Calvin," he said. Crossing to the left side of the court, Manning smiled and mimicked a jump shot. "This was Ron." He walked toward the basket and put his foot on one of the blue blocks along the lane. "And this was Greg."
Note the past tense; Calvin Thompson, Ron Kellogg and Greg Dreiling are gone. The court they left behind belongs to Manning now. On this 6'11" junior's shoulders rest the Jay hawks' hopes of returning to the Final Four. "A lot of great players have carried teams," says coach Larry Brown. "My college coach, Frank McGuire, said if you have a good big man and a good ball-handling guard, you can fill in the other spots with athletes."
The Jayhawks will test that theory. They have the ball handler in Cedric Hunter and, of course, Manning is capable of carrying the Jayhawks. He can play low post or high; his jump hook is unstoppable; and he's a brilliant passer.
But does Manning want to carry the Jayhawks? He led Kansas last season in scoring and was second in rebounding, but at times he was too unselfish. Even Brown wonders: "As great a player as Danny is, I don't know if he'll ever try to dominate. He's always been reluctant to assume responsibility because he hasn't wanted to step on anybody's toes."
This season there will be fewer toes on which to tread. But that also means Manning will see every zone and double-team imaginable. Manning says not to worry. "I'm not big on stats and points, but I'll do what I have to do to win."