Since we here at It's Business Time are not of the creative variety, or of the humble opinion, we've decide to add a feature today that, not surprisingly, lacks both originality and outside perspective. We'll ask five questions and each IBT contributor will offer his respective answer. Enjoy!
1. Do Kansas fans have cause to worry right now?
RoboBoogie: I will let GingerBalls be the "Rah! Rah!" cheerleader, but I don't think we should be too worried. I still think on most days they can play with anybody and the parity this year is amazing. It does concern me that they seem to be failing where they excelled earlier this year; pulling out the close games. Also, I guess it does concern me that as it stands I can't see this team stringing together 6 solid wins. I am hoping and thinking this will change down the stretch.
GingerBalls: Nah, I'll worry more if we are still playing like this during the Big 12 Tournament. Going back to last year, our last loss before UCLA came on 2/3/07, where as this year everything is pushed back about a week. So, let's say we win our last 4 and make it at least to the Big 12 Tournament Championship Game and I would say we are right back to where we need to be. When this team plays at the level it is capable of, I still don't think that there is a team out there that can beat them.
Hiphopopotamus: Absolutely they do. Despite how good 24-3 seems, remember that since 20-0, they are 4-3 and their one road win was in Boulder with more KU than CU fans in attendance. One other thing I recently realized is that of all the real teams (BCS) they have played, the only one above .500 in league play is USC. I'll address this more later, but this team has yet to win a game in which any pressure existed. Despite possibly having the best team in the nation, when you consider they'll need to win six in a row of this variety, I don't see any way to not be apprehensive.
2. Sherron Collins; your thoughts?
RoboBoogie: I wish I could write this all up to be a bruised knee, but who knows. It seems the slumping began before that (or maybe it was just announced late). The one thing that worries me most is that when he does try and be a playmaker now, he makes really bad decisions. He is almost a liability out there right now. I think this is key #1 to the team coming together down the stretch as they are so much different a better with him contributing. As it stands, he is hurting more than helping 90% of the time. Maybe his mind is on other things, like say, children.
Hiphopopotamus: I again don't have a good answer, because I really don't know what's wrong. A bruised knee is extremely painful and I'm sure that limits him, but if I'd asked you two weeks ago if you'd rather have Sherron Collins at 75% or Byron Eaton, what would you have said? Personally, I would have said Collins and wouldn't have blinked. I could be reading too much into this (and not giving the injury enough warrant), but I'm starting to think he's affected by the rotation. I say this because it feels like he never gets into the flow of the game and if he could do this, I think he'd feel less pressure to "be Sherron" all the time and more resemble what he did in the second half against Baylor – facilitate the offense, push the pace, and finish around the rim when it's there.
GingerBalls: If his knee is bothering him, can we just try and keep him out for a few weeks, maybe say until the Big 12 Tournament? I know we need him, but I would rather just let him heal and stay on a bike...then throw him into the fire, as close to fully healthy as possible come conference tournament time.
3. If you could change one thing about this Kansas team, what would it be?
RoboBoogie: This is going to sound overplayed, but, toughness and determination. Unfortunately, I think complacency has set in. Also, some of the off court things like family matters would be nice to not deal with, but how do you control that? I don't know how you put toughness and sense of urgency back into these kids. If there is one downfall to Coach Self it is that I don't think his teams have the mental toughness of other squads many nights – all the talent in the world, but the grit to get through the tough game is lacking. It is even more disappointing since we saw it earlier in the year.
Hiphopopotamus: I'm not sure this is a thing, but I just want to see them play their game – ALL THE TIME. By that I don't mean every game has to be at their pace or anything like that, as they clearly have the ingredients to play different styles. Every time they get in one of these pressure games, they go all "Bradley game" on us and each start trying to create their own shots instead of actually running an offense. Every time this happens, I just pray they call a timeout and Danny Manning gets in the huddle and says, "I won a fucking national championship by myself! Listen to me! None of you are me. And even I needed the other guys to score 50 points. If you guys play your game, move the ball and defend, no one can beat you!" And it's even backed up by the stats: Kansas is second nationally with 19 assists per game. In their three losses (KSU, UT, OSU), they've had 12, 15 and 7, respectively. The 15 is fine, but let's not forget how beautifully they moved the ball and scored throughout the first half - I'd be willing to bet at least 10 of them came in that half. It blows me away how they were able to do this last year against Florida and Texas (twice) and this year against Arizona (ALL WINS), yet they continue to get rattled and revert to this form. I'm looking at you, Coach Self. Everyone says they need a leader to take over the game – I disagree. I think they need a leader to keep them under control, which is another way of asking Russell Robinson to shoot when he's open, but stop looking for his own shot. (Note: The team arguably hasn't looked any better in one game than they did in the Sprint Center against Ohio. In that game, Russell had 6 points (2-3 shooting), 11 assists, 3 rebounds, & 3 steals.)
GingerBalls:Let me be a walk-on rather than Witherspoon...or Bechard...or Buford, seriously, I got more want-to. In all seriousness, not much really. Of course I want to win every game and our loses have come due to poor play by us. It is correctable though, so I guess I would just want
us to play with the consistency we played with earlier in the year. As long as we learn from our losses - coaches and players - these haven't been bad losses.
4. Will Kansas win the Big 12?
RoboBoogie: With Collins and Rush playing the way they are right now (and Jackson to some extent), I don't see it. Maybe KSU will pull one out to help our cause this week, but I see KU dropping one more before it is said and done given their current play. It really is a turning point, because if they win out I think they'll have a lot of confidence going into the tourney.
GingerBalls:K-State will beat Texas and KU will win out to tie Texas again. The only question is whether the Big 12 will f-up and present Texas with a trophy and not give one to KU.
Hiphopopotamus: I really think KSU will beat Texas tonight, so that opens the door for a split-honor. However, the only other game Texas has a chance to lose is in Lubbock, so that means KU needs to win out. I'd sure like to think coming off a loss they'd have a sense of urgency that will get them out of Ames with a win. If they don't beat KSU with Gameday in attendance, I'll write off the season anyway. Tech at home will be a cakewalk. And so it comes down to if they win in College Station. I'm sure the place will be rocking and they definitely have some players, but if Nebraska and OSU can do it, Kansas sure as hell better be able to. I'll say they tie with Texas at 13-3, which likely means they'll see both the Wildcats and Longhorns again in Kansas City if they play well there.
5. Who is the favorite to cut nets in San Antonio right now?
RoboBoogie: I really like UCLA, but for some reason I can really see Texas making a run if they keep playing like they have. I consider Barnes a weak coach though, so I don't know if they can get past the Elite 8. I do not think Memphis or Tennessee will be in the Final Four.
GingerBalls:I really think UNC is a much better team having to figure out how to win without Lawson for the amount of time that they have had. So I like them more than I used to. The toughest outs in the tourney and the teams that I think the winner will come out of are UCLA, KU and UNC. These three just don't have that one big glaring weakness(yeah each team has some weaknesses, just less than others). Not that I have picked the winner in my bracket the last 4 years anyway, so maybe you shouldn't worry about what I think.
Hiphopopotamus: Right now, I'd take UCLA in a second. They have experience, defense and a balanced offense. That said, they've lost two home games and to a bad Washington team, so I'm not ready to crown them just yet. As the season has gone along, the parity at the top has really set in, at least record-wise. But when it comes down to it, I have a hard time picturing a team outside of UCLA, Kansas and UNC reeling off six big ones.
That concludes this session of 5 Questions with It's Business Time. We hope that you enjoyed our always objective and provocative insight. We also hope that Texas slips on some of Bill Walker's urine and suffers a defeat in Bramlage this evening. It's worth noting that every time Kansas has fallen out of first place, the team ahead of them has lost the next time out. Here's to once more!
Parting thought. In this bracket, I'd take Tennessee, UCLA, Kansas & North Carolina. And even though that's the same breakdown that made it last year, it's probably too much chalk. Also courtesy of Joey Brackets, here is a nice rundown of the top seeds (you'll need Insider).