And the Jayhawks just might get that job done – maybe. But it will be a season long battle for Self’s solid but not overpowering ball club. That’s because he really has no big time stars this year and because of that his loses have been huge ones.
The air seemed to go out of KU’s tires after that early massacre by Kentucky (72-40). KU looked like a bunch of kids playing men. Kentucky platooned two squads against Self’s team and just walked all over Kansas.
Yes, most experts felt Kentucky was the best team out there, but KU was talked up as being a top 5 team. A team that maybe could at least battle Kentucky. The answer was clearly NO WAY. The huge loss rocked the Jayhawk faithful and it was immediately clear that without a massive and fast improvement Kansas would just be an also ran nationally.
To make matters worse Kansas was trounced by Temple weeks later (77-52) and last week took a hit from Iowa State (86-81).
Kansas still has a decent record with just the three loses, however with no big name stars they’re looking like just a good, not great team and KU fans are just not even jumping up and down about it.
In fact, sports talk radio spends hardly any time talking about KU stars like Perry Ellis (12 points per game) and Frank Mason (12 also). Wayne Seldon and Cliff Anderson both score an average of 8 point per game – not too flashy.
Here’s the big question:
Is his energy to load his squads with one and done NBA types fading? Or has it already faded?
The answer may be yes.
Many people thought Self was looking for an NBA job, but it didn’t happen.
And this is the first year in ages Self hasn’t had one or even two big names.
Names like Andrew Wiggins or Thomas Robinson.
Without those kind of stars KU’s just a solid team meriting little national attention.
Sure Kansas could get hot and win the Big 12, even end up in the Top 10 and get a second seed or thereabouts. However No. 1 looks unlikely and that’s something KU’s used to.
Over the last three decades they are the area’s only National Champ that’s mattered. Self won one just six years ago and then two years ago went to the title game against Kentucky. KU lost but played well and they overachieved that season, but they did have a big star in Thomas Robinson.
Maybe Self feels like the pressure’s off for getting another Final Four.
That just winning the Big 12 is enough.
And maybe he’s right, because for now the heat on KU basketball is the lowest it’s been in many seasons. Maybe flying under the radar will help KU in the Big Dance in March.
I don’t see that though with just Ellis and Mason to save Kansas.