RESULTS| STATS| HISTORY | MESSAGE BOARD | KANSAS INSIDER
RECORD: 30 - 8 REGION: West SEED: 2|
COACH: Roy Williams CONFERENCE: Big 12
Road to the Final Four ...................................................................................
What had been considered the nation's best starting five has been reduced to the best starting four with the season-ending shoulder injury to power forward Wayne Simeon. The Jayhawks may be the thinnest team, in terms of depth, to have a legitimate chance to win the NCAA title. Led by two likely All-Americans in guard Kirk Hinrich and center Nick Collison, rising star Keith Langford, and steady Aaron Miles, this team must stay injury-free and out of serious foul trouble. Jeff Graves, Simeon's replacement, has improved since the start of the season and Michael Lee has been solid in the back court. While Kansas is still an up-tempo team, look for zone defense out of necessity at times during the tournament.
|Player to Watch|
Turned in the game of the year when Jayhawks beat Texas on Big Monday classic: 24 points, 23 rebounds in 36 minutes that will be remember in Phog.
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How They Got Here
Back in October, there were few questions about the Jayhawks. Roy Williams team would simply roll through the regular season, put up 30-some victories and then play Arizona for the national title.
While the last part is still possible, there's been a bit more drama than expected. There were early back-to-back losses in the Preseason NIT to North Carolina and Florida. There was a loss to Oregon that left Kansas -- a popular choice as the preseason No. 1 -- at 3-3. And then there was the loss of Wayne Simien for initially 11 games
and eventually the rest of the season because of a shoulder injury.
But once Big 12 play, the Jayhawks were very steady. Returning three starters from last season's Final Four team, Kansas can simply score points. Pushing the ball up the floor whenever possible, a 90-point performance isn't out of the question and 80 points has become the norm.
While Kirk Hinrich and Nick Collison attract most of the
attention, the Jayhawks have seen Keith Langford improve to a 15 points
per game scorer. In addition, point guard Aaron Miles has recovered from
a slow and crooked-shooting start and is a solid decision-maker.
Kansas did lose its much-anticipated non-conference game with
Arizona, and lost to Missouri in the Big 12 semifinals. But the Jayhawks did defeat Texas, Missouri and Oklahoma State.
What We Like
If there's been a constant of late of NCAA champions, it has been key seniors. Michigan State had Mateen Cleaves and Morris Petersen in 2000. Shane Battier led Duke to the 2001 title.
Last season it was the Maryland duo of Lonny Baxter and Juan Dixon.
In Collison and Hinrich, the Jayhawks have an inside-outside duo that can
score points in bunches and at key points of games. Collison, who can
post-up and face the basket, has put up gaudy numbers at times this
season (he had 24 points and 23 rebounds in a victory over Texas).
Hinrich is a guard who's quicker and tougher than he looks. He's quick
curling off of a screen and is also making more than 43 percent of his
What We Don't Like
With Simien out, the Jayhawks lack depth in the frontcourt. While junior college transfer Jeff Graves has done an admirable job taking Simien's spot in the lineup, Williams doesn't have
many options after that. Foul trouble is especially troubling for Kansas and 6-6 Bryant Nash, who played little in last season's Final Four run and is undersized.