So that was ugly.
There really isn’t much else to say about the performance that No. 16 Kansas had in their 61-57 loss to No. 21 San Diego State on Sunday night.
The Jayhawks shot 29.8% from the floor, a number that didn’t work its way about 25% until late in the second half. They were 4-for-16 from three. They gave up 19 offensive rebounds, 14 of which came in the second half and led to 12 momentum-killing second-chance points.
How often do you see a Bill Self-coached team play this poorly? Last season’s debacle against TCU immediately comes to mind, but at least that game was played on the road. Kansas snapped a 68-game home court winning streak with Sunday’s monstrosity.
So what’s plaguing Kansas?
Where do I start:
- San Diego State has a big, athletic front line, so credit must be given to them. But that doesn’t change the fact that Joel Embiid, Perry Ellis and Andrew Wiggins got absolutely Big Boy’d by Steve Fisher’s team in the paint. That cannot happen with this team’s focus on the post offensively.
- I feel like we’ve been saying this for two years now, but Naadir Tharpe just isn’t the kind of point guard that the Jayhawks needs with this team.
- Neither Wayne Selden or Wiggins are ready to be go-to guys on the wing. Selden isn’t good enough yet and Wiggins simply isn’t that ‘I’m taking this game over, try to stop me’ guy yet.
- Kansas doesn’t have anyone with a ‘killer’ mentality. They don’t have a Marcus Smart or a Shabazz Napier or even a guy like Jabari Parker. As crazy as this sounds, I think that I would be the most comfortable with Frank Mason — a backup, freshman point guard and a former Towson commit — taking a shot in the final minute.
Those are a lot of flaws, and that’s going to be a lot to overcome.
But remember, despite all of those flaws, despite how poorly they played on Sunday, they still missed a free throw that would have tied the game in the final 20 seconds in a game against a top 25 opponent.
And now remember this: it’s January 5th, and this team is awfully young. Their best lineup probably includes four freshmen and a sophomore. They’re still learning, and with a coach like Self working with malleable minds like Embiid, Wiggins and Selden, there’s not reason to think they won’t continue to improve.
Is it a concern that the Jayhawks are still this far behind in their development as Big 12 play is getting started?
It would be foolish to say no.
But the talent on this roster is undeniable.
And I’m not ready to bet against Bill Self just yet.