2009-2010 Kansas Jayhawks Season Preview
By Ryno of Predictem.com
Last Season: 27-8 overall, 14-2 Big 12, NCAA tournament Sweet 16
Head Coach: Bill Self
Key Losses: None
Projected Starting Lineup
PG: Sherron Collins 5-11 Sr.
SG: Tyshawn Taylor 6-3 So.
SF: Xavier Henry 6-6 Fr.
PF: Marcus Morris 6-8 So.
C: Cole Aldrich 6-11 Jr.
Key Reserves: Tyrel Reed 6-3 Jr. SG, Brady Morningstar 6-3 Jr. PG, Mario Little 6-5 Sr. SG, Markieff Morris 6-9 So. C, Thomas Robinson 6-9 Fr. PF, Jeff Withey 7-0 Fr. C, C.J. Henry 6-4 Fr. SG, Elijah Johnson 6-2 Fr. PG
After losing a ton of talent from its 2008 national championship team, Kansas wasn’t expected to compete for the Big 12 title last season. But the Jayhawks breezed through the Big 12 schedule with a 14-2 record and advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament, before falling to Michigan State. Now, the Jayhawks return every key player and Bill Self brings in three extremely talented freshman and two more freshman transfers. The Jayhawks are the unanimous No. 1 team in the country.
Who’s In/Who’s Out
Every single significant player is back for the Jayhawks, plus five key new players are added to the roster. Xavier Henry, a 6-foot-6 wing player, is rated as one of the top recruits in the country. He has a very strong body with exceptional athleticism. But he prefers to show off his sweet lefty stroke and knock down jumpers from beyond the arc. His older brother C.J. will also be part of the rotation. He played minor league baseball for four years before enrolling at Memphis last season, but he was injured and still hasn’t played a college basketball game. Thomas Robinson and Elijah Johnson are also highly rated recruits. Robinson is a versatile power forward with NBA potential, while Johnson will serve as a backup point guard. Jeff Withey was a highly regarded recruit from the 2008 class, but the 7-footer transferred from Arizona and will be eligible after the first semester.
Sherron Collins is probably the best point guard in college basketball. The senior has loads of experience. He averaged five assists per game last season, but also led the team in scoring with nearly 19 points per game. He can set up the offense or take over a game by knocking down outside jumpers and scoring at the rim. Tyshawn Taylor proved as a freshman last season that he has star potential. Taylor scores most of his points near the basket. He shot over 50 percent from the field last season, a very high field goal percentage for a guard. Collins and Taylor are already two of the best guards in the country, but the scary part is that Xavier Henry could be better than both of them right away. Brady Morningstar started in the backcourt last season, but he was recently arrested for a DUI and is suspended for the first semester.
Kansas has a very deep, big frontcourt, led by 6-foot-11 junior center Cole Aldrich, who might be the best big man in college basketball. Aldrich averaged 14.9 points and 11.1 rebounds per game last season. The Morris twins, Marcus and Markieff, provided some help to Aldrich down low in their freshman season. Marcus started 22 games and averaged 7.4 points and 4.7 rebounds, while Markieff started seven games and averaged 4.6 points and 4.4 rebounds. With Robinson and Withey in the mix, both Morris twins could be coming off the bench. Robinson and Marcus Morris are versatile and athletic enough to play small forward, so the Jayhawks could play three big men at times.
The strength of this team is depth. If any player is injured or in foul trouble, it won’t affect the team too much. There are plenty of capable players at every position. This will be a tough team for opponents to match up with because of the size that the Jayhawks have. They will have a size advantage in the frontcourt over probably any team they play, and Henry can outmuscle any opposing guard. The Jayhawks are always tough to beat at home, so with such a talented roster this season they will be nearly unbeatable at home. Another strength this team has is its coach. Self won the national championship in 2008, so he knows the formula to do it again.
It’s tough to come up with weaknesses for a team as talented as the Jayhawks, but one issue could be getting enough shots and minutes for all of these players. Collins, Taylor, Xavier Henry and Aldrich are all capable of leading the team in scoring.
Betting Odds and Projections
Kansas is the favorite at Bodog for odds to win the 2010 national championship at 4-1. If any team can ever be a preseason lock to reach the Final Four, it’s this team. There just aren’t any weaknesses or criticisms for the Jayhawks. They have everyone back and they added five key players. They have one of the best coaches in college basketball and they have experience, size and depth. The amount of losses Kansas has this season will be counted on one hand. Expect the Jayhawks to win the Big 12 and at least get to the Final Four.