The Kansas Jayhawks have their first pre-season basketball game tonight against the Pittsburgh State Gorillas. So here’s Writing Bareback’s official season preview..
This is a man’s world.
The criminally unfamous former head coach of the Greenwood High School men’s basketball team, Bruce Hensley, used to say, “A boy becomes a man when a man is needed.” And nothing could apply more to KU point guard, Naadir Tharpe. Last season, Tharpe showed some growth, and that growth mixed like oil and water with his tendency to shoot pull-up 3’s in transition despite being the worst available offensive option on the floor at the time. Whatever. I’m not mad at him. Some KU fans like their Tharpe to be a steady distributor with a low-turnover rate and even lower shot attempt numbers. Not me. I like my Tharpe to be irrationally confident to the point where I actually start believing he really is as good as he thinks he is. I want my Tharpe to look off a wide open Conner Frankamp—potentially the best pure shooter KU has ever recruited—and release a slightly contested wing three with only one thought in his head, “Sorry young frosh. For this shot, a man is needed.”
With Great Power Comes Absurd Expectations
I’m on the record. There is no way Andrew Wiggins lives up to the hype. And you know what, it doesn’t matter. Because this:
And maybe even this:
In the end, I suspect we’ll be much more enamored with flashes of elite talent than with consistently great basketball. I hope I’m wrong, but with reports of Wiggins being super chill at practice, it’s just easier to bet the under. But then again, there’s this:
Texts With Bill Self
He’s possibly has the nicest public image in college basketball, so I sent him some texts.
Self: I think you have the wrong number.
Me: What? Why?
Self: Jay is the Bilastrator
Me: Who’s Jay?
Self: He’s a college basketball analyst for ESPN. Very insightful.
Me: Well, I don’t know him.
Bill: Who r u?
Me: I’m Dustin Riedesel, lifelong Jayhawks fan.
Bill: Ah, well why didn’t you say so? I’m always honored to text with a fan.
Me: Nice of you to say, Coach Self.
Bill: Shucks, call me Bill.
Me: Bill! Billy Boy! Bilbo Baggins!
Me: Coach Self?
Bill: Always honored to text with a fan.
Me: Sup Coach?
Bill: Just watching the ’08 Championship for the 7,801st time.
Me: Great game. Kind of your “good to great” moment.
Bill: lol. Stop. I’m blushing.
Me: LMFAO. No you’re not! Are you?
Me: Take a Self-y right now and prove it!
Me: See what I did there?
Me: Alright, no Self-y.
Bill: Hey Dustin, you got a moment?
Me: Sup Coach?
Bill: I just wanted to let you know what our team’s chances are this year. I think they’re good.
Bill: Yep, we have a chance to be really good.
Me: How good?
Bill: Potentially as good as any of our other teams could have been with the same chances.
Me: I’m confused…
Bill: One game at a time. Just trying to improve every time we’re out on the floor. The ceiling’s the limit.
Me: But where’s the ceiling?
Bill: Potentially? It’s right up there.
Me: How high is up there?
Bill: You hesitate to be to sure with predictions, but it possibly might be a high ceiling kind of a season if we catch some breaks. Tons of potential here.
Me: Thanks coach.
The Lovable Giant
This is Joel Embiid:
Yep, he’s doing the foreigner finger wag. We all love the big man with personality. Is there anything funnier than Patrick Chewing?
One thing might be funnier. Here’s the great Dikembe Mutumbo still cashing checks from maybe the greatest “most with the least” marketing schtick of all time, the same finger wag Embiid should 100% adopt full time.
While most of the hype surrounding Joel Embiid is due to his “soccer-playing foreigner meets basketball just like Hakeem” potential, he’s going to win hearts and minds as long as he keeps up antics like this Mutumbo finger wag. If a kid from south Philly does this same move with a scowl, we’d be calling him a head case. Embiid does it with a Cameroonian naivete and we’re all charmed. He’s like a big kid out there! I remember feeling that kind of joy when my dad bought me an All Sport after the game. Clear eyes, full heart from Joel Embiid. Who says big men aren’t marketable?
The Future Is Now
Personally, I’m not excited for any new Jayhawk as much as I am for Wayne Selden. Unlike with Wiggins, everything you hear about this guy is fantastic across the board.
- “Selden is the hardest-practicing freshman I’ve encountered in more than a quarter-century on the college basketball beat.” – Mike DeCourcy, The Sporting News
- “He has the frame of an NBA two-guard already and he’s only 18. Tremendously compact handles, excellent jumper, plays within himself, great body control, beautiful eyes … he really has it all” – Michael Levin, SB Nation
- “Scouts went crazy for Selden this summer. If he shoots well and plays with some discipline, he could move into the top 10.” – Chad Ford, ESPN
Most college players do not have the elite athleticism or size to generate NBA All-Star hype coming out of high school. Wayne Selden is amongst those masses. But since he happens to join KU alongside one of the genetic rarities that has those hype-tornado qualities, he’s overlooked. I believe in habitual work outperforming flashes of excellence. When Wayne Selden is the most productive backcourt player for KU, come back to this blog and read this sentence.
I told you so.
Here I stand, with full knowledge that KU’s post-favoring, high-low offense and Perry Ellis’s consistent improvement and strong summer performances, and yet I’m unable to say anything exciting. Most of my readers will remember this article with this gif:
Perry’s the one in the back right corner who looks like the foreign exchange student on his first day in the cafeteria of a new school. Let your hair down, Perry! Perry’s like the girlfriend who does everything you want a girlfriend to do, but she’ll just never have the body of that sexy Andrew Wiggins girl. I know Perry’s going to be good, but with his floor-based post game, receding hairline and 3-option rotation of facial expressions, he’s going to be the subject of roughly 439 “It’s easy to forget about Perry Ellis” conversations this year. When you hear these, resist the urge to nod off. I have a feeling those conversations are going to be harbingers to “death by tomahawk dunk” moments via Andrew Wiggins. Then an announcer will chuckle and say, “And maybe that’s why we forget about Perry Ellis.” We’ll all nod, a little bit depressed at the genetic proof that God does play favorites.
The Next Slim Shady
People were always little weirded out that young, white Eminem could rap. Let’s try to be less shocked when this kid ends up balling.
Pleased to give you a comprehensive preview,
Dusty “Who’s Tarik Black?” Riedesel