Tag Archives: Kansas Jayhawks

The Official Writing Bareback Preview for Kansas Basketball 2013-2014

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.

Me: Bill-o-strator!
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: Bill?
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?
Bill: 😉
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.
Me: Really?
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:

Picture

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.

Forgot About….Perry?

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

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Existentialism on an October Weekend

ExistentialEvery now and then, when you write as a hobby, words spill out. It’s the physical act of ordering your thoughts. Mostly, they mean nothing. But you’d be surprised how many times our “nothing thoughts” are really just immature usefulness. So I write them down. Who knows? This stuff might be useful one day.

I.

Kansas Jayhawk basketball kicked off their season on Friday with Late Night in the Phog. It’s always a good feeling because it’s new. Ignorance is disguised as optimism and “anything can happen” is an exciting phrase, not a foreboding one. Truth is, I’ve been waiting for this season to start ever since the last one ended in a heart-wrenching loss to the Michigan Wolverines. College basketball is a relentless cycle. Every year presents a team that is usually different than the year before, and with only two exceptions in my lifetime—the Championships of 1988 and 2008—every single one ends in pain. The beauty of a new year is not unlike finding a new girlfriend after a breakup. At least for a while, you can believe that this time will be different. This is the time where it will all work out.

II.

Life always feels linear because we’re egocentric. What we feel more than anything else when we pause from our immediate sensual ingestion—most people just call it living—is that we’re aging. I wrote once that I thought we made minutes small to trick ourselves into thinking that life is long. But I think the real trick is that the minutia of time was built in cycles. Hours, days, weeks and seasons repeating in perpetuity so that the future always looks like a cul-de-sac instead of a dead end. You hear it more than you think. This is going to be my year. The sun will come up tomorrow. It’s always darkest before the dawn. It’s as if hope was built into the fabric of time. If God is real (and I believe He is), “there was evening and there was morning the first day” was a greater gift than we usually give it credit for.

III.

me and jennaI’m in a “wake-up” phase right now. It’s a term I made up for when you’re in the wake of a break-up and you have to pull yourself together to start dating again (it has the added bonus of sharing that confusing blend of dread and optimism we feel when we have to get out of bed and face the day). It’s the beginning of a new cycle, a relational cycle. For a long time I thought the beginnings were the best part because they’re innocent, unscarred by painful memories and the endurance of constant annoyances. I’m not sure when my understanding changed, but it did. There’s no such thing as innocence. It only seems that way because we’re too ignorant or stubborn to realize it’s not. I’m in the stubborn group. I ignore the flaws and believe the innocence because I want to see the beauty and intelligence and confidence that draw me in. I like picking someone for their positives. When the ignorance drops and the innocence fades, we’ll see if I can endure the negatives. This is the way all relationships work. The nature of strengths attract us, but the nature of weaknesses determines how long the relationship lasts.

IV.

I was born and raised in the state of Kansas. My father was a Jayhawks fan so I watched them with him. My relationship was built with the Roy Williams era. The strengths of those teams, nearly always a top-ten team, drew me in easily. And the only weakness I really recall is that they couldn’t get over the top, and that’s led me to annually rationalize why I’m okay with failure. After losing to Kentucky in the championship game of 2012, I wrote:

I had an old basketball coach that told me and my elementary-age teammates that the game could teach us about life if we’d let it. I’ve been trying to let it teach me for nearly 20 years, and it’s easy to think that the lessons are about work ethic, we before me, or one game at a time. Those are good lessons, but if there’s a lesson to rule all lessons, it’s understanding that while you can’t be perfect, you can try like hell. It’s why I believe that “Clear eyes. Full hearts. Can’t lose.” is the truest thing ever said about the soul of competition.

If that doesn’t sound like a man in his final stages of grief, what does? Anyway, I don’t really have any other immediate thoughts on the topic. I mean, I definitely do, but I think when you’re confused, it’s best to just accept your confusion and focus on what’s in front of you. Sure, I originally planned on tying this post into something whole and circular, maybe back to why the Jayhawks got me writing. But you know what, life is unscripted, and so writing is too. Ramble on.

Now’s the time, the time is now.
Dusty “cycles, bitch” Riedesel