Kansas dropped their third straight in a loss that highlighted pretty much every weakness this KU team has currently. Their loss, coming by 6 against Baylor in Waco, is also the third conference loss they have suffered, setting them back in a highly competitive Big 12. Back far enough to where they cannot win the regular season anymore? Not quite, but there is much work to be done if KU is to not only stop the bleeding, but save their season. It's good that the Big 12 is so competitive to where anyone can really beat anyone, but KU should not count on other teams to finish out on top of the conference come the end of February. Here's a few things they can do, mind you KU still has a tough stretch ahead. Making these changes may need to come very, very soon if KU is to have a chance.
Bench points...oh GOD the bench points. Somebody??? Anybody???
KU has absolutely zero bench presence. No Remy Martin, no Marcus Garrett, no one that can make an impact coming off the bench. KU ranks near the bottom in bench points, and you can easily tell which players they depend on for scoring. KJ, Jalen, Gradey. That's the list. That's it. The rest of the starting lineup is either a role player (Yes, Dajuan, we'll get into him later) or incredibly inconsistent (Kevin's inconsistency will give me an aneurysm one day...) The bench is laughably inept, however. KU's best bench scorer? Joe Yesufu, with a whopping 3.4 points per game off 12.3 minutes. KU needs a bench presence in order to have success, and they cannot count on a select few for offense. Bench points are imperative, and they're not getting them. It's the key reason they're losing, but let's get into the other key reason.
2. Post play and rebounds are nowhere to be found. Find it.
KU is small, that is understood and is fine, but goodness they have ZERO physicality inside. Defensive rebounding is the main issue, unfortunately offensive rebounding and second chances aren't the issue offensively in the post, it's capitalizing off said second chances, but defensively I cannot believe how bad the performance is. If the ball can get loose, KU's loose ball play is fine, but they get pushed around inside and their will imposed against by bigger, more physical teams. I am genuinely afraid of what Kentucky center Oscar Tschebwe will do to this team, and in order to prevent that KU has to make sure he's pressured on every rebound. Forget fear about fouling, you have to put pressure on these bigs no matter your size. Quit getting bullied inside, toughen up, or get guys like Zuby or Ernest minutes. If you have to put a big body in there in order to not get bullied, then do so, but the only way those guys will get better is if you get them minutes. Otherwise, you're dealing with KJ down low and KJ is much more of a 4 than anything else. It's a hard fact, but it's a fact.
3. Perimeter defense AND offense need to improve.
KU not only gets bullied inside, but if you want to have an excellent day of shooting as a team, come play the Kansas Jayhawks. The guards get sucked inside so easy, you won't believe how open you'll get! Seriously, the perimeter defense has BEEN an issue, and I understand you can't stop hot shooters from getting hot, sometimes it just happens. Good lord though I don't think I've ever seen as many open looks as I've seen with this KU team. Keep the perimeter guarded if you are a guard, let the inside guys take care of business inside. Man and basket defense is defense that has been taught since pee-wee ball, and it seems so lost on this KU team that that's how you defend against perimeter shooting as well as drives inside. If you have to switch, then switch, but be cognizant of what the opposing offense wants you to switch to. Mismatches happen all the time with this team, and they happen because there's such poor man defense. Not only that, but on the other side of the court shots have to fall. You cannot get this many wide open looks and completely whiff, you simply can't. It's a teamwide epidemic. What happened to where this team is so brick from 3 when not all that long ago even Dajuan was hitting multiple shots a game? Fix it.
There's a few other issues, but those are the main three. One other I did want to mention was that Dajuan Harris needs some time to breathe and get his composure back, he has been rough since he took that hard fall against Kansas State. He has not looked the same, having constant turnovers, bad shots, and has overall regressed to being a chronically average and inconsistent point guard when he was being considered one of the best in the nation at the beginning of the month. He can get back there, but he needs some time to heal. That is where these bench players come in and have to step up. Pettiford and Yesufu specifically. KU still has time to right the ship, but when you have Kentucky on Saturday then Kansas State once again that following Tuesday, these adjustments need to happen and they need to happen right now. January slumps are completely normal, they happened last year and the year before that, but if this team goes and lays an egg again these next two games this team could be in a hole not even Bill Self can drag them out of. These next two or three weeks are imperative to KU's confidence and to their season at large, and fixing these issues listed will put them in a spot where they can conquer these demons, gain that KU confidence back, and go win again. Bill Self and the Jayhawks are a coach and program that expects excellence, however excellence can only happen if the players will it so. These next few practices need to be tough on these issues and this team needs to be motivated, otherwise they're gonna be in for a long season.
Burn Notice: 9/10 The fire alarm is going off, someone put out the fire.