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KUncerns: KU Basketball Shows Signs of Skepticism

KU Basketball season is right around the corner, with the exhibitions set to be played in the first week of November. Afterward, it's all business against a stronger than what they give off North Dakota State squad November 10th and against what will be an always very tough Duke squad on November 15th. As is tradition, KU's opening games are no cakewalk with plenty of showcases and invitationals abound. The question is, is this team prepared, ready, and healthy enough to take on the nation's best coming off a banner year? Some signs point to not quite...

KU showed glaring weaknesses in a "secret" scrimmage against Illinois this past week, getting "beat" (No one kept score but based off of performances) in a decent fashion. Now don't get it twisted, Illinois is no joke, consistently having a solid team year in and year out. KU however, is KU, and is expected to handle non-Blue Bloods in convincing fashion. That is not what happened here, as KU was handled down low against Illinois's big bodied front court. Nobody seemed to step up, and the play looked incredibly soft. Not only that, super senior Cam Martin separated his shoulder which will require him to miss time, only depleting the already depleted depth at the front court for KU. You still have KJ Adams, Zach Clemence, and Ernest Udeh, but their youth showed against a very experienced Illni team.

It wasn't all bad, and we haven't even played exhibition yet, however this is not a great sign of things to come if things do not change. KU has consistently had trouble in the front court since Udoka Azubuike left, Dave McCormack was just coming into his own when March Madness came around. This young front court will have work to do, as will the inside offensive effort. As of now KU coach Bill Self has said that perimeter shooting is how this team wins, but it cannot be the dependent for this team. The inside will need to open up, as plenty of teams defend the perimeter with ease. You need a strong, dominant force in the middle to be a great team, so until further notice, the Jayhawks are just good really. You could argue that last year's team was just "good" too, however you miss the fact that even the backcourt could find its way inside and be physical. That seems to be an issue with this backcourt, which is odd due to two scrappy guards in Dajuan Harris and Jalen Wilson holding it down nicely on defense. The inside shooting and driving to the net comes hard to these two though, which will need to change if the Hawks expect to build any interior scoring which will be crucial. That, or Adams, Clemence, and/or Udeh will need to stiffen up and throw down. They're big enough to impose their will, but the mental needs to be big enough as well, and to compete against guys such as Oscar Tshiebwe who feast on the soft and inexperienced that combo must be precise.

Overall, KU looks to have some National Championship hangover and player turnover concerns to start the year. It's natural, and it's normal. With coach like Self, the Jayhawks will still be strong contenders this year, and will find their element. They've done more with less, mind you, the 2012 team that went to the National Championship was abjectly worse than that stellar 2011 squad that fell to VCU. To March and to Bill Self, regular season is about development to the real competition, and that's the competition February-April. The conference will be won with the development and strides made through these first couple of months, and come January this team will be ready for conference games. By March, expect a KU squad par for the Blue Blood course, and just as big of a contender for the crown as every other team. Just need to get past the reloading pains.

Burn Notice: 7/10 Smoke, but no fire yet

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