Andy (misterbrain) at Rock Chalk Talk asked me to do a Q&A session with him about tonight’s contest, which I was more than happy to do. We put it together in just a matter of hours owing to the rapid-fire progression of sporting events for both schools lately, and I think you’ll find it was worth the effort.
You can find my answers to Andy’s questions over at Rock Chalk Talk. So without further ado:
ASoB: Who would you say is your best returning player, and why?
RCT: Perry Ellis. He’s a natural leader on this squad, and his play has been extremely consistent. He broke out in the Big 12 tournament his freshman year, and last year I’d say he was our second best overall player, behind only Wiggins. His contributions were constantly overshadowed by the two star freshman, but this will be his year to star for the team.
ASoB: Which of your incoming freshmen has impressed you the most. What parts of his game do you find most impressive? What does he have to work on?
RCT: I’d have to say Devonte Graham at this point. In the first few games, he has been able to score at a reasonable clip while still playing good defense on the perimeter. He’s done everything I thought he was capable of, but it’s come much earlier than I ever expected. He needs to work on his assist/turnover ratio, but there is plenty of time for that.
ASoB: How does Kansas look to you defensively? Are they committed to defense, or more committed to offense? What do they need to work on?
RCT: As with every team that relies on freshman, the defense has lots of room to improve. Most of those freshman got their scholarships on the back of their offensive skills, but Self builds his team on defense. Interestingly, it was the returning guys who had the most trouble Friday on December, with both Wayne Selden and Frank Mason having multiple defensive lapses.
ASoB: The last time Kansas and UK played in this tournament, both teams went on to play in the NCAA Finals. Do you think there is a realistic chance for that to happen again? Why or why not?
RCT: Most definitely. Kentucky has loads of talent, and even though they hit rough patches last year, they were able to put it all together in the tournament. I see no reason to think they can’t do it again. Kansas making it to the final this year would be much less surprising than it was back in 2012, as this team is returning more, has more talented freshman (not only in number, but also arguably in talent level too), and already looks to have the ability for more consistent PG play. Granted that we won’t have a shot-blocker quite like Withey, but the defense has plenty of time to grow into itself.
ASoB: Who ya got? How do you see the game going?
RCT: I want to say I have Kansas, but that would only be me deluding myself. I honestly would be surprised if the Jayhawks pulled out the victory unless Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk starts raining threes. Ultimately, I’m guessing Kentucky wins 89-78.
Thanks very much to Andy for doing this with us, and all the best to Rock Chalk Talk as we meet tonight in Indy.