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Non-Conference Preview: Kansas sucks

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I don’t hold Bill Self in high esteem, and other musings about that school to the west.

good times

I’m thrilled the Border War is back, let’s just get that out of the way first here. So it won’t be misconstrued at any point in this preview of the most important non-conference game Missouri will have played since maybe Braggin Rights back in the early 2000s, I’ll say 2004?

If you’re a fan of college basketball, this game is up there with the all time best rivalries around. I think Duke-North Carolina is the best rivalry, but MU-KU is up there with Kentucky-Louisville, Indiana-Purdue, Georgetown-Syracuse, and Michigan-Michigan State. The fact this game wasn’t immediately created upon Missouri’s exit from the Big 12 back in 2012 was a disservice to College Basketball and was largely due to Bill Self’s over-inflated sense of self-worth.

But Athletic Director changes, and head coaching changes (all at Missouri) led to some different eyes and it got done. Realistically, this game should never not be scheduled, and from the Missouri side it creates a wonderful bookend for an exciting month of December with the annual Braggin’ Rights game set in St. Louis from here to eternity. So it would make sense to have your western border rival set for a matchup right along with your eastern border rival.

The rest of the Non-con (complete with links to the post):

So revving up the rivalry is great. But it’s a challenge. You certainly won’t get penalized for losing to Kansas when it comes to the NCAA selection committee and I’ll do my best to sum up what this program is at this point in time. Despite the fact that NCAA allegations and involvement in the FBI scandal linger over the program, Kansas is again fielding an elite roster after a bit of a recruiting reset. And the roster is hilarious in some ways, but they’ll be quite good again.

Baylor vs. Kansas
The blurry guy, that’s the one.
Rich Sugg/Kansas City Star/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Head Coach | Bill Self | 19th Season

My feelings on Bill Self are well known and quite public, click on the link and skip to the 45 minute mark if you want to know. He’s an undeniably great basketball coach. He invented a version of the high-low offense which has been copied by all kinds of coaches. He’s Hall of Fame level good, and probably one of the 10 best College Basketball coaches of all time.

Now that I’ve said that, let me also say, Bill Self is a cheater. He cheated at Illinois, he’s continued Kansas’ long tradition of cheating in Lawrence, and it’s actual comedy the NCAA still hasn’t done anything about it. They have released a notice of allegations, to which Kansas has responded in a completely predictable way by denying they had any knowledge Adidas was paying their players despite damn text message FROM BILL SELF to TJ Gassnola:

The extent of the relationship between Self and Gassnola is extensive, and the connection to Adidas literally put people in jail. So while Self is absolutely a great coach, it helps a LOT to start from a standpoint of being able to buy your talent within a black market where shoe companies are interested in funneling the top kids your way. The same thing happens with Nike, and Kansas isn’t the only school led by a cheating coach, and certainly not the only blue blood school either. But to discuss any head coach of a college basketball program and not acknowledge how they’re charged with a lack of institutional control by the NCAA and had a very close personal relationship with the same rep who was paying his players while pretending he didn’t know any thing about the payments is just journalistic malpractice. And you all know me as a serious journalist.

So I’ll conclude here by saying: Bill Self sucks. F**k that guy.

Series History | Kansas leads 92-52

Ok, so a 37% win rate against your historical rival could be worse; the rivalry between the two schools was largely one-sided outside of the Norm Stewart years. Pre Norm, KU was 31-13 against the Tigers, which occurred from 1950 to 1968. In the Norm years, Missouri cut that to 39-32. So KU went from a 70% win rate to a 54% win rate. That increased to a 75% win rate post-Norm, when KU won 21 of the 28 constests between the two schools from 2000 and on. Bill Self’s record against Mizzou is 15-5.

So while this is very much a rivalry, and both schools badly want to beat one another, the recent history has deeply sided with Kansas, and historically with Kansas, and Missouri should be pretty thankful for the Norm Stewart era. Norm very famously hated KU, and built up the heat of the rivalry in the best way. He refused to spend money in Kansas, though that may be more urban legend or pronounced than actually applicable. But he said it. So it’s true.

Kansas State v Kansas Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

What about the team now?

I don’t think you’ll have to worry about being hit on the head with a chair if you sit close to the court, since Silvio De Sousa has moved on from his KU career. But who Kansas does have on the roster is pretty danged good. It feels like they’ve got about 15 scholarship players, but let’s see if we can figure this out.

The Jayhawks have 18 players listed on their online roster. Here is the class breakdown:

  • 5 Super Seniors
  • 2 Seniors
  • 2 Juniors
  • 2 Redshirt Sophomores
  • 1 Sophomore
  • 6 Freshmen

I could only discern 3 walk-ons of the 18 which means KU might have 15 scholarship players, and even with the COVID relief that doesn’t feel right. Especially as Mitch Lightfoot is the only Super Senior listed who did not play for Kansas last year. The others transferred in:

The other Super Senior is Chris Teahan, the younger brother of Conner Teahean, who you might remember as the guy who got lit up by Marcus Denmon any time he had to guard him. Here’s a picture of Conner trying to defend Denmon:

Missouri at Kansas men’s basketball Rich Sugg/Kansas City Star/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Here’s another one:

Missouri at Kansas men’s basketball Rich Sugg/Kansas City Star/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

The text on both of those pictures says, “Marcus Denmon makes a jumper over Conner Tehean”... but here’s one more, which you might remember:

Kansas v Missouri Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Bill C in the corner, so you know the shot went in.

Anyway, enough about the older brother of a walk-on Super Senior on Kansas’ basketball roster.

The Jayhawks bring in one other transfer in guard Joseph Yesufu from Drake. Yesufu was the starting point guard on the surging Drake Bulldogs who held a 113 Offensive Rating and hit nearly 40% of this 3-point attempts. They also added the 11th ranked recruiting class with 4 incoming freshmen and 3 inside the top 100. No real elite 5-star types, but Zach Clemence is a skilled post inside the top 50. KJ Adams is a tough top 75 combo forward, and Bobby Pettiford is a sturdy top 100 point guard. Kyle Cuffe, Jr fell outside the top 100 at a measly 115 in the 247sports composite, and he’s a wing from New Jersey. So not an elite class per KU standards but one that should be pretty darn good once they all sit behind better, more experienced players this year. If they don’t transfer.

Also coming back are redshirt Sophomores Dajuan Harris (CoMo native/traitor — kidding btw) and Jalen Wilson, who tested the NBA waters but came back. Harris started most of the games he played in last year and is joined by two other full time starters. Junior Christian Braun, the brother of former Mizzou roster spot taker, Parker, is back after starting every game last year. Ochai Agbaji is back for his senior campaign, and after bursting onto the scene as a freshman, Agbaji has been good for the last two years and tested the NBA waters before deciding to come back.

So KU is loaded. Six players back, including 3 starters, from a top 30 team and a 3-seed in the NCAA tournament, Four 4-star recruits, 3 high level transfers and a mystery bag transfer in Cam Martin. I’m not sure who is going to start, or who is going to play, but I know KU will be good.

At least until the NCAA releases their penalties, which will almost certainly be lenient enough to make Mizzou fans roll their eyes, while stiff enough to let the NCAA Enforcement Committee feel good about the 4 years it took for them to level whatever probation they come up with.