KU's effort Monday was desultory

By Steve Sell
December 23, 2014

You have to hand it to the Kansas Jayhawks — on the rare occasions they lose a basketball game, they lose in spectacular crash-and-burn fashion.

KU lost for only the second time this season on Monday, but in both games they sent their fans scurrying for the gas masks so they wouldn’t have to breathe the stench of these stinkbombs.

In some ways, the Jayhawks’ 77-52 loss to Temple reeked more than the 32-point trip to the woodshed administered by Kentucky. Everyone knew the Wildcats were nothing more than a collection of future NBA players who are being forced to cool their jets for one or two years at the college level because of the age requirement, but no one saw such an uninspired, mail-it-in, let’s-get-home-for-Christmas-in-a-hurry performance coming against the Owls.

I’ve watched the majority of the Jayhawks’ games since Bill Self was hired to fill Roy Williams’ enormous shoes and I can hardly recall such sulking, give-up performance. This game was over early and had it not been for Frank Mason — the one Jayhawk who actually brought his game with him out of the locker room — the final margin could have been more Kentucky-esque.

This just in — Brannen Greene’s man just scored again.

While it’s not fair to pick on just Greene — believe me, this was a total team meltdown except for Mason — his lack of “want-to” on the defensive end typified the Jayhawks’ effort. He was “El Matador” as it seemed anybody he guarded blew right by him. I was stunned that he wasn’t replaced. There was one play where there was a loose ball and all Greene did was try to make a casual attempt to get it, while the Temple player got on the floor, got up and then dunked with a sheepish Greene standing right there making sure he didn’t get posterized.

But Greene had plenty of company.

On an inbounds play, Jamari Traylor looked as though he was taking nap as the Owls ran the McPherson High boys’ play for an easy layup.

And hey, has anybody seen Perry Ellis lately?

The former Wichita Heights star is supposed to be a leader, being a junior on a team that on Monday started two freshmen and two sophomores.

But anyone who has watched Ellis through the years knows that’s not his personality. In fact, the worse he plays the more passive and withdrawn he becomes. He has no-showed two games in a row now and Self made it clear his “not feeling well” was an excuse that wouldn’t fly after this game.

The problem is that KU has set the bar so high that expectations are somewhat unrealistic. This is a young, undersized team that has only one healthy point guard in Mason and he played all 40 minutes Monday. Some of these KU recruits who have come in with glossy credentials are simply not ready to live up to the gush. Four KU players are mentioned in the Wooden Watch — the top 50 players in the country — and that Wayne Selden, Cliff Alexander and Kelly Oubre Jr. are on that list would cause the late John Wooden to roll over in his grave. They are the product of the recruiting hype meter where expectations are based upon jumping and quickness instead of actual basketball skills.

KU certainly has the makings of a Top 20 team, but is not in the class of the Kentuckys, Dukes and Wisconsins of the world. Its streak of 11 straight Big 12 championships or shared championships will be challenged, as the Big 12 has a number of quality teams, while I think this KU team has taken a step back. It doesn’t have the inside game to play with the elite teams and with backup point guard Devonte Graham out maybe for the season, there’s more pressure than ever on Mason. 

The sky is not falling, but it’s sure filled with some potential storm clouds.