Take a good look at Bill Self. By the time this season is over, you probably won’t recognize him.
His wildly inconsistent and unpredictable Kansas basketball team is aging him at warped speed.
Monday’s 85-78 thrill ride of a victory over Oklahoma was a microcosm of the Jayhawks’ season.
During the 40 minutes, they were brilliant. They also were awful. They guarded their tails off. They also couldn’t guard their shadow.
It was the whole gamut. Apparently all that’s consistent about the Jayhawks is their inconsistency.
When the Sooners overcame a 20-point deficit to take a four-point lead, I pronounced it over. I didn’t think the Jayhawks could find a way to emerge from the funk that was the first 15 minutes of the second half to grab the victory.
But they did. And now they’re tied at least for 24 hours with Kansas State for the Big 12 lead at 4-1, though that probably will change tonight when the Wildcats are swallowed up in Hilton Magic at Ames. It should be Iowa State sharing the lead with the Jayhawks by the end of the night.
I’ve watched KU basketball for 50 years and this is the most maddening team I can remember. They play hard to get a lead, then go so soft they give it all back. Since Self has been at the helm, this is the worst-shooting, worst-guarding team he’s had. He’d love to play Brannen Greene more, but I don’t think he could guard me. He admitted after the game he’s not a good defensive player. He was giving himself too much credit. He’s a poor defender and doesn’t have a concept or the want-to to guard.
Then there’s Perry Ellis. Sometimes you just want to see him get upset and play with fire. But Passive Perry is who he is. He’s never going to be the fire-and-brimstone guy. I’m sure Self has used the soft word with him on more than one occasion. While he’s a solid offensive player, he’s almost allergic to trying to muscle up inside.
Wayne Selden is another Jayhawk who is confounding. A heralded recruit, Selden is the epitome of this team. I hope he doesn’t believe he’s ready for the show after this season because I see no improvement in his skill-set. He’s just a good player, nothing more, nothing less. Selden would do himself a favor by staying all four years.
Thank goodness for Frank Mason. He’s been the one constant, while the other Jayhawks climb up and down the ladder of consistency, waving at him as they pass from Self’s penthouse to the outhouse.
Freshman Kelly Oubre, who has gone from zero to hero in the last 10 games, has emerged as a potential star, but he has a lot of Ellis in him in that he puts it on cruise control for long stretches. At least he’ll get on the floor for a loose ball. Once he gets in the weight room and puts on about 15 pounds, he’s going to be a star.
Freshmen Cliff Alexander and Devonte’ Graham are going to be important players as we head into crunch time. Alexander needs to bring it every night as he can be a beast when the mood strikes. Graham is not a good defender, but doesn’t turn it over much and has a nose for the ball.
Kansas, of course, is shooting for its 11th straight won or shared Big 12 title. Iowa State at this point appears to be better, but about the time you think about writing off the Jayhawks, they’ll probably get their act together.