What’s the matter with Kansas Jayhawks basketball?


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Heard anything about Kansas Jayhawks basketball lately? What’s the matter with Kansas? And I’m not talking about the 2003 Thomas Frank tome explaining how the middle and low classes in the rural populace consistently votes against their own economic interests. I’m talking KU hoops.

Just a week ago, Kansas had the nation’s longest winning streak at 18 games. Now, the program is on its first three-game losing streak since February 2005. Last night the Jayhawks lost to an unranked Oklahoma team. The Sooners (15-7, 6-4) snapped a 10-game losing streak in the series and took down a top 5 opponent for the first time since beating No. 4 Texas on Jan. 28, 2006. It was a battle of ex-Illinois Fighting Illini head coaches as Lon Kruger bested Bill Self. Throw in the success of Bruce Weber at Kansas State and the Big 12 has become the “prairie of ex-Illini coaches,” you know like the “island of misfit toys.”

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And if you look at the current Big 12 standings, it’s very likely one of those three ex-Illini coaches will win the conference league title. Back to Kansas Jayhawks basketball, who made just three baskets and scored 13 points in the first half of the loss at TCU. That loss was epic as it gave the Horned Frogs their first ever win in their new conference. Bill Self knows that loss made Dr. James Naismith roll in his grave.

It’s perplexing, because of all the talent on hand, guard Ben McLemore is the leading favorite to be the #1 overall pick in the NBA Draft. Center Jeff Withey should join him later in the first round.

“You just can’t win without strong guard play, and Elijah Johnson is no Tyshawn Taylor,” says KU alum and head of the Chicago Now blog community Jimmy Greenfield.

“As much as everyone loves Kevin Young’s hustle, he’s not a scorer. And as good as Ben McLemore will be, he’s still not a superstar. Jeff Withey is their best senior but he hasn’t been able to carry the team when they needed it. Every team goes through slumps, it’s just shocking to see a Bill Self-coached team play this poorly.”

Usually KU loses in late March, not early February. You remember all the Bucknells that have occurred in the first and second round, especially under Bill Self. The inability of Derrick Rose and Memphis gave them the title in 2008. And they played in the title game last year and 2003. However since 1992, they’ve had 9 #1 seeds (including the #1 overall in ’10) In that same time period they’ve had four #2 seeds and 3 #3s. When you consider that’s a ten year span, it all adds up to a ton of losing to lower seeded teams. It just seems like this year the losing to lesser squads started early.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, a Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Chicago Tribune.com, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports

A Fulbright scholar, published author and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; he’s also a member of the Football Writers Association of America, U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and Society of Professional Journalists. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too.

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