Jayhawks need to get their "buts" in gear.

I'm generally not a big Seth Davis fan, but his latest Hoop Thoughts hits the nail on the head with regard to the Jayhawks:

This is still a Bill Self-coached group, so you know they play some mean D. ... There is also something to be said for having a variety of different weapons to keep opponents off balance. ... But in order to win an NCAA championship, a team at some point will need a great escape. (Think Danny Ainge, Tyus Edney and Christian Laettner.) When that critical moment comes, be it in the first round or the Final Four, whom will Kansas turn to?

Then he goes through the potential candidates.

Brandon Rush?

...has been shooting pretty well the past month, but the word is out that he is not a good ball handler. That makes him easy to defend in the half-court -- and he knows it. Plus, Rush does not have the mentality to take over a game in a tough spot.

Julian Wright?

a dynamic athlete, but his forte is passing and he does his best scoring in transition, not in the half-court.

Russell Robinson?

mentally tough, but he is averaging just 6.8 points ... and making 41.1 percent of his shots

Mario Chalmers?

has the skills to take over ... but apparently lacks the moxie to demand the ball like [Acie] Law did [on Saturday]

Sherron Collins?

The one player with the skills and the moxie to be a go-to guy ... But it's hard to imagine a freshman taking on that role, even if he is from Chicago.

Out of all of these choices, Chalmers and Collins have the least standing between them and "go-to player" status. They have the skill sets, they just need a little attitude (Chalmers) or experience (Collins). There's been a growing sentiment on this site that Collins needs to be the man with the ball in his hands at the end of the game, and I'm beginning to agree. From the looks of it, I think Seth Davis is as well. (Now if we can just get Bill Self on board...)

Andy Katz Profiles Brandon Rush

Andy Katz's nice profile of Brandon Rush leads ESPN.com's college basketball coverage today. Personally, I'd be surprised if Rush was Kansas's best player this year. His perimeter shooting, defending, and defensive rebounding will be crucial but I expect Mario Chalmers, Julian Wright, and (later in the season) Sherron Collins to initiate most of the offense. Behind the Insider wall, Katz suggests that Darrell Arthur will probably start the year behind at least Wright and Kaun in the rotation but figures to take on a bigger role in the second-half of the season.

Also, Bill Self compares the last two NCAA Tournament games Kansas has played.

"Bucknell had two or three guys who could have started for us, they were well coached and it was a scary game."

"But we played to our age against Bradley. We weren't under duress. We didn't play with pressure, since we weren't hunted all year. Last year's team was better equipped to go longer in the tournament, but it still didn't surprise me how it ended. We were so loose at shootaround that day, but by 9 p.m., we went out for warmups and I said, 'Oh, my gosh.' I had a totally different feel."

Doyel: Kansas Shrinking

It's not what you're thinking. Really. Pretty good analysis, I think, except for his pegging of Russ at 2G instead of Mario. I think our most talented starting lineup is Arthur, Wright, Rush, Chalmers and Collins. They *could be the starters at some point this year for some games, but they'll be smallish for others. Here's what GD had to say:

Kansas shrinks: By adding power forward Darrell Arthur to a roster already loaded with wings and guards, Kansas coach Bill Self will occasionally find himself going smaller this season. If he wants to play his five most talented guys, Self would start Arthur at center, Julian Wright and Brandon Rush at forward, Russell Robinson at shooting guard and Mario Chalmers or Sherron Collins at point guard. Off the bench? Pure centers C.J. Giles and Sasha Kaun, plus power forward Darnell Robinson and USC wing transfer Rodrick Stewart. Freshman guard Brady Morningstar, a better player than advertised, could redshirt.

Here's the rest of the piece, which includes a bit of everything.

Mario Chalmers wins Big 12 Player of the Week

This has only happened one other time. Congratulations Mario!

Mario Chalmers, Kansas, G, Fr., 6-2, 190, Anchorage, Alaska/Bartlett Chalmers averaged 21.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.5 steals as Kansas extended its win streak to seven games with two victories last week. The freshman guard had 20 points and four steals in a 69-48 win at Nebraska. He followed with career-highs of 23 points and five rebounds in a 88-75 tally versus Iowa State. He shot 44.8 (13-of-29) from the floor in two games and was 10-of-10 from the free throw line. Chalmers, who has started the last 12 games for KU, is averaging 15.5 points in Big 12 play. He also ranks third in league action with 5.2 assists per game.

KU - ISU Postgame

I didn't think this game was that dangerous, but we really let off the defensive intensity for the first 12 minutes of the second half. We cannot afford to do that moving forward if we expect to make a run in the NCAA tournament. Check out the line on our three freshmen: 52 points, 23 rebounds, 10 assists, 7 steals and 4 blocks. Best class in the nation? I think you could make argument.

Nice to see DJ and CJ have good games as well.

We looked really good against a zone in the first half, but I was disappointed with our ball handling and poise for most of the second half.

Chalmers is really coming into his own. Before the season, I was hoping he could be a Daniel Gibson figure for us. I wouldn't trade Chalmers for Gibson right now. That floater is just remarkable and it makes our whole offense so much more efficient.

Maybe it's just my crimson and blue aviator goggles, but it looked to me like Blalock and Co. were throwing some cheap shots during the second half. I like how Iowa State makes our point guards (see Aaron Miles and Russell Robinson) get juiced up to throw down.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the continued emergence of Julian Wright and Brandon Rush. Those guys are so tough when they're on the court together and they really do everything. They make KU very difficult to prepare for.

If we can play disciplined basketball and keep up the intensity for 40 minutes, there's really nobody in America we can't beat. I'm hopeful that Self can fire up the Baby Jays to give the proverbial 40 minutes of Hell. If so. Look out March, and keep an eye on April.

On a side note, Mike Davis didn't coach Indiana today, and his team (or former team) managed to lose at home. Very concerning for me was the 'black-out', a grass-roots protest against the fact that Davis was still the IU coach.

Shame on you IU fans. If I had any say in the matter, I'd yank the season tickets of any deadbeat fan that participated in the black-out.

Lucky for you, IU doesn't ask me.

A few interesting notes from the game:

# Kansas is shooting 76.5 percent (114-of-149) from the charity stripe over its last six games. # Kansas shot 50 percent from the field for the sixth time in its last eight games and 10 of its last 14 (11 times overall).

Self lays out his philosophy for handling Freshmen

Pulled from the Wichita Eagle. Read the whole thing, but this particular bit his helpful for identifying Self's core philosophy - you have to earn it. I think it also reveals one reason why last year was tough - he couldn't make players he didn't recruit appreciate his system as much.

You can argue forever whether Chalmers' defense would have come around just as fast -- or faster -- if Self had started him from the get-go.

"I'm sure if you asked Mario, he'd say yes," Self said. "But from our perspective, when you bring freshmen in, you're not in it to win games in November and December. You're in it to do what's best over time and over their careers.

"If guys don't fight through certain things and understand certain things, they're not going to appreciate certain things. It's better if you have to earn everything you get, especially early in your career when that foundation is laid."

That is the lesson he has applied to all his young players, which the same as saying pretty much the entire team.

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