I like what I've read about KU in the last few weeks - it's only served to reinforce some of my opinions about next year's team. Andy Katz writes today about JR in an article all Jayhawk fans should read. And to the rats who harassed JR on his www.facebook.com account - grow up, or harass me instead. It's the fashionable thing to do these days, it seems.
He must now. Giddens is the central figure in one of the most important reloading situations in Kansas history. Self took over a veteran, loaded Jayhawks team and went to the Elite Eight in his first season after Roy Williams left. The Jayhawks were expected to meet North Carolina in an Elite Eight matchup in the Syracuse Regional this past March but were ambushed by the Bison.
"Bucknell was better than us on that day," Giddens said. "But since the season has ended, we've been closer as a team. I've got a lot of respect for the seniors, and I'm not saying we're going to be better. We're going to have a good, young team next season."
Perhaps I'm reading between the lines here, but it seems to me that there was a lot of dissension on last year's team, and that dissension led to our playing less than the sum of our parts. I'm guessing that next year the team will be on the same page, and that we'll actually play a little better than the sum of our parts, especially towards the end of the year.
The likely top eight next season will be Giddens on the wing with freshmen Micah Downs and Mario Chalmers, freshman Julian Wright in the middle, and then, in some order, senior forward Christian Moody, sophomores Russell Robinson (a guard) and Sasha Kaun, C.J. Giles and Darnell Jackson (big men) as well as rising senior guard Jeff Hawkins. The three freshmen are all considered to be impact players. Self has been assured that Wright won't be flirting with the NBA draft.
"We need [Giddens] to have a great year, not only from a playing standpoint but a leadership standpoint," Self said. "He needs to come through in a big way and I think he will."
How has this manifested itself already?
"It started the first day the season was over, in the weight room and in individual improvement," Self said. "J.R. deferred to the older guys last season and that was OK, but now it's basically on him."
Next year will be a much more enjoyable year, from start to finish, a few agonizing stupid losses notwithstanding.