My seats aren't as good as last year, but I was there. That's all that matters. 1. It was good to see Darnell Jackson play in this game. He played well while he was in there, though Pitt State had no player taller than 6-8, and certainly no wide body like DJ. I don't know what his eligibility issue is, but I heard Coach Self after the game say that the NCAA had to clear him to play. He seemed to say that it may not be fully resolved, although he was cleared to play in the exhibition. He was definately a bright spot tonight, so I hope this issue gets resolved . . . quickly!
2. I haven't seen a stat line, but I'd guess KU forced 25 turnovers. Even that doesn't tell the story of the defense. Perhaps they fouled more than they should, but they contested every pass, played up tight on their man, and pressured. Cutting the defensive space allowed the smaller players to go around our guys a couple of times, but the help defense was there. A good defensive showing.
3. CJ Giles is a force in the middle. He had two monster blocks. More importantly, he changed at least a dozen shots - not by blocking them, but just by being there. He is so long and so athletic, he affects the shooter. He can become an intimidator in time too.
4. Coach struggled to find a combination of players that worked tonight. KU's low score may be attributable (at least some) to experimenting with the lineup and the combinations. Still, the season starts for real, and I can only pick out one combination - Robinson and Kaun - that seems to be clicking.
5. KU needs to pick up the tempo. They seemed slow and tired tonight. The advantages this team has, with its depth and athleticism, are maximized by up-tempo play. The weaknesses, primarily inexperience, are exposed and exaggerated by slow, half-court play. With the stifiling defensive pressure that the 'Hawks are capable of, offensive intensity and up-tempo play should develop early in the season.