Last night's nail-biter revealed that the Jayhawks are still a team in search of a game plan. The high-low offense name-dropped by Self and the players didn't really take effect. As well, KU's transition defense proved to be full of seams, as illustrated by numerous Sessions-Fazekas collaborations. It's no wonder that Coach Self continues to mention "defense" with every other breath. Defense fuels offense, and the Hawks are not a team in rhythm. The sexy thing to do after a close loss like this is to tag a player who could have made the crucial difference. The Lawrence Journal World's Tom Keegan picked Micah Downs as deserving of more minutes, and it's hard to argue with his take. But as I watched the game, I settled on a different lynchpin.
In the first half, Rush seemed to be chasing the ball around the court like it was a yo-yo. His dribbling was infected by a lack of certainty, as if the bouncing ball was full of surprises: 2 points for the half. After Bill Self tore into him at half time, Rush went on to score 15 in the second twenty minutes. It's hard to analyze inequities like this, but I have the feeling that once Rush gets his head game sorted out, this team will take on new life.
An active fire-starter on the perimeter will pick up the offensive slack that is giving KU enough rope to hang themselves in close games. I suspect that it will be Rush, not Downs or Chalmers, who will make the baby Jayhawks look like contenders.