Kansas Basketball: 5 Effects Roster Changes Will Have on Jayhawks in 2013-14
Regular-season conference titles and roster turnover are annual guarantees for Bill Self and Kansas, as the 11th-year head coach prepares to replace his entire starting five and one of the best assistant coaches in the nation.
Those roster changes will assuredly transform a suddenly young Jayhawks team, one that could field a starting five averaging less than half a year of college hoops experience apiece.
In juggling a new rotation of sharp shooters, big men and a trio of point guards, Self will see immediate effects of a major roster overhaul in the 2013-14 season.
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Behind Jeff Withey, the Big 12's all-time leader in blocked shots, the Jayhawks boasted one of the nation's best interior defenses last season.
Withey's four blocks per game accounted for over half of the team's total as they finished only behind St. John's for the nation's best unit.
That stout paint defense helped Kansas finish with the country's top-ranked field-goal percentage clip at 36 percent, but losing the savvy 7-footer could be disastrous.
While the combination of Joel Embiid (7'0") and Landen Lucas (6'10") ensures no size will be lost inside, they have no college game experience.
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Naadir Tharpe is suddenly the seasoned veteran for KU but has played more than 10 minutes in only 21 conference games over his first two seasons.
Other returnees Perry Ellis (13 minutes per game) and Jamari Traylor (eight) have little experience against Big 12 opponents.
While the likes of Romero Osby, Korie Lucious and Rodney McGruder depart their respective schools after years of matchups with Jeff Withey, Travis Releford and Elijah Johnson, a host of returning talents will match up with young Jayhawks.
Those young Jayhawks will be matching up for the first time with Marcus Smart, Le'Bryan Nash, George Niang and Buddy Hield as they seek to neutralize these dynamic athletes.
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Kansas rode Ben McLemore (42 percent) and Travis Releford (42 percent) to a 36.4 percent three-point shooting percentage, landing them in the top sixth of the country.
However, the Jayhawks attempted only 594 three-point shots on the season, the team's lowest total since 2008-09. That number will likely increase—significantly.
We can expect incoming freshmen Wayne Selden and Brannen Greene to fire away from the perimeter, with junior point guard Naadir Tharpe blowing by his 106 attempts from last season with the increased minutes.
A few dozen from Tharpe's likely reserves, Conner Frankamp and Frank Mason, along with Andrew White III could help Kansas top 700 three-point attempts for the season, assuming Bill Self gives the green light.
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While 60 percent of the starting lineup is set in Selden, Tharpe, and Ellis, defined roles are non-existent for the other eight-plus players that figure to make an impact next season.
Who will relieve Tharpe in the event of ineffectiveness, foul trouble or poor shot selection? Will Joel Embiid and Landen Lucas split minutes? Will Self use the frontcourt duo in matchup situations against certain Big 12 opponents?
Can both Embiid and Lucas handle the smaller versatile big men on their non-conference schedule?
And will the 11th-year coach allow Selden, Greene and Andrew White III to play together? Or two 6-foot guards in Tharpe and Frankamp?
Who relieves a foul-plagued duo of Ellis and Jamari Traylor?
While the KU roster is talented and deep, an abundance of rotation questions will follow the Jayhawks into March.
In-Game Defensive Adjustments
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Self is lauded for his in-game adjustments, especially on the defensive side, but the learning curve might be expanded and playbook limited with a group of inexperienced youngsters.
Few of the new impact players in Lawrence are considered defensive stalwarts, with Brannen Greene and Frank Mason's awareness and consistency drawing legitimate concern. Both, along with other newcomers, might find difficulty in adjusting to versatile Big 12 schemes.
Travis Releford and Jeff Withey left Arlington in March as two of the most accomplished defenders in school history. Revered in-game coach and recruiter Joe Dooley departed for Florida Gulf Coast just five weeks later.
Self's staff might find themselves handcuffed at halftime in Stillwater or the second half's 10-minute mark in Ames with their careful adjustments.