Kansas Basketball: Jayhawks' Biggest Goals for Nonconference Play
As long as the Jayhawks shoot the ball well, defend all 94 feet and don't turn the ball over, they'll hang banner No. 6 in the Allen Fieldhouse rafters, right?
Oh, how simple the game of basketball is.
Fortunately for Bill Self, his 11-man rotation boasts extreme talent that can make those three season-long goals a reality. Unfortunately for Bill Self, there are at least two dozen other schools that feature similar talent, thus forcing us to dissect before oversimplifying three goals Kansas must accomplish over the next seven weeks of nonconference play.
Andrew White's Comfort Level
Andrew White III entered the 2012-13 season as a true freshman with a largely undefined role. White then entered the 2013-14 as a sophomore with a largely undefined role.
However, four games into the season, the 6'6", suddenly bulky 2-guard has doubled his minutes per game from a year ago, is hitting 62 percent of his field goals and is averaging nearly one combined point and rebound per minute played.
KU's dynamic offensive duo of Wayne Selden and Andrew Wiggins has mildly struggled with foul trouble and, oftentimes, ineffectiveness against bigger mobile lineups. White has provided the much-needed consistency off the bench and appears to finally be comfortable at an elite program competing against elite talent.
The next nine games are critical to his development and future comfort level in Bill Self's system.
Tarik Black Consistency
Tarik Black's early struggles have been widely publicized, and despite a 21-minute, eight-point, seven-rebound performance against Towson last Friday, the Memphis transfer's inconsistency inside the paint is a glaring deficiency.
While Black struggled with foul trouble at Memphis (one foul per seven minutes played in three seasons), his 13 total fouls in only four games with KU is concerning.
The 6'9" big man thrives on aggressiveness and low-post consistency, something he has overwhelmingly struggled with thus far.
While freshman Joel Embiid appears ready for duty, Black's reliability as a 25-minute post player is crucial before Big 12 play hits.
Naadir Tharpe and Frank Mason's Responsibility
While Bill Self's pass-heavy, high-low offense requires significant passing away from the point guard, the floor leader must pass responsibly to start plays and, preferably, pass to complete plays.
Naadir Tharpe and Frank Mason are only turning the ball over a combined one time per 17 minutes played, a number Self would love to maintain, but repeated lapses of judgment in transition and overaggressive plays inside the paint have destroyed momentum during the young season.
With a bevy of dynamic playmakers around Tharpe and Mason, the point guard duo must manage the game and take responsibly calculated risks after the shot clock hits single digits.