Well, it’s been over 15 years since Marquette Golden Eagles and Kansas Jayhawks butted heads and nearly 27 years since it happened in the regular season, so it only makes sense to take advantage of this newfangled internet and get some inside info on the #2 ranked Jayhawks. As is our tradition around these parts, we subjected Andy Mitts from RockChalkTalk.com, our Kansas-themed sister site, to our Inquisition about Kansas, and because we’re nice inquisitors, we also let him ask some questions, too. Scurry on over to their site to check out our answers to his questions.
Onwards then, with our questions in bold and Andy’s answers in...... not..... bold......
1) Congrats on the 3-0 start for the Jayhawks! What’s been the biggest factor to their success so far this season?
Their depth. Dedric Lawson was expected to be the clear-cut star on this team, and he just hasn’t gotten going yet. Legerald Vick was expected to be an end of the bench spark plug, but he’s been lighting it up from 3 to pace the Jayhawks. Quentin Grimes has been solid, but not nearly as good as people thought he might be. David McCormack came off the bench and was the only effective big for a large portion of the Louisiana-Lafayette game. This team is so deep that when the stars aren’t playing well, Bill Self can shuffle through the bench to find a guy that is playing well.
2) It’s not a secret that Lagerald Vick isn’t supposed to be on this Kansas roster, but there he is, knocking together back-to-back 30 point games with some ridiculously hot shooting. Obviously the shooting will come back to earth, but do you expect Vick to be a go-to guy for Bill Self all season?
I honestly do, which is saying something given that I am on record as saying that Vick was a luxury that KU didn’t actually need this year. It changed for me when I saw his demeanor on the floor in the Vermont game, being basically a second coach. It’s clear that he has matured a lot since the very public parting of ways at the end of last season. While he may take a small step back when Dedric Lawson and Quentin Grimes start emerging, he will be a constant presence through the rest of the year.
3) There’s four guys on the KU roster earning rotation minutes that weren’t on the active roster last year. Is this a set up that you believe can work for the Jayhawks, or will the lack of year-to-year consistency in the rotation end up hurting them in the long term?
Normally I would say that you might be on to something, especially since a lot of the newer guys are having problems early in the season. But a large part of that is unfamiliarity of the new guys with the program, the practice routine, etc. Devon Dotson and Quentin Grimes are the only major contributors on this team that weren’t with the team last year, and they are extremely talented. McCormack has shown flashes, but I don’t expect him to remain a major part of the rotation. However, everyone else that is contributing was here, either playing on last year’s team or fully immersed in practices as transfers. There is still a need to get in sync, but they will get it ironed out without any longer term effects.
4) I have a theory about the Big 12, and we’re going to explore it a bit more on Anonymous Eagle next week, but I want to ask someone with a better insight on the league: Is Bruce Weber the worst coach in the league?
Probably. But that isn’t necessarily as much of an insult as you might think. I mean, running through the rest of the conference, it’s easy to say that Self, Bob Huggins, Lon Kruger, Jamie Dixon, Steve Prohm and Chris Beard are better, especially at in-game coaching. That only leaves Scott Drew and Shaka Smart. I think Smart is slightly better in-game, and appears to be a better recruiter, plus he has the benefit of his past at VCU to lean on. Scott Drew seems clueless at times and tends to choke in big games, but he has put together a few good squads that made deep runs in the tournament.
Bruce Weber lucked into a great roster after Bill Self left Illinois, and then has routinely done just enough to avoid getting fired. He was given an absolute gift when UMBC upset Virginia last year, and he rode that to an Elite Eight that has given him a bump nationally that probably isn’t deserved at all.
5) Marquette came very close to securing a commitment from Kansas freshman Quentin Grimes. How has he looked so far, and what can MU fans expect to see from him on Wednesday night?
He looked phenomenal in the preseason, and has just been solid in the early going. He seems to be a bit hesitant still and trying to find where he fits in, and I’m wondering if that is a result of Vick hogging a lot of the spotlight with his hot shooting. I have no doubt that he is going to get going, it’s just a matter of when. This game could be a breakout game for him, but there isn’t anything specific about Marquette that makes me think that.
6) If a Marquette fan finds themselves down in Lawrence, what’s the best place to get a burger and a beer?
Everyone will tell you a different place, and I haven’t actually been back to Lawrence recently to get some recommendations, but the big names are usually still pretty good. 23rd Street Brewery is usually pretty good, but I would recommend looking for a hole-in-the-wall type place, or just walking up and down Mass Street to find something that pops out to you.
7) I’m not even going to bother to ask you to pick a winner. Instead: Is Kansas going to cover? KenPom says Kansas by nine, Vegas says Kansas by 8.5.
I think they do. I fully expect this game to be close early, but ultimately Kansas will wear down Marquette with their depth and start pulling away. The only way they don’t cover is if they have a Michigan State type performance, building a huge lead early and then letting their foot off the gas too much. While Marquette looks to be pretty good this year, I don’t know that they are good enough to come all the way back like MSU did. I’ll say Kansas wins 84-71.