Lawrence, Cannes. (NWN) — Kansas returned from last year’s NCAA Tournament squad for almost all of them, yet somehow the third-place Jayhawks looked completely different in their first match of the season Tuesday against Michigan State in the Champions Classic Huh.
The only significant departure was Marcus Garrett, their floor leader and defensive stopper, and the Jayhawks responded by plumbing the transfer market for some speed, depth and athleticism that could help immediately.
Arizona State’s All-Pac-12 performer is point guard Remy Martin, who is expected to provide some of the scoring pop that is missing from the position. Drake transfer Joseph Yesfu and Iowa State transfer Jalen Coleman-Lands will provide some depth and shooting capability, and the Division II Transfer Cam Martin could provide some help in the paint.
Now the question is, how will all the pieces come together when it matters?
“It’s a different thing, and the pressure is different,” said Jayhawks coach Bill Self. “You’re yelling at you now because of pressure or whatever, wait until Tuesday. You run out of there, you’re in Madison Square Garden, you have some famous people sitting in the front row, stakes are high and the state of Michigan is ultra-competitive.
“I don’t know how we’ll react,” said Self, “but our veterans must be quite accustomed to it.”
In fact, the Jayhawks may look very different from the herd at the NCAA Tournament run by Southern California off the court inside Hinkle Fieldhouse. But they still return four starters – although Jalen Wilson will serve the first of the three-game suspension – and include sharp-shooter Ochai Agaji and big man David McCormick.
That kind of experience is invaluable when it comes to marquee showdowns at the start of the season.
Senior backup Mitch Lightfoot said, “We’re making sure that those who don’t understand the seriousness of the games we play.” “We are reminding people that we are back in full houses, to play the biggest stages for the highest stakes. We will be locked in the scouting report, which they do and hopefully we will do our best.” Will play
What it looks like is another tantalizing question in the opening game of Tuesday night’s doubleheader.
The Jayhawks were a plodding team that struggled to make their shot last season, and their lack of athleticism was evident in the NCAA Tournament. But with Martin running the show, and the arrival of Yesfu and other newcomers, the Jayhawks have the staff to drive a more up-tempo style this season.
Fans got a glimpse of it in an exhibition victory over Emporia State; The Spartans will get their full dose on Tuesday night.
“It was exciting to see all the new people get their roles,” said Jayhawks Jr.’s Christian Braun. “As you go on throughout the year, you’ll find that people feel more comfortable, but we’re not there yet. We’re just seeing what people can do, plays and tries to learn things.” It’s exciting for them. But just for me, it’s about taking a big step.”
The steps from Emporia State to Michigan State aren’t huge.
“People will panic for this game, more nervous than in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, simply because we don’t have 35 games under our belt that’s happening,” Self said. “It’s a completely new ground. We have eight new people. It’s a lot of new people, and they haven’t understood me yet, and I’m just trying to get where I know them. I’m hopeful That there may be some concern, but it is also positive.”
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