Oh, how the mighty have fallen. The Kansas Jayhawks once reeled off 17 consecutive wins this season, only to drop three in-a-row in conference play. Granted, two of those losses were against the Oklahoma State Cowboys and the Oklahoma Sooners, but KU also lost to the woeful TCU Horned Frogs.
The Jayhawks won their next seven games, but the Baylor Bears halted that win streak with Kansas’ worst loss in seven years. At 39.5 rebounds per-game, KU is 14th in the nation. That didn’t stop Baylor and Oklahoma from winning the rebound battle against the Jayhawks.
Wooden Award finalist Jeff Withey averages eight boards per-game, but opponents held Withey below his average 12 times — not something you want to see out of your 7-foot center who averages four blocks per-contest.
Playing volleyball throughout much of his youth gave Withey great leaping ability, shot-blocking mastery and he barely fouls because he can jump up “in the elevator” and resist the temptation to get out of position. However, Withey only committed to basketball full-time after his freshman year of high school — a seven-inch growth-spurt is pretty good incentive.
However, Withey needs to work on coming down with something more often when he goes up or KU could be in serious trouble come tournament time.
As suspect as Withey’s rebounding ability can be at times, 6-foot-8 Kevin Young is just as important to the cause. Young averages north of six boards per-game, but as big as he is, he doesn’t bang hard enough in the paint to get to the free-throw line. KU is 7-2 when Young attempts at least four free-throws but he’s only 60-percent in that scenario and barely shoots 50-percent from the line on the season. Yet, if Young can keep pace with his seven-point, seven-rebound average during the postseason while forcing opposing players into foul trouble, the Jayhawks become a very dangerous match-up.
Mike Gillmeister can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter:@mgillmeiRantCBB. Like his Facebook page here for updates on Big 12/A-10 men’s basketball.