Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The lost generation

My son is 26.  During his lifetime he's experienced and witnessed the following:

- The internet.
- Apple becoming a half-trillion dollar company.
- Five presidents.
- Wireless networking.
- Three wars in the Middle East.
- Windows, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8.
- The adoption of the DVD, CD, Blu-Ray and now, digital and on-demand media.

What my son hasn't witnessed:

- Major League Baseball playoffs in Kansas City.

Seriously--is there a more stunning data point about the futility of this franchise?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Welcome to Kansas, Mr. Wiggins!

A bit over 24 hours ago, Bill Self, Kurtis Townsend and the rabid fan base that bleeds crimson-and-blue found out what few expected--Andrew Wiggins, the consensus number one recruit in the U.S., had committed to the University of Kansas.

The resulting hue and cry from those giddy with anticipation to those wronged by the slight caused #Kansas, #kubball, and #Wiggins to trend on Twitter.  A few misguided Kentucky fans took their anger out on Wiggins, sharing threats of injury and other epithets via social media.  And, Kansas basketball was suddenly thrust back in the sports news--46 days removed from that 25 foot three point dagger by Michigan's Trey Burke in the NCAA Tournament's round of 16.

What do we make out of all this?  Well, on this day after, cooler heads are acknowledging that Wiggins will be hard-pressed to live up to the hype.  Yet, who suddenly isn't intrigued by the impact Wiggins will have on Kansas' program and the unbelievable Champions Classic in Chicago, November 12, which will feature Kansas versus Duke and Kentucky versus Michigan State.

Here's the impact that "the decision" by young Mr. Wiggins will have on Kansas and his new teammates:

- The addition of Wiggins cements this year's Kansas recruiting class as the school's best ever--not just under Self but...ever.  Self and staff (giving major props to Townsend for his role in landing Wiggins) have arranged a class full of guys who can play right away, from McDonald's All American Wayne Selden to Joel Embiid, now the top center prospect in this class, to sharpshooters Brannen Greene and Connor Frankamp, to speedy PG Frank Mason.  There's even the possibility that Tarik Black, a Memphis transfer who's immediately eligible, could commit and provide further reinforcements to Self's frontcourt.  Of course, the cherry on top is Wiggins--a certifiable talent who not only is the best finisher in the class of 2013, but also the best defender, which has to make the defensive-minded Self just salivate.

- The Jayhawks very likely will struggle early, given the wholesale changeover in the roster and the murderous non-conference schedule.  In addition to Duke in Chicago, KU travels to play Florida and Colorado; hosts New Mexico, Georgetown and San Diego State; and travels to the Bahamas for a tournament there.  That isn't exactly the type of schedule built for team who doesn't have one returning starter.  Yet, Self acknowledged that Wiggins is an "alpha dog" and the type of kid who will provide an "assassin's" mentality to the team, thus giving his coach reason for optimism even with a very difficult schedule looming.

- Yes, Oklahoma State will be very formidable with the return of Marcus Smart, Markel Brown and LeBryan Nash.  But, seriously--who's betting against Kansas now to take their 10th consecutive Big 12 title?

- While the hype machine will go into overdrive once Kansas begins play in November, the good news for Wiggins is that KU has other offensive weapons--notably Perry Ellis.  Wiggins' arrival will take pressure off of Ellis, who exploded late in the season, and vice versa.  Throw in Wayne Selden at the two guard spot and the Jayhawks have three scoring threats combined with a PG, Nadiir Tharpe, who turned into an excellent distributor by season's end.

- Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the decision by Wiggins is Self's biggest commitment ever at Kansas.  There have been mutterings about Self, who is widely considered as an excellent recruiter, inability to get "the guy."  The known courting of kids like Kaleb Tarczewski, Josiah Turner and Julius Randle, among others, who all spurned KU was causing some to wonder if Self had lost his touch with top 10 recruits.  Yesterday's decision was an emphatic "no."  Self connected with Wiggins more than any other of the four coaches and ultimately pulled off the recruiting coup of 2013.

Yesterday was fun but it will pale in comparison to the fun of watching Wiggins play under the banners in Allen Fieldhouse come this November.