Jon Brubaker from The Jayhawker agreed to answer a couple questions about this weekend’s game. Here are his answers and my answers will be going up over there later this week.
This year’s version of the Jayhawks is obviously a very deep, talented, and well-coached team with few weaknesses. Obviously the first step towards claiming victory over Kansas starts with limiting the ball down low to Cole Aldrich as best as possible. Bill Self looks to get the big man going early and often to establish dominance in the paint.
Has Kansas faced much zone this year? How have they fared?
KU has faced zone only sparingly this year, and usually broke them very quickly. Blessed with guards who can penetrate the lane and shoot the 3 efficiently, along with post-players who are deft passers and can hit an outside jump-shot, most teams find man to man is their best defense against this very talented team.
Brady Morningstar returns, what kind of effect will he have for the Jayhawks?
Brady Morningstar’s return is much anticipated, despite the Jayhawk backcourt already being overcrowded. He will play a fair amount of minutes, however, as he provides 3 key elements while on the court: defense, 3-point shooting, and ability to feed the post. Morningstar provides outstanding perimeter defense and leadership on the court. He is an excellent shooter from range, but perhaps most overlooked is his ability to feed the ball to Aldrich in the paint. At times this year getting Cole the ball has been an issue, but with Morningstar on the court he should see his fair share of touches against Michigan.
Everyone knows about Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich, who else has been most impressive this year?
By far the most impressive player for KU this season has been super freshman Xavier Henry. At first committed to play with other super freshman John Wall at Memphis, once Calipari made the move to Kentucky Xavier was released from this commitment and decided to attend KU with his older brother CJ, where both of his parents had played. Xavier Henry is the team’s leading scorer at 18 points a game, and is fresh off scoring a personal-best 31 points against La Salle.
Any other final thoughts on the game?
Like most KU games this year, I think the game will be close through 10 or 12 minutes of the first half, while each team’s offense tries to answer the other’s defense. What will eventually break Michigan’s back, as it had for other teams this season, is the play of Xavier Henry. He possesses one of the smoothest strokes from the outside, and has the talent to take it to the hoop as necessary. Eventually, through shrewd 3-point shooting and a seemingly endless stream of big bodies downlow (Cole Aldrich, Marcus Morris, Markief Morris, Thomas Robinson) the depth of talent and play-making will be too much for the Wolverine’s to handle. If Beilein employs his zone most of the game it could get ugly.