Kansas Basketball: Jayhawks Will Turn Season Around After Disappointing Start

Andrew Gould@AndrewGould4Featured ColumnistDecember 23, 2013

LAWRENCE, KS - DECEMBER 21:  Jamari Traylor #31 of the Kansas Jayhawks and teammates react from the bench after the Jayhawks scored during the game against the Georgetown Hoyas at Allen Fieldhouse on December 21, 2013 in Lawrence, Kansas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

A Kansas squad that was supposed to decimate everything in its path has instead dropped three of its first 11 games. Before searching for the panic button, let's take a deep breath and avoid lunging to a harsh overreaction.

The Jayhawks, who started the season ranked No. 6 in the USA Today Coaches Poll, have dropped to No. 19 due to their three early losses, two of which occurred in succession against Colorado and Florida.

We're still months away from the madness beginning, but this is not an era known for exuding patience. Instead, skeptics are beginning to slice open Kansas' title chances. 

Kansas should have already eased many concerns by reeling off two straight convincing victories, but perhaps that's not enough to convince everyone that everything is going to be just fine.

Nobody ever wants to lose, but the nature of those defeats offer some consolation.


The Losses Were All Close

Had the Jayhawks surrendered a 20-point defeat to some random mid-major bereft of any March Madness hopes, it would be reasonable to sing a different tune.

Nov 29, 2013; Paradise Island, BAHAMAS; Villanova Wildcats guard Ryan Arcidiacono (15) hits the game winning shot to beat the Kansas Jayhawks at the 2013 Battle 4 Atlantis in the Imperial Arena at the Atlantis Resort. Villanova won 63-59. Mandatory Credit
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

But three losses (none at home) accrued by a combined 13 points? Rough, but it happens.

In their first loss of the year, an unlikely hero in Ryan Arcidiacono emerged late to seal Kansas' fate. The Wildcats have surrendered just 64 points per game during their scorching 11-0 start, so there's no reason to be ashamed of that narrow defeat.

Their three slayers have lost a combined three games this season, which means the Jayhawks have lost close to great teams. Sure, a championship team either pulls those nail-biters out or avoids them altogether. But this is a fresh batch of talented freshmen that Bill Self is still acclimating to in the college game. 

Andrew Wiggins, of course, is the brightest of those young stars, which is why his value has been placed under the microscope. Let's not write him off just yet.


The Kids are All Right

LAWRENCE, KS - NOVEMBER 08:  Andrew Wiggins #22 of the Kansas Jayhawks shoots during the game against the Louisiana Monroe Warhawks at Allen Fieldhouse on November 8, 2013 in Lawrence, Kansas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

While the Jayhawks have not begun the season according to plan, their young phenoms have demonstrated why they garnered such lofty hype.

Wiggins, touted a future NBA star, has averaged just 15.5 points per game, but it comes at an efficient 46.6 percent clip. Nonetheless, his inability to implant his stranglehold on a contest have caused him to fall behind Jabari Parker in mock drafts and bring his sky-high ceiling into question.

It's certainly fair to simply like Parker more, but Wiggins' underwhelming start is already drawing doubters. The Cleveland Plain Dealer's David Cassilo stated that the freshman is "not who we thought he was."

It's a puzzling turn. I was at the McDonald's All-American Game in March and believed Wiggins would be a star. He did a terrific job defensively on Jabari Parker and was able to score a bucket whenever his team needed it.

The latter part is what is missing so far this season. Wiggins has taken a lot of knocks for his lack of aggressiveness, and that's valid. He's averaging just 10.1 field goal attempts per game and may not even be the best offensive option on his team right now with the way Perry Ellis has played.

LAWRENCE, KS - NOVEMBER 08:  Joel Embiid #21 of the Kansas Jayhawks and Nick Coppola #11 of the Louisiana Monroe Warhawks compete for a rebound during the game at Allen Fieldhouse on November 8, 2013 in Lawrence, Kansas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Imag
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

But as long as Ellis is shooting 60.4 percent while center Joel Embiid converts 68.3 percent of his shots, Wiggins has no need to play "hero ball" in a deep roster. It would be nice, however, to see a sprinkle more of assertiveness, and that will come with experience from the 18-year-old.

Wiggins is sensational, but Embiid will ease the pressure off him as a veritable 1A. Once the two future lottery picks get a knack for the college game, opponents will see more of what Georgetown experienced during Kansas' recent 22-point victory.



    NBA Draft Early-Entrant List Breaks Record

    College Basketball logo
    College Basketball

    NBA Draft Early-Entrant List Breaks Record

    Tyler Conway
    via Bleacher Report

    This Decade, No Player Has Done What Azubuike Just Did

    Kansas Jayhawks Basketball logo
    Kansas Jayhawks Basketball

    This Decade, No Player Has Done What Azubuike Just Did

    via kansascity

    4-Star McGowens Is Capel's 1st Commit at Pitt

    College Basketball logo
    College Basketball

    4-Star McGowens Is Capel's 1st Commit at Pitt

    via 247sports