LAWRENCE | If one thing has been proven in the seven-plus months since the Kansas Jayhawks cut down the nets in San Antonio, it’s that nobody knows how to celebrate success like KU and its fans.
Tens of thousands of people showed up in April for the parade down Massachusetts Street. KU raised one temporary national championship banner during “Late Night in the Phog,” knowing all along that the permanent one would be unveiled on Tuesday night.
Twelve minutes before what would eventually become a 85-45 Kansas domination of Florida Gulf Coast, the lights went out in Allen Fieldhouse. The current Jayhawks — eight of whom were not a part of the 2008 team — locked arms and watched yet another video commemoration of Mario Chalmers’ Miracle. The KU students held up their camera phones and pointed them toward the North, where a blue covering fell and revealed the banner that joined identical ones from 1922, ’23, ’52 and ’88.
And, with that, the celebration of 2008 was over for good, or, at least until the five-year reunion.
It is now officially time to start figuring out this 2008-09 bunch of Jayhawks, who have certainly shown that they are more than capable of punishing subpar opponents. Sherron Collins, the lone significant contributor to last year’s title run, had a career-high 25 points on 9-of-14 shooting — including 4 of 6 from three. Collins has led the Jayhawks in scoring in the two exhibition games and two regular-season games.
Another trend is sophomore center Cole Aldrich’s propensity for picking up early fouls. In both regular-season games, Aldrich has exited the game before the first media timeout with two fouls. Against Florida Gulf Coast, Aldrich went to the bench at the 16 minute, 23 second mark after being called for fouls hedging a screen and jumping over the back.
The game was already over after a first half that saw Florida Gulf Coast shoot just 12 percent (3 of 25) from the field. The Eagles had 14 turnovers and no assists. It was hard to tell if the Jayhawks’ defense was that good or Florida Gulf Coast was just that bad. The Eagles are beginning their second season in Division I. The Jayhawks made two changes to their starting lineup, switching freshman Tyshawn Taylor in for sophomore Tyrel Reed and freshman Markieff Morris in for freshman Quintrell Thomas.
While Collins and Aldrich are set, the Jayhawks haven’t been able to settle on the other three spots. KU has used a combination of Taylor, Morningstar and Reed to fill the two guard spots, and Thomas, Markieff Morris and Marcus Morris have all started halves.
KU, 2-0, will face its first test of the young season on Monday against Washington in the CBE Classic at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. The winner of KU-Washington will face the winner of the Syracuse-Florida game on Tuesday night, while the two losers will play in a consolation game.