Kansas basketball opened its 2019-2020 season on Tuesday night and fell to the fourth-ranked Duke Blue Devils. There are kinks that need to be worked on after this loss.
The Kansas Jayhawks entered the 2019-2020 season as the third-ranked team in the country. While they’re likely going to drop a couple of spots due to their loss to fourth-ranked Duke, the Jayhawks can learn a lot from this game.
Let’s take a look at five kinks KU needs to focus on moving forward.
TAKE CARE OF THE BALL
Any conversation about this game has to start with the fact the Jayhawks had 28 turnovers in their loss to Duke. That’s a big statement on its own, but moving forward, KU obviously needs to hold onto the ball and be smarter all around. They lost by two points and maybe if even one of those turnovers doesn’t occur, the Jayhawks are 1-0 right now instead of 0-1.
CAN THEY PLAY WITH TWO BIGS?
A big part of why the Kansas Jayhawks could win a National Championship this year is because they have players that can be really tough to guard. Bill Self is experimenting with having two big men on the court in Udoka Azubuike and David McCormack, but we saw clear reasons as to why this might not be a great strategy for this team.
The Jayhawks need to figure out if they can actually make the “playing with two big men” strategy work. Self went away from it the further we got into the game and brought in some of the freshmen off the bench (more on that in a bit), but if he wants to use the two big man approach moving forward, adjustments are going to need to be made for sure.
DOTSON NEEDS TO GET ON TRACK
Devon Dotson is going to be a big part of this year’s team, but he made a lot of poor decisions on Tuesday night. Yes, he had some nice moments, but there were several times when Dotson had a good lane, but didn’t follow through. He tried too hard to get a foul rather than just taking the shot and he also made way too many poor passes.
Dotson needs to step up his game because the Jayhawks are relying on him this season. This is just one game and there were promising moments for Dotson, but the negatives outweighed the positives, so let’s hope he learned from those errors.
FRESHMEN NEED TIME TO GEL
It was pretty clear that the freshmen weren’t clicking with this team in their first glimpse of action. Christian Braun, Tristan Enaruna, and Jalen Wilson saw time off the bench and combined for five points (all courtesy of Enaruna). Braun picked up a couple of fouls, while contributing little when he was on the court. Wilson didn’t look great in his few minutes on the court, making a couple of ugly turnovers, took a bad three-point shot, and bad foul in a brief first-half appearance.
These guys will get more time throughout the season (especially if Bill Self opts not to use two big men), but it wasn’t a great first game for any of them. Even Enaruna who had five of the bench’s eight points had his negative moments, most notably, two turnovers committed while trying to make jump passes in traffic.
IT’S ONLY ONE GAME
The most positive thing to take away from this loss is that it’s only one game and Kansas almost won despite their sloppy play. The Jayhawks will learn from their mistakes and that’ll be critical moving forward.
Kansas basketball didn’t look very good in their first glimpse of action this season, but honestly, neither did Duke. The Blue Devils might have won the game, but it was sloppy on both sides and Duke just made a few less mistakes than the Jayhawks did.
Kansas will learn from this game (at least let’s hope so) and they’ll be a tough team to beat throughout the season. This loss shouldn’t make anyone lose hope in this team, but they need to work at improving in these areas moving forward.