Scouting Kansas versus Duke
November, 11, 2013
By Seth Greenberg | ESPN Insider
Getty ImagesBill Self and Mike Krzyzewski will square off in the Champions Classic on Tuesday night.Tuesday night's Champions Classic in Chicago will feature four of college basketball's elite programs, and four of the top five teams in the AP Top 25. The two matchups will showcase some of the nation's best returning players, as well as some of its most highly touted freshmen.
I've drawn up scouting reports on every team, the way I would if I were coaching against these teams, and included keys to the game for each matchup.
Here is my breakdown of the No. 5 Kansas Jayhawks versus the No. 4 Duke Blue Devils (9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN). You can also check out my in-depth look at No. 2 Michigan State Spartans versus No. 1 Kentucky Wildcats (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN).
Scouting the Jayhawks
Kansas will have seven first-year players in its rotation this season, a big contrast to last season's veteran-laden squad. The challenge to coaching such a young team is getting everyone to compete and play hard. That's why, while everyone is talking about Andrew Wiggins and the freshman class, I feel the key to Kansas' success will be getting consistent play out of junior point guard Naadir Tharpe and sophomore forward Perry Ellis. The gifted freshmen need someone to learn from about what it takes to be successful at the highest level.
Tharpe needs to embrace the role of leader, play-starter and playmaker. He needs to manage the game, read advantage-disadvantage situations and keep the young Jayhawks organized. He cannot let pressure speed him up. Ellis, meanwhile, started last season as a tentative talent, but ended the season as a confident and consistent frontcourt scorer. He has excellent footwork and feel, but needs to bring it every night if the Jayhawks are to be in the national championship conversation.
Denny Medley/USA TODAY SportsAndrew Wiggins leads an impressive freshman class for Kansas.
The thing that makes Wiggins so special is that he has an explosive first step and a quick second bounce. He is a freakish athlete who is still learning how to play facing the defense and compete on every play. He has the potential to be an elite defender.
Wayne Selden Jr. is as physically mature and competitive as any freshman in the country. A physical defender, Selden can defend multiple positions. On offense, he is a hard-driving guard who can play through contact and finish, and he's an excellent ball handler who can help out Tharpe when there's pressure.
Freshman Joel Embiid has the potential to become the best frontcourt player to ever play for Bill Self. He has a rare combination of size, length and quickness, and although he is a developing offensive talent, he is already an accomplished defender. With the new rules in place this season, he will be a valuable rim protector. Graduate transfer Tarik Black gives Self a mature, experienced, functional inside player. He will complement Ellis and Embiid.