In this edition of Q&A with the Enemy, we discuss tonight's Big 12 showdown between the Oklahoma State Cowboys and the Kansas Jayhawks. We had the opportunity to sit down with RockChalkTalk writer Andy Mits; here are his responses:
1. Obviously, Kansas brings in bunches of talent every year, so most everyone comes into Lawrence as a stud. But for the sake of OSU fans who aren't familiar with the team, who are the Jayhawks' real big-time players this season? Who are the few players who jump out from the crowd?
The standout players this year are the same ones as last year, as our freshmen haven't really gotten an opportunity to play big minutes and they've been pretty ineffective in the time they have gotten.
Carlton Bragg was expected to contribute as a role player at first, with a chance to surpass Jamari Traylor, Landen Lucas and Hunter Mickelson, but he hasn't shown enough improvement and Landen Lucas has started to come into his own these last few games.
Cheick Diallo had his chance for early development derailed by the NCAA investigation into his eligibility, and with the heart of the Big 12 schedule already upon them when he was able to work his way into the lineup, he just wasn't able to get the playing time he needed to develop properly.
Instead, Perry Ellis stars for the 35th season, Frank Mason continues to be the floor general of this team, Jamari Traylor is still the high energy big guy, and Brannen Greene is still the sharpshooter that can't seem to stay out of trouble. New this season though is that Devonte' Graham has gone from second PG to complete player who can play lock-down defense on his own, Wayne Selden has been able to shift to the wing and show his potential, and Landen Lucas has finally developed into the big man that Self recruited him to be.
2. Where do you think the Jayhawks should fall in terms of national rankings? What are your hopes for the coming months, with the Big 12 tourney and March Madness slowly approaching? Do you think they can nab a No. 1 seed, possibly along with OU?
Personally, I have Kansas as the #1 team, just barely ahead of Villanova, but I don't have any problem with either of those teams being on the top spot. As Gary Parrish said in his Top 25 (and 1), Kansas has the most Top 25 wins and Top 50 wins, with only 1 loss outside the Top 25 (thanks guys). As for the next few weeks, I think Kansas will get a 1 seed if they can win the conference and/or the conference tournament, and Oklahoma has a good shot to make it 2 conference teams on the top line.
3. KU struggled in Stillwater in their 86-67 loss against the Cowboys. Why did they struggle so much, in your opinion, and how do they prevent it from happening again?
Honestly, Kansas was just in the middle of a prolonged slump, and Oklahoma State was hyped up as usual for the Jayhawks' arrival. Kansas always seems to have a tough time there, and with several players that just weren't playing well, it was just too much to overcome.
4. What is your prediction for tonight's game? I know our expectations aren't very high for the Pokes.
I'm definitely expecting a big win from the Jayhawks, mainly because Kansas is hitting their stride again and the Cowboys are struggling. Also, since it is Allen Fieldhouse, where Bill Self has only lost 9 times, I'm not expecting that tally to reach double digits tonight.
Bonus -- Is there anyway to lure Bill Self away from Lawrence? Because we're all wondering over here.
I think that ship has sailed. There might have been a chance going into the 2007-2008 season, when Oklahoma State was looking at trying to find a new coach and Kansas was getting close to the end of their contract with Self. Oklahoma State would have been the school to get him to, as Self had already said that Kansas was one of the few places that he could see ending his career but the call to go home would have been strong with him. But when Kansas went on to win a national title that year, and then Kansas signed him to his long extension, I'm having a hard time seeing Self ever leaving, unless he wants to test the NBA waters.
You can watch the Cowboys play the Jayhawks tonight on ESPN at 8 p.m. Read the other side of our Q&A with RockChalkTalk here.