If you watch enough roundtable discussions on ESPN or listen to enough sports talk radio, you have heard it. If you read online or print analysis of this KU team from the national pundits, you have definitely seen it.
It might go something like this: “Kansas has overachieved this year en route to its 31-6 record, its 8th straight league title, and another Final Four appearance.”
Overachieved, huh? Know what I think of that analysis?
It’s a cop out. It’s lazy. And it just isn’t accurate.
Calling the 2011-2012 Jayhawks a group of overachievers undersells the season these guys have had. It implies they’re playing above their talent. It also infers illegitimacy.
And now for the truth.
This team has had a more talented starting five than its opponent in 33 of the 37 games played this season (and that is being kind and including Baylor among the teams with better raw talent).
In those same 37 games, the Jayhawks were an underdog only 3 times. Even today, matching up against one of the most talented teams in the country (even without Kendall Marshall), the Jayhawks were 2 point favorites.
This team has potential NBA talent at 4 of the 5 starting positions. It has a four year starting point guard and a finalist for the Wooden Award. On paper, it sure sounds a whole lot like a Final Four caliber team.
But the pundits don’t like to acknowledge that. They see a turnover prone boom or bust guard, a power forward that has had to sit behind NBA talent his first two years on campus, and a cast of characters that doesn’t look a whole lot like a “normal” Kansas team. They don’t pass the “eye test.”
When it comes to the Kansas bench, they do have a point.
In some years, Bill Self’s second five off the bench could be a starting 5 for many high major teams. This team is 6 or 7 deep, and that is probably generous. The lack of depth is a legitimate knock on KU’s coaching staff (or the NCAA or whoever you want to blame for partial qualifiers).
But somehow this team has overcome these depth issues. Just like it has overcome alllll of the other obstacles that have beset this poor, sad underdog of a team.
The truth is that this starting 5 talent is comparable to any starting 5 in the country not named Kentucky. And with one more win against a team we actually match up pretty well against in Ohio State, we might get to see if Kentucky can beat these overachieving “Cinderella” Jayhawks.
#kubball, Basketball, Final Four, Kansas