So let's talk college hoops—and aircraft carriers, if you'd like. I, personally, am utterly relieved that order has been restored and the Tar Heels
are at the top of the preseason rankings, while Duke rests at a lowly No. 6. The rest
of the top 25 is similarly predictable, as it always is, but the wonder of this sport is that come March, none of it will matter. Division I
men's hoops has, in the past few years, actually come to know something resembling parity. Look no further than Brad Stevens's Butler Bulldogs.
So in a game in which forecasts do no good (except, of course, for the fact that the Heels will be national champions this year), what are you looking
forward to, Hampton? As far as I know, your Jayhawks don't have any games on an aircraft carrier this season—but surely, there must be something?
Me? Manhattan and Maui, for starters.
A few days after North Carolina dons those patriotic, yet undeniably ugly uniforms, KU visits the Greatest City on Earth, to meet Kentucky at the World's Most Famous Arena—if you don't count the Colosseum in Rome. Then the Jayhawks fly to the South Pacific, joining Georgetown, UCLA, and Chaminade for the EA Sports Maui Invitational. KU plays a game in Kansas City around
Christmas, as they do every year, meeting hardy little Davidson at the Sprint Center, then wraps the non-conference schedule in Hollywood against USC.
But, as filmdom's most famous fictional Kansan said, "There's no place like home." That's where KU will be when the calendar goes Spinal Tap on 11/11/11—on Naismith Court, in glorious Allen Field House, where the game as we know it began.
Truth be told, though? It's a weak non-conference schedule. With good reason. The team lost a ton of talent from last year, and three—count 'em three—highly recruited freshmen have been declared academically ineligible. While the Morris twins and Josh Selby are off somewhere not playing in the NBA, their former team will go through the season with
only eight players on scholarship.
That's trouble, because March Madness isn't the only thing that matters. Not in Lawrence, anyway. KU has won or shared the Big 12 title an incredible
seven straight times. Winning an eighth, especially with this roster, would be spectacular—no mater what happens in the postseason tourney.
How the team plays matters, too. Last year's club was just plain thuggish—with the twins throwing elbows on the court and putative team leaders
acting like fools
off-campus. It was embarrassing. This KU club needs, as a former Tar Heel player and Jayhawk coach used to repeat ad nauseam, "to play the right way."
For me, anyway, that means making grades and staying out of trouble off the court as well as making extra passes on it.
And you, Patrick? What's got you excited to see the amateurs play?