It is safe to say that the only way the ‘Cats get into the NCAA tournament is to go to Kansas City and put together their best four game streak of the season. You don’t want to say it can’t be done, but let’s be honest, we appear to be NIT bound. If there is a benefit to the NIT, we could probably have another game or two at the “Octagon of Doom” this year.
Everyone is certainly disappointed that the team did not reach expectations this year. However, let’s not forget that we appear to be a lock for postseason basketball for the ninth straight year. This run was preceded by seven years of misery; and trust me on that, I endured it.
The Wildcats head to Kansas City this week as the eight seed in the Big 12 tournament. They will face off with TCU on Wednesday in the 8/9 match-up for the right to take on that ‘team down the road’ in the second round. At least Bill Self and his players shouldn’t have to worry about their personal safety should the unthinkable happen (sarcasm).
Seriously though, as far as I am concerned, next season starts now. Bruce Weber is coming back next year, the haters have to just get over it. The question is: who will be coming back with him? And who will be the starting five for the ‘Cats next year?
On an interesting side note, the Wildcats have five commits for next year, with three of them having already signed a letter of intent. But, they only have three seniors on the roster this year so you do the math: it seems likely we will lose two.
I have said all along, and stick to my belief that the Bruce Weber-Marcus Foster differences will not be enough to run him Foster off. He appears to be the centerpiece player on a team in a major conference, something he needs to be if he aspires to make it to the NBA.
But, I don’t believe that Jevon Thomas will be with the team next year. To say his play this season has been sub par would be putting it nicely. That, coupled with the fact that we have two points guard commits next year, likely spells the end of his playing time in Manhattan. His inability to be any kind of scoring threat, along with the fact that he leads the team in turnovers is enough for this fan to be ok with losing him.
The other vacancy is not as easy to project, but here is my theory, which I’m sure many people won’t like or agree with. Wesley Iwundu, that’s right I think Iwundu will take his game elsewhere after this year. I don’t believe his role this year has been what he hoped it would be. He has only averaged 5.6 points in nearly twenty-five minutes per game. After a strong freshman year, most people expected more. I hope I’m wrong about this one, but I believe time will prove me right.
So let’s take a stab at the starting five for next year. The point guard battle should come down to Nigel Johnson and incoming freshman, Barry Brown. At this point I think Brown will win the job, with Johnson playing a little point, but more at the shooting guard position in relief.
At the other two guard positions, I have Foster and Justin Edwards. Edwards will have to be a more consistent scorer for the Wildcats next year though. This team needs a three-point threat other than Foster and this year they did not have one.
Down low is where the Wildcats appear to have many more possibilities. Of the players currently with the team D.J. Johnson and Stephen Hurt are the front runners, assuming Johnson is finally healthy. They will have to play well to hold onto their spots. Malek Harris will definitely be in the mix for a starting spot, at a minimum he should see the floor plenty. Incoming freshman Dean Wade of St. John, KS and Eric Cobb of Baltimore, MD could also very easily see significant playing time and make impacts as true freshman.
Either way next years team must compete like this year’s should have.