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Friday, January 25, 2008

Dick Vitale - Kansas under the radar

Kansas under the radar
Dick Vitale

Memphis has played outstanding basketball this season and John Calipari is getting the most out of his people, but what about the other unbeaten team, Kansas? There is something about this Jayhawk squad that is unique and special. They have phenomenal balance and what does that remind you of? ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla recently mentioned it on a telecast; this Kansas team is reminiscent of Florida. I couldn't agree more with that assessment.

When you study this Jayhawk edition, look at the distribution of points. They have so many weapons capable of scoring and beating you; it is hard to know which guy is going to hurt you. Look at the improvement of Darrell Arthur and Darnell Jackson inside.

I have said it before and I will say it again … Kansas has the best perimeter play in America. Their versatility with Mario Chalmers, Sherron Collins, Russell Robinson and Brandon Rush is impressive. This club is playing unselfish basketball, and using its defense to create offense.

Bill Self has a juggernaut that is on fire. You can say the Jayhawks are playing as well as anyone in the nation. They have flat-out dominated. At 18-0, this is the school's best start since going 22-0 in 1996-97.

Think about this: Kansas is 32-1 in its last 33 games and has won 26 straight regular-season contests.

It is that athleticism and quickness and a special purpose each time they take the court. Maybe it is that football mentality which has hit the basketball program? Only kidding, as Rock, Chalk Jayhawk has been led by basketball for many years and that will continue. Sorry Coach Mangino!

Self has his kids playing the way Billy Donovan did the last few years. Look at the balance of both clubs. The Gators' high scorer last season didn't average 15 ppg. Kansas has some similar numbers. Through 18 games, Kansas has had seven different leading scorers. There have been four different high scorers in the last four outings.

Brandon Rush, a preseason All-Solid Gold choice, is the team's fourth-leading scorer, averaging just under 12 ppg. Now that is balance, my friends!

How steady is this team? The Jayhawks have shot 50 percent or better in 14 of its 18 games this season. That shows that Self's team has utilized good shot selection.

This is a legitimate threat to cut the nets down in San Antonio. My friends, I have a feeling this club is going to be a continuing juggernaut all year long. I don't see a slip coming soon. This is a well-coaching team playing with purpose and working as a T-E-A-M … T for togetherness, E for effort, A for attitude and M for mental toughness. You need that mental toughness to become a champion.

Will this be the year that Kansas gets the championship? Imagine if we had a Kansas-North Carolina title game? I am not predicting that, and sorry John Calipari, but that sounds interesting, baby!

Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in December 1979. Send him a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.

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