|Kansas roars to 17-0 start, and fans wonder about a perfect season|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 18 January 2008 11:58|
``The Patriots have done a good job in my opinion of not getting ahead of themselves,'' Self said. ``We're just going to try to get better every day and not get ahead of ourselves. Our goal is to win every game. It's not realistic to think you can run the table.''
It may not be realistic. But a 17-0 start by a team that combines depth, talent and big-game savvy has ignited talk among ardent Jayhawk fans of - dare they say it - a perfect season.
Kansans are growing pleasantly comfortable with such a possibility. Their football team, after all, started 11-0 before losing to Missouri in the regular-season finale and finishing 12-1 with an Orange Bowl victory over Virginia Tech.
It was the greatest season in Kansas football history. Could the same thing be happening with basketball, the school's signature sport?
``Together now, we're 29-1. That's impressive,'' said freshman center Cole Aldrich, who's added valuable minutes to a lineup already loaded with big men Darrell Arthur, Darnell Jackson and Sasha Kaun. ``I love it. I love winning.''
If they survive a trip to Missouri on Saturday night - a traditional stumbling block for some of the best Kansas teams in all sports - the Jayhawks will be heavily favored to remain unbeaten in their next two games, at home against Iowa State and Nebraska. That could put them at 20-0 on Jan. 30 going into Kansas State's Bramlage Coliseum, where they've never lost, and by then the pressure will begin to smoke and smolder.
They would be just two wins short of the school-record 22-0 start Roy Williams' 1996-97 team built before losing at Missouri.
``There could be pressure if we're undefeated two weeks from now,'' Self said. ``But right now ... our season's just starting. We're 17-0. But all but three of those are considered home games. If we're undefeated two or three weeks from now, there'll be pressure.''
Going into this weekend, the No. 3 Jayhawks and Williams' No. 1 North Carolina (18-0) and No. 2 Memphis (16-0) are the only unbeatens.
Self insists his players are not talking about their perfect record.
``I promise you our players are not thinking like that,'' Self said. ``And if they are, I haven't heard one mention of it.''
The players do admit, however, to watching with angst this week as the Tar Heels stayed unbeaten with a 83-82 squeaker over Georgia Tech.
``That was a tough one to watch,'' senior guard Russell Robinson said. ``(The Tar Heels) do get a lot of national attention. I wish we could have a little bit of it.''
Now in his fifth season at Kansas, Self's team is proving remarkably unselfish. In 17 games, the Jayhawks have had seven different high scorers.
``One guy can get the hot hand,'' Jackson said. ``Then another guy can get the hot hand. As long as we play together, we'll win a lot of games.''
Consider the 30-pount rout Monday night of Oklahoma. Jackson had 17 points and eight rebounds. Rush had 16 and nine rebounds, Arthur 14 points and eight rebounds. Point guard Mario Chalmers, the Big 12 leader in steals, had 13 points and kick-started the take-charge run in the second half.
``That's the chemistry of the guys, the personalities of our guys,'' Robinson said. ``Everybody likes each other. Everybody wants to see each other do well. Everybody wants to share the wealth. There's nobody who wants to hog the spotlight.''
In a 79-58 victory at Nebraska last week in their Big 12 opener, Rush led the way with 19 points while Chalmers had 14 and Robinson 10.
``I think they're probably as unselfish a team with this much talent as I've ever seen,'' Nebraska coach Doc Sadler said. ``When you've got guys who supposedly are considered lottery picks playing 23-24 minutes a game and not complaining, then you've got a chance to have a special team.
``I don't know if anything is going to rattle those guys. They're playing with an unbelievable amount of confidence.''