This week I caught up with Owen, who runs SB Nation's Kansas blog, Rock Chalk Talk. We talked a bit about Kansas' strengths and weaknesses, defending Thomas Robinson, and I might have begged for Kansas to let us win. I also answered some questions for Owen, and they'll be up over at RCT.
1.) What are the strengths and weaknesses of this team?
I think the strengths rest with the talent of the starters. Thomas Robinson is a POY candidate and the frontrunner until the media jumped over to Anthony Davis. Tyshawn Taylor has flown under the radar for whatever reason but he has to be considered one of the best at his position in the country. At times you could argue that he has been the best. Then you have players like Jeff Withey and Elijah Johnson who have at times really blossomed and looked like high major studs. For as much as this team leaves to be desired in terms of depth, they really do have a good group in the starting five.
Weaknesses would have to be that lack of depth. At times we really get into a slump or a scoring rut and when that happens we don't seem to have a spark off the bench or anyone to help us get out of that. This is a good team, they can grind and win with defense, but when they start to struggle to score it can be a problem.
2.) Given the personnel losses after last season, how surprising has this season been to you guys?
I think very surprising. I think we all knew Thomas Robinson would be good and that Taylor and Johnson would be good, but I don't think anyone really predicted how well Robinson and Taylor would end up doing. We also had a nice surprise in the development of Jeff Withey. At the start of the year I think you probably would have heard the common hope or expectation being something around a 3-4 seed, hopefully compete to win what looked like a down Big 12 and then make a run at the Sweet 16. So far, those expectations have been exceeded. I suppose the problem is that expectations tend to elevate rather quickly in a situation like this.
3.) I've gotten the sense that as talented as Tyshawn Taylor is, he can be a bit erratic and frustrating at times. How does he get himself in trouble?
I think this is a bit of a stigma that is following him based on his past performances. Really since conference play started, he's been pretty darn good and not nearly as frustrating. I think it was a confidence thing and now he's playing with confidence and he seems pretty capable of managing those things that made him frustrating in the past. But if you listen to an announcing crew or any media member who is casually following Kansas, they'll tell you that he has a high propensity for turning the ball over and playing out of control. It still happens on occasion, but all in all he's really turned a corner.
4.) What strategy for defending Thomas Robinson has been most effective this year? If he's doubled, can Kansas' outside shooting be expected to make opponents pay?
Double and triple teams. Purdue did as well as anyone by just throwing bodies at him and being extremely physical. Kansas does have other areas they can score from without a doubt, but taking Robinson out of the game is a big step in the right direction for anyone. We aren't a deadly outside shooting team by any means and at times we seem a bit gun shy or nervous when Robinson is limited. Where Bill Self has managed to get this team to buy in and counter that is on the defensive end. This is a tough team and I think much of that is because they aren't overly talented as Kansas has been the past 6-8 years.
5.) It's been a while for us, so you think you could just let us have this one? Thanks in advance.
Here's the thing, at this point anyone can win and that's just the NCAA tournament. If you win this one, you'll have earned it and I certainly think NC State is capable of doing that. That said, I'd prefer to move on if at all possible.