Heading into the season, it was expected the Kansas Jayhawks of today wouldn't possess the same variety of weaponry their predecessors enjoyed.
And honestly, it's a reasonable expectation. Last season, if one of the Morris Twins got into early foul trouble, Thomas Robinson came off the bench. There was always a Mario Little, a Brady Morningstar or a Josh Selby waiting in the wings. Substitute, and they really didn't miss much of a beat.
Which isn't to say this group doesn't have talent. No team possessed of Robinson, Tyshawn Taylor and Elijah Johnson - just for starters - can claim to be untalented.
But without the depth and experience of years past, Head Coach Bill Self expected this team to look a little more...traditional, for lack of a better word. The offense would flow almost exclusively between the aforementioned trio, as the most experienced and likely most talented players on the Kansas roster.
And really, Friday's season-opening pasting of Towson University - 100-54 - won't change that philosophy. It was, as they say, just one game.
But for 40 minutes the they sure looked and played like a balanced squad. Led by Robinson's 18 points and 11 rebounds, six Kansas players scored in double figures.
Even more impressive were the 30 assists the Jayhawks doled out as a team, to just five turnovers - a staggering 6:1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Johnson, back from a two-game suspension along with Taylor, accounted for almost a third of the assist total, racking up eight with zero turnovers. Robinson, Taylor and freshman Naadir Tharpe all added four a piece.
“Our depth situation is not the best, but maybe through these first three games we’ve played, maybe we’ve kind of found that we’re not as thin depth-wise as we thought," Self said. "Look out there tonight and there were nine guys that contributed pretty well."
One of those somewhat unexpected contributors was junior transfer Kevin Young. The wiry, 6-foot-8, 185-pound forward labored through most of two exhibition games, and Self indicated he had been doing more thinking than reacting of late during practice.
Friday night, he exploded for 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting and seven rebounds in just 14 minutes of playing time.
What made the contest versus the Tigers different from the two exhibition games?
"It's the season," Young said. "It starts now, so we have to give it 110-percent. We have to go out as hard as we can every game."
"Maybe the light came on," Self added. "He looked good. He was aggressive, got his hands on balls. Thomas got 11 rebounds but Kevin was our best rebounder in the game. I thought in 14 minutes he maximized his time out there no question."
One area in which this Kansas team is the equal of many of Self's best teams on Mount Oread is pure athleticism. The addition of Johnson and Taylor to the lineup made the Jayhawks that much faster, and stretches of relentless defense (Towson turned it over 23 times and Kansas swiped 15 steals) led to numerous runout dunks.
Young put his own considerable gifts on display, getting a couple of crowd-pleasing jams in the early-going that helped calm his nerves and get him into the flow of the game.
"I love to dunk," he said. "It's my favorite part of the game because it gets everybody into it - the crowd, the players on the team and it rattles the opposite team as well."
With one game now officially under their belts, the Jayhawks prepare to travel to New York City next week, for a highly-touted match-up with Kentucky at Madison Square Garden.
It's a game for men, Self said. The Wildcats are athletic, talented and deep - but a challenge for which he believes the Jayhawks will be ready.
"I think it will be a great game, and a game there will be a lot of hard-rocking athletes out there on both sides that will be getting after it," he said. "It will be fun to watch, and it will really give us a true indication of where we're at."
Tipoff on Tuesday is scheduled for 8 p.m. CT. The game will be broadcast on ESPN.