In the end, it was about what you’d expect from an exhibition basketball game. Months of anticipation rolled into one game with enough overreaction and hype, yet there’s reason to daydream about the possibilities, as Kansas rolled over Pittsburg State 97-57, Tuesday night at Allen Fieldhouse to open the 2013-14 season.
The well deserved hype surrounded the much anticipated debut of freshman Andrew Wiggins, whose debut has been talked about for months since his May commitment. Despite a slow start and plenty of jitters, he provided a glimpse of what’s to come, as he finished with 16 points on five of 13 shooting and tallied six rebounds.
“He told me after the game, “Coach, I was so nervous,” head coach Bill Self said. “He didn’t play well early, but he played well late. I don’t think his aggressiveness was what it should be in a lot of ways, but I did think he did some good things.”
Wiggins’ debut also featured solid players from guards Naadir Tharpe and Andrew White, as well as forward Perry Ellis, who together, form a trio that could set the pace for the Jayhawks, as they embark on a unprecedented journey, in which the eyes of the college basketball world will be upon them throughout.
Tharpe, who has emerged as one of the leaders on the team, dished out nine assists to go with seven points while not committing a turnover. White chipped in 12 points while making two of three from beyond the arc, while Ellis tied Wiggins for the team lead in points with 16. He was also hauled in eight rebounds.
The other story was the new rules in college basketball, which prohibit most contact while on defense. The idea is to speed the game up and add scoring, but so far, it appears that all it will do will rob games of flow, while turning most contests into a parade of free throws. Both teams combined for 50 fouls and 61 free throws and frustrated everyone involved.
“It’s been tough, we try to work on it in practice as much as we can, but we’re so used to being up on guys and pushing them off and now we have to adjust to this, but, that’s why we have a couple of more practices before we play another game, so we’ll just have to keep on working,” Tharpe said.
Indeed, the Jayhawks will use the next week to continue fine tuning things with this young team before they welcome Fort Hays State to Allen Fieldhouse next Tuesday for another exhibition game before opening the regular season a week from Friday against Louisiana Monroe.