New Mexico gets a real test this season when they travel to the Midwest to take on the Kansas Jayhawks at the Sprint Center. To get to know Kansas better we reached out to SB Nation's Jayhawks community Rock Chalk Talk to get some insight about this game.
Q: Kansas has such a young team what are your thoughts on them particularly Andrew Wiggins?
A: In terms of potential and the ceiling of this team, I absolutely love them. These guys are possibly the most talented group that Bill Self has had and that's saying a lot. Unfortunately we're probably never going to see the best of them at the college level because they're young and these guys are going to be so much better with time.
It's sort of a catch-22. As a fan you desperately want to land these guys on your roster, but at the same time it's maddening to watching them at times. You see the flashes of what could be, then you see 40 minutes of deer in headlights, lack of intensity and silly errors. My hope is that by March we're happy with this group and the development they've experienced.
Speaking to Wiggins in particular. I feel for the guy, he produces, but expectations are outlandish from the outside. I think most Kansas fans have been reasonably pleased. He could be more aggressive, but he does make it look easy when he wants to and he's lifted the team multiple times throughout the year. It's a shame that he gets judged nationally simply by a stat line sometimes. People seem to expect 30+ point turnouts left and right. Paul Pierce is a NBA Hall of Famer and played at Kansas for multiple years. He would have been a one and done in this era, Wiggins has pretty better and he's done it with ease. I'm extremely happy with what he's done, but the hype machine has soured things a little bit.
Q: The schedule is tough for Kansas so far and this New Mexico is part of a brutal four-game stretch of the recent Colorado loss, Georgetown and Florida; could Kansas be overlooking this Lobos team?
A: I hope not. At this point this team should start to realize that people are gunning for them and some of that early season shine is wearing off. They need to start stepping up to the plate with the intensity that it's going to take to win in league play and come March. These are great tests for that. I'm not saying they don't struggle or even lose the game, but I don't think it's because they are overlooking anyone.
Q: Does Kansas have the bigs to go up against Alex Kirk and Cameron Bairstow, and could be the rebounding discrepancy be the difference in this game?
A: They do, if they show up. Kansas honestly has some pretty solid big man depth. Foul trouble and youth have been the issue. I think assertiveness will probably allow for the rebounding discrepancy to swing one way or the other. Short answer, yes they have the horses...I just don't know if they play as big as they are capable of.
Q: What is Kansas' game plan on offense and defense?
A: Our last four games have been a struggle so I don't know that I have the answer. Offensively we really get stagnant when teams force us to shoot and that is so painfully obvious that I don't know how any team doesn't pack the middle until we can show any competence from the perimeter. Defensively we are really struggling to stop penetration and just stay in front of the ball. Bill Self has always been a coach that preaches physical defense. The new rules have made that tough. The help is slow, it's overcommitted when it happens and fouling seems to be the only way we're preventing a bucket. I do look for Self to really push this team defensively because I think transition basketball and pressure are what he has and always will believe in when it comes to breaking free.
Q: What is your prediction in this game?
I feel like I'll know a little more after we take on Florida tonight, but for now I'm almost expecting something a little bit ugly (Editors note: Kansas loss to Florida). That's the way teams are managing this Kansas team and I think some of what New Mexico does well can benefit from doing that a little. Now ugly is a relative term with these two teams, but I could see the score playing out a little closer to your recent matchup with Cincinnati only a narrower gap one way or the other at the end. This Kansas team has a lot to learn and they're being mentally tested right now. I'm excited to see how they respond.