What To Take From Kansas’ Gold Medal World University Games Run

Posted by Brian Goodman on July 14th, 2015

Yesterday, Kansas brought home the gold for the United States by beating Germany in double overtime in the World University Games championship. Hosted in Korea, the event was sort of funky, as USA Basketball’s commitment to the Pan-Am Games led them to essentially outsource its participation to the Jayhawks, who beat out other schools for the opportunity. It was also interesting in that two likely members of Kansas’ 2015-16 rotation (Svi Mykhailiuk and Cheick Diallo) had to skip the event because they weren’t American citizens, and two others (Brannen Greene and DevonteGraham) sat out due to health reasons. They were replaced by SMU’s Nic Moore and Florida Gulf Coast’s Julian DeBose, so while you can’t take the gold medal away, it’s important to remember that between the roster changes, a busy schedule that had the team playing eight games in 11 days, and the rules of international play, you should tread lightly before drawing too many conclusions from Kansas’ run. That being said, there were some interesting developments worth noting.

Wayne Selden left opposing defenses in his dust during the World University Games.

Wayne Selden left opposing defenses in his dust during the World University Games.

  • The team got an early leg up: This isn’t so much about any particular player, but more about the team’s participation as a whole. Kansas enjoyed extra practices and reps they wouldn’t have otherwise received because of the NCAA’s restrictions on summer practices. That’s an advantage, but one that was earned by virtue of being selected by USA Basketball. For an experienced team that already figured to be in the Top 5 of most preseason polls, any additional time the team is able to spend together should work in their favor, even if the precise impact of those extra practices can’t be measured.

  • Wayne Selden’s drawing us in… again. The rising junior has had an up-and-down career in Lawrence, but he was clearly Kansas’ best player in this event, averaging 17.9 points per game on 49.6% shooting, along with an efficient 36.7% clip from distance in eight games. Oh, and he pulled down 6.5 rebounds per contest, too. His numbers almost certainly won’t translate, but the absence of an explosive Selden kept Kansas from making a deep NCAA Tournament run after he appeared to turn a corner during the Big 12 Tournament earlier in March. I’d be careful about buying in on him after his standout play this month because it doesn’t answer for all the times he’s disappeared in the past, but I will admit that it’s tempting.
  • Frank Mason keeps his foot on the gas: Frank Mason was an unheralded, undersized point guard coming out of high school and didn’t show much in his freshman season, but last year was a different story. While Mason had some frustrating moments, he brought as much stability to the point guard spot as there had been since the second half of Tyshawn Taylor’s 2012 season, averaging 12.6 points, 3.9 assists, and 3.9 rebounds per game. Mason continued to go all-out against international competition, utilizing his bulldog mentality and surprising rebounding ability to help lead Kansas to the gold. By the end of the tournament, Selden had tired out, but Mason stepped up with 18 points, nine rebounds, and six rebounds in Monday’s final. At the low end of expectations, Mason remains firmly entrenched as the team’s floor general, while at the high end, we could see a breakout in the backcourt after so much of the focus with Kansas in recent seasons has been on the wing and center positions.
  • Hunter Mickelson should get a longer look this season. I always found it strange that Mickelson didn’t get more opportunities down low last season, especially as Cliff Alexander faded out of the picture. There just didn’t appear to be much that Landen Lucas could do that Mickelson couldn’t do as well or better. In Korea, Mickelson asserted himself as a rim protector capable of converting easy looks at the other end. He may not be an all-conference center, but at the very least, he should be able to help Perry Ellis carry the load in the frontcourt as Diallo handles the adjustments needed to make an impact at the power conference level.
Brian Goodman (977 Posts)

Brian Goodman a Big 12 microsite writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BSGoodman.

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2 responses to “What To Take From Kansas’ Gold Medal World University Games Run”

  1. Walt says:

    What these games showed me is that regardless of the talent Self gas on the bench that could be utilized to keep his starters fresh, coach has bad old habits he still hasn’t been able to break!

    Mickelson could have spelled Lucas and he could’ve given Mason a break but his blinders were on again and he’d rather let Mason and Ellis and Seldin die of exaustion than look to broaden his lineup!

    That’s why he almost lost to an inferior German team who’s coach used more players to wear KU down!! I love coach self but he is much less disciplined than he insists his players be!

  2. […] are plenty of questions surrounding this roster. Junior guard Wayne Selden Jr. excelled during the team’s summer run at the World University Games but has otherwise been underwhelming during his time in Lawrence. He arrived as a […]

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