November 1, 2006

2006-07 Preview: Guards-a-plenty

The University of Kansas has been home to some of the better guards to play at the collegiate level, including Jacque Vaughn, Kirk Hinrich and Aaron Miles. The 2006-2007 Jayhawks continue the trend with returning starters Russell Robinson, and Mario Chalmers. Some new additions, namely McDonald's All-American Sherron Collins, also add to what is arguably the best backcourt in America.

As the season approaches, Bill Self was looking to relieve a little pressure from the guards with more consistent post play, but with the indefinite suspension of C.J. Giles, and the recent injury to Sasha Kaun (out 3-6 weeks with a partially torn Patella tendon), the perimeter must once again carry the load for the Jayhawks.

Thankfully Self has the luxury of the top backcourt in the nation, led by junior PG Russell Robinson. Alongside Robinson is sophomore guard Mario Chalmers, who returns as the second leading scorer on the team, as well as the Big XII's leader in steals from a year ago.

Towards the end of last season, Robinson and Chalmers took charge for Kansas, helping the Jayhawks to a 15-1 record heading into tournament play. Both players possess a defensive prowess that goes unmatched by any other tandem at the D-1 level.

With the loss of Kaun for at least a few weeks, Self will have to play small. At times, Self may choose to move Chalmers to the small forward spot, bringing in Collins to play the point with Robinson at the shooting guard. That type of speed, and the ability to mix up the lineups is what makes Kansas such a dangerous team.

Although the season ended with another first round exit, the Jayhawks still managed a share of the regular season conference championship, as well as the conference tournament championship. With everyone back, Kansas is a hot pick to cut down the nets in April.

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