If you're a Jayhawks fan, then you're well aware of the ever-improving presence of Marcus Morris in the paint and his brother, Markieff, also warrants mention as well. Marcus might well end up as the team's MVP when all is said and done concerning the 2010-11 season for Bill Self's roster, but it will specifically be the guard play that determines just how far this squad will go in the end.
It's the season of the backcourt and it's been this way for a while now. Last season's final game featuring Duke edging Butler showcased this very ideal with the tremendous perimeter play of both teams. Butler's Shelvin Mack tied for the team lead in scoring alongside his team's best player, forward Gordon Hayward, now with the Utah Jazz -- a sweet shooting forward who hardly qualifies as a post presence who excels at the outside game. On the other side, the same can be said of Duke's trio of guards Nolan Smith and Jon Scheyer alongside forward Kyle Singler, who matches Hayward in out perimeter prowess.
This year, it's the tremendously talented backcourt of the Blue Devils that have the country talking and keeps them in at No. 1 in the overall polls. Good guard play is essential as the season goes on as teams move quickly and excel taking guys off the dribble or running plays to secure the open outside shot. KU can't ignore this and this is what makes Josh Selby so essential for the current season.
So far, Tyshawn Taylor came up big in the opening game against Longwood with 17 points and 10 assists (along with 6 turnovers), including eight points and five assists against Valparaiso, and Tyrel Reed and Travis Releford have shown signs of life as well.
Monday's win against Valpo featured the Morris twins down low and that will definitely work to win several games, so this isn't to discount the Morris' presence at all. Instead, it's to note that as the competition becomes more fierce, as the season wears on and as the pressure mounts, it's been the guard play in recent years that has brought victory for those standing in the end.
Everything is still on hold concerning Selby's eligibility to play this season and when hindsight allows us to look back on this year, I believe it will be the ability of Selby to play and play well that will determine just how far this Kansas squad goes. Guard play is simply that vital in the end.