(If you want to see the other half of this exchange, check it out over at Rock Chalk Talk)
The latest edition of the Kansas/Texas basketball rivalry is just around the corner, we met up with the proprietors of SBNation's Kansas blog - Rock Chalk Talk - to ask them the really in-depth questions, like 'What is a Jayhawk' and 'Seriously, what is a Jayhawk'. They sent over the humbly named MisterBrain to supply answers and also ask for a job because we're the only state that's hiring any more.
BWG: I hesitate to call a 15-3 team that's going for their 11th straight conference title 'vulnerable', but this Kansas squad has been up & down enough that I question if they've got 'it' this year. You go up 20 on OU & have dominating stretches against quality teams like Utah, but you also get obliterated by Kentucky & let that same Oklahoma squad take a lead after said 20-point deficit. Can you please explain Kansas' bipolar nature this year?
RCT: I think it's actually quite simple to explain - lack of consistent veteran leadership. Kansas came into the year expecting Perry Ellis to step up and carry this squad until the freshmen got up to speed. Unfortunately, we came to find out that Ellis just isn't that natural outspoken leader that we thought he could be, and guys like Wayne Selden and Frank Mason weren't ready or able to step up. Without that veteran presence, the team has been prone to wild swings as the freshmen get overamped and push too hard, or get too down on themselves when things start to go bad.
Mason was the first to settle in, and he's been the rock for the team recently, but even he got swept up in that Oklahoma game as the 3s were raining in from everywhere.
And I think bi-polar is the perfect way to describe it. We all know the crazy ones are the most dangerous.
BWG: Kelly Oubre went from being mostly lost to showcasing talents that landed him so high on recruiting services. Is Oubre finally rounding into form or is this a temporary spike in productivity?
RCT: Oubre has awakened, and I fully expect him and his spider arms to terrorize the Big 12 from this point forward. He is still prone to the occasional freshman mistake, but he has finally caught on to the college game. Like Hiro in "Heroes", he has discovered the ability to manipulate time and slow it down, so he shall be an unstoppable force once he masters it.
BWG: Texas has been running out a 2-3 zone almost to the exclusion of a man defense, to the point I asked Syracuse if they were sure we hadn't kidnapped Jim Boeheim. I haven't seen Kansas up against a zone much this year, but I've only caught a handful of your games this season. How does KU perform against a 2-3 zone, and do you think they'll shoot well enough from the outside to force Texas into a man defense?
RCT: Unfortunately, your hypothesis of why Rick Barnes is using the zone so much doesn't go far enough. See, back when Rick's career was on the decline, he got it into his head that there must be some secret to aging but still being able to work at a high level as a basketball coach. He first went to Larry Brown, who told him that he "needed to move on every few years so that people don't have time to find flaws." Unfortunately, Rick decided he didn't really want to move, especially since he had already been outed as a mediocre coach. Instead, he turned to Boeheim for any tips or tricks. Rick made the mistake of saying "I wish my teams could play defense like yours" at the same time that Jim said "I wish I had a talent base to pull from like you do" and in a Freaky Friday-esque bit of ridiculousness, each of them had a part of their mind imprint on the other. So really, Boeheim lost part of himself to Barnes, and as Syracuse still can't really recruit in Texas, he's pretty much screwed.
What does this have to do with KU playing against a zone? Nothing really, but as we saw against Oklahoma in the first half, Kansas really can light it up from outside the arc, and the inside game isn't really where it used to be. But if the shooters can get hot, they may be able to extend the zone far enough to find holes in the middle that they can exploit.
BWG: Texas A&M has a guy in the corps dedicated to guarding Reveille. He feeds her, cares for her, and occasionally throws a block against a SMU player in her defense. Who does Kansas get to guard Bill Self's hairpiece while he sleeps and/or hangs out in hot tubs with coeds?
RCT: Little known fact: Bill's hairpiece is a direct relative of Traxie, the hairpiece for Dark Truder, the villian of the popular children's television show The Zula Patrol. Also, Barney (the name I totally just made up for Self's hair) is completely evil, and the ideas he has about running a basketball team are horrible. Luckily he can only speak to Self telepathically. Unfortunately, when Self and Truder were ordering their hairpieces, the company got them mixed up, and due to a binding "adoption" agreement, they are stuck with the hairpiece they received. As a sentient lifeform, Barney doesn't actually require someone to protect him, although he has been known to hang out with Worf's beard, so maybe that gives him all the protection he needs.
BWG: What's your prediction on Saturday's game? Is Kansas more Mark Mangino or Charlie Weis? Is Texas more Vince Young or Tyrone Swoopes? And do you have any idea who runs @KUBoobs? I'm dying to know and/or get access to the stuff they get that's too smutty for them to run.
RCT: Regardless of which one you pick, I'm pretty sure both of those guys are more than the entire Kansas team. Take them to a buffet, and I'm absolutely certain of it. In terms of personality, I'd have to go with Mark Mangino, only because they can get a mean streak in them, but it may involve depriving them of food to see it. Texas is more of the Tyler Swoopes breed, in that he is entirely a figment of my imagination. Unfortunately this one started to tap into my nightmares, so who knows how formidable they will be by the time the game rolls around. In all, it looks like we should see a hell of a game, and I'm going to have to pick Kansas in a squeaker.
BWG: Bonus question: Is it true that Perry Ellis was on the same Dominican Little League team as Danny Almonte?
RCT: I'm sorry, but all I can tell you is that information is classified. I can neither confirm nor deny that Perry Ellis is actually a super secret government experiment that can be aged at will to blend in with the most fanatical and dangerous groups of all - youth athletes. I can neither confirm nor deny that his mission is nearly complete, and he'll soon graduate into collecting intel among the professional ranks. Remember, all that information is classified, so I can't tell you whether it's true or not.