Kansas No. 1 in Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Preseason Coaches' Poll
For the second time in the Bill Self era, Kansas men’s basketball is No. 1 according in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ preseason polls released Thursday.
This season marks only the second time in KU history the Jayhawks have opened the year No. 1 by Associated Press. The other was Self’s second season at Kansas in 2004-05. KU received 55 of a possible 61 first-place votes by Associated Press voters in garnering top honors. Michigan State was second, including five first place-votes and Texas third with one top vote.
Kansas received 27 first-place votes in the ESPN/USA Today Preseason Coaches’ Poll. The Jayhawks are No. 1 in the poll for the third time in school history and the first since the 2004-05 season. KU was also No. 1 in the 1996-97 according to the coaches.
KU returns its top nine scorers, including all five starters, and more than 94 percent in every statistical category form last season’s 27-8 team which won its fifth straight, ninth Big 12 and NCAA-leading 52nd conference regular-season title with a 14-2 record. The 2008-09 Jayhawks advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 and return 12 letterwinners.
“I’m not really surprised because a lot of people have said all along we would be here,” said Self, the 2006 and 2009 Big 12 Coach of the Year who was consensus national coach of the year following last season. “This is a reflection of last year’s performance, who you return and who you recruited from a projection standpoint. We return good players and have a nice recruiting class. I can see us being rated that high, but I hope our guys understand preseason rankings do not mean a lot and it should be our effort to try and play to that ranking each and every day we come out to practice.”
Following Kansas in the Associated Press poll were Michigan State, Texas, Kentucky and Villanova. After Kansas in the coaches’ poll were Michigan State, Texas, North Carolina and Kentucky.
This is the 15th time in the last 18 preseason polls, dating back to 1992-93, Kansas has appeared in the Associated Press top 10, including nine times in the top five.
In the coaches’ poll, this marks the eighth time in the last 10 seasons that KU has entered the poll ranked seventh or higher. Since 1993, this is the 13th time Kansas enters the coaches’ preseason poll ranked ninth or higher.
Kansas will face five teams – Texas, Tennessee, California, Michigan and Oklahoma – which are ranked in either preseason poll.
Quoting Bill Self:
On comparing the 2004-05 Preseason No. 1 Team to the 2009-10 Team
“That was a tired team that fizzled late. This team is more talented, deeper and probably has more margin for error than that team. But that team had some great leaders with Aaron (Miles), Wayne (Simien), Keith (Langford) and Michael (Lee) and I have yet to see that leadership except from Sherron (Collins) and Cole (Aldrich). We have to have some young guys step up.”
On the pressure of being No. 1
“I almost hope there is pressure because I hope they realize that if they are not their best every day and try to get better each and every day, someone else has our game circled on their schedule. I hope we don’t have to be taught a lot of valuable lessons.”
On Kansas’ progress in practice since Oct. 16
“The team is not the same team as last year right now. We’ve got to improve from a maturity standpoint in so many areas and get to the point we practice at a consistent high level. I think this team feels they can turn it on when they want to and that obviously is not the case and that will be a tough lesson to learn if we don’t pick it up from an intensity standpoint.”
2009-10 Associated Press Preseason Poll
2. Michigan State
6. North Carolina
8. West Virginia
16. Ohio State
18. Mississippi State
22. Georgia Tech
2009-10 ESPN/USA Today Preseason Coaches’ Poll
2. Michigan State
4. North Carolina
9. West Virginia
17. Ohio State
19. Mississippi State
20. Georgia Tech