Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

COLLEGE BASKETBALL ; Jayhawks Again Favored to Win Big 12 - and Perhaps More

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

COLLEGE BASKETBALL ; Jayhawks Again Favored to Win Big 12 - and Perhaps More

Article excerpt

LAWRENCE, Kan. - The expectations at Kansas begin with conference championships. They hardly end there.

The Jayhawks have rattled off a dozen of those in a row, and Big 12 coaches unanimously predicted Thursday that they will add another to the streak this season. But they haven't been to the Final Four since 2012, an eternity for a blue-blood program like Kansas, and are seeking their first national championship since 2008.

Those are the expectations now.

"Any team I've played on has always had high expectations, said five-star recruit Josh Jackson, perhaps the leading candidate to be the No. 1 overall pick in next year's NBA draft. "And I love to win, so I'm always going to have high expectations for myself and my teammates.

Just how high? How about a perfect record to go along with that national championship.

"We're not predicting a 40-0 season, that's just what we're striving for. That's what we're trying to get to, Jackson explained. "If you don't believe it, you'll never get to it. That is what every team is shooting for. You don't want to lose. I don't think any team wants to lose this year.

Kansas coach Bill Self shook his head at the thought of a perfect record, especially considering a non-conference schedule that includes Indiana in Hawaii followed by Duke in New York - four days apart.

But he also believes the Jayhawks have a legitimate chance to compete for a national title.

"Young kids haven't been through it enough. They don't know how hard it is to win in Ames or Morgantown or other places, Self said during the program's annual media day. "But I will say this: I really think this team's goal when they play that night, their goal should be to win every game. I don't think that's an unrealistic goal.

There are plenty of reasons for such optimism.

Start with the returning one-two guard combination in Frank Mason and Devonte Graham that gives Kansas perhaps the best backcourt in college basketball, then throw in another returning starter in big man Landen Lucas who can provide some leadership to the frontcourt. …

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