The saying has helped Shandler win fantasy baseball titles but also seems like it has crossover value in sports and life as well.
“Once you display a skill, you own it.”
It’s easy to understand in baseball terms.
Once Aroldis Chapman throws 105 mph, he owns that skill. Same for Giancarlo Stanton when he hits a ball 500 feet, or Billy Hamilton when he gets home to first in 3.61 seconds.
The point isn’t that those events will absolutely occur again. Instead, it’s that those players have shown the skill before, so there is at least potential that it could happen again.
Which brings us back to KU basketball and what it accomplished Tuesday night.
The Jayhawks, according to Ken Pomeroy’s numbers, scored 1.54 points per possession against Texas Southern. That won’t mean much until I tell you this:
KU coach Bill Self, in 508 games at KU, has never had a team perform better offensively.
It’s easy to dismiss this for sure. Texas Southern isn’t good, ranking 259th in Pomeroy’s rankings before the game. And, as expected, Self was quick to point out that “everything looks good when you make shots.”
This is different, though, because of how extreme it is. Self has had previous teams that were among the nation’s elite in offensive efficiency. He’s had one that won a national championship, and another that featured two top-three NBA Draft picks.
None of them, though, had an offensive night like the Jayhawks did Tuesday.
“It’s pretty tough for teams to guard us,” KU center Udoka Azubuike said. “Once we get our shot going, we’re pretty hard to stop.”
The achievement likely confirms what we already knew about the Jayhawks coming in.
There will be times when it’s tougher, sure. The transition points won’t always come this easily, and games against length like Kentucky’s where the Jayhawks will have to rely on outside shooting to win.
But the ceiling? The absolute best this team can play offensively?
It’s potentially higher this year than any other.
“If we space the floor, we can drive it, and then we’ve got guys that can shoot,” guard Devonté Graham said. “If the defense collapses, we can make shots. It was definitely a good offensive performance this game.”
And one doesn’t have to squint to see how it could be repeated.
Self’s new four-guard lineup puts constant pressure on a defense. Lagerald Vick is coming into his own as a more comfortable driver into the paint, while Svi Mykhailiuk is working on a four-game stretch where he has 80 points and two turnovers.
Though Self still wants more out of Malik Newman, the transfer has made 10 of 20 threes. And while shots haven’t fallen for Graham, he’s still one of only two players nationally with 10-plus assists in three different games.
The skillsets of those four also make it tougher to guard Azubuike inside. Do you double-team him? That means a simple pass back to the perimeter nets an open three. And if you don’t? He can go to work offensively in the lane, where he’s made 85 percent of his shots.
Add that to the fact that KU might not turn it over as much this season, and you have a recipe for a juggernaut.
“Hopefully we can play better,” Graham said. “There’s always some stuff that we can correct.”
On Tuesday, those issues were minor. The Jayhawks had times where they weren’t properly spaced in the corners, and a handful of shots that Self believed were forced.
That’s nitpicking, though. You don’t luck your way into 1.54 points per possession.
And for KU fans, that comes with a tantalizing thought: The Jayhawks, at any moment, might be able to display a skill level they now own.