It’s time for another Kansas mailbag … but first, yes, we saw that KU was referenced on the latest song from rapper/producer DJ Khaled. The song “Never Surrender” is pretty “not suitable for work,” so we won’t link to it here. But it features Meek Mill, Scarface, Akon and veteran Jadakiss, who drops in the KU line. “You could feel the picture, you don’t need to see the canvas… that (censored) Jay’ll Hawk you, he don’t even play for Kansas.”
Jadakiss also used the line “family over everything,” a phrase co-opted by former KU standouts Marcus and Markieff Morris … and which has now become sort of an unofficial rallying cry with fans. So yeah, he might be a fan. So does a name-drop from Jadakiss mean anything? My friend Mark, a noted rap historian, says Jadakiss is probably something close to “the Quentin Richardson of rap” — at least the Quentin Richardson who was a solid complementary player for the Clippers a few years back. So it’s not as if KU just landed a name-check from Kendrick Lamar or Drake. (Though with Andrew Wiggins around
, that Drake reference could come sooner than later.) My friend Mark also reminded me that rapper Lil Wayne, back in 2009, gave a shoutout to KU quarterback Todd Reesing
in Brisco’s song, “Young (censored).” So there’s that. Let’s get on with the weekly mailbag: • Where does this Kansas-Duke game at the Champions Classic on Nov. 12 rank on the list of most anticipated non-conference games of the Bill Self era at Kansas? — Email from Ryan L.
Let’s see: Two of the four winningest programs of all time. Mike Krzyzewski and Bill Self. Two freshmen who have appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated (Duke’s Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins). The added intrigue of Chicago being Parker’s hometown. And the fact that Self is 0-3 in his career against Duke. Should be a decent game. I sent out a Twitter query on Thursday … and here’s our ranking of the most anticipated nonconference games of the last 10 years. Remember, that’s difference than the best nonconference games. For now, we’ll rank the Kansas-Duke game ahead of every game on this list besides Kansas-Florida in Las Vegas in 2006. 1. No. 10 Kansas vs. No. 1 Florida in Las Vegas, Nov. 25, 2006
After losing to Oral Roberts in the second game of the season, the sophomore trio of Julian Wright, Brandon Rush and Mario Chalmers knocked off the defending champs. 2. No. 9 Georgia Tech at No. 2 Kansas, Jan. 1, 2005
Keith Langford hit a twisting shot in the lane with three seconds left as KU avenged an Elite Eight loss from the previous season — while playing without All-American Wayne Simien. 3. No. 11 Kansas vs. No. 2 Kentucky in New York, Nov. 15, 2011
The inaugural Champions Classic featured a preview of the eventual NCAA title game in New Orleans. Kentucky’s freshman-dominated lineup outgunned a KU squad rebuilding behind Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor. Honorable Mention:
Kansas at Kentucky, 2005; Kentucky at Kansas, 2006; KU at Arizona, 2009; Kansas-Duke, Maui Classic, 2011.
The short answer is yes … yes you can. But the bigger question is how you tell your friend no. Attending the Final Four is a legitimate excuse. Watching at home is not. There is also, of course, the dilemma that you won’t know if Kansas is in the Final Four until a week before. Here’s one strategy: But your gift on the registry early… pick something way more expensive than you might normally buy… make sure it ships to them a few weeks before the wedding … RSVP yes … and then bail if you have to make a last-minute trip to the Final Four. Or just tell him right now: Sorry dude, I’m not coming to your wedding if KU is in the Final Four. • The KU offense has looked pretty bad this season, but how much has Jake Heaps missed Tony Pierson during the last two games? Seems like the passing game really dipped after Pierson was injured against Texas Tech. — Emailer Mark B., Kansas City
Let’s look at some numbers: Pierson’s receiving numbers this season in four games: 21 catches for 327 yards. The rest of the team’s receiving numbers in six games: 67 catches for 620 yards. Heaps’ passing numbers with Pierson: 67 for 126 for 735 yards (184 yards per game)
Heaps’ passing numbers without Pierson: 18 for 39 for 168 yards (84 yards per game) So despite missing a third of the season while recovering from a concussion suffered on Oct. 5, Pierson has accounted for nearly 25 percent of KU’s receptions and 33 percent of its receiving yards. Jake Heaps’ numbers were pretty mediocre with a healthy Pierson, with both drops and shaky offensive line play limiting his effectiveness. But since Pierson went down, Heaps’ numbers have been even more lousy. The Jayhawks’ issues in the passing game run deep. But it could be fair to say the loss of Pierson has helped to turn a bad passing game into a terrible one.