Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Coach K & Co. KO.'d

It's been 10 years in the making since our last win over the evil empire, and how sweet it was. In fact, this is maybe our biggest non-conference season win since Florida in '07.

After Friday's game, I was starting to wonder how we were going to continue our Big 12 streak with such a callow team. After Tuesday's game, I'm wondering how could we not win the Big 12?

Lots of chatter about the freshmen in Chicago, and well deserved. Randle and Parker were tremendous, maybe better than Wiggins but he had the last laugh. Also tremendous: Selden and my man, Frank Mason.

Our best player, however, was Perry. I'm so amped to see his great play from this spring rolling over into the fall.

Yancy, what did you think of the Roy-esque score? I know the rule changes/emphases are generating a lot of criticism, but I love the fact that the NCAA is trying to open the game up. The only problem is the less-skilled refs take this as a license to blow the whistle on anything that even looks like contact--see our game vs. Louisiana-Monroe.

I know Self doesn't like the new rules; it's going to be a huge challenge to his coaching style, just as it was for my once defensive-minded Spurs when the NBA made a similar initiative. Popovich adjusted, and Self can do the same--especially with the offensive talent we have right now.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Here Come the Dookies!

I know it's a little early on the calendar but let's try to work up some enthusiasm here, people! We're playing the evil empire tonight!

The edge has to go to Duke. Their frosh phenom has looked better than ours so far and they have more experience overall (though not a lot more). Also, for whatever reason, Coach K always seems to have his guys ready to go in November, whereas Self's system builds more slowly.

And they seem to have an edge over us psychologically too. Every time we play them, we just seem to WANT it too much, and so we play with a lot of passion and effort but not a lot of precision--see Tyshawn's 11 turnovers in 2011, or Hinrich's poor shooting in 2003, even though we won that one narrowly.

LJW has a nice rundown of all the meetings between the two schools. Many, of course, have been in the Big Dance, and most have been close--except for a shellacking at Cameron during Roy's first season, which I had no memory of. We've only beaten them twice, although gratifyingly both were in the tourney.

The most painful loss is still the 1986 semifinal in which Archie Marshall was badly hurt and--I didn't know this but LJW pointed it out--Duke shot 18 more free throws than we did. Sounds like chalkboard material to me. LET'S GET 'EM!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Exhibit A

Hey, anyone out there? How many times does ESPN do a highlight reel of an exhibition game against a D-II school?

Talk about expectations! Should be a fun ride.

Anyone see enough to weigh in?

View from our place: Franklin liked the big Jayhawk on the court; Ellis looked solid; and the new kids looked, well, like some very talented but rather nervous new kids...

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

The Tragic Events in Dallas

Ah, to be a Jayhawk is to know suffering.

At least we probably won't be hearing about this one as long as some of the other losses -- losing to Michigan isn't like losing to Northern Iowa. And give a tip of the hat to Trey Burke for his trey-bombs. Our usual endgame miscues wouldn't have mattered had he not made some unbelievable shots.

It gives me no pleasure to report that our warnings on this blog were prescient. For whatever reasons, EJ just never put things together this year, other than a few great performances here and there. And his unsteadiness at the helm was the biggest reason (not the only one) we faltered in Dallas.

I don't know what it is, but Self seems to have some difficulty managing talented guards coming off Final Four seasons. He didn't quite get a handle on Miles and Langford; Sherron as an upperclassman was great at times but didn't seem to mature as much as you'd like a 4-year guy to do. Going back further, Self also had trouble dealing with Frank Williams at Illinois after their Elite 8 season. Maybe he's too indulgent with his accomplished upperclassmen; he certainly gave Elijah a lot of rope.

Anyway, I still love the kid, and I love this departing group of players. It's extremely hard to get to two Final Fours in a row; we were on the cusp, and I think we could have won it all with the right bounces. (I just wish we didn't have to keep saying that at the end of every season; 2008 is getting further in the rearview.)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Carolina Blue Again

Scott had it right: First Roy, now Burke.

Travis sure likes to play North Carolina. Last year he outdueled Harrison Barnes, this time he outscores everybody. He was even more impressive when I went back and watched on TV -- insanely high degree of difficulty on some of those shots.

We've spent a lot of time on EJ and Naadir and Ben and Perry, but maybe haven't talked enough about the other starters. Seth Greenberg made a good point on ESPN yesterday when he argued that the foundation of this team is the 5th-year guys -- Travis, Jeff, and Kevin. These guys have been consistent while our 1 and 2 guards, and our bench, have been up and down.

Jeff is now second for all-time tournament blocks behind Tim-may. If we can get to the Final Four, he's almost surely got that sewn up.

Text of the day from Yancy early in the 2nd: "Love that we made Roy call time."

The AP story said Roy was "booed heavily." Not true. He got about the same volume of boos as the rest of his team got in the intros. The crowd was just amped up for the game; it wasn't about Roy at all. (As for me, I never boo the opponent; I gave Roy a golf clap, but they mentioned Self immediately after Roy, so there was no time for a standing O even if the crowd had wanted to give one.)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Collapse, Die, Resuscitate, and Advance

I can't take many more nights like this one.

We haven't lost early in the tourney as much as say, Georgetown (who suffered a #2-#15 upset tonight) or Wisconsin (who busted my brackets by losing today as well). But sometimes it does feel as if there's some kind of curse that dooms Kansas to horrendously poor outside shooting in the Big Dance. This was the first time we blanked from 3-point land since Feb. 2008... which I suppose could be a good omen?

At least we won by one more point than Gonzaga did, right?

Some things to be proud of: Jeff Withey, who carried over his tournament dominance from last year with 17 points and 7 blocks, and was our only consistently good player. Also, we were great from the free throw line all game long, which is impressive given the psychological pressure we faced.

But, and it pains me to sound like a broken record, our guard play was mediocre-to-bad all night long. If we can't handle full-court pressure better than this, particularly EJ and Ben, we are going down in flames sometime in the next few rounds. (I don't know if Carolina can really pressure us, but if we do turn the ball over against them like we did tonight they will capitalize much better than the Hilltoppers did, and we will lose. And for now, let's not even discuss VCU.)

Elijah still appears to be reverting to his February tailspin. Maybe playing UNC will shake him out of it. Oh, well. One game at a time.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Bracket Draw: Roy, then Burke

I always fill out my bracket with the hope that if my team goes down, then I'll still have a rooting interest in the tournament. But I do think that, while getting past Ol' Roy will be fun, our main weakness all year is going to kill us against the Michigan Wolverines. Trey Burke may be the best point guard in the country in terms of NBA talent level. plus they have athletic wings in the two 2nd generation NBA kids, Tim Hardaway Jr and Glenn Robinson III. Beelin (sp.?) is a pretty good coach as I recall from his days at WV.

Hopefully, the late emergency of Perry Ellis, combined with a "hot or cold"/ Hot performance from Ellijah will get us past that game, but it looks like the last 4 seed I would've wanted to match up with. I think we kill Syracuse or SLU (we already did kill SLU).

If we get past Big Blue, then I think we can beat Gtown/Florida (though Florida is the tougher out, with the better guard play). Then I think Indiana would take us out. But I never thought last year's team would make it to the finals either, so what do I know?

Bring on the Hilltoppers!

Incidentally, if you didn't catch the 30 for 30 special on Jim Valvano and NC State's 30 yr anniversary of their championship, very much worth watching if you can DVR it or catch it on netflix. Everyone knows about the championship game (though I'd forgotten what big underdogs they were), but they had a pretty amazing run of comeback games to get there too.

My Final Four: Mich. St, Wisconsin, Florida, Indiana

(I think Florida takes out Mich if we lose, Big10 heavy I know, or isthe the "B1G", whatever, that logo's stupid).

What do you guys think of our draw?

Friday, March 15, 2013

Speaking of Ellis

Damn was that a game tonight!

On to the Big 12 tourney championship!

(Sorry to jump the queue and offer no analysis. Hope you can live with putting that into the comments...)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

March Madness

There will be plenty of time to parse the optimal seeding, the repercussions of the conference tourney, projections, predictions, etc.

In the last quiet patch before the Madness, let's appreciate this strange and wonderful group of kids. Fifth year seniors, role playing red shirts, and the dance happy freshman phenom. I'm sure we'll remember this team fondly. So, let's now remember to enjoy the endgame, whatever it brings.

They loved playing together and we loved watching them.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Farewell to the Seniors -- and the Freshman

I love this kid. I never tell him. I think he knows, though.  
-- Elijah Johnson, on Ben McLemore

How fitting that my favorite Elijah quote of all time would come after my two favorite Elijah performances of all time. Even though he made some mistakes early, I enjoyed watching him in this game even more than in Ames. Instead of worrying about living up to his 39-point explosion on Monday, he was completely focused on bringing BMac back. He passed up makeable shots for himself and found Ben time and time again.

Ten assists for EJ, a freshman-record 36 points for Ben, and a de facto triple-double for Jeff. Now we just need big games for Travis and Kevin on Monday night, and we'll have the perfect sendoff.

Highlights are a bit hard to find -- ESPN snubbed us on the Top Plays since the game was on CBS, but I can't find video from CBS either. The KU Athletics reel is always good, but for some reason it cuts off EJ's monumental dunk at the end. I'll keep looking for that one.