Sunday, December 31, 2006

Let's start the conference season already. I'm tired of struggling against these crappy teams

Well, another terrible team that will hurt our RPI, and another terrible effort. This time, we managed to "gut it out" in a 80-69 win over the7-7 Rhode Island Rams. It's a good thing they didn't still have Lamar Odom, or they probably could've beat us. Russell Robinson was sick, I guess, but that doesn't change the fact that we struggled to execute offensively once again.

We really play up or down to whoever suits up against us. Roy would've beaten this team by at least 25.

It would've been nice if we played a legit top 25 team on the road before conference play. I think the first time we go into a really hostile gym, our guys won't be ready and we lose to someone crummy like ISU or Baylor.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Where Eagles Dare

Finally, a big game, for the first time since Florida.

The BC Eagles are unranked at this point but they're getting votes. Like Kansas, they have a pair of head-scratching losses, to Vermont and Providence, but they also have three high-quality wins--Rhode Island, Michigan State, and Maryland--so we have to assume they've got the chops to be one of the best teams in the country.

BC has been a great program the past few years, and while I'd like us to blow them out in our house, I can't see it. More likely scenario? KU 70-65.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Uh oh, is B. Rush the next Giles?

Breaking news on jayhawknation of a bad variety. It hasn't been reported by kusports and no one on says anything about it, but the Missouri court website makes it clear:

At go to "" in the right margin, then click on the icon that says"litigant name search", then put "Rush" for last name and "Brandon" for first name. This paternity suit comes up. Rush got a default judgment just like Giles did, which means he was too lazy to show up. So, next would be a child support action, and Rush can get behind on that since he is not allowed to earn money. Good stuff B Rush. :<

Thursday, December 14, 2006

UConn't be serious...

Chris ain't going to like this article by Mike DeCourcy of the Sporting News, who says KU reminds him of UConn's talented underachievers from last year.

Most of DeCourcy's points don't really add up. He says UConn's players were all NBA-minded showboats, then he admits that our guys aren't really like that. He's right that Julian needs to focus more on making solid passes than highlight-reel assists. But his suggestion that Sasha should start instead of Darrell (so that "Shady" can avoid early foul trouble) completely ignores the performance of Darnell Jackson, who's been far better than Sasha this year.

And his criticism of Russell for shooting too much is just flat-out wrong. It's true that RR's shooting percentage is poor, but it's not for overshooting; he's taken far fewer attempts than every other starter and 12 fewer than even Sherron.

Overall, though, you can see some parallels. UConn had a good year by most standards but you did have a vague sense that they were underachieving, even before George Mason. On the other hand, they went 30-4 and made it to the Elite 8; that's about what I predicted we'd do before the season. Considering how young we are, would that really be so bad?

(After losing to two unranked teams in the first month, I can't help but think we'll be lucky to do as well as Calhoun and co.)

Here's something to cheer us up: Winston-Salem State is coming to town on Tuesday. They're D-1 (status pending) and, I believe, winless. How about a 100-40 shellacking? What else are cupcake teams for?

Friday, December 08, 2006

Rocket Men

The Toledo Rockets are next on the firing line, Saturday afternoon at Kemper. Let's slaughter those handsome devils!

We have to break this scoring slump sooner or later, but although I'd like to see us approach the score of this game or even this one, realistically I'll have to project an 80-60 Kansas victory.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Rodrick vs. Lodrick

It's on!

Any predictions? Will this war of brother against brother favor Kansas? Will we bounce back from our woefully under-viewed (I hate you, ESPNU) loss in the suburbs of Chicago?

I predict a KU victory--we need this one. Let's say 90-75.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Can't Shake These Demons

I don't know what to say about KU falling to an unranked Depaul team, 64-57, after blowing a 14-point second-half lead. The one thing that does come to mind is that our teams under Self have not known how to handle success.

We get a huge win at Kentucky in '05 without Simien, then collapse down the stretch. We topple Texas in the Big 12 tourney last year, then lay an egg against Bradley. We get a preseason #1 ranking and an SI cover, then ORU comes to town. We dethrone the champs last week -- the program's biggest regular-season win in years -- and now ...

This would be another reason for Self to toughen up our schedule next year; we seem to play better against the good teams than the bad ones.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

November Madness

Andy Katz:

LAS VEGAS -- Billy Donovan cracked a smile. The Florida head coach was fine. He was totally at ease in discussing the Gators' state of affairs as he walked toward his locker room at the Orleans Arena late Saturday night.

So, see? This wasn't March. It wasn't a conference tournament title game or the NCAA Tournament. Seriously, it wasn't.

But didn't Kansas' fans storm the court? Storm a supposedly neutral court? And wasn't that a female KU fan holding the Las Vegas Invitational trophy above her head while she was getting a piggyback ride?

This was November, right?

Well, if you were here, you would have thought otherwise for the 2½ hours that Kansas and Florida played, albeit hardly flawless, one of the most emotionally charged November non-conference games.

Kansas won 82-80 in overtime in the finale of the predetermined Las Vegas Invitational. What it proved for both teams is worthy of a discussion. But on the surface the game itself should be first celebrated for its sheer enjoyment.

It would be hard to argue against Gonzaga's triple-overtime Maui Invitational semifinal victory over Michigan State last year. That game was one of those "wish you were there" kind of games. But the buildup was hardly comparable to this one with No. 1 Florida going against No. 12 Kansas -- still the choice by many to win the national title. It didn't matter that the Jayhawks had lost to Oral Roberts at home already and looked rather pedestrian in beating Ball State the previous night here, while Florida looked UNLV-like -- in the best of the Tark era -- in walloping Western Kentucky.

This was supposed to be the game prior to the 2007 conference season. And it was. It also was one of the most unique with the two teams playing at Phog Allen West as Kansas seemingly transported nearly 7,000 fans to Las Vegas for Thanksgiving weekend. There was a pep rally outside the Orleans Arena, which holds 8,500. Kansas brought its mascot, its cheerleaders and looked like it had spared many a turkey in Lawrence by coming here instead of staying home for the holiday.

Donovan made sure everyone knew Friday night that it would be a road game for the Gators against the Jayhawks. Remember, the Gators were playing Florida State in football in Tallahassee Saturday, too. Even if the football team was off the Gators would be hard-pressed to match KU's travel party.

Donovan said he has seen a "neutral court" like this "at the SEC tournament" in a reference to the Kentucky-advantage.

"It wasn't neutral and Billy will be the first to tell you that," Self said. "This was fabulous and the perfect size venue. We travel so well. It was a Maui atmosphere times four as far as the crowd."

As for the storming of the court, Self said, "obviously those weren't our students. That wouldn't happen at home." He was talking in jest but the reality is the Jayhawks didn't mind letting loose after winning this game.

It was only 24 hours earlier that Self ripped into his sophomore class -- and that included Julian Wright and Brandon Rush. He wasn't satisfied with their play to this point and he wasn't going to protect them.

"We said a lot of things [Friday night] and most weren't flattering," Self said. "It was the truth. We weren't playing together and we were individuals on an island. The body language stunk. We looked like a team that had guys who can really play and [against Ball State] we didn't look like that."

Wright was sensational Saturday night, despite a few mental lapses -- like fouling Florida's Corey Brewer on the baseline with 10 seconds left after he had scored to put him at the line. Brewer missed the free throw, but the Gators tapped it back out to Taurean Green who missed a shot only to have Joakim Noah beat out teammate Al Horford for the game-tying tip-in to send the game into overtime.

That one foul didn't dare overshadow Wright's stellar night of 21 points (17 in the first half) and 10 boards. Rush had his moments too where he made a huge 3-pointer, a layup to tie the game in overtime but also turned softly into a triple trap (KU's perspective) and got stripped by Horford.

Wright said the Jayhawks had been telegraphing the offense and had not been aggressive prior to Saturday.

"We just kept attacking and win or lose we knew we had to put ourselves in position to attack," Wright said. "It shouldn't take him yelling at us at halftime or whatever for us to try harder."

Kansas was lost Friday night by Self's accounts, but had found itself Saturday. Self wasn't even that disappointed that the game had gone into overtime. The players were mad, but not frustrated.

The poise, notably by freshman Darrell Arthur who made a bucket and calmly made two free throws in overtime, showed Kansas had matured quite a bit in 24 hours.

As for the Gators, well, don't cry for them because no one on Florida is tearing up.

The Gators didn't play well in the first half and still were only down six. They had foul problems to their big three -- Corey Brewer, Horford and Noah -- and still were in position to make a run. And they did, clawing back to tie the game and send it into overtime where they were one shot away from taking this game.

"Kansas played better than us but I never saw a level of frustration," Donovan said. "I told these guys that because we won the national championship there were going to be games where we couldn't match the energy at the beginning of the game. But it's a 40-minute game.

"I don't want to take anything away from Kansas but we were right there, giving up 57 percent in the second half, right there [to win]," Donovan said. "That shows a lot about the internal makeup of the game. Jo and Al rip the ball right out of Rush's hands, we tip it in and we find a way to [force overtime]."

The players, notably Green and Noah, weren't pleased with the team concept by the Gators Saturday. But they were hardly despondent. Donovan's main concern was the NBA-like schedule recently where the Gators played seven games in 15 days and its effect on loosening their defensive intensity.

"But it was a terrific game for us," Donovan said.

Remember, this is the losing coach here.

"Our guys have the will to win as good as any team I've coached," Donovan said.

And that's why Florida will be fine. So, too, will Kansas now that it located its passion and purpose.

And college basketball got a rare holiday treat with a game that lived up to its anticipation on the court as well as exceeded it in the stands with an electric buzz, reverberating throughout every corner of this arena.

What's next on the agenda? ACC-Big Ten Challenge? Duke-Gonzaga? Ohio State-Florida? It might be hard to duplicate this one that ended at 1:24 a.m. on the East Coast, at least until conference play if not maybe March.

Four months from now the games will matter more and the postgame reactions in the locker rooms won't be nearly as constructively analytical.

But in the end it will be hard to top a late November Saturday night in Vegas because this one will be remembered fondly for a long time.

Andy Katz is a senior writer for

Bill Self provides some clues as to the softness of schedule:

Self noted many powerhouse programs don’t want to play in Kansas if they don’t recruit Kansas.

“Let’s use Duke as an example. Coach K (Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski) and myself talked about it this summer. The advantage of them playing Kansas is obviously the attention it’d bring. But they probably will not recruit this area a ton,” Self said. “Can they play somebody of similar interest in areas they recruit? Look at it as a total big picture perspective. Hopefully these type of matchups will occur. We play a very good schedule, still it would be great to get a couple of those well-known traditional programs on the schedule yearly.”

From the Chad Ford Insider:

The Lotto Boys

Julian Wright, F, Kansas
I've been reporting on Wright's potential for the past two years, but this is the first NCAA game I've seen in which he really played up to it. He was sensational in just about every aspect of the game, and the NBA folks I spoke with couldn't stop raving about him.

Wright played with his usual energy and enthusiasm, but was much more aggressive offensively than we've seen him in the past. He was hitting midrange jumpers (his biggest Achilles' heel), putting the ball on the deck and driving to the basket, and picking up offensive rebounds for put-backs ... in other words, he scored in just about every way possible.

Where he really shined was in the point-forward role. He mad several jaw-dropping passes that won't soon be forgotten. While Wright made some defensive mistakes and was relatively quiet offensively in the second half, the reviews afterwords were glowing.

"He reminds me of a mix between Kevin Garnett and Boris Diaw," one executive told me. "He's got Garnett's energy and athleticism, and he combines with with Diaw's versatility and basketball savvy. If he continues to attack that way on the offensive end, the kid's a top-five pick. You can't teach what he has."

I was talking to another NBA GM in Maui who told me that his top scout pushed and pushed him to make a guarantee to Wright coming out of high school. The GM didn't know enough about the kid to make that type of commitment, and Wright ended up going to KU. Now that we're starting to see the progress he's making as a player, it looks like it's a good thing for Wright, but not such a good thing for the GM who passed on a chance to get him late in the first round.

Darrell Arthur, F, Kansas
Scouts have also been falling head over heels for Arthur over the past few weeks.

Arthur was a late signer to Kansas, and most scouts thought, given the amount of talent already at KU, that he wouldn't contribute a lot this year. Think again.

Arthur is the Jayhawks' leading scorer through their first six games and made a big impact in limited minutes on Saturday. Arthur is a long, athletic forward who can play both the three and the four. He's got a nice midrange jump shot and combines that with an array of nice post moves.

Like Wright, he's a very agile player who can get up and down the floor. Unlike Wright, he is very aggressive on the offensive end.

While scouts believe he needs to add weight and continue to improve his outside jumper, several appear ready to put him in their top 10 after watching him dominate several games for the Jayhawks.

"He's a really special talent and is a good fit in the way the NBA is heading," one NBA scout told Insider. "His size, versatility and athleticism make him a perfect fit on an up-tempo team. He has the potential to be another Chris Bosh-type of player."

After consulting with a number of scouts and executives, we've moved Arthur up 20 spots on our Top 100 to No. 9. That's a huge jump this early in the season, but after watching Arthur make such an impact against one of the best front lines in college basketball, it's hard to put him any lower.

Other Potential First Rounders

Brandon Rush, SG/SF, Kansas
Rush's numbers compare pretty favorably to what he did in his stellar freshman campaign, but he's going to struggle to impress the way he did last year. That's mainly because his teammates, Wright and Arthur, are better prospects, and it's going to become increasingly difficult to outshine them. Considering that Rush already has an unselfish streak in his game, I'm not sure he's going to be able to continue to put up the great numbers he did last year.

Right now he's a borderline first-round prospect. He might benefit from staying another year at Kansas and letting Wright and Arthur bolt for the NBA.

Mario Chalmers, G, Kansas
Chalmers still is trying to prove that he's a pure point guard, and the arrival of Sherron Collins is only going to complicate that question.

Still, Chalmers looked good against Florida. He's a good defender, a solid perimeter shooter and a capable leader out on the floor.

He still lacks experience and polish, however, and the scouts I spoke with don't think it's likely that he'll be bolting for the NBA this year.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

KU 82, UF 80 (OT)

What a fantastic game!

Rock Chalk Jayhawk.

Each team had big answers back and forth.

KU should not have choked away the 4 point lead with 15 seconds left in regulation, but they got it back. I think Florida had the early momentum in the overtime period, but the Hawks got it back on D. The steal at the end was, of course, critical.

Julian played a tremendous all-around game. Wow. Jackson had a solid first half. Rush played okay and disappeared at times which seems to be his M.O.

I've never seen Self so red after they fouled at the end of regulation. I mean, he was beet red.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Honeymoon In Vegas

This is the big one, folks. The one you circled on your calendar. The hated defending champs on a neutral court.

First, on a personal note: sadly, due to a scheduling glitch, I'll be on a plane coming back from Thanksgiving during most of this game. I'm recording it and plan to watch when I get home, so I can't stress this enough: DO NOT call me at any point either during or after the game tonight, either with good news or bad. I won't answer, because I want to follow it as if in real time.

Predictions? It's hard envisioning a Kansas victory, considering that Florida's looked great so far while we've been mediocre at best. Our primary weakness at this point--frontcourt play--is their strength. A Gator blowout would not surprise me.

On the other hand ... we do have the better backcourt, which is often the most important factor in college hoops. If Russell and co. can pressure their guards into some turnovers and sloppy offensive sequences, we could nullify Noah and Horford down low.

Also, look at the intangibles. We're going to be playing angry; we've got cocky, talented young players who want to make their bones tonight on the national stage.

So what the hell? Let's say KU takes it, 80-77.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Back Above .500!

The journey back to respectability began Sunday, as the 'Hawks thrashed Towson 87-61. Aside from the final score, other positive signs included:

--26 and 8 from Darrell Arthur

--15 points, 4 assists, 2 steals and 0 turnovers from Mario Chalmers

--8 assists, 5 steals, and 7 points from Russell Robinson (pictured getting down and dirty)

Numbers I'm not so happy about:

--5 turnovers from Brandon Rush

--One and a half: that's our current big man depth-chart, with Giles gone, Sasha out, and DJ slightly injured. (No offense, Matt Kleinmann) ...

Monday, November 13, 2006

NAU Highlights

We're running into a problem here, as all our major contributors except Scott are now out of the Jayhawk viewing area and can only see the nationally televised games.

But the reports are all encouraging from Saturday's season opener (finally!) against NAU--real competition this time, and we exceeded even Yancy's optimistic prediction of a 20-point blowout (nearly doubled it). See highlights here (scroll down) and here (right column).

I'd have to concur with orjayhawk's comment (below thread) that the loss of CJ probably won't hurt and may even help solidify the rotation--as long as Sasha comes back and we don't lose anyone else up front.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


It's been a week of dramatic exits: Rumsfeld, Santorum, Katherine Harris, Jim Ryun, Phill Kline, George Allen (99.5% sure)...

... And sadly, C.J. Giles. Hasta la vista to all.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Ichabods Slain

Those who actually saw it (Scott? Aaron?) should weigh in, but I like what I'm hearing about last night's game. See video highlights here, here, and here (right column).

One caveat to Darrell's great debut: as Chris and I were discussing earlier this week, it is relatively easy for a big man to be impressive playing against puny D-1 centers; Sasha looked like Wilt Chamberlain in last year's exhibition games, as I recall.

Still, Darrell's highlights are impressive: the steal, the runout, the turnaround J. And Sherron looked good, too.

Yancy wins the "pool."

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

But what about our frontcourt?'s Luke Winn lists Kansas as the nation's #1 backcourt:

The Jayhawks' three-headed monster (with superstar freshman Collins in reserve) comprises the nation's top backcourt. Rush, a sweet-shooting, physical wing, leads the scoring barrage while Robinson and Chalmers wreak havoc on defense.

Also, a week after Giles is suspended, Sasha Kaun steps up by tearing a tendon in his right knee, and will be out for 3-6 weels. We'll see a lot of Darrell Arthur right away.

Andy Katz caught up with the Jayhawks earlier this month:

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Finally, last week, Glenda Rush had to come to Lawrence and collect her son's trophies.

Bill Self had seen enough of them. He didn't know what to do if Brandon Rush didn't want the awards. They were getting dusty sitting in his mailbox in the basketball office.

Constant reminders were futile. Rush showed no interest in the four national freshman of the week plaques and his first-team all-Big 12 trophy.

It's not that Rush doesn't care. He loves basketball. He is enthralled with Kansas, so much that the NCAA Tournament first-round loss to Bradley last March was enough to make him decide to return instead of take his chances as a possible first-round NBA draft pick.

It's just that Rush is one of the least assuming stars returning this season. He is a legit first-team All-America candidate, and the likely preseason Big 12 player of the year, but none of that matters. He'd rather you go talk to anyone but him. He is the antithesis of LSU's Glen Davis or Florida's Joakim Noah. When the spotlight shines on Rush, he hides.

"Most kids who get an award like that put it on their dresser, but this kid hasn't even thought twice about it," Self said. "He told me, 'What do I need this for, Coach?'

"He doesn't like the individual spotlight. [During Late Night at the Phog last Friday] he was clowning around with everyone and we saw a side of his personality we haven't seen. He was comfortable with everyone else, but he doesn't like it when [the attention is] just on him."

There is a reason. Rush is naturally jaded when it comes to attention because there was so much on his family. One older brother, JaRon, was the subject of an exhaustive summer-league scandal involving Myron Piggie; he also served a suspension while at UCLA, ultimately left the Bruins and never was able to sustain a pro career. Kareem, his other brother, has been much more of a success, with a four-year NBA run after a solid stint at Missouri, but he, too, drew plenty of attention while in college.

Rush drew the spotlight when he declared for the NBA draft out of Mt. Zion (N.C.) Academy two years ago. His decision to go to college and his subsequent recruitment over the summer created a stir, as well.

Something happened, though, when he got to Kansas. He was surrounded by enough talent that even though he averaged a team-high 15.1 points a game as a freshman last season, he didn't seem to be the only face thrust forward.

And that was fine with him.

"I don't like doing interviews," Rush said. "I especially don't like doing them on TV, since I tend to freeze up and stutter a lot. There are so many superstars here that they don't need to pay as much attention to me. I just want to go out and play. Just let me play."

Rush said he feels the pressure of having two older brothers who were pros.

"I don't need the attention," Rush said. "I don't like to be in the spotlight. Everyone has always paid attention to my life."

Still, Rush's desire to have the ball, to get it in every game-winning situation, means he can't avoid the headlines, even if he'd rather just let his game speak for him.

"I like [the game] being on my shoulders," Rush said.

Self talked about freshman Darrell Arthur having the most talent on the Jayhawks, but Rush is his most complete player and the one who is ready to make the jump to the first round of the NBA draft, possibly into the lottery. Still, that doesn't mean Rush couldn't improve in the offseason.

"He had to work on his ballhandling and to become a better passer," Self said. "He's got to become more aggressive, more explosive than he was last year. He deferred too much. Your best player shouldn't defer. He still does it too much, even though he's equipped to be a take-charge guy."

Self said he was convinced at the end of January that Rush was gone once the season ended. Rush's freshman season was going too well, and since Rush was a late signee over the summer, it's not like Self ever believed he was getting Rush for the long haul. Self changed his opinion, though, as Rush's production went down in the last month of the season.

The two didn't speak during the season about Rush leaving. Self just knew when the season ended that Rush would be back.

"His stats fell, his shooting percentage fell and he didn't finish the season the way a great player should," Self said. "In order to be drafted where he wants to be drafted, he has to average more than eight or 10 points a game in the last 10 games."

Self said Rush's public announcement that he would return sealed it as well. He told Rush not to say a word if he wasn't sure. Once he did public functions, he knew Rush wouldn't embarrass himself.

Underclassmen can declare twice during their college careers; Rush declared out of high school, which wouldn't have counted against that limit.

"He didn't want to send the wrong message to the NBA, where twice they were telling him he's not good enough yet," Self said. "He's smart in that regard."

"I made up my mind right after that Bradley game that I was coming back," Rush said. "I felt like my team didn't go far in the NCAA Tournament and that meant I wasn't a guarantee first-round pick."

Watch practice and you'll see that as talented as Rush is, he still shies away from being vocal.

"He's a laid-back leader," said point guard Russell Robinson, who is the most verbose of the bunch. "He's not as animated as most people. He's not as aggressive. He lets the game come to him. He probably jokes more than anyone on our team and he has fun laughing.

"He knows the spotlight is on him but he doesn't care. He does what he wants to do. He plays hard and scores."

And that's enough to get him plenty of attention this season -- whether he likes it or not.

The Jayhawks are recruiting as if Rush is gone following this season, one Rush expects will end in Atlanta. If it does, there's a good chance he'll take a piece of that net, a player's personal national championship trophy, home with him.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Bring on the Ichabods

That #3 ranking is all well and good, but what are our chances against the Washburn University Ichabods?
KU plays their first exhibition game Thursday the 2nd at 7pm. We face an Ichabod squad that went 4-0 on their August trip through China. Leading scorer Dylan Channel looks like a threat from outside after going 3-4 from downtown against Shanghai Normal.

Nevertheless, I think our Jayhawks survive the D-II Ichabods. Score? How about 95-60. Any takers?

I would be remiss not to mention the football team's first conference win, over Colorado. Knew we could do it (?).

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Ok, let's have it...

What will be the Jayhawks' Destiny this year?
Under 500. Meteor hits Allen Fieldhouse and reduces it to a smoldering pit.
3rd Place in Big XII behind 2 south teams or (*ugh*) K-State.
2nd place Big XII 1st or 2nd round tourney loss
Big XII Champs Reg Season
Big XII Tourney Champs
1st Rd NCAA Loss
2nd rd NCAA
Sweet Sixteen NCAA
Elite 8 NCAA
Final 4 Baby!
Finals Appearance
Rock Chalk Jayhawk goin' all da way!!!
Free polls from

Monday, October 23, 2006

Just Don't Put Us On The Cover

SI's Davis picks KU to cut the nets in April.

Postcard from Kansas
Talent-laden squad my pick to win the NCAA title

-Seth Davis

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- I was sitting courtside in Allen Fieldhouse Monday night when I mentioned to Chris Theisen, Kansas' sports information director, that even though it was cool outside the arena felt a little bit muggy. Chris told me it was because the Fieldhouse has no air conditioning, which is why it gets so hot on game days. Just then, KU coach Bill Self plopped down in a chair next to us, flashed that charming hillbilly grin of his and drawled, "Well, if you sit in just the right place, you can actually catch a nice breeze in here."

It was a light exchange that would be commonplace during an idle moment in the empty gym. What made it notable, however, was the fact Self was actually in the middle of conducting a very rigorous practice. The workout had entered a brief lull while the players shifted off to separate work stations, giving Self the chance to sit down and chat. At certain junctures the coach stopped talking to bark out an instruction -- "Julian, jump to the ball!" -- but then he'd quickly return to our light banter. After about 10 minutes, the practice picked up again, and Self was back on the court putting his players through their paces.

You can see why Self has a reputation for being one of the most approachable, accessible and likeable coaches. But don't let the hillbilly charm fool you. He can just as quickly shed that grin and morph into an exacting, dyspeptic, slightly whiny coach who brooks no lapses from his players. I watched Kansas practice twice this week, and believe me when I tell you that when those players are on the court, they don't find Self easygoing at all.

This dynamic is why I believe Self and Kansas are such a great fit. KU fans have been rightly spoiled by the program's success, but they're also the most knowledgeable and supportive fans in the country. So it helps that Self is such a bulldog on the recruiting trail. Remember, this is the guy who loaded Illinois with the players who went 30-2 two years ago and lost in the NCAA championship game to North Carolina.

Self has recruited four former McDonald's High School All-Americas to his current roster. By my count, KU has three surefire pros (sophs Brandon Rush and Julian Wright, plus freshman Darrell Arthur) and at least three others who have a good chance at pro careers (guards Russell Robinson, Mario Chalmers and Sherron Collins). Two days before my arrival in Lawrence, Self hosted Medford, Ore., native Kyle Singler, a 6-foot-9 wunderkind who I believe is the best player in the Class of '07. (Singler will choose between Kansas, Duke and Arizona in the next few weeks.)

Self doesn't just get good players. He also knows how to coach. Not for nothing is he the only man ever to take three schools to the Elite Eight (Tulsa, Illinois and Kansas). Self is catching a little heat these days because the Jayhawks lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament the past two years, but people forget he had the Jayhawks in overtime in the 2004 Regional Finals before losing to Georgia Tech. He preaches toughness and unselfishness, and his teams have always reflected that.

Finally, as demonstrated by the practice scene described above, Self is a genuinely low-maintenance guy who does not let external pressures encroach on his life. I've seen him take losses very, very hard, but unlike many of his peers, Self doesn't obsess over his setbacks or his critics. He knows his team has high expectations, but he's not going to go Lou Holtz on you and say those expectations are not warranted.

"We've been here three years and we won the league twice, but I know that at Kansas the standard isn't what you did in the league. The standard is [what you do] after the league," he said over a steak dinner at Ten restaurant in Lawrence Sunday night. "I don't mind the expectations because I know we have a lot of guys who can make plays. As a coach, my only thought is, what is our ceiling and how close can we get to it?"

After watching the Jayhawks practice on Monday and Tuesday, I can assure you their ceiling is sky high. This team is loaded with thoroughbreds; my neck is still sore from watching them press and run nonstop. KU led the nation in field-goal percentage last season, but the scary thought is this team should be even better defensively. Self is intent on pushing the pace to take advantage of his players' multifaceted skills in transition.

For instance, on the last play of Tuesday's practice, Wright, the long-armed 6-8 sophomore power forward from Chicago, ripped down a rebound, speed-dribbled to lead the fast break, faked a pass to his left, took off from the foul line and flipped in an easy layup. High ceiling, indeed.

Kansas' ability to score off its defense will be critical because if there's a question about the Jayhawks, it's their ability to score in the halfcourt. Neither Chalmers nor Robinson is what I would consider a pure point guard. (Collins is a pure point and he's really, really good, but he's still a freshman and will probably come off the bench.) This team also doesn't have a consistent scoring threat in the post, though the 6-9 Arthur could become one. Wright and Rush are good passers, but they tend to be a little too loose with the ball when running Self's offensive sets.

On the other hand, Rush, the team's leading scorer (13.5) and rebounder (5.9) last year, made 47.2 percent from three-point range as a freshman. If he and the three guards -- not to mention Wright, who showed a surprisingly efficient offensive touch in practice -- can consistently knock down long-range shots, that will make this team nearly impossible to guard. Given that the Jayhawks return all five starters from a callow team that won 15 of its final 17 games and captured the Big 12 regular-season and tournament titles, it's logical to think they will again improve as the season wears on.

I guess I'm like everyone else in the state of Kansas. I expect big things from the Jayhawks this season. You might think that would put a lot of heat on a head coach, but Self always seems to find the spot with the cool breeze.

Herewith my breakdown of the Kansas Jayhawks:

Heart and soul: Robinson. Ideally, I'd put Rush in this category, but unfortunately he is still a little too quiet and deferential. Robinson is not the vocal type either, but he gives this team a tough New York City swagger it otherwise lacks. Plus, he'll have the ball in his hands more than anyone else. Everyone I polled for my breakdown immediately gave Robinson as their choice in this category. He is the team's unquestioned leader.

Most improved: Chalmers. One of the main reasons Kansas struggled to a 3-5 start last year was the difficulty Chalmers had in making the transition from high school. Chalmers has attacked this preseason with much more strength and confidence than he did a year ago. His conditioning is vastly improved, and he continues to demonstrate a sweet outside stroke.

Glue guy: Sasha Kaun. It's easy to forget that Kaun, a junior center from Russia, is on the roster, but Kansas' opponents would be wise not to forget about him. Kaun isn't the most agile center around, but he's big (6-11, 245 pounds), efficient (56.2 percent on field goals last year) and experienced. He can knock down open shots, and because he's surrounded by so much talent he should get lots of clean looks.

X factor: Arthur. Self pulled off a recruiting coup when he added Arthur to the program last spring. Arthur was battling tonsillitis this week, so he spent a lot of time during practice tugging at his shorts. Still, I saw enough to know this kid has some astonishing gifts. He is a very quick repeat jumper, and while he's not much of a long-range shooter, he can score in a variety of ways around the basket. My sense is it will take Arthur some time to get his body to where he can make a regular contribution. If he gets there, KU will get that much closer to its ceiling.

Lost in the shuffle: Rodrick Stewart. I was inclined to go with 6-8 junior Darnell Jackson here, but that was before 6-10 junior center C.J. Giles blew off a morning workout this week and was essentially suspended from the team. Self is leaving the door open for Giles to return, but my guess is he's done at Kansas. That means Jackson, who might have redshirted, gets bumped up in the rotation. On the other hand, Stewart, a 6-4 junior from Seattle, averaged just 3.2 minutes per game last year. With Collins in the fold and clearly capable of contributing right away, it's hard to see how Stewart's minutes will increase.

Bottom line: Giles may be prone to inconsistency and immaturity, but he gave Kansas another long, athletic body up front. His absence will hurt. Still, making predictions isn't just about assessing talent. It's about forecasting where that talent will be in five months. I like where Kansas is, but I like where they are going even more. Until further notice, you can consider KU my pick to win the 2007 national championship.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

CJ Rumor Mill

Giles' court date adds to his troubles
By Tom Keegan (Contact)

Posted Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Add alleged failure to pay child support to the list of personal fouls that could prevent reserve junior center C.J. Giles from ever wearing a Kansas University basketball uniform again.

Giles is due in Douglas County District Court on Monday morning to face an allegation that he owes $4,097 in unpaid child support, according to court records.

“I’m not concerned about money 100 percent,” Laura Bender, mother of Jaiden Giles, born March 31, 2005, said Wednesday in a telephone interview. “I’m concerned about him taking responsibility for what’s his. … It’s very expensive to raise a child. Yes, I’m concerned about the money. At the same time, it’s important for Jaiden to have a father in his life, and he doesn’t have one.”

A 2004 graduate of Free State High, Bender said she would be open to a payment plan delayed until Giles could land summer employment, if necessary.

“That’s fine,” she said. “I just hope that C.J. opens his heart to his son and will take responsibility and help out.”

A full-time student at Johnson County Community College and a hostess at Lawrence restaurant “On the Border,” Bender said that Giles had seen their son four times.

Giles was ordered in April 2006 to pay Bender $241 in child support per month, plus a judgment of $2,892 for expenses she had incurred since the baby’s birth.

An affidavit filed Aug. 31 by an attorney representing the state’s Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services alleges that Giles “failed, neglected, or refused to fully comply with the orders of the court; no payment has ever been posted to this case.”

Bender said she did receive a payment for the first time, about “a week-and-a-half ago,” for the month of October.

“I was really surprised,” to receive the payment, she said.

The purpose of Monday’s hearing before Judge Pro Tem Peggy Kittel will be for Giles to give a reason why he should not be held in contempt of court. A court document instructs him to bring paycheck stubs and other documentation of his income.

Asked if she thought Giles would play for KU again, Bender said, “I hope so. I don’t think that having a child should stop his life. I think he deserves to have a chance to play again. I just think he needs to get his priorities straight.”

Bender said it had been “a couple of months” since she has talked to Giles.

KU basketball coach Bill Self revealed after practice Tuesday that Giles had been removed indefinitely from the team to deal with “personal issues” including but not limited to poor academic performance.

Reached Wednesday night, Self said he was unaware that Giles had a court appearance scheduled for Monday.

“I was unaware of any court date,” Self said. “I was aware he obviously was supposed to make payments, unaware there was a court date. It was all news to me. This did not initiate his suspension. It does add to the list. This is not what spurred my decision. This adds to it.”

Giles reportedly incurred Self’s wrath by missing a Monday workout.

"Right now, he is not practicing with us or doing anything with us,” Self said. “I've not had a chance to talk to C.J. He has some things that have to be addressed. … This certainly factors into the equation. I have not talked to C.J. (Wednesday). I have Media Day (today) in Oklahoma City. I've not set up anything where I will be talking to him on a regular basis. He knew some things had to be taken care of. When they are handled, I'll become aware of it (and they then may talk).”

Self has found it difficult to hide his disappointment in Giles, a prospect who has not fulfilled his potential on the court, off the court or in the classroom.

“I can tell you obviously I don't like dealing with this,” Self said. “It's almost like I'm not dealing with it. It goes along with what is consistent of the pattern of what we have been concerned with. A lot of things have come to a head very recently, and this certainly adds to that.”

—Eric Weslander and Gary Bedore contributed to this report.

Friday, October 13, 2006


The NC2A handed down punishments to our athletic dept. yesterday for various crimes and misdemeanors, including improper gifts to Darnell Jackson from donor/patron Don Davis. Men's hoops got off rather light, losing only a scholarship and eight campus visits for recruiting.

The main problem was "lack of institutional control," and the blame is being assigned, as it has been for many other things, to weaselly ex-AD Al Bohl. But it's important to remember that Hemenway was chancellor all through this Roman orgy of rule-breaking, so he deserves some blame, too.

On the other hand, KU has been getting some good pub lately as well. On CNNSI, Luke Winn says we have the best backcourt in the nation, and puts us at #2 in his power rankings. Seth Davis wonders whether in fact we have TOO much talent.

Also, Rush and Wright were selected as preseason co-Big 12 Players of the Year. They deserve it, but the fact that this honor is going to underclassmen doesn't speak well for the strength of the conference this season.

Last but not least, tonight (Oct. 13) is Late Night at the Phog (though it no longer takes place late at night). In celebration of this, the LJW has a silly but amusing article about dunking, in which the word "dunk" is repeated 36 times by my count. Typical is this comment from the always-quotable Sasha Kaun:

"I agree with what coach (Bill) Self says about the dunk. People say the dunk is just two points. It is just two points, but the dunk can change the momentum of the game. Coach Self says, and I believe him, the game can be going one way, if somebody dunks or dunks on somebody, it just gives so much adrenaline and excitement to the team that dunks. Dunkety-dunk. Badunk-a-dunk dunk."

(OK, I may have fabricated part of that quote).

All the Late Night dunks, sloppy scrimmage action, and bad skits will be streaming live here.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Pop Culture Event of the Week

...(in my universe) is the release of Beck's new album, "The Information." I haven't picked it up yet, but have heard several tracks on the internets.

The single "Nausea" is kind of a bore, but other songs, including "Soldier Jane," "Strange Apparition," and "1000 BPM," sound intriguing.

Some of us thought last year's "Guero" was a bit lackluster, and I'm having trouble getting this out of my head (seems to be hereditary), but dammit, it's too early to give up on Beck just yet.

More on this later. The NYT weighs in here.

Friday, September 29, 2006


Will the Cornf***ers get their revenge?

Spread was 19 for the Bugeaters last time I checked.

I say that they win, but we cover.

F*** Bill Callahan.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Schedule Finalized!

It may have been premature of me to complain about the softness of our schedule next season. After all, the final nonconference game was not confirmed until this week.

I know I promised not to editorialize about this any more, so I'll just report and you decide.

From Wednesday's LJW:

"KU has filled the final date on its basketball schedule with Winston-Salem State. KU will meet the Rams at 7 p.m. Dec. 19 in Allen Fieldhouse. Winston-Salem State is an independent for the 2006-07 season as it completes the transition to NCAA Div. I."

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Jayhawks at Rockets :Pick your score

I think the fightin' Manginos will be ready for this one. Kerry Meier shines, Hawks 31, Rockets 20.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

First In Flight? That Ain't Wright!

Unlike Orville and Wilbur, Julian Wright may not be flying the coop as early as some of his peers. He has recently informed the KC Star and other sources that he plans to stay at least three years at KU, at which time he may be on track to graduate early. Wright has apparently already taken something like 48 hours of classes, between summer school in '05 and '06.

This is great news on all fronts. First, we have the most exciting KU player since--well, ever--committing at least into 2008. Second, our program is finally getting some pub for a star player's academic achievements, something we haven't had since the Jacque and Jerod era.

Is this all just talk? Will Julian cave next year when agents come calling? CBS Sportsline's Gary Parrish thought so, until he actually talked to Julian on the phone, at which point his cynicism melted away...

Parrish: "Julian Wright is my savior. He had me at hello."

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The great Andy Katz ranks Jayhawks in His "Sizzlin Summer 50"...

2. Kansas
What we like: The starting five returns and the Jayhawks once again picked up the best remaining player the class of 2006 in Darrel Arthur. He along with Brandon Rush, Mario Chalmers, Julian Wright, C.J. Giles, Russell Robinson and Sasha Kaun make up one of the most talented rosters in the country.

What concerns us: Just have to make sure the Jayhawks don't become like UConn last year, when it was hard at times to find a rotation with so much talent.

Power-rating push: Kansas plays Florida and Boston College, two games that show (as always) that this team isn't running from anyone.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Happy Trails

I was stunned to read this morning that Kansas's greatest band, Split Lip Rayfield, is playing its final shows this weekend (8/18 and 8/21) at the Bottleneck, as singer/guitarist Kirk Rundstrom (second from right) is terminally ill.

Split Lip released some great records on Chicago's Bloodshot label and toured extensively, but never quite had the national breakthrough they deserved.

They played what might be called hardcore bluegrass--traditional hillbilly music played with the loudness and intensity of punk rock. I've never seen a band generate more power with acoustic instruments (guitar, mandolin, banjo, and the infamous gas-tank bass). You never even noticed that there were no drums--they would have been redundant.

Find out more about the band and listen to their music here. My faves are "Crazy" and "Movin' to Virginia."

It's fitting that their swan song is at the Bottleneck; I've seen them there at least a half dozen times, and can honestly say I've never had more fun at a concert than at those shows. The noise, the intensity, the heat, the crush of people--it was like the Fieldhouse during a Mizzou game. I wish I could be there this time ...

Monday, July 31, 2006

Spirit of '86

This year marked the twentieth anniversary of one of the all-time great Jayhawk teams, so I thought a commemoration would be appropriate during this slow news period.

The '86 Jayhawks have been overshadowed in the history books by the '88 championship team, but while '88 was a Cinderella story, '86 was a juggernaut. They were short on future NBAers compared to Roy's greatest teams, but there's no disputing that they rank among the best KU teams of all time, along with '52, '57, '97, and '02.

They went 35-4, winning more games than any other team in KU history, and they were the only KU team in the modern era to win the conference regular season and conference tourney and make the Final 4. They shot 56% for the season while holding opponents to 45%. See full stats here.

They spent most of the season ranked second behind Duke, to whom they lost, 71-67, in the national semifinal in Dallas. Duke lost in the final to Louisville, whom Kansas had already beaten twice during the season.

The star was sophomore Danny Manning, but the core of the team was made up of three seniors: Ron Kellogg (left), who shot mainly from the outside yet made 55% of his shots (LJW's Woodling speculates he would have scored a lot more points had he been born just a bit later--the 3-point line was introduced in '87); Calvin Thompson (right), a great shooter, slasher and dunker; and Greg Dreiling, a solid if unspectacular 7-foot center, ironically the only one of the three seniors to have any kind of NBA career.

The other starter was junior point guard Cedric Hunter, who was the all-time KU assist leader until Jacque Vaughn came along; he's now third all-time, but his 278 assists in '86 remains the KU single-season record.

Bench players of note included Chris Piper (left), who would be integral in '88 and who just this week was named as Max's successor on KU hoops broadcasts; Mark Turgeon (right), the backup point man who is now the extremely successful coach of Wichita State; Scooter Barry, son of NBA legend Rick and brother of current players Brent and Jon; and Archie Marshall (below right), a hugely talented sophomore forward who was badly injured in the Duke semifinal (which players afterward described as a "blood-on-the-floor type of game") and never fully recovered: two years later he would have to watch his team's championship run from the bench. Marshall was drafted that year in the 3rd round by the San Antonio Spurs, but it was only a sentimental pick--the Spurs' new coach was Larry Brown.

Which of course brings us to the coaching staff. Brown, despite the Knicks debacle, will go down as one of the five or ten greatest coaches in basketball history. The staff also included graduate assistants Bill Self (one day, all of this would be his ...); and R.C. Buford, who would follow Brown to San Antonio, where he is now general manager and is considered perhaps the best exec in the NBA. (Other notable assistants in the Brown era included John Calipari and Gregg Popovich, but they do not appear to have been present in '86).

The spirit of full disclosure requires that we mention the one black mark on the '86 season: the NCAA regional semifinal against Michigan State. In this game the underdog Spartans, led by an ill-tempered point guard named Scott Skiles, led Kansas by six with only about 2 minutes left in the game, when suddenly the clock mysteriously stopped for a full fifteen seconds of play, and the timekeepers never reset it. The extra time and MSU's resulting frustration allowed KU to claw back and win in OT. Oh, and did I mention the game took place at Kemper Arena? At the Final Four, someone, probably a Cameron Crazy, spraypainted "Don't let Kansas bring their clock!" on an overpass outside Reunion Arena, where the graffiti remained for years afterward.

Nonetheless, I have a special place in my heart for this team, because it was the first year I started following KU basketball--so it's an anniversary of sorts for myself as well. Also, we were living in Dallas then, and though we could not score Final 4 tickets, we did get in to Reunion to watch the public practices. Ahh, the lost days of youth!

PS. Documentation and photos of this team are scarce on the web, as you can tell from the rather ad hoc nature of this tribute. If anyone can point me in the direction of more photos or info. I'd love to add it to this post.

Sunday, July 23, 2006


06-07 Promises Excitement

KU announced the 2006-2007 basketball schedule yesterday, and things look pretty good.
Maybe a 1-2 match-up in Vegas? That game looks like the toughest, but I have no doubt that the Rock Chalk will resound off of the walls of whatever casino is hosting the Las Vegas Invitational.
Boston College and South Carolina should be fun, and the Big Monday games (Mizzou, Nebraska, K-State, and especially Oklahoma) sound like fun. Game Day will be at Allen for the A&M game. All told, a good schedule, I'd say, in terms of both quality and exposure.

Here it is in full:
Day/Date Opponent Location Time/TV
Thur. Nov. 2 Washburn (Exhibition) Lawrence 7 p.m. (Jayhawk TV)
Tues. Nov. 7 Emporia State (Exhibition) Lawrence 7 p.m. (Jayhawk TV)
Sat. Nov. 11 Northern Arizona Lawrence 7 p.m. (Jayhawk TV)
Wed. Nov. 15 Oral Roberts Lawrence 7 p.m. (Jayhawk TV)
Sunday Nov. 19 Towson University Lawrence 7 p.m. (Jayhawk TV)
Tues. Nov. 21 Tennessee State Lawrence 7 p.m. (Jayhawk TV)
Nov. 24-25 Las Vegas Invitational Las Vegas
Fri. Nov. 24 Ball State Las Vegas, Nev. 7 p.m. (Jayhawk TV)
Sat. Nov. 25 Florida Las Vegas 9:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Tues. Nov. 28 Dartmouth Lawrence. 7 p.m. (Jayhawk TV)
Sat. Dec. 2 DePaul Chicago, Ill. TBA (Jayhawk TV)
Mon. Dec. 4 Southern California Lawrence 8 p.m. (ESPN2)
Sat. Dec. 9 Toledo Kansas City, Mo. 12 p.m. (ESPN2)
Sat. Dec. 23 Boston College Lawrence 12:30 p.m. (CBS)
Thur. Dec. 28 Detroit Mercy Lawrence 7 p.m. (Jayhawk TV)
Sat. Dec. 30 Rhode Island Lawrence 7 p.m. (TBA)
Sun. Jan. 7 South Carolina Columbia, SC 3:30 p.m. (CBS)
Wed. Jan. 10 Oklahoma State Lawrence 8p.m. (ESPN2)
Sat. Jan. 13 Iowa State Ames, Iowa 11 a.m./1 p.m. (ESPN)
Mon. Jan. 15 Missouri Lawrence 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Sat. Jan. 20 Texas Tech Lubbock, Texas 11 a.m. (ESPN)
Wed. Jan. 24 Baylor Waco, Texas 7 p.m. (Jayhawk TV)
Sat. Jan. 27 Colorado Lawrence 12:30 p.m. (ESPN+)
Mon. Jan. 29 Nebraska Lincoln, Neb. 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Sat. Feb. 3 Texas A&M Lawrence 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Wed. Feb. 7 Kansas State Lawrence 8 p.m. (ESPN+)
Sat. Feb. 10 Missouri Columbia, Mo 2:30 p.m. (ABC)
Wed. Feb. 14 Colorado Boulder, Colo. 8 p.m. (Jayhawk TV)
Sat. Feb. 17 Nebraska Lawrence 3 p.m. (ESPN+)
Mon. Feb. 19 Kansas State Manhattan 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Sat. Feb. 24 Iowa State Lawrence 5 p.m. (ESPN)
Mon. Feb. 26 Oklahoma Norman, Okla. 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Sat. Mar. 3 Texas Lawrence 11 a.m. (CBS)
Thur.-Sun. Mar. 8-11 Big 12 Tournament Oklahoma City, Okla

This belongs with the previous post, but Haley's reprimand has compelled me to mention my favorite Tribe lyric, cause it's just so . . . cute:
Can I kick it? To my Tribe that flows in layers
Right now, Phife is a poem sayer
At times, I'm a studio conveyor
Mr. Dinkins, would you please be my mayor?
You'll be doing us a really big favor
Boy this track really has a lot of flavor

Friday, July 14, 2006

Pop Culture Event of the Week

To cleanse the palate of all this senseless soccer violence, I'm switching gears for the moment to celebrate our first taste of Radiohead in three years; the release of Thom Yorke's solo debut "The Eraser." Yes, it's not Radiohead, but we all know Yorke accounts for at least 75% of the band's creative genius, so this is at least three-fourths of a great event.

I've only given it a few cursory spins thus far; I'll say more on it next week. But it is clearly more akin to "Kid A" and "Amnesiac" than to Radiohead's rock albums, which probably means Yancy will embrace it and I will grudgingly accept it while waiting for the next album from the full band (there is one on the way, we are told).

Please feel free to comment either on this or on other great pop culture events, like "Pirates of the Caribbean" or "Scanner Darkly," or Chappelle's "lost" episodes, or the imminent death of Harry Potter, or ... the biggest summer event of them all.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Mortal Zin

I'll repeat the question here that's circulating on sports radio this morning: was Zinedine Zidane's takedown of Marco Materazzi on Sunday the stupidest thing a star player has ever done in a championship game?

The only comparable thing I can think of is Chris Webber's infamous time-out in the 1993 national championship game against UNC ... but that was just a mistake, which may have been the coaches' fault as much as Webber's. Zidane, on the other hand, acted alone and with premeditation, knowing exactly what he was doing and what the consequences would be.

You're the best player on your team in the final game of your career, the game is headed towards penalty kicks, and oh yeah--it's only the g-ddamn World Cup Final! Is this really the time for a Ron Artest moment?

I've never seen anything so stupid. Nonetheless, congrats to the paesans!

By the way, what happened to all our World Cup enthusiasts? Things have come to a sad state on this blog if I've become the soccer correspondent.

An Unfortunate End for a Great Cup

(Sorry, Deron, for the overlap, as well as for my tardiness with this post.)

Sadly, it seems likely that the 2006 World Cup will be remembered more for this sad bit of childishness than for anything else. In case you missed the game, here's the clip (from BBC1, I think):

For a pretty entertaining 'with sound' version, click here.
Without Zidane, France went into the penalty shootout short of their best penalty-kick guy, and lost to Italy. As for Zidane, I agree with DGL's analysis . . . inexcusable.

But Italy (despite some dives) did play well--Zidane's goal in the final was the only one scored against Italy by a non-Italian. And they beat Germany, so at least there's that.

Despite the dives and rough play, a good Cup overall.
Some highlights (by no means exhaustive; feel free to mention oversights):
-Italy's last-minute win over Germany (highlights here)
-Ronaldo's record-setting goal (see below)
-the Argentina-Mexico game (highlights here)
-the (sorry, Albiceleste haters) Argentine dominance of Serbia-Montenegro (see below)
-Shaka Hislop! (see below)