Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Border War is Back!

I enjoyed the game thoroughly last night in KU's win. It was hard for me not to think of the times I watched Memphis play UAB or Arkansas over the last 10 years though. Mainly, it was that when the refs are told that they are watching "40 minutes of hell" they seem to swallow their whistles when the "hell" team is on D. There were a ton of instances where MU was slapping at KU players' hands, arms, etc, or bumping them just enough on rebounds or trips to the post. By the end, Kahn and Jackson had become tentative because they were expecting contact.

There was a stretch where we looked pretty bad in the 2nd from about 13 mins to about 7 minutes. We couldn't do a damn thing on offense, but this was also the same stretch that Julian Wright was out of the game with foul trouble. MU was in a 2-2-1 zone look that was playing loose match-up. They basically dared us to run the offense through Kahn or Jackson and denied our guards' penetration.

When Wright came in, he made three straight passes which all resulted in points or field goal attempts for Darrell Arthur. Then Sharon Collins went off, with the last 7. I don't know how well you could see it on TV, but when Collins made his last bucket driving all the way to the hole with three guys going to the hardwood and no call, he lost his shoe. I assume that Bill Self was yelling "Get BACK!!" because Collins just grabbed it, started running to the defensive end, and chucked the shoe at the scorer's table as he flew by. He then defended a three on the other end.

It's nice to see IMO Mike Anderson inject some new life into what should be a great rivalry.

My pic wasn't so great, but I was in the nose bleeds. :)


  1. I agree - great game.

    It's nice to see Rush and Kaun getting more consistent, and Sherron was a monster.

    Here's a Bill Self quote that reflects my thinking as I was watching the game:

    "I said when they hired the different coaches in our league, the different styles will make all the teams better because it makes you prepare for different ways to play, which hopefully will help you if you’re fortunate enough to get into the postseason."

    Last year's Big 12 didn't have a lot of speed. If A&M and OSU stay consistent, and if Durant stays healthy at Texas, we'll be much better prepared for the tourney.

    And I agree with Keegan, no need to apologize for the close win.

  2. Thanks for the pic, Scott. Glad you got to experience the Border War firsthand. The Star also has a nice eyewitness account from Joe Posnanski about what a great atmosphere it was.

    But while I hate to inject a sour note...

    I mean, Mizzou played better than their record, but as with ISU, they didn't really play that great. We were just so inconsistent on offense that we kept them in the game and gave them confidence.

    That scoring drought you mentioned, Scott, was horrific. I didn't see the ORU or DePaul games, but this gave me some idea of what that must have looked like. We shouldn't be that anemic just because Julian is out.

    Sherron was great (the shoe falling off was visible on TV, Scott), but it shouldn't take miraculous performances from him (or Rush on Sat.) to beat these weak B12 north teams. Nice to get the win, but games like this are usually a portent of losses down the road.

    By the way, Scott, did you notice that Sherron's minutes came at the expense of Chalmers this time? Mario was not in the game down the stretch and played only 21 minutes despite no foul trouble. Bizarre that none of the media accounts have noted this.

  3. Looks like Mario was credited with 5 turnovers to 1 assist, so that may explain it.

    Back to the positive side: a shout-out to Russell for returning to form with 7 assists and two big trifectas...

  4. Here's the thing. Duke is in a tailspin - but will probably correct itself - UCONN is out of the top 25 for the first time in I don't know how long. Carolina loses - the game wasn't even that close, they narrowed the margin at the end, and we're talking about how we should win without last minute heroics?

    Are we afraid that we can't handle better teams? That hasn't been a problem (Fla, OSU). We just got Missouri and Iowa State's best shot and won. Missouri may be a real good team by the end of the season, too. Both teams are more cohesive and probably better coached than in recent years.

    College teams often play to the opponent - witness Wisconsin struggling at Northwestern after beating Ohio State. The only teams who havelooked as good as us or better in the past few weeks are UCLA, Florida, and Oregon.

    Everyone else is losing to teams they shouldn't, and we're (Deron) complaining about how we beat teams we should.

    We just don't look that shakey compared to the rest of the field.

    I'm sure that disapointing loss that Deron predicts will come, I say we bemoan it then.

  5. You know me: my team wins and I look around for someone to blame. Just like this guy.

    Sorry for the parade-raining. I need to just accept that these guys are still young and are not quite prepared to be dominant.

    I'm not worried about how we'll play against the elites; I'm worried about how we play against the Bradleys and Bucknells (or Virginia Techs, perhaps?) in rounds 1 and 2--teams that we may underestimate but that will play us a lot tougher than ISU and Mizzou did (meaning, they won't help us out by missing shots down the stretch).

    Right now it feels like we're either going to win the national championship or lose in the first round again.

    I wouldn't compare us to Duke or UConn, who are both in rebuilding years. You may be right, Chris, that we're doing as well as just about anyone, but it's worth noting that Coach Self doesn't quite agree.

  6. I'm comparing us to Duke and UCONN as they have been the dominant teams this decade and they are finally having rebuilding years. Good or bad, we have
    so often been in their shadow, that i'm enjoying their exit from the elites.

    I agree with Self's comments about us, but not about the other teams. Ohio State, UNC (as of late), Pitt, and Wisconsin haven't been significantly more consistent than us. Though they all could win the championship. In the last few weeks FLA, UCLA, and OREGON are tighter than us, and that's about it.

    Really good article - Self sure is nutsy-boltsy.

  7. And, Self seems like a better game coach to me after putting Rush on ISU's Mike Taylor. That pretty much won the game.

    I point this out as I have wondered about him as game coach.

  8. Missouri was out-rebounded 40-15 at home against K-State; in Lawrence the margin was KU by one (42-41). I am not asking for any apologies, but surely there's ample room for improvement.

    I agree, Chris, about Self's decisions of late (and I too have worried about those decisions in the past); still calls timeout a bit much for my taste, but in yesterday's game those timeouts often worked quite well, like the one at the 1 minute mark (Arthur scored when play resumed).

    An exciting game, no doubt; and we do look almost as good as anyone--but wouldn't it be great if we looked a little better?

  9. Beating Missouri at the Fieldhouse is fool's gold. We always beat Missouri at the Fieldhouse except in down years. The fact is, we didn't look good in doing so last night.

    I do agree that Mike Anderson should be good for the conference. It's funny to compare his unruffled demeanor to that of his predecessor.

  10. Speaking of good for the conference, I hope the rest of you saw that OSU-Texas 3-OT epic last night.

    That was good in every possible way from a KU perspective. It was great pub for the league, it proved that OSU isn't merely a paper tiger, it showed that our conference has the best player in the country (Kevin Durant), it should improve KU's SOS, and it gave KU a leg up because both of those teams now have one conference loss.

    But even though Texas lost, I'm thinking ahead to their visit to Lawrence, which Yancy and I will be in town for, and I'm getting scared.

  11. You're right about Collins, Deron. Chalmers played terribly in the first half. I think this is a great lift from Collins because last year i think we had to have Chalmers play well to win tough games, this year I guess if Robinson or Chalmers are going to struggle, then Sherron is going let them grab some pine.

    Steve called the dude in Columbia and asked him why Mizzou had collapsed in that ISU game and got pummeled by Texas. Mizzou fan's theory was that this Mike Anderson team is not quite fit or deep enough to really run his style. Consequently, against TX and ISU, they gave those teams the "30 minutes of hell" and then it was "10 minutes of mild irritation" after they were all exhausted. He thought that against KU, Mizzou pressed only occasionally, as opposed to continually as they had done previously. Also, they played a lot more zone to let the players rest a bit too. I think maybe those adjustments allowed them to play us closer maybe.

    All that being said, yancy is right, we should've outrebounded this team by at least 7-10 boards.

  12. That was a great game and I couldn't be happier with the outcome. I like Barnes and Texas, but find it hard to root for them. OSU is more to my liking and I can't believe they gutted it out - Texas seemed to have more bounce down the stretch.

    I take the MU game as a win, and a good one at that. I see no additional significance to it at the moment. I agree we didn't put together 40 minutes of excellence, but I'm not sure that it matters. We could say we should have blown them out, or we could say that it's good to win close games as we hardly ever did that last year and doesn't that help in the tourney etc. We can attach whatever significance we want to, based on the result.

  13. You missed, Scott, since you were actually there (which must have been awesome) the ESPN fellows quoting Anderson's description of the team's style so far: "25 minutes of hell and 15 minutes of what the hell are we doing." Maybe he toned down the press in order to compensate?

    That OSU-Texas game was great fun to watch. Even though it was 11pm, I found myself hoping for just one more overtime. . . . Glad OSU won, though, since, as Deron said, that's best for KU. I agree too with Chris that Texas is hard to cheer for; guess I'm still not over the TJ Ford hangover.

    Weekly RPI/SOS update: we now appear to have an RPI rating of 21, and SOS is down to double-digits! We're number 71!

  14. Oh, and after watching that game, I'd say our reputation as Big 12 frontrunners rests on our record only. OSU could very easily win the conference - even if we never hit the skids. We have to remember that Kansas isn't matching up against our expectations, or memories of Roy's teams, but teams like OSU and Texas. And if we win the conference, even though that's the expectation, that will be huge.

  15. Both those teams and A&M are turning out to be as good or better than expected before the start of the season. But when you look at talent (we have more of it than OSU and A&M) and experience (we have more of it than Texas) I think you still have to say we are (or should be) the frontrunners.

    And don't forget our scheduling advantage: we only have to play those teams once, and that's a home game each time. They all have to come to our house and play each other twice. If we can't win the league with those advantages and the weakness of the North division there's something wrong.

    You keep casting me as the negative one, Chris, but I predicted a 15-1 league record, because I really believe we're capable of that. I don't believe it is an unrealistic expectation. So when we look impotent for long stretches against inferior opponents, it does frustrate me even if we win.

    Maybe that's unfair but it's based on my very high opinion of these players, not on comparisons to Roy.

  16. Good points - and good comparisons with the actual field.

    Much of our comments (myself included) have more to do with the past or with whatever Roy's doing at Carolina.

    We seem to be in Roy's shadow (as well as national perennial faves Duke and Uconn, so this week, when we seem to be emerging from that, I haven't been in the mood for naysaying.

    But scheduling advantages and matchups included, we should win the big 12. I guess after watching those teams last night, I don't think the only team that can beat Kansas is Kansas.

  17. Glad you're enjoying the games; your outlook is a nice counterpoint to all my handwringing.

    I also make the Roy comparison a lot, which usually works against Self, but the fact that we have such high expectations this year is a credit not to Roy's high standard but to the recruiting job Self's done.

    This team may be on-par talentwise with any in the Roy era, right up there w/ '97 and '02. (On the other hand, this group is also less experienced than any of Roy's teams that I can think of, which is why I'm having trouble picking us to go all the way).

  18. Part of that lack of experience is all those defections - Padgett, etc.

    I think Self's first two years were iffy - both Roy's boys and the new recruits struggled with his system. But, short of Micah Downs, I couldn't be happier with the players he's brought in the last two seasons. And, short of Giles, I'm pleased with the recruiting class his second season (Robinson, Kaun).

    Let's hope this trend continues. I think this year's team is primed to go deep in the tourney (elite 8 or ffour)- next year's (depending on who bails) might be the championship season. But we do have a shot this year.

  19. This years team has similar talent, experience, and up to this point, more consistency than Floriday last year.