Tuesday, February 27, 2007

KU 67 - OU 65

On the plus side of the ledger ... we did win.

But it seems like our guys have started to believe their own press clippings. Once we went up 17, we hit cruise control and were flummoxed when OU stepped out of the zone and got in our faces. Who knew our guys would be so susceptible to full- and half-court pressure? I thought that was one area where we were bullet-proof.

It's like we were putting on a clinic in the 2nd half -- to demonstrate what not to do on offense. Don't throw lazy passes in traffic, Julian! Stop dribbling into traps, Sherron! Call timeout when no one's open on the inbounds, Brandon!

Mario saved us at the end by finally hitting some FTs, and Julian had the best overall line -- yet even those two had four TOs each.

But how about some love for the much-maligned Sasha Kaun? 11 points, 9 boards, 4-6 from the field and 3-4 from the line with two blocks and no turnovers. And there he was, on the floor in crunch time (against the advice of almost everyone on this blog), but making big plays down the stretch.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Go Back to Ames, Losers!

Yup, went to the game with Aaron again and look who decided to sit right down in front of us. Max Falkenstein and Mark Mangino. Didn't really feel like I could yell "Down in front!".
Aaron and I shook the Coach's hand and I said "you're doing a good job coach, keep it up" He said "I appreciate it." It was swell.
Max had a giant ring on his finger.
Also Florida and UNC lost, if we win out we might have just beaten them out for a #1 seed.

Sowing Seeds

KU 89 ISU 52

KU continued it's sweep of Big 12 North this weekend, and looked damn fine doing it.

Collins, Arthur, and Chalmers were amazing. Wright and Jackson were also great.

Personally, I'm most pleased that Chalmers has come on strong. I felt that our wobbly play early in the conference season had a lot to do with his disapearring acts.

"One thing about Mario, he sort of lets the game come to him,” says Ronnie Chalmers, Mario’s father and the KU director of basketball operations. “Sometimes, that sort of disturbs me.”

But maybe the Jayhawks, loaded with potential scorers, are a better team with Chalmers playing the waiting game. Mario says he lets each game play out and then decides where he can be most useful. In doing so, Chalmers has become the glue that keeps KU together. He can play a different role for the Jayhawks every game. . .

Most of the time, KU hasn’t needed him to take the lead in scoring. But when Brandon Rush missed four open threes starting the game against K-State on Monday, Chalmers decided it was his time. Chalmers delivered with 12 points and kept KU close at halftime.

As this year has gone on, Chalmers has been more content to let everyone else play the role of “so-and-so.” In nonconference play, he scored in double digits in 10 of 15 games and averaged 18.8 points per game in the four games leading up to league play. His performance prompted KU coach Bill Self to say that, if he had to choose one player to shoot the big shot down the stretch, it would be Chalmers.

But in Big 12 play, Chalmers is averaging only 9.8 points per game.

As Self said, it’s not as if Chalmers is playing poorly. He’s shot 43 percent from the field in conference play and leads the league in steals. . .

“He’s beginning to realize how much Kansas basketball really means to the city of Lawrence,” Ronnie says. “If he could make the last steal in the game for Kansas to win the national championship, I think he would be satisfied.”"
-Brady McCollough, KC Star

"Instead of confidence issues, fatigue or complacency, Kansas leading scorer Brandon Rush could’ve blamed his six-point performance Saturday on something more simple.

A crick in his neck.

Surely Rush and a few of his teammates felt a little strain as they stared at the top 25 scores that flashed across KU’s video board during a timeout of the Jayhawks’ 89-52 victory over Iowa State. . . Kansas hasn’t earned a No. 1 seed since the 2001-02 season, but the Jayhawks certainly looked worthy of the honor Saturday.

“The guys are probably feeling a little freer now than they were earlier,” KU coach Bill Self said. “Maybe it’s because we’re playing better and they’ve got a little more confidence — and maybe it’s because I’m not in their ear quite as much.

“I trust our guys. Their confidence level is pretty high right now.”
-Jason King KC Star

And that piece ran before Wisconsin added a second loss in a week, and UNC went down to Maryland. Pretty good weekend for the Jayhawks.

Where does this leave us for rankings, and more importantly, seedings?

I think we now have an outside shot at a 1 seed. If we keep winning like this and others fall, we can play in.

I think we can all appreciate Greg Doyel's take on the Wisconsin - OSU game.

"The No. 1 team in the country was here Sunday. So was the No. 1 team in the country. Ohio State is ranked first by the coaches, second by the media. Wisconsin is ranked first by the media, second by the coaches.

You'd think that, one way or the other, the best team in college basketball was in the building Sunday.

Good heavens, I hope not.

If the best team this 2007 season has to offer was at the Schottenstein Center on Sunday, college basketball needs to die and come back as something else. Perhaps rugby. Or hockey. Lacrosse? Anything but that la-schlock I saw Sunday. . .

Look, Ohio State has a very good team. The Buckeyes have depth and talent and a great coach in Thad Matta. They have the next David Robinson in Oden, the next Chris Paul in Michael Conley, and lots of solid complementary pieces. One of those pieces is Daequan Cook, whose scoring average has been cut nearly in half, from 15 ppg to 8.3 ppg, since the Buckeyes entered conference play. Cook has all the tools in the world, and he thinks he's headed to the NBA perhaps as soon as this summer, but he sums up this OSU team:

Tons of potential. Ought to be great. But something's missing.

I can't tell you what that missing ingredient is, but I have good company. Matta also can't figure it out, because if he knew what it was, he'd fix it. As it is, he's got something pretty special -- the No. 1-ranked team in the country, 26-3 and barreling down on a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament -- but he has a team that isn't good enough to win the national title unless something major changes.

Best team in the country? Not Ohio State. Oden is too passive, Cook too flighty and the Buckeyes far too reliant on Oden for rebounding and help defense. And any team that can lose by 26 at Florida, as the Buckeyes did on Dec. 23, is too soft to win a national title.

Not Wisconsin.

Not Florida, strange as that is. The Gators returned everyone who mattered from last season's national championship team, but they've lost to NCAA bubble team Vanderbilt and to NIT bubble team LSU in the past eight days. Joakim Noah isn't the starving-for-greatness player he was last season, but he's not alone. The only Florida starter who hasn't regressed is Al Horford.

UCLA? The Bruins have the country's best resume and the best three-guard set in Collison, Arron Afflalo and Josh Shipp. But the Bruins have a small forward playing power forward, and they have a cavity at center. Not good.

North Carolina? The Tar Heels have it all. They are Ohio State with more star power, Florida with more depth. But North Carolina has been swept by schizophrenic Virginia Tech and lost to mediocre North Carolina State.

So if you're asking me to name the best team in the country, I can only tell you this:

The best team in America wasn't in town on Sunday.

Unless Kansas happened to be stuck at the Columbus airport."

Friday, February 23, 2007

Insult, Injury, Tragedy

We face Iowa State again on Saturday, a team that has only won a few conference games, none against top teams. (How again did we let this team take us to overtime?)

Russell's out with a foot sprain, and will be replaced in the lineup for the next one or two games by Collins, who actually caused the injury by falling on him. We need RR back, but we still should have no trouble w/ the Cyclones: KU by 25.

Coincidentally, it was only yesterday that CNNSI's Luke Winn examined in depth the question of whether Sherron should get more minutes. Winn has high praise for Sherron but ranks KU at 8th, still below A&M.

Some other news items of interest: PETA has taken notice of K-State's live chicken-tossing. Always good to see liberal interest groups monitoring the Big 12 action.

And, I'm sad to say, Kirk Rundstrom of Split Lip Rayfield passed away yesterday in Wichita at 38. The LJW has a great slideshow and podcast that just about brought me to tears right here at my desk. And please revisit the Jayhawk Nation tribute to Kirk and Split Lip here.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Yes and No...

... are the answers to Yancy's queries in the previous thread. We did make it 19 in a row at Bramlage (though that seems insignificant compared to our now 24-year road streak against the 'Cats); but it was no blowout.

Sherron's coming-out party continues (despite some dumb TO's in the first half). No one seems to have video of his crazy thread-the-needle assist to Darrell in the 2nd half, but the Star captured it nicely here ...

Sherron, Darrell, and Mario were the only Jayhawks who really had a good game (including the coach, in my opinion--why risk bringing Brandon in w/ two fouls at the end of the 1st half when it just means we have to hang back and play zone anyway? If this game proved anything, it's that this team can score, and win, even without much help from B-Rush)...

Other negatives? Our team assist-to-turnover ratio was 12 to 16; even Sherron's was like 3 to 4, I think. On the other hand, you've gotta be happy with us shooting 51% (against Huggins' Mad Max-style defense) while holding KSU to 32%.

Below, another interesting photo from the Star: Self doing Mick Jagger ...

Monday, February 19, 2007

19-0 at Bramlage? 5 blowouts in a row?

I guess this year must be pretty good if these are the questions I'm asking before our #6 Jayhawks go on the road for Big Monday.

Coach Huggins, during K-State's season-opening madness (?) guaranteed a win and an end the Cats winless streak against KU in Manhattan. They've never beaten KU in Bramlage in 18 tries.

Will they tonight? After the unholy beat-down against Nebraska, we really look pretty unstoppable right now. And Deron's right (see below): I can't remember such a dominant KU game, at least in conference play. Ouch.

Speaking of Deron, we did move ahead of A&M, but not as high as we might have. 6 seems just fine, though: a solid two-seed.

All we need, then, is to keep playing like a 2. Thus, let's go 90-70 KU this evening.
Five blowouts in a row? Yes! 19-0 at Bramlage? Yes!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Good Seats!

Some pics from the game where Aaron and I sat behind the goals courtside.

My favorite part was when the crowd started chanting for Witherspoon to be put in. Big Jay had a wooden spoon with the word "Wither" written on it. Then, with just a few seconds left we all went nuts when he scored, ensuring that every Jayhawk who suited up had a basket. Great fun.

Crappy video i shot with my phone:

KU 92-NU 39

Are you f-ing kidding me? The 4-blowout barrier has been breached!

For like three games in a row I've predicted that we can't keep steamrolling everyone, and each time I've been glad to be wrong.

Even in Roy's years we never saw a score like this one; sure, we might score 100 easily, but holding the opponent under 40? Unheard of.

A couple of points on the issue of rankings and seeds, as Chris and Yancy discussed below:

During our streak, everyone ranked ahead of us has lost except the Big 10 teams. But exactly where should we be ranked now? You could make the case for us being as high as 4th (same record as UNC but playing better at the moment), but should we really move ahead of A&M? We're now tied with them in conference but they beat us head-to-head.

Chris, it's true our record is similar to that of the 2003 team, but the league was much tougher that year and our noncon schedule was much tougher as well (UNC, Florida, Oregon, Arizona, Tulsa). Our weak schedule could be what ultimately denies us a 1-seed, all other things being equal.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

CU Later, Suckers!

That may be the last we'll see of Ricardo Patton and Richard Robey (barring a tournament meeting), and what a fittingly pathetic swan song it was.

I guess three upsets in a row wasn't too much to ask after all. I love that Boulder crowd; the AP story estimated that it was 80% KU-friendly.

This string of blowouts has given us, if nothing else, some f-ing great highlights; these might be the best yet. It's all here, here, and here.

Great foul-line dunk from Jules, of course, but how about the steal and pass from Russell that started it?

(Finally solved my issue w/ blogger. Good thing, too--the rest of you are utter slackers.)

Monday, February 12, 2007

Wright, Rush lead KU to first ever win in Mizzou Arena

And what a win it was; close only for the first few minutes, this was a refreshingly lop-sided road win.

The real story seems to be the Noodle's dominant performance: 33 points, 12 rebounds (8 offensive), 2 assists; he combined with an also-on B Rush (8 of 10 from the floor) for 54 points and 21 rebounds, it should be noted.

Highlights here.

What worked in the game? Defense, I think: we turned them over sixteen times, many of those in the key 1st half run (when the score went from 8-16 to 32-18). That, and beating that press; not sure, actually, why they brought the press, since they nearly beat us at Allen without it. . . .

Anyway, not a great day for the bigs (Kaun had 0 points and 2 rebounds in 8 minutes), but that ended up being no big deal: we still out-rebounded MU 39-31.

Deron, fill us in on some media talk.
Chris, tell me more about how we look compared to Duke (4 in a row!)

Oh, Colorado coming up . . . I see another on-the-road blowout coming. Let's keep coach Patton to one win all-time against KU. (Speaking of coaches, nice to see coach Self get that 300th win; and nice piece on kusports.com.)

Friday, February 09, 2007

Too Soon?

The Border War resumes Saturday, only a few weeks after the first meeting. This is the first year I can remember in which the season was not capped by a KU-MU showdown; maybe an acknowledgment by the schedulers that the series would be lopsided this year. Still, something seems weird about this...

As for the game itself? It was too close for comfort last time; if we play like that again, we lose. But we won't. KU by 15.

Some great quotes in Bill Mayer's column on the K-State game:

"Several erratic Jayhawks ripped off their tuxedos and really jumped into the thicket Wednesday. ..."

"One of the delights of the KU operation is freshman Sherron Collins, who knows no fear and entertains no reluctance on any portion of the court. ... Leave Sherron alone, don’t coach him too much! He scores, he invigorates and ... seven assists with zero turnovers? Collins has a pit bull attitude and reflects just how good this team can be."

Some good pictures of the KSU game from the LJW and Wichita Eagle...

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Cats come to town!

My Prediction: KU 94 KState 78.

I think we come out angry. Or at least we should if we are worth a damn.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Aggies 69, 'Hawks 66

Well, at least I predicted one of this weekend's games correctly. Wish it hadn't been the Super Bowl.

The Big 12 South finally takes one at the Fieldhouse. And my dreams of a 15-1 conference season are crushed.

From where I sat (at a crowded bar between Haley and a drunken middle-aged dentist) I thought we played a pretty terrific game, except that with just a few minutes left we stopped making shots and they stopped missing. Sometimes basketball is just that simple.

We can still win the conference--we could even move back into a tie for first as soon as tonight (Big Monday, Texas at A&M). But a 1 seed is almost out of the question now. Even if we do win the conference, a lot of people will assume it's just because the Aggies had the tougher schedule.

To the "adult" who reportedly "screamed an obscenity, ordering Sasha Kaun to 'make your free throws' as Kaun exited through the northwest tunnel after the game"... You, sir, are a jackass.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Super Bowl

Two huge games this weekend, but only one of them matters for our purposes (sorry, Chris).

This will probably be the biggest game of the year for both teams--even more for the Aggies than us. I could see Kansas losing this game and still winning the conference because of our lighter schedule the rest of the way, but A&M may not have the same luxury.

For those too lazy to scroll down, here's some commentary from the previous thread:

yancy said...
Will the GameDay business distract the team? Or will it get them up, like playing Florida and OSU did?

As for A&M, they look pretty tough, and a lot like us: loss at Texas Tech, big margin over OSU. Only thing they lack is an embarrassing loss, although the 5 Dec. loss to LSU is looking shaky now that those Tigers are in a tailspin. A&M is also missing the sort of marquee win they would have if they beat us tomorrow; I hope we can match their intensity.

Here's one noteworthy stat: the most points the Aggies have allowed all season? 69, which Colorado put up in the course of losing by 18 in Boulder.
If we can hit 70, I think we win.

Hence, a prediction: KU 75-64.

10:24 AM
orjayhawk said...
KU 88 A&M 72. I predict A&M gets blown out of the gym early and never manages to crawl back in. They will wilt under our defensive intensity and we will capitalize on the resulting easy baskets.

Seth Davis at CNNSI:
I still hear words such as underachieving, inconsistent and enigmatic applied to the Jayhawks, yet here they sit at 6-1 in the Big 12 (19-3 overall) and ranked sixth in the country... I think the Jayhawks, with the help of the boisterous home crowd, will be able to create just enough fast-break opportunities to get the win.
Kansas 67, Texas A&M 61

As for me, I lean more towards Ismail's prediction of a KU semi-blowout (of the 16-20 point variety). So far we've played our best against the best teams, and the Aggies may not be quite prepared for the intensity of Fieldhouse fans in marquee games.

And I pick the Colts by the same margin. Again: Sorry, Chris.

(BTW, good call on Ashley Judd, Yance. But since she shows up at every UK game, it isn't quite as novel as Jay-Z or the Cable Guy).