Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Post-Mortem Post

All the reasons we said UCLA might beat the 'Hawks materialized on Sunday. It was about experience, poise, and yes, TURNOVERS...

Amazingly, looking at the box score this morning, UCLA actually turned it over more times (25) than Kansas (21). It was a season-high for both teams. But I think most of theirs came in the first half, and we didn't capitalize on them as much as we should have. Then in the second it seemed like we either turned it over or missed on like every 5 out of 6 possessions, and the Bruins turned it into points every time. (I've got to give them credit--who knew they could run like that?)

We've talked about it ad nauseam all season--turnovers would be the Achilles heel. I don't know how many times our guys tried to dribble through double teams instead of passing last night, but I don't think it worked even once. I think all the missed layups came because we were spooked by their defense.

Jason Whitlock blames last night's performance on a weak Big 12 that didn't prepare us for UCLA. But you also have to blame the coach for not scheduling more tough noncon games to make up for the conference's weakness. (Sorry, I know I'm a broken record here)...

Rush and Arthur sound uncertain about coming back next year, but I don't see how anybody's draft position was boosted in this tournament. Arthur had a good freshman year, but didn't set the world on fire. Rush had a very good tournament overall but was totally outshone by Afflalo, and his weak ballhandling was exposed once again.

We tended to forget all year how young this team was; I see great things next season if everybody is smart enough to come back and work hard.

As for this season... OK, PAC-10, you say you're so underrated. One of you had better beat those damn Gators. Don't give Noah and co. any more shining moments...

Saturday, March 24, 2007

They're Not Booing, They're Saying 'Bruins!'

Will UCLA's homecourt advantage be a factor tonight? It's not Pauley Pavilion, of course, and the crowd on Thursday wasn't as anti-Kansas as I thought it might be, but you have to think most of the SIU and Pitt tickets will be swallowed up by Bruin partisans.

At the beginning of the season, I believe Chris, Scott and myself picked Kansas to get exactly this far, w/ only Yancy and Ismail predicting a Final Four berth. There are a lot of reasons to think we the naysayers were right: not only the venue but the fact that UCLA is more experienced and more disciplined than we are. The 'Hawks are more explosive offensively, but the Bruins are yet another SIU-style defensive juggernaut that, unlike SIU, has a few offensive weapons as well.

Good reasons to pick against my guys for the first time all season ... but I just can't bring myself to do it. I have to think we'll be less tight and more inspired in this game than we were on Thursday, and even if both teams play well, the one with more talent (us) should prevail.

By the way, who would have thought back in October that the teams most favored by jayhawknation bloggers would make up 3 out of the Elite 8? I give both Memphis and the Ducks a good chance to win this weekend.

To paraphrase "The Simpsons" again: "They'll be overturning cars in Lawrence tonight!"

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Eight!


Well, it wasn't exactly pretty, but we got the win; on we move.

How about BRush--6 for 6, including the game-winner (pictured, courtesy of kusports.com).

Great testament to our depth--how about Rodrick Stewart creating his own shot in the 1st half; and DJ comes up big again (and, unlike the rest of us, hits his free throws!). Good to see we can win games like that; hope that's the last time we have to. . . .

ROCK CHALK!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Mid-Major?


Thoughts on Southern Illinois?

This is about as easy a matchup as you could ask for this late, but they are a 4-seed for a reason. They're one of the best defensive teams in the country (between them and UCLA, the Road to the FF is going to be a defensive gauntlet)... If we turn the ball over a lot or suffer defensive lapses, the Salukis will make us pay, unlike a lot of teams we've faced this year. They may be more disciplined than anybody in the Big 12.

KU should win by at least 10 on talent and depth alone, but there's not much margin for error.

BTW, the WP has a great piece on Mario Chalmers, in which he confesses, "I'm a mama's boy."

We didn't even talk about how brilliant Mario was on Sunday: 16 points, 8 assists, 4 steals. Is he starting to remind anyone else of Hinrich? Roughly the same size and skill-set; same quietly intense personality; and basically the prototype of a guard who does everything well -- handle, pass, shoot, defend, run. He might even be ahead of where Hinrich was as a soph, at least on D.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Wildcats and more Wildcats

Hello out there? How do we feel about Kentucky?

I prefer this matchup to Villanova, because I think to beat Kansas you need to have players who are explosive enough offensively to overcome our defense, like Acie Law. Kentucky doesn't shoot 3's like 'Nova can, and they can't break us down like Scottie Reynolds or Curtis Sumpter might have.

Still, these 'Cats are big, experienced, and strong defensively. I doubt this game will be easy. We need to be patient on offense and not give them confidence by turning it over or forcing up bad shots. If we do that and keep Randolph Morris relatively in check, I don't think UK has a chance.

It may be similar to the UNC-MSU game last night; a bit of a grind and then we pull away in the last ten minutes -- say, KU by 15.

Speaking of grind, how about that UCLA-Indiana debacle? I mean, defense is great and all, but if the Bruins can't score any better than that, I'm feeling a lot more confident about that potential Elite 8 game.

Good luck also, of course, to the Ducks and Tigers -- I sincerely mean that, Scott, even though I have Nevada in my Sweet 16.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Friday, March 16, 2007

Niagara Falls

I know, too easy. A predictable headline for a predictable result. Good to see us break the century-mark... and THE MONKEY IS OFF OUR BACK!

Congrats also to Scott and Ismail, living to fight another day.

I didn't see it, but I feel this sentence has to be a misprint:

"A dunk by reserve Brady Morningstar with 3:44 left gave the Jayhawks 101 points."

Hey, Eric, good to hear from you. Sorry about what happened to A&M CC. Before they showed up on my bracket I don't think I was aware they existed; so at least they've accomplished that much. But drop me a line -- just my name @hotmail. We need to catch up.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

And We're Off!

Just a few hours in and we've already lost Texas Tech. I had them winning that game, but this is hardly a surprise.

Go ORU! Put the 900-foot Jesus in!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Two Shining Moments (So Far)

Below, a quick look back at our regular season and tourney championships, before the Dance begins.

By the way, from now until the 'Hawks last game, I want to see everyone blogging. No excuses. Seriously, it's five minutes out of your day.

ORJayhawk and zarathustra, I'm looking in your direction (figuratively).

And don't forget to enter our pool (see below thread).












Sunday, March 11, 2007

KU # 1 Seed West Region


I don't know what to make of our draw. Awesome game today against TX. Bill Self said "I don't want to play him again." Ha no kidding. Chalmers with the clutch ice-veined three to put it into OT.


There are a lot of big names in our region, but they are depleted compared to the past. After the Play in winner of FAMU/Niagra (please God, don't let us lose that one too), we would get Kentucky/Villanova winner. I think we can roll either of those squads this year, though Nova could give us some problems. our 3 and 4 are great with So. Illinois and Va Tech. I'm not afraid of either of those teams. Then we would have to play whoever comes out of UCLA/Duke/Pitt (or my Darkhorse- don't sleep on the Zags). I think 'I like it. I don't like that we'd have to play UCLA in San Jose, though (although that's nothing compared to the screw job A&M got having to play Louisville in Lexington, KY). My Prediction: NCAA Finals!
I set up a pickem we could all play on Yahoo. here: http://tournament.fantasysports.yahoo.com/men/
League id is 83443
password : rockchalk
fill out a bracket!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

KU 67, KSU 61

I'm going to chalk up the ugliness in this game to fatigue (back-to-back games), competition (K-State was good defensively), and boredom (K-State again?).

It was a good game for Mario, who's got ice in his veins lately; a good homecoming for DJ, whose conversion of both shots on that one-and-one towards the end might have been the biggest play of the game; and a nice bounceback from Sherron.

But in the second half we lost our edge on defense (they started to get penetration) and especially on the boards (outrebounded by 10 after halftime)... We can't let that happen again.

Our guys looked more winded at the end of this one than Durant and co. did against OSU today. We may be looking at a reversal of last year's final: the team of young upstarts avenging an earlier road loss against the more experienced top seed. Anyway, it is exciting for us to get one more showdown with Durant before he departs for one of the NBA's bottom-feeders.

Bring on the 'Horns! (After some time in the sauna, that is...)

Friday, March 09, 2007

KU 64-OU 47


Now... who's next?


Do we want to win this thing or not? Does it really help, or does it wind you for the Big Dance? How many games do we need to guarantee a #1 seed? Did UCLA's loss guarantee us the #1 already? Thoughts?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

A Bunch of Hot Shots You Can Root For



Kansas has a different leader almost every night
By DOUG TUCKER, AP Sports Writer
March 6, 2007

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) -- They pull on their jerseys and lace up their sneakers, take a few deep breaths and listen to one more pre-game pep talk. Then everybody removes his ego.

Maybe that's why Kansas is ranked No. 2 in the country.

"The main thing we want is to win," All-Big 12 forward Julian Wright said. "It's not how we win; it's not who scores. It's just everyone stepping up to make plays when they're needed."

On a roster that's about eight deep with talented athletes who were courted by many of the nation's finest programs, almost everyone is a go-to guy. And they all seem perfectly happy to spread the wealth.

After a disheartening home loss on Feb. 3 to Texas A&M, the Jayhawks (27-4) won their next six straight. A different player either led or tied for the team lead in scoring in each of those games, and only twice in that span did the same player lead the team in rebounds.

Several times this season the Jayhawks have had five players score in double figures.

Yet nobody seems to get jealous. Nobody whines about NBA scouts not getting to see what he can do.

It's the sort of situation every coach dreams of, but only a few, such as Bill Self this year, are lucky enough to ever have.

"I think it's a testament to coach Self," said Wright, a 6-foot-8 sophomore, who had 17 points, 13 rebounds and a game-saving defensive play in the Big 12 title-clinching victory over Texas.

"This is pretty much how we've been the whole year, and last year, too. The reason I think we're doing so well this year is because everyone started buying into the concept last year."

There is no question that all this balance has cost some players personal recognition.

Although Kansas was the highest-ranked team in the conference most of the entire season and would eventually emerge as league champion, the Big 12 office recognized a Jayhawk as player of the week only twice. On one of those occasions, the Kansas player shared the award with someone else.

"Everyone wants to see everyone else do well. Everybody is just having fun and enjoying basketball. We've got individuals who are willing to sacrifice their own egos for the sake of the team," said junior guard Russell Robinson, the acknowledged leader of this senior-less squad.

"It's won us some games this year, and I think it's going to win us a lot more."



The Jayhawks led the Big 12 in scoring margin at plus-18.2 points per game. But their top scorer, Brandon Rush at 14.1 points per game, was 16th in the conference. Similarly, Wright was the only Jayhawk among the top 15 rebounders, but Kansas led the Big 12 in total rebounding and rebound margin.

"Coach is the biggest reason for that," said Robinson. "He strokes everybody and keeps us all happy."

Self, who has won seven conference titles in three different leagues the past nine years, is proud of the balance Kansas has achieved.


"It means the other team can't concentrate its defense on just one or two guys," he said.

But he also acknowledges there's a down side.

"It can mean that in the final minute or so when you need somebody to really step up and be that one guy that everybody looks to, you don't have anybody who's used to taking that role."

It's not the sort of situation Darnell Jackson expected when the 6-foot-9 reserve center arrived on campus as a highly sought prep star from Oklahoma.

"When everybody first got here, I thought it would be bad chemistry," he said. "I thought, `These guys are going to worry about who's going to get the most points and who's going to get the most publicity.' But nobody cares about it. Nobody cares at all."

Saturday, March 03, 2007

YES!

YES!

That may be the most incredible game I've seen at Allen. To have Texas play so insanely well the first half; and then to start the second half with like a 22-7 run; and then (despite some sloppy play--but let's forget the negatives for a minute) that clutch play at the end (in particular Julian's block and Russel's free-throw) . . . awesome. Yes.


Thursday, March 01, 2007

All Hail Texas! Death to Texas!

Best-case scenario for Kansas last night. Texas beats A&M, but it takes them like three hours to do it. Kansas is finally alone at #1 in the conference and assured no less than a share of the title.

And again, the chips keep falling into place for a #1 seed. We said last week that we'd need to win out (true so far), that A&M would have to lose (thank you, Kevin Durant), and that one of the top teams would have to collapse (thanks, Florida). I wonder if certain commentators are ready to eat some crow.

But the question still is: do we even want the 1 seed?

And, after watching Durant and Augustin last night, what do you guys think will happen on Saturday?