Monday, March 19, 2007

Back in the Sweet 16


  1. What a wonderful weekend of basketball! I am so pleased KU won. They are really starting to look dominant. Was there anything not to like about that win? Maybe losing the rebounding battle by 2, and how easily our bigs got into foul trouble. Also, Sasha continues to underimpress me. But, damn, the sophomores were good!

  2. So much Sasha-hating...

    The Wichita Eagle points out out how important Sasha's screening and offensive maneuvering were in this game.

    They don't even mention his spectacular block of a dunk in the 2nd half, which was unjustly called a foul. (He has been missing too many layups, however).

    As for rebounding, Jason Whitlock laughs it off: "Rebounding isn’t all that important when you sink 70 of 127 shots over a weekend."

    But I think the normally skeptical Whitlock is starting to lose it. In the same column, he says:

    "I believe we’re witnessing the emergence of one of college basketball’s best teams, potentially the best team I’ve seen since UNLV’s Larry Johnson, Stacey Augmon and Greg Anthony creamed Duke by 30 points in 1990."

    Whoa, there! I hope our players don't read that. I love this team, but I'm still not convinced it's better even than some KU teams of the recent past.

  3. From cnnsi:


    Kansas: Not only have the Jayhawks now won 13 in a row, they were also easily the most impressive of the four No. 1 seeds on opening weekend, hitting a staggering 60.5 percent of their three-pointers -- 23 of 38 -- against Niagara and Kentucky. They'll need to keep up the hot hands in San Jose, where two of the nation's elite defensive teams, Southern Illinois and UCLA, await.

    Southern Illinois: The Salukis' tenacious defense was exceptional even by their standards the first two rounds, holding Holy Cross and Virginia Tech to an average of 49.5 points. Even without injured forward Matt Shaw, SIU dominated the Hokies from start to finish while draining a season-high 12 three-pointers.

    Ohio State: Let's tell it like it is -- it took a miracle (not to mention a well-placed Greg Oden body slam) for the Buckeyes to make it out of the second round. Give credit to Ron Lewis for making the ultra-clutch shot to take Xavier to overtime and Mike Conley for ultimately putting the Bucks over the top, but this No. 1 seed can't afford to live dangerously the rest of the tournament.

    UCLA: It's time to start panicking, Bruins fans. Maybe those two season-ending losses weren't a fluke after all. In its 54-49 win over Indiana, Ben Howland's team did its best impersonation of last year's Elite Eight game against Memphis as its offense completely disappeared. It also allowed the offensively challenged Hoosiers to mount a late 13-point comeback before holding on.

  4. Interesting nugget from ESPN/Elias:

    "Kansas shot 57 percent from the field in its 88-76 win over Kentucky. That was the highest shooting percentage against the Wildcats in an NCAA Tournament game since Duke shot 65 percent in the celebrated 1992 quarterfinal, including Christian Laettner's legendary game-winner."

  5. Good video here, but the best highlight reel is at CBS Sportsline -- great visuals and sound.

  6. from bill simmon's tourney diary:

    Raftery describing a three-second call on Nick Fazekas as it happens: "He's been in there for awhile ... (whistle blows) ... omigod, he had lunch, he didn't even pay for it ... he had the blanket out, the picnic set ... " He's the best.

    Not only did Wisconsin cut the lead to four points with 13 minutes to play, but we just realized that Bo Ryan is dressed like an usher at Loews Theaters.

    Raftery successfully pulls off the phrase, "With disdain ... taking it to the tin!" A few seconds later, Lundquist praises Nevada for "successfully bottling up Funk."

    You know how some offenses have names, like Four Corners, Motion, Flex and so on? Here are the possible names for the offense G-Tech is running today: "Inertia" … "The Diarrhea Motion" … "One Dribbler, Four Watchers" … "Clogged Toilet" …

    Packer-Nantz versus Raftery-Lundquist: "You know what the difference is between the broadcasts? Raftery and Lundquist actually like basketball."

  7. Great article on Self and the first round losses here.

    "Two Marches ago, not long after he slammed the hotel room door at the Oklahoma City Marriott, Bill Self cried.

    The moment was a rare one for Self, who’s known for bottling up his emotions, sometimes not even allowing his family and closest friends to see him grieve.

    But that night was different. Kansas had lost to Bucknell, one of the most shocking upsets in NCAA Tournament history.

    “I’m not into the whole public emotion thing,” Self said. “But for the first time in my professional life, I was experiencing what everyone else in college coaching goes through at some point in their career.

    “Up until then, I’d led a pretty charmed life . . .

    “I remember talking to Aaron (Miles) midway through the season. I said, ‘Aaron, we’re not playing well. We’re not doing this and that.’ He said, ‘Relax, coach. All we have to do is win six games.’ ”

    More about following Pitino and Williams.

    A piece focusing on KU's biggest weakness, point production from our bigs. Sorry, Sasha.

    "I prefer playing the way that best suits your personnel," Self said. "At Illinois, we were a grind-it-out, throw it inside team. With Wayne, we had to run set plays to make sure he got touches.

    "With this team, the best play is let players make plays."

  8. Bucknell was "one of the biggest upsets in tournament history?" Come on. KU was a 3-seed, with six losses...

    Self keeps deflecting blame for that game onto the seniors; he may have a point, but the classy thing would be to keep it to himself.

    I really don't think post-scoring is that big of a problem for KU; even against Kentucky, when neither of our big guys really had it going, the trio still generated 15 points and forced Morris into foul trouble. (Plus, Julian also scores a lot in the post, which that article doesn't even mention).

    The flaws that may eventually trip us up are turnovers and free throws, not post scoring.

  9. Seth Davis breaking down the West:

    Home cooking: Kansas
    What's that, you say? Isn't this regional being held in San Jose? Yes, but I would caution you never to underestimate the passion of the Kansas fans and their willingness to travel. I was in Las Vegas last November for the Jayhawks' big game against Florida, and though that was supposed to be a neutral-site game, the KU fans outnumbered Gators fans by about 4 to 1. Clearly, UCLA will have a strong contingent, but I don't expect the Bruins to have nearly the homecourt advantage the location would lead you to believe.

    I'm sure we'll have a healthy number of fans there, but still, you can't compare it to the Florida game, which was played a lot closer to Kansas than to Florida. (I'm still PO'd about this, if you couldn't tell -- just as Memphis and Ohio St. should be PO'd about A&M's advantage this weekend).

  10. ESPN's Gene Wojciechowski re-seeds the sweet 16 teams:

    1: KANSAS (previous NCAA seed: 1)

    It isn't just the margin of victories -- an, "Oh, did we just win by 40?'' over Niagara and a 12-point (felt like 22) win against Kentucky -- it's how the Jayhawks seem to improve every minute they're on the court. That's why they replace Florida as my new overall No. 1. Keep this up and they'll win the West Regional, the Final Four and possibly the NBA's Atlantic Division.


    2: OHIO STATE (previous NCAA seed: 1)

    Ohio State
    Is it just me, or does Oden look older than Bill Russell? Doesn't matter. I love watching him mess with shooters' minds as they try to teardrop or challenge him. He blocks so many shots it's like he's holding a snow shovel in front of the rim. I'm going to give the Buckeyes the benefit of the doubt on the Xavier game (they played an in-state rival with a grudge, the Musketeers were a tough 9-seed, and OSU showed some stones in OT), but they still drop from the top four teams.

    2: UCLA (previous NCAA seed: 2)

    The Bruins could have named their score in the blowout win against Weber State. And anybody who holds a team to 13 points in a half -- in this case, seventh-seeded Indiana -- gets my attention. But also getting my attention is UCLA's miserable 20 points in the same half. And who's teaching center Lorenzo Mata how to shoot free throws? Shaq? Either the Bruins rediscover their offense or they can forget about back-to-back Final Fours.

  11. Did you see any of the Big 12 tournament games? One might have expected a road-game atmosphere in OKC, but against Texas (as in the others as well, but most notably against UT) our fans had a clear advantage.

    I have no doubt that there will be plenty of *royal* blue should we make it to Saturday in San Jose.
    Glad that someone (thanks, Seth Davis) agrees with me on this one.

    Damn good stuff, though, this tournament. May have to drive back to Lawrence soon if this keeps up.

    Thanks, by the bye, Chris, for posting the Simmons on Raftery lines.

    Nice, if general, AP piece on Self. A good bit:
    In a testament to their development as a squad, the Jayhawks pounded Kentucky into submission 88-76 by mastering a trick even Self wasn't certain they had learned.

    "From an offensive standpoint," he said, "that was probably as good as we've looked playing in a half-court game."

    Ah, and congrats to Coach Jank on the ISU job.

  12. OKC isn't a good comparison; only an hour or two away from the KS state line.

    Of course there will be a good KU turnout in CA, but no way will it rival UCLA's. Surely you agree with me that the committee screwed up in giving home-court advantage to lower seeds.

    I heard Andy Katz on the radio defending the committee, saying they only guaranteed no lower seeds would get home games in the opening round, not afterwards... If that's true (and I had never heard it before), I have to say, WTF kind of stupid rule is that? Why would they throw fairness out the window after the first round?