Thursday, March 22, 2007


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

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. . . .



  1. Oh, if you want to see them, cbs has highlights here.

  2. All the problems we've talked about this season came back to haunt the 'Hawks last night: Rebounding (a 26-31 deficit), free throws (10 of 19, including clutch misses), and especially turnovers (19 of them, leading to 26 SIU points).

    As far as TOs go, this game had a new twist: we had our usual number of unforced TOs, but SIU was the first opponent this year that was actually stripping our guards in the backcourt and going for runouts -- how lucky were we that they missed that breakaway layup and putback near the end? I hope we can protect the ball a little better against the Bruins.

    But on a positive note... WE'RE IN THE ELITE 8!!! This is the point of the tourney where nerves cease to be a factor; there are no more Cinderellas to trip us up; it's time to just go out and play our game.

    Also, the Aggies go down in a nailbiter against Memphis (a good night for our friend Scott James). Hats off to Law IV for going from 0-16 as a freshman to the top 10 as a senior. Interesting, though, that their miraculous win at the Fieldhouse in early Feb. was the peak of their season; since then, they've lost four times while KU's gone undefeated.

  3. SIU was always the team that scared me most in our region. UCLA is very good defensively, but probably not much better than us, and no way are they as good as SIU.

    So UCLA can certainly win, but I'm feeling pretty good.

    Most underrated player last night was Arthur, who made some sweet interior passes, and created some shots for himself when we could hardly buy a bucket.

    My favorite moment was, of course, when we won. The camera showed Self slap his hands together and pump his fist as he headed down the sideline to embrace Coach Lowery.

    By all accounts Self did a great job last night - keeping the boys from getting frustrated, and applying a game plan that allowed us to beat SIU as we played their game.

    Here is very strange piece from cbssportsline:

    They played the least entertaining game of the night, and they liked it. The UCLA Bruins, basketball's response to a master belt sander turning a nice tight-grained piece of oak into a toothpick, are now a game away from the not-nearly-so-rare feat of reaching the Final Four in successive years.

    There's no looking back for Lorenzo Mata's Bruins and the other top seeds. (AP)
    There's no looking back for Lorenzo Mata's Bruins and the other top seeds. (AP)
    I mean, Kansas did it five and four years ago, and right before them, Michigan State, and right before them, North Carolina. Hell, Martha, this is no big deal at all.

    So now your job is to march up to Ben Howland and tell him that, and then see if you have any eyebrows left when he completes his rebuttal.

    I mean, if the NCAA Tournament is open to everyone with a dance hall, shouldn't this be harder to do? In fact, even though we know that the Final Four is essentially a gated community, UCLA's attempt at what passes for immortality should be a more difficult feat.

    Now of course it is. Kansas may not have looked Thursday evening like a team that hasn't lost since the start of February, but Southern Illinois will do that to a body. When Bill Self praised SIU coach Chris Lowery after the game by saying he would do anything he could do to help Lowery, we know two things:

    Yard work is not involved.

    And what he will help do is anything that speeds Lowery to a place where he won't be impacting Self's professional life again.

    But the point here is that Kansas is very, very good, and if they can take the pace of the game into the 70s and away from UCLA's more turgid rhythms, we won't have to worry about the Bruins-repeating story again for two more years at the earliest.

    And no, we're not ignoring Florida here. Well, we are, but they haven't played their regional semifinal yet, and well, who the hell knows?

    But what we are facing here is a Final Four whose Cinderella team could be either Memphis or Georgetown, and somehow the idea of John Calipari as the midwife to "the next George Mason" just makes us laugh.

    Yes, there is still Butler and Vanderbilt and Oregon to consider –- between them, only Oregon has ever reached a Final Four, and that was before World War II. Southern California has never put a basketball team into the Final Four, but the football team is Microsoft-big for both programs. Plus, UNLV has a certain oddball charm about it –- separated at birth, Jerry Tarkanian and Lon Kruger -- but the hard truth is that the best hope for anyone who didn't just play the chalk these past few weeks was SIU –- hard to guard, harder to be guarded by, in all measurable ways a regal bitch and change.

    But the Salukis couldn't make that one last play Thursday night, leaving it for Kansas' Brandon Rush to do instead, and now they are back in Carbondale trying to make do with a string of "Hell of an effort, fellas" remarks from the locals.

    But with Kansas and UCLA, and Ohio State and Memphis already in, the fear for dreamers is that there's nothing to dream any more. This tournament was criticized after the first 32 games for not providing enough surprises, then corrected itself in the next 16, but Thursday suggested that it is correcting itself again, back to the same muscular powers that have dominated the game as the 64-team bracket has refined itself.

    Butler and Vegas have that mid-major charm. Vanderbilt doesn't even have an athletic department, which is a pretty major charm in and of itself. And Vegas without Richard (The Fixer) Perry must surely be something to behold.

    We suspect the worst, however, meaning another year of chalk, or chalk-like championships. Butler after George Mason? Vanderbilt, period? Do we dare think it?

    No. That would be stupid. UCLA and Kansas, Memphis and Ohio State showed us our future, and it is pure megaconglomerate. Damn.

  4. An interesting article from ESPN that makes Self look like a genius.

    Apparently, Self found a weakness in the SIU defense and designed a play for Brandon that was the game winner.

  5. A real interesting recap from the New York Times.

    I had forgotten about that beautiful lob from Rush to Arthur:

    "The Jayhawks (33-4) have five or six potential N.B.A. players on their roster. They have a 14-game winning streak. They are as fast and as talented as any team in the country. But on Thursday, they showed that they could dive on the floor and win dirty.

    There is apparently no other way to beat Southern Illinois. Slowing down the game and turning each possession into a scrum, the Salukis (29-7) led deep into the second half. But with 7 minutes 16 seconds remaining and Kansas trailing by 2 points, Jayhawks guard Brandon Rush threw a lob pass for forward Darrell Arthur.

    Not only did Arthur finish the play with a dunk, he punctuated it with a roar that could have been heard in the Kansas cheering section. The rim shook so violently that the shot clock bent backward. The Jayhawks had finally, forcefully, imposed their will. . .

    This was a matchup of contrasting styles — Kansas trying to run, Southern Illinois trying to grind. The Jayhawks are known for their youth, athleticism and offensive firepower; the Salukis for their experience, discipline and defensive intensity.

    But Kansas players took exception to the stereotype. Proving that they can do more than run and score, the Jayhawks held Southern Illinois to 27.6 percent shooting in the first half and 25 percent from 3-point range. . .

    Kansas players reminded each other Wednesday that they had lost to Bradley and Bucknell. They were trying to keep anybody from looking past another low-profile team.

    But the Jayhawks might have spooked themselves. Coming out of halftime, they misfired on their first six possessions. Southern Illinois took a 6-point lead. It was Bradley and Bucknell all over again.

    This time, Kansas did not panic."

  6. I'm post-happy today.

    From an old article by Dennis Dodd (who's been pretty rough on the jayhawks lately):

    One pundit put it this way: Under Williams, Kansas players were made to feel like gods. Self had to make them feel like soldiers. If a sometimes-rocky transition almost turned into a Final Four berth, the position truly looks like what Self wants it to be -- a retirement job.

    "It's almost not real world," he said. "These guys are treated, in a lot of respects, like rock stars. It's our responsibility each and every day (to remind them) they're no different than anybody else."

    The gist is that Self is more relaxed and happier at KU than Williams was, especially in his last few years. But it's marred slightly as the article came out right before we got spanked by Bucknell, leaving Self another year or so to really win over Kansans.

  7. And yet more love for Self from Jason Whitlock, who was just a few rows behind the KU bench.

    "Being so close to the bench and listening to Self interact with his players, I never really thought Kansas would lose the game. The possibility of losing never seemed to enter Self’s mind."

    Coincidentally, the last time I can remember Self winning so much praise was in the same round three years ago against UAB, although that game was about as different from SIU as night and day.

    But the hero was Brandon (despite some turnovers), who has now shot 12 for 13 in the last two games. He has to be the frontrunner for West Regional MVP.