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...


  1. A few thoughts:

    I just want to applaud both last night's defensive effort and the season as a whole.
    Sure, it ended in a rather ugly fashion, but it's hard to be too unhappy about a 30+ win, elite 8 season.
    And our defense last night was, as the kids used to say (didn't they?), off the hook. We had 17 steals from a team that averaged less than 13 turnovers a game. 17 steals!

    Alas, we looked confused and tight on the other end of the floor. I do lament our own turnover problems, but I disagree with Deron: the game came down to missed shots and broken fast-breaks, or so it seemed from where I sat. If we shoot 50, even 45% from the field, we're right there. . . .
    And someone wiser than myself, also named Lee, made a good point on our insistence on ball screens that never seemed to work too well. . . .

    All right, I can't ignore it: how at this point in the season can our schedule still be a problem? What conceivable schedule prepares us for an elite 8 game against a team ranked in the top 5 all season?
    I should have thought that Southern Cal's tournament success, along w/BC's near success against Georgetown (who, by the bye, thank heavens kept us from being the only 1 not in the FF), along with our own success should have by now quieted . . . oh never mind.

    The damned Gators march on; guess it'll be me saying "Bruins" now. . .

  2. That's a tall order, Yance, expecting us to shoot a high percentage against a team that allows 42% on the season.

    We shot 41%. That's not so terrible. The problem was we allowed them to shoot 53%. But as you point out, our defense was great, so how is that possible?

    The answer is obvious: turnovers in the backcourt, which gave them runout after runout. The missed layups were deflating, but if we'd gotten more opportunities instead of coughing it up I guarantee you we wouldn't have kept missing.

    As for the schedule, I'm not talking about RPI anymore. I'm talking about preparing our team for the rigors of the tournament. We had exactly one neutral-court game against a marquee opponent and, amazingly, not a single big-time road game.

    I've never seen a Kansas team make the Final 4 after such a soft schedule. Granted, it almost happened this time, and I agree with you, Yance, that it was a great season anyway...

  3. ... Not that you WERE talking about RPI, Yancy. But it seems obvious that a few more games against UCLA-level competition (or at least road games against the Top 25) would have helped, no?

  4. Guess it's down to you and me, D.

    On the schedule, we may never make peace. I think, though, that the success we had this season has to demonstrate something. Would a few more big-time games have helped? It's possible, but is there any regular season game that would compare to a regional final against UCLA?
    And just to be fair, doesn't part of our trouble have to be pinned on our conference? The north-south thing is out of Self's hands, after all.

    On a next-season note, did anyone catch the McD's game last night? We saw parts of it, including a put-back shot and a block by one Cole Aldrich. The World Co. called his performance "so-so," but anytime someone plays defense in an all-star game I'm impressed. No highlights as spectacular as Sherron's from last year, but it's nice to see the strong recruiting continue. . . .

  5. Ok, I have recovered sufficiently.

    Anybody know what Brandon Rush, Darrell Arthur, and Julian Wright do the day after a crushing defeat to UCLA in the Elite 8?

    Practice free throws? Sulk in the Dorm? Go home to family? Hit the Books?

    If you said e) Go to Best Buy to play the new NCAA2K7 on Playstation 3 and purchase some some games, you were correct. I just happened to be down there on Sunday after the game, and it was pretty weird to see them doing that. I was embarrassed, don't they have PR people?

  6. Give 'em a break, man. I can think of a lot worse things they could be doing in their leisure time.

    Only saw a few minutes of the McD's game, didn't see Cole. The word is he had a disappointing senior season, but I see he averaged 22 points, 17 rebounds (!), and almost 4 blocks -- if that's an off year for this guy, I'm intrigued.

    Yancy, our success this season in terms of wins and losses came because of the easy schedule, not despite it. Our record was inflated and we went into the postseason without a full grasp of how good we were. It turned out we weren't as good as we thought.

    We got by with committing turnovers against the Big 12 teams (other than A&M), and even against UK and SIU, because they all lacked offensive firepower. (Texas was an exception; they had firepower but no discipline).

    UCLA could not only lock down but also turn our fumbles into immediate points. We wouldn't have been so shell-shocked if we'd faced that before.

    Of course Self can't control the conference schedule. The problem was he didn't do enough to compensate for it in the noncon.

  7. At the beginning of the season Deron said we'd make it to the Elite 8, but also said we'd go 15-1 in conference.

    We went 14-2 and to the Elite 8. How did the UCLA loss teach us that we're not as good as we thought?

    Who would we have played in the non-conference season that would have prepared us for UCLA?

    Hell, UCLA in the three weeks prior to the Elite 8 game couldn't have prepared us for UCLA that night.

    Carolina lost in spectacular fashion in the Elite 8. Was their non-conference schedule lacking?

    I don't think we can pin one loss deep in the tourney on what did or did not happen in the fall. Did the '97 team that lost one game all year before running into Arizona in the sweet sixteen play a soft non-conference schedule? Were they not as good as we thought?

    Deron, you have a legitimate complaint about the schedule. But I think you may be pre-occupied with the issue and are making wobbly connections.

  8. I do feel a bit wobbly this week...

    The schedule is not my magic-bullet theory for why we lost, but there's no question we weren't as battle-hardened as we could have been.

    When I said we weren't as good as "we" thought, I meant our team wasn't as good as they thought.

    I made predictions at the beginning of the year largely on the basis of the schedule; I thought we'd coast through the regular season, get a one-seed which would cushion us to the Elite 8, and then fall short, partly because the schedule hadn't prepared us and partly just because we were young and lacked tourney experience.

    And that's the way it went, as I see it. A strong schedule would have been one way to maybe work through our inexperience, but it was not to be.

    Youth won't be an issue in '08, and I'm hopeful the schedule won't be either; I know we have to play at Southern Cal, now featuring phenom O.J. Mayo. That's already one more tough road game than we had this entire season.