Thursday, January 31, 2008

Splattered All Over Manhattan

Ha -- well, good thing that wasn't on TV, right?

The undefeated dream is dead; the Bramlage streak is dead. Time to move on.

We did do some good things in this game -- didn't let Beasley dominate the paint, and shot free throws very well (17 of 20). Brandon and Darrell got a (somewhat) impressive seven rebounds each.

But that wasn't enough. We shot better than they did (though not from beyond the arc) but didn't box out as a team; they got 16 offensive rebounds on us, and seemingly scored on all of them. Individually we didn't get enough rebounding from DJ (4 in 30 minutes) or Sasha (3 in 20). Plus we got a lot of near-steals where our guys turned upcourt for the fast-break before securing possession of the ball; then KSU would take it back and score easily since all our guys were out of position.

Also, Self made a big mistake by putting us into full-court press panic mode with a full five minutes left in the game. If we had just played our game and gotten a few stops in a row, we could have easily clawed back, but our full-court press just resulted in easy baskets or free throw trips for KSU on every possession from then onward.

Of course we couldn't control their hot 3-point shooting -- a lot of those were guarded -- or the poor officiating. The final foul totals don't show it, but when the game was close every key call went against us. Like when Sasha got called for traveling after snagging a loose ball, despite the fact that (a) he was clearly fouled, and (b) though he was fouled he still clearly DID NOT MOVE HIS FEET. Oh, the humanity!

Anyway, I'm sure we'll recover from this, but it is disconcerting that we're now trailing KSU in the conference standings -- AND that now we may be ranked below Duke.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

ESPN Plus?

What programming geniuses decided to relegate the Kansas-KSU game to third-class status on ESPN Plus, which absolutely no one in the country gets?

You have the best team in the country going to play the best freshman in the country (Michael Beasley) in an arena where we haven't lost in what, 18 years? Even if the historic upset doesn't happen (this game is dangerous for the 'Hawks), it's still a huge marquee matchup, yet ESPN has decided to show Maryland-Virginia instead.

(The other games they're showing -- Cincy vs. West Virginia, Texas vs. A&M -- those I can forgive. But Maryland-Virginia?? Surely you jest.)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Another Day At The Office

Channel 6 alertly points out that last night's smashing victory over Iowa State was perfectly "average" -- i.e., the final score of 83-59 matches KU's average point total and points allowed for the season right on the nose.

But the great thing was that our big men dominated -- I mean, dominated -- despite a frontline height disadvantage. Darnell continued his All-America campaign, Shady scored at will despite a minor injury, and -- yes, Scott -- even Sasha played well, going 3 for 5 with 4 rebounds, a block and an assist w/ no TOs in 17 minutes.

It was altogether a great night in the hoops world, with Baylor beating A&M in 5 overtimes (!), Hinrich putting up 38 against the Pacers (!), and right after the KU game on ESPN my other team put on a clinic as well. (!)

Also, today the KC Star's Kerkhoff joined the Memphis vs. KU debate, giving the slightest of edges to the 'Hawks.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

KU Escapes

Jayhawks survive MU scare

By Gary Bedore (Contact)

Posted Sunday, January 20, 2008

Columbia, Mo. — Bundled up in his winter garb, a white and blue Kansas University stocking cap covering his ears, Brandon Rush was in a hurry to head out into the bitter cold and board the team bus Saturday night outside Mizzou Arena.

“I’m going to go text my brother. I will say I got him … again,” Rush said with a grin.

He was referring to needling his brother, former Missouri player Kareem Rush, in the wake of the Jayhawks’ 76-70 victory over the Tigers.

KU’s Rush was in a great mood after defeating MU for the fourth time in five tries in his career and his second time in Columbia against a sole defeat his freshman year.

The 6-foot-6 Kansas Citian was not dwelling on the fact he missed 12 of 14 shots, including four threes without a make.

He preferred to focus on the fact he did make nine of 14 free throws — including four of six the final minute — and grabbed nine rebounds in helping KU keep its perfect season intact at 18-0, 3-0 in the Big 12 Conference.

“It was a little frustrating because my shot didn’t go down,” Rush said. “I tried to not pay too much attention to it. I tried to do my part rebounding and guarding Matt. He didn’t shoot it too well, either.”

Rush, whose nine rebounds were matched by Darrell Arthur and Darnell Jackson for team-high honors, held Matt Lawrence to a 2-for-10 game, including just one three in nine tries.

“I expected a grind-it-out game,” Rush said of a game in which the defenses dominated.

Missouri (11-7, 1-2) hit just 38 percent of its shots, including five of 28 threes and 11 of 22 free throws. KU hit 40 percent of its shots, including four of 12 threes and 28 of 45 free throws.

“Missouri’s defense confused us. They pressured us a lot, then they laid back in the 2-3 (zone). It was confusing, but we still managed to win the game,” Rush said.

It was perhaps KU’s toughest game of the season.

Missouri jumped to an early 7-1 lead, the Tigers’ biggest lead of the game.

KU led by just two, 38-36, at halftime and never led by more than eight points — 64-56 — with seven minutes to play. MU couldn’t creep closer than five, despite the fact the Jayhawks made one of two free throws on four straight trips to the stripe.

“It wasn’t very good, obviously. I’m certainly not going to complain about the number we shot (45). That doesn’t happen a lot on the road,” KU coach Bill Self said of free throws.

His team did sink 10 of 14 the final 3:20, with Mario Chalmers making two at 3:20 and two at :11.5.

“We made just enough to win the game. We made it harder on ourselves down the stretch, consistently making one of two,” Self said. “We’ve got to do better than that.”

KU made just one field goal the last 7 1/2 minutes, a layup by Chalmers, who finished with 18 points and three steals, including a huge steal with 1:10 left. That steal led to an intentional foul on Rush and three of four Rush free throws on two possessions, giving KU a 71-63 lead at :58.

“That’s a little misleading,” Self said of KU’s netting just one field goal late. “How many free throws did we shoot? Our goal late was to use the clock, hopefully create inside scoring opportunities. We didn’t take many shots the last seven minutes (six shots, one basket).”

The victory obviously wasn’t a thing of beauty, with both teams combining for nine threes in 40 tries, but it was a huge workmanlike victory, with KU outboarding rival Mizzou, 52-43.

“I thought our guards got sped up, tried to make some great plays instead of just moving the ball,” Self said. “I attribute that to Missouri’s guards. I certainly am pleased to get the victory. I think the reason we played poorly in large part is because Missouri got after us.”

He grinned when asked if he and his players were expecting a blowout.

“I expected a low-scoring game, to be honest,” he said. “I thought two teams would really guard.

“If anybody thought we’d win this game big, they probably don’t understand college athletics. It was a big game for Missouri and a huge game for us, a rivalry game,” Self added.

And a good game for Rush, who received family bragging rights over Indiana Pacers player Kareem, despite a horrid night offensively.

“He just didn’t make shots. I’m proud of him, his aggressiveness, the way he rebounded the ball,” Self said. “This is a big game for Brandon and a hard game for him. He likes a lot of people here. Missouri was good to his brother. He catches crap when he comes over here (from fans), which he should.”

Yet the insults of The Antlers, who yelled “traitor” at him in pregame introductions, didn’t matter at the end.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

It's just not as much fun without Quin.

Sure Mizzou still sucks and I hope we kill them by 300. Mike Anderson sems like a good guy, I guess I'll have to focus my animosity on the Antlers instead.


Thursday, January 17, 2008

WHO'S #1?

WHO'S #1?

According to Ryan Greene & (ahem) Tom Keegan:

"North Carolina has the best player (Tyler Hansbrough), Kansas the most balance and Memphis the most size."

They compare everyone's starting 5 and bench, and conclude that KU is 1, Carolina 2, Memphis 3.

Notice that all three coaches have strong KU ties?

Grant Wahl on Kansas:

"The Jayhawks are just killing teams right now and should be on every college hoops fan's list of DVR musts. Bill Self has done a terrific job convincing NBA-level talent to buy into the team concept, even if it means sacrificing some stats. The result is a suffocating defense (especially on the perimeter), scary depth and the sort of explosive, but team-first attack, that just overwhelms opponents. When a player like Sherron Collins isn't even starting, you know there's something special brewing in Lawrence."

He also provides a tortured explanation for why Carolina won't win the championship.

Fran Fraschilla throws down as well:

"I am going to start to see the Kansas Jayhawks a lot in the coming weeks in my Big 12 travels, so making the claim that they are the best team in the country right now will brand me a "homer." I am aware of that. So, let me explain how I feel about the "Fran-tastic Four" right now: Kansas, Memphis, UCLA and North Carolina."

So UNC isn't in the Magic Eight? Keegan and Greene rate them 2nd to Kansas? Fraschilla rates them fourth behind KU, Memphis, and UCLA?

Such disrespect!

Or is it more telling that most of these pieces offer hand wringing explanations for failing to rank UNC at the top spot?


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

More Triumph?

Another hot week for the Jayhawks.

On Tuesday, they defeated Loyola (Md) by 30 points. On Saturday they went to Nebraska and emerged with a 21 point win. And last night they steamrolled over Oklahoma for another 30 point victory.

"Ten days ago, the Kansas Jayhawks had to fly to the East Coast and embarrass Boston College to be deemed worthy of Final Four talk.

At least, that was KU coach Bill Self’s theory as to why his team was suddenly one of the chic favorites to win the big one. Clearly, Self said, it was a regional thing.

On Monday night, with any possible regional biases out of the way, the No. 3 Jayhawks welcomed the country into their home for ESPN’s “Big Monday” and put on a show with an 85-55 blowout of Oklahoma. Kansas simply couldn’t afford to disappoint anyone." -Brady McCollough KC Star

Can these guys run the table in the conference?

"When a reporter asked Self whether the 17-0 Jayhawks give any thought to going undefeated, Self treated the question as a joke.

“No. God no,” he said. “We still have seven road games left. … We’re not even going to go there.”

Self’s not, but we are. It could happen. The third-ranked Jayhawks are that good. If they played Memphis’ schedule, the Hawks would almost assuredly run the table. Fortunately, the Big 12 will provide Kansas a far stiffer test than what Memphis will receive in Conference USA.

That’s good for us and for the Jayhawks, who must win five more games to match the record for the best start in school history (22-0 and the 1997 Jacque Vaughn-led Jayhawks).

“It hasn’t come up,” forward Darnell Jackson said when I asked him about going undefeated.

Well, the subject will be broached this season if the Jayhawks are able to play with the kind of intensity and precision they did Monday night consistently." - Jason Whitlock

After losing to the #2 and 3 teams in the nation, Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel says we're better than Memphis:

“I think Kansas is better,” Capel said. “They are the best team that we’ve played, and we have played some really good teams. They are so balanced. They shoot better than Memphis. They are bigger. They are probably equally as good in transition. They pass the ball better. I don’t think it is close that they are the best team in the country.”

Also worth noting, the Jayhawks were 17 for 18 at the free throw line.

In four games during the month of January, KU is 67-of-88 from the line. That calculates out to a 76.1-percent efficiency, compared to a 62.8-percent clip (167-of-266) during the season’s first 13 games.

So, after biting my tongue through the fall, when it was hard to get a handle on an injury plagued team, I'm starting to feel we can win it all.

We've had a lot of impressive wins, we got Nebraska's best shot - we didn't get Oklahoma's. But we look like an express train, and it's hard to see where we get stopped. Well, not that hard - there are those road games at Texas and A&M.

Of course, as an Obama supporter I'm all too familiar with how elusive a juggernaut with momentum can be. For both the Jayhawks and Obama, I'm optimistic. But right now my smart money goes with Kansas.


“I think that’s what our team is - we’re a spurt team. We can putter around and be behind 17-15 or be ahead 17-15, and three minutes later have a double-figure lead. And that’s what most really good teams can do.”-Bill Self

"He’s just now starting to show his talent level this year.” - Self on Rush

"When the Jayhawks are at their best, there's not a team in the Big 12 that can touch them. There might not be a team in the country that can touch them. Not when they're clicking as they were Monday night. Which is how they usually click." -Bob Lutz

"We just tried to put our foot on their throat and put it away.”-Mario Chalmers

Russell Robinson on Rush as a freshman, going up against senior Stephen Vinson in practice:

"Brandon couldn't get by him," Robinson said. "You couldn't tell who was better.

"You may come in as a big name, but it's a whole different game when you get to college. (Seniors) may not get as much attention as we should, but it's something you have to live with. The key is to be the last one standing in the end. That's where the glory is."

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Last Week's News

If any of you deadbeats noticed (Chris did, anyway), Kansas played its best game of the season Saturday, crushing BC on the road (Boston fans aren't used to getting beaten these days). Oh, and in case you missed it: WE WON THE ORANGE BOWL! Anyone out there?

Back to basketball: After knocking off another cupcake last night, our boys are 15-0. AP and ESPN have been reporting that this is our best start since '89-'90, which is not true -- we started 22-0 in 1996-7.

But the BC game finally got people talking about us...

CBS Sportsline's Gary Parrish:
"The Jayhawks' win at Boston College was as impressive as any performance any elite team has provided this season."

Andy Katz, concurring w/ Yancy:
"Beginning with this win, we need to start examining Kansas -- not just Memphis -- as a legitimate contender to run the table in the regular season. Kansas still has to go to Texas (Feb. 11) and Texas A&M (March 8). But the Jayhawks are talented, tough and sound enough to win both those road hurdles."

Fox Sports:
"'Overall, they're the best team I've ever played against,' Boston College junior guard Tyrese Rice said. 'The way they play together. They are so unselfish and it doesn't matter who is scoring it.'

"Rice has played two years in the ACC. He's gone up against North Carolina four times. He's played Duke on three separate occasions. He faced a Georgetown squad in the second round of the NCAA tournament that wound up going to the Final Four. Rice also played a Villanova team two years ago in the Big Dance that had as formidable guards as anyone in recent memory."

Also, in the same article:
"'You could say that some people played with their own agendas last year,' junior guard Mario Chalmers added. 'This year our chemistry is much better.'"

(A shot at Julian?)

"Self's record (105-29) in his first four years at Kansas is more impressive than that of Roy Williams, Larry Brown and Phog Allen."

Friday, January 04, 2008

Underdogs No More

"With 100 percent of the precincts reporting, Kansas is the winner in Dade County, the city of Miami and the state of Florida. It's the best election-night result Mark Mangino could have hoped for when this long college football campaign began back in September."

-- Matthew Zemek, Fox Sports

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Very Nice

One more bit of DJax before I'm ready to shift back to football: