Monday, February 25, 2008


I'll keep my commentary on the OSU loss more or less upbeat. Maybe our team has just been affected by the same doldrums that have silenced our bloggers lately?

It may seem weak to look for excuses, but watching the game Sat. in a loud bar I didn't get the news that DJ's cousin and Rod Stewart's brother had just been murdered. Although DJ played well, it's hard to fault the team for a lackluster performance.

(We did play well in the final 10 minutes, but it wasn't quite enough after we gave OSU so much confidence with our poor play in the first 3 quarters.)

Before I heard the tragic news, I had a lot of thoughts and theories as to why the 'Hawks have looked relatively anemic of late, but given the way that life sometimes intervenes, maybe we should write this one off and focus on the good:

We're still in line for a 2 seed, and still only a game back for the Big 12 title -- which would likely yield us a 1 seed after all. So I'm going to dispense with the negativity (if nothing else, just to avoid sounding like all the a-hole commenters on and hope that our guys can shake this one off as March approaches.

(That's not to say that the rest of you are barred from making negative comments. I'd settle for any kind of discussion at this point -- come on, people, it's crunch time!)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

One Shining Moment, More To Come?

From John Feinstein's "A Season Inside":

April 4, 1988 ... Kansas City

The first twenty minutes of this game belong in a time capsule somewhere. Basketball just didn't get much better than this. Kansas was not the least bit intimidated by Oklahoma's press. Rather than pull the ball out at center court after breaking it, the Jayhawks went right to the basket. Since Oklahoma was doing the same thing on every possession, the pace was torrid...

... Manning made the play of the half, stealing the ball from Sieger, driving across the lane on King and flipping the ball in over him as he was going down. Normally impassive, Manning was shaking his fist after that one and Kemper was rocking. ... It was 50-50. Twenty minutes to decide a championship. ...

If the players weren't exhausted, everyone else was. The game was reminiscent of Villanova-Georgetown in 1985 when the Wildcats had shot 79 percent to pull one of the greatest upsets in history. Kansas had shot 71 percent in the first half -- and was even. ...

... The end was near. ... With five seconds left, the national championship was in Danny Manning's hands. Oklahoma was out of time-outs. If Manning made both shots, even if the Sooners scored, they would be helpless. The clock would run out.

Manning knew all this. 'It's over,' he told himself. ' 'It's over.' ... Manning dribbled, looked up and shot. The ball hit the top of the front rim, slid over it -- while Ed Manning's heart stopped beating for a split second -- and dropped through. It was 82-79. Now, it came down to the last shot of Danny Manning's college career. This was exactly the way he wanted it, the way he had always dreamed it. Like every kid who had ever held a basketball in his hands, Danny Manning had played this scene out thousands of times. Make this shot and win the national championship.

This time, Manning didn't need the rim. It was 83-79. The celebration began as Grace threw up one final shot. Manning, playing right to the buzzer, grabbed the rebound and turned around, the ball in his hands as if to say, 'Is there anything else I need to do?'

... He had fantasized it thousands of times and now, when it was real, he wasn't quite sure whether to believe it.

But his eyes and ears told him it was true. He looked at the Kemper Arena scoreboard and there it was: Kansas 83, Oklahoma 79. And the clock said :00. ... His face exploded into a look of utter ecstasy and he began searching for people to hug.

He didn't have far to go. Chris Piper was running toward him, arms in the air, his head back, screeching something that was unintelligible to Manning. It didn't matter. Piper had been there all four years at Kansas with Manning. They had suffered together, living through all the near-misses and the key injuries, wondering often if there was such a thing as a happy ending and holding each other as if the other were a life raft when it seemed so often that their epitaph would be, "If only..."

Now, there would be no epitaph, just a legacy -- and a happy ending. And so, as was only right, Manning and Piper fell into each other's arms, living a moment so filled with happiness that, later, it hardly seemed real. Then their teammates were climbing on them, clutching and grabbing at them, each player a part of this because no one -- not even their coaches -- among the thousands in the arena or the millions watching on television could understand how this felt. ...

It was a poetic ending to a superb basketball game, one worthy of the setting and the stakes. Kansas had achieved one of the most dramatic victories in tournament history..."

Danny Manning, Feb. 16, 2008:

"Our championship team is nowhere near the team we have now at Kansas."

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Box Out! Box Out!

The loss to UT last night was a lot more frustrating than the K-State game b/c unlike the 'cats, UT was very beatable in this game. A couple of their guys had standout efforts, including Connor "Lee Harvey" Atchley and Damion James, but overall they really didn't play that great. So how did we lose?

Mainly because of the one Achilles heel that plagued us against K-State and in a few other games: rebounding. We did a great job in the first half, then for some reason just went to sleep on boxout responsibilities down the stretch. How the hell could Damion James get more rebounds in the the 2nd half (13) than DJ and Shady COMBINED (10) for the whole game?? This seems to be the one area where we've really missed Julian... You can play brilliant defense all night (and I think our D overall was fine), but if you don't rebound the misses it's all for naught.

The other puzzler is our offensive drought in the 2nd half. UT's defense was good, but it wasn't suffocating; no way a team with this many weapons should be held in check like that for so long. Where was the creativity? Why did we stop pounding it inside? (DJ and Shady dominated offensively in the 1st.)

Another depressing note from the LJW:

This win for Texas marked the Longhorns’ third win of the season over a Top-10 team (they also beat Tennessee and UCLA). KU on the other hand hasn’t defeated a team currently in the Top-25 and is 1-2 against ranked foes this year (the win being at Southern Cal). Texas, at 20-4, may have a better case at this moment for a No. 1 seed than 23-2 Kansas based on strength of schedule. Two of Texas’ losses were to Top-25 teams - Michigan State and Wisconsin.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Texas Two-Step

After Saturday night's bizarre win over Baylor, we now have Big Monday at Austin on just a day's rest. This seems too early in the season for such a huge conference battle. How do you guys think we'll respond?

Chris and I regrettably missed that Baylor game. Thoughts, anyone? There seems to be controversy on the message boards over whether to be more concerned that we were blanked from 3-point range and allowed 90 points (including 30 from Jerrells), or encouraged that we won despite all that.

There seems to be a growing consensus that our guards aren't defending as well as earlier in the season, after Jerrells' 30 and Pullen's 20 in the K-State game (and Fraschilla must have said 'Kansas isn't stopping dribble-penetration' about 50 times in that Mizzou game -- didn't seem to affect the outcome one bit, though). I'm inclined to think it's just that we're facing tougher guards at this point than in the noncon -- Baylor does have one of the most heralded backcourts in the country.

Tonight we face maybe THE best PG in the country, D.J. Augustin, so maybe we'll learn a little more about where our backcourt D is at this point.

Still and all, despite the defense and 3-point misses, our guards acquitted themselves well against Baylor: 22 for Russell, 17 for Sherron; plus, everyone keeps saying Mario had an off game, yet he shot 4 for 5 and notched 7 assists, 5 boards and 4 steals. Tough crowd.

Also, thanks to Chris for finding this SI item on our DJ.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Can This Season Go Any Weirder?

We're at the point now where KU sits atop the Big 12 by 1/2 a game, ahead of K-State only because of Mizzou . . .

Indeed, one James Sido was seen recently applauding as Mizzou won a game. I realize that it's nice to see K-State lose after the other day, but honestly I didn't know what to think or feel yesterday.

And then it took our team what, like 25 minutes of game time to start playing like Kansas again. Some good dunks by the end (highlights here), and how about DJ going 10-10 from the line? Nevertheless, tomorrow's game looks much bigger than expected. Let's hope we can say the same thing for our margin of victory!