Monday, March 23, 2009

No-Fly Zone

I had my doubts going into the weekend, but it's on to the Sweet 16 once again.

Cole snags the triple-double and becomes immortalized in tourney history. That had to be the most dominant individual tourney performance for KU at least since Collison against Duke in '03.

Sherron was nearly as good; Keegan has a good column (can't believe I just said that) in which Self really sings Sherron's praises -- an interesting counterpoint in a year when a lot of KU observers (including myself) have been quick to criticize him.

I have to admit, as Coach Self did, we were lucky that Dayton was terrible offensively. There were a lot of stretches when the 'Hawks went cold and the Flyers had a chance to build some momentum, but they just seemed to self-destruct on the offensive end. Their wing players were kamikazes, repeatedly driving right at Cole and getting it sent back every single time.... and then doing it again. But give our defense just a little credit as well -- Dayton had no problem against supposed defensive juggernaut West Virginia the other day.

The biggest concern now: Have we become too much of a two-man show? By my count, the dynamic duo scored 93 of Kansas's 144 points over the weekend. Mario, Tyrel and Marcus had some nice moments here and there, but that consistent third option has never materialized. Does it need to?


  1. Jason Whitlock going the contrarian route, as usual:

    The Jayhawks turned the ball over 17 times, missed half of their 22 free-throw attempts and 13 of 16 three-point shots.

    Dayton is the only team that played on Sunday that would have lost to Kansas.

    Whitlock predicts KU will go down in flames against the Spartans, who he says "looked a lot better than Kansas" on Sunday.

    First of all, how about a little credit to Dayton's defense? And more importantly, you'd think a writer as experienced as Whitlock would avoid the amateurish fallacy of picking the next game based solely on what the two teams did the previous day. This is one reason why so many people picked UNC over Kansas last year.

    Back on the positive side of the ledger: Great comment by the Wichita Eagle's Bob Lutz:

    Dayton made 16 shots against Kansas on Sunday. Which is six more than the Flyers had blocked by KU center Cole Aldrich. So, that's a plus.

    I guess.

  2. Slightly off topic, but I see Self has won another coach of the year award. Well deserved. Huzzah!

    That's a very odd thing for Whitlock to say, but I suppose it's worth being mindful of the fact that--despite how it felt down the stretch--we were not in fact perfect yesterday.

    I just don't get the turnover thing, though: what will it take to convince people that we can turn it over a few times and still win? Or that we can limit turnovers when we need to?
    I'd like also to note that Sherron had exactly 0 turnovers Sunday.

    The two-man show worry seems much more significant than anything Whitlock's trying to sell.
    On the other hand, plenty of great teams have leaned on a couple of key players. Been a while since we've done so, but it's not necessarily a bad thing.
    For what it's worth, though, I wouldn't be at all surprised by much more of a contribution from the rest of the team on Friday.

    Is it too soon for this? Do I care?
    KU by 9, 78-69.

  3. Also, I don't think Whitlock understands what the word "vegan" means.

    (Or is his joke just leaving me in the dust like a flat tire on a race horse?)

  4. In fairness, Whitlock is trying to sell the "2-man team" critique. In fact, he wrote that every player other than Cole, Collins and Little was "worthless" against the Flyers -- completely ignoring some clutch play by Reed and great defense by Morningstar; and ignoring the contributions made all year by those guys plus Taylor and the Twins.

    The answer seems to be that the 3rd option for the 'Hawks has been and will continue to be a committee effort. The committee fell short on Sunday, at least on the offensive end, and it didn't matter much. But against Michigan State and, God willing, Louisville, we can't expect the dynamic duo to be able to score with impunity.

    Morningstar in particular has got to nail those open shots on kickouts; given his shooting percentages this year (again something Whitlock utterly ignores) the law of averages says he'll hit 'em next time.

  5. From today's column, it appears that Keegan shares all of our recent pet peeves:

    Here's hoping Krzyzewski's not offended at being mentioned on a list with a bunch of college basketball coaches. After all, as he told the world on that television commercial that used to play 50 times a day, "I don't look at myself as a basketball coach. I look at myself as a leader who happens to coach basketball."

    You’d think a leader as great as Coach K could find better things to do with his time than coach basketball. You know, like maybe fix the economy.

    And then Keegan concludes with a subtle counterpunch to Whitlock:

    KU ready to beat Michigan State? I think so.

    Tom, all is forgiven.

  6. All forgiven? Wow.

    On the off chance that anyone besides you and I read this, Deron, I thought I'd mention that the theme of that piece was a handsome stat:

    "When given an opportunity to avenge a loss from earlier in the season, Self has a 7-1 record in six years at Kansas."


    Something less nice that I noticed the other day:
    "“I guess their flight team, or whatever they call it, wasn’t flying,” KU’s Collins quipped, referring to the athletic Flyers faring so poorly offensively."

    Do people still say "snap" in cases like that? Oh Sherron . . .

    I took it that Whitlock's complaint was more general than the two-man bit, for what it's worth. Note that he calls Cole's triple-double the "least impressive" he's seen, and says that only the "deluded" would think that KU played good defense against Dayton.

    It's true that he dubbed things the "Cole and Collins Show," but oddly that was in the paragraph where he praised Mario Little's performance, so I guess I'll call that a wash.

  7. I can't really make fun of Sherron's comment, since I did the same with my headline.