Monday, November 29, 2010

Weekend in Vegas

A little late in posting on KU's great victories over Ohio and 'Zona. This was my first chance to see the team live, and needless to say I'm pretty stoked.

I like the defensive intensity. Cole's absence will make us more vulnerable to strong big men like Williams of Arizona, but the Twins held their ground and looked downright dominant at times. I liked what I saw from almost every player on the floor last weekend -- the twins, Tyshawn, Reed, Little, Releford, EJ. The only exceptions to me were Brady and Withey, who both had their moments but look a bit shaky out of the gate.

I will revert back to my original suspicion that we do need Selby. We need more scoring from the perimeter, esp. if Reed and Brady continue to struggle from deep.

We haven't had the strongest schedule thus far, but remember that Ohio knocked off the Hoyas in the 1st round last year, No. Texas was a solid tourney team as well, and Arizona is stocked with raw, talented guys looking to make their bones off an upset.

T-Rob's dunk to cap off the Arizona win was one of the most exciting KU plays in recent years -- and LJW finally gave us an exciting reel this time.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Last KU Loss at the Fieldhouse...

Now that we've broken the all-time KU home win streak record, let me take a moment to reflect on the last time Kansas lost at home:

It was February 2007. Just like today, the president was reeling from a midterm-election shellacking. The upcoming White House campaign was expected to be between Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani. Rex Grossman was about to start in the Super Bowl the next day.

The Jayhawks were a raw, young team. Sherron Collins was a freshman, but a lot of people expected him to bolt for the NBA early and Julian Wright to stick around.

Our opponent was not Texas A&M CC, but just Texas A&M. The coach was Billy Gillispie. (Kentucky's coach was still Tubby Smith.) Kansas played a strong game overall, and seemed in control, but A&M got hot in the last few minutes and our guys missed some crucial shots down the stretch. At Jayhawk Nation, this led to an argument among the bloggers about whether Sasha Kaun should have been in the game -- the same Sasha Kaun who would later become a tournament hero. (I was on the right side of history in that one, thank you very much.)

It was the first and only time that a Big 12 South team won at the Fieldhouse.

By the way, Travis Releford supposedly had a spectacular reverse dunk in last night's game, but I can't find any video evidence of it. LJW's highlight reel is worth checking out, and very dunk-heavy in its own right, but if anyone can guide me to the Releford play I'd appreciate it.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Selby is cleared to play!

Selby is finally eligible to play starting December 18th against USC! Unfortunately he'll miss the UCLA, Arizona, and Memphis games but at least we finally know when he can play.

Tonight's game against North Texas was a little frustrating to watch. Our defense is so off and on. The end of the first half was a mess. But then they came out of the gates very strong in the second half. They kept North Texas to I think only 4 points in the first 10 min. of the second half. I really think this team will come together as the season unfolds. Self has clearly been experimenting with different lineups. And who wouldn't with a bench this deep? Now that we finally have an answer to the Selby question, Self can finally start planning on incorporating him into practices and games. The team clearly has a lot to work on but they are fun to watch. It's a much faster team this year. This might sound a little crazy but this team may have more potential than last year's. Of course I miss Cole, but I also missed Julian... and recall what that led to. Like the '08 team we have speed, experience, and depth.

How will the chemistry change with Selby? Thoughts?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Forget Longwood, Here Comes Valpo

Sorry, YHD. I haven't been able to watch any games yet, and likely won't be able to watch Valparaiso tonight either. We need Aaron D. back (among others)...

Not much to be said about the Longwood game, I guess, but you've gotta love the 113 points -- highest in the Self era. This seems to confirm his prophecy that the team would be fast.

Interesting line from Tyshawn. Six turnovers is really too many against a patsy like Longwood. (I liked his quote after the game: "We just gotta be able to play fast and be less careless. I mean, I guess that’s just me -- saying that to myself.")

But I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt: 17 points, 10 assists and 3 steals more than cancels out those TOs. With Selby out indefinitely and EJ in the doghouse indefinitely, TT's our floor leader, for better or worse.

Odd to see Brady and Mario logging fewer minutes than Travis Releford. And to see people named Jordan Juenemann and Niko Roberts show up in the box score.

MONDAY NIGHT TRAP GAME ALERT: Valpo returns four starters from what was at least a decent team last season, and they're picked to finish 2nd in the Horizon League behind Butler. Just like KU, they scored 111 points against a patsy in their first game -- but held that team to 65, compared to Longwood's 75. So uh, watch out.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Exhibit B

Second exhibition game last night. I missed the first half, but kusports did post this raw footage, which all looks first-half-ish.


When will we hear about Selby? People remain confident, but the first game tips in like two days!

Anyway, my concern at this point is defense: in the second half, our post players got beat bad by the Hornets. They're smaller and slower, and yet there they were, making layups... And our post guys are either veterans like the Morris brothers or guys like Robinson, who have been around (though not in games). Not to sound alarmist, but this aspect of the game should look better.

Upside? Of course, we were just dominant on offense, especially inside, and we hit a very impressive 35-40 free throws. (But does it seem weird to you that we shot 40 free throws in an exhibition game? Hmm.)

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Burn, Washburn, Burn!

OK, and we're back. The usual post-season hangover lasted much longer this year because that Northern Iowa debacle -- combined with Duke winning it all and being favored to repeat -- was just too f*ing devastating. Getting Josh Selby should have changed all that, but his eligibility STILL remains in question, plus it's hard to get too charged up over another one-and-done guy.

BUT... I'm ready to shake it off. Did anyone see the Washburn game? It sounds like the twins are ready to be stars, esp. Marcus, and even Tyshawn may be showing signs. Despite the pic at right, however, it looks like Elijah had a bad night. And Self didn't have much good to say; he even criticized Robinson and Little for being too small. We allowed them to shoot 50 percent, which always pisses HCBS off -- on those rare occasions that it happens.

This seems like one of those swing years where we could make the Final Four should everything go right, or we could be on the bubble should things go wrong (injuries, chemistry issues, no Selby). I'm going to lean towards the positive, though, because (a) I like the fact that Self is excited about our team speed, (b) no one seems to seriously believe Selby will be DQ'd, (c) Selby looks pretty damn good from the video I've seen, (d) Marcus' aforementioned blossoming, and (e) strong veteran leadership from Tyrel and Brady.

Also, (f) it's a new season and hope springs eternal.