Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas in Columbus

I don't know who wins the pool on the Ohio St. game, but I know it isn't me. I just couldn't believe we were going to beat these Buckeyes -- who have scarcely been out of the Top 10 over the last three years -- three times straight. Glad to have been wrong in my skepticism, and glad to confirm the last few games haven't been flukes.

That was the best performance of Naadir's young career, at the best possible time. He and Kevin more or less saved our bacon when it looked as if OSU was going to take control in the first.

The turnovers (19 of them) didn't bother me much because (a) they were to be expected against a defensive whiz like Shia, er, Craft, and (b) they were mostly the product of our aggressiveness. With the exception of Perry, all of our guys were almost irrationally confident, even BMac playing his first road game. The senior trio of Withey, Travis, and EJ -- nice kids who at times in their careers have seemed perhaps too laid-back -- looked like dead-eyed assassins on Saturday.

A Merry Christmas to all.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Et Tu, Brutus?

I did miss the Belmont game (but I do have it saved on DVR). But at least on the surface, the appearance is that our putrid effort against UT-Chattanooga was indeed a wake-up call for us not to sleepwalk into Allen Fieldhouse and expect to put a W on the board.

We crushed a Colorado team that I heard Doug Gottlieb say that, even after the KU game, he thinks they will challenge for the Pac-12 title. By 50? Then Belmont, another crushing. Now Richmond, who has many players from the Sweet 16 Team just a couple of years ago.

In many of these games, we have dominated, but I still felt uncomfortable because we were getting killed by the guard spots. The last three games though, this did not continue. We appear to have "shorn up" the permiter "D". Stephen Bardo, of ESPN2 has done a couple of our games now, and I find him much more interesting as the color guy than Fran Fraschilla the last few years (not that Fraschilla was awful or anything). Bardo thought that our defenders have begun to rely more on Withey to bail them out if they get beat on the dribble which lets them play with more pressure and tighter.

So, for the first time in a while, we will not be favored against our next opponent, "THE" Ohio State University Buckeyes (mascot "Brutus Buckeye" piotured above). Aaron Craft is still there and is talented, their forward, Dashaun something is supposed to be good, but perhaps not Jared Sullinger good. They have some lanky center who has underacheived. I say we take them. Close game most of the way, and then we pull away. If Withey (or Ellijah) gets in foul trouble, then we might be in for a rough ride. What say you guys?

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Buffalos Exterminated -- Again

The CU game was my first at the Phog this year, and I was not disappointed. This was a classic, old-school Big 12 beatdown. Just as Chauncey Billups, David Harrison, and other, lesser Buffs suffered at KU's hands in the old days, so too did Tad Boyle's talented Pac-12 contenders see history repeat itself.

I love what this team can do when it's energized. My man Kevin Young is the emotional leader we were looking for -- he seemed to be guarding all five Buffs at times, and on offense he has a knack for making the smartest, simplest play. Releford's developing some serious swagger -- all of it earned. And most importantly, EJ came to play this time; he didn't seem to be hobbling, and he did the job on both ends of the floor.

BMac is extremely confident for a freshman, although his focus seems to flag at times -- he's been getting his points early and then coasting a bit. Perry I thought made some decent plays this time; he just  needs to get comfortable on the floor by finding other ways to contribute instead of worrying so much about scoring. The only liability was Naadir, who still makes me nervous every time he checks in.

In garbage time, we got to see the younger Manning and the younger Self on court at the same time -- with the house going nuts as Tyler scored his first points at the final buzzer. It was a fitting end to the most enjoyable game of the season so far.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Hope and Change?

The game against Oregon State -- the president's wife's brother's team -- was my first chance to see this year's KU squad in person, and unfortunately there was no sign of change I could believe in. Scott mentioned the SJSU game being "status quo" -- and this game was even more quo. 

One thing I noticed live was just how thoroughly taped up Elijah's knees were. He did make some excellent assists, but he just looks tentative in his ballhandling and shooting. I wanted him to have the kind of breakthrough senior campaign Tyshawn did last year, but so far the one spot has been our biggest weakness. This is compounded by the fact that neither Naadir, Rio, nor AWIII seems ready to pick up the slack. Self even went to Evan Manning in desperation at one point.

Some good things to note... Another thing I noticed live is how dynamic, self-assured, and graceful  McLemore is on the court. If he can become a bit more consistent, and avoid hitting the freshman wall, it's going to be a pleasure to watch him this season. And we do seem to be reaching the point where Travis filling up the stat sheet is a routine rather than major event. So it's not all bad news.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Triple Double, Toil and Trouble

Congrats to Jeff Withey on his second straight alpha dog performance vs. San Jose St. -- that rare college triple double. It's a good thing he's playing like an All-American right now, because we haven't had any other consistent performers.

Scott's been pushing a sort-of quarterback controversy between EJ and Tharpe. Naadir didn't do himself any favors in the San Jose St. game, with his barrage of turnovers, bad shots, and defensive lapses. Elijah hit the jumper that broke us out of our terrible slump at the end, but overall he wasn't that great either. A strong quarterback wouldn't have allowed us to go to sleep offensively for 10 minutes.

This team needs more fire and personality in the backcourt. Jeff can't do it all. Self keeps trying to incite Elijah with his comments to the media, but so far, he seems content to stay on the margins rather than taking control.

Come on, EJ. If not now, when? If not you, who?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

KU (mostly) cruises against decimated Billikens bunch

The first question I had was "what is a billiken?" I have followed college basketball for a long time and have never bothered to ask this question. Maybe as kansas fans we don't have the right to ask this question, since our mascot is also fictional. But the Billiken is as follows: The Billiken was a charm doll created by an American art teacher and illustrator, Florence Pretz of St. Louis, Missouri, who is said to have seen the mysterious figure in a dream.[1] In 1908, she obtained a design patent on the ornamental design of the Billiken,[2] who was elf-like with pointed ears, a mischievous smile and a tuft of hair on his pointed head. His arms were short and he was generally sitting with his legs stretched out in front of him. To buy a Billiken was said to give the purchaser luck, but to have one given would be better luck.
That's the Billiken as displayed on the university grounds. In any event, back to the game. St. Louis was without its best guard from last year, Kwamain Mitchell, who the camera crew kept showing in a bright greenish button down shirt with a big bowtie who kept glowering menacingly at the KU players. An interesting visual. They were also missing Keith Carter and their Defensive stopper guy, Jordair Jett, just kept grabbing his groin most of the night. They did have a healthy blue-haired weirdo who kept floping all over the court and would give Manu Ginobli a challenge for the Academy Award for best acting in a men's sporting event (sorry Deron!). Anyway, I thought the Hawks, again, did a great job of putting the pedal to the metal from the get go. Withey had a slow first half, was solid defensively, then decided to dominate in the second. He had like 7 or 8 blocks, it was awesome. I believe SLU stopped double-teaming him for a while. Relaford again was dynamite with 23 points. I think he only had 1 rebound in each game. Maybe that's a fluke? My big ponderances at point continued. At times, it seemed like the offense ran better through Tharpe than through Ellijah. Even the color guy, Steven Bardo (old Illinois alum from the 1989 Final Four team with Kendall Gill, who I actually grew to like over these two games) he seemed to make a point of saying that Tharpe was making better decisions with the ball and putting people in the right spots. It was hard to tell in games we dominate, but when the chips are down, I'm keeping an eye on this situation. Freshman watch: Mclemore had a quiet(er) game with 11 points. Despite this, both Bardo and the announcer stated "He's probably a one and done guy." Bardo replied "Probably?", implying it was a foregone conclusion. Perry Ellis disappeared a bit. SLU had a couple of bigs that seemed to bother him, and the blue haired guy flopping all over the floor didn't help either. Still, he needs to get to the line. I just don't know how well he can get his shot off in traffic against bigger competition.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Kansas absoultely dominates Washington State into oblivion

That was a thorough ass-beating. Wow. We thumped them from beginning to end until it was time to put in the scrubs. Even the announcers agreed that it wasn't that washington State was playing all that badly, it was that KU was just playing well.
Even despite this gargantuan lead, Bill self was pissed through most of the game. It reminded me of what Bobby Knight had said before the Michigan State game. He said that by playing Connecticut and losing, that Michigan State had figured out what they were bad at doing and they could make the adjustments. He said they had an advantage when talent was even because KU only knew what they could do well and didn't know what they were bad at yet. Now, after Mich. State, we know we are bad in a few areas and I don't think Self is satisfied that the players understand those yet. Mclemore was awesome, as usual. Ellis had a good game too. That kid has an excellent free throw stroke and can get to the line. Reminded you of why he was highly shought after. Travis Relaford had a quiet and efficient 17 points in 23 minutes. If we can get that type of effort from him, that raises us up a level in competition. The newest recruits Rio Adams and Andrew White came in for a cup of coffee, but didn't appear ready yet to seriously contribute. Loved the Mclemore dunk where he "posterized his own teammate (Traylor)" according to the color guy. On the other side of the court, that Brock Motum guy looked like a solid player. Apart from that, they seemed to have bad talent. You can see why KU didn't fight to keep that Woolridge kid, he had little heart and no ability to play guard. I do not think tonight's game will be so lopsided. St. Louis (SLU) also pounded TX A&M in their game by about thirty, so I think we will have our hands full tonight.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

KU gives up late lead, falls to the Izzy

I looked for the photo of the Traylor block that was so awesome that it almost rendered Jay Bilas speechless. All he could mutter was "that's big time. Big time." I had to settle for this photo of Traylor posterizing this hapless Spartan defender on this follow dunk. After watching this game, I am not disappointed in the least. We have some electric young players, especially Mclemore and Traylor that will make this season fun to watch as they develop. We gave up the lead late because Mich State's guard play overwhelmed us at the end. That Gary Harris kid was awesome in the last 5 minutes. Ellijah Johnson's line, 14 points, 2 assists, 4 TO, not to say I told you so, it not the line we want a KU point to have. He either needs to be more of a distributor or someone else needs to seize the moment. It appears we have a couple of natural points in next years class already, which is larger, so maybe we'll be primed then. Perry Ellis vanished a bit in this game, getting pushed around a bit by the MSU bigs (and they were big). Self seemed to prefer Traylor's defense presence with the game on the line. Withey also, predictably was solid, but couldn't dominate. Never count out an Izzo team. That guy can flat out coach. Great composure and battle from those guys. We looked out of sync and leaderless in the last 4 minutes. I think in the end, we are going to be looking at putting the ball in Mclemore's hands more near the end of the game.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

This is SPARTA! ...and reflections on SEMO

I watched the SEMO contest and I have my early-season gut feelings in place. I also received my Sports illustrated preview issue ranking us #3! (gasp). In summary, I think Ellis looks great and McLemore looks pretty good. Withey is solid, but I don't think he's the dominant force that the SI article made him out to be. Where this team is challenged is at the point. Ellijah Johnson is not only not a natural point, he's not a "Bill Self" combo 1-2 point either, yet... How do you foul out against SEMO? This is what is going to prevent us from being an elite team or propel us forward. The offense doesn't flow well... again yet. Could be Johnson, or could be early season mischemistry. They say (or at least homer Dave on the TV says) that Nadir Tharpe had a great offseason shooting the ball from outside. Maybe he can raise his game and supplant Johnson and return him to the more natural combo 2/defender position he's perhaps better suited for. (The "Russ Rob/glue guy"). i think the SI at #3 is a little ridiculous at this point and maybe is a nod to last year's team. This team has a Sweet Sixteen type feel to me. If our backcourt play improves and we get a soft draw, maybe we can pull Elite 8. I say this every year, but I do think this is the year that the conference title streak comes to an end. Then again, Bill Self seems to prove me wrong on that. It's always amazing how bad our teams look sometimes in early season and then he gets us to gel by season's end. As for tonight, it's in Atlanta i guess, which really means nothing for either team. I think our backcourt woes cause us problems and we go down by ten, which gives Self the usual "You're not as awesome as you thought you were" speech to motivate us in practice for the next month.

Friday, November 02, 2012

And They're Off!

Anyone catch the Emporia State exhibition game?

We had it on, but it's a bit hectic here these days (maybe an ongoing thing?)... Ellis looked good, and I saw at least one great dunk from McLemore.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

A (Mostly) Upbeat Postmortem

Chris's 2003 analogy held true to the end: a freshman-led but incredibly talented opponent in the final, who couldn't miss a shot early on and stifled our offense with their length; KU makes a valiant, hard-fought 2nd-half comeback but makes a few too many mistakes to get over the hump.

This is easier to take than '03 for reasons discussed in the previous post -- plus, although we did have some semi-embarrassing misses and turnovers last night, there was no equivalent to the free throw woes we suffered that year. The only thing that doesn't sit well with me, as in '03, is the fact of getting beat by such a young team, talented or not; that's just not the way it's supposed to play out.

Another point about that 2003 game: It always annoys me that people blame Collison for choking while forgetting that he had 19 points and 21 rebounds. With that in mind, we must give a parting salute to Tyshawn and T-Rob for leading us this far, and for their performances last night. They both struggled at times, but they played their asses off as they have all year: Robinson with 18 and 17, Taylor with 19 on nearly 50 percent shooting (and his long-awaited first 3-pointer of the tourney).

The always-entertaining Tyshawn, as a four-year starter, leaves with a record of 127-21 by my quick count, and with only one loss at the Phog (the day after T-Rob's mother died).

Also, even though The Unibrow outblocked Withey last night, congrats to Jeff for setting the NCAA single-tourney blocks record. Assuming he's back, I like our prospects for next year -- a senior-laden lineup bolstered by promising newcomers.

It's pretty amazing; Chris first made the '03 analogy before the tourney began; if I'd known then that it was going to hold true, even to the end, I'd have taken it. Rock chalk.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Irrational Exuberance

Chris's postgame analysis:


ESPN's analysis: "How to Explain KU? Don't Even Try."

Keegan: "Kansas, Tyshawn Taylor Topsy-Turvy."

CBS's Borzello: "My mentality has grown and matured in a huge, huge way," Taylor added. "It's like everyone else that went to college. I changed drastically."

Lutz: "Somehow, some way, Kansas is in the final."

CNNSI's Mandel: "We're a sloppy team sometimes," conceded Withey. "But we like that, because if we can get the other team out of rhythm, they're done."

Monday, March 26, 2012

Mass. Street to Bourbon Street!

Loose transcription of text message from Chris last night:


I believe this aptly summed up all of our most eloquent feelings on this crazy team making it to the Final 4.

Chris's earlier comparison with 2003 is holding true. The gritty two-seed knocks off the front-running one-seed, after some early-round games where we didn't look very sharp at times. And even though Vegas was favoring us, our guys still played with that loose, underdog attitude that we as KU fans so seldom get to experience. This was more exciting than surviving Davidson in '08, just as knocking off 'Zona in '03 was more of a thrill than hammering Oregon in '02.

And what a huge milestone for Self, getting that huge Elite 8 millstone off his neck once and (probably) for all.

I'm in such a good mood I'm going to post a Good/Bad Keegan Quote of the Day:

"The combination of ladders and scissors on nylon always puts a coach in a good mood, but this time it had a little extra meaning to the coach who doesn’t need a ladder to stand eye-to-eye with college basketball coaching giants, past and present."

I mean, it's so bad it's good. Or maybe I'm so happy right now that it just doesn't matter.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

(Finally) Playing to Seed


All right, can we all breathe a little easier now? Esp. the players?

That's two games in a row where we were just as inept on offense as we were against VCU and UNI -- if not more so, actually. This game was more frustrating than Purdue because there was no excuse for our weak offense -- the opponent didn't throw any weird wrinkles at us, we were just doing it to ourselves with brick after brick (not just 3-pointers -- I can only remember two made jumpers of any kind the whole night, both by EJ, and we choked at the free throw line too), not to mention the wave of turnovers at the start and finish of the game.

We knew at least one game like this would happen in the Dance. Fortunately, just as I was hoping would be the case, this Kansas team just shown just a little bit more grit, despite far less talent, than the last two. (Or maybe we're just a bit luckier; one or two bounces the other way and we might have beaten VCU and UNI, or lost to Purdue or NC State. Who knows?)

What's weird to me is that this offensive ineptitude has come against teams not known for defense -- and now we face yet another such team in the Heels. At some point we're going to start making some shots, right? RIGHT?

Ugly as it was, the highlight reel was not bad at all -- Withey's blocks; the Ty-Withey alley oop; Travis's retro, slow-motion fast-break spin move; and another sweet game-saving layup by EJ.

But it sure was nice to see Shaka Smart doing postgame commentary instead of celebrating another upset on the court. The clock has struck midnight for Cinderella. The closest thing to Cinderella left is ... Florida? It's time for the clash of the titans.

Speaking of titans, kudos to Jeff, a nonentity vs. Purdue but a Wilt-like juggernaut vs. the Pack. It'll be fascinating to see how he matches up with Henson.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Elijah Rising

That was about as excited as I've ever been to get out of the 2nd round. The Purdue game had all the hallmarks of VCU-UNI-etc. -- a jittery KU team looking inept on offense, star players neutralized, unfavorable (though not altogether terrible) officiating, sleeper opponent making circus shots and throwing weird matchup wrinkles at us. And yet this time, we pulled it out, thanks to the one guy we've been begging to be more aggressive all year: Elijah.

I've been fond of the kid ever since he was a freshman benchwarmer who didn't seem to mind that he wasn't getting the PT he could get at most schools. He has the whole package -- defense, shooting, driving, and passing -- but just never seemed to have his head on straight when he got into games. But talk about peaking at the right time -- we've said all year we needed that third scorer just for tough tourney games like this one, and he arrived in the nick of time.

There are a lot of things I could scold this team about, as I was during the game, but at this point of the season I don't know how much difference it makes. We are who we are, and you have to assume T-Rob, Ty, and Withey will all be better in the next round.

I seem to have cursed us by marveling at our great shooting vs. A&M -- in the three games since then we've shot the ball terribly. That has to turn around in St. Louis, right? RIGHT?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Freaky Friday

Mizzou goes down! Duke goes down! What am I forgetting? Oh yeah, 'Hawks win!

I think that was my favorite 1st Round ever. (Sorry, NCAA, it's the 1st Round, not the 2nd Round. Everybody knows it. Just accept it.)

It didn't occur to me until late last night that Lehigh was the same Patriot League pest that gave us the cold sweats in the 1st Round two years ago. I wonder how many more upsets like this need to happen to Coach K before Kansas stops getting singled out for tourney chokes. (And I also enjoyed seeing Calhoun and co. taking the fall -- all the ESPN pundits kept talking about the "heavyweight" matchup between UConn and Kentucky in the next round, totally ignoring Iowa State, who kicked ass in that game.)

It was a very good round for the Big 12 -- when you factor in the FACT that Mizzou is no longer in the conference. They're done. Good-bye. May their NCAA curse continue for another hundred years.

What am I forgetting? Oh yes, Kansas. The main thing is that Robinson and Withey were bad... ass. We may just have the best front line in the country. Also have to give some love to Elijah, who played like a superstar in the 2nd half, and to the much-maligned (by Deron) bench, which steadied the ship in the 1st half after early backcourt foul trouble.

Good to see us win so convincingly without shooting well from outside. Now we're overdue for a good shooting game, right?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

March Madness/Anxiety

This time of year really has become a pressure-cooker for Jayhawk fans, hasn't it?

Rather than looking at the early-round matchups and saying, yeah, we can beat these teams, now we look at them and wring our hands and come up with ways that they could beat us.

I'm certainly the worst offender. I look at Detroit and see VCU, I look at St. Mary's and see UNI.

The good thing about Detroit and St. Mary's is that they don't seem to be strong defensively, so if we can just play our usual hard-nosed D without fouling and avoid unforced errors on offense, we win. (The same would be true vs. UNC if it comes to that.)

I think our defense is steadier than it was last year, maybe steady enough to avoid a VCU-like collapse -- and I think our offense is steadier than it was two years ago, maybe enough to avoid a UNI-like collapse. The biggest question will probably be how the games are called -- this team can ill afford foul trouble.

I'm trying to keep things in perspective this year and focus on the opportunity for triumph rather than the opportunity for failure. I hope Self and co. can do the same.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Eight Is Not Enough

ESPN's Eamonn Brennan puts our 8-year title streak in proper perspective:

"At various times in Kansas's run, the Big 12 has been the best or second-best conference in the country. (Per Ken Pomeroy, that's the case again this year; the Big 12 ranks behind only the Big 10 in overall strength.) At various times in Self's tenure, his competition has recruited and rostered the likes of Kevin Durant, Michael Beasley, Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge, Acie Law, Tristan Thompson, James Anderson, Tony Allen, and D.J Augustin -- and that's literally just the NBA guys that first came to mind."

Damn straight. As Roy would say, we haven't exactly been playing against the Sisters of the Poor.

On the other hand, if we need something to have a chip on our shoulders about, and I think maybe we do:

I notice that CNNSI has left Kansas off its annual "Magic Eight" teams that can win the title -- for "intangible" reasons, i.e. the recent upset "curse."

You know, I was crushed by VCU and UNI as well, but you do wonder how many titles we have to win before people stop talking about upset curses. And in the past I remember the Magic 8 was based on tangible criteria -- like no team that had gotten blown out by 30 points could be included. Yet UNC, which lost by 33 to a football school, is there.

That list was made before the MU game. Maybe they're having second thoughts?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Mizzou, Adieu

I hate to start on a negative note, but I did not care for our performance and demeanor down the stretch vs. the Aggies. It annoys me to no end that this team tries to blow it when it gets a good lead. TT and T-Rob have had great seasons but we need them to play a lot smarter in crunch time.

The only good thing about the near-collapse was that it means we won't be complacent going into Saturday's monumental game, which might have been a danger since we have a one-game cushion over them.

But I'll stop complaining. The important thing is we've now won 2 out of those 3 tough road games as we needed to do, plus Mizzou helped by getting swept by the other 'Cats. Now all we need to do is give Mizzou a proper sendoff.

I just can't believe the rivalry ends here. I'm glad I got to see two KU-MU games in person -- in Columbia in 2003 when we escaped on a circus shot by Aaron Miles, and at home in 2000, another close win, which was the loudest I've ever heard the Phog.

(Coincidentally, as I type I'm seeing none other than Quin Snyder at the edge of my TV screen, now a Lakers assistant but looking as sweaty and twitchy as ever. And appropriately, his team is in the process of losing to OKC, featuring Collison -- though he's injured -- and Cole, finally getting some minutes.)

But the circle of life continues. Even as we lose the rivalry, we celebrate the arrival of the newest member of Jayhawk Nation. Welcome, Franklin.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

The Split, The Streak, and The Sweep

We got the split! I said last week I'd be happy with going 1-1 on this road trip, and I am. Glad to see no ill effects from Saturday.

And the 6-year streak with no consecutive losses goes on. Nothing's more dangerous than a Bill Self team coming off a defeat. Does someone keep records on this? This has to be one of the great all-time runs -- coinciding of course with the six-year duration of this blog.

All hail Withey, TT, and T-Rob! (Later during Duke-UNC, Vitale couldn't believe it when he saw the numbers: "Withey with 25, Perry Jones with 5?")

Chris texted me asking what the hell happened -- he left work with us down 10 and got home to find us up 20. Damn L.A. traffic.

Unfortunately I missed most of the game myself, but it appears one of the things that happened in that run was that rare bird, the 7-point play: First, T-Rob gets the and-1; on his free throw make, Baylor's Miller inexplicably nails Withey with a vicious elbow; on the technical foul, Withey makes the free throw and KU retains the ball; and finally, Tyshawn hits a three. In one possession, KU lead goes from 8 to 15.

I wasn't optimistic in my preview yesterday, just because it's so hard to sweep a good team. Maybe the jury's still out on just how good Baylor really is. They still only have 3 losses -- two of them to Kansas. Now we're 3-3 against the Top 10 -- not too shabby.

Just saw Gottlieb on TV putting Kansas among his Top 5 teams -- over Duke, and narrowly over Mizzou, he said.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Tigers and Bears, Oh My!

It's a shame no one has time to blog here anymore, because this is going to be a momentous week for the 'Hawks one way or the other -- an unprecedented gauntlet of consecutive road games vs. Top 10 teams, with major conference implications at stake.

If I'm recalling correctly, Kansas has not lost two games in a row in the entire history of this blog -- not since early in the 2006 season. But we've never had a two-game road swing like this in my memory; that streak could very easily come to an end. If so, we would go from one game up in conference to one game down, with Mizzou and Baylor then tied for 1st; we'd also probably get knocked out of the Top 10, because that's just the way it goes. But we'd still have a good shot at continuing our Big 12 title streak, since Mizzou has yet to play at the Fieldhouse and Baylor has yet to play at Mizzou.

Honestly I'd be thrilled with a split. A sweep is just too damn much to ask for.

But assuming we lose one or both, I'm still very curious to see HOW we lose. Will we let ourselves get steamrolled like Baylor and Ohio State did at the Fieldhouse? (Or like North Carolina at Florida State? How are we ranked below them, by the way?) Or will we at least take them to the wire and put the fear of God into their fans? We're going to find out something about the character of this team.

(Oh yeah, and also Saturday could be our last game ever at Mizzou, the end of a century-long era -- which we could talk about, if anyone's still out there.)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

No Margin for Error

The loss at Iowa State was not shocking given how tough they played us at Lawrence, of course. But somehow I was expecting more. Self should have them amped up after that near-disaster vs. Royce and co. at home.

T-Rob and Withey had subpar games (the latter plagued by ridiculous calls, but that's what happens on the road). And because no consistent offensive contributor has emerged beyond TT and T-Rob, we suddenly looked very anemic on offense.

Credit to both EJ and Travis for continuing to play good D, but we really, really, really need one or both of those guys to start putting points on the board consistently. They've both proven they can do it, but intermittent greatness isn't going to be enough this year.

The other problem, of course, is Conor. TT and EJ have made it a point to get him the ball in position to hit 3s, but he isn't holding up his end of the bargain.

The good news: TT seems to have turned the corner (10 assists to 2 turnovers); also, Mizzou lost this week, so we're still ahead in conference. But we have two games vs. the Tigers yet to come in this gauntlet of a schedule, plus road games vs. Baylor and K-State. Our margin of error is dwindling.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Hooked 'Em

Uncle Greg's postgame report from the stands in Austin: "Holy canoly."

Tyshawn continues his hot streak, makes the go-ahead play -- and this time, no turnovers. Oddly enough, this morning I saw the documentary about TT's high school team in Jersey and their coach Bobby Hurley. Ty, as a senior, recovered after breaking two fingers in midseason, and led the team to a 32-0 record and the title. Then consider that he's lost all of about 16 games in his entire KU career: Of all the things that have been said about the kid over the years, it must also be said that he's a winner.

We also saw some flashes from EJ. It's strange how he disappears for long stretches, but he stepped up and made huge shots vs. Duke and Texas.

Really sweet bit in the LJW wrap-up about Angel Morris coming down to be with T-Rob. (I appreciated the late-Stones reference in the headline. I also would have accepted "Start Me Up," or "Tattoo You" in honor of T-Rob's arms, or if we had lost, "Shattered.")

Monday, January 16, 2012

Big Monday, or the Biggest Monday?

Here we are, #7 Kansas hosting #3 Baylor.

Current Big 12 Player of the Week Perry Jones III vs. current Big 12 Player of the Week Tyshawn Taylor.

Could the stakes be higher?
Actually, they probably could. But this should be a hell of a game!

Thoughts, Nation?