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.)