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.