Monday, March 25, 2013

Carolina Blue Again

Scott had it right: First Roy, now Burke.

Travis sure likes to play North Carolina. Last year he outdueled Harrison Barnes, this time he outscores everybody. He was even more impressive when I went back and watched on TV -- insanely high degree of difficulty on some of those shots.

We've spent a lot of time on EJ and Naadir and Ben and Perry, but maybe haven't talked enough about the other starters. Seth Greenberg made a good point on ESPN yesterday when he argued that the foundation of this team is the 5th-year guys -- Travis, Jeff, and Kevin. These guys have been consistent while our 1 and 2 guards, and our bench, have been up and down.

Jeff is now second for all-time tournament blocks behind Tim-may. If we can get to the Final Four, he's almost surely got that sewn up.

Text of the day from Yancy early in the 2nd: "Love that we made Roy call time."

The AP story said Roy was "booed heavily." Not true. He got about the same volume of boos as the rest of his team got in the intros. The crowd was just amped up for the game; it wasn't about Roy at all. (As for me, I never boo the opponent; I gave Roy a golf clap, but they mentioned Self immediately after Roy, so there was no time for a standing O even if the crowd had wanted to give one.)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Collapse, Die, Resuscitate, and Advance

I can't take many more nights like this one.

We haven't lost early in the tourney as much as say, Georgetown (who suffered a #2-#15 upset tonight) or Wisconsin (who busted my brackets by losing today as well). But sometimes it does feel as if there's some kind of curse that dooms Kansas to horrendously poor outside shooting in the Big Dance. This was the first time we blanked from 3-point land since Feb. 2008... which I suppose could be a good omen?

At least we won by one more point than Gonzaga did, right?

Some things to be proud of: Jeff Withey, who carried over his tournament dominance from last year with 17 points and 7 blocks, and was our only consistently good player. Also, we were great from the free throw line all game long, which is impressive given the psychological pressure we faced.

But, and it pains me to sound like a broken record, our guard play was mediocre-to-bad all night long. If we can't handle full-court pressure better than this, particularly EJ and Ben, we are going down in flames sometime in the next few rounds. (I don't know if Carolina can really pressure us, but if we do turn the ball over against them like we did tonight they will capitalize much better than the Hilltoppers did, and we will lose. And for now, let's not even discuss VCU.)

Elijah still appears to be reverting to his February tailspin. Maybe playing UNC will shake him out of it. Oh, well. One game at a time.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Bracket Draw: Roy, then Burke

I always fill out my bracket with the hope that if my team goes down, then I'll still have a rooting interest in the tournament. But I do think that, while getting past Ol' Roy will be fun, our main weakness all year is going to kill us against the Michigan Wolverines. Trey Burke may be the best point guard in the country in terms of NBA talent level. plus they have athletic wings in the two 2nd generation NBA kids, Tim Hardaway Jr and Glenn Robinson III. Beelin (sp.?) is a pretty good coach as I recall from his days at WV.

Hopefully, the late emergency of Perry Ellis, combined with a "hot or cold"/ Hot performance from Ellijah will get us past that game, but it looks like the last 4 seed I would've wanted to match up with. I think we kill Syracuse or SLU (we already did kill SLU).

If we get past Big Blue, then I think we can beat Gtown/Florida (though Florida is the tougher out, with the better guard play). Then I think Indiana would take us out. But I never thought last year's team would make it to the finals either, so what do I know?

Bring on the Hilltoppers!

Incidentally, if you didn't catch the 30 for 30 special on Jim Valvano and NC State's 30 yr anniversary of their championship, very much worth watching if you can DVR it or catch it on netflix. Everyone knows about the championship game (though I'd forgotten what big underdogs they were), but they had a pretty amazing run of comeback games to get there too.

My Final Four: Mich. St, Wisconsin, Florida, Indiana

(I think Florida takes out Mich if we lose, Big10 heavy I know, or isthe the "B1G", whatever, that logo's stupid).

What do you guys think of our draw?

Friday, March 15, 2013

Speaking of Ellis

Damn was that a game tonight!

On to the Big 12 tourney championship!

(Sorry to jump the queue and offer no analysis. Hope you can live with putting that into the comments...)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

March Madness

There will be plenty of time to parse the optimal seeding, the repercussions of the conference tourney, projections, predictions, etc.

In the last quiet patch before the Madness, let's appreciate this strange and wonderful group of kids. Fifth year seniors, role playing red shirts, and the dance happy freshman phenom. I'm sure we'll remember this team fondly. So, let's now remember to enjoy the endgame, whatever it brings.

They loved playing together and we loved watching them.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Farewell to the Seniors -- and the Freshman

I love this kid. I never tell him. I think he knows, though.  
-- Elijah Johnson, on Ben McLemore

How fitting that my favorite Elijah quote of all time would come after my two favorite Elijah performances of all time. Even though he made some mistakes early, I enjoyed watching him in this game even more than in Ames. Instead of worrying about living up to his 39-point explosion on Monday, he was completely focused on bringing BMac back. He passed up makeable shots for himself and found Ben time and time again.

Ten assists for EJ, a freshman-record 36 points for Ben, and a de facto triple-double for Jeff. Now we just need big games for Travis and Kevin on Monday night, and we'll have the perfect sendoff.

Highlights are a bit hard to find -- ESPN snubbed us on the Top Plays since the game was on CBS, but I can't find video from CBS either. The KU Athletics reel is always good, but for some reason it cuts off EJ's monumental dunk at the end. I'll keep looking for that one.