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.)


  1. Great second half. Man, we play like that, it's hard to imagine anyone topping us.

    That is, of course, if we can get McLemore back into the mix. Impressive to win so big with him basically a non-factor.

    Glad you mentioned the booing claim: I noticed that the Times story opened with this:

    North Carolina Coach Roy Williams walked out of the tunnel last, well after his players and assistants, a police officer beside him until he reached the hardwood floor. Slowly, politely, Kansas fans at Sprint Center stood and cheered for Williams, a former Jayhawks coach.

    So I was meaning to ask how it looked to you, DGL.

    All right, plenty of time to worry about Michigan. I'm off to enjoy the pleasant feeling of another sweet sixteen while I grade papers.

  2. There was so much to applaud at the end, I didn't notice Roy's exit or the reaction thereto. But that's probably right.

  3. Via Rock Chalk Talk, another stat that should not be ignored:

    "Jeff Withey had just the fourth ever 15+ point, 15+ rebound, 5+ block performance in the history of the NCAA tournament. "

  4. Wait, that Times bit is describing the entry, not the exit. The reason I brought it up is that the Times and the AP seemed to be at different games, given their accounts of the crowd's reaction to ol' Roy...

    Anyway, what were we talking about? Oh, right, Withey! Sweet 16! Damn, baby, let's don't stop now!

  5. Ah, I see. No, I didn't notice Roy come out either. I assumed the "heavy booing" described by AP was a reference to the intros, but I don't know for sure. There were some moments during the game when Roy drew boos for complaining about something (and cheers when the PA announced that UNC's bench had been warned about staying in the coach's box), but it was no more vitriolic than any opposing coach would receive.

    K State certainly helped us out by choking in Round 1. It was 90 percent crimson and blue in there on Sunday.

  6. Hey, did you all see this excellent piece on Releford's defense against UNC? Great analysis. Nothing quite as fun as breaking it down in this sort of detail. Also: damn, Releford really had a career game on Sunday!

  7. Releford has been a favorite of mine for a long time. He's such an unusual glue guy in that he has a good shot, finishes strong, and is a finesse player.

    He seems to have the talent of an actual star, but maybe just doesn't have the mentality? I've never been able to figure out why he is a glue guy (intangibles, defense, 50-50 balls) but he is.

    Like, Young is clearly a glue guy. His deficits are obvious - not much of a scoring touch, iffy passer, can't create his own shot. None of the above is true for Travis.

    He has the mentality of a winner, but maybe he just doesn't have that alpha gene. I'm not sure Brandon Rush ever had it either. I can't quite figure out why Releford never emerged as a go-to-guy.

    Maybe that's why he's so special. He's an unusual hybrid of a high flying highlight machine, and a fundamentally sound gym rat.

  8. These are good questions. To me, Releford's handle and release are not quite expert enough to make him a top-tier offensive player. Of course his shooting percentages have been excellent this season but that's partly because of shot selection. If he was constantly trying to create for himself in the half court, I don't know how successful he would be.

    He doesn't quite have Rush's elevation and touch, I think. But he is very much Rush's equal as a defender--which is high praise--and possibly better.

    OK, so what about tonight? I think the two teams are close to even -- you could make the case that this should have been a 2-3 game instead of a 1-4. Burke could make life difficult for E.J. and Naadir, and Withey and Young will have to work hard against Mitch McGary (whose name and game make me think he should have played for, I don't know, the Minneapolis Lakers in the '50s while selling insurance on the side).

    But I like defense and experience to prevail in the end. Besides, half the Elite Eight is already set and none of the 1 seeds have advanced yet. It's time for us to restore some order to the Madness.

  9. Yeah, I don't know what to make of Releford either. He's got those silky smooth slo-mo moves, but in some games he just fades into the background a bit. Could partly be a product of the strength of the KU roster. But in any case I think I'd say I'm glad he never became a superstar, otherwise we'd almost certainly not have him as a senior...

    As for tonight, I'm with you Deron. The randomness of this year's tourney is bound to work in our favor. Besides, can McLemore really leave such a big stage without making a little noise first?

  10. After seeing Michigan's performance in the first weekend, I wouldn't be surprised if they won. But I like our chances when a big name is on the opposing jersey.

    Don't get me wrong, Releford has served us very well for half a decade. Wouldn't change a thing. If UK or UNC had guys like that, they might still be playing.