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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Kansas gets groove back

Jayhawks rejuvenated entering Dartmouth clash

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Suddenly, everybody's hopping back on the Kansas University basketball bandwagon.

Just a couple of weeks after a shocking home loss to Oral Roberts, the Jayhawks take a 5-1 record - which includes Saturday's marquee overtime victory over defending national champion Florida - and new No. 5 national ranking into today's nonconference contest against 0-5 Dartmouth.

Tipoff is 7 p.m. at Allen Fieldhouse, with a live telecast on channels 27 and 38 and replay at 10:30 on Sunflower Broadband Channel Six.

"I know it's not a downer, but people maybe have been a little disappointed how we started from a performance standpoint," KU coach Bill Self said Monday. "We made up some ground over the weekend. We're not where we need to be, but we're a lot closer."

Of course, a bad performance tonight undoubtedly would cause some to consider jumping ship again.

"We need to come back strong," Self said. "Hopefully our guys will be juiced and everybody excited for Dartmouth."

Florida hadn't been completely forgotten as of Monday. KU sophomore forward Julian Wright, who burned the Gators for 21 points and 10 rebounds, was named Big 12 player of the week for the first time in his career as well as ESPN.com's national player of the week.

"Julian was fabulous. He was as good as I've ever seen him," Self said of the Big 12's co-preseason player of the year. "For that one half there, I'm sure his efficiency level was as good as you can possibly have."

Wright had 17 points in the first half off 7-of-10 shooting.

"He made plays out of nothing. He made the easy plays. He let the game come to him the first half and still totally dominated," Self said.

"He did not have as many scoring opportunities the second half. He didn't force it. Everybody played well. Saturday was about as much fun as we've had here in a while."

Self - as one might expect - has received a lot of calls and text messages from friends since the big win.

"There were some. I got one text from a buddy that knows ball real well. He said that was 'big-boy ball' and that was. There were some high-level athletes on the court the other night," Self said.

Not as much tonight, with Ivy League member Dartmouth off to a winless start with as many as five players - including three projected starters - listed as "doubtful" because of injuries.

"I would say from a statistical standpoint they have had a rough start. Everybody knows they have had tons of injuries," Self said of the Big Green, coached by former Colorado assistant Terry Dunn. "They are well coached and will come in here excited to play like all teams."

Self said his players definitely were the most enthused and alert they've been all season Saturday against the Gators in Las Vegas.

"I'm pleased with our guys. After laboring around here two weeks being hot and cold and really putting it together in a way they did ... they had a different look and different poise level about them," Self said.

"Looking back, why does it happen to 18-, 19-, 20-year-olds? I have no idea. I do know when guys are thinking and playing ... trying to live up what people are saying all time they play tight and not to screw up. If we played that way against Florida it wouldn't have been a game."

¢ Caller wants Duke: A caller to Self's Hawk Talk radio show Monday made a plea for the Jayhawks to play Duke every year.

"I think (playing Duke) is what we'd love to do. Larry (Keating, senior associate AD) has worked hard on a home-home or neutral-neutral (court). It's not played out the way we wanted to," Self said.

"We want to play Kentucky yearly. We'd love to play Duke, Indiana. Arizona ... there's a good chance that (Arizona) will show back up on the schedule real soon. UCLA would be a great game. Times have changed. It takes two people to want to make a partnership."

Self noted many powerhouse programs don't want to play in Kansas if they don't recruit Kansas.

"Let's use Duke as an example. Coach K (Duke's Mike Krzyzewski) and myself talked about it this summer. The advantage of them playing Kansas is obviously the attention it'd bring. But they probably will not recruit this area a ton," Self said. "Can they play somebody of similar interest in areas they recruit? Look at it as a total big picture perspective. Hopefully these type of matchups will occur. We play a very good schedule, still it would be great to get a couple of those well-known traditional programs on the schedule yearly."

¢ Radio feed to China: Tonight's game will be broadcast in Chinese. The audio for the game will be streamed on kuathletics.com by a broadcast team from the KU Confucius Institute and will also appear during the radio and television broadcasts of the game. A gathering at Huazhong Normal University, KU's partner in the Confucius Institute, in Wuhan, China, will listen to the Chinese broadcast of the game.

Comments

jaybate 13 years, 2 months ago

Confucius say: rock chalk, Jayhawk, go KU.

mitch 13 years, 2 months ago

Tonight's game with Dartmouth provides some real opportunities for KU. They can work on smoothing out some of their mechanics. For example, they can work on decreasing the number of turnovers. I would anticipate them seeing quite a bit of zone and more deliberate passing in an attempt to slow the tempo down. They really do need to have some experience at playing a slower paced game where each possession is truly cherished. Remember the UTEP game (among others) where there were not many chances to make up for sloppy and non-productive possessions. In order for the 'Hawks to become champions, they need to play up to their potential every minute of every game. This means crisp, on-target passing, making the shot the first time to avoid cheap over-the-back fouls in feeble attempts to make up for sloppy first tries, hitting the boards on both ends of the court, boxing out, scrapping for loose balls, and just generally playing smart. It also gives some of the players who don't generally get as many minutes in games to be rewarded with minutes for the hard work they do in all of the practices. This is especially critical as the season moves along, as there is less time to heal from injury and the reserves might be asked to step up and play key roles come tournament time. If the starters play each 5 minutes as though it was a whole game, they can sharpen their game, build a comfortable margin, and allow the reserves more game time experience. This is the ultimate win-win situation. They must also respect every opponent as anyone can win on a given night. The Dartmouth injuries add to their allure as an underdog, but the 'Hawks would be well to remember that wounded prey are often the most dangerous. They need to play a complete game, with both defensive pressure and solid, mistake-free offense, for the entire 40 minutes. Anything less would be a wasted opportunity. Any player who plays with less than 100% commitment tonight should be benched immediately. Play hard, play well, play smart. Go 'Hawks!

LAHAWK 13 years, 2 months ago

Good job "mitch". I believe you have stated everything we are all thinking. Be intense tonight Hawks, stay focused and execute.

Rock Chalk

ralsterKUMed95 13 years, 2 months ago

We really enjoyed the win against Florida. I was simply appalled at the few who still speak out against Coach--Im sure there are similiar left-fielders @ Duke and NCarolina that call for their coach's head following an unexpected loss. Anyone who has actually played this game knows that regardless how much a "name" coach tries to inspire and Xs/Os the players on the sideline (or even slap their players...), IT IS STILL THE 5 ON THE FLOOR that have to execute. THAT is why we lost in the first round 2 yrs ago, not to mention being undermanned, injured (Langford) and not-as-motivated-as we could have been in the post Roy fallout, as some of those players said after that season. Last year I saw an inconsistent team with very young players, so as bitter as it was to take a 1st round loss, we understood. This year we all, coaches and players included, have different expectations--I saw the ORU loss, and thought that half of our conference teams will come with a good big man and an outside shooter or two--we simply have to get to our man defensively. The challenge is to get consistency out of 18, 19, 20 yr olds. Would be great to play every game like Florida, but maybe we have enough depth to handle one of our boys having a cold night and someone else can pick it up. LOST in all the anti-Bill ranting is the defensive ability we have seen. Look how bad our offense was vs Ball St, let we were leading. (look @ Ball St %). THAT is why I would like to see this particular talent-loaded KU team play NCarolina, Duke, etc. Everyone was SO scared when Bill came that transition ball was gone, and did not listen when coach said if you play def., it creates transition points (read: highlight reel), as you all are enjoying now. The guys on the floor have to execute, and consistently, and having NBA-potential talent is an extra plus--and I think we have the best talent and depth we've had, that COULD surpass the Raef, Pollard team and the Collison, Heinrich teams--the ball is literally in their hands. Lay off the coach, guys: he can recruit, and he wins everywhere he goes, and now finally has a deep team of all "his" guys, just like at Illinois.

Alan Mills 13 years, 2 months ago

Yes, good job "mitch", you said everything we're all thinking...well, maybe not all of us! For teams "to become champions, they need to play up to their potential every minute of every game". What? Which team has done that recently? Did Florida execute perfectly for 40 minutes every night last year? No! But, they won a championship. Did KU play a perfect 40 minutes every night back in '88? Not even close. But, they won it all. To win champhionships, you have to be good enough to get in, then win 6 in a row! That's it. Let's just hope our guys play hard and win tonight. Asking for more isn't realistic. Our guys are like any team...they aren't going to play that perfect 40 minute game every night. They didn't on Saturday, but still beat a very good Florida team. Rock chalk!

Sigmund 13 years, 2 months ago

What can I say? I'm a homer. I love this team!

Steve Jacob 13 years, 2 months ago

Man, this game is going to be ugly. But looking at the Dartmouth web site, they got a good hockey team!

tsunami77 13 years, 2 months ago

All great comments. I think that Ku will have a good season if we had mitch playing for them! I dont see us playing Duke or North Carolina any time soon. I wish we did play someone a little tougher before we hit conference but i dont think that will happen. USC and Boston College dont cut it at all. Yea good programs on the rise but we have enough talent by far to dominate those teams. I guess with this jayhawk team now time will tell about what they will do in the postseason. Basically this type of talent on KU's team doesnt come around very often and if they mesh at the right time this year they could be unstoppable. I think the finalizer is if we can put away and embrass the USC's, Depauls, and Boston College. We can prove that we can beat those teams by big margins then the season will possibly looks up. This is not football when you can say a win is a win. I think we all know that if you can beat an opponent by ten or more then thats a statement home or away.

Folks- playing Dartmouth 2nite is a guarantee and what Duke and North Carolina have over us is that too many fans doubt our own ability on the court for 40mins-The Cameron Crazies dont doubt and hope for a win they expect it. I dont think many KU fans have that same attitude after these last two upsets in the tournament the past two years.

lee3022 13 years, 2 months ago

Confucius say: Jayhawks rock, Dartmouth chalk.

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