Friday, March 16, 2007

Let’s dance

Jayhawks focused on opener with Niagara


— A heckler screamed "Bradley, Bucknell" at Kansas University's basketball players as they exited the court after a 33-minute workout late Thursday afternoon in the United Center.

"They can say what they want to say," sophomore Mario Chalmers said of critics, who, because of first-round NCAA Tournament losses to the Killer B's the past two seasons, expect the Jayhawks (30-4) to become the first No. 1-seeded team in history to lose to a No. 16 tonight.

Tipoff for the Jayhawks' contest with Niagara is 6:10 p.m., with a live telecast on CBS.

"We're focused. We're ready for the tournament," Chalmers added.

The Jayhawks faced their final barrage of first-round-flameout questions from the media Thursday and admitted they were tiring of the topic as Niagara tip time nears.

"We've been thinking about it for a long time. Now is the time for us to make up for it," junior guard Russell Robinson said. "You can definitely tell he (coach Bill Self) doesn't want it on his shoulders anymore."

Reader poll

Will KU win today?

  • Yes 96% 2393 votes
  • No 2% 70 votes
  • Undecided 1% 28 votes

2491 total votes.

Yet Self isn't talking about the past much as he prepares his red-hot team - winner of 11 straight games - against an even-hotter Niagara squad - 12 straight victories.

"I don't think fear of failure is a great way to motivate, because your emphasis is on failure," Self said. "We need to prepare to be successful."

Thus, the players say their coach hasn't been talking much about the recent past.

The media, however, are a different story.

Audio clips

2006-07 March 15 KU NCAA prev

"I hate it," sophomore Brandon Rush said of discussing Bradley and Bucknell, not Niagara. "It's tiring."

Yet he says it hasn't affected game preparation.

"I think we're loose," Rush said of the team's mood. "We're not tight like last year. We've been here before. We've not gotten tight all year. Why start now?"

Both teams, in fact, appeared mighty confident Thursday during their mandated media sessions. KU was so focused on business the Jayhawks did not horse around and take halfcourt shots or do the dunk drill that normally completes their pre-first-round practice before a few hundred fans.

"My gut feeling is we're going to wind up in Atlanta," KU's Robinson said of the site of the Final Four, "but it's going to take a lot of hard work and effort to get there."

It starts tonight against a team with four starters averaging double-digit scoring.

Jayhawks looking for 'respect' after two years of first round exits

Both KU and Niagra are fighting for the same thing in the first round of the NCAA Tournament: respect.

But can a No. 16 seed beat at No. 1?

"I think it is going to happen. I don't know when," Niagara coach Joe Mihalich said. "We said, 'If we're going to be a 15 seed, we might as well be 16. We might as well do something miraculous.' That was before I saw the Kansas tape."

He showed his team not only tapes of KU, but the movie "Hoosiers" on the 4 1/2-hour bus ride from Dayton, Ohio - site of Tuesday's play-in victory over Florida A&M; - to Chicago.

"Once a year we watch it on the bus," he said of the story of a small-school team in Indiana rolling to the state crown. "We have a confident team. One of our guys said, 'Coach, we're not going to play slow-down are we? We're going to play our game.' That inspired all the coaches, confidence like that."

The Jayhawks make it clear if they lose tonight, it won't be because they took Niagara lightly.

"Coach Self said it's the best 16 seed in the tournament," Rush said.

"They are way better than a 16 seed," Chalmers added.

Self is wary of the team led by 6-foot-7 senior Clif Brown, who scored 32 in Tuesday's victory over Florida A&M; and averages 16.5 points a game. It's believed KU's Wright will open defensively on Brown.

"No. Niagara is not a 16-seed," Self said. "You play whoever you play, (but) they are 21-4 with their full complement of players. We've not played anybody who can shoot like they can all year. We're playing a hot team with a 4-man that can shoot it up much like Somerville (Marcellus, Bradley) last year."

It's a new year, of course, and the Jayhawks fully expect to prevail and meet either Villanova or Kentucky at 4 p.m. Sunday, with the winner moving on to the Sweet 16.

"We've got to go out and handle business," Robinson said.

If not :

"I don't think there'd be a bigger upset. It'd be the biggest in history," Niagara's J.R. Duffey said.


jhawker137 11 years, 3 months ago

Dear God, Please be a Jayhawk fan tonight!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks from, Nervous Jayhawk Fan

argentinehawk 11 years, 3 months ago

Hawks will crush the purple eagles!!!!!!!! KU 103 NU 60

argentinehawk 11 years, 3 months ago

And my reason for the above score:

"Thursday during their mandated media sessions. KU was so focused on business the Jayhawks did not horse around and take halfcourt shots or do the dunk drill that normally completes their pre-first-round practice before a few hundred fans."

"Focused on business." I love it! I think, I know our Hawks will come out smokin' tonight!

EXks 11 years, 3 months ago

Hawks, show NO mercy tonight!! and throughout the tournament! CRUSH your opponents

tis4tim 11 years, 3 months ago

The only way to shut the media up is to kill them. But, since that's illegal, we'll just have to win the whole dang thing. Time to put on our best throat-crushing shoes.

Chris Shaw 11 years, 3 months ago

If anyone ever reads the sports guys on ESPN's page 2, then you should read his day-long analysis of day one of the NCAA tournament. It's classic and I pretty much share and enjoy most of his comments. It puts everything into perspective.

Chris Shaw 11 years, 3 months ago

Well, here's my little recap of day one. All-in all, I thought it was a great day of basketball games. My best moments were watching Duke lose and reconfirming my decision that Stanford did not belong in the tournament. Right now I'm 14 out of 16 in my bracket with my only blemishes being Texas Tech and Duke. Yes, that also means I've already lost in the sweet 16 b/c I had Duke losing to UCLA. Oh well, no matter my displease of my loss, I'm still ecstatic that Duke is gone and hopefully we'll not here about them again after today. The only thing I want to hear from coach K the next three weeks until the Final Four is, "We flat just got our butts beat." I love it.

Bruce Rist 11 years, 3 months ago

Of course, no one talks about how they won 23 straight first round games prior to the last two early exits.

Jeremy Bolinger 11 years, 3 months ago

its ok.......I kinda like these stupid morons talking $hit to us. It should only motivate us even more. And for anyone of you that are nervous................why? There's no way any of those teams even compare to niagra. There is no way that we compare to either one of the last 2 teams. We are far better!!!!!!

JayCeph 11 years, 3 months ago

Never take your opponent for granted. They are the ONLY thing between you and your next game. In order to move on, you must dispatch the team in front of you.

One game at a time.

speedy 11 years, 3 months ago

i hate mizzoo. the next team on my hate list is duke!!! glad to see them gone-gone-gone!!!! should there be a ban on active coaches doing commercials on natl. tv??? i mute coach K and his sweet little junk.

JayCeph 11 years, 3 months ago

Roy has a Coke commercial now too. Coach K with American Express and now this...

Is Self going to start schilling for Enterprise Rent a Car?

84Hawk 11 years, 3 months ago

I just want to watch our Hawks crush the Purple Eagles so the media and every KU hater can shutup about the last two years. It's getting so old. It should be fun tonight to watch a blowout. We have such a different team now. The guys are really clicking when it's needed. Good luck Jayhawks!

And to all the faithful (and LUCKY) fans who get to be there tonight, PLEASE be loud!

jaw7621 11 years, 3 months ago

WHile I think the gap is closing between 1 and 16, I don't think KU will be the first 1 seed to go down to a 16. Too much depth, talent, and determination on this KU team. Plus, KU is playing truly tough for the first time since this team was pieced together by Bill Self.

caddie733 11 years, 3 months ago

Let's face all you want about getting by the first round, but we need to get by the first weekend to silence critics. This is Kansas Basketball, we shouldn't be thinking about getting by the first round, we should be thinking about a championship every year. The last two years have nothing to do with this year, so it should not even be an issue.

bdewitt 11 years, 3 months ago

dont forget other fellow rock chalk jayhawkers about how good our defense has beeen just remember defense wins championships!!!!!!!!!!!

countryjayhawk 11 years, 3 months ago

crush them hawks! get up early and then put the hammer down

hawkfan4life 11 years, 3 months ago

Foot to the jugular!!! No mercy! Rock Chalk!!!

Jeremy Bolinger 11 years, 3 months ago

4 of the last 5 national championship winners have held opposing offenses under 40% shooting percentage for the season. We currently sit at 37%. The only won who didnt was UNC in 2005, and they were at 40%. Notice a trend here people?

Joe Ross 11 years, 3 months ago

Im glad we're playing Kentucky. No better way to put the luster on a big program than by taking it off another one. Tubby Smith is in real trouble.

choffman 11 years, 3 months ago

Coach K is also in a State Farm insurance commercial, too.

hawks - 82 eagles - 69

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