Saturday, March 17, 2007

Not this year

KU avoids early ouster, routs Niagara


Russell Robinson had just started to stretch during pregame warmups Friday when a jittery Kansas University fan offered some unsolicited advice from the United Center stands.

"Somebody yelled, 'Don't come out too tight.' I got the vibe that's what they were thinking we'd do," Robinson said. "We'd lost two in a row in the first round. The fans might have been a little nervous about what might happen today."

No reason for worry. None at all.

The No. 1-seeded Jayhawks, who were bounced in Round One by Bradley and Bucknell the past two seasons, battered No. 16 seed Niagara, 107-67, and easily advanced into Sunday's 4 p.m. second-round match against Kentucky, a 67-58 winner over Villanova in Friday's late game.

"It is a sigh of relief. We got the monkey off our back," stated KU junior guard Robinson, whose 11-point, seven-assist first-half effort helped the Jayhawks crack a 14-14 deadlock and race to a 52-27 halftime lead.

"We didn't prove anything. A No. 1 seed is supposed to win. We can't be satisfied. We didn't come here to win just one game," Robinson added.

Still, the victory - KU's second-largest in NCAA Tournament history next to a 58-point decision over Prairie View A&M; in 1998 - was better than the alternative: another first-round flameout.

"That would have been terrible," KU coach Bill Self said. "I'll be honest. I was nervous before the game. The last two years ended sadly.

"I thought to myself, 'A No. 16 has never beaten a 1.' I didn't tell our guys that. I was really proud of our guys. I thought they came out aggressive for the most part."

Aggressive, but not particularly effective.

Power forward Clif Brown scored eight points while guarded by Julian Wright as the Purple Eagles played the Jayhawks to a 14-all tie the first 71â2 minutes. Self adjusted by putting Brandon Rush (nine points, six assists, five rebounds) on Brown, who did not score the remainder of the half.

Led by Robinson's five points and six from Sherron Collins, the Jayhawks closed the half with a 17-2 run and had things well under control.

KU tops Niagara to advance in NCAA Tournament

The Kansas Jayhawks, intent on not losing in the first round for 3 straight years, attacked the basket against Niagara en route to a 107-67 victory.

"Not really," Robinson said, asked if he thought the tie was a sign of things to come. "Coach said, 'They will not win the game in the first half. Nobody does.' We listened to him, and before we knew it, we had a nice lead."

Robinson scored five points and Sherron Collins (15 points, six assists) six in the half-ending surge, which included three points from Julian Wright (10 points) and Rodrick Stewart.

"I wasn't worried at all," Rush said. "I knew they liked to shoot threes, and they really weren't hitting that many. We just were going too fast and not playing defense at all. I knew that would change."

Niagara, which hit two of 10 threes the first half, cashed two of 19 to KU's 13-of-22 three-point accuracy.

"I don't think we guarded like we can," Self said. "We can rebound better, but you go 13-of-22 from three, it covers a lot of ills."

Go figure

20 Kansas University field goals in each half21 Niagara field goals for the entire game2-for-19 Niagara's three-point shooting13-for-22 KU's three-point shooting14 Jayhawks who played against Niagara13 Jayhawks who scored against Niagara9:21 Assist-to-turnover ratio for the Purple Eagles29:12 Assist-to-turnover ratio for the Jayhawks

Mario Chalmers, who made eight of nine shots and scored 19 points, swished two threes to open the second half, and Robinson added one, helping KU to a 65-38 lead at 14:23. Darrell Arthur (12 points, eight boards) had six points in a 10-0 spurt, and it was just a matter of time before Self would clear the bench in the rout.

Jeremy Case scored nine points the last nine minutes to lead the bench brigade. Everybody but Brennan Bechard scored; the starters rejoiced when Matt Kleinmann banked in a free throw, then calmly swished a second.

"The best thing about tonight," Robinson said, "is everybody got to play, and they played well."

"The guys on this team really like each other," Self said. "They want to see their teammates get in and do well."

Self coached until the end, but showed no emotion as the final horn sounded.

"I was sick and tired of all the comments the last couple of years, all the stuff," he said of reaction to the first-round losses. "I think they (players) were, too."

Audio clips

2006-07 March 16 KU-NU Hoops

Rush seconded that notion.

"I was tired of it," he said. "It was good to get the win. Our crowd feels good. It's good to get them a win and our program back. Now we know we've got a tough game on Sunday."

It's a game the Jayhawks need to win to advance to the Sweet 16 in San Jose, Calif.

"We didn't come here to win one game regardless of the situation in losing in the first round the last two years," Self said. "This team worked hard to get a No. 1 seed. Our goal is to play to that seed. This was nice. This was one small step."


sevenyearhawk 11 years, 4 months ago

Michael Jordan, Michael Jordan, Michael Jordan ...

I know this event is at the United Center, but -


Wilt had - three: (?)

Over the backboard inbound, standing free-throw & lane widening ...

Beak 'em, Hawks!

Chris Shaw 11 years, 4 months ago

I like this team and I like the fact that we have a chip onour shoulder. The only thing I'm really trying to figure out is why we keep putting Julian and the beginning of the game on our opponnents best players. I don't know, but Julian keeps getting lit up as the defender and these guys start off with hot shooting. Everytime Self switches Rush on to that opponent, they seem to coll off a bit. I don't know, it just seems a little odd to me, unless it's a strategic approach just to get inside the players head to have two different style of players gurading him. It seems to me that Rush is our stopper and that we should be starting him on those type of players. Hmmmm, it makes you think. Big game tomorrow. Go Jayhawks

Kyle Crenshaw 11 years, 4 months ago

YAY!!! its so nice to be able to enjoy march madness for more than one day!

Joe Ross 11 years, 4 months ago


why are you obsessing over the attention paid to Michael Jordan when KU just won their first NCAA tournament game in three years?

speedy 11 years, 4 months ago

there were more than three rule changes because of wilts ability. i watched bill russel get away with goal tending. he was allowed to pin the ball against the backboards. he was allowed to funnel, both hands ,one on each side of the hoop to just tip the ball down in.
not sure about lane width. or goal tending by swatting away shots even on downward flights. anyway the chamberlain rules came in even before wilt was in the NBA. because they knew wilt was better at the things bill r. could do. bill was at S.F. in college. they played wichita u. in 1955.

Jeremy Bolinger 11 years, 4 months ago

jross, i think he was taking the attention off of michael, and trying to bring it back to kansas and wilt.

GIHAWK 11 years, 4 months ago

"The only thing I'm really trying to figure out is why we keep putting Julian and the beginning of the game on our opponnents best players. I don't know, but Julian keeps getting lit up as the defender and these guys start off with hot shooting. Everytime Self switches Rush on to that opponent, they seem to coll off a bit."

Actually I like that. Kinda a element of surprise. Just when a opposing scorer gets comfortable, bang, and Brandon shuts him down...

Kit Duncan 11 years, 4 months ago

CBS just showed a great piece on Sherron! A little more love from the pundits, but still qualified with "it's only one win."

Show 'em 'Hawks!!!

Larry Smith 11 years, 4 months ago

The reason Julian has been on the other teams leading scorer the last few games is just because of the position they play. He plays the 4 spot, so he gaurds the other teams 4 spot. If he can't handle it, then you switch defenders.

lstarter 11 years, 4 months ago

on that last picture of the team running onto the court led by julian with them slapping fans that lady at the end wearing a bucknell sweater, or is it just me?

peschker 11 years, 4 months ago

To add to the Julian question, we also like Rush to get hot on offense and not have to be worried about him getting too tired on defense.

Jayhawg 11 years, 4 months ago

I swear, I am so sick and tired of Kansas getting disrespected by ESPN and CBS.

ESPN acts as if they would be fined by the FCC for mentioning the Jayhawks as if it was a obscene word or something.

Same with CBS.

Hardly a word about them beating Niagra last night. Same as the other day after beating Texas for the second time.

I hope the guys use this lack of respect to their advantage and show the country that they deserve their #1 seed and #2 ranking.

I am cancelling my ESPN magazing subscription cause I'm tired of their Bias towards UNC and DUKE.

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