Thursday, March 22, 2007

We’ll see about ‘D’

SIU defense a stale topic for Jayhawks


— Enough about Southern Illinois University's defense, already.

"Honestly, I think ours is better," Kansas University junior guard Russell Robinson said Wednesday in HP Pavilion, site of today's 6:10 p.m. NCAA West Regional Sweet 16 matchup between top-seeded KU and fourth-seeded SIU.

"I just think we have the numbers to prove it."

It has been widely reported that the Salukis (29-6) rank third in the country in scoring defense at 56.1 points allowed per game. Kansas (32-4) ranks 29th at 61.6 points surrendered.

However, the Jayhawks rank second in the U.S. in field-goal-percentage defense (37.3), while SIU rates 61st at 41.3.

Kansas also averages more steals (9.0 to 6.6) and blocks (6.6 to 3.3) than Southern Illinois.

"I think that's something you can come out and try to prove tomorrow in the game," Robinson said of establishing - once and for all - which defense is better.

The Jayhawks, who have been listed as nine-point favorites, appeared Wednesday to grow weary of questions concerning SIU's impenetrable defense.

"Everybody's talking about Southern Illinois' defense. I think we are a pretty good defense as well," center Sasha Kaun said. "It's a matter of coming to the game and showing that on the court."

Reader poll

Will KU beat Southern Illinois tonight?

  • Yes 92% 913 votes
  • No 5% 51 votes
  • Undecided 2% 28 votes

992 total votes.

One thing appears certain: Because of defenses that never rest, participants are saying tonight's game will be a grind-it-out slugfest, maybe a defensive classic.

"We have got to make them fight," said SIU's Randal Falker, a 6-foot-7, 235-pound junior tapped the Missouri Valley's Defensive Player of the Year. "We've got to get them in a big ol' bloody brawl.

"Our practices every day have been a big bloody mess," Falker added.

As it turns out, so have KU's ... at least this week.

"We didn't get the helmets and pads out, but it's been a physical two days of practice," KU coach Bill Self said. "We told our red team (second team), 'You've got to get us as prepared as you can.'''

The physical practices haven't resulted in any new injuries - Sherron Collins said his swollen left knee was feeling fine after getting it bumped in Sunday's Kentucky game. They've just made the Jayhawks more eager to try to penetrate SIU's man-to-man pressure.

"They are scrappy. They are everywhere. They are like little piranhas biting at you," sophomore Brandon Rush said.

Rush knocked down seven threes in eight attempts in last weekend's wins over Niagara and Kentucky, while teammate Mario Chalmers has cashed 16 of 26 threes over the last five games.

SIU's defense gave up just three three-pointers in 24 attempts in last weekend's wins over Holy Cross and Virginia Tech.

"I'm not worried about that," Rush said. "In the Virginia Tech game, they got some open shots and didn't make them. But we know if they pressure the three-point line, someone will be open inside. If they double inside, it'll free us on the perimeter."

Audio clips

2006-07 March 21 KU-SIU Hoops prev

Sounds simple enough, yet just three opposing players have scored 20 points in a game versus SIU this season. Western Kentucky's Courtney Lee (23), Evansville's Matt Webster (21) and Wichita State's P.J. Cousinard (20).

"They are about as quick as anybody we'll play, period," Self said. "They guard a way that all coaches, if you are a man-to-man coach, hope their teams guard. In positions where they are extremely quick, they are very sound. In positions where they maybe are not as quick, their position is so good they appear to be much quicker, so much quicker than they would be in a foot race."

All the warnings about SIU's defense just may eliminate any chance the Jayhawks would take a smaller conference school, a mid-major, lightly tonight.

"They are the type of team that can sneak up on you," Rush said. "People think just because their name is 'Southern Illinois' they are a lower class team. They are not a mid-major. The way they have played the last few weeks, they are not a mid-major anymore."

The winner of the KU-SIU game will play either UCLA or Pittsburgh in Saturday's Elite Eight. Game time has not been set for that contest.


craigers 11 years, 1 month ago

Tonight's the night Hawks. Take the court by storm and I hope all of you are in beast mode tonight. Rock on man.

Michael Foulston 11 years, 1 month ago

The boys sound ready and confident and not overlooking a "scrappy" SIU squad. Good luck 'Hawks!

And just for the sake of amusement, check this link from espn simulating the outcome of all the S16 games. Very amusing. Not the final score, but the game designers apparently don't think much of Sasha's looks...

Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

Michael Class of '93

Joe Ross 11 years, 1 month ago

You know to me it's really interesting. If you asked Bill Self prior to the season if we'd have made it this far, I'm sure he would have looked at the talent on this team and said it would have been a disappointment NOT to get to the Elite 8 and possibly the Final Four. However, I DON'T think he wouldhave predicted that it would have come by having no one come to the fore as a "go-to" guy. I think the way this team has panned out, with different people stepping up to be the leader on any particular night, is as much a surprise to Self as it is to anybody--it just kinda fell in his lap this way.

I agree with people who say it almost negates a game plan, because if you prepare for Julian you leave Rush to go off on you. If you prepare for Rush it could be Julian. Or you could shut both those guys down and Sherron Collins could have a career night. We've seen Mario take over games as well as others. The thing that really hurts opposing teams is how well Kansas functions as a whole rather than the sum of its parts. In effect, as you mount up pressure on one player, you weaken yourself greatly by leaving others open.

The talent being so spread around actually forces opponents to play straight up (i.e., without double teams) and this is also detrimental because Kansas is as good as anyone in the country position by position.

I just don't see how the Salukis can stay close. But that is just my opinion and it is, after all, "why they play the games". If we haven't looked passed SIU to UCLA or Pitt, we should take care of business.

Jeremy Bolinger 11 years, 1 month ago

This is what happens when you have a team with this much talent on it. If you can have so many great guards, and so many good low post players, you should have a team where anyone can step up at anytime. That is the reason that I love Bill Self as a recruiter, because he goes after combo guards instead of just going for a true point or a true 2 guard. And when Julian and Darnell can step out and drain a 20 footer, that makes us even tougher to stop. Great job done by Bill Self in putting together such a talented and unselfish group. You also have to love the fact that we dont bitch at the refs, and we help others up when they are on the ground. Great Sportsmanship!

justinryman 11 years, 1 month ago

I guess 33 points in a game dosent count against SIU. Nate Funk of Creighton did it this year in the MVC final. Guess what Creighton won that game too.
I just have to wonder what SIU's D avg would look like playing Kevin Durrant twice in one season?

vmwskywalk 11 years, 1 month ago

Add 2 more 30+ point scorers to the list

Hawkaholic 11 years, 1 month ago

Listen to Randal Falker in the sound clips. He sounds like a drunk Mike Tyson its pretty funny.

Jeremy Bolinger 11 years, 1 month ago

ram67rod, you cant forget about instant spark: Sherron Collins. Something needs to be said about him, when it comes to our best. 100 mph in everything he does!

Michael Foulston 11 years, 1 month ago

More on the "D"...good start to the article, good finish...mostly a bunch of stuff we've already seen/heard in the middle.

Michael Class of '93

JNgohawks 11 years, 1 month ago

All this reminds me of the Oregon games a few years ago except all the talk was about speed. Oregon claimed they could run with us (we had Heinrich and Collison), we were obviously the more talented team and we came out and proved it. I think it is the same this year, we are oviously the more talented team, we will come out and show it.

KU 11 years, 1 month ago

Is anybody else sick and tired of hearing how GREAT SIU's defense is?? I think KU's players are going to come out with a defensive chip on their shoulder tonight!

Actually, the best way to measure a team's defensive efficiency is to look at the points per possession. Why? It's the only way to remove the "possessions per game" variable out of the equation so you can truly compare two teams.

It makes no sense to compare a team with a 60 possessions/game average (SIU) against a team with an 70 possessions/game average (KU) based simply on points per GAME. Of course the team that plays faster is going to give up more points per GAME.

I'm sick of hearing that SIU has the best defense in the country based on PPG! They play slow. Here's why KU's defense is superior, using Ken Pom's stats as back-up:

1) KU's effective "defensive field goal percentage" (gives 50% more weight to made 3 pointers) is 43.1% (ranked 3rd). SIU's is 47.7% (ranked 80th).

2) KU's defensive efficiency (measured in points allowed per 100 possessions) is 81.8 (ranked 1st). SIU's is 86.7 (ranked 12th).

Michael Foulston 11 years, 1 month ago

I think the spodcasters made a good point about the pimping of SIU's defense. If you're not talking about the Saluki D, what really, is there to talk about the Maroons?

Michael Class of '93

Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

BLITZED 11 years, 1 month ago

I think Wright is the most valuable. He is able to bust a zone defense with his interior passing, he can take his defender off of the dribble, and he can post up. I don't see anyone else on our team, let alone in the country that has so many intangibles like him. Oh yeah and don't forget about his defense. He may not guard the best player every night, but he is by far our best helpside defender. I would not be surprised if the NBA doesn't get their hands on him after this year.

caddie733 11 years, 1 month ago

I think all of this talk about SIU's defense is just another way for the rest of the nation to discredit KU. They never get the hype that other teams receive even though they are one of the best programs of all time. I kind of like that makes it feel like we have something to prove all the time. The only way to quiet the nation is to win it all, which is what we are going to do...and then repeat next year (not to get ahead of ourselves, but we will!).

bdewitt 11 years, 1 month ago

i agree that alll the stuff about SIU defense has put KU in a very serious mood. I don't think that it will be a close game but i still believe hitting our free throws will be important.

                         ROCK CHALK JAYHAWK 4 LIFE!
                                            GO KU!

milehighhawker 11 years, 1 month ago

I find it funny how all of the so called "experts" are picking against KU all of the time. For example, most people have UCLA coming out of the west region based soley on defense. They always say, I just think UCLA has a defense that Kansas cannot deal with. What people fail to realize is that KU is #1 in defensive efficiency and top 5 in shooting % defense. I think the players are taking it as spit in the face, and are mad for not getting the credit they deserve. Look for another performance like the one the did on Nebraska this year, SIU doesn't break 60, take it to the bank.

goldlighting 11 years, 1 month ago

Sasha: If you are able to read this, PLEASE make your bunny's! I predict KU wins 87 to 56.

Kit Duncan 11 years, 1 month ago

Funny thing, I said that last night, not in as few words but I gave KU a little closer win by 15.

Go 'Hawks!!!!

sevenyearhawk 11 years, 1 month ago

SIU keeps it close early, KU begins to pull away late 1st half ... completely unloads on them in the 2nd half - BRADY MORNINGSTAR checks in before the 15 minute mark, 2nd half!

Yes, I've been a Coach Self detractor, my friends are working up some way for me to make amends ...

Gotta do it, Beak 'em, Hawks:

JayCeph 11 years, 1 month ago

This is from

Locking Down West Regional teams in scoring defense

  1. SIU, 56.1 ppg
  2. UCLA, 59.7
  3. Kansas, 61.6
  4. Pittsburgh, 62.8

Note: The West is the only region with all four teams ranked in the top 50 in scoring defense.

tis4tim 11 years, 1 month ago

To paraphrase a Saturday Night Live classic from yore:

KU: 205 SIU: -3

palewhale 11 years, 1 month ago

I hope our players aren't under estimating SIU as much as the fans. This could very well be a close game.

Texas A&M is a solid defensive team and our offense struggled against them at Allen Fieldhouse. However, since the T A&M game we have been playing amazing basketball.

I do think we'll be ready to play and it doesn't sound like the KU players are looking past SIU. But all it takes is one of their players to get crazy hot from outside and we struggle from the line to make this a close games. I remember after KU stomped Marquette in the final four, the Syracuse games was going to be no contest...we all remember what happened there...granted Syracuse had some pretty gifted players on that team.

Needless to say, I wont have any fingernails left after this and any future games we'll play...not that I'm over looking So. Ill. or anything.

Joe Ross 11 years, 1 month ago


Tubby Smith's coaching career at Kentucky ends with a loss to Kansas. The AP is reporting that Coach Smith will be the next coach at the University of Minnesota.

Stupid, Kentucky...Stupid!

landon_2003 11 years, 1 month ago

doesn't help when mcnamara made 7 three's in the first half either

CasperCorps 11 years, 1 month ago

Lowest points scored by a team in the NCAA tourney happens tonight. This will be a repeat of the Nebraska game in Nebraska except we won't let this team come back in the second half and make the game look respectabale. I believe the media has offended our players with all this Saluki defense talk and will take it out on them. Rockem Hawks!!!

Michael Foulston 11 years, 1 month ago

Yeah, I'm going to have to sort of, disagree here. Brady Morningstar might make an appearance with some little bit north of 15 seconds to play, but not 15 minutes, but I love where your head is!

Didn't we beat the 'Huskers like 92-39? Where's the respect there?

Michael Class of '93

PS What is the low point total? Lowest I can find is SWMOSt (now just MoSt) 42-32 over Wisconsin.

actorman 11 years, 1 month ago

Good analysis, Lebowski. I especially like the comparison of Rush's defense to that of a great cornerback; I think that's quite appropriate. One more thing to add about Rush: he doesn't EVER appear to be tired. I get the feeling that he could play every minute of a double-overtime game and not be the least bit winded. The man is in amazing shape. Compare that to Sasha, for example, who seems to be winded every time he has to run hard for a little while. I don't think that's necessarily true, but he at least APPEARS that way.

I'm leaving in half an hour for San Jose. Can't wait!!!

JayCeph 11 years, 1 month ago

I'm leaving in 40 minutes for Prairie Village!! Wa-hoo!

jaw7621 11 years, 1 month ago

Did anyone see Roy Williams on PTI yesterday? The last question asked was "How do you feel about the possibility of facing KU in the final?" He answered it with a lot of class and respect for what KU is doing right now. I hated the way he left our program, but I have to say that no one can doubt how much he loves UNC and that the position there is a dream come true for him. I'm ready to bury the hatchet with Roy; maybe the rest of Jayhawk nation is too.

As for this game, SIU is the team I hear talking with a sense of overconfidence, which is odd. I'm sure their practices are intense, but that doesn't equal being able to manhandle KU. I expect KU wil handle the defensive pressure well, and be able to run their break well too, given that SIU has a pretty anemic offense, and will give us misses to convert on. It's kind of hard to see KU not winning this one.

KU - 85 SIU - 65

goldlighting 11 years, 1 month ago

Tonight in the KU vs. SIU game the refs will have a good chance to help dictate the future of college basketball. They either allow both teams to play smash mouth street ball wearing boxing gloves or they call it tight and let finesse and talent decide the best team, the was Naisith intended it to be when he invented the game. I shudder to think what the future holds for college ball if they allow it to get abnormally violent and leave the impression the way you win a national championship is to beat-up your opponent like they were a enemy on the battlefield. KU 87 - SIU 56!

JayCeph 11 years, 1 month ago

No, Naisith works for the Dark Side and reports to Darth Lucas.

Robin Smith 11 years, 1 month ago

there is a trend in KU games this season: for 12 minutes or so the other team can hold KU in check through manic effort but from there on out KU runs wild. (except against nebraska and the anomalous lossses)

with 6 minutes left in the first half expect KU to go on a double digit scoring run and separate themselves for the rest of the game.

mcoan 11 years, 1 month ago

Most of the comments written above turned out WRONG. Yeah, all you who doubted their D just about got your hat handed to you on a plate.


Why is it KU gets the most scared by little teams?

And who are the 6 teams that beat SIU this year?

goldlighting 11 years, 1 month ago

I meant to say the score would be 61 to 58 KU! LOL! So much for my 31 point win, man I totally suck at this. Shaking so hard I can hardly type, gotta admit this team has got some heart, can play fast pace full court and in your face half court, sure proud of our team. Drinks are on me, literally!

palewhale 11 years, 1 month ago

That D of SIU ended up being worth talking about! I'm still trying to figure out how we came away with the win. They had far more open looks and I think we were a little...lucky...I hate using that word...howabout fortunate?

Seems like every team that wins it all had the close scare of a game. Hopefully that was KU's. I'm not sure who to cheer for in the second game, just hope it's a blow out.

Oh, btw, told ya it was going to be a tight game.


jaybate 11 years, 1 month ago

I'm ecstatic about this win. KU played horrible and is in the elite eight. This was the BAD game KU needed to get out of its system and still win. They shot 16% from trey. They shot 52% from the FT line. SIU wasn't so good. KU was very bad. The KU UCLA game is going to be a heck of a game. Both teams have gotten an awful game out of the way. And are ready to go.

JayCeph 11 years, 1 month ago

They had the second largest margin of victory last night... not bad!

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