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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Keegan

Pieces falling in place

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Little scores 15 in Jayhawks' victory

It looks like Mario Little made the right decision. Little, who pondered red-shirting this season, scored 15 points as KU beat Texas A&M by 20.

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2009 KU-TAMU Jan. 19

Reader poll

Who was KU's first-half MVP against Texas A&M?

  • Sherron Collins 15% 12 votes
  • Mario Little 68% 53 votes
  • Cole Aldrich 5% 4 votes
  • Tyshawn Taylor 6% 5 votes
  • Other 3% 3 votes

77 total votes.

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6Sports Preview: Kansas vs. Texas A&M

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The Jayhawks take on Texas A&M on Monday night at Allen Fieldhouse.

Reader poll

Who do you think is KU's best defender?

  • Brady Morningstar 60% 1187 votes
  • Cole Aldrich 29% 579 votes
  • Tyshawn Taylor 5% 111 votes
  • Travis Releford 2% 40 votes
  • Other 2% 42 votes

1959 total votes.

College basketball fans’ expectations lean heavily toward the optimistic in the offseason. The more players a fan base hasn’t seen, it seems, the higher the expectations soar.

Never mind that Kansas University had just one player, Sherron Collins, who logged more than four minutes in the 45-minute national-title game in San Antonio, the Jayhawks would reload sufficiently to lay waste to middle-of-the road Big 12 teams, game after game.

After all, they would introduce the National Junior College Player of the Year, Mario Little, to the Big 12, and he would show off a mid-range game from a bygone era.

Plus, Marcus Morris, a 6-foot-8 forward, not only would run the floor more like a guard, he would toss up three-point shots with such beautiful rotation on them they would disturb nothing but net.

Not only that, Tyshawn Taylor, a key component from the No. 1 high school basketball team in the nation, would be ready to start right away and team with Collins to give Kansas another ultra-quick backcourt.

Collins finally would have healthy knees and sweat himself into such good shape that few guards would have any shot at keeping him in front of them.

Cole Aldrich would improve his stamina, his strength, his post moves and his shooting range, going from being the fourth-best big man on the team to a force at both ends whose name would creep into conversations about the nation’s best all-around centers.

All the new parts and returning parts would blend right in time for conference play, and Bill Self would be right back in the hunt for another Big 12 title.

It all seemed on the unrealistic side at the time. It seemed to brush off the reality that teams with a lot of freshmen surrender a lot of points.

Yet, it looked right on the money in KU’s big Monday night victory against Texas A&M;, 73-53, in Allen Fieldhouse.

Toss in another ingredient that nobody guessed in the offseason — Brady Morningstar developing into a shut-down defender — and, amazingly, these Jayhawks already are playing like a typical Self team plays once the conference season arrives.

Kansas defended like a veteran team and managed to prevent A&M; from letting a single scorer reach double figures. Morningstar added another big scorer to his shut-down list, holding 6-foot-7 sharpshooter Josh Carter to seven points. (Is it just me or does this feel like Carter’s 10th season at Texas A&M;?)

Meanwhile, by trapping the post, Kansas kept productive big men Chinemelu Elonu and Bryan Davis in check.

Aldrich explained how the Jayhawks did that so effectively and in doing so made it clear the importance of young players soaking up the knowledge of more experienced ones.

“Last year, I kind of learned some things from Sasha (Kaun),” Aldrich said. “He’d bull-rush you with his chest, just freak out. That’s what we were trying to do. We tried to shock them so they would throw a bad pass out.”

It worked awfully well. The Aggies fell way behind at the start and never got back within hoping distance.

This game, more than any, showed how much Self’s latest ready-for-conference-play team has improved.

Comments

jayhawker_97 11 years ago

after looking at the stat, it's pretty amazing how KU guarded TamU players to only single digit.i miss Sasha! thanks for your bully tip!came across this one while googling:http://www.cskabasket.com/team/?a=player&p=14982&season=57&lang=enbest of luck to Sasha!

Timmay97 11 years ago

Honestly, this was a statement game. A & M are not pushovers and we seemed to handle them with ease. Even better.......we actually jumped all over this team and actually sustained the lead. I don't want to get my hopes up, but I really started to see things click tonight. Mario Little being on the same page helps. I doubt he will shoot that well every night, but man was he good. It's frightening how hard it is for a team to come to the Phog and win a game. Even if KU loses at home, it's by only 5 points or less. We need to man up and win the big games on the road. These next two games are winnable games.....ignore the crowd and play YOUR game. Our team is starting to really gel and I do think our tourney hopes could be LOCKED in by the middle of conference play. Great game guys! Keep up the hard work.

Lance Hobson 11 years ago

The team certainly seems to be coming together at the right time, now we have to prove we can handle some road pressure.

Blake Post 11 years ago

You people... It is just weird how you and others seem to have ever had any doubt that KU would make the tournament. I find this concern ridiculous for two reasons. We haven't missed the tournament for eons and the last time was because the ncaa wouldn't let us defend. The other reason is that these coaches know what needs to be done and how to do it. They proved it and don't need armchair advice. It is as though some fans presume to judge. So until you can do better, I suggest you let the coaches handle it and sit back, watch and enjoy. It is also weird how you have any doubts about this team because of any past games. I will say it again... a young Jayhawk team has the highest learning curve. That means they improve more from day one to march madness than an experienced team. What you see at first is not the measure. Even some of the media seem to be ignorant of this fact. And even more important is what could be perceived as a superior factor than in a lot of years...one Sherron Collins. Seems like he is the great leader and his force of will shall permeate the team and bring them all on board and demand achievement. Fun to watch. I would love to open these articles and see that commenters talk about who did well and what we achieved instead of pretentiously judging our players and our chances...trying to predict the outcome of future games. I could get by on talking about how we resumed the whupping of KSU...until we whup another nemesis or come across a notable challenge. Seems like misery is making noise. Course...beating them in football would not be lived down even if they manage to win in bball. What a glorious victory in spite of almost certain defeat according to the "experts". Misery will keep that foul taste in its mouth for a long time.

Matt Bowers 11 years ago

"We in here talking about practice, not the game, not the game. We talking about practice!" Allen Iverson. You have got to win in practice before you can win in a game. It looks like some of our young personnel are starting to buy in at a time that Mario's situation is known. Mario sacrifices for the team, Coach Self and Manning have been pushing the importance of practice all season, and then you have Jackson show up in Boulder to clue the team in. Things are starting to come together for this team and nicely I might add. I believe that Mario Little will become more consistent as the season progresses. We still have no idea what this guy is capable of because he is playing with a fractured leg! By the way, Clint Eastwood or Rambo or the Terminator, might be the only other people in America who could play through that much pain. KU is becoming a team that if you lock down on one or two players, the rest of the squad can get it done. Think about the roles that Cole, Collins, Taylor, Morningstar, M.C. Morris, Reed, and Little play on the court. If Releford and M.K. Morris continue to develop then we will have the deepest bench in conference. We will struggle at times, but if our guys play up to their potential then the sky is the limit. So I say yes, it all has to do with practice. Rock Chalk

zissou 11 years ago

No offense, Keegan, but Josh Carter has only been at A&M since 2000. After his four years of eligibility, they signed him to a three year deal and he's currently on a year-long contract. He's a free agent after the season. I was nervous going into this game because I remember Acie Law IV and his dreadful knuckleball ending our previous home winning streak. It was nice to win so convincingly.

not_important 11 years ago

Chuck Norris could play with two broken legs.

actorman 11 years ago

Hawkman, I agree that it was idiotic for anyone to think this team wouldn't make the tournament. And it's not the first time we've seen that type of idiocy; people tend to panic way too quickly at the slightest thing that goes wrong. And you also make a good point about a young team's learning curve.But I think you go too far when you criticize people for making comments about what the team is doing. That's what we're here for: to share our opinions of the team, what they're doing well and what they could improve on. It would be a pretty boring site if everyone came on and just said "Great game, 'Hawks!" over and over. So I think you need to cut people a little slack.

dcmander 11 years ago

After a game like that..it is easy to lose sight of expectations. We will drop a road game in the next 6 and I still think we will get beat at home by a Nebraska or some other mediocre Big 12 team. But the hawks did look good; it's hard not to get excited!

Lance Hobson 11 years ago

You ever notice that every team Iverson plays for ends up losing a lot of games? It's like they think because he scores a ton of points he will help them, but for whatever reason his teams lose. Same a G'Town and every other place he's been. I think he is a team chemistry thief or something.

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