Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Pesky, scrappy Huskers await Kansas today

Kansas defenders Sherron Collins and Sasha Kaun lobby for a call from a game official along with Nebraska guard Cookie Miller during the first half Saturday, Jan. 26, 2008 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas defenders Sherron Collins and Sasha Kaun lobby for a call from a game official along with Nebraska guard Cookie Miller during the first half Saturday, Jan. 26, 2008 at Allen Fieldhouse.


GameDay Cram Session: Nebraska

Jesse and Tom take a look at the Huskers.

KU brings height advantage to Lincoln

The Jayhawks tower over the Huskers.

Jayhawks hope to avoid road mishaps

After dropping several road games earlier in the season, KU hopes to beat Nebraska in Lincoln today.

— Sherron Collins, who is listed at 5-foot-11 on Kansas University’s basketball roster, will feel like a big man on campus tonight.

“This is one game I probably won’t be the shortest person on the court,” cracked Collins.

He’ll be matched against 5-foot-7 University of Nebraska sophomore Cookie Miller during the KU-NU game, set for a 6:30 p.m. tip at Devaney Center.

“He’s real fast. I am still fast,” Collins said. “I’ll give him a little more space. I should be able to at least contest his shot because he’s small.”

Small, but talented and one, tough cookie.

Miller, who is part of NU coach Doc Sadler’s four-guard offense, has dished 71 assists against 37 turnovers and plucked 26 steals while averaging 7.2 points a game.

He’s made 11 of 29 three-pointers on a team that boasts sharpshooter Paul Velander (49 of 104 treys for 47.1 percent) as well as Sek Henry (18 of 47), Ryan Anderson (15 of 50) and Steve Harley (13 of 39).

“Yes they will be a tough group,” Collins said of the NU guards — a contingent led by double-digit scorers Harley (12.1) and Ade Dagunduro (10.7). “With the great environment there, it’ll be a dogfight.”

Pit bulls Miller and Collins played against each other three times last season.

Collins had 28 points, four assists and seven turnovers in KU’s three victories; Miller 13 points, six assists and six turnovers.

KU rolled, 79-58, on Jan. 12, 2008, in Lincoln and won, 84-49, on Feb. 26 in Lawrence. KU overcame a 27-22 halftime deficit to trip the Cornhuskers, 64-54, in a Big 12 Tournament quarterfinal game on March 14 in Kansas City, Mo.

“I remember they played us really tough in the Big 12 Tournament,” Collins said of the Huskers (12-6, 2-3), who were led by big man Aleks Maric, sorely missed this season.

Chris Balham, a junior out of Shawnee Mission West, who has been slowed by a strained knee, is now NU’s tallest starter at 6-foot-8.

Dagunduro, a senior, stands 6-5; Henry, a junior, 6-3; Harley, a senior, 5-11 and Miller 5-7.

“They are scrappy,” KU coach Bill Self said of an NU team coming off Saturday’s 76-74 overtime loss to Oklahoma State in Devaney.

“They may be smaller. The NBA is getting smaller. Everybody is spreading the floor four around one with ball-screen action. It’s what Nebraska is doing, (a) trap, scramble defense. They make you make plays on the fly. They don’t give you an opportunity to run your set stuff.

“If we can’t take advantage of our size advantage, then the advantage goes to them because we’ll have to get out and guard them on the perimeter,” Self added. “Hopefully we’ll have success playing big.”

Coach Sadler is proud of his undersized Huskers.

“You go bang with a guy they are fixin’ to bang with and you are 6-3 or 6-4, you feel it for a couple days. Our guys don’t complain. They come in and work hard,” Sadler said. “We wouldn’t have a chance to be competitive if they didn’t do that.”

NU may receive a positive reinforcement on the inside tonight.

Freshman Brian Diaz, a 6-foot-11, 235-pounder, was admitted to school and enrolled in classes on Jan. 17. Sadler said he’d like for Diaz to play, but it is the player’s decision whether to take a red-shirt season or not.

If Diaz doesn’t play, Aldrich figures to be pestered by a bunch of gnats on the inside.

“They fly around,” Self said of the Huskers, who average 67 points a game while allowing 57.8. Missouri managed just 51 points in a five-point loss on Jan. 10 at Devaney.

“They’ll trap the post. Every time Cole catches it, they’ll throw two guys on him. If he brings it to his waist, there’s a good chance they can deflect it or steal it.

“They do a great job rotating out of their traps, too. We’ve got to make good decisions out of post traps,” Self added.

Aldrich could wind up with some slam dunks tonight.

“That’s one thing we can utilize on the offensive side. We have a little height on them. We can try to throw it inside a little more,” the 6-foot-11 Aldrich said.

It remains to be seen how the Huskers react to their last game — the two-point home loss to OSU. NU’s only other home loss was a 66-64 shocker to Maryland-Baltimore County.

NU has defeated MU and Kansas State (73-51) at home and lost league games at Iowa State (65-53) and Oklahoma (72-61).

In non-conference play, Nebraska lost at Arizona State and Oregon State. NU’s biggest nonconference victories were at TCU and over Creighton at Devaney.

NU has averaged 9,885 fans in 13 dates at 13,595-seat Devaney.

The Jayhawks have won 10 straight over the Huskers, four in a row in Devaney.

“We’ve played pretty well there the last two or three years,” Self said. “This is a new team. They’ll be scrappy, geeked up and ready for us. It’s another tough challenge on the road, another game we can grow up as a team and improve a bit.”

KU will return home to play Colorado on Saturday in a 3 p.m. tip.


Chris Shaw 10 years, 11 months ago

This is the game that scares me. I hope I'm wrong and it's a "blowout", but Nebraska is going to be ready. Nebraska had that OSU game and they let it slip away. The Cornhuskers battled OU at their place for 35 minutes until the "Inside" finally collapsed on them and Griffin got his points. I hope the Jayhawks watched the Kentucky/Ole Miss game last night because I kept thinking about the similarities the two games could potentially have. Just like Kentucky, Kansas is undfeated in League play (Well at least until Kentucky lost last night), Ole Miss is an undersized team just-like Nebraska, and Ole Miss is just like Nebraska trying to prove they can compete against the "Big Boys". I just hope the result is different.

Toto_the_great 10 years, 11 months ago

Four guards eh? Maybe Appleton will play. I have seen him play yet and I want to see what all the hype is about. Good luck 'Hawks.

John Mueller 10 years, 11 months ago

It's a conference road game. Every win is huge, every one can be lost if you don't play well.I was encouraged the way the guys played in Ames because we had multiple guys who wanted to score and overall we kept our composure when they tried to make runs.Aldrich needs to have a big game and we need Little and Reed to have 10-12 a piece and we should win. Collins will get his so it's going to be a matter of whether we can continue to have multiple contributors on offense or whether we have 2 scorers. tough to win on the road with 2 offensive players.

Dirk Medema 10 years, 11 months ago

Collins, Taylor, Morningstar, Little (starting @ "4"), Reed, Releford, Marcus (?gets a chance to play a psuedo 3) all still play ahead of Appleton. This should be a good match up for Mario, and really for the whole team - well except for Cole. Even with Cole, if he keeps the ball high and either shoots or passes without wasting a bunch of time holding the ball, should have a solid game at the least.What I'm curious to see is whether Sherron starts the game with back to back 3's again.Rock Chalk - KU by 10+ in the end after a closer than that game.

JayViking 10 years, 11 months ago

Can we win the rebounding matchup in this one at least?

NebraskaJayhawk 10 years, 11 months ago

I'm looking forward to watching this one in Lincoln. It's goingn to be a dog fight. I think both teams probably look at this as a tough match-up either way. I hope Ryan Anderson doesn't go off. He is extremely streaky as a shooter. KU needs to pound them on the inside and Collins will be key as always. GO HAWKS

kvskubball 10 years, 11 months ago

JayVik..I think rebounding and second chance points will be the important stats for us tonight. I hope we can block out, get rebounds, keep them, and score 'em! I also hope we play well on the defensive end!Oh, and a win would be super!Rock Chalk!

rockchalkin54 10 years, 11 months ago

This one should be a better matchup for Mario at the 4 and Brady at the 3, at least size wise.

Chris Shaw 10 years, 11 months ago

I thought the match-up against A&M for Brady turned out okay. I thought the Match-up against ISU turned out okay. I thought the Match-up against KSU turned out okay. I guess we shouldn't judge what is put down on paper with height discrepencies.

King_Kaun 10 years, 11 months ago

I was in the the arena in Lincoln when Nebraska beat Missouri a few weekends ago. This Nebraska team is TINY...Cole and the twins will need to come ready to rebound, box out, and NOT FOUL!!! It would be like shooting yourself in the foot!Forget Ryan Anderson...KU needs to make sure Ade Dagunduro doesn't find HIS rhythm. When his floater is falling and his confidence gets boosted (this is in Lincoln, mind you) he starts running all over the floor like a madman...then he draws the double, then he kicks it out to one of those open 3-point shooters. This game is no gimme...but then again, I was born and raised in Nebraska then moved to Lawrence 5 years ago. I cheer Jayhawks #1 and Huskers I might be a little biased!

GridironHawk 10 years, 11 months ago

I sure hope the officials don't try and even this game out. It seems every time a team is over matched (either size or talent) the officials always even the game out. They allow a lot of hacking and shoving which KU never seems to handle well. KU playing strong will be more important than size in order to come out of Lincoln with a win.

jasonsgill 10 years, 11 months ago

It's time for Cole to win Big XII P.O.W., let's see if he's ready to carry a team to victory on his broad @$$ shoulders.

meremy 10 years, 11 months ago

So what is it? Are we big or are we small? I get the feeling we're whatever LJW feels makes an interesting story on game day. Against the Cyclones, we were too small to guard their bigs, now we're to big to guard the Corn's smalls. The truth, NU is outmanned big and small. This is a non-story.

kvskubball 10 years, 11 months ago

jason...When the guards figure out how to get Cole the ball, then he will do much more than his share. He has been doing his share so far, IMO.

Joe Ross 10 years, 11 months ago

I dont get the deuce (ESPN2). is there a broadcast online?

jasonsgill 10 years, 11 months ago

kvsku-I agree he's been doing his share, absolutely. I think he has the potential to some Blake Griffin/Brackins like damage though: 30/15 something like that. And I think this is the perfect chance to do it.

jaybate 10 years, 11 months ago

I am interested to see how KU guards the spread and ball screen, which appears to be Coach Self's condescending, generic name for a bundle of offensive sets that ball screen 25-30 feet from the hoop. Among these is Princeton on Hemmorhoids, but almost any offense can be allowed to run 25-30 feet from the hoop with some ball screening and be part of this genre of offense. I think the game tonight is Bill Self's laboratory to experiment on defending it. Of course, KU can just play it straight and hammer these guys. KU holds match-up advantages at every position two-deep. If KU shoots poorly, it will play it straight up to guaranty an ugly win. But if KU is shooting average to above average look for Self to do a lot of experimenting, some of which will look a little ugly at times. What is the best way to defend Princeton on Colon Inflamation, or other offenses that like to spread and ball screen?Pack it in and wait: The simplest way is just not to follow them out to the periphery. This works against crummy teams playing this offense, because it doesn't matter if they can shake loose 25 feet from the hoop if they don't have CDR and Derek Rose to pop the triceratop.Fight thru the Screens: This is the manly way--the way Self would like to do it. But it is very tough to do this, because the offense was basically designed to create problems for this kind of manly defense played by superior athletes. It is intended to negate the huge advantage of an opponent's superior athletic ability.Switch thru the Screens: You have to learn to do this, because fighting through is really fighting the strength of this offense. But this can lead to mismatches, which is another goal of this offense, so you don't want to rely on switching full time. And it is too girlie man, too.

jaybate 10 years, 11 months ago

Pre-empt the Screens: My preferred approach, when the refs will permit it (which they do in the Madness, but often not in conference ball), is to defensively muscle the opponent, so they can't even get to the spots on the floor where the screens are designed to take place. This involves anticipating where the screener is running to and jumping in his path; then bodying, pushing, shoving, and denying him where he is trying to go. You do the same to the shake and baker who is trying to come off the screener. The screener then has no choice but to roll toward the basket for a look. If you have bigs who can back you up, this defensive approach is a sure recipe for wrecking Princeton on Preparation H. But you incur fouls and you give up some easy buckets, too.Falling back into a zone unpredictably: zones force these teams out of the pattern the same way simply packing it in in M2M does. The advantage of a zone is that the opponent literally stops running their spread and ball screen. This is a great way to keep an opponent from getting a lot of rhythm in their spread and ball screen offense. But again, if they've got some Trinitarian, you're going to get the religion of threes in your face in a hurry.Zone Pressing: I haven't seen any team do this yet to disrupt a spread and ball screen attack, but I think it could be very effective if used intermittently. In fact, the ideal zone press would be that exceedingly strange 1-1-3 of Dunlop's at Arizona, or Self's preferred zone press--the 1-2-1-1 played in a half court format. Why a zone press and a half court variation at that? Either of these zones allow the zone to extend to wherever the ball is with two or even three players. Creating a zone to guard out around where the ball screening occurs effectively makes the ball screening a waste of time. The key to this defense is an orderly retreat to the whoop when back doored.Looked at through this lens, a potentially dull game could be very interesting.

JayhawkPhil64 10 years, 11 months ago

I think the key to this game will be our ability to get Aldrich the ball. Once he gets the ball, he should be alright but NU will put a lot of pressure on our guards and it will be very difficult to get those passes inside. On defense we have to be able to force their guards to throw the ball inside rather than driving in themselves or shooting outside. Anytime the ball comes inside, Aldrich or one of the twins should be able to block the shot.I am glad to see our guys realize this will be a tough game. Good luck Hawks, go get em..

Joseph Kuebel 10 years, 11 months ago

Watch for the screens at the top of the key and our hawks to run the High-Lo offense with Marcus, or Mario to run it and find Cole inside for several easy buckets. I'm looking for Cole to put up at least 25 tonight between the ability to run a high-low offense on this small of a line-up combined with the fact Cole is as aggressive on the offensive rebounds as they come. ROCK CHALK BABY!

Joseph Kuebel 10 years, 11 months ago

Our hawks will have to stay at home on defense and not give up the easy 3 ball this game. Watch for KU to guard the outside to prevent the hemmoraged Princeton 3-ball attack that is Nebraska, and if they do get past our 3 guard line-up Cole and Little/Morris/Morris/QT will get their share of swats along with the throwing of several bodies around in the paint. If KU does this we may get a chance to see some reserves like Appleton for a change. Smack these little Nebraska beezy's around.

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