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Sunday, March 8, 2009

Take five!

KU men snare fifth straight Big 12 title

Senior Matt Kleinmann points at the Big 12 championship trophy after the Jayhawks defeated Texas 83-73 in KU's final regular-season game, and last game of the season in Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday, March 7, 2009.

Senior Matt Kleinmann points at the Big 12 championship trophy after the Jayhawks defeated Texas 83-73 in KU's final regular-season game, and last game of the season in Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday, March 7, 2009.

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Post-game: KU vs. Texas

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Complete post-game coverage of Kansas' matchup with Texas.

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2009 KU-UT March 7

Matt Kleinmann started to work on a second draft of his Senior Day speech Saturday afternoon in Allen Fieldhouse.

“It was going to go from, ‘Thank you all,’ to, ‘Man I wish we would have won that game,’’’ Kleinmann, Kansas University’s fifth-year senior center, said after the Jayhawks’ thrilling 83-73, come-from-behind victory over Texas.

Kleinmann and fellow senior Brennan Bechard, who started and played the opening minute, watched in horror as the Longhorns (20-10, 9-7) built a 44-30 lead with 1:40 to play in the first half.

“Being down 14 was a scary moment, but it made the end of the game that much better,” Kleinmann added.

The Jayhawks (25-6, 14-2), who sliced seven points off the deficit by halftime courtesy of buckets by Marcus Morris and Travis Releford and a three by Tyrel Reed, embarked on a 26-12 run that tied the score at 56 with 11:41 remaining.

KU kept up the offensive intensity. Sparked by 10 points from Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich (who was 1-of-6 shooting the first half, 3-for-3 the second) and nine from Tyshawn Taylor, KU outscored the Longhorns, 46-29, the second half.

Kansas also turned up its defense, holding UT leading scorer A.J. Abrams to 10 points on 2-of 11 shooting for the night and limiting Damion James to just six of his game-high 26 points after intermission.

A combination of the two assured a festive postgame celebration after KU’s 26th straight victory in a regular-season home finale.

First, Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe presented the Jayhawks their fifth straight league championship trophy.

Then the KU players, wearing their new league-title T-shirts, sat on the court as Bechard and Kleinmann gave short speeches in which they thanked teammates, coaches, family members and friends and members of KU’s athletic department for support during their careers.

“It is always a tough game against Texas for some reason,” said Collins.

He scored 21 points off 7-of-19 shooting with seven assists. Two assists came off pinpoint passes to Brady Morningstar and Taylor, who hit a three and slam dunk respectively to up a 73-71 lead to 78-71 at 3:05.

“There’s no better way to win it. We got the seniors out of here with an outright championship. We don’t have to share it with anybody,” Collins added after KU’s 41st straight victory in Allen.

“The heart we showed to come back down 14 and extend our lead at the end of the game was pretty special. The young guys and Brady (who shadowed Abrams) did a great job tonight.”

Collins was sixth-man deluxe on the team that last year won the league regular-season and postseason tournament titles and went on to win the national crown. He took great pride in Saturday’s conference-clinching win.

He wore the net as a necklace to the interview room.

“The managers brought it to me and Cole,” Collins said, noting that the KU players simply forgot to clip the nets themselves after the senior speeches.

“I think I’ll give it to the seniors. They deserve it. Maybe I’ll cut it in half,” Collins added.

The regular-season league title was Bill Self’s fifth straight at KU — the Jayhawks placed second in 2003-04 — and his ninth in his last 11 years overall as a head coach.

“The other times I’ve been here, I expected it’d be a poor year if we didn’t win the league,” Self said. “This one I wouldn’t have thought that. I do think not only to win the league outright, but to match our team of a couple years ago with a 14-2 record, speaks volumes of these guys’ maturity, how far they’ve come and given themselves a chance.

“Our league is good. You just saw a 9-7 team that can beat anybody any night. This certainly will rank right up there in my eyes.”

Collins said this is the most special of his three league crowns.

“It means a lot to me,” he said. “I think I did a good job leading a group of young guys. I’m just pleased they listened to me and followed me. I told them they should listen to coach and me. I’ve been through it. Coach has been through it.

“The young guys deserve credit. They knew they didn’t know anything. They were eager to learn. I’m proud of them and myself, too, to make an accomplishment like this.”

Aldrich, the other Jayhawk expected to be named to the first-team Associated Press all-league today, actually was the player to give KU the lead for good Saturday.

He hit two free throws with 7:09 left to bust a 65-65 tie, two more at 6:19 for a four-point advantage. He also hit a jumper from the free-throw line at 4:31 to extend a 71-69 lead to four points.

After two Abrams free throws, Collins found Morningstar for the three and Taylor for the dunk.

“Cole has had a great year. I’m really, really proud of him,” Collins said of the 6-11 sophomore who finished with 12 points and 10 boards.

There were plenty of heroes Saturday — Self called Morningstar the player of the game for his work on Abrams — as nine Jayhawks scored.

Kleinmann and Bechard didn’t tally a point in their one-minute stints (they played 51 seconds the first half and re-entered in the closing minute so they could receive curtain calls), but left the tradition-rich building with big smiles on their faces.

“We’re going to need you on this little run we’re about to go on,” Bechard told the fans as he concluded his speech.

He was referring to performing well in next week’s Big 12 tournament in Oklahoma City and the ensuing NCAAs.

“I told the guys after the game, ‘You’ve had a good year. You can’t take a good year away from this team. In order for it to be a great year, or special year, now we have to play really well from this point forward,’’’ Self said.

Comments

Dirk Medema 10 years, 10 months ago

Don't be satisfied with "good" guys. Remember how the intensity went up a whole notch at the start of conference play, well expect another notch this week for the tourney, and then a whole notch or 2 more for the big dance.

KGphoto 10 years, 10 months ago

Nice. You found your Super Powers.

Keep 'em handy for nine more games.

OhioHawkfan 10 years, 10 months ago

Great job guys! How 'bout a couple of repeat tourneys this year!

Martin Rosenblum 10 years, 10 months ago

Wasn't Pittman the one who was to blame (credit!) for Blake Griffin's concussion? If so, that would partly explain the reason Cole didn't appear as aggressive as usual. His stats were fine. But, there was some drop-off in the demeanor this game.

Looks like we'll have a good shot at a second game with Texas on Friday the 13th! How tense will that be? Didn't we have them in the final B12 game last year? Then Saturday, we would probably be staring down OU. Two of the scariest days, potentially, this season. If HCBS wasn't named COY after winning reg. season and B12 tourney, we would need to storm a building! KU fans don't storm courts, etc. like other schools, but that would deserve a good storming!

Christopher Johnson 10 years, 10 months ago

“It means a lot to me,” he said. “I think I did a good job leading a group of young guys. I’m just pleased they listened to me and followed me. I told them they should listen to coach and me. I’ve been through it. Coach has been through it.

“The young guys deserve credit. They knew they didn’t know anything. They were eager to learn. I’m proud of them and myself, too, to make an accomplishment like this.”

This is more than taking a leadership role, this is publicly patting himself on the back. Sherron Collins has no class. Good leaders credit others first and more often than themselves. Collins praised himself first and more often than the other guys. This is why this team will be inconsistent. There are young guys looking up to a cocky no class leader. Talent? Yes. Is he needed on this team? Absolutely. Would this team be as good as they are without Collins? Absolutely not. But what kind of attitude is Bill Self letting this guy teach our young guys? His attitude will make a mark on these players. Young guys need humility and our team leader will never be the one to teach it. I hope these guys learn how to be classy despite Collins cocky leadership. If they learn some humility not only will they be favorites to win another national championship, but they will be seen as a group of classy guys. The last thing I want is a talented team like Florida a few years ago with cocky thug star players (Ugly Noah). I still hate Noah and will never be fully behind players like that, even if they are on our team. If any of our guys develop that kind of attitude in the future, I blame Collins.

ObiWan 10 years, 10 months ago

I don't know why people love to hate on Sherron. Would we have won even 10 games without him? No way! Let him take a little credit. He's not saying anything about himself that isn't true. To be a top competitor at the Division 1 level, a player has to believe that he belongs there. Plus, if you read interviews regularly, you'd see that Collins does credit his teammates constantly. Clearly he's proud of this team, and as an upperclassman he has played a huge role in their development and success. And on a side note- if you're a Hawk and a Tiger fan, you need to take a good, hard look at yourself, because that just isn't right!

AverageCitizen 10 years, 10 months ago

hawkanstigerfan- I in no way share your assessment of Sherron. When he was a freshman he voluntarily agreed to come off the bench and did not need to start because it benefited the team. He has taken a "back seat" to upper classmen his first two years. He is now an upper classman. Self has asked him to lead. He is a confident young man and is all about team. Frankly, I like a little fire on the team. Sherron and now Tyshawn are providing it. I've never seen Sherron as cocky. I'm proud of all our jayhawks. Congrats on a 5th Conference title. Unbelievable!

Scott Smetana 10 years, 10 months ago

Great stat KG.. 9 more wins, that's all we want.

Love him or dis him, this team is not as good without Sherron. It might even be that he tries to do too much in the tourney. However, we owe some wins to his play and I'm an overall supporter. BUT... I can't stand his latest habit of staring straight into the camera. Anyone else notice this? That's Punkish.

Dan Pawlowski 10 years, 10 months ago

hawkandtigerfan, Get off Collins case. If you haven't notice most elite athletes are cocky. And if your login name has anything to do with mizzou then it is an oxymoron. Speaking as a Cubs fan it is like being a Cubs and Whitesox fan. Not Possible.

Steve Gantz 10 years, 10 months ago

I'll take 9 more wins, but I only want 6 more wins. Collins has carried this team in the weeks leading up to this. BoulderHawk is right. I'm a White Sox fans so I hate you. People who base their comments on who is a thug need to post their picture here so we can make judgments based on the way you look too.

Scott Smetana 10 years, 10 months ago

Haha, I agree BoulderHawk, it's like Michael Jackson calling himself White and Black. Just not possible.

Lance Hobson 10 years, 10 months ago

Why would anyone be a Cubs fan if you can be a White Sox fan? Some people just like to be losers, I guess.

Congrats to the seniors and the Hawks on another title. I just hope this young team can just get past the first round of the NCAAs.

Christopher Johnson 10 years, 10 months ago

hey boulder hawk,

i've told many message boards the tiger part has nothing to do with mizzou. There are a lot of sports teams and colleges with tigers as mascots. You evidently live in a world so small you don't think outside your own little world.

Dick Murdock 10 years, 10 months ago

If Bill Self is not national coach of the year, there is no justice in this world!

chalmers2wright 10 years, 10 months ago

All of you that think he is being too cocky, you don't even know what question the interviewer asked him. It could have been a question that asked how he thought he did leading a group of young guys. Some of the problems (though there weren't very many) last year and the year before was a lack of someone stepping up and being a leader. They got away with it because there weren't many young guys that they had to depend on. This team absolutely needed a leader. If Sherron hadn't stepped up and taken the reins this team would be nowhere right now. And what exactly is wrong with his statement. "I told them they should listen to COACH and me." First and foremost they should listen to Self and then they should listen to their Captain. That's how it is in any sport. The captain is the extension of the coach on the floor. I bet Self what say the exact same thing. All you complainers just have to find something to whine about and can't just realize that we've won 5 STRAIGHT CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS. Just be quiet and enjoy the ride.

optichawk 10 years, 10 months ago

I was at the SprintCenter when Sherron thought he needed to put the team on his back and show Johnny Flynn who was the man. Flynn got the best of him by getting into his head and we lost a game we should have won. That was a learning experience for Sherron and he showed leadership qualities by not putting himself and the team in that position again (i.e. vs. OU and Willie Warren).

I also made it to AFH for the Texas game and watched countless possessions with Brady dogging Abrams. He was absolutely wearing him, great job Brady!

Finally, some guy on ESPNU discredited our outright Big 12 Championship saying OU was the better team because Griffin didn't play in our game. That's bunk! Teams that rely on just one player don't go far (i.e. Beasley @ KSU & Durant at Texas) unless its 1988 and you have Danny Manning. OU didn't have enough balance to beat anybody without him, so the best team did win it.

NebraskaJayhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

What a fine specimen Aldrich is and the work he gives us on the glass. The fact that "his numbers were down" are a testament to his difficulties scoring on decent big men. I'm not sure why people don't realize that he is not an offensive powerhouse inside yet. That's okay though.... what he gives us on the board and defensively is what we need from him and anything extra is a bonus in my opinion. I think it's the twins that need to keep stepping up offensively for us. They are a fine compliment to Aldrich when they have their heads in the game.

Matt Bowers 10 years, 10 months ago

dagger is right. Good is what led to two first round losses. Good is what led to Texas Tech. You need to be consistent, tough on the defense, create turn-overs, and play transition basketball. The pressure will go up a notch for the Big XII Tournament, but that will mean nothing. It will feel like it went up five notches for the dance to the newbies. Newbies, this is what you have been working toward all year. Think about your game at (screw) Mizzou times three for the first round of the big dance. You have got to bring it. Thank goodness you are capable.

Rock Chalk

Dan Pawlowski 10 years, 10 months ago

hawkandtiggerfan, Forgive me for not following your every divine word on the message boards of the world. Many KU students/alumni are from the immediate surrounding states and as such I based my comment on the likelihood that you were a mizzou tiger. But you are correct, the tiger is a common mascot and is almost a dime a dozen as the wildcat. You could be Memphis fan and if so I would understand why you do not identify yourself as one on this board. As for jumping to conclusions, you are committing the same sin yourself. I live in a world larger then you could imagine.

As for you sox fans. You have a strange definition of losers. I think a team that throws a world championship are the ultimate losers. And don't give me that "occurred a long time ago crap" baseball is about tradition and yours is tarnished beyond repair....

goshenjhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

BoulderHawk..... I love it!! Go Cubs!! And go Jayhawks!!!

John Randall 10 years, 10 months ago

""They should listen to coach and me"? I'm a little concerned about that remark. Is Sherron taking too much upon himself?"

That 'much' was put upon SC by the circumstances. Would you prefer that he run and hide from the responsibility?

"If you can do it, it ain't braggin' to say so!" Joe Willie Namath

jaybate 10 years, 10 months ago

jaybate interview: surgeon general on HSC Syndrome

jaybate: Thanks for agreeing to a phone interview for free, SG.

Surgeon General: You're welcome. Be quick.

jaybate: I read your essay in Sports Illustrated about HSC Syndrome, which has had an isolated outbreak among an online community hosted on KUsports.com. Would you tell readers what HSC stands for first?

SG: Hallucinatory Sherron Criticism Syndrome.

jaybate: How does it symptomize?

SG: Otherwise rational persons seize on negative aspects of KU point guard Sherron Collins' game, which any player of course has, and then blow these up into arguments claiming that Sherron Collins, who has lead his very young team to a conference championship and 25-6 record, is just not very good.

jaybate: Extraordinary. Where does the hallucinatory aspect come in?

SG: The better young Collins plays, the more insistent victims of the syndrome become that Sherron is not very good. As Collins plays even better, rather than concede those afflicted with HSC Syndrome begin to make up things that he does not even do incorrectly. It is at this point that the syndrome crosses the threshold irrational nitpicking into outright hallucination.

jaybate: One more question...

(Click)

jaybate: Apparently we are experiencing network difficulty with the surgeon general. I will continue to monitor the spread of HSC Syndrome with vigiliance and report any warnings from the CDC, as well....now, back to your regularly scheduled posting.

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