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Originally published March 13, 2009 at 12:00a.m., updated March 13, 2009 at 12:00p.m.

Keegan

Kansas regressed in tourney opener

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KU loses chance at four consecutive tourney titles

Very few coaches have the opportunity to capture four straight conference tournament titles. That's what Bill Self had hoped to accomplish this year.

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2009 KU-Baylor March 12

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— Saying that the Kansas University basketball team regressed to playing playground basketball Wednesday in the Ford Center would be giving the team too much credit. The game they played did come straight from the playground, but it was called keep-away. Cole Aldrich was it.

To get the ball away from his teammates, Aldrich needed to move better, play more physically and demand it more forcefully.

Baylor’s zone defense collapsed on Aldrich, and the Kansas guards for stretches appeared all too willing to join the Bears in playing keep-away from Aldrich.

“We still need to find ways to get the ball to our big guys, just because that opens up the perimeter, and we can hit shots from there,” Aldrich said after Kansas was sent home in its first game of the Big 12 tournament by Baylor, 71-64.

Aldrich was half right in that assessment. The team does still need to find ways to get the ball to the big guys, so they can score and draw fouls.

More than once, instead of battling to get off a shot when passed the ball, Aldrich sent it back to the perimeter. Has it come to that? Could the big man be looking to reward the guards for finding him with the ball by returning it to them?

Adlrich, who has battled injuries to his feet, did not appear to run the court with the same speed and at times looked indecisive with the ball. Still, that’s no reason to freeze him out. He attempted just five field goals, made three and scored eight points to go with a game-high 14 rebounds.

Meanwhile, junior guard Sherron Collins made six of 20 shots and was charged with five turnovers.

“I’d be fine if I didn’t take any shot attempts and we won,” Aldrich said.

That’s a fantasy formula for victory. The Jayhawks’ season ends with its next loss. Rolling the dice by firing shots from the perimeter is no way to string together victories. Neither is getting off to a sluggish start.

Kansas eventually erased Baylor’s 30-13 lead and even took a five-point edge with 8:45 left, but getting so far behind at the start is living dangerously.

Playing an 11:30 a.m. game such as Wednesday’s gives a team a good chance to experience that strange not-quite-awake feeling that can occur in early-morning NCAA Tournament games. So far, not so good.

“Not quite everybody was into the game right at the beginning,” Aldrich said. “Whether it was an early start or this or that, we’ve got to be ready to play.”

For the most part, Kansas has done well against zone defenses. Not this one.

“We usually move the ball pretty well,” Aldrich said. “It kind of stuck to hands today. You just have to play hot potato with the ball.”

And you have to advance the ball close to the basket into the hands of players tall enough to get it done in heavy traffic.

“I think it is a tribute to their zone,” Kansas coach Bill Self said of Aldrich’s limited touches. “I think it is a tribute to our perimeter not doing a great job. Cole has to take responsibility for it, too. Guys have to find a way to get the ball. ... This was a game in which he labored probably as much as he has at any point in time this year.”

Aldrich could probably use the rest, but this wasn’t how he wanted to get it.

Comments

fansincewilt 10 years, 10 months ago

Now that we know that Collins can't carry this team by himself, can we figure out a way for our guards to penetrate and dish? The idea of standing around outside and bombing away from 24, 25, and 27 feet or more, is not going to get the job done. We don't have a shooter that can do that consistently. I think 30% is probably more likely than 45% with that kind of shooting. Penetrating will go a long way to help get those three-point shots in the 21 foot range where they should be. We need someone to penetrate more and get the ball back out to Reed and Morningstar for that 21 foot shot. Passing the ball around the perimeter and then taking that 26 foot shot won't go very far in the next tournament. Unless these guys can figure out how to get the ball inside, another one and done is on the horizon unless, of course, we are on fire outside. Then it will be a two and done. On the other hand, Bill Self is a class act. I can't imagine the disappointment but yet how he handles it is amazing.

Michael Bratisax 10 years, 10 months ago

Maybe..but it looks to me that Collins doesn't trust his teammates. That last 3 he shot was dreadful. He never had any other intention but to shoot that shot. Some days, he is unstoppable but yesterday was not one of them. On the other hand, Taylor kept passing up open 3's. Hard to figure out this team.

Timmay97 10 years, 10 months ago

Jhawk,

I wouldn't want anyone else shooting that shot but Collins. He's made that shot a million times and for some reason yesterday, he didn't have it.

Collins played a bad game.....too many turnovers, too many missed shots, but wouldn't you rather he get it out of his system now, BEFORE tourney time? I do!

It's just a loss....Baylor is not that bad of a team. Plus, they were hitting from the perimeter, we weren't. Not every team is going to shoot like they did. KU couldn't hit their outside shots. Reed and Morningstar are as much to blame as Collins.

I like it better when KU moves Collins to shooting guard and lets Taylor bring it up the court. As long as Collins is moving around, it seems to throw the defense off a little, especially when they are playing man. Taylor can drive just like Collins does.....Reed and Morningstar can't.

It's the tourney boys.....one loss and you're out! Man up and play with pride. There is no such thing as tired. Step it up! Be confident!

JayhawkLova7 10 years, 10 months ago

Are you serious? I really believe that Bill Self would have rather Sherron take that shot than anyone else on the court. Tyshawn played well, we have to remember he is a Freshman and they make mistakes. I'm glad he doesn't shoot the whole time! Collins not one of your better games but hey we all have our times. Anything Collins does he gets pounded on about, if it isn't the dribble drive it's his shooting to much, or his lack of leadership and then he turns around and blames the loss on himself and then people get mad at him for taking the blame! He realizes there is more than just him on the team. I am a huge fan of Sherron Collins! I love the way he plays, tough and aggressive.

But for some reason very few people really realize the dilemma he is in! Remember he was on that National Championship team, he used to be the one that was being taught by the likes of Mario, Robinson, and Rush. All great players. Mario and Rush left. Now it is Sherron's turn to teach these kids, but think about it for a second. This is going to be rough on him considering he was the '6th man' on the team when he could of technical started last year. He just didn't because we had the likes of well, all the great players.

In the end young teams make bad mistakes and get a little to high on their horse. Now what we have to do is when we fall off, we need to get right back on again. I have a good feeling that't what Kansas is going to do. They are a tough team they just are inconsistent. We went through the years of that with the other players. The NCAA Tourney wasn't so nice to us for a couple years there, and then we faced of against UCLA. That game was heartbreaking for me. The next year we come back and win it all! This year, hey anything can happen and when this team is playing at its highest potential then we can beat anyone we set our minds to!

Rock Chalk Jayhawk! Get back on that horse and ride it all the way to a NCAA Championship.

nocaljayhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

For me, the game hinged on KU's inability to get the ball to Cole consistently and his reluctance to take it aggressively to the hoop when he did get it. When Lomers turned around Cole and dunked in the second half, I knew that was it.

jaybate 10 years, 10 months ago

Simple first: KU shoots a little better from trey by Brady and Tyrell (i.e., granting Sherron an off shooting a night) and protects the ball a little better and its a W, even with less than stellar intensity and post feeding (or lack there of).

Now more analytical:

All year long this team has proven that it has to experience certain things before it can master them and get a win. They had to try a couple of times to finally beat a ranked opponent. They had to play presses a couple of times, before they figured out how to beat a press. Most teams that have only played together one season are this way. Most young teams are this way, unless they have overwhelming talent (which no one seems to have these days). This team does not have overwhelming talent. It has good talent that plays well much of the time, but not others.

So why would this team play a poor game against a Baylor team they handled easily earlier in the season?

First, let's condition that statement about beating Baylor easily. Baylor had a horrible shooting night against KU the first time. So KU was not monstrously better than Baylor, it was just better. This recent Baylor game proves it.

Next, most on this team have never played in a conference tournament before. Most have never played through a conference tournament to get to a Madness. Most have no experience at what does and does not work in modulating their emotions in preparation for this level of play. Most could not take up the slack of Sherron having an off game, because most were a bit out of their depth in terms of circumstance. Most on the team have no experience at how much opponents amp it up for a conference tournament.

And there are other things, too. KU was coming off an excellent performance against Texas and could not get back on the edge. It has never had an 11:30AM start. Cole's wearing a boot. He's injured. Sherron still has a bum elbow and one story today says he injured a leg in the game. There are many, many reasons this team played sub par and many many little things it could have done to make up for weak shooting.

jaybate 10 years, 10 months ago

To wit KU was minus 5 on strips. It was also plus 4 on TOs. Clearly, the guys were not protecting the ball enough. Getting those closer to even would have made the score near even.

KU also shot 6 of ten on FTs instead of Baylor's 7 of 10. Evening that up might have yielded a one point lead.

So: protecting the ball better and shooting better FTs probably would have won the game for them, even if they had not gotten Cole any more touches and even if they had still shot 32% from trey.

Drew gambled everything on stopping Cole, because he suspected Cole had a bum foot and KU might have a general let down with some poor shooting, after a good night against Texas.

Drew reasoned, if I can use the zone to stop Cole, which most any zone can do when it packs it in and tempts with the trey, then my guards are about as good as theirs and all I need is to shoot the trey as well or better than KU does and I can get an upset.

Drew gets kudos for not overcomplicating the formidable problem he faced in KU and for coming up with a straight forward gamble that would work...with a little luck. He played to his strength, and he took away one of KU's two cornerstones. Our perimeter shooters could not make him pay. Baylor won.

But it wouldn't have worked without KU having a sub par performance.

KUFan90 10 years, 10 months ago

Did anyone else think the OU game was fools gold? Only difference between that game and this is Collins hit those shots at the end of that game. If he missed those last 3 three pointers against OU, we are having the exact same discussion then. But instead everyone, even Self I might add, was singing his praises. "He is so tough", etc. If he makes the 3s last night, he is a hero again. I didn't like the way the OU game ended and felt they got lucky...and it probably just reinforced Collins desire to put the game on his shoulders and win it alone.

jaybate 10 years, 10 months ago

Erratum or something...

I did not view the game and so was way off base above assuming Drew packed the paint to stop Cole. Ugh! According to another LJW story Self is quoted as saying it was a stretch zone. Such are the risks of speculation on what I have not witnessed first hand.

Of course this makes Drew's strategy even more intriguing. According to Self, the Baylor zone was giving Cole open space within the perimeter that Cole was not used to and did not capitalize on. Huh? Can that be what really happened? Someone who saw the game tell me how this zone worked?

craigers 10 years, 10 months ago

If there is one thing I have seen from this team and all teams across the nation, it is that every team is beatable. No team was consistently number 1 because there are so many good teams out there. This team, though young, is really good. When they are on the ball on defense and shoot alright we win. That would be against every team in the nation, not just the Big Twelve. They could do anything from a loss in the first round to possibly getting to the Final Four depending on the nights they have. Our team is tough and doesn't quit that is for sure which should be encouraging this time of year.

jaybate 10 years, 10 months ago

KUFan90,

No, I do not think the OU game was fools gold. I think we played and beat a team without its great player, Blake Griffin, which means there is significant doubt about whether we could beat them with Blake.

Regarding living and dying with Collins trey shooting: it would be better if we could get along with less of it, but that would mean we had another player who, or group of players, who could create as well. No doubt if we had them, Self would already have tailored the offense that way, would he not?

Players relied on to take big shots and create a lot of offense, plus the fans who must watch them, have to remember this quote.

"I have missed 9000 shots. I have lost 300 games. I succeed because I keep failing."--Michale Jordan

NebraskaJayhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

There is no need to force the ball inside if the defense is willing to collapse like that. The only thing you will end up with is 30 turnovers. Make some shots for crying out loud so they stop collapsing on us. It's the only way to make them regret it. We are going to see more of this next week.

caddie733 10 years, 10 months ago

The only issue I had with Sherron's 3-pointer was not that HE took it (because he should shoot the big shot), but that he took it with so much time on the clock. KU was down 3, but they did not NEED a 3. There was plenty of time to extend the game. Who is to say Baylor keeps hitting free throws? Who is to say that if Collins drives the ball, he doesn't get an "and 1"? Sherron's shot was questionable in that it made no sense to jack up a 3 with more than 20 seconds left to go (especially when you are shooting so great that day). Extend the game, get the quick 2, force some pressure on the other team to make free throws. Not only did he miss the shot, he air-balled (no chance for another possession). So the fact that Sherron took the shot wasn't questionable, but WHEN he took it, made it a horrible shot choice.

caddie733 10 years, 10 months ago

It was an immense tactical error...there was not enough time to think about getting a 2 for 1. Even if Sherron makes that shot, you are tied and give the ball back to Baylor with 20 seconds and the final shot. If you are going to take a 3, at least run the clock down, so Baylor doesn't get another possession. It really makes no sense to take that shot with that much time on the clock, not to harp on our best player or be too much of a downer, but it was one of the worst, basketball strategy decisions that could have been made at that moment.

pmohr13 10 years, 10 months ago

I agree with caddie733,

Right after the game I complained about this to me friend. If you drive (which Collins had plenty of room to do) and make the two you are down one. Foul right away, they make both free throws, you still have time for a three like that or another drive to the basket. You foul right away again. You are giving them four free throw attempts to miss one so that you can tie it with a two point bucket. The more you do this strategy the greater the odds that they will miss a free throw. And what's not to say that they won't foul you on your way to the basketball for a chance for an "and 1?"

Not to mention we started jacking up three pointers when we were only down four points with four minutes to go. It seems to me this team has no poise when it is down with less than five minutes left. I only say this because they start jacking up three pointers with plenty of time on the clock, when Cole had his man perfectly sealed down low.

KULA 10 years, 10 months ago

These guys just play terrible on the road. The further they have to go, the worse they play. They probably just played themselves into Portland or Philly.

KULA 10 years, 10 months ago

ps--Morningstar needs to SHOW UP!!! You don't need to defend a guy who's not going to shoot if anyone's within ten feet of him. Guys coming off the bench score more than he does. Why is he starting? He's absolutely no threat to score. Reed & Releford should be sharing that spot.

SanDiegoChapter 10 years, 10 months ago

I strongly agree with the comments that our defense is inconsistent and sometimes downright aweful, and that we sometimes play with very little energy. There seems to be more controversy regarding people's opinions about Collins and his role on the team. I agree that he is our leader, but that doesn't mean he needs to take 20-25 shots every game. If he's not making shots, let someone else shoot. By taking so many shots, he is making it so that a win or loss depends highly on his shooting percentage. Meaning, we loose when he's not shooting well. We need someone else to step up in those situations. More importantly, Collins needs to lead the team and support his teammates to step up in those situations.

jaybate 10 years, 10 months ago

I have never seen this board so hooked on mood swings. Its like posting in a fat retreat for women with hormone imbalances.

Losing this tourney will probably turn out to be the best thing that could have happened to them.

They will have time to heal up.

They will not have to play one of those infuriating mid-major serial-picking offenses.

They will play a legitimate D1 team who will try to take them head up and they will beat them.

Everyone will resume focusing on the good things.

Theutus will not call anyone a hypocrite until the next loss. :-)

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