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Saturday, March 14, 2009

At least one bracket has KU in K.C.

Kansas guard Sherron Collins walks back to the bench during a timeout late in the second half against Baylor Thursday, March 12, 2009 at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City.

Kansas guard Sherron Collins walks back to the bench during a timeout late in the second half against Baylor Thursday, March 12, 2009 at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City.

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Jayhawks await NCAA tourney status

KU fans received an unexpected performance yesterday afternoon from the Kansas men's basketball team. Baylor defeated Kansas 71-64.

There’s still hope for Kansas University basketball fans who hope to watch the Jayhawks play one or two NCAA Tournament games in Kansas City, Mo., next week.

One prominent “bracketologist” — ESPN’s Joe Lunardi — as of Friday night had the Jayhawks placed as a No. 2 seed in K.C.’s Sprint Center, even after Thursday’s Big 12 quarterfinal loss to Baylor. He had Oklahoma headed to Minneapolis as a No. 3 seed and Missouri off to Miami as a No. 4 seed.

Of course, bracket projections change minute to minute this time of year, with Lunardi free to change his mind at any time — so one might early and often check his brackets at ESPN.com.

“A No. 2 or 3 seed in Kansas City,” Lunardi said, asked his opinion of KU’s tournament fate in his Friday chat on ESPN.com.

“Why the love for Kansas over a team like Washington?” he was asked by a fan.

“Because Kansas is better and has WAY better wins,” Lunardi stated.

Meanwhile, CBSsportsline.com and collegerpi.com on Friday both had KU as a No. 3 seed heading to Minneapolis, with Oklahoma and Memphis earning 2 seeds in K.C.

“That’s the great thing about the NCAA Tournament ... wherever you land, it’s going to be tough,” KU sophomore guard Tyrel Reed said. “We’re going to try to get better from a couple days of practice and try to get out of this funk.”

KU has dropped two of its last three games heading into Selection Sunday.

The Jayhawks took their 71-64 loss to Baylor especially hard.

“It’s definitely going to be tough watching all the other tournaments going on knowing we’re home, sitting down, not doing anything,” sophomore guard Brady Morningstar said. “It’s just an embarrassment to our program and our school how we let a lot of people down.”

Embarrassment might be too strong a word, considering the Jayhawks, who lost all five starters off last year’s title team, still possess a 25-7 record with a regular-season title to their credit.

“It’s tough to wait (for Sunday) because we’re not playing. We all wanted to be playing. Things happen,” junior Sherron Collins said.

“It all comes down to what we do from here, guys saying, ‘This is tough. We can’t let this happen again,’’’ sophomore Cole Aldrich said. “If it happens again, we’re going home for good.”

• Three explosions in row: KU’s proud defense has been burned by one individual player in its last three games.

Guard LaceDarius Dunn scored 24 points (six of 11 threes) on Thursday; forward Damion James had 26 points in KU’s 83-73 victory over Texas on March 7; and Alan Voskuil scored 35 points off 9-of-14 three-point shooting in Texas Tech’s 84-65 victory over KU on March 4.

“I thought Damion James killed us Saturday and Voskuil obviously in Lubbock,” KU coach Bill Self said. “But we knew how to guard Dunn and did not guard him the way he should be defended. He is a good shooter and good player. We let him get comfortable. It’s very, very discouraging. It’s something you tried to hang your hat on (defense), and something we did a very poor job of.”

• They’ll bounce back: Self doesn’t think it’ll be hard to prepare the team mentally for the NCAAs.

“We’re not very tough if we can’t come back from this,” Self said of the first-round loss. “You shouldn’t base your entire psyche or confidence level on one game. I think we probably got some confidence over time. But, I mean, we did a bad job (vs. Baylor) as a group so we had some individuals not play very well.”

Comments

LAJayhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

The popular consensus around these boards is that we will fall to a 4 seed. I'm fairly convinced that we will end up a 3. Our resume supports that.

“'Why the love for Kansas over a team like Washington?' he was asked by a fan. 'Because Kansas is better and has WAY better wins,' Lunardi stated."

Uh, yeah, including a win over Washington.

There's also the fact that the PAC 10 stinks.

Our biggest problem the last several games has been perimeter defense. Opposing guards have been able to do pretty much whatever they want against us. They killed us in Tech (73% of the scoring), and it seems the scouting report against us is to screen the ball-handler and let the dribbler split the screen. Happens over and over. These guards are getting to the paint with alarming frequency which, of course, creates greater stress on the bigs and tends to cause foul trouble. Our bigs are certainly a part of that problem; they need to cut off the dribbler and force a solid double team. On top of that, our help-side defense has been fairly atrocious as of late. When the double team actually occurs, the weak-side block is constantly open. That, to me, is the biggest sign that the aggressiveness hasn't been there overall. Even when you're not shooting well, the lock down defense should be a guarantee.

Here's hoping the latest loss will shake things up.

jaybate 10 years, 10 months ago

If Cole's foot doesn't improve, we are done, regardless of where we are seeded, where we play and whom we play.

A down the middle team cannot survive without its post man and its PG playing well.

Cole was getting ripped by Pittman, not because Pittman was so big, but because Cole's mobility is hampered. Had KU not been very hot against Texas, KU would now be 0-3.

Cole's injury not only hampers Cole's offense and defense, it hampers the team's offense and defense.

Our perimeter defenders have ridden the coat tails, er, make that the wing span, of The Condor all season. When he is his full self defensively, our short perimeter defenders can play much more aggressively on the perimeter, because they know Cole will cover when they are beaten. When he is not able to cover their mistakes, they have to play much more cautiously on the perimeter, defending, instead of attacking on defense.

On offense, he just can't get open to get the ball on a consistent basis. He's not demanding the ball, because he knows he often can't do much with it when he gets it. When a post man does not demand the ball, then the perimeter players, several of whom are not very good post feeders, quit trying to feed it. When this happens, the perimeter players get it in Sherron's hands ASAP and KU becomes one dimensional.

This KU team is a fiddle strung one way--down the middle. Without a solid Cole/Sherron axis, our perimeter player's athletic and/or skill limitations manifest.

Cole, I hope your foot is better.

rockchalk79 10 years, 10 months ago

The reason we suffer on the perimeter is that Brady and Tyrel's lack of height and athletic ability is catching up with us. They are both 2 guards trying to play the 3 and they are not suited for it. If we want to contend we need to move to taller more athletic line up with TT and Sherron at guards, Little and or Releford at the 3 and Cole, MarcM, MarkM down low. I know HCBS is smarter than me but I would love to see two bigs and little at the 3 and see how the team plays.

I know this means our defensive stopper Brady dosn't play much but if you watch he is a liability on the defensive end. He gets burt constantly and in turn the Morris twins pick up stupid fouls trying to block shots.

The major difference I see between this team and last years is the lack of athletic ability at the 3. BRush on this team would make all the difference. If we land Lance Stephenson I see him taking the minutes and making us a major contender next year.

Thoughts?

KEITHMILES05 10 years, 10 months ago

A win over Washington? Please you fool, stop it.

We beat Texas, OSU, A&M, Missouri at home, and OKALAHOMA.

That accounts for alot.

This team needs to man up and bring it every second of the game. Stop this stupid thinking "we can get down and come back."

This is the end of the season. You are men. Act like it.

AnotherKUfan 10 years, 10 months ago

Rockchalk79 is right. Our perimeter defense does suffer due to the height of our swing (3 man). I have also wondered why so many fans feel that Morningstar is a great defender. I know Self has said that he is a good defender however, that is coach speak. Morningstar and Reed are average defenders. Don't get me wrong, I like the kids and the Jayhawks would be lost (This year) without their outside shooting. They hussle and are good chasing most perimeter shooters (Per Morningstar on JJ Abrams), however they are missing the key ability that most GREAT defenders have....the ability to stop dribble penetration. For this reason we will continue to see Releford play more meaningful minutes when defensive stops is of great importance. As Releford continues to understand what Self wants, and improve his shooting ability, he will average 20 -25 minutes per game. I think this will happen by Big 12 season next year.

yates33333 10 years, 10 months ago

Good analysis and advice Jaybate.

I don't understand Keithmiles05 last two paragraphs. What do you mean?

Chris Corley 10 years, 10 months ago

Great post Jaybate. I couldn't agree more. Does anyone know the extent of Cole's injury? The program seems to be down-playing it quite a bit. Whatever the status, this extra rest can only do Cole's foot good.

I just hope that the team takes this time to get angry and hungry instead of down and out. I want to see their first round opponent to walk into a buzz saw.

Good luck 'Hawks! We are with you all the way!

jayhawkinATL 10 years, 10 months ago

That would be sweet for the 'hawks to get a No. 2 seed, but I'm not holding my breath. I think it's a loooooooong shot!!!

WilburNether 10 years, 10 months ago

Morningstar is NOT a "defensive stopper" or "a great defender." If he were either or those, a Voskuil would not hit 9 3-pointers on his way to 35, and a Dunn would not hit 6-11 on his way to 24. Morningstar is adequate, some of the time, and completely inadequate much of the time. He is playing only because Little has been hampered the entire season by injuries and trying to recover from them, and Self feels he has no better alternative. Morningstar and Reed are nice Kansas kids, and we all want to see them do well, but they have no business playing major minutes on an upper-echelon Division I team. As was the case with Moody, Self is playing them not because they are great talents, but because he simply does not have a better alternative at this time.

If there were no such thing as early entry into the NBA draft, would anyone be so foolish as to contend that they would not be sitting at the end of the bench, while a couple of guys named Rush and Chalmers were out on the court? Now those guys were great defenders.

lance1jhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

Great post jaybate... I couldn't agree more.

Cole has been wearing a protective boot on his foot since December, while on campus. I'm a little concerned that he has a stress fracture down there or something. Sounds like Cole might be headed for off-season surgery to repair whatever it is that has been slowing him down. I'm also assuming that Cole will be back next year due to this mysterious injury.

Cedric Spire 10 years, 10 months ago

A big issue with this team is we don't and can't pressure the perimeter. We don't create turnovers so the line is very fine and when Collins and or Cole lay an egg we are in trouble.

Jfanallways 10 years, 10 months ago

anyone remember that appleton had the flu? is it possible that maybe some others are or were under the weather this week and last? i noticed cole sat for long periods of time during the TT game and didnt look normal maybe that might explain some of the lack of intensity by the team lately

kennethst 10 years, 10 months ago

Some of these rants truly amaze me......why don't some of you just quit your jobs and become Div 1 coaches?? Or actually maybe you should play in the NBA since you seem to know so much.

Reality is most of you know nothing about the sport of basketball......and I can guarantee you know absolutely nothing about what's in the hearts and minds of these kids. Stop being so critical. Guess what.....thet are human....they make mistakes......and they don't exist just so you can get a thrill watching them win basketball games.

Wow.....some of you really need to get a life!!!

Dale Kroening 10 years, 10 months ago

KEITHMILES05 (anonymous) says... A win over Washington? Please you fool, stop it.

Um Keith look at the schedule fool. We did beat Washington on 11/24. The score was 73-54.

Eliott Reeder 10 years, 10 months ago

Why do 75% of the major contributors from the KU roster over the past few years inevitably get some sort of stress fracture during their careers? Isn't it a bit uncanny? Is there something wrong with the practice court? Does Self actually run them THAT hard? I just don't see this high of a percentage of stress fractures among other D1 programs. And I don't remember Roy's players having them either. Is it just an "en vogue" diagnosis or what? Somebody with some sports science/physical therapy knowledge help me out here...

jaybate 10 years, 10 months ago

WilburNether,

You assert, rightfully, that Brady Morningstar is not as good of a defender as BRush and Chalmers.

It is also worth noting that Mario Chalmers wasn't 3/4s the defender that BRush was. Rush not infrequently had to move over and take over Chalmers' man, when he could not stop him (e.g., Aaron Afflalo).

But neither, I might add, are Mario Little, or Tyshawn Taylor, or Tyrone Appleton, or Conner Teahan et al. All have been given ample minutes (except maybe Appleton) to show that they can defend like Chalmers, but they haven't. Little is especially a let down, because he was supposed to be a lock down defender and he has not only not locked down, he has shown himself to be foul prone and not that quick on his feet regardless of whether he has guarded 4s or 3s.

Frankly, Cole Aldrich isn't 1/2 the center Wilt Chamberlain was.

Danny Manning wasn't 3/4s the center Wilt Chamberlain was.

Sherron Collins isn't half the PG Magic Johnson, and as some have pointed out, he may not be 7/8s the point guard Darnell Valentine was.

Tyshawn isn't half the 2 guard that Kirk Hinrich was...yet anyway.

Tyshawn isn't half the dribbler Jo Jo White was, nor half the stripper, nor half the defender.

My point obviously is: a player, like Brady, or Tyrel, or Cole, or Sherron, or Tyshawn, are always playing, because they are the best the coach has. Let me repeat that: they are the best the coach has. Brady is better than Little at the 3 by every yard stick. Little isn't injured anymore supposedly. Little hasn't shown any indication of being better than Brady at the three in anything but rebounding, and Little really hasn't overwhelmed anyone with his rebounding, because most of the time his footwork on defense is so JUCO, that he can't stay out of foul trouble long enough to go get some boards.

Coach Self always plays the best he has and among the role players, he always plays those that compliment the anchor players the best.

jaybate 10 years, 10 months ago

Players play, not because they are the best there ever was, or because they meet the WilburNether D1 Basketball Stopper criteria, but for the reasons I stated above.

So: the statement that they are playing only because Self has nothing better is more or less meaningless, like Cole is playing only because we don't have a Danny Manning caliber center, which you have to have to win a ring, if you don't have BRush and MChalmers caliber players elsewhere.

We could take this farther. The only reason Bill Self is coaching is that John Wooden is too old to take over KU and win 10 rings in 11 years. Wooden is the kind of guy you have to have to win several consecutive rings and, especially, to win them in reloading years, like this one Self has labored so brilliantly through. This guy Self is only coaching, because we couldn't get Wooden, or whomever else you want to name that has more rings than Bill Self.

Brady Morningstar is a darned good D1 basketball player. If we don't land an OAD like Stephenson, he may well become a much bigger scorer. Self calls him an excellent defender. Basically, when you did Morningstar's defense, you are saying Self doesn't know what good defense is.

Morningstar has proven again and again that he can defend against top notch competition. If he has faltered late, again, it is wise to look to obvious causes first. Cole is obviously sub par and weakening team defense. Brady has played Herculean minutes for a guy playing his first season of D1 hoops. Compare Taylor's time and performance to Brady's. Taylor is up and down, some nights there, some nights not. Some nights he is turning the ball over, some nights not. Brady has shown up every night and never killed us with mistakes and TOs. He has had only a couple of nights when he couldn't bring it and needed to be benched. All players have those nights. Again, if Morningstar truly were faltering at the end of the season, it would mostly likely be because of an injury not being reported. He's already proven himself countless times. You don't suddenly lose the ability to play excellent D1 defense of the kind he has shown out of the blue. Either you can or you can't play it. He has played it. If he isn't doing it now, there is a reason other than that he is 6'3" tall and with a cut of jib that does not suit your fancy.

Get off this guy's case. Harping on him being inadequate for D1 is obtuse. When are you going to wake up and note that none of the many high grade perimeter players Self has pursued have come here, because they look at KU's perimeter players and say, "Less competition elsewhere." If Brady and Reed and Tyshawn were as weak as you often imply, all these OADs would be coming to KU, because these chumps we have couldn't possibly beat them out.

bigjay83 10 years, 10 months ago

Great post, LAJayhawk, couldn't agree more. Defensive guard play has definitely been lacking for the past several weeks, and the aggressiveness hasn't been there.

Jfanallways 10 years, 10 months ago

anyone think a baylor win over misery would give us any chance at a 2 seed?

Chris Corley 10 years, 10 months ago

kennethst...I agree with some of your post. Especially when it comes to Sherron or Cole bashing. As far as I'm concerned, those two have built up a virtually inexhaustible supply of Rock Chalk equity. Cole earned his by handling Hansbrough in the Final Four. Sherron earned his with the steal and 3 against Memphis in the Championship game.

Remember, we won a National Championship last year. A championship that we had all been thirsting for for 20 years. And those guys we a big part of getting it.

rockchalk79 10 years, 10 months ago

Jaybate,

I wasn't ripping on Brady. I am just stating that he is overmatched at the 3 spot and it seems to me a bigger athletic player would do us some good on the perimeter.

I also know if we had a bigger more athletic player to put in that spot they would probably already be there. The real point is that if we can land a lock down 6'5" defender and scorer (aka Lance Stephenson) at the 3 spot we will be amazing next year.

That will also mean that Brady and Tyrel will have to accept playing sparingly in a back up role.

lagnaf 10 years, 10 months ago

Lagnaf...Long ago commentators and coaches said Reed can't play without significantly improving his defense. Who defended the last shot at Missouri?? Reed...why? No one else I imagine Self trusted...and let's spot another issue...who is a dependable #3 scorer, and good for how many??

jsatt93 10 years, 10 months ago

a #2 seed in k.c. is the best case scenario for ku

jayhawkinATL 10 years, 10 months ago

I do recall during the Williams' years a number of players suffering from back issues.

jaybate 10 years, 10 months ago

rockchalk79,

So noted about your not ripping.

Re: Stephenson--I recall him being a point guard prospect, or a two guard, so him coming would not curtail Brady's minutes at all.

And it is quite doubtful Stephenson would come if Sherron were to return, so the chances of him coming and moving to the 2 or 3 seem minimal, as well.

But if Stephenson came and agreed to play the three (which he won't), Self would be nuts not to move Brady to the two, give the tough defensive assignments to Stephenson (if he's as good of a defender as Brady, which would almost certainly not be the case based on the defense of most incoming freshman), and green-light Brady to shoot the trey every chance he gets. Morningstar shoots 45% from the trey stripe; that's better than Chalmers and Rush; that's better than Hinrich. You just aren't getting how good Morningstar is. Playing the 2 guard, and not having to defend the best perimeter defender, Brady could easily score 15 ppg just popping the triceratop. There is absolutely no chance that Self sits a guy who can play perimeter defense and shoot 45% from trifectaville--none, zero, zippo, zilch. Wait, there is one chance. If he finds another guy who is bigger and stronger and faster and a better jumper, who can defend the opponent's best perimeter scorer, make almost no TOs, and shoot 45% from trifectaville. Now: who among all the OADs Self has recruited, or tried to recruit, can do the above? Probably none of them, except Xavier Henry.

The moment Brady shot 45% and defended the best perimeter defender consistently without making turnovers for around 30 mpg, he not only separated himself from who is here, but from who is coming, unless its another Brandon Rush. Do you see one of those coming that I do not?

LAJayhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

If you're comparing season by season, then Brady is not shooting better than Hinrich.

Brady, as a sophomore, is shooting 43.6% from 3 Hinrich, as a sophomore, shot 50.5% from 3

Hinrich also shot 47.8% his junior year.

If you're comparing career numbers, well that's not really fair because Brady is only half done (and only really has had 1 season of true play). BUT Hinrich shot 43.0% for his career at Kansas, which is basically dead even with Morningstar. Good idea to check the stats before making that statement.

Regardless, 43.6% is very good (better than a 60% FG percentage).

Tony Bandle 10 years, 10 months ago

KU in KC??? Not in this year. In the NCAA, it's all about the money. Take a look at whose fans travel well, Oklahoma, Memphis, Missouri and Kansas.....It's KU all the way. If KU scheduled a game in Tibet behind the Dahli Lhama's Palace, KU Nation would find a way to be there.

Thus the travel wimps, OU MU and M will be assigned the easy road to KC and KU will get Minneapolis or Boise or some other God awful city. Bet on it.

I agree with Jaybate regarding Condor's lack of mobility killing us in the center. Gosh I wish Withey were eligible..the paint would become no-man's land for our foes and all of my friend, poster, "100" dreams would come true :}

But I also agree with Wilbur Nether in that Morningstar and Reed when matched against truly elite athletes, are over-matched. This in no way denigrates their effort, their heart or their spirit. Their passion is essential for the winning attitude on the team, but if your on a man as good as or better than you and he is several inches taller let's say, your at a great disadvantage.

Jaybate has summed it up, however, in that unless the motor [Collins] and the wings [Aldrich} are functioning at peak performance, Jet Jayhawk is going to probably return to the hanger till next season.

jaybate 10 years, 10 months ago

LAJayhawk,

Thanks for catching my error on Hinrich. I had recently researched Kirk's stats for all his years for a post comparing he, White, and Valentine vs. Sherron a week ago. I mistakenly recalled Kirk's career average instead of his sophmore stat.

Thanks also for catching my error on Brady. A week ago (the last time I had looked), his average was about 45%, but by now he has fallen to 43.6%.

Regardless, calling my attention to this caused me to revisit Hinrich's numbers (to find in deed you were correct) and in turn to note an interesting analytical problem with comparing Hinrich with Morningstar, which I shall elucidate and leave for you and others to decide.

a. Kirk never played the 3, so perhaps I was unwise to compare him to Brady at all. :-)

b. Kirk was never redshirted, while Brady was, which perhaps clouds the water on comparing them fairly.

c. During Kirk's first season of actually getting playing time (his freshman year), he played only about 21mpg and shot only about 31% from three, whereas during Brady's first season of getting actual playing time (his sophomore year after a redshirt), Brady played about 32 mpg and shot 43.6%. Question: do we compare Brady's sophmore year shooting to Kirk's freshman year shooting, as these were the first years both played significant minutes? If we do, then Brady comes off much the better shooter.

d. During Kirk's second season of playing a lot, he played about the same minutes per game that Brady has played in this Brady's first season of getting significant minutes (about 32mpg). Kirk shot a scorching 50% from trey, where as Brady has "only" shot 43.6%. But is it apples and apples to compare Brady's shooting percentage in his first season of playing significant minutes with Kirk's second season of playing significant minutes? Kirk, afterall, improved from 31% to 50% between his first and second seasons of playing significant minutes; that is an improvement of about 61.2%. Perhaps comparing Brady's shooting in his first season of playing significant minutes to Kirk's shooting in Kirk's second is drastically short-changing Brady.

As Kirk's shooting percentage from trey had a sizeable variance (31%, 50%, 47%, 40%), it is probably just too soon to say whether Kirk was a better shooter than Brady is, or vice versa. We'll have to wait and see how Brady does the next two years. But in the interim, if we compare them both on their first years of significant minutes played, Brady has jumped out to a considerable early lead already--43.6% vs. 31%.

But if we compare them based on their first year's as full-time starters, Kirk gets the nod--50% to 43.6%.

Ah, statistics. You really can say almost anything with them, can't you? ;-)

LAJayhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

Actually I would say this is more accurate:

statistics, you can manipulate almost anything with them.

You're better off going with this phrase of yours: "perhaps I was unwise to compare him to Brady at all."

Morningstar did play some his Freshman year, and he had an entire EXTRA year to work on his jump shot. That time can make a huge difference (I know from experience). Add to that the fact that he's a 23-year-old sophomore, and you have a guy who has had a tremendous amount of time to become efficient from the outside. Hinrich didn't get those opportunities.

On the other hand, Hinrich got to play with Gooden and Collison, two All-Americans who opened up the floor for him to have more open shots. Morningstar doesn't have that (at least yet -- Aldrich hasn't reached Gooden and Collison levels, and there's only one of him).

On yet another hand, Morningstar has Sherron Collins, a devastating guard who can shred any defense and will draw people to him with the ability to dish it out for a Brady wide-open three. Brady has Collins to do the dirty work for him. Hinrich didn't have that.

Plus they played different positions.

You're right, it's better not to compare.

That being said, I hope Brady will end his career shooting near 50%. That would be enormous for Jayhawk nation.

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