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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Keegan

Rematch looks promising

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KU vs. Michigan State

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Complete coverage of KU's third NCAA match-up of 2009.

Few things make a sports columnist feel cheesier than writing nice words about the local coach, especially one as celebrated as Bill Self. So when it’s unavoidable to do so, the easy route involves stepping out of the way to let the numbers do the talking.

Fasten your seat belt and digest this astonishing figure: When given an opportunity to avenge a loss from earlier in the season, Self has a 7-1 record in six years at Kansas.

“The reason a lot of times the record is good in rematch games is the return game is at home,” Self said. “In our guys’ mindset we know we didn’t take the same team we have now to the floor in East Lansing. That was not the Big 12 champion. It was a good team, but not one that has played to the level we’ve played at. They’re a better team, too. Here’s a team that goes 15-3 in the Big Ten.”

Sure, some of his 7-1 record has to do with losing to a school on its homecourt and then getting to play either in Allen Fieldhouse or at a neutral site. But that’s not always the case. Self’s team lost to Kansas State, 59-55, Jan. 14, 2006, in Lawrence. Kansas won the rematch March 4 in Manhattan, 66-52.

There’s more to Self’s success in rematches than the three most important factors in pitching and in real estate: location, location, location.

What the 7-1 record says about Self is that he’s a terrific counter-puncher. He knows how to tweak tactically and how to challenge players to do better the second time than they did the first time.

KU’s three prominent freshmen — Tyshawn Taylor, Marcus and Markieff Morris — combined for nine points in the first game against Michigan State and for five points in the tournament victory against Dayton. They’ll need to do better than that in Indianapolis and here’s guessing they will in the wake of Self calling each one into his office for a talk/challenge.

The Sweet 16 is packed with great counter-punchers. For example, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, during the time Self has been at Kansas, is 11-2 when given a chance to avenge a loss from earlier in the season.

Seven of the 16 remaining coaches have won at least one national title: Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski (3), UConn’s Jim Calhoun (2), Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim, Izzo, Louisville’s Rick Pitino, Self and North Carolina’s Roy Williams. Plus, John Calipari, the best active college basketball coach never to win a title, has his team in play for a return trip to the Final Four.

Here’s hoping Krzyzewski’s not offended at being mentioned on a list with a bunch of college basketball coaches. After all, as he told the world on that television commercial that used to play 50 times a day, “I don't look at myself as a basketball coach. I look at myself as a leader who happens to coach basketball.”

You’d think a leader as great as Coach K could find better things to do with his time than coach basketball. You know, like maybe fix the economy.

Anyway, the fact Michigan State dominated Kansas in January shouldn’t render Self’s 7-1 revenge record meaningless. On Feb. 25, 2006, in Austin, Kansas lost to Texas, 80-55. Not quite three weeks later, Self’s team avenged the loss with a 12-point victory.

KU ready to beat Michigan State? I think so.

Comments

Lance Hobson 10 years, 10 months ago

I hope the team comes out firing like we did against Carolina last year. I know we can win this game, but the story needs to be someone other than Cole or Sherron this time. MSU has the horses to key on those players and dare the rest of the team to step up.

MSU is scared, and they should be.

KUJayhawk70 10 years, 10 months ago

Thanks for the great observation. Now I am an even greater fan of Arizona vs. Louisville. Hoping for another rematch! Daniel Goering

Dirk Medema 10 years, 10 months ago

Fox has a couple interesting articles, one projecting KU in the final 4 with wins over MSU and Arizona, although the computers also project no-D UNC as the most likely NC. http://msn.foxsports.com/cbk/story/9377444/WhatIfSports:-Sweet-16-projected-winners

and another listing Sherron as the 6th best PG left in the tourney

http://msn.foxsports.com/cbk/story/9373220/Ranking-the-Sweet-16-teams-by-point-guards

Rock Chalk

Michael Auchard 10 years, 10 months ago

Keegan, two good points you were subtle with in this article. I liked the mockery of Coach K's quote about Obama. Also, that last line had to have been a jibe at Jason Whitlock's recent column. You hit the nail on the head here. Congrats.

KU1979 10 years, 10 months ago

Love the shot at Whitlock. Good job, Keegan!

KANSTUCKY 10 years, 10 months ago

Maybe I can congratulate Whitlock first hand on his moronic drivel... er, I mean inspirational article. Nice article Keegan. Who was the last team to beat us twice and how long ago was it?

CasperCorps 10 years, 10 months ago

Self can coach but he can't put the ball in the basket.. We need somebody to step up and start making some shots other then Cole and Sherron.. Play defense, play defense, play defense.. The Hawks have already played way above their heads all year and have already had a great season, thank guys.. Rockem Hawks!!

okjhok 10 years, 10 months ago

You know this team is going to be ready to play on Friday. When was the last time a KU team came into a game as the underdog and didn't perform? It rarely happens. Yes, it's a problem sometimes when we face lesser competition and don't bring the energy. But it's all worth it when these types of games come along, 'cause you know the Jayhawks are going to bring it! I only hope they're not too fired up. I can't wait for Friday...

Aaron Rosenthal 10 years, 10 months ago

Whitlock and Keegan both have fair points. KU is much, much better than on January 10. At the same time, nobody other than Aldrich and Collins looked especially good this past weekend.

Of course Taylor, Markieff, Marcus, Morningstar and Reed are capable of making big contributions Friday night. No question they're all tough-minded kids who will bring their competitive fire to the game. I love these kids and believe in their ability.

Whitlock's column was a little mean-spirited, which is sad when you're writing about kids. But his basic point that the role players' combined recent performance isn't good enough is legitimate. The beauty of sports is that none of that matters. All that does is how KU plays on Friday night. The players get the final word.

jaybate 10 years, 10 months ago

I wasn't able to enjoy Keegan's shot at Whitlock, because I don't read Whitlock. Why read Whitlock, when we have all these superior thinkers that post regularly here, plus journalists that are a least Whitlock's equal? This gets at the heart of journalism's problem in the internet age. There are better analysts, who can be more forthright (because they don't need to worry about access), among the posters than among the professional journalists.

Why?

Because professional journalists only get to spend a small portion of their time on KU basketball. They have to cover everything. Because they have to worry about office politics. Because they have to write what their bosses want them to write. Because they have to spend time on fitting the hardcopy word length in their writing. Beause they have to write in ways so that their editors won't mangle what they say. Because they have to go to meetings and conferences about all kinds of junk that posters don't have to go to. Because posters just get to focus on what they love--KU basketball--and think what they want and write what they want, when they want, rather than on deadline. Posters can post in a moment while at their jobs, or late at night, or whenever it suits them. No deadlines. They don't have to post, if they don't want to post. Personally, I have set myself a goal to post every day to see if I can keep up with the pros. I have even tried to exceed their column inches to see if a poster can out produce them...not in quality, just in quantity. But I am the exeption here. Most posters like to keep it short and sweet and to the point. Most posters can't write fast, and so they have to write efficiently. The short post is, frankly, the new form of the new journalism that is online journalism. The hard copy length news story/commentary is the dinosaur that keeps hanging on long after the meteor of the internet hit journalism and began the extinction of many of the conventions and business models of professional journalism.

jaybate 10 years, 10 months ago

Posters are not burdened with fulfilling the increasingly irrelevant traditional forms of journalism writing. Most posters here never write more than 4 or five sentences. Occassionally some will write a few hundred words. I and a few others are about the only posters who frequently go on at length and I am always doing so mostly to experiment with the form, not because it is necessary. Sometimes I write one sentence posts (which I rarely get credit for by the way). Sometimes I intentionally try to go longer than the professional journalists. Sometimes I try to take what they do and invert it. Sometimes I turn it into a critique of their writing. Sometimes I explore the nature of what it is to be a sports journalist. Sometimes I am doing spoofs and lampoons of others, or myself. Sooner or later I will explore what it means to be a poster, but I just don't know a hypothesis yet, much less an answer. Posting is all so much more in the moment and so much less calculated and thought out than professional journalism. If journalism is history in a minute, as the old saying goes, posting is history in a second.

Now consider what the professionals are doing. Some of them are far the better technical writers than any of the posters here, though to be fair, some are not, and the pros do have the benefit of an editor cleaning up their copy (at least some of the time). The pros are clearly better at getting interviews and maintaining access; that is something posters do not even try to do yet (and probably never will) until the papers wake up an start paying us as stringers (that is the future of this I believe, though the payment may be in the form of reduced access costs rather than hard cash. Professional journalism has always used paid stringers and we posters are nothing if not unpaid stringers at present.). And the professionals do a pretty fair job of writing stories that set the topic of discourse for a day, though here again, when the pros write really boring stories (as happens about a third of the time), the posters almost always save the day by high jacking the thread and running with it in a fresh direction.

But what the pros don't do is more interesting to me, anyway.

The pros never write three sentence stories the way the posters do, though good old Newell is nibbling around the edges of this in Newell Live. He is basically paragraphing the game, but he has not yet mastered the combination of paragraphing description and commentary simultaneously in the moment. If he masters this, he will make the journalistic break through of the decade and become an entertainer/journalist on the order of Dickie V on TV. Actually, as I think about it, Newell really needs a Dickie V commentator paragraphing commentary right along with his paragraphs of what happened; that would be awesome internet theater that would be worth keeping open in one window, while I watch the game in the ESPN360 stream in the other window. Do it Newell! Keegs, do it!!!

jaybate 10 years, 10 months ago

But back to what the pros are not doing...

They never cut right to the heart of the matter and leave it at that. And alternatively, they never really go on at much length and get really deeply into any subject either.

Most of the column inches come from posters thinking and writing short. No puffery. No stroking coaches or players to maintain access. Just pow! Here's what I think.

Posts are journalism without a monkey on its back. They may be stupid at times, but good lord, half the commentary by Mayer and 9 of 10 of the commentaries by Woodling are more dopey than the posts. And I actually enjoy reading Mayer and some of Woodlings, so I am not hating on either man. Keegan and Bedore are pros who can fill the envelope pretty consistently without being dopey. Jewell is on his way, but he's in this limbo of transition from hard copy to online journalism. He's finding his way, but you know he's going to be very good eventually.

The posts by the amateurs may be barely understandable at times, but they are potato chips without the huge air space in the package dreamed up to market the product of journalism. They are just the potato chips--not the air space, and not the package.

This is why I like them.

The pros and the posters combine to make a pretty interesting team. They each bring what they other does not. We have a symbiotic relationship forming.

But I would like to see the pros let the air out of their writing forms a bit for the online community. The probably can't right now, because they are still writing first for hard copy, where they need to fill a certain number of column inches to avoid blank spots on the page. But, really, online, their stories often look like over sized potato chip bags. It doesn't hurt anything, but the arbitrary length of their work just isn't organic to the online medium. I believe the pro's could be much more interesting if they were to jettison the hard copy constraints of length. A short good story is just as exciting as a good hard copy length story. A huge good story is just as good as a good hard copy length story. The story is the thing.

Professional journalists of the world. Cast off your chains. You have nothing to lose but your hard copy lengths! :-)

Go short. Go long. The era of the mid range game in journalism may be as dead as the mid range game is in basketball.

Don Whiteley 10 years, 10 months ago

Self-coached teams always play better against favored opponents than they do the little guys, but if the Jayhawks think they can go up against Michigan State and shoot as badly as they did against Dayton; look for a 25-30 point blowout.

Tim Bingaman 10 years, 10 months ago

Interesting Stats... We are avenging the MSU loss. Would be more interesting to hear about MSU beating a team a second time, which would be the case here.

In order to avenge every possible loss it needs to break down like this... MSU, Arizona, Mizzou (in the final four might be a Muckin Fajor slim chance), Oklahoma (repeat with Cole's lover, Blake G!)

That would be a vigilante run people!

4mertiger 10 years, 10 months ago

Jaybate: You're a long-winded idiot. You may take pride in yapping on forever, but you shouldn't. You're just a bore, not an expert commentator.

jaybate 10 years, 10 months ago

4mertiger,

Wrong-side-of-bed kind of a day, eh?

Regardless, you have made my day.

I can hold my head high knowing I will never be a "4mertiger."

Ain't life grand? ;-)

krocker 10 years, 10 months ago

First, I'm a Sparty, but I'm not the kind that goes on other boards to trash talk. I like to hear the story from both sides. A few thoughts on the rematch:

(1) I was at the regular season game. My honest opinion, Kansas was getting the short end on a lot of calls.

(2) Aldrich was a beast for much of the first half until little used Idong Ibok mostly neutralized him. He is a big, strong, long-armed defensive specialist, but Self won't be surprised to see him this time around.

(3) Collins was smacked in the mouth early and missed quite a few minutes in the first half getting the bleeding under control. He played angry, and pretty well, when he returned. I expect him to have a good game, remembering that incident (and a few of the chants from the Izzone -- which is mostly great, but you always have a few in every crowd). A huge key to the outcome will be the Walton/Collins match-up.

(4) There won't be many surprises, given the earlier contest and Self's tenure in the Big 10. It's going to come down to execution, turnovers, and how tight the officials call it.

(5) Both teams are better. I haven't seen much of KU since, but you've obviously turned it up a notch. MSU has had spurts of greatness, then long stretches where you're left scratching your head. If MSU plays to their potential, they will be very tough to beat. If they don't, I look for a KU win. I went back and forth on my bracket on this game, basically a toss-up. I picked MSU because I'm a homer, and because Indy has been good to us in the past.

Should be a good one on Friday.

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