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Friday, March 27, 2009

Ready for rematch

Jayhawks expecting physical matchup

Kansas head coach Bill Self and center Cole Aldrich laugh during practice Thursday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Kansas head coach Bill Self and center Cole Aldrich laugh during practice Thursday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

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KU faces several tests Friday in Indianapolis

The Kansas University men's basketball team will play under some strange conditions in Friday's Sweet 16 game in Indianapolis: On a basketball court placed at the center of a football court, raised three feet off the ground. Plus, Michigan State already defeated KU this season.

— Kansas University basketball big-man coach Danny Manning met with walk-on center Matt Kleinmann prior to Tuesday’s practice in Allen Fieldhouse.

‘“(Tick) him off. Just (tick) him off,” Kleinmann said of his working orders on how best to prepare Cole Aldrich for what he’s to face in the Sweet 16 today against ultra-physical Michigan State (8:37 p.m., Lucas Oil Stadium).

“Coach Manning said, ‘Lean on him. Be physical with him. Push him as hard as you can.’

“I told Cole, ‘I’m going to annoy you.’ That was my one warning to him. That I was going to push him, knee him, kick him, elbow him as much as I could all week.”

Kleinmann’s work culminated in a Thursday morning practice at the Indiana Pacers’ training facility in which the Jayhawks, according to coach Bill Self, “went as hard as we have all year.”

“I feel like I’ve been in a wrestling ring with him (Aldrich),” said Kleinmann, 6-foot-10, 250 pounds.

Aldrich realizes the pushing, shoving and clawing at practice has been with his best interests in mind.

In all, six Spartans guarded the 6-foot-11, 245-pound Aldrich in KU’s 75-62 loss to the Spartans on Jan. 10 at Breslin Center in East Lansing, Mich.

“They threw everybody at me,” Aldrich said of a game in which he scored 14 points off 4-of-9 shooting (six of eight from the line) and grabbed 11 rebounds in 36 minutes.

“Let’s see … there was Delvon Roe, (Idong) Ibok, (Goran) Suton, (Marquise) Gray,” he said of specific Spartans who took turns on him.

“I’m missing two. I can’t think of them all, there were so many,” added Aldrich, who also was harassed by Draymond Green and Raymar Morgan.

“They are big, strong, physical, will bang on you down low, try to wear you out. They love to run. They crash the boards, get their hands on everything. Playing against big, strong teams like (Tom) Izzo’s ... it’s fun.”

Coincidentally, the defensive plan Aldrich will face tonight is one the Jayhawks used to perfection last year in the Final Four.

“Against Tyler Hansbrough, we threw as many big bodies as we could at him,” Kleinmann said of North Carolina’s big man, who had his hands full with Sasha Kaun, Darrell Arthur, Darnell Jackson and Aldrich in the Jayhawks’ semifinal victory.

“You saw how that turned out,” Kleinmann added. “It’s pretty good strategy. You’ve got guys with fresh legs. You tell them, ‘You are only going to be in the game for 10 minutes, so push him (Aldrich), make him tired.’ It’s an effective strategy.”

Aldrich — he’s coming off last Sunday’s triple-double against Dayton — insists he and his teammates will be ready for tonight’s challenge.

“I think we can take a lot from the first time we played them,” Aldrich said. “Our offense really struggled until the 12-minute mark. We had problems in transition. They really get back on defense. We feel we’ve improved a lot since then, and I’m sure they have, too. I just see it as a fun game.”

KU coach Self says the No. 3-seeded Jayhawks (27-7) need to play as hard as they have all season to stand a chance of downing the No. 2 seed Spartans (28-6).

That’s the reason for this week’s intense practices, ones that have included the hard knocks inside on Aldrich.

“One thing we’ve tried to accomplish at practice is to get the guys to realize how tough and strong Michigan State is, how tough they are on the glass,” Self said. “They whipped us on the glass that first game.”

Michigan State, which is the nation’s top rebounding team (10.1 margin to KU’s 7.2) outboarded the Jayhawks, 42-31.

“Boxing out is 25 to 50 percent of it,” Self said of the key to rebounding tonight. “The other part is having guys that are relentless on the glass, (with) want-to, not allowing yourself to get blocked out and hitting somebody, going after every ball with two hands.

“Tom (Izzo) over time has done the best job in America of coaching rebounding, and their stats back it up. Against them, you have to go attack the ball. You have to hit and go as opposed to hit and wait.”

Of course, Self believes his big man will respond to the challenge. Aldrich had 20 boards Sunday against Dayton.

“I haven’t had anybody like Cole that’s come this fast,” Self said of the sophomore who averages 14.8 points and 11.0 rebounds. “The thing about Cole is, he’s not even strong yet. He still needs a ton of lower-body strength. He’s just developing, his offensive repertoire, his game. He hasn’t come close to reaching his ceiling. It’s exciting.

“I’ve only been around one true big guy that could impact the college game like him, and that was ‘Big Country’ (Bryant Reeves) at Oklahoma State. Cole has a chance to be the best big guy I’ve been around that is a true center.”

Of course, it’s not only about Aldrich tonight.

Sherron Collins, who scored 57 points and had 10 assists against just two turnovers in first- and second-round victories over North Dakota State and Dayton last week in Minneapolis, is the other half of KU’s dynamic duo.

Collins had 25 points, eight assists against eight turnovers versus MSU in East Lansing.

“It’s going to be a tough game. I like games with contact, to hit and get hit,” Collins said.

Self doesn’t know how well Collins will play in the MSU rematch, but he does know the junior will show up with fire.

“The day before we played Memphis last year, I asked Sherron, ‘Who can guard (Derrick) Rose?’ He said, ‘I can.’ I said, ‘No, you’re too little. He’ll post you,’’’ Self related.

“He said, ‘No, I can guard him.’ I said, ‘We’re going to have to probably put somebody a little bigger, stronger, tougher on him.’ He said, ‘Watch, just put me on him.’ That’s how he operates.

“He defended him pretty well. He didn’t shut him out, but certainly for 30 minutes defended him very, very well.”

As far as guys not named Collins and Aldrich, Self, who had one-on-one chats with Tyshawn Taylor and the Morris twins this week, thinks KU’s supporting cast will be ready.

“Our team is young, naive, green,” Self said. “It’s been fun to see them go through this. The focus has been great. Hopefully we play relaxed and play well.”

Comments

jayhawkarmy 10 years, 10 months ago

All i can say is lets kicks some ass! GO HAWKS WE ARE KANSAS THE DEFENDING NATIONAL CHAMPS

FairgroveJayhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

bawls - i hope your level of faith grows as the day moves along brother! man why exclude this game from any other this year. this young team has grown like a freaking weed and who knows what they are capable of. If they play a "good game" they have a great chance of winning.

all season we have seen them respond to adversity. the more stressful the situation, the more they respond. it's amazing.

Lets go KU!

keith horinek 10 years, 10 months ago

KU beat Missouri, the "40 minutes of he** team" and should have beaten them twice. Missouri just beat Memphis last night. I believe they can beat MSU, but they have to play well.

Timmay97 10 years, 10 months ago

ACC who?

All teams should be playing their best basketball at the end of the year. Therefore, I think we just determined the two best conferences in the nation.....and the ACC is not among them.

The Big East has held true to form.....there are some beasts in that league. The Big 12 was totally underrated and the tournament is proving this. I'm not saying KU or OU are guarantees to win, but I will say that our conference competes right up there with the other premier conferences in the nation.

This just proves to all the ESPN, CBS and Fox analyst that they are all East Coast biased. It truly does! There are teams that play west of the ACC and Big East my friends and the talent level might even be better.

Seth Peattie 10 years, 10 months ago

stuff it, bawls. this (I think it's very unlikely KU will win against MSU tonight) isn't the kind of energy we need in here today!!!

mojayhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

Hey sooba... Don't forget who's coaching OUR team. We have the best "Adjustments" Coach in America. He will know how to attack, AND We have NOTHING to lose! Our guys will be loose and ready. Mc and Mk will be ready to help Cole. And Tyrell, Tyshawn, and Brady will be "On" tonight.
Tonight you will see TEAM play: the definition of "Self-less" basketball.

We'll be there at the end.

Rock Chalk!

jayhawkboogeyman 10 years, 10 months ago

The boogeyman has a Greek test in an hour and then he will be waiting impatiently the rest of the day for the blizzard and KU beating the crap out of MSU. The boogeyman is confident we will win this one. And it is probably a good idea to root for Arizona in the early game. The boogeyman has been all jumpy all week and is glad the game is finally here.

rawkhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

I felt like I was kissing my ugly cousin rooting for the Tigers, but I was glad to see Mizzou take care of Memphis last night. In hoops, I'm feeling more of a grudge against Memphis these days.

On to today...I hope the 'Hawks come out relaxed and ready to play. I have confidence in Coach Self to guide these young men. Rock Chalk Jayhawk! Beat MSU!

Greg Lux 10 years, 10 months ago

Balance Scoring (Morningstar, Reed, Taylor, & Morris's).. Rebounding (Morris twins & Little) must help Cole and Sherron for the Jayhawks to win. If they come out loose and hit a few shots early this could be a good win. This team has the talent just not the experience and confidence yet. This win will go a long way to giving them that e&c.

Rock Chalk

RockChalk26 10 years, 10 months ago

Let's go Hawks, run this Big Ten school out of the gym. Rock Chalk baby!!!

Sally Presson 10 years, 10 months ago

MOjayhawk is correct, we have the best basketball coach in America!!! Coach Self will have the guys ready and it will be more than Sherron and Cole. I feel certain the twins will come to play as will Brady. We've come so far, lets put 3 Big 12 teams in the Elite Eight!!! KU's coaching staff is the best there is!!

Rock Chalk go get 'um Jayhawks!!!

NebraskaJayhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

Sooballs makes a very good point in my opinion. And despite his comment, he is on this ride just like all of us. I tend to lean more towards what he is saying, however. Our chances tonight are not good. We've got to play hussle basketball tonight...much like the way we played last night and the way (dare I say it) Missouri played last night.

Get 'em Hawks !

Jason Roberts 10 years, 10 months ago

Without question, Michigan State is the more experienced team top to bottom. Tom Izzo and Bill Self are just about even. The only difference is Aldrich and Collins have enough experience between them to get the rest of the team psyched up. Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if Self didn't have to give a pre-game speech to them. All he has to do is post an article from the last time they played MSU. That should psych them up enough to go out and find a third and, possibly, a fourth scoring option.

All the attention on on Aldrich on the inside will open it up for the 'Hawks to drain the 3's tonight. I wouldn't be surprised to see Little and Releford may get more minutes tonight for the purposes of defensive help.

Stat of the day - Bill Self's teams are 8-1 in the NCAA Tournament against teams that beat them during the regular season.

KU wins 76-71. RCJH!!!

LAJayhawk - Where are you watching the game tonight?

knayte 10 years, 10 months ago

Gah, I'm so pumped for this game. Revenge is a great motivator. Plus we have to keep up with Missouri.

I'm not the type for multiple exclamation points but let's go KU!!! (Three seems reasonable).

NYhawk13 10 years, 10 months ago

Yea it should be a different game then when we last saw them. We have nothing to lose and teams with THAT mentality are the most dangerous ones to face. I love what I am seeing from Cole and Sherron. As long as Taylor can cut down on TOs (or if he doesn't, make up for it in another catagory) and we can get SOME inside presence from one or both of the twins (esp when Cole is resting on the bench) we will live to fight another day. Oh yea and lets NOT forget free throw shooting. Self make sure they get the memo before the game please. I would really love to be able to book a flight to Lawrence next weekend...I miss it there.

Stupid area coverage here has the UNC/Zaga game instead of KU's tonight. Just the thought of having to watch Beaker Hansbrough for 40 minutes triggers my gag reflex! Extremely thankful for the CBSsports.com thats for sure...GO JAYHAWKS!

MurrayHewitt 10 years, 10 months ago

I don't get why Aldrich is the only one subject to such physical abuse? Coach should have been kicking and banging up the twins as well. They are the key to this game. As tough as Cole is, we must divide and conquer.

Let's go Hawks!!!!

PittJayhawker 10 years, 10 months ago

Let's go Jawyhawks!!!!!!!!

So pumped for this game!!

jaybate 10 years, 10 months ago

Keys to Beat MSU:

Rebound even with MSU Shoot KU's average in FGs, Treys, and FTs. Take away the MSU trey!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

MSU is 3rd in the B10 in trey shooting.

All 6 losses came on sub 27% trey shooting nights.

They like to take 20 treys a game when the games are in 70-80 point range.

They like to take 10-15 treys a game when the games are in 60 point range.

They only need to make their 38% average to be dominant if they get their +11 rebounding margin.

Frankly, they live and die with rebounding and shooting 38% from the three.

Their Achilles heel of their forumula is they can't win on an off shooting night.

Rebound even and take away the trey and they lose.

Sparko 10 years, 10 months ago

Kansas played in its toughest environment of the year at MSU; the officiating was Hightower-tight, and the kids never got untracked. Kansas can beat anyone left in this tournament, because it has two of the stars of the game this year--not just one. Defense is essential. Look at Memphis letting Missouri drop 102.

Tony Bandle 10 years, 10 months ago

Please, everyone, don't forget that with the Finals in Detroit, there is a lot of pressure on MST to be there.

KU needs to attack, attack and attack. Make every play a war, Make every foul an execution, Physically do not back down, Show emotion and take no s###.

Look at Missouri's play as an example..and we pounded those guys and should have won the other game.

I'm psyched!!! I'm pumped!!! I'm fired up!!! I am excited as I was on all three of my wedding nights!!!

Soobawls position is based on one of logic and past data. The Hawks need to throw that crap out the window and play like those guys in Green and White are Quantrill's advance guards!!!

KILL.. MAIM.. TEAR...SUBJUGATE AND HUMILIATE !!!!!

Phew..maybe it's time for my medication.

Tony Bandle 10 years, 10 months ago

PS Can anyone give Condor the name of a good dentist so he can get a decent false tooth, please??

FSUJHAWK 10 years, 10 months ago

Both KU and MSU are different teams than the ones who faced each other in January. This game will come down to the intangibles of hussle, energy and grit. 98% of the so called experts are predicting an MSU victory. I say the only experts I know are the ones in here, less you know who :)

KU in a close one down the strech.

RCJHGOKU!!!

jaybate 10 years, 10 months ago

MurrayHewitt,

Cole is the subject of most of the abuse, both in practice and from opponents, because he averages 16.5 rebounds per game lately and is our second leading scorer. Stop Cole and you stop KU. And its easier to stop Cole than Sherron. Why? Because in the Madness, refs call nothing at all in the paint and big thugs are a dime a dozen. Every team above 25 wins in a major conference has 3-4 thugs. MSU has 6. Break Cole's nose and we lose. Kick his bad foot often enough and we lose. Push him out of scoring and rebounding position and we lose.

Sherron is much tougher to rough up, because he is operating out in open court so much and roughing him up often leads to fouls.

The Morris Twins have not proven themselves able to break out against thugs either and can be simply guarded even up with occassional shoving. They are not threats.

Tyshawn has not proven that he can handle high contact in the paint, and so all it takes with him is one good defensive guard willing to body him on the perimeter and thugs willing to floor him and he starts not wanting to get to the rim.

Self has tried to psyche the Morris Twins and Tyshawn up because he knows Izzo will foul all six of his thugs out if he has to stop Cole. One on one, Cole can outscore Goran Sutton and outrebound Sutton. Ratso Izzo knows this. He has to take Cole out. He has to reduce this to MSU vs. Sherron in a game decided by rebounding and MSU shooting 38% or better from trey. Same formula as early in the season.

KU has to supplement scoring early through Marcus Morris and Tyshawn and Brady early until one and one, then the ball has to go to Cole or Sherron non stop and hope they're hitting their free throws.

If it weren't for the violence, this would be a wonderful game to look forward to to see which coach comes up with a wrinkle that decides the game.

Our best hope is a combination of them having an off shooting night from trey, plus us holding them even on the boards. They cannot beat opponents without a big rebounding edge and a 35+% trey shooting night.

Craig Lang 10 years, 10 months ago

I like the reference to KU's match-up against NC and Hansbrough last year. I remember how Cole totally shut him out in that game. In my opinion, that performance was Cole's greatest contribution to last year's team. It's also what made me feel like we would still have a great team this year despite the departure of all those big men from last year's team.

jaybate 10 years, 10 months ago

"He still needs a ton of lower-body strength."--Self on Cole

Wow! I thought it was just the reverse. Goes to show I don't fully grasp playing post yet. But I suppose it makes sense. I don't see Cole driving many guys with his butt the way so many good offensive post men of the past have done. He doesn't drive them out on the rebounds either. He just has a rebounders 6th sense of where the ball is coming. But the glaring thing now that Coach Self has drawn our thoughts to it is: he can't, or doesn't yet, have the lower body strength to back them into the basket under good control on offense. Great offensive post men can back defenders into the basket with or without the ball. Imagine if Cole were to stay and over the summer develop the strength and ability to back defenders into basket the way Wilt could do? Or even the way Big Country Reeves could do. Sheesh! He could be a legitimate 25-30 ppg guy even within a team approach. Just reverse the shooting load between he and Sherron next year. It would be devastating. He's doing most everything he's doing with wing span, nimbleness, improved body control, a good touch, and want to right now on offense. Hulk him out from the bottom rib downwards and he could get great offensive position whenever he wanted it.

Post Script: Jeff Withey, are you listening. Yeah, you like to play facing the basket at 7' tall, but the big money is in playing with your back to it. Let's see you and Cole stage a competition to see who can develop the most lower body strength over the summer. Then we put you two on both sides of the paint on the blocks in a double low post and just let you guys take turns backing in and scoring!! Let the guards focus on defense and shooting treys. Yee hawwwwwwwwwwwww! And the beautiful thing is you guys can run the floor too.

Post Post Script: Just to be a total bigfreak, I'd also like to see Marcus move to the three and take his 40% trey shooting where it belongs. Here's how it shakes out. Everyone gets 20-25 minutes. Team goes undefeated and wins ring.

PG Sherron at PG, Tyshawn. SG Stephenson, Reed, Little. SF Marcus, Brady, Little PF Withey, Robinson, Little C Aldrich, Kieff

jaybate 10 years, 10 months ago

"I am as excites as I was on all three of my wedding nights!" --OakvilleJHawk

LOL! Best line of the season!

Are you a glutton for punishment or what? :-)

I have had two. Am on 20 years of my second. If this one ever caves before I die, I am going to my grave a free man!

Fool me once, shame on you.

Fool me twice, shame on me.

Fool me thrice, I have a substance abuse problem called women!

Yeeeee hawwwww, it feels like the day of a big game.

I hope the team comes out as loose as the fans.

Rock Chalk!

jaybate 10 years, 10 months ago

"I am as excited as I was on all three of my wedding nights!" --OakvilleJHawk

LOL! Best line of the season!

Are you a glutton for punishment or what? :-)

I have had two. Am on 20 years of my second. If this one ever caves before I die, I am going to my grave a free man!

Fool me once, shame on you.

Fool me twice, shame on me.

Fool me thrice, I have a substance abuse problem called women!

Yeeeee hawwwww, it feels like the day of a big game.

I hope the team comes out as loose as the fans.

Rock Chalk!

kufan89 10 years, 10 months ago

this should be a fun game. let's go jayhawks!!!!

DDSF 10 years, 10 months ago

8 and 1/2 hours until game time! Get Extreme!!

I think MSU will throw the kitchen sink at Cole that our role players will HAVE TO step up. Sherron can do a lot, but he can't do it all. As HCBS said, "want to" is necessary.

Here is to hoping the good conversations he had with the twins and Tyshawn instilled enough "want to" for the whole team.

jayhwkr77 10 years, 10 months ago

The key to this game is Morningstar and Reed knocking down shots from the outside. I'm assuming that Izzo will have his guys collapse on Cole pretty much the whole game, which should allow for some open shots. If those guys are missing open 3 trys, I'm not sure we have much of a chance. But if theyre hitting, I like our chances. Either way, it's been a great year, but it would be awesome to win tonight.

Rock Chalk.

ChicagoJHawk 10 years, 10 months ago

NebraskaJayHawk,

I disagree, about 2 things... 1. KU does have a very good shot @ winning this game; we've come a long way since the last time we played ON THE ROAD. 2. Soobawls is not on the same ride w/us. Not sure how often you log on to kusports.com but he's always on here posting negative comments about KU. Of course he's gonna tell you he's not a Mizzou fan. Even if he's not, he's definitely not a KU fan. He's an idiot & all his comments should be disregarded.

Alex Berger 10 years, 10 months ago

I think us as fans have a win-win situation here. We win tonight, we move on to the elite eight. We lose tonight we are more likely to return Aldrich and Collins and have a top 5 team next year. And to think this was a rebuilding year!

Rock Chalk!

fansincewilt 10 years, 10 months ago

Who better than Danny Manning to get Cole ready for this game?

Scott Smetana 10 years, 10 months ago

"no decent 3rd scoring option has emerged"

True, true. But it looks like Tiller came to play last night for Mizzery. Maybe someone will emerge for us tonight? I have my hopes clearly on Taylor and Marcus.

We're underdogs.... gotta play tough and GET THOSE REBOUNDS.

Hawkin8r 10 years, 10 months ago

+1 to ChicagoJHawk on both points! This is our game to win and we have a VERY good chance at taking it from them. Soobawls is a douche...but unfortunately you don't feel fresh and clean after exposure.

Tony Bandle 10 years, 10 months ago

Jaybate

First wife..lost to divorce [18 days younger] Second wife..lost to brain cancer [4 1/2 years younger] Third and current wife..10 years and counting [ 12 years younger]

The older I got, the younger they became....I AM DONE, by the way!!

GO HAWKS!!!!!

ku98 10 years, 10 months ago

Just talked to a buddy of mine who is in Indy, and he said the streets are packed with MSU and Louisville fans. Makes sense geographically, but I sure hope Jayhawks fans turn out in big numbers tonight for the game. Rock Chalk!

cklarock 10 years, 10 months ago

Rizock Chizalk.

We've seen flashes from Marcus and Tyshawn that either of them can become that third scoring threat on any given night. If one or both goes big today, and takes advantage of a defensive scheme that will be designed for Cole and Sherron, we could be playing on Sunday.

What a great time to be a Jayhawk. If this isn't the golden era, it sure feels like it.

FairgroveJayhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

rawkhawk- can't believe you know how it feels to kiss your ugly cousin. rooting for misery made me feel like rubbing my landlord's hairy mole to settle a debt.

in each ncaa tournament game last year we can look back at how a certain player stepped up in each game that really counted. this is going to be one of those games. i can't wait to see who it will be...

138 minutes

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