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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Keegan

Remarkably, Kansas has stayed the course

From left, Kansas players Markieff Morris, Marcus Morris (22) and Thomas Robinson (0) watch a highlight reel of the season following their 81-68 win over Oklahoma, Monday, Feb. 22, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

From left, Kansas players Markieff Morris, Marcus Morris (22) and Thomas Robinson (0) watch a highlight reel of the season following their 81-68 win over Oklahoma, Monday, Feb. 22, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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2010 KU-Oklahoma

Reader poll

What is KU's toughest game left on the schedule?

  • at Oklahoma State 11% 532 votes
  • vs. Kansas State 55% 2497 votes
  • at Missouri 30% 1379 votes
  • Undecided 1% 66 votes

4474 total votes.

Reader poll

Will the KU men's basketball team go undefeated in Big 12 regular season play?

  • Yes 61% 1246 votes
  • No 28% 568 votes
  • Not sure 10% 214 votes

2028 total votes.

Kansas defeats Sooners, wins Big 12

The Jayhawks won their sixth-straight Big 12 Conference title with a win over Oklahoma Monday, Feb. 22, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Reader poll

If you could only pick one Jayhawk, which would you put on the first-team All-Big 12 roster?

  • Marcus Morris 11% 306 votes
  • Sherron Collins 41% 1145 votes
  • Cole Aldrich 47% 1304 votes

2755 total votes.

So many factors can derail a talented college basketball team.

Injuries, conceit, selfish play, unnatural team chemistry, a recruiting mistake at a key position, off-the-court issues that make a player’s focus wander and the inability to play with an edge against overmatched opponents all are common symptoms of underachieving basketball teams.

It’s nearly impossible for a team to make it through an entire season without letting some such speed bumps make it dip into at least a mini-slump.

In the case of an Oklahoma team projected to finish in the upper half of the Big 12, just about everything has turned sour. In the case of a Kansas University team that entered the season ranked No. 1 in the nation, whatever small issues threatened to become big ones quickly vanished, and the Jayhawks (27-1) stand three games away from what could be an undefeated conference season.

They do what all coaches want their players to do, which is become a little bit better all the time. Kansas isn’t the most talented team in the country. No. 2 Kentucky, with three players projected to go in the first nine picks of the NBA Draft, wins that competition.

Yet at the moment, no team in the country, not even Kentucky, is playing as well as a Kansas team that shows no signs of conceit or complacency.

A lousy second half in Monday night’s 81-68 victory against Oklahoma notwithstanding, Kansas looks like a March-ready basketball team with all its mini-issues looking more like things of the past than potential problems.

Center Cole Aldrich, his concentration tainted in the early going by worries about his grandmother, who moved onto her eternal reward, and his breathing hindered by bronchitis, didn’t have his best game Monday night, but has been a steady, dominant inside presence more often than not of late.

Sherron Collins appears to have shaken a prolonged three-point shooting slump. Tyshawn Taylor’s confidence has returned, and his Facebook page has vanished. Most significant, Xavier Henry has emerged from a long midseason funk and is playing like a freshman All-American.

This team is deep enough that it can weather inevitable slumps from players. Avoiding distractions helps, and since the fights with the football team during football season, there haven’t been any sideshows to stunt the Jayhawks’ progress.

“We went through our crap before practice started, and since then I think we’ve had one guy, if I’m not mistaken, that maybe we went through a little bit of stuff with,” said Kansas coach Bill Self, whose team clinched at least a share of its sixth consecutive Big 12 title Monday night.

That one guy was Taylor, who said he didn’t know his role and had some unfortunate social-media postings.

“Look across America, how many teams deal with stuff?” Self said. “It’s pretty remarkable that this team has not had a lot of distractions since back before the season started. That’s one reason we’re winning games. We haven’t had to deal with a lot of that crap that a lot of teams have had to deal with.”

Another reason: The individuals keep growing. Not as experienced as some teams, Kansas is more mature, more focused than most.

Comments

Ralster Jayhawk 4 years, 1 month ago

Pointless article...Hawk fans know already what our team has endured this season, and the rest of the nation just sees us + KY "just finding ways to win"...So what? This has been fun this season, but our goal extends past the Conf. Tournament...

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WilburNether 4 years, 2 months ago

hawk316, you are mistaken. His use of "notwithstanding" applied to a subsequent point that I did NOT cite, not to the former point that I did cite.

You need to read more carefully.

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Steve Corder 4 years, 2 months ago

Random thoughts:

What's happened to CJ Henry?

Bill Self is one outstanding coach. I'd like to see a story on the administrative side of the KU program, from the computer tracking system of players (at incredibly young ages) to the management systems in place for monitoring and assisting players beyond the hardwood.

I don't recall a story on one of the assistant coaches, like Manning. "A week in the life of Danny Manning during the season and off-season" would be interesting.

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Lance Hobson 4 years, 2 months ago

Jaybate, good points but I disagree about the second half against OU. They let OU get close enough that Self had to call a couple of times out, and you could really see him ripping into those guys. He may have done some tinkering with the offense but it was the defense that got a little lazy in the second half. Also, Self does roll right over teams if they let him. Look at what we did to TT a couple of years ago and Texas in 2005. I'm sure there are some other major blowouts I"m forgetting about. Also, we aren't really any worse with TRob in there. He's so tenacious I doubt OU looked at his minutes as a favor.

If Keagan has issues with anyone it would seem to be TT. That article had a lot of rehashing of things that happened a while ago. The entire team was involved in that fight, TT was just unfortunate to get hurt and have what he thought were private comments aired. I think it's fairly clear that Self was talking about TT and his comments about his role when he mentioned the crap with one guy. But yes, Keags did make a bit of a leap.

Also, from what I've read about Ike he wasn't the greatest military tactician, but most politically adept at melding the Allied leaders toward the common objective.

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Jonathan Allison 4 years, 2 months ago

I agree with the concept of "Both" in regards to Self's philosophy on blowouts. Self's infatuation with "getting better" is directly tied to the fact that he will experiment with lineups and sets and formations during the second half of a blowout.

Naturally this experimentation will lead to a decrease in offensive output most of the time. But Coach Self expects perfect execution, even when his team is essentially practicing for the last 20 minutes of a game. He wants perfection, and he wants his team to keep pouring it on despite the fact that he's trying to get them to do things they haven't don in game before. I think that he feels like if his team can do this just the way he wants it then it's out of his control whether or not they continue to blow out the opposition.

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Dirk Medema 4 years, 2 months ago

"Staying the course" is a tribute to the leadership of Sherron as well as the coaching staff. It is a reason he is the winner he is. Last year, his leadership manifest itself in scoring points and carrying the team on his back, much like a dad with a new born. This year, his leadership is allowing the kids to walk and run and grow "on their own" ever mindful of the pitfalls that can lead to trauma. Some of it is on the court, just as some of the coaches' work is performed on the sideline. Most of it tho, is performed on the practice court, office, training table, weightroom, dorm room, and wherever players meet and talk. It is the reason Coach Self calls Sherron the best, even tho other players may have better stats. No one is a better leader than Sherron.

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jaybate 4 years, 2 months ago

williepless,

I believe you are right.

I believe I am right.

I believe when you talk of Bill Self it is incumbent to always think of "both."

He is not only capable of both things we describe--being kind to other coaches when he can be, but also being driven by a killer instinct to get better by experimenting--he does it all the time.

Bill Self is the savant of both.

It is why he plays 70-point-take-what-they-give-us and not dictate the tempo and style of play.

By refusing to dictate tempo and style of play, he is always dictating tempo and style of play.

Both.

He never does anything for one reason.

Always both reasons.

He is like Eisenhower this way.

It is why I often recall Eisenhower and Self's fractured syntax. People with multi-dimensional minds capable of playing glass bead games in multi-dimensions masterfully often have fractured syntax.

It was always both with Eisenhower in war.

It is always both with Self in basketball.

Both.

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jaybate 4 years, 2 months ago

icthawkfan316,

To all of what you said well, add that Self's team lucked out and avoided a couple losses...as good teams with good coaches sometimes seem skewed to do.

And if Self had juiced them up just a little for UTenn, instead of banking so much on UTenn being demoralized and so making Self believe his team could grind out a win without him juicing them up, we would be talking about an undefeated season, too.

Lucka, lucka, lucka...

vs.

Coulda, woulda, shoulda.

Each are opposite tales of the distribution, be it normal or skewed.

But mean zero and sigma squared rule the fat part of the distribution.

And in the fat part, KU will by 10-15 against any team in the country.

And KU will continue to get better, because that is Self's real thing.

What new element, what new component, what new combination, what pace of play can we get better at? And at this time of the season, especially, what new wrinkle, can we put in to get better?

There really is no end to his "get better" mantra until the last whistle blows in the last game of the season and even then he is onto next season.

The Tao is getting better.

Getting better is the Tao.

He is a dancing Wu Li master with a twang.

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Doug LeMoine 4 years, 2 months ago

Jaybate, I think you're right to call Keegan on the undercurrent of negativity, and I think you're right to point out that they spent the entire second half working on sets and plays that may have limited the players' effectiveness in continuing to build the margin.

But I really don't think Self gives a crap -- so to speak -- about Capel's career prospects at OU, and I don't think that he would expect Capel (or anyone else) to give a crap about him when fortune is reversed somewhere down the road. In fact, I think it's Self's killer instinct, combined with his longer view, that contributed to the narrow margin. He required the Hawks to run experimental stuff with different arrangements of players because he doesn't want to waste any opportunity to hone the arsenal. Also, giving Ty more time at the point and TRob some significant minutes just makes it even more obvious that he's gearing up to compete and crush teams with athleticism and size (i.e., Kentucky and Syracuse).

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jaybate 4 years, 2 months ago

hawk316,

Well put, and these are also the reason they will win in Indy.

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jaybate 4 years, 2 months ago

And those spreads would almost certainly have been used by administrators and alumni at both schools to say Sadler and Capel can't even get their guys to perform to minimum levels. Sadler and maybe Capel would likely have been fired at the end of the season, because of Self fattening the teams numbers (and maybe its RPI, though I don't know if blowouts matter to the RPI) on NU and OU. Sadler may be fired anyway, but at least Self did not light the fuse. Self did go ahead and let his team spank Boulder Juco 94 - 74, because Self really does dislike ball screen offenses, and because CU gave them a scare back in the Coors Beer hall they call an arena in Boulder. But KU probably could have beaten Boulder Juco by another 10 or 15 points, if Self had wanted to pore it on. Really, Self is just a very politically saavy coach; that's all.

} I could go on here, but I suspect you get my drift. Tom has used his bully pulpit a couple of times that I recall to suck up to coaches and schools in media markets that would be a logical steps up for him career wise, albeit without apparent success. He put the spit shine on Chigan State and Ratso Izzo and Lansing last year, which could only help in landing a job in Michigan; coaches having some indirect input on who is hired as sports editor in a college town. It wouldn't do much good to hire a sports editor that a long-tenured college coach refused to grant access to, now would it? And Tom really gave a big wet media kiss to UTex and Austin not only by voting the gang that can't shoot straight (Butcher Barnes' Texas Shorthorns) Number 1, when they didn't remotely deserve it based on their talent level, or three point shooting stats, but then bragging about it in print. Keegs, just get a head hunter and let them place you, if you are getting restless in Lawrence. You're plenty good. And Bill Self isn't the one keeping you in a small media market. Its the economy, that's all.

} This is The Special Season. We need everyone pulling in the same direction, especially our esteemed and talented sports editor, Mr. Tom Keegan, a man who, IMHO, sets the top down tone for how terrific this KU website of record, can be.

} Rock chalk!

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jaybate 4 years, 2 months ago

} "A lousy second half in Monday night’s 81-68 victory against Oklahoma notwithstanding..."

Lousy? A 13 point win. A 20 point lead with 16 minutes to play. Self called off the dogs. Surely you must know it. Thomas Robinson playing significant second half minutes? Keegs, you know Self always takes great care not to humiliate opposing coaches. He is among the most politic in this regard among active coaches his age or younger. He buys into the old wisdom that he will see the same guys on the way down that he is beating on the way up, so best be considerate. Fault him for not being ruthless enough, but don't say KU played lousy. Self had them experimenting with all kinds of combinations,and practicing new plays repeatedly. It was just amazing to watch how many times KU worked on the same over the top of the screen and down the free throw lane dribble drives in the second half with different guys on the wing practicing it. It was like a clinic. Heck, the second half was like a November game against Alcorn, but without Elijah and Conner. If Self hadn't had them running all the practice stuff they ran, in all the crazy combinations, Xavier would have hung 35 points on the Sooners easily. Fault Self for taking it easy on Jeff Capel, but don't say KU played lousy the second half. Capel is in real jeopardy at OU. He choked with Blake Griffin. He has choked with Willie Warren and Tiny Gallon. Injuries lead to the choking, but Capel is young and really not a very skilled coach yet. Self knows this. Self spent several years at places out of the spot light learning his stroke, places like ORU, and Tulsa, before he really understood what he was doing. Capel's got the want to and the personality to be a head coach, but he is trying to learn to head coach in the Big 12 and he's in over his head. Capel's got enough talent there right now, even without Warren, for Self to win 20 games easily this season, and Capel is struggling to stay over .500. Self did Capel a huge favor, just as he did Doc Sadler a huge favor recently. KU could easily have been NU and OU by 30-40 points.

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jaybate 4 years, 2 months ago

"Its Tuesday and Keegs May Be Struggling Passive-Aggressively with Conflicted Feelings about Bill Self's Success:"

} The story seems positive, but there is this nagging under current of muted, passive-aggressive resentment. Bill Self is so hugely successful right now that I fear Keegs maybe letting career angst about being in a small media market skew his stellar journalistic skills. Perhaps, he is frustrated at having trouble taking it to the next level to places like Lancing Michigan, or Austin, Texas. He needn't be. He will make it to even better places sooner or later. Maybe I'm all wrong, but little things seem to give this issue away.

} "So many factors can derail a talented college basketball team."--Keegs

Raising the spectre of such, albeit in the context of KU having dodged the bullet sof far, makes one wonder if Keegs, is not suggesting, "They look good, but sooner or later they are not going to dodge the bullet." Kind of passive-aggresive. I might add that among the factors that might derail a team in a Special Season might be a sports editor that doesn't do Coach Self the common curtesy of editing out his "craps" in quotes. C'mon, Keegs, that sure seemed a passive-aggressive cheap shot. You know that will not enhance his image, or enable his recruiting. You know that will wind up on University of Contucky boards sooner or later. Did Self actually say, "Tom, would you please leave those "craps" in their for emphasis? That's how I want it." Or did you feel the KU fan base needs to know that the public Mr. goody two-shoes Self is really a vulgar hypocrite that needs exposing? It is a small thing--leaving the "craps" in--but it is conspicuous, nonetheless.

} "That one guy was Taylor, who said he didn’t know his role and had some unfortunate social-media postings."--Keegs

Prove it.Self's quote doesn't. You don't. At least you could qualify yourself by saying, "Coach Self didn't want to say so, for obvious political reasons, but I suspect Self was referring to Taylor". But you didn't. Therefore, I can escape wondering if you may harboring resentment that makes you leap to such an assumption and not qualifiy it? Is it a sort of passive aggressive act toward a coach who is 26-1 and numero uno in the polls, making beau coup bucks, and enjoying a Q rating that breaks the meter.

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hawk316 4 years, 2 months ago

Top 10 Reasons Why KU Will Reach Indianapolis:

10) Fans (KU fans travel extremely well) 9) Free throws (though not the highest % in country, key players shoot them well) 8) Chemistry (players mesh, like each other, know their roles) 7) Experience (key players who have been through it before) 6) Size (Cole, the twins, X and TRob and Withey off the bench) 5) Team speed (fast enough...led by Tyshawn and Sherron) 4) Offense (the ability to score points in a variety of ways) 3) Defense (KU makes it hard for the opponent to keep up for 40 minutes) 2) Coaching (Self and staff are experienced and are outstanding motivators) 1) Depth (allows the team to overcome bad games from key players)

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bad_dog 4 years, 2 months ago

Queen K-I heard the interview you mentioned above. Keegs merely expressed concern that OU could be the team that broke KU's home winning streak. That was before Willie Warren injured his ankle.

In no way did Keegan "guarantee" KU would lose this game. While Keegan has irritated some with his poll rankings, I don't believe he would ever spout something as stupid or polarizing as that-at least not on the airwaves or in this publication.

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hawk316 4 years, 2 months ago

Tom, pretty good analysis. WilburNether, regarding your comment...

Um...just exactly how do you come up with these contradictory observations, and in consecutive sentences, no less?

"...a Kansas team that shows no signs of conceit or complacency.

A lousy second half in Monday night’s 81-68 victory against Oklahoma..."

That's why Mr. Keegan added the important word, "notwithstanding." This term allows a writer justifiably to combine two apparent contradictory statements.

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William Blake 4 years, 2 months ago

"Kansas isn’t the most talented team in the country. No. 2 Kentucky, with three players projected to go in the first nine picks of the NBA Draft, wins that competition."

I just don't see it this way. 2 of Kentucky's draft picks are freshmen. I certainly wouldn't trade Sherron for Wall, or Cole for Cousins. Granted the Kentucky freshmen may end up being bigger talents down the road, but we aren't down the road. Talent is what talent is right now, not down the road.

If Kentucky can manage to get lucky and make it to the Final Four, you will be eating these words. I'm sure CS can out-coach Cal... but you'd also see which team has more talent right now.

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Kye Clark 4 years, 2 months ago

The reason we have been able to sustain continued success this season is due to Bill Self and the fact that he has assembled an incredibly deep team. Sure not having any major injuries has played a part. When you consider the slumps individual playes have all gone through - Cole, Tyshawn, X, Sherron, and now Brady - and sometimes those slumps overlapping, that would have cost most teams a few games. This team is so deep and the younger players have matured so much that it has allowed us to overcome those slumps. This team is starting to remind me a lot of the '08 team in that a different guy can step up every night.

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pmohr13 4 years, 2 months ago

memhawk, lol you sound like the Olympic commercials with that thanks moms! comment. hope you were going for that!

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WilburNether 4 years, 2 months ago

Um...just exactly how do you come up with these contradictory observations, and in consecutive sentences, no less?

"...a Kansas team that shows no signs of conceit or complacency.

A lousy second half in Monday night’s 81-68 victory against Oklahoma..."

No sign of complacency? Say what? This team stunk it up in the second half. There was a laughable comment on another thread about a "recipe for success," with one of the ingredients being staying focused on every possession. Not these guys; they mailed it in for the second half. That's a recipe a #1 seed losing in the second round of the NCAA Tournament (and don't forget KU has done that more than once).

And if anyone thinks I'm being harsh, that's nothing compared to the message that HCBS will deliver to the team. It's clear from his comments that had a Big 12 representative not been there with the trophy last night, he would have run those guys straight back to the locker room after their sorry effort in the second half.

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jayhawkfan96 4 years, 2 months ago

Don't overlook OSU in Stillwater. The 'Pokes are on the bubble, and Gallagher-Iba is one of the toughest places to play in the country. Not to mention that James Anderson is the best pure scorer in the country.

Remember the 2008 team had their players only meeting after losing at OSU. That was the last game we lost that year.

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Brak 4 years, 2 months ago

On a side note KU is only 1 game behind UNC in the race to 2000 and UNC still has 4 regular season games left;

02/24/10 vs. Florida State
02/27/10 at Wake Forest
03/02/10 vs. Miami
03/06/10 at Duke

Considering out of their last 11 games they are 2-9 there is a good chance we get there before them. You know they are going to lose at Duke and at Wake so they would have to win tonight against FSU and then beat Miami, its possible but I say KU has a better chance.

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Jaminrawk 4 years, 2 months ago

I can't believe anyone would have predicted that OU would beat KU at home this year. If any game is a possible loss, it's always MU in Columbia and history has shown that. Still, I think KU runs the remainder of the schedule.

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Steve Brown 4 years, 2 months ago

Sherron FG% pls? Are his assists or TO/A going up or down on the recent games trend line?

seems he is playinjg a bit tight, maybe he's been working on his senior night talk..

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Queen_Krenda 4 years, 2 months ago

It was funny because I heard Tom Keegan on the Boarder Patrol several weeks ago and he guaranteed that KU would lose this game. Major LOL.

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jhwkfan162515 4 years, 2 months ago

Hopefully, some of these players' dads are there too to help triple team their wayward offspring!

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Martin Rosenblum 4 years, 2 months ago

Since quite a few of the team's mothers live in Lawrence, the atmosphere is probably a little more controlled. They know if they get caught up in some "crap" as was referrred to multiple times in Keegan's article, the wrath of mom and HCBS will "double team" them.

Thanks Moms!

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