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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Keegan

Brilliance, frustration in equal measure

Kansas center Markieff Morris goes for the ball against Tech defenders Theron Jenkins (left) and Darko Cohadarevic Saturday, Jan. 16, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Markieff Morris goes for the ball against Tech defenders Theron Jenkins (left) and Darko Cohadarevic Saturday, Jan. 16, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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2010 KU-Texas Tech

Reader poll

Whose performance were you most happy with following the Jayhawks' 89-63 victory over Texas Tech?

  • Marcus Morris 50% 1176 votes
  • Brady Morningstar 31% 736 votes
  • Tyrel Reed 10% 238 votes
  • Cole Aldrich 6% 152 votes
  • Undecided 1% 42 votes

2344 total votes.

Kansas no longer sits atop the polls, so it’s not necessary to hold the Jayhawks to the standards demanded of the No. 1 team in the nation. Just as well, or the column on Saturday’s game against Texas Tech would have read something like:

Tyshawn Taylor made so many poor decisions on the fast break that once he fired a cross-court pass to the scorer’s table, coach Bill Self had seen enough and benched him for the rest of the first half and the start of the second half, letting him watch roughly 17 consecutive minutes of action from his seat.

Taylor wasn’t alone in his first-half sloppiness, either. That noise you heard emanating from Memorial Park Cemetery might have been Dr. James Naismith apologizing for inventing the game once he saw Kansas eat 4 minutes and 28 seconds of game clock without scoring a point. Last season’s three leading scorers — Sherron Collins, Cole Aldrich and Tyshawn Taylor — combined for just eight first-half points. That would be the same half in which Xavier Henry, the freshman McDonald’s All-American, made one of five shots and didn’t have a rebound.

Wait, it gets worse. KU committed 10 first-half turnovers and surrendered 45 second-half points.

Since Kansas now ranks third in the nation, the unreasonable expectations for perfection on every single possession can be shelved, and the truth can be told: This is about where an extremely deep, yet not all that experienced Kansas team should be at the beginning of conference play. Stretches of brilliance surrounded by frustrating spells.

Don’t forget, Kansas starts a freshman, two sophomores, a junior and a senior, so the March version of the Jayhawks figures to be better than the January one. And Kansas did win, 89-63, and did play extraordinary defense for a half, limiting the Red Raiders to 18 points.

Is this a special team?

“I don’t know if you can say you’re special yet,” KU coach Bill Self said. “It's a little premature on that. I don’t even know if the ’08 team was special when we go to USC and Georgia Tech and labor to win against teams that were barely tournament teams, and Georgia Tech wasn’t even a tournament team. I can’t really say that team was special until we kind of got into it. I will say one thing about that team. That team enjoyed making other people look bad, and this team doesn’t really treasure that like that team did. At least, so far we don’t. We’re a lot younger, too. ... I think it’s a good team that has a chance to be special.”

If the ego-driving force becomes a desire to embarrass the opponents, make them look as bad as they have looked in their lives, then this team can get to Indianapolis and even win it all.

Texas Tech made five field goals in the first half Saturday. Afterward, the KU players beat themselves up for easing up the defensive heat in the second half. They weren’t happy. That’s encouraging.

Comments

kjohnson 4 years, 9 months ago

I was surprised and dismayed that, other than a slight mention that the 1952 and 1974 teams were recognized at halftime, there was no further mention on KUSports.com of those outstanding players. What a slight - to the those stars and the fans.

Ken Johnson HoopsZone.net

Sparko 4 years, 9 months ago

Can the negativity. Kansas dominated a good team. The Brilliance lay in the interior defense which held Singletary without a point or a decent look. Some brilliant steals and effort. And some solid passing once Kansas' athletes started to play within themselves. EJ's dunk at the end was brilliant too. The kid has explosiveness.

hawk_of_ages 4 years, 9 months ago

Uh, so you're saying a "rec center" team would have beaten Texas Tech by more than 26 points? I'd like to see that.

jayhawker_97 4 years, 9 months ago

sorry, Keegan, i didn't even finished reading your column, but i'd rather go back to sleep. you sounded so negative, rather than constructive.

hawkstl 4 years, 9 months ago

Max they made a lot of mistakes but they almost pitched a shut-out in the first half. I am sure it was tough to watch but they dominated a good offensive team. Second half they let up which is disappointing. When they get the five on the court in sync they win this by 50. We would have beat Texas and Kentucky on Saturday.

Steve Gantz 4 years, 9 months ago

I saw only the 1st half and wondered how they scored so many points. I guess it's the sign of a great team that they can play as poorly as they looked and still be blowing out the opposition.

kvskubball 4 years, 9 months ago

I think this article was right-on! KU was schizo against T Tech...playing great for awhile, then playing awful...and back and forth...

I think we are a very talented team, but we don't always get that talent to result in positive play...Coach is right, we're probably where we should be, given how young/inexperienced the players are in their current roles...every player has about 1 and 1/2 years -- maximum -- experience in his current role.

So, I think it is reasonable to think sometimes we'll look like we know what we're doing, and sometimes like we haven't a clue. The big thing is that we are a truly and immensely talented team, with superior depth...and that talent and depth will at times make us look like world-beaters, when we aren't (for the entire game)...

On the scoreboard, a 20+ point victory over Tech looks great, but if you watched the game and saw the gear-grinding that we went through for much of it, then we should agree that we have plenty to improve on...the good thing is that we will still look great at the end of most games because we have great players, and a great coach.

The team had me squirming at times, for sure yesterday. This is definitely an entertaining group...they keep it interesting...Forrest Gump would definitely liken them to a box of chocolates....

Rock Chalk!

kujay20 4 years, 9 months ago

keegan love the morningstars way too much it is scary

Darrel Stice 4 years, 9 months ago

I love HCBS's comment about the '08 team liking to humiliate opponents! Come on guys, they will get over it! You won't hurt their feelings! Basketball (and any other sport) is the safest place for someone to learn about losing and failure, because it doesn't last. It doesn't have lifelong consequences attached to it, so KICK their A$$es and don't worry about their feelings being hurt! We all know they would do it to YOU if given half the chance!!

Find that killer instinct, and fast!!! Get hungry!!!

Steve Brown 4 years, 9 months ago

I feel there is an equal chance that we will lose 4-5 more games as well as that we won't lose again. It will be fun to see which evolves.

RCJHKU

Steve Brown 4 years, 9 months ago

It has to do with intensity.......the baylor bears will get hot and we will get bitten or dig deep down and grow into our potential .... this is the week the next few games we will gain 'experience'.

dukehester 4 years, 9 months ago

keegan's true love team is a 2 point underdog at kittieland tonight!!

KANSTUCKY 4 years, 9 months ago

Here's to Scott going home feeling like a Homer on Wednesday. I Drew that one up myself.

KU 4 years, 9 months ago

Baylor is as athletic as they have been the past several years. The difference is that actually have made a commitment to play some defense. Could be a good challenge Wednesday night. BU's guards are very good. Bigs are athletic.

I'm looking forward to the Big Monday showdown in Manhattan tonight. Texas should get a little taste of what KU faces when we go to Manhattan. May be a great battle between the KSU guards and UT guards. Personally, I would like UT to go in and win so we can be the first ones to go into Bramlage and beat the Wildcats on their floor this season.

illuminatironin 4 years, 9 months ago

Can anyone tell me if there is a link to the EJ dunk anywhere? I missed and wanto to see what everyone is talking about.

actorman 4 years, 9 months ago

"Sparko said it all. Can the negativity. This Kansas team is great. Focus on the positive, let's not discuss the negative. Discussing the negative will immediately get the Hawklins and other f-cks on this board to say "The sky is falling" and "fire bill self now" and so forth. They are so funny and have such clever one liners! Seriously, this KU team is ok. We're not going to win the title this season, and probably not reach the final 4. Collins doesnt know when to shoot and not to shoot. Aldrich is the most overrated offensive player in the country. He's a rich man's Ostertag and Chenowith. Taylor flat out sucks. Morningstar and Reed are solid and should be playing. But this fact is more indicative of how poor the rest of the team's play is, more than how good Reed and Morningstar are."

Hawknhutch, I can see what you mean about canning the negativity ... Seriously, you're out of your freaking mind. There is no reason to believe this team doesn't have a legitimate shot at making the Final Four. For one thing, even though they haven't always been in sinc (or Boyz 2 Men, for that matter, by I digress), they still have the talent and depth to compete with the great teams. I also have faith that they will improve significantly by March and will be less likely to have a let-down in the early rounds. They'll also have the advantage of being a one (or at the worst two) seed, which mathematically gives them a much greater chance. There have been plenty of other teams that have been far worse than this team that have made the Final Four. I mean, KU is still number three (soon to be number two) in the country, and they've only lost one game!

Anthonyzal, I agree with you that it's ludicrous to compare Aldrich with Cheno-worthless, but you don't do yourself any favors with your argument. If you're going by PRE-SEASON All-American status, then Chenowith was there too--lest you forget that he was a Playboy pre-season All-American before his junior year. I do think that Aldrich's offense has been very disappointing this year, but with his dominance on defense he only needs to improve a little on the offensive end to be worthy of consideration for All-American status.

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