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Friday, March 19, 2010

Keegan

For KU, what’s up is down

Kansas guard Sherron Collins takes a three-pointer over Lehigh guard Marquis Hall during the first half Thursday, March 18, 2010 at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City.

Kansas guard Sherron Collins takes a three-pointer over Lehigh guard Marquis Hall during the first half Thursday, March 18, 2010 at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City.

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How is your NCAA bracket doing?

  • Great 13% 99 votes
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  • I'm out already 22% 168 votes
  • I didn't do a bracket 27% 204 votes

753 total votes.

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2010 KU-Lehigh

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KU tops Lehigh after slow start

Kansas forward Marcus Morris had a career-high 24 points in the Jayhawks' victory over Lehigh.

Reader poll

How many good halves do you think KU will play against Northern Iowa?

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2341 total votes.

— Bill Self must be the most disciplined man on the planet to be able to resist the temptation to call a timeout every time his team goes on a double-digit run so that he can air out his players, let them know they’re terrible and tell them every person in the building agrees.

Somehow, he manages to keep himself from responding to every lopsided victory by making his team sprint suicides for an hour. How does he keep from telling every player who scores a basket that he not only can’t play, he’s ugly too?

The second Kansas University is reminded it’s the best college basketball team in the nation, it instantly plays down to the level of its competition. The players say all the right things when facing underdogs, but their actions betray the words as hollow.

When they embrace a cause, convince themselves they’ve been slighted, they come out punching like Joe Frazier. When the opponent comes from a small conference (Lehigh, the Patriot League) or has a short lineup (Oklahoma State) or is missing a star player (Tennessee, Colorado), the Jayhawks lapse into counter-punch mode and tend to play as if they’ve just signed guaranteed long-term contracts.

They handle prosperity about as well as Mike Tyson did, the difference being that once they get smacked in the face, they generally embrace a new cause and find a way to return to form. Often, they are cats giving the mice of the basketball world a reason to believe they’ll survive before they devour them.

Thursday’s first-round NCAA Tournament victory against Lehigh, 90-74, defined how these Jayhawks often play as favorites. They were down 12-4, before a 21-2 run. The blowout was on, right? Wrong. With 40 seconds left in the half, Lehigh drew within two points.

These Jayhawks must enjoy getting blasted at halftime. Self didn’t wait until then to light the fire of Marcus Morris. He did it with one acidic question delivered very early in the action after Morris failed to fight through a ball screen: “How soft are you?” One sentence. Four words. New player.

Naturally, with Sherron Collins energizing the team and Morris producing a double-double and a career-scoring-high of 26 points, Kansas made the Mountain Hawks — what a foolish decision to change the name from Engineers — look like a No. 16 seed from the Patriot League.

Next team up for the Jayhawks (33-2) to say they respect and potentially show they don’t: Northern Iowa. In the layup line, the Panthers (29-4) look like a B-shift steel mill team playing in a midnight basketball league. Self knows there is ample reason to take them seriously.

“I’m not leaving out of here totally fired up right now because I know that if we defend like that, then it will be very difficult, very, very difficult to beat Northern Iowa,” Self said.

Georgetown, one of the monsters of the supposedly loaded Midwest Region, lost to Ohio, no better than a No. 9 seed in the MAC tourney a week ago. Should Ohio continue to advance, that actually could make the road tougher for Kansas, given that the Jayhawks might not perform as well as it would against Georgetown. Seinfeld’s George Constanza would love this Kansas team. Everything is opposite with these guys.

Comments

UmbertoConforti 4 years, 6 months ago

Are you sure that there is nothing physically wrong with Cole Aldrich? He seems to lack stamina and energy. He isn't nearly as effective this year as he was last year against good teams. We need him to play up to his ability of last year to win the NCAA tournament this year. I also wonder why Withey isn't used more. He seems to bubble over with energy and excitement. He also isn't as clumsy as I feared he would be. His playing time is hard to figure. Thomas Robinson may be a super star next year or as a junior, but right now Withey contributes more when he gets to play.

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Thomas Michaud 4 years, 6 months ago

Keegs, I've been wondering this most of the year; glad to see an article about their lack of intensity. I know it's not easy to maintain the "killer instinct" for two full halves, but at least give it a longer than 15-20 minutes spread throughout the game--the other 20 (or so) minutes allow too many teams to stay in the game too long (for my health, anyway). In the end, I continue to believe this team has the potential to win every game; as Whitlock wrote, after KU won the Big12: we'll look back on this season wondering how KU ever lost 2 games.

@UmbertoConforti, I've been wondering about Cole's energy level as well--almost as if the bronchitis (? believe that's what he had) never has really left him. He's got to be more of a force against UNI's center (and from here on out) ... Slap "North Carolina" (ref. 2008) on each opponent's jersey's from here on out and see if that'll wake him up!

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bbeckum 4 years, 6 months ago

This is what happens in a socialist society: they play down to the level of the competition. We should change the fight song to "The Internationale". (That was the national anthem of the USSR, for those reactionaries among you who are too stupid to know anything about history).

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jaybate 4 years, 6 months ago

et al,

KU has never lacked intensity once this year. when Self has geeked them for a game.

The heuristic is simple regarding intensity.

Self doesn't bring a knife to a gun fight and...

Self doesn't waste a bullet at a knife fight, when just cocking the pistol will do.

KU could get beaten, of course. And if they do, it will then be time to lay out what Self was masking this season. But I'm sure as heck not going to given any enemy the freebie of such insight before hand and be a part to helping contrive an upset.

I am not surprised Keegs gets urge incontinence and moisture build-up in his man diapers from time to time. He is a fine person and journalist, but he is not a Jayhawk. He is a member of the 4th estate reporting on them. No one can fully understand the ins and outs of Jayhawk basketball and of getting better who is not of it. Even Coach Self, genius that he is, being an Okie, struggles with the mysteries, subtleties and eccentricities and occassionally amusing goofiness of the living myth that is KU basketball.

But many of you here are of Jayhawk, but the Jayhawk and for the Jayhawk. To you I say, the dry washing of hands and the nervous messes patted with Charmin are unbecoming to and inappropriate for men and women of Kansas basketball.

We are the daddy of college basketball.

We must conduct ourselves with dignity, composure, and a fitting amount of self confidence, so that the rest of the family does not lose respect for their own roots, fall into disorder and join cults of one kind or another.

And we must do this win or lose.

The legacy and the family requires it.

Rock Chalk!

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jaybate 4 years, 6 months ago

bbeckum,

I would only amend what you say in two ways;

  1. In a "Corporate Socialist" society; and

  2. "there is no competition in a corporate socialist society, there is only oligopoly, subsidy and bailouts for idiot CEOs that have never known anything but corporate socialism and have never competed for anything but government hog trough."

Next.

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mwilliam 4 years, 6 months ago

Jaybate,

I don't think bbeckum understands your last comment, but you are right on target.

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mwilliam 4 years, 6 months ago

Jaybate,

I don't think bbeckum understands your last comment, but you are right on target.

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RockChalkJ 4 years, 6 months ago

Guess what? WE WON! We were one of only three games that wasn't even close. More importantly, WE WON ! And we advance.

Trust me folks, quit looking to the National Championship only. Enjoy this season, the ride, and each game as it comes.

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67coronet 4 years, 6 months ago

Watched all tournament games yesterday and it is noteworthy that the underdog teams came out ready to play and loaded with intensity.

Watching the Jayhawks in the first ten minutes I find myself screaming at them to get fired up and put these guys away now!!!

My wife is telling me to calm down and that they will be alright, my response was that it is important to send a message of intimidation to other teams who may be watching the game, maxhawk is right, KU absolutely lacks intensity too often!

K-State and Kentucky went right after their opponents early and never looked back!

Side note, the Big East has lost two games in the NIT and three in the NCAA, love watching how the ESPN commentators talk around this turn of events.

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Martin Rosenblum 4 years, 6 months ago

"...we are the daddy of college basketball"

Great line Jaybate. I hope you won't mind that I will use it for the rest of my life!

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UmbertoConforti 4 years, 6 months ago

67 coronet. Right on concerning the Big East. I think of Digger Phelps' predictions regarding Notre Dame and all the Big East teams. Wouldn't it be great if somehow the Big 12 could slide into a Big 12 Final Four? I don't even remember the teams in the different brackets, so I am not sure if it is possible with Texas flopping again, but I can dream.

BTW, I don't understand Jaybate's last paragraph. I liked his analysis of the game much more. His posts were much better for me when he was more scientific and less artistic. They were generally spectacular. I am a Jayhawk. I bleed Yale Blue/Harvard Crimson, but I still worry about the lack of intensity, especially Aldrich.

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67coronet 4 years, 6 months ago

Thought it would be a Big 12 sweep, couldn't believe how Texas gave the game away! Felt sorry for Rick Barnes, two brick free throws, and a freshman guard who gets called for charging with less than two minutes to play! The expression on the guards face was one of "what's the big deal, we got the lead"!

Sense there are team issues with Texas, not just a lack of talent at some positions. Only way to explain their complete meltdown!

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dukehester 4 years, 6 months ago

So where is keegan's great #1 team...the 'horns? oh that's right.....one and done!!!

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jaybate 4 years, 6 months ago

memhawk,

It is yours. You don't even have to footnote me, or pay me a royalty. Somethings just do belong in the public domain. :-)

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Tony Bandle 4 years, 6 months ago

give bbeckum a break..

he's a poly sci major who finally got to use something he learned!!

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jaybate 4 years, 6 months ago

umberto and slayr,

Cole's pasty skin suggests persisting mono. Dark circles indicate allergies, or mono.

Mono wins in the speculative diagnosis contest.

Cole's scoring 3 ppg less than last year seems attributable to two things:

1) playing three minutes/game less this season than last; 2) X's arrival and prodiguous scoring for a freshman; and 3) Marcus emergence as a scorer both because of maturity and because Cole has been doubled from the first tip off of the season.

Note Cole's mpg and FG% stats last year and this:

YR/MPG/FG% 09: 29.6/.598 10: 26.7/.556

A healthy Cole might allow us to blow people out almost every game.

A healthy Cole that could go 30 mpg would likely pick up one more basket band FT in 3 more minutes.

But even healthy, Cole would very likely not go on a tear this year, given Self's take what they give us philosophy. When he's doubled and tripled on offense, it only makes sense to let Marcus/Kieff pour in 20-25ppg as has happened this season and let Cole spend his energy budget on defense, rebounding, shot blocking and setting screens.

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jaybate 4 years, 6 months ago

Though no one mentions it, Cole has vastly improved his help defense out of the post. Cole is almost single handedly responsible for our improvement on perimeter defense this year. It is just amazing how a guy as big as he is can get out on the wing picks and take the guard briefly and so smoothly transition back to guarding the post, while hedging on the penetrating guard Sherron is trying to stay with. Cole is one of the best I have seen at this hedging defense off the ball screens. It is one of the big reasons we have handled ball screen offenses well later in the season. Self finally gave up on the guards being able to fight through and handle the ball screens on their own and felt Cole was finally well enough to go out and chase for a game.

Two other stats of Cole's that just aren't being noted for their sharp improvement over last season are steals and blocks.

Blocks: Everyone marvels at what a good shot blocker Cole is, but they talk about it as if he was born a good shot blocker, rather than as a good shot blocker who has gotten much better. He already has 29 more blocks this season than last and most likely 1-4 more games to play. This is a 31% improvement. I really don't recall a guy already called a good shot blocker ever making this much improvement in a season, while actually playing less minutes, but I've never looked at the numbers of someone like Ostertag.

Steals: This is the stat that really leaped out at me. He's got 5 more steals in one fewer game and many fewer minutes than last year; that's a 24% improvement. Think about that. It is huge. Cole has just hugely improved his contribution to disruption this season. And getting more steals also means he's defending the post better, or he wouldn't be in position to get the steals.

YR:STL/BLK 09: 21/94 10: 26/123

I know that Marcus gets hugely deserved praise for his great improvement, but Cole has just improved a huge amount in aspects of the game that have huge bottomline impacts on the W&L statement, but that casual fans are overlooking.

And as Cole has pointed out recently, if he sets a great pick, which he does with amazing frequency (at least anecdotally IMHO) this season, as opposed to last, it is the equal of an assist that does not show up in the stat sheet at all.

Cole is truly making monster contributions this year. He is just not doing it as much with the FGAs. Frankly, I would much rather have this Cole this year than the Cole last year. The Cole this year is much more like Bill Russell. He is beating you so many ways this year it is truly amazing.

If he were healthy, KU would easily have been undefeated this season.

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Martin Rosenblum 4 years, 6 months ago

Has any mention been made about the knee braces that Cole has been wering for the past 3 or four games? Usually, those are not just for style. They signal proactive or reactive issues regarding knee/joint stress.

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jaybate 4 years, 6 months ago

ralster,

Agreed.

memhawk,

I've been worrying about those things too. He doesn't seem to be jumping as high the last few games. I don't know how he does it, but he's been doing a lot flat footed blocking of shots.

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Martin Rosenblum 4 years, 6 months ago

He's slower on the first step of a run-out too. Hopefully, he's just trying to stave off the big man nemesis (or is it nemesi?) with so many games so close together. If I was an NBA scout, I'd want disclosure and quick!

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yates33333 4 years, 6 months ago

Jaybate. Your so much better when you present straight forward analysis. Keep up the good work. We need the effort.

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