Sunday, April 1, 2012

Double-team cuffs Sullinger

Jeff Withey, left, and Robinson (0) celebrate KU's 64-62 win over Ohio State to put the Jayhawks the Championship game agains Kentucky, Monday night. At left is Ohio State's Jared Sullinger.

Jeff Withey, left, and Robinson (0) celebrate KU's 64-62 win over Ohio State to put the Jayhawks the Championship game agains Kentucky, Monday night. At left is Ohio State's Jared Sullinger.


Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Bill Self, Elijah Johnson, Travis Releford and Jeff Withey

Kansas coach Bill Self and players talk to reporters following the Jayhawks' 64-62 victory over Ohio State in the Final Four on March 31, 2012.

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Ohio State's Thad Matta, William Buford and Jared Sullinger

Ohio State's Thad Matta, William Buford and Jared Sullinger talk to reporters following the Jayhawks' 64-62 win over the Buckeyes on March 31, 2012.

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KU vs. Ohio State

Box score

— It might not have been obvious on the stat sheet, but anyone who watched the game saw it plain as day.

The double-teams the Kansas University men’s basketball team threw at Ohio State big man Jared Sullinger during the second half of KU’s 64-62 Final Four victory at the Superdome on Saturday absolutely handcuffed the Buckeyes.

“I had no idea,” Sullinger said when asked after the game what he wanted to do against the double-team of KU’s Jeff Withey and Thomas Robinson. “I could barely see. Some people say I’m only 6-foot-4, and I can’t really see over a 7-footer and a 6-10 guy.”

That was evident throughout the second half, when the Jayhawks (32-6) carefully calculated just the right times to send Robinson flying at Sullinger after he caught the ball in the post. At the very least, the move shut down any momentum Sullinger had after the catch. Beyond that, it took the entire Ohio State offense out of rhythm.

“I thought they did a tremendous job on me,” a dejected Sullinger said in the OSU locker room. “They crowded the floor, and I couldn’t really make a move. It caught me off guard.”

While Withey (four points, eight rebounds, seven blocks) and Robinson (19 points, eight rebounds) were given credit for slowing down Sullinger, Ohio State reserve Evan Ravenel made sure to give credit to KU’s guards as well.

After snagging seven points and four rebounds in the first half to help OSU (31-8) build a 34-25 lead at the break, Sullinger had just six points on 2-of-11 shooting in the second 20 minutes.

“Obviously, you gotta make adjustments on the go and change the game plan,” Ravenel said. “That (double-team) was one of the things we talked about, but it’s tough seeing Thomas Robinson in there, who’s 6-10, he’s got long arms and a big, wide body and then Jeff Withey, who’s a 7-footer. It’s tough to see over that. And then they have those guards that play that NFL DB style, they just sit back, wait for you to throw the ball and then go get it.”

Kind of like Ohio State guard Aaron Craft?

“Just like Aaron,” Ravenel said. “They got three Aarons out there. Three bigger versions of Aaron.”

Ravenel, who grabbed two rebounds in 14 minutes, had an up-close look at the vicious traps that Robinson and Withey used to suffocate Sullinger. Still, Ravenel was surprised that they were so effective.

“Teams have double-teamed Jared, they’ve triple-teamed Jared, and he’s found a way to make something happen,” Ravenel said. “But today, they just capitalized when we made mistakes.”

As for the origin of the defense that proved to be the difference, freshman guard Naadir Tharpe, who one day hopes to become a coach, said the initial idea came from KU assistant Joe Dooley.

“We’ve worked on that for a while, and we would’ve probably done that the first time,” Dooley said, referring to KU’s December match-up with Ohio State in Allen Fieldhouse in which Sullinger did not play. “It takes a great player out of his comfort level, which is a big thing. And he is a great player, obviously. It took him out of his comfort level, and it gave us some room to breathe. In general, we got what we wanted out of it.”

Now the Jayhawks get one shot to come up with a defense for high-powered Kentucky (37-2) in the national championship game Monday night.


BainDread 6 years ago

I'm guessing Head Coach Self has had Coach Emeritus Larry Brown focusing on Kentucky. The Jayhawk staff will have a great game plan ready Monday night.

jhox 6 years ago

I thought against Memphis in 2008 Brown clearly leaned toward pulling for Calipari. This year he's been with KU much of the year, and I'm guessing Self has been very open to his input, which has to be a good thing. In my humble opinion Brown is the best game strategist to ever walk the planet (with Self also near the top of that list.)

I especially liked hearing Brown use the term "we" earlier this week on a tv interview in discussing the Jayhawks.

Kyle Sybesma 6 years ago

As I was reading this article I was wondering about how much Larry Brown has been involved what an asset he would be for the UK game?

rwhawk 6 years ago

LB is going to join the staff starting next year...I can hope, anyways.

hawk316 6 years ago

Coach Brown is a teacher, and I'm guessing he would love a chance to fill that kind of role on Self's staff. If he didn't have to do any recruiting, he might be willing...

JayHawkFanToo 6 years ago

Duke Vitale was wondering who Larry Brown would cheer for. I guess he missed Coach Brown being at almost every KU game for the last couple of months. Maybe he should check with Coach Knight, he has been schooling him all weekend.

Kye Clark 6 years ago

Another brilliant defensive scheme by Self & Co. The reason it worked (and was so well-timed) was because DeShaun Thomas was on the bench most of the time we were doing that. Without him out there to stretch out TRob's defense and get him away from the paint, the ploy worked.

chill 6 years ago

Congrats to jhawk bball team. It was really exciting watching one of the best Final Four games in recent times. College bball is the most exciting event to watch!. I sure hope the jhawks bring home the title on Monday. I want to give a shout out to Jeff Withey, because he stepped up to the plate when he was needed the most. I've been watching him play since his days at AZ and I can tell you I wasn't expecting a lot from him based upon what I saw at AZ. Today, I didn't see that in Withey. Today, I saw a collegiate bball player playing like he belonged in the Final Four! Go JHAWKS!!!!!!!!

Kye Clark 6 years ago

Not trying to be a prick, but what exactly did you see at Arizona? Withey in a few practices? He never took the court for them. Sat out his first semester and then transferred to KU. Before that he played high school ball in California (San Diego if I'm not mistaken).

Jonathan Allison 6 years ago


Nice one ICT, maybe he saw some summer pickup ball.

bbeckum 6 years ago

I went against a long-time superstition and wore a ku shirt to watch the game. rick griggs wore his ku hat backwards. obviously, rick and i won the game for us.

Still not gonna wash my ku hand towel, though.


KU79 6 years ago

I changed shirts at halftime...I know that's what did it.

Dan Pawlowski 6 years ago

My nephew changed all of his clothes at halftime.

Sam Brockert 6 years ago

I stood the entire second half, just like I did for every other game they have been down in.

bbeckum 6 years ago

“Just like Aaron,” Ravenel said. “They got three Aarons out there. Three bigger versions of Aaron.”

Great, great quote.

Aaron played a great game. But, as Rick Griggs said, This was a team win by the hawks.

actorman 6 years ago

It's hard not to like the OSU team. They carry themselves with class and show great respect for KU. I hope they do well next year.

KUbsee69 6 years ago

Not their coach, though. In the post-game interview, he never once mentioned KU as a reason for their loss. It was just we, we, we (all the way home).

jhox 6 years ago

I couldn't agree more. Their players were stand up guys and total class. On the other hand, their coach was a big time whiner. Pitono was total class after the Louisville loss. That's how a professional coach should behave.

dgaskill 6 years ago

I was worried about their Coach! His face was very red and he was sweating profusely . Was his back bothering him or was He pre-stroke or about to have a Heart attack?

Jayhawk444 6 years ago

remember KU has to go play them at Columbus next year. THAT should be an interesting game...

John Mueller 6 years ago

I have the distinct feeling that this team is NOT satisfied with what they have done so far, even though the rest of us are on the ride of our lives.

Just one more gritty, tough, nail biting win and they you guys can take the next two weeks off.

Just, one, more, win, boys.....Just one more.

Rock Chalk!!

PS Missouri sucks.

msthompson37 6 years ago

Caliperi and self going at it again... team concept vs talent and no will as big to win like ku does..

msthompson37 6 years ago

They found heart and will from Robinson ordeal. Special

kshaw04 6 years ago

Has anyone noticed that TRob seems to be using the I Love you sign in this picture? He also used the same sign when he was introduced at the beginning of the game. LJW, would be great if you could confirm this.

KU fans, if it is the case, and even if it isn't, it would be great if the fans used this sign at the beginning of the championship game to acknowledge our love of the team and of TRob. Wouldn't it be cool to see all those fans flashing that sign!

Justin Anderson 6 years ago

Coach brown was rooting for Kansas in 08. He was in KU section, I was there several rows behind him.

Dan Pawlowski 6 years ago

You know I thought so but I was not positive. Thanks for the info.

sethoakley 6 years ago

What an amazing job coaching this year! The defense these guys are playing is something special, looking forward to watching tomorrow night!

We were pretty pumped last night as you can see!

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