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Sunday, April 1, 2012

Keegan

Kansas, Tyshawn Taylor topsy-turvy

Tyshawn Taylor (10) leaps for a shot in the second-half of KU's 64-62 win over Ohio State to put the Jayhawks the Championship game agains Kentucky, Monday night.

Tyshawn Taylor (10) leaps for a shot in the second-half of KU's 64-62 win over Ohio State to put the Jayhawks the Championship game agains Kentucky, Monday night.

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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

— You know how it is in basketball. A team falls behind, and the pressure mounts. The hole gets too deep, and it’s over. And everybody knows that in a close game the less time that remains, the more pressure a free-throw shooter feels.

That’s in this universe. The Kansas University basketball team must come from some opposite world, where up is down, long is short, and Tyshawn Taylor is a player who leaves his supporters wanting to hug him then slug him then hug him then slug him and then in the end hug him in hopes his irrepressible zest for life and basketball will rub off on them.

The fact Kansas and, specifically, Taylor, responded to playing 20 minutes of basketball that would make a nice how-not-to-play-the-game instructional video with a comeback victory, 64-62 in the Superdome, to advance to Monday night’s national-title game should surprise nobody.

Taylor almost always makes himself the story, and it’s never a one-sided tale.

He opened the game like a child consumed by stage-fright, even though he had 40 minutes to make up for any mistakes. He closed it facing more pressure than any college basketball player has at any point in this season. And at that point, he was completely tension-free.

Taylor’s team led by a point with eight seconds left when Lenzelle Smith Jr. committed a foul that sent KU’s senior guard from Hoboken, N.J., into as pressure-packed a moment as he ever experienced. At least that’s how it should have been, but this being the opposite-universe basketball team, he felt none of it.

“I was relaxing,” he said. “I was looking in the crowd. I was smiling. I walked up to the line knowing I was going to make it. I’ve been in that situation a few times this year. Some resulted in us losing, and some won us some games.”

And what did he see when he looked into a dome filled with 73,361 spectators?

“I saw my mom in the crowd blowing me a kiss,” Taylor said. “I saw the (Morris) twins, or one of them anyway. I saw all the fans in the crowd yelling and smiling.”

He made both free throws to give Kansas a 64-61 lead, and that’s not the last thing he did that made half the crowd want to hug him.

He overheard a conversation between Aaron Craft, who so badly outplayed him in the first half, and a teammate, and applied what he heard to steal the ball in the backcourt with five seconds left to seal the game. Wait, not so fast. This is Taylor, remember? This is the opposite-universe team, remember?

Instead of dribbling the clock out, Taylor threw a one-handed, cross-court bounce pass intended for Elijah Johnson, but nowhere near him. There was a receiver in the area, so it wasn’t an intentional grounding. The problem was, the receiver was wearing a suit and tie, and his name was Bill Self, the ninth-year coach who has had at least one McDonald’s All-American on all of his Kansas teams except this one.

“‘I was open, Ty, but you threw it three feet behind me,’” Taylor recounted Self telling him, his smile lighting up the locker room.

The play that drew so many gasps didn’t end up hurting Taylor or the Jayhawks because they’re going to the national-title game against Kentucky, the only school that has won more basketball games.

Similarly, Taylor’s woeful three-point NCAA Tournament shooting hasn’t hurt Kansas. Taylor is 0-for-20 shooting threes in this tournament and 0-for-20 lifetime shooting in domes. But it’s a combination of the dome and the tournament for Taylor, a 41-percent lifetime three-point shooter in non-tournament games. He has made just three of 40 three-pointers in NCAA Tournament games.

Will he try, try again Monday night?

“For sure,” he said. “I’m going to keep letting it fly. I’m going to keep letting it fly. I’m going to make one. Mark my words.”

It’s getting tougher and tougher to doubt anything about these Jayhawks (32-6). How can you when the only player on the roster who scored a point in last season’s Elite Eight loss to Virginia Commonwealth can’t hit a shot and his team keeps winning after falling so far behind?

Ohio State had leads of 26-13 and 30-17, which of course meant the Jayhawks had the Buckeyes right where they wanted them.

Five games into this NCAA Tournament run to the title game, Kansas has led at the half just once, and that was against Detroit Mercy in the first game.

The Jayhawks trailed at the half against Purdue (six points), North Carolina State (one point) and were tied with North Carolina at the half. Coming into this season, Self had an 0-9 record in tourney games when trailing at the half. This team is different, as it showed by storming back from a 19-point second-half deficit to Missouri in Lawrence to win in overtime.

What is it with this team that it feels pressure when it shouldn’t and doesn’t when it should?

“Isn’t that weird?” Taylor said. “I think that’s exactly how it feels. I can feel it myself because, ‘OK, we’re down, but we’ve been here before, know exactly what we need to do to get back. We need to get some stops and work our offense.’

“I think being down helps our offense because we cherish the ball more. We make the right plays, do everything we can to get the best shots possible.”

Taylor’s respect is so deep for Kentucky that the last thing he wants is for Kansas to put itself in a hole again.

“No way we can do that in the national-title game,” he said. “We’ve got to make sure we come from the jump ball and we’re on point, doing the things that we do when we get down.”

Comments

Martin Rosenblum 2 years ago

Officiating was not Final Four-esque. That foul reversal was one of the most bizarre scenarios I have ever seen. The Withey travel call was shameful. And, there was a triple team on Robinson in the second half where there could have been multiple fouls called on OSU. I thought the refs were assigned through some sort of process that resulted in the cream of the crop wearing striped shirts in FF games.

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Gene Jackson 2 years ago

I watched a replay of the last few minutes several times and Taylor's so called errant pass with 8 seconds to go hit the foot of the Ohio State player and KU should have gotten the ball back as that foot caused the ball to be "errant". The announcers, of course, crucified Taylor as they usually do and the call was another bad call by the refs.

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packywacky88 2 years ago

I don't think folks know just how fast our guards are. EJ just blew past everyone, and along with Taylor, they seem to do that in the last few minutes of every game. Craft, Sullinger, and everyone but Buford was dead tired and couldn't hang with our guards. No Buckeye except for Buford wanted to take a shot. Kensucky is talented, but I doubt they've seen guards like ours (are playing at this time).

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William Blake 2 years ago

My winning strategy for Monday night:

  1. Break the game down into two strategic halves. (seems we are already doing that)

  2. Try to stay close in the first half. Attempt to draw as many fouls as possible on UK during the first 20 minutes. Double and triple fake about every shot. These will have to be fakes executed perfectly and have to be the closest thing to a real shot pulled back at the last second. UK will come ready and hungry... perfect combination of psyche to nail them with fouls! Let them bring their killer bully play for the first 20 minutes. Lets get Davis and at least one other player with 3 first-half fouls.

  3. Second half is another story. Second half we bring our aggressive offensive play to the game. Most of UK's team will be shackled with foul trouble by then... so they can either foul out or let us dominate the second half.

The key to this strategy requires two things to happen... we have to draw fouls and stay close in the first half!

UK will get tired in the second half if we play this game. I'd love to see us down by 7 at half time with a couple Wildcats in foul trouble and after UK spent up most their energy obtaining that measly 7-pt lead. If it plays out like that, you can feel certain we will be right there at the end and in position to finish them off like we did all these other teams!

Rock Chalk!

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HAWKTOPIA 2 years ago

Jaybate is right again. The moving screens were so badbi found myself wishing our defense would just start sooner to show the refs. It was also so obvious that TT hit Craft when he was totally in motion and had not one foot planted.

RCJHKU

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lrahardja 2 years ago

We need to neutralize KFC with certain seasoning to neutralize their athletism. Need to switch between triangle zone and man-to-man on regular basis to confuse and take KFC's wings out of their comfort zone. Once they are half-baked, we grill them with some long range shooting that should be due. KFC interior is very solid. KU can make KFC interior more tender by creating new secret formula and spice to allow our guards to have more success offensively. Hope our long range shots are on target this time. Go KU!!!

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PurePierce 2 years ago

Coach has said that this team is playing as close to its ceiling as any he has coached. You know what? This team has one heck of a high ceiling!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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kshaw04 2 years ago

I read the boards every day (all year) and love the posts...I hope to enjoy reading elated posts on Monday night and Tuesday!

I just have to say, I went to KU and Michigan, I never cheer for Michigan in basketball as I've cheered for KU for almost 49 years. I was there for the fab five and highlighted Kansas on my rankings list and posted it on my door every week. Nothing is better having KU in the championship game again and a tiny bit of my Big 10 experience makes me happy to say the Jayhawks beat OSU...(oh...The Ohio State University). What exactly is up with the "The"... a bit of humility is needed!

I can't wait to see the HCBS game plan. Hopefully this team will remember earlier words of teammates and "just listen" followed by enjoying "just playing the game." They have earned the right to relish this experience and play with the passion we've seen so many times this year. I love this team and what a year. 8 Big 12 seasons and a championship game...too bad ESPN and CBS can't remember this and consider mentioning KU. Love the disrepect...more fodder to motivate our team!

Go KU!

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daverinoku 2 years ago

Tom, that was some good writin'.

(coming from a KU English major)

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jiminycricket 2 years ago

I guess Danny is leaving.......So...... That only leaves us with.......

"THE MIRACLES"

It's like watching your ugly sister win the Miss America beauty pageant.........your really happy she one, but just can't figure out, how she won it, but then again do you really care how?

"If this team beats Kentucky... It would be the end of world" oops....did I just say that!

You can't make believers out of non-believers, even if you show them the way!

"David slews Goliath' with a sling of Rock Chalk!

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jayhawkbenny27 2 years ago

Was HCBS halftime remark sarcastic???? "they played great D without fouling us" haha... He's so clever.

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corvuscorax 2 years ago

btw, free throw strokes looked sooo pure.

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jaybate 2 years ago

I saw a Lo-hio State team given every call by the refs and KU beat them both.

I saw a Lo-hio State team illegal screen everytime down the floor and never once be called for it, and KU beat them.

I saw a Lo-hio State team whose mouths were in better cardiovascular condition than their legs and KU beat them.

I saw Aaron Craft try to substitute being a jerk for being a good basketball player and KU beat them.

I saw a KU team play its B-game against an overhyped lo-hio state and beat them.

I saw a bunch of talking heads over hype OSU for a week in hope of spiking their own Q-ratings believe their own lies and then watch incredulously as KU's truth exposed the over hype.

I saw the spirit of the Lawrence Airmen fly the plane.

And it was beautiful.

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actorman 2 years ago

BTW, I LOVED the "intentional grounding" reference -- very funny!

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actorman 2 years ago

UK hasn't really been challenged yet in this tournament, with the Louisville game being the only one not decided by double digits -- and even when Louisville made it close it was hard to believe they really had much of a chance to win.

On the other hand, KU has won one game by 2 points and two games by 3 points, and KU was behind with barely more than three minutes to go in the North Carolina game.

What will happen when UK faces a real challenge for the first time? How will they handle that kind of pressure, especially being the heavy favorite?

How will Coach Cal deal with the pressure of maybe blowing his best shot at a title and getting b**ch-slapped by Bill Self again?

There's no reason to believe that KU isn't perfectly capable of pulling one more rabbit out of their collective hats.

If KU wins this game, I not only win the KUsports.com pool, but several other pools, for a nice tidy sum of money.

Needless to say, this will be the single biggest game I've ever experienced as a fan.

One more, guys, you can do it!!!

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Alohahawk 2 years ago

Agree with TT. If the Jayhawks expect to have a chance on Monday, KU needs to keep the game close. Enough of this getting behind 10 to 15 points! Kenstinky will take advantage if they gain any large lead, because it will take KU out of their set plays and force them to speed up their offense, thus creating more chances for turnovers. If the Jayhawks can keep UK from all those breakaway points, I think KU can put the pressure on and Kenstinky, with it's 3 freshman starters, will lose some of it's confidence and start rushing things. During the first matchup, back in November, KU held their own in the first half. But when Kenstinky got up, what was it 15 points or so, it forced the Hawks back on their heels. A lot of UK's points are made in transition. So, a major key is to restrict that option.

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bbeckum 2 years ago

watched the game here in steamboat springs with rick griggs. the owner of the bar started playing the rock chalk chant with over a minute remaining and i was afraid it was too soon and might jinx us. but nope. after it was over, he sprayed us with champagne. priceless memory.

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Mike Stewart 2 years ago

I've heard this year referred to as a rebuilding year, but I think that is a misnomer. It's more like Robinson and the leftovers. The only new player on this team of any significance is Kevin Young, and you really can't say that a junior transfer is part of a rebuilding effort. Next year will be a rebuilding year.

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Bangkok_Jayhawk 2 years ago

1988... "Danny and the Miracles" 2008... "Mario's Miracle" 2012... "Robinson and the Re-loaders"?

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Bangkok_Jayhawk 2 years ago

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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