Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Mizzou gets assist for KU’s victory


Bill Self has taken two Tulsa teams, all three Illinois squads and each of his nine Kansas University clubs to the NCAA Tournament.

He has compiled a 29-12 record in tourney games — including a 20-7 mark at Kansas — has been to the Elite Eight six times and won a national championship in 2008.

Yet, until Sunday night in the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb., the 19th-year Division I college basketball coach had never coached a team that won an NCAA Tournament game it trailed at halftime.

Kansas didn’t lead in its 63-60 victory against Purdue until Elijah Johnson hit a three-pointer with 3:04 left. The Jayhawks trailed at the half, 36-30, a deficit that grew to 10 points before the comeback started.

The victory made Self 1-9 in NCAA Tournament games in which his team was behind at the half, 28-3 when leading.

Most of his teams aren’t accustomed to falling behind, so when it happens, the pressure of playing catch-up ball without a great deal of experience at it mounts, and the final buzzer sounds too early.

Not playing well from behind, to a large extent, can be a consequence of being too good, scoring too many blowouts, experiencing little more than relief after victories, dejection after losses.

This team is different from most of Self’s in that it doesn’t routinely overwhelm opponents with talent and has to rely more on will than skill to win consistently.

These Jayhawks have gone 5-3 in games they trailed at halftime. Kansas can thank Missouri for helping it to win Sunday’s warts-and-all classic. The Tigers led by a dozen after 20 minutes in Allen Fieldhouse, and the deficit swelled to 19 before KU’s famous comeback victory in overtime.

“Huge,” senior guard Tyshawn Taylor said of that comeback helping KU in the Purdue game.

Taylor was able to tell teammates with credibility at halftime that they all had been there before, a luxury upon which teams too loaded can’t rely.

The Missouri thriller was by far the most impressive, but KU also overcame regular-season halftime deficits in Allen Fieldhouse against Iowa State and Texas A&M and in Norman against Oklahoma.

In the Missouri comeback, it was Taylor who stayed so calm at such a high speed.

In the Purdue game, Johnson steered the ship to safety.

They don’t fear stormy conditions, they attack them with confidence.


Jackmoon 2 years ago

KU is not making it past NC state gentlemen! I am sorry! Its all in my blog why and how and all the picks for all the games come check it out and dont get mad!


bennybob 2 years ago

this article disgusts me,

I refuse to give Missaey credit for anything our teams accomplish


wildjayhawk 2 years ago

We got lucky but, the next one, NC ST., will be the end of KU.


Priest Fontaine 2 years ago

jayhawkers! check out this hilarious short film my friends in KC made:


katiekelley 2 years ago

WOW - a win over a 10 seed !!!!!!!!!!!!!


JayHawkFanToo 2 years ago

Interesting article about Haith.

He was a below average coach in the ACC and never finished better than fifth in the conference; he was just a lucky fluke this season and he will likely never had similar success once he brings his own recruits. Once sanctions hit, MU will be in trouble; I predict a new coach in 3-4 years.


surfingjayhawk 2 years ago

I see the point, but I can't say I completely agree with "more will than skill." Sure, playing defense has a lot to do with will, but it is just as much, if not more, a skill as offense.


Dan Pawlowski 2 years ago

Enough of Misery ..... Lets give T-ROB an assist.


hammerhawk 2 years ago

MU didn't win last week simply because they lacked experience playing in the tournament with the pressure on. They didn't have the experience to recognize how difficult it is to win games at this time of the year. They didn't win because overall they are, always have been, and always will be, a team without a positive destiny. They are losers.

Kansas, however, showed true grit in their win. KU showed the ability, gained through tournament game after tournament game, to persevere when the pressure is on and the game is against them. Years ago in a bar on 6th street watching a Bill Self led Illinois team beating Kansas in the touirnament, I remarked that those are the kind of the big and tough players that we need. And low and behold these years later, WE HAVE THOSE BIG TOUGH PLAYERS and we will win with them. Go Mighty Kansas Jayhawks. Let's clean house.


jaybate 2 years ago

And if you try to give lots of weight to depth, then you are stuck with the fact that depth isn't all that important in the Madness. The best seven guys in the best XTReme Condition capable of playing the best defense, while also being able to play both XTReme Bang Ball and XTreme Transition actually constitute the best team to have.

Last year's team was pretty good at XTreme Muscle. They could really get down and slug it out in grind it out games.

But last year's team had an Achilles Heel that stemmed from their depth: they were not in XTReme Condition.

This year's team proved against Purdue that, while their inexperience made them vulnerable to bang ball, they can survive bang ball, even if it gets the better of them, and I believe they will now be an infinitely better bang ball team, when they face another bang ball team shortly, because of that brutal experience.

And this year team is XTReme Conditioned.

And they know how to play and hang close, while conserving energy, something last year's team never had to learn.

Does this team need a chip on its shoulder to play its best?

You're damned right it does.

But then if last year's team could have used a chip on its shoulder, when it met VCU.

Chips on shoulders of tournament basketball teams ought to be considered required gear.

And so here is where I see this all wash out. This year's team and last year's team are very different kinds of teams, but as of March, they are very close, and this year's team may be a better kind of team to try to win with in March than last year's team. They have the best 5 of anyone in the tournament except maybe UK, which has more talent. Their next two give them exactly what the first five needs in the way of support, though their scoring is streaky. But then good defensive teams that never go stone cold are what win March Madness, aren't they? This year's team can be that kind of a team. It got its stone cold games out just before the tourney started. The only looming shadow is Tyshawn maybe entering a trey slump, because he's never had one yet this year. But EJ after the Father of all trey slumps surpassing even Brady's mother of all trey slumps, appears to be catching fire. And Conner has now had his usual streak of clanking (though he might have 1-2 more), before catching fire in the Final Four. I see this team going deep, maybe winning it all. If it goes deeper than last year's team, its as good as last years team flat out, maybe a little better. If it goes all the way, then no question.


jaybate 2 years ago

Mario vs. Justin: Mario was usually asks to play out of position at the 4. Mario was only 6'5". He was a fine, fine athlete, and a talented basketball player, who would have been a much bigger influence had he not been injured. Mario seemed much the better basketball player in comparison with Justin. But...if you need to sub for Thomas or Jeff, who would you rather have guarding the post? Little at 6-5, or Justin at 6-9? I know Mario was the better, tougher basketball player at their respective phases of development. I know Justin is foul prone and brings no offense. But when you need the fourth big man in the paint during the middle of each half occasionally, who would you rather have? I would rather have Justin guarding the post, even though I think Mario was much the better basketball player. So: I've got to call this in Justin's favor, even though I would much rather have Mario Little scoring at the 3, and his toughness, and his spark off the bench, and so on. Bottom line, how both were used most of the time, was a infrequent subs at the 4. And on that basis, I would rather have Justin.

Conclusion: This year's team arguably has the better starting five. This year's bench has for the first three positions, which are all you need for a Madness run, and you often only need two, are not nearly as good of basketball players and athletes as last year's bench, but at the narrow roles that both were actually assigned to carry out, and given the level of banging required in Madness, I would say it is very, very, very close between which team is better: this year's, or last?

If you try to give lots of weight to last year's team having had more draft choices, you are counting Selby, and his limited utility distorted the importance of the draft choices. And it is almost certain that Thomas, Tyshawn and Jeff could go to the pros this year, even though it appears Jeff will come back another year to get some weight and strength. And if EJ has finally broken through to the great player he has always seemed destined to become, he could easily get hot down the stretch of the Madness and be judged draft worthy by the L, too. That would be four DCs to last year's 3.


jaybate 2 years ago

So: let's compare this year's team's first three reserves with last year's team's first three reserves.

Thomas vs. Kevin:

The edge has to go to Thomas on individual talent and awesome rebounding prowess, but...Thomas basically could not play down the stretch of any game when fouling was expected, because he couldn't shoot free throws. And Thomas last season was foul prone, and inconsistent. Kevin is an able free throw shooter and so can be in the game to the end--something you really need out of a big man substitute. Kevin is too light to bang. But Kevin has shown a knack for getting into games and bringing serious energy, as Thomas did, plus depending on the night, some offense. Thomas is better, but by March, Thomas is not vastly better.

Brady vs. Conner: Brady holds an edge on defense and trey shooting, but Conner has proven to be able to play 21 mpg, and 31-37 in important games, and though he looks ragged to the casual observe on defense, and is streaky on the trey, he keeps playing well enough for the team to get the W, some times just not doing doing anything wrong, but other times getting hot from trey and in big games and tipping the balance. They protect about the same. Also, something most are overlooking about Conner is that he is doing all of this at 6'5" and 215; this means that Conner is more solid than he looks at first and having been a football player, he brings some ruggedness and banging ability that Brady lacked. So: give Brady an edge, but remember that in March Madness, the ability to bang, and be 6'5" at the end of a game, and protect is almost as important as Brady's advantages, when you are not going to play through either in any case on the offense.


jaybate 2 years ago

"Stopping the Conventional Wisdom, or Recognizing How Good the Lawrence Airmen Really Are"

I aim to put an end to the conventional wisdom that this team has to substitute will for skill to win. It has great will. But it also is saturated with skill.

This team has 5 great starters and 2 guys on the bench, Conner and KY, who bring serious skills.

Consider first the starting five. The starting five is now, in March, arguably better than last year's team, at the same time, because by March Josh Selby, though he was used as a decoy starter, really couldn't play as well as Travis for a game (despite his OAD status). Thomas is flat better than Marcus. Jeff is not as good as Kieff in several facets of the game, but Jeff can bring comparable post defense plus blocking that Kieff could not hope to bring, and defense is the coin of the realm in Self Ball. So: the gap between Keiff and Jeff is not as great as it seems, and for defense driven Self Ball, Jeff may actually be the more desirable player (and I liked Kieff and still like Kieff a huge amount). Go to the two and compare EJ and Tyrel. And get your Lens Crafters eye test prescriptions checked before you do. Its pretty close between them. EJ is faster, a bit bouncier, and much more elusive. Tyrel was much brawnier, shot a bit better even with a foot requiring surgery, maybe protected better, seemed to strip more, and was a year farther advanced. But at crunch time, EJ's got the ability to take a game over in a way that Tyrel never showed. So, I've got to give the edge in March to EJ, though its close. Go to the point. This year's Tyshawn is about twice as good as last year's Tyshawn. So: there you have it. The first five this year is better than the first five last year, as of March.

What this team lacks relative to most of Self's teams, especially to last year's team, is bench depth. But bench depth is increasingly not a decisive advantage in March. The commercial breaks are so long and so frequent that, while you need to rest your starters 10 minutes in the first of the two games in each the three two-game tournaments, the fact is, the competition is so good in the tournament that you often have to play your starters 35-40 minutes per game to get the Ws, starting Sweet 16 week end. You really only need 2-3 guys off the bench, one big, one small, to see to it that the starters only have to play 30 minutes in the first game. And in the second game you don't really need more than two to get the job done, unless you have major, major fouling problems.


CWGOKU 2 years ago

Tom, please stop putting mu in our basketball articles. You can't mention mu in the same breath or sentence with Kansas basketball


Steve Gantz 2 years ago

Although I would have liked to take out Messouri in the Conf tourney, the deeper we go into this tourney, the better it gets for a KU fan.


Michael Wattai 2 years ago

So using the same logic on Misery, the close games that Misery had with KU should have helped Misery in the tourney. So why did Misery lose in the 1st round?


jayhawklawrence 2 years ago

I think it is a given that you cannot become truly great unless you can overcome a great competitor.

Chamberlain and Russell, Lakers and Celtics, Magic and Bird, Chicago and Detroit.

Maybe if Missouri would have played more like those Isaiah Thomas led Detroit teams they would still be in it.

Missouri spent much energy hating Lawrence and tried to play finesse basketball instead of playing like men.

I hope we don't make the same mistake. This is a man's game. Everybody else go home early.

Even Kentucky will do down if they rely on 3 point shots.


Robert Brock 2 years ago

Mizzou gets an assist for KU's victory by Mizzou providing uplifting, high comedy earlier in the day. I must find me a Norfolk State tee-shirt.


KGphoto 2 years ago

LJW, can we please stop with the auto-play video ads? So annoying!


biggunz 2 years ago

What a bunch of pansies running this site. Behold the power of the delete button! Chumps.


AsadZ 2 years ago

I watched first half of Purdue game again and I can see why HCBS kept telling his players that we can win this game.

In my opinion KU was down for two reasons: 1. Purdue could not miss 2. KU could not score

Overall, KU actuall pleyed pretty well. Their D was good. They were posied and most importantly for HCBS, they were out rebounding Purdue. HCBS felt that sonner or later shooting would balance off and KU can win the game.


REHawk 2 years ago

Current Jayhawk fans are beneficiaries of one of the tremendous psychological endowments of the sport of basketball. Skill and Will appear to be running neck to neck in the underlying makeup of this squad. If we should arrive at the National Championship game, some wise and wary opposing coach is bound to go into sleep deprivation after semifinal contests.


KUFan90 2 years ago

I guess I had forgotten we were winning at halftime of the Natl Champ game vs Memphis. Anyone know the halftime score of that game?


bbeckum 2 years ago

Here's a hilarious bit from ESPN:

Missouri may never live down its 86-84 loss to No. 15 seed Norfolk State. As bad as the upset was for the 2-seed Tigers, it looked even worse two days later, when the Spartans were blown out by Florida by 34 points. For Missouri, the defeat can be added to an ever-growing list of gut-wrenching moments in Tigers athletics history that includes Tyus Edney's coast-to-coast, buzzer-beating layup, the Ricky Clemons fiasco and the fifth-down football game against Colorado.

And here's the link:


Janet Scott 2 years ago

Mizzery gets an assist for Norfolk State's victory, too!


Doug Merrill 2 years ago

Great column -= good info re Self's record - did not realize that, even at Tulsa and Illinois, his teams had not come from behind much. EJ made the point after the game that no one on the team "got down", so the experience did pay off. I wouldn't mind a couple of blow out wins this weekend, tho!


mojayhawk 2 years ago

Love the last line in your column!


fansincewilt 2 years ago

This team has given us a wonderful season; one that I don't believe will end anytime soon. They are giving their all. Who would have ever thought that we would have a POY candidate, several players of the week, a big 12 championship and a trip to the sweet sixteen with the expectations of winning to the elite 8 and maybe even to the final four. This team has exceeded everyone's expectations. That is so much better than ending on a sour note. There is really something special about this team. I can't wait to see who is going to step up in this next game, but I feel really sure that someone will. I wonder if it is Withey's turn or if Johnson will again carry the day. What an exciting bunch of guys!


JayHawkFanToo 2 years ago

You are welcome Tom Keegan...

Keegan must have read my posts. I posted a few time in the past weeks that the MU (and Baylor) game would end up helping KU in the long run; I guess he agrees.


biggunz 2 years ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.


kusportsdotcom 2 years ago

Had to read halfway through the article to find the first mention of Mizzou, who was credited in the headline as helping KU.


dw3c 2 years ago

I really thought this was going to be an article about KU fans buying up unwanted tickets from mizzou fans after they lost to Norfolk St.


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