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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Keegan

Column: Kansas can spin its fate into fuel

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Sitting on the throne strips kings of the advantage of using the effective Rodney Dangerfield motivational device.

“Nobody thought we could do it.”

“Nobody believed in us.”

“Everybody picked somebody else to win it.”

The Kansas University basketball team never gets to pull that club out of the bag.

Until now.

Barring a swifter-than-anticipated recovery by Joel Embiid, KU will play at least the first two games of the NCAA Tournament without him. It’s conceivable that, if KU gets bounced immediately in the Big 12 tourney, the seeding committee could drop the Jayhawks all the way to the No. 4 line.

If the players can turn such a fate into a slap in the face and find a way to advance to the Sweet 16 without their gifted center, picture this scenario:

Embiid jumps center in a regional semifinal game.

In Indianapolis.

Against Wichita State.

Embiid wouldn’t be limping, as Willis Reed was for his 1970 Game 7 entrance against the Lakers, but it could be quite the powerful moment for KU fans.

Nothing good about losing a talented 7-footer, but losing the ever-present weight of expectations can have its benefits.

Telecasts of college basketball games don’t yet prompt viewers to “text who you think will win,” but when West Virginia was up 25 points in the second half Saturday, 99.9 percent of the viewers would have voted for West Virginia. And the Mountaineers did in fact win, but not without an Andrew Wiggins-led charge that chiseled the deficit to as low as four points.

It’s time for the Jayhawks to become creative.

Embiid’s presence will be missed first, of course, in defending the paint, second in rebounding, third in scoring. One way to compensate could include KU going small at times with Wiggins moving closer to the basket, where his explosiveness and underrated competitiveness enable him to overcome a lack of girth in battling for boards.

Underdogs draw such a tight circle, play with so much passion, feed off the joy of the moment. It can bring out the best in young athletes.

Comments

Brandon Mahon 7 years, 8 months ago

This situation is completely different but they can spin it like the last two KU teams. The team in 2011-2012 team with T-Rob, Withey, Releford, Taylor and Elijah. No one thought we should get to the Championship and we did. Those guys played with a chip on their shoulders and powered through games that no one thought we could win. They ended the season with 7 losses, this team has more talent and if they rally around this we can make a run. This could be like last years team, again more talent, but they rallied around everyone saying that we can do it, but look at them other than blowing the game against Michigan we fought and overcame alot of bad games. Yet they had less loses on the season, but again I think we are younger but the talent is out of the roof.

John Randall 7 years, 8 months ago

Your last sentence, Brandon, touches on the fallacy of your entire premise – that this team is somehow comparable to those with less talent but more heart. This comparison fails because of the lack among these players of one essential – hunger. They will only resort to aggressive tactics to avoid embarrassment, resulting in impressive stretches of superiority – but too often falling short of victory. The 'will to win' either doesn't exist or hasn't developed beyond a superficial level. It could yet happen, but time is running out.

Coach Self recognizes this, and tells us so every time he uses the "nice kid" description in a press conference. He seems a victim himself of being too nice a guy to make SOFT the pejorative it must be among true winners.

JD Roth 7 years, 8 months ago

Ten (10) Consecutive.................................................You'd think this team was JV the way some of you piss and moan. Rock Chalk Jayhawk Go KU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Kit Duncan 7 years, 8 months ago

This team has more talent but lacks the maturity of previous KU teams. Are they capable of beating anybody on a given night? Most definitely! They have played enough games for us to say the freshmen should know now how to compete at this level. The problem is, the freshmen have only been through ONE Bill Self Boot Camp, ONE Andrea Hudy summer conditioning program and ONE season in the Big XII. Conditioning, stamina and team chemistry are vitally important. This KU team has shown how well Bill Self is capable of taking young players and teaching them the finer points of team play. It hasn't always worked, but he's done a fantastic job! If you don't agree, compare this class to Kentucky's number one recruiting class. Who's played the tougher schedule, has the better record and is higher in the polls?

Louis Kelso 7 years, 8 months ago

I wish they would just play like they were down 25 from jump ball. That would be a dangerous team!

Beau Woolsey 7 years, 8 months ago

Last night in the two hours of sleep I got I had a dream. I was running in the streets screaming with my KU flag around my shoulders just like I did in 2008 only I was taller and it was 2014. Rock Chalk Jayhawk go KU!!

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