Monday, February 5, 2018

Tom Keegan: Talk of No. 1 seed for Kansas rightly fades after loss to Oklahoma State

Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (2) wrestles for a ball with TCU guard Alex Robinson (25) during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 at Schollmaier Arena.

Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (2) wrestles for a ball with TCU guard Alex Robinson (25) during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 at Schollmaier Arena.


Kansas had started showing up as a No. 1 seed in various NCAA tournament projections until Oklahoma State knocked off the Jayhawks in Saturday's stunner.

My first thought after seeing Kansas topple from a perch that seemed like a bit of a stretch anyway was that it increases the chances of KU playing in Omaha, site of the Midwest Region, since Purdue is the most likely No. 1 seed in the Midwest region.

My second thought was a question: Given the way this unconventional season has gone for the Jayhawks, is playing closer to home an advantage anyway?

Probably not.

Kansas is 10-4 at home, 5-1 on the road, 3-0 at neutral sites. Since the regular-season game at Sprint Center is part of the KU season-ticket package, the NCAA considers it a home game. Iowa State (8-4) is the only other Big 12 school with that many losses at home.

Playing at home or close to it isn’t the advantage it once was, perhaps because the crowd subconsciously holds the Jayhawks to the standard of past Bill Self teams. This squad isn’t going to win that irrelevant comparison. It only has to be better than its opposition that day.

The spectators in Allen Fieldhouse don’t have much experience at watching their team play from behind and are more accustomed to watching them blow out the competition. When KU goes on one of its famous spurts and piles up easy buckets in transition, the crowd goes wild, the players feed off that, their adrenaline flows faster. Those moments used to be the rule, not the exception.

When the game is tight and the spectators grow nervous, the players can feed off of that as well and they play with tension without even knowing that’s what they’re doing.

Barring an unforeseen collapse from Kansas, playing the first two games in Wichita seems a safe assumption. It would be nice for season-ticket holders who can get their hands on seats to have the short drive to Omaha for the regional round, but it wouldn’t necessarily hurt the team to travel to one of the other three regional sites (Boston, Atlanta, Los Angeles).

Kansas has four games remaining in Allen Fieldhouse, starting with TCU tonight and continuing with West Virginia (Feb. 17), Oklahoma (Feb. 19) and Texas (Feb. 26). The Jayhawks must win out at home to avoid becoming the first KU team since 1988-89, Roy Williams’ first season, to lose four games in Allen Fieldhouse.

Oops, there I go, comparing this Kansas team to its predecessors. It’s not fair. It is, however, only natural.


Gary Wilson 3 years, 2 months ago

We'd be the first program to lose to a 16 seed.

Aaron Paisley 3 years, 2 months ago

Except that KU beat those caliber of teams by 40-50 points in the nonconference.

Joe Baker 3 years, 2 months ago

This is a good picture, smh. Down on the floor, struggling for the ball.

Mallory Briggans 3 years, 2 months ago

Lets take a baby step.......get the number 1 seed for the big 12 tournament......this isn't a FF team...but there will be some sort of satisfaction winning the big 12 and getting the top at the Sprint Center.

Dale Stringer 3 years, 2 months ago

I've noticed the dead crowd at the Phog and I think that is hurting the team. If the crowd doesn't care, why should the players? The ruckus at Manhattan made KU's usual crowd this year look like they are at the opera instead of a basketball game. Didn't I hear that the number of student seat were cut this year to get more money paying seat warmers into the building? If so, that policy needs reversed.

Michael Leiker 3 years, 2 months ago

It's been stale, for sure, they're throwing everything they can at it (videos, music) to get it back going. It's been on the decline for a few years. I think that's directly in line with how exciting the team is though. Resale value for season tickets has been on the decline as some point this will start to hit home for the athletic department. A lot of it could be just finally catching up with the rest of the sports world, this is not unique to KU but AFH environment has just outlasted the downward trend.

John Strayer 3 years, 2 months ago

Well I can't imagine that 11am games are helping the situation any...

Titus Canby 3 years, 2 months ago

Dale, I think you hit the nail on the head. I believe about 2 years ago some student committee refused to let the university raise student ticket prices. So the university sold those seats to the public. The students are what makes the place loud and intimidating, not the old geezers like me. We're turning into an entitled wine and cheese crowd, not the basketball fanatics who go home every night with a sore throat like I did in my younger days. I'm with you. Bring back the students.

Bill Lamson 3 years, 2 months ago

I agree with Gary...this year will probably have the biggest chance of a #1 losing to a 16, and I'd be very surprised if all 4 #1's make it past the 2nd as odd as it may sound, I'd much rather be a 2-4 seed and not have that added pressure.
Plus, if history teaches you anything, it's that teams that rely heavily on 3pt shooting do NOT do well in the tourney, at least not beyond the first couple of rounds. So I'm not all that optimistic this year...the fact that Graham has hit a slump obviously isn't good and you can absolutely tell its because he's tired. He may not look winded running up and down the court...but look at his missed shots...they are almost always short....which is a tell tale sine of not having any legs, which happens when you get tired. Then you look at Svi...why has he been shooting pretty good lately...because he gets breaks during the game and can rest.

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 2 months ago

Villanova just lost to St. John's, so yeah. This would be the year.

David McNickle 3 years, 2 months ago

I never thought playing in Allen was a disadvantage. The couple of games I've been to this year the student section didn't seem to be in it except right before tip. I hope we're not becoming the Dallas Cowboys where being at the event is much bigger than the event. This team is probably a 3 seed if it wasn't for every other team losing at the top besides the two V's and Purdue.

Bill Lamson 3 years, 2 months ago

One other much as people, including myself, sometimes get critical of Self...I think he's in a really tough spot this year because of the goals they the conference, win the conf tourney, and then do well in the big dance. When you step back and look at everything, I think we can only do one and he's got to sell out the other options to accomplish whichever they choose. If they want the conf championship he's going to have to ride the starters for all they are worth and not sacrifice playing time and possibly games/losses, to get the other guys the experience we need for post season. We have essentially a zero margin of error so if he plays the bench too much he's risking a conf loss and the league champ. But if you want to do well in the conf tourney and big dance he has to go to the bench if for no other reason than to give the starters (Graham and Dok) some extended rest and get them ready for tourney time. If he doesn't rest them now I don't think there's any way we make it far in March.

Tom Jones 3 years, 2 months ago

This argument always cracks me up. Either you're saying that you know better than the staff who should be playing or that they actually know that someone on the bench gives them a better chance to win but they're leaving them on the bench anyway. Both options are just plain silly.

Self gets paid to win basketball games and he plays the guys that give him the best chance to do so. If we were blowing people out and not getting De Sousa or Cunliffe some mop up time, it would be different, I'm sure.

Bill Lamson 3 years, 2 months ago

I'm not saying either. I'm saying I don't think we have a team that can win the league championship AND do well at tourney time and that Self is in a tough position trying to do both when he doesn't have the players he needs to accomplish both goals. And if you listen to his comments, you can tell he's struggling with it...he knows he can't keep playing his starters so many minutes but he doesn't have the bench players he needs to give them a significant break, which they obviously need if they want to do well in the post season. Why else would he be letting Graham not practice during the week.

Tom Jones 3 years, 2 months ago

OK, so you think they can't win the league and do well in the tourney. That's also pretty silly. Lots of teams have won leagues and even the big dance with a 7-8 man rotation.

I do agree with you that Bill's struggling. Losing Preston really just blew a giant hole in the whole plan for the season. De Souza and to a lesser extent, Cunliffe, both look pretty lost, and it's not because they're not getting game minutes. It's because they don't really know what they're doing. That's disappointing. Without Preston, there's no margin for error.

Robert Brock 3 years, 2 months ago

This team is out of gas; it is going to go on a sustained losing streak. KU will end up with a pitiful NCAA Tourney seed with an early out.

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 2 months ago

I would hate to always be so negative. Are you happy when you're correct?

Barry Weiss 3 years, 2 months ago

I think we are a legit 3 seed, maybe a 2 seed if we win out at home. Those are some tough home games ahead, WV beat OU at Norman last night, OU is fading a bit, Texas is coming on strong like a freight train, so that will be a tough home game.

Craig Carson 3 years, 2 months ago

I actually hope they arnt a 1 seed this year..the up and down nature of how they play, they'd mess around and be the 1st 1 seed to lose to a hot shooting 16 seed...we dont need that type of recognition LOL

Justin Kruse 3 years, 2 months ago

I'm excited to see how we do tonight with Mitch and Udoka starting the game. I think we're going to see a different team out there and tear through the rest of the conference season.

John Strayer 3 years, 2 months ago

Until they both pickup a foul in the first minutes of the game....

Justin Kruse 3 years, 2 months ago

The frustrating thing is that Dok is picking them up on the offensive end! The screens that he's setting are driving me crazy!

Regardless, I think it will be a fun change.

Titus Canby 3 years, 2 months ago

My favorite quote from Coach Self's radio show last night was right at the beginning. Hanni asked why he's starting Lightfoot over Vick. Self's answer, "because our team isn't deep enough for me to bench 4 guys."

Bill Lamson 3 years, 2 months ago

I remember back in the day when Roy would sub out all 5 starters at once if they weren't playing well. And back then the next 5 in were actually pretty damn good and often stayed in for a little while. Not saying that should happen now or trying to compare those teams or coaches to was just an interesting time and fun to see happen.

Tony Bandle 3 years, 2 months ago

Random Thought:

1] Although it seems like Allen East, the KC Venue is technically a neutral site so, in essence, we aren't undefeated in any type of venue.

2] Play the zone full time...extends player durability with a limited rotation, cuts out the penetration and sets up blocking out for O rebounds.

3] The NCAA is just dying to match us up with Missouri in the NCAAs...Bill's head will probably explode!

4] The only streak that will be intact at the end of this season is KU's NCAA appearance streak which will continue for a record 29 consecutive seasons. No one ever focuses on just how amazing that is. Heck if we hadn't got screwed by the NCAA in 88/89 it would be up to 34!!!

5] TCU, WV, OK, can bet the mortgage that we will lose at least one of these games yet probably beat TT on their home floor.

6] Maybe this season is a lesson in humility that we can all use a dose of once in a while.

Paul Logan 3 years, 2 months ago

The Washington game was a home game. There were no Washington fans there, there was a Jayhawk logo on the floor, the Allen Fieldhouse PA announcer called the game, it was in the season ticket book.

Ed Noyes 3 years, 2 months ago

I promote the idea of playing Silvio from this day forward every game until he fouls out. He will learn, adapt & develop, perhaps becoming a big part of post season.

Harlan Hobbs 3 years, 2 months ago

My favorite line in the article is, when referring to the team, "it only has to be better than its opposition on that day." Simply put, the old adage of "play them one game at a time" truly fits the current situation. Thoughts of anything else (i.e., the streak of conference championships, the potential NCAA seed, and where they will play their games) is meaningless.

As Mr. Keegan aptly states, KU must win out at home, which will be no mean feat in itself. Also, we likely have to win at least two more road games to be in the hunt for the conference championship, even a tie for the title. Therefore, focus on TCU for now, and when that is over, shift gears to Baylor in Waco, and so forth.

Put the blinders on guys and stay focused on the present.

Layne Pierce 3 years, 2 months ago

Totally agree that players may be reacting to subconscious disappointment of Allen crowds. Instead of rockin, we are all afraid, players included.

Frankly Coach had to bench Lagerald. We need more rebounding, and Mitch at least gives us some hope. I don't think Garrett starts tonight, but who knows. The thing is Devonte, Svi and generally Newman have been playing well enough - Doke has been disappointing in terms of defense and rebounding, and Lagerald is simply in a funk.

It will be interesting to see if DeSouza gets more minutes tonight, simply because Mitch and Doke both get in foul trouble.

My other complaint about this season is that we did not sign a low-rated, but competent ball-handler, so Devonte doesn't get so worn down..

Also, the "let Doke shoot fts cost us the Oklahoma game, and that just could be the game we needed for a share of the B12. Like I said before, this is team Frankenstein, a bunch of incongruous pieces, scary good when we are making 3s, but dumn in basketball IQ, and unable to escape other teams and their rebounding and defense. Look out Jayhawks, the peasants are restless.


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