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Sunday, March 9, 2008

Extra Minutes: Kansas 72, Texas A&M 55

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2007-08 March 8 KU-Texas A&M Hoops

Some thoughts...from College Station

Gary Bedore, Journal-World KU men's basketball beat writer

"It is a major accomplishment, especially in this day and age, to win four straight league titles. KU was able to accomplish that on Saturday, winning at A&M.; The Jayhawks won on a day Mario Chalmers was the only Jayhawk to hit a three. Darrell Arthur stepped up nicely in what figures to be his last regular season college game in his home state. Sherron Collins played great again. Mark Turgeon is having a rough first year at A&M.; I would think the Aggies would land a bid to the NCAAs, but it's definitely been a roller coaster for the former KU point guard."

Tom Keegan, Journal-World sports editor

"Sherron Collins is back at full speed, which is why nobody's asking 'What's wrong with Kansas?' These days, nobody's asking it because nothing's wrong with Kansas."

Ryan Greene, KUSports.com editor

"In a matchup of the league's top two defensive teams - statistically speaking - one showed up on the final stat sheet. KU held Texas A&M; to just a 31.9 percent showing from the floor, while KU used the fast break and speedy guard play to key a 27-of-54 shooting performance. Taking the big men out of the equation on offense was huge for the KU posts, especially when you couple that with Brand Rush's stuffy defense on Josh Carter outside. I said I needed to see this team do it on the road before being convinced the February funk was a thing of the past, and now I've seen it. KU's playing its best ball heading into the postseason, which is every team in America's goal right now. Few can claim it."

Inside the numbers

11: For the third time in 16 Big 12 games, KU recorded double digits in the steals column. Sherron Collins, Mario Chalmers and Russell Robinson were responsible for nine of them combined, and they couldn't have done all that if it wasn't for the constant double-teams down low applied on the usually productive Texas A&M; big men. Joseph Jones, DeAndre Jordan and Bryan Davis combined for just 16 points on 4-of-15 shooting. Each entered the game shooting over 50 percent from the floor on the year. KU also turned those swipes into 18 fast break points.

13: Sherron Collins scored 13 points, and all 13 of them were not only impressive, but showed just what he can do when he's at full strength. He scored in transition, on pull-up jumpers and showed some nice swagger during a scoring swap in a second half stretch with A&M;'s Dominique Kirk. The knee injury that was appears to be just a memory.

31.9: Texas A&M; shot just 31.9 percent from the floor against a KU defense that came in as the Big 12's top field goal percentage defense team, allowing an average of just over 38 percent from opponents. The Aggies entered the game second in the league in that category, allowing just under 39 percent. KU was able to connect on exactly half of its shot attempts (27-of-54), showing efficient shot selection in the paint (mostly from Darrell Arthur) and making the most of transition opportunities which are meant to be high percentage looks.

10: Maybe the only thing Bill Self could complain about with his big men was the foul trouble Darrell Arthur and Darnell Jackson got into in the second half. Both wound up fouling out after combining for 18 points and 16 rebounds. Helping ease the pain in that category were 14 quality minutes from Cole Aldrich. He played more than usual in a key first half stretch, finishing with three points and two rebounds, including a huge offensive board during a six-point swing right before halftime which gave KU a double-digit lead.

15: Another little-bit-of-everything showing from Mario Chalmers, who finished with 16 points, four rebounds and four steals. He also hit KU's only two three-pointers on the afternoon. During a nice stretch of transition looks in the second half, Chalmers and Collins gave those watching a glimpse at what could be an incredibly energetic and speedy backcourt duo in the starting lineup next season.

Just in case you missed it...

For Mark Turgeon, a former KU guard, it was the end of a frustrating, up-and-down Big 12 regular season in his first season at Texas A&M.; The Aggies head into next week's league tournament in Kansas City at 22-9 overall and 8-8 in conference play, and will play as the No. 6 seed, possibly needing a win to secure a trip to the NCAA Tournament. If the Aggies don't make it to the field of 65, it'd be a disappointing end to a season which at one point had them in the Top-10 in both polls during a solid run in non-conference play.

Also, the Jayhawks drew some extra motivation from strength and conditioning coach Andrea Hudy, who asked the team to win this one for her. Hudy did not make the trip, as she flew home to be with her family after her mother passed Saturday morning following a bout with cancer.

Hopefully you didn't miss it...

Sherron Collins continues to be the difference for KU, plain and simple. In his last four games since an 0-fer against Oklahoma State, Collins is averaging 12.8 points, 3.8 assists and 2.0 steals off the bench in an average of 24.8 minutes played, which Bill Self continues to tell media after the game is the spark his team has missed for so much of the year. Looks like he got healthy at just the right time. Saturday, his 32 minutes played were a season-high.

They said it...

Bill Self on trapping the A&M; post players: "We haven't trapped the posts a lot this year, but I thought we did a pretty good job trapping the posts. Even when they scored, sometimes that can protect you from foul problems when you trap. So even though we did play out of foul trouble almost the entire second half, we did a pretty good job trapping and rotation rebounding and we came up with some big steals the last 10 or 12 minutes when we did trap the posts."

Bill Self on Sherron Collins: "I thought Shady was great the first half, and I thought Mario was great the majority of the game and everything, but there was a stretch in the second half when it was Sherron's game, he controlled the game. And that's something that people that follow us know that we haven't had consistently at all this year. And hopefully, knock on wood, hopefully we can continue to get better and progress and get him playing with that full head of steam that he has, because I don't know that he has an extra gear, but he's so low to the ground or whatever it is, he's just hard to keep in front of."

Bill Self on his team forming an identity: "At home, we've only had one game that wasn't double figures. And so sometimes when you play games that aren't close, you don't really develop a true identity at home. I think you develop your identity away from home. And this was probably the most complete road game we've played."

Bill Self on his senior class winning four league regular season titles: "I know there's been other Kansas classes that have won four, but no disrespect to our guys, there's no lottery picks in that group, and there were no McDonald's All-Americans coming in. And the groups that win those championships at Kansas historically have been some really highly-recruited guys with unbelievable expectations. And this is just a solid group of guys, they play to their talent level, they maximize their abilities, I'm not saying we don't have pros in that class, I'm saying lottery picks. And to win four in a row in such a competitive league is a remarkable accomplishment."

Bill Self on Sunday's Texas-Oklahoma State game: "I love my alma mater, but I don't think I will (be cheering for them). I may watch the game, I may not, I'm not going to burn any energy on that. I think Texas will win. Texas lost like three games the last four years at home, haven't they? They don't lose at home very often, but whatever happens happens. It's certainly not a slap in anyone's face to share it with another team that I think has a chance to win a National Championship, because I do think Texas could potentially be that good."

Bill Self on his team playing in honor of Andrea Hudy, the team's strength and conditioning coach whose mother passed Saturday morning following a bout with cancer: "They adore our strength coach, and Andrea lost her mother this morning to a fight with cancer, and she wasn't with us. The last thing she said, she wanted a ring herself, so these guys, I don't know if that was motivation, but that certainly didn't hurt our energy level playing for her."

Cole Aldrich on Saturday's post defense: "I think it was real effective. Caused a few turnovers early in the game. They've got some real good big guys. DeAndre Jordan, he's pretty dang good. He's so big and so long and so athletic, he's gonna be really good. Just a little bit. Anybody's really gonna get frustrated if you've got a constant two guys coming at you every time you touch the ball, coming and swarming at you and whatnot. And that was kind of one of our gameplans. Getting the ball out of their hands."

Cole Aldrich on winning the league title: "It was fun. This is something that we're all gonna remember for the rest of our lives. The seniors who have won four of 'em...I just hope I can squeeze a few more out of my four years here. This is number one of hopefully many."

Cole Aldrich on Brandon Rush's late dunk: "We'd like to see him do it a little more. It was pretty nasty. It was real nice."

Brandon Rush on his late dunk: "I've been doing that for awhile, I just hadn't done it in a game until now. It felt good. It felt like it was nasty, there was a foul, and-one, dude fell and fouled out. So I thought it was pretty good. Everybody else thought it was pretty good, too. I was getting tired of missing all my floaters. I was missing every little bunny I was putting up, thought I'd take it strong to the rim one time, see what happens."

Russell Robinson on the league title: "It's the last one, and you remember the last one the most. It's just one of those things I've gotta enjoy right now and just know that's not the only thing we want."

Mario Chalmers on the guards benefitting from the post defense: "We knew that the key to their team was Jordan and Jones, so we tried to take them out of the game early. And once we did that, we got them frustrated and we were able to get steals."

Darrell Arthur on double-teaming in the paint defensively: "We dropped them every time they got in the paint, and I thought we did a good job with that. Thought the guards did a good job rotating down. It was kind of a sense of frustration (for A&M; in) the first half, weren't letting them get any easy buckets in the paint."

Sherron Collins on playing the upcoming league tournament in Kansas City: "Big 12 fans are so supportive of every team and they're gonna come no matter what. I know just it being in Kansas City we should have more fans, but I don't think it makes a difference at all because we've still got to go out there and get things done. Crowd can't score points or guard people for us, so we've got to do that on our own."

Comments

killabees 14 years, 9 months ago

Hey Bedore,

Don't forget that Arthur could be playing in San Antonio in a few weeks.

Larry Smith 14 years, 9 months ago

Brandon, we love it when you take it strong. Please continue.

CasperCorps 14 years, 9 months ago

How great it is to be a spoiled Jayhawk fan.. Just another league title under the belt. Great Season Hawks.. Rockem in the tourney's.. Its like Christmas in March..

Ben Kane 14 years, 9 months ago

Winning the big 12 conference is what we hired Self to do. Yes there are greater prizes, specifically one, and we'd all like to win it but when it comes down to it, this is what it's about. Generally, when you get teams that win the Big12 then you are in a good position to do greater things. Congrats guys and stay hungry!

cincyHawk79 14 years, 9 months ago

Wow great games yesterday... Too bad that Cal was cheated out of their win. The shot was clearly behind the basket and to allow it is unbelieveable. I would think that the officials will be suspended for that. They missed the hack on the in bounds pass too.

Kind of pissed me off to hear Dickie V say that it was not clear that it was behind the backboard. He also said that the PAC 10 should be rated higher than the Big 12. Didn't we win 9-7 head to head?

loudog 14 years, 9 months ago

Yeah, cincy, I wondered about that shot as well, but never really heard anything about it again the rest of the day (I didn't catch the entire Dook-UNC game, so I missed Dick V's comment), so I figured it was a legal shot. If it wasn't, it was just another case of the ref's missing late, game-changing calls this season. Maybe my memory is a little off, but I can't recall another year where the refs have blown so many important calls across the NCAA.

jaybate 14 years, 9 months ago

Lebowski,

Good question that I think you probably have a good answer to (and one I would like to hear). Here are my two possible speculative answers.

THE PROBABLE GOOD REASON

  1. Referees are imperfect and will never be right all the time so anyway, so exposing them to a lot of second guessing will: a) never get rid of all their mistakes; b) cause referees to have even more trouble keeping the game within the limits of the rules; and c) make it even harder to get top quality persons to want to work as referees.

THE HYPOTHETICAL BAD REASON

This is utterly hypothetical on my part (i.e., I have no evidence for it, I'm just articulating it for an opposite limit), so here goes. NCAA basketball is fundamentally corrupted by television and gambling agendas and the powers that be want an unchallengeable way of biasing who wins and who loses to ensure desired TV ratings and assist gambling operations achieve targeted levels of profittability. Again, I have no evidence of the above. I'm just articulating it hypothetically to frame the discussion as broadly as possible.

Your serve. :-)

P.S.: I AM trying to get you started on it, because I think refereeing is a worthy topic of discussion. I paid for a good bit of my undergraduate education refereeing kiddie league and city league games. It was the WORST job I've EVER had and I've had a few stinkers. It is fun to be on one side, or another, win or lose. It is thankless to be in the middle, i.e., to be a referee. I think the zebras often do not bring their A games. I strongly believe they hold grudges and can be intimidated and manipulated, as any human being can be by a dominant personality. Coaches and players would not "work" referees, if it did not produce at least minor benefits in calls. What say you?

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