Saturday, March 24, 2012

Wolfpack size up KU-UNC


Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Bill Self

Kansas coach Bill Self talks to reporters following the Jayhawks' 60-57 victory over N.C. State in the Sweet 16 on March 23, 2012.

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU players Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey

KU players Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey talk to reporters following the Jayhawks' 60-57 victory over N.C. State on March 23, 2012.

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

N.C. State's Mark Gottfried, C.J. Leslie and Scott Wood

N.C. State's Mark Gottfried, C.J. Leslie and Scott Wood talk to reporters following their 60-57 loss to Kansas on March 24, 2012.

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KU vs. N.C. State

Box score

— During the past three months, North Carolina State’s men’s basketball team has faced the two teams left standing in the Midwest Regional of this year’s NCAA Tournament a combined four times.

That kind of makes the Wolfpack players well suited to break down Sunday’s Elite Eight showdown between top-seeded North Carolina and second-seeded Kansas, which knocked off N.C. State, 60-57, Friday at Edward Jones Dome.

“It’s pretty much just gonna be a battle,” junior center DeShawn Painter said of the KU-UNC game. “Kansas’ front line is big. North Carolina’s front line is big. So it’s gonna be a match-up of big guys in the paint.”

While the importance of the paint was universally emphasized in the N.C. State locker room following the game, the NCSU players were not able to agree fully upon which team would have the advantage Sunday.

Some, such as Painter, believe North Carolina has too much firepower for Kansas, which typically plays just seven guys.

“I think Carolina has the upper hand,” Painter said. “They’re just deeper. If Thomas Robinson and the other big kid (KU center Jeff Withey) get into foul trouble, it could be tough for them.”

During Friday’s Sweet 16 victory against the Wolfpack, the Jayhawks played eight guys, but that included sophomore forward Justin Wesley, who logged just two minutes.

The Tar Heels, meanwhile, also played eight guys in their 73-65 victory against Ohio, which helped set up the fifth NCAA Tournament meeting between KU and UNC but the first to take place outside of the Final Four.

However, UNC’s rotation did not include injured point guard Kendall Marshall, who missed the game because of a wrist injury that required surgery earlier in the week.

Whether Marshall will play Sunday is up in the air and no doubt will be the source of a good chunk of today’s media sessions. But the biggest question floating around St. Louis also serves as a tipping point for the Elite Eight showdown, according to the N.C. State crew.

“Well, it will be a great game,” N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said. “Two great teams, two teams with great size, both well coached. North Carolina’s obviously a little different if Kendall Marshall doesn’t play, but it will be a great game. We’re just disappointed we’re not in it.”

Asked why Marshall’s presence would be so important, N.C. State guard Alex Johnson pointed to the way KU guards Tyshawn Taylor and Elijah Johnson controlled the pace of play despite not playing their best games statistically. The N.C. State reserve said he also was impressed with the way the Tar Heels fought off an upset-minded Ohio squad, but did not seem so sure that the same type of effort would be enough to knock off Kansas.

“They did a good job out here tonight, playing against Ohio,” Alex Johnson said of North Carolina. “But Kansas is a whole different breed than Ohio.”

Friday’s loss was close on the scoreboard mostly because of a late N.C. State surge. Otherwise, Kansas held NCSU at arm’s length for most of the second half.

“They’re both two tough teams,” Johnson said. “I don’t think either one is tougher than the other. I think Kansas’ guards are a little better, especially if North Carolina has to play without Kendall Marshall. But it’ll be a good game.”


Alohahawk 10 years, 4 months ago

Why is it KU's guards seem to shoot so poorly from beyond the arc during tournament games? The defenses aren't that much better. Not that I can see, anyway. I'm still somewhat surprised that, after shooting so poorly from beyond the arc, KU continued shooting 3's. What were they - 1 for 15 or so? > After such a horrible shooting performance by TT, I hope he'll come back with a vengeance against N. Carolina. Look at it this way, he can't shoot much worse. > And finally, KU needs to do better on their freethrows. Are these huge arenas throwing off everyone's shots - threes and frees?

hawk_of_ages 10 years, 4 months ago

I think it's just nerves once again like we've faced the last two years. But I did think going into the tourney this year that this team was just a bit grittier defensively than we were the last two years -- esp. last year's team, which was unusually offense-oriented for a Self squad -- and thus better prepared to overcome a VCU-like game where we can't buy a bucket.

So now, we've had two games in a row that were shockingly reminiscent of VCU, in that we couldn't shoot to save our lives, but defense pulled us through. The curse is off. Now there are no more VCUs or UNIs out there to shock us. Time to shake off those nerves.

mattiesdad 10 years, 4 months ago

We definitely can tighten it down more on D versus last year's team, but the other big factor I'm seeing is this team is much better at handling the Extreme Fouling (aka Rugby Ball) that the pitiful refs allow in the tournament. So much tougher than years past.

Janet Olin 10 years, 4 months ago

Hawks have a history of poor trey shooting in tournament games--go all the way back to '03 vs. Syracuse. Robinson, Miles, and to an extent Hinrich. Hard to explain except nerves; most of the attempts were bricked, not blocked. Hope that changes.

Janet Olin 10 years, 4 months ago

Hawks have a history of poor trey shooting in tournament games--go all the way back to '03 vs. Syracuse. Robinson, Miles, and to an extent Hinrich. Hard to explain except nerves; most of the attempts were bricked, not blocked. Hope that changes.

JD Roth 10 years, 4 months ago

Thomas Robinson's last free throw was certainly a brick. We are going to have to find some shooters or it will be all over. Find your shooting touch guys. With the way we are playing lock down defense we can win it all if we find our shot!!

okiedave 10 years, 4 months ago

I think being the underdog will help us in our 3's. The underdog is a little more relaxed and, for some reason, underdogs put the 3's down, i.e. Belmont, VCU, Northern Iowa, N. Car. State, Purdue....

ironhead80 10 years, 4 months ago

That's the way we always had it even in roy's day. I don't know why we always play a team who has a player who shoots lights out against us and we never have although Ryan Roberts scored what? 30 plus points in the loss his senior year to kentucky . I truely believe this team style of play in this tournament is the real style this years team actually is. This is how we truely play for this squad, Yes, I know we had alot of players step up and play well that's just a part of how this team performs. The bottom line is KU will beat teams by lock down defense with physical play.

knottshawk 10 years, 4 months ago

I think what you said, plus others, nailed it. Ryan Robertson was the exception because his team was the only underdog in all those years. Every other year the upper-classmen struggle and I, like others, assume it's nerves. There's so much pressure to win at KU that they don't want to go out as a scapegoat. I'm proud of this team for staying so intense and giving so much effort... I only hope they can relax and have fun.

yates33333 10 years, 4 months ago

I agree. Football ought to be the game played at the Dome. But I think nerves and the pressure of a one loss playoff system are important as well. Taylor hasn't had the kind of game during the playoffs that he had toward the end of the season. He sounds nervous. If there is one game I want them to win this season, it's against UNC. Of course, I want them to win it and then the next two. Relax Jayhawks. The Jayhawk Nation is very proud of you.

JakeBarnes 10 years, 4 months ago

I live twelve miles from the Astrodome. I think the UCLA v. UH in the sixties was the first dome type game in basketball. I hated it, not the outcome but the affect it had on the players. I wish they would stick to basketball arenas.

JD Roth 10 years, 4 months ago

I totally agree 100%! I don't like the shooting background or lack there of and I don't like the fans seated WAY off the court either. Basketball should be played in a basketball arena, not a damn dome!!

JayHawkFanToo 10 years, 4 months ago

Lew Alcindor versus the Big "E"

Many consider this game to be the biggest game ever; however, I agree with you, BBall games belong in arenas not football stadiums.

kkoenig 10 years, 4 months ago

House money now. KU's played to its seed. There'll be no Bucknell, no VCU for the Hawks this year. Time to play without pressure. Nothing on the line but leaving your mark over last year's team: Final Four.

Alohahawk 10 years, 4 months ago

+1 KU has more than surpassed just about every KU fan's expectations for this year's team. This makes how many years in a row KU has won 30 or more games in a season? > The one (and only one) reason it would have been nice if MU had made the Elite 8, would have been having three of the four regions having a Big 12 rep left, adding credence to how difficult it is to win 8 st8 championships. However, MU's losing in the 1st round was well worth losing that one "nice" thing. Mizzery has to be in full missery mode about now. Their best team ever (?) will never know the euphoric feeling of winning a Big Dance game, much less making it to the Elite 8.

NorthStarHawk 10 years, 4 months ago

".....if MU had made the Elite 8, would have been having three of the four regions having a Big 12 rep left...."

Muzoo was playing under the Big 12 flag only because they had to. They've been checked out for the SEC all season. I've even heard some of their fans mention they were expecting to win with the primary reasoning of proving the "better" program was leaving the a "sham" conference while they would take their trophies and join the likes of Kentucky leaving the Big 12 with no "current crownholders" next season. Delusional. I'm glad they are not representing the Big 12 this deep into the tournament.

bradh 10 years, 4 months ago

Yep, MU definitely checked into the SEC early. Pinkel voting down Okie State on his ballt, along with the other SEC coaches, to create a SEC only football title game and Kim English wearing a SEC t shirt to pick up the Big 12 tournament trophy. Their early departure couldn't happen to a classier university (sarcasm intended).

Ross Hartley 10 years, 4 months ago

I thought MU wearing SEC shirts when they were representing the Big 12 as automatic qualifier was the most classless act I've ever seen from a university. Pitiful!

tical523 10 years, 4 months ago

Yea I have seen some stuff the last couple of months from Mysery fans that make me hate them even worse. Obviously I am a KU fan but Mysery fans really are classy, almost trashy. Even some of the players' statements have blown my mind. I hate them the most now that they are leaving. I hate them so much!!! had to vent that. . . .

tical523 10 years, 4 months ago

You think their coach would not have allowed that. . . . .terrible.

JakeBarnes 10 years, 4 months ago

Do you really consider it a university?

Benjamin Piehler 10 years, 4 months ago

+1 Pressure should be off for a rebuilding team in the elite eight. (Are we the only rebuilding team left?)

I think Thomas is putting more pressure on himself than he needs to; be it the POY award or just realizing that he's got one loss left in a Jayhawk uniform. He has nothing to prove to the Jayhawk Nation, though I'm sure he'd love to win it for us.

( If KU wins the National Title, I expect the Thomas Robinson movie will begin production soon after haha)

142466 10 years, 4 months ago

+1. Self's weakest KU team went 14-2 in the league marathon, won 30 games, and snared 3 NCAA tourney wins. Impressive, indeed.

We've already advanced to our assigned spot in the tourney, without playing up to our full capacity, offensively. If we could only shoot better on Sunday, we've got a 50-50 chance against N.C.

I dislike Kentucky. However, I can't see anybody beating them. They appear to be a step above everybody else.

So sit back and enjoy Sunday's game. Win or lose, we've already nailed this season.

Sam Constance 10 years, 4 months ago


(tying the Big 12 record for most wins in a single-season)

142466 10 years, 4 months ago

Yea, you're right. Before league play commenced, I thought the champion would go 13-5 and we'd tie for second.

Regarding the league post-season tourneys, every year by the time the NCAA tournament has reached the round of 8 everyone but the BB geaks have forgotten who the league tourney champions were. But it's still insulting to hear the TV commentators salute the league tourney winner as "2012 Big 12 Champions" (or substitute any league want).

Scrap all league tournaments. Also scrap 2 early non-league cream puff games. This will then allow every 12 member BCS basketball conference to play a complete home & away 22 game regular season round robbin. (I think every surviving BCS conference will have 12 members, soon). Then automatically award the top 6 seeds in the 64 team March Madness to the 6 BCS round robbin champions.

Restore the prestige of being a BCS league BB champion. Years ago far too much deference was given to league champions in setting the NCAA tournament field. Now the NCAA has gone to the other extreme. The league tournaments are a scam.

rockchalkjayhawkku 10 years, 4 months ago

UNC will probably play without Marshall...but it kind of reminds me of the 2004 Midwest Regional Final...also in St. Louis, where KU lost to Georgia Tech...who was missing their top scorer BJ Elder to an ankle injury. Hopefully this game will have a different result for KU.

hawk_of_ages 10 years, 4 months ago

Of course we'll have quite a challenge in guarding Barnes, and the frontcourt may be a wash, but Ty and EJ should really be able to tee off on this weakened UNC backcourt.

Dirk Medema 10 years, 4 months ago

It will be interesting to see Travis matched up on Barnes. Best challenge of the year, and for the last weekend/FF.

We should have a significant advantage in the backcourt if TT & EJ play to their ability, though UNC should have an advantage overall in the frontcourt (>depth).

ny05ks08 10 years, 4 months ago

There is >60% chance that Marshall will play the next game, so get ready for that.

ny05ks08 10 years, 4 months ago

At the beginning of the season, nobody expected Jayhawk still stay in the field this time of the year, for that, I solute the coaching stuff and players ! Go enjoy the remaining games.

Robert Murphy 10 years, 4 months ago

Kansas may be the first college team in history to get to the final four without making a basket. How do they do it?

David Lara 10 years, 4 months ago

Gotta love Painter's idiotic lack of respect for Withey. "That other big kid." oh do you mean the one that was swatting your a$$ on a consistent basis Friday night? What tool doesn't remember the name of the guy that owned him the entire game? Who does he think he is fooling?

Eric J. Baker 10 years, 4 months ago

Shows NCState maybe didn't scout us very well then, if he didn't even remember his name.

leonard 10 years, 4 months ago

I'm not going to verify the accuracy but the site ( shows that KU has the most NCAA tourney wins 2000- to present.

Number 2? North Carolina.

KU - 34 UNC - 32 Mich.St - 31 Duke - 31

Jeff Coffman 10 years, 4 months ago

But again after next saturday it will be wrong again!

JD Roth 10 years, 4 months ago

Just win baby!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Kelly Knott 10 years, 4 months ago

Go ahead Roy, put Marshall in,,, A point guard who will only be able to work the ball effectively on one side of his body will be exploited by our guards and a liability to UNC.

Rock Chalk Jayhawks!! All year long you have shown the strength of TRUE teamwork, contributing however you can, having your teammates back, never giving up while finding a way to get it done,,, Jayhawk nation now has your back,,, From here on out just go out there and have a blast! It's all good boys,,, You ARE WINNERS!! You ARE JAYHAWKS!! ROCK CHALK!!

Joel Thomas 10 years, 4 months ago

It will be nice to finally not be the favorite. Sure Marshall won't play but even then less on the shoulders of the Hawks.

Scott Smetana 10 years, 4 months ago

I second what many of you have said above. Basketball has no business in a dome. While this is obvious, the NCAA doesn't seem to care except make a just few more bucks. The real $ comes from tv rights, which I assume are the same regardless of arena size. There are so many amazing NBA arenas!

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