Thursday, January 29, 2009

Fuck it, We're out

Well, it has been a wild year and ~4 months here at KJ-IBT but we must mosey on to greener pastures. Days spent killing time reading about NCAA and Orange Bowl championships will be over at this address, but fear not as we have moved over to to continue to provide mullets, boobs, hot toddys, occasional basketball and football commentary and of course more mullets. To quote Ali G, "This is going to be like 60 Minutes, but just with more sex."

Thank you to those brave few who have been with us since the beginning and be sure to switch your bookmarks to our new address as we obviously won't be posting here anymore. We would also like to thank the guys at Barking Carnival for showing us the gratitude and webspace to be part of their blog network(also featuring Atomic Teeth and The Tortilla Retort). The wrap it up sign is blinking, we'll let Scarface take us out....

Holy Shit

This never really is a figment of your other-wordly imagination. Courtesy of Rock M Nation. At least the girl in the video is pretty hot, that is something right?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Nebraska React: Two Games In One

Well, that was a tale of two halves to the fullest extent. In our preview, we highlighted four keys; two with the ball and two when guarding it. The first defensive key was to keep the feet moving. This was a huge failure for the first ten minutes as we looked disinterested, but it was also the first thing we fixed and as big a reason as anything that we were able to fight back and get the win. Secondly, we mentioned the need to box out. Numbers may not always tell the story, but in this case they’re emphatic. First half rebounding: NU 13 – KU 12. Second half rebounding: NU 5 – KU 25. They’re not absolved of blame for their first half effort, but they also deserve credit for coming back and dominating in the second stanza.

Offensively, our first key was to work through the post. In the first half, Cole was 0-1 for 0 points and 0 rebounds. And if memory serves, he touched the ball no more than five total times. Credit Nebraska for flustering him and taking away the angles on entry passes, but that is just pitiful. Quite simply, Nebraska sped them up and they took themselves out of their own offense by being impatient. The second key was to be smart with the ball. 21 turnovers and 6 assists should tell you all you need to know there; not to mention the ridiculous ball security we showed on a couple late possessions letting them make it a tighter ending than it should have been.

So needless to say, it wasn’t pretty. In fact, it played out exactly how Nebraska had it scripted for a win – get a big early lead, get the crowd hyped up and put the pressure on us to find a way to win an ugly, low-scoring battle. And that’s exactly what we did. For a team this young to come back from 13 down, on the road, with your two stars in foul trouble, says a whole lot about their makeup and fortitude. There have been several wins that said more about our ability to be a good team, but none said more about our ability to win. Long story short, two to three weeks ago we do not win that game. This team is making a lot of progress.

Sherron Collins
Tough to grade him out in this one because aside from a 90 second stretch in the first half and knocking down all his free throws late, he never looked like Sherron. 6-11 for 17 points is nice, though we really needed him to do a bit more in this one and for some reason it wasn’t there. The three turnovers and 0 assists were terrible, but when it came down to it, he kept us in the game in the first half and closed it out in the second – that’s what you need from your star.

Cole Aldrich
Much like the keys above, Cole played two different games each half. After posting goose eggs in the first while picking up two fouls, Cole came back in the second and controlled things for us with 8 points and 8 boards – his first game of the year not hitting double-digit scoring. He was clearly bothered early and he still should have done more in the second, but at least he stepped up when we need him the most. Go figure, tallest guy on the floor plays the smallest team in the country and it’s his first game in single digit scoring and first without a block since Christmas.

Tyshawn Taylor
Like those above, I had a tough time evaluating Tyshawn. His help defense was horrible, though he was pretty good on ball. He came in a grabbed 4 boards. And he did some nice things offensively (6 points & 3 assists), yet he also turned it over 6 times - a couple of which led directly to easy points & took two very ill-advised threes early on in the first half. Not his best game, but does deserve credit for his perimeter defense.

Brady Morningstar
Took 1 bad shot and had 2 bad turnovers. The rest was typical Brady. Knocked down 2 threes (out of 3) on his way to 11 points and came up with 5 boards as well. And of course, his defense was fantastic. The Huskers were 7-24 (29%) from deep; 2 of which came late from Henry and 1 unexpectedly from Dagunduro. Take those out to really analyze our perimeter defense and they were 4-21 (19%). Brady was the primary reason.

Tyrel Reed
His atrocious late turnover aside, Tyrel was great. His defense, especially when he was on Velander was excellent, never allowing a clean look. And as he’s been doing lately, he knocked down two huge threes right as we were trying to separate midway through the second.

Mario Little
The biggest thing to take away from tonight was him playing 30 minutes (previous high was 14). It wasn't quite what we’ve come to expect from him offensively (2-6 for 4 points) and he looked a little indecisive, but he also dished out a couple of assists from the high post and grabbed 7 rebounds (2 offensive). His defense on Dagunduro wasn’t very good at all, but he’s still getting acclimated on that side of the court and isn’t near quick enough on that leg to guard someone that athletic.

Marcus Morris
7 minutes, 5 points and an offensive board. But what he deserves credit for is stepping up and knocking down 3-4 free throws when we needed them most. He’s really struggled there this year and those points were huge, especially at the time.

Travis Releford & Markieff Morris
The unsung heroes of the night. When we weren’t getting anything from the 4 early on Travis came in and in only 6 minutes gave us 3 boards, solid defense and 5 points – 2 of which came in the closing seconds of the half to take some momentum into the locker room. And Markieff came into the second fired up, and gave us 5 points (3-4 from the line), 5 rebounds (3 offensive), 1 steal, 1 block, 0 turnovers and only 1 foul. Without either of these efforts, we don’t win this game and both players can use this going forward as they showed a lot tonight.

Part of me wants to blame Bill for not having them ready from the start and for the schematic lapses on both ends of the floor early on. But even if all that falls on him (which it shouldn’t), he still pushed enough of the right buttons early on to get them back in the game. And more importantly, he made the necessary adjustments at the break, got his message across and they turned a thirteen point deficit into a 6 point win on the road, against an exceptional defensive team. As ugly as it was to watch, that really was an exceptional win for this young team and it shouldn’t be taken for granted.

Put it this way..For a team that has trouble on the road, we have three conference road wins; the rest of the North has 2. And our closest Northern competitor went on the road for the second time in the division tonight and, just like the first time, they shit the bed. What was that about good defense? I know that's what comes to mind when I see that a poor shooting K-State team shot 53% and scored 88 points (the third straight game of allowing 86+).

What did you think?

Nebraska Pre-game

As you all know, tonight the Hawks head to Lincoln to take on Doc Sadler's Nebraska Cornhuskers in the Devaney Center. The first part of that sentence may not mean much to you, but the final two words should. Over the series history we have completely dominated the Huskers, much like they have done to us in football. However, whereas we have evened the playing field lately on the gridiron, the games indoors have become much less competitive with us pulverizing them over the last five years – winning 11 straight and 20 of 21 (though that one was an embarrassing loss up there). But Sherron has contributed to that, with Matt Kleinmann having the second most career points against the Huskers – with 8. And even with all that domination of late, we still only take a 16-16 Devaney Center record into this game. Knowing that and of the pesky defense Sadler will have them playing, this will not be an easy game.

Having surely read our mini-preview a few weeks back, you know that Nebraska lacks what is commonly referred to as size. On the season, the only guy above 6'6" that's consistently seen the court is Chris Balham (6'8") – and even he only gets about 10 minutes an outing. Quite frankly, Balham isn't that good. He was solid in high school because of his size and athleticism, but it hasn't yet translated to this level and for the year he accounts for 2 points & 2 boards a night. So without a big to rely on, Doc will usually use a trio of guys down low. The first, and best is Ade Dagunduro (6'5"). Ade is really just an athletic wing – without a shot – that's stuck playing down low, but he will create some matchup problems for us defensively and for the year has come up with about 11 points and 4 boards a game. Freshman Toney McCray (6'6") is their tallest guy playing over 10 minutes – and much like Dagunduro he's horribly out of position defensively and will only score facing up, or driving by a slower big. And lastly, is Ryan Anderson (6'4"), who is a bit of an enigma. He came to them as an outside shooter, but that has gradually deteriorated over time – though his frequency of taking them has not. On the year, he's averaging 6 & 5 to lead the team in rebounding.

(Note: The one caveat to this is if Brian Diaz (6'11") plays tonight, as could happen. Diaz was recently admitted to school after meeting their English speaking requirements and has begun practicing with the team, though he has yet to play and can elect to retain his redshirt in order to preserve himself a full season. Him playing would certainly be a boost, though I'm not sure of the effect it would really have as they've barely played with him and he's likely nowhere near game shape. If he were to play, I'd predict no more than ten minutes and no less than 2 fouls, but I know nothing about this guy, so I won't pretend to.)

Despite who they're guarding, nearly everyone is a backcourt player. Cookie Miller (5'7") is their primary distributor, and he's a decent one. Quick and shifty, Miller racks up over 4 assists per game and takes pretty good care of the ball with a near 2:1 A:TO ratio. It will be important to keep him out of the lane. Steve Harley may be their best all-around guy because of the effort he gives and his quickness with the ball. He only hits 1/3 of his outside shots, so we should give him some space as he's looking to blow by and mix it up on the inside – which is where he gets most of his team leading 12 points and nearly 4 boards. The final two pieces are Sek Henry and Paul Velander. Henry comes up with 9 & 3 and needs to always be defended, but there's not one thing he does very well. Velander, needs to be watched like a hawk. Enter Brady. Both Henry and Anderson will shoot a couple, but Velander is their only real three point threat on a consistent basis. And quite a threat he is, last I checked, leading the nation at over 47% on 104 attempts. For the year, he's shot 9 two-point FGs, 2 of them coming in league play – so it's not a difficult scouting report.

Defensive Keys…

1. Keep the feet moving. Whether it's Brady chasing Velander, Tyshawn trying to stay in front of Harley or whoever we have on Dagunduro, we have to keep them in front. A few of them can hit the three, but only Velander is going to hurt us from out there. The rest simply employ proper spacing and try to get by their man. Our primary advantage in this game is Cole and we can't be putting him at risk of foul trouble by having to defend a tiny driving guard every play. Make this team shoot jump shots and they won't score.

2. Box out. For a team that really doesn't do much of this, we win the rebounding battle more games than I'd think. However, that's usually based on our athleticism and having bigs around the basket. With the Huskers spacing us out and relying on quickness, it will be important to actually get a body on them when the shot goes up or there's a good chance they could beat us to the ball. This isn't a great shooting team and our size should make it tough on them, but too often even when we play good first shot defense, we let teams get an easy one by stealing an extra possession. That shouldn't happen tonight.

Offensive Keys…

1. Work through the post. Cole is our primary advantage, but Mario, the Morris' and even Quintrell have a size advantage as well. They'll be clogging this space, trying to deny entry passes and converging on the catch – but it's still something we need to try and exploit. This means posting hard and on the block from the bigs and getting the passes up where they can do something with it on the catch. Whether this means shooting over the top or kicking out to an open shooter, they need to keep the ball high.

2. Be smart with the ball. This key is two-fold. First, the Bugeaters play very tough, pressure defense. Lately, we've handled that much better and limited our turnovers (save a couple stretches), which has led to some pretty high scoring games. Tonight might not be high scoring, but if we handle the ball well and get it where it needs to be, we have a tremendous advantage on the offensive end. The second part is our shot selection. If we're working through the post properly, we're likely to have a whole lot of open looks from the outside. To start, the big needs to recognize when he has a good look and when he needs to kick it out. From there, guards need to step up and make shots, or swing to the open man, because Nebraska is very good rotating out of their double teams. If they make you prove you can hit it, knock it down. If they close out hard, pump fake and go right by for a closer look, but always be willing to take what they give you and make them pay for their decision.

This is likely going to be a very well contested game that is good for our guys either way. If we utilize our advantage properly, there is no reason we shouldn't come out with a win, but the Huskers shouldn't be underestimated and if we let them slow it to a crawl, they'll just gain more confidence as it goes along. We need to match their intensity from the start, exploit their lack of size and retain focus throughout. This is the kind of win that really separates a team from the pack and is an absolute necessity if they want to win the league. From what I'm told, they do. Rock Chalk!

Happy Mullet Wednesday!

There will be no forgetting Mullet Wednesday this week. And a happy one it is, what with the Jayhawks playing on The Deuce this evening. But until then (6:30 CST), enjoy this fascinating picture on an enormous troll that clearly lives by the credo of "Business in the front. Party in the back." I mean, is there any doubt that he won this court case? Just look how much more sophisticated and prepared he looks than his counterpart with the widow's peak and poneytail. Forget about it.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Big XII Rankings: Week 3

So, Travis Ford, you want to play fast and let your skill players get up and down the court and take a lot of shots?  That's all well and good.  In fact, it works really well when you have a team full of great players.  Just ask North Carolina.  But if I could offer one small piece of advice going forward, it would be to try and find a way to not get out-rebounded by a single player.  Seriously: Blake Griffin had 19 boards to 16 for the Cowboys.  He is a great player and you have a small team, but that is pathetic.  Just a thought, so take from it what you will.

1. Oklahoma (20-1, 6-0). Last week was another undefeated one for the Sooners, who are now starting to build a resume for a number 1 seed. Which should tell you all you need to know about the elite teams in college basketball this year and even more about the Big XII – considering they are well separated from the pack at this point. That was a real nice destruction of Baylor, however. My biggest worries for them are that: 1) Austin Johnson can’t continue to shoot 50% from three; and 2) Their lack of depth will either wear on them physically or be a big issue if they ever get into foul trouble in a one-game scenario – you know, like the NCAA tournament. (Previous:1)
This week: Won @ OSU 89-81, Saturday @ Iowa State

2. Texas (14-4, 3-1). Not much has changed since we last discussed the Longhorns, except that they took care of the Aggies in Austin over the weekend. Damion James led the way with 28, Johnson added 15 and it added up to a pretty mediocre 9 point win. I guess it’s a rivalry game, but that win really did nothing for me. A win tomorrow night in Waco, on the other hand, would be a real nice notch on the belt. (2)
This Week: Tuesday @ Baylor, Saturday v. K-State

3. Kansas (15-4, 4-0). Despite allowing Brackins to get 42, the Jayhawks went in to Ames and emerged with a 15 point win. No small feat, considering there is a 100% correlation between that happening and them winning the Big XII. I’m not ready to put them over Texas if for no other reason than experience, because neither has yet to beat a top half team in league play. (4)
This week: Wednesday @ Nebraska, Saturday v. Colorado

4. Baylor (15-4, 3-2). Sure, they flopped in Norman on Saturday, but they also had a nice showing in Manhattan earlier in the week. And while they’re getting killed for the former, they didn’t get much credit for the latter. As I’ve said all year long (not exactly an original thought), at some point the Bears are going to have to play defense if they want to compete for the league this or any other year. So far, they have not. With the week ahead, they better figure it out quickly. (3)
This week: Tuesday v. Texas, Saturday @ Missouri

5. Missouri (17-3, 4-1). Another undefeated week for the Tigers came about with a great win in Stillwater and a much less impressive one over Tech at home. In both, they scored 97 points. However, they allowed 95 and 86. 86 points to Tech, really? But wins are wins and right now Missouri is winning big by making teams play their way. You have to wonder what will happen when they have to get a score or a stop in the half court though, because they’ve never really demonstrated the ability to do either. (6)
This week: Wednesday @ K-State, Saturday v. Baylor

6. Oklahoma State (13-6, 2-3). In a complete reversal from a year ago, they find a way to make every game exciting this season. Unfortunately, for them, they’re losing more than they’re winning. They got a couple bad breaks, first in Waco and then on their home court (worst call ever) and followed that up with a solid road win in Lincoln. And tonight, well, they just couldn’t get over the hump. They feel like a tourney team, but sooner or later they need to start winning some of these and having two home losses already isn’t helping things. (5)
This week: Lost to Oklahoma 89-81, Saturday @ Texas A&M

7. Texas A&M (15-5, 1-4). After an incredibly tough start to league play, they now get to stay home for a week and they absolutely must win both. Right now, this team simply doesn’t have an identity. They’re not great on the perimeter, they’re inconsistent inside and really, they aren’t the defensive team I expected. The post-season is still within their reach, but not unless they figure some things out in short order. (7)
This week: Wednesday v. Tech, Saturday v. OSU

8. Nebraska (12-6, 2-3). Tough week for the Huskers, losing a close one in Norman and then in OT to the Pokes back in Lincoln. The defense and effort are definitely there, but the talent and height are not. Unfortunately, the first two will only get you so far without the others. (8)
This week: Wednesday v. Kansas, Saturday @ Tech

9. K-State (12-7, 1-4). After that horrific collapse in Boulder, I should probably move them down. But then who moves ahead? So they keep this spot by default for now and they’ll have a chance to earn if with a win on Wednesday. (9)
This week: Wednesday v. Missouri, Saturday @ Texas

10. Iowa State (12-7, 1-3). Well, Brackins certainly didn’t disappoint. But then there was everyone else. And that’s likely to be the story for the rest of the year. (10)
This week: Tuesday @ Colorado, Saturday v. Oklahoma

11. Texas Tech (11-8, 1-3). I considered bumping them up for keeping it close in Columbia, but didn’t simply because I think on a neutral court Brackins could beat them. (11)
This week: Wednesday @ A&M, Saturday v. Nebraska

12. Colorado (8-10, 0-4). How do you not close out K-State in overtime, at home, with all the momentum on your side? Because of that incompetence, if their winless streak extends one more game, it just might run through the rest of the season. Seriously. (12)
This week: Tuesday v. Iowa State, Saturday @ Kansas

Good Sign

I was perusing the KC Star this morning and came across this interesting piece. It's a couple days old, but I missed it over the weekend, and even more surprisingly, had never heard of this stat in years prior. In the 12 years since the inception of the Big XII, Kansas has won the league 8 times. This much, we all knew. But what came as news to me is that in every one of those years, Kansas won in Ames. In the four seasons we didn't win the league, we also couldn't win in Ames.

As you all know, the Jayhawks handed the Cyclones a 15 point loss on Saturday in Hilton Coliseum. I like.