Thursday, February 28, 2008

Comin' Home Again

First off, sorry for the extreme lack of posting this week. Between this whole work thing and trying to get things in order for a visit to the Fieldhouse this week, things have been pretty hectic. But all in better now, as I have tomorrow off, Erin Andrews will be in Lawrence this weekend, and the Hawks are back to their winning ways.

Some of you may not be thrilled about an 11 point win over a 14-14 Iowa State team, but just know a few things:
- In the middle of this tear Texas has been on, ISU handled them for 38 minutes, only to fall in overtime.
- Danny Manning never won in Ames
- It was a conference road win – never anything to sneeze at
- And most importantly, from Bill Self, "I do think this was big, but I don't think we're back where we were. I don't think you go from playing poorly to playing great consistently. I think it's a process, and it was a great start."

Sure we all would have loved it if Kansas would have come out and buried Iowa State like they did Boston College or Nebraska, but in reality, that just wasn't going to happen. For one, Ames is a tough place to play (Note: Can you believe that with their team, they are second only to KU in attendance this year?! Those Texas fans really love their basketball!). But more importantly, the Jayhawks aren't quite yet hitting on all cylinders.

The other side of that though, is how perfectly it sets up for them to breakout on Saturday. Despite letting ISU hang around a bit more than we all would have liked, every time they made a run, Kansas knocked down a shot, took the momentum back and was truly never threatened – which is how good teams win on the road. When you look at the factors leading up to gametime, they should be pretty fired up.
- They seemed to have some of their swagger back
- Texas will be coming off a loss (@ Tech, 3 pm CST), so KU will have a chance to reclaim a tie for 1st
- Erin Andrews will be there
- And most of all, they'll be in the Fieldhouse!

After a rough stretch, what better environment to come back to than playing the Wildcats (read: Michael Beasley) in Allen Fieldhouse with the Gameday crew in attendance? Rock Chalk!

And just because of how happy it made me to hear Coach say it, and because I'm so rarely right, how about this quote from Self,"We have been impatient of late because I think individuals are saying ‘I need to go make a play’ as opposed to thinking ‘We need to go have a great possession.'" Sound familiar? So maybe his description was a bit more succinct than mine, but it's the same message and it's one that needs to be hammered home with them. Now, onto the players.

Chalmers: I have long thought him to be the most integral player on the team and never more so than last night. The way he attacked early and played with the swagger that makes him so much better was infectious and set the tone for the rest of the game. Defensively though, it wasn't his best night. I think he's been getting frustrated that he hasn't been able to get into the passing lanes lately and tried to force the issue a bit, leaving him out of position a couple of times.

Rush: I really think he's back to being the best on-ball defender on the team. Rahshon Clark doesn't exactly have an offensive arsenal, but he got exactly zero good looks last night with Rush on him. Offensively, his three point shot was as pretty as ever, but he did pass up on some pretty good looks. Best play of the night for him though was when he went to the basket at about the 7 minute mark and hit that floater as he got fouled – more of that. Love this quote,“They should have trapped the post. Still, the outcome was going to be the same no matter what.”

Robinson: I loved the effort. 10 rebounds for a 6'1" PG is never an easy feat. And the five assists are about where he should be. But I still think he's forcing the issue offensively (0-4), when that is just not is need from him.

Collins: As was re-iterated by both himself and Coach last night that was the best he's looked in quite a while. Box score says he had 4 turnovers, but he really seemed to play within himself a lot better.

Arthur: As Keegan so eloquently pointed out this morning (talk about an out of date parallel), the obvious key to his success is him staying on the floor. ISU doesn't exactly have a bevy of inside forces, but I have no reservations about assuming that any time he plays 31 minutes, he'll be in the vicinity of 18 & 10. And when he is, this team is really tough to beat.

Jackson: This wasn't the stat stuffing night I expected out of him, but I have no big complaints either. The shot when dribbling at the top of the key was bad and neither turnover was good, but when DA plays 31 minutes, 7 & 8 should be plenty from Darnell.

Kaun: Apparently his back is hurt, but I didn't really notice it last night. Aside from the shot from 6 feet that nearly broke the backboard, I thought he played really well. As always, I could use more than 2 rebounds from a 6'10" monster.

Aldrich: Not much to say here. Rebounded well (2 in 4 minutes), as always. I think that was the first time I saw him take a jump shot and unfortunately, it looked exactly like his release from the free throw line. Which is to say, one that works nicely when no one is moving, but not ideal for game speed.

Self: Not much to say here, either. I thought he did a good job with the rotation. The team generally made a play out of a timeout. And most importantly, when ISU tried to put some pressure on them, they kept them at a safe distance. Would really love to see some semblance of a play with the clock running down though.

As if it weren't clear already, I'm very pleased with last night. I hated how stagnant the offense got in the middle of the second half. I really hate how this team seems either not have (or not trust) any clock plays except the wing handoff to Mario. But I thought they played with a purpose, while also staying under control which is exactly what good teams should do on the road. Now, along with Bill Self, "…I’d be totally disappointed if it wasn’t an unbelievable effort game for us...a great effort game for us.” I expect even more energy, hustle in bigger games, starting with the one this Saturday.

I'd also like to throw this little nugget out there, courtesy of Bill Simmons discussing Beasley, "'s hard to judge someone accurately when they're playing for the most incompetent and unlikable coach in Division I (the woefully overmatched and possibly homicidal Frank Martin)." Sounds about right.

This week's Power 16. Dick Vitale apparently has not watched basketball recently. He has Kansas at #7 (fine) and Texas at #11. Excuse, you?

And this is way off topic, but it's a pretty good Combine write-up.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Five Questions

Since we here at It's Business Time are not of the creative variety, or of the humble opinion, we've decide to add a feature today that, not surprisingly, lacks both originality and outside perspective. We'll ask five questions and each IBT contributor will offer his respective answer. Enjoy!

1. Do Kansas fans have cause to worry right now?

RoboBoogie: I will let GingerBalls be the "Rah! Rah!" cheerleader, but I don't think we should be too worried. I still think on most days they can play with anybody and the parity this year is amazing. It does concern me that they seem to be failing where they excelled earlier this year; pulling out the close games. Also, I guess it does concern me that as it stands I can't see this team stringing together 6 solid wins. I am hoping and thinking this will change down the stretch.

GingerBalls: Nah, I'll worry more if we are still playing like this during the Big 12 Tournament. Going back to last year, our last loss before UCLA came on 2/3/07, where as this year everything is pushed back about a week. So, let's say we win our last 4 and make it at least to the Big 12 Tournament Championship Game and I would say we are right back to where we need to be. When this team plays at the level it is capable of, I still don't think that there is a team out there that can beat them.

Hiphopopotamus: Absolutely they do. Despite how good 24-3 seems, remember that since 20-0, they are 4-3 and their one road win was in Boulder with more KU than CU fans in attendance. One other thing I recently realized is that of all the real teams (BCS) they have played, the only one above .500 in league play is USC. I'll address this more later, but this team has yet to win a game in which any pressure existed. Despite possibly having the best team in the nation, when you consider they'll need to win six in a row of this variety, I don't see any way to not be apprehensive.

2. Sherron Collins; your thoughts?

RoboBoogie: I wish I could write this all up to be a bruised knee, but who knows. It seems the slumping began before that (or maybe it was just announced late). The one thing that worries me most is that when he does try and be a playmaker now, he makes really bad decisions. He is almost a liability out there right now. I think this is key #1 to the team coming together down the stretch as they are so much different a better with him contributing. As it stands, he is hurting more than helping 90% of the time. Maybe his mind is on other things, like say, children.

Hiphopopotamus: I again don't have a good answer, because I really don't know what's wrong. A bruised knee is extremely painful and I'm sure that limits him, but if I'd asked you two weeks ago if you'd rather have Sherron Collins at 75% or Byron Eaton, what would you have said? Personally, I would have said Collins and wouldn't have blinked. I could be reading too much into this (and not giving the injury enough warrant), but I'm starting to think he's affected by the rotation. I say this because it feels like he never gets into the flow of the game and if he could do this, I think he'd feel less pressure to "be Sherron" all the time and more resemble what he did in the second half against Baylor – facilitate the offense, push the pace, and finish around the rim when it's there.

GingerBalls: If his knee is bothering him, can we just try and keep him out for a few weeks, maybe say until the Big 12 Tournament? I know we need him, but I would rather just let him heal and stay on a bike...then throw him into the fire, as close to fully healthy as possible come conference tournament time.

3. If you could change one thing about this Kansas team, what would it be?

This is going to sound overplayed, but, toughness and determination. Unfortunately, I think complacency has set in. Also, some of the off court things like family matters would be nice to not deal with, but how do you control that? I don't know how you put toughness and sense of urgency back into these kids. If there is one downfall to Coach Self it is that I don't think his teams have the mental toughness of other squads many nights – all the talent in the world, but the grit to get through the tough game is lacking. It is even more disappointing since we saw it earlier in the year.

I'm not sure this is a thing, but I just want to see them play their game – ALL THE TIME. By that I don't mean every game has to be at their pace or anything like that, as they clearly have the ingredients to play different styles. Every time they get in one of these pressure games, they go all "Bradley game" on us and each start trying to create their own shots instead of actually running an offense. Every time this happens, I just pray they call a timeout and Danny Manning gets in the huddle and says, "I won a fucking national championship by myself! Listen to me! None of you are me. And even I needed the other guys to score 50 points. If you guys play your game, move the ball and defend, no one can beat you!" And it's even backed up by the stats: Kansas is second nationally with 19 assists per game. In their three losses (KSU, UT, OSU), they've had 12, 15 and 7, respectively. The 15 is fine, but let's not forget how beautifully they moved the ball and scored throughout the first half - I'd be willing to bet at least 10 of them came in that half. It blows me away how they were able to do this last year against Florida and Texas (twice) and this year against Arizona (ALL WINS), yet they continue to get rattled and revert to this form. I'm looking at you, Coach Self. Everyone says they need a leader to take over the game – I disagree. I think they need a leader to keep them under control, which is another way of asking Russell Robinson to shoot when he's open, but stop looking for his own shot. (Note: The team arguably hasn't looked any better in one game than they did in the Sprint Center against Ohio. In that game, Russell had 6 points (2-3 shooting), 11 assists, 3 rebounds, & 3 steals.)

GingerBalls:Let me be a walk-on rather than Witherspoon...or Bechard...or Buford, seriously, I got more want-to. In all seriousness, not much really. Of course I want to win every game and our loses have come due to poor play by us. It is correctable though, so I guess I would just want
us to play with the consistency we played with earlier in the year. As long as we learn from our losses - coaches and players - these haven't been bad losses.

4. Will Kansas win the Big 12?

RoboBoogie: With Collins and Rush playing the way they are right now (and Jackson to some extent), I don't see it. Maybe KSU will pull one out to help our cause this week, but I see KU dropping one more before it is said and done given their current play. It really is a turning point, because if they win out I think they'll have a lot of confidence going into the tourney.

GingerBalls:K-State will beat Texas and KU will win out to tie Texas again. The only question is whether the Big 12 will f-up and present Texas with a trophy and not give one to KU.

Hiphopopotamus: I really think KSU will beat Texas tonight, so that opens the door for a split-honor. However, the only other game Texas has a chance to lose is in Lubbock, so that means KU needs to win out. I'd sure like to think coming off a loss they'd have a sense of urgency that will get them out of Ames with a win. If they don't beat KSU with Gameday in attendance, I'll write off the season anyway. Tech at home will be a cakewalk. And so it comes down to if they win in College Station. I'm sure the place will be rocking and they definitely have some players, but if Nebraska and OSU can do it, Kansas sure as hell better be able to. I'll say they tie with Texas at 13-3, which likely means they'll see both the Wildcats and Longhorns again in Kansas City if they play well there.

5. Who is the favorite to cut nets in San Antonio right now?

I really like UCLA, but for some reason I can really see Texas making a run if they keep playing like they have. I consider Barnes a weak coach though, so I don't know if they can get past the Elite 8. I do not think Memphis or Tennessee will be in the Final Four.

GingerBalls:I really think UNC is a much better team having to figure out how to win without Lawson for the amount of time that they have had. So I like them more than I used to. The toughest outs in the tourney and the teams that I think the winner will come out of are UCLA, KU and UNC. These three just don't have that one big glaring weakness(yeah each team has some weaknesses, just less than others). Not that I have picked the winner in my bracket the last 4 years anyway, so maybe you shouldn't worry about what I think.

Hiphopopotamus: Right now, I'd take UCLA in a second. They have experience, defense and a balanced offense. That said, they've lost two home games and to a bad Washington team, so I'm not ready to crown them just yet. As the season has gone along, the parity at the top has really set in, at least record-wise. But when it comes down to it, I have a hard time picturing a team outside of UCLA, Kansas and UNC reeling off six big ones.

That concludes this session of 5 Questions with It's Business Time. We hope that you enjoyed our always objective and provocative insight. We also hope that Texas slips on some of Bill Walker's urine and suffers a defeat in Bramlage this evening. It's worth noting that every time Kansas has fallen out of first place, the team ahead of them has lost the next time out. Here's to once more!

Parting thought. In this bracket, I'd take Tennessee, UCLA, Kansas & North Carolina. And even though that's the same breakdown that made it last year, it's probably too much chalk. Also courtesy of Joey Brackets, here is a nice rundown of the top seeds (you'll need Insider).

Friday, February 22, 2008

Robert the Bruce- First KJ-IBT Caption Contest

Since ginger mentioned how he harbors fantasies about bagpipin' bruce pearl or something like that (he lost me in irrelevance quickly) it made me think of this photo I saw of him the other day (bruce not ginger, kids might see this blog and I don't want them to have nightmares). I really am at a loss for the perfect caption for this since I have so many ideas. So I decided to have the First Ever KJ-IBT caption contest. In the comments put your best caption and who ever I judge to be the best, if in lawrence, will get a six pack of their favorite beer as a reward, or if they will be in lawrence soon will collect then, and if they are not in the greater KC area then how the hell did you end up here anyway? Also you of course will also receive my undying admiration... (Please someone post so I know someone reads my drivel)

A Favor House Atlantic

I don 't know if any of you have heard about this Obama guy, but he seems pretty cool I guess...and just in case you wanted to sport some of the probable Democratic Representative's threads to a baseball game, look no further

And now for something completely different....

Pretty nice basketball prospectus article on our "underrated" Jayhawks.

I love how some other Big 12 schools try to refute the idea that KU gets everyones best shot. Kinda like arguing that Jim Belushi is funnier than John Belushi; you know it's just not true.
*sidenote*-really, how is According to Jim still on the air? If you watch it, you should be forced to bagpipe a chest-painted Bruce Pearl while Little Richard gives a play by play using Dick Vitale's voice...all while Gus Johnson is double fish-hooking Steven A. Smith in the corner .*

So, I hate that fucking show. Another example of how true this truism of truth is comes from Okie Light's Ibrahima Thomas, who apparently has been thinking about this game for quite some time.

Not that anyone is still reading after my sex-term laden orgy described above, but any real KU fan would be remiss if they did not check out this brilliant video of highlights from this year.

Insider info, a.k.a., tells me that due to weather issues, KU grad Kevin Harlan will be stepping in for Gus Johnson to do the KU-OSU game tomorrow with "Special K" Clark Kellogg...of course in spectacular CBS 1080 HD.

My prediction is that Byron Eaton will revert to his ways of being a connoisseur of McDonalds rather than playing like a former McDonalds All-American. Anderson is bound to shoot better than he has been one of these days, just don't see it coming tomorrow.
KU 79- OSU 60...just feel a blowout coming, with Mario leading all scorers at 18.

If I'm Curt, Then I Apologize

But time is of the essence. Sorry for the lack of posts this week. But hey, I've given you more than the Journal World has, so that's got to count for something, right? On account of my recent lacking, we'll be lumping in both power polls today. And of course, linking to Mike Patrick's guest column at EDSBS.

First, the Big 12…

Kansas (24-2, 9-2) I could easily have Texas here as well, since they have the easier remaining schedule and hold the tie-breaker, but since it's 50/50, I'll be a homer. As we've said before, something had to still be wrong with Sherron – and that's pretty disconcerting, but for now there's no reason not to remain optimistic that he'll be better in a month when it really matters. As for this weekend, I'll be shocked and mildly disappointed if they let the Pokes hang around – more worried about next Wednesday. KU 76 OSU 59 (EDIT: Please, please, please LET THIS HAPPEN!)

Texas (22-4, 9-2) As I said, they could easily be in the top spot – then again, Kansas hasn't been blown out by A&M and Methzou, and they certainly didn't lose at home to Wisconsin. But all that aside, I don't see a team in the nation (even UCONN!!!) playing better than the Horns right now and I highly doubt they'll have any trouble with OU this weekend. Monday could be a different story.

KSU (18-7, 8-3) "It's gonna be a fun night. I might go for fifty tonight. No, seriously. I'm so serious." (Michael Beasley, 2/20/08) Or not. Don't get me wrong, 17 & 10 is a solid night, but against a team whose ONLY inside presence is a lumbering, slow, Australian oaf, more was expected. Bad loss for the Wildcats, who now start a string of: @ Baylor, Texas, @ Kansas. Technically, they still have every chance to win the league as they play both teams in front of them and by beating them would own the tiebreakers. But that ain't happenin', so why worry about it?

Texas A&M (20-6, 6-5) Talk about a team that fucked me from behind. I make them 12th in my power poll and they go out and lose to Sean Sutton, AT HOME, and follow that up by getting absolutely run off the court in Austin. Not their best 3 day swing. I'm not sure if Turg is having trouble reaching some of his players or what, but something isn't right down there. They've got two easy wins to get back on track before closing: @ OU, @ Baylor, Kansas.

Oklahoma (18-8, 6-5) If there were ever a team that's more lucky than good, this is it. First, the injuries. Both Blake Griffin and Longar are supposedly lost (for at least a month each) and yet both are playing 2 games later. Then Godbold throws up a prayer to beat Tech. And then Baylor happens. I think this is a tournament team, but they've still got three roadies left and A&M at home, so they've got some work to do.

Baylor (17-8, 5-6) I'm praying for them. I'm also praying that Aaron Bruce's crunchtime minutes are over. Like I said before, their entire season is on the line Saturday against KSU. That's a tough loss to bounce back from, but if they don't do it, they may be hosting NiIT games in Waco come March.

Texas Tech (14-11, 5-6) Real solid road win @ Colorado. Close with: @ A&M, Texas, @ Kansas, Baylor. Ouch
Methzou (14-12, 4-7) It's funny to me that under an ESPN local search, the only articles that come up are for Methzouri State. They're apparently more relevant than this team.
Oklahoma State (13-12, 4-7) Coming off two good wins (BU, @ A&M) – have a chance for a 3rd Saturday.
Nebraska (15-9, 4-7) Good win. Bad choice on the floor storm.
Iowa State (14-12, 4-7) Still not sure how much Ryan Greene had been smoking when he said this was a top-half Big 12 team…
Colorado (10-15, 2-9) Bzdelik is a good coach. Colorado is a bad team. That just lost it's best player of the future.

Now, I know you'll be shocked by this, but I don't have Memphis and Tennessee as my numbers 1 and 2, respectively. And neither should you, because neither are the one of the best two teams in the land. Then again, I'm pretty stubborn.

The Favorites

UCLA (23-3) Typically, announcers and "analysts" all like to jump on the same bandwagon once someone sees a player do something – and run like hell with it. Kevin Love's outlet passes are no different – but man has he earned every bit of their praise. Once again, they looked great last night. I still worry about their outside shooting though.

Kansas (24-2) Nobody in the nation has better losses. But a lot of teams have better wins. Still, this team has every piece of the puzzle to go all the way and if the committee puts them and the Bruins in the same bracket again, I am not going to be a happy fella. Luckily, Duke was finally exposed and as long as both teams take care of business, they should both be 1's.

The Contenders

UNC (25-2) Shocked? Me too. But how fast would Hansbrough foul out Dorsey? And without Dorsey, Memphis' inside presence becomes Dozier (or Taggart off the bench) – or in other words, they won't get many rebounds. And assuming Lawson comes back healthy, he's definitely good enough to beat Rose off the dribble and free up some shooters. Gun to my head, I'd take the Heels over Memphis.

Memphis (26-0) In continuing my last argument, UNC has barely escaped against Clemson (twice), Virginia and Florida State. In three games, they were without Lawson. Memphis, on the other hand, has barely escaped against UTEP, Houston and UAB – and have been fully healthy in doing so. From that minimal data, which is less impressive? That's what I thought.

Texas (22-4) Yes, they have two more losses than Tennessee. But they also embarrassed the Vols on a neutral court – not to mention their wins over UCLA and KU. When they get the kind of inside production they have been, they're as good as anyone. Problem is, they won't get that for 6 straight games (or probably 4) in the tourney.

The Wannabes

Tennessee (24-2) Yes, they are running through the SEC (Kentucky loss aside). But let's not forget that the two teams tied for second are… Mississippi St. and Kentucky – not horrible teams but ones that between them couldn't beat the likes of Gardner Webb, San Diego, Miami (OH), SIU, South Alabama, etc., totaling an OOC record of 9-5 for MSU and 6-7 for Kentucky. Yikes. I've never trusted this team. And now I have numbers to prove why.

Duke (22-3) This team is bunk. And finally other people are seeing it. How's this for a set-up, Jayhawk fans…Duke wins out, UNC game(s) aside and end up the 2 seed (to Kansas' 1 ) in the Midwest? I like. Also, this Stewart Mandel piece would have been a lot better 2+ weeks ago, but it was still pretty solid.

Xavier (23-4) The A-10 isn't nearly as good as the "experts' thought it was, but it's still a solid league that Xavier is generally running through. @ Dayton and @ St. Joe's represent their only "tough" games until the conference tourney. I haven't watched them as much as I'd like, but they seem like a legitimate Elite 8 team.

Stanford (21-4) I have watched them a bit more lately, but really I'm just trusting the "experts" here as I think they're extremely susceptible to a bad match-up (i.e. any team that pressures the perimeter). But they present a match-up problem of their own with the Lopez twins. I'm excited for their 3/6 game @ Pauley.

Connecticut (21-5) While everyone seems infatuated with them (could geography be to blame?), I see a team that at home, could only beat ND by 6 and DePaul 5, while needing a last second shot to win @ South Florida. Yes, Price looks great lately. And yes, Thabeet has improved tremendously. But no, this team is not one of the best in the country. Ten is probably too high, in fact.

Indiana (22-4) I may have them overrated and it remains to be seen how they play without Kelvin, but by Big 11 standards, they look pretty solid lately. When I watch them, I don't see how they could possibly contend with the top teams on this list (the answer; they can't), but they're certainly capable of the Elite 8.

Louisville (21-6) Again, this may be too high, but with David Padgett on their team, they are national title contenders. Right? I mean, he is putting up numbers like: 10.6, 4.6 and 1.6? Truth be told, we all know numbers don't tell the whole story and he certainly makes them a lot better, but there's not a better example of what I mentioned before in regards to Kevin Love. One guy says something and all of a sudden they all believe it ten fold.

Georgetown (21-4) For a four loss team from the Big East, this seems a little low. But they just lost to Louisville (and clearly looked like the 2nd best team) and they are some lucky plays away from being 19-6. When it's all said and done, I'd call them a 3 seed, probably bowing out in the Sweet 16. No shame in that.

That seems like enough. Anna Rawson is probably a better golfer than I am. And perhaps better looking as well. Your thoughts?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Love These Uniforms

I was perusing Basketball Prospectus today and found a couple things I thought were worth passing along. First, here is a breakdown of the 6 BCS conferences and the efficiency margin for each team. As you'll see, Kansas is far ahead of the pack. Secondly, they have a nice rundown of their rankings, and though it differs some from my own, I think it's pretty accurate and defensible.

The Big Lead was a little late with this story (see below), but they completely redeemed themselves with their chosen headline.

Another great headline…weird story though.

As you're all aware, the conference race is down to three teams. Which happens to be two more than I expected at this point. Barking Carnival has a pretty good run down/prognosis if you're interested.

Kansas State will be losing this Saturday. Because if they don't, Baylor can forget about playing in the real tournament. So Scott Drew, if you're in any more close games, get Aaron Bruce off the court. If you didn't see the games, three days after pulling his best C-Webb impression and costing the Bears their first win over Texas in 20+ tries, Bruce decided to foul Tony Crocker as he was shooting a three with 7 seconds left. Low and behold, the three goes in, Crocker nails the free throw and now the only thing Baylor couldn't let happen; did. So Curtis Jerrels decided to save the Bears (again!) and he got to the line with one second left and a chance to win the game – except he missed both free throws. How Baylor won at A&M really is a testament to whatever is wrong with the Aggies, because Baylor does not know how to win.

Sticking with the purples pooosies, a KSU blogger settles the Beasley v Hansbrough debate once and for all! Personally, I agree and don't think it should even be close. Not only does Hansbrough get half his points from the line (from contact he initiates), but more importantly, he has well over twice the supporting cast of Beasley, yet UNC hasn't done a whole lot more than those from the Rotten Apple. (Note: If you choose not to bother with this link, and I can't blame you, at least take the time to read this excerpt, (in response to one of Coach K's stated reasons for Psycho T being the front runner) " First, toughness. Beasley has been playing with a badly jammed toe all season, but hasn't complained about it and hasn't let it affect the quality of his play." I had no idea. What a warrior!

I'm a little late on this article as it was written Saturday, but if you find me someone that can actually get through this drivel in its entirety, I'll be damned impressed. Though I was relieved to know that Coach Self doesn't necessarily impose a curfew if there isn't a game pending. College is supposed to be fun and as long as they can be smart when they're out, let them have at it.

Memphis, on the other hand, may want to try toning it down a notch. As Jeff Goodman points out, 6 of the current 12 on their roster have been in legal trouble within the last year. I, for one, am shocked that Cal would let this go on. (Note: Do you think it’s a coincidence that Forde and Goodman wrote virtually the exact same Memphis columns the week of the "biggest game of the year?")

I am not a big fan of the Georgia Bulldogs. And I have never been happier about that.

FNL's own Tim Riggins has now been cast as Gambit in upcoming X-Men films. Can someone please explain to me how "My Dad is Better Than Your Dad," "Dancing with the Stars," and "American Gladiators" can continue to air, while FNL fades into oblivion?

As you may have noticed, there's not a whole lot going on in the wide world of sports. However, 7 ranked teams play on the road tonight and even though they're all at unranked opponents, I'd say 2-3 are going down. It's about that time of year, so I don't need to justify it with actual picks or logic.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

One Reason I am Glad Roy is Gone...

So I will not get into the merits of his coaching career at KU or the many dramas he caused.  I don't hate the guy and he helped elevate KU back to the good old pre-Owens days (yes I am skipping browns short stint).  However, one thing I will absolutely not miss is his press conferences when he feels slightly miffed about something.  A Choice comment...

"It's not like I'm getting a dadgum plane and flying it around to say, 'Roy fell against a wall and banged his nose' or anything."

Classic Roy speak.

Some might find it charming I just find it annoying as he tries to mix whit with what can only be taken for down home country wisdom.

Honestly it was good to see him go if only to never hear another dadgum, youngster, rascal, fellas, golly, suckers, hustled their tails off, or tell people how if they drove the lane on him he would kill them in Larryville.

He does break out the heavy ammo though and throw down not just a damn but a crap also in one quote. A new record I think.

"Regardless of what somebody else says about they have injuries too, which is a bunch of bunk, so I don't give a crap what somebody else says, but coach their own damn team, I'll coach my team -- in case anybody has heard some statements about that."

CRAPTASTIC! However he does use bunk which I think makes it a wash.

Roy.. that rascal. I would take Coach K in the 3rd Round but I would actually pay to see it. (Would they slap or punch?)

Here Hoping for a Retirement Full of Golf for the General

Weekend Recap

Since we're now less than a month away from Selection Sunday, there's probably no use in bothering to include any non-tournament teams in the analysis…so here’s the abridged version of what happened throughout the conference since last we discussed.

Kansas (24-2, 9-2)Over the weekend, the Jayhawks celebrated 110 Years of Kansas Basketball and as a side note, dismantled Colorado for the 25th straight time in Allen Fieldhouse. I can't say I loved their first half offense, but the first 10 minutes of the second half were pure beauty and I'm not sure you can defend the Princeton offense much better than they did. Now they get a week off, before venturing down to Coach Self's alma mater on Saturday. Seth Davis still likes the Jayhawks in the latest installment of his Stock Report. Is this a good thing? Looking at: 1-2 seed

Texas (22-4, 9-2) Needless to say, Texas has had a pretty good run over the last 10 days. First, they are handed an OT win in Ames which they had no business winning – then they upset Kansas – follow that up with a road win @ Baylor (nice C-Webb impression, Aaron Bruce!) – and cap things off with a 27 point thrashing of their most bitter rival, A&M. Oh by the way, in doing so they have certainly turned themselves into a 2 seed and could legitimately play themselves into a 1. Not surprisingly, those in Texas already think they are. Others may disagree. Looking at: 2-3 seed

Kansas State (18-6, 8-2) Apparently the Wildcats just can't deal with success. After falling miserably at Tech, they returned to the purple place and completely embarrassed Methzou, 100-63. To no one's surprise, the Bease led the way with 40 & 17. Next week they'll welcome Texas for Big Monday with a chance to set up March 1 as the de facto conference championship game. They still seem ripe for an early round upset to me, but one can't help but be impressed with ones like this. Looking at: 4-5 seed

Texas A&M (20-6, 6-5) Does anyone else think something is going on here? Obviously DeAndre Jordan has not been what they planned on (7.7, 5.4 in Big 12 play), but still. They have solid guards that are quick, can defend and can shoot it to go along with a front line of Jones, Davis and Jordan – yet they lose at home to Sean Sutton. That's right, OSU hadn't won on the road in their last 19 tries (and Sean Sutton never had) yet an A&M team with that roster and expectations couldn't handle them. Baaad loss. And then they followed it up by getting run off the court in Austin. Looking at: 6-8 seed

Oklahoma (17-8, 5-5) If this team makes the tourney, then hats off to Jeff Capel. Or possibly, more deservingly, their head trainer as they have seemingly lost Blake Griffin and Longar for extensive amounts of time only to have them return the following week. Whatever works, I guess. Either way, OU had another good week beating ISU and then absolutely stealing one in Lubbock on Godbold's ridiculously lucky shot. They're in position now, but only one (Methzou) of their remaining six is easy. Looking at: Bubble (8-10)

Baylor (17-7, 5-5) How long ago does that 4-0 conference start seem? Poor Bears. Talk about a valiant effort to nearly steal that W from Texas, only to get it to a one point game with 28 seconds left and have your senior leader pull a C-Webb right as you're inbounding with a chance to win the game. Ouch. This team feels tourney worthy, but they don't have enough of a non-conference to get them in without a strong finish. Easiest game left is in Boulder, so they need to step it up quickly. Like tonight, in Norman.Looking at: Bubble (8-10)

Methzou (14-12, 4-7) What, you don't think a team hovering around .500 overall, well under it in league play and fresh off a 37 point humiliation is tourney worthy. Well think again!

In other news, the Combine is fast approaching, so there's draft analysis everywhere. McShay says Talib is fighting to be the first DB off the board and should be no later than the 3rd. Mel Kiper, on the other hand, has him a stable 7th overall on his big board.

As for Anthony Collins, McShay has him rated as the 10th best O-Lineman.

For those of you Mempis lovers, Pat Forde wrote a pretty entertaining column today. Too many times, Forde runs too far in one direction with his articles trying to make a point, but this one seems about right.

Not mentioned in Forde's piece, but present in Katz's DW is this nugget from Calipari, "It's finally a game that we're allowed to lose," Calipari said (in regards to Tennessee). Calipari's frustration stems from a perception that the Tigers aren't allowed to, or shouldn't drop, a game in Conference USA. He said that Duke isn't criticized for losing at Wake Forest, yet had Memphis lost at UAB on Saturday night and it took a defensive stop in the final possession (and an awful foul call) to pull it off, then the Tigers "would have dropped eight or nine spots in the poll."

I didn't know Cal was such a drama queen. By no means should any team be expected to run the table. But if Memphis is nearly as good as they think they are, shouldn't they be held to a standard that expects them to beat C-USA teams? I say yes. But more power to him if he wants to play the no respect card and tell everyone that when they lose they shouldn't be considered any better than 9th or 10th. Wonderful fun with this photo here.

Friday, February 15, 2008

A Look at the National Scene

On account of so many integral people from the Kansas basketball program congregating in Lawrence this weekend as part of the 110 Years of Kansas Basketball celebration and to honor the 20 year anniversary of the 1988 National Champions, I did a little research. Out of curiosity, I went back to 1988 to check out Kansas' respective seeding. Here's what I found…
'88 – 6 : '89 – NA : '90 – 2 : '91 – 3 : '92 – 1 : '93 – 2 : '94 – 4 : '95 – 1 : '96 – 2 : '97 – 1 : '98 – 1 : '99 – 6 : '00 – 8 : '01 – 4 : '02 – 1 : '03 – 2 : '04 – 4 : '05 – 3 : '06 – 4 : '07 – 1

Broken down by seed that adds up to…
#1 seed – 7 times (2 Final Fours)
#2 seed – 4 times (2 Final Fours)
#3 seed – 3 times (1 Final Four)
#4 seed – 4 times
#5 seed – 2 times
#6 seed – 2 times (1 Final Four, NC)
#8 seed – 1 time
Not invited – 1 time

As familiar as you are with the team and as much as you always appreciate the success, argue superiority, etc. it really resonates when you see it broken down as such. Factor in that only one team in the nation has a longer current inclusion streak (KU = 19 (soon to be 20), UofA = 23 (likely to be 24), only one team has more #1 seeds over that time (Duke) and only two (Duke, UNC) have more final four appearances; you've got yourself some damn good consistency. Oh, and it's only 30 days until Selection Sunday.

Once I saw this I got a little curious to see how it stacked up against the other perennial programs around the country over the last 20 years. I don't have the time or energy for appearances, but just know that UofA would have 20, KU would have 19 and everyone else would have less.

The format will be: Kansas (#1 seeds = 7: Final Fours = 6: National Champions = 1)

- Duke (#1 = 9 : FF = 9 : NC = 3)
- UNC (#1 = 6 : FF = 7 : NC = 2)
- UCLA (#1 = 2 : FF = 3 : NC = 1)
- UK (#1 = 6 : FF = 4 : NC = 2)
- UA (#1 = 5 : FF = 4 : NC = 1)
- IU (#1 = 1 : FF = 2 :NC = 0)
- UCONN (#1 = 4 :FF = 2 : NC = 2)

And just for fun…
- Methzou (#1 = 1 : FF = 0 : NC 0)
- KSU (#1 = 0 : FF = 0 : NC = 0)

Obviously Kansas stacks up quite nicely, but how much better would it looks if their line read, "8:7:2" as of April 7th? But we can't really get too hung up on that just yet. So instead I'll just attempt to do this week's version of my Top Sixteen. Let me preface this by saying that I think this week is the toughest yet, or at least the hardest to justify, since my top two both lost in the last 5 days.

1. UCLA (21-3) I really can't defend it at this point, but the more I watch of the other elite teams, the more I think UCLA and Kansas are the two best; and right now I think UCLA would beat KU. I must note, though, that I think KU could easily get Love in foul trouble and without him they are a far cry from their ceiling.
Up next: Sunday @ USC (w/o Daniel Hackett)

2. Kansas (23-2) Perhaps I'm just being stubborn keeping these two at the top, but when you break it down, they seem like the two most balanced and reliable. They're easily two of the best defenses, both can score from the post or the perimeter, and to top it off they've got some veterans. How could I possibly trust Memphis (sans shooters), Duke (sans an inside game), UNC (sans a defense), or Tennessee (sans a conscience and with ADD) any more than these two? Even if you can, I can't, and so in my infinite wisdom, I'm sticking with that theory until it's proven wrong.
Up next: Saturday v. Colorado

3. Memphis (24-0) Undefeated or not, this team simply isn't championship material. And I would have Duke rated above them, except that I think Dorsey might get about 25 rebounds in that game (a la DeJuan Blair) and I think Memphis plays good enough perimeter defense to limit Duke's penetration/kick-outs. But the fact of the matter is, I just don't trust a team that in February trails Houston and UTEP at home, not to mention one shooting 58% at the charity stripe.
Up next: Saturday @ UAB (their second toughest conference game – WOW)

4. Duke (22-1) In all honesty, there's really no reason this team shouldn't be ranked # 1 based on what has transpired on the court. And that might not change for a while. But if you watch them play, there's no way to assume that they could handle a team that plays defense and has an inside presence – you know, kind of like Pittsburgh.
Up next: Saturday @ Wake Forest

5. North Carolina (23-2) It's hard to take anything this team has done lately seriously, because the difference in Ty Lawson and Quentin Thomas is just enormous. And despite that absence, there's almost no chance of them entering the tourney with more than 5 losses (@ NC St., @ Duke, ACC tourney) and a good chance they'll have less. Could be a dangerous 2 seed as winning all these 1 point games can only be a good thing in the long run. (NOTE: Interesting stats...Tyler Hansbrough has been called for 57 fouls this year (2.28/gm.), has never fouled out and has only had 4 twice. However, he has shot 257 free throws, meaning that even if all but one was a a two-shot foul, he has been fouled 129 times. Sunday v. Clemson, he played 47 minutes, was called for 3 fouls and took 19 foul shots. WOWZERS!)
Up next: Saturday v. Va Tech

6. Texas (20-4) Maybe I'm putting them too high because of what they did against the Jayhawks, but it's undeniable that when their other players contribute, they're tough to beat. And the proof is in the pudding as they've beat UCLA (road), Tennessee (neutral) and Kansas (home). No other team in the nation can come close to matching them in marquee wins. Now if only they could avoid blowouts @ Methzou and A&M.
Up next: Saturday @ Baylor (must win for the Bears, need to avoid a letdown)

7. Tennessee (22-2) Now here's a team I absolutely don't trust. It's hard to tell since it's all based on match-ups, but this is likely a team I'll be picking to be upset on the first weekend and no later than the sweet 16. With that said, and as bad as LSU is (lost by 20 to Wichita State), that win showed me something because I didn't think they could win a game like that. (Note: They didn't actually win it as much as LSU lost it though – shot clock off and have the ball in a tie game, there's no excuse for at the very worst going to OT. Truly a pathetic display.)
Up next: Saturday @ Georgia

8. Stanford (20-4) As sad as it sounds, I'm really trusting the "experts" at the WWL on this one as I'm not terribly familiar with the Cardinal, particularly their guards. I've seen them play, and both Goods and Hill look pretty solid, but more than anything I think they're a tough match-up with the Lopez twins. Then again, they did just lose to Arizona State – who, as we mentioned yesterday, was embarrassed by a Nebraska team that can't even tread water in the Big 12. They'll get their chance though as they still have roadies @ Arizona, USC and UCLA.
Up next: Saturday @ Arizona

9. Connecticut (19-5) The home loss to Providence was AWFUL and I'm not totally sold on the Big East as a whole, but 8 wins in a row at this time of year is pretty solid. (Note: BY FAR their toughest remaining game is @ 'Nova) When you factor in that they've got a semi-veteran point guard that looks great and steals laptops and as good a defensive big man as there is, they make for a damn tough game.
Up next: Saturday @ South Florida

10. Georgetown (20-3) Sometimes in the tournament it's better to be lucky than good. And Georgetown is certainly that. They play good defense and Hibbert should control most games – though he isn't at 13 and 7 – but they just don't look good on offense and despite all of their close wins, they look especially bad late in games. Check out this hilarious call from their radio announcer the other night. And here I thought only purple wildcats were this delusional.
Up next: Saturday @ Syracuse

11. Purdue (20-5) I can't believe I'm doing this, but as horrible as the Big 10 is, winning in the Kohl Center is always tough. That's where they sold me. There are plenty of teams below them that would scare me a lot more, but they kind of seem like a lighter version of Kansas a couple years ago, when the Hawks were screwed with a 4 seed.
Up next: Saturday @ Northwestern

12. Texas A&M (20-4) They still haven't won in a tough road environment, but with their size and ability to hit the three, this team can beat anyone. With four tough ones remaining, we should know plenty by the time the tourney rolls around.
Up next: Saturday v. OSU

13. Louisville (19-6) Pitino is obviously one of the best and when he can convince his team to play smart, they've got a lot of potential. It's funny to hear about David Padgett as such a leader now, you know, considering how big of a mooseknuckle he was just a few years ago. Good for him, though.
Up next: Saturday @ Providence

14. Xavier (21-4) Part of me wonders if I'm under-rating these guys, but the other half reminds me that the A-10 as a whole is ridiculously overrated. Still, 9-1 in a league with that many (at least somewhat) legitimate teams is no easy feat. Seem a little too small though to do any major damage.
Up next: Monday @ Rhode Island

15. Wisconsin (20-4) How can you not appreciate Bo Ryan? Talk about a guy that figures out what he has and gets the absolute most out of them. Not to mention his stunning similarity to Bucky the Badger! Part of me can't forget their embarrassment in Cameron earlier this year, but the other half remembers that it happened in November. Take that for what you will, but KSU was losing to George mason around the same time.
Up next: Saturday v. Minnesota

16. KSU (17-6) They get the nod over Butler because of their wins over Kansas and A&M, whereas Butler's best win came over Texas Tech in Alaska – and we all know how worthless they are outside of Lubbock. Like Tennessee, though, they seem like a probable pick to be upset early on, especially if they land in the dreaded 5 spot for the 5/12 game and Frank Martin's head explodes. Somebody get that guy a joint.
Up next: Saturday v. Methzou

Just missing out: Butler, Arizona (they need Nic wise), USC (need Hackett), Washington St. (need Low to make shots again), Pitt (need LeVance Fields), & St. Mary's

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Big 12 Power Poll

With the events of last night fresh in mind, it seems an opportune time for a Big 12 post, including an updated power poll and a look-ahead.

1. Kansas (23-2, 8-2): They haven't really earned it, but they currently sit a ½ game ahead of UT and KSU and there are only two games on their schedule that have any reason to be close (v. KSU, @ A&M). In all honesty though, they've haven't played well for a full game since January, so we'll see how they bounce back from Texas. Always nice to know that the Big 12 title runs through the Phog – though even if they win out, Texas can tie and own the tiebreaker for the 1 seed.
Up next: Saturday v. Colorado

2. Texas (20-4, 7-2): How can you not put them here after the balance they showed on Monday? Their guards get all of the attention, but if they're going to be a real player, it's the other guys (Mason, James, Atchley, Johnson) that will make the difference. Still have a couple tough ones (@ BU, @ KSU, v. A&M (see below)), so it's hard to see them not losing at least once more.
Up next: Saturday @ Baylor

3. Kansas State (17-6, 7-2): For the second time this year, KSU was thrust into the top spot in the conference, only to shit the bed their next time out. Perhaps they're finding out that it's a bit tougher when the target's on your back? Since the win over Kansas, they're 2-2 and in my humble opinion, have only played one good half of basketball. Even in the wins (both at home) Nebraska was within 5 with 6 minutes left and OSU was with five at halftime, before getting destroyed in the second stanza.
Up next: Saturday v. Methzou

4. Texas A&M (20-4, 6-3): After starting 1-3, they've now ran off 5 straight, and looked pretty good in doing so. They do still have roadies @ OU, Baylor and Texas (see below), and of course welcome in the Jayhawks to close the regular season.
Up next: Saturday v. Oklahoma State

5. Baylor (17-6, 5-4): They're scaring me. I really don't want them to fall apart and miss out on the tourney. We can't forget that their non-conference really only has one legitimate win (ND), so they can ill-afford losses to teams like Oklahoma State. If you saw this game and saw them put up 29 in the 1st and 54 in the 2nd, you'll understand why KU's defense wasn't a concern of mine after that game. Consequently, you'll also understand why Baylor can beat a team like A&M and lose to one like OSU. MUST win this weekend.
Up next: Saturday v. Texas

6. Oklahoma (16-8, 4-5): I can't see them getting into the tourney without Longar, but it comes down to losses. They've already got the wins to get them in; now they just have to avoid the bad losses (i.e. Colorado). Next three could be tough (@ Tech, BU, @ UT).
Up next: Saturday @ Tech

7. Texas Tech (13-10, 4-5): Congrats, young Knight. They're playing for the NIT, but games in Lubbock are no easy W. Next three look doable, but close with a brutal 4 game stretch (@ A&M, UT, @ KU, Baylor).
Up next: Saturday v. Oklahoma

8. Methzou (14-11, 4-6): Good road win for Methzou last night, avenging their earlier loss to the hapless Huskers. They have no excuse to lose another home game (CU, OSU, ISU), but the three roadies won't be easy (KSU, BU, OU).
Up next: Saturday @ KSU

Note: I really have no idea from here on out. Watching them play, Colorado looks like the best team to me, but they always manage to soil themselves at some point, limiting them to the least wins in the league…

9. Oklahoma State (12-12, 3-7): Big win by Gallagher Iba Arena last night. Truly, well done. This team actually has a few players and it's almost a shame to watch Sean Sutton completely dismantle their hope of being consistently good. It's unlikely they'll win more than twice more, three more is their ceiling.
Up next: Saturday @ A&M

10. Colorado (10-13, 2-7): Like I said, when I watch this team, they look better to me than the other three, but rarely turn it into a win. I could see them winning all remaining home games (Tech, Baylor, ISU). Consider they led UT in Austin at halftime by 9 before falling by a bucket, were tied at halftime with Kansas, lost by a point in Stillwater and just beat OU. No other team at the bottom has done nearly as much. Sad, but true.
Up next: Saturday @ Kansas

11. Iowa State (13-12, 3-7): Don't have much to say here, but to reiterate that if they had a serviceable point guard, they'd be pretty dangerous. As it is, they rarely are even close if they're not in Hilton.
Up next: Saturday v. Nebraska

12. Nebraska (14-8, 3-6). Though the media like to purport that they don't compare games against common opponents, there's really no other explanation for their jumping on the Husker bandwagon after home wins over average teams such as ASU and Oregon. By that logic, maybe the Pac 10 isn't as good as we all thought? Because the Ducks and Devils clearly would not stand a chance in the Big 12.
Up next: Saturday @ ISU

From around the globe…

Courtesy of The Big Lead, apparently Sampson is going to get canned tomorrow. I am no Hoosier fan, but I'd love to see the General back in Assembly Hall.

If you've yet to visit the Old Spice website to view other Will Ferrell commercials, do so now.

With the writers strike over
, there comes good news (Office and 30 Rock back on April 10) and bad news (NBC has yet to purchase any more FNL episodes). Help me understand how Friday Night Lights can get cancelled by the same network that it set to premiere My Dad is Better Than Your Dad.

If you haven't been reading Stephen A Smith's blog, you're truly missing out.

Let's hope this is the end of the rate cuts.

My inexplicable obsession with the Shaq trade continues. And I'm actually starting to come around, because as Simmons says, it's nice to see someone at least take a chance and piss into the wind.

Per the comments above, this is pretty sweet. 15 digitally equipped movie theatres in Texas will broadcast the UT/A&M game live for those not in the Frank Erwin Center to see.

And lastly, this week's Power 16. Hubert Davis: sticking to his guns.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Are You Tough Enough?

Bill Self brought up in his Hawk Talk comments how he noticed in KU's two losses how they didn't get to 50/50 balls and lacked the toughness it takes to win on the's to hoping these kids are tough enough.
Lame I know, but I had to. Some more links when I feel like it

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

KU/UT Post Mortem

Per my earlier post regarding the officiating blunders of yesterday evening, I'm very confused by last night.

On the one hand…

- Kansas' guards are supposed to be their strength, yet all of a sudden can't hit a perimeter shot, handle solid pressure or create turnovers, etc.

- After a good first half, Brandon Rush didn't put together much of a second stanza…again

- Baylor game aside, Sherron is not Sherron

- They were killed on the glass by a team they outsized at every position

- They've lost their two toughest games of the season

- They probably have to win out to win the conference and keep their #1 seed

But on the other hand…

- In two games against quality teams, they've made a total of 4 three pointers – winning one by 10 and losing the other by 3

- They're 23-2 and their only losses were to legitimate top 15 teams, on the road, with something improbable happening (Pullen for 20/ Beasley 4-4 from three, Atchley 4-4 from three and with 4 blocks)

- Arthur seems to have figured out that he's more valuable on the court – and is making the most of his time there

- Though he's had forgettable second halves @ KSU & UT, Rush has been noticeably aggressive in every game during conference play

- And most importantly, it's early February

Before I get going, here's some thoughts from around the country

First, from the College Hoops Journal, this loss can be concerning internally, but on a national scale, all they did was lose a close game on the road to another high quality team

From MTAC, a recap from a fan's perspective

Courtesy of new ESPN writer Dana O'Neill, here's some praise for the Longhorns and somewhat of an optimistic view of how close the Hawks were

Some more Texas love from Luke Winn. Obviously I wasn't overly confident about playing a legitimate top 15 team on the road, but I never thought Texas' would win with defense and toughness. But that's exactly what they did.

And finally, from Whitlock, a solution to the Jayhawks problems. Personally, I think he's no more than half right. This team is still guard oriented and Arthur, Jackson and Kaun need to go get the ball as much as the guards need to get it to them. How does Jackson only grab 4 boards last night?

Just a little forewarning here, this could get a little long-winded so if you've had enough for today, now might be a good time for a break.
Robinson: Same as above, this is really a pro/con assessment. I absolutely loved the return of his defense (2 steals). Augustin got into the lane a few times, but he never looked very comfortable. But the obvious effect of this was Russell was too tired to contribute on offense. Which would be fine, except that nobody told him and he wasted possessions, going 1-3 from deep, 1-6 overall. Despite being a senior, he gets sped up faster than anyone on the team, which permeates to everyone else. This HAS to stop. 2 assists is never acceptable from your point guard that played 34 minutes.

Chalmers: No big complaints here, as usual. The final line leaves some to be desired, with 13 points (3-10), 5 assists and only 1 board. But what I loved is that he played good defense, was the unquestionable balls of the team late and never looked rattled. It could easily be argued that if he doesn't pick up that cheap second foul early, we're having a whole different conversation today (ditto James though too).

What can I say…this is getting frustrating. Whether he's not healthy physically or his mind is messed up, he just isn't the same old Sherron. Man, that was a thing of beauty watching him take Mason baseline though. Final line of 2 points (1-6), 4 assists and 2 boards. Have to have more from him.

Rush: Same old song and dance here. Shot looked as pretty as ever, though it only led to 2-5 from three and 10 points on 4-9 total. Defense was spectacular. Rebounding was uncharacteristically a question mark, only grabbing three. I doubt he's ever going to be the aggressor he can be, but there's no reason he shouldn't take 10+ shots a game.

Kaun: Seemed like he rebounded well and low and behold, he led the team with 7 in 21 minutes. I'll take that every night. Also had two assists and 4 points. How does a guy his size only take 4 shots and not go to the foul line once?

For all the talk about Brandon disappearing the 2nd half @ KSU and last night, Darnell is just as guilty. In a game of this magnitude, I am beyond shocked to see him with only 4 boards. And 10 of his 13 points came before the half.

The second game in a row in which he looked fabulous. Both he and the guards need to find a way to get him in good position to score more often. Scored 22 on 10-16 shooting and didn't get the ball near enough. 6 boards is somewhat acceptable, but Mason went over him twice which is ridiculous and led to 4 easy points.

As you may know by now, I'm not sure what to make of this game. But suffice it to say, the only thing preventing me from writing off Kansas' chances to win it all is the rest of the nation. It remains inarguable that Kansas has one of the 5 best teams in the nation. So with that you have to like your chances. But I highly doubt there's anyone right now that can honestly tell me they believe this team is either mature or tough enough to win 6 straight tournament games. There's just absolutely no reasonable logic for thinking otherwise.

But as I also mentioned, it's still February. And if I see these things, one would think that Bill Self and staff see them as well. If that's the case, I can't imagine them not drilling this home each and every day. And even though they all said the right things about the KSU loss, clearly it didn't have the affect they communicated. Just as the media, the fans, myself, etc. did, they discounted that loss as a simple slip-up, due to an anomaly of: KSU's no-namers having the games of their lives, Beasley going 4-4 from the arc and an absolute hideous mass of purple people in need of a sartorial overhaul clamoring for a win they had waited a quarter century for. Well all that was true and just, but we as fans have the advantage of being able to rationalize without consequences. However, players with NC aspirations have to take each loss seriously and do everything in their power to make sure that the mistakes they made do not resurface. Clearly, this did not happen. As far as I can tell, the only mistake they corrected from that game was the focus on keeping guards out of the lane. But it certainly didn't take a couple off sub-par games to alert them that they may want to concentrate on Augustin and Abrams. And if they hadn't also been poor against Colorado and Methzou, would they have even bothered acknowledging this?

It seems that again the national media are writing this game off as a non-issue because of the obvious degree of difficulty involved in beating a team of Texas' caliber on the road. But anyone who actually watched that game last night saw how easily Kansas should have won, yet they instead reverted to the immature mistakes that are always to blame for them losing. Going back as far as Bradley 2 years ago, every Kansas loss (ORU aside) is directly attributed to them, for lack of a better term, tensing up and getting away from what they do best.

I have watched every top team enough to discern that in all likelihood, Kansas would beat every one of them in an NBA type series. But after again watching them flounder, my confidence that they can win 6 straight tournament level games is lower than ever. If they indeed do refocus and learn from this game, they have every opportunity to get that confidence back, but it won't be fully restored until they win a hard fought game in College Station on March 8th, which has now become as must-win as any regular season game can be. Not only will they likely need it to win the conference, but without it, I'll have a very hard time believing they have any chance of cutting the nets in San Antonio.

Agree? Disagree? Still here?

These Games Aren't About You

Or at least they aren't supposed to be. I would love to bitch and moan about the poor officiating in the KU/Texas game last night (and I will), but compared to the fans of Villanova and Rutgers(W), I've got nothing.

I'm no fan of Vivian Stringer, but she is spot on - from the AP report, "The clock froze," a glassy-eyed Stringer repeated over and over again. "I'll remember that one." Indeed, television replays showed that the clock appeared to freeze briefly before Rutgers' Kia Vaughn was whistled for fouling Tennessee's Nicky Anosike with 0.2 seconds left in the game. The officials huddled, reviewed the play on the monitor and then ruled that the foul occurred before time had expired.

Mistakes happen and you have to play through them and live with them. But when you have a chance to correct a mistake that was painfully obvious to begin with and still don't, something is amiss.

There was a similarly catastrophic call in the Georgetown/Villanova game. (Note: At the time I was ecstatic because the game had already run 15 minutes over. Get a clue ESPN, this happens every fucking night!) Again, from the AP report, The score was tied. There was less than one second to play, and Georgetown's Jonathan Wallace was dribbling 70 feet from the basket when he heard the whistle. He wondered what was up. After all, there's no way a referee would call a foul in that situation, right? Guess again. "At first I thought I stepped out of bounds," Wallace said, "because I was trying to make a play with the time running down. But I did kind of [feel a] nudge when I was trying to turn the corner. So," Wallace shrugged, "a call's a call." And he's not about to raise a fuss over it. That "nudge" was a bump from Villanova's Corey Stokes, the 48th foul called in a frustrating, stop-and-start game. The one semi-defensible part of this is that as mentioned, the game was horribly foul plagued with 47 having already been called, so at least this was consistent. But to make that call (which I wouldn't deem a foul in the first minute of a game), in that spot is absolute incompetence at it's finest.

I feel silly even bothering to lump in the complaints from my game of interest last night, but while I'm at it, why not? Even if you're a Texas fan, you enjoyed watching the first half more than the second. There's just no way you couldn't have - it was fun, entertaining, well-played basketball. And not surprisingly, the whistles were not pervasive. Kansas had 9 called on them, while Texas had 7 (only 2 in the final 11:28, but it is what it is).

The second half was quite a different story. Right from the get-go, they called a moving screen on each team in the opening seconds to, as Fran put it, "set the tone." Are you kidding me? I was under the impression that players were supposed to do this? If the game had been getting chippy and/or out of hand, this makes sense. But to do it in a game where both teams played hard and there seemed to be no feelings other than mutual respect on the floor. Highly unnecessary.

Even more questionable was how it began to skew in one direction. I won't blame the refs for the loss as Kansas had their chances, but it's undeniable what a difference it makes when 10 fouls have been called on 1 team in the same amount of time that 4 have been called on the other. Aside from the obvious advantage of shooting free throws the rest of the game, it also hinders a team's ability to attack both offensively and defensively. Could that have played a part in Kansas' aggresiveness going after rebounds? What about their ability to pressure the ball? One would think.

- At the 14:42 mark, Kansas had 5 to Texas' 2
- At the 10:06 mark, Kansas had 7 (bonus) to Texas' 4
- At the 7:28 mark, Kansas had 10 (double bonus) to Texas' 4
- At the 2:12 mark, Kansas had 12 to Texas' 6 (This was the last real foul of the game as the other 3 were by Kansas in the final 41 seconds, but the final tally was 15-6 and 24-13 for the game. Also of note, in the final 31 minutes, the count was Kansas 17(or 20) to Texas' 8.)

You're telling me that even though Texas was smaller at every position and out-rebounded Kansas 23-12 in the second half that Kansas fouled twice as much as the Longhorns? Needless to say, I disagree. We've said it before and we'll say it again; officiating is good when it goes unnoticed and in the three biggest games of the night, it was boldy on display. Can anyone tell me why officials don't have to answer to the media as players and coaches do?

They'll be more on this game later, but I wanted to get this out there. And in all honesty, I really don't know what I'd write anyway because I'm still not even sure how I feel. And since I'm in a bad mood and these videos cheer me up, here is yet another Berman video.

Monday, February 11, 2008

BIG F*cking Monday

A lot is on the line tonight Hawks and Hawkettes: A possible road win over a top 15 team, driver's seat in the Big 12 race, #1 seed resume building material. Thought I would throw up a video to commemorate that amazing game from last years Big 12 Tournament and a good luck jpeg...

Fun little blog article on what Bruce "Liberace" Weber has missed out on in his short time in Champaign

For those of you who like numbers, a breakdown of the KU/Baylor game

UT fans don't seem very confident in their team

For a real breakdown by the poor man's Jay Bilas, see hiphopotamus's post below...What's that? Robo Boogie feels left out? here's your chance....
: [before the UT game] Robo, anything to add?
Robo Boogie: Ummm... no.
Gingerballs: He's not the best colorman in the league for nothing, folks!

Rock Chalk, need this one tonight, need it bad

Who Is Worried?

Not this guy. Everyone seems to be flying off the handle after watching Baylor score 90 points, 57 in the second half, the other night in Allen Fieldhouse. And let's be honest, you never want to give up that many points, especially at home. But this seems to me the perfect example of uneducated fans recognizing something way too late. The dribble penetration was a problem against KSU, a mild concern against Colorado and again an issue against Methzou. But against Baylor this was not the problem. Did they get into the paint some for some easy layups? Sure. But more often than not the defense was much better and the Baylor guards just hit some shots. For that you have to tip your hat to them and be glad that even without their outside shot Kansas was still able to hit triple digits (50 in the final 13 minutes).

Just so we're clear that I'm not blinded by ignorance, the score with 2:50 remaining; Kansas 84, Baylor 69. Are we really going to get all bent out of shape by allowing Baylor to score 21 points in less than 3 minutes in a game that was in hand and where Kansas was simply trying to avoid fouling, while making their free throws on the other end. You're welcome to. But I won't bother.

Instead I'll be concentrating on the 36-46 showing from the line, again demonstrating the vast improvement since the start of conference play. I'll also be enjoying the fact that Darrell Arthur played 33 strong minutes and was never in foul trouble; another sign that the Baylor guards were not in the lane as often as many are suggesting. Unfortunately, Darnell Jackson was another story, but going off memory I don't think he ever fouled a guard (perhaps once early). Obviously Brandon struggled with fouls as well, but this was a complete anomaly and a crock by officials John Hampton, Tom Eades, Winston Stith. Back to the goods, Sherron Collins hasn't looked that comfortable since November. Certainly part of it was the pace, but not to be forgotten was how he was instrumental in creating that pace. Needless to say, I'd love to see another good performance out of him tonight because it's unbelievable how much better this team looks when he is playing to his ability. Let's not forget that I haven't even mentioned the games Mario and Russell put together.

Per my post last Friday, however, it's not all worry free. And like I just mentioned, giving up 90 is never good. And most teams aren't going to be willing to run like that or have a defense that will allow 100 points without the help of even one three pointer. As good as the Baylor guards are and as improved as that team is, Texas is still much better. Not to mention that this one won't be played in Allen Fieldhouse. So tonight is the true measuring stick. If they can go into the Erwin Center and get a win over a legitimate top 15 team that has won at Pauley, then I will again consider them the prohibitive favorite. To go off topic for a moment, I was very pleased to see UCLA lose to a poor Washington team yesterday, especially because of how mediocre Darren Collison looked (1-8 for 3 pts., 4 assists, and 8 turnovers). Now more than ever I think he is the key to their team and it goes without saying that I have more confidence in Kansas' ability to shut him down than I do Washington's – which they just did.

Back to the task at hand, the Texas Longhorns. Prior to the season, I didn't think of this as a must-win game. And to be honest, it still isn't because even with a loss the Hawks remain in prime contention for a #1 seed. But with the way it is somewhat isolated, I'm inclined to deem it as such. I think the Baylor game was a blessing to speed the team back up and prep them for the speed at which Texas will want to play. And with the next game not until Colorado visits Saturday and by having a full week off after that before going to Stillwater, there is no reason not to leave it all on the floor tonight for a national audience to see.

Now, will it happen? I'd like to think so. But you knew that. In all honesty, there's no reason it shouldn't. Texas' lone advantage is Augustin. On every other position on the court, Kansas has the upper hand. For a stretch this season I was ready to anoint Damion James my favorite non-Kansas player, but he has really faltered of late. And to my fault, I haven't really watched closely enough to know why. Venturing guesses, I would say it likely has to do with his 3-point shot not being as dependable as it was for a while and also because the return of Gary Johnson has forced him outside more than he'd like. But again, these are just guesses.

As was the case with Baylor, for things to pan out ideally, the difference needs to be Kansas' inside game. I'd go so far as to say that if the Kansas bigs stay out of foul trouble, they won't have any trouble winning this game. Not only will this mean that they will have ample opportunity to utilize their advantage over the Texas bigs, but it will also likely mean that Russell is keeping Augustin out of the lane; no easy task.

Personally, I think this will happen. I don't expect Russell to shut down Augustin, but I do expect him to bother him enough that he's not getting a ton of easy looks and he's taking off-balance shots (ditto Chalmers on Abrams). And as we all know, those lead to run outs, which Kansas happens to be pretty good at finishing. On Texas' end, I'd expect them to primarily play a zone. They do this often to try and hide their defensive deficiencies and I can't imagine tonight will be any different, especially considering Kansas has the best offense they will have played against. As is always the key with a zone, the Hawks will need to get the ball in the middle; either to DA or Darnell, or by penetrating, preferably both. Especially given Texas' lack of an inside presence, this will force them to either give up a lot of points in the paint or collapse down, leaving Rush, Chalmers and Collins open from three. I like the sound of that. Let's say…

Kansas 81 Texas 72