Archive for Thursday, January 23, 2003

Woodling: Officials weren’t to blame; KU didn’t deserve to win

January 23, 2003


— Now we know all the talk about Kansas University's men's basketball players not looking ahead to Arizona was just that. Mere rhetoric.

How else can you explain the Jayhawks' dismal performance against longtime cousin Colorado on Wednesday night?

Kansas didn't rebound, didn't play defense, didn't shoot and, of course, didn't win. Sure, the Jayhawks lost by just one point, but 60-59 might as well have been 90-59 as poorly as KU performed.

And in case you think the officials cost KU in the waning moments by not calling a foul, forget it. Kansas didn't deserve to win this one. KU came out flat at the foot of the Flatirons and played like the Western Kansas landscape the entire night.

Everybody was talking about the defensive job CU's Blair Wilson did on Kirk Hinrich, and Wilson did a credible job.

But Hinrich had plenty of looks and wound up missing 10 of his 13 shots.

Perhaps Hinrich was more shaken by the CU students' obscene chants of "Bleep you, Hinrich. Bleep you, Hinrich" and the inevitable "Harry Potter, Harry Potter" cries than he was by Wilson's defense.

Colorado coach Ricardo Patton praised Wilson, but said Hinrich "could have taken more shots than he did, but he's such a team player in their offense."

Then there was Keith Langford making 6 of 19 shots and Aaron Miles missing all seven shots he took. Add 'em up. KU's three guards were a combined 9-for-39 from the field. Arggh.

Colorado's Patton had a plan Wednesday night and, as it turned out, a good one. The CU coach decided to let Miles, only a 39.5 percent shooter, take all the shots he wanted.

"If we could make Miles shoot," Patton said, "we could drop off and help on (Nick) Collison."

That strategy worked like a Rolex. Still, when push comes to shove, you have to have the bodies, and this was the first time since Wayne Simien went down because of a shoulder injury five games ago that the Jayhawks sorely missed him.

When Jeff Graves, who has been subbing superbly for Simien, picked up his fourth foul with about 18 minutes remaining, the Jayhawks were climbing the slope without a ski lift. Kansas coach Roy Williams used freshman Moulaye Niang for the next 13 minutes, and Niang isn't experienced enough for that much exposure.

With Graves in there, the Jayhawks did a decent job on 6-foot-8 Stephane Pelle, a CU senior who was averaging a piddling 10.3 points a game. But without Graves, Pelle had a field day, scoring 15 of his 27 points in the second half.

Meanwhile, Collison held seven-footer David Harrison to a mere five points in 35 minutes. Collison, unfortunately, couldn't guard both Harrison and Pelle.

Pelle, incidentally, dedicated the stirring victory to all of the CU players who had endured 27 straight losses to KU.

"We're the first team to beat Kansas in the last two years," Pelle said. "So that's big. That's real big."

Who would have thought the Buffaloes would be the team that would halt the Jayhawks' 23-game win streak in regular-season conference games?

Afterward, KU coach Williams threw bouquets at Colorado, saying the Buffs had a lot to do with the Jayhawks' poor play. Yes, but the bottom line was this: Colorado didn't win so much as Kansas lost by showing up with visions of No. 1-ranked Arizona coming to town on Saturday afternoon.

Why should the Jayhawks worry about Colorado? The Buffs hadn't defeated Kansas in a dozen years. Heck, they could mail this one in.

Instead, the Jayhawks were nailed in Boulder by a less-talented team that wanted it more than they did. Williams' called his players' lackluster performance "frustrating." Embarrassing might have been a better word.

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