Archive for Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Keegan: Latest late loss real blow

January 17, 2006


They had seen enough and wanted to beat the traffic. So with less than two minutes left and their Missouri Tigers down by nine points, many fans headed for the exits, disgusted expressions doing all their talking.

The fools.

Some heard the roars and hustled back to their seats. Others weren't so lucky. They missed a fast and furious comeback from their school, an unfathomable collapse by their rivals from Kansas University.

In the most painful of so many close-and-late losses, KU dropped this one, 89-86 in overtime, Monday night in packed Mizzou Arena.

Thomas Gardner shot the Jayhawks to the brink of death with seven three-pointers among his 40 points, and then they took care of the rest by shooting themselves in the feet.

KU isn't a basketball team as much as a putter with a terrible case of the yips, a baseball team with a wild closer who sweats his way to another lonely walk off the mound, a salesman who works so hard to get the customer interested and just can't close the deal.

Losing to a rival for the second time in three days, the Jayhawks have a 10-6 overall record and are 1-2 in the Big 12 Conference. Five of the losses came down to the final minute and were decided by margins of four points or less.

None of the victories was in close games, and just three came against quality opponents (California, Kentucky, Colorado). It's not too early to believe the streak of 16 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances is in jeopardy.

"We've probably had the toughest losses of anybody in America," KU coach Bill Self said. "I think the table will turn."

Until then, so many disturbing images won't soon disappear from the nightmares of those who care about Kansas basketball, including the players and coaches.

Foremost would be senior Christian Moody standing at the free-throw line with the score tied at 77, 0.4 showing on the clock, and the maniacal Antlers student-cheering section cranking up the heat.

The first shot clanked off the rim. Moody stepped back to the top of the key, took a deep breath, went back to the line and brushed another one off the rim, sending it into overtime.

Afterward, in the hall outside KU's locker room, Moody and his father shared a long embrace, the father's hands on the back of the son's head, his soft voice in his ear, and Mark Moody looked as he always looks, like a father who couldn't be any prouder of his son.

And then there was the final possession of overtime. With the clock vanishing and the play breaking down, Brandon Rush drove down the right side of the lane and looked to be on his way to a shot. At the last instant, he passed to a covered Darnell Jackson, who couldn't catch it and committed a foul. Mario Chalmers, getting better by the minute, was clapping furiously for the ball back after passing it to Rush, but it was too loud, and Rush kept it. Chalmers wanted the shot. As was the case in Hawaii against Arkansas, Rush didn't.

Other disturbing moments: Jayhawks twice getting tied up for jump balls against fullcourt pressure at the end of regulation; a number of Missouri students, their hands gripping their throats as they laughed loudly while peering down at a section of KU fans after Moody's misses; a sea of gold shirts storming the floor.

What a shot to the gut.


jayg616 12 years, 4 months ago

Like all Missouri grads living in Manalapan, NJ, I was appalled by Tom Keegan's take on the greatest basketball game ever played.

Rather than give credit where it is due -- to the profane fans who need to get a life and ruined Christian Moody's -- Mr. Keegan chose to detail Jayhawk problems that doomed them against what is probably the least talented Missouri team since my first two years on campus 1968-9,

Of course, having read Mr. Keegan's shameless manipulation of the sensitive Ruben Sierra during your Sports Editor's days at the New York Post, I am not surprised, especially after he once failed to come to the defense of a deaf waitresses in Baltimore being screamed at by one of his co-workers.

Jay Greenberg, Manalapan NJ

mom_of_three 12 years, 4 months ago

jump balls - is that what you call it when the defender wraps his arms around you to get the ball? Earlier in the game, it was called a foul.

It was a good game. Jayhawks need to hit more freethrows and the refs need to be more consistent, and seem a little more neutral.

alsport 12 years, 4 months ago

Kansas was leading with less than a minute remaining. Missouri was out of timeouts and the Jayhawks had two. Rather than allowing Missouri to start throwing up desperation shots in an attempt to cut into Kansas' lead, Self used his timeouts to give Missouri the chance it needed to regroup (twice)!!!!! Needless to say, Missouri used Kansas' timeouts to set up plays and executed both times, including the game-tying 3-point shot by Gardner. Moody doesn't deserve the criticism that he's getting. When are you going to understand that Bill Self is a horrible coach? He couldn't even use the clock to his team's benefit...that is appalling in Division I basketball.

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