Archive for Monday, March 31, 2008

Extra Minutes: Kansas 59, Davidson 57

March 31, 2008

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2008 NCAA Tournament

2008 NCAA Tournament

Get your March Madness fix at KUSports.com.

Some thoughts...from Detroit

Tom Keegan, Journal-World sports editor

"Sasha Kaun looked like he was playing on the team that had nothing to lose, the team that already had surpassed everyone's expectations. Whereas teammates looked tight at times, Kaun never slipped out of attack mode and without his 13 points and six rebounds in 20 minutes, Kansas would have been the only No. 1 seed left out of the Final Four. He was terrific."

Ryan Greene, KUSports.com editor

"There may not have been any minutes played on the KU side more valuable than those by Sherron Collins when he came in inside the eight-minute mark to revive a trailing, stagnant KU team. He hit his lone three-pointer from straight-on right away, then had two huge defensive stops against Stephen Curry, who he had a major hand in hounding all night.

Now, of course, it's time for Roy Williams to face the Kansas music. You'd have to think he'll have much more pressure on him from the media in the upcoming week than Bill Self will because, first, he's the only one with ties to both schools and Self is just more of a cool customer in the public arena, while Williams has a tendency to provide the emotional moment. Either way, KU fans now have what they truly want Saturday night."

Inside the numbers

25: For the first time in five career NCAA Tournament games, Davidson sophomore star Stephen Curry was held under the 30-point barrier. His 25 points were nothing to scoff at Sunday evening, but Curry had to get them on 25 shots (9-of-25). He was forced to run around a ton on both ends of the floor and looked a bit worn at game's end, when a play designed for him to attempt a game-winning shot was defended to the point where he had to dish it off to Jason Richards, who missed a three-ball wide left.

13: Sasha Kaun scored 13 points on perfect 6-of-6 shooting off the bench, grabbed six rebounds and was all-in-all KU's most active and effective big man, helping negate several potential second-chance buckets Davidson could have had. The final stat sheet gave him credit for one blocked shot, but it may have been more in reality.

15: Mario Chalmers' final stat line, true to form, had a little bit of this, a little bit of that. He scored 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting, had three rebounds, two assists, two steals and a blocked shot. For a significant series in the first half, he was KU's lone answer to Stephen Curry as he began to heat up. Late in the game, he proved pivotal defensively, especially on the game's final play.

17: Davidson was able to stay in the game largely because of its exceptional ball movement throughout the entire game. The Wildcats tallied 17 assists to just nine assists, but at the end of the night simply couldn't make enough shots, going 22-of-57 from the floor. Jason Richards was again solid in terms of distribution, racking up nine assists and four turnovers. That gave him 22 assists and four turnovers in the Regional.

28: Sherron Collins was able to play 28 minutes off the bench, looking like his minor tonsillitis bug from the past couple days had cleared. It was the complete opposite of the hobbled freshman who could hardly play in last year's Regional final. His most important minutes came late in the game, with a clutch three-pointer and a couple of key defensive swarms on Stephen Curry.

Just in case you missed it...

KU's win in the weekend's fourth Regional final secured Final Four history in that all four No. 1 seeds will advance to the National semifinals for the first time ever in the field of 64(5). It's hard to dispute, too, that the four teams advancing to San Antonio are the four best in the country. This could be the most anticipated Final Four of all-time.

Hopefully you didn't miss it...

While Bill Self's career certainly would not be considered a massive bust if he never reached a Final Four, getting his first trip out of the way unofficially joins him in some elite company. Self had a visible look of his relief on his face when exiting the floor in Detroit Sunday evening, and then was given an ice water bath by his players.

They said it...

Bill Self on the final play: "At the end, when Richards shot the ball, from my view, you know, it looked like it had a real good chance to go in. Of course, it was wide left. Then the horn blew. It was like, 'Why is the horn going off? I can't believe that 16 seconds has already passed.'"

Bill Self on now facing Roy Williams: "Well, they probably will be asking him all the questions about it as opposed to me. I can't speak for Roy. But it's a game against - North Carolina's players against Kansas' players. It's been five years since Roy went to Carolina. I'm sure I'll say this again, I'll say it now: as Kansas fans, representing Kansas, we should be proud of the time that Roy gave us, because excellence was definitely the standard while he was there. There may be some talk about it, all those things. But our focus will not be on that. our focus will be on their team. When fans get upset, all that is is a backhanded compliment because they didn't want you to leave. I'm sure Roy knows that. But this should be about the players instead of the coaches."

Rodrick Stewart on the feeling in the locker room: "I'm still in such awe right now. Words can't even describe how much this means to everybody. Fans, families, especially coach Self. We had to get that one for him."

Jeremy Case on getting coach Self to a Final Four: "I'm extremely happy for coach Self. He's been there more times than I have, so close to the Final Four. Just to finally get everybody off his back, saying he's the best coach who hasn't made it to a Final Four, this and that, they can't say that anymore."

Jeremy Case on going against Roy Williams now, who signed him at KU: "It's not gonna be a distraction. It's been five years. I've put that behind me. I'm just gonna focus on what Kansas has to do to win."

Jeremy Case on the game's last shot: "I thought it was in. I had to close my eyes because I just couldn't watch. I told myself if we don't score, they're gonna hit a three, just because it's been their year this year, everything's gone their way. As soon as he missed, just relief, I can't really describe the feeling I had, I just had to run out there and hug somebody...It was Russ. I had to run straight to my man, because he's the one who led us here. He's kept us focused, and he's done a great job this tournament."

Russell Robinson on going against Roy Williams next Saturday: "It's special. I think it's most special for the KU fans. To play against your old coach, it's gonna be a fun experience. It's probably gonna be a little emotional for coach Williams, and I'm pretty sure he's gonna have a tough time, but when we get out there to play, everyone's gonna be ready to play."

Russell Robinson on surviving an NCAA Tournament game so much unlike the first three this year: "You know, it's good for the team morale to be in a tough situation and persevere, find a way to win. Before the year, we wrote up on the board, you're gonna win games when you play well, you're gonna lose some games when you play horrible. But the core of the season is gonna be those games when you don't play well, can you win those? That's what we were able to do today."

Sherron Collins on defending Stephen Curry: "We just did a lot of different things to him. We threw a lot of different zones at him, we did a lot of different things to him. I think we made him guard on the other end as well to try and wear him down a little bit."

Sherron Collins on rebounding in the Elite Eight this year after not being himself a year ago in the Regional final: "This is not tendonitis this year. I'm able to move, able to do things, and last year, I could barely move. It was heartbreaking to me that I couldn't help my team win. I contributed, only scored five points, but I helped guard, and being out there, being able to move."

Darrell Arthur on playing a slower game against Davidson: "They were a handful. They came out and played us the whole game. We couldn't get on a break, couldn't get on a run at all, probably the toughest game we played all year...I wasn't nervous, I was just hoping we'd get on a run at sometime. I thought we got some key stops at the end, got some key rebounds and made our free throws."

Darrell Arthur on going against Tyler Hansbrough next weekend: "I played against him one time my sophomore year (of high school). He came a long way from there, from then to now. He's a beast down low. He goes after every rebound, fights after every possession, shoots the outside jumpers at times, it's just gonna be a tough game for us, and we're just gonna throw a lot of guys at him, try to wear him out, try not to let him get a bunch of easy touches down low."

Darrell Arthur on what the Jayhawks gain from a close NCAA Tournament game: "It was a good game for us. I don't think Davidson was a 10-seed at all. I thought they could have been a two- or three-seed, but they came out, fought, I think it's gonna help us out a lot going into this Carolina game, because we need a grind-out game like that."

Mario Chalmers on getting to the Final Four: "It feels great to finally get there. It's a dream come true. I watched my first Final Four in San Antonio (in 2004), and to actually be going back there to play my first Final Four is pretty amazing. I never thought it'd be in the same exact spot, but I had faith I'd be able to go back to the Final Four."

Sasha Kaun on his monstrous game: "I just wanted to play good. I was committed to trying to give everything I could to the team. I thought we had a good mindset about everything...It was just a sense of urgency that it might be over. We had to step up and get some good possessions...I've been waiting for this game for so long to go to the FInal Four, and last year we came up short, it's an unbelievable feeling right now."

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