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Archive for Monday, March 2, 2009

How did KU get this good, this fast?

The Jayhawk student section displays an enlarged and modified version of artist John Steuart Curry's "Tragic Prelude" painting, which features abolitionist John Brown holding a rifle, and in this case the 2008 National Championship trophy.

The Jayhawk student section displays an enlarged and modified version of artist John Steuart Curry's "Tragic Prelude" painting, which features abolitionist John Brown holding a rifle, and in this case the 2008 National Championship trophy.

March 2, 2009

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Kansas stomps Missouri with 90-65 victory

Less than a month ago, the Kansas men squandered a 14-point lead and fell in Columbia 62-60. Enlarge video

Audio Clips
2009 KU-MU March 1

The secret to the remarkable success of the Kansas University basketball program under coach Bill Self isn’t much of a secret at all. The players improve so much during the course of a season that it stands to reason the team would, too.

But improve this much, this soon? Nobody had any right to expect that. Nobody had any right to expect that a team that didn’t return a starter from a year ago and relies so heavily on three freshmen would be able to blow out the nation’s No. 11-ranked team, Missouri, by a 90-65 score in a game that felt like an even bigger mismatch, to the delight of the loud Allen Fieldhouse crowd.

The freshmen didn’t look like freshmen on this day. Markieff and Marcus Morris, lazy and lazier when the curtain opened on their college careers, now bust it up and down the court, consistently hit the boards hard and defend with passion. Tyshawn Taylor, who used to send out a press release to the opposing defenses to let them know when to set up under the hoop to take the charge, now more often picks his spots wisely and knows how to contort his body in a way to avoid knocking over a defender when finishing.

Sherron Collins, not ready to trust teammates early in the year, scored 25 points, but needed only 14 field-goal attempts to do so. He ran the fast break masterfully.

The biggest symbol of this team in that he has been its most rapidly improving player from Day 1 is the team’s biggest player. The Cole Aldrich who threw down five dunks Sunday bore no resemblance to the high school kid who looked in over his head during the AAU scrimmage at Allen Fieldhouse in the summer before his senior year. The Aldrich who tallied 19 points and 14 rebounds looked nothing like the freshman who watched the aerial act of bigger, stronger, faster men dunking over him during Late Night in the Phog. (Aldrich, by the way, never has lost a game in Allen Fieldhouse).

All that improvement makes Self a worthy pick for National Coach of the Year honors.

The team that ran Missouri into a state of exhaustion resembled the one that lost to UMass in November about as much as the expectations for this team then resemble those now. They’re soaring again.

“I hope so,” Self said, sounding as aggressive as his team had just played. “To me, you have to put yourself under pressure situations because the NCAA Tournament has a different feel to it from a pressure standpoint than a regular-season game. I told our guys that, so this is good that we’re playing games under pressure that we need to win to win the league and that kind of stuff because if you remember back, when we tied for the league and won the tournament, we didn’t crack the Top 25 until right at the very, very end.”

That was during the 2005-2006 season that ended with a first-round loss to Bradley.

“I think it’s better that we’re at least in there, and people talk a little bit so now they feel a different type of pressure,” Self said. “I think pressure’s good, and we need to feel as much as we can, not in a negative way, going into the tournament because those are pressure-packed games.”

The Jayhawks are on the verge of becoming a trendy Final Four pick, pressure that won’t cause them to flinch if they follow their leader, which they have done so well so far.

Comments

Leprechaunking13 5 years, 9 months ago

Tom- If you have really watched this team play game-in and game-out you would realize the improvements subtlely and this wouldnt be a shock to you. Funny how it is though even though a few different possessions for this team and we have 2 losses on the season, none in conference! Why dont you move on from talking about the twins laziness(they did start much later than any other jayhawk tom!) there is obviously a reason coach plays them so much! However a doughboy like you probably can't understand and shouldn't call anyone lazy!

jaywalker 5 years, 9 months ago

Relax, Leprechaun. Have an enema and a nap. Tom accurately described the twin's early season energy and then immediately complimented them.

The answer to 'how'd they get here' is Self, Self, Self!! Way to go 'Hawks!

grammaddy 5 years, 9 months ago

Self is the man. Go Jayhawks!! I think we might be in for a pleasant surprise in the Championship!!

craigers 5 years, 9 months ago

This team could be very dangerous in the tournament, simply because nobody will expect them to be very good. Yeah, they have a great record but KU will surprise people come tourney time. Defense wins championships!!! And Self does that side of the ball extremely well. Self for Coach of the year!!!

BorderRat 5 years, 9 months ago

Great Game, from what we saw. CBS stinks. About 12 minutes to go in the second half they switch over to the Tenn., Fla. game. I know KU was blowing out Mizzery by then, but who cares about the other teams in the Big-12 region. About broke my neck running to the computer to find the audio on line. BTW, the John Brown poster is pure genius.

MUKUOUFan 5 years, 9 months ago

KU rocked the house with an awesome game, KUDOS.

Confrontation 5 years, 9 months ago

Did anyone else see barrypenders on Saturday Night Live? I believe he goes by "Debbie Downer" on there. In Columbia, he's known as the Tiger Licker.

staff04 5 years, 9 months ago

Where can I get a print of that photo? I need to hang that in my office...

shockchalk 5 years, 9 months ago

KU's players were never short on talent but they have grown as a team with each game. Now, they are a team that other coaches hope they don't have to face in March. One of the main reasons for their success is Coach Self. I was a fan of his from the start and I remember fondly all of those folks who thought he was the wrong choice and wouldn't be as good as Roy. Well he isn't as good as Roy, he's better. A better recruiter, a better defensive coach, and an all-around nicer guy.

barrypenders shows his basketball ignorance with his comments about the Big 12. Certainly, there are some overrated conference but ours isn't one of them. The Big 12 is still strong this year and can you imagine what they will be like next year? Maybe barry will enlighten us to which wonderful teams he is referring to compared to our pitiful Jayhawks.

jonas_opines 5 years, 9 months ago

Barry's just having less luck getting the attention he so desperately craves, as his pre-programmed and mostly thought-devoid anti-liberal schtick is too old, stale and unoriginal to get much of a rise out of anybody at this point. So now he's going for the anti-KU attention. It's not his fault really -- with nothing but negativity his options are extremely limited.

llama726 5 years, 9 months ago

barrypenders, those games were a lot earlier in the season. This team does not match that team in terms of ability. To quote the record as concrete proof reveals how little you understand about college basketball. Have fun following whichever coastal league you prefer.

Graczyk 5 years, 9 months ago

My CBS feed didn't change over. I can't remember which channel I was watching it on, but they stayed with it right until the final buzzer.

jonas_opines 5 years, 9 months ago

At the risk of heresy, I have to predict a Big 12 tournament loss to OU, assuming Griffin's there this time, and then falling in either the Sweet 16 or Elite 8. I'll be happily proved wrong if it comes to that, but I have to say that I consider OU the superior team.

. . . this year!

mom_of_three 5 years, 9 months ago

"Looks like a chapionship for roy and UNC"

Speaking of weak....

Armen Kurdian 5 years, 9 months ago

I'm not a naysayer...I'm extremely impressed w/KU right now. I expected a minimum of 8-9 losses by now. Glad I was wrong, but I think the Big XII is weak this year. Texas & OSU have been disappointing. I think anything past the Sweet 16 is gravy; Big East & ACC are really strong and we just won't match up well against their experience. But hey, when & if we get to the Final Four, call me a dumbass & I'll happily agree!

jaywalker 5 years, 9 months ago

jonas,

Sad that some may come down on you for being realistic and rational, but surely someone will. I, too, would expect a loss to OU with Griffin, especially considering the revenge factor for the earlier loss (and the tourney's in OKC, I think).
As far as the Dance.... I don't know what to think. I've felt we would lose a few different times this year only to be proven wrong, thankfully. I'm gettin' to the point where I believe we can't count them out of any match-up. I know I won't hold the expectations and hope I did for last year's squad, which makes the possibilities here all that much more exciting. I still see the youth as a stumbling block, so anywhere from first round upset to the Great Eight wouldn't surprise me this year. Already been more than pleasantly surprised thus far.

jonas_opines 5 years, 9 months ago

jaywalker: My predictions have generally been reasonably accurate. A few hours before the loss to Bradley I guessed that team would fall in the first round due to nerves, but if they came back they would make it to 16 or 8, and again with returners no one would stand against us. Got that one down to a T.

Regardless, Aldrich-Griffin will potentially be a match-up for the ages. Griffin > Hansborough

jaywalker 5 years, 9 months ago

jonas,

I don't doubt your prediction rate 'cuz I know from experience that you look at these things rationally. I'm as big a fan as anyone, but when you don't blindly pick 'em to win it all you're often looked at as a traitor!
Luckily I got stuck on a job site and was forced to miss the Bradley debacle. Wasn't so lucky with Bucknell, but I can't say I expected either of those. I do believe (now) that KU could beat OU with Griffin, but it would be a titanic feat. And the best win of the year hands down.
And there's no doubt Griffin is much better than Hansbrough, couldn't agree more.

TopJayhawk 5 years, 9 months ago

I think Duke and the ACC is overated. I think the Big 10 is a little better than recent yrs past. The Big East is tough. PAC 10 does not appear to have much outside of UCLA. UNC does not play consistent, or great defense. We can beat either them or Duke. Not saying it's automatic, but not out of the question. I think KU could go deep in the tourny this yr. But you never know. That is what makes this the best sports time of yr, and is so exciting. I want a poster of the John Brown photo.....Should be a classic.

jonas_opines 5 years, 9 months ago

jaywalker: I had the reverse, amusingly. I saw Bradley, and while it wasn't fun I semi-expected it after that team's earlier performances. Bucknell, however, I had the benefit of getting married over the top of it. We had some groaners, but the wife was quoted as saying that if we didn't make it past the first round no one would have wanted to see it anyway, and she was right.

jaywalker 5 years, 9 months ago

jonas,

Now that's gettin' a tad eerie! The two of you have any subtle premonitions regarding.....well, anything! Please post a heads-up, I'll be on the lookout.

jonas_opines 5 years, 9 months ago

jaywalker: I predict that other threads on this forum will be filled with ideologues preaching one side of the stories.

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