Archive for Sunday, March 21, 2010

Press might have saved Jayhawks

University of Northern Iowa's Adam Koch (34), left, and Kansas guard Xavier Henry (1) run for a loose Saturday, March 20, 2010, in Oklahoma City.

University of Northern Iowa's Adam Koch (34), left, and Kansas guard Xavier Henry (1) run for a loose Saturday, March 20, 2010, in Oklahoma City.

March 21, 2010


Kansas falls to Northern Iowa

The Jayhawks ended the season 33-3 after being knocked out of the NCAA tournament by Northern Iowa. The Jayhawks battled back late in the game but ultimately fell 69-67.

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— So on top of his trade is Bill Self that he opens himself up to legitimate second-guessing only slightly more often than Halley’s Comet appears, which is about as often as a college basketball coach being asked why he doesn’t apply full-court pressure more often qualifies as a fair question.

Two Halley’s Comets collided in one day, and it happened to be the day Kansas, the nation’s No. 1-ranked team, faced a pack of Northern Iowa shooters who couldn’t miss on the way to a 69-67 upset Saturday in the Ford Center.

The Missouri Valley Conference school that spent much of the season in the Top 25 doesn’t look as good in the layup line as it does on the court. The Panthers play rugged defense. And they’re great shooters from the free-throw line, the baseline, the three-point line … you name a line, they can hit from it.

The Panthers prefer to play the game at a deliberate pace. They move the ball so well offensively that it makes them difficult to trap in the half court. In a first-round game against UNLV — a team that routinely applies full-court pressure — the Panthers didn’t handle that pressure so well and were rattled into 16 turnovers.

Against Kansas, the Panthers turned it over nine times, four coming in the final three minutes against KU’s full-court pressure, which started midway through the second half, right about the time Kansas started to come back from a double-digit deficit.

We’ll never know if Kansas coming out of a break in the action with full-court pressure midway through the first half would have turned the momentum and prevented UNI from taking a 36-28 lead at the half.

As effective as the press was in helping his team climb back into it, did Self think about using it in the first half?

“Sure, that was part of our strategy, but when they’re in the bonus at 12 minutes and they’re the best free-throw-shooting team in the country and we’ve got zero team fouls, I don’t think that was the percentage play,” Self said.

By “in the bonus,” Self meant that the next KU foul would have put UNI at the free-throw line. KU committed its sixth foul of the half at the 11:46 mark, the seventh at the three-minute mark. (Northern Iowa’s first three fouls came in a 15-second span that ended at the 9:58 mark of the first half).

“The thing about pressing is, we would like to create havoc, but that’s not who we are,” Self said. “You don’t win 33 games and say, ‘OK, today we’re going to change who we are in winning games.’ And I’m not being defensive because I would have loved to do that when they’re (one foul away from being) in the bonus with 12 left and they don’t miss free throws.

“Our thinking was, let’s continue to grind it and guard them. Let’s get this thing to three or four at halftime, and then we’ll regroup. Well, we didn’t do it.”

Coaches who say, “I’m not being defensive,” usually say that when fully in defensive mode. That wasn’t the case here. Self merely explained his reasoning. By the book, it made sense. But in a game that was so going UNI’s way, it seemed like the time to forget the percentages, try to rattle the foe and in so doing give the pro-KU crowd in the Ford Center reason to get into the game in a loud way. Plus, it might have broken the tension for Kansas players competing with the burden of being everyone’s pick to win it all.

Pressing in the middle of a game carries more risk than at the end because teams attack it looking to score, instead of trying merely to maintain possession. Even so, Kansas needed to do something to make UNI uncomfortable, something to keep the game from going according to the underdog’s plans.

That wouldn’t have changed some things about it simply being UNI’s night — 7-foot, 280-pound center Jordan Eglseder came into the game 1-of-9 from three-point range and made two of three in the first half; starting KU guards Sherron Collins and Tyshawn Taylor missed all 11 three-point attempts — but it might have shifted the flow, knocked the Panthers off-kilter.

Self is the smartest coach in college basketball, and when athletic director Lew Perkins says he wouldn’t trade him for anyone, he means it. Similarly, former Los Dodgers leader Tommy Lasorda was the greatest manager in the history of baseball. He managed nine players to Rookie of the Year honors, proving he can teach the game and purge insecurities of his players, two traits Self also has in his arsenal.

Going against the percentages, Lasorda let Tom Niedenfuer pitch to Jack Clark with first base open and two outs in the ninth inning of Game 6 of the 1985 National League Championship Series, and it backfired. I’ll go to my grave believing Self applying full-court pressure earlier in a game in which his team was the second-best on the floor that night would have given the Jayhawks a better shot at advancing to the Sweet 16.


Robert Rauktis 7 years, 10 months ago

"Might have". Those are strong words. I might have been a millionaire if I bought land in Orange County in the thirties.

yankeevet 7 years, 10 months ago

KU just met their match; with these panthers.............The panthers seemed to be everywhere on that court; and those 3 pointers really hurt KU..........oh well; next year..........

UKRULZ 7 years, 10 months ago

The Press got Kansas to No. 1, but could not keep them there. I am talking about the media press and not the full-court press. Watch out KU, NC will be better next year.

Maddy Griffin 7 years, 10 months ago

Shoulda, coulda, woulda. We beat ourselves. Move on. We're still a young team.

RockChalkOhio 7 years, 10 months ago

The good news about the devastating loss is that Sherron Collins will never wear a Jayhawk uniform again. The team didn't let down Sherron; it was the other way around. But that's typical. He's always been a gunner, who jacks up the hopeless three and tries to drive through two defenders like a halfback on a 4th and one play. He almost blew the national championship against Memphis with one of those stupid drives when he slipped and lost the ball. He may be a nice guy, but he was always a liability to the team. Bye Sherron. Enjoy sitting on an NBA bench for a couple of years, but stay away from Lawrence.

yankeevet 7 years, 10 months ago

It really hurts too lose by only 2 points; it seems the KU team just dragged thru the whole game; and allowed the Panthers too walk over them with those deadly 3 pointers.....

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 10 months ago

If KU and UNI were to play out a three-game playoff, I'd expect KU to win the next two remaining games, and by an average of ten points or more.

But this is a one-and-done tournament format, and on a hot night for UNI and a cold one for KU, that's exactly what KU is.

Winning the NC with this tournament format always depends on as much luck as it does talent and skills-- in 2008, they got lucky against both Davidson and Memphis. This year, not so much.

If UNI remains on a hot streak, they could go far in this tournament.

As far as the press goes, I think Self's general philosophy of using it sparingly is a good one, but he should have started using it early in the second half after made baskets. UNI's shooting accuracy went way down once they were out of their comfort zone.

davidsmom 7 years, 10 months ago

One of the biggest differences between this team and the 2008 team is what everyone is calling that "killer instinct." But it is almost as if they were coached Bill Self told the 2008 team, "Put 'em away early and then enjoy the rest of the game." A lot of games for that team were done in the first five minutes. That was not instilled in this team. This year's team just let 'em hang around and hang around and hang around, then poured on the coal when they were in danger of losing late in the game. Watching that all season, I knew that practice was going to come back and bite them early in the tournament. Such a waste.

leftylucky 7 years, 10 months ago

Presidential pressure , could not take the heat.

eastcoasthawk 7 years, 10 months ago

This was a really fun year and I have enjoyed the journey, until yesterday. Sad to see this team go down without putting their foot on the gas pedal until the final 3 minutes. And we really had a shot at it at the end. One of the things that I thought really hurt us in the final minute or so was us calling a timeout after our press won the ball back and got us in the game. UNI couldn't deal with it and OUR timeout gave their coach a chance to coach his players past our press. Worked like a charm, for them. Ali hits a free 3 with 30 seconds on the shot clock. Ouch. I thought we would have had a better chance of winning without that timeout. Keegan called it in his article a week or two ago. This team needed to come out of the chute firing on most cyclinders in the second round and beyond and we certainly waited waaaaayyyyyy tooooo long for that in the second round. Sad and painful. But I will get over it faster than the players. It was a toughlove learning experience for them. Can only hope it makes our young guys tougher. Sherron and Cole, many thanks and great memories of you bleeding crimson and blue for the past 4 and 3 years. Its been a fantastic ride! You are both great people. Don't change. Remember - it's about what you do after your playing career is over. Live long and make this world a better place.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 10 months ago

Face it not playing hard the first half has been a problem for several games. Where did that strategy come from? OK State beat them. Northern Iowa beat them.

The depth of the the Jayhawk bench saved them many times which provided KU a Big 12 winning season.

Lots of fans have been concerned about the slow first half approach. Again where did that come from?

OK State and Northern Iowa both cut off the inside game effectively.

The bottom line Northern Iowa played hard both halves,kept the game at their pace and cut off the inside game. Excellent strategy. They deserved to win.

The other bottom line is KU has excellent BB players going into next season with capability to have yet another winning Big 12 season. NCAA championship isn't everything but it is fun.

What about this picking a team, no matter which one, and loading it with praise as a team that simply cannot be defeated and as the team that WILL WIN from early in the season till dawns early light aka way tooooo much media hype? I think it's too much for young ball players. Obviously a ton of experts can be made wrong perhaps as a result.

Three teams rarely in the BB spotlight that catch my eye:

Gonzaga basketball is fun to watch. Going against Syracuse might be tough.

I also like Gary Williams and Maryland.

K-State is still in the game which few were expecting at the beginning of the year....let's get on with it. Guess K State is going to Utah... a beautiful state then again so are the Flint Hills.

kujayhawk 7 years, 10 months ago

The tournament is about good guard play and unfortunately, we didn't have that today. Sherron has struggled with his shot the second half of the season, Brady is scared to shoot in the tournament and Tyshawn hasn't proven to be a consistent three point shooter. The ony reliable shooter we had from the perimeter is Reed and that wasn't enough.

weegee 7 years, 10 months ago

gregsharp--How long have you been watching KU basketball? Or basketball in general?

RockChalkOhio--You may not like Sherron but you seem to have forgotten his role on this team for the past 4 years. Feel free to look up the stats on wins/losses for the past 4 years.

frank regnier 7 years, 10 months ago

Watch the game again! The tempo was already set by the idiots with a whistle. Overall, I love the Jayhawks because they always give us 100%! I hate to lose as well as anyone but poor officials is something I cannot tolerate. When they "control" the game, it makes you wonder what's in it for them? Rock Chalk Jayhawks!

Terry Jacobsen 7 years, 10 months ago

If RockChalkOhio was a real KU fan he wouldn't be dissing Sherron. Those of us who have been watching KU for the last four years know that although Sherron wasn't on his game last night, he has bailed our team out so many times it isn't funny. Literally the kid has won games for us by strapping the team on his back and dragging them along.

Bob_Keeshan 7 years, 10 months ago

1997 and 1998 were worse. UNI has been ranked several times this season and was far and away the best team in its conference.

Rhode Island was the fourth best team in the Atlantic 10 in 1998.

68fbrd 7 years, 10 months ago

Good morning KU. Is Lawrence out of KLEENEX YET?????

68fbrd 7 years, 10 months ago

There was great partying last night in AGGIEVILLE.

weegee 7 years, 10 months ago

Bob_Keeshan: I agree with you about those years. Rhode Island (to me) is the worst tournament loss. It still bugs me.

68fbrd: find something better to do.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 10 months ago

"There was great partying last night in aggieville."

Celebrating a bit early, aren't you? Personally, I hope K-State goes all the way-- but KU is still likely to be ranked ahead of the Cats next year, both nationally and in the Big 12.

MUKUOUFan 7 years, 10 months ago

I see "dogbait" is doing the typical, "Oh woe is us, the officials cost us a game". What a joke. The only thing more embarassing than trying to blame an official for your loss, is sobbing/crying on the court like a little baby. He embarassed his team and school when he hid his face and became a "drama queen". KU had a great year, they were ranked #1, won the Big 12 conference, won the Big 12 tourney with a defeat over KSU...a super season regardless of the game yesterday. Congrats KU.

galwaygal 7 years, 10 months ago

"Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." While we're all disappointed about the tough loss yesterday, guess what? The sun still came up this morning! Or as I've been told before when anguishing over a KU loss: one BILLION Chinese don't care! KU lives on and all of us Jayhawks will survive to fight another day.

Anyway, trash talking the team is useless. They feel worse than we do! Rock Chalk!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 10 months ago

"Oh woe is us, the officials cost us a game".

There were some bad calls, especially the one where Collins tried to drive the lane and got mugged by the UNI player (put him in a headlock, no less) and they called a jump ball, at a pivotal moment.

That said, I'm sure UNI could complain about some bad calls, too. Bottom line-- KU didn't play well enough to win a game they really should have.

hammerhawk 7 years, 10 months ago

I think Bill got flat outcoached. What was he thinking!?

I'll still bet a case of beer against anyone from mu or ksu that we will have a better record next season, too.

hitking0005 7 years, 10 months ago

Sure Sherron's a great player, but for the second year in a row he was badly outplayed at his position by the opposing team's PG (Kalin Lucas in '09). Unfortunately, it's often tournament exploits that are most remembered.

MUKUOUFan 7 years, 10 months ago may have a point, KU may have a better record next season again, and KU has every right to be proud of a good season. But from KSU's viewpoint, they don't care about that, they're still in the "Big Dance", they made it past the 2nd round, and let's face it, this is where it counts. Conferences are conferences, but it all comes down to March Madness!

dgcrow 7 years, 10 months ago

Mr Keegan: "Self is the smartest coach in college basketball". You're kidding, right?

Kontum1972 7 years, 10 months ago

Coach Self....go buy a copy of Sun Tsu's ART of War and read u used the term....Not who we are...!

That's why we lost....know your enemy...

ralphralph 7 years, 10 months ago

Sherron almost single-handedly won some games, and then ...

Robert Holmes 7 years, 10 months ago

Coach Self and his staff are great and they have proven it year after year including a 2008 NCAA title that Roy Williams never brought to Lawrence (and I like Roy).

By the way, look at K-State's roster and you'll see that not one freshman (and most others) are actually in the grade listed. Most all went to some prep. Yes, yes I know Brady and the twins did also, but K-State's roster is ridiculous.

Cut and paste if you need.

I'm still proud of the Hawks and thankful for the hard work and years Cole and Sherron put into the program. Can't wait til next year already when we just reload and add Mario and Travis back into the mix.

We'll lose three players, K-State will lose three and Fizzou three. Tell me who will be the favorites to win the Big XII AGAIN?

Rock Chalk Jayhawks. WE ARE KANSAS.

If any of you bashing Coach and / or the players don't want your tickets for next year, let me know and I'll take them off your hands.

bigdchi 7 years, 10 months ago

Self is one overated coach. We saw him choke in 01" with the Illini who were favored to win it all. He is a very good recruiter but has never been able to get a team to play at a consistently high level. I have always had a fondness for KU basketball, as my late Dad was a graduate in the 1940's, and worked with Phog Allen. KU has too great of a repution to put up with a coach like this. He will soon wear out his welcome. KU you deserve alot better.

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