Archive for Saturday, January 26, 2013

Opinion: KU not perfect but still deserving of No. 1 spot

Kansas guard Travis Releford raises up the fieldhouse during a Jayhawk run against Oklahoma in the second half on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013.

Kansas guard Travis Releford raises up the fieldhouse during a Jayhawk run against Oklahoma in the second half on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013.

January 26, 2013


Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Bill Self talks after win over Oklahoma

Kansas coach Bill Self talks after his team's 67-54 win over Oklahoma on Jan. 26, 2013.

Box score


Generally, the chant “We’re No. 1! We’re No. 1!” starts loud, grows louder and ultimately shakes the building.

Not now. Not in college basketball. Not anywhere in the country.

After his team again defended like a champion, Kansas coach Bill Self was asked if it is ready for a No. 1 ranking.

“No,” Self said. “Nor are we deserving.”

Then the mental Rolodex of other highly ranked schools swiftly spun and he took his answer in another direction.

“You know, somebody’s got to be it though,” he said.

Bingo. The weekly Associated Press college basketball poll measures today’s teams against each other, not against top-ranked juggernauts from years past.

Michigan, should it win at Illinois — the Big 10 school where Self and the two coaches he defeated this past week used to coach — likely will remain one spot ahead of Kansas and top the AP poll and Kansas would probably rank No. 1 in the far less prestigious coaches’ poll. (Can’t tell I’m a voter in the AP version, can you?)

“If they’re (No.) 1 in both of them, that wouldn’t bother me much at all,” Self said of the Wolverines. “But you know, somebody’s got to do it, and if it’s us, that would be great.”

Kansas (18-1 overall, 6-0 in the Big 12) pushed its winning streak to 17 games with Saturday’s 67-54 victory against Oklahoma.

“You know I never would have thought before the season that this team could be No. 1 at any point in time,” Self said. “That’s great for our kids and everything, but I think after today our guys know our success winning will be short-lived if in fact we don’t come in with better focus than we did today.”

Unlike a year ago, when Kentucky had a band of stars now making nice livings in the NBA even though some aren’t old enough to drink, this could be one of those years in which age and experience could trump pure talent. Why? It’s a shallow talent pool across the country, much less on any one particular team.

“We’ve had a lot of teams in here that didn’t have their ‘A’ game focus-wise but they were so talented they could still get by. This team’s not like that. This team has less margin for error. So that’s why it disappoints me,” Self said.

At a school that draws No. 1 seeds on a near-annual basis, it’s tough not to compare today to yesterday. The best recent standard is the 2008 national-championship team.

“We had seven NBA players on one team,” Self said. “If those guys didn’t have their ‘A’ game, their ‘B’ game or ‘C’ game focus-wise we would still be OK because their talent was so high. We’re not like that now.”

Shaky point-guard play — Elijah Johnson watched half the first half with two fouls and had his pocket picked twice late — kept Kansas from running away with this one and was a particular point of dismay for the coach.

“We can’t afford to make mental mistakes and not play with the same energy and things like that,” Self said. “It doesn’t mean we’re awful by any stretch. It doesn’t mean they’re trying not to be focused or anything, but we didn’t have that. We weren’t razor-sharp today by any stretch. And then I think you get real average real fast.”

Kansas plays extraordinary defense and finishes exceptionally well on the fast break, but it’s far from a perfect team, especially when trying to score from its half-court offense. Perfection is not a prerequisite of a No. 1 ranking.

I’ll put Kansas at the top of my ballot because it won on Ohio State’s home court, the site of Michigan’s lone loss. But if Michigan defeats Illinois, the argument that the Wolverines deserve the top spot because it’s easier to win in the Big 12 than the Big Ten certainly has merit as well.

Put on the spot after Saturday’s game, Kruger endorsed the Jayhawks after being asked: Does Kansas look like a typical No. 1 team?

“Yeah, I think they’re great,” he said. “They’ve got terrific athletes on the perimeter, big shot-blocker inside. They’ve got guys who are very unselfish. Bill does a terrific job. They play the game. They play the game the way it’s supposed to be played. They move the ball and they’re great defensively. Yeah, they’re deserving. I hope they are No. 1.”

Well, what else would you expect a gentleman’s gentleman possibly on his way to coaching a fifth different school into the NCAA Tournament to say?

Besides, as Self said, somebody has to be No. 1. It’s not Duke, which lost by 27 points to Miami earlier in the week.

Or Louisville, which has lost three games in a row. Or Syracuse, upset in overtime Saturday at Villanova.

And it’s sure not Northern Illinois, which in Saturday’s 42-25 loss to Eastern Michigan made 1 of 31 field-goal attempts on the way to four first-half points. Definitely not Northern Illinois.


wlbjayhawk 5 years, 2 months ago

Being #1 is nice, but look at what happens when you are #1, there is some team that thinks you are a big target and wants to make sure that you are no longer #1. the ONLY time that being #1 counts is on April 8, at about midnight. Just root for KU and do not worry where we are ranked. It does not matter in January.

Tom Wilson 5 years, 2 months ago

Lately, being #1 is a curse. Logically, KU was successful in doing something where MU failed; that would be beating Ohio State in Columbus. That factoid in itself should be enough to edge MU out of #1, at least for now.

Armen Kurdian 5 years, 2 months ago

It would be good to be number one just to get everyone's super-best long as we don't play crappy, these guys continue to need to get challenged. There's some really good competition outside of this conference. We need everyone's best shot to continue to get tougher. And if we lose a game or two in the conference? No big deal. We can go 16-2 in conference play, win the tourney and we'd still get a #1 see.d

jayhawklawrence 5 years, 2 months ago

Jamari Traylor had his best game ever. I think he could be a very special player. He just has to keep doing what he is doing. He can only get better.

Gregory Newman 5 years, 2 months ago

Self is the problem he has them over obsessed with passing to Withey. I've been saying for the past 4 years the guards need to develop the mid-range shot 7-12 instead of those stupid lobs. EJ, Travis and Thorpe are the fastest group of guards in the country.

They just don't punch on the gas when there is space to dribble drive inside. Its a 3,5 or 7 step drive then pull-up jumper. Its all about shooting in space uncontested. Its a dang shame 5 coaches that played guard and doesn't have a clue.

If they do that its an National Championship PERIOD. Self always has several good pieces that makes it appear that he can coach but he and that bench of coaches are guard destroyers. Watch Kobe, Ray Allen, Kirk Heinrich, Chris Paul its all about shooting in space then that will free up Withey because somebody will have to leave Withey to help out.

Robert Rauktis 5 years, 2 months ago

"Kobe, Ray Allen, Kirk Heinrich, Chris Paul" The last time I looked, I thought the 'hawks played college basketball. But I guess we should trade for one of these guys.

Gregory Newman 5 years, 2 months ago

they developed their skills in college except Kobe so its obvious you don't have a clue and can't play either.

windjammer 5 years, 2 months ago

Thanks for the information about coach. I was wondering why we lost that one game. He has to improve his coaching as our record is dismal.With this information we will no doubt have another ring.

Steve Jacob 5 years, 2 months ago

Being a bigger Michigan fan, I can say MU is a touch better then KU right now. They played about the same schedule (KU has better SOS in RPI because they beat middle of the pack Atlantic 10 teams). That being said, I don't think Michigan with that #1 next to their name is going into Bloomington Saturday with the ESPN Gameday crew in attendance, with first place in the Big 10 lead on the line, is going to win. And now it's possible for KU to not play a ranked team again til the the Sweet 16.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 2 months ago

Rankings do matter in that higher seeds are rewarded with games closer to home in the tournament. If we're ranked #1, we will probably play in the bracket closest to home. If we're ranked #4, we might get shipped out west. I attended the 2007 elite eight game between #1 seed Kansas and #2 seed UCLA, played in San Jose. Their crown far exceeded our crowd. It was a virtual home game for them. I said then I'd rather be a #2 if that meant staying closer to home. Of course, I'd still rather be a #1 seed, but the only way to make sure we stay close to home is to be "the" #1 seed.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 2 months ago

Well, yes. But the top ranked team will become the #1 overall seed. The second ranked team will become the #2 overall seed ...

Brian Conrad 5 years, 2 months ago

srj... I look more towards matchups than rankings.. one thing for sure Michigan smaller guards will have tough time getting a shot over our 6'5" + guards that can defend Mclemore and Releford, even if Big 10 is overall very even... Michigan will have to go against tougher guards and the nations #1 shot blocker / Shot alter man.. overall would love to meet up with them in Championship game.. many other teams would be tougher matchup fo our hawks.

in the end it is important to get midwest or south seed to play regionals in Texas or Indiana.. South actually looks good as KU does well in Texas.

no matter what KU will have first 2 games of tourney in KC at Sprint Center !!!

jhawkinsf 5 years, 2 months ago

I disagree. Let's suppose Duke goes on a major run while everyone else suffers a few losses. Suppose they are not only ranked number one, but get every first place vote. Suppose they are the clear number one team in the country. Of course, they will be one of the four number one seeds, but in which region? West? No. That just won't happen. They will play in whichever region is closest to them. Suppose it's Arizona that goes on that major run. They're the number one team in the land. They get one of the four number one seeds, but as the top overall team in the country, will they be placed in the east region? No. they will play in the west.

The four regions this year are Washington, D.C., Indianapolis, Arlington, Tx. and Los Angeles. If the four number one seeds are say, Kansas, Duke, Louisville and Michigan, then someone has to go out west, with a potential matchup with a number two seed Arizona. Or someone might have to go to Indy with a matchup against Indiana. That's the situation we faced in 2007 when we were a one seed against UCLA, in California. The way to avoid that is to be "THE" number one seed. We will then be placed in Texas, the closest site with the best chance of having the home crowd. It's good to be a number one seed. But it's better to be "THE" number one seed.

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