Monday, March 19, 2012

KU Wins: On A Night Where...

The Kansas Jayhawks had every excuse they needed to lay down, go home, and accept their third upset in as many years last night in the NCAA Tournament.

On a night where similarities to the Northern Iowa and VCU games were impossible to ignore. KU comes out timid? Check. Opposing team builds an early lead by scorching the nets from downtown? Check. KU spends the rest of the game trying to erase that early double digit deficit? Check. KU begins to unravel, doing none of the things that brought the team to this point in the first place? Check. Late game, late in the shot clock, somewhat flukish, but very daggerrific three pointer? Che....wait, he missed it? Now, I'm not talking about the miss in the final seconds (as good a look as you can ask for in 2.5 seconds) or even Hummel's miss with Purdue trailing by 1. I'm talking about DJ Byrd's miss on his off-balanced, fadeaway 3 with just over a minute left to play (directly preceding the Elijah to Tyshawn alley-oop). That would've been the dagger. That's the shot both UNI and VCU were able to hit.

On a night where Thomas Robinson played his worst game of the season. I mean, he was lucky to draw iron on most of his shots (not to mention taking 12 seconds to make it down the floor at times). Sure, the Boilermakers were packing the paint all night (triple teaming T-Robb at times), but I haven't seen The Slobb miss that many point blank shots all season (to be fair, I don't jump all in on KU until after football season, so my perspective is a bit skewed).

On a night where neither of KU's best players came to play. Tyshawn Taylor forced a few up and missed a few we're used to seeing him make. However, to his credit, he never lost his composure (which, undoubtedly, would have spelled the end for KU).

On a night where Conner Teahan, both deservedly and inexplicably, became the team's #1 offensive weapon for a key 10 minute stretch in the second half. This was in reaction to Robinson and Taylor's struggles. Teahan stroked a few in the first half, but was unable to answer the bell in the second half. On to the next one...

On a night where the team's most underachieving player, Elijah Johnson, seized the moment, and rewrote the story on his own KU career in a 3 minute stretch. I can't believe he took that shot. I can't believe he didn't drop his arms down and do Sam Cassell's cajones dance after he hit it. That was THE ultimate "Nooooooooooo, YESSSSSSSSSSS" shot. Make no mistake about it, this was Elijah's win. He hit the shot. He threw the oop. He made the steal. And he threw it down for the lead that KU never relinquished. 

On a night where Jeff Withey put on his flashback face (located somewhere between his bad call face and his "I dominate you" face) and rehashed his Missouri miseries. "Jeff didn't go after the ball," Self said after the game, which basically means, "Withey didn't bring it." That also means, that with this team's season on the line, Self didn't want Withey in the game. It'll be interesting to see if Withey can regain his confidence, or if he can't, to see if KU will be able to alter their style on such short notice.

On a night where KU entrusted Kevin Young to slow down the opposition's best (and only) offensive weapon, Robbie Hummel. 

On a night where Naadir Tharpe shot three 3-pointers. My biggest gripe with Self right now is that he insists on playing Tharpe in this NCAA Tournament, while refusing to play him the majority of the season. I can't make any sense of this fact.

On a night where Bill Self broke out his favorite NCAA Tournament gimmick, the Triangle and 2 defense, which stifled the limited Purdue offense throughout the second half. I LOVE how Bill Self never, ever uses this in the regular season, but isn't afraid to bust it out in the Tournament (most notably, against Davidson in the Elite 8 of 2008).

On a night where KU got lucky. Why? Because Purdue just isn't any good (two horrible offensive possessions down the stretch was your surest sign). You're not supposed to win an NCAA Tournament game when your two best players play that poorly (combining to shoot 6-23). KU shot under 34% for the game as a team. On the other side, Purdue's best player shot 9-13. They shot 8-18 from deep.

So, how did KU win?

Because on this night, KU showed legitimate toughness, grit and determination. Maybe this KU team is different after all. Maybe they have the heart to navigate this cruel Tournament. Maybe this is the ugly win that, seemingly, every National Champion has on the path to the title. Or maybe last night was just last night.

A night where somehow, someway KU survived and advanced.

His Dirkness


Dr. Zaveous said...

Yeah Buddy! Good article. I was so damn surprised by last night. KU played terrible, but had enough mental toughness to win which gives me hope going on with the rest of the tournament. If that was the bad game that we managed to win then I'm looking forward to the next game, because if I know ye ole Billy Goat Self then KU is going to be pissed off for the next game and ready to play. Showtime

Dr. Zaveous

The Leadoff Mane said...

If you wanna talk bout composure, look at this here article written by WHD -- Oh snap an intro and outro! This Keyid-Gilchrist must learned a couple things from Dr. Iain Ellis. He coulda easily turned in one of those drunkenly stumbled upon rehashes of the game that he wrote in his most sangria-ed out moments (a slight reprise to our sangria fueled foosball game with Sheeba trying to corral us up), but no, he turned in a gem folks - get this man a Bud Dry!!!

So you could tell right off the bat that ole Billy Goat (or possibly Dooley) told Releford (bricking shots since '74) and Teahan (afraid of the ball since '88) to nut up a little bit. Tis true that Teahan was our weapon for a stretch and Releford put in solid points and defense, but Travis shouldn't be throwing up those long shots. They look so bad cuz they brick off the goal like he was playing at a local Venice court with metal ass rims and chain nets. Why is it not been concluded that (as with Zaviyayo Henriquez) that he should be a slasher that is always cutting to the bucket??

Speaking of slashing, I think the last light of day Naadir saw was when he drove to the bucket like a champ and then tried to dish it off to some unsuspecting customer (not Withey though, the king of not catching unsuspected passes.) Speaking of Withey - what a waste of space on the bench he was. Sitting there dreaming of playing xbox again with Colehelm instead of the game. The pics Dirk put up were pretty spot on but i really wish he coulda found the clip after Elijah broke away to dunk or something where Withey does some warrior cry from the bench and clearly says "yeeeeeeah Biiiiiiitch" (not to be confused with "yeeeeeahh Braaaaadyyyyyy!")

Next, Kevin Young is such a great asset to the team, no matter how much I dis on him or forget about his existence. This game he had no points, but like 7 boards which is key. But what impressed me the other night was when he received the ball like 5 feet from the basket and proceeded to just jump and dunk it with no bullshit dribbling. I mean Withey can't even just go up and dunk like that half the time. This Young kid goes out there with a damn purpose, no matter how sprackety he gets or bricks his free throws (nothing compares to Wesley's complete lack of shot).

Why didn't T Slobbius just blame his lack of play and hustle on cramps like Tyshawn did the other day?? He could've easily done that and no one could've refuted it. But instead he chose to shoot like he was a blind raaaabit being led through the airport.

And then's there's our lil ole fella named Eli.Jah Rule. That cat has ceaselessly succeeded in bailing us outta games where Tyshawn forgets he's a senior. Jah's oooop was so spectacular - it was the most perfect Sherronified oop i've seen in a while. And that 3 man. I actually never felt any lack of confidence when he shot it - once again a very Sherronified shot (speaking of Sherron, damn I just remembered when dat dude use to sink long 3s without hesitation in some big games.) But damn, Elijah, you got us outta that bind, keep it up lil cus', we need ya pal.

Let's meet up with Marquette [Morris] in the champ game so T Slobb can face off vs. his dreaded doppelgänger equivalent!!

Aight De Shzirk, nice non-generic article & Dr. Zaveous with a lil handful of cashew comments. But where's that Zeet Tweeting Mofo beeeen??

The Leadoff Mane