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Wow, what a performance by our Jayhawks today! My confidence in our ability to win this game had grown over the past few days, but I did not expect to see what was really a fairly dominant performance. Aside from a disastrous 5-or-so-minute stretch in the first half, a brief spurt to start the second half, and the almost unbelievably poor decision making and execution down the stretch, we pretty thoroughly handled a solid top ten team.
This was my second game in person this season (I'm 1-1 now!) and the difference between a month ago and now was more stark in person than it has been on TV. I felt like our coaching staff put together a brilliant gameplan, and I felt like our senior-dominated team executed it really well. I'm not sure how it came across on TV, but it was clear in the gym that we were communicating extremely well defensively, especially in the halfcourt. Part of this was the game plan (Matt has mentioned in his postgame thoughts how we defended the pick-and-roll with switches for everyone but Withey), but I was really impressed by how well we communicated and helped to pull it off. There were only a few times (one during that disastrous 5-minute run) where we allowed someone's man to get free without helping (that one being Thomas when Releford got run through three straight screens), and even the bench seemed to be more in sync defensively than I can remember at any time this season. To pull off as much switching and defensive realignment as we did today requires a LOT of communication and trust, with all five players working extremely well together, and I felt like we did that.
Offensively, our gameplan is becoming more clear. We tried to get McLemore a quick look on the first possession, but when he got the ball the shot wasn't there. When we regained possession off an OSU mistake, we went right back to a play for Ben again. It seems the staff feels it's as important to get Ben rolling as any wing player I can remember. I don't even remember such a concerted early play effort to get Brandon going like we do with Ben. Beyond that, the key is finding our post players or getting into the lane. Tharpe, Johnson, McLemore, and Releford repeatedly found holes in the OSU defense and made their way into the lane for easy buckets. I felt like this was something that OSU couldn't match, and every time we did it I could feel the crowd exhale in frustration.
Travis Releford's praises must continue to be sung. I know of no other role player in the country who is better, and I know of no award that he would be "leading" to get. It's almost a "6th man" award, but obviously he's a starter and not a sixth man. He didn't shut Thomas down like he has other scorers this season, but he was relentless in his pursuit of a taller, gifted player, even when he switched off Thomas he was finding his way back. He also didn't allow Thomas to post him up, which was a concern I had with this potential defensive matchup. As I mentioned above, he also found his way into the lane when the play was open, but his biggest offensive moment was the three he buried while the instant replay from the "Great OSU Play!" was still showing. I heard more than one groan around us on that shot.
My final game thought is that there's no way to explain just how incredible Bill Self and staff are at drawing up inbounds plays without watching in person. Time and time again, we found ways to get the ball into scoring position right off the inbounds pass. One that I remember clearly was NOT the one that McLemore dunked, but the one that was a bounce-pass entry to (I think) McLemore. Young was on the strong side posting up something fierce, and almost no other movement was happening except the other guys were slowly drifting away from the lane. Then all of a sudden, McLemore bolts down the lane for a wide open layup. Sheer brilliance.
The arena is pretty nice, though very generic and without a lot of character. It was very steep, but our siteline at the top was really good still. The fans were very nice people and reasonable to chat with, but I'm pretty sure they thought every single call agaist OSU was incorrect. Never once did I hear "yeah, that was a foul on us" or anything of that nature. The best part of the arena experience today, though, was the pregame video before our players were introduced: to introduce Self they did a video montage thing of the tornado from the Wizard of Oz, with Self on a broomstick cackling away. My friend and I were laughing hysterically by the end of it.
I'll post pictures tomorrow when I get my camera hooked up to the home computer.
Any video of wicked witch Self? After 3 straight, they must hate him/KU.
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oh we do........especially because you own us.
Was disappointed in our game, but realized most of it was because the Jayhawks are for real. Hope you enjoyed your stay in Columbus!
Hope we don't see you in the tourney
OSU is one of the schools that get it... just solid fans...
this KU team is a pretty big surprise. I expected us to do well, but at this time last year our team was struggling, not losing, but struggling. I can't imagine a more enjoyable season than last year... If we could have found a way to beat UK it would have been epic. But with the expectaions I as a fan had, and where we ended up, I'll take it.
This years team is so much further along in development than last years. I can only attribute it to 4 starting 5th year seniors. They know what is expected, they go out and perform... I've seen some ugly plays and I imagine there will be some games that just leave us scratching our heads... but so far this team has completely blown me away. Defensive intensity... passing into the post, hitting shots when we need them. About the only drama I've seen in this team so far is what Anrio is going to post on his facebook... and that's been pretty damn mild.
This post was edited by Tralfaz 19 months ago
Live to love, love to live
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