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With a another dominant performance the Jayhawks now set their sights on a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. A few thoughts:
* Withey was dominant, especially in the 2nd half. When the Jayhawks finally get the ball inside and when Withey gets to his spots on the block (which he didn't do during the 1st half as I felt he was a step outside his comfort zone) he's very hard to contain. One subtle thing that Withey does really well is rotate on dribble penetration to get into the proper spot of the floor to finish shots.
* Ellis was once again terrific as he finished with 12 points, including 10 in the 2nd half. Maybe the biggest shot in this game in terms of confidence for Ellis and for teams in the NCAA tournament that will scout Kansas, was the '3' that Ellis hit. Now that he's shown the ability to knock down that shot it changes everything in terms of how teams have to defend the Jayhawks. This should give Withey more room to operate down low and should space the floor better. His level of aggression is very high right now and if he can continue to provide a boost off of the bench it gives this Kansas team yet another weapon.
* Again, it's always hard to tell which Tharpe is going to show up but he was terrific against Kansas State, knocking down four 3pt shots, including three big ones in the 2nd half. He also had a couple of beautiful assists and as long as he takes care of the ball going forward and knocks down 35%+ from beyond the arc he is going to give the Jayhawks what they need off the bench.
* Young and Releford are consistently good as role players and between Young's energy level on the glass, defending the "stretch fours", and even his underrated passing ability both on dump downs to Withey and kick out for 3's was extremely valuable in this game as it has been throughout the season. While Releford has been on a downward trend in his offensive production recently (something to keep a close eye on), his defense has been as outstanding as always. Again, if there are a better pair of role players nationally I would love to see them.
* McLemore and Elijah were both off in this game and will need to produce more going forward. Ben needs to be more aggressive in these upcoming games as seven shots attempts is about half of what he should be taking. However, for Kansas to convincingly beat a top 15 team without much production from McLemore just shows how solid and how sound this squad is.
Elijah was not very good again, turning the ball over 6 times and going only 3-9 from the floor. His decision making and ability to keep quick guards out of the lane are the things that could keep this team from reaching their potential come tournament time.
* It was obvious that there was an added emphasis on getting the ball inside during the 2nd half as Withey and Ellis combined for 22 points. The ball movement was very solid during the 2nd half and, as always, with Kansas playing inside / out they were able to get some wide open looks behind the arc. During the 2nd half they connected on 5-8 from beyond the arc, with Tharpe leading the charge with three 3pt shots. If the Jayhawks can shoot the ball with consistency from beyond the arc like they did in this tournament they will be a very, very tough out.
* I actually liked Kansas State's game plan in this game as Weber was doubling Withey on every back to the basket touch early on. As always Self had an answer for this, diving not only Young / Ellis, but also diving Releford from the backside into the mid-lane on two occasions as Releford's man was sagging down to the block to help the helper. While I doubt this was a called play I guarantee that the staff pointed out to Travis and the other wings how open this area would be with the way the defense would be rotating. Weber also did a nice job of using McGruder more as a screener in this game helping to give him some rest due to the fatigue of playing three games in three days. With McGruder as a screener, his defender wasn't able to help off of him and gave the Wildcats a few open looks. Weber also did a good job early on of making with Withey work on the perimeter by using Henriquez on dribble hand offs and the wing pick and roll. Despite these solid adjustments it really didn't matter much. As Fran Fraschilla pointed out during the broadcast, it's hard to play three games in three days anyway but it's even harder when you're running a motion offense and your best players (McGruder especially) have to work so hard away from the ball just to get open. This, along with the suffocating Jayhawk defense, led to the Wildcats knocking down just 35% of their shots (22.2% in the 1st half) for the game.
* This group of players is really the definition of the word team. In the past month they've had Ellis step up (Iowa State), Tharpe play solid basketball off the bench (Kansas State / Iowa State), Elijah (Iowa State), Young and Releford (always consistent in their effort and production), and McLemore and Withey (nearly every game) contribute in big, big ways in games. While we all know what can happen in a one and done setting, this type of balance gives Kansas a chance to win their next six games as a group of these players would need to be off their game.
* Maybe it was just me but I was tempted to put the mute button on so I didn't have to listen to Musburger call the game. Just like he does in every game he announces, football or basketball, he beats something to death and did so with the foul discrepancy in this game. Fran Fraschilla, who I think is as good as it gets, is the only thing that saved that telecast pointing out to Brent on several occasions that the fouls called on the Wildcats and the non-fouls on the Jayhawks were actually good calls.
* My predictions for the top 2 seeds in each bracket:
- 1. Indiana
- 2. Duke
- 1. Kansas
- 2. Miami
- 1. Gonzaga
- 2. Georgetown
- 1. Louisville
- 2. Ohio State
With the way they've played lately, Kansas not only has a good shot to get to Atlanta, but they have a chance to cut down the nets. Fans have to feel confident in the first couple of rounds as they have played well in Kansas City this season, although I see them potentially facing a dangerous Creighton team in the 2nd round (how will Kansas defend McDermott?). If they can avoid a dominant point guard who can operate off the dribble and a team that forces a large number of turnovers I think this team will be just fine. Regardless, another great season for Self and company.
Great write up, Matt. Thanks!
KU is just a really really awful matchup for KSU right now. They have no answers for us on offense for a few reasons.
1. None of their big men can really stretch us and none can beat Withey inside. Southwell does not have enough inside presence to force us to guard him with Withey and they can't afford to not have Gipson or Henriquez on the floor at risk of getting destroyed on the glass. Withey has just destroyed KSU this year.
2. None of their guards really challenge KU athletically. Rodriguez is the only one who can really get his own against us because Releford does such a good job on McGruder. We can help and hedge on McGruder because no one else is dangerous enough to worry about. Spradling can't shoot when we run our wings at him, even if he does have space. I think Nutmeg is now shooting something around 10% from 3 against KU in his career (it is real close to that number). Anyone Withey is guard is slow enough we have tons of time to recover from the hedge. McGruder is not quick enough to totally destroy Kevin Young or Ellis who would just switch those picks, particularly late.
They are going to be happy to be done with us. If we played 10 times we win 8 or 9 games.
I think we may do better than that. I think if we played them 50 times we'd win 47.
I think we'd win all 10 out of 10 times. We're just a brutal, brutal matchup for KSU. Our players and staff know how to stop them in ways other teams can't. I'd almost rather play KSU 6 straight times to win the national championship than the field lol.
This post was edited by Onslaught 13 months ago
When did "good officiating" translate to people as "equal number of foul calls?" In a well-officiated game (one where they call, you know, the RULES), Kansas State will almost always have more fouls than their opponent because they play a "handsy" style of defense. They love to get in people's faces and put their hands on your back, your hip, wherever. One of the big problems that comes up with this is like what happened in the Louisville-Syracuse game on Saturday night: with 9:09 left in the game and Louisville having just seized the lead, Michael Carter-Williams had the ball on the left side, about the height of the top of the key. Luke Hancock stepped in to defend him and put not just one but TWO hands on Carter-Williams, who then swung his arms through what I would call the "neutral zone" to clear some space, and was promptly called for a Flagrant 1 Foul for contacting Hancock on the face, a correct application of a bad rule. The problem, to me, is twofold: 1) Hancock was allowed to put his hands on Carter-Williams and was never called for a foul, and 2) when Carter-Williams tried to create offense out of a disadvantaged situation because the defender was allowed to put his hands all over the offensive player, he was called for a flagrant foul. If you don't call defenders for putting their hands all over offensive players, you can expect a LOT of games in the 40s and 50s because it's awfully difficult to score with someone's hands all over you.
If you sat in the stands at Sprint Saturday night, you would have thought Self was handing out the cash on the sidelines.
Grapes simply don't understand that pounding the ball at the top of the key for 25-30 seconds they launching a jumper isn't going to translate into getting fouls called. The grapes around me were screaming about it, and I responded, for one of the few times, because you can't argue with idiots, they drag you to their level and beat you with experience.
The fouls were KSU 6, KU 3, but I pointed out they had shot 4 FT to our 3. They considered that a horrible argument. I then pointed out that they were standing on the perimeter, while we were going to the hole. That's why they weren't getting fouls. They then said we were fouling their jumpshots. At that point, I told them they were all insane and shut up.
I don't worry as much about Michigan as one might think. Tough game but they are not an elite defensive team (or even a very good one). With OSU for example Smart worried you because they were a very tough defensive squad. Smart's ability to make plays is magnified in low scoring games. Against Michigan I think we can make it a Burke vs Kansas type game.
I agree that I should worry less about Michigan, but I didn't worry about Baylor either. Moot point, though, when VCU beats them...
It is the Sweet 16. You have to play someone.
I'm probably more worried about UNC than I ought to be. It's just law of averages they will have to beat KU sooner or later... and the losses we have this year against teams we should have beat easily have me a bit nervous. If we get out of the first weekend I think we'll be fine... but UNC still has a bevy of burgerboys... and our perimeter defense isn't the greatest this year.
Live to love, love to live
Yeah, I totally agree that you have to play someone, you just don't have to play someone who provides such matchup problems to your biggest weakness. You have to beat good teams to win this, it's just unfortunate (to me) that we got my two least desired draws as our 4 and 5 seed, meaning it's about a 95% chance we either get Burke or "Havoc."
There's no law of averages when it's Self vs. Roy, is there? :-)
In all seriousness, not getting a "mid major" in our 8/9 game helps us a TON mentally, in my book. Similarly, if we get to the Regional Final, it's exceedingly unlikely we'll see a "mid major" there, either. The only real "mid major" pitfall is VCU, a team that is a nightmare matchup problem for us, BUT we get a week to prepare.
Okie State and KSU were off the table.
SLU has beaten VCU fairly comfortably twice in the past couple weeks. They play at about 65 possessions per game which is a slow pace and we are a better team playing with more pace. We have two of our four losses in those slow paced games and have a bunch of really close games down at that level. Wisky plays even slower than that. Cuse is another slow playing team that plays zone which we have not seen a lot of.
I would rather have UNLV but I doubt they make it past Cuse anyway.
To me EJ's worst games are against teams that pack in defense and slow the game down. Yes he turns it over some in up and down games. But he also tends to get in the paint in those games and score or get assist. The best games he has had have been the ones that push up around 70 or more possessions and things move up and down.
Overall if I watch a lot of our turnovers fewer of them come in the open court or early offense than come when we get stuck trying to swing the ball back and forth against a team that denies us penetration or transition. I worry far more about playing a team that drags possessions down to around 60 and gets us frustrated and passive on offense. That is when EJ starts taking dumb threes and that is when bad things tend to happen to us. More to the point I can only really pick out one 4 or 5 I would rather realistically have.
I wasn't really saying "I looked at the 8 fours and fives and these are the ones I least wanted to see;" I was saying that before yesterday's announcement, I wanted to avoid Michigan and VCU, and we got not one of them, but both. Neither is a major candidate to be upset in the first round (Akron could have given VCU trouble before Abreu got arrested and Wolters can carry SDSU, but it's not a likely upset), so it's a 95% chance we either get a team that forces a lot of turnovers OR we get a team that has a great point guard. Our two biggest weaknesses are turning the ball over (though you make a great point about many of our turnovers being the "lazy, halfcourt" variety in slower games when he forces action unnecessarily and not when the games have some pace) and defending against guards who get into the paint. We are better than both VCU and Michigan, but each of them has a weakness where we have a weakness, must like we match up so strongly against the purples.
I would love to have drawn Cuse with a week to prep for their zone.
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