kansas city music

HTML5 disturbingly close to bringing a tear to my eye

Aw, man. It just got a lit­tle dusty in my office at Coop­er. See­ing my old child­hood home in Lea­wood, Kansas will do that, espe­cial­ly when the Arcade Fire pro­vides the sound­track and when Google engi­neers work with a music video direc­tor to cre­ate the experience.

8710 Lee Blvd - Wilderness downtown

The pho­to above is from an "inter­ac­tive video" called "The Wilder­ness Down­town," and it's actu­al­ly as tech­no­log­i­cal­ly inter­est­ing as it is emo­tion­al­ly-provoca­tive. (It's espe­cial­ly emo if the Google Maps satel­lite imagery from your home looks appro­pri­ate­ly old and nos­tal­gic; see image above). Any­way, it's referred to as an "exper­i­ment" with Google's Chrome brows­er, which is prob­a­bly why, at times, it start­ed to feel like a show­case of whizzy HTML5 ele­ments — win­dows get launched and shuf­fled around; you're asked to scrib­ble on the screen; graph­ics are ani­mat­ed and lay­ered. I don't know, maybe I'm just the right mix of cheese­ball and geek, but it kind of worked for me.

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As he steps to the line, he feels game pressure

The Bilas­tra­tor has coined a new term: "Game pres­sure." Dur­ing last weekend's Kansas-Ten­nessee game, ESPN ana­lyst Jay Bilas repeat­ed­ly said that Kansas play­ers were feel­ing "game pres­sure" when they stepped to the free throw line. Game pres­sure? As opposed to … prac­tice pres­sure? As opposed to oth­er kinds of pres­sure that you'd feel dur­ing a big game? Or a nation­al­ly-tele­vised game? Game pres­sure? That's the best that you've got? Now, I was going to let this go, because I think I know what he means: "Game pres­sure" sounds like a spe­cif­ic kind of pres­sure that can't be repli­cat­ed out­side of a game. Young teams, per­haps, are par­tic­u­lar­ly vul­ner­a­ble to it because they haven't been in as many … games. Any­way, I was going to let it go until Bilas referred to Kansas guard Sher­ron Collins as "Law­son-esque" (as in North Car­oli­na guard Tywon Law­son) and then pre­dict­ed that Tyler Hans­brough will again be the nation­al play­er of the year.

You mean Lawson is "Collins-esque," right?

Where was Law­son in the Final Four? I'll tell you: He was get­ting killed by Collins. If Collins played in the ACC, he'd be get­ting com­pared to Chris Paul. (I think he's more like Vin­nie "the Microwave" John­son). On that note, I hope that Bob Knight is going to break up the ACC-lov­ing com­men­tary cabal at ESPN. From the cou­ple of games I've seen, he is made for TV. And he speaks to bas­ket­ball fans, not just fans of the ACC. He's not afraid to say unpop­u­lar things; not a sur­prise. He's also like­ly to com­pare cur­rent play­ers to non-ACC play­ers (such as his Indi­ana play­ers from the 70's), and he's com­plete­ly at ease in diss­ing oth­er talk­ing heads. Is there some way that I can get his com­men­tary on every game? Please?

Aldrich rips the ball away from Hansbrough
Aldrich ruled Hans­brough in the Final Four. "But he just works so hard." Oth­er ath­let­ic cen­ters rule him reg­u­lar­ly. "He doesn't take pos­ses­sions off." The argu­ment against him being play­er of the year is so strong; it seems almost sil­ly to car­ry it out. Pho­to: Get­ty Images

I've got no real beef with Psy­cho T, as Hans­brough is known, but he is not the best play­er in the coun­try. How could he be? When­ev­er he plays against any­one big and ath­let­ic, he gets killed. Yes, he brings it every night; yes, he leaves it all on the court. Dick­ie V loves it. All the old­er com­men­ta­tors love it. Who doesn't love a kid who plays hard every minute he's on the court? I love it. He's like Nick Col­li­son. Nick Col­li­son was awe­some, but he was not the play­er of the year, was he? Would any­one argue that he was, oth­er than hope­less Kansas loy­al­ists? He was a good play­er on a great team. Like Hans­brough, now. Collison's prob­lem was that he didn't play for the most vis­i­ble pro­gram in the most over-hyped con­fer­ence in the coun­try. If Hans­brough played at Texas, he'd get com­pared to Col­li­son all the time, and he'd be the feel-good choice for the Nai­smith. If only.

basketball kansas basketball

March Madness / Zapruder analysis of Mario's shot

A cou­ple of days ago, I was watch­ing Mario's three-point­er for like the 150th time, and I decid­ed to do it JFK/Zaprud­er style. Click. Sher­ron blows by Der­rick Rose. Click. Click. Click. Sher­ron begins to fall. Click. The ball emerges in Mario's hands, he takes a big jump-step toward the top of the key, jumps, fades. Der­rick Rose leaps. Ball leaves Mario's hand. Arc-ing, arc-ing. Swish. (Rewind). Swish. (Rewind). Swish. I felt like Kevin Cost­ner in JFK: Back, and to the left. Back, and to the left. Back, and to the left.

An obscured leaping figure

As I stepped through the swish mul­ti­ple times, I saw some­thing I hadn't seen before, a sort of puff of smoke on the grassy knoll. There's a leap­ing fig­ure behind the back­board, at the very far end of the Kansas bench. Just after Mario's shot goes through, the play­ers on the bench appear to be in dis­be­lief, but a black clad fig­ure at the end of the bench sud­den­ly springs up, spin­ning, arms flail­ing. I think that this was pret­ty close to my reac­tion as well.

Ballard celebratesThis is clos­est I could come to a shot of the bench at that moment Mario's shot goes through the net. It's unclear who it is from this pho­to, but it's almost cer­tain­ly the same guy you can see onscreen, jump­ing and celebrating.

You can kin­da see a black blur behind the back­board in this YouTube clip, but it's much more clear­ly viewed in high-def­i­n­i­tion about two feet from your TV screen.Fast-forward to the post-game cel­e­bra­tion, and it becomes clear that the fig­ure is none oth­er than for­mer Kansas back­up point guard and cur­rent video assis­tant, Brett Bal­lard. Awe­some. I was always a Bal­lard fan because he's a Kansas kid, from Hutchi­son. [Here's a nice Kansan pro­file of Bal­lard.] Now he'll always be the visu­al record of my own reac­tion to Mario's shot.

basketball kansas basketball

March Madness / Final Four shit

If words are win­dows to the soul, this blog has become a mas­sive vista onto my sports obses­sions and, specif­i­cal­ly, Kansas bas­ket­ball. Soon enough it'll all be over, the fever dream will end, the sun will rise, and I'll be back to the old stuff. Until then, I want to post one more thing, to com­mem­o­rate the Jay­hawks' run to San Antonio.

Kansas Jayhawk Final Four 2008 t-shirt - I could give a shit about CarolinaI designed a t‑shirt that expressed my feel­ings with regard to the Heels, which — in a real­ly weird coin­ci­dence — echo Ol Roy's sen­ti­ments c. 2003.

For many Kansas fans, Roy's angry words ring true — truer, even — today. Sure, Roy may have claimed to have "giv­en a shit" at that moment, but he changed his tune a week lat­er. Jay­hawk fans prob­a­bly still couldn't give a shit, to say the least. Now, we can declare this to the world. [Buy it now now now from Zaz­zle].

A day that will live in infamy

In case anyone's won­der­ing what the heck the shirt is all about, let's take a quick trip down YouTube lane. The year was 2003; the time was 10 min­utes after KU's nation­al final loss to Syra­cuse; the place was the tun­nel out­side the Kansas lock­er room The "shit" part clear­ly wasn't pre-med­i­tat­ed, yet it was per­fect­ly timed, putting a bit­ter excla­ma­tion point on a ring­ing rebuke. Of course, the most shock­ing part of it all was that it came from the man who had — to that point — cor­nered the mar­ket in "dadgums" and "dog­gones:" Ol Roy, the kind coun­try cousin of col­lege bas­ket­ball. In more ways than one, that inter­view was the end of an era, and in ret­ro­spect, Roy's aw-shucks-ing and dadgum-ing seems a lit­tle sil­ly, but it sure worked well for a while. Now, well. Times have changed.

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Basketball / Tale of two teams

Baron!The Bay Area: Where Baron hap­pens. Pho­to: Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Liv­ing in the Bay Area, I've watched Baron Davis and Don Nel­son breathe life into the corpse of the Gold­en State War­riors by play­ing fast, loose, undis­ci­plined, unpre­dictable bas­ket­ball. When they're click­ing, the War­riors are invig­o­rat­ing and life-affirm­ing. Nel­lie doesn't bur­den the team with struc­ture — they don't real­ly run an "offense" or play "defense" in the tra­di­tion­al sens­es — instead, they rely on the play­ers' abil­i­ties to impro­vise, pull their oppo­nents out of their own struc­tures, and wear them down with run­ning and gunning. 

Playground electicity

When the War­riors are good, they're like the best play­ground bas­ket­ball team you could ever imag­ine. What makes them all the more excit­ing is that their ros­ter lacks key tra­di­tion­al dimen­sions asso­ci­at­ed with suc­cess­ful teams. They com­pete with­out the tra­di­tion­al man-moun­tain in the low-post to take on Shaq, Yao, Dun­can, or Pau; instead, Andris Biedrins, who has very lit­tle in the way of a J and doesn't ever try to play fac­ing the bas­ket, uses his quick­ness and hops to rebound, fol­low, and gen­er­al­ly sur­prise oppo­nents with his abil­i­ty to keep War­rior pos­ses­sions alive. (Check out where The Wages of Wins ranked Biedrins for the 2006–2007 sea­son) Spoil­er: He's #1 on the team, with 11.7 to Baron's 9.7. On the guard front, Baron and Stephen Jack­son and Mon­ta Ellis don't real­ly run an offense as much as they weave through defens­es in per­pet­u­al one-on-fives, dri­ving to the rim, dish­ing to team­mates. Baron has a (admit­ted­ly deserved) rep­u­ta­tion as a shoot-first point guard, but he defers to oth­ers when they're hot and his team­mates seem to feed off his ener­gy. Mon­ta, more of a two-guard than a point, some­how can't shoot the three, but he can blow by just about any­one and he's one of the bet­ter fin­ish­ers in the league right now. 6'9" Al Har­ring­ton is more reli­able from behind the arc than he is with his back to the bas­ket; Wages of Wins doesn't think much of him, but it's hard to deny the prob­lems that he cre­ates for defens­es when he's in the game. Stephen Jack­son — Stack Jack, as Baron calls him — is the glue; when he's in the game, every­one is bet­ter. Seri­ous­ly, who wouldn't want to play with him? He's got everyone's back.

DarnellDar­nell can't do it alone. Pho­to: Nick Krug, Lawrence Journal-World.

Con­trast the War­riors with the oth­er team that I fol­low, the Kansas Jay­hawks. Where the War­riors are dan­ger­ous, inscrutable, fierce com­peti­tors who save their best for big games, the Jay­hawks have been the oppo­site: soft, pre­dictable, vul­ner­a­ble when the game is on the line. Where the War­riors have at least three guys who thrive in pres­sure sit­u­a­tions — Baron, Stack Jack, and Har­ring­ton — the Jay­hawks have eight guys who could start on any team in Amer­i­ca, but not one who wants to take over a game. Last week, I trekked to Ora­cle with Justin, Mara, and Lynne (Lynne? Blog?), and we watched the War­riors wear down the Celtics and, in the final moments, dri­ve a dag­ger into their hearts. Three days lat­er, I watched the Jay­hawks wilt in the final moments against a very, very fired up Okla­homa State team. Part of the prob­lem is that Kansas sim­ply doesn't have reli­able offen­sive weapons; anoth­er part is that teams love beat­ing the Hawks, and each Jay­hawk oppo­nent is play­ing its biggest game of the sea­son. Col­lege bas­ket­ball is dif­fer­ent in that regard. Mes­sage boards don't rejoice each time the Lak­ers lose a game, but oh how peo­ple love to see teams like Kansas (Google: "kansas" + "choke"), Duke (Google: "duke" + "choke"), and Ken­tucky (Google: "ken­tucky" + "choke") lose. Which is fine. If peo­ple didn't real­ly react this way, the wins wouldn't be as much fun.The root of the Hawks' prob­lem is offen­sive, though. The War­riors are stocked with guys who can cre­ate their own shot, but Kansas has to rely on Mario Chalmers and Sher­ron Collins (and, to some extent, Rus­sell Robin­son) to break down defens­es and spring Bran­don Rush on the perime­ter or Dar­rell Arthur inside. Like the War­riors, the Hawks don't run a struc­tured offense with inter­change­able parts; they rely on ath­leti­cism. This lack of dimen­sion is eas­i­ly exploit­ed by teams who effec­tive­ly pres­sure the Hawks' guards, and who run big guys out to trap the ball at the three-point line. Add to this mix the fact that Kansas guards can­not seem to defend oppos­ing guards, and there's no ques­tion that they've got some big prob­lems to solve before mid-March.

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Kansas basketball / Post-Julian thoughts

Julian at the SIU game

Julian Wright is tak­ing the oppor­tu­ni­ty of a life­time, and who can blame him? He brought enthu­si­asm and ener­gy to every game, con­tributed huge­ly in many of the big wins in the last cou­ple of years (cf. these dunks dur­ing the Flori­da game and this epic 33-point per­for­mance at MU), and showed enough skill and poten­tial to be very high­ly regard­ed by NBA scouts. Who wouldn't seize a chance to be finan­cial­ly secure, and to play in the NBA? The future is rarely cer­tain in these sit­u­a­tions, as these guys can attest. Best of luck to you, JuJu.The KU-sports-relat­ed Inter­net is (pre­dictably) thrash­ing around with the news, and the emo­tions range from hurt to hap­py, fatal­is­tic to opti­mistic. And who can blame them, real­ly? The last four years have been tough on Kansas bas­ket­ball, so tough that the men­tion of cer­tain names — Roy, Mic­ah, Pad­gett, Galin­do, Gid­dens, CJ, etc — can pro­voke pangs and spasms of hurt and guilt. I guess Julian gets added to the list now, though per­son­al­ly I think he's ready and I'm hap­py for him. Most of the com­menters at the end of this sto­ry feel oth­er­wise. Julian's depar­ture is com­pli­cat­ed, of course, by the fact that he pledged to stay fol­low­ing the loss to UCLA. This CBS reporter was real­ly peev­ed that Julian recon­sid­ered his prospects after the sea­son end­ed, which seems kin­da sil­ly to me. Did it real­ly take Julian's change of heart to com­mu­ni­cate to him that big-time col­lege sports are bit­ter­sweet, unpre­dictable, and per­pet­u­al­ly com­pro­mised by the twin prospects of major, life-chang­ing injuries and major, life-chang­ing paydays?Whatever hap­pens, I think that Julian will even­tu­al­ly have a good NBA career. Ryan Greene of com­pares Julian to Shawn Mar­i­on, and I see the resem­blance as well. That said, he would be way bet­ter off with estab­lished, vet­er­an-heavy teams like Phoenix (who wouldn't?) or Chica­go, where he'd be able to learn and adjust out of the spot­light. Career-endan­ger­ing teams like Mem­phis, Atlanta or (once again) Sacra­men­to will give him too much respon­si­bil­i­ty too soon, though he may be able to sur­vive that either way. Long term, he's a West­ern Con­fer­ence play­er who will come off the bench, get his 12 and 8, con­tin­ue do all the lit­tle stuff that makes him great (deflect­ing pass­es, set­ting oth­er guys up, keep­ing offen­sive rebounds alive), and be a good team guy to boot.

The bright sides

Look­ing for­ward to next Novem­ber, here are three sce­nar­ios that reflect my think­ing on the remain­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties for ear­ly entries and (yikes, not again!) transfers.

  • With­out Wright: Actu­al­ly may be bet­ter. Like Drew Gooden's ear­ly exit, I actu­al­ly think there's quite a sig­nif­i­cant bright side here. Julian's ath­let­ic abil­i­ty and tal­ent require that he play a major role in the offense, which results in few­er oppor­tu­ni­ties for the tal­ents of oth­er play­ers — Mario's dri­ves and shots, Sherron's shot and dri­ve, Rush's entire offen­sive arse­nal, Shady's sweet moves inside 12 feet. When Good­en left, Collison's McHale-like low-post pres­ence and Hinrich's Stock­ton-like abil­i­ty to make the right deci­sion on every fast break end­ed up pro­vid­ing a sys­tem more sta­ble than the one focused on Gooden's always ath­let­ic, some­times errat­ic pres­ence. With­out Julian at the 4, Shady starts and gets more time. This means that the line-up gets bulki­er with­out los­ing that much in the way of speed. They'll miss Julian's explo­sive­ness and shot-block­ing, but they gain Shady's sweet touch and bet­ter abil­i­ty to (more depend­ably) make plays while post­ing up. If Rush is still around (not like­ly, so see the bul­let point below), I tend to think that this line-up may even be more dan­ger­ous than if Wright had stuck around.
  • With­out Wright and Rush: Lots of re-jig­ger­ing, lots of uncer­tain­ty. Los­ing Rush is a much big­ger deal than los­ing Wright, obvi­ous­ly. He's the team's best on-the-ball defend­er; he became the go-to scor­er dur­ing the games in San Jose, and he can stroke it. Unfor­tu­nate­ly for him, he's not the explo­sive ath­lete that Julian is, and scouts are not eval­u­at­ing his drafta­bil­i­ty in the crys­tal-ball­ish terms of upside and poten­tial. His capac­i­ty is known, appar­ent­ly, and there­fore it has lim­its in the eyes of scouts. Does this mean he can't become, say, a Bruce Bowen type of play­er? Heck no. In fact, I think he'd fit in real­ly well with the type of team who would draft him in the 20's or so. And this is prob­a­bly what will hap­pen, so it all works out for the best, for him. If mon­ey and aca­d­e­mics (which are a major has­sle for him) were not issues, he's in a great posi­tion to thrive next sea­son. He fits into Self's sys­tem real­ly well; he real­ly began to shine at the end of the sea­son; anoth­er sea­son would real­ly give him a chance to refine his drib­ble-dri­ve and his out­side shot. But this is not an ide­al world, and bar­ring the entry of the entire UNC team or an injury that pre­vents him from com­pet­ing in the pre-draft camps, I sus­pect he's gone. Good luck to him.
    So. How do the Hawks replace Bran­don? Who becomes the stop­per? Who takes over the offense at the end of games? Who attracts the oth­er team's defend­ers when­ev­er he's on the floor? I'm not real­ly sure about any of this. A cou­ple of things are cer­tain, though: This will be a sea­soned, capa­ble team. They've been through a lot, beat­en Kevin Durant twice, won two Big 12 tour­na­ments, etc. More­over, they'll be with­out a super­star like Bran­don and Julian, and this — weird­ly — might make them much more like Self's Illi­nois teams — grit­ty, hun­gry, scrap­py and dan­ger­ous in the tournament.
  • With­out Wright, Rush, and Collins: !@$#%$#@*&. Almost too painful to con­sid­er. How many times did I text the words "Thank God for Sher­ron" dur­ing the Big 12 sea­son? How many times did he sin­gle-hand­ed­ly change the pace and momen­tum of a game with a vicious dri­ve to the bas­ket? He's not ready to jump to the League, but rumor has it that he wants to be clos­er to home. But would he real­ly want to sit out a year, play for a school in a mid-major con­fer­ence, give up a chance to play in a Final Four, give up a chance to play on nation­al tele­vi­sion for 15–20 or 20–25 games next year? I real­ly hope not. Man, that would hurt.
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Pre-post-season thoughts / Containing Kevin Durant

In a pre­vi­ous post, I sug­gest­ed that the Kansas defense must "con­tain" Kevin Durant, there­by imply­ing that Kevin Durant could, in fact, be con­tained. I said: "he's going to get 10–15 points no mat­ter what you do," and any­thing in excess of that was a mat­ter of the oppos­ing team's defense shut­ting him down. Against Kansas on Sat­ur­day, he rat­tled off 12 points in a row between the 17:41 and the 14:14 marks in the first half, and had 20 points just five min­utes lat­er. (Thanks to ESPN's play-by-play for this). And it wasn't like the Texas offense was get­ting him a lot of open looks: He was bury­ing every shot, no mat­ter who was guard­ing him and no mat­ter where he was on the court. 22 feet away, Julian Wright's hand in his face: Rat­tled in. Pulling up from 27 feet at the tail end of a fast break: Swish. Texas didn't even need to run an offense, they just need­ed to get him the ball and then wor­ry about get­ting back and play­ing defense. In the first half, this worked. In the sec­ond half, dif­fer­ent sto­ry. Two things changed (at least): Bran­don Rush was on Durant, rather than Julian Wright. It was hard to say whether Durant just cooled off, or whether Rush cooled him off, but the fact was that he missed 4 of 5 shots before going down with a twist­ed ankle. Sec­ond thing: Anoth­er play­er imme­di­ate­ly dou­ble-teamed Durant on the perime­ter when­ev­er he got the ball, and Texas failed to exploit this for easy low-post bas­kets. (Nice call by Coach Self. Not sure why he didn't go to this ear­li­er, but I'm just glad that it worked). At the same time, I can't believe Texas couldn't exploit this. I mean, teams must be doing this all the time. Why weren't they able to find Dami­an James for easy bas­kets under­neath, or Augustin on cuts to the bas­ket? (I share Bill Simmons's assess­ment of Texas coach Rick Barnes, by the way: "How can you not run more plays for Kevin Durant? Post him up and he has 27 dif­fer­ent ways to score. Curl him off picks and he makes 15-foot­ers like they're layups.") Speak­ing of bad coach­ing, I was mys­ti­fied that Texas didn't start foul­ing soon­er. Kansas wasn't even in the bonus until the 2:20 mark, and Texas didn't start foul­ing until the 1:18 mark when they were down by 8. Russ­Rob missed the front-end of a one-and-one, and Texas cut the lead to 6. Then, on con­sec­u­tive pos­ses­sions, Mario makes one of two; Russ­Rob makes one of two; Julian makes one of two. HEART ATTACK TIME. Instead of a 6‑point lead, it's a 3‑point lead, and Texas has a chance to tie. This is a huge, huge issue going into the post-sea­son, both for the Hawks chances and my own phys­i­cal and men­tal health.Incidentally, with this in mind, I deeply enjoyed a recent piece by Gene Wein­garten about FT shoot­ing: "If I took a year off and prac­ticed all day, every day, I could then defeat the NBA's best free-throw shoot­er in head-to-head com­pe­ti­tion" (via kot­tke).

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Big Saturday / KU-UT thoughts and predictions

Watch­ing the Long­horns repeat­ed­ly (and ulti­mate­ly suc­cess­ful­ly) dri­ve a stake into the heart of Acie Law IV last night, I got to think­ing about Saturday's show­down between the Long­horns and the Hawks. (I also pen­ciled in A&M for the Final Four. Is there any team in the nation — oth­er than UCLA, I guess — that has such a per­fect blend of March-ready qual­i­ties — go-to guy, great defense, grit, gump­tion? Total­ly g'ed up). Any­way, here's the big stuff that KU has to address:Con­tain Kevin Durant. I know, I know. Obvi­ous. Duh. Every­one tries to do this. But I think Kansas has a chance to suc­ceed. Yes, he's going to get 10–15 points no mat­ter what you do. He'll be every­where — around the bas­ket, out on the perime­ter, get­ting put-backs, rolling off picks and tak­ing jumpers. The chal­lenge for the Hawks is to make sure he doesn't get 30–35, to lim­it the num­ber of open looks he gets on the perime­ter, and to make sure that he doesn't get any­where near a rhythm like he had against Texas Tech (37 points, 23 rebounds). Durant thrives when teams don't have some­one who can get in his face when he's away from the bas­ket. At 6'9", he's going to shoot over the kind of guy who will take away the dri­ve, but he's also fast and agile enough to go around most guys his size. All of that said, I think he's going to have prob­lems with KU's long, fast, and high­ly dis­rup­tive defend­ers — Julian Wright and Bran­don Rush. I think it's total­ly pos­si­ble for them to con­tain him, as long as they stay out of foul trou­ble. Dis­rupt the sup­ply chain. DJ Augustin kept them in the game last night when Durant went into a funk. In many games this year, I've seen him slice through defens­es, get to the bas­ket, and gen­er­al­ly cre­ate the kind of chaos that leads to easy put-backs for Durant. Mario Chalmers, Rus­sell Robin­son, and Sher­ron Collins have to keep him from dri­ving, and com­pli­cate his dis­tri­b­u­tion of the ball. Run them ragged, and don't get beat by AJ Abrams. Or any­one like him. Last year, the rel­a­tive­ly qui­et Abrams explod­ed for four three-point­ers dur­ing a first half run, sin­gle­hand­ed­ly demor­al­iz­ing the Hawks. The good news is that, this year, the Long­horn weapon­ry is far from secret. Abrams, Augustin and Durant play pret­ty much all game, every game. This is an oppor­tu­ni­ty for the rel­a­tive­ly deep Hawks to be relent­less in their defense — Maybe even press a lit­tle? C'mon, Coach. Gim­mick defens­es have stunned KU twice recent­ly (A&M, OU). Why not break one out once in a while? Mak­ing free throws. The mere thought that this game will come down to free throws makes my stom­ach hurt. The last five min­utes of the Okla­homa game was excru­ci­at­ing in that it almost turned into A&M, Part II. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, it's no secret that Kansas can't shoot free throws. They're going to get fouled late in the game; with any luck, Chalmers and Robin­son will con­trol the ball and hit their freebies.Lastly, Collins and Arthur must con­tribute, and Rush has to get his shots. It's pret­ty amaz­ing that the Hawks could get by OU with­out con­tri­bu­tions from any of these guys, but there's no way that a win ver­sus Texas is pos­si­ble with­out them.

kansas basketball

Kansas basketball / Jitters, a jinx, and a stinging loss

Ques­tion: What hap­pens when a young col­lege bas­ket­ball team with­out a proven low-post pres­ence some­how man­ages to secure a high nation­al rank­ing then faces a real­ly hun­gry, expe­ri­enced team? The Hawks found out two nights ago, get­ting their rear-ends tanned by an unher­ald­ed and obvi­ous­ly hun­gry Oral Roberts team.Where does this rank among the hard­est-to-swal­low loss­es in recent mem­o­ry? I don't want to go over­board here; it's not as crush­ing as the two NCAA Tour­na­ment ear­ly exits. It also wasn't as demor­al­iz­ing as los­ing to K‑State (at home) and Mis­souri (after lead­ing by 7 with a lit­tle over a minute left) last year. It's most reminscent of the 2004 home loss to Rich­mond, when the entire sport­ing nation could turn on ESPN to see the Hawks implode on their home floor to a team that wasn't even play­ing that well. ESPN didn't car­ry the ORU game on Wednes­day night, THANK GOD, but the loss rip­pled through the sports press in a way that always seemed to empha­size the Hawks sim­ply failed to look, umm, good. SI said sim­ply: "Oral Roberts out­played No. 3 Kansas the whole way."Question: How in the world does SI rank KU above a team like Flori­da, the defend­ing nation­al cham­pi­ons who returned every starter from last year? Did they want to avoid jinx­ing Flori­da for some rea­son? (SI added KU to its list of cov­er jinx­es). Maybe they set­tled on this arrange­ment before Sasha Kaun got hurt, and before CJ Giles pulled a Lawrence Phillips and got him­self kicked off the team?[1] Even so, how does any front line arrange­ment com­pete with Gator paint-dom­i­na­tors Al Hor­ford and Joakim Noah? We'll find out soon enough, I guess, since the teams will meet a week from tomor­row in Vegas. Gulp.[1] Wikipedia's abstract on Lawrence Phillips: "Lawrence Phillips (b. May 12, 1975 in Lit­tle Rock, Arkansas), is a for­mer pro­fes­sion­al Amer­i­can foot­ball and Cana­di­an foot­ball run­ning back who has had numer­ous con­flicts with law enforce­ment." Sor­ta says it all.