Sunday, December 9, 2007

That's More Like it

The Recap: The Kansas team I've been waiting to see all year showed up yesterday in the 84-66 blowout of Depaul. An angry KU team was out to exact revenge on the Blue Demons after blowing a 14 point second half lead in last year's loss in Chicago. The front court was at it again, as Darnell Jackson, Darrell Arthur, and Sasha Kaun put on a dunk contest. Kaun was 6-7 from the field to lead KU with 15 points. Arthur added 13, Brandon Rush had 13 of his own, and Mario Chalmers had 12. The defense was stifling, holding Depaul to two field goals in the last 11 minutes of the first half, while building a 17 point halftime lead and a 24-1 run. However, the biggest surprise of the day was when injured PG Sherron Collins showed up in uniform and played 13 minutes off the bench, scoring six points including two three pointers. A day earlier, Coach Bill Self told the media “I think he’s days away." I guess not.

The Whup

A Sasha Sighting! I thought maybe I was dreaming when I woke up this morning and realized it actually happened. Sasha Kaun was the man in the post for KU yesterday. He actually showed a nice array of post moves and ran the floor well on his way to a team high 15 points. He grabbed five boards and even made three of his four free throws. “He was on a roll. We wanted to run with it as long as we could to see if he’d get some confidence,” Self said of the big Russian.

The defensive swarm. The KU Guards had their defensive pressure going on all game long and Depaul had no answer for it. They turned the ball over 22 times, including 11 KU steals, seven by Mario Chalmers and two by Russell Robinson. Having Collins back is only going to help the full court pressure. With four interchangeable guards in Chalmers, Robinson, Rodrick Stewart, and Collins, KU has a bevy of options defensively.

Mario's all around performance. I have been critical of Mario thus far for his poor decision making and propensity for turning the ball over, but there is no doubt he is one of KU's best scorers. Yesterday, he put together his best all around game of the season. He scored 12 points (including two three pointers), grabbed nine rebounds, dished out seven assists, and nabbed seven steals, several of which led to uncontested KU layups. Said Self: “Today was the best game he’s played all year - by far. And he’s played some other good games, but by far. He impacted the game today by doing a little bit of everything. Best anticipator I’ve ever coached, defensively.”

The offensive flow. I love games like yesterday when everything seems to click. The inside game was dominant. The transition game was in full effect. KU hit 7-18 from downtown. The early part of the second half turned into a dunk show. But what I liked most was seeing Robinson and Chalmers combine to drop 16 assists to just three turnovers.

The Weak Beav

o-1. Seriously, I cannot really say anything went wrong yesterday worth mentioning, but our boy Conner Teahan missed his only three point attempt of the day, moving his season total to 9-12.

Game Quotes - Courtesy of

Sasha Kaun on his breakout game: “He just said don’t get down, don’t put your head down, just regroup. He was pretty positive about it...That’s one of the biggest things - I need to be more active and just get more energy up when I’m playing on the court, and then good things will happen. And that’s what happened today. I was active, I wasn’t slow, that’s the result of it, I think.”

Sherron Collins on how he’s feeling: “I’m about in the range from 85-90 (percent)...I just was in the cast for those two-and-a-half weeks, and didn’t use (my leg) at all, so now just trying to fire back off of it, it’s just weak. So basically I’ve just got to get my quad back firing. Once my quad fires, I’ll be all right.”

Sherron Collins on Sasha Kaun: “We knew Sasha, it was coming from him. He deserves it. Sasha works hard, good attitude, he just wasn’t playing too good. Now that he broke out, I think we’re gonna get even better.

Russell Robinson on Sasha Kaun: “Today, I hope he didn’t tease us. He can play like that every day. We’ve just got to get him going, get him in that mindset.”

Bill Self on Sasha Kaun: “He played good, didn’t he? Got off to a terrible start. I took him out and he was so down. I didn’t know how he would respond when he went back in, but guys did a good job getting him the ball, but after he got his first couple of baskets got a lot of confidence, played with some fire, and I thought he looked great.”

Bill Self on Sherron Collins: “He’s pointed to this game since he had the surgery - ‘I got to get back for DePaul.’ What we thought, that this past Monday he would be back practicing full speed. And he just hadn’t been able to....I told him just go out there and play safe. That’s not really his game, but don’t try to do anything initially and I’m going to play you two-three minutes at a time, and we’ll kind of see where it goes. I think he’s a little frustrated because his body won’t do what the brain tells it to do, but that’s only going to be a few days from now until it does that.”

Bill Self on Mario Chalmers: “Today was the best game he’s played all year - by far. And he’s played some other good games, but by far. He impacted the game today by doing a little bit of everything. Best anticipator I’ve ever coached, defensively.”

Kansas Coming Together - Tom Keegan, Lawrence Journal-World

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