Thursday, January 31, 2008

Ding Dong....The Streak is Dead


The Recap: 24 years of frustration in Manhattan has finally come to an end for Kansas State. Thanks to two of the best Freshman you will ever see, Michael Beasley and Bill Walker, the Wildcats ended Kansas' pursuit of perfection and the dreaded streak of 24 straight home losses to the Jayhawks. Not one player on either team was born when the streak started. Beasley and Walker were sensational. The 6'10 stud and future NBA #1 pick led all scorers 25 points on 9-18 shooting. He nailed all four threes he took.

When Beasley was struggling in the first half, shooting 3-10, it was Walker who picked up the slack, scoring 12 of his 22 points. His athleticism at the power forward position gave KU's Darrell Arthur fits all night long. Shady played on 17 minutes thanks to foul trouble. He picked up three in the first half and a quick fourth upon entering the game six minutes into the second half. Fellow Freshman PG Jacob Pullen ran a beautiful floor game and scored a career high 20, including 10-10 from the line. The Cats played their best game of the season, nailing a season-high 12 three pointers ad outrebounding KU 28-26.

On the KU side, they struggled all night with foul problems. Arthur had four, Russell Robinson and Mario Chalmers both fouled out, and Sasha Kaun and Darnell Jackson had two fouls each in the first half. Chalmers led KU with 19. Brandon Rush had 15 points, but he had 12 at the half and his other three came on a deep ball with 20 seconds left. Sherron Collins and Arthur each had 12.

The Whup

Sherron and Mario - I think we all saw last night that KU's offensive firepower runs at it's peak when Sherron Collins and Mario Chalmers are on the floor together. These two kept KU in the game in the second half when a 12 point deficit could have turned into 20. Chalmers had 19 points on just nine shots. Both guys continued to go strong to the hole and either score or draw contact.

On Beasley - The much-hyped stud lived up to all of the hype. He struggled in the first half, being guarded closely by both Arthur and Sasha Kaun and shot just 3-10. He never showed any frustration, he just kept playing his game. In the second half, he exploded and couldn't be stopped. Beasley makes everything look so easy. He is very smooth, has NBA three point range and amazing low post skills. This kid is destined for stardom.

On Walker - Beasley gets all of the hype, but Bill Walker is the key to making K-State a legit top 15 team. When Beasley couldn't get going in the first half, Walker used his three point shooting and quickness off the dribble to keep the Wildcats ahead. He had 12 first half points. The only thing that stopped him was three first half fouls. Walker to me is a lock for the lottery.

The Pressure is off - I am never one to say there us such thing as a good loss, but this is as close as you can get. This was the biggest game in Manhattan in 20 years. This is the best K-State team in 20 years, featuring two lottery picks including the future #1 pick in the draft. The crowd was as crazy as you will ever hear. They made 12 three pointers. It is not as if KU lost to a bad Nebraska or Iowa State team. K-State is legit. You are going to lose games during a season. It just happens. Now the pressure of an undefeated season is off. It's always good to get a mid-season wakeup call. The good news is champions are crowned in April, not January.

I love Rod Stewart - In the first half, with Chalmers and Robinson picking up two fouls each, Bill Self went to the Senior guard for a six minute stretch and he came up big again. He was very aggressive on the glass and on defense, including a tip-in that tied the scored late in the first half. Every team should have a guy like Rod. Smart, hungry, and doesn't make mistakes. He doesn't care that he gets limited run and is the ultimate team player.

The Weak Beav

Brandon, you awake? - At halftime, I was praising Rush for his aggressive play, solid rebounding, big three point shots, and 12 points. By the end of the game, everything he did in that first half was erased by his disappearing act in the second half. He played 37 minutes, but I literally don't remember a thing he did in the last 20 minutes. Other than a meaningless three with 20 seconds left, he didn't score.

Offensive post play - Part of the reason for the lack of a post game was Arthur's foul trouble, but Shady, Sasha Kaun, and Darnell Jackson didn't do much all night offensively. I figured we would see a lot of pounding the ball right at Beasley to try to get him into foul trouble, but that wasn't the case. Jackson in particular was non-existant. Where were his 15 foot jump shots? In 30 minutes, he took just two shots. Kaun took just one shot in 20 minutes and seemed to be turning the ball over every time he touched it. Arthur had 12 and seven boards in 17 minutes. No doubt the Jayhawks missed him.

Not His Best Game - Russell Robinson's heart will never be questioned, but nobody will ever confuse his shot with J.J. Redick. When Russ is talking eight shots, it's probably not a good thing. He was 1-8, 0-3 from deep, had just three assists to two turnovers, and fouled out in 26 minutes. Russ is usually very under control, but at times seemed to get too wound up by the K-State defense and the crowd, forcing the action when it didn't need to be forced. I think this game was an aberration for him.

More Turnovers Than a Bakery - It's not as if the Jayhawks turn the ball over this often every game, but the crowd really seemed to get into their heads at times. They committed 16 turnovers and it was an equal opportunity thing. Eight players commtted the 16, six with two each, Chalmers leading the way with three.


A Season High - This was the Jayhawks worst defensive performance of the season by a mile. K-State dropped a season high 84 points on them and had three players score 20 or more points. They hadn't allowed more than 70 points in a game other than the opener against Louisiana-Monroe where they won 108-78.

Analysis: No need for overreaction. Its one game. On the road, against a legit team. I think we saw that last night K-State is for real. Everytime KU got close, they'd hit a three. The refs KILLED Kansas as well. During the course of the season, you aren't going to play your best every night. Not to mention they played the game of their lives. Beasley had 26, Bill Walker (who is a STUD) had 22, and Pullen had 20. Not like these guys aren't talented. Not to metion, did you see that crowd? It was INSANE.

When KU lost in 96-97 to a Missouri team that was 9-8 at the time, did you freak out? No way. KU lost to a team that has found itself and is a top 15 team, no doubt about it. This wasn't a loss at Nebraska. Yes, Russell Robinson didnt play well, Rush failed to show in the second half, and Shady couldn't stay out of foul trouble, but they had the ball with four minutes to go and a six point deficit. Shady dropped an easy pass for a layup, and at the other end, a loose ball ended up in Beasley's hands, who nailed a three, his fourth in four tries. So they lost one game. So what. You think we will have to play in an environment like that in March? NOPE.

Stay the course. Its not a bad loss and they've gotten their loss out of the way. They will be just fine.

Game Quotes (courtesy of KUsports.com)

Bill Self’s general summary of the game: “K-State was just a better team than we were tonight. You could say defense, you could say offensively. Their defense was good, but we still shot an excellent percentage, but we got sped up, though, and it was one of those atmospheres where that could easily occur...I don’t know if you could pinpoint one thing other than, to me, of the 50-50 balls, they got 70 or 80 percent of them. And it seemed to me like they scored an awful lot off of loose balls, and that’s something we usually are pretty good at but we weren’t tonight.”

Bill Self on when the game truly turned: “We didn’t lose the game in the first half. We lost it in the first 10 minutes of the second half.”

Bill Self on K-State’s guard play: “I thought they had good guards coming in. I thought their guards definitely did a good job of handling the ball and getting the ball to the right guys and everything.”

Bill Self on whether this loss can be a good thing: “I would say yes if we get better from it. If we don’t get better from it I’d say no. There’s plenty of things we can work on, and become hopefully tougher. We will not play in an environment like this again this year. I mean, this was fabulous. There will be some other good ones we go to, but this was fabulous. I couldn’t even hear the whistle blow. And our guards probably didn’t communicate with the guys as well as possible to get everybody on the same page. And we can’t blame that. We still simplified that and got the ball where we needed to be for the most part, they were just better than us tonight.”

Sherron Collins on what KU did wrong: “We weren’t as physical as we should have been. Our guards didn’t do a good job of cleaning up on loose rebounds. We just need to block out more, and we didn’t make shots when we needed to.”

Sherron Collins on the loss as a wake-up call: “It’s just a wake-up call, something we needed. We needed a game like this. We’ve got good teams in our league, but I don’t think this is a loss that will hurt. We’ve just got to pick up, stay positive, get another good win here.”

Sherron Collins on what the guards could have done different: “We should have been more poised. We rushed the shots a lot, took bad shots, bad passes, we just made bad decisions.”

Sherron Collins on Jacob Pullen hurting KU: “It was our fault. He just did stuff that we couldn’t guard or couldn’t deal with. We just made stupid plays. We fouled him, put him on the line and he went 10-of-10 from the free throw line, and that’s a good percentage there. Just making bad reach-ins, just making bad plays.”

Brandon Rush on what happened to him offensively in the second half: “I guess they kind of had a defensive adjustment on me, and I didn’t take many shots in the second half and I wasn’t staying aggressive at all. It was kinda frustrating, but I still had to play through it, because I was just trying to help my team win.”

Mario Chalmers on whether the pressure is gone now with the unblemished record no longer an issue: “We’ve still got pressure on us. We know we’ve still got a lot to do. We’ve still got to win the Big 12, then go and win the tournament after that.”

Mario Chalmers on Jacob Pullen: “Yeah, he definitely surprised us tonight. We really didn’t expect him to do that much tonight. We knew he was an OK player and that he could get to the paint anytime he wanted to. Tonight he just had a good night.”

Mario Chalmers on the rematch on March 1 in Lawrence: “That meeting will be a totally different meeting. When we meet them at our place, we’ve played them once already, we know what to expect and we know how to take care of them.”

3 comments:

Hiphopopotamus said...

Couldn't agree more. Directly after the game I had an emotional reaction and started to worry that this loss resembled Bradley and smoewhat UCLA. After sleeping on it, I've made my peace and am anxious to see them correct their obvious mistakes.

Publius said...

Didn't KU win the 1988 Nat'l Championship? Weren't you 12 years old at the time? If so, then how are you waiting for your first championship?

MTAC said...

i didn't become a KU fan until i went to school there in 1994