Thursday, January 24, 2008

Ho-Hum...Another 24 Point Win

Recap: I can't say this is getting boring, but KU completely dominated another opponent. This time it was Iowa State and this time it was the Jayhawk frontcourt that took center stage. Darnell Jackson and Darrell Arthur got whatever they wanted in the post. Arthur had 16 in 19 minutes (playing on a tweaked calf muscle); Jackson led KU with 21 points and 11 boards for his first double-double of the year. The KU bigs, including Sasha Kaun and Cole Aldrich outrebounded Iowa State 46-33 and outscored them 42-16 in the paint. All five KU starters scored in double figures. Said PG Russell Robinson: “First of all, you start with unselfish individuals,” Robinson said. “It gets contagious. You see one guy get an assist, you want to get an assist too. It’s just helping each other out. We all love each other and want to see each other do well.”

Highlights can be seen here.

The Whup

D-Block, NBA Prospect - Is it just me, or does the most NBA ready-big man on the Hawks Darnell Jackson? The scouts all love Darrell Arthur, but the man crush looks like he could help an NBA team right now. Last night's 21 and 11 was a classic example of his hardwork and determination. He was diving on the floor, battling for loose balls and rebounds. On the offensive end, he showed his now staple 15 foot automatic jumper to go with a couple of jump hooks. Not to mention, you can just tell the entire team loves him. "He just gets the team motivated everyday, makes sure we focus for practice, makes sure we focus for games, and we just follow him out there. We just follow our senior leader,” said Arthur.

Props go out to Danny Manning - Bill Self has received a lot of accolades for his work with this great team, but credit must be given to assistant coach Danny Manning for the vast improvement of all of KU's big men. Anyone who follows this team cannot argue that Darnell Jackson is the most improved player on the team, maybe in the country. Darrell Arthur started the season out looking passive and taking nothing but jump shots. Over the lats month, you can really see the development of two per moves; a fade-away jumper and a jump hook. Both with his back to the basket and both are unstoppable. Sasha Kaun has finally showed he knows how to maneuver his body in the low post. He has worked on backing down his man and using his great upper-body strength to get close to the basket and finish. Cole Aldrich has shown great smarts on both ends of the floor and a keen ability to be in the right place for a blocked shot.

Balanced Attack - Once again, all five starters scored in double figures. Brandon Rush hit three threes on his way to 11, but added a career-high six assists. Mario Chalmers took just six shots to get his 10 points. Robinson was 4-5 for 11 points. The beauty of this team is that any one can lead this team in scoring, and none of them seem to care. There are no egos here. They are all on the same page with one goal - win a national title. “We do a good job of sharing the ball, and when you’re unselfish like that, good things happen,” said Robinson. Russ knows it, and so do his teammates.

The Weak Beav

Sherron at less than 100% - During the game, I thought it is of the utmost importance that Sherron Collins gets going. He was 1-8 from the field and his shot just has not been falling since he came back from his broken foot. Now it comes up that he was playing on a sprained ankle that was injured last Saturday at Missouri. “He turned his ankle pretty bad. He’s showed guts, I think, by being out there. A lot of athletes it’d be a one- or two-week deal. He won’t miss any time,” coach Bill Self. Too me, it's all about March and being 100% healthy. There is no need for him to play this Saturday at home against Nebraska. Give him a full week off. It's a no brainer. They way Sherron breaks down a defense with his quickness, he needs to be at full strength for when the games really matter.

Game Quotes (courtesy of

Darnell Jackson on the joyous rid that’s been his senior season so far: “It hasn’t sunk in at all. I always tell my mom, I always say ‘Can you believe it?’ And she’ll be like ‘No, I can’t believe it.’ Because it’s just happening out of the blue. I don’t know why it’s happening. Because you never know. I’m just out there, just out there in the routine...I’m free, I don’t feel like anything’s holding me down. My family’s doing great, I’m on track to graduate in May, and just everything is coming true. I’m just trying to stay focused and give everything I have.”

Darnell Jackson on if there’s any added pressure having an undefeated record: “No pressure at all. We don’t even talk about our record in the locker room.”

Darnell Jackson on whether he knew how close he was to a double-double with one rebound to go in the second half: “I knew. A couple of the guys over there kept yelling to me ‘You need one more! One more!’ I wanted to make sure that if I got a chance to get the rebound, I was gonna go up and get it.”

Darrell Arthur on knowing Darnell Jackson would have a special year before it even started: “This summer, I knew he was going to be real special for us. He was doing a lot of working out. Every day, just working out, working out real hard. When I was hurt, I was just watching him work out and I knew he was going to have a big impact for us this year...He just gets the team motivated everyday, makes sure we focus for practice, makes sure we focus for games, and we just follow him out there. We just follow our senior leader.”

Darrell Arthur on his offensive showing: “I was just trying to get more aggressive offensively, I started out real bad with a turnover and an air ball. I just tried to come out stronger than that. Coach Manning just worked me through some things, through some moves during the game and just told me what to do out there. I think that helped me a lot.”

Darrell Arthur on his South Oak Cliff High team from his senior season being stripped of its state title Wednesday due to the use of an ineligible player: “I am mad about it, but I’d have to talk to my coaches and things about it, because I don’t even know what’s going on with that.”

Bill Self on Darnell Jackson’s performance: “He was great. He’s been like that most every game. You’re not gonna always get 20 in a game, but he’s been a 14 (point) and 8 (rebound) guy probably the last month, and tonight offensively he was just tremendous.”

Bill Self on finding something wrong with Wednesday’s performance: “I think our energy level was average at best. That wasn’t the same team defensively that was jacked up to play OU the other day. Now we were pretty efficient defensively, but we didn’t have that same energy level that we had then. So I would say that we could certainly improve in that area. And our guys know it. I mean, if you ask ‘em on a scale of 1-to-10 where our energy level was, with 10 being like it was against OU, it was a 6 or a 7, so we’ve got to do better there. But we were still pretty efficient.”

Bill Self on Brandon Rush’s performance: “I thought Brandon played a good floor game...We’ve got two really efficient guards in Brandon and Mario, and they combined for 13 shots. But the way that they played us, I think that we just took what they gave us.”

Bill Self on Darnell Jackson’s free mind this year: “I got a kick out of him yesterday in practice, because I went nuts on our guys for a few minutes because I hadn’t gone nuts on them in a long time, and he just looked at me and started smiling like he knew exactly what I was doing. He’s just kinda enjoying everything. I can’t get under his skin right now even if I tried, and I’ve tried several times. And I think that’s a good thing. It needs to be water off your back whenever a coach does that, and you can just see the development, where two years ago he’d be saying’ That man’s crazy.’ Now he’s just like ‘Come on, guys, can’t you figure it out?’”

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