Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Which Jayhawk Team Shows Up Tonight?

They call it "Hilton Magic." The place that made legends of such beauts as "The Mayor" Fred Hoiberg, Dedric Willoughby (MTAC's favorite ex-KU opponent player), Jake Sullivan, Kelvin Cato, and Julius Michalik. Iowa State's Hilton Coliseum is a tough place to play, regardless of how poorly the Cyclones are playing. A far superior Texas team was taken to OT there a short two weeks ago. The crowd is boisterous and knowledgeable, maybe a little angry sometimes (then again, you would be too if you were stuck in Ames, Iowa).

Yes, Iowa State is just 14-13, 4-8 in the Big 12. Yes, they have four conference losses at home. Yes, their leading scorer is the great Jiri Hubalek at 13.2 PPG. Yes, KU beat them by 24 in Lawrence a month ago. You know what that all means to us right now? Nothing. The way the Jayhawks have played of late, especially on the road, anything is possible.

It's time for this team to wake up collectively. Darrell Arthur needs to stay out of foul trouble. Mario Chalmers needs to take more shots, especillay from deep. Russell Robinson needs to concentrate on keeping his man in front of him and less on taking bad threes and turning the ball over. Brandon Rush needs to concentrate, period.

With Rodrick Stewart back in Seattle for the funeral of his brother and Sherron Collins still banged up with a bruised knee, you can expect to see more of Tyrel Reed and (gasp!) Jeremy Case. Coach Bill Self has said Collins is "probable," but wouldn't it be wise to let him sit tonight and let him rest for the big showdown with K-State Saturday (which MTAC will be in attendance for?) Reed has shown flashes of brilliance on the offensive end, but still needs to prove he can defend at this level. Earlier this season, guys were blowing by him left and right.

Here's what we'd like to see tonight:

1. Establish the post - pound the ball to Darnell Jackson and Arthur all night long. Work Hubalik into foul trouble as the one thing Iowa State clearly doesn't have is depth in the frontcourt.

2. Apply Full Court Pressure - this is one area where the Jayhawks usually excel, creating turnovers with their quickness on defense, yet we don't see this nearly enough. Stewart's presence will be missed with on the ball pressure, but there is no reason not to give this a shot.

3. Knocking Down Some Open Threes - This part of the KU attack has seemingly disappeared lately. Rush loves camping out there, but it's Chalmers who is the team's best deep shooter. Running some screens to get him open looks from deep would work for me. If Case and Reed are out there, let them fly and see if you can catch lightning in a bottle.

4. Rush Returning to his Lock Down Defender Ways On Wesley Johnson - You can bet the Cyclones 6-7 Wing will be guarded by Brandon Rush all night. Last year, especially late in the season, we saw what Rush can do defensively on anyone from a Point Guard to a Power Forward. Maybe a big game on the defensive end will get the maddeningly inconsistent Rush going.

5. The Sitting of Sherron Collins...For this Game - If you can't beat Iowa State without a 65% Collins, you probably aren't worthy of being amongst the nation's elite. Play Tyrel Reed his minutes. Play some zone to protect you other Guards from foul trouble and you will find yourself in the winner's circle. The bottom line is Collins needs to be as close to 100% in late March as possible. Give him some rest.

The Prediction:

We think we will see an imspired and angry Kansas club tonight that will be firing on all Cylinders. Chalmers, Arthur, and Rush will have big games, and Reed will provide an unexpected spark. This game should be a 20 point blowout, but the way KU lets teams creep back in, we will go with 15.

Kansas 75 Iowa State 60

1 comment:

Hiphopopotamus said...

I agree. Though I'm not sure I'd press tonight. I think I'd rather concentrate on sound defense rather than a "gambing" press. But I'm all for pushing the pace.