This isn't exactly timely or anything groundbreaking (why it's in the fanposts) but I wanted to get it out and on record before moving on to Colorado. Yes, Monday was a terrible game. The team didn't play well on either end of the court and Jacob Pullen lit it up for 38 points. However, a few things before admitting the sky is falling and declaring this team good but not great.
Obviously, the team playing with Thomas Robinson hurt. It hurt a lot due to both losing his production and the foul trouble Marcus and Markieff Morris encountered. Having a limited Josh Selby also hurt more than most people are admitting. Say what you want about how his freshman year hasn't set the world on fire because it's true. People also need to admit that his last few games before his injury were part of the best offensive streak the Jayhawks have had all year. Taking those two out of the game and Kansas has to fill 29 points and 12 rebounds from the game in Lawrence. Is that not significant?
For most teams, that's a solid enough excuse for a team losing in a hostile environment against a team that makes every huge shot they take. For Kansas, that's not enough. But even as bad as the game was, I think KenPom's win probability chart should also ease our minds a little bit if broken down.
The highlighted areas are where the game was effectively lost in my mind. The first one was pointed out at the time in the game thread, the last minute and a half of the first half. After cutting the lead to 6, Bill Self played it safe and removed the MORRI from the game to make sure they didn't pick up a 3rd foul before the half. Unfortunately, that minute made the climb much steeper. The Jayhawks had a great chance to get the win probability line on their side but the following things killed those chances:
Note where Tyrel Reed is standing...
And note where he is after Elijah tries to be like Aaron Rodgers and throws a pass to Jordy Nelson in the first row. So terrible possession immediately following a Jake Pullen turnover. McGruder goes down and hits a 15 footer with a hand in his face. And then:
A pretty good look at a 3 but this is definitely a time where the extra pass could have beneficial. Little's wide open at the top and if the weakside rotates, Reed's wide open. In the end, this was just a miss but it's not a bad shot. A make and this game takes a turn for the good guys. Pullen gets the rebound and draws a foul at the basket, making a free throw.
So to close out the first half, the Morri get pulled to play it safe and the Jayhawks have a terrible possession followed by a missed 3. Maybe I'm too deep into the kool-aid already but get points on these two possessions and this game goes in our favor.
The Morri aren't saints and I've been as critical of their actions as most posters here throughout the season. However, this blog post from Eric Angevine at the CBS College Basketball Blog really struck a nerve with me following the game. His opening line:
If the Kansas Jayhawks do not wish to add to their litany of postseason failures
Really? Yeah, last year sucked. Throw in a couple other early exits but "litany"? A word defined by long and tedious. Come the F on. How many programs would love to have two Elite Eights, a Sweet Sixteen, and a National f'ng Championship since 2004? The postseasons haven't been perfect but if I have to handle a few early exits to win a Championship every 10 years, I'll take it.
Moving on to his larger point, the lack of poise will doom this team. It's something that is entirely possible and it's something that will doom multiple teams in March. He chooses to quote a Keegan comment that equates Markieff's foul to the events from the Cal and Missouri game. Sorry, just not buying that trash this week. Those were dirty, intentional, and outside of play. This author goes on to add:
Since then, his brother has done the same, and younger players like Josh Selby have shown similar issues with emotional restraint.
What has Josh Selby done to get his name thrown into the mud here? Part of a double technical against Texas is the only thing I can think of, other than that he has handled this entire season as well as any teenager could. He has struggled. He has been injured. He was suspended for a time. He has never sulked that I've noticed and never complained from anything I've read. But because he talked some trash (THE HORROR), he's included in two plays that he was nowhere around?
KU does have seniors, but they're a motley crew. Tyrel Reed and Brady Morningstar are sleepy-eyed Kansans who don't seem to have the force of personality or the on-court talent to corral this group of touchy malcontents.
I don't even know what he means by either "motley crew" or sleepy-eyed. Wikipedia tells me a motley crew is a rough assembly of characters. Still no idea. "Sleepy-eyed" for Reed immediately after he was the Jayhawk taking the ball to the rack and diving all over the court on Monday? The worst part of his writing here is that his point about leadership is a good one, leaving it at the players don't follow Reed and Morningstar's lead would be factual. Instead he draws on bullshit cliches to try and sensationalize. Hell, go back to last year and question Tyshawn Taylor if that's the angle you want to play. Instead he picks out two guys that lead by example and calls them this?
He finishes with this gem:
Does anyone now doubt that a full-scale brawl would erupt had something similar happened to a Jayhawk in the Octagon of Doom? That looks like a freshman showing the emotional restraint and leadership this group of Kansas upperclassmen needs to learn and teach to the younger players.
Yeah, I do doubt that. Because Bill Self wouldn't have allowed it to happen for one reason. The other being the Cal game which was a lot chippier and played without incident for the last 10 minutes of the game. Instead, he's going to rely on a quote from Keegan and a few things he's read previously to build up his "warning" for Kansas. This leads me to my biggest problem with the post, using the intentional on Markieff to post that? Using this?
I think he confused this guy with Markieff.
Really John? That's not what the video shows.