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Last Night Sure was Fun...

..."That's What She Said"

More seriously though, that was the best we've seen our Jayhawks play all season and we might not see them play quite that well all year. Sure, we will have stretches of dominance like last night from time to time, but we probably won't get to see a full game of utter domination, especially the first half with the starters. I have to admit, I was worried coming into last night. They had only lost once all season and we hadn't played real well on offense in awhile. Last night we showed once and for all that we can be a national title contender, with the key word being "can". If we play like that we could and would beat every team in the country, but the reality of it is we won't play like that and we need to start sneaking out of places (aka DePaul) where we didn't play the greatest with a win because every Tournament winner has at least one close call sometime during that 6 game winning streak. Here is the box score from last night's game.

Sasha Kaun - Grade: A+
The first perfect score I've given out all year and it goes to...Sasha Kaun? That was definately the best game of the season and might have been his best game ever. That 1st half was amazing for him, he scored 14 of his 16 points and shot 6-7 in the first 20 minutes, compared to 2 points on 1-1 shooting in the 2nd half. He didn't play a lot in the 2nd half because of the humongous lead, but his play was the second biggest thing after defense in the first half. In our offense, Sasha is our 5th option. I'm sure Oklahoma State watched plenty of film and figured it out, and they ignored him a lot early in the game. If Sasha can put up numbers like that, we are basically unstoppable on offense because if they have to pay attention to him then one of the 4 wing players can score from outside almost every time down the court. He played pretty good defense too, he had 3 blocked shots and made their big guy Mario Boggan shoot outside more than he wanted to. This performance wouldn't be an A+ for a kid like Super Mario, but for Sasha it certainly is.

Darnell Jackson - Grade: A
DJack posted himself one of his best games of his career last night by shooting 5-5 and scoring 10 in 19 minutes of action. He is a very valuable member of our rotation, as I've said before him and Sasha are the only guys who can play defense and/or post up against the true "bigs" in college basketball (aka 280+) and with Sasha only playing around 20 a game Darnell needs to play those other 20. Last night they played a combined 45 minutes, meaning they overlapped a little bit, but I bet if you looked at the combined minutes since Sasha got back from the knee injury it would be pretty close to 40 each game. That one dunk off of the miseed Sherron Collins shot was B-E-A-utiful and he grapped 4 rebounds. Perhaps the best stat for DJack though, he got 0 fouls the entire game. 0. His job is to play as long as he can and bruise and bang without getting in foul trouble, and he did that to perfection last night. Props to DJack.

Brandon Rush - Grade: A-
I think Brush reads this blog, I really do. I have been advocating him taking more shots repeatedly on this blog and he finally seems to be listening to us fans and shooting. Last night was basically a perfect game from him, he shot more (only 4-8 but he also shot 10 FT's) and seemed to be a key part of our offense every time down the court. The reason he got an A- is because his defense wasn't A material, but if he plays like that offensively we will be fine. Another key part of his game is that he rebounds and he does it very well. Especially when Sasha is out of the game, we have a lineup without a bruiser to get the tough rebounds and Brush helps pick up the slack, last night grabbing 6 boards.

Super Mario - Grade: B+
Although his scoring was way down from some of his recent games (7 points) he played absolutely magnificent (SAT word) on defense. This time his performance was on national TV with not a whole lot else to watch, so hopefully people are going to start recognizing just how good this guy is defensively and just as a complete player. Last night's performance is a perfect example of what color commentators say every freaking game "Even if you're having a bad day shooting, you can still help out the team by playing good defense and distributing the ball." I would say he did that with a 6:1 assist to turnover ratio and 6 steals, numbers that will certainly help your team get a W.

Julian Wright - Grade: B+
Like my description of his performance against South Carolina, this guy might be the most athletic role player in the history of college basketball. He is one of the most freakish (a good thing in basketball) athletes I've ever seen, yet he puts up a line of 7 points and 6 rebounds and I'm happy. Why? He isn't our first option and he isn't our second option, he is our third option at most times on the court and his job isn't to score, it is to find people cutting to the basket (that's how Sasha got the majority of his points) and to play good defense. He blocked 4 of the 9 blocked shots we had on the team, a number that can only raise our average and keep us climbing up the Top 5 (we were #5 before last night's game in blocks per game). He is getting better every game at rebounding the ball and as long as he can do that and score around 10, he is doing a fine job.

Sherron Collins - Grade: B-
Sherron played pretty well off of the bench, but like usual he had times where he just looked way too "Freshmanish". Maybe it is because we are spoiled and Darrell Arthur doesn't make a whole lot of freshman mistakes, but SC makes quite a bit of them and it is frustrating to watch. He shot OK (4-7 from field 2-2 from 3 point range) and scored 10 points and dished out 6 assists. However, he also turned the ball over 3 times making his assist to turnover ratio 2:1, not horrible but not that great either. One interesting note though, and it isn't as vital because this was a blowout and we played backups in the 2nd half, but SC played more minutes than RR. When I go over game film (I'll try to do that for all Big 12 games) I'll see when exactly he was in.

Russell Robinson - Grade: C+
Don't get me wrong, RR is still vital to this team's success. It does seem, however, that since Mario is maturing so rapidly right in front of us that he could run this team if he had to, which takes away from RR's value a little bit. RR's value is partly because no one else can (or at least could) lead this team without worrying about their own shot, it is just human to want to get yours. Super Mario might be able to handle that challenge now, but that also might be because RR has a case of the flu still. He usually plays a full 40 or at least close to it, but last night he only played 18 minutes. Part of the reason was because it was a blowout and he didn't play a lot in the 2nd half. Another part is also because he is hurt and this also caused him to get into semi-foul trouble in the 1st half limiting his minutes. Don't discount though that Self wants to test and see if Super Mario and Sherron Collins can work in the same backcourt because that would certainly be a more explosive backcourt and what we lose in defense we might gain in offense. Just an idea to throw out there.

Darrell Arthur - Grade: C
Just a plain, average day from Slim Shady. He didn't shoot that well at all (3-8 from floor 0-4 from the line) and that led to just 6 points in 14 minutes. He also only grabbed 1 board compared to 3 fouls and had 2 assists to 1 turnover. When he is on he is on, but nights like these we need other guys off of the bench to take his place and DJack did that last night. More often than not though, he will turn a better performance than last night.

Next game is Saturday afternoon when we make a visit to Hilton Coliseum to play the Iowa State Cyclones. I am going to try and get a film study session in tomorrow and tell you what I saw from that, it sure will be a fun game to do it with.

Rock Chalk!