OK, basically, I dominated this post. I spent hundreds of words discussing that, first and foremost, we have had a pretty impressive season. 24-3 is absolutely nothing to sneeze at, and I always expected us to lose at least a couple of conference games. Three losses in conference should mean you are in contention for the conference crown, which we are, although our chances decreased substantially last night as the Longhorns took down the Powercats tonight in Manhattan in their final tough road game of the year.
But, and this was the part I took 500+ words dissecting, the problem certainly isn't the 24-3 record and three road losses in tough conference play. The problem is the general play by our team, which has been porous in a depressing seven-game stretch starting with our first loss of the season, the Streak-Breaker in Manhattan, and continuing through Saturday's loss in Stillwater, the most depressing outing to date. So, instead of trying to recall how I outlined the difference between our seemingly-impressive 24-3 record and the harsh reality of our play our last seven games.
So, with my abridged opening out of the way, here we go to the player-by-player game recaps...
Russell Robinson: Yet again, Russell was downright awful for stretches, allowing Byron Eaton to squirt right past him into the lane time-after-time. Eaton shot 18 free throws Saturday afternoon, draining 16 of them, and the biggest reason for that is Mr. Jayhawk himself. I think now would be a good time to seriously rest him for a game or so, giving him only limited minutes off the bench. He rushes so much whenever things don't break his way, and that isn't what teams need out of their senior leader and point guard. So, hopefully he can turn it around, and fast. Russell's offense was fine, I guess, but not nearly enough to make up for his embarrassing defense.
Mario Chalmers: While not playing horribly, Mario certainly did nothing to clearly put us over the edge. He was in foul trouble for much of the game, and he turned the ball over 4 times, while only taking the ball away once. Not the kind of ratio we are used to seeing from Super, and one that needs to change. Plus, he shot only 1-3 from beyond the arc. Of course, our team as a whole shot a horrendous 2-11 from the three-point line, so comparatively he was an All-Star. Plus, his pass at the end of the game to Brandon was off, and with a good pass and a clean catch, that shot might go down and we are talking about a whole different game right now. Just FYI, a post about our inept three-point shooting in close games later this week, most likely tomorrow.
Brandon Rush: Brandon basically played two different games Saturday. There was the vast majority of his 32 minutes, all of the first half and most of the second, where he struggled to hit any shot and was generally ineffective on offense. Then there was the hot Brandon, the Brandon that has the potential and ability to carry this team on his back to the Final Four. Regarding the last-second play, he certainly could have caught the ball, and probably should have, and even after the fumble the shot still had a chance to go through the basket. But it wasn't his fault that the desperation heave didn't fall, and his hot-streak near the end of the second half was the only reason we were even in that position. The main thing with Brandon is consistency, if he could just play like that more often and/or for longer stretches, we could reach the point where we were during our 20-0 run. But until then, it probably ain't gonna happen.
Sherron Collins: While much of this season is still up in the air, and uncertainty surrounds this team and its "true identity", one thing is painfully clear. Sherron Collins is not 100% healthy. Not even close. I would consider 75% a stretch, and anyone who saw the kid be dynamite off the bench last season knows that this year's version is slower, less agile and, most importantly, lacking a significant amount of lateral quickness. SC's entire game is to follow the five D's of dodgeball into the lane, and when he can't do that he becomes an average basketball player, on both sides of the court. And you can't really blame him, just question the decision to continue to give him playing time.
Darnell Jackson: First off, I just want to reiterate just how sorry I am for D-Block and his family, with his cousin dying during the week. He has the worst luck regarding this kind of stuff, and it is amazing someone has to go through this much suffering and this much pain. But even with all of that going on around him, he was easily the best Jayhawk on the court Saturday afternoon, putting up a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds. I just want to say that D-Block, you are my hero and, without a doubt, my favorite basketball player on this Kansas team, maybe of all time. And selfishly, I hope that this is one those things that gives a team something to play and fight for, because right now it seems we are letting the opposition do the playing and fighting.
Sasha Kaun: I have been really hard on Sasha, and for good reason IMO. He just isn't as talented as Cole, pure and simple, and at the very least Cole provides another big body to further prevent fatigue. But Sasha didn't play terrible on Saturday, putting up a pretty-Sasha line of 4 points, 5 rebounds and 4 fouls. I still stand behind my guy, Cole Aldrich, but at least Sasha is holding his own.
Darrell Arthur: As this season has progressed, it has become more and more evident just how important Darrell Arthur is to this team. A good game for DA, we win. A bad game, not so much. This has held true for the two times we lost, except the game down in Austin where he seemed like he was the only one who wanted to win. But Saturday afternoon certainly wasn't a Texas-like performance for Arthur, as he again reverted back to his freshman habits of committing stupid fouls in stupid places, namely 35 feet away from the frickin' basket. 6 points, on only one made field goal, along with 4 rebounds and 5 fouls, certainly won't get the job done, now or any time soon, and he was the biggest reason we lost. Not to mention the stupid and retarded technical foul he picked up, even though I am still completely unsure about what he actually did to warrant getting T'd up.
Cole Aldrich: Cole played only 9 minutes, and those 9 were pretty forgettable as I remembered him playing only a handful at best. But he was perfect from the field, making his only shot of the night, and picked up 3 rebounds. I don't want to keep dishing out the same reasons why he should play more than Sasha, so I will just stop now. But seriously, Cole over Sasha.
So, basically what it comes down to is this. I am still really pissed that I didn't get a chance to post my post I had set up earlier, which I thought I actually did a good job on. But, someday I'll get over it, maybe even today, and life moves on. And in regards to the Jayhawks, plenty of stuff will be coming tomorrow, Tuesday night, although it might not actually involve the Cyclones. I simply don't have a time to get to all of the stuff I want to, and while in the past I have sacrificed more fun, original content for game previews (rarely) I don't think I will want to do that tomorrow. So, be ready for a brief preview of the Cyclones along with some more serious thinking regarding our seemingly wrecked season, despite the 24-3 sitting next to our names, along with the #6(or #7).