After a streak of four consecutive hideous road performances, it was nice to actually show up somewhere besides Allen Field House for once. We played awesome at times, drilling open shots from the perimeter and freely feeding the key to our success, Darrell Arthur in the post. We made 7 of our 11 shots from behind the three-point line, and DA had 18 points and 10 rebounds on 18 shots, easily the most on the team.
In my opinion, DA should take more shots than anybody else every game. Every single time down the court, with Arthur in the game, the ball should touch his hands and if he has a shot, green-light him. Bottom line, as talented as our entire team is, specifically the perimeter-oriented Brandon Rush and Mario Chalmers and a healthy Sherron Collins, no one possesses the abundance of moves and ways to score as he does on our team. His face-to-the-basket game certainly will take some improvement before he becomes a truly elite player, but if anyone in college basketball is better with their back-to-the-basket, I have yet to watch them play. His fadeaway is an unblockable killer when DA is 'on', and he has established several other moves under the tutelage of Danny Manning.
So, combine a good game by Darrell Arthur and a three-point shooting fest from behind the arc (Rush and Chalmers both went 3-4), and you get a victory. The fact that it was only an 11-point win was due to two factors:
1) We turned the ball over way too much. 13 times is unacceptable, especially when the opponent only coughs it up 8 times. SC, with 4 turnovers, is the main culprit of the carelessness, and further proof that a game or two off would probably do him a world of good. After seeing everything he did last season, carving defenses game-after-game and sneaking into the lane at will, he is simply not the same player. But more on that later.
2) We were on the road, meaning that despite hitting the two biggest items on our checklist, we couldn't demolish the opponent. Iowa State is one of the worst teams in the Big 12, and despite Darrell Arthur blowing up and shooting 7 for 11 from three-point range, an 11-point victory is all we could muster. Of course, we also had a 20 point lead at one point during the second half, before a hot streak by the Clones at the end of the game made it seem closer than it truly was.
But, let's move back to the Sherron Collins topic. He was our best guard most of the time last year, and following a summer of improvement and conditioning, he was expected to be even better this season. Then, his season was quickly derailed by injuries. First a possible sprained ankle in the UMKC game then uncovered a stress fracture in his foot, while he sat out until the Depaul game. After that, a sprained left ankle and then a bruised knee further inhibited his acceleration and quickness. And still, after more injuries than Rocco Baldelli, I would still prefer him out on the court than the incredibly deteriorated Russell Robinson. For some reason, the Mr. Jayhawk award winner two straight years has played like crap for awhile now, impersonating a matador on defense and missing most open shots on offense.
While the team, as a whole, performed much better Wednesday night, especially compared to our recent performances away from Allen Field House, Russell didn't fare much better. He pulled down a surprising 10 rebounds, so at least he contributed in some way, while dishing out 5 assists and "only" turning the ball over twice. But, still, he only scored 5 points, missing all 4 of his attempts from the field. His senior leadership and "dirty-work" deserves some time out on the court, sure, and if his defense can be bumped back up to early-season form 30 minutes isn't overkill. But until he can recapture that defensive prowess, which I must admit was better on Wednesday night, he deserves to start off the game sitting next to Bill Self. Seriously.
One last thing. Why did Cole Aldrich only play 4 minutes, most of them coming at the end of the game? Honestly, what does he not do that Sasha does? Cole is a better defender, a better finisher around the basket, and a better rebounder. I love Sasha, and I understand the fact that he is a senior and Cole is only a freshman, but shouldn't you put your best players out on the court? Is Cole the worst practicer of all time? Or is Sasha the best? Why am I asking so many questions?
Later on tonight and tomorrow morning we will start talking about the Powercats, who pay a visit to Allen Field House tomorrow night, along with the Gameday crew. We badly need a demolishing of the Powercats, and with how loud it will be, I see it happening.