We were coming off our first loss of the season, an incredibly emotional streak-ending defeat in Manhattan. We were going into Boulder, a city we have played almost as well in as Manhattan, against the Colorado Buffaloes, potentially the worst team in any of the BCS conferences.
All season long, we have destroyed teams with similar (or even superior) resumes, and the added motivation of the ending of The Streak figured to add to the intensity of our team.
I expected a quick start, a home-court advantage thanks to the thousands of fans trekking to Boulder wearing crimson-and-blue, and a blowout victory, a 25+ point laugher over before the second half began. What we got, instead, was the worst performance of the season by our Jayhawks and a first half where we found ourselves almost exclusively behind. We didn't play up to our potential Wednesday night, sure, but we lost mostly because the Powercats played phenomenally. Yesterday, the 13 point victory was created almost solely by our porous offense, namely our incalculable (The Office reference) misses inside a foot. We looked complacent the entire game, only appearing our real selves for possessions at a time, refusing to completely break free from the flux our team has been caught in since The Streak-breaker.
Here are my thoughts on the game, and most of them won't be pretty. I am much more pissed off after yesterday's horrendous performance than the "just decent" one in Manhattan.
Yesterday's performance was more than horrible, and it starts at the top. First off, let me preface by saying how much I love Bill Self. He is a wonderful coach, an even better recruiter, and an awesome guy. But we need something to change, something different in the routine, something drastic to turn around our troubling play of the last two days. Tomorrow, Missouri comes to town in a quick-turnaround game, a game that we have to dominate from the opening tip. Our team is in a funk right now, and no matter the reason why we entered into it, we need to break free. And the sooner the better. Blly needs to do something different, what is up to him.
I really don't know what Russell Robinson is going through. He has now put together two consecutive downright awful games. In response to his awful Wednesday night, he decided to follow it up with an even worse game Saturday, picking up a single point on a free throw, missing his only 2 field goal attempts of the game. He did dish out 4 assists, which is at least somewhat productive, but his entire body of work left a bunch to be desired. I trust him to bounce back eventually, but Monday night would be a great time to do it.
The rest of the guards played average, and Mario Chalmers played below. Brandon, despite scoring 15 points, missed at least 2 or 3 layups, shots that he should make every single freakin' time. Sherron played pretty poorly in the first half before a banged-knee forced him to sit out until halftime, but he played great in the second. Surprise, surprise; we are tied in the first half with a poor Sherron Collins, and as soon as he starts to play like he is capable, we pulled away from the over-matched Buffaloes. But gong back to Brandon, he really needs to pick it up. He is the player we look to most when we need a basket, and everytime we went to Brandon, in search of a bucket, we came up empty, occasionally even driving to the basket untouched, only to miss a bunny. Our guards play as a unit is the biggest reason between our 20-0 start and the last two dreadful games, and it needs to revert back to its original form if we are really a legit Final Four candidate.
As for the bigs, Darnell Jackson and Sasha Kaun played well, while Darrell Arthur struggled (again). Arthur has all of the talent and potential in the world, more than any of his frontcourt mates, but struggles to not make the stupid mistake. Yesterday, he reverted back to last season's form, picking up dumb fouls 35 feet from the basket and shying away from contact around the basket. All year long, and last year too, Darrell Arthur has preferred the fadeaway 10 footer to the contact-filled four foot layup. He has one of the better back-to-the-basket games in all of college basketball, but he needs to learn how to score in the paint with contact involved. Darnell and Sasha played tremendous basketball, especially Sasha, and were the biggest reasons why we weren't upset in the high-altitude world of Boulder, Colorado. The most interesting stat of the day was Darnell Jackson's perfect 10-10 from the free throw line, further shoring up one of the biggest weaknesses on this team. After a 17-20 (85%) performance in Manhattan, one of the few positives in The Streak-ender, we shot 21-25 from the charity stripe against Colorado.
I wanted to get to more today, but it is Super Bowl Sunday and I am going to just stop there. Our team performance, as a whole, was dreadful Saturday afternoon, most likely a hangover effect from the tragedy Wednesday night. We shouldn't have freaked out after a loss to a very good Kansas State team, who had an emotional letdown themselves Saturday afternoon, losing on the road in Columbia against an undermanned Tigers club, but we obviously did.
Mizzou preview coming up a little later, we need to actually dominate the opponent tomorrow, not be tied at halftime or anything stupid like that.