Upon initial reaction, glancing at a box score and seeing it read 'Kansas 91 Siena 84' doesn't give you the most positive feeling in the world. Your thoughts are immediately transferred to a place where reputation is all that matters, and when you hear Siena, you're expecting some thirty-point blowout in which the scrubs get in with about five minutes left.
Or, if you are an educated fan who understands that good programs exist outsisde of the conferences discussed on ESPN, maybe you're just a little startled. I mean, Siena is returning every contributing member from last year's team; a team that won the MAAC, a solid conference in its own right, going away and destroyed a 4 seed, Vanderbilt, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. They have a couple of ballers in [insert name here] and [here], and only lost to current #1 and National Title contender Pittsburgh, in the Steel City, by 13. So, yeah, if you knew all of that, you would be more impressed with the Saints than simply by going off a name test.
But even with knowing that, you would still be mildly surprised. It's just natural to expect wins over no-name programs when you're Kansas or North Carolina or Duke or UCLA, no matter how good their resume is. And going into last night, even with all of our youth and the incredible traptitude of last night's game, I fully expected a 15-20 point win. And while it started out better than that, with a 25-1 run and all of that jazz, it ended up way closer than that. Without that huge, dominating run, we lose this game going away. Well, without that or Cole Aldrich. And if we lose this game, all of the happiness and momentum and all of that fun stuff from the Tennessee game are swiftly wiped away, leaving us approximately where we were following our embarrassing loss to Arizona.
Why was it so close? In a word, defense. It wasn't as bad as most are saying it was, but it certainly wasn't pretty. It was our worst performance of the year, and I guess we're allowed a game or two when our defense doesn't show up. As long as we win, I can live with it. Even with the bad D, though, just about everything in this game was both good-and-bad. There were two exceptions; Cole Aldrich and Tyshawn Taylor. You can probably guess why each was an exception.
That, and plenty more of pretty-good, player-by-player content after the break...
If you are an intelligent person, and if you actually had the patience to read through all of that stuff (my posts tend to be quite lengthy, I know), you'll notice I didn't talk about the defense too much. Why? Well, for two reasons. For one, no one played good defense, besides Cole, so I didn't want to have to harp on it person-after-person. And for two, I don't think it was as bad as most people are making it out to be. It wasn't good, that is for sure, and probably wasn't even average, especially for a Bill Self-coached team. But a lot of their scoring simply came from them making absolutely ridiculous shots, and no matter how good of defense you play, you can't control that. Just can't be done. Giving up 84 points is inexcusable, but I would wager that no matter how well we play on D, they score at least 75. They were just on fire last night, sometimes that happens.
Oh, and one final note. I just want to say thanks to everyone who participated in last night's Open Game Thread. 434 (or whatever it was) is an incredible accomplishment, especially considering this little blog consistently got 10-or-so comments a game last year, with almost all of them coming from your's truly. Most of this growth can be attributed to Denver, who is a much more active poster than I am (admittedly) and incredibly adept at getting particpation. Almost all of the recent growth has been post-Denver, so he deserves most of the credit. However, everyone who participated in last night's thread (plus other regular contributors hiphop and KennyGregory) deserves credit as well. This is definitely a more fun place to hang out, now, because of all the discussion and community; it's what makes SB Nation blogs so awesome. Thanks to all of you for making this blog so much more enjoyable, and making writing up posts like this that much easier to do.
So, thanks goes to Warden11, 2.1 seconds left, labbadabba, hiphop, KGRTC, hunter s. royal, giants, wrigleyrocker, Esteban and whoever else I forgot. All of you make this a much better place to hang out. OK, that's like the 3rd time I've said that, so I'm going to stop. Plenty of Spartan content this week, as this game is quite important for our Baby Hawks. Also, hopefully I can get some football postseason content up this week. However, if you are just yearning for it, make sure and check out the
second first best Kansas blog out there, KJ-IBT. Tremendous stuff up there recently by RCT commenter hiphop, including a discussion of this year's burned redshirts and a brilliant post detailing how we will replace all of the departing contributors.
Editor's note: Tags upcoming. My internet is freaking out, so I'll have to wait for it to stop freaking out (smart strategy, I know) before I can put tags in...