Good Morning all you RCT-ers out there. Apologies for missing my moment on the Baylor game. I went to a friend's house over the weekend and was not made aware there was no internet connection.... To make it up to you, here are my 10 observation on the Jayhawks 3-OT win over the Sooners.
1) Mason Not Himself on Offense
From Kansas' first offensive possession, Frank simply looked off on the offensive side of the ball. His mistakes weren't so glaring as they were head-scratching, especially coming from a guy who makes such good decisions with the ball in his hands. Let's recap Frank's first few offensive possessions. 1) Passes up and open 3 in favor of a long 2 that he badly misses. 2) Misses short on a close runner. 3) Throws an extremely errant lob pass that's easily intercepted.
Initially I would have said that the stresses of guarding Buddy Hield threw off his offensive game, but Frank didn't play a great offensive game even when Selden had the tall task of slowing down #24. However, the responsibility of Hield did eventually weigh on Frank, as he only made 1 of his last 10 shots and finished 5-20 from the floor. But being the winner that he is, Frank made the play that wrapped up one of the greatest games in KU history.
2) Ellis, As Usual Was Better from the Outside
Perry was much better when he made the simpler play and took what the defense gave him. On the first few possessions, even though he was given plenty of space, he decided to take the ball inside with little success. However, once he recognized that the Sooners were giving him plenty of room to get his shot off, he began taking advantage of it, and for a few minutes absolutely took over the game.
This was quite reminiscent of his performance against San Diego State, when he elected to beat the Aztecs from the outside. These few minutes made it even more frustrating when Ellis abruptly abandoned his outside game in favor of the drive, spin and miss/get blocked. I fully understand Perry's desire to drive the basketball, but in his case it is a "if it's not broke don't fix it" situation. It was not as is OU was playing Perry extremely tightly on the perimeter after he made a few outside shots. If that were to have been the case, I would have no problem with Perry taking it inside. However, Ellis was continuously given plenty of space to operate on the perimeter and passed it up.
Without a lot of games left on the schedule, just one time I would love to see Perry live from the mid-range and further for an entire 40 minutes. I think that his game will open up immensely if he puts a little George Niang into his game to the point where he forces his defender to jump out on him and give him easier paths to the basket.
3) Traylor's Best Game of the Season
With Jamari Traylor, there will always be some give and take. He's not a super polished player offensively, but when he focuses on rebounding and defense he can be an X-factor. Last year, I think Traylor struggled because he put himself under too much stress to contribute on the offensive side of the ball. This year, his offensive Usage is down, but is rebounding, blocks and PER are all improved. This team is full of scorers who can put the ball in the basket, and Traylor is free to focus on what he does best, do the dirty work.
It's not often a guy gets the majority of his highlights on the defensive end, but the rejections that Jamari had in this game were nothing short of sensational. It was a scary sight to see his two-handed block end up with him on his back, but to come down and deny an almost surefire jam a few seconds later was amazing. I couldn't believe Traylor played only 15 minutes because he affected the game so much when he was a part of it. Jamari has worked so hard to get where he is, and I am genuinely happy that he had such a positive role in a game that will be remembered forever.
4) Graham Started Terribly, Got Better As Game Went On
After a nice pull up 3 to start the game hot, Devonte's 1st half went downhill from there. He was a little loose with the ball, made 2 bad passes en route to 4 first half turnovers, and missed the only other shot he took. What is even more shocking about that figure is the fact that Graham had 9 turnovers ALL YEAR going into the matchup with the Sooners. That may have been Graham's worst half of his young career in Lawrence
However, In the 2nd half and OT combined, Graham went 5-10 with 19 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal and 0 turnovers. The scary thing about Graham is that for him, those aren't even mind-boggling stats. Albeit some extra points because of more shots taken, that's a pretty good estimate for what he averages on a 40MPG basis. What doesn't show up in his box score however are some of the absolutely clutch plays that he made down the stretch. The strip, steal, and-1 to put the Jayhawks up 73-72 was a huge moment, as was his 3 to tie the game in OT after Hield knocked one down. While only a sophomore, Graham showed why he's the starting 2 guard on this team, as few guys could have responded the way he did last night.
5) Buddy Hield
No words, no words for the display that this guy put on in Allen Fieldhouse. Like everyone else I take my hat off to what Hield did when he put up 46 big points in the Phog. The guy scored in every way imaginable, from 3, from 2, in transition, off the dribble, on the put-back, everything.
As well as Selden has shot the ball this year, and as well as Greene shot it through a 7 game stretch when he went 17-24 last year, I have never been convinced that a ball was going in as I was when Hield let it go on Monday night.He made multiple shots that simply wouldn't even have been thought about by an average basketball player, that's how good he was. I can only remember being as scared of an individual player one time, and that was by Kevin Durant. While I don't think Buddy Hield will have the pro career Durant does, he looked like a superstar last night, and I can't wait to watch him tear up the rest of the Big 12.
6) Selden's Body Control Is Much Improved
Given the nature of the game, Selden scored the quietest 21 points I've seen in a long time. Reminded me of the Kenny Gregory performance when he would put up 18 and everyone would look around and say I don't remember that. But getting back on track, Selden, for the first time looks like he knows how to use that NBA body of his.
The way he uses longer, slower strides, and subtler contact to create space is a much welcome change from his more brutish style he used in the past. Furthermore, when getting into the paint, Selden is doing a much better job of gathering himself and going up straight up for his shots. On a few instances, it looked like Selden was focusing on gathering himself and facing up to the basket so much, that he was actually on his way down from the apex of his jump when releasing the ball.
As a matter of fact, I believe Kenny Gregory used to do that exact same thing. Not sure what's got me thinking of good ole Kenny, but if Wayne can shoot from 2 like he did, and continue to shoot from 3 like he knows how, he'll continue his great season
7) Lucas Earns His Minutes
When Landen was put into the game with 13:30 to go in the 2nd half, I was extremely surprised. After 2 fairly brutal offensive possessions and a quick hook in the 1st frame, I couldn't believe he was going back into the game with the Jayhawks down 7 and struggling to score. However, if you ever needed proof as to why some of us are bloggers and some of us are Bill Self, Landen's performance from the 13:30 mark on is your best evidence.
After going back into the game in the 2nd half, Landen had 5 points, 8 boards, 1 assist, 1 steal and 1 block and did not turn the ball over. While making the mistake which could have proven the most costly - when he fouled Khadeem Lattin with 2 seconds left, Landen earned every minute of playing time and no doubt helped Kansas secure this win.
7) Buddy Hield Killed Us, Isaiah Cousins Saved Us, Ryan Spangler Bailed Us Out
Everyone and their mother knows what Buddy Hield did on Monday night, but I don't think the Jayhawks win that game if Cousins performs the way he did. I know that everyone has a bad shooting night, but the way he did it must have been especially infuriating for the Sooner faithful. Multiple times throughout the game and especially the 2nd half, Cousins isolated, only to pull up for a long range 2 which is widely known to be the worst shot in basketball. Although he made one to break a 68-68 deadlock, his decision making cost the Sooners dearly.
While what is what Cousins DID, that hurt the Sooners, it was what Ryan Spangler DID NOT do that hurt them just as bad. It seems to me that Ryan has a hard time staying out of his own head. By that, I mean that if he misses a shot, it's going to be at least a few more minutes until he attempts another one. Spangler is an excellent 3-point shooter at 45% but he turned down numerous 3s throughout the game. Ryan had 8 points in 3 possessions, missed a 3, and basically wasn't heard from again. If he had kept his foot on the gas, the Sooners may have pulled that one out.
Another theory is that someone called him out on some of the lamest tattoos in College Sports and he got self conscious.
8) Diallo Played His Best Minutes of the Season
This might surprise some of you, seeing as that there were so many parts of the game that will be remembered for a long time, but I thought that Diallo gave the Jayhawks just what they need from him. Ironically, what they need from him is not much. This team does not need Diallo to take a shot per minute when he comes off the bench, or for him to take 18 foot jumpers. This team needs Diallo to be a taller, better rebounding and blocking version of Jamari Traylor.
Diallo's time on the offensive side of the ball will come if he stays for his sophomore season, but this team simply has too many other scoring options for Cheick to be shooting from outside of the restricted area. Diallo played responsible basketball in the 1st half, and for the first time, started to realize his role within the squad. Unfortunately, he has played beyond his means on so many occasions, that I think he's lost some trust of Bill, which is why we didn't see him get a run in the 2nd half.
9) Before Bill's Technical, He Said "Just Blow The Whistle Right Here" (Or I Think He Did)
If you fast-forward to the 38:26 mark of the YouTube video, you'll see Bill's mouth appear to say "Just Blow The Whistle Right Here." Not sure if Bill wanted to get T'd up in order to fire up his squad, or the fact that he was mocking the refs and the fact that Kansas had gotten no calls in the first 20 minutes. My guy is the latter, but I just found this to be extremely interesting
10) No Matter What Happened, That Was a Game for the Ages
I think the 2nd OT was just starting when I texted my brother that even if we lost, this was one of the best Kansas games I'd ever seen. Other than the Missouri game in 2012, and maybe the Florida game in 2007, I can't remember a better regular reason game than the one we saw Monday night. While Missouri had more bragging rights on the line, and the Florida game was the first real taste of the Bill Self era, that game against Oklahoma was simply better basketball, and a better game overall.
When that game was finished, and I was nothing but smiles, I couldn't help but think about Saturday Night Live''s City Correspondent Stefon (Bill Hader) talking about last night's game. That game had everything, Technicals, Time Reviews, Blind Refs, Controversies, 4-Point Plays and of course, Delusional Announcers etc.
That was a game I will happily watch over and over again. What a great day to be a Jayhawk.