Needless to say we are going a little heavier on the semi and a little lighter on the statistical part of the recap after last night.
For starters, I am going to say that no one comes out of this looking good, other than the two head coaches who frankly both seemed to strike the right tone and content in their postgame press conferences, which is probably something that is extra difficult to do 20 minutes after being involved in that type of a situation (last place goes to Jeff Long who showed himself to be a total coward yet again, but more on that later).
As for the fight itself, the way I see it there are a handful of inflection points where this could have all been avoided:
First, the steal. While I wish that sort of stuff didn’t happen late in games and wish both sides would dribble it out and let the game end, I don’t have a problem with playing to the horn. I didn’t have a problem with the Brannen Greene dunk, I didn’t have a problem with the Barry Brown dunk, and I don’t have a problem with the steal. If we are assigning fault, maybe 5 percent goes to the steal, just because it was the first incident to occur.
Secondly, the block. Again, no issue with it. Copy and paste what I wrote above and put it in here.
Next, the taunting. If this would have happened with 12 minutes or so left, we would have gotten a technical on De Sousa and nothing would have escalated. I am certainly not anti taunting, but I also don’t think you have to walk over to a guy and get in his face with 1 second left on the clock up 21. That said, as a lot of people have pointed out, I am guessing having to sit a season and then having this season not go exactly to plan individually, I am sure De Sousa is frustrated and took out that frustration. Certainly not saying I condone it, but I understand where he is coming from. This is probably the first part of the incident where we can say it just shouldn’t have happened and it helped escalate things.
The next part of the incident is the K State players coming off the bench. Again, if this happens with 12 minutes left, some guys on the court get in De Sousa’s face and maybe there is a double technical situation and then it’s over. Frankly I don’t know why anyone left the bench. As I said, the taunting is a bit much and shouldn’t have happened, but isn’t terribly above and beyond stuff that happens a dozen or so times a year.
To me, this is the biggest escalation. Once Antonio Gordon shoves De Sousa down and De Sousa gets punched is when the real escalation happens. We can sit here and say De Sousa should have walked away or McCormack and Garrett shouldn’t have responded the way they did, but as Jay Williams and others have pointed out, if you’re in a fight you’re concerned with protecting yourself first and foremost. I don’t blame De Sousa for fighting back at all, other than the stool. Rightly or wrongly, that image is going to be the lasting image of this whole thing.
Personally, it looked like Silvio put the stool down of his own volition but the only 100 percent concrete statement I can make in this entire analysis is that you just can’t pick up a stool or an object like that in a fight regardless of situation. You just can’t. So if we are assigning blame, I think everyone sort of loses. De Sousa shouldn’t have picked up the chair, the K State players shouldn’t have run onto the court, and then everyone else shouldn’t have escalated it to where they did. I do think it’s clear, though, that multiple guys rushing the floor is what started the physical nature of this.
As for suspensions, De Sousa has already been suspended indefinitely and my guess is he will get about 6 games, give or take. A few people on twitter have made the point that the Xavier-Cincinnati fight was much worse and no one got more than 6. De Sousa may get more just due to the optics of the chair, however. I also think McCormack will probably get 2 due to his actions, and potentially as many as three. I have seen some people saying Garrett should get a couple as well, but I think he will get 1 at most, and that’s just due to leaving the bench and going in the area.
Oh yeah, there was also a basketball game. Kansas scored 1.22 points per trip and allowed just .91 per trip in a game that was never really close. The Jayhawks turned it over on just 15 percent of their possessions against one of the better turnover forcing defenses in the country, and that was after turning it over 3 times in the first 5 or so minutes. They also shot 54 percent from two and 35 percent from three, and took exactly 40 percent of their field goal attempts from behind the arc. Frankly it was a relatively perfect gameplan, although you can’t expect Christian Braun to make 6 threes per game (obviously).
Defensively Kansas held Cartier Diarra to 7 points on 9 shots, with David Sloan the only Wildcat who was able to do much of anything. The Wildcats shot just 41.6 percent on twos, and were just 10-25 at the rim. Kansas also obliterated K State on the glass on both ends and won the turnover battle, which frankly isn’t going to lead to a lot of losses for Kansas.
In terms of positive individual contributions for Kansas, it obviously starts with Braun. He was 6-10 from deep, but didn’t force anything from three or inside, and played well defensively as well. Next, Udoka Azubuike dominated inside with 10 points and 14 rebounds and needless to say was too much for K State to handle. Finally, I was impressed by the aggressiveness with which Ochai Agbaji played. He ended up just 3-11, but added four big offensive rebounds, a pair of assists, and took good shots within the flow of the offense for the most part, rather than forcing up contested long twos. He also (to my eye anyway) played better defensively.
Going forward, I would suspect Kansas is going to be playing a lot more four guard lineups, especially with De Sousa potentially done for the season (although I think it will be shorter than that) which frankly could end up being a positive for Kansas going forward and be a silver lining in all of this.