Long Distance Jayhawk


Know Your Enemy: Baylor Bears by longdistancejayhawk
January 7, 2015, 10:15 am
Filed under: Preview
That's the view from my seat at the Mavs game. I was so close I could count Dirk Nowitzki's fucking teeth.

That’s the view from my seat at the Mavs game. I was so close I could count Dirk Nowitzki’s fucking teeth.

Real talk: as an amateur basketball writer-type person, I’m a little worn out from hammering out 7,000 words in the last two Big XII X XII Conference preview posts. That’s a lot of words for someone with a full time job and a somewhat robust social life. I might have dried up the well, so to speak. So, I’m apologizing in advance if this isn’t up to snuff for those of you who expect a certain level of writing to show up for you on game day. Anyway, without further ado, yadda yadda…let’s get to it.

Monday night saw the Mavericks come to the Barclays. This was my second night getting to witness the Dirkus Circus in person and for the second time, the big German’s performance underwhelmed. He looked good, sure, but he wasn’t the kind of player I’ve seen on TV countless times. Well, other than the 17-footer he made with 2 seconds left in the third that got a completely flummoxed Sergei Karasev to foul him for the and one that tied the game. I can’t describe how hilarious it was to watch him hit the shot, then turn around, arms outstretched like Cyrus from The Warriors. “Are you not entertained?” he seemed to say at the jeering crowd.

And the best part of it was that I was ten rows back behind the Mavs bench when he hit it. I got to see Dirk hit a huge shot and turn around to bath in the hate being rained down upon him1. He was larger than life and, despite the insignificance of the game in question, Dirk made it seem like the biggest shot of his career.

As the shot above can attest, I was close to the action Monday night. Thanks to my ticket rep at the Nets for hooking me up with the surprise seat upgrade. I love my seat in the upper deck because I love the baseline corner angle2, but there’s precious little that can compare to the thrill of watching a game from nearly point blank range3.

The only thing that could have made a basketball junkie’s life a little more thrilling would be a ridiculous trade…oh, wait4. Shit, the trade was such a thing that I didn’t even think about the fact that I witnessed Dirk move into 7th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list5. I mean, he did the three guns for like a solid minute when he hit it in OT.

Dirk might be the funniest guy in the NBA just because he celebrates everything like it's Game 7.

Dirk might be the funniest guy in the NBA just because he celebrates everything like it’s Game 7.

Official Name: Baylor University
Nickname:
Bears
Derisive Nickname: 
Scott Drew’s Impending Aneurysm

Signature Win: Didn’t we just go over this? I mean, losing to OU by 10 in their conference opener wasn’t going to change what I picked in the conference preview6. Mostly because it doesn’t meet the minimum criteria of being an actual win.

Key Players: Rico Gathers is probably the guy I’m most worried about in this one. No one on the Bears scores more than 12 PPG, which seems like a poor recipe for success7, yet they still manage to average 70 a game. That seems like a little cause for concern, since I don’t feel they have a focal point to key in on. While Rico, my nightmare fuel, isn’t scoring in double figures, he is tearing down 10.6 rebounds per game while chipping in 9.6 points. Sure, he isn’t the focal point of the offense or anything, but he is a two-way threat. I fully expect him to try and abuse our inside players early and possibly net 10+ on the night8. I feel like we’re going to see a lot of Big Cliff tonight, assuming he can stay out of foul trouble.

Keys to Victory: Guys! Everything’s going to be cool! I looked into it and the Scott Drew’s Impending Aneurysms aren’t that good at blocking! After suffering through a few recent block parties that saw pretty much anything inside of the three point line batted into the upper deck, it looks like Baylor might offer us many, many chances to actually get the rock to fall on those easy interior. I’m feeling a confidence booster for our boys on the inside!

This should be big news for S-SLiME who was scorching from beyond the arc Sunday, but managed just one inside shot. Selden’s offensive woes prior to Sunday aren’t entirely his fault. Sometimes, you think you’ve got a layup and next thing you know, the ball’s cratering in Topeka. I’m looking for him to hopefully get a few gimmes to fall. Same with Ellis, who has been forced into expanding beyond low post back downs thanks to teams sharing crib notes on baseline trapping him. Rico leads the team in blocks with 0.9 per game. I mean, I’m not over 6′ and I think I could probably block like one shot a game. Why you slacking, Rico? What’s your fucking problem? I think we’ll be getting some to fall.

Also, Baylor doens’t protect the rock well enough, at least not when going against the transition hungry Francis Mason, Renegade Cop. They’re averaging 12 per contest, but that’s against some pretty crap competition. Watch out, Baylor. Francis is here to make your life a living hell.

Delicious Local (to the enemy) Beer to Avoid: This is a Baptist university in Waco. Unless there’s still some Natty Ices stocked up in the charred remains of the Branch Davidian Compound, I don’t think there’s any beer within a 50 mile radius of the place.

Completely Mathematically Accurate Projection (Backed Up By Science)9: Kansas 68-63 Baylor

*

FOOTNOTES

1 – Hate might be a strong word, since the Brooklyn crowd didn’t really get keyed up until the tail end of regulation when Joe Johnson hit a pretty ridiculous 30-footer (that’s the official distance, though I’m pretty sure he was on the center court logo when he pulled up). That tied the game and the crowd went absolutely apeshit. Probably the loudest crowd I’ve heard in the Mausoleum this year. Double that ape shit when Jack hit a jumper to tie…only to have Plumbles foul Monta Ellis Have It All on a fucking shooting foul and the Mavs forced OT. At which point, you just knew the Nets weren’t going to pull it out. As a ticket holder, I feel compelled to like this team, but it’s like rooting for a husky kid in a footrace. At a certain point, they’re going to get winded and just cede the victory. Back

2 – I’m well aware that half of the action is like a million miles away from you in this position, but personally, I like being able to perceive the width of the court. Spacing is something that I’m obsessed with in basketball and I feel like sidelines and the traditional TV angle don’t really do justice to the beautiful artistry of a team moving around and working the empty spaces in the half court. Back

3 – Which is another thing that occured to me as I was watching the game. From my regular seat and TV, basketball players only have each other, for the most part, as a frame of reference. You know that guards are shorter than centers, obviously, but they’re relative to each other. It doesn’t quite register that there people are massive. Like Nowitzki is indescribably strange looking thanks to height and how flat he looks. Plumlee is cartoonishly tall. Though, I think Charlie Villanueva is the weirdest person to see that close. Like, he’s half hunchbacked and impossibly lanky of arm while being stout of body. He looks, in real life, like an ork from Lord of the Ring. Which might partially be a result of the alopecia, but I digress. Back

4 – I had a pretty funny email exchange with my buddy Andrew about the Waiters for Smith and Shump trade starting that night and running through yesterday. Initially, I was just going to footnote my thoughts on it, but I think I might post a chunk of the conversation as a little bonus piece sometime this week. There’s some real gold in there that I feel like the world really needs to see. Back

5 – I was also in the building when Pierce scored his 25,000th point. Most people were pretty genteel in their applause, but I nearly cried. Watching Pierce, one of my favorite NBA players and my favorite Jayhawk, soak in the clapping, glance up at the jumbotron to see the tribute image, then get back into game mode was something I don’t think I’ll ever forget. Back

6 – Speaking of the Sooners, I might have made a terrible mistake putting them in sixth in the preview. Mike Silverman on Twitter was quick to point this out. Between beating Baylor by ten and delivering a complete depantsing of the Longhorns, we might be living in a world where Oklahoma is not only “for real” but “a real threat to actually win the fucking league.” Not that I’m backing down from my predictions…yet. Back

7 – Anyone want to point out that we don’t have anyone averaging more than 14 and just two averaging double figures? Because you know where the door is, fella. Or dame. I’m not discriminating. Back

8 – Me thinks this will be a long night for long suffering Magna. I had to defend myself earlier this week over my love of Jamari, which is fair. Look, I’ll be the first to admit that, a lot of times, I become irrationally attached to players based on things like “he’s really funny on Twitter” or “his afro is the coolest thing to wear a Jayhawk uniform in like 10 years, easy.” The heart wants what it wants and sometimes, that’s at odds with the ribbons and ribbons of tape evidence telling you to run away. After thinking about it, I really think I like Jamari because I want him to be the next Kevin Young (who would be the second example above). We just aren’t there yet. I’m still holding out hope that he can pull off a great run or just not scare me every time he touches the ball with anything less than twelve seconds outside of six feet. I mean, I’m an irrational Jamari backer and even I break out in mad hives whenever that happens. Back

9 – Suck on it, Trebek. Back

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