Long Distance Jayhawk


After Battle Report: Oklahoma State Cowboys by longdistancejayhawk
January 14, 2015, 10:15 am
Filed under: Recap
In looking for a shot of the CLIFF SMASH, I stumbled on this beauty. I think it pretty much sums up the night.

In looking for a shot of the CLIFF SMASH, I stumbled on this beauty. I think it pretty much sums up the night.

Recently, I’ve been taken to task over comments I’ve made about Oklahoma State and Marcus Smart, specifically. The truth is that I want to hate Smart because he’s kind of a cocky asshole. He’s a flopper1, sure, and he did the backflip on Naismith Court which really pissed me off. But I’ve also sort of softened in my old age. These are just kids, after all. Kids trying to win basketball games. Obviously, these kids annoy us, but we shouldn’t take it to extremes2. Marcus Smart is a prime example3.

The continued hatred directed at Smart seems to speak of a burgeoning rivalry with Oklahoma State. Hell, I look forward to our games against them because they have had good players and have been a pain for us the last three or so years. But I don’t feel the complete hatred that some other fans of God’s Team seem to harbor. In a rare moment of introspection, I wanted to figure out why I get excited for OSU but don’t feel supreme hatred. I couldn’t figure it out until I thought about my parents and the Duke rivalry.

Long time readers will know that both my parents are alums of UNC and rabid Carolina fans. We’ve talked about the Duke rivalry and they’ve confirmed something strange about it: it wasn’t really a thing back when they were in school. Duke was kind of shitty up until Coach K showed up in the 1980. According to Jay Bilas in a trailer for Coach K 1K, Jay Bilas mentioned that the program was in a bad place when K got there. And then, they turned into this power. When my parents were going to games, NC State was the rival4, not Duke. They had to build their hatred of Duke long after they’d graduated.

Which is how I feel about OSU right now. I’m nearly a decade out of college, so the Cowboys were a decent team, Eddie Sutton was a curmudgeon, but they weren’t a true threat to knock us off. Besides, Missouri5 was always there, waiting to spoil our party. Oklahom State was an afterthought to me. I feel like most KU fans that have a supreme distaste for OSU were there when the flip happened. They were in school when Smart was being a brash asshole in interviews. I missed that because you get out of school, you grow up and you find you have less hatred for a team that didn’t rate when you were in school.

What I’m curious about is whether or not the hatred will come, as it did with my parents and Duke. Will I find that I’ve replaced the Missouri hatred in my heart? Only time will tell, but I can admit that, right now, I still don’t feel the bitter hatred for Oklahoma State6.

Final Score: Oklahoma State 57-67 Kansas

The Good: The first half was the most fun thing I’ve seen all year in all basketball ever (of the year). Not for basketball reasons, mind you. Anytime you get treated to a slew of technicals and Le’Bryan Nash chesting up on the Ombre Warrior, followed by Jamari threatening to eat all of Nash’s Skittles if he every tries that shit again, you know you’re in for a wild game.

Well, a half anyway.

If reports are to be believed, Iowa State has a mystery recruit they've brought in to try and stop Cliff.

If reports are to be believed, Iowa State has a mystery recruit they’ve brought in to try and stop Cliff.

That first half also saw BIG CLIFF SMASH over all 15 dudes on OSU at one time that dunk truthers will try to tell you was a layup7. Watching Cliff get that was fucking relief. I just didn’t know that I was going to need it at the time.

Outside of that theatrical slam by the big man, we shot a respectable 69.6% on free throws…

The Bad: …which is huge when you shoot 46 fucking free throws on the night. How? What? Why? Did the Big XII X XII send out a memo after the Baylor game that we should get some make up calls a week later? Seriously. What the shit was that?

For all the “let ’em play” that was going on in the first half, the refs were hell bent on getting the game under control in the second half. Which would make sense if the end of the first involved the chest bump and double tech. I’d say you could make the argument that they needed to get it under control if all that went down with three or less in the first half. Not twelve-plus. Between the whistle heavy second and them t’ing up Cliff on the post dunk flex8, the refs were all over the place last night.

I’m all for wins. And I’m all for gritty, do whatever it takes wins. But going 32-46 on gimmies? There has to be a better way to win games. Some people knock the Rockets for going all-in on playing the most efficient basketball possible, but I’d rather watch one possession of Harden drawing a foul than what we got last night.

Withering Bill Self Quote of the Night: The Reporters look around, nervous that the Coach won’t be happy with just a ten point win. The Reporters have all been here before. They know what to expect. The Coach is never happy, never satisfied.

Wins are never enough. Crush your enemies. See them driven before you. Hear the lamentations of their women.

That is the only victory the Coach knows.

One of the Reporters screams. A large snake has appeared from the side door, slithering to the dais. The snake slips into the Coach’s chair, sitting there. The dead eyes stare ahead, unblinking, unflinching. All seeing.

The fearful Reporter regains his composure and raises his hand. The snake turns into the Coach. Before the Reporter can say anything, the Coach speaks.

It was a hard game to play. A hard game to coach. Probably a harder game to officiate. Good thing I didn’t drink a lot of water at halftime. I would have been in trouble.

The Reporter, undaunted, raises his hand again. “Is that what happened to Cliff? Too much water? I thought maybe he’d boned your wife or-”

The Coach is a snake again and out the side door. Storming Norman Roberts lifts the Reporter up from his underarms so that he can face Kurtis Blow Townsend’s bastard sword like a man. Standing up. The Reporter is cleaved in two with one stroke. The rest of the Reporters stand and file past the two chunks, each tearing a single page from there notepad and throwing it on the pieces. Even in such horrific death, rituals must be observed.

Mason's live reaction to finding out that he'd netted another Man of the Match.

Mason’s live reaction to finding out that he’d netted another Man of the Match.

Man of the Match: Given that the game never got into much of a flow, it’s hard to really tell who had a monster game. Other than a couple of SportsCenter Top 10 Highlights from Cliff, I couldn’t tell you thing one about anyone’s individual performance. Should it go to Cliff, just because he’s getting on the ol’ highlight reel? What about Oubre just for goading Nash into the tech? Or Magna for looking like he was saying some serious sick shit about what was going to happen to Nash’s Skittles supply? Each of these things certainly kept me on the edge of my seat in the first half. But that seems like a usual cop out for me, giving the award to someone just because of something trivial.

So, seriously, Francis Mason, Renegade Cop deserves the award. Francis went out and damn near got a double-double with 19 points and 9 boards. That isn’t a typo. No, he got nine rebounds. He wasn’t even close on assists (three). That stat line alone would be enough to get him the award in a regular game. But it was his Harden-lite performance at the charity stripe, going 9-11. If the refs are going to gift you that many points, make the most of them.

Looking Ahead: We have a showdown with Iowa State on Saturday, at Ames. I know I just spilt a shit ton of ink talking about not hating a team or anything…but I really hate Iowa State. Not just because of Weatherwax either. I hate them for that win they took off us in Hilton like three years ago. I’d had a perfectly charming day at Brooklyn Flea and missed the first half. I was on the G train heading home, checking the score and when I got in the door, we were well on our way to losing.

Fuck those guys. You might be the Mayor of Ames, Hoiberg. But you’re also the Mayor of Asshat Town, population you.

*

FOOTNOTES

1 – Yes, he was a flopper. An eggregious one. However, how many times does Shape-Shifting Lizard Man Eyes toss his head back like he’s Kennedy in the motorcade on minimal contact? That sort of this makes sense for pre-paleo LeBron who was so big and strong that if he didn’t toss his head back, he’d never get a foul called on him. If anything, Smart’s only real floppy transgression is that he did it all the time. But you know what? It’s gamesmanship. Annoying, frustrating gamesmanship, but you really can’t be mad about the fact that refs fall for it9. Back

2 – One extreme I saw on Kansas Twitter recently involved belittling Marcus Smart for getting the number three tattooed on both of his triceps which were visible in his Celtics photo showing off his first NBA jersey. People took him to take along the lines of “Look at this dumbass! He’s got 33 on his arms and his jersey is 36! Fucking stupid dum-dum pop!” Which would be okay if the number were, say, eleventy-infinity rather than 33. Because it’s the Celtics. Basketball Jesus’ #33 jersey is in the rafters, so I don’t think it was Marcus’ fault that he couldn’t rock his preferred jersey number. Also, let’s cool it with making fun of dumb tattoos since that’s kind of a calling card of Kansas. Dearly departed Tharpapalooza had the Batman logo with a cursive “My Hero” close enough to it that it seemed like part of one piece. Back

3 – I’m not really going to get into it too much here since Smart is really meant to be more of a transition, but longtime reader Josh got off the rails thanks to me saying the following in Part 1 of the Big XII X XII preview:

A trainwreck of a season that featured a seven game losing streak at the worst possible time, Marcus Smart (justifiably, in my opinion) attacking a fan, and a mercy killing at the hands of Gonzaga in the tournament.

If I had it to do over, I would revise “justifiably” to “somewhat understandable.” I’m not saying that I back off from the general intent of my statement. Obviously, attacking fans isn’t a good look, but bear with me for a second. Who among us were 20 years old? Who among us did shit we weren’t proud of? That’s part of growing up and, if presented with the kind of vitriol coming from that fan, then I can see why he did what he did. None of us are perfect. None of us can sit on a high throne and act like being called the worst possible thing (and I can’t even speak to the venom in the particular word since, full disclosure, I’m white) and being a kid. Throw in OSU’s struggles on the court at the time which, at the risk of drawing on a cliches, was probably Smart’s refuge and I can understand why that happened. Sure, he shouldn’t have done it, but I don’t think it shows a failing of character to the point that we have to hate the guy now that he’s gone on10. I feel kind of dirty defending Marcus Smart, especially since I was reminded of the goddamned court flip, but I just wanted to put it out there. Sometimes you do stupid shit. Back

4 – The classic taunt appended to the end of “I’m a Tar Heel Born” is now “Go to Hell Duke!” but when they were in school, it was “Go to Hell State.” What a difference like 500 years since graduation makes. Back

5 – As I’m writing this, Mizzou is getting fucked with a sandpaper and broken glass covered dildo by Kentucky. They were nearly doubled up going into halftime and with 7:35 left (as of writing), a doubling up isn’t out of the question. Doesn’t that just warm the cockles? Which is more than they deserve. I guess you really don’t grow up, huh11? Back

6 – For what it’s worth, I want it to happen. I really do. I want something to look forward to every year. I want a rival that gets me pissed off and makes me want to embarrass them. It’ll probably happen. I’m just not there yet. Back

7 – Dunk truthers are the absolute worst. Who fucking cares if he didn’t rip the rim down, shattering the glass, then wear the hoop around like a necklace of his enemies’ ears? That was fucking brutal and no one can take that away from what BIG CLIFF SMASH did on that play. Back

8 – Speaking of Cliff and the second half…what the shit was Toupee doing sitting him for nearly the whole second? I know he got the black mark of three fouls, but a tentative Cliff had to have been better than fucking Brick Hands getting 12 minutes. It wasn’t like we were cruising to an easy victory at that point or anything. Back

9 – Like four years ago, I almost wrote a scathing indictment of Americans and their resistance to soccer. The main thrust of my argument is that Americans have a disconnect between what we want to believe leads to success and what actually does. We’re obsessed with the noble path to success, decrying anything that seems duplicitous. My example was the house crisis and how we react to that, but put any of us in the shoes of anyone who figured out a way to use mortgages as a license to print money and I imagine pretty much everyone would take what looks like free money. Just like soccer players should flop because it is a way to achieve free money, as it were. I think the parallel can be drawn to basketball, too. Back

10 – Pretty sure I’ve lost most of you at this point and believe me, but if you’re still reading this, Schuyler, you’re going to hate what I have to say here too. I feel that once a player has left the orbit of being a thorn in the Jayhawks’ side I can let them be basketball players. Like Anthony Davis, Destroyer of Worlds. I love watching him play! Am I bitter that he helped put the kibosh on our magic tourney run? Of course! But I also appreciate how fucking good he is at basketball and I’m not going to root against a once in a generation talent just for that. Now, comparing Davis and Smart is like comparing cara cara oranges (the best of the navel orange family) and granny smith apples (the worst of the apples while mutsu are the best of the apples), but you get the point. At a certain point, I’m going to let things go. Maybe I’m just getting older and I want to have a more Gamblero mentality. Well, unless you’re Keiton fucking Page. That guy can go die in a fire. Back

11 – And now that I’ve finished writing all this crap, the Missouri-Kentucky game went final. Holy fucking shit Mizzou got their asses annihilated. Kentucky punched the Tigers in the gut, doubled them over, then shoved their feet up Mizzou’s asses and walked them around like boots. Missouri scored 37 which would be fine it it were the Patriots. Jesus, thirty-fucking-seven? The only thing I ask, basketball gods, is that they got embarrassed worse than KU. Is that too much to ask? What’s that you say, dunk god of basketball? You say they…oh, lord. Oh, man…49. That’s too much. You’re too kind, basketball gods. Is there anything left of them? Back



After Battle Report: Baylor Gonna Baylor by longdistancejayhawk
January 8, 2015, 10:30 am
Filed under: Recap

What the fucking shit? What the fucking shit? WHAT IN THE EVERLOVING ALL THINGS HOLY FUCKING SHIT HAPPENED LAST NIGHT?

God…that was…what was that? I don’t even know. I don’t have words to really capture what I just watched. This was a scorching, tight contest that ended in the most insane finish ever. For everything the Benji McDunks triple over Iowa State three years ago was, this was like the opposite. Everything about the end of regulation in that one was thrilling, well-played basketball. This? I don’t even know what the shit that was.

Final Score: Kansas 56-55 Baylor

The Good: It’s always nice to be reminded to thank the ancient Egyptians for inventing obelisks to keep track of time. Had they not figured out a way to keep track of that fiendish truth of reality, time, we might not have gotten to the point where timekeeping devices were sophisticated enough to not only time athletic contests, but to be tied to a red LED frame around a backboard. Without clocks, Baylor couldn’t have been bested by one last night and this recap might have turned out a little differently.

Ultimately, the good is going against Scott Drew1 because Baylor gonna Baylor. The ending of last night’s game couldn’t have been more Baylor if an actual Bear came out on the court and slaughtered everyone. The entire final minute was so fucking crazy that my notes are completely unintelligible. Here’s a sort of translation:

last off – Mason-> oop. Bad jump? Cliff lands, kick out, Mason brick trey. Blue shirts everywhere…no board, Baylor fast bk. Miss? Block? We got a hand, more us everywhere. Ellz heads it OoB. Oubre’s Gadget arms. KU ball. Foul. Shots. Greene two-good. [completely illegible scribbles] THE FUCKING CLOCK?!?! WHAT?

The sad thing is that I wrote all of that after the fact. It was like a fever dream, especially the part where I ended up writing the scribbles. I have no idea what I wanted to write, honestly. There’s nothing that could really capture whatever we just witnessed.

I don’t know if Mason knew what he was doing on the last free throw. I don’t know if he bricked it intentionally. Maybe he did, knowing that Baylor, lacking timeouts, would probably figure out a way to fuck it up. You know, Francis, I don’t think you knew that the grenade in his hand was a fake, what with all the hostages everywhere, but you neutralized the threat. That’s some damn fine detective work, Francis. Damn fine.

I mean, we won. We won a game that we probably shouldn’t have. Look at the box score for fuck’s sake. You’re reading that right. Selden, Ellis and Oubre combined to go 7-24. You’re not reading that incorrectly. Those three were one make better than Kobe Bryant in Game 7 of the 2010 Finals. Hell, that number might even make them look better than they were in the game. Had S-SLiME not stepped it up for 1:45 from the 3:02 mark and hit three straight clutch shots. Selden has a knack for going full Houdini in games, but in this one, he knew when it was time to burst out of that barrel right before it went over Niagara Falls. Or whatever waterfall might be close to Waco.

The sad thing about this one is that the sheer insanity of the ending completely overshadowed Magna and Greene having monster second halves. Traylor popped off for 13 points, 5 boards and 2 blocks before fouling out. Most importantly, he  scored the first seven KU points in the second half. Meanwhile, Greene went 4-5 (2-3 3PT), chipping in 12 points. Much like Selden, two of Greene’s points were huge, clutch free throws.

Seriously, I wanted to write a whole post about Jamari to try and troll avid reader Josh, but instead, I decided to talk about clocks. Clocks! Fucking Jamari and Greene giving huge contributions…it just feel like an after thought.

The Bad: Can I admit that the first half was damn near unwatchable? Given that I can’t remember anything specific other than us sucking balls about it, last night’s Baylor game was easily the worst first half since the Topeka YMCA debacle. The first frame in that one ended 13-22, bad guys, to last night’s 18-22. We looked like crap in the first, mostly because the zone seemed to completely dismantle anything we wanted to do. It certainly didn’t help that, in attempting to dismantle the zone, we routinely passed the ball around without much movement. Had we been more active, maybe we could have gotten some of the cross court skip passes and reverses we had in the second half going. Instead, we exwecsettled for not probing the defense, a lack of action reflected in us taking zero free throws in the first half2. More staggering might be the fact that we ended up taking six on the night, only one of which was not the result of an intentional foul at the end of the game3.

Outside of that, rebounding was an issue for most of the game. Various times throughout the matchup, we let Baylor get two and three offensive boards. Given how many boards we let them get, it’s a fucking shocking we actually won last night.

Withering Bill Self Quote of the Night: An empty field, a lone highway edged by towering power lines. A sweepingly dramatic location for a press conference. Four figures stand around in a circle. In the distance, the sound of a delivery vehicle. The portly gentleman walks towards the road, greets the delivery driver, and takes a box from him back to the other three. The reporter, stressed from the longest two hours of his life, holds his pen above his notepad. He stares a the box in the other man’s hands. His pen trembles.

The box holds the secret to the end of the world, the reporter is convinced.

The coach sets the box down at the feet of the reporter. No one moves. The report stares at the coach, hoping that this isn’t how it ends. He stares so long that he starts to stare through the coach. The coach doesn’t make eye contact and gestures towards the box. The reporter sighs, knowing that resisting will only prolong the inevitable.

He crouches and looks at the box. Sweat starts to collect on his forehead as he moves his pen towards the tape. A single drop of sweat stains the cardboard as the tape is cut. Of its own accord, the box pops open. The reporter opens  his eyes and looks inside.

Nothing. A brief moment of relief washes over him. Maybe he’s been spared.

Impossibly, the coach is behind him without seeming to move from his position five feet in front of the reporter. His breath smells strongly of Iguana Dip as he leans in and whispers in the reporter’s ear.

Wayne didn’t play a lick, in my opinion, until it counted, and then he played great,. He was terrific.

A garrote wire, a splatter of blood. In the last seconds of his life, the reporter sees Storming Norman Roberts pulling a saw out of bag. He knows his head will soon be inside the box. Kurtis Blow Townsend makes a final yank on the wire and then, darkness.

Man of the Match: There are certainly worthy guys, based solely on single moments, rather than a whole game of good work. Giving it to one of them, though, would marginalize the great games from Traylor and Greene. Greene deserves the award for putting together a good game coming off the bench, plus the previously mentioned clutch free throws. Mari gets his due for beasting in the second half4. I mean, the seven straight KU points to open the half would have probably been enough, but Mari wasn’t going to settle for anything other making a statement to the haters. Specifically me and my hatred of his new favorite pet shot: the 16-footer. I tremble every time he takes one, so when he caught it at the elbow around the 14:00 mark, I just assumed he’d jack it up. Instead, he made a feint, then hit BIG CLIFF SMASH OOP5! That’s the move, Mari. Keep it up, buddy!

Looking Ahead: Texas Tech on Saturday. Who’s ready for a red ass beatdown of the Red Raiders? I don’t trust this team to guard a ham sandwich, but there’s no way the Red Raiders make this the kind of rough ride we’re quickly growing accustomed to, right?

*

FOOTNOTES

1 – The cameras caught him point wildly coming out of a timeout last night and I was struck by the fact that he looks kind of like a guy who fancies himself a mafia don. You know, the kind of guy that would order things at a Luby’s pointing with index and pinkie finger like he wants that Salisbury steak whacked. That’ why you’re never going to be a true player, Baylor. Toupee orders his Salisbury steak like a regular person. Now, executions? Those he orders like a don. Back

2 – Which seems insane, but true. Back

3 – Yet, despite the complete lack of freebies, we attacked inside harder in the second half. Lest you think the refs were letting them play, Baylor went to the charity stripe 14 times last night. Either the Bears were playing the cleanest fucking defense of all time ever or the refs were giving them a hell of a home court advantage on calls. Back

4 – So much so that he fouled out with like 6:30 left in the game. Cool it, man! You were playing so well. You didn’t deserve that. Back

5 – Has there been a KU player that calls for the ball more than Cliff? Every time down, he’s got his hands up for the rock. It’s kind of endearing to see a guy that’s so convinced that he’s not only always open for a pass, but can basically crush any defender in his way. Back



After Battle Report: UNLV Runnin’ Rebels by longdistancejayhawk
January 5, 2015, 10:30 am
Filed under: Recap
I'm just glad this guy got the thrill of victory instead of the stink of defeat.

I’m just glad this guy got the thrill of victory instead of the stink of defeat.

This last weekend was a wing-tastic weekend. I love wings, but even this might have been a little much. That’s saying a lot. Like, I love wings so much that various wing sauces are the second most used condiment in the Long Distance Jayhawk offices after Sriracha1. I put buffalo wing sauce on my post-run rice and beans. I put it on my eggs. If I actually have bread, sometimes, I’ll just put a slathering of wing sauce on a plain slice.

Yeah, a little obsessed.

The first stop on my wing parade was the Buffalo Wild Wings at Times Square. Don’t ask me what the fuck I was doing in that part of town2, just know that I’ve been to the weirdest B-Dubs on the planet. It was so fucking bright and the wood was, like, blonde. Like nice looking wood. Not the sort of wood you’re used to in a Wild Wings that looks like it has a quarter inch layer of grease that’s solidified into a nice self-leveling shellac. This Buffalo Wild Wings was so clean, so bright, it wasn’t like a Wild Wings at all. The ambiance prompted me to tweet the following at B-Dubs:

They didn’t respond, probably because they’re sensitive about someone referring to what’s undoubtedly their flagship store as a discotheque. I mean, what am I, an octogenarian?do Whatever. The wings were what they always are. Good, not great. Boneless because if I’m going to be getting “spun” wings at the Walmart of wing spots, I might as well go whole hog on the trashy factor. The Wild Wings trip, though, was just a warm up for the main attraction of the weekend. For the last couple of months, I’ve been threatening to hit up Mel’s Burger Bar in the Upper West during an NFL game because they have the most insane NFL gameday special. Are you ready for this shit? I don’t think you are. Please, do me a favor and take a seat. Trust me. It’ll be better for both of us. Mel’s NFL Gameday Special: all you can eat wings (Buffalo or BBQ) and sliders,with all you an drink Lions Head Lager. For $24.99.

Here's the tally I took during the wing demolition. Not that I really needed to.

Here’s the tally I took during the wing demolition. Not that I really needed to.

I told you you needed to sit down for that one. Double-awesome because the wings at this place are really, really fucking good. Anyway, for the entire NFL season, I never made it to Mel’s for a Sunday of beers and wings and sliders. I figured, what with my Panthers making the playoffs3, I should finally partake of this overly generous special. After spending the first fifteen minutes we were there making absolutely sure that the special was indeed happening despite it being a Saturday, I was treated to a round of sliders, Buffalo wings, and BBQ wings. Jess can attest, I handled the entire spread like a boss. I also downed six Lions Heads while I was there. This might shock you, but I wanted to see what I did, in terms of sheer value on the deal. The going rate for a plate of wings (either flavor) is $11, sliders are $12, and Lions Head is $5-6 (I didn’t confirm). So, I knocked out $22 in wings, $12 in sliders and, conservatively, $30 in beer. That’s a hell of a deal when you consider that I only dropped $25 for the whole mess of shit. Seriously, what is Mel’s thinking? Probably that I’m awesome, since they bothered to favorite my tweet about taking on their challenge:

Sadly, though, that was the end of my wing weekend. The UNLV game could have had a side of wings from the uptown Pourhouse4, but you know what? For once in my life, I didn’t want wings. Besides, there was too much shit for me to have dug into a plate of wings without, you know, not being able to get irate about the performance of the Jayhawks5.

Final Score: UNLV 61-76 Kansas

The Good: My god, if we could just score every bucket in transition, why bother with running offense at all. Just let the other team relax into their half court set, steal the ball, instant offense! We were so fucking good at transition last night, I was compelled to tweet the following early in the second half:

For the record, the other two phases are offesne and defense, two things that we were actually pretty shitty at for damn near 40 fucking minutes. Like, horrifying, stupifying, terrible, offensively bad. It just wasn’t our night. Unless your name is Francis Mason, Renegade Cop and you’re streaking toward the basket, trying to get the ball through the hoop like it’s a grenade about to blow up. If you were that guy, then congrats! You had a phenomenal night! Renegade Cop was feeling it last night. Hard. His eighth transition point came off of the most inane loose ball bullshit I’ve ever seen6. I’m pretty sure he still chipped in like 50 or so more points on transition layups before the night was over7.

The only other positive takeaway is maybe ball movement was good? I mean, it certainly didn’t result in us hanging a hundo on the Runnin’ Rebs, but we seemed hell bent on passing the ball one more time on quite a few possessions8. Sure, we seemed to be at our best when we were passing last night, since the shot blocking moster of UNLV didn’t have a chance to do what they do and block a fucking shot when we just went at them quick and hard. I praise ball movement, so I can’t knock us for actually trying to work the ball around, even if this wasn’t the game to actually do that.

The Bad: Hey, speaking of the shot blocking nightmare chimera that UNLV ran out there, how about our inability to shoot layups? Or perhaps, more importantly, our inability to realize that something isn’t fucking working. I believe it was Albert Einstein who said:

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Which is clearly something that Toupee isn’t drilling into our guys. Dudes, you tried to go inside. You tried and tried and tried. And every time, that shit was punched out of the Fieldhouse and all the way to Mass. Stop trying that shit! It isn’t working. I could be wrong, but I think the Rebels had 6 blocks in the first half and somewhere around 120 on the night. It wasn’t good. I want gimmes as much as the next guy, but seriously. None of that shit was working in the first half, and what was (Selden bombing, maybe others?), we abandoned in favor of trying to get an interior game going. If I see one more Selden layup blocked into the third row, I’m going to scream. And while we’re on the subject, are we going inside to try and help Gentleman Tailor get going? Because something’s got to give. Either he’s going to develop a more wide-ranging game or he’s going to be baseline trapped into obsolessence9.

And at the risk of sounding like a broken record called Sour Grapes, especially given that this was a 15-point victory, but our defense underwhelmed last night on the whole last night. Granted, we got a lot of pressure on their ball handlers which led to all those transition buckets, especially for Mason. That’s good! But we gambled big often and when UNLV figured out a way to break the trap, we looked lost. That’s bad! Our primary issue stems from blowing a rotation when we send that secondary defender to corral the ball handler. We just seem to lack the focus on defense to make sure that no one’s man is getting lost in the shuffle. In the last game, S-SLiME was the one I noticed hedging too hard, then leaving his man completely alone. Sure, Selden did it again a few times last, but Big Cliff was the biggest offender. Numerous times during the game, Cliff left his man to try and offer secondary help on the ball handler. At least twice, this came off a pick and roll that ended with our PG on Cliff’s man and Cliff trying to keep up with Doolin. A couple other times, he hedged hard on pick and roll defense, only to leave his man alone in the paint, forcing Oubre to cover Cliff’s man and Oubre’s ready to receive the slash-and-kick wing three. It got so bad that there was a three possession stretch starting at 113:45 in the second, UNLV hit two left side wing threes and a right side for good measure. All on defensive blown rotations. Maybe it’s the youngness of this team, but at a certain point, you kind of hope pride and not wanting to look like an asshole will encourage these guys to actually try and not fuck it up on defense.

Withering Bill Self Quote of the Night: The reporters sit, silent. The hope is that, even though it was uneven and not the kind of ritual destruction you might hope for, a fifteen point win might make the horror god a little happy. Maybe everyone will make it home without anyone having to make a brief stop at a comrade’s house to explain to his cat why he isn’t coming home and another stop at the ex’s place to tell the kids that their parent died doing what they love. Transcribing the intense hatred of a post-game press conference with Toupee. It isn’t what anyone signed up for, but now that they’re here, they’re here till the bitter end. A brief lightning flash ignites the room. Everyone looks at each other, no one wants to look at the podium. Of course he’s there. He’s smiling. He has a milkshake in front of him. He sips from it, smirking around the edges.

I don’t know if we’ve ever leaned on anybody as much as we’ve leaned on Frank. And the kid does play. He plays great. His line today was ridiculous for us.

He drains the milkshake in one fell swoop before throwing the glass at the face of a reporter in the third row. He goes down, unconscious. This is it for him. This is the bitter end. Because irony isn’t a dead scene for them, Stormin’ Norman Roberts and Kurtis Blow Townsend jam a whole bag of Warheads into the reporter’s mouth. His end is bitter, to be sure, but it will be sweet soon enough.

Man of the Match: No one deserves this more than Francis Mason, Renegade Cop. Sure, he popped off for 18 points, 7 assists, 4 boards and 4 steals, but he managed to pull off a truly unprecedented feat. He got a non-backhanded compliment from Bill Self. I mean, seriously. That never happens!

Looking Ahead: Big XII X XII conference play starts with a game against Baylor. More to come later in the week, but let’s just say…today’s your lucky day. I’m dropping a second piece this afternoon that previews the bottom half of the Big XII X XII, according to me. Spoiler alert: Baylor’s not in the bottom of the conference. [Editor’s Note – so, obviously that didn’t happen today. Tomorrow, 01/06, you’re getting a double dose of my conference preview. Well, this is going to take a long time, so you may want to get some snacks.]

*

FOOTNOTES

1 – Like the real, Huy Fong, ruining an entire city in California with it’s chili pepper dust cloud Sriracha. All other sriracha is just a fucking faker and should be put to the torch like a fake witch in Salem. Get out of here with your fake bullshit, man. Back

2 – The short version is that Jess and I were trying to see Book of Mormon through the Broadway show lottery system. Essentially, there are a very limited number of tickets available to each performance and you have to get them day of. You show up about thirty minutes before the lottery, fill out a slip of paper, then, you either get a ticket. Or more likely, you don’t. Which isn’t exactly what happened to us Friday night. We decided, after seeing the throng of people gathered to try their luck at the lottery that there was no chance we’d get called and we opted to go to Wild Wings instead10. I mean, there were at least 100 people, all whom were undoubtedly signing up for two seats, vying for 22 available seats. So, you know, not good odds. Back

3 – If you’ve been reading along, you should know my feelings on the Panthers making the playoffs at this point. I won’t bore you with the details of the playoffs vs. draft pick debate again. I will tell you that the Panthers…well, they looked pretty good in their win over the Lindley-led Cardinals. Not like Super Bowl challenging juggernauts, but way better than I thought they’d look. Jess and I watched the first half at Mel’s before my two-hour window on the special ran out, then watched the second half at her spot. Carolina looked like a team that deserved to be there, rather than the 7-8-1 shit heap that seemed like it limped into the playoffs in spite of itself. Back

4 – Which is apparently a fucking Cowboys bar. Fucking America’s team. What’s with all these Long Island dick shits that move to the city and don’t even have the good sense to root for the fucking Giants? I got to listen to a whole bunch of guys complaining about Romo and Murray with nasal accents and fake tans. And they were fucking into that Cowboys game. We left early in the third, so I didn’t get to see the massive amounts of slightly orange ejaculate that must be coating the walls right now after Dallas managed to turn it around. Back

5 – Of course, all of our shortcomings were overcome by the fact that we ended up winning. And thank god, since, as the leader image can attest, I wore my Dodger-font jersey to watch the game and getting the stink of losing on that beauty after one wear would have been the worst possible outcome. Back

6 – Rather than hurt my brain and look it up again, I’m going to go at it from memory…15:56 left in the second, UNLV misses a shot, tipped by someone, attempted to be corralled by someone, on the deck! EVERYONE PANIC! MAGNA GRAB THE BALL AND THROW IT TO NO ONE IN PARTICULAR! Well, that’s a turnov…wha-wha-what!?! Holy shit, that’s inbounds? INBOUNDS! AND MASON’S GOT IT! HOLY SHIT AND A HALF! Yeah, I think that sums the whole thing up. Back

7 – Tangentially related: the last couple of games, I’ve been noticing that Mason literally never opens his mouth to speak. Obviously, these guys are playing basketball and there isn’t a lot of time for them to discuss Notes from Underground or anything, but Renegade Cop literally never opens his mouth. For anything. Breathing, talking, nothing. His mouth is the same amount of barely open no matter what is happening around him. I imagine him being the other dude in the booth during the Hindenburg disaster just breathing. Like regular breathing. Never more than that. Look, maybe I’m wrong and I’m only paying attention when he doesn’t talk, but that’s the perception I have of the guy. Which is maybe a more recent development with our point guards? After the mercurial and demonstrative reigns of Ain’t No Seats and My New Best Friend, we got the transitory Prophet, then Tharpapalooza11 and Renegade Cop. It has been quite a transition, to say the least. Back

8 – Some of which went like 10 passes that ended in a Jamari 18-footer (or, more specifically, around 5:00 left in the first). Like, seriously? Are you fucking kidding me? We passed the ball for 25 fucking seconds and the best possible shot was Magna12 jump shot? FROM 18 FEET? What’s in that Gatorade? LSD from the missile silo in Wamego? Back

9 – Though not for lack of trying, honestly. I noticed in this one that we ran a far more interesting and varied set of plays of Ellis. He was popping out for 16-footers here and there and even took back-to-back threes. The first, at 16:45, was a miss, but the second, at 15:27, was a make. More power to him, since he’s attempted 16 on the season and, going for it on two plays in a row, shows that Toupee’s at least amenable to the idea of Ellis taking shots from distance. It’s a smart move since I’m tired of watching the poor guy get railroaded into a shit shot over two swarming defenders. Anyway, I wanted to put this into The Good, but I also wasn’t blown away by the performance. This is more of a Wait and See Whether It Is Really Good, So For Now, Let’s Call It a Okay. Yeah, I think that about sums it up. Back

10 – Which was part of our plan anyway. Basically, the lottery is at a 6pm for an 8pm curtain call. You have to be there, in person, when you sign up and when they draw the names for the lottery, but between getting the lottery ticket and the start of the show, you have time to do whatever the fuck you want. We were planning on going to BWW with our two hour window anyway. Back

11 – Who I still kind of miss. I know I was in the minority as the president, treasurer, and secretary of the five member Naadir Tharpe Fan Club, but I’m still holding down that corner. Especially when you consider that, even in his absence, he’s still getting called out by Kansas Twitter:

Which, I mean…fair enough. I still haven’t hopped out of the Tharpe fan club, so maybe I’m a little sensitive. But he’s no longer around to haunt our nightmares. Let’s just let the man live. As a Maine Red Claw. I think he’s suffered enough at this point. Back

12 – And much like Tharpe, I’m totally ride-or-dying with Jamari. Which means I’m in fucking baller company, what with Toupee seeming hell bent on playing him for insane minutes despite evidence that he might not be that good making a basketball player out of him yet! Back



After Battle Report: Kent State Golden Flashes by longdistancejayhawk
December 31, 2014, 5:56 pm
Filed under: Recap
In spite of all the shit that's happened in the world this year, seeing this statement in person was a highlight of the year for me.

In spite of all the shit that’s happened in the world this year, seeing this statement in person was a highlight of the year for me.

Happy New Year, I suppose. Look, let’s all be real here: 2014 wasn’t a hot year for the human race. From the outside threats to humanity of ebola and Malaysian Airlines to our own seeming ability to want to rip apart the very fabric of everything that separates us from the bestiary on this spinning biodome, not a lot to recommend a rerun through 20141. Obviously, I might be jaded for personal reasons, but there’s no need to rehash all of that here. I don’t think that’s the reason that 2014 sucked. No, this previous year was pretty abysmal for reasons that Rembert Browne over at Grantland articulated more beautifully than I ever could.

Humanity didn’t do a hell of a lot to recommend itself as an A+++ ride would do again this previous year.

Some of the horrible things that happened managed to turn into something good. Donald Sterling finally fucked up bad enough that my beloved NBA couldn’t ignore him and Adam Silver proved to be just as capable of swift and decisive action as his predecessor2. If a racist with billionaire armor can get deposed, then maybe there is something good happening. Besides, living in the city, it has been heartening to see peaceful protests and people banding together to voice displeasure with the iron rule of the NYPD in the wake of Eric Gardner and Michael Brown3. That part of all this bullshit has given me hope that maybe we aren’t a flaming shit heap in a dumpster flying off the edge of a cliff.

As has athletes getting a chance to voice their feelings on the matter, be it the St. Louis Rams coming out doing “hands up, don’t shoot” or the Nets rocking “I Can’t Breathe” shirts shown above, it has been inspiring to see people with a platform making their feelings known. They don’t have to because they have “brands” to protect and all. But they still made their statements4.

Yet, amid all of that solidarity, that gelling of pure humanity, we’re still treated to the internet trolling everyone. While I was at the Kings-Nets game on Monday, I was flipping through Facebook and saw the below image, shared by a friend who was livid about the Photoshopping job done to make the players look like idiots.

I am not condoning this in any way, shape, or form. Racist trolls are the scum of the earth and those that try to make a point by Photoshopping an image ARE SCUM OF THE FUCKING EARTH.

I am not condoning this in any way, shape, or form. Racist trolls are the scum of the earth and those that try to make a point by Photoshopping an image ARE SCUM OF THE FUCKING EARTH.

And I’m right back to thinking we’re shit. The sad thing, to me, is that no one who wants to believe that Jack, Garnett, Williams, and Johnson are stupid enough to wear a shirt that has a blatant mispelling possess the mental capacity to realize that the above photo is a crude ‘Shop job. I’m terrible at Photoshop and even I would know to slide the “Breath” over about a half letter length to make it look less like the printer ran out of Es.

God, sometimes…I just don’t know. Why bother? There are people out there, undoubtedly, posting that fucking photo to their backward friends and guffawing at how stupid NBA players are. I wish those people were living in their own cesspool, but they aren’t.

They’re everywhere. And that’s fucking scary.

So, tonight, when the clock flips over and 2015 officially starts, I’m hoping that we can turn the corner. I’m hoping that we can become better, that we can be not just civil to each other, but noble to each other. I don’t have a lot of faith though. Humans are the worst5.

Happy fucking New Year.

Final Score: Kent State 62-78 Kansas

The Good: Kelly Oubre, the Ombre Warrior, started the game off on pretty shaky ground. First possession, he misfired a pass6 then immediately fouled on the other end. These two straight up brain farts would be the last fuckups he made for the first half and most of the rest of the game. The Ombre Warrior was on fucking fire last night. He finished the night with 20 points and 7 boards. Which seems pedestrian when you consider the fact that he romped his way to a perfect first half, hitting every shot he took en route a 16 point first half explosion. My personal favorite shot came at 9:12, when he drained a trey while basically double covered and not even close to squaring himself to the basket. You make that kind of shit, you’re not missing for a long time. That’s when you know you’re seeing something special. Ditto that second half fast break he converted despite nearly losing the handle dodging a defender.

Watching Oubre’s game last night, all I could think was “This guy’s really fun to watch7.” He moves so fluidly that you feel like you’re not watching a human play basketball. Even when he went cold in the second half, he was still making moves and trying to exert his will on the game. Hell, probably my favorite play was the layup he missed that Alexander saved with a patented CLIFF SMASH! That kind of team effort really warms the cockles on these cold winter nights8.

Traylor, who had played his way into the next section of this recap, managed to save himself from ignomy9. He was fouling out of frustration, generally playing poorly, and committing some egregious turnovers well into the second half. Then, he cracks off a series of good plays, scoring seven on some great cuts into the lane. Just when I wanted to cast him aside, he explodes his way back into the sunshine of my love.

Also, Tyler Self hit a time expiring layup, which would have been the most epic thing ever had we not already put the game away like 10 minutes before that.

The Bad: Defensively, I felt like we didn’t look like we were totally locked in, which seems to be a recurring theme for this year’s vintage. We were so lacksidasical that the announcers called us out on an inbound that the Golden Flash10 converted for talking rather than even bothering to defend. You know, even when the fucking ball was inbounds and a shot was going up. On top of that S-SLiME11 looked completely out of sorts on the defensive end. There were at least two plays within minutes of each other in the second where he hedged hard on the ball handler, only to be stranded on the wing. Both times, he was so far away that he frantically scrambled to recover only to get in defensive range long after the shot had hit its target.

Offensively, I worry that Selden might be in a perma-funk. While he got five assists, he also only had five points on the night. He seemed incapable of scoring which might be a self-fulfilling prophecy. In an effort to just get one to fall for confidence, he kept taking terrible shots that had no chance. Like, dribbling into traffic and trying a floater layup that had 0% chance of going in and 261% of getting blocked. Frustrating to see from a player that I really enjoy watching.

A larger concern that I have coming out of this game, one that I seriously worry is going to derail our season (borrowing trouble, I know), is that Toupee seems to have an extremely short leash on guys this season. We started our fifth unique line up in as many games and when we struggled early, guys were getting subbed out quickly. I’m obviously not Toupee, but I feel like all the line up tinkering and the quick hook contributes to early struggling in game. How are guys supposed ot get in a rythym when they’re worried about getting benched? How are they supposed to blend in second unit guys when last game’s second unit spark is this game’s starter? How can anyone feel comfortable to warm up knowing that they could come out at any minute? What if Oubre had gotten the axe early based on the first offensive and defensive possessions? Again, Toupee knows way more than I do, but I feel like the minutes are apportioned out of vindictive spite right now rather than an semblance of an actual rotation.

Withering Bill Self Quote of the Night: Given the timing, just following Christmas and a matter of days before New Year’s Eve, a decisive Jayhawk victory has convinced the gathered reporters that tonight’s going to be differnt. Tonight, champagne is sipped from the paper cups provided by the press row services group. Those who survived chat in raised tones about what their children-of-divorce kids got for Christmas and what watering hole they’ll be celebrating the beginning of a fresh year. Spirits are high and there’s a feeling that, for once, they will be spared the wraith that typically follows in the wake of these affairs.

They are wrong.

The dull converation peters out as everyone realizes that he’s there, staring out as if into a void. No one says anything. No one is in their seat. There was supposed to be more time for revelry. One reporter steps forward, raising his hand as a sacrifice to the caprice of the head coach. His hand gives the rest a chance to get in their seats and not be noticed. His selfless act does not go unnoticed as each of his brothers nods solemnly at him. He nods back, locking eyes with one. A brief reciprocal nod is made signalling that he will tell his children that he died saving others.

He knows what his question will be. He wants to know whether or not the turnover and the foul to start the game pushed Toupee to the brink. Did Toupee want to pull the Ombre Warrior just to punish him for his transgressions.

He absolutely carried us in the first 10 minutes of the game. I thought the first half, the first 12 minutes, we didn’t play very well at all.

Our hero casts his eyes downward and begins to mutter “What a fool I am” but his voice is snuffed out before he can make a sound. A gag is inserted in his mouth by Stormin’ Norman Roberts while his Achille’s is severed by Kurtis Blow Townsend. Before the blood can stain the carpet, he is inside of the black Hefty trash bag and out the door. Everyone files out, knowing that they owe their ability to walk to their selfless comrade in arms.

Man of the Match: Come on? Could it be anyone else? Kelly fucking Oubre gets the gold in this one, even if he didn’t bother to wow in the second half. That torrid, torching first half was a thing of beauty. Enjoy all the spoils that come with winning this war, Warrior.

Looking Ahead: The Runnin’ Rebels of UNLV in our final non-conference game of the season. It seems like this one really flew by, but here we are. Also, what are the odds that we could play pretty much every team who thumb their noses at proper grammar? When I write a book on this season, it’s going to be called “The Year of the Horrible Grammar Mistakes12.

*

FOOTNOTES

1 – Initially, this intro was going to talk about how Jess got me a baller Christmas gift (hint: it’s the Jayhawk jersey with the Dodgers-esque logo, number 34…which is technically a Gentleman Tailor jersey, but I’m going with Paul Pierce, despite the fact he never actually wore this specific jersey) and that Christmas was, as a whole, pretty fucking awesome. I spent the entire time off doing little other than an NBA marathon on the day and a back-and-forth marathon of old Jeopardy! episodes on YouTube and the various Kardashian franchises on Hulu with Jess. As a man who hates having to do anything most of the time, that was the perfect holiday for me. Back

2 – And perhaps more appropriately choosing when to be swift, too. I mean, the commish brought down Adam’s Silver Hammer hard on Sterling in the same way that Stern did about the post-game presser dress code in the wake of the Malice at the Palace. You know, if only dress code weren’t a misguided attempt to stop players from assaulting fans13, but I digress… Back

3 – Which brings up an interesting point: the police, who have acted like fucking babies in the wake of pretty much everything that’s happened, have gone out of their way to really be dicks. They’ve decided, in the interest of their safety rather than those they’ve sworn to serve and protect (let’s pretend there isn’t irony in that statement for a second), to kind of, sort of do their job. Which, as the Post pointed out this week, has brought policing down to practically nil. Given that I haven’t been stabbed 50 times in the last two weeks, perhaps this is proof that we don’t need to be policed nearly as much as the Policemen’s Benevolent Association would lead us to believe? Back

4 – I would be remiss not to note that Adam Silver did come out in a statement against wearing the shirts during shootaround. However, I genuinely believe he made that statement only to kowtow to corporate sponsors, specifically Adidas who spend a ton of money to have their logo on pretty much everything the players wear on court. Back

5 – My recap didn’t even touch on the shitshow that happened in the NFL with Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson. It probably just proves the point that this year was garbage when I couldn’t jam an extra 100 words in here to touch on it. If you’re interested, I did write about it early this year. Back

6 – For reasons that will soon be obvious (or completely foreshadowed by his game last night), I don’t want to spend a lot of time talking about Oubre’s faults, but it should be pointed out that he might not be the best passer. I wasn’t focusing too much on his passing, but in addition to the first play travesty, he had at least two other passes that were so ill-advised that I don’t think he really sees the court well enough to realize that passing right into one or more defenders is the right move. Back

7 – Which is the exact opposite of what I think anytime Landen Lucas is on the floor. I might have an irrational distaste for the guy since it isn’t like he’s played his way out of minutes (though, there might be more on that in a few graphs), but I just do not like watching Stone Hands out there. Back

8 – Besides, it wasn’t like Kent State was fighting their way back into this one, so Oubre going from torching to just mildly effective wasn’t a huge issue. I figure when he came off the court for the last time, Toupee slapped him on the ass and said “That’ll do-bre. That’ll do.” Back

9 – With the complete collapse of Tharpapalooza, I’m starting to worry that my irrational love of a player might be a sign that 1.) they’re about to seriously shit the bed; 2.) might not actually be good at basketball and I just like them for totally non-basketball related reasons. In the future, I’m just going to irrationally love like Evan Manning and hope that no one else gets my stink on them. Back

10 – It occured to me that the nickname Golden Flash is a little weird, considering the fact that the only thing I know about Kent State is the massacre that happened there. I mean, it isn’t an obvious connection, but guns have muzzle flash and you could describe that as golden. Food for thought, Kent State. Back

11 – Rather than try to type out Shape Shifting Lizard Man Eyes every time I talk about Selden, I’m using this acronym. I think it works because shape shifting lizard men leave a trail of slime behind them wherever they go. Not that I think Selden’s slimey or anything. Just has beautiful green eyes that I’m sure turn into reptilian orange eyes sometimes when he forgets to keep up his disguise. Back

12 – Yeah, that was the best I could come up with. Oh, well. Maybe next year, I’ll be more clever. Back

13 – Speaking of Mr. Panda’s Friend, he made minor headlines from sunny Sichaun to announce that he was going to change his name, yet again, to Metta Minaj in honor of Nicki dropping his name on her Pinkprint cut “Trini Dem Girls14.” Metta, I’m so glad you’re in this world. You managed to get 2014 to end on a high note. Back

14 – Which isn’t the best basketball reference on the album. No, that honor goes to this line from Drake and Wayne featuring, Eiffel Tower ode “Only”:

And tell them bitches blow me, Lance Stephenson

Anything that alludes to probably the greatest moment in the Heat-Pacers series from last year is fine by me. Back



After Battle Report: Temple Owls by longdistancejayhawk
December 23, 2014, 10:30 am
Filed under: Recap
The only thing that's offensive about this (other than the non-home court storming) is that Evan Manning is clearly the most important dude in the shot.

The only thing that’s offensive about this (other than the non-home court storming) is that Evan Manning is clearly the most important dude in the shot.

Well, that was rough. Since this is Christmas Week and I have vacation days to burn, today was my only in-office day of the week. I sat through the day, waiting to watch my Jayahwks play a game that they should win. You know, a tough, well-coached Temple team, but one that should ultimately fall under the weight of our awesomeness. And our athleticism. And our crush of NBA-caliber players1.

Since last night officially began my Christmas staycation and we were in a game I thought we could win, I decided to grab some holiday beer to enjoy a win. One that maybe wouldn’t require notes or all-caps tweeting as I became increasingly unhinged. Neither of those things happened.

We looked like total shit. And I was late to the party, so I didn’t even see a single second when we were up2. A listless, terrible performance that I feel like I should be more angry about3.

Final Score: Kansas 52-77 Temple

The Good: Very, very little. So little, in fact, that I’m probably going to make some shit up to make myself feel better. Renegade Cop4 managed to hit some big threes towards the end of the first half5 which engaged my clapping muscles. On the whole, I feel like Mason acquitted himself nicely in this travesty of a game, notching 20 points. You know, in a night when no other Jayhawk bothered to even approach double figures6. Because that’s the baseline in a game like this. The problem was that, as a point guard7, he only got two assists. That’s not so great for a point, especially when we needed to get other guys going. Part of it was probably Temple’s insane ability to snuff out pretty much everything we tried to do on offense8.

The only other thing to like about this one was Kelly Oubre. I wish I could call it a coming out party9. That would be a kick in the teeth of all legitimate coming out parties, basketball-related and otherwise. However, the Ombre Warrior managed to look really good in 23 minutes. He netted just nine points, but a good chunk of those came off of his own misses and putbacks. At the risk of going Full Greenberg here, that’s the kind of gritty, tough play you like to see from your players. Miss a fucking shot? What, me worry? I got that shit on lock! Look at this gorgeous tip in! Oubre might be my favorite grit guy on the team10.

Outside of that, there’s precious little good from this one11.

Yep. That pretty much sums up the night, defensively.

Yep. That pretty much sums up the night, defensively.

The Bad: Is it a copout to say “everything?” Yes, of course it is. Look, this was a tough watch. We did pretty much everything at the absolute cellar for where they could be done. Offensively, we couldn’t move the ball the way we wanted and when we did, we were taking contested shots. I mean, I swear, as I did in a footnote earlier, anytime we slashed inside we were straight up blocked. And whenever we did get a decent enough look, shots weren’t falling. Prime example was the Gentleman Tailor shot in the second where he caught in the mid post, worked his man, shook a help defender before hip bumping his man, and getting just a touch of separation…only to see the hook shot rim out. We couldn’t buy a bucket when things were working, which doesn’t bode well for the highly contested shit.

Which was like 90% of our offensive possessions.

On the other end, we looked completely incapable of shutting anything down. So far this season, I haven’t felt like we have been capable to swtiching effectively. Too often, we’ve let teams routinely force favorable matchups that we don’t bother to try and correct. Often, we’re watching a defensive big face guarding a point and we’ve been getting beat there. However, we haven’t been as egregious as we were last night. With Greene in the game, no less than four possessions involved him either fighting over a screen and getting smoked (following a switch, often) or opening his body up and letting a penetrator have an open lane to the hoop. I’m a total armchair analyst and I can’t imagine how tough playing at this level is…but come on, man. That’s the kind of shit I was fucking up in third grade. Because I was fat, slow, and generally bad at understanding how to make my feets do the things I knew my brain wanted me to do. What I’m saying is: STAY BETWEEN YOUR MAN AND THE BASKET! Sure, there are execptions, but you’re Brennan Greene and this is a guard who has smoked us all night. The evidence early in the game pointed to our lane cloggers and help guys being incapable of stopping a nosebled. You can open yourself up that way. Maybe it’s natural, but dude, try. Please just don’t do something like that.

Okay, I lied, maybe this does.

Okay, I lied, maybe this does.

Withering Bill Self Quote of the Night: Philadelphia, known as the City of Brotherly Love, is no longer inviting. No, it is an ominous appelation for a city that’s seen so much horror. Between the Eggles managing to shit their way out of a playoff spot, despite an impending 10-6 record. Meanwhile, the 76ers are shitting their way out of anything approaching a competent basketball team12.

Not a good time in the City of Brotherly Love. Which Toupee knows. For he knows everything. Without a sound, he’s behind the podium staring into the distance. All of the reporters raise their hands, hoping that they’ll be able to have their question not only heard, but responded to. Toupee raises a hand, then quickly moves it across his throat. All the reports lower their hands, save one.

We played tired. And we played like we were a half-step slow or even a full step slow, in my eyes.

He quickly points to his eyes, holding his two fingers there for a second, before moving his hand back to the crowd. His uncaring fingers rest on two reporters. Both nod for a split second, knowing their fate is sealed. Kurtis “Blow” Townsend and “Stormin'” Norman Roberts stand at the end of the row, holding a slimjim and garote, respectively. With a solemn nod, all the non-accursed file out, giving a brief nod to the black angels. If they dare.

The two selected by the supreme god know their fate and take it with the stoicism of a solider guarding the eternal flame.

Man of the Match Award: No win, no man of the match13.

Looking Ahead: A long ass layoff before we have to take on Kent State. I think we’ve got this one. But I’ve been wrong about putting my faith in our ability to not suck in the past.

*

FOOTNOTES

1 – Aaaaaaaaaaand…our alarming inability to close out lesser opponents. I apologize for being derelict in my duties as an amateur sports blogger or whatever and not recapping our last two games. So, here goes a few brief thoughts on the last three games. The Lafayette contest wasn’t really much of one. I certainly watched it but they were out of the game so early that there isn’t much to say. For enough of that one, we looked like us at our best. The other two games, Georgetown and Utah, are more troubling. We have an inability to close out, especially against good opponents. Georgetown isn’t getting nearly enough props, in my opinion, and Utah is just good. We have this magical ability to crush an opponent, but not their will. They worm their way back into the game, thanks to a sort of cruise control that makes me worried about our focus. We need to step on the throats of our opponents and never let up. Back

2 – Assuming we ever had a lead, which I sincerely doubt since we looked like total shit for the 35 minutes I did see. Hard to surmise that we had a lead at any point, unless you’re talking 2-0 at the start. Back

3 – Never fear, I’m sure that as I start to write the meat of this recap, I’ll probably get irate. It’s coming. I think anyway. Back

4 – Goddamn it, Francis, you might have blown up the entire cancer ward…and punched a pregnant lady in the face, but damn if you can’t hit some big threes. You’re a hell of a cop, Mason. Maybe a loose canon, but a hell of a cop. Back

5 – If you’re the kind of person who believes in things like momentum and grit and hustle, then those treys were basically like a hors d’oeuvres for a meal that never came. Because momentum isn’t something that really exists. Otherwise, we would have come out in the second bombing from three. Speaking of which, Seth Greenburg is the worst. He spent approximately 20 minutes of the first half verbally ejaculating about how great it was that the Owls dove for a loose ball, while we bent over at the waist. As if that somehow means that they’re a team that “wants it more.” You know what, asshole? Every wants it more. Everyone wants to win the fucking game because ball is life. Ask Magna, for instance, on the play you went ballistic for because he was basically on the fucking ground! So what if Greene bent over to try and grab the loosey? That’s not the kind of thing that makes champions, Greenburg. You know what does? Hitting fucking shots and not getting stuffed every trip down and managing to not fight over every fucking screen then be completely out of position to stop the ballhandler and not jumping a second too late and not…whoops, should have yelled “SPOILER ALERT” back there. Anyway, I don’t believe in tangible things having a material impact on a basketball game. I don’t believe in momentum, since Renegade Cop’s threes are clear evidence that shit doesn’t exist in the same way that just throwing out bullshit buzzwords doesn’t mean anything in basketball. You know what does? Execution. And shots falling. And just playing the fucking game better on a given night than the other team. Back

6 – My soon-to-be-Magna-replacement, Oubre, also had a nice game, more on him in a minute. Back

7 – Which, certainly people paid considerably more than me, think isn’t that good to play that position:

Seems to me like someone doesn’t totally trust Renegade Cop. How quickly people forget that we lived through the Tharpapalooza14 era. Mason’s a great player. Probably never going to make the NBA, but he seems to try for at least 75% of his minutes which is more than I can say about our team. Especially last night. Back

8 – This is supposed to be The Good, but was there a single layup or bunny floater we attempted that didn’t result in a three-man collapsing defense and a swat out to an Owl ready to run it down the court? I might have been melting down during my note taking, but I think the stats there were like 3-of-37. Could just be shell shock, but that’s what I remember. Back

9 – No, last night wasn’t a coming out party. That would be the 23 point explosion on 9-15 and 4-7 from three. That…that was a hell of a night for the Ombre Oubre. Back

10 – WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME WHY AM I SAYING THESE THINGS I DON’T EVEN BELIEVE IN BULLSHIT UNSTATABLE THINGS THAT JUST MAKE NO SENSE WHO KNOWS THE NUMBER FOR EPSN BECAUSE WITH GREENBERG AS A BASELINE I CAN TOTALLY TALK ABOUT HOW MUCH HEART, HUSTLE, GRIT, GRIND, DEVIL-MAY-CARE-UNSTOPPABLE BASKETBALL TOUGHITUDE THIS DUDE MIGHT HAVE FOR 40 MINUTES TWICE A WEEK15. Sorry, the adrenaline kicked in there… Back

11- Including the fact that I was listening to the new Old Man Gloom double album on the train ride home (after finishing off The Starters’ Monday podcast, which I cant fault since that’s not really amp up music). I’m trying not to believe in signs and omens16. Especially since Old Man Gloom’s The Ape of God I and II might be my favorite albums of the year. For the uninitiated, Old Man Gloom is a supergroup featuring Aaron Turner of Isis, Caleb Scofield of Cave In/Zozobra, Nate Newton of Converge/Doomriders, and some other dude. Old Man Gloom is essentially what I imagine a jam band made up of metalheads would sound like. They bust out some riffs that slay, but they don’t last long. The Ape of God records are just perfect, though. Loud, obnoxious, full of fucking around, but when they hit? They hit hard. “Fist of Fury” is a barn burning. If you listen to that cut and don’t want to slam your head through a rando’s skull, I can’t help you. Back

12 – Yes, I’m a catty bitch, but holy shit…the Sixers are terrible. I tweeted the following during the game:

Which was probably the most popular thing I said all night. I like to imagine that, despite the feeling that the entire arena was full of Owls fans, the venue was actually full of Philly season ticket holders that got in for free. If you think about it that way, of course they were loud! They’re so used to seeing horrific affronts to the good name of James Naismith that seeing a competent basketball team made them go ballistic. Back

13 – Though, if one were so inclined, I’d give it Renegade Cop, for reasons we’ve already discussed. Back

14 – Full disclosure: I loved the everloving shit out of Naadir, so I might be just passing blame here. Dude had some really good games for us. But was he the PG of the future? Obviously not. Back

15 – Not only am I full of chronic self-loathing, I’m also a hypocrite. If you need me, I’ll be in the corner, watching Mario’s Miracle on loop and mumbling about getting up for the big moments. Back

16 – Or portents, which, combined, is the name of a pair of cuts on my favorite Earth album (for those curious, the album is The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull). Also, they featured Joe Preston for a time, who also spent time with Harvey Milk17. Back

17 – Who have, hands down, the best album titles of all time ever. Life…the Best Game in Town (and death goes to the winner!)tktktktspotifylink and My Love Is Higher Than Your Assessment of What My Love Could Be. Seriously, if you’re listening to anything that isn’t the incestuous love-fest of stoner metal, you’re doing something wrong. Back



After Battle Report: Georgetown Hoyas by longdistancejayhawk
December 11, 2014, 10:00 am
Filed under: Recap

i-1

Last night, I got off the train to a cavalcade of snow. Like the kind of snow that only happens in the city. You look down 4th Ave. and all you see is a fog swirling snow. Usually, we have one of those sometime in October or November, then there’s nothing for weeks until we get into January when the skies shit out snow like bone white diarrhea. Not last night, though. Last night was  typical city snow. The saving grace was that it wasn’t cold enough for the shit to stick, so now the only things with any trace of the snow fog are cars1.

The snow, my friends, was like the Georgetown defense. A swirling dervish of arms and blocks and steals and gritty, grinderman basketball that didn’t let up for 40 straight minutes.

Last night, to borrow a phrase from Kevin Garnett, was a bar fight. A bar fight that we ended up winning, so hooray for dubs.

Final Score: Kansas 75-70 Georgetown

The Good: Outside of the obvious win, we seemed to be way better at dealing with the pressure than we did in our only other real test of the season2. Despite storming out to a solid start, we gave up a ton of points to make it a two point game at the half. But that didn’t deter us or make us completely fall apart3. We played through their runs and answered them in kind. Along the way, we got great contributions from some starters (Ellis and Mason) as well as a playing-out-of-his-fucking-mind Brannen Greene. We had some good ball movement even if it wasn’t particularly effective. These are the kinds of games that make you optimistic that, as we develop and gel as a team, we’ll be able to take the good things we’ve done against the lesser teams in Orlando and the mistakes that made Georgetown a tough one and marry the two.

My favorite thing we did was easily our transition game, especially during the Greene outburst. Greene isn’t a world beater by any stretch, but he is an incredibly effective catch-and-shoot guy on a fast break. This wasn’t the only contest where he showed that ability in spades. It was, however, the game where he did it in important moments, hitting threes when we needed a spark to get going. I mean, the guy had 19 points on the night, which is waaaaaaay more than I would ever put on the guy’s shoulders4. But if he’s going to get it and coming off the bench? Fuck yeah I want that5.

Finally, I like Renegade Cop. Which is what half of KU Twitter seems to feel too. The other half? Well, they’re not so high on him. I compared his game to Westbrook in the past and I feel like last night’s game was a pretty good encapsulation of that. Obviously, I’m not trying imply that Mason is anywhere near Westbrook’s level, but I think he might be another player in that mold. What I mean is that there’s Good Mase/Bad Mase the way there’s Good Russ/Bad Russ. Both of them like to slash to the rim as a means to create their own shot. Both of them do it pretty much without regard for what else is happening on the floor in that particular play. And both reward your with some breathtaking finishes through traffic or dick kick you with a stupid layup that gets blocked into a transition dunk that Mason somehow manages to foul on and give the and-one to.

This is a craiticism, sure, but something I’m willing to live with. The reason is that some of my favorite Kansas teams featured mercurial point guards, guys that would try to take over a game, regardless of whether that was a good idea. Ain’t No Seats and Tyshawn were the most successful. Those bridge years with Tharpapalooza and the Prophet didn’t have the same gunner/do-or-die attitude that Collins and Taylor brought. Mason is that guy. You’re going to get some big balls layups or the trey he drilled in the second like an assassin. You’re also going to get some “THE FUCK DUDE EVERYONE IS OPEN EXCEPT FOR FUCKING YOU!” moments.

Can we all agree to just ride this roller coaster and enjoy it all? I know he isn’t the best point, but he’s our point. And he’s going to spend his career running the line between stupid and fearless, no matter what we think.

The Bad: Backdoor cuts, man. They’re killing us. We’ve given up a lot of them this season, but Georgetown was actually dangerous. We need to solve that problem sooner rather than later. I know it’s hard, especially for young guys, to not key in on the ball, but the Hoyas were basically taking us apart on pretty simple actions. We hedge to hard and leave a wing guy open for an easy bucket. Giving them up is fine when the competition can be overwhelmed by talent. Not so fine when you’re in a dog fight.

However, back doors don’t worry me as much as the fact the teams have figured out that Gentleman Tailor is our key offensive cog. In the last two games,  both Florida and Georgetown have doubled up on Ellis, forcing him to make tough shots or bad passes out of the double teams. He’s still scoring in double figures, but he should be a 20 PPG guy and he’s getting shut down hard. We need to establish more offensive game to try and open up Ellis a bit. I’m waiting for Big Cliff or Rufio6 to force defenses to ease up on Ellis, but that’s been slow coming. Of course, it probably didn’t help that seemingly every pass we sent Elli’s way managed to result in an interception. Maybe last night wasn’t his night. I certainly hope so anyway.

Withering Bill Self Quote of the Night: The gathered reporters in the visiting media room stare straight ahead, waiting for the carnage. Everyone is afraid to blink, especially after the last time someone deigned to ask a question. No one wants to end up in the carpet, thrown out alongside the Taco John’s refuse that litters K-10. Did everyone blink simultaneously or did the lights flicker for a brief second. It doesn’t really matter as the table where Toupee takes his questions is suddenly populated. Himself sits there, mute, as does the severed head of Bill Rafferty with a single, small-sized notecard reading “I don’t truck with jokers7.” Blood drips off the front end of the table. A slow, metronome of fear as each drop hits the oddly large pool, considering how recently the head actually appeared.

A reporter raises his hand, timidly, as if he’s afraid to cut the air and risk bodily harm. Toupee raises a hand.

The reporter lowers his head and stares at his feet. Sweat drops down, drowned out by the still flowing blood from the severed head of Bill Rafferty. The twin shadows of Stormin’ Norman Roberts and Kurtis Blow Townsend are behind him, a cudgel lifted exactly six feet above his head. The perfect distance for instant coma, if not death. The reporter nods in assent. The cudgel comes down. The rest of the reports leave the room, single file, afraid of saying anything lest they be the next to take the wraith.

 

Brannen Greene, your Man of the Match.

Brannen Greene, your Man of the Match.

Man of the Match Award: This wasn’t a well played game by any stretch of the imagination. Both teams turned the ball over like that was the point of the exercise and we weren’t able to really lock into a rhythm for any prolonged stretch of the game. Sure, we had our moments, but nothing approaching a sustained stretch of excellence that made anyone in Jayhawk Nation feel like we were assured the victory. Amidst that roughness, one light shone brighter than the rest. That was none other than Brannen Greene. Hitting those back to back treys were huge and gave God’s Team a boost in the second half. Throw in the fact that he netted 19 on a perfect 5-5 from downtown and he could be the most important bench player we have8. Enjoy the trophy, which I swear is in the mail, buddy.

Looking Ahead: Saturday, we’ve got a frisky Utah team that’s #13 in the rankings9. I’ll be doing some research on them, but I feel like this could be a fun tilt on a nominally neutral site (it’s the Sprint Center, so, you know…). I can’t imagine the same level of throttling defense will meet us Saturday, but who knows? Either way, I’m kind of wishing this had been a powderpuff game to give us some sturdier sea legs.

*

FOOTNOTES

1 – I feel compelled to mention it, since the Georgetown players made their stand during the anthem tonight. I went to the Cavs/Nets game on Monday10 and there was a protest going on outside. I wasn’t upset that it made it harder for me to get in because the protestors are right. Eric Garner was murdered. I don’t care if you don’t agree with me politically, look at the video. He was choked out by a hold that even MMA fighters would shy away from. That video is the most chilling thing and the fact that the grand jury didn’t see enough to indict is unconscionable. While the Barclays shut down my main backside entrance, I still wasn’t bothered. When I got to my seat, I was greeted to a shoot around that featured many players wearing “I can’t breathe” shirts. Adam Silver has expressed concerns about the “on court attire” but I can’t imagine him making a move to fine the players for actually wearing them. Obviously, there’s the Adidas deal to consider, but I doubt he’s going to make a statement either by fining or telling stars not to wear the shirts. And that’s what’s so great about the NBA. I’ll never forget last year, during player intros at game 3 of the Raps/Nets series when the Donald Sterling shit blew up, when Michael K. Williams came out doing the Omar whistle and before saying anything about the Nets, dropped “There’s no room in the NBA for Donald Sterling.” It was one of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen and I would hope that Silver would see the shirts in the same way. As there’s no room in the NBA for Sterling, there’s no room in society for someone like Eric Garner getting choked out by a police officer for doing basically nothing11. Back

2 – Which would be Kentucky, a game where we dealt with pressure about as well as a delicate blossom chilling out on the sun. Back

3 – I say that with full awareness that there were a lot of turnovers throughout the game, especially any pass that might have been directed at the Gentleman Tailor. Look, we didn’t play our best basketball nor did we look defeated at any time during the game. It was a nice feeling to see that we were able to keep coming, keep attacking, despite the fact that Georgetown was managing to shut us down often on the offensive end. Back

4 – I may or may not have lumped Greene into the basketball incompetents group with Landen Lucas early in the year. Look, I know they play for Kansas, but they also weren’t the kinds of guys I enjoyed watching. Lucas had stone hands at the outset and Greene was…well, he was Brannen fucking Greene. As the season’s gone on, both are shaking that label, Greene in particular. I like having Greene come off the bench as a weapon, similar to Conner Teahan. Only, you know, able to knock down big shots without much warming up12. I don’t like Greene starting, but if he’s coming off the bench and knocking them down? Might be pushing his way into Favorite Non-essential Jayhawk status. Back

5 – Which brings me to a concern I have with this year’s vintage? Are we too talented? Do we have too many guys that want too many touches? I don’t know since I’m not in practice, but that seems to be the case here. We’ve run a fairly diverse starting five and it seems like our minutes rotations vary pretty substantially from game to game (for instance, Svi got zero burn tonight after starting the last couple of games…he might be in the dog house or he might not be trusted in high intensity situations…either way, he’s just another casualty of having too many guys last night). I’m sure Toupee knows what he’s doing more than I do…yet, it seems like there’s a lot of variance from game to game. Maybe we shore that up or maybe we keep running whoever’s looking good out there and take our chances every night. Back

6 – New nickname alerts – Oubre looks like Rufio, based solely on his haircut and Greene is Hyde from That ’70s Show. Still working on something for Cliff. Back

7 – I wanted so, so bad to leave this section bereft of footnotes this year, but I figured this one deserved some explanation. Eagle-eyed (or short-term memory excellent) readers might remember a footnotes (within a footnote) earlier talking about Rafferty being great. Well, that didn’t change. However, after talking to Ellis, Rafferty made a crack about the game being easy and Toupee responded with a “fuck you, that wasn’t easy” response. I like to imagine that Self killed Rafferty over it. This is satire, so you know, don’t get too bent out of shape or anything. Back

8 – Quick digression: speaking of bench players, my Nets have, according to sources, agreed to ship Andrei Kirilenko, draft picks, and cash to Philly for Brandon Davies. I’m not making that up. That’s what the report I read says. Look, AK-47 managed to get into Lionel Hollins’ dog house somehow, so it’s better to unload a useful player in exchange for something. The key part of the previous statement is something. Rather than do a like for like or even a straight salary dump, Billy fucking King has done what he’s always done – send way too much away for little in return. For a single year of Paul Pierce (favorite Jayhawk, so last year at the Barclays was magical!) and two of KG, we shipped off the future for mediocrity for years to come. Boston’s laughing all the way to the bank. Boston is now in the enviable position of deciding whether to tank or not, given that they get our picks for years and can decide what to do with their own, more or less. Now, we’re packagaing picks to get rid of Kirilenko and his hilarious dragon tattoo? It’s like this franchise knows that suckers like me are going to pay for season plans regardless of whether or not the team’s any fucking good. Back

9 – If you care about those things since they’re total  garbage. I mean, G’town isn’t ranked at all and they looked really fucking good. Back

10 – Hold off on reading this footnote for a hot second or until you’ve finished the above note…which was an enjoyable game for the visiting team. The royals came out in the third quarter to a huge round of applause. Which might have cause Kevin Love to miss a free throw. Of course, evertyhing they did after that was beautfiul basketball. Again, if you weren’t a Nets fan. LeBron went floor general and fed Tristan Thompson a series of alley oops that were back breaking. They went on something like a 17-5 run to cap a 35-18 quarter that forced Hollins into clearing the bench with eight left in the contest. But all of that was overshadowed by what I’m talking about in the first footnote, assuming you skipped my previous instruction. Back

11 – Full disclosure: I had a good friend murdered by a cop. Ever since, I’ve been unable to see a cop without thinking about what happened to Paulie. The thing is that I’m in a demographic that shouldn’t fear cops, yet I do. I  do because what happened to Eric Garner (and Michael Brown and countless others) reminds me of what happened to my friend and no one should have to live in fear of the people employed to serve and protect them. No one should live like that. Watching the video of Eric Garner makes me nauseous because I lost a friend to a violent cop. I can’t imagine what that’s like to lose a father, husband, brother, whatever. And I can’t imagine what it’s like to have to live in fear of cops either. As much as I love things in this world, this is one that makes me disappointed with the human race. Back

12 – Which Raffery noted with a yell of “HEAT CHECK!” on the second consecutive transition wing three. Speaking of Rafferty, how great was it that Bill Rafferty was calling the game (side note: how great is it that he’s filed a petition to trademark his catchphrases like “Onions!”)? The man is excited about basketball almost as much as he’s excited about life. Going into a timeout in the second half, he was going ape shit about the highlights and the FOX Sports 1 producers were only happy to oblige (presumably because they’d run out of spots to run that featured a bunch of G’town kids chanting “We are” and “Georgetown!”). I got the impression that they faded him out, but left the highlights running and just let him freestyle for the entire 60 seconds of commercials. Somewhere, there’s like 45 hours of Rafferty going bananas on highlights that we’re never going to see and America is the worse for it. Back



After Battle Report: Florida Gators by longdistancejayhawk
December 8, 2014, 4:19 pm
Filed under: Recap

The other night, I caught this band called Zambri. They were weird. Good weird. You should really check them out. Anyway, the band is these two sisters who make some really weird gothic pop music. Kind of dark, but dancey. Think if the Faint had a lovebaby with Chelsea Wolfe.

Or something like that.

Anyway, I did that the night that we were playing the Gators. Yeah, I know, turn in the cred card1. Get off my back! I hate the Gators and I figured, what with my phone dying, that I could just get up in the morning, skip the internet, and watch it on Chromecast or what-have-you. I made it through the Arsenal game without checking on any places that might ruin it for me.

Until I logged into Facebook. Which had a post from the KU Athletics page discussing how we stormed back or something to that effect.

“Aw, shit, this is going to be a good one,” I thought, almost immediately forgetting that they ruined the game for me on the vague promise of a thriller. Against a team and coach I wouldn’t piss on if they were on fire.

I hunkered down, ready for some fun. What I got was the opposite of fun.

Final Score: Florida 65-71 Kansas

The Good: Did I mention that we managed to come back from an 18 point deficit to win the contest? Did I mention that someone said we stormed back? That was pretty much the highlight of the game. A headline asserting that we stormed back. Because what I saw was a storming so much as a slow chipping away at the other team’s lead. Hell, we barely contained the disastrous turnovers and insanely poor swtiching we exhibited throughout the first half when we got into the second half. I mean, I guess if you cough the ball up nine times in one half, getting that down to half the total is a positive, right?

I don’t know. I thought we looked discombobulated for most of the first half and the second half we just managed to pass the ball twice on offense instead of immediately turning it over. I really wanted us to play well and make up for losing to these bayou backwater asshats, but we just sort of farted our way into a victory. I want to say that we did everything right and really showed maturity, but I’m pretty sure the only reason we ended up winning the game is because Florida did us the favor of missing about 100 shots during a five and a half minute drought.

The Bad: We turned the fucking ball over like the object of the game was fucking golf rules. Lowest score wins, boys! Fuck that noise. Play like you’ve seen each other before. During the first half, we weren’t playing the way we played in Orlando2. Given the body of evidence, I’m assuming that Saturday’s game is the anomaly, not Orlando.

I know I’ve mentioned this, but I honestly can’t think of an explanation as to how we managed to pull off the win. Has there ever been a game where you’re down huge and you end up winning that feels less inspiring than this one? I’m thinking of other down big games and this has nothing approaching that level of tension. I mean, we managed to have a 9-to-14 assist-to-turnover ratio. Who does that and manages to win a fucking game? I kept waiting for a monster dunk or the exctiement that accompanies a run and outside of Dickie V shrieking3 about smelling a run, it just didn’t seem like we were storming back or anything. All we did was just win, like Tim Tebow.

Schuyler thinks the crowd willed the team to victory. I think that’s as good an explanation as any.

Withering Bill Self Quote of the Night: A black carpet rolls through the door, the perfect length to stop right next to the podium. The other end disappears into the hallway. A chill rolls through the room, though no source of the cool air is readily apparent. The carpet sits. Unmolested by foot or shoe. The gathered reporters start to get restless, one leaning forward and scratching his ankle. He doesn’t have time to raise up before the voice of Toupee booms from the dais. No one saw him enter and it is unclear whether or not he even used the carpet.

It was a terrible start and our best players were not very good at all in the first half. The roles reversed in the second half.

The reporter who’d previously bent over to scratch his ankle is nowhere to be seen. Stormin’ Norman Roberts and Kurtis “Blow” Townsend, however, are nearly done rolling the black carpet back out the door. The carpet is suspiciously thicker than when it first rolled its way into the room.

Man of the Match: No one really deserves it, honestly. But I’m giving it to Shape Shifting Lizard Man Eyes, mostly because I love a stat line of 21 points, 1 assist, 1 block. Low bar to be the stat leader on ESPN these days, I guess.

And here, too, I guess.

Looking Ahead: We’ve got the Hoyas of Georgetown. For whatever reason, I always imagine them as slow, plodding people. Some kind of tree person. But I might just be conflating the whole team with one wooden player, Patrick Ewing.

*

FOOTNOTES

1 – Another thing totally harshing my cred here is that on Saturday night, I was asked what would happen if I received a KU football jersey as a gift. I only semi-jokingly said that I wouldn’t wear it, since I find crossing sports weird (or put another way: I wouldn’t wear it to watch basketball games, so I don’t know when I would ever have a chance to wear it). This statement, naturally, brought out the “you’re not Kansas enough” arguements. Look, I like misery as much as the next guy, but pretending like football isn’t actually happening on Saturday’s is the best feeling in the world. You can do things like rewatch a particularly atrocious basketball game while eating cinnamon rolls and Cheez-Its4. Back

2 – I never got around to posting it, but I did write a recap of the whole tournament. The main gist was that we looked like we were starting to get a rhythm among the guys and we were starting to have solid ball movement. Which would have looked incredibly stupid if you read it as a primer for this year’s vintage then watch Saturday’s game. Back

3 – Dickie V used to be entertaining in a doddering old man sort of way, but he’s really starting to drive me fucking insane. During the broadcast, he kept talking about things completely unrelated to the action on the court. Used to be that there’d be some mayhem to his madness, but he kept digressing, unprompted by poor Jon Sciambi (who probably has to pop a Viagra after broadcasts after getting contact impotence). Out of nowhere, he shrieked about Yale upsetting UCONN. I mean, super loudly. Without any context whatsoever. This was after he’d talked about Kentucky struggling. At least I think he was talking about Kentucky. And football. God, he went on and on about like 500 different teams that deserved to be mentioned as possible contenders for the playoff, presumably because they qualify under the “must be a football team” rubric. And these are just the things I remember him talking about. Just hang it up already (full disclosure: he also looks like my dead grandfather, which is a whole other level of unnerving). Back

a – On a related note, I’ve put on like 20 pounds since my collar bone accident. Actually, that’s not entirely true. That’s been in the last month or two. So, you know, not happy about that. If only there weren’t a fucking nor’easter getting ready to ejaculate snow and rain all over everything, maybe I could get a fucking run in this week. Back