Long Distance Jayhawk


2014-15 Big XII Preview, Part 2 – …Blood by longdistancejayhawk

Welcome to Part 2 of my insanely long Big XII X XII Conference preview. If you haven’t read Part 1 yet, do yourself and favor and do that before taking a bite out of this bad boy. You’ll be glad you did since you won’t have any surprises when it comes to which teams are decidedly not being discussed in this part of the preview. Also, as noted in Part 1, I wrote this Friday and Saturday of last week, using numbers going into conference play. Obviously, I’m a little late getting this out there in the world, but I honestly thought we weren’t getting into the Big XII X XII till this week. Which is what happens every year since Kansas likes to have that one last non-conference game on the Saturday that everyone else starts. I should note this for next year, but I’ll totally forget.

And then there were five.

And then there were five.

Well, we’re all here. Are you rested? Did you get yourself a little snack? Maybe you actually did a little work in the downtime between the first piece going up and this one. Perhaps you didn’t. Maybe you spent some time pondering the Dion Waiters to OKC, JR Smith and Iman Shumpert to Cleveland trade1. Who knows what you did, but I’mm glad you’re here. There isn’t too much to say in terms of a preamble, so let’s get down to it.

PROJECTED STANDINGS AT THE END OF THE SEASON, PART 1 RECAP

  1. ?
  2. ??
  3. ???
  4. ????
  5. ?????
  6. Oklahoma
  7. Oklahoma State
  8. Texas Christian
  9. Kansas State
  10. Texas Tech

I think I did pretty good there! Not to toot my own horn or anything…I think the ballsiest pick was going against TCU, but as I mentioned in the last piece, I really don’t trust them to stay nearly as good in this death valley of a conference. I’d love to be proven wrong and see the Horned Frogs make a play at relevance, though.

Now, let’s get into the top half of the Big XII X XII. Quick note: I wrote these almost immediately after Part 1. So, I kind of lost a little steam. Or maybe these assessments are more streamlined thanks to me barfing up all the detritus I felt necessary in the first go around. Whatever the case, there’s a fully 1,000 fewer words here, so you can probably get through it without having to avoid your boss too much with minimizing the browser window.

#5 – Baylor Bears

Last Season’s Shame: 26-12 (9-9) – What could have been a terrible season following a 1-6 start to conference play, Scott Drew’s Bears ripped off an 8-3 run to cap league play en route to Big XII X XII Championship game and a Sweet Sixteen appearance against the Great Kamiskies of Wisconsin.
Emoji-nal State:
Baylor
Non-Conference Record:
11-1
Projected Conference Record: 10-8
Projected Total:
21-9

Ranked Game Record: 0-0
Baller Wins:
Either win over Texas A&M or Vanderbilt, since all it takes is one of those teams pulling off the impossible and toppling Kentucky for us to ascribe the transitive property of wins and declare that Baylor could, in fact, beat Kentucky.
Brutal Losses: 
They only lost to Illinois, so by default.

Baylor kicks off the top half of the Big XII X XII picks and ranking series. This might be the second biggest stretch of my picks since this is a Scott Drew team we’re talking about. As with a lot of these, I’m going with the ol’ gut because I don’t trust Baylor to be able to replicate their pre-conference success in such a hellaciously tough conference. A huge part of my trepidation is that they haven’t played anyone of note prior to taking on Oklahoma over the weekend. And they lost that one. So…yeah, maybe I’m starting to worry a bit about putting them over Oklahoma.

Ultimately, I decided that the talent and experience of this team would overcome the curse of Scott Drew. Rico Gathers, a junior forward, is averaging a double-double. Also, there are just two frosh getting appreciable burn for this squad, while there are a whopping 8 upperclassmen (6 are juniors). At a certain point, the experience of being there has to count for something. I can’t imagine that even Scott Drew’s penchant for not getting the most out of his team can overwhelm the amount of talent collected here.

#4 – West Virginia Mountaineers

Last Season’s Shame: 17-16 (9-9) – Did you see what the Mountaineers did last year? They went 8-5 in pre-conference and 9-9 in conference which was good enough to make me at least think about whether or not they deserved to be considered a fringe bubble team. Maybe I’m wrong, but I feel like that was at least a conversation in March of last year.
Emoji-nal State:
WVU
Non-Conference Record:
12-1
Projected Conference Record: 10-8
Projected Total:
22-9

Ranked Game Record: 1-0
Baller Wins:
At the time, UCONN looked like a solid team defending their title, even though they were in the middle of a free fall at the time. So, WVU gets to hold on to that #17 victory.
Brutal Losses: 
Losing to actual LSU, rather than faux-LSU TSU isn’t the best thing you can do to burnish the old tournament resume.

Jesus, have you seen or heard about what’s happening in Morgantown? This team is about buckets and buckets and buckets and the only way to get buckets and buckets and buckets is to shoot. Like a shit ton. I mean, like constantly. As of Friday when I pulled numbers, they had taken a mind boggling 844 shots, outstripping number two in the conference, TCU, by a staggering 132 shots YTD. That’s nuts! They’re taking nearly ten more shots per game than the second place team in the rest of the conference. Add in the fact that they’re forcing a league high 13.46 steals per game (about 3.5 more than second place OSU) and you realize just how fast this Mountaineer team truly is.

My big reservation though comes when you dig a little deeper. Right now, Huggins’ squad is 24th in PPG (78.9) which is great…except that it comes on a truly abysmal 42.9% FG% (good for 211th in the country). Oof. That’s not the most reassuring thing I’ve ever seen. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out if West Virginia was going to run into a huge problem when the pace of the game inevitably slows down. What happens when they have to take say 45-50 shots as opposed to 60-65 they’re shooting right now? I know this is Huggins’ brand of basketball and that’s ultimately what helped me rank the Mountaineers so high2. Even if there’s a bad night or stretch, Huggy Bear’s  been there before. He can get the most out of these guys, good for a fourth place finish.

#3 – Texas Longhorns

Last Season’s Shame: 24-11 (11-7) – Look at that! Another Sith Lord team that makes it through the regular season well on the right side of .500 only to fizzle out in the first weekend of the tournament3!
Emoji-nal State:
Texas
Non-Conference Record:
11-2
Projected Conference Record: 13-5
Projected Total:
24-7

Ranked Game Record: 1-1
Baller Wins:
Just getting in on the “UCONN is a quality win” bandwagon as the Huskies were free fallin’ without a parachute into ignominy.
Brutal Losses:
Losing to Stanford sticks out because fuck the Cardinal.

Honestly, this seems like the biggest gamble on the whole list. Rick Barnes is a slippery coach to figure out and his Texas teams are no different. I’m not an expert on the Longhorns, but I feel like there are only two Rick Barnes teams: 1.) the upper-middle tier talented team that flies under the radar while racking up a solid number of wins and a tournament appearance; 2.) the ultra-for-Barnes-talented squad that flies a little too close to the sun before bursting into spectacular flame out. I feel like there’s no middle ground.

Which is why this could be the biggest gamble on my list. The Longhorns are looking really good so far. They’ve got a slew of wins on their resume and just two losses. One of those losses was to the buzzsaw of Kentucky, which they only lost by twelve and surely covered the spread4. That’s a win, right? And they’ve done it all without phenom guard Isaiah Taylor since the Iowa game back in November.

Which is why I was hesitant to put them this high. With Taylor coming back from injury, I worry that this will morph back into the type of Barnes team that doesn’t wait till the tournament to shit the bed. If that’s the case, backing them is going to look stupid. But I’m prepared to look stupid. This year’s Texas team eats glass like it is their fucking job and the talent up and down the roster fits what Sith Lord wants in a basketball team. Are they a threat to win it all? Of course not, but could they sneak into winning the Big XII X XII? Of course.

#2 – Kansas Jayhawks

Last Season’s Shame: 25-10 (14-4) – No need to rehash the dirty deets here. Not my favorite vintage to watch, though going down to Stanford the first weekend…yeah, that was pretty rough.
Emoji-nal State:
KU
Non-Conference Record:
11-2
Projected Conference Record: 15-3
Projected Total:
26-5

Ranked Game Record: 2-1
Baller Wins:
Michigan State by five to take the Orlando Classic crown for the side of righteousness.
Brutal Losses: 
Two way tie: Kentucky punching straight through our faces to the tune of 32 or Temple smoking us 25. Look, if you’re going to lose, you might as well make it look like you never bothered to lace up your dunks.

I think it’s obvious what I think about this year’s vintage at this point. Especially if you read every post. To give a quick Cliff’s Notes: this is one of the weirder teams of the Toupee era. We’re bursting with a good mixture of talent, experience, and skill…yet we can’t seem to string any of it together into a workable whole for more than 20 minutes a game. If that. For every game where we get a monster, career performance from one of our guys, someone else is playing like they forgot there was a game going on. Most of the time, our sheer talent wins out, getting us the brass ring almost in spite of ourselves. Other times, mercifully few this season so far, no one steps up and we end up getting embarrassed out of the building. Which is why we need to be ready to assume crash positions at any point during any game this season.

This is not, as currently humming, a team prepared to win a National Championship, let alone a clear and convincing win for our eleventh straight regular season.

Which is why I couldn’t put us at the top of the list. At least not alone.

Look, I’ve seen enough teams under the stewardship of Self overachieve to keep the conference title streak alive and so I can’t rule us out to continue the streak. I don’t have faith in this squad. Not yet. But I have never-ending faith in Toupee. He will pull this team together, mash it together into a competitor. It’s that faith and the belief that in nine weeks, we’ll be seeing the vision of the team that we’ve had flashes of so far this season. And that team will be rounding into form at the right time. But they’ll also be tying with Iowa fucking State.

#1 – Iowa State Cyclones

Last Season’s Shame: 28-8 (11-7) – Probably the best season in Ames in a while, especially since they didn’t have the Prophet to be the focal point of their intense self-esteem issues. They capped off a great regular season with their first Big XII X XII title since 2000 and a Sweet Sixteen exit to eventual champion UCONN.
Emoji-nal State:
ISU
Non-Conference Record:
10-2
Projected Conference Record: 15-3
Projected Total:
25-5

Ranked Game Record: 1-0
Baller Wins:
An 18-point win over then #18 Arkansas is only eclipsed by a 50-point ritual sacrifice of the Mississippi Valley State Sun Devils. I swear they’re D-I despite the insane logo.
Brutal Losses:
Probably losing to the Gamecocks a mere three days before the start of conference play.

Obviously, the Mayor of Ames has done this before: had an impressive start to the season, only to get into Big XII X XII play and watch life pump the breaks a little bit. I’m sure, given the talent on the roster and what they’ve been doing under Hoiberg, an 11-7 finish in Conference wasn’t an ideal way to end the season. Which is why I’m worried that this team is out for blood now.

Iowa State is like West Virginia, in that they’re scoring and scoring a lot. But they’re doing it considerably more efficiently. Currently, they’re in the top-20 nationally in both scoring (82.4 PPG, 14th in country) and percentage (49.4%, 16th in country). They’re doing what WVU is attempting, but doing it better. I fully expect both of those to cool off when we get into the thick of conference play. But I can’t imagine it falls off nearly enough for them to not win at least 80% of their league games. If there’s ever a year for us to lose our seat at the top of the Conference, this is the year. And if there’s a team to knock us off, I don’t trust Texas to do it, mostly because that wouldn’t fit with the Sith Lord’s narrative. No, Iowa State, this year, is the biggest threat to our streak. It would cap the story that started with Melvin Weatherwax and the Prophet dunk. This is how these things work. I’m not happy about it, but here we are.

Of course, at the risk of giving up my Jayhawk cred here, I’d like to point out that I do have us tying with the Cyclones. However, the only reason they’re slotted above us is because of the previously mentioned feeling that we’re going to drop both to these shits only to redeem ourselves in the Big XII X XII Tournament.

God, I hate this season already.

*

That’s it. I’m sure you’re all like 80% as exhausted reading this shit as I was writing it. I believe I did the best I could, at least in terms of ranking the teams if not their actual records. If you have a problem with any of them, come at me, bro. Now, if you’re interested in a little peek at how the sausage is made here is the spreadsheet with all my predictions on it (and if you’re really interested in like how I slaughtered the pig for the sausage making, here’s a scan of all the notes that ultimately grew into this twin behemoth). The first sheet is me literally picking every game for every team. A “1” means I think they win that game and a “0” should be pretty fucking obvious, but just in case…that’s a loss, Jimmy. Sheet 2 is conference standings at the end of the year, based on my picks for the individual games. Yes, for like the hundredth time, I think ISU is going to beat us twice in the regular season. It just feels like it’s coming back on us for reasons I can’t quite understand. Finally, I threw in a conference tourney bracket that I filled out, mostly to make me feel better about picking against us. Nothing quite like the tantalizing possibility of embarassing Weatherwax at what should be his team’s crowning glory, ammirite?

Ok, that’s it. For making it through about 6,300 words, you deserve a medal. I don’t have any handy, so rain check? Now get out of here. I’m sure you all have families and shit you need to hug and feign affection for.

*

FOOTNOTES

1 – Okay, confession…I wrote that intro graph after I got home from the Mavs/Nets game and wanted to talk about something timely. You know, because the temporal physics of the internet allow me to write things in the past, update them, then post them in the future. OoOoOoOoO! What a world! Anyway, I have some thoughts on the trade (shocker!) that I’d love to get into, but I’ll save that for another time. Just know that I find it insane that the Cavs would want to ship out one chucking head case for another in Smith (Andrew, your email was spot on in terms of why this trade is insane). Are they really that hard up for scoring with LeBron out that they want to bring in another guy to clash with Kyrie? What are the chances they end up waiving the guy just because? Seriously, I don’t totally understand it from the Cavs side. From the Knicks side, sure. Just not sure what Cleveland hopes to gain here. Back

2 – And apparently the hottest start for the Mountaineers since like 1981, according to Seth Greenburg during halftime of the Notre Dame-North Carolina game. That’s kind of shocking, since I figured they’d had at least a few good seasons during the Huggy Bear reign. Back

3 – Yes, I know, I know…but come on! At least we make it to the second weekend sometimes. Back

4 – Is it possible for us to create a new set of rules for the 2014-15 Kentucky team? Can we only count wins for them if they cover the spread? I mean, they’ve got to be getting like 18-plus per game, so at least that would make this season sort of competitive. Back



Big XII Preview, Part 2 – …Spit On Them From Such a Lofty Perch by longdistancejayhawk

Welcome to part two of my mega-conference preview. In the previous installment, I knocked out all the teams that are going to be in the cellar of the Big XII X XII, covering each of them with analysis that ranged from “somewhat informed” to “has TCU been on TV in the tri-state area?” I want to assure you that, I go out of my way to watch as much pre-conference Big XII X XII games as possible before writing this column. Just know that, thanks to the apparent lack of interest in Horned Frogs basketball in and around Brooklyn1, I couldn’t get around to it. Enough preamble! Let’s get down to the dirty business of ranking the top of the conference.

This is part two. This is a lazy way of differentiating.

This is part two. This is a lazy way of differentiating.

I have serious doubts that spitting on your opponents from the heights of the Big XII X XII season standings would in any way satiate their hunger. I know that. Let’s not get tied up in semantics or calling out the fact that I just wanted to make a reference to a Jucifer record2. You know, that and I wanted there to be a connection between the two3. So, with that out of the way, let’s get down to a little recap of what happened in the first 3,500-word monster of this bad boy.

PROJECTED STANDINGS AT THE END OF THE SEASON, PART 1 RECAP

  1. ?
  2. ??
  3. ???
  4. ????
  5. ?????4
  6. Iowa State
  7. West Virginia
  8. TCU
  9. Oklahoma
  10. Texas Tech

That’s a motley crew, to be sure. Looking back on it, I’m starting to second guess my Iowa State at sixth pick. That’s probably good enough to make the tourney, but there’s no garauntees. It’s probably going to come back to bite me in the ass, just as a certain team that is conspicuously absent from the garbage crew of the league is probably going to come back to bite me in the ass. Look, I’m no professional, here. Get off my back! I just go with what I think, feel, and, in some cases, a gut feeling based on prior history.

So, who’s going to take home the regular season crown? Who will challenge them for that spot? Will Toupee have enough caustic remarks to make it through the season? Only time will tell. But in the meantime, I can ramble about things that will probably not come true.

#5 – Baylor Bears

Non-Conference Record: 8-4
Projected Conference Record: 10-8
Projected Total:
18-12

Ranked Game Record: 1-1 (9 point win over Kentucky, 7 point loss to Gonzaga5)
Baller Wins:
A nine point beating of Kentucky6
Brutal Losses:
Losing by four to a Northwestern team that’ll probably be 8th or worse in the B1G Ten.

Brady Heslip has a weird concept of corrective lenses, people. That said, he's probably going to drive you batty this season.

Brady Heslip has a weird concept of corrective lenses, people. That said, he’s probably going to drive you batty this season.

Baylor, like a certain other school in the Republic of Texas, is some kind of tease. When you think they’re going to be good, they’re crap. When you think they’re overrated, they rip off a shit ton of wins, beat you in the Big XII X XII tournament, and push their way to an Elite Eight berth against eventual Champ Kentucky. That was a pretty solid showing for a team that I worried had no guard to feed Quincy Acy or Perry Jones III. I was totally convinced that the hole left by LaceDarius Dunn would kill them.

And I was wrong7. Which is why I’m going to give Baylor some credit here. Last year, they didn’t lose a game until conference play, where they fell victim to the rest of the teams at the top of the conference (twice to God’s Team and Missouri, once each to K-State and Iowa State). Six loses on the season isn’t a terrible record. So, while I’m willing to go ahead and give them the benefit of the doubt in terms of finish, I think they’re going to suffer a few more losses on the year. One big thing is that I still don’t trust Brady Heslip to be the voice of veteran leadership on a team that features a ton of young guys. Yes, the young guys are playing well, but Scott Drew isn’t quite Calipari when it comes to trusting him with roster stocked with green players. At some point, this team’s youth is going to catch up to it. Especially when you look at the rest of the league8, where teams are trending towards being deep with experience as well as cohesive basketball. Assuming that there are no recruiting violations or NBA defections, Baylor might be coming back. Consider this season a teaser trailer for that time.

Actually, you could probably consider that Kentucky game a teaser trailer for that time. As with the next squad on the list, I’m basing some of what I think they’re going to do on a game where they seemed to be clicking after some early season missteps.

#4 – Texas Longhorns

Non-Conference Record: 8-5
Projected Conference Record: 11-7
Projected Total:
19-12

Ranked Game Record: 1-2 (18 point domination of UNC, 23 point implosion to Georgetown9 and an 11 point loss to Michigan State)
Baller Wins:
A complete desruction of a UNC team ranked #23 at the time
Brutal Losses:
A UCLA team in perpetual turmoil is kind of embarassing, but that’s nothing compared to losing to Chaminade in the Maui Invitational. First off, they host the thing as a D-II school, so they’re more of a symbolic game than a legit game. Second, Sith Lord should be embarassed about the fact that TCU beat a D-III school while his squad got dropped by thir-fucking-teen to Chaminade. I mean, christ, their nickname is the goddamned Swords. Not Sword Wielding Knights or the William Wallace’s Swingin’ Bastard Swords. Just inanimate swords. They could be sitting on a table for all we know. Whatever the case, YOU SHOULDN’T BE LOSING TO CHAMINADE, BARNES!

…Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand here it is! The boldest of bold picks! I seriously think the Longhorns can do this! They can grab fourth place in this top-heavy league10 based on attrition and my inability to stop picking Rick Barnes to succeed. I don’t know what it is about me and this guy. I can’t help myself. Every time the Longhorns make the tournament, I pick them to make a Sweet Sixteen, and weep openly as they tank my bracket in the first round. It’s just the way this shit goes.

What the fuck ref, the force is strong with me! What? My dead eyes? Just a part of the force, brother.

What the fuck ref, the force is strong with me! What? My dead eyes? Just a part of the force, brother.

But enough about the past. Let’s talk about the very near future. I’ve watched two Longhorns games this season. One of them was the above mentioned Georgetown game where the ‘Horns played like garbage, getting crushed by Georgetown’s size. By the end of that one, they looked like a completely demoralized squad. The other game I watched was the annual Benedict Roy thrashing at the hands of Sith Lord. I don’t know what it is about Roy now that he’s at Carolina11, but he seems to have a hard tim beating Barnes recently. More importantly, though, is that the ‘Horns actually looked good in that game, taking on a UNC team that might not be that great. The thing was Texas actually looked like they knew what was going on, instead of the outsized and outmatched team that got killed by Georgetown. They looked like they were getting it.

That’s what I’m basing this pick on, that Sith Lord’s guys are getting it. It’s a hunch which could seriously kill my credibility, but I don’t care. It’s just how I feel. Part of it might be that I want to try and find a legitimate rival for the departed Missouri. Another part of it is that I believe that, by picking the Longhorns to place here as well as possibly have a solid showing the conference tournament, they might manage to squeak into the tournament with a mid-seed. And I can finally exact my revenge by accurately estimating their ability and look like a goddamned genius when I pick them to get bounced in the first round.

No, I’m not making this pick with emotion. Not at all12.

#3 – Kansas State Wildcats

Non-Conference Record: 11-2
Projected Conference Record: 11-7
Projected Total:
22-9

Ranked Game Record: 1-2 (6 points over Florida, 14 point loss to Michigan and 16 down to Gonzaga13)
Baller Wins:
A convincing showing against Florida14
Brutal Losses:
Either the 14 point rout by Michigan or the 16 point killing by Gonzaga, take your pick

Do you have the time, to watch me hoop?

Do you have the time, to watch me hoop?

Kansas State perpetually lives in the shadow of their goliath cousin to the east. I’ve said it about a million times now, but I honestly never felt nearly the same virtiol towards K-State that I did towards Missouri. In fact, the only time I ever got worked up about them or their town that reeks strongly of manure was when we actually face them. Outside of that, I couldn’t give a shit. Whereas Missouri…I would cross the street to whisper “Rock Chalk” in the ear of someone wearing a Missouri shirt. Then, scream “NEVER GRADUATE!” as they stood there, dumbfounded. With the Wildcats, I actually want them to succeed in the same way an older brother is proud of their little sibling following in their footsteps. You know, as long as they don’t beat us or anything. Throw on top of that the fact that Frank Martin broke the hears of the Wildcats everywhere, only to be replaced by Bruce Webber and I’m kind or rooting for them. Not to win more games than us. But you know, make the tourney, good showing. That sort of thing.

I’ve watched bits and pieces of their games so far this season and I like what they’re doing. McGruder is still there and he actually freightens me as a player. I know he’s the kind of guy that’s going to get up for conference games, probably pushing his current season average of 13.7 closer to the 15 mark. He’s just a good player that’s never in the conversation of great players, that I hear anyway. I’m also amped to see what Billie Joe Rodriguez does this season15. I love that kid! He’s one of those kids that plays like he’s eight feet tall and I love his scrappy style of play. Throw in the fact that they’re returning fucking Spradling and Henriquez and this team could surprise a lot of people. Though not me. Since they’re totally coming in third in the conference.

#2 – Oklahoma State Cowboys

Non-Conference Record: 10-2
Projected Conference Record: 15-3
Projected Total:
25-5

Ranked Game Record: 1-0 (20 point blasting of that really good NC State squad, a 1 point edging by Gonzaga)
Baller Wins:
The Cowboys embarassed a very good NC State Wolfpack, besting them by 20 and limiting C.J. Leslie, Lorenzo Brown, and Richard “Thurston” Howell to a combined 14
Brutal Losses:
The Cowboys lost by ten to Virginia Tech. Virginia Tech barely understands basketball and besides, they’re mascot is like a toothless hillbilly version of the Hoosiers

Oklahoma State. What’s there to say about them that hasn’t already been said? Don’t worry, I’m sure I can figure something out. I was so, so hoping that they would fall off somewhat with the departure of Keiton fucking Page16. I’m tired of this team ever being good since they have Toupee’s number. With the Big XII X XII down to ten, we have to play them at Gallagher-Iba, where Toupee has a seriously sketchy track record. Seriously. I wanted them to be a one-note song with Le’Bryan Nash and nothing else to hang their hat on.

Then, they have to go and rack up a 10-2 record coming into conference play. Ugh. I hate having to admit they’re good at all, since that means admitting that, best case scenario, we’re splitting our series with them this year. Good job, universe, you got me. Now that the melodrama’s out of the way, I love that OSU’s not just competitive, but ranked at this point in the season. I love what I’ve seen of not just Nash, but most of the team. They play with a team mentality that, even in the loss to the Zags, showed they’re ready to compete right now. Throw in the fact that Travis Ford is a good coach and seems to be a decent human being, and you’ve got a contender, a team that could challenge us for the regular season title. Not, of course, that it’s actually going to happen. Just that they could do it.

You really can't hate on a dude who does this to announce his college pick. Especially when you consider Nerlens Noel's shaved head business.

You really can’t hate on a dude who does this to announce his college pick. Especially when you consider Nerlens Noel’s shaved head business.

#1 – Kansas Jayhawks

Non-Conference Record: 11-1
Projected Conference Record: 16-2
Projected Total:
27-3

Ranked Game Record: 1-1 (barely lost to Michigan State, controlled Ohio State and got an 8 point dubbya)
Baller Wins:
A truly spectacular performance on the road against Ohio State
Brutal Losses:
There’s only one, so it’s got to be Tom fucking Izzo’s Michigan State

You should never bet against one of the best coaches out there, especially when he spends his off season crushing HRs in celebrity softball.

You should never bet against one of the best coaches out there, especially when he spends his off season crushing HRs in celebrity softball.

We’re good and we’re good to win at least a share of our ninth straight Big XII X XII title17. Fuck that we’re really good. There’s the obvious concern that we might be peaking early. I get that. But I don’t think this team is in danger of peaking early. Our roster is stocked with veteran leaders, a POY-caliber freshman, and a bench full of dudes who could start at a slew of other schools. We’re playing better than I’ve seen us play, game in, game out, than I’ve seen us play in years. Last year, we made it to the title game on sheer will and determination. This year’s squad is better than that. We play with a ruthless, destructive style that will be hard to top in the conference. No one has that same beautiful mixture of talent and experience to hold a candle to us.

That’s not to say we won’t drop two game. I’m feeling an Oklahoma State loss and maybe a Texas loss. That’s all I see happening to us this season. I can assure that this isn’t just my usual cockiness shining through. This is a firm belief that we’re playing the best basketball in our conference, maybe in the country, right now. I’m sure if you’ve read this far, you’re a Jayhawk fan, so this shouldn’t be a shock to you. Let me assure you one more time: I’m not saying this because I believe we can’t lose out of blind loyalty to KU. This is a firm belief that we’re the best in the Big XII X XII.

Allow me a minute to share an anecdote. On NYE, Alex and I went to our friends’ house out in Queens for a little dinner party. One of the guys there was a pretty knowledgable NCAA basketball fan. While he went to UConn, he told me about how a friend of his came from a pretty serious Jayhawk family. While he was telling me the story, he kept saying “I seriously only pick against Kansas early because it pisses my friend off. I pretty much assume Bill Self is never going to lose.” If even a Huskies fan can admit that Bill Self is a fucking titan, it should be readily apparent that you should never bet against the man. Let alone bet against him when he’s got a team as stacked, top to bottom, as the team we’re running this year.

I’m predicting yet another trophy in our trophy case. And there are few things finer than that in basketball.

*

Phew. That was a long one. Longer than the first installment. No less accurate, though. If you take issue with anything I said here, feel free to let me know, either in the comments or via Twitter or something. I welcome all criticism.

Also, shout out to Rock Chalk Talk for re-tweeting me yesterday. That was pretty awesome on their part.

*

FOOTNOTES

1 – I don’t even know if they have a game I could go dig up on WatchESPN.com. I firmly believe basketball is something that has to be seen to truly grasp what happened in a game (since some games look close on paper, but are really just blowouts drawn closer by extended bench minutes). That said, I looked at their results. They can barely buy a basket and when faced with God’s Team, let alone Oklahoma State or Baylor, I just don’t think they’re going to be able to hang. Back

2 – I swear I’ve used the “if thine enemy hunger” line before. I double-checked via a Google “site:longdistancejayhawk.com” search and couldn’t find anything. If I’m recycling, I’m sorry. If you’re new here and don’t know what I’m talking about, I never, ever recycle a goddamned thing. What is this? Amateur hour? Back

3 – Much like the way I used a line from “Shady Lane” by Pavement to connect the preview and recap of Georgetown in the Maui Invitational last season. Between Pavement and Jucifer, I’m guessing my eclectic taste in music is on full display right now. Back

4 – WordPress, for all it’s greatness and funcationality, will not, under any circumstances, let you change the starting number for a list. Or make it count backwards from a formatting perspective, it made more sense to have a shit ton of ?s where the eventual teams will be placed. Back

5 – Can anyone else think of an instance where one team not only played a majority of another conference’s teams and then managed to own them as much as Gonzaga seems to be doing to the Big XII X XII this season? Back

6 – Which might not be as baller as we thought it was coming into the season. Not that Kentucky’s bad, per se. Just that, given their struggles on the season thus far and the fact that even the voters can’t give Calipari the default vote these days, they might not be all that great. Of course, byt tournament time, they’ll probably be a one seed and everyone’s pick to win it all. Back

7 – Which should probably give you some level of pause when it comes to me, or really anyone, trying to tell you what’s going to happen in any sports situation. We’re all making it up as we go along. Back

8 – Except maybe for the team that’s coming up immediately after them. I have irrational faith in Sith Lord and…I’ll be honest…I just miss Missouri and I want the default rivalry to mean something rather than us just straight up smoking the Longhorns. Okay, now you know who I’ve locked in at fourth. Fuck me, I’m already regretting this. Back

9 – Did I mention that I actually went to this game? It was the Jimmy V Classic at MSG. A bunch of my ex-pat Jayhawks and I wanted to see some live college ball and the games were actually pretty entertaining on the whole. The UConn/NC State game was fun because both teams are pretty good, especially NC State with C.J. Leslie, Thurston Howell, and Lorenzo Brown, and they both seemed hell bent on winning the game. NC State was most impressive since at least two of those guys looked Association ready during the game (specifically Leslie, who had this crazy fastbreak moment where he faked a defender with a split second shoulder shrug because his face was a stone cold mask). The Georgetown/Texas game was interesting because Georgetown looked like world beaters and Texas look like total shit. I’ve seen a couple other Texas games so far this year and I don’t think they’re as bad as that game would have you believe. But they’re not great either. It seems like their biggest problem is that they don’t have any idea what to do on offense and spend most of the time trying to figure out if anyone’s actually tall enough to take the ball inside. I think they’d have been a damn sight better with Myck Kabongo back in their lineup that night. As it is, they looked like a talented team that couldn’t execute their way out of a wet paper sack. Back

10 – Which admittedly lacks a certain level of star talent from top to bottom. I feel like most years, we have a bunch of guys that excite for their clear NBA-caliber talent (Durant, Griffen, and, recently, Royce White) as well as guys that are fun to watch, even as they’re torching our guys (Keiton fucking Paige, anyone?). This year, there are plenty of guys I enjoy watching, but I don’t feel the same level of wattage coming off the conference as in previous years. Back

11 – I did a little research on the subject (two caveats: 1.) I did all the math myself, so that could be off; 2.) some of the data came from Wikipedia, so take it with a grain of salt) to see whether Rick Barnes’ Texas squads own Williams’ Carolina squads or if Barnes just owns Williams. During their on-going series, Carolina is 1-3 against the Longhorns. The question then is: how did the Williams Jayhawks squads fare against Barnes’ Longhorns? I looked through results from 1998 (Barnes’ first UT year) and 2003 (William’s last KU year) and I found that we 4-1 against them during the overlap in tenures. So, kind of the opposite of what’s happened with the Texas/Carolina series in the last four years. I’m going to run with the argument that Barnes is a good coach and not just incredibly lucky against the Tar Heels. Back

12 – In all seriousness I believe that Texas is better than their record and better than the shitastic showing at MSG. In fact, what I’m actually envisioning here is Sith Lord managing to get his team to play passable, competent basketball that’s just good enough to win all the games he should win, plus stealing a couple he shouldn’t, based on the chemistry that develops with his squad. As much as I want to see Kabaongo come back, it wouldn’t surprise me if, feeling fan pressure to get him on the floor post-suspension, Barnes rushed him back into the line up, where they go .500 through the last part of the season. They’ll gel just enough with Kabongo to make a decent showing in the conference tourney before all the disjointedness catches up to them in the first round against a fired up mid-major. Fuck…now that I’m writing this, I’m starting to think this is what I should have said about the Longhorns. Whatever. What’s done cannot be undone. Moving along… Back

13 – Oh. My. God. Mark Few’s team has a vendetta against our conference. Avoid at all costs! AVOID AT ALL COSTS! Back

14 – Unpopular opinion alert. I seriously hate Billy Donovan. I think he’s the most overrated coach out there. Throw in the fact that he’s grossly overpaid, especially when you consider that he won two consecutive titles…then didn’t make it back to the tournament. I honestly don’t think there’s anything special about the guy, in much the same way I don’t think Gary Williams is an incredible coach. It’s just my prerogative. Back

15 – That’s Angel, in case you were wondering. He looks so much like Billie Joe Armstrong from Green Day, that I just can’t help calling him that all the time. I thought he was great his freshman campaign, so I can only imagine he’s getting better this season. Back

16 – Speaking of whom…did anyone else watch the Gonzaga game? I watched the first half and the announcers kept talking about Page. Not about his legacy. About what he’d said that day. I’m sure he works for the school now. It’s the least they can do for their leading scorer. Though, I didn’t hear what the context for talking to him was. I kept imaging him like J.O. Incandenza in Infiite Jest when he becomes the wraith that haunts Gately, but more like a wraith haunting the hallways of Stillwater’s basketball facilities. Back

17 – Just so you know, when I do these bad boys, I actually go to the trouble of picking what I think will happen in each of the games played in the conference. There’s a whole spreadsheet and everything. When I was picking all the games, I seriously contemplated a whether or not to have us tie with Oklahoma State. I may or may not have redone my predictions a couple fo times just to see if I could bring myself to do it. Ultimately, I couldn’t. However, if you’re interested in how I got to the numbers I got to, this is the spreadsheet: Conference Predictions 2012-13. It should be noted, when I built the spreadsheet originally, Missouri and Texas A&M were still in the conference, hence the mismatched colors and out of alphabetical order of the team names. Back



Still Digging up Dirt by longdistancejayhawk

The conference landscape looks a little less bleak for the nine surviving members of the Big XII these days. After Syracuse and Pitt bolted for the ACC, the Big East and Oklahoma got the door slammed in their face while trying to get inside the Pac-12 fraternity (mostly because they couldn’t really drag Texas with them since no one other than the Big XII is ever going to allow that Longhorn Network shit to fly), the Big East and the Big XII seem to have swapped places in the ER. The Big XII seems to have been lifted from critical condition to being able to walk around a bit. The Big East, on the other hand, looks like it’s coming apart at the seams. Definitely an interesting little switch they pulled there. The thing that kind of bugs me about this new sitch is that we’re left being a nine team conference, scrounging for the dregs, while the ACC made a bold move towards becoming the first power conference. If you think that the ACC is going to be content to rock 14 schools, you’re nuts. They’ll probably snatch UCONN from the reeling Big East and one other school to basically create the new landscape in college athletics. If I were in the Horizon league or any other mid-major conference, I’d be shitting myself about what is about to happen.

However, that’s not why we’re here today. No, we’re hear to put me on blast for some of the absolutely hilarious and possibly bogus things I said in the months of January and February. Let’s hop aboard my time machine and stare down at all the things I wrote in those two crazy months.

JANUARY

January started with the final few games of our non-conference schedule. This also doubled as the end of the NFL season (my second favorite sport and the reason that I just bought a 42″ HD TV and have a DirecTV install scheduled for the 12th. Seriously…free Sunday Ticket? Who doesn’t want that?). Since we were manhandling oponents and crusing to victory after victory, I feel like Long Distance Jayhawk really hit a stride. Yes, I was still talking about Kansas 85-90% of the time, but I still slipped in some awesome talk outside of God’s Team and college basketball, like this:

what’s up with Rex Ryan not just admitting that he and his wife made foot fetish videos? I mean, it’s isn’t snuff porn or anything. Plus, dude has been pretty la-di-da with the media in the past. How great would it have been if he’d just been like “Hell yeah, that’s me taping my wife! She has the hottest feet I’ve ever seen. Tell me you wouldn’t want a foot job from her. I dare ya. I DARE YA!” Sometimes, I wish famous people would just admit that they did some crazy shit. How refreshing would that be?

I still think Rex should have just come out in a press conference and been like “What? My wife has hot fucking feet! You want to argue with me? I could threaten to eat you, but after that gastro surgery, I’m not all that hungry anymore.” Seriously. It isn’t that big of deal, Rex. In other NFL news, I started picking games based primarily on my own prejudice and the fact that I watch a ton of football. I ended up going pretty terribly in the playoffs. Final playoff predictions record was spotty, at best.

The main thing that I was focused on, outside of NFL playoffs, was the start of conference play. I did an epic, 3,000 word preview of what I thought would happen in conference play. Here’s the breakdown of where I thought everyone would end up:

STANDINGS AT THE END OF THE SEASON

  1. Kansas (14-2)
  2. Texas (11-5)
  3. Texas A&M(11-5)
  4. Baylor (11-5)
  5. Kansas State (10-6)
  6. Missouri (9-7)
  7. Oklahoma State (9-7)
  8. Colorado (8-8)
  9. Nebraska (4-12)
  10. Oklahoma (4-12)
  11. Iowa State (3-13)
  12. Texas Tech (1-15)
The best part is that I actually threw in a crazy forfeit scenario that didn’t happen. The crazy part is that at the end of the season, I was mostly right. The biggest fuck up was Baylor. Seriously. Coming into the season, everyone, including me was high on their jock. Of course, the warning signs were all there. Before there was even a tip of a basketball, Lacey-D’s girlfriend’s jaw got broken (though to hear her and her family tell it, she didn’t have any broken bones and just fled to wherever she’s from to just get a little oxygen. Also, at the time, reports stated that Dunn and the GF had been dating for at least 10 years. By my calculations, that means LaceDarius was dating her when he was eleven. You can’t make that shit up). The season started and Baylor went 10-3, which isn’t that bad. What’s bad is that it was clear that no one on the team wanted to step up and really control the team. They came into conference play showing serious weakness. Naturally, I ignored all the warning signs and went all in on LaceDarius Dunn being the Big XII player of the year and willing his team to at least fourth place. Never ever talk yourself into backing a team that isn’t performing up to snuff.  I even predicted that the Bears would be one of the teams that would notch an L against us:
The only team that I’m really worried about beating us is Baylor. I think this is a kind of grudge match for the Bears, not so much against us, but against everyone who’s saying their not shit right now. Could be a trap for KU.
Again, though, I’d like to point out that, for the most part, my guesses on wins were pretty accurate. I spent one night with a fine Belgian ale and a spreadsheet open, where I literally predicted who would win every match up in Big XII Conference play. That’s the dedication I have to you guys. I wasn’t totally accurate on the actual games, but I was definitely pretty good with the numbers. Caveat: that kind of thing is pretty easy when you know that certain teams will compete for the basement of the conference. Anyway, I’m still pretty pleased with how that one came out.
The biggest blip over the rest of the month was the Texas game. Here, I ranted about my superstitious nature, Bobby Knight and T-Rob’s dead mother:
This was one of those games where I started to feel bad from Saturday morning on. I checked in with ESPN and their preview pointed out that theSith Lord (and Texas, in general) had never won in Allen Fieldhouse. Call me superstititious, but things like that never bode well. “Hey, Bob, you what’s never happend?” “What Steve?” “I’ve never been gored by a rhinooooooOOOOOOOOOOGOOOOOOOOOOODDDDDDITHURTSITHURTS!” Maybe I’m crazy, I really think these things make a difference. So, after reading that, I talked to my buddy Brett about T-Rob’s mom dying which would have been a good sign, if I didn’t get to Mulholland’s and see T-Rob grabbing boards. Uh…your mom died…
This game had fucking trap written all over it. Going into Friday night, I felt like we had a shot of winning. Once news broke of Robinson’s mother’s death, I pretty much knew that we were either going to go one of two ways. Either crush Texas and watch T-Rob breakdown at the end of the game while pointing to the sky or we’d lose and badly. The second one came to be. At the time, I remember thinking that, without T-Rob, we wouldn’t have a sub for the post, but that was okay since having a grieving kid playing an ultimately meaningless basketball game would be worse for him and worse for the team. What no one realized until after the fact was that the entire team went to Thomas’ house and spent the entire night with him, consoling him and making sure he was okay. They didn’t get done until like 5 in the morning…of a day with a noon tip. Of course we weren’t winning that game. Oh, well. I’ll still remember the heroic first half effort that we put down as a tribute to Lisa Robinson.
February
Winter continued to pummel New York and I spent my time locked inside from the elements doing what I always do: watching basketball. I got really into a couple of teams last season. One of them was Ohio State, who I had a love/hate relationship with. I couldn’t deny the talent of their players and Thad Matta’s coaching ability. However, I was also pretty convinced they would just spend the rest of the season romping to a Sweet Sixteen, at least, before they met anyone that would actually stop them. Here’s what I said about their first match-up with the Badgers:
They have two games against Wisconsin and one against Purdue. I’m going to throw Purdue out (they play way too much into the Big Ten style of grind it out shit that’s so boring to watch). It’s just not going to happen. Wisconsin is the only team that has a chance to actually beat them. Wisconsin has been pretty impressive in the games I’ve seen them play this year. They run a more uptempo style of basketball and I think that they have the skill to shut Sullinger down. That’s why I’m looking forward to Saturday’s game. This is one of two shots the Badgers have to take down the Buckeyes.
The crazy thing is that I ended up being right! It so rarely happens (if you read through the archives in depth, you’ll realize that I pretty much say that the most obvious or streaking Kansas player is going to have a monster game, then they don’t and I look like an asshole). I’m not trying to blow myself here, but I have to say that I was having a run of success on the prediction front back at the beginning of the year. The thing I remember most about the Ohio State-Wisconsin match up was that I got into it a little late at the gym, watched the bulk of the game, then ran back to Meredith’s place so I could catch the beginning of the Kansas game. She looked at me like I was insane when I told her what I was doing. “You’re seriously going to leave while this is happening?” I still think that the whole D-I school vs. D-III school thing makes it hard to understand why someone would pull themselves away from a compelling match up of tourney bound teams to watch Kansas eviscerate the Cyclones. Look, it’s just who I am. I refuse to defend myself because there’s nothing to defend (of course, in hindsight, I actually do wish I’d caught the last part of the Buckeyes-Badgers. It was a four point game!).
The only other thing that I’d like to bring up is that I somehow wrote an entire preview of the Oklahoma State game without mentioning Keiton Paige once. Not once. I fucking loathe that kid. I think a part of me blacked his stupid, box shaped, jack up threes on you all fucking game because I’m a shit bag frame from my mind. God, he just bugs the everloving shit out of me. He’s one of those guys that’s such a thorn in the side of your team, that you end up assuming that he’s a senior every year because it seems like he kills you every time you match up with him. I’m guessing that we’ve played against the Cowboys in the Big XII tourney enough times in his three (soon to be four, thank God) years of college that I just assumed we’d played him out. Jesus…I’m calling this one a day before I have a rage blackout.
Kidding. A guy I went to high school with and then also went to KU with met up with me for a drink the other night (he might end up contributing to the blog, so watch out). He was asking me what I thought about KU’s chances this year and while we were talking about the remaining Big XII teams,I brought up Keiton Paige. Apparently, Paige’s brother used to play with my friend in summer rec leagues. Keiton would show up from time to time to fuck around. He apparently spent the entire time jacking up threes on everyone for shits and giggles. The point of this? Paige is a ONE TRICK PONY! Put a hand in his face! He can’t shoot if you just put a hand in his fucking face!
Whew…I’m done with Keiton. That is until we get to the two OSU games in the upcoming season. Then, the gloves come off, my friends.
That’s enough of this shit for one day. I’m going to wrap up the trip down memory lane in the next installment. If I don’t get too wordy, I’ll put a post mortem on the season that was. Otherwise, I’ll write a whole piece about it. Anyway, keep an eye. You know you want to read 4,000 more words of this.


Happy 101st! by longdistancejayhawk

That title just doesn’t have the ring of “Happy 100th!” does it? Oh, well. As I mentioned in the last post, I needed to make a kind of emergency post about the dark cloud over the Big XII.So, let’s pretend, for just a sec that everything’s alright, that the Big XII isn’t falling apart and that this is actually my 100th post.

Some of you longtime readers might know this already, but I’ve been at this for almost a year. In the course of that year (okay, closer to 10 months, but hey!), I’ve written 99 pieces, posts, whatever you want to call them. Some of them were good. Some of them were not so good. The takeaway is that everyone of them was something I clearly thought was important at the time. So, to celebrate the 100th post on Long Distance Jayhawk, I’m doing a 99-post retrospective. I’ve trolled through the archives looking for some of the better things I’ve written, some of the outright lies, poor predictions and everything else that comes from being a huge fan of college basketball and the Kansas Jayhawks. Consider this a career retrospecitve and something of an examination of how much better I think the blog has become since I first started hammering out these sports hate-filled diatribes. Initially, this was supposed to be a one-post celebration, but as I read through thousands of words of shit, I realized that there’s so much more to say. So, this is part one of partTK.

Hop into the time machine with me, as we travel back to November, 2010…

NOVEMBER

When the blog first started, I was very much feeling my way out. I’d never written about sports in a context outside of emails to various friends and I wasn’t so sure that obscenity laden tirades were the way to go. Of course, not knowing any better, I pretty much went with obscenity laden tirades. That’s just my style. From the outset, I had a rough plan to post three times a week. I would write one preview of the week’s games, some kind of feature piece, and then a recap of the week’s events. Initially, I wanted to only focus on Kansas and not really talk about much else. It worked, somewhat, but I think that the writing got stronger when I focused primarily on God’s Team but branched out into other schools, players and stories.

At the beginning of the season, I was more or less preoccupied with two things, the eligibility of Josh Selby and KU’s insane home win streak. Selby came to KU as the Second Coming of X. He showed up with a lot of hype, buzz, whatever. Unfortunately, he also came with Carmelo Anthony’s agent and a mess of ill-gotten goodies that threatened to render him ineligible for the entire season.

In other news, we’re still waiting to hear about Josh Selby‘s eligibility.  Is it just me or does it seem like there have been a shit ton of NCAA rulings pending in the lead up to this season?  We’ve had Selby (who was also entangled, though not illegally, in the Bruce Pearl dust up that takes the cake for weirdest fucking thing ever*), Enes KanterLaceDarius Dunnand the revolving door that is Carolina hoops these days.  It’s just been a whole mess of transfers, delayed playing times and scandals.  Sure,college basketball is a bastion of pious, upstanding citizens, but this seems like it’s been more than the usual smattering of DUIs and domestic violence actions.

This quote came from me in my preview of the Valparaiso game (where in I took them to task for having a logo that looked suspiciously like a pre-K soccer team’s logo). I went on to bemoan the fact that the NBA has created an impposible situation with the one-year rule. It’s true. That rule’s fucking retarded and creates an environment where people like Josh Selby will do whatever the fuck they want because they’re going to get NBA money in nine months. For real. If kids had to play by the rules for two or, Jesus what a concept, three years, then we’d see less kids risking eligibility for short-term gain. Think about it. If you have a one-year window to show your wares and most scouts just go to Vegas to check you out anyway, why would you bother playing by the rules at all? The NBA isn’t going to penalize you and by the time the NCAA gets around to it, you’re long gone. Fucking retarded. Interestingly, I didn’t note my distaste for the fact that the NCAA has, historically, punished schools by stripping victories and scholarships from their programs. I definitely felt that way at the time, but I was on some whole other tangent apparently. Of course, I mention this later in the blog. Funny that, looking back on that vitriol at the NCAA’s punishment structure, we now have a case where they punished the right guy.

Coming into the season, KU was the owner of a 59 game win streak, the longest in the country, by far, and threatening to overtake the previous record held at Allen Fieldhouse. I spent almost every preview and recap at the time basking in the glory of sustained dominance at home. I remember everything about the night that we broke the previous record (though having a post about it certainly helps), wherein I basked in the glory long enough to turn my scorn towards some of our upcoming opponents:

Also, we have two games in common with them (Eviscerated Opponent #s 61 (Valpo) and 63 (Corpus Christi)).  They won by 13 over Corpus Christi (who confused the game for a luau and ended up trying to eat the Bobcats like poi) and by three (which is terrible when you think about the fact that Kansas blew Valpo the fuck out, regardless of Mario’s cousin being on the team).  Based in these common games, I feel that we’re continuing the streak and both of the Morris’ will be putting up double-doubles.  Am I being cocky?  Fuck yeah, I am!  Sixty-four, fuckers!

Yeah, I’d say I was a little cocky. It’s hard not to be when your team is one of the best in the country, riding an insane win streak, and scheduling powderpuff opponents to play in God’s Fieldhouse. Come on, Allen is one of the hardest places to play in college basketball. We practically murder opponents just because they’re not on Kansas. In fact, there are games we’ve won in the Fieldhouse without even putting a team on the floor. The other team just ran away. That’s what it’s like to play there. It is one of the most storied buildings and boasts one of the most intimidating atmospheres in all of basketball. When you watch games there, you see that our opponents lose their timing or can’t hear the plays that the PG is calling. Some of the best in the Big XII have come in and lost just by virtue of the fact that you can’t hear yourself think. So, yeah, I was cocky. Shit, you want more proof, Scott Drew one time took his players off the floor for Kansas’ player intros. He didn’t want the Bears to be psyched out from the get-go (though, I would like to point out that hiding the team did them a disservice. How many times do you get to see the pagentry that the student section puts together during pre-game intros? They missed out on the UDK confetti!).

DECEMBER

December opened with a 2008 National Championship rematch. Yours truly was in attendance at MSG. Meredith and I tried to get a photo with Bobby Knight, who was there with the ESPN crew. It didn’t go so well. I did get a photo with Tyshawn, which went exceptionally well. The game was a blowout that involved Burrito Killah standing at half court letting the clock wind down. The best part of his victory pose was that there was still a differential between the game clock and the shot clock. Oh, you swaggering 2010-11 Jayhawks.

The rest of the month was relatively uneventful as we continued to dominate our pre-conference schedule. The highlight of this stretch of the season was a beautiful game winner by perennial bench warmer and girlfriend abuser, Mario Little. The not so highlight was the Cal game, which I’m still pissed about.Guitierrez, one of the Cal players, is a supreme asshole. He goaded MC Double-Deuce into a technical and ejection before almost doing the same to T-Rob:

The double-technical called on Gutierrez and Robinson seemed more like the refs not wanting to unfairly penalize Gutierrez for his attempted windpipe crushing. I guess I can understand that since Cal clearly paid the refs to give us the screwjob (I watched the tape and Im about 80% sure I figure out what happened: Gutierrez tried to hold onto the ball for a jump and in the process applied an inordinate amount of pressure to Robinson’s throat. T-Rob batted his hand away and some words were exchanged and once  aCal player dragged Gutierrez away, he snapped like one of Michael Vick‘s pitbulls…or long story short, he’s an asshole).

This game was one of those where neither team looks very good in the end. Sure we won the game, but the fact that multiple guys got chippie with a piece of shit like Guitierrez makes us look like the Pitt basketball team in China. No class. Earlier in the month, I remember complaining about the lack of action, drama and intrigue. Well, I got what I wanted, in spades. At the time, I remember being pissed at Cal for being dicks, pissed at the refs because playing away at a Pac-10 school usually means you should bring your own refs, and pissed at the Jayhawks for not being better sports. Since the game was on Pacific time, I had to sit and stew in the dark while Meredith was asleep. I didn’t want to wake her up, but I absolutely wanted to scream at the TV. This game was the first time I realized that the KU basketball team was a different beast than in years past. They were cocky, sassy and ready to fight just about everyone. I had been planning a “Do I Love This Year’s Team” post since the beginning of the season (spurred by a comment Meredith’s father made about the Yankees). What’s interesting in retrospect (as I hammered out my thoughts on the team vs. previously loved squads) was that even then I couldn’t completely love the team. I knew they were good, but they were seriously high on themselves.

And one other thing that’s particularly funny in hindsight. I brought up UCONN and Kemba Walker in a free-wheeling post that covered us, Quinn Snyder, and the 2010-11 Huskies basketball team. Read on for my painfully hilarious comments:

Kemba Walker is a great player (I think he’ll be an excellent second man on a championship team, or an alpha dog on a young team, like Durant in OKC). Unfortunately, for him, he’s the alpha dog on this year’s UConn squad and he has absolutely no Scottie Pippen to help him out. I  watched last night as Lamb and the rest of the Huskies missed shot after shot (technically, Walker missed a ton of shots, yet he racked up 31 points). Without another player contributing points consistently and at least three other guys rotating contributions, I don’t see how this UConn team can make much of an impact.

Right?! I’m fucking retarded sometimes. I can’t believe that I thought Kemba, a man who was destroying every tournament the Huskies played in and making Derron Lamb the Pippen to his MJ (not that Kemba’s anywhere near MJ, just that he’s that part of the archetype). That’s probably the best part of having this shit up forever. My idiotic statements are there to bring a smile to my day. I hope you laughed a bit, too.

Other than that, one post I’m particularly proud of was the Jayhawk Christmas Shopping Guide. If any ladies out there are reading and want a quick path to my heart, buy those Victoria’s Secret panties. I will let you do whatever you want to me if you’re rocking those.



Texas Sized Fear by longdistancejayhawk

[Editor’s Note: Before we dive head long into this one, I’m letting you know that it’s kind of long. It covers Kansas-Baylor, Big 12, Texas-Kansas, NCAA and NFL. I know that a prefatory note makes it longer, but I believe in fair warning. That said, I’m pretty proud of this one. Well, the NFL stuff, not so much. I’ve had my ass kicked in my opinions this off season, so I kind of hemmed and hawed in my previews. Anyway, I’d like to take a moment to say thanks for reading. Leave me a note in the comments section or better yet, tell your friends to read the blog. Also, if you’re in the tri-state, come out to Mulholland’s on Saturday (312 Grand St., Brooklyn). I’ll be the asshole in the 1912 Jayhawk shirt and New Era Kansas hat. If you’re not in the tri-state, but would like to recommend a KU bar, let me know. I’m thinking of putting together a page that lists all the KU-alumni bars and I would like to have eye-witness testimony to their aweseomness. Again, thanks for reading.]

We could have not missed any shots, that would be better.” - Marcus Morris, on the Baylor game

So, there you have it, ladies and gents. I spent like 2,000 words pontificating on the travesty (well, travesty if you are a Baylor fan…more like a homewrecking if you’re a Kansas fan) that was Monday’s game and Marcus drops that ballsy quote. Probably the quote of the century, if you ask me. Sure he was talking about the first half exclusively (where he and his brother missed something like two combined shots), but it translates to the whole game. The thing about the quote that worries me is that we are in a league of one. There’s Kansas and everyone else. Does that mean we’re the best team (team is stressed here because, much like the dinks in the Planteers, we have strength in numbers) in the Big 12 10 nope, still 12? Absolutely. Does that mean we can win every game and cakewalk to the regular season title? Absolutely not*. We’ll get tested. I figured that Baylor was going to be a test and I honestly thought that Baylor had more to prove in that one than we did. I worried, without cause, that God’s Team would be looking ahead to Texas (more on that in a bit). We didn’t. We just took care of business in a hostile environment and saw the Morris twins play probably the best 20 minutes of basketball of any tandem in the country. Certainly the best 20 minutes of any pair of twins (are they the only set right now? The Plumlee’s on Duke put on a pretty solid show last night, but they’re brothers, not twins).

Sith Lord bitches out his best player. Given what I've seen of Jordan, I'd say this was unwarranted. Anyone who appears on a scorecard as "J. Hamilton" in the state of Texas is probably going to rip shit old school.

So, Texas is next. I watched the first half of the Texas A&M-Texas game Wednesday night and I took a few things away from it. First, Dogus Balbay, ugly as he is, has moved from being the hype man for the Longhorns (think Ol’ Dirty Bastard circa Wu-Tang Forever, when most of his appearances were shouting about Wu-Tang being the shit, since he could only record for like ten minutes before he was taken back to prison). He’d come in for 12 minutes a game, look like the foreigner he is, and do all kinds of ridiculous “raise the roof” gestures whenever Pittman did somethng right. That’s all I saw the man do. Now, he’s a serviceable point who distributes and gets shots when he needs to. It’s quite the leap from the one foot on the court, one foot in the Euro-rave Dogus from last season (also, when did we decide his name was pronounced “doje?” Did he tell the Texas media guide people that he smoked a lot of pot and they gave him wink-wink-nudge-nudge thing in the pronunciation guide?). The other thing I realized about Texas is that, as long as the ball is moving, Jordan Hamilton and Tristan Thompson are the scariest pair of players I’ve seen in a while. Like DJ Augustin and Kevin Durant, these two. They score at fucking will. The announcers (Bobby Knight, represent! Brent Musberger, what up?) kept saying he was having a quiet night. In the first half he had like 13 points. Lacey-D only scored that many in twice as much time against Kansas. Slow night? Christ. What’s a fast night for the kid? Anyway, those two dominated Texas A&M and made them look like a bunch of amateurs. It was actually kind of sad (consider this little factoid: Thompson and Hamilton combined for 45 (Thompson 18, Hamilton 27). The starting line up for A&M combined for 40) since A&M is ranked. I figured there’d be more fight in the Aggies, but I guess the yell leaders took a night off (to look like fucking assholes…well, more than usual, anyway).

 

Yes, I admit that I was smitten with Selby after a few showings. If I was going to give him a kindergarten progress report, I'd say "does not play well with others." Not that he's a dick, just that he doesn't seem to see the whole floor and is prone to Sherron-level "I got this" when he really doesn't.

Tomorrow, The Twin Towers (hey, that’s what their tattoos say) of the MC Double-Deuce and Burrito Killah take on the Twin Terrors (I just decided that’s a new nickname for them) of Hamilton and Thompson. I wasn’t that worried about this one until I watched them cut A&M’s throat open and drink the blood like it was Kool-Aid. I figured we’d struggle with Baylor and come back hungry for a dub. Not so much. We had the best game (or at least the best first half) of our season against a pretty good team. Now we have to face what I feel is our first challenge. The main thing I’m watching out for in this one is the guard play. I still don’t think we’ve figured out what to do with both Mysterio and Tyshawn. Sometimes, it seems like we’re running with Selby at the point, sometimes Tyshawn. I’d write it off as a match up thing, but it just seems play to play, rather than team to team. I honesly think that’s what causing the turnovers in the backcourt for us. Confusion. What we need to do is work both guys out at the point, also at the two and then go, team to team, on who runs the offense. I think there would be less stupid turnovers that way. Plus, there would be continuity and the added bonus of them both being point and two-guards, so when one comes out for Johnson, the other can slide to the PG spot. It’s just a thought (though, honestly, I feel that Taylor should be getting the nod almost all the time. He’s got the reps to handle the offense and, while he still does dumb shit (though, in his defense, he has stopped reaching in 500-plus times a game), I think he gives us the best chance to win, night to night. I also think it helps for a deep run if you have one guy as the field general (none of this committee shit. It might work with running backs, it doesn’t work at point)). Oh, boy, got sidetracked…what was my point?

Ah, yes…this one is going to come down to guard play, I think. The Morrises and the Twin Terrors are good for 30 or more for each team, so the main thing is how both teams move the ball. Based on what I’ve seen, I think Kansas moves the ball much better. Texas uses their size and physicality to make lemonade out of horse shit (yes, not the expression, but there are sometimes where they put the ball on the floor and somehow it turns into points). So, as long as we move the ball and don’t give it to them, I think we’ll have the edge. It’s slight and this one could come down to the wire, but I think we’ll prevail. I hope we’ll prevail. I want to get to 70 at Allen, since 69 is kind of a snicker number, right?**

*

Sometimes you complain about the amount of teams in the tournament (don't get me started, fartknocker) and sometimes your team lays an egg for eight straight minutes in a conference game.

Around the NCAA

– First, let’s talk about the Syracuse-Pitt game on Monday (I watched it while waiting for KU, obvs). What the fuck was that? For those that don’t know, Pitt opened the first eight minutes of the game with a 19-0 run. ‘Cuse, tired of getting anal raped, answered with a 17-0 run of their own. Then, the game kind…of…evened…out? Not really, since the Panthers scored the next 8 and the Orange got the next 7. It was staggering to watch, almost like both teams were taking turns practicing fastbreaks and drills. For two ranked teams, this was up there as the oddest game I’ve ever seen. What I learned from the game: don’t ever count Syracuse out and Pitt is kind of like Danny Trejo in Machete (or Machete in Machete).

– Last night, Meredith and I watched Duke rout NC State before the Texas A&M-Texas game. Interesting one for the Blue Devils. Singler was apparently having an off night (what’s with announcers trying to speak in such definitive statements? Dude had 18 points and 9 boards. Hmm…so an off night is a game that involves a near double-double? I mean, Singler never seemed all that concerned with boards when I’ve seen him play before, so that was kind of impressive to me. Plus, he didn’t seem quite as stiff when he drove (Mer thinks he’ll be an NBA player, but I don’t know. He just doesn’t seem mobile enough to be anything other than a sharpshooter off the bench). Anyway, Duke murdered the Wolfpack (which, BTW, is probably the dumbest team name I’ve heard of. It’s stupid beyond the general singular because it actually refers a group of something. But what’s an individual on the team called? A wolf? That’s not totally right (tangentially related: I hate all singular team names as a rule. Stanford Cardinal? You might have a cool thing going with the whole “a senior plays the mascot and makes their own tree costume” but the name’s retarded. Heat? Fuck you. The Magic? What does that make Dwight Howard? A Magician? I’ve seen the guy do some incredible stuff, but I’ve never seen him pull a rabbit out of a hat (less tangentially related: did anyone else realize that almost every NBA team has a dude in a mascot costume running around? Certain teams, it makes sense (T’Wolves, Bulls, sure), but some of the others make no goddamned sense. To wit, the Suns are represented by a gorilla (or, you know a sun?), the Thunder a bison (or a storm cloud? Tornado? Anything meteorological?) and the real winner, the New Jersey Nets a fox (uh…what? While you’re not New York City, you’re still pretty urban. Do you guys have a fox problem? Is this some kind of joke?))). Also, Meredith thinks their fans are hillbillies. While I agree, I can’t 100% support that assertion. One of my cousins ended up there, and she grew up in Bethesda. Maybe there are hills there, but there certainly aren’t billies. Actually, I don’t know that. I don’t think I’ve ever been to Bethesda. [Additonal note about the game: At one point in the first half, Nolan Smith shot a free throw. When everyone jumped in the lane to get the board, one of the NC State players boxed out Nolan Smith, which knocked Smith to the ground. Not that crazy until ESPN replayed it like ten times. I realized that the NC State player hip checked Nolan so hard in the balls that he’s probably still icing those grapefruits down. Strangely, Jay “I love DUKE! more than oxygen” Bilas said “Nothing wrong there. That’s just a box out.” That was some turncoat shit. It would be like Max Falkenstein excusing Ricky Paulding for cock punching Kirk Heinrich because “Ricky was just going for a steal.”]

*

 

Eat Shit Bowl, Pt. II

I’m terrible about predicting NFL Playoff games. This is a fact, born not of ignorance, but mostly sports hate (sports hate is something that Schuyler and I talk about often. It’s the reason that she can never forgive Carmelo Anthony. It’s the reason I hate Tom Izzo. It’s just something that happens when you root for a team, better or worse, and someone does something to slight you. Sure Michael Beasley was a bad ass college player. I wish him nothing but the worst. Basically, it’s the irrational hatred of teams, players, coaches, cities based solely on little more than…well, nothing really. It’s probably the most fun part of being a sports fan). I pretend to be objective, but I’ve been following the NFL forever (I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned this before, but I’ve written a lot, so it might be in here somewhere else. If this becomes familiar, skip to the end of this aside. I was terrible at math when I was a sprout, so my dad figured out a way to get me into basic math. Every Sunday, we’d get the paper and go through the NFL lines and we’d bet a quarter a game. He was kind of a dick whenever he had to take points and would try and push the line down. Luckily, we didn’t get into the money line or one of us would totally hate the other right now). I know a lot about the game, the players, what works in what situations (thanks, NFL 2K5 and 500 hours of playing it with the other members of my band). That said, I can’t let go of a few key facts (really, they’re more opinions (for instance, I hate the Steelers…I hate Mark Sanchez…what am I going to do?)). So, without further ado, I’m going to try and guess Conference Championship weekend.

Green Bay Packers v. Chicago Bears (also called The Eat Shit Bowl, Pt. II)

Part of me is torn. I know that Meagan Badger (did I spell that right? I’m a little too lazy to look that shit up on the ol’ FB) is rooting for da Beaaaaaaars…and da Jaaaaaaaayhawks and I wouldn’t want to alienate her. On the other hand, I’m probably going to be watching the game with Paulie Packers Fanatic. So, I’m going to try and look at this objectively. The Bears are the quiet team in this playoffs. They don’t do the crazy shit that Rex Ryan’s been doing. They go out, play their game and quietly notch quite a few wins (though, I’m still pissed that I held onto Jay Cutler for about three weeks too long in fantasy and by the time he’d fucked me, he was worthless as a trade). The Packers are on the karma train this postseason. I’ve said it probably five times, but there’s clearly something working for them that has nothing to do with football. Imagine watching the Super Bowl with time winding down and the Packers about to get the win. Is Brett Favre in the audience? Do they show him sitting in a luxury box without a smile, contemplating the fact that he’s a scumbag and his former team is doing just fine without him, thank you very much? That’s a hard visual to root against (and in all fairness, the odds of dink showing up for the game are infintesmal). Really, this is the game that I’m most excited about this weekend. The Packers seem to be firing on all cylinders. The Bears are an incredibly even-keeled team (their strategy against Seattle was go up a lot and, to borrow a Pats strategy, bend but don’t break). It’s a hard one to call…but I think karma takes this one.
My prediction: Packers 21; Bears 18

New York Jets v. Pittsburgh Steelers

My buddy Jimmy D. had this little nugget when I asked if he had anything to say about this game: “fuck the afc right now…green bay.***” I like that attitude. It’s usually how I feel about the NFC once Carolina’s out of the picture (sometimes, that happens around Week 5, but hey…*sobs into beer*). Here’s the thing about this game. I hate the Steelers. I think that they’re the biggest hypocrites out there. They purport to be this family organization and their fans embrace that mentality. Unlike their city of (yuk, yuk) brotherly love counterparts, Pittsburgh fans tend to be pretty nice on the whole. Which is why I thought it was absolutely insane that they cut Santonio Holmes and kept Big Ben. What the fuck kind of message is that? You can be a total creep in a Georgia bar (which never came to charges, but…well, let’s just say that Rapelisberger got away with it because of who he is) and get to stay on the team, but if you have the misfortune of getting caught with a dime, you’re out. Double standard, Rooney Family! I also hate that they’ve won so many Super Bowls (six…which is a funny reason to hate a team, since (after a text from Schuyler), I looked into the last time KU was unranked and it was during the 2005-06 season. We were unranked in the preseason and I think we eventually got ranked, but I don’t remember when…and we’ve won three NCAA tourneys (52, 88, 08) and two Helms Foundations (22, 23), which makes us a pretty solid team…you know, that and all the winning we do as a matter of course). So, I hate the Steelers. The thing is that I also hate the Jets for some reason. I think what drives me nuts about the team (and it’s made worse by living in NY) is that Mark Sanchez is a TERRIBLE QUARTERBACK! Am I the only person who sees this? If he gets oen guy coming after him, he overthrows his target by a mile. That isn’t NFL quality, or at least not Championship quality. Who are you, Mark? Trent Dilfer? Sanchez gets lucky because the Jets defense lets them hang in almost any game and LT spent this season emphatically stating his case for Canton. That’s what’s winning games for them. Not Sanchez. So, now the real dilemma begins…who do I think is going to win this game? Who do I think is going to win this game? Okay, I’m making this prediction more out of fear of my city than anything else.
My prediction: Jets 28, Steelers 21

There you have it. I’m probably going to fuck this up for both teams, given my track record. Evs. I’m just looking forward to a wall-to-wall sports weekend. See you guys on the flip side.

* – Which is why I don’t put much faith in this San Diego State threat. Look, they play in the MWC. That’s not exactly the toughest conference. I’m not aiming to diminsh the accomplishment of their unbeaten record, but the strength of schedule is nothing compared to the strength of Kansas. I’m sure SDS will drop a game or two (just like I’m reasonably sure we will too…this isn’t jinxing, bad karma or anything, it’s the law of averages. When Memphis was destroying everything in their path (except Kansas!) in 2008, Calipari said they would lose a game before the tournament. He wasn’t being humble (he’s physically incapable of it), he was being honest (which, 99% he is also incapable of). History says that at some point, every powerful team loses a game. Sometimes two. It’s just how this shit works). However, romping your way to a MWC title by four-plus games isn’t the same as doing it in the Big 12. That’s just the way it is.

** – So, I did some research. In the last ten years, we’re 9-4 against Texas (including Big 12 Tournament games). We have an average margin of victory in all contests of 3.8 (in straight wins, we’re 6.3 to infiinity and when we lose, we lose by 11.25 (one game was a 25 point massacre and the other was a swallowable 15 bloodletting). Historically, that means this one will probably be close. The main thing here is that I can’t remember a Texas team that scared me quite as much as this one. Sure, they’ve been good and I’m always a little worried when we square off (again, Augustin and Durant were fucking monsters), but nothing that I can remember makes me sweat like Thompson-Hamilton. I’m definitely going to be tight gripping my hat on Saturday afternoon.

*** – Quote made via text, faithfully transcribed.



Lacey-D and the Slow March to Mediocrity by longdistancejayhawk

LaceDarius couldn't get much going last night. By much, I mean he still tallied 13 points. When you're averaging a double-deuce (KC,MO reference!) 13 kind of sucks. Better luck next...wait, worse luck if there is a next Lacey-D!

Well, I shouldn’t have been nearly as worried about Baylor as I was. I thought that they were a criminally underrated team going into last night’s contest and they would have a chip on their shoulder to prove that they deserve to be in the national conversation. What ended up happening is that Baylor…well, they played like a team that was overrated and is now closer to where they should be. Of course, we shut LaceDarius Dunn down, limiting him to just 13. For some guys against Kansas, that would be a huge a number, but not when you’re averaging something like 22 a night. I don’t like that we let two other guys on Baylor score in double figures though. Where was the D, guys?

At the risk of sounding like a video game announcer, this one wasn’t even close. Sure they pulled within like 11 at one point, but I never felt worried about the game. Like I said earlier, I was a little scared that things would be ugly, but this one was a breezy little matchup.

The other interesting thing is that there were 10 NBA scouts in the audience last night…and the Morris twins certainly put on a clinic to show they’re ready for the NBA. Marcus drained 25 and pulled down 5 boards (4 offensive) while his brother put up 19 and grabbed 9. Seriously…they made it look like they were playing a high school team last night. I’d love for the Morris twins to stick around for another year, but after that red ass beat down last night, I just don’t see them sticking around. I mean, Jesus…they’re like a two-man NBA team. No one can compete with them, let alone the rest of the talent of the fucking Jayhawks. It’s just not going to happen.

Marcus brings a hostile house down! I love going into someone else's house and smashing the fucking china. Let's keep that shit up, boys!

Since we’re talking about scouts, Bobby Knight talked about how he doesn’t think that Selby‘s a one and done player during the broadcast. His reasoning for this is that Selby doesn’t see the court, that he doesn’t play at the college level quite yet. Knight’s got a point. Selby, for all the awesomeness he brings to the floor, is still a little erratic as a player. He can shoot, he can penetrate, he can run fastbreaks and he can pass. The main thing I’ve been noticing is that he doesn’t seem hot on the whole kick out thing. If he drives the lane and the defense collapses (please don’t make me say it…), he keeps going, hoping to draw the foul rather than kicking out to the guy in the wing or the guy in the post who’s just become wide open (shades of Sherron here…fuck, you made me say it). It’s scary to think that Selby will assume Taylor’s starter’s because Selby’s natural talents are so damned good, but he needs the experience (I could be worrying about nothing since he might just opt for the NBA after the season). Taylor looks much more mature as a PG (dumb turnovers the last couple of games notwithstanding). He knows when to finish on a drive and when to defer. It’s a skill that helps your team at the expense of your glory. Is Selby going to be able to develop to that level? Will he get to the point where he looks for one more pass before committing to the drive? Only time will tell…but I fear for my team if he doesn’t develop that skill soon (and yes, I know I was on the Selby bandwagon early (Janer, I’m looking at you), but I still think he’s an incredibl raw talent. He just needs to be mentored and to learn when to let other people carry the load for him. It’s a skill that you can’t naturalrly have if you’re as good as Sebly (think LeBron James…he can score at will, but passing the ball up was an accquired skill for the man) because too much of your life is you winning for your team rather than with your team. I’ll keep an eye on Selby (it’s waaaaaaaay too early to write him off) and keep my fingers crossed that he matures).

DJ Burrito Killah had a monster game last night. He didn't extend his lead in the "Most Double-Doubles in the Big 12" record, but you can't get everything. Especially not a burrito. You've got to stay in shape, Kieff.

*

K-State at Missouri…what a shit show that was, huh? I really think that (unlike my thoughts on Baylor), last night’s game illuminated what I’ve been saying about these two teams recently. Missouri is freighteningly good. They can score from just about everyone on their starting five, plus bench. They rely on everyone to contribute, not just Denmon (who is still fucking phenomenal). On top of that, they have a kid who acts as a servicable PG (not sure of his name, but I know I saw a kid out there who was running the game). I honestly think they’re the prohibitve favorite for back-up Big 12 North honors this year. Makes me pretty amped for the February 7 showdown in Lawrence.

K-State, on the other hand, showed off why they’re supremely overvalued. They don’t have a PG at all and Pullen didn’t seem like he was planning on stepping up to the plate anytime soon. It was a disjointed mess that sometimes worked but most of the time fell apart. Missouri forces turnovers like a plague and it doubly shows when you don’t have an excellent backcourt ball handler. Honestly, I feel sorry for Jacob Pullen. This season will kill his NBA chances, I think (here’s why: the Morris Twins are a little undersized to play forward in the NBA (maybe in a small ball scenario, but not in a regular line up) so, as Bobby Knight pointed out last night, they’ll probably have to switch to a small forward or 2-guard position. It’s going to be different for them, but I think they can adapt. That’s why they’ll be successful pros). He’s too small to make it in the NBA as a 2-guard, which is where his skill set lies. So, scouts are going to want to see him play more PG to see if he can easily roll to that position. Well, this year is proving that he can’t. I mean, honestly, I don’t think he was making the NBA anyway, but there’s absolutely no chance now.

So, I guess I’m more excited for the Missouri game than I am for the K-State game. At the beginning of the season, I wanted K-State to be rolling coming into our matchups with them so we could knock them off their high horse. Sadly, it will have to be Missouri….wait, not sadly…I hate those guys…so AWESOMELY!



Fat Teams Are Toupee’s Kryptonite by longdistancejayhawk

Josh Selby was alright in this one. I didn't see anything spectacuar. His start reminds me of a compact version of Xavier's last year. Anyway, here, he's boosting a basketball. About the only time a turnover went for us rather than against us.

Well, another fat team came to tussle with Kansas and sadly, we let them hang (I’m talking about fat teams like 2009-10 UNI…seriously…where do they get their recruits? The steel mill?). It’s fucking Nebraska for Christ’s sake! Put them away, Kansas! Maybe I’m to blame or having to sweat this one out, since I asserted that Doc Sadler was a child molester and karma might have been bucking pretty hard against me on that. Whatever, karma. God’s Team carried the day.

Doc Sadler is in league with the devil. He decided to punish me for accusing him of being a child molester. I wish I could say that I learned my lesson, but I'm sure I'll say something equally offensive next time we play them.

What I liked about the game is what I’ve liked about all of our close games so far (and that’s not to say I like close games, just that they say alot about a team). We never lost sight of the game plan. We never freaked out and everyone stayed calm under pressure. I like that a lot. It’s a stark contrast from Sherron Collins‘ Jayhawks. If we were under pressure at the end of a game, Sherron would basically try to drive the lane on every play. Sometimes that works and you become a hero. Sometimes, you just run into a bunch of guys whil Tyrel Reed stands open in the wing and Marcus Morris stares blankly as you miss the wide open mismatch from the triple-team charge draw that the defense collapses into when you charge the lane. It’s bull in a china shop desperation and I have to say I like the clam of 2010-11 much more than last year’s iteration.

Another thing I liked a lot was KU’s production. Everyone contributed (except Morningstar who, after getting the vote of confidence from me as “My Favorite Jayhawk” has wilted in the spotlight. Maybe he’s upset about being a bench player after being a starter. I don’t know. Whatever it is, it needs to stop now. Come back Brady. Be the three-point assassin, second coming of J.J. Reddick (with a better haircut) that is your birthright. YOU ARE THE HIGHLANDER!) with decent performances from most of our bench. Clearly, I would have liked it to be more like 12 points from everyone on the bench, but I like that we’re spreading the ball around instead of relying on one player to carry the day (though, relying on Marcus would probably work, too).

Love T-Rob's growth! Look at that face. He looks hungry. Like eat a bebe hungry. That's what I like! I want him to stay hungry coming off the bench and keep crushing it. Could he beat Markieff as most improved Jayhawk this year?

What I’m not such a huge fan of, though, are these close games. I was hoping between Iowa State and Nebraska, we’d have two pretty solid wins coming into the next two weeks (at Baylor, Texas, at Colorado (what the fuck’s up with the Buffs? 3-0 in conference play and they have nothing to play for really (okay, I guess they can play for pride, but the hefty exit fees from the Big 12 make an NCAA appearance or win kind of negated, in terms of monetary value)) and K-State). Instead, I was treated to two sweat it out wins. Don’t get me wrong, I like the occasional sweat it out win, but I kind of like them against real opponents, not these also-rans. Pick it up, Kansas!

So, what’s next? A matchup with the woefully undervalued Baylor Bears. I don’t care what LaceDarius Dunn does in his freetime (well, I don’t think you should beat the shit out of your girlfriend, but, terrible human being aside…) if you’re as good as LaceDarius, you’re still a nightmare to play against. Dude’s good for just under 23 a night. That’s scary shit. I don’t care that they just lost to the Cyclones. In fact,  that makes me more worried. Everyone gives Kansas their best, I know this, you know this, everyone knows this (which probably accounts for the nailbiters I had to suffer through last week). I genuinely believe that Baylor has a lot to prove and a huge, huge HUGE step in that direction would be to beat Kansas. Clearly, I don’t want that to happen, but it’s a nagging concern of mine.

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Duke lost one game, so clearly they’re not the best team in the country (sorry, LaMeredith, but it’s true). Only winners get the honor of being number one (unless you’re San Diego State, in which case, I don’t think merely winning is enough to get you that number one spot. Blowjobs, lots of blowjobs…that’s what it’s going to take to get to the top of the pile, my friends). Of course, Ohio State, who were number two, ascended to the top spot and we moved up to number two. It’s a lot like the order of succession in US politics. If one guy goes down, everyone behind him gets a bump, all the way to the janitor in the seventh subbasement of the Library of Congress. If things swing KU’s way, we could be number one soon enough. Of course, Janer doesn’t want to be number one because she doesn’t like having a bullsleye on our back. In some past years, I’d disagree with her. This year, though, I’m inclined to agree. I mean, I know that (other than Cal) KU’s been a poised team. I just don’t know that I trust them to play with the added scrutiny of being “the best” in the country.

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After reading my Bgi 12 Preview, Just and I set to making a couple of bets at Mulholland’s on Saturday. One was over the Baltimore/Pittsburgh game (he won, though there was no monetary reward for that one…just shame in picking a team full of felons who like branded Snuggies). The other was over which team is going to finish in the Cellar of the Big 12. I honestly believe, as my preview can attest, that Texas Tech is headed straight for the bottom. So, we made a nominal bet about who would end up in the bottom. I’m starting a new section on the old blog. Once a week, I’m going to post an update on who is winning the bet (based on the performance of each participant’s respective dog in the race). If there are any particularly good trash talking moment’s, I’ll post those as well.

Here’s where we stand on the bet. From an email Justin sent me over the weekend:

According to Pomeroy Texas Tech is #140 in the country. OU is #143 and has a 65% chance of beating Tech this week though both are predicted to only win 2 conference games. This could be the marquee match down of the league this year.

So, there you have it. From a sabremetricy perspective, these teams are almost equally atrocious. So, where do they stack up on record right now?

Texas Tech 0-3
Oklahoma 0-3

There you have it. Both are in the cellar right now. Should be a fun race to the bottom, chummies!