Monday, November 22, 2004

The First Game of the Seventeenth Year

Kansas 68 Vermont 61

It wasn't pretty for the first thirty minutes. With about ten minutes left, both teams looked to get tired all at once and commenced what I hope to be the worst three minutes of basketball I see all year. Kansas sort of pulled it together to finish off Vermont down the stretch. This Kansas team might need to stay at home until 2005. They've got a lot on which to work.

Player comments and ratings (1-low, 5-average, 10-high):

Wayne Simien, 7: Simien suffered from his teammates inability to feed the post consistently, but took advantage of the mis-matches when he successfully received the ball, both in the post and when facing up and shooting over Vermont defenders. The fourteen rebounds were good, the five turnovers were not.

Keith Langford, 5: Langford hit two early threes, but did little else after that. He missed half his free throws, snagged but two rebounds, and gave up a couple of open three point looks on the defensive end.

Christian Moody, 5.5: Moody didn't do anything wrong. Coppenrath beat him a handful of times, but that's unsuprising. Moody made his field goal attempt, three of his four free throws, grabbed six rebounds, and negated his lone turnover with an assist. Likely the only player on the Kansas roster capable of chasing smaller fours on the perimeter, Moody should see more of that type of situational duty as the freshmen mature. Until they mature, though, he'll continue to attempt to do no harm.

Aaron Miles, 6.5: Miles shot the ball horribly without taking any really bad shots. Chris Piper correctly pointed out again that the result of a Miles' shot attempt is known as soon as it leaves his hand. He looked open and awkward Friday night, but nine assists, seven rebounds, two blocks, two steals, and harassing TJ Sorrentine into a 4-22 night offsets the 1-9 shooting and five turnovers (one which looked to be Sasha Kaun's fault, see below).

Michael Lee, 4: Lee had one fine defensive possession where his ball pressure single-handedly forced a turnover. He shot poorly, but unlike last season, he restrained himself from forcing things on the offensive end.

JR Giddens, 6.5: Unique among the perimeter players, Giddens shot the ball the well against Vermont. The seven rebounds were a welcome addition and will be necessary until the freshman bigs show the ability to contribute consistently on the glass.

Darnell Jackson, 5.5: Jackson was intriguingly active on the offensive end. He appeared to need reminding of what play was being run a couple of times and predictably struggled guarding Coppenrath.

Moulaye Niang, 3: Niang didn't help the team while on the court. I hope he played ahead of Giles and Kaun because Self thought his lateral quickness and long arms might temper Coppenrath's impact on the game. If the two freshmen who made cameos aren't as far along as Niang, it's going to be a long season.

Russell Robinson, 3.5: Robinson took a couple quick, ill-advised shots and never got comfortable on offense. He did provide Miles with a bit of rest and played pretty good on-the-ball defense for a freshman. I'm eagerly anticipating the form he showed in Canada and the exhibitions which got Jayhawk Nation all aflutter.

Sasha Kaun and CJ Giles, Incomplete: Kaun and Giles only played a minute each. Giles committed two fouls and never returned. Kaun got good post position, sealing the defender fronting him, but took a rather indirect path toward the entry pass. He made an awkward turn away from the direction of the pass before moving toward the rim, creating a turnover and offering evidence of his basketball inexperience.

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