Monday, January 03, 2005

I'm Not Sure I Understand

Having yet to figure out how Kansas had a chance to beat Georgia Tech in St. Louis last March, I'm not sure I'm ready to tackle how they actually did beat Georgia Tech on Saturday without Wayne Simien or a lead during regulation.

A few thoughts...

1) Taking a bunch of threes (15) in the second half and overtime and making more than half of them (8) certainly helped. Kansas played like so many teams have against them in the ignominious tournament losses. They forswore aesthetically pleasing basketball (to my eyes) for a better chance to win the game. It was odd to watch.

2) Kansas played their best team defensive game of the season. That BJ Elder didn't play the last 36 minutes of the game cannot be dismissed, but credit is due, especially to those I've singled out as liabilities before: Giddens, Moody, and Langford.

3) The Field House sounded great on television. Apparently that was an accurate representation of the energy in the building. I had started to worry a bit about the atmosphere. The Louisiana-Lafayette game sounded as if it were being played in an empty gym. I could hear the sneakers squeak for most of the game. To be fair, that was a horribly played game. The Tech game should put to rest all the hand-wringing concerning the rich and unworthy buying their way into Allen Field House and ruining everything for the real fans who have supported the team for blah blah blah...

4) Aaron Miles and Keith Langford gave performances reminiscent of Collison and Hinrich against Texas two years ago. They weren't as great as Collison and Hinrich, they're simply not as talented, but they decided to do everything in their power to prevent a Kansas loss. Miles made the first clutch threes of his career outside of Columbia, MO and Langford adjusted to Georgia Tech's fine defensive performance. Luke Schenscher, not needing to guard anybody, rarely strayed from the paint thus completely neutralizing Langford's drives to the bucket in the first half. Unlike Is'mail Muhammad who put his head down and plowed toward the basket irregardless of the situation, Langford channeled his aggression toward the open areas of the floor: behind the three point line and at the elbows.

5) Bill Self's willingness to recreate the offense in Simien's absence to take advantage of the remaining personnel's abilities. Roy Williams is the best coach I've seen in terms of ingraining a style of play with a team. He knows and communicates his system flawlessly but on the rare occasions that doesn't work he struggles to make adjustments. Bill Self, by his own admissions, still struggles to get Kansas to play as he would like them to play all the time but he seems more willing to explore situation-specific strategies.

6) Will Bynum got called for a charge it didn't look like he committed with twenty seconds left and the game tied.

7) Michael Lee played only two minutes.

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