||"It was a sensational college basketball game, I
thought. At the end, you just feel very fortunate to be the one with
the most points when the clock stops. I loved the way our team
competed in the first half. I think Duke had a nine- or a ten-point
lead, and our guys kept playing every time something like that
would happen. We went in at the half, and Jeff Graves had been in
foul trouble and Kirk hadnít scored, and we tried to challenge the
guys to know how good they are. When youíre playing Duke, you
always have this feeling that somethingís going to happen because of
how successful they have been. And deservedly so. But I just love
the way our guys competed and kept in it, even though they had
the lead in the first half. And in the second half, I just told them to
play every four minutes. Then at the eight-minute mark, I said letís
play the best eight minutes weíve played all year. We got a little
separation there and we missed two straight one-and-ones, but they
still kept playing and competing on the defensive end of the floor.
It was a little unusual game because when they were making shots,
most of the time they were threes. Weíre trying to get the ball
inside to Nick, because we thought we had a great matchup for us
with Nick inside. So weíre scoring more, but ours are just two. But
it was a fantastic college basketball game, and we feel very
fortunate to have won.
"If youíd have told me before the game (Kirk) was gonna be 1-9, I would have thought we were going to have a bad night. But it is Kansasí team. Itís not Kirk only, and itís not Nick only. At times out there tonight it looked like it was Nick only. But Kirk is so good on the defensive end of the floor. Thereís been a couple of games this year when heís been sensational on the defensive end of the floor, and itís perhaps taken some of his focus away. Jake Sullivan is probably the best three-point shooter in our league, and he had one field goal the whole game when Kirk was in the game in the second round of the Big 12 conference tournament. But Kirk struggled on the offensive end. We need to be able to guard like that on the defensive end and still get something from him on the offensive end. He fell early in the first half, and I saw him messing with his hand a little bit, and I think his hand bothered his shot because he did have some wide open looks and couldnít finish them. But if you had told that, I would have been really worried unless you had told me we were going to defend like we did. I thought Keith was sensational defensively, maybe his best defensive game. And then for us to out-rebound them 47-33, if you had told me that I would have felt good. And then if you had told me that big Nick Collison was gonna play his buns off, Iíd have felt real good, too.
"One of those tough losses (to Duke) was in the national championship game, so this doesnít erase that. But at the same time, I try not to live in the past. The í97 team really hurt me, because Iím one of those corny guys that I think the right things are supposed to happen, and I thought that team with six seniors who all graduated ≠ two first team academic All Americans ≠ I thought it was right for them to go to the Final Four, but we didnít. And that also taught me that you canít hold those things too long. For me, yes, in í91 in the national championship game, that was very disappointing. Losing to them in the second round four years ago when Kirk and Nick were freshmen ≠ somebody said the score there was almost identical to what it was tonight ≠ that hurt. But losing to them in Cameron Indoor Stadium my first year hurt. I think every loss hurts. This doesnít erase any them, but it sure makes me feel a heck of a lot better tonight."
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