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Not an ugly game. A beautiful game!

  • CorpusJayhawk
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1 week 5 days ago #24843 by CorpusJayhawk
Some have chosen to view this team through the lens of being a below par offensive team. They are in fact a below par offensive team by KU/Bill Self standards but they are still one of the best offensive teams in the country when it really matters. In fact, just today Bleacher Report has an article rating the best offensive teams in the country. They have Kansas 8th, which seems about right. I have them as 9th in my DPPI. Many described this game as "an ugly win". Let me define that word "ugly" in this context. It means dominated by defense by both teams. That is what most people mean when they say a game is ugly. I did not think this game was ugly at all. In fact, I thought the Jayhawks executed their stuff as well in this game as they have all year. You can't ignore the fact that West Virginia is one of the top 10 best teams in the country, with great players and a great coach. We are not so transcendent that we can easily overcome great opponents. There are going to be plenty of possessions where their defense will top our offense or their offense will top our defense. There will be situations where their scouting report will be ready for us and they will thwart our effective execution. West Virginia is a very very good team and they confounded us plenty last night. Their size and aggressiveness on the boards gave them an 11 rebound margin. They chased us relentlessly in the half-court restricting us to 44.4% from the field and 28.6% from the 3 point line. Their harrassing defense allowed us only 8 assists on 20 made field goals. They especially hounded our two main ball handlers forcing 8 TO's by Marcus and Devon. But we kept chipping away on offense and defense. We never lost our cool or composure. We kept running our stuff and eventually we simply outplayed them on both ends. By my standard and estimation, this game was a thing of beauty.

The MVP of this team was the team defense, especially the 5 guys who finished the game. Sure, Isaiah hit some key shots, Udoka was strong in the 2nd half, Dotson was strong in the 2nd half, Marcus had 5 steals and 2 more that could have been attributed to him. But to cite and individual in this game just doesn't seem appropriate. This was a team game on both offense and defense. A great example was on the play that put us ahead to stay, when Marcus passed to Isaiah on the right corner for a three, watch how Udoka took out McCabe with a great screen to allow Isaiah to get open. This was as good a team performance as we have had. I especially love how we so fluidly switch on the perimeter on defense. That essentially eliminates the opportunity for penetration by the opponent. As much as their defense confounded our offense, our defense ultimately confounded their offense more. Watching our perimeter defense is a beauty to behold. And there is not a player in America who scouts the opponents like Marcus. Sure, he has lightning quick hands, but it helps that he knows the tendencies of the opponents.

This game was a heavy weight bout of two very good teams in the first half. Then in the second half we came out and scored the 1st 6 points to tie it up and the 1st minute 55 seconds. But Huggins and the Mountaineers made the shift and they reeled off an 11-1 run over the next 4-1/2 minutes to run the lead to 9 with a 41-32 lead. Both teams were staying on their game plan but West Virginia looked to have the upper hand. For the next 4 minutes, taking us just under 10 minutes to play, KU buckled down but managed only to cut the lead to 7 as both teams were zoned in defensively. At the 9:06 mark, KU trailed by 6, 46-40. Then KU turned on the afterburners.

From the 9:06 mark, KU held West Virginia to 3 points on 15 possessions. To hold a team to 0.2 PPP on the road and a top 10 team to boot...well...that is something only a championship team can do. That last 9 minutes was beautiful.

8:21 Dotson steals the ball and fast breaks down the court acting like he is going to take it to the rim. WVU player (Raytheon I think) is ready and in position to take a charge, but Dotson passes out to Moss on the wing who drains a 3 pointer. 43-46. You could tell Rauth was frustrated by that.

7:52 Dotson steals ball again. Moss misses shot but gets offensive rebound (1 of only 4 in the entire game, how timely). Garrett makes great pass to Udoka who dunks the ball. 45-46.

Next possession Garrett steals ball from McCabe, Agbaji misses shot . McCabe rebounds but Garrett steals ball from McCabe again. Dotson made bad shot and missed. Osabuohein scores. 45-48 with 5:59 to go.

Next possession, Udoka muscles Tshiebwe for a hook and scores. 47-48.

Then Marcus steals the ball from Tshiebwe. After a foul by McCabe (who is clearly rattled by now) Moss sinks 2 FT's to take the lead. 49-48.

Next possession, Haley makes 1 of 2 FT's to tie it back up at the 5:07 mark. WVU will not score again.

Next time down, Marcus makes the pass of the game, Udoka makes the screen of the game and Moss hits the shot of the game. A 3-pointer from the right corner to give KU the lead for good. 52-49 with 4:50 left.

Moss makes steal from the clearly rattled McCabe assisted by Garrett. Moss is fouled and sinks both FT's. KU up by 5 54-49.

I am not repeating myself. The next possession, Marcus steals the ball. KU runs a poor break and does not score.

Then came the possession that broke their back. With KU up by 5 and just under 4 minutes to play, the Mountaineers have a possession with 4, count-em, four offensive rebounds and 4 shots on the basket. But Udoka and the rest of the team were harassing them like swarming bees and they missed all 4 shots. Eventually, Matthews turned it over.

We traded several possessions with no scoring. Then Udoka made that amazing steal under the basket and Doston took the ball and did the road-runner thing hustling down the court. Culver fouled him which was really caused by Dotson's hustle. Dotson sank both FT's putting KU up by 7, 56-49 with 1:53 left to play.

1:44 WVU missed shot, Udoka rebound.
1:28 Garrett missed front end of 1-1 (that was alittle frustrating since that would have put the game away).
1:18 Dotson blocks shot
1:12 Garrett picks up 4th foul. Haley misses 2 FT's. After review, WVU awarded ball.
1:08 Tshiebwe misses shot. Udoka big rebound and is fouled. Misses both FT's. .
0:55 Osabuohein shot monster blocked by Udoka.
0.50 Agbaji steals. Dotson fouled and sinks both FT's. KU up by 9, 58-49 with 42 seconds left.
0.35 McBride misses 3 pointer, Udoka clears boards. WVU backs off. Game-set-match.

KU held WVU scoreless for over 5 minutes and closed the game holding them to 3 points on 15 last possessions. Simply outstanding.

Each of those 5 players was turned up on defense in that closing stretch. Note that Marcus had multiple steals, But Dotson, Agbaji, Moss and Udoka also had steals. Plus blocks by Udoka and Dotson. I must say, I really enjoyed that game. Plus we are no 3-5 in Morgantown.

Don't worry about the mules, just load the wagon!!
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1 week 5 days ago #24844 by Kong
I get what you are saying. Defensive pressure and play can be a thing of beauty. I happen to completely agree with you regarding how we switch on players. And sometimes that switch rolls two or three people deep to keep everyone covered. We are good at that. Very good in part because Dok is good at showing D and backing to his man right as the switch is happening.

But this was ugly with a capitol Ugh.

I do not enjoy watching a scrum on every possession where pushing, grabbing, shoving take place on every play. I don't particularly like rag tag loose balls with arms flailing about like one of those wind sock advertising things.

We out muscled them down the stretch. We stole a lot of balls as a team and we won the game. We all find beauty in a wide range of things. But to me, that was beautiful only in the stats.

If you enjoyed that game, I have a feeling you will enjoy the Baylor game as well, because I think it will be very similar.

Visualize Whirled Peas

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1 week 5 days ago #24846 by hairyhawk
Agree that beauty is in the eye of the beer holder er beholder. I also think Corpus is completely correct when he points out...What did you expect. These are the number 1 and 2 teams on defense or 2 and 4 in other models. either way they are some of the top defensive teams in the country and both do not make 3 pointers at a high rate. I would not call it a thing of beauty but if you like defense then yes it was.

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1 week 5 days ago #24847 by NotOstertag
Great post Corpus. And while the term "ugly" is relative, I'd say ugly can be beautiful (I rooted for the Bad Boy Detroit Pistons back in the day).

To some, "flashy" is pretty, there wasn't much "flashy" happening last night. Instead, this was a bulldozer moving earth just in time to save a town from flooding. Ugly with the noise, dirt, and chaos, but beautiful in overcoming odds, hard work,and focus to get the desired outcome.

Not OBVIOUSLY beautiful, but pretty darn purty.

What's more purty is the likely disappointment immediately followed by impending dread that Scot Drew must have felt knowing that they have "next".

14 championships, 13 home losses since 2003
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1 week 5 days ago #24848 by murphyslaw
Great run down! It felt as if I were there!

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