Hard to please KU fans may see surprising Jayhawks run this March By Dennis Dodd / CBSSports.com March 13, 2015 11:40 PM ET KANSAS CITY, Mo. – This column is probably going to enrage some Kansas fans. There, how’s that for trollin’? Anyway, glad to do it. We’re here to please.
Usually, Jayhawkers are as sensitive as a baby’s behind anyway, as belligerent as Kanye during an awards show. They demand to have the final say on their Jayhawks. Not this time, boys and girls. Here’s why I’m scooping you: I’ve seen your tweets. I’ve listened to the radio. I’ve heard you in the bars.
Your assessment of your top-10 team has not been kind this season. You don’t dislike it. Let’s just say you’re less in love with this edition of the Jayhawks than others. Some have called it one of the “worst” Bill Self teams at KU.
Some have hinted they lack cohesion, grit, a big man. That’s you talking Jayhawk Fan. Remember – tweets, radio, bars.
This may hurt JF but … your Jayhawks look like they can make a run in the tournament.
This a good thing. It just happens to run contrarian to a large portion of a smothering fan base. The same folks who had high expectations for the season, seemingly don’t have high hopes for this month. That despite a 62-52 Big 12 tournament semifinal win here Friday night over Baylor.
When your team has won at least a share of 11 straight conference titles, how does the term “worst” even come into the conversation?
“I’ve heard that [word] a couple years since I’ve been here,” junior forward Jamari Traylor countered. “We’re winning games.”
Traylor has seen and heard a lot of things in Lawrence. He played his 90th game in a Kansas uniform Friday. He’s a glue guy. In the best season of his career, he has averaged five points. A superstar he is not. More like a keen observer.
Friday marked the 26th win this season, the 351st of Bill Self’s career at Kansas. But the expectation each year is the Final Four. Kansas and Self have had the audacity not to go to one since 2012.
In a sport harder to watch by the day, Friday’s result was impressive enough for the Jayhawks. Kansas choked off the Bears like it was a UFC fight. It limited Baylor to its lowest point total of the season. Baylor is the best shooting three-point team in the Big 12, supposedly best conference in the country. On Friday, the Bears clanked 18 of 22 from beyond the arc.
Baylor had two more field goals (19) than turnovers (17).
Seasons shouldn’t be judged in a snapshot. For Self, this team has sometimes been a day-to-day proposition. Freshman five-star forward Cliff Alexander has underachieved and is currently sitting out with NCAA issues. Junior forward Perry Ellis is a 4.0 student whose major (flaw) has been aggressiveness. That doesn’t make him a bad person but it does raise questions with the fan base.
Since Jan. 31, Ellis – who returned Friday from a knee injury – is more foundation than soft spot. He has averaged 16.7 points and 7.5 rebounds. Sophomore guard Wayne Selden has stepped up. Freshman Kelly Oubre looks like a one-and-done.
Arkansas transfer Hunter Mickelson may the world’s only 6-foot-10 gnat, he’s so annoying on the court.
Kansas is in the Big 12 tournament title game for the fourth time in six years. Still, to a large part of its adorers, this team is a 26-7 enigma. To those on the inside, they’re shaking their heads.
“We’re all spoiled with how much we win. It’s crazy,” Traylor said. “Some people are just fighting for one. We’re winning every year.”
Traylor was referring to those Woodenesque 11 consecutive conference titles by Self. But even that accomplishment has been sliced and diced by folks with nothing else better to do.
The Big 12 isn’t that much of a challenge, they say. Kansas has it too easy, they say. Maybe, the Jayhawks have a lot to do with that. Like all great sports franchises, sometimes it competes against its own legacy.
Maybe it’s just end-of-season doldrums. KU won and it probably didn’t matter. The Jayhawks are going to be a No. 2 seed if Jerry Palm sleeps from now until Monday. Maybe it’s getting routed by both Kentucky and Temple by a combined 53 pints. Maybe it’s finishing an undistinguished 5-6 in true road games.
But maybe this team is also underappreciated. How many teams in the tournament have three serviceable big men, depth at guard and that dominant defense to take into March Madness?
“I feel the same way,” Traylor said.
They’re just hard to play and figure out. In the same post-game Self went from ripping his team’s effort to lauding it.
“The last 24 hours hasn’t been very pleasant with us,” Self said Thursday, in assessing a sloppy quarterfinal win over TCU. “I’m tired of it and they’re tired of me being tired of it.”
Then he reminded reporters his team came from six down against Texas in the second half. It came back from 18 down at home to beat West Virginia. The Jayhawks played their guts out last week at Oklahoma without Perry and Alexander.
Offensively, these Jayhawks are hard on eyes, but aside from Kentucky and handful of others there are no truly great teams in the country. If you’re going to trash Kansas, at this point you’re going to trash the game.
Play like they did Friday and the Jayhawks go a long way. Fall short of the Final Four and a top-10 team that lost two first-round draft choices (Joel Embiid, Andrew Wiggins) suddenly has a lot of questions to answer.
Just check Twitter, the radio and the bars.
“We don’t know how good we have it, I guess,” Traylor said.
@Crimsonorblue22 Thanks for posting. Wonder if Dodd knows about Bad Ball.
I probably needed to be slapped in the face by this. Good post!
I think KU fans have become used to watching a consistently good TEAM, so having to rely on just talent, and not as much team is different for most fans. We all are not spoiled we just know what good basketball looks like and this and last years team lacks that a bit. KU has some incredible talent but when your relying on putting your head down and driving to the rim, it gets ugly and its a free throw fest vs a smooth well run offense. I think It’s just an effect of the little time HCBS HAS with the the OAD that’s pushing us to use this style of ball, which is effective but ugly. I do believe we should have a much better core of veterans next year and we will return to playing good consistent offense making FG and not so many free throws.
At least for me, the earlier season blowouts really put a negative in my mind about this team. And a couple of seasons with more than normal loss totals, I know we’re spoiled, has a collective negative impact on the fan base. Continue this minnie hot streak today and then win some games starting next weekend and then we’re starting to talk again about Jayhawk hoops the way we’re supposed to be!
By the way, that was an insightful article. I don’t know the writer, but I assume he writes about a lot of teams and he nailed it for us.
“We all are not spoiled we just know what good basketball looks like and this and last years team lacks that a bit.”
That’s true… because of youth. The last two years we have been brutally young.
The year before we were packed with 4 and 5-yr seniors.
Imagine us in 2 years? Many of our current sophomores will be seniors, maybe Graham still around as a junior.
This is where the fan base doesn’t click in. We are young, real young… and it is truly something that we are winning this many games with youth.
@Crimsonorblue22 There is only a single thing one needs to know about Dodd: He is a misery dude, (grad I assume), & he hates Kansas & sarcastically rags them & the entire conf whenever he gets a chance. Very much like the almost 80 year old, face lifted & formaldehyde preserved Jack Harry at NBC channel 41 here in the metro. Simply a very little man with a huge ego & nowhere to sling his hatred during BB season. Also FWIW at least misery wont even play in the NIT (Not Important Tournament), so there’s zero chance they’ll get to blow that horn, or anyone else by chance might accidentally stumbleupon one of their whuppins in the glorious month of March !!
@globaljaybird I knew about jack Harry and have seen his bad mouthing hawks moments. Surprised he hasn’t been fired for some things out of his mouth!!
KU fans don’t love this year’s team?
Who is this journalistic jerk kidding?
THIS IS THE LOWEST YET!
Tell players players busting their butts their fans think they aren’t very good?
Dodd, have you heard your boss thinks you aren’t exactly Edward R. Murrow? And that people reputedly click to ABC SPORTS when they see your by line?
Get outta here!
KU FANS LOVE THIS TEAM.
They are just getting adjusted to a new way playing the game. It happens every five to ten years for the last century or so!
@drgnslayr Bingo. I was watching Dook last night make stupid turnovers, bad offensive possessions,…etc, and I’m thinking they’re a young team playing three freshmen at once…and we play 3 freshmen on the court as well. We’re one of the youngest teams in the country. I think this team is going to surprise us in the NCAA tournament. That was championship defense on display last night against a top 4 seed in the NCAA tournament.
Love this team, but have to admit, it’s the oddest team I can ever recall - we could get bounced in the first round or we might just possibly, somehow, someway, find a way to revenge that ugly beating Kensucky gave us and win the whole shebang. If that happened, it would likely surpass any sporting memory I’ve had in my 50+ years:
watching my normally super quiet dad go completely bonkers while his Steelers pulled off the Immaculate Reception to beat the much hated Raiders
seeing George Brett carry the Royals on his back all the way in '85 against a stacked Cards team. (still love that people here in St Louis still get pissed off when I wear my World Series shirt, though I never do at a Cardinals games now that I like both teams. Yea, yea it was a bad call in 6 I say, but then reply with what about that 11-0 game 7? where was your grit?)
seeing Manning do the same thing for the hawks in '88 (an 11 loss season!) against a stacked OU team. (Watched that game in Kelly’s in Westport, what night that was.)
following the Greatest Show on Turf after I moved to St Louis in '99 when a stockboy carried his team to a Super Bowl win. (I remember my dad saying during a reg season game, Wow they just scored 20 points in the first quarter, and I said they do that all the time - they have to because their defense is so bad!)
the '08 hawks, first beating Roy, then Mario Chalmers 3 pointer against Calipari. Ha!
the many ‘oh crap, all seems lost games’ the Comeback Cardinals of '11 had all post season to win the world series
Yep, these kids could shoot to the top of my list. Heck, just making it out of the first city (coupled of course with our conference ring #11) makes this a banner year.
Regardless of whether they win a single game the rest of the season, these are some good kids, tough kids and a helluva coach that have given me some real enjoyment this year.
Rawk on hawks, rawk on.
We play with plenty of bad possessions… But we are also playing tough. I’d put their defensive effort last night up against many of our past teams full of juniors and seniors… and we are playing through our bench, too.
There is only one question left with this team. ONLY ONE!
Can the get on an offensive role and MAINTAIN the toughness?
If the answer is “yes” and they start working some better offense, this team has the chance to do a lot in March!
Forget the hole at the 5… We just pounded big Baylor.
In all fairness. you can read this board on certain days and certainly get that impression.
@drgnslayr Baylor helped us by trying to beat us from the 3 point line ( 4-22). it must be a lot tougher to make those 3s when you’re playing your second game in a row against a very physical KU team all over you. Dook’s 3 ball game deserted them as well, as their 3 for 17 performance put them squarely in the loser’s circle.
@JayHawkFanToo We’re spoiled rotten. This is not definitely not the Ted Owens era, when we sweated making the tourney, and several times we didn’t make the NIT.
@Crimsonorblue22 POST SCRIPT: After Dodd slammed the KU fan base about “not believing”, and posts we could make a nice run in the tourney, he picks the Shlockers to beat us round 2. So much for his steaming pile of sanctimony…