What a flipping GREAT win!!!
I am still luxuriating in it late this evening the same as I was 15 minutes afterwards.
Boeheim enters the ranks of coaches that have spent a second half completely unable to figure out how Self is not just winning, but making the opponent look inept.
Boeheim had his usual collection of arrogant longs that look like great basketball talents, but actually don’t know how to do anything but stand around in a zone and look like they are expending more energy whining about not getting calls and being made to look like basketball dorks, than guarding and running offensive sets.
The chief difference between this collection of Boeheim’s long-handled garden hoes in tennies and his others that can be annoyingly hard to beat was the absence of a great point guard. Jim Boeheim without a great point guard exposes what a pitifully unimaginative excuse for a basketball coach he truly is. I kick him when he’s up, so I’m sure as hell going to kick him when he is down. I learned years ago that Boeheim needs a kick in the nuts whenever possible, because when ever he has a 5-star scorer outside, preferably at point, his arrogant smugness is intolerable.
Here Coach Boeheim, let me put on my steel toed Danners with the scuff guard. There, they are on. And whack!!! One more swift kick to the nads for all the Fab Melos you’ve brought college basketball over the years.
Now about the game.
KU was lead by Devonte Graham’s 35 (?) poured down from some higher dimension I’ve never had the pleasure to have played on, and LaCobra Vick’s 20. Note that was Graham’s second 30 point outing and that Graham played the full Monty (40 minutes). There were stretches of the first half where he looked positively human, but he kept his team in the game, while the newbies discovered the irritating experience of patiently probing a 2-3 zone staffed with whining, cheap-shot artists. The newbie Jayhawks struggled with the simplicity of what had to be done to shred the de-legendary Syrxcuse zone. Let me nutshell it for you before returning to LaCobra.
Possession 1: throw the ball to the high post man standing on the mid point of the free throw line. He turns and looks down the lane, but pitches it to an open wing that trifectates. That was easy.
Possession 2: point drives right, passes through seam to low post right in a seam of the base line of the 2-3; low post right then pitches out to Svi in corner, Svi pots a triceratop. That was easy.
Possession 3: point passes to wing, wing reverses to point, point to back side wing, drive seam toward lane and lob to the Cobra (Vick) ranging sideline to sideline on the baseline. That was easy.
Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Till Boeheim whines. Then repeat some more.
That was easy.
That’s all there is to it. Nothing else. But as often happens to teams with newbies facing Boeheim’s zone the first time its just hard to break the habit of running the offense and doing a lot of die-doe moves Self has tried to install for the game to give Boeheim something slightly different to sleep through. Then about 8-10 minutes in with Self red enough to fry eggs on his neck, someone new, like Mitch Lightfoot gets the wrath of God treatment and Self looks down the bench for some familiar face that’s got some facial hair and knows the play book Some years its someone decent. In lean years, its just someone that Self would trust to take his daughter out on a date. They don’t have to be great. All they have to be able to do is walk and chew gum and find the mid point of the free throw stripe and stand their and call for the ball and catch it and not do something stupid with it. This year, that savior of Self was–drum roll please–Clay Young. Clay Young’s line score does not look like much, but he was a crucial to KU’s victory today as Cole Aldrich was in the semi final game against UNC in the magical year of our basketball lord 2008 AD. Clay Young allowed the team to discover just how little everyone had to do against the whining giants of the Empire State. Find the seams, make the shots. No French pastry. No complicated plays. Clay Young was glue personified today. Next time someone tells you glue doesn’t matter, or anyone can do glue, remember this game. There were a lot of guys with fast twitch muscle and serial stars after their recruiting rankings and there were bigger guys, and faster guys, and more skilled guys, and guys with better looking cars not even on the road trip to Miami, and NONE of these guys could give the Birds what they most needed at that moment: someone to just get to the spot, catch, pass. and do no harm. Someone that actually saw where the seams were to stand and to throw to. What Clay Young did was so simple it was contagious. Suddenly every Jayhawk seemed to go: aha! I get it now. And after Clay’s 9 minutes his job was done and he quietly retired to the bench and that was it for him for the night.
Now, let’s get back to starters.
The Cobra “only” played 37 minutes, but on an “off shooting night” still roamed the baseline endlessly leaping out of his wicker basket and stabbing his fangs into the orange rim for 20 points, while grabbing 8 rebounds, only one shy of the footer Doke the Buke. Oh, and when he finally got the hang of high posting, he got 7 assists, too. I still don’t think he really “understood” the high post, but he did it finally and KU pulled away.
Since The Cobra is my new nickname for Vick I should explain it. He is so named, because of his incredibly skinny legs that rise up to shoulders that flare out like a Cobra hood and gather in to an endlessly watching, sensing and menacing pair of eyes and because of this players tendency to kind of sway around not doing a lot for several seconds at a time before then striking with blinding quickness. The Cobra struck the Orange Boys repeatedly, injecting them with points and his unique venom each time.
Next Malik. Well, Malik just discovered what it feels like to suck on national television amongst some teammates having great games.Talk about getting his ego put in perspective. It will probably single handedly turn his season around. Malik disappeared. Invisible 5-star. His face showed his frustration. By the end he was demoralized. But you know what? Self forced him to own it and kept him in. And Malik kept fighting to do doing his job the best he could on a night that starkly dramatized the bottom one third of human performance Self talks about players having to deal with. But he will probably come back and go off like a roman candle next game.
Azuibuke did not have an impressive game, and got fouled up, BUT he still eeked out 6 points and 9 boards in prime time. If this is an off game for Doke, then he has come a long way. This was prime time and 6 points and 9 boards against a long bunch with its own footer, like Cuse, is not abject failure. Doke showed that he too can keep struggling and contribute, even when things aren’t breaking his way. This is something to carry forward. At the same time, Doke learned today just how tough it is to be a starter in D1 against a D1 Major. He has a lot of getting better to do.
Svi? Svi had a so-so night statistically, and got fouled up, but I likes the way he TOO struggled through adversity and played a kind of ugly game that he needs to be able to do. This was the kind of floor game I always hoped to see him play, when the going got tough against a big team. Svi was getting in there and mixing it up with the Syracuse bigs, as if he himself were a big. This is how Larry Bird used to do it on his off nights. He went inside and stuck it in their ears. Svi appears not to be a trash talker, like Bird, but he has developed his own version of the hard case look and ice-cold stare. My favorite play of all that he made was when he went up and stuffed their footer. He didn’t get credit for a block, but it was sweet nonetheless. Svi can really get up! He is not super quick-footed, but the guy has Tyrel Reed like spring. He has come a long way from the wild point guard to the stretch 4 trying to model Larry Bird. He’s not completely their but he can make it this season, if he doesn’t get discouraged. Remember Ty keeping his 41-inch vertical a secret all those years, while he tried to build up his foot speed strengthen his upper body? Self may have to ask Svi to use his springs the same way Self had to ask Tyrel to start using his. Svi was good for 11 points, 4 boards and 4 assists. Looks modest, but he really seemed a presence on the floor.
Which brings us to Mitch Lightfoot and Marcus Garrett. Um, these two proved not ready for prime time. Since the same thing happened against Kentucky, we have to call this a reliable indication of what their capabilities are right now. Both produced lines comparable to walk-on Clay Young. But where Clay Young, a 6-5 senior walk on, oozed constructive glue for 12 minutes, two scholarship players found themselves both unable to glue and unable to impact. Mitch and Marcus oozed goose eggs and fouls, same as Clay Young, but Clay Young made the team play better and they did not. Mitch Lightfoot could not even find a single rebound, which is something he ought to be able to do at his height. Garrett, to his credit, did grab a couple caroms. Mitch and Marcus flaming out was especially chastening for this team. Self might as well get Sosinski practicing. And if de Sousa can get admitted, we need him in a big way. Syracuse was long inside, but they weren’t good long, just long. Its a little concerning to think about bigs having to go up against a major with a big man rotation of truly good players.
But one of the things that made this such a sweet victory was that KU was playing small at all 5 positions for significant lengths of time against a very long Syracuse and our guys adapted and made it look like something they could live with. It was a superior effort by our shorties and it was a fine job of coaching by Self.
At the end of the day, Boeheim was clueless how a bunch of runts had taken his longs to the cleaners.
But KU did take them to the cleaners. KU made Syracuse look like a not very good team today. KU made them look bad in fact.
And that felt good.