Tough to lose when we make the F4. But as Self said yrs ago, once you’re in the F4, anything can happen, good opponents, any weaknesses may show themselves, or an off shooting night can send you home as it did for Frank Mason’s final 2 KU teams (Nova in ‘16, Oregon in ‘17).
KU was playing well since Big12 Tourney, Malik had certainly turned a corner, and Silvio became serviceable, actually surpassing Ltfoot. But to me, what showed up vs Villanova was 2 glaring problems: Poor D/inability to consistently get stops, which the defensive stats of this season easily reveal. And secondly, that bothersome ability of opposing Ds to guard beyond the perimeter & shut down our 3 shooting. Put it this way, somebody was going to scout the KU losses to WashSt and ASU, & try to disrupt our O. How many 3s did we shoot the first half vs Nova?
Credit Jay Wright, his team BLITZED KU and werent afraid on a big stage. The only way to claw back from 22-4 deficit is to , uh, get stops, which is the biggest glaring statistical weakness for this team, compared to other Bill Self products.
Of course I feel the worst for Devonte & Svi, as they gave everything, just as Frank did.
To me, the Tourney hopes seemed to come down to if someone could knock off Villanova for us…. Dont like the sound of that? Neither do I, but that’s the reality of the fragility of this team’s statistical evidence. My fellow diehard KU alum brother-in-law says “you want to beat the best”, but I reminded him that NC banners and trophies do NOT come with asterisks, no one is going to remember years from now, nor really care, that KU got an easy path victory…
But, alas, that didn’t happen. Villanova was right there, waiting for us, and marched right thru WVU, TxTech, then blitzed right thru us. They looked like a NC team, and ended up getting Michigan as well. So, credit Jay Wright for upping his game, as I joked a few yrs ago (pre-Ochefu) that he was cant-recruit-a-big-Jay Wright, but he has clearly turned that around with Ochefu, Paschall, and Spellman…a guy who plays not like Marcus or TRob, but more like Andre Drummond of GSWarriors (NBA-Drummond).
I would slightly disagree with the above comment about Nova being more “athletic” than us. Its more about how that athleticism was deployed. Our athletes couldnt guard their athletes: story of the season (which is nothing new this season). Brunson was described by studio analysts as “slower” than Devonté, but his unorthodox turn-around, surprise shot/pass reminded ne of DJAugustin’s similar tendencies…catch people off guard, literally.
Final thought on our defensive ineptitude: if we could have turned up the D, 22-4 hole likely never happens. Self said by the time it was 22-4, we’d have to “play perfectly”, which includes D…
So, while I loved this team’s battle for #14, which truly does put them and KU in the books for a 30-40 yr record (like UCLA?), and their exhilarating Final 4 run, with a classic W over Duke, I realized as soon as Nova hoisted that NC trophy, that our countdown to ‘18-19’s has begun. I wonder how our team O and team D will look, considering Self’s past dominance in various key, telling categories.
I wish Devonte,Svi, and whoever else wants the NBA, gets their dream, we will love them always! RCJH. FOE. Our home is their home now.