I'm glad we didn't have to learn from a
loss. Maybe it was just a matter of
playing up to our competition or the situation.
Coach had the team ready, and everybody seemed to play well.
I know people will say that Temple really isn't that good because of
the difference in the score. But they are a decent
team. And they are really tough at
home. They led the nation in scoring
defense. Coach even commented that we may not be
able to get to the point total that we are used to
scoring. Everybody thought that Temple would slow
the pace down, and that it would be a game where we would have to grind
through our offensive possessions. Sometimes things
don't work out as expected. Once we got it going,
they weren't going to slow us down.
Defense played a big role, obviously. Fernandez is
a good scorer of the ball. But he's probably used
to wearing down his opponent by running him through screens throughout
the possession. I think I counted five different
Jayhawks that took turns guarding him. We always
had a fresh pair of legs chasing him. Almost every
time we had a hand in his face. Sure, he didn't
shoot the ball well at all. But I think you have to credit a
lot of that to our defense. Tyshawn, Sherron,
Brady, Tyrel, and CJ all had a turn at frustrating
Fernandez. Heck, I may have missed somebody else.
It was imperative that we get off to a good start at both ends and take
the crowd out of the game. It was also important
for our own momentum and confidence. Sherron took
care of the offensive end. He scored our first
seven points. He just gave me the feeling that he
could score at will. If we needed a big hoop, then
he would be there. But he realizes that we are much
better off with everybody contributing, and he did not force the
issue. I thought he just let it be known from the
first that we were going to be tough, very tough.
Among others, Cole took charge on the defensive
end. He seemed to grab every rebound early
on, He blocked a couple of shots again,
and that immediately caused Temple to alter some of their other shots
inside. He still struggled a little with his
offensive moves, but he finished with a
double-double. And it seemed like everytime we had
a little bit of a struggle inside that Cole came back in off the bench
and righted the ship. I think too often we are
concerned about his offensive struggles that we don't appreciate just
how much he contributes anyway. He can dominate a
game without having to score a ton of points.
I thought Xavier had kind of a quiet game. Then,
you look up and he is the leading scorer. It didn't
hurt to go six for six from the line. He's bought
into the idea that he doesn't have to look to score everytime he
touches the ball. He will get his
shots. I think he worked hard on defense, but he
still has definite room for improvement there. The
exciting thing is that we can sit him for a few minutes to get some
rest or whatever, and we don't just get crushed by not having him on
the court. None of our guys should have tired legs
at the end of the year because they aren't having to play 30 minutes
each. That's a luxury to have.
Marcus was a little amped to start the game. He
missed those layups, but then he really played
well. He's doing a lot better job attacking the
boards. He can get some points off of offensive rebounds if
he will be aggressive about it. He's got a pretty
good first step, and he's showing some really nice moves on the
baseline. I'll bet he will be talking for months about
getting to slam the ball against his old friends.
That was a strange play. It seemed like the Temple players
were just walking away from the ball, and Marcus just took it and
ran. Marcus has become a consistent scoring option
for us, and that adds another dimension to our potent
offense. People can't just concentrate on Sherron
and Cole. Now they have Xavier and Marcus to worry
about, too. Then we hit them with Tyshawn, Brady,
Tyrel, and others.
I thought Markieff played a lot more solid game than he has the last
few times out. He didn't log a ton of minutes, but
he played well while he was in there. He had a
couple of nice moves under the basket. I thought he
played hard at both ends. I was a little nervous
about them being too excited , but the twins came to
play. They have really bought into Coach's system
and seem happy to be winning. By that I mean they aren't
complaining about being on the floor more. They
just seem more than willing to be part of the team.
Tyshawn had another solid outing. He handled the
ball well, played solid defense, passed it well, and didn't commit
turnovers. It was great to see everybody step up to
the free throw line and knock down their shots.
Tyshawn is doing a really good job of playing both positions out top,
and it has become pretty obvious that he understands his role a lot
better. He doesn't have to make spectacular plays
every time down. He just has to make the
fundamental plays. His play has really made us a
much better team.
Brady and Tyrel had similar games, I thought. Both
of them hit a long jumper. Both of them were solid
with the ball and didn't commit turnovers. Tyrel
had a couple of lazy passes, but it didn't cost us
anything. Brady led the team in
assists. They both contributed on the
boards. Tyrel guarded Fernandez for an extended
period in the first half and did a more than adequate job. He
had his hand in his face on almost every attempt.
Brady, of course, played outstanding defense, also.
It just seems like the pieces all fell together yesterday, and we can
certainly hope for more of the same.
Coach obviously is getting more confidence in Thomas Robinson as he put
him in the game early. Thomas has to learn not to
make those fouls 30 feet from the basket. A few
seconds late he fouled at the rim and was sitting on the
bench. He did show one really nice offensive move
under the basket. The kid has such an
upside. Like a lot of freshmen, when the game slows
down for him, he is going to be awesome. There's a
lot of technique to learn about playing underneath at the college
level. You have to learn how to body-up so you
won't get those foul calls. You have to understand
position and not leaving your feet too soon. Thomas
is going to be really good, I believe, and he is going to get better as
this year goes along. His upside is limitless.
I don't know if CJ Henry has ever seen a shot he doesn't
like. But as long as he keeps knocking them down,
then I don't have a problem with it. CJ adds
maturity on the court. He never seems to get riled
up. He works hard on defense but can just use a
little more time learning that. He has good ball
handling skills and usually makes solid, fundamental passes.
He's obviously caught up in the numbers game as we just don't have that
many minutes available. It will be interesting to
see how that continues to play out.
Elijah got in the game late. He was perfect from the free
throw line. I thought he might be part of the
rotation of guys taking turns on Fernandez. Again,
what do you do? There are a lot of guys playing
well and only so many minutes to go around. EJ
seems to have a terrific attitude about it, and he's going to play a
whole lot before his career at KU is over. He will
continue to work hard and hopefully take advantage of the opportunities
he does get.
Give the Temple coach some credit. At the end when
we started substituting everybody in, so did he. We
have seen a lot of games where the opposing team leaves their starters
in against the walk-ons to close the gap. I understand
wanting to have your players play hard until the end, but I
just thought it was a classy move on his part, too.
I thought we just did about everything right. I
thought the KU crowd might chant something like, "You didn't want
Kansas.". But it was just as rewarding to hear the
Rock Chalk chant loud and clear. I'm glad the families of the
twins, Tyshawn, and Thomas got to see their guys
play. What a great day all around for KU!
It's a GREAT
day to be a JAYHAWK!