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KU

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On a cold night in Manhattan number 5th ranked Kansas faced off against a hungry Kansas State squad. You could be sure going into this game that it didn’t really matter who was leading the Big 12 race, nationally ranked or even favored to win, this was KU and K-State and it would be a tough contest until the very end.

Both squads came out tight in the first half, an in your face man to man defense held the Hawks to under 30% shooting. The Wildcats weren’t exactly firing on all cylinders offensively either. The work was being done on the defensive end of the court for both squads early on.

Jayhawk junior transfer Jeff Withey came into the contest riding a two game high looking to continue the level of play he has shown coach Self he is capable of showcasing. The big man controlled the paint early in the contest forcing the Wildcats to settle for off balanced jump shots.

Kansas went into the break with a solid 10 point lead and held the Wildcats to a season low 18 first half points.

The Wildcats would answer the bell coming out of the half going on a run to claim a one point lead at the 12 minute mark. From that point though, Kansas point guard Tyshawn Taylor would flex his muscles and hit two big 3 point shots to regain the lead for Kansas.

Kansas State would never lead the contest from that point and dominant play down low by Withey proved to be too much for the Wildcats to control.

Robinson would have an off night, but Withey shined once again for 18 points, 11 rebound and 9 blocks. One block shy of claiming the all powerful triple double.

This Kansas squad is peaking at the right time and at the right places. The new found energy, emotion and solid play by Jeff Withey has elevated this team to another level. The intriguing aspect is he is continuing to get better every game he plays in. This young man has a very high ceiling and his true potential is shining through at the exact time Kansas needs it.

KU will meet Texas Tech at 7 p.m. Saturday in Allen Fieldhouse.

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I browsed the obvious college basketball sites this morning searching to see if they had noticed on the national level what Kansas fans had the delight of seeing the past 2 games.  Oh have they noticed!

 

A recurring trend this morning is not a front page picture of Thomas Robinson dunking over some poor soul, but in fact an emotional Jeff Withey towering for rebounds, dominating the paint, and scoring under the basket!

 

This point in the college basketball season it is pivotal to have guys step up.  Of course you need your foundation players to continue to play well and Thomas Robinson seems to get his double double without fail, but to have fellow big man Jeff Withey step up and ease the pressure is a piece of the puzzle KU has been silently and patiently waiting for this entire season.

 

Not long ago the 7 footer seemed to be a step behind, showed zero emotion, and often seemed lost on the offensive end of the court.  Prior to the Baylor contest Withey was averaging just over 8 points and 5 rebounds per game.  Over the past 2 games he has surged to average 21 points and 15 rebounds.  The latest being Saturday against Oklahoma State where Kansas played a nearly flawless first half to put the game away early.

 

This type of production allows Robinson to relax and play his game, which is well, to dominate the post.  One key aspect that is beginning to emerge is chemistry.  Now the two Kansas bigs are trusting in each other.  The tough pass is beginning to look easier. The double team is leaving a weapon wide open and the other can feel it before he sees it.

 

Kansas will no doubt ride into the NCAA Tournament on the back of potential player of the year Thomas Robinson, but the 7 footer Withey may just keep them there to fight another day.

 

KU will face a rough and rowdy crowd tonight in Manhattan at 8p.m. against in state rival Kansas State.  Last year the Wildcats sent KU home with a 16 point defeat.  Look for this to be an emotionally charged game and watch for both squads to come out firing early.

by

Tom Kueser

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On a peculiar warm winter night Kansas was looking to rebound from their first Big 12 loss facing a scrappy Oklahoma team with its new decorated coach Lon Kruger.  It had been over 5 years since Kansas had lost back to back games and out of 89 home contests, KU had only dropped 1.  This year has proven to be a little different than the past at times and Oklahoma came to town looking to spoil the party, at least for the first half.

 

Kansas controlled the opening tip and didn’t waist any time feeding All American Thomas Robinson under the bucket for two quick points.  Oklahoma came out at a feverish pace and turned the ball over 4 times in the first 5 minutes which led to easy Kansas buckets.

 

Coach Kruger soon calmed down his Sooner squad they began executing their game plan in front of the 16000 Kansas faithful.  They were able to cut a 30-19 Jayhawk lead into a two point half time deficit.  Once again, a young talents Kansas squad had seemed to let its foot off the accelerator for a few minutes, allowing a scrappy Oklahoma squad to get some momentum and confidence going into the break.

 

Little did the Sooners know Kansas was refueling at half with Nitro.  The opening KU possession out of the break was a blue print of what was to come for the next 20 minutes of action.  Swing the ball side to side looking for a crease; feed the ball inside for a monster dunk, and the beat rolled on.  Run down the court to setup defense, make the Sooners shoot a contested jump shot, rebound like a caged animal and fire out the entry pass to start the next run.

 

Kansas went on a scoring rampage that left even Jayhawk faithful shaking their heads.  How could the same squad 20 minutes earlier be fighting for a 2 point lead and now be up by 30 points midway through the second half?

The answer lies in the Kansas bigs.  Thomas Robinson exploded for 20 points, 17 rebounds and his batman, Jeff Withey added 15 of his own to solidify another Kansas win.  The dual threat showed a level of energy during the second half of the contest that had been lacking since the Baylor game.  In that stretch Kansas struggled and even lost to unranked ISU last Saturday.  The boys were back in town and oh was the Fieldhouse rock’n on a night Kansas desperately needed to get back on track for the remainder of the Big 12 schedule.

 

Over the next 2 weeks Kansas will face a century old rival and top 4 ranked Missouri tiger squad in their home building, a dangerous Baylor team ranked number 6 looking for revenge at Waco, and then to wrap up the madness Kansas faces its rival Kansas State at Manhattan.  Three of the toughest road games played back – to back – to back will show what this gritty Kansas Jayhawk team in made of.

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Just when you might of found yourself being sucked into the hype of a KU basketball squad being strapped for shooters, loss of bench players and lacking for overall talent look again.  This year has proven that hoops is a team game and with the right chemistry between players and coaches the sky is the limit, or at least it seams to be at KU.

Forget about the name of the program for just a minute.  Let’s think of them as just a basketball team.  Now let’s begin by taking 4 starters away from an accomplished squad from a year ago.  You are loosing 4 of your top scorers, top rebounders, top defensive players, top three point shooters, needless to say the list goes on and on.  Take all of that statistical body of work away and what remains?  Well for good reason ones subjective mind gravitates towards a true rebuilding year.  A year of grabbing what is left at the bottom of the barrel and molding those individuals into a new squad.  More emphasis being on what they will be next year and recruiting would overshadow a lack luster record that goes along with a typical rebuilding year.  For the most part this line of thinking would be correct, but we all forgot one little thing.  This is KU.

 

Bill Self is the catalyst for what in the beginning seemed impossible to actually be quite possible.  The ball coach knew what was lurking in the shadows.  He could see the potential that we were all looking past.  From day one this squad has definitely been out of character in many ways, except one, winning.

 

In my mind this squad is asserting itself as a true blue collar smack you in the face group than has been at KU for several years.  They aren’t going to beat you pretty, but they may beat you ugly.  There will be few teams that I would consider battle tested in the way KU has been from its early season scheduling.  Another testament to if you want to be the best you must first beat the best attitude.  This rebuilding group is flat out beating good teams at home, and on the road.

 

New recruits are in the background watching what they will get to be a part of very soon.  At Kansas you don’t turn it around as an incoming player, you merely contribute to what is already there.  Next year there are guys coming in contribute.  And the year after there will be more being asked to capitalizing on the legacy of this program in whatever way coach self asks of them.

 

A team who is truly greater than the sum of its parts is beginning a run for yet another big 12 season title.  We are just left to shake our heads and reflect on how nice it must be to be rebuilding after losing basically everyone relevant.  Rebuilding as a top ten nationally ranked team and leading the Big 12.

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Here is a bit of advice to the Kansas Jayhawks…..Grow the hell up! The billboards you have purchased in Missouri that say “We are KANSAS City” and your front office tweets are truly showing what type of institution you are.

“Missouri forfeits a century-old rivalry. We win.” – Official KU Twitter Account

The bottomline is that college athletics go where the money is. Money in college athletics is found within every school football program and the best football in the nation just happens to be played within the Southeastern Conference. Hey KU, it all adds up, there actually is a legitimate reason MU left the Big 12.  Missouri’s football program is better than the Kansas program and the overall record (58-56-9 in favor of Mizzou) really doesn’t show how much better of a program Mizzou has been in the Pinkel era. Go ahead and talk about the bogus Orange Bowl victory you had after Mizzou manhandled you a few weeks prior and then played in the Big 12 Championship. You know that Orange Bowl bid was probably part of that illegal weight equipment package that Lew Perkins was involved in before he so eloquently resigned his position.

You might say, “What about the the basketball program?” Ok, so what about it? Basketball comes up well behind football in importance to a university….except at KU, where it becomes the talk of the town after week two of the football season. KU fans talk about how much better the Big 12 is in basketball; however, they can continue to talk about how good they are in a weaker conference. The proof is in the stats as the SEC has won 10 championships compared to the three championships the Big 12 can claim. The so-called strong conference doesn’t do KU any favors as it seems that KU cannot match up against mid-major teams. This is getting too easy.

“But….But….Mizzou left and told the Kansas City economy to stick it!” Not so fast, KU fan! MU made it clear that they would like to continue the rivalry between the two programs and would likely continue the football game at Arrowhead, but KU removed MU from their websites schedule. “But…But….the Big 12 Championship game and Big 12 basketball tournament will no longer be in Kansas City and that is all Mizzou’s fault.” Wrong again!  Because of Kansas City’s rich basketball history the tournament will remain in Kansas City according to the Big 12 Conference committee. Well…that backfired didn’t it Kansas? So now, who’s hurting the Kansas City economy?  Hmmm, that would be your very own Jayhawks. They could easily make a huge deal of a KU/MU rivalry game and bring more money to the Kansas City.

So as a Mizzou fan I say to Bill Self, continue to wear your gold MC Hammer pants and tell the media “You Can’t Touch This” when it comes to MU playing Kansas again. Your making yourself look like the little brother who didn’t get his way. To the KU front office, that continues to give the green light to the ridiculous tweets and billboards, if you listen to Kansas City radio you would find out that your own fans think it’s childish. Finally, to the cardigan-wearing fat asses that claim to be KU fans, maybe you’ll get your way for the next few years until the unstable Big 12, wait….it’s 10 now, goes through this same mess again. Then you will be lucky to find anyone to play with you. Rock Chalk!…….whatever the hell that means.

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