It is the last day of Christmas vacation in our house. It might hit 50 for the third-straight day, but no one seems real interested in getting outside and doing something. Probably has something to do with me telling everyone their rooms need to be cleaned up before anything else gets done today, and no one is moving all that quickly to start cleaning. C does have a volleyball practice in a bit, but other than that looks like one, final, lazy day to wrap up two-plus weeks of them.
So let’s look back at the weekend.
Man, that’s about as shitty of a weekend as I can remember for KU sports fans. There were the big events: Udoka Azubuike getting ruled out for Saturday’s game at Iowa State because of an injury suffered in practice Friday, the Jayhawks getting run off the court in the second half by the Cyclones, and then Sunday’s announcement that Udoka is done for the season.
And then two smaller events, one of which that is, really, bigger: Gary Woodland getting caught by the red-hot Xander Schauffele and losing the Tournament of Champions by one stroke and former KU football great – and father of a current Jayhawk – Kwamie Lassiter dying of a heart attack at just 49. Seriously, there was a lot of bad texting amongst my KU friends this weekend.
The loss to Iowa State was miserable. Despite playing terribly, KU was still in a good spot with 1:00 to play in the first half. It was one of those “If they can survive the next minute, get into the locker room, make some adjustments, this is anyone’s game.” Then then gave up a bad and-one, followed by a bad possession on offense and a 3-pointer by Iowa State that, effectively, ended the game. The second half was brutal. Iowa State, who I had read was not a very good 3-point shooting team, hit just about everything they threw up. The KU defense seemed only mildly interested in guarding anyone and in the last 10 minutes often stood and watched while ISU had a glorified shoot around.
So a bad loss on paper, but in the grand scheme of things, it was just a single loss. One I had chalked up at the beginning of the year, a belief that was reinforced when Udoka’s injury was announced before the game. KU had a lot of work to do to get better, but Bill Self is always able to adjust and get the best out of whatever his mix of talent is. As long as Dok didn’t miss more than a couple games, KU would be fine, although the Big 12 race would clearly be a dogfight.
And then the Udoka news broke Sunday. This will sound dramatic to all you non-KU folks, but the season is over. In a season after a Final Four appearance, and in which they began a national title favorites, the loss of Udoka from an already flawed team means all the lofty goals of November are trashed. The Big 12 streak will end and KU will be fortunate to get to the Sweet 16.
If KU could suddenly find an elite shooter who had immediate eligibility I would hold out hope that they could right the ship. But this team’s fatal flaw is that it has zero reliable outside shooters in an era where you need multiple guys who can hit the 3. There’s no getting around that.
Some people have been saying today, “Well, if Silvio De Sousa gets eligible, that changes things.” He’s not getting eligible. If it was going to happen, he would have been cleared by now. I’m sure KU is doing everything they can to get him cleared, but that ship has sailed. He should head to Bosnia, or wherever Billy Preston went last year.
That’s not to say this is a terrible team, or that I will not still watch every game with great interest. In fact, this season suddenly becomes pretty much stress-free. Knowing the Streak will end this early in the season means there’s less pressure on the next 16 Big 12 games. Losses on Big Mondays won’t mean I’m awake until 3:00 AM replaying what went wrong in my head. The Big 12 race will suddenly be about KU being spoilers rather than favorites. Knowing they don’t have a chance to make a repeat trip to the Final Four should make March games much more tolerable to watch.
It all sucks, but it’s not the end of the world.
As KU was losing in Ames, the Colts were hammering the Texans in Houston. As I understand it only a pass interference penalty and a tipped interception kept the Colts from leading 35–0 before halftime. I was switching over during commercials enough to get the gist of the game without all the details. As impressive as the Colts performance was, I do temper my enthusiasm a bit knowing they were playing Houston, the biggest frauds in this year’s playoff field.
Now it is on to Kansas City for a very, very interesting matchup. The Chiefs should be healthy favorites; I give the Colts about a 10% chance of winning. As good as the Colts’ defense has been this year, they’ve not faced an offense like the Chiefs’. But the Colts’ suddenly stout running game makes an upset not entirely out of the question. Get a lead, start pounding the rock, convert third downs, anything can happen. Not that the Colts have ever beaten the Chiefs in the playoffs before, so there’s really nothing for my Chiefs fan friends to worry about Saturday…
I caught parts of the other three playoff games. I’m really not sure what Seattle was thinking on offense, although I’m not an expert on these things. I laughed at all the people who were saying “No one wants to play the Ravens!” a week ago after the Chargers pounded them. I did see that stretch at the end of the third/beginning of the fourth quarters when the referees somehow managed to totally botch three consecutive plays in at least five different ways. All those guys should be done for the playoffs. And the last couple minutes of the Eagles-Bears game were simply fantastic for neutrals. What an ending!
C, L, and I went to see Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse yesterday afternoon. It was really, really good! I was a little surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I’m not into movies based on comics, nor was I a comics fan when I was little. I do recall owning some Spider-Man comics, though, and recognized the sense of humor that was unique to them in the movie. L has always been a Spider-Man fan, so she really enjoyed it. As we were walking out, we saw a little guy, maybe four, in his Spider-Man costume. She had the same costume when she was younger and I bet she would have worn hers if the movie had come out back then.
I think M is the only one complaining about our mild weather. She was supposed to go on a middle school ski trip yesterday to some hills down near Cincinnati, but with it being well over 60 down there, the trip had to be postponed for a couple weeks. She was most annoyed about having washed dishes for a month to pay for the trip. “If it doesn’t happen, I will have washed all those dishes for nothing!” she whined. I let the comment go, lest she think it through a little more and demand cash in exchange for her services.
Back to the grind tomorrow. M and C will get their volleyball schedules soon. We’re counting down the days until spring break. And after the first semester wraps up next week, M will be in her final semester at St. P’s.
- I don’t think I’ve seen any of the modern Marvel or DC movies other than Ant-Man. ↩