What a weekend of sports! Hoops and football gave us plenty to discuss.
I guess Baylor had to win in Lawrence eventually, right? For a decade Scott Drew has been bringing ranked teams into Lawrence. Some years they kept it close until very late. A few years they probably should have won. But KU always made the plays in the last minute as the Bears wilted and left with yet another L.
So Baylor was due. Odds, regression, etc aside, that was a damn impressive performance on Saturday. Just as it looked like KU might pull away in the first half Baylor dropped a big ass hammer and put a 22–4 run on the Jayhawks to close the first half. KU never got closer than five in the second half and the Bears walked away with a 12-point win that felt more like a 20-point margin.
Baylor did everything well Saturday. Shut down KU’s offense. Made great adjustments on offense. Hit contested shots. Really it was the perfect game. Which is the only good thing about the game for the rest of the Big 12. Surely Baylor can’t be that good every night, right? The thing is, though, even when they’re not that good on offense, they remain elite defensively. They just won in Lubbock and Lawrence back-to-back, which effectively gives them a two game margin on everyone before you factor in actual records. The Big 12 title race runs through Waco for the next two months.
For KU, a lot to be concerned about. None bigger than Devon Dotson’s health. Officially he has a hip-pointer. Who knows if that’s true. All that really matters is that KU began the 2019–20 academic year with three point guards in the program. One is sitting out the year as a partial qualifier and can’t do anything to help until next November. The other kid went through a week of fall conditioning, quickly decided KU wasn’t the place for him, and left the program. So now they’re left with a banged up Dotson and then 6’5” guys who can play emergency point. Not the ideal way to climb back into the Big 12 race.
Aside from Dotson, the next biggest concern is how poor this team moves the ball. Entry passes are thrown off the backboard, out of bounds, or directly to the defender. Simple passes on the perimeter are put in the wrong spot, either preventing an immediate shot from an open shooter or putting the receiver in a tough position if they want to make a quick move.
I’m not worried about the shooting because that is what KU is. One night they’re going to shoot 60% from three, the next around 20%. That was something that should have been addressed in the offseason. There’s not much you can do about it in the heart of the schedule. It’s destined to cost them in March, but I worry more about losing because they turn the ball over 25 times than going 3–27 from behind the arc.
Clemson Beats UNC
I only throw this in because Baylor breaking their 0–16 streak in Lawrence was quickly topped when Clemson got an overtime win in Chapel Hill, breaking a 95-year, 0–59 losing streak. Carolina is always great. Clemson only occasionally has good teams. You can talk yourself into that streak. But, still, it’s basketball. Weird things happen. Especially in the modern era with the three-point shot. But it still took Clemson erasing a 10-point deficit in the final 2:00 and then overtime to get it done.
Some of the sting was taken off KU’s loss as I laughed at Roy Williams saying he should be fired for losing the game and it’s the worst thing that’s happened in his career. He’s such a putz.
OK, on to football…
The Saturday games weren’t super interesting. Well, Tennessee continuing their run is a big deal, but we were out at a dinner for most of the game so I missed whatever happened in the first three quarters that set up the win. The real action was Sunday.
That Chiefs game. Good Lord! I turned the game on late, just in time to see Houston’s first TD pass. Then I got a call and was away from the TV for about 15 minutes. When I walked back into the living room it was 21–0 and I was thinking, “What the hell?” and “Chiefs will always Chief.” And I was honestly, for the first time in my life, feeling back for Chiefs fans. To lose this way would be a special kind of humiliation for a franchise that has found a million ways to torture its fans in my life.
Then the two fateful calls that changed the game. How on earth do you kick the field goal on fourth an inches early in the second quarter? 28–0 means the game is over, I don’t care what happened the rest of the game. The crowd was already booing the Chiefs, they were already dropping balls left and right. That stadium was about to get really ugly. Give the ball to Deshaun Watson and ask him to get less than a foot, then score two plays later to blow out whatever hope was left in Arrowhead. The decision looks even dumber when Bill O’Brien said after the game that he thought they needed 50 points to win. THEN YOU DON’T LEAVE POINTS ON THE FIELD YOU IDIOT.
Worse was the fake punt from their own 31 after the Chiefs had finally scored. That’s just asinine and reckless. At that point I texted some friends and said the final score would be 56–24 Chiefs. I wasn’t far off.
Despite all the stupidity on the Texans sideline – and I would fire O’Brien today if I owned the team – it was still a damn impressive comeback for the Chiefs. Once they scored 21 points in three minutes you got the feeling it was over. But, still, they completely shut down Houston for all but one possession and were nearly perfect on offense. Now that they’ve had their “Oh shit!” game, I am putting the Chiefs down as a lock to win the Super Bowl.
The nightcap was just a damn good game. Green Bay getting a nice lead, Russell Wilson doing Russell Wilson things to turn it into a ballgame, and Aaron Rodgers throwing an absolutely perfect ball on third down to ice the game. The only game of the weekend that was in doubt until the final moments, and one that kept me glued to the TV the entire time.
NFL Hall of Fame
So rolling that huge man out during the halftime shows on CBS and FOX to inform Bill Cowher and Jimmy Johnson that they had been elected to the NFL Hall of Fame was kind of cool. I did have to ask myself, “Wait, Jimmy’s not in the Hall of Fame already?” And I do have some quibbles on Cowher getting in. A very good coach? Absolutely! But an all-timer? Hmmm… Then again, the NFL Hall of Fame has always felt a little more open than the baseball HOF. Which is fine; big, inclusive halls are great. But I think Hall of Fames should be reserved for coaches who either won a shitload of championships or somehow revolutionized the game. For all his accomplishments, I don’t think Cowher reaches either standard.
LSU 31, Clemson 28
- My biggest KU recruiting complaint is how Bill Self has such a hard time getting point guards. You would think they would look at his last Illinois team, the 2008 KU national championship team, and the Frank Mason/Devonté Graham teams and flock to the program. For all the “Self runs high-low” talk, when he gets guards he gives them the ball. Yet he is always scrambling to get guys to run the offense for some reason. ↩