March is here! The days are getting a little longer, brighter, and warmer. Spring break is three weeks away. We’ve had a few geese in our yard already, the onslaught to come. The City of Indianapolis is fixing potholes!
Baseball is about to start.
And KU fans are freaking out.
My experience with the Jayhawks this week was tempered by not being able to see much of Tuesday’s TCU game in Ft. Worth. L had a game at the same time and we made it home in time for the last 10 minutes or so. Which turned out to be the worst 10 minutes to see. At least her team won. 53–7!
I was able to watch all of Thursday’s rematch in Lawrence. It had everything. A big KU spurt early, fueled by 12 quick Ochai Agbaji points. A LOUD AFH crowd. Defensive lapses, poor shot selection, and getting bullied by a more athletic team. A six-point deficit early in the second half accompanied by thoughts of hopelessness and anger at pissing away a two-game lead in the conference race thanks to getting swept by TC-freaking-U. An eight-point lead with under 2:00 to play that was nearly thrown away.
Basically the 2021–22 Jayhawks distilled into their essence.
But the dub is the dub, and a win Saturday against Texas means KU gets a share of the Big 12 title.
I can’t freak out too much about the TCU games since they are the epitome of a bad matchup for this year’s KU squad. Every team has those, and it sucks that KU had to play the Frogs back-to-back, at the end of the season, because of Covid issues in January. I was disappointed at how little fight KU showed when I was watching Tuesday. I was heartened by the fight early and late Thursday. I was concerned about how many dumb mistakes they made in the middle 20 minutes Thursday.
And, let’s be honest, KU people freaked out this week because it was TCU. It didn’t matter that they beat Texas Tech last Saturday. That was their only impressive Big 12 win. It wasn’t until we saw them, and saw how long and athletic they are, and that for the first time maybe ever they actually play decent ball, that we realized, “Oh shit, these guys are good.” Not sure what to make of a world where TCU is solid in hoops.
KU got a very friendly whistle Thursday. I can’t decide if that was because “KU gets every call at Allen” or just that KU was so freaking bad on defense that a ton of TCU’s shots were so wide-open KU didn’t have a chance to foul.
Well, it was a friendly whistle other than the ridiculous technical on Mitch Lightfoot. College refs are such clowns. In the NBA, if guys start yapping at each other, and continue to after being warned, both players hit get with a T and you play on. College refs always have to make an example of a player to give the impression they’ve taken control of the game. It wasn’t just the T itself. It was how the ref called it, signaling the foul EIGHT TIMES as he walked to the scorer’s table. An absolute “Look At Me!” clown show of an effort by that guy. Big 12 refs have called so many garbage T’s on players this year for things that happen on dunks, I guess KU was due.
Just a fantastic sequence of events. pic.twitter.com/UqBqgUg0UC
— We good? (@gifhawk2) March 4, 2022
That said, Mitch has been in college for 18 years. He knows how refs are. Take your dunk, run up court, and talk your shit when you set up for defense when – maybe – the ref has other things to worry about. Although that guy was clearly itching to call one. It likely wouldn’t have mattered.
My brother in Jayhawk-dom E$ said Jamie Dixon looks like a guy who doesn’t wash his hands after he uses the restroom. I laughed hard at that, because it seems like a pretty fair assessment.
I seriously can not figure out what this team’s deal on defense is. The athletic guys get lazy. The heady guys are constantly putting themselves in bad spots where their limitations kill them. Dave McCormack is perpetually trying to block shots that aren’t lockable, leaving the lane open for offensive boards. They all make poor/wrong rotations. They all communicate poorly. They just can’t seem to figure it out.
I wonder if it is all a matter of trust, and the lack of trust in the guys to their right and left mean everyone is constantly cheating one way or the other, and end up in a bad spot.
Or maybe they just suck. It is maddening, whatever the explanation is. And since it is March, it ain’t changing. I feel like the offense will be fine when they get away from Big 12 teams. I’m already having anxiety attacks about them scoring 79 but giving up 84 to some team that hasn’t scored more than 70 in two months. Or being up nine with about 3:00 to play and collapsing to blow a game that was won. You can’t play a junk defense for 40 minutes, but KU’s base defense isn’t stopping anyone at the moment.
Of course the 2006 Indianapolis Colts had an atrocious defense, and got gouged by Maurice Jones-Drew for approximately 400 yards in the season finale. Then they got their shit together and won the Super Bowl. You never know.
KU has played eight of its nine Big 12 home games. Four of those games were blowouts. The other four were all games that either went to overtime or were decided in the final 10 seconds. For those of you who gamble, that offers some interesting options for Saturday’s game against Texas.
Finally, KU fans, I admit I cursed Ochai last week when I wrote about how efficient he was, and how he never took a shot that I questioned. He’s scored 27, 13, and 22 since in the three games since. But even those 20+ point nights came taking way more shots than he’s taken this year. He’s forced some mid-range stuff he hasn’t forced all year. And he’s missed too many shots at the rim.
He’s had such a beautiful and remarkable season. I hope he’s not running out of steam as the weight of the last four months gathers on his shoulders and the pressure of March awaits.
My bad for the jinx.