That first weekend each year when the weather turns warm is always a delight. Living in the Midwest you know there will be plenty of wild weather swings before spring completely arrives. Yet even in a year like this when winter wasn’t all that bad, these weekends are welcome.

Saturday it was in the mid–70s here, breaking a daily high temperature record. I did some yard work to prep for the growing season and sat in the sun reading a book for about an hour. I wore shorts all afternoon. Other than the rather gusty winds, it was an ideal afternoon, feeling more like mid-May than early March.

We had loud, nasty thunderstorms overnight Saturday. Sunday was a little cooler and more cloudy, but with less wind. Much of my day was spent in the car or gyms, as we’ll get to, but S and I were able to take a walk late in the afternoon and it felt really nice. Sunday night/Monday morning we got nearly two inches of rain, setting another daily record.

The weather has already turned, and this week will be much cooler. Snow keeps flipping into and out of next weekend’s forecast. But the warmth is coming, and better days with it.

A lot of important hoops this weekend. So much that I’ll make a (relatively) quick pass at it all. Which you all will probably appreciate.

Jayhawk Talk

Big 12 (co) Champs!

There is a tinge of disappointment over going from leading by two full games with five to play to needing a nervy overtime win at home to salvage a tie with Baylor. It’s still another notch in the conference title ledger, though.

I saw very little of the game, as S and I had not one but two adult social engagements Saturday. (Look at us!) We did reach our second spot of the night just as the game was nearing the end of regulation, and after saying hello to the folks we were hanging with, I scampered over to a big screen to watch. As the game went into OT, I rejoined our crew but kept one eye on the game. When David McCormack dunked to put KU up five I slapped the table and said, “OK, I’m ready to be social!” That got some laughs. I was with a bunch of IU people so they all appreciated my need to focus on hoops.

Without seeing most of the game I can’t make any judgements. It’s concerning that Ochai Agbaji played one of the worst games of his career. The entire offense seemed to suck. But, hey, the defense was solid, they rebounded, they took care of the ball. I guess if you’re not going to score, you better do those other things.

I will be interested if Bill Self rests any of his players this week in Kansas City. I’m not sure it will provide any benefits in the NCAAs, unless guys have legit injuries they need to rest to heal. But it might be good for Ochai not to play 35 minutes two or three times this coming week. And, hey, perhaps let Remy and Yesefu play more than five minutes and give them a chance to get through mistakes and build some rhythm and confidence going into the games that really matter.

Then again, if I don’t expect a deep run in the NCAAs, maybe the Jayhawks should pull out all the stops to win the Big 12 tournament.

Duke/Coach K


When we got home Saturday I LOVED reviewing Twitter to see the sheer joy from around the country at the KU-Texas game going to overtime and ruining ESPN’s early coverage of K’s last game. Mark Titus even suggested that Self blew the end of regulation intentionally to ensure overtime and overlapping coverage.

And then for Duke to lose, their coaches to act like pricks to the Carolina staff, and K to scold the home crowd? It was the biggest chef’s kiss I can imagine. Just beautiful, beautiful stuff.

Listen, he’s the greatest coach in the history of the game. I’ve said that before. He’s won five titles playing at least three different styles of basketball. He’s adjusted as the game has changed, often quickly. But he’s always been a sanctimonious prick who puts himself above the game and acted like he hasn’t benefitted from a corrupt system more than any other coach.

Ya’ll know I had some issues with Roy Williams. But, dadgummit, he had the decency to announce he was done and disappear and not turn an entire season into an ego trip, and then get mad when his fairy tale ending got upended. I just hope someone beats Duke before the Final Four so K’s farewell tour doesn’t cloud the entire tournament.

KU Rumors

Just before we left the house Saturday some KU-NCAA rumors broke. They are just rumors at this point, and incomplete rumors at that. By the time you read this some real news may have arrived that renders the next paragraph or two meaningless, so keep that in mind.

The biggest rumor is that Bill Self and Kurtis Townsend will each serve two-year postseason bans. There was uncertainty whether that ban will begin this week or next March. As the rumor spread, there were a lot of “This could be Bill Self’s last 20/10/5 minutes of the season” Tweets. Hmmmm…

The key to the rumor was the insistence that this was just the top headline of the potential punishment, not the entire penalty. There could still be much more, like reduction in scholarships, recruiting limits, forfeiting games that Silvio De Sousa played in, etc.

I had to laugh at myself scrambling through Twitter once we got to our first stop of the evening looking more for confirmations/expansions of the NCAA rumors than the score of the game being played at that moment.

Awards SZN

The Big 12 coaches awards came out Sunday night. Ochai was the unanimous player of the year, to no one’s surprise. Despite his rough final week, no player ever challenged him for the award.

Much grousing in the KU Twittersphere about Ochai being the only KU first team pick. I don’t think it’s worth the time to argue. You can make a case Christian Braun or Jalen Wilson (and, to some people, both) deserved first team honors. But each player had stretches where they struggled, KU faltered late, and their numbers weren’t dramatically better than the guys you have to argue against to put them on the first team. Be thankful for the recognition and use the “snub” as fuel for the next month.

I think Mark Adams should have won coach of the year, and it shouldn’t be close, but Texas Tech losing two of their last three did take some shine off his season. Still, did anyone expect the Red Raiders, who lost their head coach, some decent talent, and brought in second and third tier transfers instead of marquee names like Remy Martin and Marcus Carr to challenge for the league crown until the final week?

I guess you can make a case for Scott Drew. He did have to get this team through a ton of injuries. But I think him winning the award was more about him, and Baylor’s PR team, winning the battle of narrative, making the Bears’ entire season about those injuries. Conveniently ignoring that he still had two (likely) lottery picks and a bunch of guys who won a national title last year even when they were battling through the injuries.

Drew winning didn’t bother me. Until someone reminded me that he won Big 12 coach of the year two years ago. When KU went 17–1 and won the league by two games. Yep, Scottie and the Baylor crew definitely have pictures and emails that they aren’t afraid to use against other coaches and the media.

High School Hoops

Cathedral won their first sectional title since Jalen Coleman-Lands was a sophomore. Friday night was their big battle, against rival Tech. The Irish trailed by six late in the third quarter before going on a 14–0 run that helped them pull away and win easily. In Saturday’s final they beat Lawrence North, who had ended their season three of the past four seasons, comfortably.

Cathedral is now the best team left according to the computer ratings, and have the highest odds with win State at 26%. They do have to beat a team they lost to two weeks ago to get out of regionals this weekend. But they seem to be coming together and playing to their talent level at the right time.

Kid Hoops

L had three games this weekend.

Saturday, while we were out, her winter league team played for their tournament championship.

I honestly have no idea how they came up with this tournament, which was just a little four-team bracket. Three teams were from the pool they played their regular season games against. The fourth team was a fifth grade team from L’s travel program. I asked her travel coach if he knew how they came up with that combination. He said the fifth grade team is really good; they won a national tournament last summer. They probably beat the hell out of some sixth grade teams in the regular season, he said, so they moved up another level to play in our tournament. He also believed the four-team brackets were done to get the tournaments over before travel season began this weekend.

Seems weird to me.

Anyway, L’s team played those fifth graders Saturday for the title. We watched the fifth graders beat an eighth grade team in overtime in their semifinal Tuesday. They have a girl who is almost six feet tall who hit a couple 25-foot shots and a bunch of shooters around her. I told L “Watch #33,” a shooter who camped out in the corner waiting to launch threes all night. “If you guard her, don’t ever leave her.”

Another team dad texted me updates throughout the game. At halftime he said L got a steal and layup right before the buzzer to put us up 8–7. We were up the entire second half between 1–3 points. Every few minutes he’d send me another picture of the scoreboard. Finally he sent one with all zeros on the clock and us winning 28–27.


Well, watered down, weird bracket champs.

They actually got rings, although as the last game of the night no one who runs the league stayed to hand them out and L’s team got the ones that said “Finalist” not “Champion.” I guess no one looked at which bag they handed to which team. Oh well.

When we got home I asked L about her game. She said she had eight points, at least 10 rebounds, and “I shut 33 down! She only had four points!” The dad who sent me in-game updates confirmed all that.

So a great end to what was, at times, a frustrating season. The weird schedule (playing more 6th grade A teams than 7th/8th B teams), the lack of practice time, the absence of any organized offense. Flags fly forever. And I guess cheap championship rings last forever. Or at least until they get wet and tarnish.

Sunday it was straight into the travel season. Her team played in a two-game shootout. They are the third rated seventh grade team in their program and opened with a game against the #2 team. That squad has one girl that is a stud. She has size and can do almost everything. The only thing that stopped her were the refs who called anything remotely close to a travel a travel. I think they were a little harsh on her, but it was to our benefit so I didn’t complain or anything. We were down 12 at one point but made a great run late and trailed by one with under 2:00 left. We just couldn’t get the stops and scores needed and lost by five. It was a great effort, though.

In the second game we played a team that had a lot of size and knew how to use it. They took threes when open, but generally just punished us inside. L somehow drew the low block on free throws and gave up three-straight offensive boards in one sequence. It was demoralizing. We were down 13 at half. We got behind by as many as 22 in the second half to fall into running clock territory, and never got it closer than 16.

L had a weird day. She came off the bench in both first halves, started both second halves. She was scoreless in the first game, scored three in the second. But, man, she was as aggressive as she’s ever been getting to the basket. Before we left the house she told me she has a spin move that has been working. I rolled my eyes a little because I had never seen it. Sunday, though, she kept getting by her defender with it. She just could not finish. She was probably a combined 1–15 in the two games. Almost all those misses were either off that spin move or on runners. The runners were all forced and didn’t have much chance. But that spin move…it worked almost every time! Well, expect for making the shot. She even recognized when the defense caught onto the move and made a sweet pass out of it to a cutter. Who naturally missed. It was that kind of day for our team.

They start real practices tonight and I’m excited to see them learn the offense, get comfortable playing together, and improve over the next few months. They don’t play again for two weeks, but I’m expecting better things then.