Quick Hitters: Colorado

Another game, another disappointing ending as the Jayhawks fell to the Colorado Buffalos on Saturday in Boulder, Colorado. The Buffs really controlled the game after the first 9 minutes and although Kansas pushed for overtime at the end, deserved the victory. The Jayhawks had a mean winning streak going against their former Big 12 foe, and Self had actually never lost to them. It was a good program building win for Colorado to be certain and it couldn’t have happened to a better guy in Coach Tad Boyle. Here are some takeaways from the game.

Nobody panic.Where does this leave the young Jayhawk squad? Well, about where they were before the game: a major work in progress. We saw glimpses of what they can be against Duke, but that seems like a lifetime ago. Still, the very well informed but sometimes volatile Jayhawk Nation seems more reasonable than usual given the fact that Self’s team has dropped two of three. Remember what is was like when last year’s team lost three in a row? People flipped out. Even Self himself seems at worst very frustrated and at best indifferent about the recent rough patch.

I have been meaning to bring this observation up before now, but have neglected to. Self seems extremely confident in this team’s potential. Every time I see him talk about his guys there is a just more positivity about him. You could even say there is some giddiness. It’s a smile here or a joke there. Maybe not after a loss, but even then he isn’t as hard on his guys. Some of that may be that he has to manage some young guys’ confidence which can be a little more fragile than battle hardened veterans. Still, Jayhawk fans have to keep the faith that Self knows what he has. If he doesn’t seem overly concerned, fans shouldn’t be either. He said himself that he knew all along that this team wouldn’t be great before Christmas.

A big pickle. Perry Ellis continues to be the anchor for the team offensively, although his post defense leaves much to be desired. After him, the “deep” frontcourt is a little more hazy. Sure Embiid is sensational, but he still fouls too much. Some of that is him constantly being put in bad position by the guards’ inability to keep their man in front. Then you have the incumbent starter Tarik Black. His ineptitude has reached new heights lows. He goes for three minutes and has as many fouls. Jamari Traylor continues to struggle to find his place as well. He had a better game with three timely blocks and was second in rebounding with six boards. His two points were big at the time. Maybe I should cut him some slack? But the way I see it, Perry and Embiid are on a whole different level right now. Count me as someone who thinks Lucas should see the floor more. He seems to be able to come in and take up space without making mistakes. Maybe that is what Kansas needs right now. At this point, Embiid not statrting is clearly entirely for his protection, but I dont expect that to go on much longer. It may already be done with.

Intangible loss. How does a more talented Jayhawk team have a higher overall field goal percentage, more rebounds, have its four best players go for double figures in scoring and still lose the game? I will tell you how. Toughness. The Jayhawks are mentally and physically weak. You can chalk most of it up to age if you want, but some of it is personality and that is harder to correct. The Jayhawks gave up 13 offensive rebounds and turned the ball over 12 times compared to six turnovers forced and seven offensive rebounds gathered. That is an extra 12 possession relinquished and that is a result of getting out-toughed. Do you think those extra 12 possessions come in handy when you lose by three points on the road? You bet.

What to Watch for Recap:

1. Mason’s influence in the starting role. I don’t think he was as impressive against Colorado as I would have liked, but the Jayhawks did jump out to an early dominating lead before giving it all back. The downward trend started right around the time Mason left the game. Probably not a coincidence. He had more points and more assists than Tharpe. Mason also tweeted out before the game that he was sick. Perhaps Wiggins got him sick?

2. Battle inside the arc. Offensively, the Jayhawks shot a better percentage than did Colorado. They also out-rebounded them. It didn’t matter in the end.

3. Fouls. After looking into this statistic a little more, it turns out Colorado is actually pretty good at getting to the foul line. I was mistaken here and it played out in the game. The Buffs forced 26 fouls to only 16 for KU. Both teams shot pretty miserably from the line and had CU been on fire from the charity stripe, this may have been a little blowout. Still, the foul trouble hurt KU.

Beware of the Blog’s Player of the Game

Andrew Wiggins has a solid performance and really kept Kansas in it in the second half. He finished with a season and game-high 22 points off only 11 shots and added five rebounds and a blocked shot.

Current Standings:

  • 1. Andrew Wiggins (4)
  • 2. Perry Ellis (2)
  • T-3. Joel Embiid (1)
  • T-3. Frank Mason (1)

You Let The Whole Team Down Tarik Black. Black struggled so bad at the start of the game that he really didn’t get much of a chance later on. He had three fouls in three minutes and 0 points. I think his starting days may be behind him.