Kansas 67, Georgetown 63 -- Some Observations
What I Liked About Last Night / What I Didn't Like About Last Night:
Dislike: The most telling stat of the game is that we only had six assists. I can’t remember the last time that happened. And I don’t care to do the research.
Like: I liked our changing defensive schemes. A little man-to-man, a little 2-3 zone, a little 1-3-1. We never have that much diversity. Good to see us changing things up and trying to keep Kansas off-balance. I’m sure JTIII was also trying to get a sense of which defense works best with the new guys.
Dislike: I don’t like how easy it was for Tyshawn Taylor and Elijah Johnson to penetrate through the middle of our defense. Those easy alley-oops to Thomas Robinson were the result of one of our guards getting beat, Nate or Henry coming in to help, and then everybody forgetting about Robinson. When you’re playing a 2-3, sometimes you get beat in the short corner. I get that. But this wasn’t even the short corner. Robinson was wide open underneath the basket. Either somebody kept falling asleep and forgetting to rotate, or our guards just needed to do a better job of staying in front. Probably a bit of both.
Like: I loved our length. Having seen this team play in China, I knew we’d create problems with our wings. It’s nice to see 6’8’’ athletic players trapping and guarding the perimeter. We haven’t had that in a long time. Whittington and Porter really bring a whole new dimension to our defense.
Dislike: We didn’t get enough steals or transition baskets. Considering how long we are, I expected more deflections and tipped passes. Instead, we saw some token pressure, but Kansas never got rattled. Credit Kansas’s guards for doing well under pressure. But we also need to be more active and get after it. During that 8-minute scoring drought in the second half, we could have used some easy transition buckets. That never happened.
Like: I really liked Markel’s poise. He had a couple of nice drives to the basket and a pretty floater in the second half. Good for his confidence. Missed a couple of open threes, but that’s okay. I was just glad to see him take those shots. Would like to see him penetrate and kick more often. If he can drive and find Jason, Hollis and Whitt on the wings, this team will be much better off. We needed someone to create last night.
Dislike: I hate when Nate Lubick shoots threes. I don’t care if he’s wide open. He missed two of them in the first half. Both shots were ugly. I’ve never considered Bill Self to be one of the better basketball minds in the country, but I give him credit. Kansas didn’t bother guarding Nate on the perimeter because they knew he couldn’t shoot; Self also knew that if defenders got too close to Nate, he’d find a cutter in the lane. Nate did not have one of his better performances.
Like: It was good to see us press. With our size and athleticism, we can really push some teams around. Hope it improves.
Dislike: As much as I enjoyed the press, it was still too much of a token press. It’s like we were trying to slow down Kansas’s offense without actually trying to steal the ball. We’ve got some depth in the backcourt. It’s time to let our guys go after it a bit more. Especially when we struggle to hit shots.
Like: Otto Porter was the only freshman on the court who didn’t play like a freshman. He finished with 12 points and 5 boards, and he just looked ready to go. His three to end the first half was awesome. It won’t be long before he starts. He has to.
Dislike: Whittington and Hopkins played a little scared. It’s to be expected, I guess. Whitt only made 1 of 6 shots, and Hopkins committed three fouls in three minutes. With Whitt, there’s a lot to like. He played a solid 22 minutes, and even though he missed some open looks, he played hard and didn’t make too many mistakes. With Hopkins, he just looked a little overmatched against Robinson and Withey. We’ll need him to stay out of foul trouble this season. Nate and Henry can’t play 40 minutes every game, so Hopkins will have to stay on the court and make smart decisions. Would’ve been nice to see him out there a little more.
Like: I liked Jabril’s intensity. He was only out there for six minutes in the second half, but I was glad he didn’t try to force anything. Solid defense, a good rebound and he dove after a loose ball. I’m excited to watch him improve.
Dislike: The key moment in this game was with about 12 minutes to go in the second half. Withey was on the bench with 4 fouls and Tyshawn Taylor was out with cramps. We were in the middle of our prolonged shooting slump. JTIII decided to keep Jason and Hollis on the bench to give them a breather and make sure they didn’t pick up any more cheap fouls. I get why he did it, but he waited a little too long. Without Withey and Taylor, we should’ve been getting the ball inside, or at least getting open looks. We didn’t. It’s hard for us to score when both Hollis and Jason are on the bench.
Like: I can’t really complain about Hollis and Jason. Hollis had 14 points and 5 boards; Jason had 15 points and 5 boards. They both played pretty well. Hollis’s stroke is still pretty. And Jason did a nice job of slicing to the rim for easy layups. A good start.
Dislike: I don’t like having Jason as our #1 option in crunch time. It scares me when he tries to do too much. There were a few times when he tried to put the team on his shoulders, and he didn’t get clean looks. Jason is at his best when he’s hitting spot-up jumpers and driving to the rim for easy baskets. He’s not good at creating his own shot. I really hope we can start getting him some open looks from beyond the arc. He was 5 of 13 last night, and most of his shots were contested.
Like: Bill Raftery. I hate that we lose him for our next two games. Jimmy Dykes is terrible.
Dislike: I still don’t think we have much of a post presence. What I mean by that is this: when we need a big basket, can we throw the ball down low and count on one of our bigs to get a basket or draw a foul? We’re not there yet. Henry looks much better, though. He chipped in with a solid 8 points and 6 rebounds. But he only went 2 of 9 from the field. At times, he just didn’t go up strong enough. Tough to do against guys like Withey and Robinson, but we could’ve used a couple more power moves to the bucket. And Nate just isn’t ready for that either. Kansas’s bigs were too tall for him, and he’s not much of a back-to-the-basket guy. Someone needs to be that guy. Also, it seemed like we didn’t have any offensive rebounds or second chance points. I know we got a few long rebounds, particularly at the end of the game, but I don’t think we had any putback layups after short misses.
Like: I like how we only lost to Kansas by 4 points even though we shot 40% from the field, went 8 minutes in the second half without a field goal and couldn’t even make one-third of our threes.
Dislike: I hate that we now have to play Chaminade. The game doesn’t count. Chaminade isn’t a Division 1-A team, so it doesn’t help or hurt our RPI. There is zero benefit here. Looks bad if we lose because we’ll be on national television, but it doesn’t help us much if we win. Also, I’m annoyed that we have to play a late afternoon game. We’re literally playing 14 hours after the last game. Not even 24 hours. How is that fair at all?
Dislike: The last 30 seconds. Out of a timeout, our guys should’ve had a better sense of what to do. After you miss the steal, you have to foul right away. I think we had only committed 7 fouls at that stage in the game, so we could’ve fouled Kansas twice in the last 30 seconds and really put some pressure on their shooters. Releford hit two big free throws, but if we had more time, we could’ve fouled a different guy after getting a quick layup. I just feel like we could’ve had a better chance. Need to play smarter.
Closing Thought: We can compete with every team in this field. We can beat every team in this field. I'm frustrated that we won't get a crack at UCLA or Duke. We played a close game last night, but we easily could have won. And that’s what makes this so frustrating. Maybe we surprised some people with how well we played last night. But a loss is a loss. And the first loss of the season always stings. I like this team, and I’m ready for the next damn game. I want to see a win. Kansas was good. But we were probably better. And it’s that realization, coupled with the fact that we all went to sleep after 2am last night, that has us all feeling miserable this morning.