Jeremy Case: Chalmers guarded Case for most of the night, but that didn’t stop him from making it rain. He went 5-8 on the night. Four of those buckets were from behind the arc, and he hit three in a row spread out between two games. When Coach Self needs three points late in a game, don’t scoff when he puts Case. When he’s on, his teammates know it and you’ll hear another player yell “in” or “you’ve gotta’ guard that” as soon as the ball leaves his hands. He played on the other side of the ball too, getting a hand in the passing lane on a kick-out from Darnell Jackson to Chalmers. This led to a fast break where he found Arthur on the other end of an alley-oop.
Sherron Collins: Collins continues to be the most exciting player on the court (Julian Wright comes in a close second with his too-good-for-a-big-man court vision, but more on that later). Collins pulled out a dazzling isolation move nearly every time he touched the ball.
On his first trip to the hole, he made a simple left to right cross over between his legs to fly by the defender for a lay-up on the left side. Another possession officially earned him the nickname “The One-man Fast Break.” With the ball at half court, Collins went behind his back left to right, then immediately spun back left around defender Matt Kleinman. He pushed the ball to the free throw line, crossed over through his legs and went behind his back in the opposite direction around the defender for the lay in. His next move was just silly. Collins caught the ball on the left wing, crossed over through each leg, went behind his back and again spun in the opposite direction for the easy lay-up. For his last trick, Collins crossed over to his right, drove and elevated through the middle of the lane for a Jordanesque lay-up attempt, jumping with the ball in his right hand but switching to his left in mid air to avoid a block. It rolled out, but Julian Wright was there for the put-back dunk. These moves caused even Brandon Rush to give a “wow” from the sideline (Rush gives great commentary while he’s not in the game; usually something along the lines of “A foul? C’mon man that wasn’t no foul!”).
As a point guard, Collins will eventually need to pass. He looks to drive first but has no problems swinging it when there’s no opening. With moves like these no one will call him a ball hog as long as he keeps finishing the way he has been.
Julian Wright: A guy this big should not be able to conduct a fast break as well as he does. When his team grabs a defensive rebound, Wright is one of the first guys to run out to the wing and call for the ball. One drive found him streaking down the left side of the court, catching the outlet pass over his shoulder and finding a teammate cutting through the middle of the lane for the assist. While known for his passing, Wright was a monster on the boards tonight as well, especially from the offensive side. He had at least five offensive rebounds on the night, and four of them were put-back dunks. This isn’t to say his passing wasn’t there tonight. On one possession, he missed an alley-oop, got his own rebound and found a cutting Collins with a wrap around pass under the basket. He gave Arthur a hard time on defense, but one lighter moment caught Wright guarding Case on the wing. Julian ended up tripping into Case and simply bear-hugging him to the ground. (It’s not all work and no play. Chalmers slowed the pace on one trip down the court, so Rodrick Stewart felt compelled to dive on his stomach for the ball and let out a big yell.)
Darrell Arthur: Arthur on Wright was a fun matchup to watch. You can tell that Wright’s aggressiveness is rubbing off on Arthur. He played solid defense on one of Wrights takes down low, and had a nice turn around jumper from the left block over Wright. He even fought through some hard fouls from Collins and Jackson to finish a lay-up.
The Jayhawks’ pickup games wouldn’t be complete without at least one time-out to argue about the score. Julian is always the loudest to voice his opinion on what the count should be, but Arthur let his play do his talking for him at the end of this game. After settling on a score (to Wright’s dissatisfaction), play continued with a monster jam from Arthur. Wright came back with a three pointer from the wing and an expression on his face that said he was going to carry his team no matter what score they had decided on. But it was too late. Arthur finished with another dunk over Wright to end the game.