Case Comes Up Big
With Sherron Collins battling a bad head cold and Brandon Rush and Mario Chalmers in second-half foul trouble, KU coach Bill Self went with senior Jeremy Case on Friday night. Case, who scored three points in nine minutes, responded by hitting a big three-pointer with eight seconds remaining in the first half, which gave KU a 19-point lead and a big momentum boost heading into halftime.
“Sherron (four points, four assists, two steals, and three turnovers in 21 minutes) wasn’t himself at all, that was obvious to see,” Self said. “I thought (Case) gave us great minutes. I’ve said all along he’s the best shooter on the team. Of course, he looked like it on that shot he took the first half. He’s waited his time for five years for that one possession, because that was a big-game possession. I was really happy for him.”
Case was pretty happy himself after the game.
“It felt great,” he said. “It felt good being out there, but I’m just glad we won.”
Case said he was prepared to play. He entered the game with 1:45 left in the first half.
“I knew Sherron was a little under the weather battling the cold, and I understood I might be that fourth guard coming in,” Case said. “He really was sick last night and couldn’t really eat. I didn’t think it was going to be that early (when Self put him in the first half), but I always got to get my mind ready.”
Case said shooting in the dome at Ford Field “wasn’t that big a difference.”
“We got to come in yesterday (Thursday) and shoot,” he said. “I actually liked the gym. I liked shooting here.’
Better than Allen Fieldhouse?
“No way, nothing’s better than the fieldhouse,” Case replied with a smile.
No Time To CelebrateIt was a very businesslike and subdued atmosphere in the KU locker ro after the game. Kansas was already looking ahead to Davidson on Sunday in the Elite Eight.
“We enjoyed the win, but not doing (too much) rejoicing,” Collins said. “We’re one game away from the Final Four. That’s what we want to get. After Sunday, we get the win and it’s time to celebrate a little bit. We’re not too happy. Last year, we got to the same place and came up short (against UCLA in the Elite Eight). We’re trying to get over that hump.”
“Every team has been waiting for this point, to make it to the last game and have a chance to make it to the Final Four,” added senior Darnell Jackson. “But we cannot look past Davidson, we have to focus on them. ... It’s real exciting to me to be back in the Elite Eight. We got a taste of it last year, but it’s a bad taste. Right now, everybody wants to have a good taste in their mouths to make the Final Four. I know Davidson is thinking the same thing. It’s just going to come down to guys competing and come down to the last possession. It’s going to come down to who’s fighting and wants it more.”
Home In The DomeThe KU players enjoyed playing in the dome at Ford Field. Attendance was announced at 57,208, an NCAA preliminary round single-session record.
“The atmosphere was pretty great,” Rush said. “There were a lot of empty seats, though. It’s not like the fieldhouse.”
“It was great,” added senior Russell Robinson. “(It was) the biggest crowd I’ve ever played in front of. It was a big stage and I enjoyed it.”
While it was a big crowd, the fans didn’t make much noise in such a big building. And reporters on press row could easily hear Self and Villanova coach Jay Wright shouting instructions to their team. Self said the atmosphere was “pretty indifferent.”
“The fans are so far away,” he said. “It seemed like our fans were even further away. ... I didn’t think it (atmosphere) was poor by any means. But it is an awfully big building. I would say if it was full or close to full, it would probably be a very good atmosphere. But when teams lose that first game (Wisconsin lost to Davidson before the KU-Villanova game), fans always leave. So you can announce 55,000 or whatever, but there couldn’t have been more than 30,000 or 35 (thousand). That’s still a great number, but when it’s less than 50 percent full, I don’t think you have that intimate feel like you have if you’re playing in a smaller venue.”