The Day After: Washington

Kansas downed Washington 73-54 on Monday evening. Here's's look at the game from a fan's perspective.

That was a good win for the guys.  Yes, Washington turned out to be far less competitive than many of us thought they might be, but it was still a good performance early in the year by our guys.  

There were a lot of good things that happened and plenty of not-so-good.  The season is going to be full of ups and downs - not only game to game but within the games themselves.  Just like we can't get too "down" by a loss this year, we can't jump to unreasonable expectations based on any one win either.  

I certainly thought that the effort was there the entire time.  We all know that we got killed on the boards, especially in the first half.  I watched at the start of the game, and I thought we were working hard in that area.  I thought we were trying to box out but they were just going up over us - and not always without contact.  From there it seemed to snowball, and we did not do a very good job of putting a body on anybody.  It is, of course, a lot harder to do that in a zone defense because you aren't in contact with an individual throughout the entire defensive sequence.  

I was surprised that we played as much zone as we did.  But, then, Washington couldn't throw the ball in the ocean so it was the logical thing to do.  I think we also protected a couple of guys from foul problems.  I don't think we can afford to play zone against Syracuse tonight with the sharp shooters they have on that team.  I think the zone might have been a good plan for a team full of pretty inexperienced players who might have been a little hyped up for their first night against what was thought to be another level of competition.  But it was probably used more than originally planned as Washington continued to show a lack of ability to put the ball in the hole.

What can you say about Cole?  He was a man out there last night.  He showed that he could stay out of foul trouble and still stay aggressive on the defense - especially since he stayed away from those silly fouls.  I thought that in the zone defense he should have stayed underneath the hoop until the guy proved he could knock it down from the free throw area.  It seemed that every time he would come out to pick the guy up that Brockman, or whoever, would get in behind him and have a much smaller defender to contend with.  

Cole showed a variety of offensive moves.  Unfortunately the reverse layup failed for him a couple of times.  But he has really good footwork for someone that tall.  I imagine Coach Knight has seen a few good big men in his time, and he certainly gushed all over Cole's abilities.  With his long wing span, Cole is able to block a lot of shots while maintaining a solid defensive base.  And he wasn't just swatting the ball out-of-bounds like he has been doing.  His shot goes down with good regularity despite the hitch in his motion.  It's just fun to think about where he might go under Danny's leadership.

It looked early on like it might be the Sherron Collins show.  He scored most of our early points and seemingly couldn't miss from the field.  He just looks like he's the man.  We stopped going to him there for awhile in the first half, but he's one of the few guys on our team that can create his own shot on the perimeter.  I just really like his poise and attitude.  He's going to have a great year!

I think Marcus Morris is going to be a really big factor for us.  He is starting to show that he can score in different ways, and he is very active on the court.  He showed a couple of good moves in the paint.  He also showed excellent form in knocking down some free throws.  I think as his confidence continues to grow and the game starts slowing down for him that he will be a consistent offensive contributor.  We need a steady third scorer, and it just might be Marcus.

Markieff still hasn't gotten into his rhythm on offense.  He almost looks a little hesitant when he gets the ball on the perimeter.  I don't mean hesitant to shoot, but I think he appears to be a little unsure about his ability to handle the ball.  A couple of times he got caught holding it too long when he could have dribbled out of the situation and then passed it.  He got a couple of fouls that were of the unnecessary type.  But he appears willing to mix it up and is making the effort on the defensive end and on the boards.  Remember how anxious we all were waiting for the twins to become eligible?  It's pretty easy to imagine now how lacking in depth we would be if they had not been.  We would definitely be a lot shorter.  They are going to play a big role in our success this season.

The Brady and Tyrel "controversy" continues to swirl amongst some fans.  I just trust Coach to use them effectively.  If they can't get it done, then I have to assume they will be on the bench.  I don't think we can judge Brady by his offensive performances only.  I think he is an extremely hard worker and gets the most out of his abilities.  We saw an example of that, of course, when he missed the free throw and then recovered to steal the outlet pass.  He also knocked down a shot while the announcers were discussing the Hall of Fame activities and got away from the game for about 5 minutes.  I think he was kind of the "goat" in that he was on the backside of the zone and often got matched against a much taller player.  But I certainly don't fault his effort.  Tyrel, on the other hand, has to score.  That's his strength.  If he's not going to knock down his shots on a consistent basis, then he's going to struggle to do enough other things to stay on the court.  Maybe it's just my perception, but he seems to be rushing his shots a little bit so far this year.  Like I said before he needs to catch and shoot in rhythm.  It's hard for both guys to get their shots against athletic big men on the perimeter.  The team is going to have to help them out through ball movement.

How about Tyshawn?  What a coming out for him.  I hope his buddy Cheek was watching and enjoyed seeing how Tyshawn is contributing already.  That was some serious "hops" he showed on the block.  He takes the ball well to the hole.  He does need to occasionally pull up and take the short jumper as Coach Knight pointed out.  He was very good defensively also.  He's going to be a fun player to watch as he progresses throughout his career at KU.

I have to admit that I'm a little surprised that Travis Releford isn't seeing a little more time on the court.  He must be lacking a little something in practices, but he seems to show up and do his thing in the games.  I have to assume that he will earn his minutes eventually.  QT also is falling back some in regards to minutes.  He just doesn't have the physical strength yet for his position.  He's one of those guys that I think is going to be around KU for a while and in that time will continue to grow, gain upper body strength, and continually improve under Coach Manning.  Oh, and have I mentioned how anxious I am for Mario Little to get back and show what he can do?  He had a really good showing in Canada, and I think he's going to have an instant impact on the team.

For the most part I thought we moved the ball well.  We are very unselfish.  Once again the guys just seem to enjoy playing together and sharing the rewards.  How fortunate we have been the last 20 years to have teams that share this attitude and play as a team.  The coaching staff deserves, and gets, a whole lot of credit for continuing to mold these teams and getting the guys to get past their individual egos and performing as a single unit.

Tonight is a different ball game.  We are going to have to prove we have the ability to guard the perimeter.  I think we are pretty confident with Cole on the inside.  But Syracuse put up a ton of 3-pointers last night, and we will have to get in their collective face.  I think we are up to it.  We'll see.

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