The Day After: Syracuse

Nobody likes to lose. Nobody wants their team to lose. But this was one of those bumps along the way that we knew was going to happen. What makes it tough is not just the fact that we did lose, but the way that we let it get away. It's called learning how to finish. We didn't get beat by a better team last night. We got beat by a more experienced team.

Sherron is tough.  Sherron wanted to take the team on his shoulders and win the game.  But Sherron is going to have to learn that he can't do it by himself.  Everybody is going to be looking for him, and that should open the door for someone else to step up.  And who would have thought that Sherron would have been involved in the series of turnovers that brought Syracuse back?  He's human.  It happens.  He played a great first half.  But he did look a little tired at the end.  It's not just a matter of the physical play two nights in a row, but the emotional side of it can wear you down, too.  Sherron will be back.  He's going to have a great year.

Cole played another very strong game.  I think we all got drawn into his performance against Washington, and it raised the expectations.  Cole is still on a learning curve, too.  He's had two very solid games against two pretty good big men.  He managed to stay out of foul trouble in both of them.  In a game where free throw shooting did us in again against Syracuse, Cole stepped up and hit them all.  And, I still got a chuckle out of the defender that was in the lane about 2 seconds before he let it go.  But it went in anyway so the lane violation was waved off.  The sky is the limit for Cole, but we have to understand there will still be ups and downs.

How about Tyshawn?  The kid can play.  He stepped up like an experienced player and did so many things well.  He's still going to have to get better on some of his decisions.  It's one thing to take the ball to the hole.  It's another to try to take it through defensive bodies that are standing there waiting for you.  Coach called him over after one charge and was briefly talking to him about it.  He will get better.  He needs to get to where he can pull up and knock down that little jumper with consistency.  Then the defense will have to play him more honestly, allowing him the opportunity to drive by people.  But he is going to be fun to watch as the year goes on.  He and Collins are going to provide many a highlight in the backcourt.

I continue to be impressed with the progress of Marcus Morris.  I think he is doing many things well.  He's definitely getting more confidence in his shooting.  He's around the ball all of the time.  And he's playing some pretty good defense.  I believe he is going to be a major offensive threat before the end of the season.  Unfortunately, Markieff seems to draw a foul whenever he looks at someone.  Big guys, at this level, have a lot to learn when playing post defense.  He will get better at pushing with his body instead of reaching.  I just don't even want to think where we would be without the twins in the rotation.  Their size and athleticism makes a major difference in what we can do.

I know the discussion will continue about Brady and Tyrel.  I thought they both had some good contributions last night.  Sure they made mistakes.  Tell me who didn't.  But they both hit some critical shots.  Both of them made at least one big defensive play.  I think right now they are the guys who have to fill the roles of doing the little things to help the team.  Coach sees them much more than I do, and I know that right now they must be doing the right things in practice.  I know a lot of posters are clammoring for Travis to get more playing time.  Maybe in this next stretch of games he will get that opportunity.  

Coach has seemed to shorten the rotation already this year.  The above seven guys are getting the majority of the minutes.  Of course one big difference this year is that all of the guys need time on the court.  Last year you could play more guys against weaker teams because the "stars" didn't need to be out there.  This year almost everybody benefits from as much time on the court as possible.  Right now we are in a basic 7 man rotation with spot minutes from others.  Mario Little should make it eight.  Coach likes to go with eight or nine.  We'll see if Releford can step up and get into that last position.

I think we learned a lot last night.  I thought we played well for a lot of the game.  I thought we had those stretches where we weren't very good.  We talked about how that was going to happen.  Against Washington we were great from the line.  Last night the free throws really cost us.   When was the last time any of us saw KU turn the ball over so man times in such a short period?  Things like that are going to happen.  Some fans will already be throwing people under the bus for it.  Just sit back and watch the team grow.  By the end of the season it will seem like a completely different team.  We have so  much potential.  Sometimes potential never plays out, but I think in this case we are going to be very satisfied with the end result.

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