Woodenesque? [Originally posted on sportsblog.com on 2/25/14]

20 years from now, how will Bill Self’s legacy be perceived? Ten straight conference titles in ANY sport is a major accomplishment–especially in the post Wooden era of “one and dones”. I would put Bill Self up there with Coach K, Jim Boeheim and Rick Barnes (just kidding) as best coaches in the game right now. I got into the Texas game on Saturday (for a pretty reasonable price) and if you had told me the Horns would get smashed by 30 I would have looked at you crazy. But that’s what happened isn’t it? Of course, I knew there was the possibility of an emotional letdown come Big Monday; even with the chance to clinch the Big XII title in front of the home crowd. OU came with it, but it wasn’t enough. One major goal down, now its time to finish the season strong, remain healthy, and gear up for the Madness of next month. Here are a few random observations from the past few days:

Reintegration

Everyone knows that the Thunder need a healthy Russell Westbrook to be a legitimate threat to the Miami Heat, but the Thunder have lost the last two (big) games with him back in the starting lineup. Keep in mind that Westbrook has missed almost two months of hoops action due to his knee injury. Anybody who has even just played pickup ball can tell you that even a two week layoff can make you feel rusty. So imagine what 2 months can do to someone’s game. I’m curious about the thought process with Russ, Coach Brooks, and the front office about how to get him back involved with the team. He has been playing on a 25 minute limit basis, but with the way the team and Reggie Jackson have been playing, it makes you wonder if they considered bringing Russ off the bench with the second unit, until Russ got his legs and timing back. It is one thing to be out of sync against the Celtics or Bobcats, but the World Champs? Kinda dicey to throw Russ in there with such high expectations. Glad you’re back Russ. Can’t wait to see you at full speed.

While we’re at let’s talk about KD vs. Lerbon II

The stats from this game are a bit deceiving. Lebron had 33 points (15-22), 3 assists 7 boards and 4 steals (he also had 8 turnovers), while KD had 28 points (10-22) 8 boards, 3 assists and 2 steals (5 turnovers for Durant). You could tell Lebron was locked in from the tip, he made the first 10 points for the Heat and didn’t let off the throttle until Serge Ibaka Blocka Flame broke his nose. You could jump to either conclusion that a) Lebron outplayed Durant. or b) that the numbers were a pretty much a wash.

But either conclusion would be insufficient without taking into account that Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade scored 24 points a piece. KD’s crew of Ibaka (14 points) and Westbrook (16 points) could barely muster 30 points between them.

The Heat looked more locked in, they shot 54 % and Oklahoma City only made 2-20 from 3 point land. The passing just wasn’t there for OKC, and settled for way too many jumpers (which is practically begging Miami to fast break on your team).

Let’s also put to bed this whole “OKC has the best crowd in the NBA” myth. I have been to many games at the Ford Center. They do get loud. But from my experiences the OKC faithful get loud at to start of the game, then they quiet down until something cool happens to get them loud. The Warriors fans out in the bay are a bit more involved, and sometimes directly affect plays with the level of noise they create (one can even use this same corollary with the Duke fans vs. Jayhawks. Cameron Indoors is always going HAM, while Allen Fieldhouse seems so dead sometimes when I’m there–though I don’t think it was always this way).

Boeheim Going Fed

I’m feeling this newly borne rivalry between Syracuse-Duke. The level of play of both games has been extremely high, and the pedigree both schools bring to the table amp the games up to a higher intensity. Its like watching a Final Four game without a neutral setting. Dick Vitale says that the first meeting this year was one of the five greatest games he’d ever been associated with. I cannot wait until they meet in the ACC tournament.

As for Boeheim losing his s#$% over that call, I can see why he did it (I got a chance to watch the replay last night). There was a lot of inconsistency in the officiating. One particularly error was a missed bump on CJ Fair that resulted in a traveling violation being called. The blocking call that gave Jabari Parker the AND1, was the exact same situation that went against Syracuse when Rodney Hood got the benefit of the charge. All that being said, Syracuse still had a chance to foul and get the ball back with a chance to tie it (depending on if Duke makes the ensuing one in one free throws). His ejection gave Duke four points plus the ball and thus ended the game. A tough way to end such a highly competitive game. If I’m a ref I don’t think I make a call that late, and let the game get decided on the court.

I went away from the game thinking that perhaps Syracuse is the best team in the nation, and even though the Jayhawks are the most talented, Syracuse would be a nightmare matchup for KU. Syracuse’s backcourt and disciplined big men could create a frustrating night for the Jayhawks and Bill Self. KU fans better pray this match up doesn’t happen until the Final Four in Dallas.

Jayhawks of the week:

Andrew Wiggins for his monster first half against Texas

17 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists to begin the game on Saturday. The game was all over by halftime.

Tarik Black

There is no way to describe what it felt like to be there in person when EVERYONE collectively lost their minds.

Thomas Robinson
In a game where he put up 14 points and 18 rebounds. It was this block that made Jayhawks fans oh so proud.

This week is a real lull in the basketball week. KU goes down to Gallagher Arena on Saturday. Friday night Steph Curry goes up to MSG (not sure if you know this but players love to play in Madison Square Garden). Other than that, there isn’t much I’m hype for. I guess this means instead of watching basketball, I’ll be playing it instead. It never stops………….

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