Halfway There [Originally posted 2/14/14 on sportsblog.com]

Happy Valentine’s Day and Happy All-Star Weekend. Had there been any forethought to my plans this year outside of getting into grad school, I would have planned around engaging in the madness that is going down in New Orleans. I don’t remember my first and only trip to New Orleans and want to go back and see it sober. This would have been the perfect backdrop to make my return. This is actually the first All-Star Weekend since I was a teen that I cared about the dunk and 3 point shooting contest.

I watched a little bit of hoops last night, Lakers vs. Thunder. KD did his normal thing, 43 points, 12 reb, 7 assists, and 3 steals. He struggled early on, but managed to pour in 19 points in the 4th quarter. What impressed me the most was that OKC started making stops in the 4th quarter;in contrast to the first 3 periods where Shawne Williams (was on fire the first half) and Kendall Marshall (17 assists for the game) looked like they were going to put a damper on OKC’s weekend. I never thought I would say this but its really hard to hate the Lakers right now, in fact, I kind of feel sorry for them. I just knew they’d find a way to lose to OKC.

It was the kind of game where they easily could have mailed it in and called it a good first half of the season. But KD went into Jordan mode and kept fighting–the whole team did. You can often look at games over the course of a championship run and see where teams win games they shouldn’t win. The Heat are at the point where they can play 30 plus minutes of bad basketball and still put things together in crunch time and gut out a W. The Spurs were renown for this, 2000 Lakers as well. The difference between home court advantage and a number one seed in the playoffs is often attributed to beating the teams to are supposed to beat. I think Durant understands this now. I can’t wait to see how the Thunder look when Russell Westbrook finally comes back.

Jayhawks get winged

Everything that could be written about Monday night’s game has already been written or tweeted about. K-State pulled out a gutsy win the other night. Every other play someone was going to the trainer’s room or getting looked at on the bench. Kansas got destroyed on the pick and roll; for some reason their guards would switch onto the rolling big men and the Wildcats would capitalize on the mismatch. Of course with a healthy Embiid (who hasn’t looked quite right since the TCU game) ,the result would probably have been different, but let’s just deal with the facts today.

The Jayhawks were so close to winning a game they had no business being in. When they came back to tie it and send it into overtime, I thought for sure the momentum would carry over into the extra period. Kansas just didn’t have the frontcourt depth on Monday (I would love to know what Jamari Traylor did to piss off Bill Self–Self runs a pretty loose ship so whatever it was must have been a serious bonehead move on Traylor’s part) to handle K-State’s bigs. The failure to defend the pick and roll, coupled with KU’s 17 % shooting (3-17) from 3 point land (in contrast to K-State’s 8-15 from downtown) culminated into one ugly performance on Big Monday, and the Wildcat faithful could not contain themselves. To show just how one sided the “rivalry” is, K-State’s fans stormed the court–something you would never see in Lawrence no matter who they defeated.

As I mentioned before, young teams can look like world beaters one week and then second round knockouts the following week. If KU and Wichita State played today, I’d lay my money on the Shockers.

I’m not sure if I’ll even bother watching the game Saturday afternoon. It depends on how well I recover from Friday night. Either way, its way too early in the game to get excited about how well or how poorly this team is doing. As I’ve pointed out before, its going to be an up and down year depending on which Jayhawks team shows up.

Have a Happy Valentine’s Day, and don’t catch VD.

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