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KU Notes: Nothing to Lose

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We don’t have much time to soak in our Steve-16 win. So we are going to quickly pivot get right to the Jayhawks. The red hot Jay Hawks are coming in on an impressive 14 game winning streak. They just fended off a stiff challenge from a Southern Illinois team, which MSM pundits like Dennis Dodd pegged as the best defensive team in country:

So is it time to call these young Jayhawks men, or at least little George C. Scotts? Surviving SIU is a giant step. No matter what KU does the rest of the season, it won't face a defense as suffocating as SIU's.

"Probably not," KU guard Russell Robinson said. "I see Florida has the potential ... but I don't think anybody is going to have the type of energy they had today."
Now to be fair to DD (HT to glassbruin), he then said this just hours later in another article he wrote up following the UCLA-Pitt game:
Note to Jayhawks looking ahead to Saturday's regional final: The Bruins are SIU on steroids. If you thought Thursday's other semi against the Salukis was tough, wait until you get a load the BCS-conference version of defense.
So who knows what he is really thinking. May be he was drunk by the time he wrote up and published the articles late Thursday night. Our friends over at Rock Chalk Talk though echoed the thoughts going through Dodd’s head earlier in the night:
Wow, I knew SIU knew how to play defense but I didn't see them playing THAT good. They have to be the best defensive team in the country, the best I've seen by far, because every single person who touches the ball gets harrassed.
Anyways, I am not going to get into who plays better D. We will find out on Saturday. However, we do have to give a lot of credits to the Salukis. I saw most of the second half of the SIU/KU game. Salukis did play some tough defense giving it their all, but they failed to execute down the stretch against one of the most talented teams in America. They caved under pressure.

Now KU is an awesome team. After experiencing recent humiliations in Madness, Bill Self’s team is under a lot of pressure to make an impressive showing this time around. So far so good for KU:
After two consecutive first-round defeats stirred an incessant amount of chatter as to whether Kansas could become the first No. 1 seed in history to bow in the first round, the Jayhawks clobbered Niagara 107-67, then defeated Kentucky in the second round to advance to the Sweet 16, where the team put to rest its Missouri Valley foe phobia, sending Southern Illinois home in a 61-58 Sweet 16 win.

That's a little more like it for Kansas, considering the Sweet 16 appearance was the 24th in its proud history. The Jayhawks (33-4) carry a 14-game winning streak into a Saturday showdown with UCLA in San Jose.

Now that the preliminary worries have been eliminated, it's possible the Jayhawks could make a run in the tournament. The scoring balance they've possessed all season makes them a tough matchup, because there's no one single player for opponents to key on stopping.

In addition, after shooting 55 percent over the two games in the sub-regional and 59 percent against Southern Illinois, the Kansas offense is clicking as well as at has at any time all season.

Kansas coach Bill Self has vowed to maintain the no-frills approach the Jayhawks carried into Chicago and why not?

"They can have a good time when the season's over," Self said. "But I think they're having fun playing right now."
Any way you look at it KU has one of the most impressive resumes in the country.

Here is the overview from Mid Majority and the scouting report via Ken Pom. They have 5 players (led by Brandon Rush) who are averaging (or close to averaging) in double digits.

And if you are UCLA basketball junkie, I am sure you would have known Rush is the little brother of former Bruin Jaron Rush. Yes the kid can light it up from outside (shooting over 40 percent from behind the arc). But he can also rebound, hauling in 5.7 rebounds per game.

Rush is not the only talented guard in the Jay Hawks line up. They also have Mario Chalmers and Sherron Collins, who have taken more than 100 shots behind the 3 point line and connected at a rate of slightly above 40 percent. So yeah they are pretty deadly.

AA, DC, Shipp, and rest of our guards will have to put together a monumental effort tomorrow evening to defend against KU’s perimeter offense. They are going to need to play the same focused, tough, positional defense, they have been playing for last three games. They simply cannot afford to have any mental relapses whatsoever during any point of the game, otherwise they will risk the Jaw Hawks going on their big runs.

Unlike the last game, Bruins will not have the edge in the back court (at least offensively speaking). However, per Sportsline, KU may have an Achilles heel it it’s front court. Here are some notes on KU rotation from Sportsline:
Although its backcourt firepower, as well as production from F Julian Wright, is good enough for Kansas to pose problems for most opponents offensively, the Jayhawks have trouble scoring inside. F Darrell Arthur has not emerged as the scoring threat everyone figured he could pose as a blue-chip recruit. And C Sasha Kaun and C Darnell Jackson have never been consistent threats. It's a weakness the Jayhawks must cover up by connecting from the perimeter.

PLAYER ROTATION Usual Starters -- F Julian Wright, C Sasha Kaun, G Brandon Rush, G Mario Chalmers, G Russell Robinson. Key Subs -- F Darrell Arthur, G Sherron Collins, F Darnell Jackson.
Julian Wright is an impressive athlete. Rock Chalk Talk has been tracking the development of impressive freshman, who has been getting better game by game while reducing the number of his underclassman "mistakes" (turnovers).

I think one of the most interesting matchup of this game is going to be the one between Luc and Wright (6’8, 225). If Luc can play smart defense, stay out of foul trouble, hold his ground around the rim, while make Wright work on the defense end, it would bode well for our Bruins.

Speaking of making KU work on defense, those guys have a pretty good defensive team. Check that at least by Ken Pom’s numbers the Jay Hawks have the best defensive team in America. They are number 3 in the country in terms of effective FG (%) on defense. As mentioned earlier Bruins will need to stay calm, poised, and patient. They will need to make sure they make smart decisions when they find themselves in offensive fast-breaks, and they will need to do a better job of knocking down their open shots.

That means we are looking at you AA. AA did a great job of keeping himself involved in the game last night, when his shots were not falling. He stayed within the flow of offense, and went after the rim. He will need to keep doing the same thing. However, I am hoping, praying, and knocking on wood profusely that the kid is due. About time his shots start falling in. On the other end of the spectrum, while Shipp knocked down three huge treys last night, I hope he is not spending this Friday thinking he is Tracy Murray. He is not. I hope the kid stays alert for the entire time he is in and doesn’t get too greedy, disrupting the flow of our offense.

KU is a deep team. They can go 10 deep. So we are going to need AA2, Roll, Keefe, and may be Wright to give us some key minutes so that our starters can stay fresh in the second half. If you have more thoughts on the matchups and game strategies please chime in the comment thread.

Again the pressure is going to be on the Jay Hawks tomorrow night. Bruins have had a great season so far building on the great run from last year. Our boys are going to play with nothing to lose. Now it will help if we can pack the arena with thousands of Bruin fans. If you having around LA today get your plane tickets or get in your car and head up the 101 tonight. When we tune into CBS tomorrow night we’d like to see that arena packed with Bruin Blue, just like the arena appeared with the Bruins took on Tigers a year ago across the Bay.

Let’s do it Bruins. We got nothing to lose.

GO BRUINS.