Tag Archives: Kansas

Duke cruises, Nova and Virginia crash out of the NCAA Tournament, and Izzo is a wizard. And the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” calls C-SPAN

Duke.Okafor

Whew. My eyes are tired and my brain is on overdrive. Four days of NCAA Tournament viewing can do that to you.

But I’m happy, of course. Gloriously happy, that my Duke Blue Devils avoided the upset bug that has plagued them the last few years, and put on a dominating performance Sunday, beating San Diego State by 19.

It was a rare, nice enjoyable and relaxing Duke win for yours truly. Justise Winslow was sensational; he’s the whole key to this team this year. When he’s engaged and making plays in the first couple minutes of the game, they win. When he’s passive and making silly turnovers and being lazy on defense, they lose.

It’s strange because he’s probably the third best player on the team, but he’s definitely the most important.  Great to see the whole team play defense, too, which doesn’t happen often.

Some more March Madness thoughts from a pretty fabulous weekend:

— Tom Izzo and Michigan State. Man, he’s an incredible coach. That game with UVA Sunday was rough on the eyes; tons of fouls, missed free throws, and not many pretty baskets. But this is not that good of a Spartans team, and he’s got them in the Sweet 16 again. Incredible coaching job. For Virginia, just an awful result, to have such a great season end like this. They just couldn’t score at all Sunday, and missed a bunch of free throws, too.

— Not surprised at all to see North Carolina State beat Villanova Saturday night. The Wolfpack have been great and terrible all year, and their “best” is as good as anyone in the country. They’ve got a fabulous backcourt, excellent rebounders, and a pretty good coach in Mark Gottfried.
Now, that said, I wouldn’t be surprised if they lost by 20 in the Sweet 16. They’re just that erratic.

— It’s so great being a fan of this Tournament in 2015, technology-wise. Saturday night, the wife was at a concert, I put the little guy to bed at 8, then had a laptop, an iPad, and my TV on three different games, while toggling over to the Rangers game when one was at halftime. Sure it probably fried my brain a little but it was worth it.

— That UNC-Arkansas game was all kinds of fun to watch. After seeing so many slow-it-down, grind-it-out games in the 50s and 60s, that one was wild. Fast-paced, shooting every chance they got, high-flying, man it was fun. I’m not saying every game should be like that in the Tournament, but we could sure use a few more teams playing that style.

— Hell of a win for Notre Dame Saturday night, out-battling Butler. No points for the last 4 minutes of regulation, but that was old school Indiana basketball. And my man Mike Brey, coaching with a heavy heart after his Mom died earlier in the day. That had to be very tough to do.

— Sorry to see Georgia State and their coach who made a stool famous, Ron Hunter, lose on Saturday. But what a beautiful postgame opening statement he gave about his team, and about coaching his son for the last time. So emotional, so touching… you can tell how much this means to him. Really special.

— Kansas refused for decades to play Wichita State, as the Jayhawks coaches figured there was nothing to be gained (win, and you’re supposed to beat the smaller school in your state; lose and it’s humiliating) but one of the beautiful things about the NCAA Tournament is it sometimes forces  you to do things you don’t want to do.
So we got a Wichita State-KU matchup Sunday, and no big surprise, but the “little school” kicked the big school’s butt. The Shockers have been legit good for years, and dominated Kansas in the second half.
Moral of the story: Play the schools in your state, it’s wimpy not to.

— Some super matchups on tap for the Sweet 16: Notre Dame-Wichita State should be terrific. Wisconsin-Carolina is a total contrast in styles. Arizona-Xavier will be a great game. And can Michigan State keep its roll going against a really strong Oklahoma team?
Can’t wait till Thursday  night.

**Finally today, this made me laugh really hard, and if you remember early 1990s television, you’ll laugh to.

“The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” had a memorable opening credits sequence, with Will Smith doing a song/voiceover of how a kid from inner-city Philadelphia hit the jackpot, moving to Bel Air to live with his aunt and uncle.

Well, apparently a C-Span caller named Jack from California remembered it too, and he called in and, well, this is perfect…

A Kansas fan sees his feelings change on Ol’ Roy Williams. And Brian Banks, getting one more shot at glory

roy-williams

Today’s lead item is written by a guest blogger here on Wide World of Stuff; I’d love to have more if any of you feel motivated to write about something that moves you; drop me a line at sweeterlew@yahoo.com.
Today’s post is written by Matt Roberts, one of my loyal readers who immediately earned my affection when I discovered he had “Dread Pirate” in his email handle (It’s a reference to “The Princess Bride” and the Dread Pirate Roberts, only about the most perfect movie ever). Matt is a big Kansas basketball fan, so I thought he’d be the perfect person to write about the weird relationship Jayhawks fans have with the man they again vanquished on Sunday, former coach Roy Williams. Matt, the floor is yours…

About ten years ago, minutes after his Kansas team lost the National Championship game to Syracuse, Bonnie Bernstein of CBS asked KU coach Roy Williams about his level of interest in the recently opened North Carolina job. A direct quote from his response was on t-shirts the very next day in Lawrence, Kansas: “I could give a s— about North Carolina”.
It was jarring to hear that kind of language from Ol’ Roy, but it also fit, given that everyone knew how much he loved his players.  The vast majority of KU fans loved Roy and all the winning he brought to Kansas in his 15 years.
Just the seventh coach in 105 years of Jayhawk basketball, we thought Roy would stick around, like he did three years before when the North Carolina job last came available.

A week later, that optimism turned to dread and bitterness, as Roy headed home to his alma mater.  KU grad Dean Smith urged him to return to Chapel Hill, making the loss hurt even more.  How could the guy who grew up down the road from Lawrence and played on KU’s 1952 National Championship team engineer the departure of our beloved coach?

In hindsight, it appears Coach Smith was only looking out for the good of his alma mater.

A few days later, when Bill Self was announced as the new head coach at Kansas, not many Jayhawk fans thought too highly of the move. We had memories of playing his brutish Illinois team in the 2001 Sweet Sixteen. Kansas always played an up-tempo, fun style of basketball.  How could we adjust to this new, plodding system? Pretty easily, it turns out.  Bill Self preaches tough man-to-man defense, but he has shown a willingness to adjust style of play to his personnel. His teams may not play at the breakneck speed of the Williams era, but entertainment still abounds. Winning helps.

While Roy Williams maintained a remarkable 80.5 win percentage in his ten years at Kansas, Bill Self has won 83.8 percent of his team’s games through almost ten full seasons. Of those ten years, KU won the Big 12 championship in all but his first season, when they finished second and made the Elite Eight.  North Carolina won two NCAA titles in that time.  Kansas won one and made the final last year.

Even with the two titles at UNC, you would be hard pressed to find a Kansas fan who wishes Roy stayed in Lawrence ten years ago. The bitterness has mostly dissipated, thanks in large part to Bill Self’s 3-0 record against Roy, all in the NCAA tournament.  Instead of the boos and harsh words you could expect in years past, ask a KU fan what they think about Roy now, and you will probably get a Cheshire cat grin and some words about how Bill Self is the greatest.

Personally, I will always love Ol’ Roy. He coached my favorite team from the time I was in 4th grade through my college years. His teams always brought me great joy, and they continue to do so today. Especially when they lose to the Jayhawks.

brian-banks1**Finally today, “60 Minutes” did a terrific piece on former high school football star and NFL hopeful Brian Banks, who I wrote about last year. Banks was imprisoned for five years on a false rape charge, and since getting out he’s tried to re-start what was a once-promising career.
What I’ve always found admirable about Banks was his total lack of bitterness about his past. I really hope he makes the NFL this year; if anyone deserves a break, it’s this kid.

Please take a minute and watch the “60 Minutes” piece here.

http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=50143485n

A travel nightmare that all worked out OK. Health care. And 4 days in, what an amazing Tournament

**Hello dear readers, am typing this at an obscenely late hour Sunday night. Sorry for the inconsistent blogging the last few days, my wife and I were in the wonderful city of Philadelphia for the weekend at the wedding of Sarah and Andrew (much, much more on that to come in succeeding days; wait until I tell you about the oddness that was the hotel we stayed at having only pictures of Republican presidents hanging on the walls).

Anyway, couple quick thoughts before I go off to bed, but I will blog more tomorrow.

— Southwest, I love ya. You know I do. But 3 1/2 hours stuck in N.C. on our layover, because our plane had mechanical difficulties? Oy, not good. On the plus side, I got to watch the Duke game in an airport bar, when I was totally expecting to miss it due to our previous flight sked.

— Have to say, having been there many times in college but not so much since, Philly is one of my favorite American cities. So much to do there, so many different types of people and experiences, and oh yeah, kick-ass cheesesteaks. I had my first authentic cheesesteak in Philly in about a decade on Saturday, and it was as good as I remembered.

— Tremendous experience as an American visiting the Liberty Bell and the Old Congress Hall, places I saw as a kid but couldn’t appreciate.

— God bless March Madness on Demand, and thank you, CBS, for giving us an outlet to watch ALL the NCAA Tournament games even when our local station is not showing the game we want.

— Kansas lost. That really happened, right? I haven’t been this stunned by a sporting event’s result since Hickory beat South Bend Central in “Hoosiers.” Stunning. To Northern Iowa? And can someone explain to me, please, how a kid named Ali Farokhmanesh is white?

The health care bill passed. Finally. I’m very pleased. Now can we move on to some of the 412 other problems this country has right now? Education reform, global warming, immigration, stem cell research, I mean, it’s not like we’re lacking for problems.

I’m just so sick of talking and thinking about health care.

Amazing, amazing first four days of the NCAA Tournament. From the opening game with BYU-Florida going to double OT, to the last game of the second round, when Purdue got a driving layup in OT to beat Texas A&M, it was four days of sheer awesomeness.

And my Duke boys looked really, really good Sunday. Two away from the Final Four. Can’t wait till more games start Thursday.