The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Stevenson: Big 12 tourney losses good for both Kansas, Kansas State

  • When Baylor bounced the Kansas men’s basketball team out of the meaningless postseason tournament in Kansas City, it provided a positive end result for the Jayhawks.

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  • When Baylor bounced the Kansas men’s basketball team out of the meaningless postseason tournament in Kansas City, it provided a positive end result for the Jayhawks.
    Kansas recently won a highly emotional game against Missouri that clinched the regular-season championship in the Big 12. The Jayhawks didn’t need another tension-filled game (win or lose) with the SEC-bound Tigers just before the NCAA Tournament.
    College players can handle just so many passion-packed games over a short period of time. It’s better for KU to save that type effort for the NCAA Tournament.
    Another benefit resulting from the loss to Baylor is the Jayhawks entering the tournament with no serious injuries; that is momentous for Kansas. The Jayhawks will parade onto the floor with fresh legs at the Big Dance.
    Those fresh legs were AWOL against Baylor; KU hit 10-15 3-point shots against Texas A&M the night before the Baylor game, but just 2-13 against the Bears. That’s the result of being a worn-out ball club.
    Kansas lost their number-one seed, but the Jayhawks received the best number-two seed, which is almost as advantageous.
    It’s difficult to understand why KU coach Bill Self isn’t playing freshman guard Naadir Tharpe more in a reserve role. Conner Teahan has been totally ineffective: poor defense, poor shooting and poor ball handling. Tharpe must have done something to get in the very back of Self’s doghouse.
    Kansas will open NCAA play against Detroit next Friday in the Midwest Regional. This sub-regional will be played in Omaha. If the Jayhawks win their opener, they will face the winner of the St. Mary’s-Purdue game on Sunday.
    KU is an unusual team; the Jayhawks have no depth and that will be their eventual downfall. That’s what can happen when numerous players leave early for the NBA and a team places second in a number of recruiting battles.
    Bill Self won’t be caught short of players again. KU was fortunate indeed to avoid injuries while winning the Big 12 for the eighth straight time, a remarkable achievement. If Kansas had suffered even one serious injury to any of the starters, the Jayhawks would have collapsed.
    KU is capable of defeating any team in the nation when they are rested — losing to Baylor was a true blessing in disguise.
    Kansas State’s early departure from the Big 12 postseason tournament didn’t hurt the Wildcats’ chance for an impressive run in the NCAA Tournament.
    Kansas State will play Southern Mississippi in the East Regional on Thursday. If K-State wins, they will play Saturday against the winner of the Syracuse-UNC Ashville game. K-State got a tough break in having to play Syracuse in the second round if the Cats win their opener.
    Page 2 of 2 - K-State can compete with the best when the Cats are hitting their outside shots and they are substandard when those shots don’t fall. The recent play of center Jordan Henriquez and Rodney McGruder has been encouraging. Kansas State could get on a roll and have unexpected success in the NCAA Tournament.
    Wichita State has been overshadowed in the state by KU and K-State, but the Shockers had a great season and won the Missouri Valley Conference.
    Coach Gregg Marshall’s team will play VCU on Thursday in the first round of the South Regional in Portland. If the Shockers win their first game, they will play on Saturday against the winner of the Indiana-New Mexico State game.
    Wichita State resembles Missouri in many ways; the Shockers have outstanding guards who can all shoot from the 3-point line. But, like MU, Wichita State is limited in the pivot. Senior Center Garrett Stutz (7-0, 256) has had a stellar season, but he’s the Shocker’s only dependable big man. Carl Hall (6-8, 215) complements Stutz in the pivot, but Hall is undersized when Stutz is out of the game.
    Wichita State is a quick team that could go much deeper in the tournament than the pundits expect. The Shockers are the type team that can start hitting 3-point shots and gain momentum and confidence. Any big-time team that looks past Wichita State will do so at their own peril.
    There’s nothing quite like the NCAA basketball tournament in the world of sports. It catches the interest of fans from coast to coast.
    The emotions build to such a crescendo that it’s a crushing blow for players and fans when their team loses a game they are expected to win. Seasons are destroyed in one quick game that leaves the losers numb with disappointment and despair.
    But that’s life. And it happens over and over and over at the Big Dance until the band plays “Goodnight Sweetheart.”
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