Kansas is one of the premier basketball institutions in the country. They are a threat for the Final Four every season and they can recruit talent almost without trying. Basically, they are the program that I want Purdue to eventually be.
Over time we have not played Kansas much. The first meeting came in West Lafayette exactly one month after my mother was born, as Purdue won 47-46 on December 13, 1948. Two years later, the Jayhawks won 60-52 in Lawrence. 44 years would pass until the schools met again, when Glenn Robinson and Purdue defeated Kansas 83-78 in Knoxville, Tennessee in the Sweet 16. The fourth and final meeting occurred three years later, when Kansas beat Purdue 76-61 as the No. 1 seed in Memphis in the 1997 NCAA Tournament Second Round.
That is in the past. We have a second round matchup to prepare for.
2010-11 Record: 35-3, 14-2 (Big 12 regular season and tournament champions)
2011-12 Record: 28-6, 16-2 (Big 12 Regular season champions)
Postseason Result: Lost 71-61 to VCU in Southwest Regional Final
Blog Representation: Rock Chalk Talk
Series with Purdue: Tied 2-2
Time & TV Approx. 8:40pm on TNT
This is the first annual meeting of the "Oh, you lost to VCU in the 2011 NCAA Tournament too" club. They, along with Florida State, USC, us, and Georgetown are the charter members. The Jayhawks recovered to earn another well-deserved high seed in the NCAAs, while we struggled to get back.
The biggest problem we face when playing Kansas is Thomas Robinson, who is a very legitimate National Player of the Year candidate. As a junior, he has earned his stripes at the collegiate level. He is an absolutely automatic double-double at 17.9 points and 11.8 rebounds per game. At 6'10", 237 pounds he's a matchup nightmare for us We basically have two choices when it comes to facing him: We can either concentrate on shutting downt he other four players and force Kansas to hope he scores 50 to beat us personally, or we take guys like Sandi Marcius, Jacob Lawson, and Travis Carroll and attack him relentlessly. By relentlessly I mean take the basketball directly at him every time and try to get him on the bench in foul trouble. The Chooch, The Law, and Tacos have a total of 15 fouls to give, so they need to use all of them against him. Robinson is not inclined to foul much, however.
Unfortunately, Kansas is far from a one person team. Tyshawn Taylor is a great guard to compliment Robinson at 17.1 points and 4.7 assists per game. While Taylor and Robinson do a lot of the heavily lifting in an inside-out game a lot like JJ and Smooge for us last season, they also have a very good supporting cast around them. Elijah Johnson, Jeff Withey, and Travis Releford do a great job of filling the gaps for Taylor and Robinson.
I am scared of this team defensively. We beat St. Mary's by spreading things out and attacking the rim with Lewis Jackson, Terone Johnson, and Anthony Johnson. We won't be able to do that tomorrow because Robinson protects the rim better than JJ ever did. Kansas averages seven steals and six blocks per game as a team. Withey averages 3.4 blocks game, and he can be a layer of protection on the low block like Dallas Lauderdale was for Jared Sullinger last year.
This is not a totally inside team. Taylor, Johnson, and Conner Teahan are very effective three-point shooters. Releford can shoot the three a little, but those four players are the only ones on the roster that have hit double-digit triples for the season. That means they are the only ones likely to attempt threes, but Taylor hits almost 43% from out there. Johnson, Releford, and Teahan are around 33%.
Kevin Young and Justin Wesley round out a mostly eight-man rotation. Naadir Tharpe will likely come in and give some guys a rest for a few minutes, but he averages less than a point in 5.5 minutes per game.
It is hard to say how we can win this game. Kansas is 35th in points nationally at 75 per game. They are 54th in rebounding at nearly 37 per game, 21st in assists at 15.6 per game, and 14th in field goal percentage at 48.5%. This is a team completely solid in almost every area. The one minor weakness is 13 turnovers per game.
Quite simply, we're going to have to play a near perfect game to win this one. Ryne Smith was almost a no-show in round one and did not score, but in this one he's going to probably have to hit four or five threes. D.J. Byrd also needs to deliver a big game, while Robbie Hummel cannot have a quiet ten points like he did against St. Mary's. This all needs to happen with AJ, TJ, and LewJack being as dangerous as they were last night.
It is going to Purdue playing some of its best basketball of the season to win this, but we know it is certainly possible. That last sentence what I am basing the rest of this season on. I know it is unlikely that the boilers will advance further in this tournament, but we at least have the chance to, and that is all that matters. As I told Mrs. T-Mill earlier tonight, at least we still have the hope. We can still dream, and each round we advance allows us to dream more.
I've made the unofficial phrase of this tournament, "Dream it, Do it, Boilers." That's all we can do going into this game.
Go out, leave everything on the floor, defend like mad bastards, and shoot the basketball well. As long as you do that, we at least have a chance, and that is all I ask for.
Dream it, Do it, Boilers.