31 March 2012
As Ohio State and Kansas get ready to do battle in New Orleans tonight, we're busy scouring the internet for news, notes, clips and quips. We've pulled together multiple items from multiple outlets - and left Louisville and Kentucky to themselves. We'll deal with them once we show the Jayhawks the door. First, a quick pictoral message from Buckeye Nation - followed by all the pregame news you could hope for in once place.
Taylor, KU’s 6-foot-3 senior point guard, scored just nine points with 13 assists and seven turnovers in a 78-67 victory over the previously undefeated Buckeyes. He had a date with the knee surgeon scheduled just 15 hours after tipoff.
“I’m not using my knee as an excuse, but I know I am not going to be in a brace tomorrow,” said Taylor, 100 percent healthy heading into a Final Four semifinal contest between KU (31-6) and the Buckeyes (31-7) at 7:49 p.m. today in the Superdome.
One of the smallest key players in the Final Four also happens to be one of the biggest pests. That’s so often how it works, isn’t it? His name is Aaron Craft and teammates talk tall about him.
How tall? The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Craft steals more than just the basketball, according to backcourt mate Lenzelle Smith Jr.
“I’ve seen him steal so many souls out there on the court,” Smith said.
Here in the land of jazz clubs and voodoo, a basketball coach walks through the Superdome, composed and cool.
Bill Self moves away from the horde of cameras and microphones. In a moment, he’ll disappear down the hallway to prepare his Kansas Jayhawks for tonight’s Final Four matchup against Ohio State.
The junior was sitting by himself on the stool in front of his locker, hands clasped in front of him with a big smile on his face. No need for headphones.
“He seemed so calm,” Juenemann said, “and ready to play.” It’s a moment, teammates say, that describes Releford well.
The prevailing story line around these Jayhawks is overdone and silly by now, and here’s how you know it’s overdone and silly:
Nobody seems to realize it’s overdone and silly.
Kansas and Ohio State will play in an NCAA tournament national semifinal game at the New Orleans Superdome on Saturday. How do they measure up?
“I actually did feel like I stepped onto a stage. I felt like I was about to rap,” said Kansas University guard Elijah Johnson, who has been able to practice two days in the dome heading into today’s 7:49 p.m. Final Four game against Ohio State.
Some of the coaches whose teams play in the NCAA tournament’s final weekend are a cut above their peers. They’re the best recruiters, Xs-and-Os guys, savvy managers of egos and smart enough to surround themselves to help them along the way.
That applies to the four guys in New Orleans: Kansas’ Bill Self, Kentucky’s John Calipari, Louisville’s Rick Pitino and Ohio State’s Thad Matta.
When he stepped onto the court before Thursday's practice at the Superdome, Ohio State's Aaron Craft was tempted to hop onto a teammate's shoulders with a tape measure - just to make sure the rim was indeed 10 feet from floor.
Referees can obviously play a huge part in the outcome of games (see Syracuse, 2012), so I thought it would be helpful to put together a little crib sheet to show how these fellas had called previous games.
Heading into tonight’s heavily anticipated matchup between the Kansas Jayhawks and Ohio State Buckeyes in the Final Four, the onus has been on the tantalizing matchup between big men Thomas Robinson and Jared Sullinger. Both players are touted as two of the best in the nation, and their quality of play is definitely at an elite level. However, the big question is, which is one is better? Thomas Robinson or Jared Sullinger?
WITH A BUCKEYE BIAS...
If Aaron Craft can't find a way to lock down every man in sight on defense, or has a turnover or two in key moments down the stretch, don't hang your heads on Crafty. He's poured an awful lot of sweat through that #4 on his chest in his two seasons, and he's about to give us two more - while studying his ass off and becoming a First Team Academic All-American, just as he did this year. Be proud of that. Of him.
The last weekend of college basketball stands before us, and the Buckeyes are one of the last four teams remaining. They've got a tough road ahead, but they definitely have the talent and coaches to make a go of it.
The absence of Sullinger aside, the first meeting between these teams was decided simply by the fact that the Jayhawks shot the basketball much better than Ohio State did. The Buckeyes shot just 38.7% and Kansas hit 58.3%. Outside the arc, the gulf was more dramatically pronounced: 52.9%-29.4% in favor of the Jayhawks. We expect Ohio State to handle Bill Self’s 3-out/2-in motion offense better than last time, partly because the game isn’t at Allen Fieldhouse, but also because of Sully’s presence and the fact that Aaron Craft will have had a full week to review film.
This winter, it will have been a decade since I woke up one day and had an epiphany most middle class, white children have: "I'm never going pro in this. What's that? Why yes, I'll try your Natural Light." Now, after watching Ohio State knock Jim Boheim's bush-league ass out of the tournament, it's almost as if my basketball life has come full circle.
When Ohio State won the 2002 football national championship the Big Ten was riding high. Michigan was five years removed from a football title of its own and Michigan State won the basketball championship in 2000.
In the decade since, no Big Ten team has won a national title in football or basketball. Dating to 1980, the conference only has six national championships in the glamour sports. For an assembly of schools thought to be the cream of the crop, those aren't exactly rewarding numbers.
Before Aaron Craft took the NCAA tournament by storm the most national news he generated came when Cosmopolitan magazine named him the "Hottest Guy" of March Madness. Now Craft is drawing headlines nationwide due to his superior defense.
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