Sunday, April 6, 2003

Daugherty: Souped-up Jayhawks


Kansas puts new spin on 'Old School'

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NEW ORLEANS - On the way to their Monday night coronation, the Kansas Jayhawks paused long enough to embarrass Marquette on Saturday. The first national semifinal was a track meet where only one team ran. Didn't anyone tell the Golden Eagles that Kansas runs transition offense as if it were qualifying at Daytona?

You don't know whether Marquette wasn't aware of Kansas' 4.3-in-the-40 speed, or, worse, knew it and couldn't do anything about it. You didn't have time to analyze the Jayhawks, critique them or burst out laughing at their utterly perfect execution. All you could do was watch and hope your neck didn't snap.

"It's an attitude," KU coach Roy Williams said. "We can win in the 50s and 60s. But we enjoy playing in the 80s and 90s."

Zip, zip, zip. Like a two-minute drill, for 40 minutes. The final was 94-61. It wasn't that close.

This was as thorough a butt-whipping as you're likely to see in a game of this magnitude. With 16:46 left and his team down by 39 points, Marquette coach Tom Crean called timeout. What exactly do you say at that moment? "Make a few shots, guys, and we're right back in it."

What Crean said later was, "You cannot prepare for what that (fast) break is" like.

"It's not that we're any faster than anyone," said Kansas guard Keith Langford. Langford had 23 points, many while daggering down the Marquette lane. "It's just that we're gonna continue to do it. I found some gaps. Other guys found some gaps. I guess we were probably a step quicker for awhile."

Yes. And a Maserati is a step quicker than a moped.

Bucking the image

The Jayhawks' slogan this season has been "Old School," provoked by the smart, allegedly earthbound play of its two senior stars, Kirk Hinrich and Nick Collison. What a con.

Old school. Yeah, l'il ol' white farm kid Hinrich, Mr. Fundamentally Sound. If you didn't know better, if you' never seen Hinrich play, you'd have expected a guy out of rural 1955, canvas Chuck Taylors laced over blue-striped white tube socks, hiked to his thighs.

Nobody can make a two-handed chest pass like the Hinrich boy.

Marquette tried its point guard, Travis Diener, on Hinrich, and Hinrich beat him down the floor like a housewife whacking a rug. He popped in consecutive 3-pointers to make it 23-14 with 12:23 left in the first half, foreshadowing the explosion to come.

Marquette put 6-foot-10 Scott Merritt on Hinrich then. Hinrich drove past Merritt. Merritt could have been a large piece of clay.

Hinrich even sags his shorts dangerously low, so low that you figure in one of his frequent jetstream moments, they'll fall to his ankles. Maybe someone would catch Hinrich then.

Old school. Uh-huh.

Kansas led 25-16 before Collison, its leading scorer, scored.

None of this bodes well for anyone having to play the Jayhawks Monday night. Williams looks to be in the focus bunker. Nothing takes your mind off silly media speculation like a few hundred hours watching game tapes.

"I hope we can duplicate this Monday," Williams said.

We'll be watching. Hoping our necks don't snap.

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E-mail pdaugherty@enquirer.com




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