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Wild ending pushes Dayton past 4th-ranked Kansas in Orlando

Kansas guard Christian Braun lays-up a shot in front of teammate Kansas forward David McCormack, left, as Dayton forward Toumani Camara, right, looks on during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game on Friday, Nov. 26, 2021, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Jacob M. Langston)

Kissimmee, Fla. — The ending was almost too outrageous to believe, but the sobering reality of losing to Dayton as a double-digit favorite on a buzzer-beater was not just a bad dream for fourth-ranked Kansas.

It happened. It hurt. And it came after yet another classic contest between these two programs.

“That was a battle,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said after his team’s 74-73 victory at HP Field House in the semifinals of the ESPN Events Invitational.

And it ended in the most improbable way, with Finnish freshman Mustapha Amzil hitting a shot that fell through after the buzzer sounded to send the Flyers to the title game and the Jayhawks to play for third at noon on Sunday.

Related document

Box score: Dayton 74, No. 4 KU 73 ( .PDF )

“The way it went down at the end was just good fortune, bad fortune,” KU coach Bill Self said after the loss. “They made the play and we didn’t. The guy made an unbelievable shot and CB (Christian Braun) defended it as well as you could defend it. It was an epic shot. And they deserved it. It was a great basketball game. The bottom line is we didn’t execute when we needed to.”

Leading by one late, with the ball, Kansas watched struggling big man David McCormack pick up an offensive foul that gave Dayton a chance.

Self said the play was designed to get McCormack the ball on a duck-in play for an easy bucket or a foul. But senior guard Remy Martin brought his defender through the lane and into McCormack’s area, which forced the play to stall and gave McCormack the ball outside of the paint. Dribbling to try to back his man down, McCormack was called for the offensive foul and Dayton took possession with just under 20 seconds to play.

Before Dayton called timeout, Self looked to his team on the floor and said simply, ‘Hey, we’ve got to guard.’

The Jayhawks did just that for the entirety of the clock but did not reap the reward.

Looking as if he had redeemed himself with a big block of a would-be game winner by Malachi Smith with 4 seconds left on the other end, KU’s fate went the way of McCormack’s season so far. Amzil picked up the loose ball, pounded a couple of dribbles, jumped high into the air and let a shot fly as the game clock raced toward zero.

The shot missed, but it bounced soft enough and went up straight enough that it was caught by the rim on the way down. With the red light on and the entire gym stuck on pause, the ball softly fell through to give the Flyers the victory.

“I saw the clock when I was driving and I just had to take the shot,” Amzil said.

Asked what he saw from Amzil while defending him, Braun said the Jayhawks were scrambling after McCormack’s block and “the guy hit a tough shot.”

Added KU senior Ochai Agbaji: “At the time I was thinking he didn’t get it off in time. But everyone started shaking hands and stuff so I figured, yeah, he made it in time.”

With the Jayhawks (4-1) having a foul to give, Braun said he considered fouling in that moment. But the fact that the clock was under four seconds inspired him play it straight. Asked if he had talked to his team about fouling during the timeout that preceded the final sequence, Self said the strategy came up and noted that he likely would’ve instructed his team to foul if they had more than one to give.

“I said if you’re beat and it’s off the bounce go ahead,” Self said.

KU didn’t. Amzil hit the shot. And the Flyers and their large contingent of fans in the stands joined together for a wild celebration.

For a long time on Friday, a Dayton celebration did not look likely.

The Jayhawks raced out to an 13-2 lead on the strength of an attacking style of offense and relentless defense.

That continued all the way through the game’s first six minutes, as Dayton did not see its first shot from the floor fall through the net until the 14:10 mark of the first half. Prior to that it was a pair of free throws and a goaltending call on McCormack that put the Flyers on the board.

Self subbed in four new players shortly after a lob from Dajuan Harris Jr. to Braun made it 15-6 Kansas, and, from there, the Flyers seemed to find their footing. DU (3-3) cut KU’s lead to 19-14 at the midway point of the first half and trailed by just six with 7:26 to play in the half.

As Dayton tried to mount a comeback, the Jayhawks begin to benefit from some fortunate bounces. First, Agbaji (21 points) banked in a 3-pointer from the wing to put KU up 27-17. A few minutes later, freshman forward Zach Clemence banked one in from the top of the key to push KU’s lead to 32-21. After both, KU players reacted with laughs, smiles and shrugs while Dayton players dropped their heads. KU had chances to extend its lead but settled for a 45-35 lead at the break.

“You’ve got total control over it and instead of going in up 17 you go in up 10, and that’s a big difference right there,” Self said. “We’ve got to improve in those areas.”

Added Agbaji: “I feel like we got too comfortable. With that lead, we didn’t really keep pushing or keep that same aggressiveness that we had to get that lead.”

Back to back KU buckets early in the second half pushed the Jayhawks’ lead to 12 (49-37), but, instead of going away, the Flyers responded with added intensity and a 9-0 run that cut the Kansas lead to three points with 16:29 to play.

The run brought the large Dayton crowd to its feet and created a frantic environment that could be felt bouncing off all four corners of the 5,000-seat arena.

Less than a minute later, after one of several dunks by DU big man Daron Holmes II, Dayton took its first lead of the day at 51-50 with 15:20 to play. From there, it was the Flyers who played from in front and dictated the way the game unfolded.

“You would think (Holmes) was Moses Malone,” Self said. “He got every rebound, every put-back, he totally dominated our big guys.”

Another Holmes dunk put Dayton up 53-50 and capped off a 16-1 Dayton run.

The Flyers unleashed another 11-2 run late to build a 68-61 lead, but the Jayhawks fought back. Kansas responded to that with a 12-2 run of its own to take a 73-70 lead on an open-floor dunk by Agbaji.

But it was Dayton that scored the final four points from there to advance to the championship game.

Disappointed by the loss, the Jayhawks vowed to use it as a chance to grow.

“We haven’t become a team yet,” Self said. “But I do think we’re gaining on it. I do think experiences like this will probably accelerate the learning curve and get us maybe to all buy in a little bit differently.”

Agbaji said the most important thing from here was for the team to stay together.

“It’s a long season,” he said. “A lot more games, a lot more chances to get on the court and get better. It’s one loss, but down the road we’re going to look back and see that we gained a lot from this.”

Added Braun: “I know the loss won’t tear us apart. It really exposes some of the things that we need to get better at, so we can take it as a lesson.”

KU will play Rick Pitino's Iona squad at noon Sunday in the tournament’s third-place game. The Gaels fell to Belmont, 72-65, in Friday's second semifinal.

Belmont and Dayton will play for the tourney title at 3 p.m.

Comments

Daniel Kennamore

Every season there seems to be a player that Self keeps in the game no matter how poorly they play.

This season it appears that player will be McCormack. Literally cost us the game by trying to run the most important possession through him after he had more turnovers than points.

10 months ago

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Benjamin Shear

Yes. But also Wilson was terrible. He had 1 point in 23 minutes. We were -12 with him on the floor. Unpopular opinion: I say bench Wilson and DMac and develop our freshmen and transfers.

10 months ago

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Tony Bandle

The prima donnas got exactly what they deserved...... a loss if you don't bring your "A" Game every night. I almost think Bill was going to let them lose to reach a lesson. Beat by a mid-major with a losing record...how friggin' pathetic.

And to insult to injury, Dicky V was the commentator.!!!!

10 months ago

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Steve Zimmerman

Not that these are important points:

1. McCormack, Wilson, they have not improved from last year.
2. Ochai is far from NPOY, keep working hard, though
3. Let Remy be in charge - let him shoot and lead offense
4. Note to HOF BS: never underestimate your opponent, leading early by 10 does not mean a jack
5. FTs % has not improved from last year
6. KU is not top 10

10 months ago

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Greg Bowles

Steve Zimmerman, that's probably where they will be ranked on Monday.

10 months ago

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Mallory Briggans

9-20 from the free throw line ! Need i say more

10 months ago

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Greg Bowles

45%. If they would have made 3 or 4 of those free throws, we would have won. Maybe.

10 months ago

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Lee Short

My questions/comments:

1) How is that McCormick does not go strong to the basket? He's got have the lowest goals made to attempts of any big man around the basket. He needs to stuff it more like he did in some games last year. Braun plays much tougher around the basket than McCormick.
2) How is the team's FT% this game lower than most high schools
3) How is it that our defense was a no-show. They kept succeeding under the basket and going around on the right side of the basket. Over and over. We made no adjustments until the last play.
4) How did the team not have any energy? It looked as if they had stayed up till 2:00 am.
5) On offense, we just seemed lost out there
6) I hope they watch the tape, frame by frame, to see how to NOT play basketball
7) The team we lost to, a mid-major with a losing record, lost to Lipscomb by 19 at home. Embarrassing.

So inexplicable. Something's up. There needs to be a lot of soul searching.

10 months ago

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James Donnell

Totally agree. I am actually surprised if McCormack scores around the basket. There must be some problem between his ears. If he can flip a switch, we have a chance to be good. Otherwise, we are not a top 10 team. Today was one of those days when the ball did not bounce our way, but we could have won with just a couple of FT’s from Ochai who was uncharacteristically bad at the line. The whole team was off for some reason. The second half was painful to watch.

10 months ago

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Benjamin Shear

Good points. But put some line breaks in your comment so it's easier to read!

10 months ago

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Lee Short

Resubmitted with breaks. Hopefully, the breaks will show this time.
----
My questions / comments:

1) How is that McCormick does not go strong to the basket? He's got have the lowest goals made to attempts of any big man around the basket. He needs to stuff it more like he did in some games last year. Braun plays much tougher around the basket than McCormick
.
2) How is the team's FT% this game lower than most high schools?

3) How is it that our defense was a no-show? They kept succeeding under the basket and going around on the right side of the basket. Over and over. We made no adjustments until the last play.
4) How did the team not have any energy? It looked as if they had stayed up till 2:00 am.

5) On offense, we just seemed lost out there

6) I hope they watch the tape, frame by frame, to see how to NOT play basketball

7) The team we lost to, a mid-major with a losing record, lost to Lipscomb by 19 at home. Embarrassing.

So inexplicable. Something's up. There needs to be a lot of soul searching.

10 months ago

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Benjamin Shear

Awesome, thanks!

10 months ago

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Marc Frey

Lee: Spot one

10 months ago

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Luke Smith

Last possession of the game: “who sucked all game? David? Yeah, feed him the ball inside.”

10 months ago

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David Robinett

“ drawing a technical immediately afterward for pointing at his dunk victim”

This is the epitome of stupidly. Not only bad sportsmanship, but a great way to motivate your opponent towards an upset.

10 months ago

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Allin Herring

At least he hustled all game long, unlike the rest of the team

10 months ago

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Steve Zimmerman

This is priceless, though...

http://www2.kusports.com/users/photos...

10 months ago

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Tony Bandle

Is it just me or does Dickie V bear a striking resemblance to Uncle Fester of the Addams Family?

10 months ago

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Joseph Bullock

David Robinett, that ‘T’ got Brain a seat on the bench (which is what should have happened)-but we lost all momentum and him not being in, turned the game!

10 months ago

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Benjamin Shear

Obiter Dictum:

*The only thing worse than watching KU meltdown and lose a game they should win by 15+ is having to listen to Dicky V whine about it on national television.

*Enjoyed seeing the aggressive play by Braun and Yesufu. Braun absolutely posterized that guy (and obviously deserved a T for mouthing off). It's nice to see that spark from him.

*Is it Christmas season or Easter? Because we seem to love giving the other team bunnies. Want a layup? Sure thing! Just dribble down the middle and it's yours.

*Speaking of bunnies, DMac must be allergic to them because he can't seem to find one. I have no idea what's going on with him, but it's hurting the team. I won't even mention his offensive charge in the last minute of the game.

*KU teams have always had tremendous ceilings, and at times, absolute greatness. However, we also seem to struggle with consistency. It's early in the season, they guys had a lot of turkey yesterday, and we didn't make shots or play D. I hope this type of game is not repeated.

*Overall, a foul tasting loss, but one I am confident we will recover from.

10 months ago

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Craig Jackson

Self needs to bench #33 and start Clemence. Bring the 5 to the perimeter and have Martin, Agbaji, Braun, and Wilson drive the lane all day long. Kick it out to the open shooters on the line. Can't rebound much worse than we did with #33 and Lightfoot. Time to retire the famed high-low, work inside out. Get with the times Self.

10 months ago

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Tony Bandle

Great points and, no offense, but in your dreams!!!

10 months ago

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Andy Godwin

I don’t endorse calling out players but David was bad on offense and terrible on defense. I posted before the game that Dayton had an athletic center and that David would struggle and lo and behold …. Their center made numerous dunks because McCormack was out of position. From the tip which KU lost, David looked outmatched and slow. His man constantly beat him down the court. Nevertheless KU had multiple times to win the game. The 3 point shooting was poor. The free throw percentage was horrendous. And the one defense was none existent at times. This game is truly a wake up call for coaches, players, and fans alike. I drank the Kool-Aid and thought this was an elite team. It could be but the pieces are not fitting yet.

10 months ago

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Thomas Harrison

I have been watching KU basketball for over 50 years, and I don't remember
a worse collapse in every aspect of the game, including the coaching staff.
Hard to believe we could get to the Final Four watching this game today!

10 months ago

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Mike Morris

I think this team is going to be one of those 31-4ish teams. We traditionally stub our toe at least once a season, so it's good to get it out of the way early. RCJH!

10 months ago

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Craig Jackson

Forgot to mention we were at the games today and my 9 year old remarked, "Dad the kid who had to wear a Hawaiian Airlines foam fingers shot better free throws than we did." That's no lie! And he one a years worth of Tropical Smoothies! Hope Bill got him the scholy paperwork after the game!

10 months ago

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Tony Bandle

Random Thoughts:

1] At least in wasn't a "B" named team.

2] Bill should make the team watch a tape of this game......every night after practice.

3] Dickie V was actually OK to listen to. Did I mention I had the game on mute!!??

4] Not that it matters, but !'m guessing we'll drop down to 15th to 20th range.

5] Braun just missed tipping that final shot, but there's no excuse for that dumb ass "T".

6] No way I thought we were #4 but to lose this game...YECH!!!

7] The team must have spent the day before at Disney World..on the Mad Teacup Ride!

8] On the other hand, Baylor looked awesome...I think we've got our hands full.

9] By the way, Happy Thanksgiving and a Black Friday survival to all!

10 months ago

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Bryce Landon

Regarding [1], we get a "B" team on Sunday - Belmont.

10 months ago

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Bryce Landon

Whoops, I misread the bracket. We get Iona in the third-place game. My bad.

10 months ago

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Laura Hobbs

The only "B" team I'm worried about is Baylor during Big 12 play. They looked tough.

10 months ago

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Rodney Crain

Bryce watching WI close to lossing to MN. IA might make the B10 Championship! Hope it works out for you. WI lost it's starting safety on the first play from scrimage to targeting and Minn. has had them under their thumb since.

10 months ago

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Greg Bowles

i would be happy to win the Big 12 title at this point. to do that, Mac needs to play more like a 6-10 beast, and not a 6-4 slow guard. Self should run these guys for 10 minute stretches in practice, then stick them on the free throw line and shoot 20 shots, and repeat the sequence till they make at least 50%. Free throw shooting lost us that game.

10 months ago

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Steve Zimmerman

Drew will kick B's S.. modern bb vs stupid hi-lo

10 months ago

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Rodney Crain

This is the best KU team in 25 years. This game was stolen from us. Dayton was not playing fair and the refs stole this game. I am very proud of how our team played. Our free throw shooting is always great and today showed it is again. We have no weaknesses at all. McCormack and Wilson are player of the year candidates. We will win the B12 Conference and National Championship. All this means is that with this team, the way they are playing, we are going to only have one loss this season. Braun made no mistakes today. We should be ranked #1!!!!

Defense - A

Offense - A

Coach - A

Bench - A

Anyone agree with any part of that? Didn't think so.

10 months ago

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John Smith

McCormack isn't a smart player and is not a go to guy at the end of the game. Clearing out the defender with his forearm is just bad. The go to guys at the end are Agbaji and Martin. Give them the ball and let them do their thing.

10 months ago

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Bryce Landon

This was me at the end of the game:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5Rtl...

10 months ago

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Dirk Medema

On the bright side, the FT% was better than the 2003 NC game. Each year usually has a stinker with commensurate comments regarding atmospheric destruction.

10 months ago

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Mallory Briggans

The problem is Bill Self wants to do things his way even if its not working he will stick with a player or game plan because hes the coach and hes all about trust . If he doesnt trust you ,he wont play you .Self keeps harping on how Mccormack isnt playing to his potential, but yet hes dead set on running the offense through Mccormack even when hes having a horrible game.Selfs stubborn attitude keeping Mccormack in backfired today.
I reference Landon Lucas and the 2015-2016 team . Self wouldnt play Lucas meaningful minutes . Frank Mason ,Devonte Graham and Perry Ellis went to Self and told him Lucas gave the team a best chance to win . Self listened and put Lucas in and the Jayhawks won 17 in a row before losing to an Oregon team that we were better than , put it took 3 players to get the attention of Self. but then this is the same coach that said Joel Embiid was a project .a 3 year or 4 year player , how did that work out ?

10 months ago

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Jeff Kallmeyer

he's

10 months ago

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Bryce Landon

Seriously, that was a well-deserved L. When you blow a 15-point lead, when you aren't getting the 50/50 balls, and when you can't hit a free throw to save your ass, that points to a lack of hunger, a lack of fire in the belly, and laziness.

It also points to bad coaching, since Coach Self didn't have his guys mentally ready for the second half, made little to no adjustments, and stubbornly insisted on leaving David McCormack in the game in crunch time. I don't know what the hell is going on with D-Mac, but he is clearly more liability than asset at this point, and he needs to come off the bench until he gets his head on straight.

But here's the thing that frustrates me most: Last season we were lacking in talent, athleticism, and toughness. This year we loaded up on a bunch of transfers, most of them veterans who should know a thing or two about what it takes to compete at this level, and while we have talent and athleticism, so far, we still don't have toughness. By contrast, the Dayton Flyers have a bunch of newcomers who haven't logged nearly as many miles of playing college basketball, and they displayed more toughness today than we did. And that's a truly damning thing to say about a Bill Self-coached team. Self has been preaching toughness for years, but where the hell is it? I would trade all of our talent and athleticism for Dayton's toughness in a heartbeat!

All in all, a maddening loss on every level imaginable, and a forgettable performance that had better not be repeated, especially when March rolls around.

10 months ago

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Barry Weiss

I do think we need to turn Remey loose more.

10 months ago

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Len Shaffer

Topeka YMCA strikes again! Seriously, a couple of thoughts:

1. McCormack improved tremendously over the last half of last season, so I can't for the life of me understand why he has regressed so much this year. I'm wondering if it's at the point now where Lightfoot should start instead. He may sometimes be outmatched athletically, but at least he knows how to play the game, especially close to the basket.

2. It's early. We have often had clunkers like this early in the season, and I trust that Bill will get things turned around. OTOH, if McCormack doesn't improve to at least be halfway decent, I can't see us going far in the tournament.

10 months ago

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Bob Zielinski

Self has given McCormack the chance to redeem his early season play. That did not happen so I am betting his minutes are heavily reduced until he shows improvement. Dayton had some nice players, teams lose, it is going to be fine.

This team is a bunch of new parts and some inexperience. Anyone who does not see Final Four potential is jaded and biased towards focusing on the negative. Get all wound up if you must, criticize all you want but once this season plays out and the ball is being tipped for the Final Four games, KU will be one of those teams on the floor.

10 months ago

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Kay Jensen

Did you watch the same game I did? We will absolutely not be one of those teams on the floor. I thought Wilson was awful last year, and not much has changed. He might be great in practice, but just awful when it comes down to game time. So much potential, but has not lived up to it thus far. Not much I can say about Dmac other than atrocious.

10 months ago

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Benjamin Shear

I agree about Wilson. For some reason, Self loves Wilson and McCormack. What does he see that the rest of us do not? They just don't produce when it counts.

10 months ago

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Layne Pierce

Wilson
has actually degressed. For a guy who wants to be a pro, he hasn't got a clue. If you did not kjnow better, you'd think he wants to be benched.

Dmac is just Dmac, he needs to be fed the ball in exactly the right spot. He struggles against athletic post men. But the play at the end was ruined by Remy not carrying out his responsibility, he did not run his man away so Dmac could slip for the feed.

More than anything bad free throw shooting cost us the game. What hurts about this one is that Dayton tried to give it back to us, but we wouldn;t take it.

RCJH

10 months ago

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Steve Zimmerman

"..so Dmac could slip for the feed."

this will take time: McCormack is kind of slow, he has to develop more awareness - currently, he always anticipates a lob, he needs to always look for any kind of pass, not only a lob. He's trained as a post hi-low guy. Now all of a sudden, we've got this ball-not-sticking faster ball movement, he kind of lost, sadly. It's very obvious, he lost so many opportunities when Martin threw a bullet or straight pass to him. Some other time, he lost the ball when he was able to catch the pass. Always get your palms ready, my friend. That's the key. Protect the ball with your mighty arm, not your small palms.

10 months ago

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Mike Hart

I know it is easy to lay blame and frustration on McCormack, but he has always struggled at the rim. Offensively, he makes the least use of his body for a guy his size. He is what he is. Jalen Wilson is who hurt this team… you know the guy who thought he might be ready for the pros already?. 23 minutes of uselessness (zero FG and 1-4 from FT). Self just left him out there to work through it and he didn’t. Self does this a lot with certain players .. to see how they react. NCAA tournament would be a different story. Frustrating, but in the big scheme of things, this game means little. You shoot 4-19 or 4-20 from 3… you SHOULD lose. Our guards got outplayed, especially Harris. 28 mi s with just 2 pats and 2 assists does my cut it. That huge 2nd half run by Dayton was with Wilson on the floor instead of Remy. I was begging for Wilson to be pulled off the floor and Remy reinserted. Once he was, KU was back in business.

10 months ago

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Steve Zimmerman

This is frustrating, we've got a top 50recruit, 6'8'', who has all tools, but yet, doesn't want to dunk. Watch the replay again. At 9:28, Wilson got a rebound, but instead of pound the ball hard and rise up for a dunk, he's going straight trying to lay the ball in using glass. McCormack has already cleared the path.

That's what I don't understand what our coaching staff does to develop players skillsets. Dayton has 12 freakin freshmen. A mid-major. We've got so many super seniors, transfers.
Go figure.

10 months ago

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Jeff Kallmeyer

HCBS grade: D-

10 months ago

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