Jayhawks Playing Like Champions Should Print
Written by mark   
Sunday, 22 March 2009 19:38
NCAAB Headline News

Pumped Up

Minneapolis,Minn - Playing in his hometown, Cole Aldrich was pumped up.

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Patrolling the post for Kansas with those long arms, the 6-foot-11 sophomore forced the Dayton Flyers into a whole bunch of bad shots and sent them down for a rough landing.

Aldrich put up a triple-double with 13 points, 20 rebounds and a career-high 10 blocked shots to lead the defending NCAA champion Jayhawks past 11th-seeded Dayton 60-43 in the second round Sunday.

``I've been blocking shots since I was a little kid,'' said Aldrich, who grew up just a few miles away in the suburb of Bloomington. ``I was 6 foot in fifth grade. I had a little height advantage, or what have you. That's the one thing I try to do if guys get beat. I just try to go up there and block 'em.''

Shaquille O'Neal set the NCAA tournament record with 11 blocks in a game for LSU in 1992. Shawn Bradley had 10 in 1991 for BYU. Aldrich's feat was, officially, the sixth triple-double in the history of the tournament.

Sherron Collins had 25 points to pace the third-seeded Jayhawks (27-7), who moved on to play the Southern California-Michigan State winner in the Midwest Region semifinals next Friday in Indianapolis.

Chris Wright had 10 points on 4-for-16 shooting for Dayton, which went a woeful 22.2 percent for the game. Charles Little was 2-for-10, and Marcus Johnson went 1-for-11. Frequently settling for off-balance runners or floaters in the lane, Dayton barely had any chances for those fast-break tomahawk dunks Wright has made his signature this season.

``I guess their flight team, or whatever they call it, wasn't flying,'' Collins said, grinning.

This was Dayton's lowest scoring total of the season. The Flyers shot 9-for-40 in the first half, and the misses didn't stop there. Mickey Perry's layup cut the Kansas edge to 35-30 midway through the second half, but with Aldrich getting a brief break on the bench Tyrel Reed sank a 3-pointer and Collins followed with a layup to stretch the lead back to 10.

``A lot of guys on this team can shoot, but I think you want it so badly that you go out there and try to push it a little bit,'' Perry said.

During a 10-minute stretch, with Aldrich grabbing those wayward shots and swatting some of them away before they even got to the rim, the Flyers went 3-for-20. Meanwhile, the Jayhawks - who weren't in rhythm offensively and sure needed Aldrich's altering presence underneath on defense - ran away.

``Sometimes when you miss good looks, even the open looks become a little bit more difficult later on,'' Kansas coach Bill Self said.

The Flyers (27-8), one of four teams given at-large bids from conferences other than the big six, beat West Virginia in the first round for their first NCAA tourney win since 1990. Trying to rebuild the program into a perennial NCAA tournament team under coach Brian Gregory, though, they were after more than that.

UD was 1-for-12 from the floor at one point, going more than 6 minutes without a make, until freshman Luke Fabrizius swished the first of his two 3-pointers to cut the Kansas lead to 13-7. The TV microphone on Dayton's rim was cranked way up for a few possessions, exaggerating each brick with a fittingly amplified clang.

The Jayhawks didn't seize their opportunity to build a big advantage. Collins was in his usual get-to-the-lane high gear, scoring 14 points before halftime, but Kansas missed nine of 11 attempts from 3-point range and, worse, seven of 10 foul shots.

Aldrich was all over the boards, but after an early series of putback, tip-in and up-and-under layup on three straight possessions, he stopped attacking the basket with the same aggression and had two passes out of the post go for turnovers. He did, however, convert a three-point play after relentlessly staying with the rebound of his own miss and give the Jayhawks a 29-23 lead at the break.

``He's just so big down there,'' Perry said.

The official list of NCAA tournament triple-doubles dates to 1986, when steals and blocks were formally added as statistics. Assists were added in 1984. Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson had a handful of unofficial triple-doubles before the stats were streamlined. The last one was in this building, actually, by Dwyane Wade for Marquette in the 2003 regional final win over Kentucky.

This, also, was the first official triple-double in Kansas history. Wilt Chamberlain would have had dozens, of course, but he played before the statistical expansion. No matter how the numbers are laid out, though, this Collins-Aldrich duo is quickly rising in prominence and impact on the storied Kansas program.

``I think we can make a run,'' Collins said. ``We started one already.''

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Posted: 3/23/09 12:40AM ET

 

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