UK’s frontline provides long night for Kansas



NEW YORK — I spent the weekend in New York City looking up at the buildings stretching into the sky.

At times, it looked like Kansas was looking up at UK’s defenders, arms stretching into the Madison Square Garden ceiling, wondering how it could go around them, or over them, or through them, or something.

“I don’t know if there has been a team around longer than those cats,” Kansas head coach Bill Self said, without even noticing his own clever pun. “I think their length bothered us.”

Well, UK did block 13 shots. Anthony Davis spiked, swatted, pitched or maimed a Kansas shot seven times.

“It’s nice when you can block shots,” UK head coach John Calipari said. “We’re pretty long.”

Indeed they are. Calipari said the frontline of Davis, Terrence Jones, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Eloy Vargas and even Darius Miller can all provide blocks.

Which provides backup.

“They can cover up for a mistake,” Self said, “and then get points out of it going the other way.”

And that’s really where this length phenomenon helps UK. Right now, a lot of its offense is predicated on good defense. UK attacks the ball on defense to create turnovers, and then takes off for its own basket as fast as possible.

Self, however, said teams could slow the ball down to neutralize UK’s length.

“A team that could make them defend a whole 35 seconds could take away some of the athletic plays they can make that no other team can match,” Self said.