Writer: Stewart Mandel
Post time: Friday, 7:14 p.m.
DETROIT -- Give credit to Kansas coach Bill Self for tackling even the smallest detail in his gameplan for Friday night's Sweet 16 game against Villanova. To counteract the awkward, sunken benches here at Ford Field's makeshift basketball court, Self brought his own footstool so he could actually sit on the sideline.
"I like to sit when I coach," said Self. "I didn't think it was a major deal. I didn't fall."
Usually leaning forward, hands on his knees as if posing for a portrait, Self watched his top-seeded Jayhawks basically toy with the 12th-seeded Wildcats from the get go, converting numerous alley-oops, stifling Villanova star Scottie Reynolds (4-of-13 shooting) and shooting 53.3 percent in a 72-57 win. Guards Russell Robinson and Mario Chalmers burned the Wildcats with five three-pointers in the first half to jump to a 41-22 lead, while big man Sasha Kaun pounded his way to the basket throughout the second half.
It was a typically balanced performance from the Jayhawks, which produced their third straight lopsided tourney win and 10th straight win overall.
Meanwhile, most of the NCAA-record crowd of 57,028 -- boisterous, albeit muted by the cavernous space, during the Davidson-Wisconsin game -- had either departed or gone into a coma by early in the second half. So quiet was the dome that the only audible sounds during late-game action were Self's instructions to his players and the relentless shouts of "Go KU!" from the Jayhawks' cheerleaders (one of whom was bored enough herself to appease a late-game request from a male admirer in the stands to "look up for a picture").
"There were a lot of empty seats," said the game's top scorer, Brandon Rush (16 points). "It wasn't like [Allen] Fieldhouse."
If a basketball game ever broke out in a library, this was what it would sound like -- not to mention Self's footstool wouldn't seem nearly as out of place.