March 15, 2002
REGIONAL: Midwest, Second Round.
TIME: Saturday, 7:08 p.m. CT.
SITE: Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis.
Many thought this was the year Roy Williams could finally return to the Final Four. One game and one injury may have altered such optimism. Having barely escaped the first round, Williams and top-seeded Kansas might be without All-Big 12 guard Kirk Hinrich when they face fellow national power Stanford in the second round.
Coming off a 29-win season in which they went unbeaten in conference play, the Jayhawks survived a big test in the opening round as they hung on to beat 16th-seeded Holy Cross 70-59. Kansas, which narrowly avoided becoming the first No. 1 seed to make a first-round exit, trailed at halftime and was behind by five in the second half before rallying to win.
"Everything looked bad," said Williams, who has not gotten Kansas to the Final Four since 1993. "But the kids didn't panic. Whether it's ugly or not, we're still playing."
One member of his team who might not be playing is Hinrich, who sprained his left ankle late in the first half Thursday. X-rays were negative, but the 6-foot-3 junior did not participate in Friday's practice and even teammate Nick Collison said it was "doubtful" Hinrich could play.
"Last night, I thought he had absolutely no chance," Williams said Friday. "He says it feels better and he is walking without a limp, but I can't believe what he tells me."
Without Hinrich, there would be added pressure on the Jayhawks' talented big men to perform. All-American Drew Gooden had a strong opening game with 19 points and 13 rebounds, but Collison was limited to five points and committed six turnovers.
Hinrich, who is tied with Collison for second on the team in scoring and is second in assists, would be replaced in the starting lineup by Keith Langford. The freshman guard scored nine points in 31 minutes Thursday. If he does start for Hinrich, Langford could play a very important role as he likely would be matched up against Stanford's Casey Jacobsen. The junior swingman led the Pac-10 in scoring, and had 17 points Thursday as the Cardinal opened the tournament with an 84-68 victory over Western Kentucky.
Entering as a No. 8 seed had been a big change for Stanford, which had been among the favorites since reaching the Final Four in 1998. "It's a really, really weird role being the underdog," Jacobsen said. "On past teams, if we didn't make it to the Final Four the season was considered a failure."
Besides stopping Jacobsen, the Jayhawks also must focus on slowing down 7-footer Chris Borchardt. The junior center, who had 19 points and 13 rebounds in the first round, should be guarded by Collison but Gooden could provide help.
- F Casey Jacobsen (21.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 3.6 apg)
- F Teyo Johnson (5.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg)
- C Curtis Borchardt (17.1 ppg, 11.5 rpg)
- G Tony Giovacchini (3.9 ppg, 2.4 apg)
- G Julius Barnes (11.0 ppg, 3.0 apg).
- F Gooden (20.3 ppg, 11.4 rpg)
- F Collison (15.2 ppg, 7.9 rpg)
- G Hinrich (15.2 ppg, 5.2 apg) or G Langford (7.5 ppg, 3.2 rpg)
- G Jeff Boschee (13.4 ppg, 2.4 apg)
- G Aaron Miles (6.8 apg, 6.8 apg).
HOW THEY GOT HERE:
Stanford - At-large bid, Pac-10 Conference.
Kansas - At-large bid, Big 12 Conference.
ALL-TIME TOURNAMENT RECORD:
Stanford - 17-9, 11 years.
Kansas - 60-29, 30 years.