close
NCAA

My Favorite Martin (2022 NCAA Tournament Midwest Regional)

Ross James/ALOST

 

akoiki-passport2 – by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief

CHICAGO — When asked about the defensive play of guard Remy Martin, head coach Bill Self pointed out a play that would pull the remaining hairs from any coach’s head, but did so much more in a jokingly bemused matter than what could have been expected. Sure, mentioning a basketball faux pas after a win can take the sting off of the gravity of the sin. but Self’s humor belied what he and the Jayhawks have tried to impress on the Arizona State transfer all season long.

As good as he is offensively, his play on the other end of the court could be just as much the difference maker to Kansas trying to make its first final four in what seems like a generation for the blue blood program.

Martin, an All-Conference Pac-12 Performer during his time at Arizona State, finally has put together his ultra quickness on the court with a commitment to using said quickness to make an impact on the defensive end to allow the Jayhawks to come to the precipice of their first Final Four since 2018 after a 66-61 win over Providence, the Big East regular-season champion, in Friday’sMidwest Regional semifinal at the United Center. Standing all of six feet tall, Martin continually made it tough on the Friars’ physical, attack-minded guards, namely Jared Bynum and Al Durham, to initiate the offense and exploit their size advantage over the diminutive Martin.

Making the Friars have to retreat from drives to the basket on multiple occasions, Bynum and Durham combined to go 3-of-12 from the field in the first half as Providence shot an atrocious 20 percent (7-of-35) in the first half.

Kansas’ offense was far from clicking in its own right, but it held a 26-17 lead at halftime in large part because of Kansas’ perimeter defense.

“I actually thought that Remy’s defense has really improved as much as anybody’s over the last three or four weeks,” Self said. “And he’s trying to do what we want him to do and pressuring the ball. And the first half, their offense was really starting high on the court. Second half not as high. But the first half is really high on the court in large part because of ball pressure

In that same stretch, Martin’s offensive game has come around as well. Tonight, he led the Jayhawks off the bench with 23 points, the second consecutive game in which he has reached 20 points. Martin has reached double figures in scoring in each of the last five postseason games for Kansas, starting with a Big 12 Tournament semifinal win over TCU.

No wonder why the Jayhawks were able to withstand an off night from Big 12 Player of the Year Ochai Agbaji, who scored the fewest points of any Jayhawk starter tonight (five) and missed six of his eight shots from the field — and all four of his three-pointers.

“This is the second game in a row where [Remy’s] came in in the first half and just completely taken over,” said Kansas forward Jalen Wilson, who put up 16 points and 11 rebounds against the Friars. “Playing with so much confidence. We love it. We love him playing like that. We need him playing like that. He’s been able to save us out of situations when we need a shot late in the clock. He’s able to create his own shot. That’s something not a lot of guys can do, especially at his speed. So, we’re just loving his confidence.”

Once Self’s confidence in Martin’s all-around game has grown, Kansas’ chances of snapping their four-year Final Four drought have increased. Sunday’s matchup with Miami should provide Martin one of his biggest challenges, with Kameron McGusty and Isaiah Wong leading the Hurricanes’ guard-oriented assault.

In another words, another chance for Martin to put into practice what Self has been preaching all season long, a campaign that is a few Martin defensive possessions away from New Orleans and the Final Four.

Facebook Comments Box
n
Tags : Kansas JayhawksNCAA TournamentRemy Martin

Leave a Response