The Streak Needs to End

  • Apologies to those of you who clicked on this thread looking for information on Ray Stevens.

    Last season, when our beloved Jayhawks were in the midst of a rough patch in conference play I wrote that I wouldn’t be too sad to see “The Streak” fall by the wayside. It wasn’t because I didn’t want the streak to continue or because, in some masochistic way, I thought losing was important for our long-term success. It was more because every year the streak continues, the pressure to keep from being the squad that let it get away grows and grows. Nobody wants to be remembered as being the team that broke the string. That’s a huge burden for any group of kids to handle no matter how tough and resilient said kids may be.

    I recall years ago reading something about Steve Jobs and how much he feared failure. It was so all-encompassing that it drove him to be better every minute of every day. And he went on to achieve great things. Fear may be a good motivator for some, but I’m not so certain it is for most. Fear of failure can be a crushing blow to the psyche and can cause people to do things they ordinarily wouldn’t do. This is just speculation, but look at Bragg this year. What about Naadir Tharpe a couple years back? What about Brady Morningstar before that? We usually chalk up shenanigans such as theirs to youthful indiscretion, but how much of their odd behavior is perhaps attributable to the unspeakable pressure these kids must feel to keep the championship mantle intact?

    As we know this year is supposed to be THE YEAR. Should we win conference, we’ll tie one of the all-time great programs in UCLA for the most consecutive conference titles. Winning the conference would keep the string intact, put us in line for a #1 seed in the NCAA tourney and it would guarantee immortality for all the young men involved in this amazing process. And while we sit pretty right now with a record of 18-2 and 7-1 in conference play there are signs of decay. Injuries, suspensions and a short bench have left us, despite the pretty win-loss numbers, in a very precarious situation. It’s tough enough to take on the likes of Kentucky and Baylor with a team that, in all reality, is only 7-now-6 deep after the Bragg incident. But, I fear we are only scratching the surface of the pressure cooker that a continuation of The Streak will become as the season rolls on.

    I’m sure I don’t read as much sports as many of you, but to date I have not seen the media devote endless column inches to The Streak. Should our boys prove resilient enough to continue to challenge for the crown this season, the spotlight and focus on it in media circles will burn white-hot. How will our team handle the incessant, 24-hour media scrutiny that is certain to ramp up as the shadows of the current season grow longer? Will they use it as motivation, or will they crumble under the relentless pressure?

    “Free your mind and the rest will follow” is the refrain sung by a prominent girl group from the early 90s. And I firmly believe in that line of logic. I just don’t know how freely the minds of our boys can be in-game and elsewhere with the specter of The Streak hanging over them and the inevitable public scrutiny and media circus that will continue to nip at their heels with every step. So I say again: perhaps it would be better if The Streak came to a merciful end.

  • A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. - Winston Churchill

    “A leader must lead. Where others see obstacles, he must see opportunities. When others see problems, he must see possibilities … Civilization is not built on a negation but on an affirmation- an affirmation of the bright and promising possibilities that the future holds for those who are enterprising enough to pursue them.” ― David J. Vaughan, Give Me Liberty: The Uncompromising Statesmanship of Patrick Henry

    KU is the birthplace of college basketball and has been a leader ever since. The team has replaced all starters several times before and managed to overcome…this is what KU basketball is all about.

    My question is: Would you like to be a member of the team that ends the streak? Any one that has played competitive sports will say…no! Ask any of the current players and they will all say…hell no!

  • Keep Streakin

  • @JayHawkFanToo said:

    My question is: Would you like to be a member of the team that ends the streak? Any one that has played competitive sports will say…no! Ask any of the current players and they will all say…hell no!

    I want to reiterate I hope the streak stays intact. The main reason for my post is to wonder out loud how much the pressure of The Streak is affecting these young men both in-game and throughout the course of their daily campus lives. I can’t help but think some of the off-court behavior we’ve seen in recent years is the result of trying to get away from the day-to-day pressure that being a KU basketball player brings.

    We all look at the glory and adoration and the BMOC status many of these guys receive being in that exclusive fraternity, but there is a downside and I’m merely speculating at how much that pressure to succeed affects the mental make-up of these guys. Some may be able to handle it and others not. It’s why I speculated that some of the off-court issues may be a by-product of playing in a big-time program.

    It’s easy to say, “hey, if you can’t take it then maybe you shouldn’t be playing at a program like KU”, but I don’t think it’s that simple. Stress is an extremely debilitating entity and I really think it plays a role in injuries, in game performance and statistical aplomb. Hudy is awesome with the physical aspects of our players, but I wonder how much time is devoted to mental preparedness. For some time I’ve advocated for these guys to learn bio-feeback or other discipline that might help deal with some of the stress and could even push performance levels higher.

    Anyway, if and when The Streak ends I think this program will finally be able to take a deep collective breath and get back to playing free and easy, something I’m not sure our team has been able to do for several years.

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