The only way to travel…
First… congratulations to Coach Self, our team, our school, and our fans! This was so needed for many reasons, not the least being the shaft we received 2 years ago for canceling our deserved run in March.
How did this happen?
Were we just lucky? Obviously no! Last night’s comeback shows just how good this team can be and had to be to bring home the trophy. But we can’t deny the luck we had along the way and I scratch my head wondering if the basketball Gods in AFH, or Bill Self Sr., pulled some strings from up above. Not only did we avoid injury throughout our March run, but we also benefited from other players going down and big upsets along our path. We even benefited in our final seconds as Bacot went down, turning the ball over and being done when his team needed him most. So many things happened in our path to this championship it is hard not to think someone upstairs didn’t pull a switch or two. I wonder if we might expect a new NCAA investigation into this one, draped in conspiracy theory and stretch out for another 20 years or so.
Self vindication? Hell yes! Gone are those critics saying Self can’t bring home another trophy. Gone are those critics saying Self can’t coach the big game. Personally, I’m giving the MVP award on this championship to Bill Self. He was a different man in this tournament than from the previous March tours. He was a lot more positive and had pure gratefulness for just being in the tourney. His poise was off-the-charts and it had to be the main ingredient for how our team stayed poised, including capping off the evening with the biggest halftime comeback in NCAA tournament history. I’ve never seen Bill smile more in March than he did this year. Listen to what he said to his troops at halftime last night, after being down by 15, another NCAA record lopsided score. He stayed poised. Listen to Big Dave’s comments after the game… he stayed poised. Bill is a different man after losing his father. I lost my father last year, too, and I know how different I am. Bill is, too. And it played out last night.
Comparing championships? I’m not sure I like comparing our championships at the threat that we minimalize any of them. But heck… we are sports fans and everything gets analyzed and compared. I wasn’t around for our 1952 championship so maybe others can comment. I did experience 1988, 2008, and now 2022. All three of these games are colossal storylines deserving special recognition. Even Self brought history into his locker room last night by asking his players… would they rather be down by 15 at half, or 9 with two minutes left in the game! I have to give credit for 2008 being the game where we had the biggest burst move to take the championship! I have to give the 1988 game kudos for creating “the legend” Danny Manning and how he carried his team on his shoulders to a championship over a heavily-favored OU team. But this team… this team’s storyline is only beginning to be told. Each player stepped up in their individual way to be a part of this! Never was the load so well distributed. Break down the game last night and you can point to so many plays by differing players that were “life or death.” Bill mentioned togetherness was their strength.
We may not own the record for most National Championships but no other school can claim as much March Magic as we possess! What stands out now… our book is yet to be written because we have so many chapters left to experience!
Love to everyone, and after more celebration lets start our next chapter of magic!
I know many of you will be blasting out of here at any moment.
I just want to acknowledge KUBuckets ( @approxinfinity ) and all the awesome Jayhawk posters that made this a great season for talking up basketball!
I’ve had a great time and learned more about the game this year than any other year of my life!
You guys killed it this year!
Thanks to everyone!
This is it!
This is the “stir up” I’ve been waiting for, and I even feel like we got a bonus!
So… what am I talking about? Udunka stuffing at ease? Earning a starting spot to help lift his game? 4-guard x-axis basketball starting the game?
All good… but what I am talking about is the roles of Frank and Devonte. I have been pushing for Devonte as our PG for more than a year now. Technically speaking… hard to say if he was a PG last night or our SG. Turns out not to matter. Frank is probably our best ball handler to be responsible for getting the ball to half court. But once he crosses half court and is positioned in the middle atop the key, that is where traditional concepts are thrown out the window and the chemistry of Frank and Devonte take over.
Look at the stat book. Frank, our PG by name, scores 21 pts and had 5 assists. Devonte, our SG by name, scores 6 pts and had 11 assists. Who ran the show? Who was our real PG? I guess we will say BOTH just to avoid a senseless argument. Months ago, it was difficult for me to convince fans just how incredible Frank is at scoring… a true volume scorer. He has the aggression of a driving volume scorer and has a dead-on shot from trey when it is wide open.
I don’t think fans have thought much about how hard it is to score 21 points in a game while being the floor general. Frank can’t take full credit for this because he does have the help of Devonte. Devonte is growing as the team “play maker”… a role he needs to take and conquer. Devonte exploited the over-match last night by continuing to pound the ball to Udunka for slam after slam. That is what play makers do… something works, they keep going to it.
Now I will discuss the “bonus” I mentioned above. Coach Self is truly the “Riverboat Gambler.” In my past vision, I thought we should move Devonte into the traditional role of PG. But the guy with the cards has decided to not show his hand anytime soon. Perhaps Bill will keep it a shared role. How will teams prepare for that? Who do they put their best guard defender on? Coach’s “ace in the hole” turns out to be Devonte’s ability to step up for big offensive games. We can flip the roles and succeed, too… especially on those rare nights that we face a team with a gifted guard defender.
We are just at the beginning with this team. They are just now coming around to executing a few plays and twists, and perhaps more importantly, they are filling in their roles and starting to be held accountable. The removal of Landen and Carlton from the starting lineup was more about a message to the team. Everyone will be held accountable, even 5th-year seniors.
Udunka is now plugged in! He still has a long ways to go… but it was amazing to see him take advantage of his size, and largely do it without fouling. You can see the game is starting to slow down for him and he is just beginning to execute. Bravo! He certainly has picked up the pick and roll! Amazing how just one weapon can be utilized over and over! Imagine when he has several big weapons?!
There is always some drama on teams. And our current drama is about Landen and Carlton. Teams actually need a bit of drama. This drama should be a good thing as both players adjust to step up their games, and Christmas break is right around the corner. I expect both of these guys to really put their hard hats on during that developmental period.
Last. We have to realize who we played. It isn’t going to go this easy moving forward but at least we got a little taste of what these guys are capable of. And they got it, too! This should help them focus on a goal to play at such a dominant level on all our opponents and also away from home. We got a long ways to go, but one step at a time, and last night was a great step in our desire to climb to the top.
I just can’t stop being a mother… er… father!
JWil - You are the “X-factor” guy in this game that will not get the MVP trophy, but this championship goes through you! You have to glue on Manek on the trey line and shut him down while also fulfilling your role as dynamic rebounder! If you do these two things well, we will not be denied the title! On offense… drive to the paint with your calculated medium speed… knowing not to charge and needing only a crack to slip through and put your body on a defender and score at the rim! We need your double-double!
Chai - You’ve got this! Replicate your game on Saturday! Look for your shots and don’t hesitate! Defend hard, too. You called it right… you were built for this stage!
DMac - Just like Chai… bring your Saturday game! No reason to do anything else. Bring the contact to Bacot and force him to back down without dropping your shoulder! Get excited because you finally get to match up with a big who may be in more pain than you!
Juan - CONTROL THIS GAME! Play with poise, always be aware of tempo. You already know to push tempo. Our best tempo is sometimes a subtle shift. In the least, always push the ball up the court and make them run hard because they have no bench! When UNC runs and exerts energy on defense, they have less energy on their next offensive possession. So monitor UNC’s energy level and take advantage of it, and tweak our pace based on how well we score. It’s all inside you because you have the best court instincts we’ve had running point in a long, long time!
CB - Realize how much your second half burst counted in our win versus Nova! Your first half was less than stellar but you left that behind and always focused on the next play! Do the same in this game and you will have your shining moments that will really help us bring home the trophy!
Remy - No words necessary… You know how to support this team. Sometimes it means fitting into the flow, sometimes it means taking over. Trust your instincts and play to win!
Mitch - I doubt anyone will have more emotion than you because this is your last game in a Jayhawk uniform and you’ve been in Lawrence since the invention of the wheel! Don’t be hyped up! We need your steady play, be levelheaded, and you will put in many key plays that help us win because you know the game so well. Play the role of a veteran!
Team - Do what you did all year… maintain your poise! The brightest lights are on and YOU GOT THIS! All you have to do is play your hardest and leave all your game on the court, and stay poised! That is the winning formula!
I know I speak for all Jayhawk fans everywhere… WE ARE PROUD OF THIS TEAM, WIN OR LOSE!
Jo Jo made the historic step “out of bounds” that put black basketball players “in bounds” in college basketball.
In 1966, Kansas was in the Elite Eight game against Texas Western. In a key moment in the game, Jo Jo was called for stepping out of bounds. A crucial call leading to Kansas going down in defeat, 81-80.
As most of you know, Texas Western went on to win the National Championship. A historic game in more ways than one. Texas Western brought the first all-black starting five to the championship game and faced off against an all-white Kentucky team. In 1966, racial issues were tense in America. This game took on a different flavor than past championship games.
The Texas Western victory in the 1966 NCAA Championship game represented the final hurdle for college coaches all through America to come to an understanding that black players could be a huge benefit to their teams and worth the “risks” associated at that time for recruiting black players.
College basketball has never been the same since 1966, and Jo Jo White made the most-famous out-of-bounds play that changed the tint of college basketball all through America.
I remember that championship game. Not so much the game, but the firestorm that came afterwards. Racism was on full display during this period and there were many outlandish racial events occurring on a constant basis. Lynchings and police brutality were still common.
While our nation focused on these events and the uprising of black leaders, like Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., sports became the conduit for bringing black and white people together.
We shouldn’t forget our past. Jo Jo White was a true soldier for humanity. He represented himself with tremendous dignity and was rewarded with earned respect wherever he went, including his playing days in Boston, which was infamous for race intolerance at that time. Jo Jo has always been a part of my connection to the University of Kansas.
Rest In Peace, Jo Jo White. You will be missed by many and you will never be forgotten!
I am probably like a lot of others in here concerning last night’s game. The first half gave me a stomach ache… thinking back to the last few years. Our guys not prepared for a dogfight, more like a cat grooming.
But I did feel better for part of the second half, mostly in the first minutes. Perry and Wayne took over. It was great to see both of these guys awaken from their first half naps. They really need to stop napping during games. Though they did wake up in the second half for a few minutes… enough for us to create the winning gap in the score.
I am amazed at Perry’s offensive tool set. I am amazed at the positive impact Wayne can have on our guys. One or two steals, assists or baskets from Wayne seems to liven up our entire team! This is his team!
I recall many times over the past couple of years where we came out flat and we stayed flat. I’m not saying that won’t happen again, but it is encouraging to see our veteran players step up and right a wrong, all within the 40 minutes of game time.
In as much as the first half gave us a “bad sign” for things to come, the inspired bursts in the second half gave us a “good sign” for possible great things to come in the season ahead!
Perry still hasn’t figured out enough to take it to bigger defenders… but he did show basketball IQ last night by taking what the defense gave him. He is as much a threat from the outside as any of our guys because he can hit that shot consistently and is often given the gift from defenses not wise enough to guard him out there.
Regardless what happens at the C5 this year… this is NOT the same team we had last year! For many, many reasons.
We’ve been short on depth all year.
Devonte plays almost 40 minutes per game.
Yet… we look a lot fresher than most of the teams we play.
A huge part of that surely must come from the efforts of Andrea Hudy. She is the training mom of all our guys and even travels with our team on the road.
Coach Self has mentioned a new strategy of carefully controlling our players’ legs both on the court (practice) and off the court.
I’m willing to place a bet that Andrea has teamed up with Bill to coordinate this strategy of saving our guys’ legs.
Can we really state that our Big 12 Conference Title #14 shouldn’t be credited largely to the efforts of Andrea?
I don’t think so!
So… here is a shout out to Andrea for everything she brings to our program! She deserves a ton of recognition (had to describe it in weight).
Who is responsible?
Who is responsible for bringing the team ready to play basketball?
Can’t we summarize everything into that single question? There were no areas of this game we played well in and there was no energy. How can that be?
I’ve always attacked this issue. I don’t mind losing games. I do mind when the team doesn’t show up. That was humiliating… and I believe it is games like this one that kill our recruiting. I know I wouldn’t send my son off to a school who decides sometimes not to show up. This is a character flaw. Plain and simple.
I wonder… how much fundraising does Bill Self do? It sort of feels like politics in Washington… where our elected officials spend most of their time fundraising instead of working.
When I see a team that appeared to be so disconnected to their coach, I wonder about this. When I see a team that can’t muster up energy for a screaming coach, there is a disconnect. Coaches that eat, breath and sleep with their players can’t help but be connected. Everyone is in one boat. I don’t see that.
This is what bothers me most about Kansas basketball. Games where we don’t show up. That doesn’t register with me. It’s not a part of my DNA. I’ve played in over 1000 organized games of basketball (at a far lower talent level) and I can honestly say that I have never played on a team that didn’t show up for a game. I would have been arrested last night if I was on that Jayhawk team because I would have physically assaulted some of those around me. I wouldn’t accept that kind of humiliation. Ever.
(Courtesy of KUSports.com)
We can examine shot forms, offensive sets and defensive toughness. But this is the engine that drives the train.
I’ve never seen Perry Ellis’ back molars before… until now.
As of Monday, Kansas will be uplifted in the National polls to #1. Usually, that is a curse. Players get over-confident, media chaos infects the focus of our team like a flu virus.
But this team is different. It has worked hard, including battling abroad in Korea, to find a true team identity.
What will carry this team forward has yet to be covered by sports media. Their focus is the allure of our perimeter shooting.
The secret sauce for Kansas in 2015-2016 is their “team focus” and to find “team happiness.”
Now that is something substantial, sustainable, and a REAL FORMULA for a destiny taking us all the way into April! (hint)
I’m trying not to put my foot in my mouth throughout the history of this website. lol
I know I tend to soften my thoughts about people over time. And I know others often do this, too.
I remember my youth summers in California and the Wooden era. I remember a lot of anger towards Wooden from others while I defended Wooden. I see things a bit more without colored glasses today… but still appreciate Wooden. Some of my crowd that was so critical back then have lightened up now. I suspect more to lighten up on K.
Okay… everyone take a deep breath…
Now go backwards! Just a few years back!
Both of these guys were judged to not even become decent college players. Basically overlooked by college recruiters.
So the answer is YES… this draft is very special for us as well as the fellas!
Congratulations to both players and I’m glad both stayed in the draft!
I challenge your view for us to go to the Big 10 but I appreciate your wisdom in this area. It is far deeper than mine. I openly admit to a simplistic view on this topic.
I am skeptical about us having an opportunity to go to the Big 10. And everything else… I’ve already stated.
I would like to ask you… let’s say the Big 10 is a “no go.” What is your best outlook for Kansas in the future? Connecting in another conference? Or if we stick it out… can you project a little deeper into the future… beyond dollars and cents?
Question: How many years would it take for Kansas football to lift its reputation as being competitive? 5 years of solid performance? 10 years?
KSU may be a good model to study. They stunk worse than us before turning their program around long ago. How are they valued today, both economically and competitively?
I know this conversation stinks… but realistically… who wants Kansas football today? Even a shelled-out Big 12 has us at the bottom.
Where will our kids be making their NIL? Maybe I’m off here… but won’t it be for selling carpet in Kansas City? Or BBQ? Won’t that be more localized $$$? Like… would Och be making money on his image in Michigan? I am thinking the big $$$ made from moving to the Big10 won’t be going to the athletes.
I hope he sticks with GS and stays healthy. Give him a little time… GS still looks like a contender for years to come, especially with the young talent they have.
Did you hear the Wigg’s interview after the game? He still sounds humble and reasonable. From what I read and heard about this particular GS team… everyone found a high-level of humility and reality because of Clay’s recovery situation (plus going back to the couple years the team tanked without him). Even Draymond learned a thing or two because of Clay… and I thought he was incapable of learning anything!
Congrats Wiggs! Better for him that he didn’t get Finals MVP. Stay humble and hungry. Earn that extra title in the future when he takes the helm of a team like Curry has.
Awesome to see Clay get another ring, too. I can so relate to his comeback and how much suffering/sacrifice he went through to get back on the big stage… even having to battle through G league.