KU players, coaches, avid fans and marginal supporters,
Congrats on another year of fun, high level play, great effort and strong results. I had predicted in a previous post at the start of the year another Big 12 Title, another 30+ win season and another Final Four appearance.
Hey, two out of three, and almost three out of three ain’t bad…close but no cigar. Disappointing but the sky is not falling. The program is in excellent shape and our team had an excellent chance of going all the way, but so do other teams, like Oregon. I guess it was not meant to be.
Here are a few subjects we KU fans who follow religiously our team and believe every year we can go all the way, might like to consider:
This team and this group of young men performed at a high level and fulfilled their “contract” this season. We were not the overwhelming favorite and a dominant force in college basketball. No one is anymore, as any of a dozen teams can win the title in any give year. Let’s be thankful we are ALWAYS in the hunt. We had a good shot and came up short. No lack of effort, no shame, no one’s fault. Last night, we got beat by a better team.
Oregon has as good or a better team than Kansas this year. Many sports fans do not make a distinction between “should have won” and “could have won”. There is NO WAY they wanted it more than us. There is NO WAY we were outhustled, out coached or unprepared. If you look at the rosters, they are bigger, longer, more athletic than we are, and they outplayed us on the floor last night. Period. Hats off to the Ducks!
We could have won and were the favorites and were playing at home, we all agree on this, but this game was NOT a meltdown. Oregon got ahead early in a very rugged start for both teams. JJ got the two quick fouls, they made some very tough shots and played tough, smart D. They rebounded well and blocked our drives to the basket (Jordan Bell is a beast), and worked their butts off, and just beat us last night. Man up KU fans, single game elimination tournament at year end is like that for us AND the other programs as well. Please refrain from trashing the coach, any of the players or our wonderful basketball program and tradition. Show some class and help us move forward.
Coach Self had an outstanding coaching season and is evolving on the offensive side of the ball. He let them play, we jacked up threes, we tried to run, we tried pressure. Many of us on this rat board (including me) have criticized Coach Self for not having a more free-flowing game on O. The D is always good and came together nicely at year end, but the O was terrific this year and our schemes have improved. Live by the three and die by the three…high risk, high reward.
Oregon played very hard, got an early lead, hung on in the second half of the second half (last ten minutes when we made a mini-run), and got some fortunate breaks shooting and rebounding the ball. That’s the way the ball bounces in this and every game we play. We did not make shots (5-25 from 3) and they did (11-25 from 3). They outrebounded us 36-32. They blocked more shots and got more 50-50 balls NOT because “they wanted it more and some of our guys did not have focus” but simply because they are equal or more athletic (bigger, strong, faster, quicker, taller, longer…) player to player than we are, AND because they got lucky at key moments in the game.
We fans often underestimate the luck factor in the NCAA tournament, the way the ball bounces into one team’s hands and out of another team’s reach. If there is a big talent discrepancy, no big deal. But if the talent is equal, or the teams are evenly matched, one game is a crap shoot, period, even at home in KC. We have won and will continue to win our fair share, including in the NCAA tournament, just not this year. The odds will prevail if we keep knocking at the door.
Bravo to the seniors, we bleed blue and red for you and feel your pain.
Frank - you are an inspiration and a great, great KU player and ambassador whose jersey will hang in the Fieldhouse with the other hall of famers in the mecca of college basketball. National Player of the Year 2016-17!!! Good luck at the next level.
Landon - you have performed (if possible) beyond your abilities as well as any KU player in history, making an outstanding contribution to this year’s team and over the past five years. Thank you, good luck next year and we hope to see you playing for money, somewhere.
Tyler - it is not easy being the coach’s son. You have won the hearts of the Jayhawk nation and we hope you will continue in the profession. Ask you dad for a job…
KU fans - once we get through the grieving process, we will reflect on our wonderful memories of this year’s team and all the exciting victories (and comebacks!), and another Big 12 title to keep the string alive.
Stay the course and do not lose faith. Our time for future Final Fours is coming, and will come in numbers, and is just around the corner.