Saturday, March 18, 2006

BU-hoo, part two

KU falls in first round for second year in a row


— KU fan Matt Nisker stood till the end, but his Kansas Jayhawks couldn't make enough shots, grab enough rebounds or do anything else to stop what had seemed to be inevitable from the opening seconds of their NCAA Tournament opener Friday night.

When the suffering finally ended - with a 77-73 loss to Bradley University - Nisker figured he'd have it easier than most other KU fans.

He can escape by going home to Canada.

"This is just painful to watch," the Toronto resident said from the stands behind KU's bench. "They'll probably get a lot more sympathy where I'm from than they will back home."

KU lost to the No. 13-seeded Braves at The Palace of Auburn Hills and ended another season after only one game in the NCAA Tournament, clearing the way for a whole new off-season of uncomfortable questions.

"It'll feel like Bucknell all over again," said longtime KU supporter Joe Morris, as the final seconds drained away. "It's certainly bad. It certainly is bad."

But for Morris and many other KU fans filing out of The Palace, the shocking disappointment of the loss soon found itself giving way to guarded optimism - or a built-in defense mechanism.

There is, as always, next year.

"We'll be awful good," Morris said.

Jeff Dishman, who played for KU in the 1980s, saw the problems early Friday night: playing tight in the first half, not sharing the ball enough throughout the game and facing a Bradley team that seemed to make every shot it took.

The Jayhawks just didn't have it.

"They came in here a bunch of young kids," said Dishman, now an investment adviser in Topeka. "The bright lights got to them early, but they'll be fine. Next year they're not as young."

Unlike Dishman, whose teams never made an NCAA Tournament, Brady Morningstar still has playing days ahead. The former Free State High School player, who spent this season at a prep school, will join the Jayhawks next year.

If there's something positive to take from Friday's loss, it's that the defeat should motivate the team for next year, he said. The loss comes after KU was dumped a year ago in the first round by Bucknell, which, like Bradley, came in as a No. 14 seed.

"I know the players feel bad. They really hurt. They have to," Morningstar said from the stands behind the empty KU bench. "I don't have the words to describe it. It's just too bad."

Carol Smith found a way to smile. She's been coming to KU games since the Wilt Chamberlain era, and can't help but recall the good times from this year: a regular season Big 12 Conference co-championship, and a conference tournament title.

"I'm proud of these guys. I'm proud of every one of them," she said. "I think our kids grew up tonight."

Dana Anderson, whose family is among Kansas athletics' biggest benefactors, said before the game that this season would be a success no matter what happened Friday night.

"There were some naysayers when we started 0-and-2, and entered the Big 12 season 1-and-2," said Anderson, whose family is helping finance a new football complex near Memorial Stadium in Lawrence. "They need to realize that we start three freshmen and two sophomores. Coach has done an incredible job. The other coaches in the Big 12 realize that, in voting him coach of the year, and he may be national coach of the year.

"I couldn't be happier with this season."

The prospect of an early exit Friday seemed remote, but he said that even if Bradley would pull off the upset, it wouldn't be able to wipe the shine off the success of conference titles.

"It wouldn't take away from a great season at all," he said, when asked what a loss would mean to the program. "It wouldn't diminish my enthusiasm or my perception that our coach is tremendous, and we should all be very pleased with his performance.

"Remember: This is a tough business. You can't win 'em all."


pfing 13 years, 9 months ago

What a great season! The Jayhawks brought fans from "we may not make the dance" to "how'd we lose in the first round again." It was exciting and entertaining this year and we have every reason to anticipate a great time for next year.

We can all identify what went wrong. We needed to keep Bradley from scoring points and we needed to score more. (Coach Self, if you need someone to pass along these coaching gems, I'm your man.) What we did get is 1) a lot more than was expected for this season, 2) an opportunity to see a great coach continue a great tradition here at KU, and 3) see a team go from individual talent to shaping up as a team.

I'm very proud of the staff and this team!

Bobo Fleming 13 years, 9 months ago

Regarding Rush

If a movie was to be cast about a college basketball player Rush would be perfect. The camera loves him and he loves the camera. Every quick slick movie on film. But in the same way that James Bond isnt real, or t hat the actors in a fight dont really fight, Rush really is only playing the part of a college star. He is all show and looks good but actually what does he do? I know t he sports commentators are sold because he looks so pretty in front of that camera, and the moves are great but what is the outcome of most of those great moves? I hope he goes pro the sooner the better becasue for me I think we will be talking about all that potential into his senior year with no much to show for it.

ConcernedAmerican 13 years, 9 months ago

Deja vu: Missouri game. Bradley came in pumped up for blood and honor and with a shooter who could not miss. KU showed their youth by falling behind and panicking and not playing their game. The team that showed grit last week against Texas was not the same team to take the floor last night. Am I sad, sure, because the nation will not get a chance to see one of the future best teams in the America play any more this year. Now if Bill Self can inspire his players to be the student-athletes they are supposed to be instead of using their time here at KU just as a jumping off point for the NBA, then he can build a tradition-rich program like Duke, which always seems to keep its players into their senior year. Look at Russel Robinson's transformation this year into a tremendous player and point guard. Imagine if Mario, Julian, Russel, Sasha, Darnel, C.J. and Brandon (yes, even Brandon) were to play together for the next two to three years. Along with the players to come, that would be an awesome Kansas team to watch play (key word here is "play"; it is after all, just a game, not life and death). A toast to the future and to the many exciting moments we fans will have with our Jayhawks.

tommyboy44 13 years, 9 months ago

It's been a great year and great fun! To those "fans" who would put down the individual effort of some of these young players...shut up! I'm sad to see the season end, but preseason we were supposed to finish in the middle of the big 12, not on top. We have over-achieved every step of the way. I am pumped about where we can be next year and I am excited that all of these young guys will be back. It seems to me that the only mistake we made in the game against Bradley is we forgot that it takes a team to win. We needed more passing and less trying to be the hero. Look back at the season and the games we dominated and won. Learn from this painful lesson. Learn and grow.

nycjhawk 13 years, 9 months ago

It has been great fun to follow the Jayhawks - sure I wanted more - but there's always next year.

lylelarueb 13 years, 9 months ago

"There is Always Next Year" would make a great song title ....... it could replace Rock, Chalk Jayhawk at the end of every game. In my book Rush didn't turn out any better than Downs and I really enjoyed the performance during the season by "The Coach of the Year". We deserve better from KU; yet we continue to get less; strange how Roy W. could take the NCAA once he got back to NC and got settled in.......and yes I do feel Billy Boy should have been settled in this year...yet all I saw him do was to tout Rush and Rush turn out to be the biggest joke to come down the red carpet in a long time..........GO TO THE NBA NOW RUSH....IN FACT YOU SHOULD HAVE PASSED ON COLLEGE YOU ARE SO GOOD!

meganne882 13 years, 9 months ago

I have watched this young Jayhawk team grow all season. From the very beginning when they lost to Mizzou and the Wildcats in a matter of days to when they won the Big 12 tournament. The team is young and they were not ready to play in this type of play. All Jayhawk fans need to let this lost go and look forward to next year because KU is going to be a force to reckon with. Our boys will be tougher and bigger and will bring more experience to the table. We all need to support the team that we love and remember we lose some and win some. But no matter what we are the Kansas Jayhawks and nothing can change that.

Christopher Johnson 13 years, 9 months ago

this comment is for lylelarueb. come on man . . . I was probably cussing at the t.v. as much as you were, but we're in no place to put the players down. They'd woop you and they usually woop everybody else. We just picked the wrong night to play bad. Rush picked the wrong night to shoot bad. Robinson picked the wrong time of the game to have 2 or 3 turnovers in a row. These are all things they couldn't help in the heat of the game. These players are great. Rush is not a joke. Bill Self is a great coach. Hopefully if you are a loyal fan, lylelarueb, you'll be around to enjoy and praise this team. As soon as they go out I'm sure you'll be just as negative next year though. I hope you stay this positive forever man . . .

ConcernedAmerican 13 years, 9 months ago

To all those who say Bill Self cannot coach, Brandan Rush is a fake, etc., etc., I say, get a life. Before I came to KU, I was not a major sports fan. KU basketball has changed that and over the years, from Larry to Roy and now to Bill, I have enjoyed the highs and, yes, dreaded the lows, but my family, my career, my interests and generally my life has more meaning than all the hoops and tournaments you can muster. It is a GAME, a game of skill, athleticism, finese and somtimes pure luck. So, pull yourself out of the shallow hole you wallow in, sit back, enjoy the show, experience the rush, and quit whining about the lack of another fake gold and walnut trophey sitting in a glass case in Allen Field House.

Bill Corrigan 13 years, 9 months ago

The Jayhawk fans who are vilifying their coach for yesterday's unexpected NCAA loss should reflect on the fact that this was just one game. Bill Self is the same coach whose team was upset by Nevada (at AFH, no less) in the regular season and he should not be blamed to any greater degree for the Bradley debacle. Both losses were to mid-major teams outside the Big XII and can be attributed to the fact that the favorite was outplayed by the underdog on both happens; particularly when the contest is as high-profile as an NCAA tourney game. KU basketball can be justly proud of a conference co-championship and its first conference tournament title since 1999 -- let's not forget the elation produced by those two achievements. And oh, by the way, Coach Self was on the bench for those two runs as well. With all the key performers still in place for next season and with another strong recruiting class in the offing, truly, the best is yet to come!

WhataRush 13 years, 9 months ago

Roy may have won a championship with UNC but he did it with someone else's recruits. He still has yet to win one with a team he recruited.

I am sure when KU lost to rhode island people were sick of Roy Boy too. Lets look at Self, he recruited the Illinois team from last year and how did they do?

I am upset with the loss. Who isn't? But we are a young team, who really had no seniors who played a ton of minutes.

The years to come are going to be great!! As for Rush, i think he was trying to credit all the hype he was getting with great plays and high scoring games, lets remember he is a freshmen. I don't remember a freshman class having so much pressure on them. Simien, Miles and Langford had collison, heinrich and gooden(for a year). This years freshman had moody, hawkins and vinson(these guys are solid but not the caliber of the previous upperclassmen)

Jeremy Bolinger 13 years, 9 months ago

Some people seem to forget that roy williams is gone......and he isnt going to come back to Kansas. Stop comparing Roy to Bill! These are 2 different coaches and 2 completely different styles of basketball. If you are truely a Kansas fan, you will understand that Bill Self has won 2 conference championships and 1 conference tournament in 3 years of coaching at KU. And yes, 2 first-round exits are not what people expect at KU but who else could we get to coach our team that could do any better? The top 2 coaches are at Duke and UNC and they aren't going anywhere! Forget it, Roy Williams is gone. Stop talking about him! Heck I miss Larry Brown more than Roy. At least Larry won a national championship! What did Roy ever do at Kansas that was so special? Nothing that Self hasn't done yet!

willie_wildcat 13 years, 9 months ago

For all those people whining about how the Jayhawks played and about Coach Self I have one thing to say to you: Build me a bridge cry me a river and get over it.
Was it a hearbreaking loss? Yes. Is it the end of the world? No.

These guys are a young team, give them time to grow and they will be the force to be reckoned with. Fans have to be patient and support these guys through thick and thnk and things will get better. I think they had a great season and they deserve the support and respect of the fans especially coming back from losses from Missouri and Kansas State to win the Big 12 Tournament against Texas.

Jason Njoroge 13 years, 9 months ago

Just like willie_wildcat says get over the loss!! Stop putting our players and coaching staff down. Like any of you could have done any better! Yes I was disappointed at the loss and like everyone else it screwed up my bracket, but you know what. Our players are only 18-19 year olds. How can you really expect so much. And the coaching staff can only do so much. I hate it when you so called "fans" are there with the team when we win, but as soon as they lose you go crazy. So we lost in the first round give these kids a break and they will learn from it. And I wish people will stop comparing this loss to last year because when you actually "look" at it, it was a different team last year. So if you people are going to continue bitching then please do all of us a favor and jump off the bandwagon so there is enough room for us "true" fans!

WhataRush 13 years, 9 months ago

are you even a real fan of KU? or do you jump on when they win and jump off when they lose?

willie_wildcat 13 years, 9 months ago

Phog sounds like some K State and KU "fans" I have encountered in the past.

TheTruth 13 years, 9 months ago

Great season for the Hawks. I'm not going to be one of those fans that says wait for next year because I felt that we should of did more in the NCAA Tournament this year. Hopefully next year we get off to a better start than this year, but we'll have to wait tell next year to see. Rush has no business even thinking about the NBA right now, in my opinion I think he did hit the freshman wall (at 21 years of age or however old he is). Plus he can't dribble with his left yet. For next year it's put up or shut up time. No matter what I will continue to support the basketball and football teams no matter the outcome might be. ROCK CHALK JAYHAWK AND F*** THE HATTERS.

WrightStuff 13 years, 8 months ago

TheTruth has it right, we obviously didnt play our best, and thats really all we wanted was to get beat by a better team playing like we were to close out the season not lose it for ourselves, we weren't the better team...good season but I think part of the problem was our expectations as fans are always to want a title(they changed for a while when we feared not making the tourney at all, but its KU c'mon) and to want a star player as your poster boy. As the season went on it became clear that Rush is a good shooter who can't create his own shot, a great dunker who doesnt have the handles to get to the rim if its not in transition. But he of ALL the freshman failed to improve as much as the rest from begining to end, so until I see HIM change a game like Wright or Chalmers has I wont consider him the most COMPLETE or best player on the team, just a solid role player

jayhawkinlaw 13 years, 8 months ago

Dear Brandon Rush, If you read these boards...please ignore the idiots. Most informed basketball fans around here are thrilled you are a jayhawk. I hope you'll stay to make your speech on Senior Night, telling all the idiots how wrong they were about you. You are an asset to the team and the Jayhawk community. Sincerely, A fan for the ages - even when we lose a sad one.

WrightStuff 13 years, 8 months ago

I'm not unhappy with his performance, I have never doubted his effort, and I by no means blame him for the loss, just pointing out that atheliticism is not a basketball skill (its not taught or practiced) ball handling is...if Rush improves that I can't name a better player in the country, I just can't believe after so called experts see this glaring weakness why anyone implies he should/could have left yet to go against NBA defenders...thats all, much love to him and the rest of the team, and we'll see who puts in the work to continue to improve for next year

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