Auburn Hills, Mich 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."