Monday, March 26, 2007

After splendid season, KU loss hard to swallow


For many Kansas University basketball fans, Saturday night's tough season-ending NCAA Tournament loss to UCLA felt like a kick to the gut.

"We're feeling pretty sad. I just really thought this was their year," said Lindsay Ferrell, a Lawrence resident who works in the development office at Baker University in Baldwin City.

Fans couldn't help but ask questions a day after their team was eliminated from the tournament, one win shy of the Final Four.

As the Jayhawk flags still flew on some Lawrence homes and businesses Sunday, even the most optimistic thoughts surrounding the team for next year came with uncertainty.

"I hope that none of them go off to the NBA," said Alicia Adams, a Lawrence pediatric nurse.

Before some fans could think that far ahead, they relayed stories about how quiet Massachusetts Street became Saturday night and aired a few grievances about watching the Jayhawks score only 55 points in the loss after such a successful season when they lit up many scoreboards.

"I don't think they are used to going up against a defensive buzz saw," said Joe Ortiz, a barber at Rex's Stadium Barber Shop, 1033 Mass.

"I thought they were going to win, but that second half, it didn't look too great," said Ko Vichith, a Wichita resident who spent the weekend in Lawrence with friends.

Although several people said they were happy that KU advanced so far compared with the 2005 and 2006 first-round upset losses, many fans wondered what could have been after a successful 33-5 season that abruptly came to a halt in San Jose, Calif.

Mass Street quiet as fans somber from KU loss

Before we knew the outcome of last night's game, thousands sat on the edge of their seats, hoping KU would make a return to trip to the Final Four.

"It was obviously frustrating. We could have done a lot more," said Kevin Bell, a Frontenac junior studying sports management at KU.

Because many Lawrence residents have an emotional investment in KU basketball, the Rev. Nate Rovenstine on Sunday morning had to cheer up several members of his congregation at Lawrence Wesleyan Church, 3705 Clinton Parkway, including himself.

He said he briefly and lightly mentioned the game in his sermon and that often a disappointment involving the Jayhawks can bring focus back to other more pressing issues in people's lives.

"I try to take it as a chance to talk about the real values we should have in life. But, at the same time, it was a little bit of a somber mood," said Rovenstine, the church's lead pastor.

Some fans could look past the pain to celebrate KU's accomplishments this year.

"Well, I think they had an awesome season. They really did," said Adams, the pediatric nurse.

Others weren't yet in the mood to think about a 2007-2008 KU team and its potential.

"No, sorry, no," said Bell, the KU junior.


rhd99 12 years, 4 months ago

Rock Chalk Jayhawk! I am proud of this team's efforts this season. Our loss was bad, but I felt better yesterday, especially when Roy's Tar Heels lost in overtime to Georgetown!

salad 12 years, 4 months ago

Well, they played like dookie. Hard to believe they were ranked #1. UCLA absolutely shut them down inside and KU couldn't or wouldn't adapt. I feel bad for Bill Self, who really deserves a final four team: great coach & great person!

viper_roman 12 years, 4 months ago

It is great to have high expectations for yor team. But it is impossible for anybody to expect their team to win a national championship each year. We all know that does not happen. I am so proud of these guys and Coach Self. They may not have won the championship or even made the Final Four but I still love and respect my Jayhawks. They lost to the better team on that particular night. That is why it is called March Madness. Any of the teams that remained in the Elite Eight could have won it all but only one of them will. The other seven will all go home. That does not take anything away from what these Jayhawks accomplished this year. I still feel that we have the best group of guys and the best coach in the entire country. And I will be rooting for them just as hard next year and every year after that. Congratulations guys! You gave all of us fans something to be proud of!

DCSven 12 years, 4 months ago

by Jay Bilas on ESPN Insider... quoted here:

Don't Misjudge Kansas: The Jayhawks had a magnificent season, even though it hurts to fall short of their stated goal to make it to the Final Four.

Remember, the teams that make up the Final Four every year are not necessarily the four best teams. They are the four teams that have navigated their paths the best. There is a difference. Kansas ran into a super-tough UCLA team that was older, more experienced and mentally tougher on that day, and KU couldn't convert on some relatively easy opportunities in the lane that the Jayhawks would have normally canned. In addition, KU couldn't hit free throws, which it normally would.

But this was not a normal game; it was an extraordinary game that required an extraordinary effort. The Jayhawks played their tails off for 40 minutes, but the harder they tried, the more mistakes they seemed to make and the more shots they seemed to miss. If Kansas knocks down a few of those relatively easy shots, we might be talking about KU's talent, defense and heart instead of UCLA's.

Kansas had a great season, not just a good one. Bill Self is not just a good coach, he is an outstanding coach. People can put up stats and graphics all they want about Self-coached teams reaching the Elite Eight and falling short and pretend it is revelatory of Self's coaching ability, but that is nonsense without context. Self reached the Elite Eight in 2000 with Tulsa and lost to North Carolina. Reaching an Elite Eight with Tulsa is extraordinary, and no other Tulsa coach can claim such a feat -- including Nolan Richardson and Tubby Smith. Self also reached an Elite Eight with Illinois, losing to an Arizona team with a bunch of NBA players on its roster. Self put the Illinois program in a position to reach the 2005 Final Four by recruiting Deron Williams, Dee Brown, Luther Head, Roger Powell and James Augustine, leaving to take the Kansas job before getting the chance to see those players grow up and mature into a championship-caliber unit. At Kansas, Self has built a championship caliber program in his image, and I am confident he will not only reach multiple Final Fours but also win a title. He is that good.

Remember when the same geniuses who are critical of Self were critical of Dean Smith, Mike Krzyzewski and Lute Olson? Self is the real thing, and he will continue to prove it. I hate it when I hear someone say that Kansas "failed." If KU failed, by that logic, there must be more than 300 miserable failures out there. That is absurd. Those Kansas kids are winners, and so is Bill Self. They just won't be national champions : this year, anyway.

Christian Hinton 12 years, 4 months ago

I totally agree.

We had a fantastic season. Any 33-win season in which we beat K-State three times, Texas twice, win two conference titles outright, and are the third winningest program in history is a good season in my book.

Clearly we did not bring our A-game, and UCLA played well and really showed the experience they have (and we lacked.)

Coach self really is an outstanding coach, and I am sure he will get that national title one of these years.

Rock chalk!

Dan Harris 12 years, 4 months ago

We will always be dissappointed if we don't win it all with the kind of talent we have every year,but I personally will never be disappointed in our effort and class!Great year Jayhawks!

jaybate 12 years, 4 months ago

Don't swallow. Spit it out! Next year starts now. This year the players learned how to be an exceptional team. Next year they will learn how to win it all (if Rush stays). Its a two step process.

If Rush leaves, it will be difficult to be as good, or better, but NOT impossible.

Sans Rush, we would need four things to happen in order to become an even better team.

  1. Wright has to develop a three point J for when he plays 3.

  2. Rod Stewart has to blossom as a defensive stopper with a 3pt J at the 3.

  3. Aldrich has to be an 20 minute man in the post by January.

  4. Shady has to play to his potential by January.

The most doubtful of these, frankly, is Wright developing a 3pt J and wing skills defensively. If he can't do it, we're going to be extremely limited offensively and defensively. But if he can do it, then this team can morph into a big man dominated team. It can be a team with true bigs playing the 4 and 5 and wiping the boards, while Wright and the two guards are off to the races.

One thing for certain: we've learned HCBS is remarkably skilled at fitting the pieces together to develop a team that makes the most of what talent it has. And he's very good at masking weaknesses.

Still, replacing NBA prospects like Rush with players who would appear not to be at the same level is very, very tough, if one is hoping to improve or stay even.

Shane Garrett 12 years, 4 months ago

Wait: Arkansas fired their coach. And Wal-Mart CEO says money no object to hire Bill Self. Heard it through the grapevine three weeks ago.

Chris McIlvain 12 years, 4 months ago

WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE? Of course no one expects their team to win it all EVERY SEASON. To come back with a response like that when people are genuinely disappointed in this team's underachievement is ridiculous. How about expecting to win it all ONCE in the past 19 years? Especially with the number of talented, pre-NBA teams we've had? Fans say they are disappointed in the post-season and the retort is, "you expect them to win it every year". NO! But more than twice in 68 years isn't being unreasonable. Kansas has the same number of National Championships as San Francisco, Cincinnati, NC State...Kansas is the 3rd winningest program in history behind Kentucky (7) and North Carolina (4)

Joe Ross 12 years, 4 months ago

APD I've let a couple of your comments go, but there's a point at which you become a real irritation. An irritation because you are a lot of huff and puff without ever really saying anything.

This team's underachievement this season? We went to the Elite 8 genius, with our best players being freshmen and sophomores. We had a 30-win season. We won both the Big XII regular and conference season championships. We got tournament experience for next year. And more than that we were treated to a great season of basketball.

You ask what is wrong with people. The more appropriate question is what is wrong with you? You come off as snot-nosed, whiney, ungrateful and unappreciative, and with little if anything substantive to say about basketball. You are a poser! Youre a fake...

Whatever you are, you are NOT a Kansas fan. Kansas fans don't sandbag their comments until the season's over, and once we've lost our last game come gushing forth with a font of useless drivel.

For example:

"To come back with a response like that when people are genuinely disappointed in this team's underachievement is ridiculous. How about expecting to win it all ONCE in the past 19 years?"

First off, THIS team is not responsible for what happened in the last 19 years. A couple of them probably weren't even BORN then!

Secondly, you act as if we don't know we've had great caliber teams and that we are not disappointed in how we've done in some of the years we've had. I got a hint for ya genius...WE KNOW THAT!!! The difference between you and others here who find what you have to say as "abrasive" is that our love for the Jayhawks is unconditional (and yours isnt) and secondly that we can't do anything about seasons gone by. WHAT DO YOU WANT US TO DO?

I say we invent time travel, go back in time, maybe invent invisibility too and start tripping, kicking, biting, scratching and clawing our opponents in NCAA tournament games. Would that make you feel better? (Tighten up your bib and pull your "big boy" pants up...they're slipping.)

What do you want us to do? The only thing we can control is the future. But your rants about this and that are JUST THAT...rants, something on the order of what my youngest son USED to do when he was in second grade.

"But more than twice in 68 years isn't being unreasonable."

Then find the magic lamp, genius! And until then start giving this team the credit it deserves for a great season.

Brian Conrad 12 years, 4 months ago

jross thank you! APD will always be Negative. He is always so far off. He has to be from Misery because he attempts to make everyone miserable. WAS FANTASTIC YEAR! how many unbelievable fun games to watch. Ole Mizzou and K State did not supply fans with so much to be happy for. How about Kentucky or His beloved Tarheals WOW think of the APD on North Carolina talk about fold the tent. APD needs to move on, KU and our GREAT fans do not need his negativity.

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