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2008 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament

Monday, April 14, 2008

A whole lotta love

Award ceremony caps Jayhawks' daylong lovefest

Bill Self addresses Jayhawk fans Sunday, April 13, 2008 during an awards ceremony for the 2008 national champion KU basketball team at Allen Fieldhouse.

Bill Self addresses Jayhawk fans Sunday, April 13, 2008 during an awards ceremony for the 2008 national champion KU basketball team at Allen Fieldhouse.

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Jayhawks head to Fieldhouse after parade

Today's championship parade filtered down Mass. Street and then proceeded south towards South Park. From then, it was on to Allen Fieldhouse where the 2008 team was introduced for one final time.

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2008 National Championship Parade

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Video coverage of the downtown parade held in honor of the National Champion 2007-2008 Kansas University Jayhawk men's basketball team.

Mrs. Chalmers reflects on Mario's miracle shot

With his now-famous 3-point shot in the NCAA Championship game against Memphis, Mario Chalmers became a hero to the Jayhawk nation. Boomergirl.com managing editor Cathy Hamilton caught up with Mario's mom to get her take on that 'One Shining Moment' no one will soon forget.

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2008 NCAA Tournament

Get your March Madness fix at KUSports.com.

Bill Self and his wife, Cindy, hopped out of a light blue Corvette convertible after the 21â2-mile ride of their lives - down Massachusetts Street, 19th Street and Naismith Drive, with 80,000 or so fans cheering them the whole way.

"We're floating on air right now," Self, Kansas University's fifth-year basketball coach, said upon conclusion of a Sunday afternoon parade honoring the NCAA basketball champions.

"This is absolutely priceless. I don't know if anybody deserves to have this much fun and be treated this well, but we certainly do appreciate it," added Self, who said police told him about 150,000 fans attended the spectacle, the estimate changing by late Sunday night.

Fans not only lined the sidewalks of downtown Lawrence 10 rows deep at the start of the parade, but also stretched from 19th and Naismith all the way to Allen Fieldhouse for the parade's conclusion.

"I've never seen so many people, never shook so many hands, never said hi to so many people. My mouth hurts just from smiling the whole time," KU junior center Matt Kleinmann gasped.

"It was crazy, unbelievable. I never imagined that many people being there. I've never seen anything like that : never," senior Jeremy Case said.

The 3 p.m. parade was just the start of Sunday's lovefest.

More than 10,000 fans showed for the team's annual awards celebration Sunday night in the fieldhouse.

The building shook from thunderous applause during a highlight video that showed extensive stretches of KU's Final Four semifinal victory over North Carolina and a title-game victory over Memphis.

"Today was overwhelming - the interest and those sorts of things. This means an awful lot to an awful lot of people," Self said.

Just one piece of hardware was presented at the ceremony - the Danny Manning/Mr. Jayhawk Award, which goes to the player who according to Self "symbolizes excellence in the classroom, toughness, unselfishness, willingness to sacrifice for the good of others, being a great teammate and representing your university in a first-class way."

Senior Russell Robinson, who won the award the past two years, staked claim to it again. This time, though, he shared it with the squad's other seniors - Case, Darnell Jackson, Sasha Kaun and Rodrick Stewart.

"To be candid, we couldn't decide," Self said of the coaches, who this year voted instead of the players. "It's probably the first time this ever happens, but there's no question our team was only as good as the seniors."

Robinson said he was proud to share the award with his four classmates.

"My vote would have been Darnell, but I think it's very fitting. We all earned it," Robinson said. "It's fitting everybody shared it."

Said fellow senior Case: "It says a lot about our team, how important the senior leaders have been. It's not an individual thing with this team."

Self told the adoring fans the national champions were all about camaraderie.

"How many times have you heard the so-called experts say: 'Do they have a go-to guy? You know who our go-to guy was? The open man," Self said.

After standing ovation after standing ovation, the awards ceremony ended, signaling the conclusion of the 2007-08 season.

"It's time to move forward," Self said. "I mean, we've been patted on the back a lot lately. We've got to get to work (recruiting) and make sure we put a great team on the floor next year."

¢ NBA talk: KU is expected to lose junior Brandon Rush and sophomore Darrell Arthur to the NBA, though neither player has yet declared for the draft. Junior Mario Chalmers also could be an early entrant.

"We said we wouldn't talk about that stuff this week. Maybe we'll have some answers for you relatively soon," said Self, who indicated the players would inform him of their decisions and he'd pass them on to the media.

Arthur's mom, Sandra, said she would likely sit down with her son next weekend to discuss the power forward's future.

¢ Recruiting: KU on Wednesday - the first day of the late signing period - will add a sixth player to the incoming Class of 2008. Tyrone Appleton, a 6-3 sophomore guard from Midland (Texas) CC, will join a recruiting class that includes guards Mario Little and Travis Releford and forwards Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris and Quintrell Thomas.

Self is still looking for another big man in recruiting. Dallas AAU coach Jazzy Hartwell said big man J'Mison Morgan would visit with new LSU coach Trent Johnson, then decide whether he'll remain a future Tiger. If Morgan opts out of his letter of intent, he again would consider KU and UCLA - teams on his original list.

Of recruiting, Self said: "We've always been fairly popular. We've got some guys calling us now. It (winning title) is not a huge benefit now because there's not much left out there (in class of '08). We've got to strike while the iron is hot and have a great fall."

¢ Car talk: "I was just talking to Jeremy (Case). He said we started the season at Late Night in cars. We just ended the season in cars from the parade," Russell Robinson said.

The players hopped out of luxury vehicles onto a red carpet in the south parking lot of Allen Fieldhouse for grand entrances to the 2007 Late Night in the Phog. And they each rode in convertibles at the victory parade.

"I am 22 years old. This probably will be the best moment of my life. I still have a lot of living to do. It's an experience I'll remember a lifetime. Enjoy it. Live it up. Rock Chalk, Jayhawk," Robinson told the fans at the awards banquet.

¢ Message to brother: An emotional Rodrick Stewart told the fans, "I wanted to tell my brother (Allen) who passed away that I love him. I didn't get a chance to do that at Senior Night.

"A lot of tragedies happened this year," Stewart added, also referring to Darnell Jackson's cousin being murdered. "To be honest, it did make us stronger."

¢ Economic boost: "I know our administration caught a lot of crap for moving the Missouri football game to Arrowhead from local merchants and everything," Self said. "If you have 150,000 people downtown, that is a big bonus for a lot of people, a lot of merchants. Today was overwhelming."

Comments

Ryan Gerstner 13 years, 6 months ago

I kinda hope J'Mison Morgan stays with LSU. He very well may be a fabulous talent, but for some reason I'm thinking he doesn't run that well and if he can't get up and down the floor, I hope KU takes a pass and finds some more big guys that can. We've been spoiled with Arthur, Jackson, etc.

DCJayhawk0208 13 years, 6 months ago

On that economic boost, it looks like, Coach, that you're just going to have to win a championship every other year to compensate for the Arrowhead game.

westernkshawk 13 years, 6 months ago

Does anyone know if Sasha's mother is still here and got to participate in all the recent celebrations?? Or maybe she's staying on for his graduation. Oh, the stories she can tell when she gets back home!!

DCSven 13 years, 6 months ago

Rodrick's comments are so heartfelt, and the only thing that I hope this great band of brothers realizes is that they have always been this strong, and that the tragedies highlighted that. The great part of this team is they have also learned how strong they are by excelling together as well. May the lessons from both experiences guide them to help others as I'm certain these terrific young men will. The championship is great, but these guys have proved they were champions regardless of the outcome of one game.

MOJHawk 13 years, 6 months ago

I agree with hawkfan20. The last thing we need is to take floor time away from Cole next year. Morgan is probably a one and done kid, but something tells me Aldrich will be good for the distance. We all saw what Senior presence did for KU and what lack of seniors did for our opponents.Besides, seeing Collins, Aldrich and, hopefully, Chalmers next year combined with the lightning quickness of the class of 2008 recruits [I have seen them each play and ,man, can these kids fly], KU will be built for speed.You can't stop what you can't catch!!!

Dalman 13 years, 6 months ago

Having seen J'mison Morgan play I will assure you that he can get up and down the court. He is also not a one and done player. He would give KU at least 2 - 3 years if he decides not to go to LSU and become a Hawk.

flipborder02 13 years, 6 months ago

I agreee with Dalman, check out his videos he can run with the best of them.

suzifrye 13 years, 6 months ago

I really am going to miss Robinson, Jackson, Kaun, Stewart & Case, but most of all I will miss Robinson and Jackson the most. I truely hope that Jackson goes on to being a pro-basketball player and just has the life he deserves. This guy has been through so much and has come out with such a positive attuide and a great role model. Robinson I think would make a great pro player as well. I am going to miss when his name is said at the games followed by New York Neeeeew Yooooork!!! Man I am going to miss these guys.

Keith Kienzle 13 years, 6 months ago

Will miss them all, but glad they won it all; they achieved completion; they made it! So it's not the tearfest that was Nick and Kirk leaving. I hope Kaun also does well in the NBA. He's always been a smart kid and a great guy and he came through in the clutch 6-6 against Davidson!

okjhok 13 years, 6 months ago

Do you really think Robinson would make a great pro player? I think he could make money overseas, but he is not an NBA-caliber point guard. That's nothing against him. There just aren't that many roster spots. I think D Block would be lucky to make an NBA team, but I'm not ruling it out. If he wants to make a living playing bball, he could do just fine overseas as well. I understand you have an affinity for these guys as basketball players (as do I) but you have to be realistic when it comes to pro ball. Not everyone gets to play.As for Bobo, I'd love for him to have a change of heart and become a Jayhawk. KU will need as much depth as possible next year.

jcsmith 13 years, 6 months ago

I couldnt agree more approx. This senior class has been so decorated. All the conf. titles, conf tourn. titles, and what better way to cap off a career then by winning it all. This has been by far, imo, the best senior class yet. They stuck to it and made history for themselves. So sad to see fewer and fewer student athletes finishing school these days. But to each his own. Thanks to the entire team for the life long memories you have given us and good luck wherever you may go.

Brian Skelly 13 years, 6 months ago

This is probably the most 'decorated' Senior Class ever if one thinks about it. As awesome as winning the National Title is, winning 7 of the 8 'possible' Big 12 Championships is amazing. Talk about dominating your competition.The Character of a team usually falls in line with the character of its Seniors. With what a lot of these guys have been through off the court is more than most of us deal with in lifetimes, much less by age 19 or 20. For better or worse, life has toughened up these kids in ways most of us cant imagine. No wonder playing basketball was simply on outlet for these guys. It really showed after what Rod and Darnell went through months ago as well. It just seemed since that point, when this team was focused, they just werent going to let the other teams beat them. This one class of Seniors we wont be forgetting about soon.

Dirk Medema 13 years, 6 months ago

ESPN has an interesting article - http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/draft2008/insider/columns/story?columnist=ford_chad&page=TourneyWatch-080408&action=upsell&appRedirect=http%3a%2f%2finsider.espn.go.com%2fnba%2fdraft2008%2finsider%2fcolumns%2fstory%3fcolumnist%3dford_chad%26page%3dTourneyWatch-080408 discussing player's draft status relative to their play in the FF. There are plenty of comments to disagree with, but IMO it has accurate insights relative to Mario, Darrell, and Sherron. Fortunately, Sherron has already realized that for all of his brilliance, there are still rough edges that need to be refined at KU. Hopefully, he can stay healthy for an entire season, and get the reps to fully refine his incredible game.Mario is described as the tweener - doesn't have NBA caliber ballhandling skills for a PG, but is too short for an NBA 2. With Russell being gone, Mario could slide to the point for 10 minutes a game when Sherron needs a breather, and spend the time refining his ballhandling. Besides, he would be the senior that is needed for team leadership on and off the court.DA is widely regarded as having gobs of talent, but commits silly fouls and becomes passive at times (self-inflicted as well as not being fed by the guards). Another year of maturity and tutoring by Danny could make his 20/10 NC game performance become common place. That would raise his stock from 10-20 to top five. He would also be needed to step up to fill the leadership void in the frontline (~ Mario), since it would likely be him and Cole starting with the twins and Q filling in.With those 3 in place, regardless of what J'mison Morgan decides, KU would be primed for a title defense.Rock Chalk!

Mr_Sandman 13 years, 6 months ago

I like where KU will be next year even if we lose EVERY possible player we could. Sherron, Cole, the Morris twins, Releford, and Q Thomas. Lets not forget Teahan and Reed, both of those guys were state players of the year and can really shoot. Morningstar probably benefited from his redshirt year as well. Also two TOP 3 JUCO guys. Not saying that these guys are as good as what we will be/might be losing, but they still could be very good players. I think Mario will come back though, and hopefully DA surprises me, then we would be top 5 and ready to defend our title.

KU 13 years, 6 months ago

Mr Sandman......I know we just won a national championship, but don't let your love for the program cloud your judgment. If we lose ALL the possible players that could declare for the NBA we will struggle next year. We certainly wouldn't be in any shape to defend the title.Sheron would be the only returning player that played significant minutes. Cole would be the most experienced Big. Teahan was the player of the year and he can shoot, but he's not quick enough to defend athletic 3-men. Reed could be really good, given enough minutes. Morningstar....good practice player, good attitude.Pretty hit and miss.After that, you're depending on your freshmen and jucos. Only time will tell what they've got. They certainly aren't as highly touted as this year's junior class.

Jason Stubbs 13 years, 6 months ago

I am sorry to change the subject but on August 15, 2007 at 1:04 A.M. and 1:06 A.M.( please feel free to look it up.) a "sevenyearhawk" whatever that means said that if Coach Self would win a Championship he would gladly eat a pair of shorts at Johnny's I believe in KC and 610 sports would do it live and would invite the Spodcasters there and he also said of his bet that he was not worried " one single bit" I hope you are real hungry!!! I have a pair of short you can have. I bet you are so proud of what you said back then of Coach " poor motivator "and " game planner" and "abysmal speaker" I hope you eat more than just your shorts!!!!!!

Joe Ross 13 years, 6 months ago

What now?After reading this article I have to say I'm struck with one fact in particular: the love this University feels for its basketball team goes BEYOND a championship. Yes, the celebrations and revelry continue in the wake of an accomplished dream in San Antonio. The miracle shot and the drubbing of UNC along the way to hoisting the trophy makes it very sweet indeed.But ask yourselves a series of questions. Do you love Darnell any more now than you did before? Russell? Sasha? Do you have any more appreciation for Allen Fieldhouse than what you did 8 days ago? Are you, in fact, any more LOYAL to the Jayhawks than you were this time last year?Don't misunderstand me. Championships DO count for something. They stir a fan base (which is evident by the throngs of those parading down Mass street and filling downtown businesses to the brim and overflowing). They are rightly coveted as they represent the fruit of seasons of hard work for a few dedicated individuals. They have toiled, they have sweat, and it has not been easy to reach the top of the mountain. But I think now I understand that it's a matter of priority: that even a championship banner takes a backseat to the love we feel for these coaches and players, and the dedication they give to us in return. Think of Russell Robinson, who wanted to return to New York after his freshman season. The trials of Darnell Jackson in losing loved ones. The blown knee of Brandon Rush. Sasha's losing his father. Roderick Stewart missing the Final Four. Have these young men not faced adversity off the court? I'd like to think that as they made our University champions, that we have returned the favor on some small scale by embracing them so they feel the love and adoration on a level that at least softens their pain of their struggles. Perhaps as many as eight of them will leave us. I hope when they are old men in their bed--whether leaving or staying put--they look back and remember more than the championship they helped to earn.I hope they remember the love they felt here.

prairie_rattler 13 years, 6 months ago

What do you think was going through the minds of Giles, Galindo, and Downs, as they watched the nets get cut down.... ?

Ed Fox 13 years, 6 months ago

jross1972 - Without question my favorite post, probably ever, on the site. You're 100% correct. I know it's easy to say in hindsight but two things stuck out to me. During the end of the Memphis game I wasn't necessarily worried for myself as a fan, you know having to deal with the 'choke' stuff more or having experienced them getting close but not finishing etc., but instead I really was upset because these guys, who we all love so much, were going to be stopped short of the goal that meant so much to them. Typically, as a fan, I lose some perspective on that and start worrying about how a championship will make me feel. In this instance I was worrying about the individuals on this team whom I've only ever briefly met but who feel like family because I've learned to care about them so much.Additionally, during the stress of a game like Davidson, my emotions were mostly sadness, not because we weren't going to get a championship for KU, but instead because there was a possibility that I may not get to see this team play another game. That same sadness was there during the NC game (even with all the joy) but it was easier to deal with then because that HAD to be the last game. These guys had given us 40 games - the absolute maximum that they could give, so I could be at peace with this ride ending. Had it ended early I would've felt cheated, not because they didn't get a title, but instead because my favorite basketball team of all time, this particular Jayhawk squad, wasn't going to be together again any longer. I can handle it after 40 games (though I'll be sad next Late Night when many of these guys aren't on the court) but it would have been very hard to deal with had this team's run ended early.That all being said, there is a new team with new personalities and new stories taking the court next year. The great thing about college sports is that there is always a new team and new players to adopt into the KU family. I have no doubt that next year's squad will be special and full of unique and valuable individuals - it's just hard to imagine any team living up to what this one has given us - as you say, much more than a championship.

sevenyearhawk 13 years, 6 months ago

Dear kansasredandblue, et al ...Yes, I did indeed type those words, and while I do not plan to eat my shorts now, I am working on something that will be far better.In fact, I received an e-mail from the basketball offices just today about Self's charity, I have something planned that will both public and beneficial ...STAY TUNED!!

actorman 13 years, 6 months ago

Impressive, sevenyear. It takes a big man to admit when he's wrong. I look forward to hearing more details.

trich424 13 years, 4 months ago

Posted by sevenyearhawk (anonymous) on August 15, 2007 at 1:06 a.m. (Suggest removal)and one more thing ...if Self ever does lead KU to a national title, I will EAT MY OWN SHORTS!if will likely occur at a Johnny's in KC and 610 sports will do a live broadcast, you're all welcome to come watch ...Can't say that I'm worried one single bit .../hell, maybe I'll even invite the Spodcasters!!==============================I didn't hear an apology from him. He just admitted to it.

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