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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Unfinished business

Jayhawks leave Indianapolis wanting a return trip in 2010

Members of The Kansas University men’s basketball team come together for a huddle before taking on Michigan State on Friday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. KU coach Bill Self said he wouldn’t mind a return trip to Indianapolis next year — for the Final Four.

Members of The Kansas University men’s basketball team come together for a huddle before taking on Michigan State on Friday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. KU coach Bill Self said he wouldn’t mind a return trip to Indianapolis next year — for the Final Four.

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Kansas University’s basketball players and coaches boarded the team bus at 10 a.m. Saturday in front of the downtown Indianapolis Omni Severin Hotel, hoping they’d be back in Hoosier Country sooner rather than later.

Indiana’s capital city, proud host of 2009 Midwest Regional semifinal and final games, is the site of the 2010 Final Four.

“You guys (media) think about things like that. I guess it will be a goal, ‘Yeah, let’s get back to Indy. We’ll do it different this time,’’’ KU coach Bill Self said, adding, “I haven’t thought about that at all. I will say this: What a venue,” he exclaimed.

“Next to San Antonio, in my eyes, this is the best place to have a Final Four because everything is right here.”

Lucas Oil Stadium, site of the Jayhawks’ 67-62 Sweet 16 loss to Michigan State on Friday night, was located a stone’s throw from KU’s team headquarters as well as several other hotels such as the Hyatt, Hilton and Westin establishments.

The Indiana Pacers’ Conseco Fieldhouse, where KU practiced Thursday morning, also is in the immediate area.

“If this team stays together, there’s no reason why — (when) we get stronger in the weight room — we can’t mature into a team that has a realistic chance,” Self said.

“I’ll be honest with you. I think if we won (Friday), I think we had a chance (in today’s Elite Eight game). Louisville was terrific (in 103-64 victory over Arizona),” he added, while wondering if maybe the law of averages might doom the Cardinal shooters, who cashed 57.6 percent of their shots versus ’Zona.

Of course, in this day and age, there’s no telling what KU’s roster will look like next year.

If sophomore Cole Aldrich and junior Sherron Collins put their NBA aspirations on hold a year, they will be joined by fellow scholarship players Tyrone Appleton, Mario Little, Brady Morningstar, Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris, Tyrel Reed, Travis Releford, Tyshawn Taylor, Quintrell Thomas and transfer Jeff Withey.

KU has signed point guard/shooting guard Elijah Johnson of Las Vegas’ Cheyenne High and Thomas Robinson, a power forward from Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, N.H.

If shooting guard Lance Stephenson of Brooklyn, N.Y., Lincoln High commits to KU on Tuesday or Wednesday at the McDonald’s game, KU would have 15 players for 13 scholarship slots.

Self late in the season on his Hawk Talk radio show said KU would oversign if the odds were great a player or two might leave the program. He said he would never ask a player to leave.

“I will get information (from NBA front office officials and coaches on Aldrich and Collins),” Self said.

“They’ll do what’s best for them. I do have an opinion on what is best for them for their life. My opinion sometimes doesn’t always matter (concerning a player leaving early).”

KU, which finished 27-8, would be a likely preseason top-five pick with the two on board one more year.

“We’d be a contender for a national championship,” Collins said.

“I think we could be really good,” Aldrich noted. “We were really good this year. Unfortunately, we made some uncharacteristic plays that cost us a few games. We’ve got so many guys with talent. We’re all going to learn from this.”

“We could be great. We could have just as good a team as last year,” Mario Little said of the 2008 NCAA championship season. “We all know what to do now. We are not newcomers anymore.”

As the future sorts itself out, the present mood around the program is one of pride. KU won the Big 12 regular-season title and reached the Sweet 16 without five starters from last year’s team.

“When everybody doubts you, doesn’t think you’ll do anything from Day One ... we feel we proved everybody wrong,” freshman Marcus Morris said. “Making it to the Elite Eight really would have proven a lot of people wrong.

“We felt it was there. We proved people wrong by winning the Big 12. It would have been great to beat Michigan State. We really could have proved them wrong.”

Self, who is a leading candidate to be named the Associated Press national coach of the year early this week, said he thoroughly enjoyed coaching this group.

“I’m proud of them. Our guys played beyond their years,” Self said. “There’s no question these guys exceeded a lot of outside expectations. They were terrific. It was a fun group to coach.

“We rode two guys hard the whole year, and each got better. They dragged the young guys along with them. They delivered,” he added of Aldrich and Collins.

“The thing I’m most proud of is our toughness level increased so much by the end (of year). Hopefully if we are able to keep our guys together it’ll transfer to next year. Our guys will be better because basketball this time of year comes down to a few possessions.

“Looking back, I will have no regrets about this team, zero,” he added.

Comments

Ed Fox 10 years, 10 months ago

Nor should you have any regrets, Coach. Some things to work on? Yes. Some things we wish would have gone differently? Yes. But, regrets? Not on your life. It was an exceptionally fun run and maybe, even more than NCs, should remind some of us why this program is so great.

buckleyhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

With HC Self, the end of the year has been a...roller coaster ride. But after the last couple of years...in a good way.

There honestly is not another coach I would want at KU. I hope he (and the admin) makes him the Boheim/Calhoun/Coach K of the midwest (e.g. he's here for 20+)...

Don Everett 10 years, 10 months ago

Congrats coach, staff, players, etc. You should be proud of your accomplishments. Jayhawk fans sure are!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

kufan1993 10 years, 10 months ago

I cannot wait for next year! Yes, I was a bit disappointed that we lost, but once I started thinking about next year I got psyched!

We have the best coaching staff, players, and program in the nation and I cannot wait for what next year will bring.

ROCK CHALK!

kurulz3400 10 years, 10 months ago

So what do you think Coach Self has planned out if both Aldrich and Collins decide to stay and we sign Stephenson. I remember Morningstar's father saying he will pay for his sons college if we need a scholorship but that still leaves us one scholorship short. I know Coach will figure it out like he always does. Anxious to see how all of this turns out!! Rock Chalk Jayhawk!!

yates33333 10 years, 10 months ago

Coach Self you did a great job this year. Very few, if any, could have done as well with just one player with considerable experience to build around. Aldrich's performance was almost as great as yours. He is the best big man in basketball who doesn't mug the opponent most of the time. Collins was fabulous. He is ready for the pros. He should take the money and run.......

jayhawk47 10 years, 10 months ago

Reid could probably pay his own way too, if a scholarship was needed.

John Mueller 10 years, 10 months ago

I agree with Buckley, there isn't any other coach for Kansas. Pretty interesting conclusion after all the hoopla of ol' Roy, but I really cannot see any other coach in America I'd rather have at the helm.

Kudos to Lew!!!!

It is great to be a Kansas Jayhawk!

eric poncharello 10 years, 10 months ago

OL' Roy doesn't compare to the coaching and reqruiting that coach Self creates.In the early 90's, I worked at Allen fieldhouse and coach Roy would complain about the fieldhouse being to old as well as He would talk about he couldn't get the kinds of reqruits he needed to win a championship to come to lawrence. When he said things like that I knew he would never bring a championship to KANSAS. Coach SELF knows without any uncertainty HE can and HAS!!! THANKS BILL!!!!!

rockchalk80 10 years, 10 months ago

It appears that someone (unknown to the lay person) is transferring... listening to the comments by SC and CA---it doesn't sound like they are going pro early.

If shooting guard Lance Stephenson of Brooklyn, N.Y., Lincoln High commits to KU on Tuesday or Wednesday at the McDonald’s game, KU would have 15 players for 13 scholarship slots.

Self late in the season on his Hawk Talk radio show said KU would oversign if the odds were great a player or two might leave the program. He said he would never ask a player to leave.

Aligned 10 years, 10 months ago

Hey Gary,

How 'bout if we start 'ferring to teams by their real names: ‘Zona becomes Arizona; ‘Nova becomes Villanova; Bama becomes Alabama; ‘Cuse becomes Syracuse, etc. How many more key-strokes would that amount to?

eastTXjayhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

I believe I'll just call them Ali, Gary is free to borrow that as well......... I also spotted an old school spelling of recruiting, the use of the q is quite qompelling.

Chris Corley 10 years, 10 months ago

Come on, Jayhawk47. It's not fair to make assumptions about who's family could (or even be willing to) give up a scholarship and start paying. Reed earned it. It's up to him and his family as to what he, or any of the other players, decide to do.

Great season, 'Hawks! We all enjoyed it. With the best coach in the nation, the best tradition in the nation, and the best team in the nation, I can't wait for next year!

minipman 10 years, 10 months ago

i have a feeling someone is transferring..my best guess would be quintrell thomas.. seeing how if aldrich stays, we have the twins, and the recruit of robinson coming in, and the tranfer withey from arizona..thats alot of big men and seeing how thomas never played this year.. cant see how he would next year

Aligned 10 years, 10 months ago

I'm light, man, I'm light.

Seriously though, what's the point in trying to provide reading entertainment through the use of cutesy contractions? Just spell the freakin word, for crying out loud.

Greg Lux 10 years, 10 months ago

minipmsn .. my feeling exactly .. and probably best for Thomas who could be a strong player for another school and deserves the chance to play. He just got to KU at the wrong time but whatever happens I wish him the best and I would love to see him get his chance to show his stuff.

Rock Chalk

discojayhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

I am so proud of this team and coaching staff! You showed class, poise, and superb effort. Being a Jayhawk fan is such an honor. Thank you for a wonderful season!

Mitch_4_KU 10 years, 10 months ago

Q. Thomas reminds me of a smaller version of D. Jackson. When he played I watched him closely and he got good position for rebounds quite a lot. Richard Thomas like player. I would hate to see him leave I believe he will be a better player than people expect. If Cole or Sherron opt for the NBA, we will be hurt and I can't see anyone being able to fill either ones contribution. Let's hope they stay and wish them the best if they don't. I, for one, am ready for football, because we are going to be really really good this year. P.S. I have an appointment at the psychiatrist Monday because I was actually rooting for MU to win........... What the heck is the matter with me.

ColfromCO 10 years, 10 months ago

It looks like Self has finally been accepted for what he is - an outstanding coach in both recruiting and coaching. He took crap he didn't deserve for quite a while.

He has taken the KU program past where Roy left it. Also, he is and will keep it there. He is one of the best coaches in America. KU is fortunate to have him.

Coach Self and sstaff, congratulations on a good year.

Steve Brown 10 years, 10 months ago

Some of our teams are great, some overachive, some hit hard bumps, Bucknell, Bradley. ouch! The great teams that don't make the Final Four still carry some pain or 'what ifs'. J Vaughan group....that Az team and Bibby were hot...

This year the rebuilding group won the league banner...WOW! how many other teams in our conference could win the league after graduating 5-6 guys......so Coach was right earlier this year, saying we have chance to be really good....we should trust him when he tells us so.

If Sherron and Cole need to stay or go pro we'll support either decision. (for next year, let's bring Rus Rob and Darnell back and give them disguises. I enjoyed Brandon and Mario but somehow really miss those two, hope they are well. are we lucky to have such players. A year from now if they are gone, we'll miss Cole and Sherron. IF they are here, we'll have a shot to do something really special - again. Mighty proud to be a jayhawk, albeit an old one.

LAJayhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

Mitch_4_KU,

I'm also very excited for football season (except we got several months to wait... grrr..... hopefully the Cubs can get me through the summer....), and we do have a chance to be really good..... as long as Briscoe can play. As of right now he is suspended indefinitely and is not practicing with the team. Not having Briscoe would make me a sad panda.

As for basketball, I'm not sure I could be more excited about next year (even if I'm still a little unhappy about the way this one ended), and we have even longer to wait for that......

jhokfan 10 years, 10 months ago

I have zero complaints about this season. I would love to be playing today but a conference title and sweet 16 appearance after the way this team was playing earlier in the season is more than I can ask for.

I'm curious how the coaching carousel will play out. If Calapari bolts for Kentucky will he take his recruits with him. Will Anderson stay at mizwho? I don't think he'll get offered the Kentucky or Arizona jobs but whoever does, it will create another vacancy. If they don't pony up someone will offer him a job.

JayViking 10 years, 10 months ago

LAJayhawk,

I must have missed it! What happened to Briscoe!?!?

Jim Jackson 10 years, 10 months ago

Neither of the 2 are going pro this season guys. Not only have they both stated they'd like to come back, but they both know that when Lance gets here, we have a very legit shot of winning our 2nd title in 3 years. That of course would land both of them in the first round for sure, and Cole a probable lottery pick.

LAJayhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

JayViking,

Sucks doesn't it? Probably the worst weekend to hear news like that. Hopefully it's not too bad, and it will all blow over in the Spring. We need him out there breaking records come fall........

As to the Twins, I have to agree with ralster here. Marcus, especially, has improved about 3000% from the beginning of the year. No, they are not to their ceiling yet (because they're freakin freshman!!), and still have plenty to improve upon (hitting shots under pressure for one), but, come on, did you really expect Kevin Garnett to take the floor?? They are freshman and need time to develop. Come down off the high horse and cut them some slack.

Both twins are talented and getting better. And they are trying to get better which is probably the most important thing. They have learned to play much more under control and within the team concept (except for that three attempt from Markieff on Friday... I almost jumped through my TV). Plus they are out there with aggression and giving it their all. Did you see Markieff's face at the end of the game? Kid was devastated.

Seriously, get off the twins back. That's bush league, jhwkfan162515. Bush league.

Tim Orel 10 years, 10 months ago

Another note on the twins - don't forget all the academic problems starting off the year. They had limits on attending classes, on mixing with the team, and there were just many unknowns about their situation that they had to deal with.

Also, don't forget Marcus twisted his leg with over 3 minutes to go and never got back in the game. His presence on the boards could have made the difference in crunch time. So sad that the season had to come down to those final couple minutes when the Jayhawks didn't have as much as MSU and couldn't get it done.

I'm psyched for next year, and I'm looking forward to a very deep bench.

Lance Hobson 10 years, 10 months ago

Man, we could have beaten Louisville. They played terrible against MSU.

hawkfan1085 10 years, 10 months ago

It's hard not to be disappointed with the loss to MSU, but if you would have told me going into this year that we would have been a few minutes away from going to the Elite 8 I would have said your nuts. Great year, and if Cole and Sherron come back combined with what we have coming in, next year could be really special! Congratulations to Coach Self and the team for a great season.

kufan89 10 years, 10 months ago

Great run! can't wait for next season. Jayhawk 4 life!

Dan Harris 10 years, 10 months ago

After watching MSU beat Louisville makes it hurt more, man we might have been in the final 4 with these pups! Cant wait till next year.

KUball14 10 years, 10 months ago

"We are not newcomers anymore."

That really sounds good, i have a feeling all these freshmen are going to A LOT better over the off season.

Whether we still have Collins or Cole or get Stephensen, were still gunna be a damn good team next year.

lovemyhawks 10 years, 10 months ago

i agree..... after watching today's game, i realized just what we could have done if we had FINISHED on friday. i expected louisville to win today and instead, msu dominated..... wow, it could have been us heading to detroit..... so darn close. wow, DID make the loss hurt more but a brighter future is ahead and this was still a great great surprising year!! ROCK CHALK FOREVER!!

jayhawkschick8885 10 years, 10 months ago

I honestly don't see Cole leaving. Collins might.....but in interviews that I have seen with him after the loss he doesn't seem like he will either. Nobody will know for sure until it's announced though.

I think that Bill and the boys have a chance to do something special again if they all stick together. The recruits that are coming in seem to be great. All the freshman have some experience and now they know what it taste like to have that bitter loss.

I'm definitely looking forward to next year.

ROCK CHALK!

Dan Pawlowski 10 years, 10 months ago

jhwkfan162515, Your lack of BBall knowledge , from a supposed Kansas fan, is astounding. I suspect that you may be an impostor. A Misery fan perhaps.

truefan 10 years, 10 months ago

It was a tough loss in the Sweet 16, but I am still proud of the team this year. Great coaching and great new players for the future.

Max Ledom 10 years, 10 months ago

This team brought me to tears. I've never been prouder to bea hawk. Other then the NC.

ROCK CHALK!!!

Tony Bandle 10 years, 10 months ago

Something is beginning to nag at me...and it isn't good. Remember when Lance said he was going to commit April 1st and it would be a big surprise. Thanks to a week of speculation, choosing KU wouldn't be the surprise...choosing Maryland and UnderArmor would.

I'm probably being paranoid but we've done this dance with Henry and Cheeks and Snaer and Wall, etc. etc. With the growing likelihood that Sheron and Cole are staying, Lance not arriving is certainly not a crippling blow, however, if he does come, our chances for another NC are greatly enhanced.

I will listen to any and all points of opinion to dismiss my fears!!! -

kufan1993 10 years, 10 months ago

Man, watching MSU take down Louisville was tough. We could be heading to Detroit!! But, overall, a great season and I am so proud to be a jayhawk!!

Tony Bandle 10 years, 10 months ago

drgnslayr...well put my friend. Thanks.

Your point is totally cogent to the situation..there will probably be an audible gasp when Lance announces KU rather than some "superior eastern school".

PS If your wrong, as penance you will be forced to read the longest post by Jaybate this season...one hundred times!!! :}

PSS Only kidding, Jaybate!!

JayhawkPDX 10 years, 10 months ago

Lot’s of love to Jayhawk Basketball and the KU faithful! It was another great year to be a Jayhawk!

This message board has me thinking about next year already and there is plenty to on the table.

After watching the NCAA tournament this year, we know that next years team will defend with great energy and be ready to play 40 strong minutes of basketball due to their lessons learned this year, especially against Tech then Baylor. This young KU team proved they learned by the way they played those last 3 games. They were a pleasuer to watch. Bill’s staff will be getting everybody stronger and more skilled over the summer too. Scoring punch from all 5 positions is what was obviously missing this year since we leaned on our top two too much in those last 3 games. I’m not saying that this should be next years starting 5 however I would love to see these 5 on the court at the same time:

Collins - Taylor - Stephenson - Marcus - Aldrich

Taylor showed his upside in a huge first half against Oklahoma and Marcus showed it several times too, particularly at Manhattan to close the first half. Both these players will be more skilled, stronger and consistent next year.

I can’t help but think about what the all-time high school scoring leader from the state of New York could add to what we saw over the last 3 games. If the young man wants to sign with KU, you know that he is ready to learn what it takes to play defense the way Bill Self teaches it. From what I’ve read, Stephenson is ready to do what it takes to win.

JayhawkPDX 10 years, 10 months ago

f we signed Stephenson, not only would the bench be deep, it would be too deep. Morningstar has already had his red shirt. Little just passed on his red shirt so why would he now. Weathy just sat out a year so I’m sure he’s ready to start playing again in 2010, plus another long 7 footer to anchor the D while Cole takes a breather sounds like an exciting extra dimension to next years team. Two players would have to red shirt out of this talented group and I wouldn’t want to ask anyone to leave KU:

Appleton - Reed - Releford - Thomas - Markief - Johnson - Robinson

This seven under the guidance of our coaching staff could compete for banners in a mid-major conference and you know that with Morningstar, Little and Weathy they would get a bunch of wins in the Big XII. So is the thought of getting Stephenson while keeping Collins and Aldrich just being greedy? Not if you are hungry for another National Championship which Bill Self is.

So who would redshirt? Not Markief because he is already a proven D-I rebounder plus he’s got a year of KU D under his belt, we will need that experienced depth up front next year. Not Reed because the man can hit a big shot, his D is reliable though taking a year off would allow him to work on his handles and get even stronger.

JayhawkPDX 10 years, 10 months ago

Talk to the other 5 on the list and see if anyone is up for it. Appleton and Thomas keep coming to my mind. Appleton could keep working on his shot and a 5th year defensive stopper on the wing would be a nice asset off the bench a year after Collins departs. Thomas showed he had a knack of getting boards in a crowd though he seemed to be a step behind in playing the team game. Morningstar was a step behind his Freshman year and never found his way onto the same page with that ‘07 team yet look what a red shirt year did for him.

Plus, if we got Stephenson and no one left, the Red Team would be insane all year during practice and we all should know by now the theory that Bill Self has about consistently strong practice sessions-it translates into winning big games.

It should be great next year no matter who the 13 scholarship players are. I think I’m going to go to sleep tonight and set my alarm for October.

Pittsburgh_Jayhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

No doubt this was a masterful coaching job from Coach Self. If we could have had one more person step up and be a scoring threat...we may have edged out MSU. Oh well. Just an amazing performance after losing 85% of your scoring from the previous season.

I wouldn't be surprised to see Sherron test the NBA waters, but think he will return. Main reason, his ball handling still needs work. His shooting, slashing, and defense are all NBA-worthy, but I saw him lose control of the ball too easily.

Cole should be back and he'll be a monster.

I would predict that Travis Releford transfers out. Would hate to lose Quintrell but that's probably the next most likely to leave. Remember how nice it was to have so many big men to come in and wear teams down in 2008?

Jeremy LeMaster 10 years, 10 months ago

Hawks: Great season! Congrats on the Sweet Sixteen! I hope to see everyone back next year and make a run at the Championship!

On another note... Little, don't go around saying things to the affect of “We could be great. We could have just as good a team as last year,” .... while this team could be great.. respect those who have come before you!

jayhawker_97 10 years, 10 months ago

no regrets.. losing to MSU is an honor.. they kicked the Cards' hard.. that could've been KU in the final-4!!

don't matter who's gonna be out transfer next season, KU will be awesome and another great run is in the making..

rock chalk!!

Dan Pawlowski 10 years, 10 months ago

TaCityHawkFan, It is not disrespecting those that go before you. I have no idea where you read disrespect. It is called believing you yourself and your team mates. I for one was glad to hear it.

Alan Mills 10 years, 10 months ago

Just back from Indianapolis. Coach Self is correct; that's a great host-city. Wonderful downtown, where you actually enjoy walking around during your free time. Everything is close. We stayed by the airport, got off at the Lucas Oil Stadium exit, and parked immediately.

Odd that all those calling for Collins' head after the Baylor loss are missing today! Oh, wait, maybe he isn't as bad as they said! He carried us. If he has another 25-30 point game we beat Michigan St. He and Aldrich were fantastic down the stretch.

Hard not to like the look of our roster for next year, regardless. Somehow, it would be nice to see Taylor and the Morris twins step up more. They really deferred to Collins and Aldrich for the last month. We needed them to make plays against Michigan St., but they really didn't. Nobody did in the 2nd half, in fact. One play by Taylor. One 3 by Reed. That just wasn't enough. So, a good off-season should help all. And, perhaps Little can become healthy and move to the 3 spot?

One final note on the Michigan St. game. Marcus Morris twisted his ankle on a play where we scored to go up 5. He was down and clearly injured. The officials allowed play to continue. Morris could hardly walk. No fastbreak for the Spartans. Why wouldn't our coaching staff be screaming for play to stop? Michigan St. came down, set up their offense, and went right at Morris to score. That play was the key down the stretch. We had the game in hand at that point. If we can get him out (he hobbled off once we brought it back down the court), bring in someone with 2 good feet, and get a stop we win that game. I found that odd. But, apparently nobody noticed except those of us up in Section 344!

Rock Chalk!

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