Kansas University’s men’s basketball players and coaches will break bread with family members and fans tonight at the Holiday Inn Holidome and Convention Center.
The occasion is the annual postseason banquet — a 7 p.m. affair that will put an exclamation mark on the Jayhawks’ 2009-10 campaign.
“It’ll be a full house,” KU coach Bill Self said of the Williams Fund-sponsored event. “I think we’re all excited. This is the last time this team will ever be together. It should be a fun night.”
Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich stole the show at last year’s banquet in announcing they’d bypass the NBA Draft and return to KU for their senior and junior seasons respectively.
No such drama is expected tonight.
Collins is out of eligibility, while Aldrich and Xavier Henry already have declared their intentions to turn pro. Marcus Morris, who is the only other Jayhawk currently being mentioned by NBA scouts as an early-entry possibility, has said repeatedly he’ll be back for his junior campaign.
Tonight figures to be a lovefest regarding the accomplishments of a team that went 33-3, won the Big 12 regular-season and postseason titles and was ranked No. 1 most of the season — one that ended with a second-round loss to Northern Iowa in the NCAAs.
The season-ending banquet is also a night during which Self usually discusses the positive things that could be ahead next year.
“I think when we lost Wayne (Simien), Keith (Langford), Aaron (Miles), J.R. (Giddens), Mike (Lee) ... that group ... we basically lost four or five starters, and next year won the league with all young kids,” Self said, realizing KU will lose a lot off the ’09-10 team.
“We thought, ‘How can you replace that?’ The next year the team wins league, so I don’t think our expectations or goals will change a bit because of the absence of three really good players. I do think this team will have great potential.
“It’s disappointing to all of us how the season ended. To have such a good year but to not perform well when it counted the most was so disappointing,” Self added. “I think it’ll also be motivation to young kids who haven’t experienced that type of defeat in their careers yet. Hopefully that will make them hungrier to get back there and know the sacrifices they have to make, the work put in the summer and fall to have a chance to play well in the winter.
“I’m not going to lose sleep over losing those three guys,” he continued of Collins, Aldrich and Henry. “I’m going to go to bed happy for them because I really believe we’ve got guys in our program when the time comes they’ll be ready to step in.”
Dooley not headed to Wilmington: KU assistant coach Joe Dooley — whose name has been on the wish list of several schools with head-coaching openings — is not a candidate to fill the UNC Wilmington vacancy.
“We had conversations, but any speculation about (job) offers is inaccurate,” Dooley said Sunday. He and Self are friends of UNC Wilmington athletic director Kelly Mehrtens, a former associate AD at KU.