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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Keegan

Amazing ‘11-12 Jayhawks came far

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— Thomas Robinson left his feet and kept going higher, higher, higher than anyone could have expected an athlete to go so late in such a physical game. He grabbed the defensive rebound and secured it with two hands this time.

Did he really go up that high? Did I just see that? Yes and yes.

The rebound, one of 17 for Robinson in Monday night’s 67-59 national-title-game loss to Kentucky inside the rat-infested Superdome, so perfectly symbolized the 2011-2012 Kansas Jayhawks.

Did they really win an eighth consecutive Big 12 title with a 16-2 record? Did they really make it all the way to the title game? Yes and yes.

Robinson, a unanimous first-team All-American, was the best player on a team to remember, a relentless competitor on a squad that kept driving expectations upward.

Through bloodshot eyes, the players talked about how much it hurt to fall a game short, but they knew they cobbled together a remarkable season, knew how much they had grown.

Junior guard Elijah Johnson came so far in so many areas in his first season as a starter. He grew more aggressive and so under-control on drives to the hoop, finishing strong by protecting the ball with his body. He showed an eagerness to take the big shot and made many of them. And he became so much more comfortable during interviews. (The skills student-athletes hone fielding questions in the NCAA-mandated open locker rooms will serve them well throughout life).

Johnson referenced the team’s attitude coming out of the final media timeout, with KU on a 6-0 run and trailing by nine with 3:52 left and Robinson heading to the free-throw line for two shots. Robinson, such a strong force, the more the game started to test the stamina of others, would make both shots to stretch the run to 8-0 and shrink the deficit to seven points.

“We all came out of the timeout smiling,” Johnson said. “No one could tell us that we were going to lose, except for the scoreboard. That was our mindset. We smiled and realized that, ‘We only have four minutes left to play with each other.’ We just said, ‘Hey, if they’re going to beat us, they’re going to remember us. They’re going to feel the last of us.’”

The more enjoyable a season, the deeper it plays out, the tougher it is for players to kiss it goodbye with a loss. Johnson snapped off a nice analogy to describe the feeling.

“When you get a puppy and you watch that puppy grow up and it dies, that hurts,” Johnson said. “To see something grow up in front of you, to see something develop in front of you, that hurts, especially something that wasn’t supposed to develop into what it developed into. ... I’m proud of this team. I love this team. I’ll remember this team forever.”

He is far from alone in that sentiment.

Comments

Ralster Jayhawk 2 years ago

BBall2012, Congrats on the win & thanks for taking the time to create an acct and post here on this KU site. We hardly ever get other royalty program fans posting here (ultra-rare to see a Tarheel or a Duke fan or a UCLA fan post here), but we regularly get a few Kentucky fans that find there way here; Im never really sure what they feel they want to convince us of? Enjoy the win! Every fan has to root for their team, especially if its also the school name on your/my diploma, eh?


If you are a Kentucky fan for life, then I would think you would figure us Kansas fans are ku fans for life also. Really, your posting the foul data isnt going to change anything, is it? I credit this particular Kentucky team with protecting the rim like no other team in recent memory--hats off to them and their work all season. We think Thomas got mugged all season, and frankly there was alot more outcry on his supposed "charge" on Mizzou's Moore late in the game in Columbia (flop), than any issue with calls in the April 2 champ game. Mizzoo was the hated rival--I trust Kentucky will continue to give Mizzoo the royal-blue-beatin's mizzoo deserves??

You see, we get to BigDance every single season, and I suspect Kentucky will also-->so its all water under the bridge.

Did you like how we "rebuilding" year'd it all the way to the Champ game? We think good things about Self for this one, and will truly miss Thomas Robinson+Tyshawn Taylor. Good luck next year with your own rebuild/reload. We will be at least 9 deep, with 5 bigs...

We always look forward to meeting Duke, Kentucky, UCLA, MichSt, OhioSt, NorthCarolina, etc, etc...

Thanks for your kind words about Bill Self. I really like how Calipari forged your guys into a team this season. Learning that these KY Wildcats beat 5 OKC Thunder players (Durant, Westbrook, Collison...) 4 times straight in pickup games last summer was a very intriguing tidbit. Y'all definitely have the correct shade of blue, but unfortunately, so does Duke...

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sad_lawrencian 2 years ago

Keegan is st---d. Oops I can't say it because it would violates the site's terms of use. Gasp.

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JayHawkFanToo 2 years ago

Last Monday night there was 12 of us watching the game; 7 KU, 3 KSU, 1 Texas and 1 MU...yea, I know...

What was interesting is the essentially all of us thought that the refs were extremely biased, particularly in the first half. when TRob and Withey were being pounded inside and nary a foul was called. The first foul on Kentucky was called more than five minutes into the game, and out of the seven fouls in the half, five came in the last 5 minutes of the half. There was also what we all thought was a goal tending, but Davis was credited with a block instead. I have been trying to find a video of that play.

All in all, the consensus was this time Calipari got an insurance policy; since buying the players proved not to be enough, this time he bought the refs too.

I don't mean to sound whiny or like sour grapes, but when even an MU fan agrees with KU fans, there must be something to it.

BTW, my MU friend was politely "asked" to wear my 2008 KU championship t-shirt over his MU t-shirt; his wife, a KU fan "insisted" and the smell of steak was too much for him to stay in the driveway. Probably the only time he will ever wear a National Championship shirt.

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Benjamin Piehler 2 years ago

So much to be excited about!

We've got EJ, Withey, Releford, and Young returning as our Senior leaders and alot of fresh talent in McLemore, Ellis and White. Bill Self also just won the Naismith award, hopefully he's getting some more traction recruiting now than he was a month ago.

Oh, and Charlie Weis...

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Robert Brown 2 years ago

Every year it takes some time to connect with a team. I think we all were aware of the flaws with this team. As a result, I believe I paid more attention earlier in the season than I normally do. The flaws- lack of depth, poor decisionmaking, no consistent outside shot- were on display in almost all of the key games. That the team overcame these flaws in most key games makes them all the more memorable.

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Jonathan Allison 2 years ago

I've got nothing against the players that suited up for Kentucky.

Heck, I hated Terrance Jones after the whole "hat fiasco" and reaching for Kansas, then wearing Washington, then committing to Kentucky. But I don't hate him anymore.

I never gave Anthony Davis any credit all year because I felt like he was billed as National POY just because he scored 14 points off of wide open dunks and because he collected a few rebounds and blocked a bunch of shots because his guards knew they could overplay the perimeter all year long. And the truth is, I was right in all of that. But he also did so much more for his team. He was a much better basketball player than I gave him credit for.

I still think TRob should have been POY just because he was the focal point of our offense and the focal point of every defense all year long, and he led the nation in rebounding and double doubles, and he excelled against the toughest opponents all year.

But I reserve all of my Kentucky hate for the coach. And maybe a little for the fans.

This Kansas team really made us proud. I hope that TT, TRob, Teahan, and Junnemann visit frequently. TRob will be in the rafters. TT maybe maybe not, but he'll be in the record books and in the hearts of fans for a long time.

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akgjenkintown 2 years ago

Possible to vacate a season, but I don't recall if a championship could or would be transferred. I doubt it. The best shirts at the Final Four where worn by Louisville fans in reference to Calipari's past.

“Beat UK!” on the front and “So At Least Calipari Won’t Have to Vacate Another Final Four Win” on the back.

The design has a “Vacate” sign hanging over the “A” in Calipari, and a footnote that reads “Ask the folks at UMass & Memphis” along the bottom.

http://www.lostlettermen.com/wp-content/uploads/Louisville-Shirt-John-Calipari.jpg

There were a few of their fans wearing this shirt cheering for KU on Monday.

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hayjawk 2 years ago

It is still possible that evil will lose out and we will be crowned. If Cal's past modus operendi surfaces (as per current inquiry), we may become the all time victories champ too. One can only hope...

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HawkeyePierce 2 years ago

Kentucky beating the Hawks just proves that sometimes, evil wins.

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Michael Pannacciulli 2 years ago

Impressive season by all accounts. I couldn't be more thrilled..despite falling short in the title game for such an incredible season. This team should be proud. Fans should be even more proud of what they have done. Will miss this bunch.

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kusayzone 2 years ago

"rat-infested Superdome" ? Now where did that come from???

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GabrielMichael 2 years ago

TRob you can come back if you want to... We won't mind...

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fansincewilt 2 years ago

So many adversities but so many overcoming victories - this team never quit. I agree that this team is one for the ages. They have so much to be proud of. They became warriors. More talent will not necessarily mean greater success. The future teams need to take a lesson from this one. Hard work and the belief in one another are also very necessary ingredients. Perhaps this team benefited from so many telling them they were not as talented as some of the other teams. Robinson with his 18 points and 17 rebounds was the player of the game regardless of what the experts said. There will never be another one quite like him.

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simbahawk 2 years ago

Just remember...a "less than average" KU team almost beat a pro UK team. The squid must be worried what a really talented ( at least as designated by the so called experts) KU team coached by Bill Self will do to him in the future. And to those who say we were very lucky this year, I say back " damn straight, we are very lucky to have Bill Self" !!!

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swkhawk24 2 years ago

I think I'll miss Ty and T-rob more than any other players ever to put on a KU jersey. They both let us into their lives and throughout the year I felt like I knew them personally. I feel so blessed to be able to watch these guys grow and accomplish so many great things. Rock Chalk Tyshawn and Thomas, best of luck to you in the future.

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Hank Cross 2 years ago

We're sad because we know will never see a season like this again. From the brutal schedule, to Mizzou games, to TRob becoming Superman and leading this team to the FF - more memories in one season than we could've ever hoped for. But, sometimes the best stories don't have happy endings.

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actorman 2 years ago

"He is far from alone in that sentiment."

Ain't that the truth.

What a beautiful, magical season, something for all Jayhawk fans to truly cherish.

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