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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Final Four field filled with royalty

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The 2012 Final Four is being billed as one of the best in history, with No. 1 seed Kentucky, No. 2s Kansas and Ohio State and No. 4 Louisville set to duke it out in New Orleans.

“It’s a great field. You’ve got some of the most historic, tradition-rich programs in the country hooking up and going at it,” KU coach Bill Self said during Monday’s Final Four coaches teleconference.

“In ’08, we had an unbelievable field, too. It’s the first time we had all four No. 1 seeds advance,” Self added of KU, Memphis, North Carolina and UCLA.

“There’s not that much difference in the teams — (seeds) 1, 2, 3 … it doesn’t mean anything. You have to play the opponent across from you. In this particular year, there are no major surprises who is there,” Self continued. “I think it’ll be great for fans. Cinderella is always a great story, but no way you could ever say a Rick Pitino-coached team (Louisville) or Kansas or Ohio State or Kentucky will ever be a Cinderella. It makes for a more traditional-type high-profile Final Four similar to ’08.”

The way it stacks up, Kentucky has seven NCAA titles, but none since 1998, the year after Pitino left that school. KU has three (officially, to go with the two Helms titles), Louisville two and Ohio State one.

“These are four of the top 10 traditions of all time, no question,” said Pitino, whose Cardinals (30-9) will meet Kentucky (36-2) at 5:09 p.m. Saturday in the Superdome. KU (31-6) and Ohio State (31-7) will follow approximately 7:49 p.m.

“Ohio State ... we know of their recent success, but you don’t realize going back how successful they were,” Pitino added. “These are four programs with tremendous interest in the game of basketball. Kansas, Louisville and Kentucky ... the fever pitch for basketball has always been off the charts. When kids grow up there, they understand it.

“Ohio State, when (Jerry) Lucas and those guys played, they were at their best and certainly have great tradition, and now Thad Matta in recent years has it back to where they are a top five, seven program every year. It is basketball royalty in terms of the interest involved. For us, a small state like Kentucky of 3 million people, to have two teams in the Final Four is quite special.”

The two semifinal games are rematches. Kentucky beat Louisville, 69-62, on New Year’s Eve in Lexington. KU beat Ohio State, which was without All-America forward Jared Sullinger, 78-67, on Dec. 10 in Allen Fieldhouse.

“Every game we play is someone’s Super Bowl,” said Kentucky coach John Calipari, who like KU’s Self is from the Larry Brown coaching tree. “You think of this whole Final Four. We ended Ohio State’s season last year. We opened up this season beating Kansas (75-65, Nov. 15 in New York). You don’t think they want a piece of us?

“We beat Louisville earlier in the year. They are going crazy to beat us, but let me say this, so was Vandy, so was Florida, so was North Carolina. Everybody we play was that way. It’s not like this is any different from any game we play. The other team is going to play out of their minds. We know it.”

Here’s a brief history of the four teams in the NCAA Tournament:

• Kentucky: 15 Final Fours, 7 national titles, second all-time to UCLA’s 11. Last national title was 1998. John Calipari has not won a national title. He’s been to the Final Four with three schools (UMass, Memphis, Kentucky). This is his fourth Final Four.

• Louisville: 9 Final Fours, 2 national titles. Last national title was 1986. Pitino has won one national title and been to the Final Four with three schools, Louisville, Kentucky and Providence. This is his fifth Final Four.

• Kansas: 14 Final Fours, 3 national titles (two Helms titles). Last title was 2008. Self has won one national title, and this is his second Final Four.

• Ohio State: 11 Final Fours, 1 national title (1960). Thad Matta has not won a national title. This is his second Final Four. He led Xavier to the 2004 Elite Eight.

Sullinger is back: There will be a lot of hype this week concerning the fact Sullinger did not play in the loss to KU because of back spasms.

“I think Thomas will be excited,” Self said of Thomas Robinson, who like Sullinger is a first-team All-American. “I know thinks a lot of Jared. Even when we played them the first time, I know our guys (wanted him to play). It was one of those — if it wasn’t game time it was a that-day decision — when they decided not to play Jared. Looking back now, what a smart decision. Why risk anything and you still are a team that goes to the Final Four. That was smart on their part. We know we caught a break that day. I know our guys. They’ve played in enough big games and I know they like playing against the best. Certainly we’ll get an opportunity to play against not only a great team but one of the premier players in the country.”

Haase lands UAB job: Former KU guard Jerod Haase has been named head coach at Alabama-Birmingham, UAB athletic director Brian Mackin announced Monday.

Haase, who turns 38 on April 1, played for Roy Williams at KU and has spent the last 13 years on Williams’ staff with KU and North Carolina. He helped the Tar Heels to national championships in 2005 and 2009. He has also served as the head coach for the junior varsity team five times in his nine-year UNC tenure.

A 1997 KU graduate in business administration, Haase served as KU director of basketball operations from 1999-2003. During that time, the Jayhawks reached the 2002 Final Four and the national championship game in 2003. Haase will be formally introduced at a press conference this morning.

Last weekend, he spoke with the Journal-World about his desire to be a head coach.

“When the opportunity is right,” he said. “That’s one of the biggest things. I don’t need to run out and get a head coaching job just because I might be able to get one. Getting in the right situation is paramount.

“Id love to be a head coach. I think it’s the next step in the process and I’m definitely thinking about being a head coach someday.”

Of his love for both KU and North Carolina he said: “The nice part is it doesn’t have to be percentages. I’m absolutely a Jayhawk no question and a Tar Heel as well.”

His duties at Carolina? “We don’t really split it up,” he said. “Coach Robinson (Steve) and I work more with the perimeter players. Whether it’s scouting or shooting, the coaching part is more whole method. We are all doing all of it.

“I’ve grown in weight. I’ve grown a lot,” he cracked, asked how much he’s grown as a coach the past 10 years or so. “I think experience does count. Experience does matter. Whether the recruiting experience, the game coaching experience, the JV team head coaching experience and day to day stuff in the office ... I feel I’ve learned continually now for 13 years.”

Popular KU staff: Barry Hinson’s name continues to be mentioned as a serious candidate for the head coaching post at Southern Illinois University. The Southern newspaper in Carbondale, Ill., in fact says Hinson is one of the Salukis’ top candidates to succeed Chris Lowery. Hinson, KU’s director of basketball operations, is fourth all-time in wins at Missouri State. Also, ESPN reports that Tulsa “reached out” to KU assistant Danny Manning about its opening. KU assistant Joe Dooley continues to be mentioned as a strong possibility at Mississippi State.

Comments

jaybate 2 years ago

"Frankie Departed, the ACC Surging Again, and that Old Demon Realignment"

One thing that keeps nagging at me in all this coaching speculation is why did Dalonte go to Turg at Maryland last season and why did Frankie jump to South Carolina this season. These two fellahs are playuhs without institutional loyalties. Its not that I am surprised by them leaving KSU, but rather why are they so juiced about the ACC?

Add that the ACC just added Syrexcuse and Arm Pitt and there is a significantly increasing basketball gravitation in the old ACC.

But the interesting thing is that if we are to believe Big 12 leadership, CBernie, Sheahon, and Self, the Big 12 has been stabilized and stands poised for further expansion.

Maybe Frankie and Dalonte decided they just could not recruit to KSU; that Self was never going to go away; that KU was going to stay on a tear.

But despite the fact that the Big Ten and the SEC are the multi-sport, BCS grade super conferences, the ACC oddly drifts ever deeper into more and more of an east coast only basketball conference with some mid major grade football. The ACC which has seemed to lose some of its hold on basketball dominance once again seems the hot conference for basketball teams to join, unless you're West Virginia.

WVU is a strange outlier in all of this. Why is it coming to Big 12? Why didn't it join the ACC, too?

The other possible strange outlier is Slick'deVille. Are they still coming to the Big 12?

Currently, it feels as if some wind is out of the sails of Big 12 expansion.

The Texas-Oklahoma-Kansas alliance has stood fast, stabilized the Big 12, but now the questions are:

a) can it stay relevant as stabilized; and

b) does it still have any chance to create a viable eastern time zone foot print to market its sports content competitively with the Big Ten, SEC, and ACC?

This is of huge importance to KU basketball.

Looking at our W&L statement, with three straight 30 win seasons, likely our second national championship in five seasons, the value and marketability of our basketball program has to be at an all time high. But are we now in no position to capitalize on it, because we have tied ourselves to a conference that cannot expand eastward, after seeming so recently to be on the cusp of being able to do so?

Maybe its all unrelated coincidences.

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Tony Bandle 2 years ago

There are 349 head basketball coaches in Division One.

Only eight active coaches have won a National Championship and have appeared in least one other Final Four.

The names?: Steve Fisher [67],Roy Williams [61], Tom Izzo [59], Jim Calhoun [70], Mike Krzyzewski [65], Billy Donovan [46], Jim Boeheim [67] and, now, Bill Self [49].

You may see three or four of these guys drop off the list in the near future. Losing assistant coaches is part of the great coaching legacy of legendary coaches.

If [when] Kansas wins another national championship this year, it is conceivable that Hinson, Manning and Dooley may all leave. The key, however, was, is and always will be, Bill Self!!!

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Ron Prichard 2 years ago

I think eventually Danny leaves for a head coaching job somewhere, but I'm not sure it will be this year. I think he, like almost all great sports persona, has that special drive that pushes him to be the absolute best. I think it's that drive, and not money or fame, that eventually compels him to leave and try his hand at being a head coach.

As for the actual Final Four, I loved the way we played against UNC and I think our team will come out relaxed and ready to play. With everyone picking OSU and all the attention on Kentucky-Louisville, KU has absolutely no pressure to win. If we don't, well, for once it's expected. If we do, wow...an upset!

Here's the real question that I haven't heard answered yet: Will we wear white or blue? I believe we are the higher #2 seed, which would seem to indicate we would wear white. However, I heard that in the tourney, other than the top 4 teams (#1 seeds) when two of the same seed meet they flip a coin to see who will be home/away. Personally, I would like to wear blue. I think subconsiously we play freer and with a chip on our shoulder when we play as the visitor/underdog.

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Tony Bandle 2 years ago

Buckeyes will be blind

Wildcats screech in frustration

The Jayhawks soar high!!

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NebraskanJayhawk152 2 years ago

I love how everyone is already counting us out against OSU and against Kentucky if we get there. They did it to us with the UNC game and look how the boys responded. They played loose and played like a team and won. All this talk of us being the underdogs will help us. We will be able to play loose and efficiently against a pretty good defensive team in OSU, but we will have the upper hand in grittiness and athleticism.

This is tourney is starting to sound a lot like the 88' National Title game for us. Manning and the boys were counted out against Oklahoma. Oklahoma looked like the clear cut champions, but our boys flew under the radar got their sht done and won.

Bill will have these boys ready to play on Saturday and they will come out loose and playing as a team. I like our chances, we are going to stay under the radar and keep shocking people.

ROCK CHALK FOR LIFE!!! lets go boys

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LSHawk 2 years ago

I dont care one wit about anything a sports commentator says, because its nothing more than an opinion and from what I have heard this past year not even an educated one at that.The media has to fill air time for a whole week and most of them are lazy boobs, so let them drone on about how Sullinger didnt play against us. Our team played one of its best games this year against NC and it looks like we are getting it together just at the right time. If I were OSU and UK, I wouldnt want to be playing us!!!!

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Randy Bombardier 2 years ago

Ignore the coaching change rumors. A lot of the speculation is being fueled by people whose only concern is to cause a distraction. Our focus needs to be on Ohio State, not Kentucky. What Coach Cal says right now is also a distraction. Right now we have are getting good play from more players than TR and TT and that is making all the difference. EJ and JW have made huge contributions. If the supporting cast all contribute this will be a huge factor in determining who will win this thing. A few dominant players make a difference, but a great team can't be beat when they are all clicking.

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jayhawkinnc 2 years ago

LJW:

Need to correct what you wrote below:

Louisville: 9 Final Fours, 2 national titles. Last national title was 1986. Pitino has won one national title and been to the Final Four with three schools, Louisville, Kentucky and Providence. This is his fifth Final Four.

It's Pitino's 6th Final Four: Providence in '87, Kentucky in '93, '96 and '97, Louisville in '05 and '12.

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Yakihawk 2 years ago

I had to go out and buy a new laptop this morning because I puked all over mine when I read that quote from Calipari. What an arrogant POS.

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FLJHK 2 years ago

Royalty, indeed. But in reality, this Final Four sets up perfectly for KU.

To the extent possible in a Final Four, KU is flying under the radar. The entire focus of the national media is on the Saturday UK-Louisville game. And to some extent that makes sense. Two big name coaches, a crossed background, and two schools that genuinely hate each other. It’s KU-MU times 10 except that both teams actually have legitimate basketball pedigrees. They are calling this the most important sporting event in the history of the State of Kentucky. Both teams will expend vast amounts of physical and emotional energy. If it can just be a close game, as I expect it to be, the winner will be gassed afterwards. Assuming Kentucky wins, the national media will already consider them de facto national champs; the game Monday night a mere formality.

Our match-up with OSU is certainly one I like. We know what they can do and how they like to do it from our previous game. Yes, that was without Sullinger and he is truly an elite player. But he’s a poor match-up against the strength and athleticism of TRob. And our team has gotten considerable better and much tougher mentally than it was last December. I think KU wins this one in a fairly ugly, beat-‘em-up Big Ten style of game. Not pretty, hot high scoring. But at the end, Kansas somehow has a few more points than the other team.

We go to Monday night and the national media just assumes a Kentucky win. The only real questions are by how much, and where will we place this particular UK team among the all-time great college teams? The charmed yellow brick road of this band of rag-tag Jayhawks comes to its inevitable dead end.

Meanwhile, there actually remains a game to play. UK comes out hot, no sign of nerves, puts on a couple of impressive runs, but only leads by a few at halftime. KU matches their style and speed more than expected.

Second half UK tries to put it away quickly, but Kansas just keeps hanging around. And with about 5 minutes to go, the game is basically tied. Suddenly, UK realizes this Kansas team is for real. They feel a bit gassed from their struggle on Saturday. Confidence wanes. They realize they are freshmen, and they get a bit overwhelmed by the situation. They have virtually no experience in being this close, this late in a game. They tighten. Kansas is familiar with the situation. Been here, done that (e.g. thanks Mizzou). They tighten the screws defensively, hit a couple of shots, get some transition hoops, and it’s all over except the celebrating.

Afterwards, the media gives the Jayhawks some token credit, but excuses this great Kentucky team for simply running out of gas after their epic win over Louisville on Saturday, and their youth. They all but want to put an asterisk by this KU win. But Bill and the boys don’t care. All we care about is the record book, and that will read: “The University of Kansas Jayhawks, National Champions, 2012.”

Rock freaking Chalk.

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REHawk 2 years ago

Kevin Young's Tournament play has given us a real boost. He, Releford and Withey are going to have to hang tough on Thomas and Buford.

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Kye Clark 2 years ago

Doesn't Danny still have one of his kids in high school in Lawrence? That might be additional motivation for him to stay.

Selfishly, I really hate the prospect of our coaching staff being gutted. I wonder who are some possible replacements. There was some talk of Larry Brown. I could maybe see him taking over Hinson's job. I don't see him as an assistant and going out on recruiting trips. Would Norm Roberts leave Billy Donovan's staff and come back? Good chance of that with Niko on the roster. Not sure who else is out there and would be considered for these positions.

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2 years ago

From now until Saturday night, we will likely hear ad nauseam how Sullinger didn’t play against us earlier this season. It will be interesting to see if the media will also point out the following:

  • Taylor played with an injured knee that game

  • Withey has developed considerably since then

  • each team had a bench player (Young for us, Ravenel who started that game for them) that stepped up and contributed significantly

In fairness, they shot almost 20% worse than us in the game, while taking 14 more shots than us. They had eight more offensive rebounds, with more opportunities for them since they didn’t shoot as well as we did.

Here are some stats for digestion and analysis:

KU:

Taylor Game: 35 min, 9 pts, 3 rebs, 13 asts, 7 tos Season: 33.2 min, 16.7 pts, 2.3 rebs, 4.7 asts, 3.5 tos

Johnson Game: 37 min, 15 pts, 2 rebs, 1 ast, 2 tos Season: 32.2 min, 10.0 pts, 3.1 rebs, 3.6 asts, 1.8 tos

Releford Game: 32 min, 10 pts, 5 rebs, 2 asts, 1 to Season: 30.8 min, 8.5 pts. 4.2 rebs, 1.8 asts, 1.0 tos

Robinson Game: 30 min, 21 pts, 7 rebs, 0 bl, 5 tos Season: 31.6 min, 17.7 pts, 11.8 rebs, 0.5 bls, 2.7 tos

Withey Game: 21 min, 2 pts, 7 rebs, 2 bls, 0 to Season: 24.4 min, 9.2 pts, 6.2 rebs, 3.5 bls, 1.2 tos

Young Game: 24 min, 14 pts, 4rebs, 0 bl, 1 to Season: 11.4 min, 3.6 pts, 2.9 rebs, 0.4 bls, 0.7 tos

Team Game: 78 pts, 58.3% FG%, 65.0% FT%, 31 rebs, 18 asts, 18 tos, 2 bls Season: 75.0 pts, 47.6 % FG%, 69.1% FT%, 37.6 rebs, 15.2 asts, 13.0 tos, 5.6 bls


OSU:

Craft Game: 38 min, 11 pts, 5 rebs, 6 asts, 3 tos Season: 32.0 min, 8.8 pts, 3.3 rebs, 4.7 asts, 2.2 tos

Smith Game: 25 min, 3 pts, 4 rebs, 1 ast, 2 tos Season: 25.2 min, 6.7 pts, 4.6 rebs, 2.0 asts, 1.2 tos

Buford Game: 40 min, 21 pts, 5 rebs, 0 bl, 2 tos Season: 33.8 min, 14.4 pts, 4.9 rebs, 0.2 bls, 2.1 tos

Sullinger Game: DNP – injured Season: 30.1 min, 17.6 pts, 9.1 rebs, 1.0 bls, 1.9 tos

Thomas Game: 40 min, 19 pts, 5 rebs, 0 bl, 1 to Season: 31.6 min, 16.1 pts, 5.4 rebs, 0.2 bls, 1.2 tos

Ravenel Game (started): 25 min, 9 pts, 5 rebs, 0 bl, 4 tos Season: 10.1 min, 3.5 pts, 2.2 rebs, 0.2 bls, 0.7 tos

Team Game: 67 pts, 38.7% FG%, 77.8% FT%, 30 rebs, 12 asts, 15 tos, 0 bls Season: 73.3 pts, 48.2 % FG%, 70.6% FT%, 36.0 rebs, 14.5 asts, 11.5 tos, 3.0 bls

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Hank Cross 2 years ago

I can't see Manning leaving for Tulsa. He's not in the position of other asst. coaches who need to start climbing thru the ranks for fame and money. He's already has those. If the right opportunity in a BCS conference openned up, maybe.

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Konkis Dongington III 2 years ago

I doubt Danny Manning is going anywhere soon. He's only just started recruiting for Self and Self is going to do whatever it takes to keep him here for as long as he can, as is the university. Plus, I'm willing to bet KU would shell out more for him to stay than a lot of the smaller mid-majors could cough up for a head coach.

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bbeckum 2 years ago

Mateen Cleeves said on cbs that the point guard matchup would be fun to watch. TT's quickness against the osu kid's rep as a stopper. Of course TRob and Sully will be exciting to watch. However, I look for Travis, Jeff and EJ to make solid contributions and be the difference makers in the game. RCJH, Go Bill Self!

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jazzttt 2 years ago

One more statistic should have been mentioned...the two programs with the most victories overall (UK and KU) are present, the next two down (UNC and Duke) are strangely missing. Would have been nice to see the updated stats on this, especially on the two red teams.

Don't go Danny! Few folks realize how valuable he is to us.

RCJHKU!

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NebraskanJayhawk152 2 years ago

There are people all over twitter saying that KSTATE is going to reach out to Danny about coaching there..... WTF is that? Danny we love you here at Kansas and you are one of the greatest players in our history and you are doing an amazing job with our players. STAYYYY!!!!!!!!!

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yates33333 2 years ago

Dear John. I don't think Baylor brought their number one game. Drew thinks your team is the best he has played against this year. Drew's team was pretty close to the worse you played counting only this game. Talk about under-achievers. That's Baylor.

I don't think you can beat Louisville on a neutral court. We shall see.

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thmdmph 2 years ago

Oops, Google just informed me Kentucky folks are already inbreeding this past century.

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thmdmph 2 years ago

My predictions - KU wins against OSU. Loses vs Kentucky on a last possession 3. Then later, Calamari has to vacate the entire season and KU declared Champs. Kentucky nation goes berserk and copes by marrying their relatives who they relies on for moral support.

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Andy Rieger 2 years ago

Please don't leave us Danny! PLEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAASSSSSSSSSEEEEEEE

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justinryman 2 years ago

Congrats to Mr. Haase!!

One of my favorite Jayhawks.

Glad to see him get his own gig and out of the shadows.

Here's to wishing him all the luck to succeed.

Let the KU brand continue to grow across the nation.

Rock Chalk Jayhawk

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Keith Hummel 2 years ago

Wow - that last paragraph is frightening! It sounds like we could lose our two top assistant coaches this off-season, in addition to Barry Hinson. I always knew Danny would move on some day, but to lose him and Dooley and Hinson all at once would be really tough. Let's hope that doesn't happen.

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april28 2 years ago

If Hinson and Danny leave, it will create a problem for us. Don't underestimate the impact of losing top assistants.

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FoCoCoHawk 2 years ago

I'm a little perplexed there's nothing anywhere on here about Frank Martin leaving the 'Cats for the Gamecocks.

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Marc Frey 2 years ago

Fine, keep mentioning Sullinger's gimpy back and how we "won" without playing against him. We will remove the * from that win Saturday night. Rock Chalk!

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nuleafjhawk 2 years ago

“Every game we play is someone’s Super Bowl,” said Kentucky coach John Calipari, who like KU’s Self is from the Larry Brown coaching tree. “You think of this whole Final Four. We ended Ohio State’s season last year. We opened up this season beating Kansas (75-65, Nov. 15 in New York). You don’t think they want a piece of us?

Don't be too proud of yourself Calimari - NOBODY is Kansas' Super Bowl. (Super Bowl IS still football, right?)

Yeah, we want a piece of you, but just because that means we win our next NC. You're nobody special to us - just another " W " for us on our path down Immortality Road.

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Bangkok_Jayhawk 2 years ago

MR. Robinson against MR. Sullinger... HIDE THE WOMEN AND CHILDREN!!!

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jgkojak 2 years ago

Well, there is certainly a connection between KS and Tulsa if Danny were to take that one... and how many big men would Tulsa recruit and be a serious contender?

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phogphan2000 2 years ago

It wouldn't be right for Kansas writers to not mention Sullinger's injury. If some of the folks in the national media want to stop shoving it out there that'd be great. The thing with Calipari is whether they counted or not, he has all that experience from those trips. Lot of experience from these coaches and programs. I'm too hung up on the lines about Self to care, won a national title and this is his second final four. You know this! Before the UNC game I thought let's just get this one, if we can just get this one it's all I could ask for. Fortunately the players don't feel that way, they want more, and they're gonna do everything they can to win more games, which is awesome. What a great season, it can only get better. Nothing could happen from here on out to ruin any of it, but it just might keep getting better and better.

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JayHawkFanToo 2 years ago

Gary,

"John Calipari has not won a national title. He’s been to the Final Four with three schools (UMass, Memphis, Kentucky). This is his fourth Final Four."

If you felt it was necessary to mention that Sullinger did not play against KU, i.e. the proverbial asterisk, shouldn't you also mention that 2 of Calipari's Final Four have been vacated by the NCAA and therefore are not part of his record?

According to the NCAA this is Calipari's second Final Four, isn't it?

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