Monday, July 15, 2013

Painful reminders: A look at Bill Self’s saddest setbacks

Scenes from some of the worst losses in the Bill Self era (we know it hurts): clockwise from top left, Self and Elijah Johnson (15) after a 2013 NCAA Tournament loss to Michigan; Marcus Morris hanging his head late in a tourney setback to Virginia Commonwealth in 2011; Bucknell players swarming the court after a first-round upset of KU in the 2005 NCAAs; Self unable to watch an unexpected loss at TCU five months ago; Tyshawn Taylor dejected after a regular-season loss at Missouri in 2012; Russell Robinson (3) getting out of the way of celebrating Bradley players after KU’s first-round ouster from the NCAAs in 2006; and Self showing off his vertical in a second-round loss to Northern Iowa in 2010.

Scenes from some of the worst losses in the Bill Self era (we know it hurts): clockwise from top left, Self and Elijah Johnson (15) after a 2013 NCAA Tournament loss to Michigan; Marcus Morris hanging his head late in a tourney setback to Virginia Commonwealth in 2011; Bucknell players swarming the court after a first-round upset of KU in the 2005 NCAAs; Self unable to watch an unexpected loss at TCU five months ago; Tyshawn Taylor dejected after a regular-season loss at Missouri in 2012; Russell Robinson (3) getting out of the way of celebrating Bradley players after KU’s first-round ouster from the NCAAs in 2006; and Self showing off his vertical in a second-round loss to Northern Iowa in 2010.



Journal-World File Photos

Scenes from some of the worst losses in the Bill Self era (we know it hurts): clockwise from top left, Self and Elijah Johnson (15) after a 2013 NCAA Tournament loss to Michigan; Marcus Morris hanging his head late in a tourney setback to Virginia Commonwealth in 2011; Bucknell players swarming the court after a first-round upset of KU in the 2005 NCAAs; Self unable to watch an unexpected loss at TCU five months ago; Tyshawn Taylor dejected after a regular-season loss at Missouri in 2012; Russell Robinson (3) getting out of the way of celebrating Bradley players after KU’s first-round ouster from the NCAAs in 2006; and Self showing off his vertical in a second-round loss to Northern Iowa in 2010.

Last month, at the NBA Draft in New York City, former Kansas University forward Ben McLemore and Michigan guard Trey Burke hung out together quite a bit.

During the pre-draft media day, which included a couple of news conferences and a trip to the 9/11 Memorial at the site of the World Trade Center, McLemore and Burke could be seen talking, laughing and enjoying the once-in-a-lifetime experience together.

No anger. No animosity. No nastiness about the fact that, just three months earlier, Burke and the Wolverines ended McLemore’s college career and KU’s season with an improbable comeback that erased a double-digit deficit in the final few minutes and featured the shot of the NCAA Tournament, a 27-footer from Burke in the final seconds of regulation that tied the game and all but buried the Jayhawks.

While the loss and the shot no doubt hurt him at the time, McLemore’s bond with Burke in the Big Apple was proof that life did go on. And even though no one likes the feeling of losing, it is a part of life, as is learning how to deal with it.

KU coach Bill Self has lost just 59 games during his first 10 years in Lawrence. His winning percentage (.836) during that time is among the best in college basketball and has surpassed the incredible standard set by his predecessor, Roy Williams.

Because of their scarcity, many of those 59 losses have been tough for fans and players to swallow. It’s understandable. But if Jayhawks like McLemore can move on and actually become close friends with guys like Burke, who not long ago sent McLemore into tears, shouldn’t we at least be able to rehash those losses in a series of stories that mostly remembers the good times?

Part 7 of this summer’s series, which looks back at the top players and moments — and in this case some of the worst — of the Self era so far, focuses on a few of the most memorable losses during what has been a decade unmatched by nearly all other college hoops programs.

Be forewarned: If you don’t think you can handle looking back on these dark days for KU basketball, you might be best served just to stop reading here and skip ahead to the next article. No sense wasting your time.

Rest assured that in the final few weeks of this summer’s series, we’ll get back to better topics, including best games, best comebacks and best quotes.

Here’s a look at how we ranked the most memorable of those 59 losses:

Gary Bedore

The worst-loss category surely will put folks in a bad mood this morning. One thing fans do not like to do, I’ve learned, is re-live losses. But, hey, somebody’s got to win; somebody’s got to lose. That said ...

1. Michigan 87, KU 85 in 2013 Sweet 16: Trey Burke was great. Let’s just say Elijah Johnson wasn’t, and KU blew a big lead late in the Sweet 16.

2. VCU 71, KU 61 in 2011 Elite Eight: I know I’m over-reacting, and it probably didn’t matter, but I just don’t like the way KU lost the game, with the Morris twins mouthing off at center court, telling VCU players they had a nice little run and it was time to go home. At least, that’s what the VCU players alleged was said. No need to fire up the opposition needlessly.

3. Northern Iowa 69, KU 67 in 2010 NCAA tournament: The second-round loss was maddening as the Jayhawks fell victim to a bunch of guys with hard-to-spell names. Northern Iowa had a nice team and played pretty well, but the final game in a KU jersey for Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich turned out really bad.

4. Bucknell 64, KU 63 in 2005 NCAA Tournament: It was a sad way for Wayne Simien, Aaron Miles, Keith Langford, Michael Lee, et al. to go out in nearby Oklahoma City.

5. Bradley 77, KU 73 in 2006 NCAA Tournament: Bradley had a pretty good team, and KU did lose eight games that year and was mighty young, but the Jayhawks played so well down the stretch of the season it was a shocker.

Tom Keegan

1. TCU 62, Kansas 55 at Fort Worth, Feb. 6, 2013: Sure, it didn’t end a season because it didn’t occur in a tournament, but its sheer ugliness puts it at the top. A good team reflects the personality of its coach, and Kansas almost always does that by bringing aggressiveness, confidence and talent to the court. Bill Self never has had a team play a game at Kansas that was so different from his personality. On that bizarre night in Fort Worth, Texas, the Jayhawks were sluggish, timid, showed no confidence, no brains, no desire and lost to a really bad team.

2. Michigan 87, Kansas 85 in 2013 Sweet 16: The fact that one player, senior Elijah Johnson, was involved in so many bizarre plays that contributed to the collapse late in regulation and in overtime made this one sting so much.

3. Bucknell 64, Kansas 63 in 2005 NCAA Tournament: Bucknell was better than most knew going into the tournament — New York sports-talk radio host Mike Francessa predicted the upset with conviction — but more than the Bison were at work here. It was KU’s sixth loss in nine games. Injuries and bad chemistry were at play.

4. Bradley 77, Kansas 73 in 2006 NCAA Tournament: Somehow, KU managed to tie a very talented, experienced Texas team for a share of the Big 12 title and then hammered the Longhorns in the Big 12 tournament title game. And then, at the worst possible time, the Jayhawks showed their age and for the second year in a row were bounced in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

5. Northern Iowa 69, Kansas 67 in 2010 NCAA Tournament: UNI had tremendous difficulty with UNLV’s full-court pressure, but survived and advanced. By the time Kansas stepped out of character to apply a press that brought the Jayhawks back into the game, it was too late. Ali Farokhmanesh, going against conventional wisdom, jacked a three-pointer with a one-point lead and 37 seconds left, a play that symbolized his team’s bold, confident play that night. 

Matt Tait

1. VCU 71, KU 61 in 2011 Elite Eight: The VCU loss takes the cake for me because it, unlike the others, seemed to be the one that prevented KU from its next best shot at a national title. A win here would’ve put the Jayhawks into a weak Final Four, where they would’ve been the overwhelming favorite. Things just never seemed right during this one, as guys who normally knocked down shots misfired often, the top offensive options seemed to press from the start, and the bench looked tight. Add to that the fact that the 11th-seeded Rams shot nearly 50 percent from three-point land (12-of-25) and it was clear that it just wasn’t KU’s night.

2. Michigan 87, KU 85 in 2013 Sweet 16: Who knows if KU would have gone on to the Final Four or to a national title had it gotten past Michigan last March. But one thing is certain: The Jayhawks never should’ve lost this game. Up double digits with less than 3:00 to play and up eight with 1:51 left, KU fell victim to one of the worst fall-from-in-front losses in recent memory, which was made more painful by the fact that the top-seeded Jayhawks completely dominated the first 30 minutes.

3. Bucknell 64, KU 63 in 2005 NCAA Tournament: In the more than 70 years of the NCAA Tournament, KU has had plenty of tough losses. But many of them — Virginia in 1995, Arizona in 1997, Syracuse in 2003, etc. — at least came to well-known programs a little deeper in. This one, a first-round loss to the 14th-seeded Bison, will always be remembered as one of the worst because of the pure shock value associated with it.

4. Missouri 74, KU 71 at Columbia, Feb. 4, 2012: I know tournament losses sting more and linger longer, but I wanted to make my list mostly about games KU should have won. And there’s no doubt the Jayhawks should have won this one. Up eight (71-63) and in control with 3:21 to play, the Jayhawks never scored again and watched Missouri rip off an 11-0 run that stole what — for now at least — was the final Border War game played in Columbia. Of course, that 19-point KU comeback a couple weeks later in Allen Fieldhouse took some of the pain out of this one.

5. TCU 62, KU 55 at Fort Worth, Feb. 6, 2013: All you need to know about this one is that even Bill Self thought it may have been the worst performance by a KU team in the more-than-100-year history of Kansas basketball. KU shot 29.5 percent and scored just 13 points in the first half, against, statistically, one of the worst teams in the history of the Big 12.

Jesse Newell

1. Bucknell 64, KU 63 in 2005 NCAA Tournament: Former KU coach Roy Williams always was able to avoid the first-round upsets, and that’s why this one in Bill Self’s second year came as such a shock. With only five scholarship players, the Bison took down the preseason No. 1 team in a stunner. Little-known fact: The band that filled in and played Bucknell’s fight songs that day? Northern Iowa.

2. Northern Iowa 69, KU 67 in 2010 NCAA Tournament: Another preseason No. 1 whose season ended abruptly. With only two losses all season, this Jayhawks team also was the consensus top team at the end of the season and the favorite to win it all. A pair of unexpected threes from 7-footer Jordan Eglseder, though, started the game unexpectedly, and Ali Farokhmanesh’s gutsy late three provided one of the NCAA Tournament’s most memorable shots.

3. VCU 71, KU 61 in 2011 Elite Eight: This one stung KU fans most because of the circumstances. After a flurry of upsets, the Jayhawks were easily the best team left in the tourney, only needing wins over mid-majors VCU and Butler to advance to the national title game. VCU’s run-and-gun style bothered KU, though, and the Rams used a 39-15 first-half run to take the lead for good.

4. Michigan 87, KU 85 in 2013 Sweet 16: This is the type of game that Self teams usually don’t lose. Holding a 72-62 lead with the ball and 2:30 left, KU had a 99.4-percent of winning, according to Ken Pomeroy’s statistical formula. Turnovers, defensive breakdowns and an unbelievably deep three from Michigan’s Trey Burke all contributed to the Jayhawks giving up the lead.

5. Bradley 77, KU 73 in 2006 NCAA Tournament: Though the Braves were underseeded as a No. 13, this was Self’s second straight first-round loss and led to many questions about his postseason-coaching ability. Though that KU team was young (and won an NCAA title two years later), the loss led to some panic, as Self was just 3-3 in NCAA Tournament games at KU with two more first-round losses than Williams had in 15 seasons.


jaygirl193 9 months ago

To quote Mr. Bedore, No need to fire up the opposition needlessly. (This is what happens when redundant writers write reduntantly!)


bogan79 9 months ago

Michigan was the hardest for me... But how quickly a Jayhawk forgets... especially when a talent like Andrew Wiggins brings another year of hope and excitement to Lawrence. He's going to look mighty good in Rock-Chalk Crimson and Blue.

Beware the Phog


Joan Kalivoda 9 months ago

It's about time people started to see the real record with Self. His butt is on the hot seat and if this continues with the losses then there needs to be a change at the head position and soon. He can't coach great talent as we have seen with Selby and McLenmore great players but not used correctly. Then some of the recruits, Morningstar, who was a bust. Self can't recruit and it shows.


jayhawkliz 9 months ago

Ouch! This article was painful to read.

Bucknell Bradley Michigan UNI VCU

One non-tournament loss was Oral Roberts in 07'


Jonathan Allison 9 months ago

1) VCU - We cut the lead to 2 around mid-second half and I had two tickets to the final 4 in my "shopping cart" just waiting for us to go ahead and pull away. Never happened. Luckily I didn't click "Submit" or else I'd have had 2 FF tickets that no one would have wanted to buy from me.

2) UNI - I left the house late in the 2nd half to pick up a girl (now my wife) on our first date. I was listing on the radio, while driving, and she was on the phone with me while she was watching the game telling me what was happening. Somehow I held my composure that night. It could have changed my future dramatically.

3) Bradley - The Hawks had been on a roll and I was so looking forward to putting the taste of Bucknell out of my mouth forever. It felt like we never had a chance in this one, though. They just kept hitting big shots every time we'd make a mini run.

4) Bucknell - I was watching from a room in the Wichita Marriott and almost had to buy them a new TV. Even though the Hawks were in a tailspin, Simien et al had no business losing to Bucknell. I just knew that shot was going in at the end...

5) Michigan - Just because we had the game all but wrapped up and I just knew that we had the best team in the field.


Tim Hill 9 months ago

I guess Richmond Spiders coming in to AFH couldn't get a vote on seemed like the writers got a little lazy with this summer session of best of moments...seemed like they forgot a lot of big things early in his career...but i guess its all based on opinions!


Lance Hobson 9 months ago

Georgia Tech in 2004 hurt, too. We got it to OT but couldn't bring it home. That would have gotten the monkey off Self's back in his very first year. VCU is by far the hardest because we had an easy road to the title after that. Morningstar was also talking trash before that game and then as usual couldn't make a shot. Tyrel Reed played very scared. It was just so disappointing watching us wilt like that to what should have been an overmatched team.


JayhawkinNM 9 months ago

We cant forget about our Jayhawks and JoJo White stepping out of bounds (or did he???) vs Texas Western in66. Now i know why i can`t stand the movie Glory Road!


Woody Cragg 9 months ago

Why is it necessary to relive all this krap? This is Just insidious. Surely this is an intern culminating archives & not a real copy? Ya think? Don't fret, things will get better soon. Boot camp is on the horizon. Yeeeeaaaah! My hair is already hurting! Wonder if we have a Kevin Young on board this year that "Loves to run?"


Ralster Jayhawk 9 months ago

Painful loss? 1) How about Syracuse 2003???? Won the game in live action, yet shot so bad at the FT line with the clock stopped, no hand in the face, blah, blah, blah. If we even hit our season FT% of whatever 69-70%, we win by several pts.

2) Kentucky 2012: 3 missed dunks (6points), and at least 3-4 bricked FTs (3-4pts)...that is 9-10 pts and we closed to within 5pts of the vaunted Kentucky.

Winning those 2 games ALONE would have bagged 2 more Natl Championships!! Forget UNI, VCwho, the B's, whatever... Maybe an dishonorable mention for the 07Elite8 loss to UCLA. Had em beat, but the future ChampHawks blew easy bunny after bunny...Losing to Michigan is close to this one.


Kevin Huffman 9 months ago


I don't think we were "about to come back" on UK in '12.

I would argue that they let up - thinking it was "in the bag".


Bryce Landon 9 months ago

I've long had an issue with how well Coach Self gets his teams prepared for inferior competition, and the four losses to I-AA schools in the NCAAs (Bucknell, Bradley, N. Iowa and VA Commonwealth), as well as regular-season losses to Richmond and Nebraska (03-04), Nevada (05-06), Oral Roberts and DePaul (06-07), Massachusetts (08-09), Tennessee (09-10), Davidson (11-12), and of course Texas Christian (12-13), along with sluggish starts where we fall behind ten points before digging our heads out, makes me wonder how well his motivational tactics work. Say what you want about Roy Williams and how many times he failed to deliver the national title to Kansas, but he would never have lost the games Bill Self has lost.


jaybate 9 months ago

Part 4

4.TCU in 2013--that is the only other loss I would put on this list; that was the single worst display of basketball I have ever seen by a KU team having watched with recollection since 1960. It was horrendous. Bill Self called it the worst display of basketball ever put on in the 100 plus year of KU basketball and I have no reason to doubt him. I will always believe there was some cause behind the scenes that caused that performance, something more than what Self called a "funk." A funk does not begin to describe what happened to that team. Whatever, that was the worst, most disgraceful loss I can recall that occurred outside the agonies of missing opportunities for rings in the tournament. That game should go down in infamy.

That's it. There have only been three big, savage season ending losses for me in the Self era, and one incomparable, inexplicable, mid season disgrace that deserve enumeration. The rest just come with the territory of developing teams over the course of a season, and with Self strategy of saving amped performances in the tournament for the tougher of the two opponents that must be vanguished in order to survive and advance all the way. It does no good to beat a lesser team with a peak performance and then lose to greater team that a peak performance could have beaten. The flat performance is for the lesser opponent. The peak performance is for the greater opponent. Its the Self way, and coaches all across America are imitating his approach; that's why the upsets keep coming early in the tournament. That's why Georgetown fell early this season.

Rock Chalk!!!


jaybate 9 months ago

Part 3

Tyshawn, maybe the greatest MUA KU has ever had at point guard the second half of his senior season, went into a shooting slump in the Big 12 conference tournament and never came out of it in the Madness, so UK's pesky little OAD Mickey D did not have to respect Ty's shot on one end, and so having to play little defense on one end, could afford to run Ty ragged on the other. But despite all of these disadvantages, Team Rope-a-Dope, aka KU aka the "greatest team" I ever saw, still managed to stage a come back in the second half that was just a few bunnies and a bad call or two away from a pulling off what had become its second half signature come from behind to win it at the end victory. Ralster has written convincingly a number of times about how close KU came to coming back and beating UK's six OAD Mickey Ds without a single OAD, or Mickey D, on KU. This makes this loss perhaps the greatest missed opportunity of all, because we had precisely the right kind of team, at precisely the right moment (the national finals), and we had come back from Calipari's first half blitzkrieg strategy and were about to weigh in with our superior team work and our superior shot blocker. KU was so close to getting the ring. Slayr has argued to the contrary. Slayr has argued that Cal called off the dogs the second half; that UK could have run up the score had it wanted to. I almost always agree with slayr on such things, but not this time. UK went only six inexperienced players deep. Cal knew that the worst thing he could do was let his green team get into a close game down and so find themselves in a game where teamwork and experience would be vital to win it. Seeking to avoid this situation at all costs, Cal obviously amped his team out through the roof the first half and told them to leave it all out there that first half, and milk the lead the second half. Bill Self had done the same thing to UNC in the semifinals in 2008. It worked for Bill in 2008. And it worked for Cal in 2012. But I will go to my grave believing the only reason it worked against a KU team that turned the second half come back into an art form is that: a) EJ needed knee surgery; b) Travis had to play with only one good ankle; and c) the one guy we could not afford to have go in a shooting slump-Ty--was in one. But coulda, woulda, shoulda, didn't. God,how I hate that loss to Kentucky.


jaybate 9 months ago

Part 2

3.Kentucky in the 2012 Finals--contrary to popular belief we could have won that game with any luck at all, despite the overwelming level of talent UK possessed, for UK had one Achilles Heel. They were only six deep and that played perfectly into our hands, because we had learned to play with only seven, and they were green long and bouncy and had to get into transition to really hurt us, as they did that first half. In half court, Jeff shut Anthony off. And the only guy that hled huge MUA was Kidd-Gilchrist on one-ankled Travis. Our team was used to sand bagging games and coming back to play for the win with 10-7 minutes to go. UK getting off the leash that first half showed how awesome they were, because we had a great defensive interior in Thomas and Jeff, though none of us yet understood what a fabulous player Jeff really was until the following season. We were starting three draft choices and we had a lot of experience, though little depth. But the pieces fit beautifully together and formed what I have called many times now the "greatest team" I ever saw (not the most talented, but the team that made the most of what it had). All it took to beat green UK was a "great team" hitting on all cylinders. Such was not to be that night. EJ was playing with a knee that would soon have surgery. Travis was playing on a long injured ankle that had forced him into an entirely horizontal game against a tall, great leaping menace--Kidd-Gilchrist.


jaybate 9 months ago

"Awful Losses? Not Many in My Book with Bill"

Part 1

Getting knocked out early, or by lesser teams, outside of hurting, means little to me, since Self always gambles and sends them out flat for the lesser of two opponents in each of the three two-game tournies that comprise the Madness. Upsets are a given in his approach, when he is trying to make sure he saves the amped performance for the tougher of two opponents. The strategy is sound. When it works, we go far. When it backfires, well, its the price you pay for maximizing your chances of winning both games.

With the above in mind, the only losses that really sting are those that occur, when we've basically got a clear path to the ring, because of how good we are and because of upsets removing those that could beat us even at our best.

  1. VCU--wasn't one of our best teams necessarily, but things fell right and it was a clear favorite, so getting knocked out stung like a scorpion bite and nearly killed me. Self should have had two rings after that season.

  2. Michigan--Except for point guard, we were sharply better. We were tougher. We were more experienced. We had a better system. We had a better coach.The only thing we didn't have was a functional point guard, and as fate would have it, Michigan had one of the the best shooting point guards in NCAA history--Trey Burke. Burke smoked us from over 30 feet out repeatedly. Burke was just an awesome player that second half. Louisville was all that stood between us and a ring had we taken care of our ten point lead against Michigan. Louisville was very beatable by the kind of team we were. They had the kind of bigs that Jeff usually feasted on. Because Slick'd'Ville's bigs were cheap shotters and not XTReme Muscle types, Kevin and Perry would have handled them well. And they had no answer for Ben, and Trav could lock down whatever they had on the perimeter. EJ and Naa would have fought their point to a wash with all the help Trav and Ben could supply. And even when EJand and Naa would have gotten in trouble, Big Jeff was waiting to block and alter. Last season was horrible waste of a golden opportnunity. Self should have had three rings after last season.


William Blake 9 months ago

What does it take to stay tough in March?

Maybe it takes fans going to games holding up big signs that don't say "Rock Chalk!"

How about these signs:

"Michigan 87, KU 85"

"VCU 71, KU 61"

"Northern Iowa 69, KU 67"

"Bucknell 64, KU 63"

etc. etc.

We've got to do a better job of keeping perspective in March, and what better way is that accomplished then throwing up flashes of heartbreaks from our past.

I'm typically more the "rah rah" guy... but sometimes it takes a swift kick downstairs to wake players up because they are sleeping just a bit too soundly while their lesser opponent arrived hungry for bear.

Let me put it to all of you... the Jayhawk Nation...

How are we going to keep this year's team on their toes in March?


William Blake 9 months ago

When it comes to tournament losses... after putting all our doughnut games in one basket it seems like we've been upset so many times and so badly that we must be one of the biggest letdown teams in tournament history.

I'm pretty sure all the big rep programs feel the same about themselves, because most of the losses came at the hands of lower rep programs.

We'll be 'ahright'!

In fact, we need these reminders to keep us hungry. We should have had a chip on our shoulders last year from the year before, being runner-up to UK, but we didn't carry that over into last year, and it showed in March. We should have been dragging a heavy chip around with us and we wouldn't have let Michigan back in that game. We were soft in March... again!


DanR 9 months ago

Let's face it, the blame for every one of these "worst losses" lies solely on the shoulders of Brady Morningstar.


Pbbut 9 months ago

The VCU loss was a killer, so many things went right to be in that position and we went out and played like it was the first time we'd ever seen a basketball. Losing when you get beat is always tough, but when you play without effort or brains...confounding.

Another tournament loss that hurts is the loss in '86 to Duke in the Semis. We'd beaten 'Ville twice that year. That '86 team is still my favorite...Manning, Kellogg, Dreiling, Thompson, Hunter, Marshall, et al. Great talent. (If the 3-pt. shot starts in 86 instead of 87, KU goes undefeated.)


Steve Gantz 9 months ago

I turned off the UNI game at half time, so I guess that's my worst. I turned off the TCU game shortly after the half, 2nd worst. VCU because of what was at stake probably should be the worst, but I didn't turn it off because there was hope, at least in my mind. Michigan would maybe the worst for me except it was Good Friday and a good reminder that it's just a game. The most agonizing win was definitely Davidson. The only moment of that game I enjoyed was when the kids 3 pointer missed at the buzzer.


Steve Gantz 9 months ago

Denial thy name is KoolKeithFreeze, p2d2kuhawks, wheatwave, moonwalkmafia66, jackdavid, boulderhawk, jayhawkmarshall, hailtoku.


Chris Shaw 9 months ago

I always enjoy the responses when posters don't want to talk about this side of Bill Self's resume.

It is pretty amazing that of Bill Self's 59 losses 18.6 percent (11) of those losses have been to supposedly "Mid-Majors". Very interesting stat. What's even more amazing is that it's happened 40 percent of the time when Kansas is in the NCAA Tournament the last 10 years.

The VCU game KU was never in the game. KU just got manhandled, didn't pay attention to the scouting report and just got beat like a drum by chucking up 3's.

The UNI game, UNI controlled the game/tempo from start to finish. Kansas never made adjustments except the last 3 minutes of the game where they were in desperation mode and at least had a chance to win it until...Ali................

The Bucknell game was the battle of the wits between the old regime and the new regime. Old regime won out and left the lasting marks from the Roy Williams era.

The Bradley game for some reason I just don't mind. Everybody outside of KU nation will say it's a bad loss, but KU was playing an experienced Bradley squad and KU had a bunch of Freshman.

For me though Michigan was the worst because KU controlled the game from the tip for 37 minutes. The coaching staff, Bill Self, and EJ had a completely meltdown brainfart.

VCU use to be the worst for me because it was Elite 8 game, but KU got manhandled by Shaka's team.

What it all boils down to is that KU has had some pretty big mishap over the years in the NCAA Tournament and I am hoping that Self and Kansas can knock down some of those "Bad Losses" in the NCAA tournament to help support Self's impeccable regular season record.


texashawk10 9 months ago

My list is a little different because there are a couple of games that I was at in person that weren't post season tournament games.

  1. UNI-2010, my senior year at KU and I almost got arrested at a Buffalo Wild Wings because a drunk Baylor fan (Baylor's game was on at the same time as KU's) was talking way too much crap trying to bait me. He ended up getting arrested for disorderly conduct.

  2. Texas-2006, This was my first trip to see KU play in Austin and College Gameday was there and it was a young KU team that had won 10 in a row and was steam rolling most of those teams, and Texas wins by 25 points. I was bummed out for a few days because of that stomping UT put on KU. I know I'll be the only person with this game on my list and I don't care.

  3. Michigan-2013, just the lack of composure by the senior leader of the team was baffling and Michigan getting lucky doesn't help either.

4 UCLA-2007, KU had already beaten Florida once that season in November and if they could've made a layup, KU would've had a very good shot at beating Florida in the semi's and then Ohio St. in the title game.

  1. VCU-2011, Another season KU very possibly could've won a title if they could've made a shot. VCU didn't shoot very well, but KU as a team shot worse as Marcus Morris was the only player for KU that realistically had a good game.

Honorable mention

Bucknell-2005, Yes that was a talented team, but that was also a team that didn't play very well down the stretch so this wasn't the shocker to me that some of these other ones were.

Bradley-2006, A very young team going through its growing pains in March although it would've been much easier to swallow if it had been Pitt in the round of 32 instead of Bradley.

Baylor-2013, Another game I was at and KU had a chance to win the Big 12 outright, OSU beat KSU earlier in the day and KU just came out flat as could be with no energy or desire to win the game. They looked like a team satisfied with sharing the title with KSU which is why KSU will never be the rival to KU that Missouri is/was because if it was Missouri that KU was tied with, I guarantee KU goes out with mouths foaming looking for blood so Missouri would have nothing to claim like KSU did this past year.


rimrattler88 9 months ago

Can't fathom a list where VCU and UNI aren't in the top 2.


ahpersecoachingexperience 9 months, 1 week ago

You're counting in season losses and neither of the two games at KSU made the list! One ended our undefeated streak and the other we were just ranked #1 and got our teeth kicked in.


Robert Robinson 9 months, 1 week ago

Wow, I thought I could handle this but after reading it I have that same pain in my chest as I had after watching those games. I would say Michigan hurt the most but I feel it is just because it was the most recent. UNI was probably the worst for me. I loved watching Aldrich and Collins play. I really thought Collins would start dropping bombs and getting to the line to pull the win. It didnt really hit me until about 5 minutes after it was over. On a good note, I left the party I was at, went to a different party and ended up meeting the girl I love today. Thanks UNI?


Ferd Magellan 9 months, 1 week ago

The Michigan game is only on those lists because it's fresh in our minds. I wouldn't have it in my top ten. I can't get mad when a small guard is easily knocking down three-pointers from outside of 25 ft.

TCU was historically bad. We may never see a loss like that again. Bucknell, Bradley, VCU, Nevada, Oral Roberts, Georgia Tech ('04 Elite 8), UCLA ('07) were all games that I'd put in a tier above the Michigan loss.


AzHawk97 9 months, 1 week ago

Christian Moody approves that the 2006 game in Columbia was left off all the lists.

My list is simple in any era: All losses to Mizzou and NCAA tourney losses. Done and done.


JayDocMD 9 months, 1 week ago

  1. VCU - I was there in San Antonio - PTSD ever since. And agree with HEM: this is number one because the NC was ours for the taking

  2. MICHIGAN - maybe this is higher because it's fresher... but HOW in the wild world of sports did we lose that game? Also felt we matched up favorably to advance against Florida & Syracuse and could have been playing in another NC game

  3. UNI - Again, was in OKC attending this total disaster. Hurts even more when the underdog makes dumb decisions down the stretch (yeah, I'm talking about you Ali) and don't have to pay for it.

  4. BUCKNELL- first round exits just can't happen at KU

  5. Any and all losses to MIZZERY

(no TCU - not a tourney game and I would file that more as embarrassing than sad)


Hawkanator 9 months, 1 week ago

Give me a break you bunch of cry-babies! It's not going to hurt recruiting. It's good to remember the past, so we can try not to repeat it. Instead of whining feel blessed that there are so few losses to choose from. We all need to put on out big-boy/girl pants on! FYI, Keegs reflects my list the closest.


Jack Wilson 9 months, 1 week ago

1] VCU

2] UNI

3] Bucknell

4] Michigan


Anything not in the tourney doesn't have significant enough implications.

The loss to Kentucky was obviously the biggest in 2012. But the fact that we reached that point with lower expectations, thin bench, etc., tempers that from being a "sad" loss.

VCU is easily the worst in my book. No doubt. One game from the Final Four, then seeing what our competition would have been in the semis (Butler) and finals (UConn) .. that was a national championship on a silver platter.


Hawk8086 9 months, 1 week ago

I would go with:

  1. Michigan. We had that game and blew it in just about every way possible.
  2. VCU. Best chance since 2008 for a NC.#2 because we never really threatened to win the game.
  3. Bucknell. Even with injury/illness/chemistry issues, we should never have lost this game. A #3 seed does not lose in the first round often.
  4. UNI. A #1 losing in the 2nd round deserves to be on the list. 5.Missouri. Because we had it in our grasp and because it was Missouri. Beats out Bradley because, I believe, that loss is more forgiveable due to how young that team was. I was there, and when the team took the court in the 2nd half (after that flukey 1st half buzzer beater) you could tell we were beaten.

Self has had more than his share of tournament early exits. Some of the teams have looked tight. That said, if his 2nd 10 years mirrors his 1st 10..........I'll take it!


Kevin Huffman 9 months, 1 week ago

  1. UNI 2010 - probably biased because I was actually there and my wife went to UNI

  2. Michigan 2013 - even just ONE made FT by Elijah and we STILL hold on by 1 pt. I think we would've made it to the Final Four, but then probably would've lost as of that point anyway.

  3. Bucknell 2005 - Just TOO EMBARRASSING!!!!

  4. VCU 2011 - Again, like I stated above...would've been higher, but NEVER felt like, after about 4 - 5 mins. into that game like we were going to win it the way it was going.....brief hope after having cut it from like 23 down to like 6 or something, but that went away and was built back up to double-digits.

5.TCU, reg. season in 2013 - didn't get to see it, but kept being stupefied when I kept checking the box score on-line.


Mark Lindrud 9 months, 1 week ago

Don't be upset about the article, teams lose, grow, learn and get better from losses. I bet tomorrow they do best wins and those whining will say it's a great article. Suck it up people seriously.


Kevin Huffman 9 months, 1 week ago

Surprising to me that Matt Tait doesn't have the Northern Iowa loss on there. Don't forget, for those of us who paid to go see that game we had to watch K-State advance against Jimmer & BYU the very next game.


KANSTUCKY 9 months, 1 week ago

Please defer future ignorant publications until after the open recruiting period.


Virgil_Caine 9 months, 1 week ago

Definitely VCU for me. Great, hungry team that had experience, depth and pride, but picked the worst possible time to be "off," and basically tripped on their shoelaces with a championship right in front of them.

I would go Bucknell next, simply because the team was preseason #1 with a senior class that had been to two Final Fours. The writing on the wall was there, though, and as Keegan mentions, something wasn't right with that group's chemistry down the stretch.

After that, I can't decide if UNI or Michigan sucked more. UNI was waaaay more unexpected, but we never had it put away - it was always just out of reach. Is it worse to lose to an inferior team that outplays you, or to outplay a worthy opponent, and then throw away the game when you've got it won? I really can't decide, but I definitely drank plenty of whiskey after both losses.

Bradley is forgivable, because the core of that team were freshmen and sophomores, and they delivered a national championship after one more heartbreaker to UCLA the next season. I would say that my forgiveness is based on hindsight, though, because losing in the first round two straight years really didn't sit well with me at the time.

It's never fun to leave the tournament early, and even losing to Georgia Tech in 2004 depressed me. UCLA hurt because we lost Julian and at the time thought we were losing Brandon too, but again, hindsight makes that sting much less. Losing to Kentucky in the championship was sad, but that run was so much fun I got over it pretty quickly. It's still hard to believe we were there, and actually had a shot at stealing the game towards the end.

Remember, the bitter in life makes the sweet so much better!


jgkojak 9 months, 1 week ago

This article only works if tomorrow we have Self's Greatest Victories -

  1. 2008 NC Game
  2. 2008 N Carolina FF game
  3. 2012 Ohio State FF
  4. 2012 MU at home
  5. 2008 Davidson

JayHawkFanToo 9 months, 1 week ago

The absolutely, positively, no doubt about it worst loss by our team full of superstars was to Bobby Mo...oh wait...that was Kentucky..

I feel much better now.


William Blake 9 months, 1 week ago

I'm trying to write.... but I keep puking in my mouth.

I'll try to come back later... but no promises.


Bewareofthephog Fifety-Five 9 months, 1 week ago

The most painful one to me was VCU. Michigan was good enough to be in the top 10 for most of the season, and Bradley, Bucknell, Northern Iowa, Michigan State, UCLA, and Kentucky were all good enough to win their conferences. Then you have the TCU loss, which in the end did not end up affecting our season at all. VCU got fifth or sixth in the CAA and still got into the tournament somehow. Once they got in, they kept getting lucky, and by hitting 48% from three they won, stopped us from winning a championship, and god credit they did not deserve for being a good team.

UNI is second because of how early it was. Michigan is third because we were up by 10 with two minutes left. Bucknell is fourth over Bradley because it ended alot of careers (Simien, Langford, Miles, Lee, Moody). Bradley is fifth.


jgkojak 9 months, 1 week ago

Y'all need to grow up. Examining the losses helps you appreciate the success and understand Bill Self and his coaching style better.

There is a common thread to a couple of these-

Bucknell and Michigan - letting a Senior (Langford and Johnson) play who had no business playing. Langford due to injury and illness, Johnson due to boneheaded play after boneheaded play in the 1st half, should have been sat.

That said - I rank 'em based on how much the loss probably denied us a NC run- 1. VCU - hands down, we win the NC if we win this game 2. N Iowa - Get over this stumbling block and this team likely doesn't lose until the FF 3. Bucknell - it hurt. 4. Michigan - We easily beat FL, probably beat 'Cuse, and play in another NC game against a better team from KY.
5. TCU - I have to think that, had we pulled this game out, this team develops a little faster, Ej doesn't have his ego bruised so badly, and we probably hold on against Michigan


bigboypants 9 months, 1 week ago

The next article should be about the Bill Self's BEST WINS. That would certainly offset the bad taste left by this one.


p2d2kuhawks 9 months, 1 week ago

And Mr. Newell, I cannot believe you are a part of this. OK, after thinking about it, I guess you have to do what your boss tells you to do. Sorry for you, because most of the time your writing and insight are great. Mr. Bedore, were you seriously on board with this, or was this all Keegan? Your an old fart like me, so I would think you should have some input. Or at least you should.


p2d2kuhawks 9 months, 1 week ago

You guys should be embarrassed to post your name to this article. Or are you guys?


James Naismith 9 months, 1 week ago

Where is the "news" in this newspaper article? Save yourselves and DELETE this story just as fast as you put it up here.


LakeShawnee 9 months, 1 week ago

What? We never lose. We simply run out of time to come back.


OakvilleJaybateNightmare 9 months, 1 week ago

Elijah is going to make that team. No way the Clippers let him get away without getting something for him. They'll sign him and then trade him.


p2d2kuhawks 9 months, 1 week ago

Douche, Douche, Douche and Douche, Is this all your minds can come up with to write about this summer? Read the comments. Not a lot of support here for any of you. Surely all of you can do better than this. By the way Mr. Tait, keep writing about football. Don't get drug into douche articles like this.


jaybate 9 months, 1 week ago

Part 2

"Dunking forcefully and repeatedly on a defender often leaves him unable to have fulfilling sex with his significant other after a game and this will carry over into the second half of the home and home series."

"Getting better is not everything. No one thing is everything. But it is the only thing in the sense that without it others will always eclipse you by season's end and so you will end up as a coulda-woulda-shoulda."

"Love and sex have their places, but not on a basketball floor, unless, well, unless, well, even Sun Bate Tzu must not go certain places."

"There are those that say basketball is not vital to a life well lived, but those that live life without basketball have always seemed pauperized to me."

"If a tie in football were once said to be like kissing one's sister, a loss to the University of Missouri in the Madness would be like sex with a porcupine being roasted over a Bunson burner at a meth lab outside Cape Giradeau."

"A head coach that dumps you for a rival in a run for a ring, after saying he would not do so, is not to be trusted until he retires, but then should be praised for the good he did, though not until after a recruiting season is successfully completed."

"A block and an alteration after 15 seconds of sliding are better than 35 seconds of sliding."

"Referees that swallow their whistles asymmetrically must be treated as enemies tunneling under one's perimeter."

"When you are from a small media market, and broadcasters under report your successes and over report your failures, they are not only trolling for the most eye balls, but are also perhaps grinding the agenda of a hostile ShoeCo/Summer Game/Agency complex and perhaps the agenda of a gaming industry."

"When one respected sports broadcaster with a law degree to fall back on breaks ranks and blows the whistle on directors of referees reputedly directing their referees to modulate their foul calling to keep televised games from going too long, do not expect a single mainstream sports media professional to stick his, or her, neck out for him, because mainstream sports media professionals apparently don't want to risk their "access" and their career advancements in order to help clean up the game."

"It will apparerently take a paralyzing spinal injury in a National Finals for the NCAA, ESPN/CBS, the ShoeCos, and the gaming industry to make the game safe again for some of America's (and the world's) finest young men. Can there be any greater shame than this?"

(Note: "The Art of Basketball War" by Sun Bate Tzu is pretend. Some of Sun Bate Tzu's epigrams are tongue in cheek. Some are not. It is hoped a board rat will be able to tell the difference.)


jaybate 9 months, 1 week ago


Part 1

"The greater the head coach, the more frequent the heart-breaking losses occur, because the great coach is playing for conference titles and is in the Madness most seasons, where such losses can occur; that each opposing team and coach gives the great coach's teams their best shots contributes also."

"You will know a truly great head coach at the University of Kansas, when he wins 84% of his games and 9 conference titles and a ring, and his successes continue to be under-reported and his failures continue to be over-reported by a national sports broadcasting media not only trolling for the most eyeballs, but also apparently attached to the teat of access to coaches and players allied with a dominant ShoeCo of the time, which he is not contracted with."

"You will know a head coach is a great champion, when his team rallies from 8 down to beat a reputedly "wrong way" head coach fielding a team suffused with ineligibles afraid to take their own SATs, and after the brilliant come from behind win, the talking heads from a network talk about the reputedly "wrong way" losing coach, instead of the great champion succeeding brilliantly, while doing it the right way."

"You will know a head coach is a pretender to greatness, when he is apparently given overwhelming superiority in OAD talent for several seasons in a row apparently by an apparently dominant axis of the ShoeCo/Summer Game/Agency complex and wins only one ring, and then only because the team it beats for the ring must play two of its five starting non Mickey D players with severe injuries (a knee requiring surgery and an ankle injury so severe the lock down defender can barely slide) and still makes a game of it."

"You will with a great head coach feel the sting of the terrible, season ending losses at times more than the sweet joy of glorious wins, because built into the structure of the game are the probabilities that many must lose the Madness, so that one may win."

"To play well and lose a big game to a respected rival with more talent hurts, but is no disgrace."

"To lose a big game to a hated revival with less talent is worse than being mounted from behind repeatedly by an aroused Komodo Dragon."

"Next is there for everyone, but only the great go there as swiftly as possible after hard losses."

"Coaches like Scott Drew are a dime a gross."

"To stretch a defense into leaving an open space 23 feet out for a long and athletic to impact within is better than setting a ball screen 27 feet out."

"Making a defender slide for 20 seconds is better than making a defender slide for only 15 seconds, though its benefits may not show up till ten minutes to go in the second half."

"A nut punch is not the same as intimidation."


hawksince51 9 months, 1 week ago

Like many, I did not enjoy this article but I did read it along with the comments. As they say, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. And starting with the 1953 loss to Indiana in the NC game I have become one strong old SOB.
IMHO, only Bedore got it pretty much right because in my mind you cannot compare losses during the regular season to those that keep you from getting a shot at an NC. I would put the VCU loss as number one because that was an NC we could very well have won. That moves this year's Meechigan loss to number 2 and I would agree with the remainder of Bedore's picks. Since someone insists on bringing up football on a basketball forum, I put the 1968 Orange Bowl loss to Penn State as the worst ever loss due to a double screw up by a coach. First Pepper did not kick the extra point length field goal on 4th down that would have iced the game and then the infamous 12 man defense.


Stu Van Gorp 9 months, 1 week ago

How do they say, those ignoring history are destined to repeat it? Motivation and resolve suffer in complacency. I'm not so sure highlights of these games shouldn't occasionally thunder over the pre-game P.A. at AFH. Especially for some youngsters who believe their fans in thinking they just might even be bulletproof. Thanks for the therapy session gentlemen, Now we can move on.


Boouk 9 months, 1 week ago

  1. VCU 2011
  2. UNI 2010
  3. TCU 2013
  4. Michigan 2013
  5. Bradley 2006

Grouch Lives 9 months, 1 week ago

Thanks for the article. Now, what will I be doing to not lose those season-ending games?

First, in the Michigan game, the first half I did not drink the same beverage I've been drinking every game since we gonged Ted Owens. I left the party and picked up a six pack for the second half, but to no avail. I apologize.

For both Bucknell and Bradley, I opted to change venues and watch the games by myself at home. What a goof! Not only was this the wrong option, but I'll never forget answering the doorbell less than a minute after the Bucknell game, to find my neighbor standing there with a "B" written on his stupid t-shirt. Said he was offering condolences. Most humiliating!

In 2008 I thought I had it figured out when I left the big room of a party to go watch the final minutes of regulation by myself. What a great play! Resulted in the greatest shot in KU history. However, by 2010 and 2011 I had become complacent and remained with the herd. I know, my fault.

So, I appreciate being reminded about some of my personal letdowns during the Self era. Next week, or next summer, I may have to relive and share a couple during the Roy era.


VaJay 9 months, 1 week ago

There's nothing like waking up in the morning and getting a nice kick in the stomach...

Can there be a follow up to this soon, like biggest wins, so my whole week isn't a downer??


Gene Jackson 9 months, 1 week ago

Did not read the article - do not want to see it again - a waste of ink or I should say space on computer


Reuben_J_Cogburn 9 months, 1 week ago

So, again......

Really? No football news? Nothing but reflection on KU basketball's biggest upsets?

We really are a basketball-only institution.


LngTimeFan 9 months, 1 week ago

Off topic but having to answer the dumbest questions before being able to read articles on this site is very irritating. Whomever came up with the question idea is an idiot!


hotrodm 9 months, 1 week ago

Sorry to say, But Coach Self is to blame for the Michigan loss. He had several opportunities to put Tharpe in for E.J. and didn't. Coach should have had the guys foul Burke at half court and not allow the three to be shot. Did Coach Self not remember his 2008 team playing Memphis for the national championship? Mario would have never been able to shoot the tying 3 if Memphis would have fouled Collins and sent him to the line.


Brian Mensch 9 months, 1 week ago

Farokhmanesh is still the dreaded "F-Bomb" in my household.


nuleafjhawk 9 months, 1 week ago

These " painful reminders " never happened. I have rejected them and put them out of my memory and now I will close my eyes tight and put my hands over my ears.

Blah, blah, blah, blah.....sticks and stones can break my bones.


Martin Rosenblum 9 months, 1 week ago

5.9 games lost per year average over 10 years! That's outrageous!


hailtoku 9 months, 1 week ago

By Gary Bedore, Tom Keegan, Jesse Newell, Matt Tait

Really? No one wants to be a man and say who actually wrote this?


milehighhawk 9 months, 1 week ago

Next week: a list of top 5 ex-girlfriends who hit the lottery.


Michael Luby 9 months, 1 week ago

Thanks to Elijah for the most recent heartbreaker.


Suzi Marshall 9 months, 1 week ago

Couldn't LJW omit this article? Why restrict this heartbreaking chapte to only Self? For the past 30 years the season has ended in massive heartbreak, except twice. For that matter., we can include the Allen ('53, '54 ...), Harp (UNC - '57 with Wilt), Owens (UTEP, UCLA....). I'll never recover from the Syracuse, Duke, AZ or MI games. Most hearbreaking KU losses:

  1. UNC '57 - Harp
  2. Syracuse '03 - Williams
  3. AZ '97 (?) - Williams
  4. VCU '11 - Self

For the most part, the Self heartbreaks have come with inferior talent, relative to other Kansas teams. Kansas could have +20 Championships. We have all learned to deal with heartbreak, hope for the best, and enjoy Kansas basketball at all times.


Doug Cramer 9 months, 1 week ago

Thanks for the naucious feeling. The Michigan game is too fresh...and still hurts...really bad.


Dan Pawlowski 9 months, 1 week ago

Yea, lets dwell on the bad experiences of the past. If any of these players were currently playing for the Jayhawks and they could learn from these experiences it is one thing but to dwell for no good reason is pointless.


KanFan27 9 months, 1 week ago

Glad this article came before the one of our best wins. I don't know why some people are so upset with this article. You have to have some bad times to fully appreciate the good ones.


Joe Ross 9 months, 1 week ago

Only Jesse has it right. I mean yes...the way we lost the Michigan game was horrible. But at least it was a program whose name on the front of their jerseys people recognized. Not to mention Michigan was at one point in the season ranked number 1 in the country, and they had a few players on the roster who were pro-caliber. This is miles better than the combination of surprise and embarrassment in losing to teams like Northern Iowa, Bucknell, and Bradley.


Jack Jones 9 months, 1 week ago

WHY??? There's got to be something more interesting to occupy your brains ~~ you even acknowledge the "waste of time" component. And, the obvious answer to your inane, rhetorical question ~ "shouldn't we at least be able to rehash these losses...........?" ~~ HELL, NO!!! A pretty sorry piece of journalism, fellows.


KUFan90 9 months, 1 week ago

"...shouldn’t we at least be able to rehash those losses in a series of stories that mostly remembers the good times?"



Adam Gerval 9 months, 1 week ago

What a sadistic article. These conversations seem to frequently occur at the bar....but ouch.


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