Friday, March 29, 2013

Ben McLemore on if it was his last college game: ‘At this point, I really don’t know’

Kansas guard Ben McLemore puts his head in his hands as teammate Naadir Tharpe, background, answers a question from media members in the locker room after the Jayhawks' 87-85 overtime loss to Michigan on Friday, March 29, 2013 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Kansas guard Ben McLemore puts his head in his hands as teammate Naadir Tharpe, background, answers a question from media members in the locker room after the Jayhawks' 87-85 overtime loss to Michigan on Friday, March 29, 2013 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.


— With his legs fidgeting from side to side and a blank look of shock on his face, Kansas University red-shirt freshman Ben McLemore was asked multiple times in the KU locker room whether Friday's 87-85 overtime loss to Michigan in the Sweet 16 was his last appearance in a Kansas uniform.

His answer never changed.

“At this point, I really don't know,” he said. “I'm kind of emotional, but I'll sit down talk to my mom and see what's the deal. But, at this time I'm really not focused on it.”

McLemore, who led all Jayhawks with 20 points on 8-of-15 shooting in the loss to fourth-seeded Michigan, said he had thought very little about the NBA during his first full season of college basketball even though many analysts and projections have him as a sure-fire top-five pick in this summer's NBA Draft.

“This year, I was just focusing on playing college ball and getting better each and every day,” he said.

Asked if the outcome of Friday's game could impact his decision on whether to return for his sophomore season, McLemore said, “I really don't know. ... It's a tough loss, but I know it's an even tougher loss for the seniors.”

McLemore's big night came after rough outings in the second and third rounds last week in Kansas City, Mo. It didn't necessarily look as if it was headed that way, though. McLemore missed his first five shots of Friday's loss before catching fire after watching a three-pointer from the corner settle in the bottom of the net.

“I felt comfortable,” he said. “Getting the ball moving around, my shot was falling, and I just went out there and tried to play like I played in the beginning of the season, play free, having fun, with a smile on my face.”

McLemore was one of several Jayhawks who took a turn at guarding Michigan guard Trey Burke, and that, too, left him shaking his head after the game. After going scoreless in the first half, Burke scored 23 points in the second half and overtime, including a three-pointer with four seconds left that tied the game.

“Trey Burke stepped up late, hit a huge shot,” McLemore said. “He's a great player. He's definitely, definitely a great player.”


VaJay 7 years, 8 months ago

It would be great to get you back Ben. You played your heart out tonight & you will only get better next year, but do what's best for you and your family. Doubtful you will stay, but regardless - you will be remembered fondly by Jayhawk fans everywhere.

ManCrushOnCaptainKirk 7 years, 8 months ago

I was hoping he would have the ball in his hands more at the end of the game.

nuleafjhawk 7 years, 8 months ago

EJ tried that at the beginning of the game.

Michael Bratisax 7 years, 8 months ago

No he didn' need to be in the game to try anything. EJ was on the bench after only 2 min of the opening tip.

Michael Bratisax 7 years, 8 months ago

So was I ManCrush. Unfortunately BMac performed his disappearing act when needed most. To be fair though, BMac has saved several games this season but what happened in the 2nd half last night?

KEITHMILES05 7 years, 8 months ago

Very well said! Ben is the consumate teammate. What a joy to see him play and conduct himself with maturity beyond his years on the court.

Thanks Ben for the great year. You will be remembered as one of the great Jayhawks!

Very sad the team leader (if you wish to call him that) didn't conduct himself with professionalism at the game last night. Totally shocked and astonished and sad his display of thuggish behavior. You hurt your team very badly with that nut cracker and end of the game BONEHEAD plays. SMDH......totally let your teammates down.

Bailey52362 7 years, 8 months ago

EJ is a Jayhawk for life....your post is ignorant and baseless.

Eric TheCapn 7 years, 8 months ago

Indeed. I do think it would be beneficial for Ben to grow into more of a man and leader. He isn't ready to be a major force in the NBA yet, but would be THE MAN at KU next year. He would have a big shot at winning the Naismith trophy and starting his career at an Anthony Davis level ($5+ million/year for 3 years and a big impact already).

However, given his family situation and the top-5 pick likelihood, I certainly couldn't blame him for taking a Thomas-Robinson-level-start ($3.37 million/year, 2 years). Robinson has thus far had a minimal impact and been traded once, but he's also wealthy one year earlier and averages more than 10 minutes of playing time.

That's a tough decision. You only get one chance in the KU-undergrad atmosphere and he'd be a super-stud in Lawrence. You only get one chance to have Bill Self train you. I guess I'd lean toward sticking around another year and get paid $5 million in my first NBA season instead of $3 million. The better contract would make up for the extra year at Kansas slightly after his first year in the NBA.

After writing myself through that thought process, I'd stay another year, if my family was doing OK. But it's not me, so good luck figuring it out, Ben! We in Jayhawk Nation love you (and Thomas Robinson, of course)!

Boouk 7 years, 8 months ago

I'd be shocked if he stays. Can't pass up being a lock to go in the top 3.

Boouk 7 years, 8 months ago

Hopefully he gets replaced by Andrew Wiggins, whose brother plays for Wichita State.

kukuku 7 years, 8 months ago

I'd love to have Ben back, but he absolutely should go to the draft. He's probably going to go top 5 if he declares this year, and even if he plays better next year, the 2014 draft class is so much stronger that he might not be a top 5 pick.

FL_Jhawk 7 years, 8 months ago

Being a top pick doesn't guarantee a long and prosperous NBA career. The NBA will throw out money to get someone and, if they don't work out, will dump them and go after someone else.

Ben should stay to become a better player so he will have a longer NBA career. Sure, UK will have a bunch of players turning pro next pro, but we still don't know if Coach C's formula will work, or if his group will be an uncontrollable collection of inflated egos each playing selfishly to where few actually shines. And if Ben has learned to defend better and to drive to the bucket, how can he not be more valuable next year? Plus, I think Ben likes it here! He has had the world on his shoulders and life will be tough when he turns pro, so why not enjoy another year of college?

Karen Mansfield-Stewart 7 years, 8 months ago

I think that's a great point. I'm not sure he wouldn't benefit in the long-term by staying and working on some of the flaws exposed late in the season. That said, he's likely going pro.

90sHawk 7 years, 8 months ago

If Ben is projected top 3, and a lock for top 5-6, he should go. It's not like he can't continue to develop in the NBA. And to counter your point, staying another year doesn't guarantee him a long and prosperous NBA career either. Sure, he has things he can work on, and he'll do so in the NBA, getting paid and being able to take care of a struggling family.

otaKU 7 years, 8 months ago

Ben has NO reasons to stay. We're not winning a national championship next year. Sure he can improve his game but he can also do that in the NBA. He is a lock top 3 pick. You don't pass that up unless you want a championship which isn't going to happen.

otaKU 7 years, 8 months ago

Ben has NO reason to stay. We're not winning a national championship next year. Sure he can improve his game but he can also do that in the NBA. He is a lock top 3 pick. You don't pass that up unless you want a championship which isn't going to happen.

Benz Junque 7 years, 8 months ago

You do realize that players get to practice and play and develop once the get to the NBA, right? They aren't stuck at a certain level after they leave college.

McLemore will be an NBA All Star in five years once he has matured mentally and become more agressive in taking advantage of the abilty advantage he has.

gorilla10 7 years, 8 months ago

Great kid, great player!! Regardless of his decision he will always be a jayhawk...I usually can't stand one year players but this kid isn't about all the hype! He wants it more than anything for his teammates. Probably the least selfish top 3 one and dome I've ever watched...rock chalk!

Pitthawk34 7 years, 8 months ago

Worst team since 1990...EJ thanks......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

Ethan Berger 7 years, 8 months ago

whoa under mine it says I'm responding to gorilla10. I am not, I was responding to PittHawk.

Boouk 7 years, 8 months ago

There's no way we get to the title game last year without him.

Chieflington 7 years, 8 months ago

He red shirted last year..........................

connhawk 7 years, 8 months ago

True, but Self credited BMac and Jamari a lot for challenging the rest of the guys in practice.

JD Roth 7 years, 8 months ago

Give it up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

pepper_bar 7 years, 8 months ago

He had a strong season, and he brought a great energy to the team. Good luck in the NBA Ben. Lawrence will be a little less fun without you.

Marc Frey 7 years, 8 months ago

He should leave, a true hardship. But a missed one and one, or BMacs missed layup was the difference on our end.

SaltLakeHawk 7 years, 8 months ago

Fellow jayhawk fans:

This sucks. The tourney is cruel. But please consider EJ's entire career at Kansas before posting anything negative about him. It's natural to want to blame one person for a loss, because blaming one person for a loss DOES (ever so slightly) alleviate pain.

But if you talk sh*t about EJ...

--a guy who kicked off his career at Kansas by waving his KU jersey at an arena full of Kentucky fans, a guy who was INSTRUMENTAL IN BRINGING KU TO A NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME his junior year, a guy who single-handedly preserved the big12 league title streak by giving a historic performance at Iowa State (no way we get #9 without that performance), a guy who obviously played hurt his senior year without publicly complaining, and a guy whose final game was honestly not that bad (he had his share of BOTH good and bad plays, and I'm not buying it being a "dirty" play, people pump their arms when they run... let's hear his side of the story before we label him as a "dirty" player after 4 years of evidence to the contrary)--

...then you should be ashamed of yourself.

Piling onto one guy is absolutely gutless, and it makes "FOE" seem laughable.

EJ, thanks for all you've done for KU basketball. You will be missed, just as much as the other seniors. FOE. Rock Chalk.

towns 7 years, 8 months ago

Well said SaltLake. EJ was an up and down player for sure. But his ups were so high.

actorman 7 years, 8 months ago

No doubt that EJ was a class guy his entire career (which is why I find it hard to believe that the flagrant foul would have been intentional), and he definitely had some huge plays for KU over the course of his career, especially in the tournament last year.

But anyone who saw this team play this season could have seen a loss like this coming from a mile away. If it hadn't been this one, it would have been another one.

For whatever reason, whether it be the pressure of trying to be a leader, or playing hurt, or something else, he made a huge amount of bonehead plays this year, consistently making questionable decisions and passes that defied explanation. The 10-second call was a perfect example of that. First he takes his time bringing it up, then when he gets in trouble he doesn't have the presence of mind to call timeout.

Of course the loss wasn't entirely his fault, but he had a lot to do with it, and it was with the same type of plays that he made on a regular basis this year. It's a real shame because if he could have just played a little bit smarter, this team had the capability of going a lot farther.

dehawk 7 years, 8 months ago

No matter what CS or EJ have said, EJ is not a point guard. His whole career he was more of a shooting guard and was asked to step in at the point this year. It would be difficult to understand a point mentality if you only did it for one year. So "boneheaded" moves would be understandable when you are playing out of position.

I won't throw EJ under the bus for tonight's performance. Choosing to make him the starting point guard was not his decision. And it was a decision that lead to this moment. Sorry, but this loss is on the coach. He decided EJ would play point and he decided to go with EJ down the stretch of tonight's game, even though the team was playing better with him on the bench. When Ben wasn't playing well and sat almost a full half, CS understood it was for the good of the team. He didn't do what was best for the team tonight.

We all make bad decisions. But playing EJ when there were multiple bad plays should be on CS and not EJ. You could tell EJ wasn't settled in the game. No tough player is going to asked to be pulled from the game. That is the coaches decision. CS is a good coach but I don't always agree with his choices. Tonight choices made me feel sick. But more sad than anything. I feel very sad tonight.

dtownhawkfan 7 years, 8 months ago

Look, I'll give Elijah his due...but not that bad of a last game???? If you are into a junk punch, 5 turnovers, and no assists...well I think even he would say that's a bad game.

I fully acknowledge I'm in the spoiled fan base...we won 30+ games and made the sweet 16 again...and it's a disappointing season...this is why it hurts so bad to be a KU fan sometimes. Love Bill, we'll be back again, K-staters will never know what this truly feels like...Bill is going to win more national championships and how sweet it will be. Remember the pain of such losses, it makes victory oh so sweet.

Sam Constance 7 years, 8 months ago

So I take it you missed the 13 points he scored on 50% shooting (including 2-4 from three) with 5 rebounds and a steal?

I think SLH's point--that his game was by no means great, but wasn't that bad--is valid, given those more positive areas of his game.

Bailey52362 7 years, 8 months ago

Could not agree more. KU fans have a reputation of not eating their young. No need to start that shyte now.

Michael Bratisax 7 years, 8 months ago

Good post..I too appreciate his work ethic, 4 years of his young life committed to KU I'm glad HCBS recruited him and made him into a solid player both on offense and defense.

But you can't just overlook his last game in a Jayhawk uniform. He made some of his worst decisions in his career last night. What reason did he openly take a cheap shot against a Michigan player? He made two needless fouls one and a half minutes into the game and when HCBS put him back in late in the first half, he committed a third foul within at most a minute after being reinserted.

He couldn't even get the ball past the midcourt line within 10 seconds. It's pointless to even begin to list his mistakes. So good luck in your future EJ but don't expect to see your jersey hanging from the rafters and Allen Fieldhouse.

Michael Bratisax 7 years, 8 months ago

That sounds a little harsh...EJ is a Jayhawk for life. It's unfortunate that his last game will be the one he is most remembered for. Four years of work should not be judged from one game. But that's not how it usually works in life especially after the biggest flop in Kansas NCAA history.

Remember Bill Buckner? For those who do, I'm sure most of us remember what happened in the World Series and not how good of a player he was.

actorman 7 years, 8 months ago

Bill Buckner had a very good career and made one mistake -- ONE! And that game was more the fault of terrible relief pitching and a terrible manager (who shouldn't have even had Buckner in the game at that point) than it was Buckner.

This situation was totally different: Elijah was the one who made one stupid mistake after another. It is also Self's fault for continuing to leave him in the game, but it is mostly on Elijah -- a senior and four-year player who somehow never learned to stop doing stupid things on the court. I can't for the life of me figure out how he could continue to do the same dumb things time after time, through most of the year (with the game at Ames being one of the few exceptions).

Sam Constance 7 years, 8 months ago

"But you can't just overlook his last game in a Jayhawk uniform"

Nonsense. Of course you can overlook it, and I would argue that it's our role as supportive fans to do exactly that. What does dwelling on a few bad plays over the course of a 4-year career filled with unforgettable highlights do for anyone? It just makes KU fans sad because they lament a mediocre ending for an otherwise great career. It piles on a kid who is probably feeling the loss to Michigan more than ANY fan. Basically, there is nothing good that can come of it.

Nevermind how annoying it is to listen to people harp on EJ's plays with extreme attention to detail while ignoring things like McLemore's foul on a three-point shooter. Or completely ignoring the fact that Jeff Withey's man dominated the paint against KU, a team that typically wins by controlling the paint. Or lambasting Tharpe for a terrible 1-8 shooting night.

I agree with you that EJ won't get to hang his jersey in the rafters. Lots of really good players have passed through the halls of KU without getting that honor. So what? I also agree that listing his mistakes is pointless, but also spiteful.

If we want to list mistakes, let's list every GD mistake that anyone on the team made in that game. Because that's the only approach that makes a lick of sense.

Benz Junque 7 years, 8 months ago

I have never in my life seen the senior leader of an elite team punch a guy in the junk in an ncaa tourney game.

I have never in my life seen the senior PG of an elite team get a 10 second call on him in crunch time.

I have never in my life seen the senior PG of an elite team have ZERO assists in a tourney game in which he played more than 20 minutes.

Elijah managed to accomplish ALL THREE of these things in the SAME GAME. Not that bad?!?!

Tony Bandle 7 years, 8 months ago

BenMac...take the money and run!! You owe us nothing, without you this year we don't win a Conf, Title or get to 31 victories. Heck, without you we may not have had a 14 point lead to blow.

Best of luck and take care of your family!!

Jayhawks1985 7 years, 8 months ago

Well if he could stay and Wiggins came we would be the dream team next year. We'd be locked and loaded. Oh well I'm sure the dream team is just a dream.

dylans 7 years, 8 months ago

It's Ok to dream, just don't let reality crush you.

Michael Bratisax 7 years, 8 months ago

If there is one thing to take from last night is that we need a true PG. Wiggins is a PF and we are pretty solid there already. Now, if we were to get Wiggins, it most certainly would be a good addition but it's not what we really need.

timcampbell 7 years, 8 months ago

Well this loss hurts, I'm sure the players are hurting even more. Good luck to Ben on what ever his decision is. Lets be thankful for a great year.

jaybate 7 years, 8 months ago

Part 1

First, what a ridiculous time to question whether this was Ben's last game.

And the story says the question was asked multiple times.

List all the reporters names that asked the question. I want to know. I want tell each one of them to go flip himself.

Which ever reporters asked Ben the question would also have walked into Hiroshima afterward and said, "Was it hot?"


Self and staff came up with a great scheme.

The players executed it inspite of EJ blowing up and getting three first half fouls.

They took it to UM and went in 6 up--a wonderful situation to be in considering KU's starting PG had to sit most of the half.

Then KU came out the second half, Self made the right choice and started Dir at point to milk the lead for 5 minutes to make sure EJ could come in with 15 minutes to go and ice the game with defense and take the team on the offensive in transition.

EJ came in with 15 minutes to go. EJ was fully rested. He started out orchestrating well and defending well.

All went according to plan, but for the following.

First, Self gambled on not resting Withey down the stretch of the first half and lost the gamble when Jeff ran out of gas with 12 minutes to go. McGrary then went off for 25 points against Jeff. Jeff could not stand up to the beating of the two 250 pounders UM threw at him. Self should have rested Withey the first half, but he gambled on widening a lead to 10-12 points. Maybe it was a good gamble, but the team tired down the stretch of the first half, made a number of errors and the lead was cut to 6. The team would have been better off going in even with a rested Withey lMHO, but this did not lose the game.

Second, Travis Releford, after starting to take control of the game in the second half, let BenMac take over the game, when he was not ready to make the big choices that needed to be made. Ben scored points, but he did not control the game. Travis then never got back in the flow and was a minor factor instead of the man who should have been the go to guy the last ten minutes. But this did not lose the game.

Third, near the end, when KU was starting to fold, Ben Mac made a terrible choice to make a baseline drive that resulted in a miss and UM getting the ball. KU was playing the clock, not UM, and holding the ball even another 5-10 seconds almost certainly would have resulted in a KU win. But this did not lose the game.

Fourth, EJ missed the front end of a 1 and 1 that could likely have given KU the lead it needed to survive all the problems and win. But that did not lose the game.

jaybate 7 years, 8 months ago

Part 2

Fifth, EJ made 5 turnovers in only 24 minutes of play, at least 4 of them in the last 5 minutes, and the overtime, and at least 4 of them not high risk, high return passes, but simple unprovoked errors. Further, he made a half dozen poor decisions on passing that were not turnovers, but that stalled the offense, or put the ball in the wrong player hands. For example, number 3 above--Ben's foolish baseline drive--should never have happened, because EJ should never have passed the ball into the corner, when the object was to run down the clock and it could have best been run down by keeping the ball out front. Further, EJ made a couple unsuccessful switches on defense in which he refused to honor the switch off and so left a man unguarded. And he crowned it all with taking an almost impossibly lucky break of a last possession, doing what he was supposed to do, getting to the basket and instead of putting up a bank shot Withey would likely have stuck back, taking a 5 foot baseline pull up floater (which Withey likely would have stuck back), or feeding Withey coming to the basket for a dunk, he incomprehensibly fired it out 25 feet to Naadir Tharpe, who could not believe he was receiving the pass and fired up a prayer that missed.

It was perhaps the worst 10 minutes of basketball I have seen a senior point guard play in a big game during the last 50 years of KU basketball. And I can say this despite EJ making two clutch free throws and one big trey during this stretch. And it was this constellation of misplays that lost the game for KU, by literally making it impossible for them to sustain a 10 point lead, and then impossible to sustain a slim lead in the OT, or finally even come back impossibly with a last second chance to win in OT. I frankly cannot think of another point guard in KU history that repeatedly undermined his team for the last ten minutes of a big game. It was one of the most astonishingly bad performances I have witnessed in basketball.

jaybate 7 years, 8 months ago

Part 3

And to nip the anti-Elijah crowd in the bud, even Elijah has never played this poorly before. This was not an injury plagued performance as we saw so many of the games this season. This was not a lot of high risk passes being forced inside and a lot of other high risk passes getting through for points. This was just one nightmare game. The mother of all nightmare games. This was not bad luck. This was not being schemed out of his game. This was not injury. This was a player who's mind simply quit working reliably for ten minutes against a team that had only a prayer of beating KU without the worst ten minutes of basketball played in a big game by a KU point guard in KU history.

EJ actually made a heady play at the beginning when he appeared to cuff McGrary in the jewels. McGrary came out shoving on the first screen. It was a great play to nutt bust him. It basically put UM on their heels the entire half. It was one of those astonishing XTReme Cheap Shots that Self had Marcus Morris pull once or twice; the kind that are so outrageously surreal that the other team, other coach, the referees, and the fans are completely disoriented. The technical and even the follow up revenge fouls called by the refs were worth it in retrospect. Going in up 6 was worth it. And EJ played well for, or at least adequately for, 5 minutes when he came back in in the second half.

But it was the last 5 minutes and the OT that turned into the worst ten minutes of point guard play in a big game in the history of KU basketball. And the amazing thing is that as nearly as I can recall, there is not even a close second to what went on out there.

And yet...and yet...and yet...KU seemed the better team without much question. Not a LOT better. But enough better that they could only lose 87-85 in OT and actually almost win it the last play.

jaybate 7 years, 8 months ago

Part 4

What other team in America could weather what EJ did for the last ten minutes and not be down 10? Maybe 15? Not one!!!

Five turn overs. A miss of a front end of a crucial one and one. And all the rest of the above. Any less than exceptional team would have been crushed by what EJ did.

Contrary to popular belief, this team had a lot of talent. It didn't seem like it at first, because it was so skinny with Jeff and Kevin starting. But Jeff and Kevin were terrific defensive basketball players. And our perimeter players were each exceptional defenders. This team almost certainly would have beaten both Morri teams. It would have beaten all of Sherron's teams, but the ring team. It would have beaten last year's team on a good night. This was one of the best defensive teams I have ever seen. Just an incredible defensive team. Only the 2008 ring team was a better defensive team and even it would have had real trouble scoring on this team. Withey is amazing, and his four teammates were superb defenders that took away the trey most games and left opponents shooting 35-40% most games. Even the vaunted '08 ring team could not do that as consistently as this team did.

This team had exactly what it took to go all the way this year, except one thing. It needed 10 minutes of decent basketball, not great basketball, just decent basketball, from its point guard guard tonight, and it didn't get it.

Michigan is strong down the middle, but without 10 of the worst minutes of point guard basketball, all of Burke's long treys down the stretch, and all of McGrary's 25 points down the stretch would still have meant an L for Michigan.

I love EJ. I love what he has overcome this season to be hugely responsible for willing this team to a great 30+ win season, a conference title, and a Sweet 16 appearance. I love a lot about his game and about him. I am grateful to him for his incredible commitment to making this another great, great, great KU basketball season.

burnmu 7 years, 8 months ago

did you sell your soul to the basketball God's for such amazing insight or are you really HCBS? :) always enjoy reading your blogs bate, they help us that just love the game, but don't have a great understanding of it.

Tony Bandle 7 years, 8 months ago


1] Bad decisions, turnovers and that missed foul shot by Elijah.

2] Jeff totally ran out of gas the last four minutes and got picked and rolled to death by that no name freshmen center all night.

3] Travis disappeared and couldn't stop the second half.

4] Kevin tried his best but was outmatched.

5] Naadir took some weird shots and had to play more than he had before.

6] Bill slowed them down by going to the half court set too early and took out BenMac when he was hot. Bill got totally outcoached.

My point is that it was a team collapse and everyone shares in the responsibilty. If everyone had had the brains to stay face up on Burke and make him drive for 2 instead of pop for three, we would all be cheering for Florida Gulp Coast right now.

Disheartening, disgusting loss that will linger for years until we break back into the Elite Eight or higher!! At least it wasn't to some no name mid-major...if Michigan play like this, they could win it all.....but they won't!!

BIG PICTURE. An great seasaon by a short-handed bunch of, over-achievers who brought us many chills and thrills. Just remember, post NC Game, 67 teams end up disappointed, so we won't be alone!!!!

Tony Bandle 7 years, 8 months ago

Just read Jaybate's totally opposite post..interesting that there can be so many varied opinions. Still. I will die a Jayhawk and come on October!!!

jaybate 7 years, 8 months ago


You win as a team and lose as a team.

But when it comes to losing, sometimes the whole team triggers the loss and sometimes it is two, or three guys, and sometimes it is just one guy.

That to me is why you need to win as a team and lose as a team; because you have to protect your teammates no matter how the triggers of loss are distributed in any particular loss.

And when it comes to analyzing a loss, there are things players might have done to win, but didn't and then there are things you did that created your crisis that caused your mates and you to be in a position to have to find a way to compensate.

Elijah took out a shovel with five to go. He started digging a hole. He never really stopped digging that whole until the final buzzer in OT. I am sorry as hell for him. He deserved all the luck in the world. He deserved to have his mind working beautifully all game. But it didn't.

I have defended him all season long. I am defending him now, as a player. He was our point guard. He had to play. Self made all the right moves. Elijah made a bunch of right moves early on, and then the first five minutes he got back out on the wood. Then something terrible began to unfold. He tried with all his heart to set it right. He made two incredible clutch FTs and a monster 3. But just as there are inexplicably great 39 point games, there are equally mysterious games where players take out shovels and just keep digging themselves and their teams in deeper and deeper.

It happened in a huge game on a huge stage. But it has happened to other players in lesser games on smaller stages.

Shizz happens. We can't control it sometimes. We have to live with it.

Even if Ben had made that base line drive he should never have taken and we had won. Even if EJ had made the front end of the at one and one and we had won. Even if EJ would have shot and made that last basket instead of gunning it out to Naadir. Even if Travis had not disappeared. That last ten minutes of basketball EJ played was The Nightmare on Elm Street of college basketball. His only chance was to wake up and he couldn't.

If we are honest withourselves, we have all had such nightmarish stretches in our lives. We just aren't all doing it on live TV in Jerry Dome in the Madness.

Not saying I'm right and you're wrong either.

I'm just saying that was what I saw and how I interpreted it.

And that I have seen it happen to others and to me in life.

And one is very, very, very, very, very lucky to be on a team that wins as a team and loses as a team when it happens.

Its even more brutal when one is not on a team.

Rock Chalk!! And hurry October!!! The Legacy Goes On!!!!

Mike Riches 7 years, 8 months ago

Agreed, agreed, agreed. But at the end of the day, we have 9.4 seconds left and the only shot we come up with is off-balanced three by a 1 for 7 player who missed the three that could have won it in regulation?? Ultimately Self deserves his fair share of blame for this loss, and he will take it, like the great coach he is. Obviously when there's a perfect storm comeback like this, there are plenty of places to point the finger. Dang, now I know what a Cyclones fan feels like...

Brian Powell 7 years, 8 months ago

actually they drew up the play of EJ attacking the rim in the huddle... but he didn't execute. Coach's words.

Ethan Berger 7 years, 8 months ago

number 6 happened because Ben got in foul rouble

jaybate 7 years, 8 months ago

Part 5

But man did he stink up the joint for 10 minutes of a big game.

I've never seen anything like it.

I wish it hadn't happened to him and to his teammates.

But it did.

All he can do after that is say sometimes you roll snake eyes and are at your worst when you need your best.

As a fan, I have no trouble recalling all of the great things he has done for KU.

As a fan, I have no trouble recalling how far he has come.

As a fan, I have no trouble remembering that anyone can blow up at anytime.

As a fan, I have no trouble saying, "it will feel better when it quits hurting, let go of it, remember your life starts now, and think next."

I sure hope the fans are kind to him and separate the great amount of good he has done as a KU basketball player and put his last ten minutes of basketball in trash can marked tough luck.

Rock Chalk, Elijah Johnson.

Rock Chalk, Travis Releford.

Rock Chalk, Jeff Withey.

Rock Chalk, Kevin Young.

You guys made me proud, no matter what.

ancient_hawk 7 years, 8 months ago

Bill won't say it out loud. So I will. He would have preferred to have the ball in Tharpe's hands at the end, but for one thing: Naadir is 5'11", and is extremely vulnerable to the trap in close games at the end.

nostradavid 7 years, 8 months ago

I'll be looking forward to your wall-of-text entries next year, JB.

Man was made for joy and woe,

And when this we rightly know

Through the world we safely go. - William Blake

Cheers ! - Percy Dovetonsils

Cheers ! - Percy Dovetonsils by nostradavid

jaybate 7 years, 8 months ago

Ah, well, nostra, and I look forward to your new art form I look form next season, as well.

A kick in the gut is nothing to a basketball player, or coach, or fan.

I hope Bill jumps on the plane this morning and goes and recruits some player he thinks he would love to coach and spend time with--just for the symbolic value of it.

Then I hope Bill calls Cin and his kids and says, "Surfs up, somewhere in this big, wide, wonderful world. Let's buy the ugliest bathing suits we can find and hang ten."

Oh, and one more thing, I hope he calls EJ in privately and tells him it was a privilege coaching him and says this was one of those those events that don't define anything unless you let it. Say: you're still a tremendous basketball player that can rehab his knee and make a lot of money at this game. You were my guy and I stuck with you and I'm not sorry I did. I'm sorry we couldn't win it all. You're welcome at my door anytime.

dylans 7 years, 8 months ago

Yeah, it stinks, but don't let the ending take away from a great season. Quit crying JB we don't want to sound like KSU fans on here.

jaybate 7 years, 8 months ago

Nary a tear drop here.

Sorry you can't take it.

You will toughen up.

ancient_hawk 7 years, 8 months ago

I finally sucked it up, and went back to look at that final play. It was an option read. EJ drives right side, Withey dives from FT line, Trav slides to weak-side block, B-Mac flares to strong-side corner for trey, Naads to top as last option and relief valve.

EJ penetrated easily but at a bad angle, which took the layup off the table. None of the men guarding Mac, Withey, or Trav left their man to help at the rim. None of them, they all stuck like glue. EJ gets stuck behind the backboard, so he can't even heave up the prayer. He's forced to kick it out to Naads. You know the rest.

Why, it's almost like the Michigan coach knew that EJ had popped a circuit breaker, and dared him to beat them. eyeroll

Sam Constance 7 years, 8 months ago

They pointed out on the radio today that option read to the right is a play that was almost never run for EJ in his short time as a PG here at KU. I know Self likely did it hoping that Michigan would be caught off guard by a play they weren't prepared for, but Beilein is a solid coach. You know he was telling his guys not to help out, because being up 2, a made three would lose the game, and a made two wouldn't be the end of the world.

I'd say more than Beilein knowing EJ had popped a circuit, he understood basic late-game defensive philosophy and how to maximize your defensive strategy inside without sacrificing an open look from deep.

GimpHawk 7 years, 8 months ago

Go and get paid, Ben. You were a joy to watch. You are a J-Hawk for life!

Woody Cragg 7 years, 8 months ago

You have my most sincere board rat apologies for the dikkoffs Ben, & let me start off by saying I am really proud of your committment to KU BB, and congratulations on a great final game for the Jayhawks.

Many others would not have come back even for one year, and is very unfair that you had to answer the same BS question multiple times after such a tough & final college defeat. We know you're still a kid at heart & would rather have your privacy with your friends. How the jerks with all the inquisitions, plus all the answers, can be that assinine, I'll never understand. It's so easy t see how Bob Knight badgered & belittled them from pure neccessity, when all along they said HE was the jerk. Do what's right for you & yours Ben. Noel may not even be drafted now so surely you moved up one spot at the minimum. And coming back will likely not increase your draft stock at all, only diminish it. Don't listen to the board rat dreamers, they're still pi$$ing off their money on on line gambling, lotto tickets & six-paks every day. So if you get a guaranteed job, a monstrous paycheck, & all expenses paid, it's a no brainer. Is more $ than most of us have seen at our lifetime careers so don't hesitate..Kinda like how some guys play like when up 14 with 6 & the change to go-no brains. You showed your savvy & talents for sure, so follow the rainbow & good luck, Gods' speed, & get great some independant financial counseling outside of the home circle, cause the hangers on will be everywhere, & there won't be a HCBS or staff looking out for you every night when you go pro.

GimpHawk 7 years, 8 months ago

Yes, EJ had a tough game tonight. But he stuck it out for for 4 years and had many memorable moments. He didn't belong at the point -- he was a 2, But he gave it his all to fit Bill's system. Didn't work out tonight, but you can't put losing this game all on EJ's shoulders. Good luck to you EJ in your future endeavors. Thanks for 4 hard fought years!

Bailey52362 7 years, 8 months ago

Yup...Jayhawk for life. Best of luck to EJ, and thanks for that fabulous ISU game, where you put the team on your back and went absolutely insane!

jcourt 7 years, 8 months ago

Withey got his A kicked and everyone in the Basketball World new Johnson was gonna be the death of this team, except the great Bill Self. Its a well known fact you cant win a National Title without a point guard. Coach you must know you are not worth a flip at recruiting point guards. In 10 yrs you gave us Mario and look what happened. I dont know if its you or your assistants who doesnt know what to look for but something has got to change. If you want to say what about Taylor, I would have to laugh. You must have got him off the pot for about 30 days last year. Most of his career he was another Johnson. Im just pissed but really the Jayhawk Fans who travel to all these sites deserve a great point guard.

Mike Riches 7 years, 8 months ago

Russell Robinson, Mario Chalmers, Sherron Collins...I don't think recruiting PGs is Self's Achilles heel. True putting EJ there this year was not the most productive move, but sometimes you have to go with what you've got. Let's hope Frankamp turns into another Jayhawk success story!

Woody Cragg 7 years, 8 months ago

After the 1st 3-4 min & the flagrant 1 & other 2 subsequent fouls on EJ, I could not help feeling like this would be the thing or the person that would nail us in the end...and damned if it didn't. Don't know of you other veteran, seasoned rats, but I just could not stomach the unsportsmanlike behavior, & even when up 14 @ 6 & the change, I told my boy that it may yet come back to haunt us, that here was still alot of time, just like I had said several times the entire contest. With that game on that stage, how on earth did EJ think his cheap shot would not be seen? What a lamebrained act for an entire program & teamates to see & deal with. I thought his teamates deserved better, but that's just my opinion. Yeah, EJ was spectacular at times, but today was not one of them. When the bell rang, I thought young Tharpe did quite well & I questioned Bill giving major min to EJ later when he did. But lastly, I think a sincere thank you is in order for this Jayhawks squad, especially to the guys that have completed their college careers and given the program all that they could with their behavior on & off the court. Keep the chin & the sunnyside up guys, you'll always be Jayhawks so come back often as youwish-the welcome mat will always be out.

actorman 7 years, 8 months ago

EJ said it wasn't intentional -- but of course we would expect the player who did it to say that.

What's more interesting is that according to Self, the referee said he thought it was unintentional. I admit that it looked bad, but the truth is that we don't know if the flagrant foul was intentional or not.

TexiCaliHawk 7 years, 8 months ago

Just STOP IT .. . . for those who feel either 1) E.J. shouldn't bear the brunt of this loss, you're just plain wrong -- everyone else played either to/above their capability; he was the only one (a Senior at that!) who played below their capabilitiy on the biggest stage of all, 2) Ben should 'take the money and run' -- you also are wrong, not because he shouldn't do what's best for his family, but because I'm tired of seeing our very good (and some even great) 'college' players barely eke out a living in the pros and while Ben has 'potential' no doubt, but he is flat out not ready to SUCCEED at the 'next level' -- someone like Trey Burke IS!

Can we all PLEASE just be honest with ourselves and each other -- for the #2 winningest program of all time, we simply do not produce the quantity/quality of NBA players that not only the other Top 5 programs produce, but even several other/lesser programs produce. Believe it or not, I'm actually fine with that, but only IF we take care of business at the collegiate level, which we have also underperformed to our pedigree -- while we have dominated in Conference Play and within the Regular Season, we just seem to 'lay an egg' in the NCAA Tournament as we only have 3 NCAA Championships in the last 60 years whereas other programs have produced more Championships (even Connecticut and Florida have out-shined us in recent years and they are nowhere near KU in the pantheon of college basketball royalty over time).

I'm frustrated and hurting and no amount of 'rationalization' or protection of certain players will suffice -- let's just be open, honest and candid and admit that we simply do not have what it takes to achieve at a higher level. How many years have we 'earned' a #1 Seed, only to fall to a lesser team too early in the tournament -- other than 2008, I would say nearly EVERY time! At what point do we stop this phenomenon and realize that nobody is going to GIVE us anything -- we have to TAKE what we want (as other high profile programs do).

I remain a HUGE jayhawk fan and others can say what they want about this post; however, if you are really being honest with yourself and each other, it is unfortunately our 'reality' -- we are an AWESOME Regular Season Team with tremendous Home Court advantage in AFH, an enviable track record in our Conference and Conference Tourney; however, we have just not performed at a level the #2 Winningest College Basketball Program of ALL Time should perform when the NCAA Tournament rolls around. We can/should do better . . .

rockchalkchalkin23 7 years, 8 months ago

"for those who feel either 1) E.J. shouldn't bear the brunt of this loss, you're just plain wrong"

If ej isn't in the game, can he screw it up?

Who decides who's in the game?

For those of you who think this isn't of self, you're just plain delusional.

I loved ej for nearly 4 years, but it was cut short with that 1000% intentional foul.

Sam Constance 7 years, 8 months ago

" 1) E.J. shouldn't bear the brunt of this loss, you're just plain wrong -- everyone else played either to/above their capability; he was the only one (a Senior at that!) who played below their capabilitiy on the biggest stage of all,"

Pardon my french, but what in the everloving hell are you talking about? Did you ghost write Keegan's hit piece about Johnson?

Jeff Withey pulled down 8 rebounds and scored 12 points in 39 minutes. That is not "to his ability". He man went nuts on pick and rolls and dominated him on the boards to the tune of 25 points and 14 rebounds. In what world did Withey play to his ability!?

Naadir Tharpe shot a horrendous 1-8 from the field on the game and didn't earn a single free throw in spite of his ability to drive the ball. At least EJ was aggressive enough to get to the line.

Ben McLemore took 1 shot in the final 16 minutes of the game. A guy who was 8-14 (including 4-8 from three) in the first 24 minutes took ONE FREAKING SHOT in the final 16. How is that playing to the best of his abilities?

I'd say 2-3 guys can be 100%, no-doubt proud of the performances they submitted on Friday: Releford, Young and Ellis. But don't let facts get in the way of your scapegoating.

nostradavid 7 years, 8 months ago

Thanks for a good run, Ben. Don't worry about us ...

Happy Moon

Happy Moon by nostradavid

wrwlumpy 7 years, 8 months ago

No blame please. This was an incredible game. We had a big lead and a defeat like this where a great player on the other team has a sacred light shine on him where he can step back 6 feet' behind the arc and hit nothing but net 3 times in the most clutch moments.

We got beat.


Ben, "We never Knew Ye."

We are blessed every year as Jayhawk fans to have the back ups from last year win over 30 games, win the Big 12 Regular Season, Big 12 Tournament and the sweet 16. How many other schools would like to repeat this KU fan's statement. "We only made it to the Sweet 16 back in 2013,"

texashawk10 7 years, 8 months ago

KU beat themselves. EJ's turnover's and Bill Self not putting Naadir in and taking KY out to give KU an extra ball handler and great FT shooter cost KU that game. Yes, Trey Burke made some amazing shots, but those shots mean nothing if not for Self and EJ's mistakes last night.

Abdu Omar 7 years, 8 months ago

Of course we wanted to win this game and go on futher in the tournament, but this is not professional basketball and they played their hearts out this season. I, too, wish we would have won, but we didn't. How many team wish they would have made the Sweet 16? North Carolina, Georgetown, Gonzaga? These were good teams that lost, too, and we beat some good teams this year. Like Iowa State, Ok State, Ok, Baylor, K-State. Come on, look and what those guys accomplished. Win or lose it is a game and they always has to be a loser. It sounds mercenary but it is a game.

If Ben wants to play professional, and I am sure he does, he will make it. He has talent, athleticism, a good head on his shoulders and that is what the NBA looks for. Let him make his decision and may he always be successful. I have enjoyed watching him this year and hope the best for him and his family. Thanks Jayhawks for a great season!

NBARules 7 years, 8 months ago

I know you need to go for your mom and you need to get the money. But please stay you will get better overtime if you stay, it is your choice and you do what you want if I was in your situation I would probobly go to the NBA to get the money. But all of the Kansas Fans and Community want you to stay we all like going to games and watching you along with everyone else play. So you do what's best for you and your family, but Me and the Kansas Jayhawk Community will miss watching you play in Allen Feildhouse next year if you do leave. "Beware of the Phog."

native_ballaz 7 years, 8 months ago

Good season Ben, I believe that you should stay one more year. Don't make the mistake that Josh Selby made averaging 2.3 pts a game. Get traded. Plus the way you struggled in the tournament, don't go out like that. It will make you much stronger and a more dominate player. Plus you have a good strength and conditioning coach. That will get you ready. Your a young man, you have many years playing to go.

Much love man,

Aho! Pilameyelo!! ( thank you )

fansincewilt 7 years, 8 months ago

This one hurts a lot. They all hurt but this one is different. In the other games, we just got beat. In this one, we beat ourselves. We gave this game away. I feel so sorry for the players. We can easily second guess decisions down the stretch. It's easy for us to be critical of those decisions. It hurts. But, it was another Big 12 championship and tourney championship. We played well in those three games and all but four minutes of last night's game. I know EJ didn't want to turn it over and didn't want to make the decisions he made. I don't know what happened. I am sorry for all of them. They know they should have won that game. We will get over it with another year of great basketball from the new Jayhawks. We all make huge mistakes but we don't have tens of thousands of people looking at our every move. I wish them all the best and I pray that EJ can put this behind him. I agree with the gentleman that said Bill Self should call him into his office and try to make him feel better. I am grateful for all their work to entertain us. Great job, guys. We have been entertained again. 31 - 6. You were great!

Rjanowski 7 years, 8 months ago

I am OK with whatever he chooses, I think he can benfit from one more year. Case in point Paul PIerce, I was at KU when Piece was there and saw the transformation from his Frosh to Soph year and it was exactly how the great Al Mcguire said it, best thing about freshman, they become sophmores and I do think it helped him become a better pro. He can use his time at KU improving his game rather then sitting on the bench on an NBA team. Just think he went 2 games in the tourney without a FG, now he is going to be expected to play against Lebron, Kobe, etc. I understand why he would go, I just think it could be better for him if he stays. And selfishly, think about him, Ellis, this great recruiting class plus Landon Lucas, top 5 team for sure. Again, especially based on the needs of his family I can understand why he would go.

Steve Brown 7 years, 8 months ago

Ben Selfishly I wish you could stay and yet see how it is best for you to go. I hope you have enjoyed playing here as much as we have enjoyed watching you play, keep smiling and enjoy the journey. Work hard every day on your game, try to limit the bad influences and know that you have a home here, come back some day and play in veteran game. We will remember you and support your career. Thanks.

Jonathan Unruh 7 years, 8 months ago

The talent in the NBA is too great. Ben needs another year to secure PT among skilled men. If he's willing to ride the bench for two years, play games in front of 800 fans in D league or he can return for another and be the Naismith POY. HE CAN enter draft in 2014 to earn more money with endorsements and be in a much better position to take care of himself and his family.

yates33333 7 years, 8 months ago

Very intelligent comment. He isn't ready. He isn't tough enough for the pros. Sitting on the bench or playing D league ball won't get him as ready as playing a year or two longer for KU. He can either have a career like Selby or a career like Pierce. Guess which one he ought to choose.

brooksmd 7 years, 8 months ago

Wow, were people this harsh with Collison in '03 when he couldn't hit a FT in the championship game?

dylans 7 years, 8 months ago

No social media, thankfully. But I'm still a little sick over that one too.

yates33333 7 years, 8 months ago

Missing free throws and pulling bonehead plays are much, much different. Likewise, anyone who compares Collison with Johnson just doesn't watch KU basketball or doesn't know Jack merde about basketball.

Sam Constance 7 years, 8 months ago

I think the same could be said of anyone who thinks this loss can be pinned on Johnson..

The thing about knowing Jack mierda.

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