Thursday, March 12, 2020

Disappointed Kansas fans in Kansas City try to find silver lining after cancellation of Big 12 tournament

Kansas players practice on Wednesday, March 11, 2020 at Sprint Center. On Wednesday afternoon, the NCAA announced that upcoming basketball tournaments would be played without fans because of concerns about the spread of the coronavirus.

Kansas players practice on Wednesday, March 11, 2020 at Sprint Center. On Wednesday afternoon, the NCAA announced that upcoming basketball tournaments would be played without fans because of concerns about the spread of the coronavirus.


Kansas City, Mo. — Kansas basketball fans who on Thursday traveled from all across the state to cheer on the top-ranked Jayhawks in the Big 12 tournament had to find other ways to occupy their time.

Late Thursday morning, roughly two-and-a-half hours before Kansas was to tipoff against Oklahoma State in the quarterfinals of the annual event at Sprint Center, the Big 12 Conference announced that it had canceled the final three rounds of this year’s tourney in light of concerns about the rapidly spreading coronavirus.

A few hours later the NCAA announced that its signature event, the NCAA Touranment, also had been canceled.

While news of both cancelations brought a fair amount of disappointment to Kansas fans all over the country, those who were scheduled to be inside Sprint Center on Thursday were frustrated for multiple reasons.

“I guess my take on it is maybe the coronavirus is overhyped a little bit,” Salina resident Brad Moxter said while sipping a beer with a buddy at Kansas City’s Power & Light District. “I understand exercising caution and I believe in that, but I also hate to see (Udoka) Azubuike not be able to compete for a national championship.”

Moxter was not the only lingering Jayhawk fan who had Azubuike on his mind Thursday.

“That’s the first thing I thought of,” said Centralia resident Matt Wells. “‘Man, that guy hasn’t ever played in the Big 12 tournament and now he never will.’”

Wells and his wife, Nikki, who traveled to the tournament with another couple to fulfill their hotel reservation made months ago, spent Thursday afternoon at the nearby Zoo Bar instead of inside Sprint Center.

Wells admitted that they have not always gone to the Thursday games during their trips to the Big 12 tourney.

“We always skip the first day because, thanks to Bill Self and company, we’re always fortunate enough to play the second day,” Wells said.

But missing out altogether was not something he was all that cheerful about on Thursday.

“To them it’s a revenue generator,” said Wells of the Big 12 Conference, which has no insurance to offset the lost revenue from this week’s change of schedule. “To us it’s a fun tradition. But when the Big Ten (canceled its tournament), I thought, ‘We’re going to be screwed.’”

Miki Strobel, a KU fan from South Kansas City, who was killing time at Power & Light with her two friends, Pam Gobel, a KU graduate, and Linda Reeter, for the eighth consecutive Thursday session at the Big 12 tournament, predicted Thursday’s cancelation after another recent event.

“When the NBA pulled the plug, we knew everything else was inevitable,” Strobel said. “And it’s OK. “It’s a beautiful day, but it’s a bummer.”

While this group and dozens of other fans decked out in Big 12 team apparel filled the bars and restaurants around Sprint Center Thursday afternoon, all of them were forced to juggle the disappointment and necessity of the situation.

“The only thing you can do is trust that the people in charge know what they’re talking about,” said Bryan Vaughn, who came with Moxter from Salina. “I don’t disagree with it, but nobody’s coming and asking my opinion either.”

Added Reeter: “It’s disappointing, but in the back of your mind, you know you’re doing the right thing.”


Bryce Landon 2 months, 3 weeks ago

The only silver lining would be if Kansas was awarded the national championship by virtue of being #1 at the end of the season in the polls.

Brett McCabe 2 months, 3 weeks ago

I do not understand the desire for a National Championship that wasn’t earned. Is this a KSU website? Is Bruce Weber our coach?

David Kelley-Wood 2 months, 3 weeks ago

True, which means there is no silver lining.

Armen Kurdian 2 months, 3 weeks ago

A trophy is just meaningless without earning it. We'll end up #1 in the AP poll....been a really long time someone ended up #1 w/o winning a title...Ironically it happened back in 1988 when Syracuse was the final #1 and KU, despite winning it all was #4.

Shannon Gustafson 2 months, 3 weeks ago

While we can't earn the trophy by traditional means (through the tournament), the football championship was determined by the polls for 125 years before the BCS era arrived so it's not like it's an outlandish idea to think a national champion could be determined by their body of work over 31 games in the regular season (which is 2-3x more games than they played decades ago in Football to determine a champion by the polls). It sure seems like a better way to finish the season than acting like it never happened and just flushing everything this teams accomplished down the drain.

I'd prefer if they could play it out in a month (but it won't happen) or that they could do an elite 8 or final 4 only since that could be done over a long weekend at a single venue with no fans and minimal staff (but it won't happen).

I feel like if Duke was the unanimous #1 right now the NCAA would hand them the trophy...

Dane Pratt 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Exactly!!! The NCAA does not sanction a national championship in football. For most of its history it was determined by the final poll by sportswriters and coaches.

Robert Brock 2 months, 2 weeks ago

We’re NUMBER ONE! Print the T-shirts.

Chad Smith 2 months, 2 weeks ago

No awarding championships like that in basketball. It would be contradictory to KU's history in fact. If we awarded it on polls the 1988 team would hold no special place in our heart, KU was a 6 seed that year. It was a special run and one that that team earned.

The tournament is the best barometer because it measures pressure, ability, stamina, poise, consistency, fundamentals, risk and other variables the regular season or conference tournament just doesn't contain.

KU should definitely be honored in some way for the fantastic regular season they had. But awarding a national championship just wouldn't be correct. I'm so sad for Doke.

Brian Jahelka 2 months, 2 weeks ago

We have banners hanging in Allen Fieldhouse that say 1922 and 1923 National Champions. Those of course pre-date the NCAA Tournament. Other schools (e.g. North Carolina, Stanford, Notre Dame, Purdue) also claimed National Championships prior to the NCAA Tournament as well. With this year void of a tournament, why wouldn't KU go old school and claim a championship like was done in the past? I mean, this is how college football did it ~forever~, and those were considered "legit" in the absence of a tournament!

It still won't feel right. Even if the NCAA flat out christened KU Nat Camps... Coaches and players be like, "OK, cool, I guess". Certainly no feelings like they would have cutting down the nets... But at least they could say, "Hey, we won't the 2020 National Championship***". =)

I guess I don't really too much one way or another how it turns out. In my mind (and an overwhelming majority of other people's minds), KU is the best team in college basketball in 2020 when you look at the whole body of work. Sucks to not have a shot to prove it in the tourney.

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