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Thursday, March 12, 2020

KU men’s basketball players express frustrations over abrupt end to 2019-20 season

Kansas head coach Bill Self watches over his team's shoot around 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 head coach Bill Self watches over his team's shoot around 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.

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Kansas point guard Devon Dotson needed just one word to describe his emotions after learning Thursday afternoon that the 2020 NCAA Tournament had been canceled amid concerns over the rapid spread of the coronavirus.

“Nightmare,” Dotson posted on Twitter.

This, a couple of hours after the all-Big 12 guard and 2019-20 All-American had reacted earlier Thursday to the cancelation of the Big 12 Tournament with the words, “Man no wayyyyyyyy.”

Just like that, the college basketball season was over before top-ranked Kansas could even leave the area to start down what it hoped would be a path to the Final Four.

By all accounts, the Jayhawks were poised to enter next week as the NCAA Tournament’s No. 1 overall seed and one of the favorites to win the 2020 national title.

In addition to finishing the season ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press and USA Today Top 25 polls, Bill Self’s Jayhawks, who finished the regular season at 28-3 and 17-1 en route to recapturing the Big 12 crown, were ranked No. 1 in ESPN’s BPI rankings, the KPI rankings, by Sagarin and on KenPom.com.

KU also had been ranked No. 1 in the NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) rankings for most of the final month of the season. However, one last look on Thursday showed the Jayhawks listed at No. 2 in the NET rankings, behind Gonzaga.

Instead of capitalizing on the position their spots in those rankings had put them in, the Kansas players were left to contemplate finishing the month without a chance to compete for a national championship.

“Over that fast,” tweeted KU junior Marcus Garrett.

“I’m speechless,” said KU freshman Tristan Enaruna.

“Don’t know what to say or think,” added KU senior Mitch Lightfoot, who redshirted the 2019-20 season.

All of those responses were posted to social media.

Earlier Thursday, Self released a statement reacting to the Big 12’s decision to cancel the conference tournament.

“While we are disappointed for the players, it was the right and necessary thing to do,” Self said. “As I said (Wednesday), this is bigger than a sport or championship. I know our medical staff and the NCAA will research all avenues to determine the appropriate steps moving forward.”

Kansas women’s basketball coach Brandon Schneider, whose team finished 10th in the Big 12 this season and was slated to play at 8:30 p.m. Thursday, also released a statement.

“Our players were excited about the opportunity to compete in the Big 12 Tournament,” Schneider said. “However, in light of all the information that has become available in the past 24 hours, we understand cancelation was the appropriate response. The health and safety of our players will always be priority number one.”

The decision to exercise caution in the face of the spread of the virus extended well beyond college basketball.

KU Athletic Director Jeff Long said in a statement Thursday that all athletic-related travel had been canceled indefinitely, and home and away athletic events had been suspended in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

The statement from Long came shortly after all NCAA conference basketball tournaments were canceled and with the fate of the NCAA Tournament still hanging in the balance.

“Our highest priority at Kansas Athletics is to ensure the safety and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches and staff,” Long said. “Based on the recommendation of our medical professionals, we have canceled all athletic travel indefinitely. In addition, all home and away athletics events have been suspended indefinitely. We will continue to monitor the situation and determine the next appropriate steps based on advice from our medical team.”

KU clarified to the Journal-World that the suspension of “athletics events” would include practices. Kansas football’s spring practice was scheduled to begin March 17 and run through April 18.

The Big 12 Conference also announced Thursday that it had suspended all other conference championships until April 15 and that, beginning Friday, it had suspended all regular-season competitions, on- and off-campus recruiting and out-of-season practices until March 29.

“The suspension of these athletic-related activities does not include campus-based practices for in-season sports, strength and conditioning activities for all sports and does not apply to teams and individuals participating in NCAA Championship competition,” the Big 12 statement read.

In addition to calling off the men’s and women’s basketball championships, the upcoming gymnastics and equestrian championships have been canceled.

Future Big 12 championships this season will be evaluated by April 15, the conference said.

— Journal-World reporters Conner Mitchell and Benton Smith contributed to this report.

Comments

Barry Weiss 4 months ago

these kids deserve a National Championship the way they played all year. I still believe the NCAA should crown them, based on all of the other metrics that point to them.

Bill Pitcher 4 months ago

Well then, just send us the national championship trophy.....

Bryce Landon 4 months ago

The players are frustrated, and rightfully so. They worked their asses off all year for the opportunity to play for the highest of stakes and cut down the nets in Atlanta. They invested so much time and energy into Boot Camp, grueling practices, and 30+ games against tough opponents from late October until now, and now it's all been in vain. They weren't given any say in whether or not to play the postseason; a bunch of overpaid bureaucrats made it for them. They'll never know the thrill of cutting down the nets or of hoisting a trophy. It's all been ripped from them.

And for what? Because there is a fraction of a percentage of a chance that someone might get sick with a disease that has a very high recovery rate.

I feel the worst for Udoka Azubuike and Isaiah Moss, the two seniors whose careers were cut short with no chance of being allowed to return for one last hurrah in 2021 to make up for what was wrongfully taken from them.

Brett McCabe 4 months ago

I agree, contributing to the deaths of a handful of old people is a meager price to pay so that you, not the players, can crow about being a National Champion.

Bryce Landon 4 months ago

As if any of those old people would actually attend tournament games even without the virus scare.

I'd tell you to pull your head out of your ass, but it's shoved so far up there that it's permanently stuck in your ribcage, and God Himself couldn't pull it out.

Brian Wilson 4 months ago

Ridiculous hysteria just tring to submarine the economy and America. Mankind has made it through plagues much worse, this is not as bad as the flu, get over it and let's get onwith our lives. ITMT, do whatever you can to keep from spreading germs. Wash your hands....especially your finger tips, and stop playin* er touching yourself

Tim Orel 4 months ago

You're wrong about this being "not as bad as the flu". The rate of death, at this point with the reports from around the world, ranges from just less than 1% in South Korea (which is still about 7x that of the flu) to over 11% in Iran (which is admittedly based on pretty poor statistics, which would be about 100x as deadly as the flu). There is no good information on the rate of spread, but it's going around the world quickly and there's no vaccine so people who got the flu shot (and so are therefore protected against about half the flu circulating this year) are totally unprotected against this corona virus.

Benjamin Shear 4 months ago

My heart breaks for them. I know it's 'just' basketball, but it is a traumatic loss for them. I am sad for them.

The NCAA tournament has been played every year since 1939. It has been played through war, sickness, political upheaval, riots, civil unrest, and economic uncertainty. But it could not survive the possibility of Covid-19. History will not be a fair judge. If the pandemic fiddles out, then those who advocated all the cancelling/social distancing/safetyisms will smugly pat themselves on the back and congratulate each other for saving lives. If it turns out to be really bad, they will say, "see, we told you so! Imagine if we hadn't cancelled all these things!" I predict more of this type of thing in the future.

Brett McCabe 4 months ago

Those smug SOB’s and their prevention of deaths!

There is nothing more powerful than a Straw Man except a Smug Straw Man!

I do find it interesting that your avatar is the ugliest version of the Jayhawk that seems to come from a Poe poem.

James Mathews 4 months ago

Actually i think its one of first if not the first Jayhawk mascots. Straw man? Please explain to someone that is old 60 years who has had season tickets since the late1970’s under Ted Owens, you do know he is right????

Tim Orel 4 months ago

It is the first drawing of the Jayhawk. Still, I agree that it is the ugliest. I'm much happier with the Smiling Jay or the WWII versions.

John Pritchett 4 months ago

Have some perspective here. In 2009, while the NBA, MLB, NHL and many other events went on as planned, the H1N1 virus was raging. In the US, from April 2009 to April 2010, it sickened over 90 million people, 275,000 were hospitalized, and 13,000 died. Over 500,000 people died worldwide. And that virus targeted younger and middle-aged people, the very people who would attend these sporting events. By comparison, Covid 19 is mild for young and middle-aged people, and only life threatening to the elderly and immunocompromised. Those at risk for Covid 19 are easily isolated from the general public, and are not likely to attend a sporting event. We should be cancelling our trip to see Grandma at the retirement home, not the NCAA tournament!

So what was different then than now? Why didn't we cancel life in 2009 like we are today? The answer is, we didn't then and we shouldn't be doing it today. I pray this will not become the new normal. Because this is an overreaction, and it is tragic. You can't cancel life because of the risks. We should be urging caution and common sense measures, not stoking hysteria. These players deserve their tournament, and they are victims of the fear-porn that consumes our society on a daily basis now. It is sad and unnecessary.

Robert Robinson 4 months ago

Can you imagine what it must feel like to be Brett? Trolling kusports as a hobby. That's the highlight of his day, calling someone's avatar ugly. Haha, what a loser.

Benjamin Shear 4 months ago

If you don't feed the trolls, they eventually go away. The key is to never respond with a rise or emotion. Those who troll do it because they enjoy the power they feel over others. Rob them of that 'power' and the game becomes un-fun. I propose a new rule: don't respond to said individual with any emotion or argument.

Robert Brock 4 months ago

These trolls may change their tune when this blows up like in Italy.

Brett McCabe 4 months ago

Troll = calling BS on BS’rs. Best, Troll McCabe.

Dirk Medema 4 months ago

Some people don’t go away even when they say they will.

Dirk Medema 4 months ago

I’m pretty sure Mario never thinks about ‘08.

Didn’t Coach Self warn them about it before the game, but what does he know.

Blake Brown 4 months ago

"KU Athletic Director Jeff Long said in a statement Thursday that all athletic-related travel had been canceled indefinitely, and home and away athletic events had been suspended in light of the coronavirus pandemic."

This came after he consulted ESPN+ to see if it was OK to do that.

Stuart Corder 4 months ago

Kansas is the unanimous #1 team in the country going into the NCAA tournament, and since the season was ended before a champion could be declared I sincerely think KU has a legitimate claim to the COVOID-19 season title.

What is the NCAA going to do - sanction and take it away from us? laugh

I’d buy the championship gear...unless online sales are shutdown to when co-void19 goes “viral”.

Joe Black 4 months ago

"KU also had been ranked No. 1 in the NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) rankings for most of the final month of the season. However, one last look on Thursday showed the Jayhawks listed at No. 2 in the NET rankings, behind Gonzaga." How in all things holy can you drop below someone who plays in a very weak conference while you just keeping winning in a much tougher conference? This is the kind of thing that makes these rankings like NET.rankings so incredibly stupid. What moron sitting in his momma's basement came up with this one? Gonzaga split games with BYU and we beat BYU. Gonzaga got beat by a Michigan team that really wasn't that good. They were just part of the slew of mediocre teams in the Big Ten that kept bouncing in and out of being ranked.(The Big Ten had that spot between 21-25 ranking down well for most of the season).

Greg Bowles 4 months ago

The smart and fair thing for the NCAA to do, would be to allow those teams who qualify for the tournament, to let the seniors on their squads have one more year eligibility, if they so choose. The underclassmen will have another chance to play, but the seniors were totally screwed out of the crowning event of the season, by no fault of their own. Personally, I think this whole Covid-19 is a bunch of over reacting on the part of a few people. I'm a kidney transplant recipient, immune compromised, 62 years old, and would of in a heart beat attended a tournament game with no fear. RCJH!

Brad Watson 4 months ago

Great Job this year...Crazy times ...we finished at the top of the polls...it is what it is...again...Great job by everyone involved with this years' team...really played some quality ball the last 10 games.

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