AUBURN HILLS, MICH. No basketball fans suffered more in the month of March the past two seasons than backers of Kansas University.
Not Syracuse fans who watched their team make atypical first-round exits two years in a row, and not Illinois fans, whose team made it all the way to 2005 title game only to lose to North Carolina and was bounced in Saturday's second round by Washington.
Losing as a No. 3 seed to Bucknell in '05 and as a No. 4 seed late Friday night to Bradley after a streak of 21 consecutive first-round victories, KU hasn't won a tournament game since blasting Alabama-Birmingham in '04 to advance to the Elite Eight, where an overtime loss to Georgia Tech prevented the Jayhawks from making the Final Four.
Focusing on the three-game tourney losing streak is no way to shake the blues. The only way out is to look forward, not backward.
The chances of a third consecutive one-and-done meltdown, next time to a Butler or a Ball State, are as slim as the Booth Family Hall of Athletics one day featuring a bronze bust of Micah Downs.
While no basketball fan has had it tougher in March of late than a KU fan, few have as much reason to look forward to the next couple of seasons.
Brandon Rush was responsible for the first good news in the wake of the Bucknell bust and ensuing Moon Bar stabbing of J.R. Giddens.
And Rush again was responsible for the first ray of good news in the aftermath of the loss to Bradley, the latest Killer B to ruin KU's March. Sitting in front of his locker, Rush said he would be back for his sophomore season because he didn't "want to go out this way."
Things are looking good on the Darrell Arthur front. Arthur, a 6-foot-9 burner from Dallas more offensively skilled than KU's current big men, could help salve the wounds as early as this week with a commitment to KU.
With Arthur on board to join Julian Wright, Sasha Kaun, C.J. Giles and Darnell Jackson, KU would go five-deep up front, three of them upperclassmen, the other two extraordinary athletes.
On the perimeter, four players would get most of the 120 minutes. Incoming freshman Sherron Collins of Chicago Crane is the No. 2-rated point guard in the nation. With Russell Robinson and Mario Chalmers equipped to play the point and wing, and Rush determined to tighten his ballhandling, KU will have perimeter depth and flexibility few teams can match. Brady Morningstar, tearing it up in prep-school ball, will battle for minutes as well.
It all adds up to a top-10 preseason ranking. Depending on what players book to the pros from other programs, top five is a strong possibility, and a preseason No. 1 isn't completely out of the question.
With so much depth and quickness, KU coach Bill Self might want to consider using a 3-1-1 or 2-2-1 full-court press, however sparingly, as a way to wake up his team when sluggish and terrify opponents into fumbling away leads. Plenty of time to worry about that.
More immediate concerns rule the day on the KU sports scene. Spring football is under way and concludes with the April 14 spring football game. Basketball season is over, yet Kerry Meier hype season has just begun.