Sunday, March 19, 2006

A warm welcome: Despite loss, fans show support as team returns

Town wonders, 'What happened?'


So whoever this Bradley guy is, he wasn't so popular around Lawrence on Saturday.

"Where is Bradley?" asked Kansas University senior Colin Gonzales, of Kansas City, Kan., as he perused Henry T's Bar & Grill on Saturday afternoon.


"We hadn't really seen them play," John Amyx said while snipping hair at his Downtown Barber Shop on Saturday. "They were a lot quicker than we thought they would be."

OK, so Amyx and Gonzales were talking about Bradley University, the Missouri Valley Conference private school from Peoria, Ill., that enrolls about 5,000 undergraduate students every year and whose men's basketball team blasted the Kansas Jayhawks out of the NCAA tournament Friday night 77-73.

And around town, for the first time since early in the Big XII conference season, it wasn't much fun to be a KU fan.

At the Jock's Nitch, 837 Mass., two clerks folded shirts slowly Saturday, and both said they didn't want to think about the game, let alone have a conversation about it.

Up the street at Joe College, 734 Mass., the story was much the same. Blue KU T-shirts hung from the walls, but with the basketball season hitting an abrupt wall Friday night, no one had much crimson or blue pride to speak of.

"I thought they didn't show up to play," Jeremy Ward said as he watched a second-round game on a TV behind the counter. "It was like the first game of the season."

Ward had watched the game with some buddies at his place, and after the Bradley Braves shot lights-out all night, his night of celebrating St. Patrick's Day - and an expected KU victory - hit the brakes.

"It was the end of a long day," he said.

Ben Mitchum watched the Jayhawks' long day end at the Phoggy Dog, 2228 Iowa. Mitchum's a serious basketball fan, and he knew all about the Braves coming into the game.

Here are some things he knew: They were good. But all season long, they didn't shoot particularly well beyond the three-point arch.

Things were different Friday. It was different against the Jayhawks.

"I didn't expect them to shoot three-pointers like that," Mitchum said. "They sure shot well last night."

The Braves shot KU out of a tournament many - including big shot ESPN honchos - thought they would thrive in. But mixed among the criticism and praise of Bradley on Saturday were kind words and hope for a better team next year.

"It's a young team," Gonzales said. "This one will be a little bit easier to smooth over."

At the Jet Lag lounge, Deb Drummet mused the baby jays should be all grown up next year, especially come tourney time in March.

"It's just sad, but they're young," she said. "They did a heck of a lot better than I though they would."

And that was generally the praise heaped on Coach Bill Self as well Saturday. Sure, it was his second year of bowing out early in the NCAA Tournament. But the Big XII regular season and tournament crowns glowed still.

"I don't want to blame it on him," Mitchum said as he sipped a drink at Jefferson's Restaurant, 743 Mass. "People say we got outcoached. We just got outplayed."

But even with all of the accolades - Big XII Coach of the Year included - will people blame Self for the double-dip of first round bummers?

"I hope not," said Sherry Warren, of Baldwin.

Sitting at Jet Lag, Todd Grigg, a KU graduate from Wichita, simply didn't want to hear all that talk.

"Tell everyone to leave Self alone," he said.

What the fans were saying saturday after KU's loss to Bradley:

"They were making so many dumb passes and not taking care of the ball at all. They need to work more on the fundamentals." - Mathews Athiyal, Olathe, 2004 KU graduate

"I think it's worse than last year. I thought we kind of would slip under the radar. I thought we'd surprise some people." - KU senior Colin Gonzales, Kansas City, Kan.

"It's just the experience. I mean, most of these guys didn't play against Bucknell last year - even the sophomores." - Chris Barnes, Overland Park, 2003 KU graduate

"It's just sad, but they're young. They did a heck of a lot better than I thought they would." - Deb Drummet, Lawrence


cobweb 16 years, 8 months ago

Great team and great season. Bradley is a pretty good team that got hot on the same night we went cold. Period. This is the same Jayhawk team that outclassed Texas and Kentucky. We'll be in the Top 10 for years to come. People attach way too much importance to the Tournament results. Coach Self is a tough guy and understands this stuff goes with the territory. That's why he makes the big bucks. Some very good teams have gotten eliminated this year and several top seeds required a lot of luck to survive. Stop second-guessing and show some class.

Onecent 16 years, 8 months ago

Yeah you are right COWEB . NCAA tourney is nothing so there is no need to play for . And KU BB will go down to the like of KSU or MU or some mid-major schools . Next year we would be a number One seed and loose to 16-seed , at that time I dont know what you are going to say . Well, let me guess , you would say that 16-seed has nothing to loose and we simply have a bad night . If something bad happens repeatedly then there are something wrong with the system , coaching or both . Bill Self is a head coach , he is responsible . He is man enough to be a head coach but he is not man enough to pound his chest and admit he is out-prepared. He deflected his deficiency to players that they dont play well , they play timid , play scare , they play sloppy and this and that . I am telling you if he got booted first round again then he will know what is going to happen to him like you said " stuff goes with the territory " . I am sick of him making excuses after excuses. He is a good coach or bad one only time will tell but now he is just an averaged one . Losing to the no name schools are embarrassing and it feels like a Ferrari llooses a race to a Kia .

GIHAWK 16 years, 8 months ago

Nice job Onecent. This Rah-Rah BS is getting old.....

jayhawkox 16 years, 8 months ago

Wow, all three of you last "fans" can't possibly actually consider yourselves that. Show me a team that has ever fared well in an NCAA tournament starting 3 freshman and 2 sophomores who are backed up by 1 senior and 2 more sophmores. Unrealistic expectations are your own fault, the team will learn from this and move on, you bashing them on some message board isn't going to help anything.

willie_wildcat 16 years, 8 months ago

jayhawk and benny- would you expect anything else coming out of the mouths of the fair weather fans? Like I said yesterday and jayhawk said this team is young and given time they will be a force to be reckoned with. The fans that greeted them are exactly that: the true fans. Thick and thin.

I saw the same thing when I went to Kansas State. When the football team was winning all of sudden the fans came out of the woodwork then when they took a hit they moaned and groaned and slammed them. It's sad that people put such unrealistic expectations on teams when they are only human.

jimjacket 16 years, 8 months ago

Something tells me that the UNC loss will stop a lot of the Bill -bashing. Freshmen and sophomores don't carry the tournament load very well, it's as simple as that. Bill got our guys ready for the Big 12 tournament and he did his job for the Bradley game. The players still have to play and we didn't do that very well and paid for it. Get 'em next year and I won't quit on them, will you?

SAHM2tylrnathan 16 years, 8 months ago

onecent, that no-name school just pounded somebody else to make the Sweet 16. Go cheer for somebody else, maybe Roy, oh wait, he's headed home too.... The real fans will be here waiting to see the results of the off-season training come October.

Jeremy Bolinger 16 years, 8 months ago

well lets go fire bill self and change the system again...hes only one 2 conference championships and a tourney in 3 years......thats not enough to some people I guess.....who would coach us after that? Turgeon? Yea right! come on people, pull your heads out of your you know what! Roy aint comming back so quit crying and be true fans.

Jeremy Bolinger 16 years, 8 months ago

oh and if we fire self, we'd have the same problems that some of you think we have now. learning a new system and all of that!

patton6 16 years, 8 months ago

one cent and gihawk, it is almost hard to even address you, considering i don't think you have the brain capacity to process anything logical. things may not have worked out perfectly this year, but they could have gone worse, A LOT WORSE. self and the players did a great job and i can't wait to see how much they improve by next year. by then, when they are winning even more, i suppose bill self will have become a much better coach in your minds. that's some great logic.

BigRed 16 years, 8 months ago

At least an average shooter and horrible ball handler has decided to return to KU for another season. Mainly because nobody would draft him. Someone needs to pull Rush aside and give him a reality check, he is only the fourth best player on his team. Go play in the NBDL for 4 years if you don't like school.

mitch 16 years, 8 months ago

Being a fan of a team is like a good take a vow of supporting them in both good and bad times...anybody can support a team when everything is going right...what really makes for an awesome team and fan base is to lavish support especially when things go long as the team is trying, that's what counts...this is an extremely talented, yet very young year has the potential to be amazing...and you know what?...even if it isn't I'll still be shouting Rock Chalk, Jayhawk, Go KU!!!!...for all of the fair weather friends, just pick the winner of the tournament after they've won...then support them until another team wins next year...then support them...your chant can be, "Go team, go...I'm for whoever is the winner" those kind of fair weather fans are the real losers...

SAHM2tylrnathan 16 years, 8 months ago

From AP: "Williams sniffled while he recounted his late-game blunder. Then, he thought about what his young team had accomplished."

At least Bill doesn't cry when he loses in the tournament.

bethnbob 16 years, 8 months ago

Hey gihawk,hitme,spipp33. You're right, let's fire Bill Self maybe they could hire you 3 dopes. Oh wait you probably couldn't coach half of what Self coaches, or Quinn Snyder for that matter. Go to MU then we'll have someone else to laugh at. I think it's just hilarious that there are so many "couch coaches" out there blaming Self when they lose, but when they won Big XII titles and Bill Self Big XII coach of the year were cheering them on. You're pathetic!!!!!!!!!!!!!

jimjacket 16 years, 8 months ago

Hey spipp33 - I've been out and just read your 5:34 post! Brilliant! Why did your tournament list start with 2005? Why not 2004? The new system and old players did pretty well, right? And, by the way, for every "blind" basketball fan except those of one school, it's "all about next year baby!!" You're playing the game with the coach's chips. Shut up, ante up and get in the game with the rest of us.

freebird 16 years, 8 months ago

Jayhawkox: Michigan 1992 and 1993 starting five Freshmen in 1992 and five Sophomores in 1993. Once again proving that age is not an excuse

freebird 16 years, 8 months ago

Jayhawkox just another example since you asked for it....

Syracuse in 2003 when they beat us in the National Title game 7 of their 9 scholarship players were underclassmen. Sophomores Warrick, Forth and Josh Pace combined for 20 points, 13 rebounds, five blocked shots and four steals. And the team's other freshman, guard Billy Edelin, added 12 points and three steals. This doesn't even include Anthony and McNamara (who were also Freshman.) Duany was the only Scholarship senior on the team.

Let me add some comments that Boeheim made about the 2003 Syracuse team.. Age never was a reason to fail. "I've never treated this team as a young team," Boeheim said. "I've never told them they were young. I never told them to say they were young. They never played like that."

freebird 16 years, 8 months ago

More recent example Memphis this 8 guys 1 senior 3 sophomores 4 Freshmen

Looks alot like us huh? They're in the Sweet 16 I would say thats success

Jeremy Bolinger 16 years, 8 months ago

so tell me all.....when was the last time a favorite team won the national champioship? Ku was the favorite in 03 with SENIORS and look what happened then? we were all crying that ol Roy could never win the big one!

freebird 16 years, 8 months ago

I think it was 2000 when Michigan State won the title, but Illinois and UNC were both 1 seeds last year though Illinois was the favorite. Maryland in 2002 was also a one seed though I'm not sure they were the favorite as a one seed they had to be one of the favorites. 2001 Duke was a one seed and probably should have been the favorite if they weren't and won it all.

It's not as rare as the commentators would have you believe. Especially in recent years.

freebird 16 years, 8 months ago

Just a small note to notabandwagonfan...I don't believe we were the favorite in 2003 as a two seed. In fact Drew Gooden going pro was the reason we weren't favored to win the Title. In some cases we were the favorite in the championship game over 3 seed Syracuse but not at the start of the tournament. Although some ESPN commentators did pick Syracuse to win it all after the brackets came out.

And I was wrong about the last favorite to win the Championship UConn was the 2004 preseason favorite picked after the 2003 tournament. And they won it.

overseashawk 16 years, 8 months ago

I know we're out but it doesn't make us look so bad now that Bradley has advanced and UNC has gotten knocked out. It at least takes a bit of pressure off of Bill Self. I also read that Brandon Rush is coming back next year. That's great news! I think that he made the right decision considering he didn't play that well over the last 5 or 6 games.

Also, I hope that every self respecting Kansan turns their attention to Wichita State and the great job that Mark Turgeon has done. I know this is a Jayhawk board but for the rest of the tournament I'm gonna be the Shockers biggest fan!

overseashawk 16 years, 8 months ago

Also, did anybody see that Billy Thomas got signed by the Wizards for the rest of the season?

pbeahm 16 years, 8 months ago

And I'm sick and tired about reading articles that say "KU is a young team that had never been on this kind of stage before:"

Well you know what not a single one of those Bradley players had EVER played in an NCAA Tournament before either. None of them.

And you know what else Wichita State and George Mason don't have a single player that has ANY NCAA Tournament experience. NOT A SINGLE GAME!

So don't sit there and tell me that lack of experience was the problem this weekend. There are 3 teams sitting in the Sweet 16 (and at least 1 of which is guaranteed an Elite 8 birth) that have ZERO (0) players with Tournament experience.

Trentonator 16 years, 8 months ago

I have been a KU fan since I was just a kid. My freshman year at KU was 1988-the year we won the Championship. Cut me and I bleed KU Crimson and Blue. I love the Jayhawks. BUT . . . I am NOT a fan of Bill Self. He needs to bench players that are not performing. He had a good start with Moody, but come on, when our 3 best starters combine for like 8 points in the first half, then they get to grab some benchtime. Roy would have done it, so would Larry Brown. The loss to Bradley was maddening, embarrasing and really trying to a KU fan. The first round loss to Bucknell last year was another slap in the face. Some of my buddys are so mad they are calling out for Self's resignation. I am not that extreme but his coaching certainly leaves a lot to desire.

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