KU seniors Sasha Kaun, Russell Robinson, Rodrick Stewart, Jeremy Case and Darnell Jackson give their senior speeches after the Jayhawks' 109-51 victory over Texas Tech.
To appreciate fully how much talent a basketball player must possess to earn a spot in the rotation in an elite basketball program such as Kansas University's requires more than watching Darrell Arthur sky to slam home an alley-oop. It takes more than witnessing Sherron Collins punctuate a blurry coast-to-coast trip with a reverse lay-in kissed off the glass.
It takes Jeremy Case, who opened a window for 16,300 basketball nuts to see just how good a player needs to be to earn regular playing time at Kansas. Case never did get that time, but that doesn't mean he's not a terrific basketball player.
His strength and quickness didn't quite match that of the guards who played ahead of him at KU, yet his final night at the court that for four years he called home, usually from the bench, wasn't about how Case didn't measure up. It was about his uncanny shooting ability and improved play-making skills, his strong confidence and smart decision-making.
For Case, this night was about dominating a three-minute stretch in the second half of a 109-51 victory against a Texas Tech team that two days earlier had defeated Texas.
Afterward, Case talked about the chills hitting a trio of three-pointers gave him in a span of 2:24 midway through the second half. Thousands were chilling up with him. The kid everyone so badly wanted to see catch fire did. In a span of 3:02, Kansas outscored Tech, 16-4. Case had nine points and two assists that led to five points by the time the last grain of sand dropped in the egg timer.
Case made everybody in the place lose their minds.
The last time Case felt adrenaline flow as furiously as it did when he hit the third?
"I can't even remember," he said at first.
Then his memory finished scanning the years.
"Never, never felt that way," he said. "The crowd was so loud, I couldn't hear myself think. It was amazing."
In making the first start of his career, Case joined seniors Darnell Jackson, Sasha Kaun, Russell Robinson, and Rodrick Stewart. They played the first 3:37, settling the butterflies. They appeared together briefly late in the game, also, but it was between those stretches that they distinguished themselves.
Robinson, the perfect teammate, had the perfect night. He made all five field-goal attempts, all three three-point shots and both free throws. The five seniors combined for 50 points in 82 minutes. Remarkably, they generated 42 points on just 24 field-goal attempts. They made eight of 11 three-point shots.
Case deserves the most credit for a clutch performance, considering it was his first start and last chance to show he really is the phenomenal shooter that teammates who witness him daily in practice always have boasted that he is.
He doesn't play, but that doesn't mean he can't play. He can. Now there's no reason for anybody ever to doubt that.
"To play at one of the top schools is very hard," said Case, who graduated last spring. "You have to fight, fight, fight. I hope people realize that just because people are sitting on the bench doesn't mean we can't play. It's just that the people who are playing are great. We have some really great players."
On his final night in Allen Fieldhouse, Case was one of them.