Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Jayhawks say Monday’s national title win helped avenge lost opportunity in 2020

Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji (30) hoists his piece of the net as the Jayhawks celebrate their 72-69 win over North Carolina in the NCAA National Championship game.

Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji (30) hoists his piece of the net as the Jayhawks celebrate their 72-69 win over North Carolina in the NCAA National Championship game.


New Orleans — Of all the motivating factors that led the 2021-22 Kansas men’s basketball team to the top of the college basketball world on Monday night, avenging the lost opportunity in 2020 sat near the top of the list.

Throughout the week leading up to the Final Four — and, really, the entire NCAA Tournament — several Jayhawks emphasized how their run through this year’s postseason was as much about winning for their former teammates who did not get the opportunity to do what the Jayhawks did on Monday night.

“To me, this was partially won for them, too,” Kansas coach Bill Self said after the Jayhawks’ 72-69 win over North Carolina in the national title game at Caesars Superdome.

Point guard Devon Dotson, one of the key pieces of that 2019-20 team that missed out on its chance to win a title because of the pandemic was in the building on Monday night. Moments after the final horn sounded and the confetti started raining down, Self walked over to him in the seats behind the Kansas bench and handed him a championship hat.

From there, Dotson joined some of his former teammates in the celebration, even joining them in the locker room after the win to soak up the experience. Asked if he felt like Monday’s win avenged the lost opportunity in 2020, Dotson smiled.

“We did,” said Dotson, who led the 2019-20 team to a 28-3 record and the brink of entering the postseason as the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. “I’m so excited. I’ve been excited all week, all month. This is great to see.”

Eight members of the current Kansas roster played with Dotson in 2020 and seeing guys like Ochai Agbaji, David McCormack, Jalen Wilson, Christian Braun and Mitch Lightfoot contribute to KU winning a title had Dotson over-the-moon excited.

“Me and Ochai and Dave, we literally started our college journey together,” he said outside of the KU locker room. “And just seeing all the hard work and all the years put together come to this moment, it’s great to see. It’s a lot of emotions. We could’ve had two championships in three years. But this is special.”

While the current crew had plenty to be emotional about in the aftermath of Monday’s victory, none of them lost sight of how much this meant for guys like Dotson, Marcus Garrett, Udoka Azubuike and Isaiah Moss.

“Everybody that was on that team likely deserves a ring,” McCormack said after earning all-tournament honors. “We got it for them this year.”

TV records

According to Turner Sports, KU’s 72-69 win over North Carolina on Monday night was the most-viewed NCAA championship game in cable TV history, drawing 18.1 million viewers, an increase of 4% over last year’s title game between Baylor and Gonzaga.

Beyond that, the KU-UNC game was the third most-watched college basketball game of any kind in the history of cable TV and also drew a record 1.6 million concurrent streamers on the NCAA March Madness Live app.

That streaming record broke the previous mark set during the Carolina-Duke game just two days earlier.


Tony Bandle 8 months ago

It was also a bit of payback for that triple overtime loss against Wilt in 1957!!!

Dirk Medema 8 months ago

The ‘57 team probably won’t get a ring.

It would be kinda nice if we could squeeze a few $ out of the budget for the 2020 team, or at least the ones that didn’t transfer to another team.

Bryce Landon 8 months ago

This Final Four was all about vengeance.

We got revenge on Villanova for 2016 and 2018.

We got revenge on North Carolina for 1957.

And we got revenge for an opportunity that was ripped from us by overzealous bureaucrats and politicians in 2020.

It was the best revenge tour in the history of sports, and I loved every minute of it!

Rock Chalk Championship!

Ryan Mullen 8 months ago

I have not read all the articles on here. The biggest unanswered question by Self and the players is if they slowed the pace down after Bacot went down. Can someone confirm by quote or video? This should be talked about way more than it is.

Danny Hernandez 8 months ago

Ryan, I read on a Baylor message board (was curious to read their thoughts on the game) that if we did slow up play to allow Bacot to get back, that it was a class move. Unlike Bill Rafferty who thought we should have attacked.

Jonathan Allison 8 months ago

Ryan, Bacot left with under a minute left and KU ahead. So of course KU attempted to run out the clock. 29 seconds later McCormack scored to put KU up three.

Now, if Bacot goes down with 5 minutes to go and the game knotted, then I think you have to think tempo strategy. Personally with Bacot in the game I think that you push the pace to beat him up and down the floor and score in transition. With Bacot out and the small lineup in you take advantage of McCormack's matchup with Manek. Which means getting into a halfcourt set, running some offense and feeding the low post. Which is just what KU did in the one offensive possession they had after Armando went out (not counting the inbounds pass that Harris stepped out of bounds).

Jeff Coffman 8 months ago

The 2020 team was ranked #1 after all games played that season. You dont need a tournament to declare a national champion. South Carolina and Kansas won this year in revenge mode for 2020.

Jonathan Allison 8 months ago

Danny, I also thought that KU should have taken advantage of the 5 on 4 opportunity.

I've watched basketball for a long time, and in that situation KU had every right to score 5 on 4. Then UNC would have to stop the clock to get Bacot off the floor.

I don't think it was Bill Self's plan to stop play while Bacot was hurt. I haven't rewatched it yet but I think that Jalen forgot that they were in the national championship game and thought it was a scrimmage. He held onto the ball mercifully, it was confusing to watch. Some might interpret whether it was a classy move, or whether it would have been classless to attack with the 5 on 4, but to me that argument is irrelevant in the situation. You play till the whistle.

your mileage may vary.

Chandler Accipiter 8 months ago

Jalen literally had nobody guarding him on the wing with only Manek on McCormack between him and the basket. If he drives and Manek comes off, he dishes to Dave for an uncontested basket. If Manek stays on Dave, J Wills goes all the way to the basket. Also the time would have allowed for a two-for-one situation which would have gotten KU final possession. Definitely weird, but if we want to call it "sportsmanship," so be it.

Ryan Mullen 8 months ago

I just find it odd that no one talked about it in the press conference, and no one from KUsports has thought to ask about it either. It was a pivotal moment in the game. And no one is seeking answers.

Brian Mellor 8 months ago

Bacot going down was potentially pivotal. KU not going for the mismatch points clearly was not pivotal in any way, as it did not have a noticeable impact on the final result.

Jonathan Allison 8 months ago

Ryan, here's Landon Lucas on his podcast talking about it.

They spend about 7 minutes on it.

Interesting to hear Lucas talk about how Bill Self drills the guys on 5 on 4 fast breaks in practice.

Jonathan Allison 8 months ago

another great moment in this podcast

Landon talks about what it means to be a glue guy and especially on a deep run the tourney how the crowd will go wild over the types of things the the glue guys do every game and hardly get noticed... setting a good screen, a good box out for a rebound.

Rodney Crain 8 months ago

Tony I grew up with a lot family around the Lawrence area, my grandparents to their dying day felt Wilt and KU were robbed that game.

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