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Despite the presence of a trophy, all that gear & Sunday's parade, many Kansas basketball fans still in disbelief that their team finished on top

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Jayhawk fans line Massachusetts Street to watch a parade and celebrate the KU men’s basketball team’s NCAA basketball championship Sunday, April 10, 2022.

Jayhawk fans line Massachusetts Street to watch a parade and celebrate the KU men’s basketball team’s NCAA basketball championship Sunday, April 10, 2022. by Mike Yoder

They saw the final score, witnessed nets being cut down and the trophy being handed out and even purchased T-Shirts and attended or watched a parade.

So why is it that many Kansas basketball fans are still in that pinch-me-this-can’t-be-real stage regarding Bill Self’s bunch bringing home the 2022 national title?

There are many answers to that question, but the ones I got from inquiring about it on Twitter seemed to sum it up best.

The quest started with a post from @JayhawkTalk, who laid out the very scenario listed above and then added, “And it STILL hasn’t fully set in. Not sure when it will.”

Hundreds of KU fans responded to my question whether they, too, felt like @JayhawkTalk and if they had any idea why. Here’s a collection of some of the best replies.

“I do,” wrote @DanEngland. “Maybe I had given up at halftime or maybe it’s because I never had national title expectations for this team. I don’t know.”

From @PannoneNick: “Yeah. I felt the same in ’08, too. That tournament is so stinking hard to win. There are so many things that have to go right to pull it off. Slaying the dragon with ‘Nova and the comeback, then thinking about the second-half adjustments all tourney. It’s crazy!”

“I am still in shock,” wrote @Jeffandstph2012.

“Still feels more like a dream than reality at this point,” added @beems34.

The response from @WestCoastHawkKU pointed to measuring this team against past KU champions: “In ’88 we had the best player in the country/#1 pick. In ’08, a team filled with NBA guys. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t really know what we have in ’22. This year was a surprise — a great surprise — but it will take time to figure out how great this team was. … Under truth serum, I doubt I could have said I saw this team as a serious contender 2 months ago. ’08 always felt like one. This needs to sink in.”

“I thought it was just me,” wrote @Wildcats1600. “I still can’t believe it. They have set one helluva standard.”

Karen Holmes, who goes by @RockChalkinTX on Twitter, wrote that even though she watched the games from afar she always felt like a part of “something really special.” She added that, after all of the real world challenges of the past couple of years, the feeling of celebrating a title like this is a bit overwhelming because it was “what we ALL needed!”

For @theREALgigante_, the sudden ending of it all makes it hard to digest in a short amount of time. “It’s something we do two or three times a week for like five months then it abruptly ends. Even when it’s on the happiest of notes, it just feels like there should be more games to watch.”

Added @rupertpupkin91: “There’s times when it hits and I have one of those moments, but most of the time I have to remind myself what transpired. Still can’t believe it!”

Ty Logan, aka @lugnut527, has some advice for those needing help believing it.

“Watch the games 4-5 more times like I did. Soak it all in.”

If there’s one thing we know about championship teams at Kansas it’s that their games live on forever. Especially those from the NCAA Tournament run. So whether they intend to do it or not, Jayhawk fans figure to have plenty of chances to take Logan’s advice in the days, months and years to come.

Comments

Jesse Johnson 1 month, 1 week ago

I felt the same as @westcoasthawkKU. It was a weird feeling to have a team that I didn't feel like was a title contender for much of the season, go all the way.

In 2008, I believed in that team from day 1 all the way until the end. They had very few weaknesses as a team and showed it with full season domination (only 3 losses and all occurred during a mid-conference play slump in February).

The 2022 team did start out strong (except that bad loss to Dayton) but we sure were inconsistent throughout conference season including right up to the end where we almost lost three straight games. We put everything together and won 11 in a row to finish, but even during that run we had Ochai in a slump and DMac and Wilson regularly made plays that made you want to throw objects at your TV.

The team just never felt quite all the way there, until the second half of the Miami game, and the whole Nova game, but then we were bad again first half of the title game. Boy what an amazing comeback in the 2nd half though. I'll never forget this game, just amazing 2nd half play to take back control of the game and win the game. As Fran Fraschilla would say, this team had championship DNA.

W Keith Swinehart II 1 month, 1 week ago

I remember' '88. The Larry Brown team was not looking good through January. Something happened at the K-State game, and the players figured it out. The remainder of the Big 8 season they looked sharp, playing together,, winning their games.

In the NCAA Tournament they had some luck and ended up in the title game with OU. 50 points each (tie) at halftime. The second half was tense and tight. OU players kept looking at the scoreboard in fear. They lost, of course, we know.

Yes, they had Danny. But he didn't do it alone. They all played together, fighting, being tough all the way. Early in the conference season no one would have guessed they were a tournament team, much less winners and National Champions.

This year was much like '88. There was no Danny, but the players were good and tough. It just took them awhile to figure it out. They liked each other. They learned to play together. Yes. I had doubts (like '88). But I could believe it. The talent was there. They just had to figure things out and make it happen. It did happen.

Dale Rogers 1 month, 1 week ago

For me, it still hasn't fully sunk in. I felt this team had it in them to win it all but we also showed that we could have a terrible game (e.g. Kentucky this season, USC the prior season) In a tournament like this where a bad night means you go home early, I did not dare to hope. When down 15 at the half in the final game, I had serious doubts although I had enough belief in this team to think they could come back but would they? They did and my fears were for nought. Awesome game, awesome tournament run. These guys deserve every accolade they have received and more.

David Kelley-Wood 1 month, 1 week ago

I'm not having a problem with the win not yet sinking in, but there is something else. Over the years, I've become conditioned to some extent to believe we were snakebit, i.e., that something was bound to go wrong. We could very easily be sitting on twice the number of championships (or more) that we do have, i.e., if only we'd been as lucky as we've been unlucky. That's lumping a lot into the "luck" category, including bad calls, coin flip endings, untimely injuries, uncharacteristic underperformances, etc. Whatever! So, this time around, it's more a case of "hey, nothing went wrong!" But, maybe the worm has turned. Here's hoping so, and we can look forward to a much higher frequency of these pleasant surprises.

Dirk Medema 1 month ago

David - In ‘03, we would have won if we had even shot bad free throws vs 40% crazy bad.

‘88 was my first NC, and I was alone at my parent’s house on spring break. I recorded the game, pausing for 3 minutes at each commercial break, as I had for the ksu and Duke games. When it was over, I rewound the tape and watched it again, and again, and again until finally going to bed at 6 am. Watched it a few more times during spring break and many more times during years. Glad they’re all on YouTube now. After all the injuries and other problems during the year, avenging our last 3 losses just seemed like destiny. Besides having the best player and plenty of support, I was most encouraged during the game because it seemed obvious to me that we clearly had a superior coach. In spite of his shortcomings, Larry was/is a great BB coach.

Over the years, I think we’ve become a bit jaded by the perpetual excellence of the program. It hasn’t always been that way. There’s so much that goes into the team developing through the year, and a national champion level of excellence is not normal. Some players just never reach that razor’s edge. Sometimes, injuries happen, or crazy bounces and banked shots make the difference. Many times, it’s one or many little things.

This year’s team had injuries during the year - some that we knew about, others that we didn’t, that hurt the team’s performance, and raised those doubts again. The team had plenty of offense (the fun, easy, and lovely part of the game) from the beginning of the year, but offense is fickle and rarely consistent enough for 6 best games in a row.

Ultimately, I think this team won because they learned the little things that matter (the players regularly brought it up in pressers in the last month or so), and embraced the hard effort on the defensive side. Not only did they come together as a team, but they collectively celebrated the defensive effort that doesn’t show up in the stats and won’t get much of any ink. The co-mops (offensive players), Ochai and David, instantly and in unison pointed to DaJuan as the difference.

Dirk Medema 1 month ago

People will point to the first half as bad because of the score, but it was really just a few minutes at the end of the half that coincided with David being on the bench with foul trouble. It definitely wasn’t the entire first half, and hopefully David was going to be able to play more in the second half.

I’m really impressed with Hubert as a coach, but still think we have the best. Besides, they also had the harder, later semifinal game, so also more likely to run out of gas.

David Kelley-Wood 1 month ago

Dirk, I've "only" watched the 1988 game a dozen times or so. But, I always felt I had a perspective that made it feel special. I was working in New York (on Park Avenue even) when the Jayhawks came in to play St. John's in the Garden (Nov/Dec, 1987). My boss and I bet on the game (three bottles of champagne), and I lost, of course. The game was close throughout the 1st half, but about a minute before halftime, I watched Archie Marshall go down with a broken leg. We ended up losing by about 20. Aside from feeling bad for him, I thought our NC chances went out the window right then and there. It was maybe two or three months prior to then that I went over to a Midtown hotel to welcome a friend I'd recruited to join our operation, and as I was leaving (after a couple of gin and tonics), I spotted Wilt Chamberlain getting out of an airport limo preparing to come in. I asked him for his autograph, and he politely said he didn't do them, So, I asked him "How about a handshake, one Jayhawk to another?" He seemed surprised at first, then smiled and extended his hand. What a thrill that was! I moved to Minneapolis literally the day of the championship game, and got home minutes before tipoff. I tried to record it, and did, but somehow botched it so that it played back with an irritating sound. So, for years when I'd watch it, I had to turn the sound off completely. I've thought many times that a national championship for three bottles of champagne is a deal I'd be happy to make every year.

Bj Cassady 1 month ago

To be honest, I thought 3rd place in the B12 was about right, DMac started out playing poorly, Remy was hurt and a non-factor, Lightfoot tries but is a couple inches too short, Harris not a consistent outside shot and JWil had his off court issues. Meanwhile Baylor was number 1 in the nation, Tech was Rolling, Texas looked good and I just did not know where we stood especially after Kentucky trashed us and we were Ofer in the state of Texas. Then something happen....the comeback vs KSU, the team came together, DMac started playing harder, JWil rebounding scoring, CB played like a wild man and we started getting help off the bench. Tourney time and Remy was a man possessed, good thing because Oachi disappeared. (pretty much) We started to play as a TEAM. Teams win championships not players and this team was better than any other. RCJH!

Armen Kurdian 1 month ago

We had a lot of luck this year. There are so many good teams out there the stars really need to align for you to even have a shot. Our team was healthy, a lot of teams were upset, but we did what we were supposed to and took care of business.

In '08, we had a strong team, brutal defense, and dominated throughout the year.

This year, I think the best way to sum it up is, "We did what we had to do." Close games that we pulled out in the end. Someone steps up when someone else does not. Remy got it together just in time. We never panicked in any game...UK just cleaned our clocks, got past that one in an hour or so.

I started feeling hopeful when all the pundits had KU losing before the F4. I hate it when folks are talking about us, we always disappoint.

But it was so amazing, so needed this.

Dirk Medema 1 month ago

Armen - We don’t always disappoint, unless of course you have some sort of unrealistic expectation of perfection.

Michael Leiker 1 month ago

Really thought the turning point was the TCU game in the Big XII tournament. They smothered TCU defensively, never let them think they had a chance. If you were at that game you saw in the pregame that a very good TCU team came in with a ton of confidence, and KU really just put them in their place. From that point on they at least knew what it felt like to play that type of D and they were able to kind of call on that the rest of the way when games were tight.

Garry Wright 1 month ago

After 70 years of following our Jayhawks, i'm hardly ever surprised. At halftime, my wife was totally turned off. She didn't believe that there was any possible way that we could come back. I've believed all year that they had the right pieces to go all the way. It was just a matter of getting all the pieces together and fully clicking at the same time. We had so many things keep tripping us up. Martin's injury was certainly one of them. McCormick's failure to come back where he had left off before Covid last year was certainly not expected. Different ones on the team would be up and down in their production during the year. But I really believed that if they got it all together, they could go all the way. Whether or not they would, no one knew the answer. Then as they concluded the season and especially the Big 12 Tourney, I believed they were getting there. They seemed to slip backward just a bit during the tourney until the 2nd half against Villanova as well as against Miami. I was remembering all of this at halftime during the title game. It would all depend on how they came out in the second half. I hadn't given up on them, but I was concerned. When they came out fast and furious in the second half, I felt much better about the game. We were finally clicking like we could and they kept it up until taking the lead. I did get a bit nervous the last few minutes when they couldn't seem to put UNC away, When we were ready to throw the ball in during the final 4+ seconds, I thought we had it made. The worst thing that could happen would be having to shoot free throws with about 2 or 3 seconds to go. Then Harris stepped out of bounds. Well, the worst then would be a tie game unless we fouled them on a made three-pointer. None of that happened. All is good in the Jayhawk Kingdom. I'm enjoying it immensely and am having no trouble believing it. We've had some things go bad for us in previous tourneys. This one was well scripted. Enjoy it to the full. And as always, I'm ready for next year!

Rodney Crain 1 month ago

As we got every break you could hope for, you would be hard pressed to actually not believe that we were destined to win a national title.

  • Teams that seemed better than us, gone

  • Key players we are playing injured, not available or weakened

  • Teams that played well against us, like those we have lost to in past tournaments, we win against

  • Our Confidence in overcoming a large halftime deficit, even in the national title game, proven again and again.

We had a lot of things happen during the season that could have derailed our season's goals. Instead of diverting us, this team found a way to focus and rally for each other to reach not a goal, but all of the goals for a season. Win everything you can in a season, cut down some nets, and ride in a parade.

Heck of a season, one for the ages. Glad to be around for 3 of the 4 titles we have won in the NCAA"s.

Why not 2 in row?

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