Kissimmee, Fla. — Kansas basketball coach Bill Self drew a comparison between this week’s ESPN Events Invitational and the NCAA Tournament when talking about his preparation for the eight-team tourney.
“To me, it’s kind of like an NCAA Tournament deal,” Self said before leaving for Orlando on Tuesday. “It’s a four-team tournament and then if we get the extra day we’ll worry about that then.”
Doing so in March, of course, would lead the Jayhawks into the Sweet 16 or even the Final Four. But there would be additional prep time between games two and three in those scenarios.
At this event, it’s just one day of prep for Game 3, which will come on Sunday, win or lose. If the Jayhawks win their first two contests on Thursday and Friday — starting with the 1:30 p.m. opener against North Texas on Thursday — they’ll land in the championship game on Sunday.
So far, Self has worried more about getting to that point and less about what will happen if the fourth-ranked Jayhawks (3-0) get there.
“I’ve only looked at our side so far,” Self said of North Texas, Dayton and Miami, Fla. “Our staff has completed it. Every team’s been scouted. But, for me personally, I don’t get that far ahead.”
With that pre-scout already done on the four teams KU could face on Sunday, Self is confident that there will be enough time to put together a quality game plan for Sunday’s opponent no matter who it is or what’s on the line.
“That’s good that you’ll be prepared, but we have that day off in there (on Saturday),” he said. “So the staff will have them scouted, but then that gives me an extra 48 hours or 24 hours that you normally don’t have in a three-day tournament to scout whoever we’re playing that last day, regardless of what we’re playing for.”
Self said this week that North Texas would provide Kansas with enough of a challenge to make that the only game worth worrying about up to this point. And he noted that the Mean Green operating out of the spotlight of college basketball could benefit KU’s opponent in the opener.
“It’s harder sometimes to scout teams that you don’t see play on TV near as much,” he said. “If you watch us or Duke or another Big 12 school, you’re familiar with the personnel so you kind of have an understanding.”
To that end, Self said he liked the Orlando field because it featured quality teams one through eight. They might not all have “headliner” status like the blue bloods of the college basketball world.
But Self said their current spots in the national rankings made this an underrated field.
Of the seven other teams in this week’s tournament, only Alabama (No. 10) is ranked in the current AP Top 25. Drake is also among those teams receiving votes.
Regardless of which teams are ranked where, the Jayhawks themselves know that anything can happen in any given game in events like this. And their emphasis will be on executing what they want to do to the best of their ability.
“Just take it one game at a time and focus on the task at hand,” super-senior Jalen Coleman-Lands said before the team left Lawrence. “I know that’s going to be different, depending on the (opponent), but keeping our core values and playing how we know we’re capable of playing (will be the key).”
Five months after it happened, evidence surfaced of a unique style of celebration by students at Kansas State University, who clearly took great joy in USC’s convincing NCAA Tournament victory over Kansas that eliminated the 2020-21 Jayhawks from the postseason.
So much so, in fact, that student government leaders at KSU went as far as to extend an official written commendation to the Trojans for the win.
The document itself — yeah, there was a real document — addressed the details of the game, how it was one of the largest defeats in KU history and the Wildcats’ longstanding rivalry with KU.
It also noted that “a hearty Go Trojans” should be uttered by student senate members and anyone else in attendance at the recent meeting.
And there was even video evidence that the rallying cry was used at the meeting.
The document was then sent to USC’s president, athletic director, head basketball coach and student body president, and it wound up in the hands of USC big man Isaiah Mobley, who posed with the piece of paper during a recent USC practice.
The document notes that the resolution was approved unanimously on April 8, 2021. And it was signed on April 19. For whatever reason, the details just hit social media channels this week.
The document, the video and the photo of Mobley holding the piece of paper was posted by the Twitter account for USC Men's Basketball on Aug. 24. So that must have been the first time the Trojans players actually saw the document themselves.
This kind of behavior in rivalries in college sports is nothing new, of course. However, I can’t say that I can recall hearing about anything as formal as this being done. I’m sure it has. But it’s certainly a first in this rivalry. Usually people just make T-Shirts of DVDs to celebrate these types of things.
I can remember Missouri fans buying and wearing Bucknell T-Shirts after KU’s first-round loss to the Bison several years ago. But taking student senate time, all these months later, to do something like this certainly trumps that.
On the outside looking in, the whole thing is easy to laugh off. But you can bet that most K-State fans think it’s absolutely awesome and most KU fans are rolling their eyes about it.
Ahhh, rivalries. There’s nothing quite like ’em.
Rainy weather did not prevent five recent members of the Kansas men’s basketball program from celebrating their graduations on Sunday on KU’s campus.
Marcus Garrett, Chris Teahan, David McCormack, Silvio De Sousa and Mitch Lightfoot teamed up together for the ceremonial walk down Campanile Hill, joining hundreds of other KU students on the big day.
Kansas coach Bill Self, who was in Connecticut for Eddie Sutton’s Hall of Fame induction over the weekend, made it back in time to see his players make the walk. Several members of Self’s staff, including assistant coaches Norm Roberts, Kurtis Townsend and Jeremy Case, along with Brennan Bechard and Fred Quartlebaum, also joined in the festivities.
“Whether it be David, Mitch, Chris, Silvio, or Marcus, I think it's pretty cool that not only did all of them graduate, but they all completed their degrees in four or less years,” Self told the Journal-World. “So, yeah, I'm really proud of all of them.”
As has been well documented, Lightfoot is already deep into his post-graduate studies. And McCormack and Teahan are planning to return for a fourth and fifth season at KU despite graduating.
McCormack, who had surgery on his right foot shortly after the end of the season to repair a fracture that he played through down the stretch, participated in Sunday’s graduation ceremonies while wearing a protective boot.
For Garrett, Sunday was extra special as he became the first person in his family to graduate from college.
Garrett talked about what that meant to him during his senior night speech and again after the final game of the 2020-21 season. And it’s clear that seeing one of his all-time favorites make the walk meant a lot to Self, too.
“With Marcus, coming from a background in which I don't think he took school that serious in high school, to a time where now he's graduating in four years, you have to make some form of commitment academically, not just athletically, in order to have that success,” Self said. “And it's good to see the student-athlete (part of it) even with our best basketball players.”
Now-former Jayhawk Marcus Garrett said he felt like he played with a Dream Team at KU; here’s what it looks like
Marcus Garrett’s heartfelt farewell to Kansas basketball was everything KU fans could possibly have wanted it to be.
It was genuine, well thought out, respectful and emotional. And it perfectly summed up what KU meant to Garrett and, in turn, what Garrett meant to KU.
While the thought of a Bill Self basketball team without Garrett on it will take a little getting used to, something Garrett said in his goodbye got me thinking and I figured those thoughts were worth sharing here.
“I’ve played with so many great players during my time here,” he wrote. “It was like a Dream Team. I will cherish all my teammates.”
So just what does the all-Marcus Garrett Career Kansas basketball team look like?
In a word: Nasty.
Here’s a look.
PG Devon Dotson
SG Devonte’ Graham
3G Marcus Garrett
PF Dedric Lawson
C Udoka Azubuike
That’s a ridiculously good team. And while you could make an argument for other players to be included at the 3G and 4 positions, there is absolutely zero debate on the other three spots.
And, since they were Garrett’s words that sparked this thought, I didn’t hesitate to put Garrett in the starting five. Truth be told, Garrett would’ve been on there anyway for me.
From the way he played the game to the way he carried himself and treated everyone he came into contact with, Garrett was as much fun to cover as just about any player I’ve ever been around.
Another year would’ve been fun. You can never be around too many guys like that. But, for what it’s worth, it does feel like he made the right choice here, and I think he’ll have a real shot to catch on with an NBA team. Even if not, he’ll be playing basketball for money for a long, long time.
OK. Back to the exercise at hand.
With the starting five set, I needed to come up with eight more players to fill out the roster.
Here’s who I went with. Many were no-brainers, but there were a couple of tough choices.
• Svi Mykhailiuk – No-brainer. And, honestly, you could make a strong case to start him, either in Garrett’s spot or at the 4 instead of Lawson. I went with Lawson, though, because we never got to see how it looked to have him and Dok playing together.
• Ochai Agbaji – Garrett and Agbaji were partners in crime for two full seasons and the talented, no-frills shooting guard would be good on just about any team.
• Malik Newman – Another no-brainer. Mr. March was a major part of KU’s squad during Garrett’s freshman year and he can fill it up offensively and offer another option as a ball handler.
• David McCormack – It’s easy to forget since McCormack’s roles were smaller during his freshman and sophomore seasons, but these two played together for 3 years and McCormack played a huge role during Garrett’s final season as a Jayhawk. He adds good depth and size up front.
• Quentin Grimes – Say what you will about his lone season with the Jayhawks, Grimes proved (really then and in the 2 years since) that he has a couple of legit skills. For a player like Garrett, who's best — and probably even elite — with top talent surrounding him, Grimes’ addition is an easy call.
• Lagerald Vick – Versatility, extreme confidence & fearlessness, knock-down shooting ability and athleticism and length on both ends.
• Christian Braun – While there might be better players who did not make the list, none of them bring the same kind of scrappy, do-anything mentality as Braun. His minutes would be tough to come by, but he’s great insurance in the backcourt and also can be a spark at any time.
• Dajuan Harris – This was kind of a fun selection. While Garrett, Newman and even Braun all couuuullldd play point in a pinch, none of those three are best suited as point guards. Harris is. And on this team he’d be a deep reserve behind Dotson and Graham. Like Garrett, Harris is at his best when the talent around him is top notch. This team has that and he’d be a great fit.
Former Jayhawk Bryce Thompson tells Tulsa World ‘stressful’ season contributed to decision to leave Kansas
The Tulsa World caught up with now-former Kansas guard Bryce Thompson on Tuesday night to get a little more insight on the former five-star prospect’s decision to leave KU.
In an interview with Kelly Hines, who covers all things Tulsa for the paper, Thompson said the fact that basketball was “stressful” for the first time in his life left him believing that a fresh start would be good for him and his game.
“I just believed it was time for a change,” Thompson told Hines. “I enjoyed my time at KU. The coaches, fans, teammates, everything was good. I just felt it was time for a new home.”
In the interview, Thompson said he was at his best last season when he “was just playing basketball” and not thinking too much about what he was doing.
Injuries and limited minutes on occasion kept him from finding his rhythm throughout the season, and Thompson, who averaged 4.7 points in 17.1 minutes per game in 20 games at Kansas, said he hoped to pick his next school in the next couple of weeks.
Thompson told Hines that his phone has been “ringing off the hook” since news of his decision to enter the transfer portal first surfaced.
A source told the Journal-World on Tuesday morning that Thompson was likely headed to Tulsa, but the 6-foot-5 combo guard told Hines his second run through the recruiting process was “wide open.”
“I’m just kind of weighing all my options with my family and trying to make the best decision moving forward,” he said. “I definitely want a place where I can be comfortable and just be playing. It’s a fun game. It shouldn’t be super stressful. There are times where I’ll be nervous because that’s natural, but for the most part it should just be calm and just playing.”
It’s been nearly a week since the 21 Kansas men’s basketball team was knocked out of the 2021 NCAA Tournament and the Elite Eight is now set.
With two double-digit seeds still remaining and eight coaches who have never won a national title, the next three rounds figure to be as wild and crazy as the first three.
We were this close to seeing Oral Roberts make history as the first 15 seed to ever reach the Elite Eight. And, somehow, it’s three Pac-12 schools — not Big 12 or Big Ten — that make up nearly 50% of the schools still in the hunt for this year’s national title.
I know plenty of Kansas fans have already written off this year’s tournament and will not be interested in watching the rest unfold. But for those of you who are still paying attention, here’s a quick look at the Kansas connections — direct or deep reaches — to all eight of the teams still playing.
The first two tickets to next weekend’s Final Four in Indianapolis will be handed out on Monday night, with the two other teams joining them on Tuesday.
1 - Gonzaga – The obvious tie is that the Zags beat the Jayhawks in the 2020-21 season opener, 102-90, to kickstart their quest for a perfect season. But let’s not forget that former KU walk-on Evan Manning, the son of KU legend Danny Manning, is on Mark Few’s staff and will be looking to do what he couldn’t while at Kansas by reaching the Final Four with the Zags.
6 - USC – You all know what happened, so we won’t restate the obvious. Quick question, though: Did seeing what the Mobley Brothers did to Oregon on Sunday night make last Monday’s KU loss in Indy any easier for you to swallow?
1 - Michigan – You’ve got to go to a couple of six degrees of separation type of connections for this one, but they’re there. First off, Michigan, you may remember, is the program that current KU starter Jalen Wilson initially committed to and almost picked again after reopening his recruitment following the departure of former Michigan coach John Beilein. Current Wolverines coach Juwan Howard recruited Wilson hard but he wound up choosing Kansas after viewing the situation as an opportunity at a do-over. Beyond that, Michigan’s roster includes former Wake Forest wing, Chaundee Brown, who KU temporarily recruited before then-Wake coach Danny Manning convinced him to join the Demon Deacons.
11 - UCLA – KU was supposed to play the Bruins in the Wooden Classic this season but wound up playing Gonzaga in Fort Myers, Fla., instead. Beyond that, there’s the obvious tie of KU recently passing UCLA for most consecutive regular season conference titles AND most consecutive weeks ranked in the Associated Press Top 25.
1 - Baylor – KU was one of just two teams to beat Baylor this season and the connections between these two Big 12 brothers are obvious. It’s hard to know exactly how the entire KU roster feels about it, but it seems likely that at least a couple of current Jayhawks are pulling for the Bears to win it all, even if for no other reason than to say they beat the champs. Gonzaga’s clearly the team to beat and Baylor has its hands full with the Razorbacks, but if they can get to next Monday night, they’ve got enough offense and defense to give the Zags a run for their money.
3 - Arkansas – This one goes back to former KU player turned coach Rex Walters, who spent a season (2018-19) working for Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman when Muss was at Nevada. The opportunity came right after Walters’ stint as an assistant coach with the Detroit Pistons and right before he hooked up with Manning at Wake Forest. And Walters will be happy to tell you at any time how much respect, admiration and appreciation he has for Musselman. Here’s another deep connection: Arkansas assistant coach David Patrick played for the Syracuse team that knocked off KU in the Elite Eight in 1996 in Denver en route to a spot in the national championship game.
12 - Oregon State – There’s not a whole lot here, which makes sense when you consider the distance between Lawrence and Corvallis, Ore., and the distance between these two programs of late, a fact that has kept them from even bumping into each other on the recruiting trail. Remember, this Oregon State squad entered the 2020-21 season picked to finish dead last in the Pac-12 Conference and wasn’t even in the tournament until winning the Pac-12 tourney. Having said that, I found one connection via a bit of a reach. Oregon State sophomore Rodrigue Andela hails from Cameroon, the same country that produced former KU big man and current NBA mad man Joel Embiid. No word on whether Andela has told any tales of killing a lion with his bare hands, but the hometown connection is there. Embiid is five years older than Andela, but both list Yaounde, Cameroon as their hometowns.
2 - Houston – Quentin Grimes, of course. But it goes deeper than that. Before we get there, though, it’s worth pointing out that the Grimes that has played at Houston these past two seasons — which has been spectacular — likely would never have shown up in Lawrence. It was clear in his first year at KU that the fit just wasn’t there. So give the kid a ton of credit for staying confident, finding a place that did fit and making the most of his opportunity. Beyond that, every time they show Houston coach Kelvin Sampson, who coached at Oklahoma for 12 seasons, KU fans no doubt flash back to the Senior Night when a junior Jayhawk named Paul Pierce went off in what turned out to be his last game at Allen Fieldhouse, inspiring Sampson to step onto the floor and smack him on the backside after Pierce drilled another jumper.
Monday night schedule:
• 6:15 p.m. - (12) Oregon State vs. (2) Houston, CBS
• 8:57 p.m. - (3) Arkansas vs. (1) Baylor, CBS
Tuesday night schedule:
• 6:15 p.m. - (6) USC vs. (1) Gonzaga, TBS
• 8:57 p.m. - (11) UCLA vs. (1) Michigan, TBS
*all times central
The Kansas men’s basketball program recently conducted a Zoom call with Bobby Pettiford, a 6-foot, 170-pound point guard from Creedmoor, N.C., who recently de-committed from the University of Louisville after a coaching change.
Pettiford, who is ranked No. 115 in the 2021 recruiting class by Rivals.com and in the Top 100 by ESPN (95), 247 Sports (88) and SI.com (82), has heard from a couple dozen schools since he announced his change of plans. But he recently told Eric Bossi of 247 Sports that his second round of recruiting had unfolded “at a good pace” so far.
While his de-commitment has reopened his options from coast to coast, Pettiford has paid close attention to the roster make-up at each program recruiting him and is keeping an eye on any changes that could impact his decision.
“A lot of teams are going through their player meetings and their team meetings,” Pettiford told Bossi. “Some of them are in the (NCAA) Tournament.”
He said he KU was a program he would be “highly considering” because of the Jayhawks’ need for a point guard. But he also said he was “not hurrying it.”
He told Bossi that his decision would come “sometime in April probably,” and that he would continue to track the changes at the various schools showing interest in him in order to make a solid decision.
Known primarily as an explosive athlete who plays best around the rim, Pettiford showed off his improved shooting touch during his senior season, hitting 53% from the floor, 39% from 3-point range and 80% at the free throw line.
Tyson Walker picks Michigan State
Tyson Walker, a sophomore from Northeastern who averaged 18.8 points and 4.8 assists per game this season in the Colonial Athletic Association, announced his commitment to Michigan State on Saturday afternoon.
The 6-foot point guard from New York, picked the Spartans over Kansas, Maryland, Texas, Vanderbilt and Miami (Fla.).
Braun’s brother looking for new spot
Parker Braun, the 6-foot-8, 217-pound older brother of Kansas sophomore Christian Braun, has entered the transfer portal and is looking for a new place to continue his college career.
The elder Braun averaged 2.8 points and 1.5 rebounds in 9.3 minutes per game for the Tigers this season. He appeared in 20 of MU’s 25 games and did not play in Mizzou’s NCAA Tournament loss to Oklahoma.
Groves brothers also on the move
A couple of weeks ago, the decision to enter the transfer portal by Eastern Washington standouts Tanner and Jacob Groves would not have registered on the radar of Kansas fans.
However, the two brothers hit the Jayhawks’ for 58 combined points on 9-of-16 shooting from 3-point range in KU’s first-round NCAA Tournament win in Indianapolis last week, making both household names with most KU fans.
Both Groves brothers — Tanner a senior and Jacob a sophomore — elected to move on shortly after their head coach Shantay Legans left EWU to take the job at Portland.
Still smarting from his team’s 85-51, season-ending loss to sixth-seeded USC on Monday night in Indianapolis, Kansas coach Bill Self talked about the Trojans the way dozens of past KU opponents had always talked about the Jayhawks.
Too big. Too long. Too athletic. Too talented.
It didn’t help that KU’s second-round NCAA Tournament loss at historic Hinkle Fieldhouse was the product of a perfect storm for a 34-point rout, with USC playing one of its best games of the season and Kansas one of its worst.
But even on the Jayhawks’ best night, with this Kansas roster, USC’s may have been too big — literally and figuratively — for Self’s team to overcome.
That fact was not lost on Self, who said he hurt for his players that on the biggest stage and in the most important game of the season they were never really in the game.
Another bad start by KU, in a season marked by them, cemented that. And USC became stronger, looser and more confident as the game progressed. The Jayhawks never appeared to lay down. But the Trojans never gave them a reason to think they could play on their level either.
Self, who is now 0-4 against Pac-12 teams in the NCAA Tournament during his time at Kansas — with two of those losses coming in the past four NCAA Tournaments — discussed that after Monday’s loss. And he did it in the context of what it would take for Kansas to get there again in the years to come.
“You can address it through recruiting. You can address it through player development,” he said. “For us to be a team that really has a chance to be a national contender, we need to get a little bit more athletic. We need to get a little longer and bigger, those sorts of things.”
At this point in the game, the player development part of that equation might be Self’s best bet for immediate improvement.
For one, the NCAA’s infractions case against Kansas remains unresolved. And Self has made it clear that the lingering cloud’s impact on the program has had a negative impact on recruiting in recent years.
For two, KU figures to return nearly everyone from this season’s roster and will be adding Class of 2021 signees K.J. Adams and Zach Clemence, two four-star prospects ranked in the Top 75 by Rivals.com who will bring a fair amount of athleticism and versatility to the 2021-22 squad.
Logan Community College big man Sydney Curry, a native of Fort Wayne, Ind., who stands 6-foot-8, 265 pounds, will help the Jayhawks bulk up, as well.
But given the fact that those players have already been lined up for the 2021 class and most of KU’s 13 scholarships already will be spoken for, KU’s efforts to enhance the program’s athleticism via a major overhaul may still be a recruiting class or two out.
You never know what can happen in an offseason at any college program.
Sometimes players decide to transfer out. Others decide to leave school early. And with the transfer portal becoming as popular as Blockbuster Video on a Friday night in the 1990s — and the expected passage of the one-time free transfer rule on the horizon — there could be more movement than ever this offseason.
Things have certainly been trending that way in recent years.
It’s still too early to know if either of those paths will affect KU’s roster in the coming months, but if Self stands pat with what he has and what he already has signed in the incoming class, there just is not a lot of room to add immediate help.
That’s why the player development part of KU’s future is so crucial.
It’s hard to imagine Monday’s 34-point massacre not being a factor in that. Anyone who played a role on this year’s team who returns next season likely will be motivated and driven by that final score and the awful feeling the Jayhawks had inside Hinkle Fieldhouse on Monday night.
So they’ll work to push past it and avoid that feeling again in the future. And what this group did in 2021 is any indication of its potential in the future, there’s plenty of reason to believe everyone who returns can and will get better heading into the 2021-22 season.
“I think our guys maximized their individual abilities pretty well," Self said. "But our margin of error was small. I think that there was less margin for error on this team probably than any team we’ve had since I’ve coached here."
Stay in touch with KUsports.com throughout the weeks ahead for a breakdown of KU’s returners as well as coverage of KU’s efforts on the recruiting trail.
Indianapolis — The reality of what was coming showed on Kansas senior Marcus Garrett’s face throughout Monday’s 85-51 loss to sixth-seeded USC at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
A flinch here. A grimace there, both admissions of frustration without the utterance of a single word.
But as long as there was still time on the clock, there also was still work to be done, so Garrett never let the sadness hit him.
When it did, at the end of the kind of NCAA Tournament loss not often experienced this early by teams seeded this high, the emotions overwhelmed him.
First, on the Kansas bench after he had checked out for what could be the final time in his KU career.
With his face resting in his hands, Garrett leaned forward in his chair and tried to collect himself while being consoled by KU assistant Jerrance Howard.
Later, after the teams shook hands when the game went final — one ecstatic to be moving on and the other preferring to be anywhere else — Garrett hustled his way to the KU locker room, wrapping his head and face in a towel along the way.
It remains to be seen what Garrett’s future holds. He went through Senior Night festivities back in late February and may deem that he’s ready to take a stab at a professional career, be it in the NBA or overseas.
But he also has the option of coming back to Kansas for one more run, thanks to the COVID-19 waiver that the NCAA provided all athletes who competed during the 2020-21 season.
These types of decisions are never made in the emotional moments that follow such heartbreak and disappointment. And Garrett said before Senior Night that he would talk with his family and Self after the season about what comes next.
But it sure sounded on Monday night like Garrett at least is leaning toward leaving.
“I mean, with this team next year, they’ve got a chance to do something special,” Garrett said after Monday’s loss. “Every year I feel like a Kansas team with Coach Self has a chance to do something special.”
Although he has been very open about how much he would enjoy coaching Garrett for another year, Self is not naïve and he, too, seemed well aware that Monday could have been the end of the line for the coach and player who forever will be linked as defensive-minded basketball men.
“If this is his last game — I know he's got a decision to make — I'm really proud to have been his coach,” Self said Monday night. “Jayhawk fans should be very proud of him, as well.” Because Garrett never has shied away from any moment — on or off the court — he sat there after what had to be the hardest loss of his life and answered questions about what went wrong against USC.
There were questions about the Trojans’ length, inquiries about why Kansas couldn’t make a shot and even a question about what junior guard Tyon Grant-Foster gave the Jayhawks on a night when the seldom-used reserve scored seven points in nine minutes, none of which came with the outcome in doubt.
Garrett answered them all — even the question about Tyon — demonstrating that, even in one of the most agonizing moments of his career, he was able to focus on what needed to be done and deliver.
That’s part of what always made Garrett one of Self’s favorite players. But only part of it. “I totally appreciate his abilities, what he gets out of himself each and every day,” Self explained.
Garrett, meanwhile — short and sweet, as always — summed up KU’s season-ending loss in eight simple words.
“I just feel like we fell short today,” Garrett said.
And then he elaborated, adding, “We kind of picked the wrong day to not make any shots, and the other team was making everything that they shot. We could never get the game back from them. They kept hitting shots and doing everything they wanted to offensively.”
As has been common throughout their time together, Self conveyed similar thoughts about Monday’s loss.
“Kansas deserves better,” he said. “Certainly, we didn't perform.”
After the loss, however, all of that — the missed shots, the overmatched defense, the sloppy fouls and sluggish start — seemed less important than the bigger picture of the connection between Garrett and Self.
“He gave me the opportunity,” Garrett said, with a hint of the emotion that had overcome him earlier sneaking back into his voice. “He changed my life. I’m actually going to be the first person in my family to graduate in May. I really appreciate what him and the coaching staff have done for me and my family over these past four years.
“The way he taught me how to be a man, really. Coming from where I come from, you really don't know a lot about being a man, things outside of basketball. But Coach Self taught me everything.”
Now it’s time to find out if there are any more lessons in their future together or if the student has passed all of his classes and is ready for the next chapter.
Indianapolis — Few venues in sports, let alone in college basketball, can match the history and feel of KU’s Allen Fieldhouse.
Hinkle Fieldhouse is one of them.
Built in 1928 thanks to the generosity of 41 businessmen, the arena, originally known as Butler Fieldhouse, opened with a seating capacity of 15,000, which, at the time, made it the largest basketball arena in the United State for 20 years.
It made sense that the venue opened with that type of distinction because, for the next several decades, it was the setting for some incredible moments in basketball and beyond.
Presidents have spoken and campaigned there. Olympians and legends have competed there. And the state's passionate basketball fans have helped ensure, through donations and renovations, that the arena affectionately known across the Hoosier State as "Indiana's Basketball Cathedral," has been preserved properly and stood the test of time.
Perhaps best known for its role in the classic basketball movie “Hoosiers,” Hinkle has long been home to the Indiana high school state basketball tournament, which was portrayed to perfection in the film.
In the 1986 film, fictional Hickory High, an undersized, overmatched small-town Cinderella story, defeats South Bend Central in the state title game.
Before the game, in order to calm his players’ nerves and get them to believe they can win, Hickory coach Norman Dale, played by Gene Hackman, has his players measure the height of the rim and the distance from the basket to the free throw line before their first practice in the building.
“I think you’ll find it’s the exact same measurements as our gym back in Hickory,” the coach tells his team after registering measurements of 10 feet of the ground and 15 feet to the free throw line.
The movie was loosely based on the story of tiny Milan High’s upset win of Muncie Central in the 1954 Indiana state title game. That game was played inside Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Kansas basketball coach Bill Self, himself a former high school hoops star in Oklahoma, said Sunday that the opportunity to coach in the building and experience its mystique firsthand was something he hoped would happen the minute he heard the 2021 NCAA Tournament would be played at six different venues in and around Indianapolis.
“That was one of the things that I said all along, ‘I hope we get a chance to play in Hinkle,’” Self recalled. “I haven't been there. Been a fan of it since the movie came out. And we play in a field house that’s very similar to Hinkle. You can see the sunshine coming through (the windows) on the court and stuff like that.”
KU’s coach, a self-anointed “big history guy when it comes to our sport,” said it was Hinkle’s history that made it one of the two college hoops venues in which he has always hoped his team could play. The other is The Palestra at Penn in Philadelphia.
While crossing one of the two off of his bucket list on Monday will be a delight, Self said he did not anticipate having much time to soak it up, given the fact that his 3rd-seeded Jayhawks (21-8) will have their hands full with trying to get by No. 6 seed USC (23-7) and into the Sweet 16.
“I'll look around the inside of the building,” Self said. “But I won't walk around. I don’t even know if they’d let us even walk around. But I'll certainly study it. I'll probably study it and compare it to Allen, how old the building is and the feel and that kind of stuff.”
This year marks just the second time Butler’s home arena has hosted an NCAA Tournament game. In 1940, Hinkle Field-house served as the host of the East regional, which featured Indiana, Duquesne, Western Kentucky and Springfield com-peting for the right to go to the finals in Kansas City, Mo.