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Archive for Thursday, March 3, 2011

A senior moment: KU men’s basketball clinches share of 7th consecutive Big 12 title

The Kansas University seniors and their families — from left, Tyrel Reed, Brady Morningstar and Mario Little — are showered with applause and flowers prior to tipoff of the Jayhawks’ game against Texas A&M. KU won on Senior Night, 64-51, Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

The Kansas University seniors and their families — from left, Tyrel Reed, Brady Morningstar and Mario Little — are showered with applause and flowers prior to tipoff of the Jayhawks’ game against Texas A&M. KU won on Senior Night, 64-51, Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

March 3, 2011

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KU 2011 Senior Night speeches

Kansas senior Mario Little gave his senior speech after his last game at Allen Fieldhouse on Wednesday, March 2, 2011.

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Bill Self

Kansas coach Bill Self talks to reporters after the Jayhawks' 64-51 victory over Texas A&M on March 2, 2011.

Brady Morningstar senior speech, pt. 1

Kansas senior Brady Morningstar gave his senior speech after his last game at Allen Fieldhouse on Wednesday, March 2, 2011. Enlarge video

Kansas University’s basketball players looked at, but did not hoist, their new, 2010-11 Big 12 championship trophy, which sat solemnly in the middle of the Jayhawks’ locker room after Wednesday’s historic 64-51 victory over Texas A&M in Allen Fieldhouse.

The Jayhawks, who wrapped up at least a share of their seventh-straight conference title heading into Saturday’s regular-season finale at Missouri, put on hold any wild celebrations after a hard-earned, emotional Senior Night victory over the Aggies.

“It is amazing,” KU coach Bill Self said of the longest league-winning stretch in school history. KU won six straight from 1922 to ’27. It’s also the longest streak from a team in a major conference since UCLA’s stretch of 13 from 1967 to ’79. Gonzaga of the West Coast Conference has won 11 in a row.

“But it kinda ... it wasn’t a big deal to celebrate, by any stretch,” Self added. “We would rather do it ourselves than hope for help from anybody else.”

A victory over Mizzou and KU (28-2 overall, 13-2 Big 12) has the title to itself; a loss, coupled with a Texas win over Baylor, would mean the Jayhawks would have to share with the Longhorns.

Either way, KU is a champ.

“Coach said, ‘Congratulations,’ when we walked off the court,” junior Marcus Morris said after tying brother Markieff for team-high scoring honors with 13 points. “But it’s not over. We are going to practice tomorrow. We’re not going to have a day off. We’ve got to go to Missouri and win. That’s when we’d probably really have a conversation in the locker room congratulating players.”

Morris modeled his new Big 12 championship T-shirt in the locker room with his title teammates.

“I was about to walk in here with my shirt on. They made me take it off,” Morris said of the interview room. “They don’t want us to get too big-headed about sharing it. That instills in my mind we have to keep working.”

They’ll keep working while acknowledging the fact KU already has achieved something special.

“One more than Jordan,” KU senior Brady Morningstar said with a smile, referring to Michael Jordan’s six titles with the Chicago Bulls. “It’s a pretty good accomplishment, but we have business to take care of Saturday. We don’t like sharing.”

Perhaps Self put the night best into perspective when he grabbed the microphone after the game and told the fans: “It’s a special night when you can win seven in a row and send these seniors out in style like that.”

KU grad Mark Turgeon’s Aggies (22-7, 9-6) were in this Senior Night game up until a back-breaking 13-2 KU run turned a slim 43-41 lead into a 56-43 advantage with 5:25 left.

Fittingly, seniors Reed and Morningstar each hit a three in the run.

“Isn’t it amazing that regardless of who you recruit, you have to have a guy from Lawrence and a guy from Burlington in order to look good?” Self said. “Brady and Tyrel certainly played well tonight.”

Burlington bomber Reed had 12 points, and Free State High grad Morningstar nine, while fellow senior Mario Little did not score but had three boards in 15 minutes.

The country today will be talking about KU’s mind-boggling streak of consecutive Big 12 titles.

“We focus on winning the Big 12 every year,” Reed said. “It’s our main goal. We say it after every practice. The coaches instill that anything else is sub-par. It comes down to a lot of coaches and a lot of guys.”

Noted Morningstar: “A lot has to do with our homecourt advantage, our fans. This is the best place to play in he world. I’ve heard Cameron Indoor (at Duke) is pretty cool, but there’s not a better venue than this one. Also we don’t look past our conference season.”

The KU fans chanted “One More Year” in the direction of Marcus and Markieff Morris as they exited the game at the final time out.

“Definitely, I thought about it,” Marcus Morris said of having his own Senior Night at KU, “but I’m just trying to finish the year out and see how the year goes. Of course I want to do a Senior Night because I see how special it is for these guys, but I’m not making any decision right now (on NBA).”

Comments

Bob Hechlor 3 years, 1 month ago

While Taylor had a good game, the team played better after Elijah came in to play.

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rgh 3 years, 1 month ago

Thanks for the great memories guys, and as Coach Self said before the 2008 title game, thanks for the memories you are about to give us.

I know Mario was in trouble during the season but hats off for taking a red-shirt last year in order to come back and help us win this year. That took a lot of courage to sit out your original senior year. It did mean more playing time than he would have gotten but it's still neat that he wanted to help this current group continue to be great after losing 3 studs.

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Jay Hawk 3 years, 1 month ago

They're gone. If you believe otherwise, you are delusional.

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Janet Olin 3 years, 1 month ago

Well done, Jayhawks. Congratulations. We'll take it, but a shame it took until the 7 minute mark in the 2nd half to figure out you needed to defend.

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Michael Sizemore 3 years, 1 month ago

Title should be "7th straight" or "11th"... Well done Jayhawks!

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