Archive for Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Crimson and feeling blue

April 3, 2012


The banjo music should have been a clue.

All afternoon and evening as downtown Lawrence grew into a giant street party in advance of Monday’s national championship matchup versus Kentucky, Mike Helvey entertained the crowd with banjo music at the corner of Seventh and Massachusetts streets.

Yes, the banjo — as in bluegrass, as in Kentucky.

“I do know ‘My Old Kentucky Home’, but I don’t think I would make many tips playing it tonight,” Helvey said.

It didn’t matter. It was meant to be a Kentucky-sort of night.

A dejected but largely subdued crowd filed onto Massachusetts Street following Kansas University’s 67-59 loss to No. 1-ranked Kentucky.

“It hurts tonight, but a week from now it will be remembered as a great season,” said Lawrence resident Nathan Nehring. “That’s how I look at it.” Fans shared hugs, loitered on the sidewalk and a few even broke into chants of “We’re No. 2.” But Sgt. Trent McKinley, a spokesman with the Lawrence police department, said large numbers of fans were leaving the downtown in short order after the game.

“So far things are going very well,” McKinley said around 11 p.m. “We’ve had a couple of medical emergencies and a couple of fights, but most of it has been relatively minor.”

McKinley estimated at the time that there had been fewer than five arrests made in the downtown area on Monday evening.

The game attracted 14,113 to KU’s Allen Fieldhouse, where the game was shown on the video board. But tens of thousands — police didn’t have a specific estimate — flocked to downtown for the game.

Caroline VanSlambrouck hobbled downtown on a pair of crutches. The Kansas University soccer player had surgery to repair a broken foot on Friday but said she was determined to come downtown to be among the Jayhawk faithful.

In fact, she was downtown for Saturday night’s celebration after KU punched its ticket to the championship game with a win over Ohio State.

“Everybody was trying to give me high-fives,” VanSlambrouck said. “But I was like, ‘I’m on crutches. I’ll fall over.’”

VanSlambrouck was safe on Monday.

By halftime the Jayhawks were down 14 points, but the Massachusetts Street crowd was still in good spirits. The 1000 block of Massachusetts had the largest crowd all evening, and an impromptu dance-off developed in the block during halftime as a street musician played a homemade drum made of coffee cans, milk jugs and paint cans.

Fans were still giving the Jayhawks a chance to mount a comeback, but also were turning a bit philosophical about the season that was.

“In my opinion, Coach Self is building a dynasty here, and this game won’t change that,” said Adam Courtney, who was watching the game from the sidewalk seating area of Buffalo Wild Wings, 1012 Mass.

After the final buzzer, several fans said the loss was easier to accept given that many prognosticators at the beginning of the season had expected this to be a rebuilding year. Instead, the Jayhawks won their eighth straight conference championship and made a string of come-from-behind victories in the NCAA Tournament to reach the championship game.

“I really did think we had another miracle in us,” said Jack Delaney, Lawrence.

Fans came prepared to celebrate one. Kelsey Milford, Lawrence, brought a bottle of Andre red Champagne — or perhaps it was Crimson. Despite the loss, she popped the cork anyway.

“We’re celebrating a great game,” she said, “not a game lost.”


supersonicf111 5 years, 10 months ago

I’m very proud of our team’s heart this year!

They’re a special bunch of guys that gave it their all the whole season, unlike some of our past teams that were so loaded with talent and flopped in the end.

Sean Livingstone 5 years, 10 months ago

I'm just as proud as supersonic111.... we're the team that play real basketball with real seniors and juniors... Kentucky recruited great players and they're all Freshmen or Sophomore... they'll be gone next year... Bill Self is doing great work with the kids.... we have mostly seniors who will graduate!

Beth Ennis 5 years, 10 months ago

agree with both of you. I think this has been my absolute favorite team in the past ten years because of their heart and because of how far they have come. Thomas, Jeff, Tyshawn, Elijah, Conner, Travis and Kevin all have come leaps and bounds from where they started the season at and I couldn't be more proud of any of them. I'm so glad I got to meet them all at the Ladies night out with Bill Self last fall. For Thomas, Tyshawn, Conner and Jordan, good luck in the future, you are incredible young men who will do well. You are loved and will be missed by all jay hawk fans. I'm looking forward to having all the rest of the team back next year. Good luck to Danny and Barry as they head off for their first head coaching jobs. I wish you both nothing but the best. Thanks for all you have done for our Jayhawks. Rock Chalk!

mdjones 5 years, 10 months ago

Great job Jayhawks! Really proud of your effort. It was a wonderful season and it sounds like most fans were a lot classier than some of them here in Lexington. Lets get started on next year!

obamasocks 5 years, 10 months ago

I'm neither down nor blue. We had and amazing team this year that are the definition of hard work and perserverance. So we lost a game; look who we lost it to, its not like it was Mizzouri or some other crappy team. Kentucky had a killer team this year, who will probably all be in the NBA next year.

T-Rob, Ty, Withey, Releford, Elijah, Teahan, Young, etc all worked their butts off and got us farther than I dreamed was possible at the beginning of the year. VERY proud to be a Jayhawk today!

kumezzo 5 years, 10 months ago

Why we should still have a parade...

I am NOT at all a fan of giving a ribbon to every single participant in sports....There needs to be a winner, and only one. But, there is something to be said for effort, heart and determination when playing a game. A dramatic showing and display of these traits should not go uncelebrated. Every day we all struggle through stuff. Music, theatre, sports, religion, etc give us hope that our efforts in life can be rewarded and that life is a celebration, not just the struggle. It is important for us all to realize what impact these "things" (and there are many more that I have listed) have on our lives and how they motivate us every day to do better. Life is a celebration and everyone needs their "game". Thank you Jayhawks......I give you a round of applause for giving us hope and something to celebrate.

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