Advertisement

Archive for Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Take-away: Jayhawks didn’t quit

Kansas players Jeff Withey, front, Travis Releford and Conner Teahan leave the court as the Kentucky players celebrate their 67-59 national championship win on Monday, April 2, 2012 in New Orleans.

Kansas players Jeff Withey, front, Travis Releford and Conner Teahan leave the court as the Kentucky players celebrate their 67-59 national championship win on Monday, April 2, 2012 in New Orleans.

April 3, 2012

Advertisement

Elijah Johnson and Tyshawn Taylor post-game interviews

Elijah Johnson and Tyshawn Taylor talk about KU's loss to Kentucky and the KU team they love. Enlarge video

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Kentucky coach John Calipari and players

Kentucky coach John Calipari and players Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Doron Lamb, Anthony Davis, Terrence Jones and Darius Miller talk to reporters following the Wildcats' 67-59 victory over Kansas on April 2, 2012, in the national championship game in New Orleans.

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Bill Self, Tyshawn Taylor and Thomas Robinson

Kansas coach Bill Self, guard Tyshawn Taylor and forward Thomas Robinson talk to reporters following the Jayhawks' 67-59 loss to Kentucky on April 2, 2012, in the national championship game in New Orleans.

KU vs. Kentucky

Box score

— The take-away from the 2011-2012 Kansas University basketball team is not that the bench scored three points in the Final Four, none in the national-title game. It’s not that no player made as many shots as he missed in Monday night’s 67-59 loss to Kentucky in the Superdome.

It’s not that Kansas did a poor job of getting back in transition early in the game and Kentucky cashed in.

When all that is forgotten, the memory that will endure has so little to do with basketball and so much to do with team bonding, relentless effort, embracing adversity as a challenge to be confronted, never making an excuse.

The take-away from this endearing basketball team is that it had not an ounce of quit in it. Not an ounce.

The best team in college basketball, one that looked and played more like an NBA roster than a bunch of freshmen and sophomores, won the national title. The runner-up won a lot of hearts.

“From start to finish, there’s been no team I’ve ever been around that improved this much,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “There has been no team I’ve been around compete this hard. There’s been no team I’ve been around that was able to take whatever situation dealt them and respond to it favorably, and there’s been no team I’ve been around that represented our university or themselves or their families any better than this one has.”

Self meant every word of it. He didn’t say that to make the red-eyed players sitting next to him, Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor, feel better about not being able to win it after slashing Kentucky’s lead from 15 points to five in a span of 3:14 that made it Kentucky 62, Kansas 57, when Robinson hit a pair of free throws.

It never grew closer, but visions of KU’s comeback from 19 down in the second half to defeat Missouri in overtime fought for space in so many brains with the NCAA Tournament comebacks from double-digit deficits against Purdue and Ohio State.

Kansas staged all those comebacks by defending the goal with such grit and passion. The Jayhawks executed their coach’s mantra of “no easy baskets” so well that they rode it to an eighth consecutive Big 12 regular-season championship with a 16-2 record.

They did it all without a McDonald’s All-American on the roster, with one returning starter, Taylor, the same player who was the team’s only guy who scored a point in last season’s Elite Eight loss to Virginia Commonwealth.

Kansas defended so well that national player of the year and Final Four outstanding player Anthony Davis didn’t score his first field goal until 5:12 remained. He did everything else, though.

Davis made just one of 10 field goals but deserved every honor he received because of how he influenced every other aspect of a game in which he totaled six points, 16 rebounds, five assists, six blocked shots and three steals.

Kentucky’s long-armed, tall athletes ran the floor so swiftly, moved with such agility, jumped so quickly, had such a nice feel for the game. They blocked 11 shots and made Kansas hurry their shots all night because that’s what happens when multiple guys seemingly out of range, get into range so quickly to swat shots.

No wonder the Wildcats (38-2) demoralized so many teams on their path to a national title. But Kansas had a confident bunch of basketball players who never let anyone do that to them, as proven by the late comeback Monday night.

“The fight never stops with us guys, man,” Taylor said. “From Thomas to Kevin (Young) coming off the bench. We just were fighting the whole game.”

As usual, Self summarized the night from his team’s perspective better than anyone.

“We came up short,” he said. “But you know, I don’t think we lost. I think they just beat us. I’m real proud of our team.”

The day before the title game, Self had no illusions about what a talented team his guys were about to face. That’s why everything he said was aimed at pumping up his players’ confidence.

Afterward, he threw credit the way of John Calipari, the coach he defeated with a late comeback in the 2008 title game.

“They’ve done a fabulous job coaching their team,” Self said. “They share. They like each other, the appearance is. And they certainly defend. They’re playing with pros. That didn’t hurt either.”

Comments

mega1119 2 years ago

Win or lose, the Jayhawks rock. Due to a 10 inch snowstorm in northern New Mexico that resulted in a 22 hour power outage, we were unable to watch the game, txts from fans kept us posted but tonight we will watch the game, not to watch Kentucky win, but to watch the classy Jayhawks players, coaches and fans. KU has tradition, UK used to be but now they are just a 1 and done university (maybe that will be their tradition). I graduated fromthe University of New Mexico but since my daughter went to KU, I have been an avid Jayhawk fan. Players hold your heads up- what a crazy but fun season!

0

rgh 2 years ago

I was as frustrated as anyone early this season with some of the play, but Coach Self and the guys did a great job! Out off the NCAA D-I teams, we finished 2nd which no one predicted to start the year. We are Kansas! We are not Misery or K-State where just getting to a Final Four would be the highlight of the year. We had a lot of fun as we've had the past 24 years under Roy and Bill. Talk about a motivated group that will be coming back with some outstanding new guys. Can't wait.

0

stevieboy 2 years ago

Note to bill self...yes you did lose...lol..i enjoyed watching the ku players crying after game..how long till kU wins another game? probably not in football season..and if they did no one would see it...unless Groupon cuts another deal..emaw!

0

Armen Kurdian 2 years ago

KU not defending transition dug us too deep of a hole. I'm curious why UK changed their gameplan in the second half, essentially letting us back into the game. Yes, I think we hustled & defended a lot better, but their offensive gameplan in the 2nd half was boring; if Lamb doesn't hit those two threes w/in a half-minute, we could be sitting on top of the world right now.

I feel really sad that these guys didn't pull it out considering how ridiculously hard they fought. They never believed they would lose the game until Kentucky hit their last couple of free throws when it was truly out of reach. They clawed and scratched until the bitter end, just leaving too many points on the floor.

So proud to be a part of the KU tradition, proud to be a Jayhawk. This year was fun. Stupendous. Now go get yourself a multi-million dollar contract T-Rob, be an NBA superstar, and take care of your sister. You've earned it.

THANK YOU SENIORS!...clap clap clap-clap-clap...THANK YOU SENIORS!...clap clap clap-clap clap...

0

Jerry Collins 2 years ago

I'm most proud of the respect the team had for each other. They were quick to give credit to one another and encouraged one another through any tough periods. They were like a family and I got the feeling if you took on one, you would have to face them all. Good job gentlemen.

0

Gotalife 2 years ago

I found it surprising that UK could win by only a small handful of points against KU. For a "super team' you would think they would have blown KU out of the water.......Interesting.

0

Bunny_Hotcakes 2 years ago

Proud of our guys, and proud of our fans. Way to not torch the city, folks.

0

paisley 2 years ago

Terrific season! Great games! More CLASS than any other team out there! Thank you for all the hard work!

0

stevieboy 2 years ago

kU didnt even show up in the first half..totally dominated by Kentucky...rock choke...lol

0

jaywalker 2 years ago

We were out-manned but never out-classed. Lesser men would have crumbled under that withering onslaught, but these guys certainly don't know what "quit" means. Couldn't be prouder of our 'Hawks!

0

Matthew Herbert 2 years ago

I can't wait until Calipari's recruiting violations cause him to forfeit the season and bring the title rightfully to Kansas.

0

tomatogrower 2 years ago

Great, fun, exciting season. Thanks team.

0

poolside 2 years ago

Well Said Well Said. Rock Chalk!

0

kugrandma 2 years ago

Thank you, Bill and the KU Basketball Team. You make Lawrence proud. You give so much on and off the court. We get to watch you nationwide from October to April, but the rest of the year you are still a team of great young men sharing yourselves with the community. Rock Chalk Jayhawks.

0

grammaddy 2 years ago

It still feels good to be a Jayhawk! Rock Chalk ride or die!!

0

Commenting has been disabled for this item.