Basketball fever is a recurring disease in Lawrence. This year both the Kansas University men’s and women’s basketball teams made runs in their respective NCAA post-season tournaments that surprised many observers.
After losing a couple of key players earlier in the season, the KU women made it to the NCAA’s Sweet 16 before bowing to a traditional powerhouse, the University of Tennessee. Many loyal Jayhawk fans would have been satisfied, even happy, to see the men’s team make a similar run. Having lost four of their starting five players from last year to graduation or the National Basketball Association, the men’s team figured to face a challenging year. That challenge was made even greater when several freshmen were held out because of academic questions.
Coach Bill Self says this year’s team has played closer to its “ceiling” than most teams he’s coached. This year’s Jayhawks have worked hard and worked together to produce a surprising result. The element of surprise makes this year’s trip to the Final Four a little sweeter for fans — and probably the team members, although they insist they believed all along that their season could end this way.
Now, we’re all hoping the end is still a couple of games away. Rock Chalk and the best of luck to the Jayhawks this weekend in New Orleans.