Rising above the ashes of a meltdown came a voice of reason from Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self, winner of at least a share of each of the past 10 Big 12 titles.
“To me, we missed our opportunity to celebrate,” Self said Saturday after his team blew a 10-point lead in a 72-65 loss to Oklahoma State in Stillwater, Okla. “We probably won’t celebrate. We may do a little something if we’re successful against (Texas) Tech (on Wednesday).”
That doesn’t alter how impressive it was to win the Big 12 outright, particularly when starting three freshmen among five first-year starters. The Jayhawks removed the “co” from their “champions” title early in the first half, then watched the Cowboys storm the court.
Rough timing, but that’s fine. It’s about winning titles, not celebrating them.
KU has maintained a blue-collar edge during its decade of dominance, no easy juggling act. Subtle updates to Allen Fieldhouse in recent years have been done in a way so as not to erode the old-time feel of the place.
If KU were to break out the confetti cannons and stage a full-bore celebration Wednesday, it would signal a step away from authentic and onto a slippery slope toward Hollywood.
Here’s hoping the “little something” is nothing more than showing the trophy to fans awaiting senior speeches. Fine. But confetti cannons, a corny song, caps and T-shirts? That works for a semi-spontaneous, mini-party when the title is fresh and sweat from the clincher hasn’t dried. Nine days after winning a game that extended the streak? Too scripted and nine days too late.
Like so many in a college basketball landscape flush with good teams and short on great ones, KU has its share of concerns. Among them: Naadir Tharpe’s consistency, the fitness of Joel Embiid’s back, finding the right defensive matchup for Perry Ellis and improving the rate at which Andrew Wiggins’ shots at the rim drop. Find solutions in those areas and confetti will fly soon enough.