Three losses in their final four matches of the regular season cost the Kansas volleyball team the opportunity to host the first and second rounds of next week's NCAA Tournament.
But the Jayhawks are firmly in the field and will be matched up with a couple of familiar foes during the tournament's opening week.
Placed in the region with No. 1 overall seed Penn State, Kansas will take on former Border War rival Missouri on Friday in Wichita, with the winner moving on to face the winner of Wichita State's match with Radford in Round 2.
Kansas has faced both Missouri and Wichita State during recent NCAA Tournaments and has unique rivalries with both programs.
The 16th-seeded Shockers were the final team to earn the right to host the first two rounds.
Also hosting in the first two rounds are Big 12 foes Texas, Baylor and Iowa State.
Despite their struggles down the stretch, the Jayhawks, which reached their first ever Final Four two seasons ago, have their eyes on a return trip to the Final Four to send the seven seniors responsible for the rise of the program out in style.
This year's Final Four will take place down the road at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo., and the Jayhawks have dubbed their upcoming journey “The Road to Kansas City.”
Stay in touch with Kusports.com the rest of the night for more reaction to KU's draw.
Everybody loves to root for the underdog and when the Kansas Jayhawks forced overtime and earned an eventual 24-21 win over Texas, it captured the attention of college football fans everywhere.
As expected, KU's first victory over Texas since 1938 sent shockwaves across the nation — and the globe. Famous Korean Kansas City Royals fan Sungwoo Lee confirmed the Jayhawks' win made headlines on Korea's international channel.
Then, of course, former KU players, athletes from other sports and many others shared their excitement across Twitter. Fans stormed the field, eventually tore one of the goal posts down and carried it out of the stadium to, presumably, Potter Lake.
Below are some of the many social media highlights that accompanied KU's first Big 12 win of the season.
KANSAS CITY, MO. — After finishing two games behind Kansas in the Big 12 conference standings last year, West Virginia men's basketball coach Bob Huggins said the key to unseating KU at the top of the conference is learning to win at Allen Fieldhouse.
The Jayhawks own a 206-9 record at home under coach Bill Self, including only two league losses since 2007. Obviously, no other team in the Big 12 enjoys the same level of success on its home floor.
"People have to go into Allen Fieldhouse and win once in a while," Huggins said. "Because the rest of us all lose at home, and I think if you look at it, that's without a question, the difference. That has a lot to do with the job that Bill does. Bill does a great job. And they have really good players."
On a 12-year conference title streak, the Jayhawks are one season shy of tying the longest consecutive conference title streak, set by UCLA in 1967-79.
"Kansas' dominance is really -- it comes down to three things," Huggins said, "they've got a great coach, they've got great players, and they never lose at home. Until we start beating them at home -- and we had chances, we had chances. We missed free throws and a lot of crazy things happened at Allen Fieldhouse now. So we end up losing. If we had beaten them, I think somebody else would have had a chance to maybe tie for the league championship or whatever."
Despite KU's long streak at the top of the conference, Huggins disagrees with people that believe it hurts the image of the Big 12 to have one team with a monopoly on conference titles.
"I don't know why that would taint anything, you know what I'm saying?" Huggins said. "Because they've been one of the top three or four teams in the country for how many years, and that's not going to change. They can be in whatever league you want to put them in and they're still going to be. Don't listen to those people."
KANSAS CITY, MO. — Speaking at Big 12 Media Days on Tuesday at Sprint Center, Iowa State men's basketball coach Steve Prohm addressed his team's play in Kansas City, winners of two of the past three Big 12 tournament titles.
"What I think the number one factor coming over here is being just three hours from here, that Cyclone Nation really makes this — Hilton South is what they call it, it's an unbelievable atmosphere here," Prohm said. "I think that obviously goes a long way in winning games in this arena."
The Cyclones, coming off a 23-12 season, were ranked fourth in the Big 12 coaches' preseason poll behind Kansas, West Virginia and Texas. KU coach Bill Self gave the Cyclones his first-place vote.
Iowa State split the season series with the Jayhawks last year, winning in Ames, 85-72. When the two schools played again in the regular-season finale, the Jayhawks won, 85-78.
"I thought both games were really well played," Prohm said. "We were fortunate to beat them at our place. Then we went to their place last game of the regular season and actually really played well. I think we led by three with three minutes to go. But when you're playing Kansas, you're playing elite teams, you have to make tough plays down the stretch and you have to finish games. We weren't able to do it up there this past season."
Iowa State senior Monté Morris was picked as the conference's preseason Player of the Year. The dynamic point guard is the top returning scorer in the league after averaging 13.8 points per game, adding a league-leading 6.9 assists per game last year.
But of course, Prohm wants the Cyclones to contend for a Big 12 title and work their way to the level of success that is common at Kansas.
"Obviously Kansas is the standard, like I touched on, and our goal is to continue to put ourselves in a position to challenge them," Prohm said.
"But Allen Fieldhouse, Hilton Coliseum, there's probably, like I said, not five better places to play college basketball."
The Kansas women's volleyball team, ranked No. 6 in the country with a 15-2 record, will play host to Sunflower State rival Kansas State at 6 p.m. tonight at Horejsi Family Athletics Center.
If you're like most Kansas fans in the area, getting a ticket for the Jayhawks' sold-out, always-wild home venue will be next to impossible. But that doesn't mean you can't see the action.
The Jayhawks, whose two losses this season have come to No. 4 Texas, in Austin, and No. 22 Purdue, also on the road, will play this one on national television on ESPNU.
The Jayhawks have been ranked in the Top 25 of the AVCA poll for a program-record 22-consecutive weeks dating back to last season, including 18-consecutive times in the Top 10. KU finished last season ranked No. 4 after advancing to the Final Four.
Kansas State leads the all-time series with Kansas, 61-42, but the Jayhawks have won seven of the last eight meetings with the Wildcats, including a series sweep last season and a pair of wins over ranked K-State teams in 2012.
Tonight's showdown features one of the top defensive teams in the conference — KU leads the Big 12 in four defensive categories — against one of the most potent offenses.
It also features yet another opportunity for the Jayhawks to lay it on the line in honor of academic advisor Scott "Scooter" Ward who remains in the hospital after surgery to repair a tear in his aorta last Friday. Updates from those who have made the trip to visit with Ward have been increasingly encouraging and doctors continue to be pleased and surprised by his progress during the recovery process.
KU volleyball coach Ray Bechard recently penned the following letter to express what Ward means to the program:
It is seldom in life that you come across someone as inspirational as our academic counselor, Scott "Scooter" Ward.
He has faced so much adversity in his own life, but never do you hear him complain about his own circumstance. Rather than do that, he puts all of his energy into helping others and creating opportunities for the people around him to get better. He has done that for everyone involved in our volleyball program.
As we all became aware of Scooter's (emergency open-heart surgery) situation last Friday and we spent time together processing that, it was clear how every team member felt about him – how important it is to all of us that he gets a full recovery and what a joy it will be when he returns.
Our team realizes how much he cares about them and how badly he wants them to succeed. He is there for them beyond the academic support level. He is willing to listen and impart words of wisdom. He cares about the individual. He has devoted his entire career to preparing young men and women for life.
It is very difficult to come up with a way to thank a person like that, other than be the best we can be in his absence right now. On his return, hopefully we can continue to be that way. We look forward to that day when he is back with us full-time and supporting us at the level he always has.
Our team will continue to move forward and we will honor his absence by being the type of people and team he would be proud of.
— Ray Bechard
With the 32nd annual Late Night in the Phog tonight, the anticipation of the beginning of another Kansas basketball season is at an all-time high.
Led by 14th-year head coach Bill Self, the Jayhawks will open the season, as they always do, with high hopes and lofty goals. A likely Top 3 team heading into the season — which officially begins in Honolulu on Nov. 11 — the Jayhawks will be gunning both for a national title and a record-tying 13th consecutive Big 12 regular season title.
While the quest for both will hold the interest — and nerves — of KU fans for the next several months, few things get the fan base as fired up as Late Night, which offers both an opportunity to see the players in action and be entertained by their personas away from basketball.
"There’s nothing like it," said junior guard Devonte' Graham. "The fans know what recruits are coming from high school. They get all the privileges just to be around here and experience Late Night. Seeing Allen packed is different from just walking in and seeing it empty. You can’t really imagine it but it definitely is a huge impact on recruits.”
With that in mind, here's some of the sights and sounds from Late Night — the unofficial beginning of the KU basketball season...
-Check back to KUSports.com and this blog for much more coverage of Late Night
Tonight's the night.
Kobe Bryant, the man Magic Johnson himself calls the greatest Los Angeles Laker of all time, will play the final game of his legendary NBA career at home in front of what figures to be a star-studded crowd of some of the biggest names in sports and entertainment.
And there's no doubt that, given that this is Kobe and Hollywood we're talking about, it figures to be one heck of a send-off.
For those of you who don't care much for Kobe, I'm sure the dominant thought in your minds is, "Hasn't this whole season been a Kobe send-off?" And, yeah. It has. But that's what happens when legends say goodbye and, love or hate him, Kobe Bryant, on the floor is a basketball legend.
With that said, so much of this day and this week have been about Kobe send-offs. And one of the most recent tributes I saw, a Nike commercial which should speak to the Kobe fans and haters, featured a little Kansas basketball flavor, as legendary Jayhawk and Boston Celtic Paul Pierce made an appearance.
Here's a look...
According to multiple recent reports, highly coveted high school senior Josh Jackson, a 6-foot-7, 201-pound McDonald’s All-American wing ranked No. 1 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals.com, will announce his college of choice next Monday or Wednesday.
This is in line with Jackson’s original timeline of sometime after the Nike Hoops Summit game, which is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday and will be shown on ESPN2.
Future Jayhawk big man Udoka Azubuike also will play in the Hoops Summit game on Saturday.
As for which day is most likely between the two, Eric Bossi, a national recruiting analyst for Rivals.com, recently Tweeted that Jackson told him that Monday would be the day.
No. 1 Josh Jackson tells me that Monday is likely going to be the day for his college decision.— Eric Bossi (@ebosshoops) April 8, 2016
Kansas and head coach Bill Self remain in good position for Jackson’s services and the Jayhawks are competing with Michigan State and Arizona to land the standout perimeter player who has the total package and figures to make an immediate and profound impact wherever he plays his college ball.
Jackson, who earned co-MVP honors at the McDonald's game, has said throughout the process that he's looking for the best fit for him as a person and basketball player and often talked about how important the family feel would be for him in choosing a school.
Here are a couple of recent good looks at Jackson from USA Today.
On Monday, the discovery of an old recording from a radio program broadcast in 1939 was released and the recording featured something that might be near and dear to the hearts of KU basketball fans and fans of the game everywhere.
It's an interview with James Naismith, the inventor of the game and first coach in the history of Kansas basketball and it is believed to be the only known audio recording of Naismith.
In it, Naismith, who had traveled to New York for a basketball doubleheader at Madison Square Garden, discusses setting up the first basketball game with two peach baskets in a gymnasium at the International YMCA Training School (now Springfield College) in Springfield, Massachusetts in December 1891.
This recording was discovered by Dr. Michael J. Zogry, Associate Professor, Religious Studies, and Director, Indigenous Studies, University of Kansas, in the audio and manuscript archives of radio station WOR-AM that were donated to the Library of Congress by RKO General, Inc. Dr. Zogry obtained permission for the University to include the recording in its archives and to use it for educational purposes.
In addition to the historical relevance of such audio, it's a wonderful listen because it gives you a little more of a sense of the man for whom the court at Allen Fieldhouse is named and who you have seen in so many pictures throughout the years.
As Zogry himself said at news.ku.edu: "The recording suggests the gym was a laboratory for developing the game and establishing the rules. There's also value in just hearing his voice. In this day and age of media saturation, to find something like this is surprising. No one's heard his voice in over 75 years. When we hear him talking, we get a sense of his demeanor and his self-effacing attitude."
Hat's off to Dr. Zogry for finding such an incredible interview and for sharing it with the world.
Here's more about the process of Zogry's incredible discovery.
The Kansas University volleyball team is headed to the program's first ever Final Four, next week in Omaha, thanks to a thrilling five-set victory over top seed USC on Saturday night in San Diego.
After winning the first two sets with some elite volleyball, the Jayhawks fell flat in sets 3 and 4 and needed a wild comeback to pull out set 5. Trailing 13-9 in the fifth and decisive set, KU ripped off six straight points to stun USC and take the match.
The Jayhawks now will play fourth-seeded Nebraska in Omaha on Thursday night at 8:30 p.m. central time. The winner advances to the national title match to face the winner of the Texas-Minnesota showdown.
Be sure to check out KUsports.com throughout the upcoming week for all kinds of KU volleyball coverage.
For now, here's a quick look at some highlights and interviews from San Diego.