SportsPulse: Can Loyola-Chicago write history by hitting a stacked Michigan squad? Scott Gleeson of USA TODAY Sports says the Ramblers have a very real chance.
USA TODAY Sport
Maybe you've seen Bill Self last night. When the buzzer sounded to signal Kansas's win over Duke, he threw both fists into the air, leaned back slightly, and then unleashed a loud cry.
The sound was swallowed up by the noise in the arena. The self-demonstration was easily lost in confetti and chaos. But there it was.
"Sometimes you can handle it easily," the Kansas coach said later, "and at that moment I was."
Yes, it meant something – and probably more than just getting to the last four
That's enough big enough on its own. Mike Krzyzewski calls it "the biggest bridge you can cross" that trains college basketball, and that's from a man who has been there 12 times, who tied up with John Wooden for the most with a win last Sunday broken by a coach. Instead, Self has crossed this bridge for the third time.
But there were more
MORE: To side bears and boy, Loyola is Chicago's new favorite team 19659008] MORE: USA TODAY Sports Final Four expert tips
MORE: Loyola Runs in NCAA Tournament Highlights Errors in Amateur Model
In the 15 years that Self Kansas has been training, the Jayhawks have been a fixture Size in the hierarchy of college basketball. You may have heard that they have won 14 consecutive Big 12 championships. Their average season record is 30-6, which, along with the 2008 National Championship, is one of the reasons why Self was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame last fall. But the glittering success in the regular season flowed into a topic that his teams had understated after the season.
The narrative changed over the years. Self's early Kansas teams were upset in the first round by Bucknell and Bradley, and in 2010 there was also a second round against Northern Iowa. Now it's more about losing in the Elite Eight. But the idea – Kansas comes too short in March – had stamina.
In Sunday's game with Duke, Self's Jayhawks went 2-5 in the Elite Eight. In four of the losses, including in each of the last two years, Kansas was the No. 1 seed.
"I think about it all the time," Self said last week, acknowledging that these numbers "are being etched in the back my brain. "
And then there's this team.
But let's start with last year, when the Jayhawks reached elite eight for the second year in a row. Ranked # 1 in the Midwest region, they played the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight games in Kansas City, 42 miles from Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kan. With a national player of the year in senior guard Frank Mason and a future NBA lottery pick in freshman Josh Jackson, Kansas was as talented as any team in the entire NCAA bracket, and through the first three rounds the Jayhawks played like this.
But in the Midwest region, the No. 3 Oregon finals went as high as 18 points and won by 14.
Bill Self and the Jayhawks celebrate their Midwest region championship. (Photo: Steven Branscombe, USA TODAY Spor)
That's why Self called the Elite Eight the toughest game in the NCAA tournament. And after defeating Clemson last week at Sweet 16, he realized that a "special season" in Kansas had to end in the Final Four.
Nobody expected anything special this season, let alone a double dose. Their best recruit, power forward Billy Preston, never made it to the campus for NCAA aptitude questions, rather than opting to play per ball in Europe. That made the Jayhawks very thin – they go seven deep and not more than eight – and of very small size. There is no surefire lottery. For much of the season, Kansas looked like a nice team, but nothing special. Even after a late season opener, he again won the title of Big 12 in the regular season (which was very helpful when Texas tech keeper Keenan Evans suffered a broken toe and lost the Red Raiders four straight), as well as the Jayhawks Big 12 Tournament won to get a starting position 1 in the NCAA tournament – this number 1 did not seem to be similar to this other No. 1.
But that leaves Kansas & # 39; s running better to San Antonio. While some Kansas teams are inferior, this has exceeded everyone's expectations.
Also in March there is a certain happiness. When Duke Guards shot Grayson Allen's last second – he climbed the edge, kissed the backboard, and then crawled along the edge before it fell out – curled up? Kansas would have lost eight in the elite for the third consecutive season. Self would have been 2-6 in Kansas in shots on the Final Four (and 2-8 including stints in Tulsa and Illinois). That this team is not as talented as some of these other teams would probably not have mattered to the story.
But Allen missed it. Kansas won. Here are the Jayhawks.
"When you get there, there is some relief, luck, but also a relief that you get there," Krzyzewski said.
All this was bound up and broke loose in Self's moment at Summer. And there was another moment after the trophy was introduced and the nets cut down when Self addressed the Jayhawks in the locker room.
"You know I'm not that emotional," Self started – he stopped for a moment to gather and wiped the tears from his eyes with a towel. "That's the best thing I've ever felt in a group, and you have no idea how much that means to so many people, and I said, before you are loved forever by this place, all you can do And now you can add something. "
On a conference call on Monday, Self laughed and hinted that it was" just a lot of water in my eye. " But he also recognized the obvious – the recent story coming from shortly and then coming there with this team – feeding it into those moments.
But that's Kansas. And topics are stubborn things. On Wednesday, when the Jayhawks arrived in San Antonio, Self himself suggested what could come next.
"Someone said yesterday," You'll forever be reminded that you've made a Final Four, "said Self Circumstances, that's probably how it should be, but he continued," No, you will not , Not in Kansas. You will be remembered forever when you win it.
Did Self and Kansas finally give away a label or just postpone a narration when crossing this difficult bridge?