Arrowhead parking lot after crushing the 49ers and play of the game
My favorite past time; rolling around Wyandotte in a cop car
Polarizing College Basketball: The 2010-11 Kansas Jayhawks
By Billy Clarkson
College basketball is hard to judge in that casual observers place so much emphasis on the one-and-done tournament as a means to judge a season. As Virginia Commonwealth University has shown throughout their incredible run, any team skilled enough to consistently hit an all-too-short three-point jump shot has a chance to be king. Countering this is what every top seeded team in the tournament familiarized themselves with: an off-shooting night yourself can wash away a season in just forty minutes. On Sunday afternoon, Kansas ran into a red-hot basketball team that was good enough to dominate Georgetown and Purdue while also beating Florida State, a squad that defeated two-seeded Notre Dame, on their way to the Elite Eight. As non-BCS schools have shown, conference affiliation has little to do with postseason success. Yes, most Kansas fans cringe when hearing the term ‘mid-major,’ but any reasonable college basketball student with at least half of a brain realizes the extinction of the idea that they are somehow inferior is a few years past its expiration date. As a Jayhawk fan, the loss hurts, but be cautioned to throwing this season to the wind.
Taking preseason expectations into account, Bill Self did a fine job with this group of Jayhawks. To give an idea of what most people expected, take these into consideration: Andy Katz picked Kansas preseason 16, Dick Vitale 26 and Fox Sport’s Jeff Goodman at number 11. The preseason polls were fairly accurate in that they had them at 7 in both the ESPN/USA Today poll as well as the Associated Press. Kansas exceeded the ‘experts’ opinions and played to seed with the others. On the contrary, Kansas State was picked preseason 5, 7, 5, 3, and 3, respectively while Missouri came in at 14, 21, 9, 15 and 14. On average of the selected five polls, Kansas was picked 13th, Kansas State 4th, and Missouri 14th. With only one of these teams finishing as champion of both the Big 12 conference and tournament championship, it doesn’t take Isaac Newton to see who overachieved, and who failed to meet expectations. Hype that was given to the Kansas Jayhawks as a number one seed was done according to their own success, and this is a testament to the coaching job of Bill Self and staff.
A common trend I found in talking with nearly all Kansas fans throughout the season was that this team was not Bill Self’s most talented squad of basketball players. In fact, this may have been the least amount of ‘top-end’ talent Self has had in quite some time, making this season even greater. In comparison to the 2008 National Champion Jayhawks, look at the RSCI rankings. For those unfamiliar with this service, it takes an average of recruiting services to rank players. Let us look at the main contributors in relation with their RSCI, if you will. Russell Robinson, Mario Chalmers, Brandon Rush, Darrell Arthur, Darnell Jackson, Sherron Collins, Sausha Kaun and Cole Aldrich came in at #31, 8, 23, 11, 68, 14, 41 and 21, respectively. The 2010-11 Jayhawks Tyrel Reed, Tyshawn Taylor, Brady Morningstar, Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris, Josh Selby, Thomas Robinson and Elijah Johnson came in at #59, 73, unranked, 73, 67, 6, 28, and 25. This averages out to 27.5 vs. 60.125 (listed Morningstar as 150, although that’s generous considering he wasn’t on any top 150 list). It’s understood that Kansas, although more talented than VCU, was hardly Self’s most prolific team; this is a key factor in what made them so prone to being upset. The maturation of the Morris brothers from being ranked sixty-seven and seventy-three to becoming Big 12 player of the year and second-team all conference is a testament to how well this staff develops their talent. In addition, the travesty Thomas Robinson endured and overcame with the help of his teammates and Jayhawk Nation made this season both emotional and incredibly rewarding to cheer for. There is no other team to be more proud of, so please do yourself a favor and don’t embarrass yourselves with passionate hate toward players you rooted for throughout their career. If anything, at least take a deep breath and wait a few days before truly reflecting on the season that was.
The hardest thing for any sports fan to accept is a defeat, notably when it comes unexpectedly. For any fan that was watching the Jayhawks on Sunday afternoon, it was only unexpected for the first four minutes of the game. Watching from the comfort of a couch, midway through the first half I turned to a friend next to me and stated, “Kansas is losing today.” College basketball, as unpredictable as it may be pre-tipoff, can become very clear in the first ten minutes of a contest. The fact that VCU went an entire first-half scoring only bucket from ‘two point territory’, even that one coming in transition, yet still led the Jayhawks by fourteen shows just how destined the Rams really were. Some program will make a big mistake in thinking Shaka Smart is “the next big thing” while ignoring the fact that a hot three-point shooting team can even make Mike Anderson look witty.
As is highlighted throughout every sports season, there are a few fan types: those who can accept a loss in an adult fashion, those who embarrass themselves whenever their team doesn’t meet their own personal expectations, and those whom are apathetic to their own end-game results yet thrive in ‘hating’ on others. To use as an example, a large portion of Chiefs fans absolutely embarrassed themselves after the playoff loss to the Ravens, forgetting that fan pride and delusion is a fine line to walk. That loss, before this becomes too off topic, was neither unexpected nor devastating to levelheaded Chiefs fans as the Ravens were clearly a better football team. Like the Jayhawks, the Chiefs outgained preseason expectations and somewhere in the middle fans separated themselves from reality. Walking out of Arrowhead, all Kansas City Chiefs fans should have been proud for the season that was, and Jayhawk fans should do the same today. It’s perfectly normal to be mad about the end result, but don’t lose sight of the bigger picture.
The final fan, the one that is personally haunting and borderline pathetic, is the apathetic ‘hater.’ If you’re one that can’t take a little tongue-in-cheek humor, I would proceed the rest of this paragraph with caution if not skipping it entirely. It’s obvious that sports is small on the spectrum of real life issues, but if you’re going to cheer for a team you may as well show a consistent invested interest in how they perform. This was sadly on display across text messages and social media outlets once the final buzzer sounded on Sunday afternoon. I’m not one to ‘call-out’ other fan bases (well, at least not since I was sixteen), and I say this knowing many great opposing fans whom this does not concern, but yesterday’s performance by Missouri and Kansas State social mediatards was, at best, comical and flattering. Where most people get angered when rival fans gloat in a Jayhawks loss, I honestly find a much-needed source of comedy through its sheepishness. Multiple messages stated how people couldn’t wait to find VCU gear to sport around town, even using pictures of Jayhawk fans as their way to try and “sting” Jayhawk nation. Oh boy, you sure showed Kansas nation: zing and one hater point awarded to the brave soul who waits until defeat to talk. If the attempt was to act fourteen years old, display how bad the Jayhawks success has you by the proverbial genatalia, or just showcase an overall feeling of apathy toward your own program’s failure, kudos and come back for more. The ‘I told you so’ attitude that is commonly shown against Kansas was one of the largest in recent memory, and will probably now at least make this upcoming Royals season bearable to those who were involved. Pats on the back were so loud yesterday that even Curtis Kelly would agree it was probably a foul (speaking of which, sources tell me he may have discounted VCU shirts). Has it really gotten to the point where people are this desperate to make Jayhawk fans ‘know you saw that game?’ Embarrassing. This feeling of contention with a season full of shortcomings somehow being “righted” by a Kansas Elite Eight loss shows the true separation between the programs; it’s your own fault for further emphasizing that point to the world. Both Kansas State and Missouri can become fine basketball teams, but this level of thinking has to change for either to really have a chance. Consistent runs are fueled by being confident in what your program is doing, not by ‘hoping we do as well and get as far as team X.’ Please excuse me while I get off my soapbox.
Honestly, this is what makes college athletics so special and captivating. The rivalries amongst the fan bases are unique and great, even if it results in deranged Alabamans killing some trees (look it up, it’s true). Kansas faithful, if you can’t find any comedy in computer-enhanced pictures trying to make you mad, well, you’re doing it wrong. If you’re not proud of what this team accomplished through the tragedy of the Robinson family, again, you’re doing it wrong. This isn’t exclusive to Jayhawk fans either as every school should embrace the passion; it’s what feeds college sports to be what they are. Relish that Kansas lost three games this year: one had the opposing team printing t-shirts, selling DVD’s and auctioning their nets, the second made the nation sure that Texas was the best team, and the last will ultimately lend itself to even more memorabilia being sold. If one can’t see that as a compliment, then you’re taking yourself all too seriously. The true nature of a fan is shown in difficult times of defeat, so please advance with caution because, as Superbad reminds us, “people don’t forget.”
The hardest thing for any true sports devotee to do is leave emotion stranded outside while evaluating their favorite or most hated team. This season has emphasized everything that is right with college basketball in that developing talent is a fine process that can lead to dramatic success if done so successfully, Cinderella has a few babies, and fan passion is higher than ever. Lost in the shuffle of yesterday’s defeat to Virginia Commonwealth is the fact that Kansas won their seventh consecutive Big 12 title, became champions of the Big 12 Tournament Championship, earned yet another ‘one’ seed and allowed its devotees to watch thirty-five victories. As has been shown, talent can generally lend a team to be less prone to upset, but it is not the only factor in determining a champion. In a year with no great teams, Kansas had a great season. Yes, it has gotten to the point where outsiders view a 35-3 record and Elite Eight appearance as a ‘failure,’ and that’s a tribute to where this program currently stands.
The Jayhawks are undoubtedly the most polarizing team in Kansas City, as is shown in the gloating of their losses. This will never change, and stands as an inherent flaw of other programs. Kansas is the measuring stick of the Big 12, and this year was no different. No, Jayhawkers will not buy Iowa football shirts, yell “Woo Pig Sooie,” or gloat in the fact that Jacob Pullen lost his last game. In addition, not wearing a Kansas uniform undeniably made him more ‘likable’ in the eyes of general Kansas City and its media. Yes, it’s funny to watch Missouri lose and remain stagnant for eternity, but to be honest it has become redundant and has never served as a means to judge success or even happiness. Does one honestly expect Jayhawkers to Facebook and Tweet about every shortcoming the Tigers and Wildcats endure? No, because that level of sophistication has only been reached by a select few fan bases. For twitter followers, take this as a means for assessment: if one’s entire loss slate is forty-two characters long, chances are that team had a great season, and one that most would trade for. Yes, it’s easier to root for a team with no expectations, but that quite honestly is not in Kansas’s blood. There’s no guarantee in sport, and it’s sad that so many fail to realize this fact. The uncertainty is what makes athletics what they are and it’s undoubtedly what keeping fans coming back for more. Step away from the scene, leave emotion on the front door step, and realize that Bill Self and this year’s Jayhawks spoiled us fans and remedied rival’s seasons; that’s a lot of power for one program to hold, and it’s doubtful that another could come close to emulating. Realize that as long as a Kansas loss is noteworthy, the program is succeeding. It sounds odd, but it’s the undeniable truth; only once these ‘haters’ become indifferent to the outcome of a Jayhawk game should you be worried about the program.
One can only hope to have another ‘failure’ of a season, go 35-3, win both Big 12 Championships, make the Elite Eight and feel a collective sigh of relief if Kansas loses in the tournament. Statistics show that the Jayhawks will likely not win the NCAA Championship next season, and history dictates that this will make a lot of people’s season a success; odd, but indeed true. If you’re a Kansas fan, be a proud member of the Jayhawk nation that was able to hold its collective arms around Thomas Robinson in his time of need, witness the term ‘F.O.E’ (Family Over Everything) become a staple for the program, and view the fatherly role Bill Self embraced and flourished in. It has been great to witness a combined 68-6 record the past two years, and most rational fans know that forty minutes does not diminish what the 2010-11 Kansas Jayhawks achieved. Hold you’re beak high (unless you’re going to cry in it when they lose), cherish the fear of your team’s success and sport your Kansas gear proudly. Well, unless Iowa, Cincinnati, Arkansas and Wisconsin gear is on sale.
Our House Our Rules
Let me pose a question: what do these two children have in common? Answer: They are both under sixteen and were manipulated into lying/cheating by the Chinese government. It seems that China doesn’t really give a rat’s ass that the world has bestowed their trust and good graces upon them to conduct themselves respectably as hosts of the Olympics. Sadly, the real losers here are the women of the United States Gymnastics Team. That aside, it is almost comical to watch the Chinese government attempt to deceive the world in the same manner that they deceive their own citizens. It has already been leaked out on Drudge Report that politburo members forced the real singer of the Opening Ceremony performance to bow out because she had buck teeth. Personally, I think it would have been kind of cute and endearing if they had just let Snaggletooth sing the thing. The whole lip-syncing scandal makes me wonder if they press their musicians and actors into a lifetime of service in the same manner as they do their athletes. You have to give props to Bella Corolla—the former head coach of the US Olympic team for those of you pussies who don’t follow gymnastics—for calling out the Chinese on NBC on Tuesday night. While Bob Costas uncomfortably squirmed in his chair with a constipated look on his face, Corolla bluntly pointed out the obvious in his Borat-like accent: The Chinese are cheaters. Now I am not trying to sound like a sore loser. China performed magnificently in the team finals, and the US blew their opportunity. However, the fact of the matter is that by cheating the rules, and attempting to deceive people, the Chinese continue to taint the one thing they seek to bolster by hosting the Olympics: credibility in the eyes of the world. The bottom line is that these events—among other trivial issues like human rights abuses and religious persecution—serve to show us that China is not ready to host a fair sporting competition. I just hope the girls of the Chinese gymnastic team don’t get too many detentions from their teacher when they try to cheat at kickball, because they might miss the rickshaw to gymnastics practice.
Brody Working on His Future 2009 Job
Good Luck Trying to Find a Job Herm
Barack Obama was right. I don't like Barack but things are CHANGING. Herm just got fired. Thank you. Pioli and Clark just moved up a notch in my book. Herm is a destroyer not a builder. He was not constructing a team while in KC. He was deconstructing a team piece by piece. We actually got progressively worse each season. Had we let him coach another year, we probably would have lost every game. That’s what the trend lines are leading to. 9 wins, 4 wins, 2 wins, and probably 0 wins if he stays. I feel bad for Herm because he didn’t have all the money in the world to make a team, but there is no correlation between shitty play calling and not having any money. Herm is a swell guy, but he is not the ruthless rebellion the Chiefs need. We don’t need a big teddy bear like herm. We need a mad scientist who is constantly scheming and concerning himself with one thing: winning. I want wins. I don’t care how it happens. The glory days at Arrowhead need to come back. I want to have the loudest stadium again. Additionally, I want to be part of a fan base that believes our coaches and management are using the most effective strategies in not only putting together a team, but also in playing the game. Good bye Herm. I know this site doesn’t help your resume, but it’s the truth. I think Herm could be a decent college head coach, but that’s about it.