Appropriately Wayne Simien’s shot to win the game fell short at exactly the stroke of midnight here in Indianapolis. In years past, I would spend the next five or six hours laying on the floor without movement. I mean, Bucknell in the first round? OK, I might have been preparing to leap from a tall building. I’m bummed, but not devastated this year. I didn’t expect much from this team, who for whatever reason could never find their identity this season. My moment of clarity a few weeks back definitely worked, at least based on my reaction tonight.
The seniors were part of a great era of KU basketball. Aaron Miles was the best pure point guard the program has ever seen. Wayne Simien became the classic “What if?” player; he was robbed of being one of the all-time greats by injuries. Keith Langford provided four years of incredible memories. And Michael Lee did all he could the last two weeks to keep the team alive. It’s almost as if they were destined to disappoint, though, since they weren’t good enough to keep Roy in Lawrence where Kirk Hinrich, Drew Gooden, and Nick Collison were.
Now the program is officially Bill Self’s and we’ll see if he’s really as good of a coach as he’s supposed to be. I think he would agree any hype of his coaching abilities has been greatly reduced by both his and his team’s performance this year, but I’ve also had some suspicions ever since he arrived that we wouldn’t see his best teams until Roy’s players were gone. I hope I was right. A new era of Kansas basketball officially begins on March 19, 2005 at 12:01 AM. It’s going to be interesting, exciting, and like nothing we’ve been through since the early days of Larry Brown’s tenure in Lawrence.
Rock Chalk Jayhawk
(Let’s hear it for the smart kids big programs didn’t want. Vermont and Bucknell advance, Syracuse and Kansas go home.)