Well, I admit, despite my assertions that I was fulfilled by KU’s accomplishments coming into the NCAA tournament and would not sweat their performance, I could not avoid my compulsory 24 hours of sadness after their meltdown late Friday night.

The endless replaying of the last 2:00 of regulation and the final moments of overtime. The questioning of decisions by players on the court and by Bill Self on the bench. The thinking ahead and wondering what that loss cost KU. The comparing the negative feelings of Friday to those of two years ago, or three years ago, or six years ago, and so on to decide which hurt worse. I tossed and turned that night and woke Saturday as I almost always do after KU’s season ends, wondering if it was all a bad dream and then trying to come to terms with the truth that the season was really over. And then I spent the day doing my best not to talk to my chatty daughters while I pouted until that 24-hour window closed.1

When I woke up Sunday, things were mostly good. I could, again, appreciate that a team with a lot of talent but many, many flaws, accomplished a ton this year. It was so much fun watching Jeff Withey dominate the inside as few players do any more. It was a privilege watching Ben McLemore, one of the three or four most talented players to wear a Jayhawks uniform in my life. Kevin Young made me laugh almost every time he was on the court. As a KC native, Travis Releford will always be my guy, and was such an important part of many great wins the past two years. And while Elijah Johnson probably took Tyshawn Taylor off the hook as most maddening good KU player ever, he had a game for the ages in Ames and, despite is many flaws, helped the team more than he hurt them. I think.

I was wrong at the beginning of the season. I said this year would be a bridge year in between extended runs of excellence. It was far from a bridge year. It was that last, great year where guys who were role players for one, two, three years had their chance to shine. Next year will be the bridge year, the rebuilding year, whatever you want to call it. The great thing about KU basketball is these years don’t come around very often. And when they do, the teams are usually still damn good.

Next year’s squad will probably take some lumps early with games against Duke and perhaps Michigan State sprinkled amongst another schedule that has more solid tournament teams than cupcakes. But by February, everyone will be talking about how Bill Self has done it again and KU is a young team no one wants to see in their bracket in March.

This was a great year that feels like it ended too early, but was probably more than most of us expected in November.

So, one last time for the 2012-13 season,

Rock Chalk, bitches.

  1. It was a Father Of The Year performance, I promise you.