The Jayhawks had Providence on the verge of capitulation even though they shot poorly (22 of 56) and scored only six points off of fast breaks (All-American Ochai Agbaji scored five points and David McCormack grabbed two boards).
Remy Martin Finally Trouble As Kansas Readies For Providence
Midway through the second half of their Midwest Regional semifinal game at the United Center on Friday night, the lone No. 1 seed standing in the men’s tournament suddenly and strangely gave up the lead.
You weren’t the only one who got a flashback, especially if you follow the Chiefs and the Jayhawks: Perhaps you got a chilling flashback to January’s AFC Championship Game disaster against the Bengals at Arrowhead Stadium when fourth-seeded Providence recovered from a 13-point deficit to take a 48-47 lead with 5 minutes, 49 seconds left.
Ultimately, the Jayhawks’ 66-61 win over the Friars was due to the team’s tenacity when it needed to be, its suffocating defence, Remy Martin’s (23 points), and its ability to simply concoct a way — all qualities that have recently emerged as part of the DNA of a team that, just weeks ago, appeared to be more about offence than anything else.
A jumper by junior forward Jalen Wilson 17 seconds after Providence knotted it and a three-point play by KU 28 seconds after Providence grabbed their lone lead prompted Wilson to declare, “We never get scared.”
Still, when asked about Wilson’s remark, coach Bill Self smiled and spat out a sigh of relief while accepting compliments on the walk to the locker room. I’m not sure I buy in 100% that we never get scared,” he remarked.
However, I believe that playing in the Big 12 has helped us in several respects. It seems like every game is a nailbiter for us. Every match ends in a brawl, after all. The question of whether or if hard-fought victories like the one over Creighton and this one reflect largely fragility or resolve, fatal flaws or carrying that certain something, the ability to tighten up or just being too tight, remains open.
Even if the 10th-Seeded Miami Hurricanes,
Who beat Iowa State 70-56 later on Friday to advance to the Elite Eight for the first time in programme history, will be waiting for KU on Sunday, the Jayhawks should still be “ecstatic,” to borrow Self’s phrase.
Although Self is 3-7 in the Elite Eight, Kansas made it to the Final Four the last time it went there. With the way the field has opened up in terms of seeds, that statement reverberates even more strongly. In 2011, top-seeded Kansas University lost a regional final to No. 11 seed VCU, 71-61.
The Fact That Miami is Coached by Jim Larranaga,
who led 11th-seeded George Mason to the Final Four in 2006, is further evidence that there is no such thing as gift-wrapping via inferior seeding. The prior version of self has provided a compelling explanation for those difficulties now.
He called it “the hardest game of the tournament” before KU’s Elite Eight loss to Oregon in 2017 at the T-Mobile Arena, so it’s no surprise that the Jayhawks fell short. Because the degree of difficulty rises up with the stakes and with teams colliding at peak momentum with the appetising reward before them.
A lot of focus is placed on getting to the Final Four, he said at the time. “It’s almost like the Final Four could be the equivalent of the national championship 30 years ago, with the level of intensity and type of coverage that it gets. … “(Reaching the Final Four) is certainly all the hype around it, but the ultimate aim is to win a national championship.”
Kansas, once again a No. 1 seed, has a different set of expectations to live up to now that they have surpassed Kentucky to become the all-time leader in Division I men’s basketball wins with 2,354. For Self, a first-round exit “stinks,” as he put it in 2017.
It’s unfortunate, especially because it happened in Kansas, but you still advanced to the next round. Even if you lose in the second round, consider it a victory. Even if you’re eliminated in the Round of 16, we’ve made it to the second weekend. The Elite Eight match is the only one you can’t explain.
Because of these factors, Self’s emotional response to Kansas’ overtime victory over Duke, which sent the Jayhawks back to the Final Four in 2018, was out of character. And it’s not like he’s emotionless or anything.
He just doesn’t like to display his emotions for extended periods of time in public. He had never shown such weakness before, not even when he led Kansas to the 2008 NCAA championship. The intensity of his hugs for older students Svi Mykhailiuk and Devonte’ Graham reflected this.
And in the video shot by KU Athletics in the locker room, the one where Self’s voice shook and he had to pause and wipe his eyes several times to keep from crying. To the point where he looked to shed tears… although in a phone interview with The Star the following day, he scoffed at the idea.
When asked if he had ever shed tears over a game, Self answered, “No, I’m not that soft,” in a tone that suggested he was overreacting. Now that KU has earned its way back to this crucial crossroads by winning in just about every conceivable way despite a slew of misfortunes, it is up to Self to steer the ship through the storm.
Martin affirmed, “We trust in our coach,” claiming that their trainer is the greatest in the business. It’s their chance to join him in erasing the stigma of the Elite Eight and helping him achieve immortality.