Whitey Herzog once told me “baseball fans are the most fickle bunch in sports”. I have a great deal of respect for Whitey, but I’m going the other way on this one.
I spent some time looking at all the comments from KU and other basketball fans following the Jayhawks loss to Villanova. Like most high stakes games, every possession is precious. Questionable calls are made at both ends of the court or calls as a fan that we didn’t agree with. It was somewhat shocking to read that KU assistant coach, Kurtis Townsend, screamed at one of the officials after the game “You were awful tonight.” Bottom line here, the refs did not take this game from Kansas. Villanova played harder and played better than KU. Jay Wright out coached Self and his staff.
Self is very popular with not only the Kansas fan base but with both the electronic and print media who cover the team. He wins a lot of games during the season every year, but seems to “pit the bit” when it’s money time in the Big tournament. I’ve seen very little in print about evaluating Self after another early exit. When your team has the overall #1 seed there are no excuses – none – for not making it to the Final Four.
Let’s take a closer look. Self wins the Big 12 title every year but his nest egg is predicated on winning NCAA Championships. In 13 years at Kansas, Self is 30 – 12 in the NCAA Tournament. Consider the fact that KU has been a #1 or #2 seed 9 of the last 10 years. Of those 30 tournament wins, 18 have come in the first or second round games considered pretty much a “freebie” game for teams that are good enough to be on the top lines of the bracket.
Self is 6 – 2 in Sweet 16 games. Here’s where his tournament resume becomes a little sticky. He’s won 2 of 8 regional finals. Self has been to only 2 Final Fours in 13 years at Kansas. The last 3 seasons should raise some questions. Kansas entered the tournament this season with 14 straight wins and the consensus pick to win it all. The team fizzled, making it only half-way, winning 3 games.
Kansas is 5 – 3 in the tournament in the last 3 years. Those 12 straight conference titles look good but I’m sure Self would be happy to trade a few of them for the opportunity to compete with some of those ACC teams on the highest stage when it comes to supremacy of college basketball and what really matters – a National Championship.