I don't really know how to write about the past season of college hoops, but I will try my best to put it into perspective for those who are part of the Jayhawk fanhood and those who are not. It has been 3 weeks since KU won it all and now I think I can put my thoughts to paper.
This is obviously a monster post...so look out!
***I have many fun pics about the final four etc down below***
I was in high school in Olathe when KU won in 1988. I liked the Jayhawks, but I never truly appreciated that win because my brother Craig was currently at KU, my Dad graduated from KU in 1964 and my Uncle before him.. At the time, I remember it being 'their' championship, not mine... if that makes any sense. I was flooded with KU my entire life and for some reason I fought that a little bit (stupidly, btw). I visited several Kansas universities my senior year in high school except KU: (Wichita State, K-State and Washburn). I think I was excited about WSU and just wanted to be different until 2 things happened:
1. I received a scholarship to 'study' abroad in Greece for the summer.
2. I visited KU without my Dad nor my older brother.
I went up to Lawrence with some high school friends for the first time and went to some rush parties. I just loved it and immediately signed up. I was also under the gun to make a decision because I was leaving the country for the entire summer.
I was at KU from 1990-1997 and during that time I went to pretty much every KU basketball game I could...I freakin loved it all. I was one of those nerds who grouped up with either my fraternity brothers or engineering buddies and literally camped out at the field house for the big games. Players I got to see all the time while in school: Adonis, 'Downtown' Terry Brown, Woodberry, Walters, Jacque, LaFrentz, Pierce, Haase and dunkmaster Darrin Hancock.
When I was a young student, Allen Field House was like a sacred temple that I felt only students should worship. I remember wondering why the whole place wasn't filled with just students. It is so funny to me now that I feel like the current students have no idea how much the field house experience will mean to them later in life :)
To this day...there is NOTHING like being a student at KU, camping out, saving seats, sitting in the student section, ripping up the UDK like a madman and then going crazy. I am not sure which year it was, but I had Mom, Dad and Craig come up for a Texas game and I got them seated almost behind/near the bench in the student section somehow and it was incredible.
In 1991 and 1993 we had Final Four runs, but no championship. Campus was crazy both times and I was immersed in all of it. My fraternity (Delta Chi) rented a 20' screen and had a monster lot party for the 1991 Championship vs. Duke. We lost that game, but it was still an incredible run to experience as a freshman.
On a side note: During my masters at KU I started to appreciate the football team more and I am glad I had my Dad up for most home games. We had a blast and I can see now how much that meant to him and me. Basketball games also became more special in my 'older' age with Park, Prentis, Coleman, Cloughley and Spoada.
Eventually I left Lawrence in 1997 and became just a normal alumni fan. In 2003 I met my Allie, who went to KU just after me. She is a 4th-generation Jayhawk and obviously has more ties than even me. Thanks to her Grandpa Lloyd and my pops-in-law Frank, we have access to season tickets at the field house. Since 2003 we (Allie, Dad, Frank, etc.)have been going to many games together as alumni. We have been soaking in all the excitement and occasional pain. (e.g. Bucknell and sadly Bradley) I actually watched KU's championship loss to Syracuse in '03 with Mark Connolly (our company sales director and major KU fan/alumnus) at a hotel in lovely Atlantic City. Mark left the room in disgust and then Peez drunk-dialed me from NYC in a daze...that was the worst feeling ever and Carmelo can suck it!
Anyway, every season of Jayhawk basketball is always special to us fans because we are somehow always near the top of the Big 12 and rarely miss the NCAA Tournament. When I was at Burns & Mac, getting monster alumni groups together to watch big games was my staple.
And finally I get to start making my actual post below...
***NOW THE KU HOOPS 2007-2008 SEASON:
(my attempt to recreate what we all felt)
The start of this season did not launch with the normal *POP* that it usually does because the KU football team was so incredible this year. At work, Tim and I were freaking out about KU football and KU hoops at the same time and we didn't really know what to do. It was too funny!
In lieu of the KU football insanity, I recall the basketball team was awesome and 20-0 until it lost @KSU. Brandon Rush was back and on the mend, but Collins was hurt...still the Big 12 Season was in full swing. We were pretty deep and only lost 2 more games: @TX and @OSU. Allie and I were at the rematch victory vs KSU at Allen and it was probably the loudest game ever for me. I think after the OSU loss, the press kind of wrote us off a bit and we became an underdog to Texas and others nationally. But then the Big 12 Tourney started in KC at the new Sprint Center and we rolled...
I heard that the Big 12 Tournament Championship Game (KU vs Texas) was probably the best NCAA basketball game thus far all year, but I missed that because Carl booked our flight to take off right at tip.
And now the madness finally begins...KU, UNC, UCLA and Memphis all earn #1 seeds and I immediately saw this on my Yahoo! Sports homepage on March 17, 2008:
RUSH, LOVE, HANSBROUGH and ROSE (nice) >>
We were a #1 seed and the pressure was on, but we had only 3 losses on the year and our biggest loss was like 9 pts on the road.
Tourney action started on Thursday (03-20-2008) and I saw this pic on the start of my main Yahoo! homepage: *so i snagged it! >>
---little did Yahoo! know that Mario would eventually...
KU played good through the first 2 games and then really shined in the Sweet 16 matchup vs Villanova. Allie was such a trooper reserving tables at key locations throughout the games...wow. After the Nova win, giant-killer Davidson who beat Gonzaga, Georgetown and Wisconsin were up next. They shut us down and were awesome (especially Curry) but luckily we survived that game to make the Final Four >>
KU had made its first Final Four since 2003 and it was also Coach Self's first in his career. We were now in uncharted territory as the KU fan's dream had come to fruition >>
PLAYING NORTH CAROLINA IN THE FINAL FOUR vs COACH ROY!!
The hype before this game was almost too much to bear. All the past stories of Roy, KU and UNC etc. Roy almost leaving then staying for two years, then leaving...blah blah blah.
Allie, Tim, Peez, Craig, Frank, Dad and I were going crazy sharing articles, newspapers, blogs etc. It was nutz. The irony became so thick because OSU (Self's alma-mater) had just fired head coach Sean Sutton and were apparently courting Bill Self, just as UNC had with Roy before the KU '03 Final Four. It got crazy and the press ran with it until the tip on Saturday, April 5, 2008...
UNC was the overall #1 seed and we were the bottom #1 seed among the first-ever all-#1 seed Final Four! Tyler Hansbrough was the MAN and most TV commentators didn't think we had a solution for him nor UNC in general.
April 5, 2008: National Semi-Final (North Carolina vs. Kansas)
Then the game started with perhaps the best single KU run in history:
KU JUMPED TO A 40-12 LEAD! We were incredible that 1st half >>
^ Swatting Tyler 1 ^
^ Swatting Tyler 2 ^
We smothered Tyler & UNC and won huge (84-66). We watched this game at Johnny's in Olathe near our home with Peez, Niko, Patrick and his buddy Raj. Raj was from India and studying at KU with Patrick. He had never experienced this before and he got even more crazy than us die-hard fans. He was high-fivin' everyone and their mom! It was great. Here is a pic of proud Peez and the tv's we were watching that night >>
This win over UNC w/Roy was so sweet for fans because we love KU so much (almost too much) and can't fathom why anyone would love another school more. But we all failed to realize that Roy felt the same way about UNC and stuck with KU because it almost felt like home to him.
I still like and love Roy (always have), but so proud we beat his team that he left KU for...and that we did it on the biggest stage when UNC was favored to win...ahhh so nice regardless :)
For me...that win was my championship for some reason. I felt so proud yet I had nothing to do with the win except run up a bar tab and party with my friends:) It was so emotional and so incredible that anything else would be just gravy.
We now had to play Memphis who were the AP #1 most of the season. They had just clobbered UCLA who beat us in the Elite 8 last year. Their style was even more crazy than ours. I watched a few Memphis highlights during the year on ESPN and these guys dunked like the freakin NBA. Memphis also bullied Texas on their way in...
so that was nice? and here we go >>
April 7, 2008: Championship Game (Memphis vs. Kansas)
Pic taken by Sam Stuckey (Allie's Uncle) who took his entire family to San Antonio for the Final Four.
Monday was a work day so Allie couldn't save seats at a hotspot. Tim invited all of us to come to Lawrence to watch the game and then hit Mass St. if we won. Peez could not make it to ltown unfortunately. Anyway, we met Tim, Chelsea, Matt and Lesha at their house to watch the game. The whole event was so surreal, I can't even describe watching the game.
KU looked solid early but got beat late in the game. We were down like 13 points with 2 minutes and kept fouling and somehow had a chance to tie with 11 seconds left and then this happened >>
All you can hear is Jim Nantz saying, "Kansas has made only two 3's on the night and they must make one here to extend the game.
Collins driving... almost lost the handle...Chalmers for the tie!"
*then just screaming :)
>> and that was perhaps the best thing i have ever seen.
We then went to OT and played great on a foul-troubled Memphis team.
We beat Memphis in OT and won the NCAA National Championship >>
This is what accomplishment looks like.
Then we went to Mass St. with 40,000 people >>
^ Allie and I driving to Mass St after the win ^
^ Allie, Chelsea and Tim after the huge win! ^
That is pretty much it. Chalmers shot will be remembered forever. People keep asking me how it feels and my only description is the video above...IT IS AMAZING!
Here is a link to more great video captures of the Final Four >>
KJ OUT - see ya next year! *with our all freshman team!
P.S. Coach Self stayed at KU btw :)