Kansas Basketball: Thank You for Everything

SAN ANTONIO, TX - MARCH 30: Devonte' Graham
SAN ANTONIO, TX - MARCH 30: Devonte' Graham /

Kansas Basketball over-achieved this season. The Jayhawks made it further than anyone should have guessed. It all came to a halt against Villanova.

Kansas Basketball surprised America, their fans, their coach, and perhaps themselves this season. After multiple losses at home and getting beat twice for the first time by a conference foe, this year’s Jayhawks were basically written off by experts and even yours truly at one point in the season.

Devonte’ Graham led his team to an unprecedented 14th straight conference title, breaking the record long-held by UCLA. The Jayhawks avenged their two losses against Oklahoma State in the Big 12 tournament on their way to winning the Big 12 tournament, and in doing so, captured one of the four No.1 seeds.

Being a Kansas fan means more than just basketball. The Jayhawk Nation is a family. The players are like our children. Kansas fans care about these kids. They want the best for these kids. Fans not only root for the guys on the court, they root for them in their life’s journey.

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The Storylines

This season brought plenty of drama, good, bad and ugly. The first half of the season was clouded by the Billy Preston saga. The highly touted freshman never saw the court for Kansas. Imagine this team with his presence on the floor.

We saw a freshman come in midway through the season in Silvio De Sousa. A top recruit for the 2018 class, his early arrival to Lawrence brought hope to a severely short bench. Things looked to move just a bit too fast for Sousa during the rest of the regular season, not able to gain any positive traction.

During the Big 12 Tournament Kansas fans saw the young man grow up before our eyes. With Udoka Azubuike injured for the tournament, Sousa stepped up, eventually overtaking Mitch Lightfoot’s role as Udoka’s backup. The added depth changed the platform for Kansas heading into March Madness.

The emergence of Malik Newman was the main story line for Kansas in March. He became the go to guy for the Jayhawks, as he simply took over games in both the conference tournament and the big dance.

The leadership of Devonte’ Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk carried the Jayhawks throughout the season, as Graham put himself into the conversation of National Player of the Year. Graham filled some massive shoes left by Frank Mason, and he did so majestically.


The Big Dance

Kansas was thought to be the most likely No.1 seed to fall to perhaps the best No. 16 seed in history, Penn. The Jayhawks didn’t allow it to happen. Seton Hall was to be a thorn in the sides of Kansas’ hopes, the Jayhawks passed the test. Clemson was supposed to be a bad match-up for Kansas, and the Jayhawks persevered.

The Elite Eight game against Duke was a masterpiece for this Jayhawks team, as once again, they were picked to be taken down. Bill Self perhaps had his greatest game coaching this season during that game.

These Jayhawks overcame all odds to make the Final Four. It was going to take something magical to stop the Kansas storm. From the gate the Jayhawks, as well as America were faced with a historic performance by Villanova. The Wildcats came out and shot three’s like no team had ever shot three’s before.

It became clear early on that no matter what Bill Self drew up, or what the boys did on the court, there was nothing Kansas could do with Villanova shooting the ball as if the basket was as big as the Grand Canyon.

It was hard to be as upset as we all should have been. There isn’t a team in the country that could have beaten Villanova on this night. It was a sight to see. A tough, harsh sight to see. It was sad that it had to be against Kansas.

We will never see Devonte’ Graham suit up again. Svi Mykhailiuk will never hit another three in a Jayhawk uniform. The chances of Malik Newman leaving early are bigger after his tourney run. So we whisper those words every sports fan hates to speak, or hear. Maybe next year.

Next: Best seasons all-time for Kansas Basketball

Thank you Devonte’, Svi, Dok, Malik, Lagerald, Mitch, Silvio, coach Self. Thank you for allowing Kansas fans to witness another great season by another great group of guys. Rock Chalk Jayhawk.