NCAA Men's Championship Game - Kansas v Kentucky

Kansas shouldn’t be disappointed by this season


NEW ORLEANS – This was supposed to be the rebuilding year for the Jayhawks.

With so much talent leaving the program and 75% of Bill Self’s recruiting class getting ruled ineligible before the season started, Kansas was forced to play this season with a lineup that was very un-Kansas-like. Two former walk-ons — Conner Teahan and Justin Wesley — played significant minutes. Other than Tyshawn Taylor, everyone else on the roster this year was forced into bigger, much more important roles.

No one thought Kansas would be able to have a season like they did. The Jayhawks climbed all the way into the top five nation. They won the Big 12 regular season title by two games — the fourth straight season they’ve climbed the outright league title and the eighth straight year they’ve had at least a share of first place. They made an improbable run all the way national title game.

The disappointment in the Kansas locker was palpable. But once that passes, you can only hope the Jayhawks realized that what they accomplished this season was special.

“I think that’s what I’m going to remember the most,” Tyshawn Taylor said, “just how far we went with so many people not believing in us. This team here, we came a long way since the beginning of the summer. Probably no one thought we would be here, but we’re here.”

“That’s a good feeling, but it will probably feel better in a few days than it does now.”

“I loved being a part of my team,” Thomas Robinson said. “I wouldn’t take anything back. I feel proud, but to get here and then not get what you came here for, it’s going to hurt no matter what.”

No one at this level ever likes or wants to lose. While the rest of the country may not have completely bought in, the Jayhawks certainly believed that they were good enough to win the national title on Monday night. This loss is going to hurt, particularly for the players that will never don a Kansas jersey again.

But once that pain subsides, Kansas will be able to look back fondly on the memories they made with this run.

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.