As a University of Kansas alum, I find it sad — or sadly comical — that the so-called Jayhawk basketball “supporters” that have little to do in their lives but troll the websites with their venom and vitriol believe the season is over and that the team won’t pull itself out of this current funk.
When the Jayhawks lose two out of three games (and struggle to beat second-division TCU in the third), it’s indeed big news. But it’s almost beyond belief to read some of the comments allegedly made by adults on one of my favorite websites for KU sports, KU.com.
These so-called loyalists to the program trash Bill Self (some suggesting he needs to be fired), trash the players and accuse them of the most ridiculous allegations, such as “no heart.”
Take a chill pill, please.
While these players aren’t pros yet, they are still student-athletes who have to attend class in addition to playing basketball in a pressure cooker where some of their fans live their lives vicariously through them.
They also play in a Big 12 Conference where every win on the road is considered precious, as long as you hold serve on your home court. Don’t be surprised if you see the obligatory court stormings when KU plays at Norman, Ames or even Manhattan later this season. This is the best conference in the country from top to bottom and the winner could very well have four or five losses — parity is that much in play. Maybe it’s a compliment to the program if KU, say, drops to fourth place and opposing fans still storm the court after a victory How many other fourth-place teams can say that?
Yes, the Jayhawks are struggling. It seems unfathomable when you look at their experienced roster, but it does happen. Very few great teams go through the entire regular season without valleys accompanying the many peaks (just look at defending national champion Duke right now).
I really believe the three-overtime game with Oklahoma 10 days ago took a lot out of this team, both physically and mentally. Both teams left everything they had on the court that night and Oklahoma also has lost another game since then. This was the “Thrilla in Manila,” in reference to the epic Ali-Frazier fight that basically ended the careers of both as they had nothing left after leaving it all in the ring.
Kansas’ ascent to the No. 1 spot was sparked by tremendous 3-point shooting that didn't figure to last. Now that it has dried up, the Jayhawks are finding it difficult to score in the paint as Perry Ellis is the only consistent producer inside. Self has a glut of post players go to with him, but none come close to Ellis’ total package. The revolving door ups the fans’ frustration as you never know from game to game if a post is going to play 20 minutes or 2.
I also think point guard Frank Mason has worn down. He plays a lot of tough, grueling minutes and often defends the opponents’ best guard. Devonte’ Graham joins him in the backcourt and maybe it’s time to give him a few more minutes at the point and give Mason more of a break. Wayne Selden, who was playing at a lottery pick level the first 12 games, has lost his shot, but these things are cyclical and a matter of confidence. He has done it before, he’ll do it again.
So KU fans need to take a reality check and a deep breath. Let the season run its course. While the Jayhawks may very well see their conference championship streak end at 11 since Oklahoma is the real deal, they’re still a very good basketball team and one of the best in the country.