It’s finally over. Fourteen years stopped at a screeching halt. Oh well. For the 2018-19 Kansas Jayhawks, it’s time to learn and move on. No longer at the top of the Big XII mountain, doubters finally have the ammunition to attack Bill Self; fourteen-time Big XII Champion, one-time national champion.
I’m not the type to drool over Self and his coaching, but my goodness, it’s a fun time to search “#kubball” and “fire self” on Twitter. Comedy gold.
But jokes aside, some believe this was Self’s worst performance. Others claim it’s another Bill Self Miracle the Jayhawks were alive until the very end. So which is it?
Too Fresh of a Start
Close your eyes and imagine losing Devonte Graham, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk and Malik Newman to the NBA. Keep ’em closed and now take Udoka Azubuike, LaGerald Vick and Silvio De Sousa out of the equation, too. Now make sure Mitch Lightfoot is the veteran of the locker room and OPEN! You have the 2019 Kansas Jayhawks.
At Big XII Media Day, I asked Self if having the Lawson twins and Charlie Moore in the locker the previous season would have a large effect on chemistry and roster turnover for the upcoming season. Now it’s March 6th and the answer is a clear and resounding “no shit!” Nobody knew in October that Kansas would be stuck with a completely new-look starting five heading into March, let alone bench mob.
When the Hawks took the floor on March 15, 2018 against Penn in their first March Madness match en route to the Final Four, Malik Newman, LaGerald Vick, Devonte Graham, Svi Mykhailiuk and Mitch Lightfoot consisted of the starting lineup. Azubuike was nursing a knee injury and played a couple minutes in his return to the court.
When the Jayhawks storm the court this coming tournament, Lightfoot is the only returning starter that has a shot at the top lineup again. Dedric Lawson, Quentin Grimes, Ochai Agbaji, Devon Dotson and either Marcus Garrett, Lightfoot or David McCormack creates a fun opportunity and youth movement, but an inexperienced bunch at that. Only Garrett and Lightfoot have recorded playing time in March with Kansas.
It’s absolutely ridiculous that Self had the Jayhawks in the race until the final week with the amount of curveballs thrown at the roster. We can officially take Bill Self off the hot seat.
What to Expect This March
Nobody really knows. In addition to losing the fourteen-year regular season conference champion streak, odds are Kansas won’t be a 1 or 2 seed for the first time in ten years. Projected as a four seed as of today (March 6th), the path to Minneapolis looks a bit different than years past.
It’s possible Kansas runs the table, proves the doubters wrong and there’s a parade down Mass St. on April 10th. There’s also a possibility the season is over after the first weekend of the tournament, effectively busting my bracket. There’s something cliche about saying “that’s the beauty of March Madness”, but the 2019 Jayhawks truly embody that thought process.
The possibilities are endless; the ceiling may be the roof, but the floor is the court. Kansas is excellent at Allen Fieldhouse, undefeated in fact, but they’ve wet the bed on the road all year. The tournament has neither: neutral site city, baby! I’ll reiterate… nobody knows what’s about to happen. Minimal expectations, monumental possibilities…folks,