Pain of Elite Eight loss lingers, but Jayhawks have faith in future

Kansas head coach Bill Self adjusts his tie as he leaves the court following the Jayhawks' 74-60 loss to Oregon on Saturday, March 25, 2017 at Sprint Center.

The sun did, in fact, come up in Lawrence on Sunday morning, but its arrival was not the signaling of the beginning of Final Four preparations for the Kansas men’s basketball team.

Instead, the dawning of a new day merely hammered home the nightmare reality of what took place less than 12 hours earlier at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo., where top-seeded Kansas fell to No. 3 seed Oregon, 74-60, in a Midwest Regional championship game that featured the Jayhawks playing their worst offensive game of the season and more heartbreak for Bill Self’s squad.

“Feel like my life is over,” senior point guard Frank Mason III posted on Twitter late Saturday night. “Thanks for everything Jayhawk Nation. You guy(s) will forever have a special place in my heart.”

For the second year in a row, Kansas’ season ended in the Elite Eight, one win and a few possessions shy of the Final Four.

Last year, after falling to eventual national champion Villanova in the same round in Louisville, the Jayhawks used the devastating defeat as fuel for a similar run in 2017. Now, with a sensational 31-win season gone in the snap of one’s fingers, the Jayhawks are forced to move forward with more gas in the tank and the hope that their fate will be different 12 months from now.

“Yeah, definitely,” said sophomore guard Lagerald Vick when asked if he thought his team again would use the Elite Eight loss as motivation for another run in 2018. “It’ll be wrapped up in my head all the way up until this time next year. Definitely.”

While next year seems like forever away, the Jayhawks, who finished 31-5, were struggling with the more immediate future on Saturday night.

“It’s going to hurt for a couple days, so I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do,” said junior Devonté Graham, who missed all seven shots he attempted in the season-ending loss.

The pain and heartache were evident on the faces of every player in the Kansas locker room following Saturday’s loss. And one of the biggest reasons so many Jayhawks were moved to the brink of tears was the fact that the loss to Oregon, in which Kansas delivered its worst offensive performance of the season, signaled the end of the line for seniors Landen Lucas, Mason and Tyler Self.

All season, those three — particularly Lucas and Mason — were the leaders of a Kansas team that yet again won the Big 12 Conference, tying UCLA’s record of 13 consecutive conference titles, and rolled to a seventh No. 1 seed in the past 11 NCAA Tournaments.

Between the tears and hugs, frowns and heavy sighs, Kansas coach Bill Self, who fell to 2-7 all-time in Elite Eight games (2-5 at Kansas), took a minute Saturday night to reflect on the careers of two players for whom he showered constant respect and admiration throughout the season and their time at Kansas.

“I think they know how we all feel about them and certainly how I feel about them,” Self said of Lucas and Mason. “They've been unbelievable. Everybody's got stories, but the paths that these two took to get to the point that they've been, and what a big part of our program they have both been, is pretty amazing and remarkable.

“Landen has had an unbelievable last two and a half years playing for us, unbelievable, and he does so many things that (don’t) get recognized. But he's a great, great teammate and good guy.

“Frank had the best year of anybody I've ever coached, and he's as tough as anybody I've ever coached. He loves this place as much as anybody I've ever coached, and I hurt for them. Certainly they've left their legacy and certainly they should be very proud of their accomplishments.”

With that, the offseason officially arrived. The next several weeks and months will bring with them individual workouts, team activities, never-ending recruiting and the arrival of a few new faces, some known and others still to be determined.

“Every year coach does a good job of recruiting guys and bringing in guys, and we still know that a couple guys are coming back,” Graham said. “The future’s bright for us.”

Added sophomore Lagerald Vick: “Coach Self is the man.”

By the Numbers: Oregon 74, Kansas 60

By the Numbers: Oregon 74, Kansas 60

— See what people were saying about the game during KUsports.com's live coverage.


More news and notes from Kansas vs. Oregon


Comments

Aaron Paisley

Matt, do you know anything about Billy Preston's status for next year at this point and what the odds are of him getting cleared academically are? Or is he likely going to suffer the same fate as other API/Prime Prep players and be forced to go overseas for a year?

4 months ago

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Matt Tait

Got a call into him to find out what's up. He's headed to the McDonald's All-American game later this week...

4 months ago

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Jim Bonafide

To this year's J-Hawks and Coach Self - THANK YOU for an incredible season! You were fun to watch, and so easy to root for - what a great group of kids. Best to the seniors leaving and those leaving for the NBA.

I know next year we'll be back pursuing another Big 12 Championship and prepped to make another deep run in the tourney.

4 months ago

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Jaston Archie

Who lied to Devontae Graham and told him he would get drafted? I don't understand what he has to think about

4 months ago

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How do you know he was lied to? How do you know he won't get drafted?

4 months ago

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Daniel Kennamore

Self & company has felt this sting all but 2 of their 9 trips to the Elite 8.

When is he going going to make the adjustments needed to punch through on a normal basis?

Is he even capable of it?

If he isn't, when do we say enough is enough?

4 months ago

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Steve Zimmerman

What do you want us to do?

4 months ago

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Jim Stauffer

Maybe you would rather look like KSU and see two of your previous coaches in the Final Four because you thought you could better yourself by firing a guy who is better than anyone you will ever replace him with, Daniel.

4 months ago

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Daniel Kennamore

Neither Frank Martin nor Dana Altman were fired from K-state...they both left on their own...so not sure what you're talking about.

4 months ago

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Lucas Town

Or we could look like Kansas and see that Roy Williams who left on his own, has now been in 5 Final 4's and won 2 National Championships since leaving for North Carolina.

Let me pose a couple of questions:

Is it easier to win at UNC as opposed to KU?

Would we rather have Bill Self as our coach (2 Final 4's and 1 National Championship), or Roy Williams who may very well hang a 3rd National Championship banner at UNC?

4 months ago

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Mike Riches

Do you think Roy would come back?

4 months ago

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Lucas Town

Sure, if he was ever fired at UNC and the job opened up.

4 months ago

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I thought about these questions but they are basically unanswerable. Too many "what if's". What if we made free throws against Syracuse? What if Roy Williams went to North Carolina and didn't have the great players left by Brad Doherty? What if Roy Williams gets fired?

It's a fruitless exercise.

4 months ago

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Lucas Town

You are right, too many "what ifs". I think the only thing that can be almost certain is that if Roy had stayed in Lawrence, Tyler Hansbrough is a Jayhawk.

4 months ago

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Brian Steward

Yeah, he should really adjust his coaching to make that ball go through the hoop. And change his defensive scheme to make it so they stop making those deep, guarded threes. What a horrible coach; he didn't sub out the backboard after they got some lucky bounces. Jeez fire that terrible coach.

4 months ago

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Daniel Kennamore

When it happens once or twice, that can be written off as luck/bad-night/etc.

But we ALWAYS play tight in the Elite 8...and Self is the only common component of these Elite 8 flame outs.

4 months ago

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John Randall

When it happens five or seven times, that means only twice did Bill Self get the dice to roll our way on the craps table called March Madness.

You're right that he's not gaining as fast as I would like, either. However, I'm mature enough to know the craps table wasn't evolved so that MY overblown expectations would determine the results on "any given night."

I'd have to agree with the Oregon senior that when they play like they did on Saturday, nobody would beat them.

4 months ago

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I think our best beats Oregon's best.

4 months ago

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Gerry Butler

Oh, and here we go - - -AGAIN. - - -the adjustments are, the players will be made when the players continue to knock down shots as they have in previous games, the adjustments will be made when opposing teams shot - -three's quit hitting the rim bouncing up and comin BACK down hitting every part of the rim and still going in. The Coach can prep these guys all day long the bottom line is that THEY are the one's who have to execute that preparation. - He can't go on the floor in the game and direct them where they need to be in position on to def end - -he can't be on the floor and shoot the ball for them. Did you happen to read the part about him being 33-13 in the tourney? he sure the hell didn't get that pct by not being able to Coach. OH WAIT maybe out of ALL those other games at no point did he have to make adjustments or was he Capable of making those adjustments in THOSE games. - -What we really need to say enough is people like you that are never satisfied always wanting to and whine. -If your Soooo, unhappy with Coach then trot your little happy a - - right on do to the AD department, and tell them you want to apply for the position - I'm sure they could use the laugh. - - - Get the hell out of here with that junk

4 months ago

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What coach would take a job that a 31-5 season, 13th straight conference championship and Elite 8 appearance wasn't good enough?

And who would you offer the job to?

4 months ago

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Scott Proch

Never, do we say enough is enough because John Wooden isn't available and there's nobody else better.

4 months ago

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John Randall

Such adulation for Wooden always rankles my hocks. Why is no one in the media honest enough to mention that Jack Gilbert turned "papa John" from a mediocre coach into what we read about all the time. Wooden decided to retire just before the NCAA found some gonads, y'no?

I have the same reaction to the Bud Wilkinson years at Oklahoma –– just closed his eyes to cheaters among the fans who used their wallets to ensure the program had the best players available.

4 months ago

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RJ King

Thanks John, for injecting a few facts into the myths. There's a lot of myopic thinking on this site for sure.

4 months ago

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One of the all time dirtiest coaches was Kansas born and raised Adolph Rupp. I've always wondered what Coach Allen thought about Rupp.

4 months ago

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Mike Barnhart

I had a friend in college that suffered severe test anxiety. He'd breeze through his daily work with great grades and study his tail off before exams. On test day he'd freak out and his mind would go blank.

In a way, I see that same look on Coach Self's face in the third game of the NCAA's. I'll never forget his giant exhale and eye-roll after the Davidson game. It spoke volumes about his incredible anxiety at that moment and I guarantee you that anxiety rubs off on his team!

That said, Coach Self is just a notch below Roy Williams, Coach K and Cal. They're not going anywhere so I'll stick with our guy.

4 months ago

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A really 'close' friend? : )

4 months ago

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Matt Gauntt

I'm getting really tired of all the arm-chair head coaches that believe Self is a bad coach.

PLEASE, head 70 miles to the west and cheer for that team.

This is a couple years old, but I think the message is still pretty valid.

http://www.sportingnews.com/ncaa-bask...

4 months ago

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Gerry Butler

Love it Matt, Awsome, I also am so sick of arm chair Coaches that are in-defeated with their Hoagies in one hand and their cold 40oz in the other sitting in their recliner and talking their smack all the time - - get's really old. They keep whining and one of these days Coach will be gone then we will be screwed royal and they will wonder what the heck hit them, and be wishing he still here. - -But my question for you is why we want them to only go 70 west - -hell head on out to Boulder or somewhere like that, we sure don't need them in this State

4 months ago

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J.L. Forge

Does the coach get outcoached or fail to make an adjustment from time to time? Sure, happens all the time in every sport, in every venue across the country every year. That being said, I think our coach has a proven track record of sustained success over his coaching career and I'll take him over anyone else out there. He can't get on the floor to make plays, shoot the ball or play defense unfortunately, that's on the players and if they don't convert or execute, bad things happen. Just like against Oregon, their zone caused issues for out guys and additionally, no one could hit a shot (some of which were good looks and some were contended). Not much you can do on those kinds of nights, especially when Oregon was on and hitting contended and in numerous cases, ridiculous shots such as the nearly half court bank shot before halftime. Stuff happens. All that being said, I love our guys and our coaching staff and think some folks who are so butt hurt need to shift gears and relax a bit. Being an alum myself, I was frustrated, mad, upset and shell shocked but we will recover and continue to be a contender year in and year out. I'll take that over being a program that isn't supposed or expected to play at such a high level. RCJH!

4 months ago

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James Donnell

Everyone--fans, players, coaches--feels the pain, and that pain is magnified by the feeling that "this was our year," yet it turned out that it wasn't; magnified by having the sensational Frank Mason and the "do it all" super Josh Jackson, yet failing to get Frank the Final Four he deserved in his last game; magnified by the good bracket and "home game" opportunity that we let slip by; and magnified by the exhilaration of the fabulous season and then the phenomenal tournament play until Saturday. It all came crashing down, and it hurts. But it happens in the tournament--and to all teams at one time or another. So much of it is mental, but Oregon is really good, and they had the psychological advantage of playing an "away" game against all odds. That obviously got their competitive juices flowing. It doesn't help at this point to look to blame anyone for what happened. We can only lick our wounds and look ahead.

4 months ago

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Mike Barnhart

Good point, it was not our year. The moment Azabuke went down our margin for error became minute. After the loss, Coach Self admitted Oregon had more athletes than most of our opponents. He really needs to stock up on more Darnell Jackson, Thomas Robinson type guys. 5 star recruits are important but so are 3 and 4 star "long athletes!"

4 months ago

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Brian Wilson

So True. Don't get me wrong, I love our players and Self recruits awesome talent, and I'm not really qualified to second guess BS, but to me it seems like Self ends up playing players out of position because he doesn't recruit very many 3 and 4 star bigs for the long haul. We also seem to get a lot of power forwards that are really too small to play the position in the NBA. I'm not sure Bragg can play the 4 in the NBA and after all the fumbling this season I'm pretty sure he doesn't have what it takes to play the 3 spot either. Perry had the same issues. When's the last time we had three true centers on the team? We also seem to recruit and play multiple smaller point guards rather than having the bigger guards like Oregon came to town with. IMO, if you are going to recruit a player that will end up having to play small forward in the NBA, then that is where you should play him, if not, maybe you are recruiting the wrong guy into the wrong situation. Although, there hardly no way in hel/ that going to KU is really a wrong situation. lol.

4 months ago

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Brandon Winkler

For anyone calling for Bill Self's job....go find a new team.

4 months ago

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Gerry Butler

Thank you - - -Plain and simple - - -nuff said

4 months ago

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Jay Hawk

Fire the coach? Really? I have been a spoiled KU fan as long as i can remember watching college basketball. I remember watching Kellogg and Thompson play with Manning and that turned me to disliking PUKE. Coach Self and Coach WIlliams have/has done a great job with the program. Being a fan i'm disappointed every year when they get knocked out. It happens to every team that makes the tournament except one every year. Does the best team win the tournament every year- NO. Was i upset that they lost-yes. I wanted to throw my remote at the TV when the rebound at the end went to Oregon when we were down 6. I still thought as bad as they played that they would pull it out until they did not get the rebound. Was this the worst tournament loss no- not even close. I believe that 6-7 teams could have won it this year with KU being one of them. The worst lost that i can think of was when they lost to Rhode Island (if my memory is correct- I've tried to block it out) when they had some one named God Shamgod and KU did have the best team in the country.They did not make it out of the first weekend. A coach can only get the players in position to be successful- he cannot rebound, pass, or shoot for them.

4 months ago

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John Brazelton

Only one team can win every game, everyone else loses. That's the beauty of March Madness. One thing that you can almost guarantee, KU will make the tournament next year and Oregon may not.

4 months ago

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Ryan Zimmerman

It's not like there's some magical pool of coaches out there just looking for a job and that will do better than Self, people. I don't get that mindset. Fire Self? Self didn't put the lid on the basket at that Oregon game. They made shots and we couldn't. 9 times out of 10 we would beat them, but that 1 game is the one that got us.

Grass is not always greener and that's sure as hell accurate with college basketball coaches. No way we get rid of a hall of famer for some rando out there.

4 months ago

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Gerry Butler

That is exactly 100 % correct - - only problem is to some of these idiots this is always their answer - - FIRE THE COACH, FIRE THE COACH give me a break, I'll take my chances with Coach Self anytime, anywhere

4 months ago

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Me too.... Except in the Elite 8.

4 months ago

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Mike Riches

I would be very interested to know what our team did in the 45 or so hours between the Purdue game and the Oregon game. How did they spend their time? How much cramming for the next team versus trying to stay loose? How did it compare to past years? If Self has proven anything this year, it's that he's flexible, and willing to try new things (e.g. 4 guard lineup). I think Self is an amazing coach, and without question our best option. But 2-7 is certainly less than stellar, and Self would be the first to say that. No the coach didn't make or miss any shots on Saturday, but is there anything that could be changed to get our guys to not panic and be better mentally prepared for these big do-or-die games?

4 months ago

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John Randall

"... anything ... to get our guys to not panic ..." ?

SURE –– make sure the other team doesn't pull three-pointers out of their butts and doesn't play over their heads on defense!

4 months ago

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Glen Miller

I think that the school of thought on having anyone BESIDES coach Self is quite ridiculous. Who in Gods green earth will you bring in that is better? Coach Roy had the same amount of time to bring a title here and brought absolutely 0 titles and was in 4 Final Fours, losing in the title game twice. So the Williams is better stuff is just BS in my estimation. Coach Cal brings in all the great players and goes to Final Fours....... but you guessed it, he's got just as many titles as Self....... 1. Coach K is on the back 9 of his career, but in his prime would be the only coach I would have even considered over Self. Besides, he is never going anywhere. I think most of us Jayhawk fans look at the NCAA tournament and lack of titles recently and think a coaching change should be made because we think change will make it all better. In reality, I'm not quite sure that many of you understand what this man has done for our program and the level of consistency he's brought. He can't shoot the ball for the players, rebound over the opponents or defend from getting blown by. That's on the players and this years group was as mentally tough as they come. We had 6 guys who legitimately could compete at a high level and after that, it was hit and miss. I think what he did with this team is his best coaching job to date and I'm sad that so many of you are too bone headed to realize that, just because of a single loss in a tournament that lasts 3 weeks. The body of work this season was absolutely unbelievable and I'm as proud as you can get of this team and what they accomplished. Of course it stings, but it's not the end of the world. Be proud of your team and your coach, we've got one of the best out there year in and year out. We're spoiled rotten and for too many anything short of a title is a failure and that's just about as dumb as some of these comments.

4 months ago

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Ryan Patti

Bill Self is our coach and he's a very damn good coach. It'll always be that way and I'm happy it will. This team simply needs to stop folding up in the Elite 8. Here are our three point numbers in every Elite 8 game under Self: 2004 vs. Georgia Tech: 6/19 (31.6%), 2007 vs. UCLA: 4/8 (50%), 2008 vs. Davidson: 5/14 (35.7%), 2011 vs. VCU: 2/21 (9.5%), 2012 vs. UNC: 4/14 (28.6%), 2016 vs. Villanova: 6/22 (27.3%), 2017 vs. Oregon: 5/25 (20%). The moral of the story is we simply need to come through. We've had wide open looks too, just choked them away. It's a psychological hurdle we cannot get over. We need to focus less on Xs and Os in preparation for the Elite 8. Gotta get these kids mentally ready, it's Armageddon.

4 months ago

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I think it has almost become a 'mental' block or something similar. Coach Self becomes a little tighter, the players know the history and they get a little tighter and when we get off to a slow start, it starts to snowball downhill.

Even the Lawrence Police Department disses Kansas after Elite 8 loss.

http://www.upi.com/Sports_News/Colleg...

.

4 months ago

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Harlan Hobbs

Jaston and Daniel are the epitome of "fair weather fans." They only come out of the woodwork when they have something to bitch about.

Dana Altman and Frank Martin left KSU because they didn't get the support from the administration that they desired. Altman went to Creighton and Frank went to South Carolina and to a program that was a lot lower at the time than KSU's.

The fact is that KSU is viewed as either a "stepping stone" for a good young coach or an interim/consolation prize for someone like Bob Huggins or Bruce Weber. Frankly, not too different than KU football, unless Coach Beaty is given a full chance to extricate us from the "outhouse" like Coach Mangino did. Unfortunately, if Coach Beaty has that kind of success, he will be plucked away by a bigger name program.

4 months ago

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Bob Bailey

Pot throws your spatial judgement off!

Was Friday a good pot night? They say it helps relax a little. How much relaxing did they need?

4 months ago

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RJ King

Oh please. Just throwing inflammatory $h_t out there to see what sticks??? Not even funny. This team deserves better than that. They don't need you as a fan.

4 months ago

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