Monday Notebook: A sad ending won’t tarnish the Jayhawks’ great season

Here are a few summaries of what’s going on with Kansas Athletics this week, March 27:

1. The Jayhawks destroy Purdue, 98-66, for a trip to their second consecutive Elite Eight

This is one of the most dominant and shocking victories I’ve ever seen KU have. Certainly one of the most dominant tournament wins. And the thing is, Purdue started off really hot from three and was leading for quite a bit of the first half. Then Kansas caught fire. They hit 15 threes (15!!!). Frank Mason dropped 26 points, seven boards, seven assists, and went four of five from three. Player of the year. Player of the last five years at KU. Player of the Bill Self era.

Devonte’ Graham had his best game of the year putting up 26 points as well and tying a record with some old Davidson guard named Stephen Curry for consecutive tournament games with at least four threes made. Josh Jackson put up his 12th double-double of the season scoring 15 points and 12 rebounds. He also played really well on the defensive end, as he was tasked with guarding Caleb Swanigan. We’ve talked about the “Big Three” of Mason, Graham, and Jackson for a long time now, but they were truly outstanding here. They combined for 67 points, 19 rebounds, 11 assists, and six steals. And that’s not counting Svi’s (10 points, 2-5 from three) or Vick’s (12 points) stats. I can’t finish this blurb without mentioning the defensive effort of Landen Lucas and Dwight Coleby. Amazing performance, gentlemen. 

2. Oregon defeats Kansas, 74-60, in the Elite Eight

A mixture of cold shooting from the Jayhawks, hot shooting from the Ducks, and the bounces literally going Oregon’s way ended KU’s season Saturday night. Frank Mason finished his final college basketball game (sniff) scoring 21 points, along with four rebounds and assists. A truly amazing season cut two games too short. Josh Jackson (in all likelihood) played his final game at Kansas, finishing with 10 points, 12 boards, and five assists. He’ll be a millionaire this time next year.

This one hurts. It really hurts. Maybe some of you out there are used to the team losing and thus don’t feel clinically depressed. I just want to say I would rather feel terrible every year than be used to losing. Not sure what else to say about this one other than it just wasn’t their night. 

3. Season in review

It really sucks to be writing this blurb a week early. Despite yet another Elite Eight exit for Bill Self and company, the Kansas Jayhawks have a lot to be proud of this year. They were able to capture a 13th straight Big 12 title, they swept the teams that compete in the Champions Classic (Duke, Kentucky, and Michigan State), and Frank Mason IS the player of the year. He tweeted @AllenFieldHouseFans after the game (was it before or after?) that he IS the player of the year (an ITP reference there, for those of you who think I’m stating a fact).

Anyway, I know everybody feels really down right know due to the loss. I know because I feel the same way. But try to remember the good things about this year. Like Mason downing Duke in the clutch. Or one of the all-time classic comebacks against West Virginia. Or one of the most epic senior nights in a while when KU caught fire late to take down Oklahoma. C’mon people, we’re Jayhawks! What could be better?!

4. A look ahead

Now that this season is over, it’s time to start prepping for next season (just ask Bill Self). Top remaining recruit Trevon Duval will hopefully announce his decision soon (Duke is leading, but KU is hanging around). Both guard transfers Malik Newman and Sam Cunliffe will be eligible to play next season and should add even more three point shooting to the offense. It’s only eight months until next season. In the meantime – go Royals, baby! WOOO!