Josh Klingler: the basketball hangover
The basketball hangover is in full effect. (and not because I've spent a week in New Orleans) Another season that is simultaneously long and fast has concluded with me covering both ends of the spectrum, a first round disappointing exit for Mizzou and a surprising national championship game run for Kansas. It's been a fun 2011-12 college basketball season.
Kansas, maybe improbably so, hung around the longest, advancing all the way until the final day of the season. They didn't accomplish their ultimate goal, but I covered a KU locker room on Monday night in New Orleans that seemingly understood exactly how far they'd come and were very gracious in defeat.
So what's next for KU? If this was a 'down' year, what can be ahead for an encore?
Suddenly Kansas looks to be returning three starters from a national runner up in Jeff Withey, Elijah Johnson and Travis Releford. (assuming no one jumps, all were “in” as of Monday night's finale) That's not a bad core of players to build off of. The two Jayhawks on the team but ineligible this season are both expected to contribute. KU players raved about Ben McLemore and Jamari Traylor and how they helped make them better in practice at the semester. At least three and likely a few more recruits will be on campus next year. KU will be just fine once again.
Bill Self will be as well. Jayhawk fans are both happy and sad about Danny Manning's departure. I don't think his impact on the development of Kansas big men is understated, but I also don't think Self is a dummy. He was coaching pretty well before Manning arrived on the staff, but he does lose what was a nice asset to Tulsa.
Besides, after the season put together by this year's Jayhawk team, is anyone doubting Self anymore?