Before I get started I'll just give fair warning that this isn't a post with any sort of meaningful analysis about an upcoming game or any sort of journalistic attempt at a portrait. This is quite simply a "blog" post in the truest sense. It's just one Kansas fans thoughts on a couple of players that I'm surprised to say have worked themselves into the Kansas Jayhawk basketball story despite some long odds.
I suppose I've gone this direction this morning because I've always felt like the Tuesday between the first weekend and the second weekend of the tournament was sort of the calm before and after the storm. It's the in between. The analysis of the last game and the participants has pretty much subsided and the world is kind of waiting for teams to arrive at their Regional final destination before revving up the "storyline" content for the upcoming weekend. What better time to sit back and think about where exactly the season as a whole stands and how it might be remembered.
From that perspective any Kansas fan probably has a favorite team that they've identified with over the years. For me I'd go between the '91 Final Four group or the '97 team that came up short. There will be plenty of fans that will cite the '88 and '08 championship teams in that mix and I would be shocked if the Hinrich, Gooden, Collison years didn't bring some fond memories for some. But what about this years Jayhawks? Put aside anything that could happen from this point forward and size them up just as it is today.
From my perspective there is something uniquely special about this group and it actually starts with Tyrel Reed and Brady Morningstar. The two "sleepy eyed" seniors from the state of Kansas have added a unique element to a potential long lasting memory that this season is on it's way to providing. The twins are great basketball players, Tyshawn Taylor, Elijah Johnson and Josh Selby tremendous athletes, Thomas Robinson a beast underneath, and then you have two savvy players from our own backyard that have pulled the pieces together.
I have to admit that back in '07-'08 I really never believed or imagined that these two had the ability to reach this level. I suppose Bill Self has given hints in the past that he's willing to go this direction as he did with Christian Moody, but that always seemed to be a move made because the team was young and less talented. With Reed and Morningstar their minutes seemed prematurely diminished in the minds of fans every offseason because of the latest and greatest, yet the two have slowly and surely developed into nearly 30 minute per night players playing critical roles.
It's just not something that is supposed to happen, but it really provides a reminder of what makes college basketball so great. Personally, I love it. I love the fact that these two have developed into major contributors by virtue of showing up everyday and playing against top level talent and that's just called practice at Kansas. For coach Self it's about trust. Which players can he trust to step on the court and make the right decisions. These two provide that and despite all the talent around them they have the ability to take Kansas to another level when they are at the top of their game. How many nationally prominent teams can say that about a kid from a town of less than 3000 and another that barely had a chance to play at the collegiate level out five years ago?
Honestly I have no idea where this team ends up. I hope they get a chance to play two more weekends and I hope these two get an opportunity to firmly place themselves in the "favorite" category for a whole new generation of Jayhawks. I also hope if I were a young fan watching that I would have as much appreciation for these two as I do now but I guess I don't know that for sure.
Whatever happens I'll remember these two and this entire team for the progress they've shown. At times they'll make you want to rip my hair out, but at the same time there are only 16 teams left playing and just ONE from the Big 12. This team has gone 34-2, won a Big 12 regular season, Big 12 tournament and they are playing basketball late in to March. That's what Kansas basketball is about and I know of two players on this team that know that better than anyone.