LAWRENCE, Kan. (WIBW) - Days away from the NCAA Tournament, the KU men’s basketball team was a heavy favorite to win it all; but over the course of a few rapidly changing days, the entire tournament was shut down due to growing concerns surrounding the coronavirus.
“This team deserves as much credit as any that team that I've ever coached, and to think that it could kind of get lost is very disappointing,” head coach Bill Self said Monday. “We gotta find a way to make sure that doesn't happen."
Just hours before KU could hit the court in Kansas City for the Big 12 tournament, commissioner Bob Bowlsby called it off. Hours later, the bombshell: March Madness was also shut down, and with it, KU’s shot at a national title.
Sitting at number one in the country, many have thought about the possibility of the Jayhawks being named champs based on the polls alone. For Self:
"This would be the one particular year that I'm all for it, but I don't even put any wishful thinking into that, because that's not the way this was all intended to be,” Self said. “Coaches prepare their teams in a certain way to peak at the right time, and this and that. I'm very proud of how my team performed for the most part all season long, but specifically the last two months of the season, we were terrific. They operated under pressure and certainly dealt with some stuff, and so I would think that from our standpoint, well sure, that would be great. But even if that occurred, which I don't believe it will, there would be a huge asterisk on both sides of it, and I'd be the first to admit that."
With tourney title hopes dashed, Self says there's a silver lining — and it spans much farther than basketball.
"The sports world helped spearhead attention to something that could, and still possibly can affect so many in so many ways that we would've had no idea about. I do think that that could be a positive that came out of this, and a very big one."