Laughing at Kansas? Learn Your History Before You Do…Posted by dnspewak on February 7th, 2013
You all need a history lesson. You’re laughing at Kansas right now for losing to a historically bad TCU team on Wednesday night, and rightfully so. The Horned Frogs entered the game with one victory over a team with a winning record this season. They ranked below five Ivy League teams in the RPI. Trent Johnson’s team had not won a Big 12 game in its inaugural season yet, half the team was injured and Jerry Palm said on Twitter he’d never seen a bigger upset in terms of RPI since he started tracking the numbers 20 years ago. This was bad. Epically bad. On another planet from NCAA Tournament losses to Bucknell, Bradley, Northern Iowa and VCU.
Done laughing? Great. Your history lesson begins now. Allow your minds to drift back to January 16, 2006. That’s the last time Kansas’ basketball program lost a second consecutive game. January 16 was a Monday. Big Monday, to be exact. The Jayhawks, two days removed from a loss to Kansas State, traveled to Columbia to play a Border War game (archaic, right?) against Missouri. They were 9-5, unranked and playing some of the worst basketball of the Bill Self era. On this particular evening, Kansas hit its version of rock bottom. A walk-on named Christian Moody stepped to the free throw line in a tie game with 0.4 seconds left, and he missed both. Wasn’t even close on either attempt. The Jayhawks lost in overtime to their bitter rival, falling to 9-6 and 1-2 in the league. Panic time. That Missouri team, which finished 12-16, would wind up firing coach Quin Snyder a month later.
Five days after hitting rock bottom, Kansas beat Nebraska by 42 points on January 21, 2006. That team didn’t lose again until late February. It won a Big 12 title, won the Big 12 Tournament and earned a top-four seed in the NCAA Tournament. A year later, the Jayhawks won 30 games. Then they won a national title. The leading scorer on that 2005-06 team was a freshman guard from the state of Missouri. His name was Brandon Rush. The second-leading scorer was a freshman named Mario Chalmers. The top three scorers from the previous year had graduated, and it took a few months for Bill Self to figure out how to coach his young Jayhawks. The season ended in a thud with that loss to Bradley in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, but Self orchestrated a remarkable turnaround with that group. He always does.
Drift back to modern times. The leading scorer on the 2012-13 team is a freshman guard from the state of Missouri. His name is Ben McLemore. The top two scorers from a year ago graduated. If you retained any part of your aforementioned history lesson, this will all begin to sound familiar. There are some major differences with this 2012-13 team — namely, that it’s ranked fifth and has much, much more experience on the roster — but the bottom line is simple. Even when Bill Self hits rock bottom, he finds a way to climb to the top again. Kansas is still in first place, tied with a Kansas State team it defeated in Manhattan. It is still the front-runner to win the Big 12 for the 8,000th year in a row.
This is a team with offensive issues. Point guard issues. All kinds of issues. That’s why the Jayhawks shot 29.5 percent from the floor against one of the worst power-conference basketball teams our sport has ever seen. They’ll have to forever live in infamy as the top-five opponent the Horned Frogs defeated for their first-ever Big 12 victory, but Self has seen worse. He’s been VCU’ed, Patrick O’Bryant’ed and Bucknell’ed. Oh, and some guy named Farokhmanesh hit a three-pointer against him one time.
In every instance, Self’s program responded. You had your history lesson already, and you know what they say about history: It repeats itself. Expect it to do so in Lawrence for the remainder of the season.