March Madness has turned into March Gloom. I wanted to take a few days to fully digest the spanking my beloved Kansas Jayhawks received on Saturday from the Northern Iowa Panthers. Let's get one thing straight, UNI is NOT a top ten basketball team. They were a team on a roll and a team that Kansas took too lightly.
The loss hurts almost as much as the shocking upset that Arizona delivered to one of the most talented teams in KU history in 1997. Arizona actually had a very good team that year and went on to win the whole enchalada. UNI doesn't have a prayer of getting to the Final 4 and that's what makes this all the more perplexing.
There are those who want to blame Bill Self. You could find fault with some of his coaching decisions. But the blame sits squarely on the shoulders of Sherron Collins. He's one of five best point guards in Kansas history. The problem is he's a point guard who wants to shoot and when his shot isn't falling, it become problematic. His inability to step up when he needed to on Saturday is what cost KU the game.
The scorer on this year's team should have been Xavier Henry. X and Cole Aldrich should have been the focal point of the offense. I could find fault with Self for not pushing this down the teams throat but I suspect it would have done more harm than good because as long as the ball as in Collins hands there wasn't much he could do. Self couldn't turn to Tyshawn Taylor because his ego had gotten just as out of control as that of his senior teammate Collins.
The other disappointment was the lack of progress by Cole Aldrich from his sophomore to junior year. Cole played well and probably more consistently than he did last year. Defensively there is no doubt that Aldrich was a dominating force but on the offensive end with all the promise he had shown the year before, he was overshadowed by sophomore forward Marcus Morris. Don't kid yourself, Cole Aldrich isn't a lottery pick. He'll be a servicable NBA center but I don't know if he'll be the next Andrew Bogut or the next Eddie Curry.
Next year's edition of the Jayhawks could be a better "team" than this years. The key will be whether Tyshawn Taylor decides to grow up and if the Morris twins come back for their junior year. And should Xavier Henry decide to spend another year at Mount Oread the Jayhawks could make a very deep run next March.
Kansas lost a game it had no business losing on Saturday. This same scenario will happen again and again because that is the nature of the NCAA Tournament. As for me, I don't believe in Cinderallas, but I will be rooting for Cornell this weekend... Go Big Red!