KU officials said the Jayhawks were to leave New Orleans for the flight home at 5 p.m. today. A welcome home at Allen Fieldhouse will be approximately 7 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
The Kansas University basketball team is scheduled to arrive at Forbes Field in Topeka at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Eric Johnson, president and director of airports for the Metropolitan Topeka Airport Authority.
The airport is open to the public, and airport officials are preparing for a crowd to greet the team from its return from New Orleans.
The take-away from this endearing basketball team is that it had not an ounce of quit in it. Not an ounce.
The best team in college basketball, one that looked and played more like an NBA roster than a bunch of freshmen and sophomores, won the national title. The runner-up won a lot of hearts.
“From start to finish, there’s been no team I’ve ever been around that improved this much,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “There has been no team I’ve been around compete this hard. There’s been no team I’ve been around that was able to take whatever situation dealt them and respond to it favorably, and there’s been no team I’ve been around that represented our university or themselves or their families any better than this one has.”
As usual, Self summarized the night from his team’s perspective better than anyone.
“We came up short,” he said. “But you know, I don’t think we lost. I think they just beat us. I’m real proud of our team.”
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"No one could tell us that we were going to lose except for the scoreboard," guard Elijah Johnson said. "We said, 'If they're going to beat us, they're going to remember us. They're going to feel the last of us.'"
Kentucky certainly did.
KU coach Bill Self may have come up short in his quest for a second NCAA title, but he and his players will leave New Orleans on Tuesday afternoon brimming with pride. Instead of folding against a Wildcats squad stacked with future pros, the Jayhawks clawed back and threw a scare into Kentucky before eventually succumbing 67-59.
"We didn't lay down," point guard Tyshawn Taylor said, "and we easily could've. If anything, we can feel good about that."
... "We always say somebody -- sometimes even me -- could've given 5 percent more or even 10 percent more," Self said. "But with this group, I don't know if they had any more to give.
"They gave us just about everything they had."
... "From Day 1, we heard about how we weren't going to do this or we weren't going to do that," Johnson said. "Ever since the [Morris] twins decided they were going to the draft and we lost all our seniors -- for us to get this far with the worst-talented team that I've been a part of at Kansas, I'm proud of this team. I love this team. I'll remember this team forever."
"The whole ride felt so good," he said. "I just wish the ending was a little different."
ESPN Jason King
“I don’t care,” Withey said. “It doesn’t matter.”
Withey’s four blocked shots in the Jayhawks’ 67-59 loss to Kentucky in the national championship game on Monday, gave him 31 for the NCAA Tournament.
That’s two more than Joakim Noah had in Florida’s 2006 national championship run.
Withey had two blocks in each half. In the second, he swatted a shot of Anthony Davis, Kentucky’s star who finished with 16 rebounds and six blocks and was named the Final Four’s most outstanding player. Davis finished the NCAA Tournament with 29 blocks.
Win at all costs the new standard?
Kentucky fans won’t remember now, but they were saying all the things people from opposing schools said about Cal in those days. He gets all his players from the mysterious World Wide Wes. He’s slick. He’s more of a used car salesman than coach. God forbid a school with our blueblood tradition ever lowers itself to hiring someone like that.
Then the game started, and it looked a little bit like last night, when Calipari won his first national title in convincing fashion, 67-59, against gutty but outclassed Kansas.
If Kentucky fans and administrators didn’t realize it that day in Maui, watching Calipari’s athletes make a mockery of their more pedigreed program, they came to understand it over the next couple years.
The Kentucky name, the tradition, the banners, the Big Blue? They were all meaningless. Players didn’t care about any of that. College basketball had changed a lot in a decade, but Kentucky was still clinging to the past. Calipari, with a renegade reputation and an NBA-centric approach, had begun to leave those kinds of programs in the dust.
About 26 months of miserable basketball later, Kentucky finally admitted it. And nearly three years to the day after hiring Calipari, the Wildcats can finally hang banner No. 8.
“Absolutely I thought he’d win a national championship at Kentucky,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “You have resources, you have facilities, you have so many things going for you there. And when you recruit the level of players they recruited and coach them the way they’ve coached them, it was obvious he was going to win a championship.”
More than any other in recent memory, this championship run will not be remembered fondly by the so-called establishment. After three empty trips to the Final Four — two of which were later vacated for NCAA rules violations — Calipari ended all doubt he could win the big one. And his team, with three freshmen and two sophomores in the starting lineup — all of whom are likely NBA-bound — proved that you can import a bunch of one-and-done mercenaries and still win a title.
He sat behind the Kentucky bench on Monday night during the NCAA Championship basketball game and I'm thinking William "Worldwide Wes" Wesley should have just dropped the charade and slid in beside coach John Calipari.
The Wildcats beat Kansas 67-59.
Anyone following major college basketball knows that talent rules. And anyone following the line of talent, first to Memphis, and now to Kentucky, knows that Calipari and Wesley are college basketball's sweetest couple.
Who is Wes?
That question is only answered by watching the guy over the last decade. He pops up in NBA locker rooms, and at the Nike Hoop Summit, I once saw him walk around The Palace at Auburn Hills during a NBA Finals as if he owned the building. He didn't even wear a credential. Wesley was so at ease, he went into the Pistons locker room at halftime. Later, a NBA security staffer approached him, and I watched to see if Wesley might get asked for identification.
The security guard borrowed Chapstick.
Damon Stoudamire told me one summer a few years ago: "Wes is running the NBA."
After Monday's championship game, I think William Sidney Wesley is now running all of basketball.