The Kansas Jayhawks won their third NCAA national championship in men's basketball with victories over North Carolina and Memphis. It had been 20 years since my 'Hawks brought home the hardware and it was a sweet feeling indeed. For those of you who may have been in a fog on Monday night - those of us who love being in the "Phog" will always remember where we were when "The Shot" swished through the net of San Antonio's Alamodome.
In 110 years of Jayhawk basketball, there has perhaps been no shot of greater importance or timing than the three pointer that guard Mario Chalmers made with 2.1 seconds left in the game. It capped off a furious rally by the 'Hawks who found themselves nine points down with 2:12 on the clock. They had led most of the evening until Memphis took control in the mid to late second half. But this 2008 group of 'Hawks have demonstrated all year an ability to reach down and find whatever is needed to get the job done.
Mario hit the three forcing an overtime. Memphis went into shock. The Jayhawks scored the first six points of the extra stanza and the rest is history. KU wins its third NCAA title tying it with Duke and leaving it just one title behind North Carolina. It took Coach Bill Self just five seasons to win his first national championship at Kansas. It won't be his last. And it won't be his last at Kansas. Despite a media frenzy building out of Stillwater, Oklahoma from T. Boone Pickens' PR machine, I do not believe Self will leave Kansas for his alma mater, Oklahoma State. Kansas has a few rich alums too. Expect this media driven story to end soon and OSU will have to find a new head coach elsewhere.
I am unabashed in my love for the University of Kansas. It's a great university with a proud tradition of academic and athletic excellence. The 2008 men's basketball team added a new chapter to this continuing story. Their record of 37-3 is the most wins ever by a Jayhawk squad and they are national champions. Rock Chalk, Jayhawk!
I will have more later but for now I will let the Associated Press tell the story of one of the best national championship basketball games ever played. My Jayhawks have won their third national title since 1939 when the first NCAA champion was crowned. It was an incredible ride these Jayhawks took us on this year. 37 wins and three losses; a shared Big 12 regular season title; a third consecutive Big 12 conference tournament title. And after a 20 year wait, now a national championship. Here is the AP story:
Chalmers' big shot leads Kansas to first national title since 1988
Updated: April 8, 2008, 12:33 AM ET
SAN ANTONIO -- With each year, Mario Chalmers has become a better shooter from beyond the 3-point arc.
He saved his best for a night that college basketball fans will long remember.
Chalmers' 3-pointer with 2 seconds to play sent the national final into overtime, where Kansas pulled it out 75-68 over Memphis.
It's the Jayhawks' third NCAA title, and their first since 1988.
Chalmers, the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four, finished with 18 points on 5-of-13 shooting from the floor, including 2-of-6 from beyond the arc. he made all six of his free throws and had three assists.
The Jayhawks have endured countless disappointments in the NCAA tournament, and they looked like they were headed for another until Chalmers took a pass, and launched the tying shot from the top of the key.
During his career, he has gone from a 37.5 percent shooter from beyond the arc as a freshman to 40.4 percent as a sophomore and 47.6 as a junior.
After his big 3-pointer Chalmers' teammates mobbed him as he returned to the bench for a timeout. At the other end, the Tigers walked off the floor with their heads bowed.
The game was still tied, but it felt as if Chalmers had won it.
Chalmers also did some good work on the defensive end. Among the nation's steal leaders all season, Chalmers had four. That was the most among the Jayhawks on a night they totalted 11 steals and took the high-scoring Tigers out of their comfort zone on offense.
At times, Chalmers seemed to be everywhere -- pestering the Tigers on defense and then slicing into the lane at the other end of the floor, only to find an open teammate.
When it ended, he was in the best place of all -- on a podium at center court, hoisting a national championship trophy with his teammates.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
There is nothing more exhilarating or frustrating than being a true and faithful fan of your collegiate alma mater. And in the interest of full and fair disclosure, I have to acknowledge here at Citizen Brand that my beloved Kansas Jayhawks have fallen to the dastardly Bruins of UCLA on this very evening during the Elite Eight of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.
I have used this space to applaud and celebrate the Jayhawks' successes these past few weeks. I do believe that the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament - aka March Madness - is the single greatest sporting event in America. And the University of Kansas has had more than its share of success over the years. But now we are finished for 2007. But not before this great, young team has been recognized here at CB for their accomplishments:
33 - 5 win/loss record
Big 12 Conference regular season championship
Big 12 Tournament championship
Number one seed in the NCAA Tournament
3 - 1 record in the NCAA Tournament ending in the round of the Elite Eight
All of this was accomplished without a senior on the team. It is likely this entire team will return in 2007-2008 along with at least two of the best freshman recruits available. And one of the finest coaches in the land will be back to lead them -- Bill Self.
I cannot wait for basketball practice to start in October.
Rock Chalk Jayhawk!
Thanks to my friend and fellow Jayhawk Rob Merritt for sending this along today. Even the Colbert Report is picking the 'Hawks to go all the way!
The Kansas Jayhawks are quickly becoming one of the big stories of the 2007 edition of March Madness. After a 107-67 thrashing of Niagara on Friday night, the 'Hawks put their big game faces on today to defeat the winningest program in the history of college basketball, the Kentucky Wildcats. Kansas is the third all time winning college program garnering their 1,905th victory today.
Kansas heads to San Jose to meet Southern Illinois out of the Missouri Valley Conference on Thursday evening in the round of 16. UCLA and Pittsburgh play in the second game with the winners meeting on Saturday for the right to go to the Final Four in Atlanta.
Kansas has developed into a true team. Egos are left in the locker room each game and these guys come onto the court with a single mission in mind. It has been a true joy to watch this team develop over the past two seasons. They are a great example of what a real team can accomplish - a great example for all of us regardless of the business in which we work.
The Jayhawks' business right now is winning basketball games and they are four victories away from college basketball's promised land.
Have to keep the Rock Chalk karma going. Another week and the Kansas Jayhawks win another championship. In a thrilling 88-84 overtime victory over the same Texas Longhorns they defeated just eight days before, Kansas took its second consecutive Big XII Tournament championship. They were the regular season champs as well.
Now March Madness begins and Kansas has earned itself a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament. I have been a Kansas Jayhawk since the moment I could say Rock Chalk and I have to say I have never seen a team play as tough and as hard nosed as this team does. I'm anxious for the rest of the nation, especially those along the eastern seaboard, to see Kansas play. I think this team will get some attention over the next three weeks.
Rock Chalk Jayhawk!