Sport Kansas coach Bill Self describes a somber Thursday when college basketball suddenly stopped
Bracketology 2020: NC State the biggest winner of a surreal Wednesday
At the moment, there’s a very real possibility that there won’t be an NCAA tournament this season. However, until there’s an official announcement, bracketology will press on.
LAWRENCE, Kan. — Thursday will forever be remembered in this area as one of the darkest days in college sports history — the day the Big 12 and NCAA Tournaments were not just postponed, but called off in a span of a few hours.
Kansas’ Bill Self, a 57-year-old Hall of Famer who has been a head basketball coach for 27 years — 17 at KU — chose the words “a strange day,” to describe March 12, 2020 in a phone interview with The Star.
Bracketology 2020: The bubble is about to boil over
Just a single NCAA tournament automatic bid is up for grabs tonight, but the at-large picture could see some changes as Wednesday unfolds.That won’t last. After today’s full bracket and rundown, I’ll preview what’s to come on the bubble today. Wednesday’s conference tournament schedule, while not as deep as most seasons’, still has the potential to alter the picture — particularly at the cut line.
For posterity’s sake, let Self offer a recap of the day that coronavirus concerns ended March Madness three days before Selection Sunday.
The No. 1 ranked Jayhawks, who were to meet Oklahoma State in a Big 12 quarterfinal at 2 p.m. Thursday at the Sprint Center, “met as a team” Thursday morning in a conference room at the Kansas City Marriott Downtown, blocks away from the arena.
“We did scouting report,” Self told The Star. “After that, when the guys were getting ready to go to the game, we let them all know the tournament has been canceled.”
Indeed, Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby held a news conference at the Sprint Center after the Texas Longhorns and Texas Tech Red Raiders warmed up for their 11:30 a.m. quarterfinal — a game that would have preceded KU-OSU.
Kansas finishes No. 1 in final AP poll; Gonzaga, Dayton next
Kansas coach Bill Self has spent much of the past week mulling ways to commemorate one of the more remarkable seasons in the school's proud basketball history, one that began with off-the-court distractions too numerous to count and ended in the unprecedented cancellation of the NCAA Tournament. The Jayhawks can start by celebrating their finish atop the final Top 25 from The Associated Press.The regular-season Big 12 champions, who were 28-3 when the season abruptly ended after the first day of the conference tournament last week, received 63 of 65 first-place votes from a national media panel in balloting released Wednesday.
Bowlsby said the Big 12’s show simply couldn’t go on, even with no fans in the stands, because of a national response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
“We said to the players, ‘OK, we’re going to leave at 1 o’clock. There’s no reason to rush out of here,’ ” Self said.
The KU players, coaches and other staff members did indeed board the bus back to Lawrence about 1 p.m., in front of the Marriott.
“We were riding the bus home. There was a misreport on TV saying we’d pulled out of the (NCAA) Tournament,” Self said. “Our guys were all going nuts saying, ‘We’re out?’ I tried to find out what’s going on, let them know that was not an accurate report at all (that) we’re still hanging in there in the same boat as everybody else.”
It seems the misreport stemmed from some national reporters misinterpreting a statement of Kansas athletic director Jeff Long that read: “Our highest priority at Kansas Athletics is to ensure the safety and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches and staff. Based on the recommendation of our medical professionals, we have canceled all athletic travel indefinitely. In addition, all home and away athletic events have been suspended indefinitely. We will continue to monitor the situation and determine the next appropriate steps based on advice from our medical team.”
Kansas objects to NCAA charges in response to allegations
Kansas objected to charges that its men's basketball program and its football programs had committed significant violations.In a series of documents totaling nearly 300 pages of arguments and supporting materials, the school claims several facts involving Bill Self's basketball program are in dispute, including charges that Kansas lacked institutional control and its Hall of Fame coach and his assistant, Kurtis Townsend, had committed a series of high-level violations.
Long’s statement did not mean KU would refuse to play in the NCAAs if they were to be held as scheduled or say, in mid-April or May.
Self spoke with ESPN’s Dick Vitale and some other national reporters, asking them to clear up the misconception that KU had dropped out of the NCAAs.
“(Self) made it clear Kansas is strictly like everyone else and in a holding pattern from the NCAA and there is no validity that they have said they would not play,” Vitale wrote on Twitter.
The Jayhawks’ bus arrived back in Lawrence after 2 p.m.
“We get home and we talked to the players about, ‘OK guys do you want to practice today? Do you want to have an intrasquad scrimmage or wait until tomorrow (Friday)?’ They said, ‘Coach we’ll take the rest of the day off. We’ll practice tomorrow.’ That’s the way it was left with us,” Self said.
“At that time, the word I got from my inside sources,” Self added, “was the (NCAA) Tournament could possibly be postponed and could be condensed to maybe even one location. These were all hypotheticals. I was, ‘Well, at least they are talking about it.’
Sports world reacts to men’s college basketball tournaments being canceled
The Big Ten announced on Thursday that it has canceled the 2020 men’s postseason basketball tournament, effective immediately. They are joined by the ACC, SEC and Big 12, among others. Ok so, SEC, Big Ten, AAC tourneys cancelled per my inbox.— Heather Dinich (@CFBHeather) March 12, 2020 Big 12 also canceling its tourney.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) March 12, 2020 This comes one day after Nebraska head coach Fred Hoiberg had to be taken to the hospital after showing signs of illness during the Cornhuskers’ opening-round matchup against Indiana. It also comes mere minutes before Michigan and Rutgers were set to do battle.
“Then with no notice whatsoever it comes out publicly that the NCAA Tournament has been canceled for the men and women. Our guys found out watching TV or on Twitter.”
So Self called a team meeting for Thursday night.
“We had a meeting to go over all the things … there’s a lot to go over. Campus is changing. Everything is moving (to) online classes. Can you go home? Can you travel? Can you get back if you go home? Are you quarantined? What will you eat? There was a lot to discuss. We discussed it all,” Self said.
Self said his players were “crushed” as well as “heartbroken, sad” about the sudden end of the 2019-20 season. Self told them they would not begin individual drills or lift weights for the immediate future as he looked into NCAA guidelines for what’s allowed at this time. The Big 12 on Friday canceled all sports competition through the end of the semester.
He told The Star most of the Jayhawks would remain on campus with only the local players headed to see their parents at this time.
Of course he said that all could change with the virus situation seemingly changing hour by hour, day by day.
“I’m sure being hurt, crushed, sad are understatements compared to the time, energy and effort athletes put forth to put themselves in position to play for the highest stakes, whatever that was relative to where they were,” Self said, as saddened as anybody else about the fact there would be no postseason games for his Big 12 champion Jayhawks, who finished 28-3.
Azubuike hurt in top-ranked Kansas' 62-58 win over K-State
Top-ranked Kansas absorbed the loss of center Udoka Azubuike for long stretches of the game, and the cold-shooting Jayhawks held on to beat Kansas State 62-58 on Saturday.Azubuike finished with six points and nine rebounds while playing just 20 minutes after hurting his ankle in the opening minutes of the game. David McCormack came off the bench to score nine in his place, helping the Jayhawks (26-3, 15-1) edge closer to clinching at least a share of another Big 12 championship.
He said his plans were to report to work every day … or as long as he was allowed to do that according to rules regarding the containment of coronavirus.
“Everybody has to be concerned, but smart too,” Self said. “This is one time where we all think the rules are good for everybody else but not so good for me. Everybody needs to agree the rules are right. Whatever we’re told to do we should do.”
Self was asked by The Star if he was in favor of the NCAA awarding another year of eligibility to seniors whose final season of college had been cut short.
Self said he’d need to further consider/study the issue of winter sports athletes before offering an opinion. After all, players on some teams in Division I had already had their seasons come to an end in conference tournaments that had been completed.
He said “yes,” regarding spring sports seniors receiving another year of eligibility considering their final seasons of competition had just begun.
“I am always in favor of doing things in the best interest of student-athletes,” Self told The Star on Friday. “As far as me understanding and studying everything, I really don’t know. I have no comment on that (winter sports athletes). As far as athletes that had their spring season taken away I would hope there’d be something done to make up for that.”
©2020 The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.)
Visit The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.) at
Nate Oats’ daughter responds to negative criticism from Alabama fans .
Alabama has had a disappointing first season under head coach Nate Oats.With speculation swirling that Oats is unhappy in Tuscaloosa, the coach’s daughter Alexandra took to Twitter on Sunday night to throw cold water on the rumors.