Chris texted me to say this was one of the least disappointing of KU's tourney exits, and I would have to agree. After all, we played to seed; we met or exceeded expectations for the year; and we made a heroic effort against the Spartans.
What hurts is that this was a winnable game, and we seemed to be the better team. Cole and Sherron were near-unstoppable, Brady and Tyrell had some nice moments, and we played with great aggression on both ends of the court. But we were undone by some of the usual problems -- turnovers, lack of scoring balance, poor shot selection by our freshmen. And credit to MSU for making some big, timely baskets and stops.
(What also hurts, by the way, is being outdone by Mizzou. When was the last time they advanced further than Kansas? Early '90s?)
Interesting turning point here. It feels to me -- and this is just an instinct -- that if we had pulled this one out we would have definitely seen Cole and/or Sherron bolt for the pros regardless of what happened in the next round. The two of them played like superstars, esp. in the first half. The hype on them if we had won this game would have been blinding. But since we lost, maybe not so much.
If those guys are back, we're a Final Four favorite in 2010. If they're back and Lance Stephenson commits, we're the favorite for the national title.