LARNED — Has anyone ever disappointed so many, so much, so often as the Kansas Jayhawk basketball team?
I’m not talking about just last Sunday’s dull effort against Stanford.
I’m talking all-time, NCAA playoff basketball.
Bradley, Bucknell, Texas El Paso, Arizona and now Stanford.
Losses that leave the Jayhawk faithful in a stunned, zombie-like state for a few days.
Is it just me?
Do other basketball fans suffer the same each year?
After all, the very nature of a tournament that determines a champion is that all teams, excepting that champion, go home a loser.
Did Wichita State’s loss to Kentucky cause the same emotion?
I don’t think so.
A few hours later, Shocker fans were puffing out their chests and saying, “it’s been a great season.”
How about Kansas State, whose coach, Bruce Weber, squeezed more out of his team, a team that was set up to win NEXT year, than anybody could have expected.
Disappointed in their season-ending loss?
A little, but realizing they are really a year away from being taken for real.
No, let’s face facts.
We place heavy expectations on the Jayhawks basketball program.
We expect the unachievable because we’re told that, by golly, it IS achievable!
A national championship for Kansas is there for the taking. It starts when recruiting classes are signed and continues to build throughout ugly football seasons until, FINALLY, the basketball season, that chance to be NUMERO UNO is here!
What a burden. What a heavy burden for a bunch of 18-20-year-olds.
The author Bacon said, “Hope is a good breakfast, but it is a bad supper.”
Hopes are wonderful but facts are blunt. Sometimes cruel.
November’s promises often disappear in the pressure of March Madness.
“Hope ... suggests that every conclusion unfavorable to oneself must be an error of the mind.” Valley.
So does it hold true that the Kansas Jayhawks disappoint more than most?
Nay, it is only in our expectations, perhaps, exaggerated expectations.
Consider this — in all of NCAA Men’s Division-I Basketball, all-time, Kansas has the fourth-best winning percentage.
The Jayhawks have rattled off a 95-41 slate for a .698 winning percentage.
That is exceeded only by Kentucky, UCLA and Duke and the three of them are only a few percentage points higher.
Those 95 wins that the Jayhawks have collected dwarf almost everybody that quickly comes to mind.
Georgetown? 46 wins.
Florida? 34 wins.
Missouri? 19 wins.
Nebraska? Well, they ARE a football school as their 0 wins shows!
The point of this little exercise, Jayhawk fans, is that you shouldn’t mope too long.
Disappointment comes every Spring for you UNLESS you win the national championship.
That is both a blessing and a curse.
The blessing is that everyone expects you to be great, to contend.
The curse? Well, you are well familiar with that.
Great expectations are burdensome things.
They bring great joy and great disappointment.
Look on the bright side. It will be almost another year before you have to hear some announcer claim that the latest phenom is a “freakish athlete”.
Jane Austen might have said it best, “One does not love a place the less for having suffered in it.”
Charles Tabler is a contributing writer from Larned.