Whitlock declares the season a success irrespective of the outcome of the tournament, and I agree:
I'm sorry. There's more to college basketball than a one-and-done tournament. I refuse to buy into the myth that the Kansas season is a failure if the Jayhawks don't win three games in this tournament. That's bull. Kansas has won 30 games and provided joy and entertainment for four months.
The thing that I really appreciate about Self is that he's continued the Roy Williams tradition of recruiting easy-to-like players. I knew Kansas would continue to win when Williams bolted.
I didn't know that Julian Wright would be as charismatic and as popular on campus as Jacque Vaughn. I didn't anticipate Brandon Rush being as good-natured as Nick Bradford. I didn't think I'd respect Sherron Collins' tenacity as much as I did Kirk Hinrich's.
Self has rebuilt the Kansas basketball family. A loss tonight should not tear that family apart.
On a team led by three sophomores and two freshmen, ''mature'' might seem an odd adjective. But it tends to come with life in the city.
''Wright is an interesting guy,'' Self said of the 6-8 sophomore who is on track to graduate in three years. ''He's one of the few guys out there who is 19 and still wants to be 19. That's pretty neat.
''He wants to experience everything there is. He doesn't want to just sit back and have the world centered on him. He gets more pleasure out of helping others do well. He loves to make other people's day better.''
Collins, who turns 20 on Sunday, could be going on middle age in terms of life experiences. His infant son lived for only 10 days after his birth last year.
''Chicago is a great place to recruit because the kids from here are tough,'' Self said. ''That was one of the things that drew us to Sherron. I thought he was stubborn, hard-headed, someone who would need to be broken down -- and I couldn't have been more wrong. He's wanted to do everything we've asked. He's been terrific.