By Mark Schlabach
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The West Regional final was supposed to be Kansas coach Bill Self's opportunity to silence his critics. It was a chance for him to prove once and for all that not only could he recruit many of the country's top players, but he could also coach them to the Final Four.
But for the fourth time in his coaching career, Self was left pondering what went wrong after top-seeded Kansas lost to No. 2 seed UCLA 68-55 at HP Pavilion. The Bruins advanced to the Final Four for the second consecutive season while Self was left wondering what it would take to get over the hump.
"Like I've said, I'd much rather play in the game than not be in it," Self said. "But, you know, it hurts. Every coach and their staff, they work hard. This is a hard-working profession. You put yourself in position to be in this game. Certainly, you get this far, you have to deliver. That hasn't occurred. But I'm not going to look and say, 'Poor, pitiful me.' It's not about that. It's about getting your team there."
Self is now 0-4 in NCAA Tournament regional final games. His 2000 Tulsa squad, a No. 7 seed, lost to No. 8 seed North Carolina 74-69 in the finals of the South Regional. The following season, Self led No. 1 seed Illinois to the Midwest Regional finals, where the Illini lost to No. 2 seed Arizona, 87-81. Self led his first Kansas team to the finals of the St. Louis Regional in the 2004 NCAA Tournament, where the Jayhawks lost 79-71 in overtime to Georgia Tech.
UCLA coach Ben Howland said the drought is not a reflection of Self's coaching abilities.
"[Former Purdue coach] Gene Keady never got to a Final Four," Howland said. "He's one of the best coaches in the modern era of basketball, in the history of basketball. Sometimes you have to have some luck and breaks go your way, like a Darren Collison 3 at the end of the shot clock. There's no doubt in my mind that Bill Self and the Kansas Jayhawks are going to win a national championship here at some point. They do an incredible job."
Self said this loss especially hurt, because he believed the Jayhawks had a chance to reach the sport's ultimate event.
"From my standpoint, it hurts," Self said. "I really felt like this was our year. I'm not saying a year to win it all, but I really felt like we were the best-equipped team to make a strong run. And we did, but it just wasn't enough."
By Pat Forde
ST. LOUIS -- The Detroit public schools might not be producing many top-notch geographers, but they do put out a lot of very good basketball players.
Some of whom end up playing in places they didn't know existed.
"I didn't even know Oregon was a state," said Detroit Renaissance High School graduate and current Ducks point guard Tajuan Porter.
Porter learned that there was such a thing as Oregon as a sophomore at Renaissance, when teammate Malik Hairston blazed the Oregon Trail out of the Motor City. Porter followed two years later, and these two Ducks out of Midwest water have helped fuel an unexpected dash to the Elite Eight.
The question of how a school of moderate hoops reputation and no significant recruiting history in that area suddenly tapped into Detroit is a good one. The answer wasn't very clear Saturday.
For more on the Midwest Regional final, click here
By Andy Katz
For two years now, Hansbrough has been one of the hardest-working players in the game. He plays every possession, every rotation of the ball, as if it were his last. And he's not just playing for himself and his team, but also for his hometown of Poplar Bluff, Mo.
"I came here to a top program like this to experience things like that, and for me personally, coming from a small town, I know it would mean a lot to everybody in my town to see someone from a small place do big things," said Hansbrough ahead of Sunday's East Regional final against Georgetown at the Meadowlands.
"For me personally, it would be a great accomplishment for all the work that I've done in the past."
For more on the East Regional final, click here