Feb 28, 2012, 9:00 AM EDT
Kansas has won eight consecutive regular-season conference titles. Let that sink in. Eight straight.
That’s not just impressive, it’s absurd.
When the No. 3 Jayhawks beat Oklahoma State Monday night, it clinched the crown outright, in a season when they not only lost six key players and four starters from a 35-3 squad, but Baylor and Missouri produced seasons in which both were top 10 mainstays.
Yet, here’s Kansas (25-5, 15-2 in Big 12) winning the league crown yet again. For the eighth year in a row. If it doesn’t sound impressive, consider that Syracuse has nine Big East regular-season titles, total. It’s just … absurd.
Even talented teams have down years. Even if the Big 12 doesn’t match the Big East or Big Ten for great teams at the top, it’s not like it’s been filled with cream puffs. But the Jayhawks won. Again.
“I just want to thank everybody that said we weren’t going to win it this year. We got (No.) 8 baby. This one feels good, too,” junior Thomas Robinson said, from a story by Gary Bedore.
“We knew what we had before we hit the floor (this season), before the whole world saw it. I knew our guys weren’t scared to work hard. Proving ourselves to people was motivation to us. I think it had everything to do with it, to prove to everybody we could come back and defend our title.”
Defend it they did. Kanas has shared the crown three times during this stretch (’05, ’06 and ’08), but they lapped the field when the chance to take down the champs was perfect. But they thrived in the home-and-away schedule, winning at K-State, at Baylor and holding court against everyone. Only
Iowa State Texas remains, but Saturday’s game is Senior Night in Lawrence. Hard to see Kansas losing that one.
This isn’t a perfect team. It’s not deep, it’s not great on perimeter defense and it can be sloppy with the ball. But Self – now 122-23 in Big 12 play – has said they’ve been fun to coach and fun to watch this season.
It might just be the most gratifying league title of them all.
“It feels amazing because a lot of people didn’t think we’d be this good this year,” senior Tyshawn Taylor said. “I think if you asked us at the beginning of the year, our goal was to always win a Big 12 championship. We prepared like we wanted to win.”
You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.
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