It is hard to believe that the regular season is about to come to a close for the Kansas Jayhawks. So far this season the Jayhawks have surpassed the expectations everyone had for them. It is hard to imagine how well this team has been playing in spite of losing two talented players to the NBA: Tyshawn Taylor and Thomas Robinson. These guys were their main scorers last season and were the leaders of the team.
This year it has been the starting five that has carried the team this far and will into March. Four of them are seniors and Monday night will be their last home game. We will never see these guys play in a Jayhawk jersey again in Allen Fieldhouse unless it is some type of reunion. The Jayhawks needed someone to step up and take the places of Taylor and Robinson. These seniors have done that plus the talented freshman Ben McLemore has been very instrumental in the process. The legacy the four senior players will leave at Kansas is quite impressive.
Jeff Withey, Kevin Young, Travis Releford and Elijah Johnson have stepped up as leaders and scores for this team. Monday night will be a very emotional time when we get to hear their speeches and get to honor each one of them. Withey as been a driving catalyst most of the season on the defensive side in the paint by blocking shots and altering the opposing players driving in the lane. Young has been a super duper energy drink that is passionate about the game of basketball and helps his team stay pumped up throughout the contest. Releford has been one of my favorite players to watch since he became a Jayhawk. Releford has been the most consistent at of the four this season on both sides of the ball. He is a great defender who usually guards the best player on the opposing team. Last but not least is Johnson who has been the floor general for this team and of late has become more aggressive attacking the rim.
These seniors mean a lot to this ball team and all of the Jayhawk fans around. This will be shown tomorrow night as everyone will be showing their support and appreciation to each one of these guys. Not only do they get to start the game which has always been a tradition on senior night, they will get the opportunity to leave the game early individually with a standing ovation from the crowd.
This is what Withey said about his senior night, “We’re excited. It’s going to be an emotional game and one that we are going to remember for a long time. We’re ready for it, but at the same time we don’t want it to come because it is our last home game. We know that we have to win every game from here on out in order to win the conference (title) and get into our groove for the (NCAA) tournament.”
The lucky team that gets to come and play them on this emotional night is the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Since 1983-84, Kansas has won 29-straight home finales, including 28 consecutive senior nights. Earlier this season Kansas defeated Texas Tech 60-46 in Lubbock, Texas, on Jan. 12.
I’m sure that the Red raiders coach Chris Walker will have his team ready to be one of the first teams to upset the Jayhawks on senior night. That will be a very tough undertaking for the Red Raiders to do. They are 3-13 in the Big 12, sitting ninth in the standings. They have got run over and have became road kill this season and there only wins in conference has been against Iowa State and TCU twice. For them to get the upset they must bring back Tony Battie and play defense like they never have before. Walker needs to make sure they aren’t watching the pregame video after warm-ups.
Allen Fieldhouse will be rocking Monday night and how the Jayhakws are playing right now, this game will be over before halftime. Not only will the Red Raiders be visiting the tradition of the Phog, but so will be Andrew Wiggins, the No. 1-rated player in the Class of 2013. Wiggins is making his first official recruiting trip to Lawrence. Wiggins will get to see these Jayhawks perform on a great night when the starters get to say goodbye to Allen Fieldhouse.