Tulsa trip a plus for Kansas
BY GUERIN EMIG World Sports Writer
Sunday, March 13, 2011
3/13/11 at 6:11 AM
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Jayhawks are leaving Kansas City, a Big 12 Tournament championship and NCAA Tournament No. 1 seed in hand.
Next stop: Tulsa.
Kansas is all but assured it will begin its NCAA run at the BOK Center Friday. The Selection Sunday announcement will make it official.
Bill Self is fine with that. He spent the majority of the 90s coaching in Tulsa, four years at Oral Roberts and then three at TU.
"I don't have to worry about hotel rooms, because there are enough homes to crash in," Self said with a smile after Friday's semifinal win over Colorado. "If anything, it will probably relieve some stress for me trying to make accomodations for people.
"No, It'll be good to go back home. I love Tulsa."
"He talks about it all the time," Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor said. "That's good. It's kind of like a homecoming for him."
Top seeds aren't typically the most popular teams at neutral NCAA sites. Tulsans, however, are likely to make an exception in this case.
If for some reason they don't, it's not like the Jayhawks are going to lack support, Tulsa being a 4 1/2- or 5-hour drive from Lawrence and Kansas City.
"I'm glad it's close to home because our fans will obviously get to come and check us out," guard Brady Morningstar said. "They travel everywhere we go. But other than that, wherever they put us, they put us. We've just got to be able to play when the clock starts. Gotta be ready to execute and play ball."
"I would rather us play on the East Coast so my family back home can see me play," said Josh Selby, a star freshman guard from Baltimore. "But it doesn't matter. I just wanna go there and win. Hopefully get out of there and go on to play in Houston (site of the Final Four)."
Taylor, from Hoboken, N.J, might prefer heading east as well. But at least Tulsa beats that place 100 miles down the Turner Turnpike.
"Where did we start last year? Oklahoma City? I'm not a big fan of Oklahoma City," he said. "We lose there a lot."
It happened just last year, in a second-round loss to Northern Iowa. Kansas also suffered NCAA indignities in Oklahoma City in 2005 (Bucknell) and 1998 (Rhode Island).
"Tulsa would be cool. A new spot," Taylor said. "I've never been there before."
Actually, he has.
A few weeks ago the Jayhawks were flying home from their win at Oklahoma, when their charter was diverted to a hangar at Tulsa International.
They made the best of their three-hour layover, eating Mazzio's pizza, shooting some pool and watching basketball on TV. Then two buses pulled up and they realized they'd be traveling back to Lawrence by road, not air. A four-hour trip wound up taking just over a day.
So some memories of Tulsa aren't as fond as Self's.
At least the Jayhawks have this week to change them.
"I know this," Taylor said. "I'm looking forward to this tournament starting."
Guerin Emig 918-581-8355