Before the 2019-20 season began, many were questioning whether KU would have what it took to cut down the nets in April.
Not because of the talent available – the team was ranked top five in just about every preseason poll out there. Not because of the lack of star power – KU had one of the top returning point guards in the country in Devon Dotson and the NCAA’s leading field goal percentage scorer in Udoka Azubuike.
No, the doubts came because of the controversy surrounding their program and their head coach.
About a month before the season was set to begin is when KU received their Notice of Allegations from the NCAA. The NOA included several severe Level 1 allegations against the program and Bill Self, including a “lack of institutional control.”
Naturally this caused many to wonder if KU would be able to perform to their potential with this cloud of uncertainty hanging over their head. However, someone who wasn’t worried was head coach Bill Self.
After the allegations were announced, Self had this to say in response: “I do think it could become that (a distraction) if I’m not very mature about it. And I plan on being very mature about this, and I’m planning on coaching this team harder and better than I have any team at Kansas.“
And that he did.
The Jayhawks had arguably the best regular season of any KU team since the 2008 squad that went on to win the National Championship.
The team finished the season 28-3, including a 17-1 record in Big 12 play. They captured the Big 12 Championship outright and had a 16-game winning streak heading into the Big 12 Tournament.
This team finished No. 1 in the final AP Poll, No. 1 in the final Coaches Poll, and No. 1 in KenPom Ratings.
Udoka Azubuike was voted Big 12 Player of the Year, a First Team All-American by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC), ESPN, CBS Sports, and others. He was also a Wooden Award All-American and voted Defensive Player of the Year by the NABC.
Devon Dotson was voted First Team All-Big 12, First Team All-American by ESPN, and Second Team All-American by the Associated Press, U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and NABC. He too was a Wooden Award All-American.
Marcus Garrett was voted ESPN’s Defensive Player of the Year and the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year.
You combine all the team and individual accolades and it becomes clear that Self did fulfill his promise. He did coach this team harder and better than any team he has had. And whether they choose to hang a banner or whether anyone recognizes them as champions, that will always remain true.
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