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Congratulations Jayhawks

H-S | H-S | Dascenzo | N&O | ESPN | Katz | N&R | N&R | Fayetteville | W-S | Charlotte | Box Score
Kansas has defeated Duke and will play Arizona for the West Regional Championship on
Saturday. Nick Collison was simply brilliant. Congratulations to our
friends from the Prairie.

Duke played a pretty impressive game in many respects, not least of all Casey Sanders,
whose last game was one of his better efforts at Duke. Never a scorer, Casey has always
focused on rebounding and blocking shots, and he made a dramatic difference under the
basket. Collison scored 33 points and had 19 rebounds, but might have had 40 had
Sanders not been so strong on defense.

Chris Duhon had a solid game and defended Hinrich brilliantly, and in his swansong,
Dahntay Jones had an imperfect game, but still had some great moments.

The mismatches in this game, which Jerry Tarkanian thought favored Duke, ended up
favoring Kansas instead. Duke got pounded underneath, and the threes didn't go down
the way they sometimes do for the Devils, least of all for JJ Redick, who we're sure is
disappointed by his performance. Well, we are too, we wish he had played better, but
the kid has thrown his heart and soul into the season and has been an amazing player. JJ
should be proud of what he has accomplished this season and would be nuts to judge it by
the final game.

All things considered, particularly given the anxiety some Duke fans seemed to visit on
this very young team, they have had a pretty amazing year. And who knows, if Horvath
and Randolph had been able to play (Horvath apparently had back spasms), perhaps Duke
could have either done more damage or more damage control at least, under the basket.
But that's neither here nor there anymore.

To us, even though our guys lost, this is a time to celebrate our team and their
wonderful year. There were times this year when we heard from various Duke fans that
they didn't think this team was going very far, or that they lacked something or what have
you. All they really lack is experience and some physical maturity, and while
Sanders, Jones, and Buckner are done at Duke, Duhon, Horvath, and the freshmen will know
where they came up short and they'll be busting their butts to get better. Luol Deng will
step in for Dahntay Jones, and Kris Humphries will provide more bulk up front. If
this is what passes for a down year, with 26-7, an ACC title, and a ton of young talent,
we'll take it every time.

On a slightly different note, we're really sorry to see the seniors go. They've
had an amazing ride at Duke, and they almost extended it Thursday. It's been fun to
watch Casey Sanders grow up and become a key part of the team, and it's been really great
this year to see Dahntay Jones develop, and we've always liked Buckner's spirit.
Coach K said after the game - as he's said before - that Buckner is a key part of
the team behind the scenes.

Most of all, though, this team in general has been fun. It started off not sure
of its identity and went through several incarnations before settling in at the very end
of the season and almost running to the regional finals. All things considered, we'd
have to say that this was one of Coach K's best jobs, and he'll probably never get full
credit for it because, well because Duke is expected to win 30 games even if there are 30
freshmen. But taking a slim returning roster and six talented freshmen and melding
that together - it's not an easy thing to do, and that he did it so well speaks more about
his talent than the veteran teams do.

We have to wait months now for the next game, but we can't wait. The future is
incredibly bright, and the sooner it gets here, the better.