Monday, March 26, 2007

original heartbreak remembered

I still consider Roy Williams' departure for UNC the worst heartbreak of my life. It still brings me to tears (or sometimes rage) when I catch a glimpse of him wearing a tarheel blue tie when he coaches. When I watch a UNC game, my jealousy comes out when I see his assistant coaches still there too. It's as though my boyfriend left me, and I miss his friends too. I can count on one hand the number of Kansas basketball games I've watched since Roy left. When Roy left, he took his style of basketball with him. I was eight when Roy came to Kansas, and although I love the history of Kansas basketball, the only style I really have ever seen is the Roy-era. I've never been a fan of Bill Self. It's a dislike that goes back to his days at Illinois, and specifically the Regional semi-final game in San Antonio when six of his players fouled out. Their strategy was to foul our big guys. Nick Collison was tackled, hugged and dragged under the basket. It worked; we didn't make our free throws, and they went on to the regional finals. It's not the way I want to win basketball games; it's not a joy to watch. Win or lose, Roy's teams were almost always a joy to watch. I felt the pain when they lost, but I loved every moment getting there. The joy has left Kansas basketball. I'm still a fan, but I feel all the pain and none of the joy anymore. Kansas basketball used to be my favorite thing. My license plate still alludes to our championship history. I am a grudge-holder. I still haven't forgiven Bill Self for the way Illinois won that game in 2001. I imagine I will never forgive Roy for leaving the way he did.

I know I'm not the only one who would trade in Bill Self for Roy. Jason Whitlock, who never minces words writing about hometown sports, wrote this fantastic column before we lost to UCLA:

Whitlock says, "It’s going to take a Final Four appearance to replace Roy Williams, and a national title to remove the Roy bitterness from the hearts of Jayhawk fans." I hope a national championship would make me love Kansas again, but I hate to be that king of fan. I fear the joy I used to feel, the rush of gameday excitement and the anticipation of recruiting news will never return. I miss you Roy, and I hate that you still have my heart.

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