Each week, we bring you the most memorable, and inspirational quotes from athletes, coaches, and sports personalities who are making waves for KU.
Junior middle blocker Toyosi Onabanjo
Nov. 26 following the NCAA Tournament bracket results
“I was just screaming. It didn’t hit me until everyone else started screaming. It was a great experience. I was so nervous because I had never experienced that before. My hands were sweating, they were clammy, and then when you see your name on the screen it’s just like, ‘Whooooo.’ And then to know you’re hosting on top of that is just great.”
Context: Toyosi Onabanjo and the rest of the No. 15 Kansas Jayhawks anxiously awaited their fate on Nov. 26 as the NCAA revealed the NCAA Tournament matchup results. Kansas was put into the Wisconsin region of the tournament bracket as it received a No. 4 seed in its region.
The Jayhawks, hyped to see a top-four seed in their region, then had to wait to find out their first-round matchup of the tournament. Following the suspense of the bracket reveal, KU found out its first opponent: the Omaha Mavericks.
The Jayhawks’ seeding comes as no surprise as they finished their regular season with a 23-5 record and a 14-4 in-conference record. Plus, after picking up marquee victories against teams like the Baylor Bears and the BYU Cougars, Kansas put together quite the resume, showing it can contend with anyone in the country.
The NCAA took notice of KU’s season-long effort, and rewarded it with the chance to host the first two rounds of the tournament. The Jayhawks earned their 12th NCAA Tournament appearance and their third-straight year with postseason play, with all 12 of their appearances with head coach Ray Bechard at the helm.
This marks the first time Kansas hosts a postseason match inside the newly renovated Horejsi Family Volleyball Arena.
Onabanjo and the Jayhawks swept Omaha in three sets during Thursday's first round and now will play Penn State in Round 2 at 5:30 p.m. Friday.
Senior men's basketball center Hunter Dickinson
Nov. 22 after defeating No. 7 Tennessee
“Yeah, I knew I let my team down yesterday with my performance. I wanted to come out here and give them more defensively. I knew that's where I let 'em down yesterday. So just trying to come out here with some more energy and really try to affect the game on both sides, but I just tried to go out there and do whatever I could for the team.”
Context: Hunter Dickinson came out and put on a show against No. 7 Tennessee in KU’s final game of the Maui Invitational. The Michigan transfer put up 17 points and 20 boards on nearly 54% shooting with two assists, a block and a steal as the Jayhawks narrowly defeated the Volunteers 69-60 to take home third place in the tournament.
Despite the impressive double-double performance and his second 20-rebound game of the season, Dickinson looked at his effort as a get-right game after a relatively disappointing performance against the No. 4 Marquette Golden Eagles the night prior.
The Golden Eagles brought all the pressure they could against Dickinson on Nov. 21, forcing everyone but the seven-foot-two-inch center to beat them. Marquette held Dickinson to just 13 points and eight rebounds, forcing five turnovers for the big man in a 73-59 KU loss.
Dickinson finished with just his third game of the season held under 10 rebounds, with the other two being the first two games of the year, playing just 20 and 24 minutes in those matchups. He also ended with his season low in points scored, and tied for his worst shooting performance of the season at 50%.
With less than 24 hours to rest before the Jayhawks took on the Volunteers, Dickinson quickly made an impact against Tennessee. Dickinson assisted on a dunk from junior forward KJ Adams Jr. just four seconds into the game and scored the next KU basket with a two-point jump shot to retake a two-point lead.
And on Nov. 28, Dickinson once again balled out for the Jayhawks, finishing with 25 points and 13 rebounds, his fourth double-double in seven games this season. He will look to do everything he can for the team once again as Kansas faces its toughest test yet: a matchup with the No. 4 Uconn Huskies in Lawrence, Kansas on Dec. 1 at 8 p.m.
Redshirt-senior quarterback Jason Bean
Nov. 25 after beating the Cincinnati Bearcats
"Yeah, it felt good to get back out there with the boys. You know, in an environment like this on the road, you know, they're always kind of difficult to, you know, keep your composure, stay locked in the whole time. But I think we did a good job of that. I'm just proud of this team for what they've done this season. "
Context: In the Jayhawks final regular season football game of the season, Jason Bean put on a performance to remember in the last college football regular season of his career. Bean was ‘locked in’ and completed 13-17 pass attempts for 250 yards and two touchdowns in a 49-16 rout of the Bearcats on the road.
Not only was he accurate through the air, but Bean managed to use his legs through big breaks in the defensive scheme. The North Texas transfer ran for 90 total yards and two rushing touchdowns, his longest being a 50-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to give KU a 26-point lead.
After missing the previous game, Senior Night against in-state rival Kansas State at home, as well as missing three quarters of a road battle against the Texas Tech Red Raiders, Bean didn’t miss a beat in his first start in two weeks. Junior running back Devin Neal racked up 106 yards and two rushing touchdowns himself while Kansas totaled 562 yards of offense in a 33-point victory.
The win pushes the Jayhawks to 8-4 on a season riddled with quarterback uncertainty. Junior quarterback Jalon Daniels played just three games this season, with Bean stepping up to shoulder the load in his absence.
Bean took the opportunity and ran with it, providing Kansas with another unforgettable season. He racked up 1,681 passing yards, 12 passing touchdowns, 259 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns in nine games played this season, leading KU to a 6-3 record in those games.
Now, after defeating the Bearcats to cap off the regular season, Bean and the Jayhawks look ahead to see where they’ll travel to play in their second straight bowl game as Kansas finds out its postseason opponent on Dec. 3.
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