A single red-and-blue pompom sat on the ground, trampled, outside the arena early Saturday. It was a fitting reminder of a promising season that ended surprisingly early for Kansas.
The top-ranked and top-seeded Jayhawks were stunned 85-82 by Arizona in the Southeast Regional semifinals on Friday.
Suddenly, tickets for a flight out of Birmingham _ and not for today's final _ were the hot sellers for 4,000 or so Jayhawk fans. Some fans were trying to dump their tickets for the final for $5.
As the Kansas faithful fled, coach Roy Williams was left to ponder the loss, the last game for a senior-filled squad that was a big favorite to win it all.
"I'm the luckiest coach in America," he said. "Some coach will be up there cutting a net. But he can't be as lucky as Roy Williams is."
Williams wondered aloud whether he was lacking something needed to get his team to college basketball's promised land.
"As a coach, I'm going to do a lot of soul searching and see if there is something missing from Roy Williams," Williams said. "I would like to think there isn't.
"I've said before that at times like this, I'm going to keep knocking on the door, and one of these days we'll kick the sucker down. That's my attitude. If it is a failure in Roy Williams, I hope I can find it."
+ About 200 people celebrating Providence's semifinal victory over Tennessee-Chattanooga set fire to a boat and a couch, pelted police cars with eggs and bottles, and refused to disperse, police in Providence, R.I., said. Extra patrols were planned for today, when the Friars play Arizona for a trip to the Final Four.
The man being credited for the recent success of the Louisville doesn't wear a uniform or carry a clipboard. He's a neuroscientist who has helped some of the players with their mental approach to basketball.
"We had a problem with our mental approach to the game about a month ago, and he approached me as a volunteer and said he might be able to help," coach Denny Crum said. "We had everything to gain and nothing to lose. There have been a lot more smiles, and our approach has been a lot better."
Steve Haladay has worked closely with Alvin Sims and Damion Dantzler. Sims had a career-high 25 points in the semifinal win over Texas on Friday, and Dantzler had a season-high 17.
Attendance for Saturday's championship game between Minnesota and UCLA was 31,930 in San Antonio's Alamodome, which seats 41,250 for basketball.
The two-day total was 61,161. The Alamodome will host the Final Four next year. It hosted the NBA All-Star Game last year.
Minnesota's Bobby Jackson was voted the regional's outstanding player. The other players on the all-tournament team were UCLA's Cameron Dollar and Charles O'Bannon, Iowa State's Dedric Willoughby, and Minnesota's Sam Jacobson.
Rick Pitino is right where he wants to be, back in the Final Four with Kentucky. And Pitino, who turned down a coaching job with the New Jersey Nets to stay at the school, said he constantly is reminded what a good decision that was.
"I think every time I watch the Nets on TV, I say I'm happy I stayed," he said. "I don't think at my age (42) you want to take over a Nets team that's going to win 22, 23 games _ that's just no fun."
_ TIMES WIRES