It ended some 40 minutes later with the crowd watching in silence as Jayhawks reserve guard Rodrick Stewart writhed on the court, his knee shattered when he fell while attempting a dunk at the end of Friday's light workout. Coach Bill Self said Stewart had fractured his kneecap and would have surgery after the Final Four.
So much for a fiesta.
"We're very disappointed. It's bringing us down right now," said teammate Brandon Rush, who hurt his knee last summer. Stewart's injury wasn't the only adversity Kansas faced as it prepared to meet mighty North Carolina in a national semifinal tonight. Self spent part of his scheduled news conference answering questions about whether he was interested in taking the job at Oklahoma State, his alma mater.
Self confirmed he met Tuesday with Kansas athletic director Lew Perkins and told him, "Heck, no, I don't want to go anywhere."
"Part of the conversations we've had is, 'Hey, when the season is over, we're going to sit down, we're going to talk, get everything ironed out, so hopefully you can be here for a while,' " Self said. "I take him at his word. He takes me at mine. "
Kansas gave Self a five-year contract extension last season, increasing his annual compensation to more than $1.3 million with a chance to make another $350,000 each year if he meets incentives.
The Jayhawks seemed unfazed by speculation over Self's future. But they clearly were affected by Stewart's injury.
The injury occurred with less than 20 minutes to go in the 50-minute workout, which was open to the public. Some of the Jayhawks had formed two lines at halfcourt and appeared ready to put on a dunk show to entertain their fans.
"I told our freshmen they could go dunk," Self said. "Rodrick jumps out there, goes and tries to dunk, which I'm disappointed that we -- we do that every tournament, but I'm disappointed, certainly hurt for him. Guys practice their whole life to get to participate in a Final Four. That's been taken away from him."