Although the Kansas Jayhawks are the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament and 32-point favorites in their opening round game, head coach Bill Self says he is not taking Cinderella State likely.
"There's something about these guys. They have that ability to win games they're not supposed to," said Self. "If we overlook them we will lose."
Two weeks ago Cinderella State entered its conference tournament with a record of 0-22. But a miraculous run through the conference tournament including game-winning shots from half court at the buzzer in all four games earned the Fightin' Miracles a bid to the NCAA Tournament and a date against the top-ranked Jayhawks.
"On paper they don't seem intimidating," said Self. "But games are not played on paper. These guys have the heart of a champion and luck on their side."
None of CSU's players stand taller than 5-foot-5 and the Miracles are thought to be the first all-white team in the NCAA Tournament in decades. Starting center Ollie Scrapplethorpe would be 5-foot-2 if he was able to stand out of his wheelchair. And then there's shooting guard Jeff LeMasters, who passed away from cancer back in November, yet the Miracles still put him out on the court each game to honor him. And it was LeMasters who hit the winning shot in the conference title game when a deflected desperation heave bounced off of his rigor mortis-ridden face and high into the basket just before the horn sounded.
"My boys are just going to go out there and play hard," said head coach Tip Moyer, who coaches all of Cinderella State's sports teams in his spare time, as the school is on a tight athletic budget. "We may not be the biggest, we may not be the strongest, we may not be the smartest, we may not be the fastest, we may not be the quickest, we may not be the most skilled, but I think I'm forgetting a few. Did I say that we're not the fastest? I did? Okay. Well, anyway we'll do our best and see what happens."