Prediction: Kentucky 84, Kansas 81 (overtime)
He’s coached against Kansas several times since — twice in the national championship game — but Saturday night will be his first game in Allen Fieldhouse as the opponent. Calipari said Friday that he’s set foot in the building only a couple of times since he left and hasn’t seen a game there since he was on the Jayhawks’ bench.
…“Let me just tell you about the campus,” he said, changing the subject. “The campus, every stone — unless it’s changed — every stone on every building is from the same quarry. Think about that.
“I mean, it is a unique place. It’s special. That state takes great pride in their school. And they take pride in that basketball program and what’s gone on there.”
…When Allen Fieldhouse gets amped — as it surely will Saturday night — opponents come unglued. Calipari remembers that, too.
“Oh yeah. I saw when we were coaching there,” he said. “You have the game and all of a sudden they make a play, another play, you miss a play, and all of a sudden, literally, you’re like feeling this sound come at you.
“Going to Allen Fieldhouse, these guys will experience something they will never experience in their life in that building. There is no pro arena like that. There’s no other arena we’re going to walk into that’s going to be that bad. We walk into great arenas, but not (like that). I’m just telling you, I was in there. ... It’s like a shrine. It’s great.”
Lexington Herald Leader
As a Kentucky assistant, Joe B. Hall accompanied head coach Adolph Rupp on a side trip when the team played at Kansas in 1971.
The coaches visited Phog Allen, in his mid-80s, at his Lawrence home, and Hall was in awe. Rupp, the Baron of the Bluegrass and Kentucky legend with four NCAA championships, visiting his old Kansas coach, Allen. Rupp, a Halstead, Kan., native, was a try-hard guard on Allen’s great teams of the early 1920s.
They’re part of the greatest team photograph in college basketball history, the 1923 Jayhawks with Rupp standing behind Allen and James Naismith, the game’s inventor and Kansas professor.
“Phog sat in there in his big chair and Adolph was like a little boy at the foot of his mentor,” Hall said. “It was amazing to see those two together. Big, big-time stuff.”
…The greatest Kansas basketball era started with the hiring of Larry Brown in 1983 and has continued through the tenures of Roy Williams and Bill Self.
It’s also the era when the Jayhawks made progress against Kentucky. Brown broke through against the Wildcats in 1985 — the only time an Eddie Sutton-coached Wildcats team met the Jayhawks — but it was the next meeting that Kansas fans will never forget.
Williams’ second KU team was unranked to open the season and shocked the nation by beating the top two ranked teams, eventual national champion UNLV and Shaquille O’Neal-led LSU, on its way to the Preseason NIT title. The Wildcats arrived at Allen Fieldhouse under first-year coach Rick Pitino with eight scholarship players, nobody taller than 6-7 on the roster, and on NCAA probation.
What unfolded that Saturday afternoon remains a highlight of the Kansas’ record book and a blot in Kentucky’s.
The final: 150-95, Jayhawks.
“The crazy game,” said Mike Maddox, a starting forward for that Kansas game. “They kept pressing, and we had eight or nine guys who could score. I remember looking up at the scoreboard and we had 80 at halftime. Eighty.”
In the game’s final moments, the Wildcats had used all their timeouts. Williams communicated with Pitino that Kansas would call a timeout if he needed. Pitino returned a profanity. The pressing and scoring continued and Kansas set a school record for points and victory margin. It was the second-worst loss in Kentucky history.
…When Self arrived in Lawrence four years later, Kansas enjoyed its greatest stretch in the series.
Aaron Miles was stoked to play at Rupp Arena as Kansas and Kentucky staged a home-and-home series starting in 2005 in Lexington.
“It was Kentucky, it was special and we were all excited,” said Miles, currently the program’s assistant director of student-athlete development.
The Jayhawks were without their All-America big man, Wayne Simien, who was out with a thumb injury. They also played the final few minutes without Keith Langford, who had suffered a concussion. But in Miles, the senior point guard, Kansas had its most clutch player who provided the biggest moment.
With Kansas clinging to a two-point lead with about 30 seconds remaining, Miles tripped over a Kentucky player and was sitting on the floor with the ball. Surrounded by Wildcats, he managed to find Michael Lee, who drained a clinching three-pointer.
Kansas won the return game the next season in Lawrence and made it three straight by knocking off Kentucky in the 2007 NCAA Tournament before the pendulum swung back to Kentucky.
Calipari had several jobs as the lowest coach in the pecking order when Ted Owens hired him as a volunteer assistant for the Jayhawks’ 1982-83 season, including serving food at the training table.
Many coaching stories begin this way. Few continue to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, where Calipari was enshrined last year.
“I was blessed to have the chance,” Calipari said Friday. “Can you imagine being 22, 23 and your first opportunity to be around the game is at a program like Kansas?”
Owens was fired after the season, but his replacement, Larry Brown, retained Calipari, who stayed until 1985. The next season, Bill Self stepped into a similar role at Kansas.
Calipari said he’s only been to Lawrence “a couple of times” through a career that’s taken him to Massachusetts, Memphis, Kentucky and the NBA, but he hasn’t forgotten Allen Fieldhouse.
The noise in the building, Calipari said, “literally moves you. If you’re standing and they really get loud, it will move you. You feel it.
“Going to Allen Fieldhouse, (Kentucky players) will experience something they’ve never experienced in their life and won’t again.”
Kansas head coach Bill Self only follows two accounts on Twitter: the official Kansas athletics account and the one for his foundation. So, chances are he isn't seeing your thoughts on his team or his coaching.
Friday morning, Self appeared on 'Fescoe in the Morning” on 610 Sports Radio in Kansas City. During his segment he read some of the negative tweets directed at him and the Jayhawks during Monday night's 85-72 loss to Iowa State. It can be heard here beginning at the 23:30 mark:
The Wildcats won by double-digits at Arkansas last week.
Then they dominated Vanderbilt.
Then they murdered Missouri.
And while it's still probably too early to proclaim all is fixed with the team that calls Rupp Arena home, get ready for this season's narrative to completely flip if Kentucky somehow wins at fourth-ranked Kansas on Saturday. As you know, that's a rare feat, winning at Allen Fieldhouse. But Kentucky is undeniably playing better than it played early in the season, and don't ever forget this: UK remains, despite its ups and downs, the nation's only school with three projected top-31 picks in the 2016 NBA Draft, according to DraftExpress.com.
In other words, Kentucky can still out-talent most opponents.
So this rematch of the 2012 national championship game should be fun.
Even the most ruthlessly competitive, refuse-to-lose basketball person can be reduced to sentimental sweetheart. The same is true of the cynical newshound on alert for sanctimony and expedience. Ditto the rabid fan who sees only good and evil on the court.
Just mention Allen Fieldhouse.
The home arena at Kansas, where Kentucky will play Saturday, inspires poetic tribute in a sports world filled with hidden agendas and obsession with $ucce$$. ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla, nobody’s fool when it comes to college basketball’s dark secrets, used words like “magical” and “mystical” to describe Allen Fieldhouse.
“It is a spiritual journey into that building, if you love the game of basketball,” he said.
…Fraschilla likes to call Allen Fieldhouse “the St. Patrick’s Cathedral of college basketball.” He is hardly the only parishioner who has worshiped there.
For Seth Davis of Sports Illustrated and CBS Sports, Allen Fieldhouse is a time machine.
“You feel like you are walking into the 1930s,” he said in an email message. “I mean, James ‘Freaking’ Naismith’s name is on the court!”
…Dave Dorr, a retired Hall of Fame sportswriter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, said Allen Fieldhouse “is the closest thing to a college basketball cathedral there is.”
ESPN analyst Jay Bilas reached back to another sport’s touchstone.
“It has the same meaning to basketball that St. Andrews has to golf,” Bilas said in an email message. “When people visit AFH, they get it.”
Opposing coaches also pay homage.
TCU Coach Trent Johnson, who played against Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse in 1976, wants his players to be aware of the history. It helps that KU has built a Hall of Fame nearby and plans another new structure that will house the original rules of basketball as devised by Naismith, who, of course, invented the game and then happened to be Kansas’ first coach.
“Every time I take my team back there, we go to the Hall of Fame,” said Johnson, who formerly coached at LSU. “It’s a history lesson for them.”
For Texas Coach Shaka Smart, whose team lost at Kansas last weekend, his thoughts about Allen Fieldhouse are fresh.
“There’s just a really, really special feeling there,” he said. “You can tell the connectivity between the fans and the students and the players. At any home court, that’s probably the most important thing. That everyone is really feeling the same thing and on the same page in helping the team win.”
…Kansas Coach Bill Self has a cartoonish win-loss record of 200-9 in Allen Fieldhouse. His Jayhawks teams have won more Big 12 Conference championships (11) than lost home games (nine). Yet, he, too, set aside mere winning and losing in trying to capture the essence of Allen Fieldhouse.
“I have heard other people say and I believe it,” he said. “The building has soul, and the walls still sweat.”
…Like Raquel Welch and Cliff Hagan, Allen Fieldhouse has aged well. In 2014, Athlon Sports asked 12 well-known media people to vote on the top 10 college basketball arenas. Nine voted Allen Fieldhouse No. 1, two others put Kansas’ arena second on their ballots. Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium was a distant second as no other arena received more than one first-place vote. (Butler’s Hinkle Fieldhouse and UK’s Rupp Arena finished third and fourth.)
“I consider Allen Fieldhouse to be the single best place in America to watch a college basketball game,” said one of the voters, Mike DeCourcy of The Sporting News.
DeCourcy recalled attending the final Kansas-Missouri game in 2012.
“As we approached tip-off, the fans were so ear-splittingly noisy that I laughed out loud at the absurdity of it,” he said. “And I literally could not hear my own laugh. I’ve never had that happen anywhere.”
CBS: A behind-the-scenes look at the nine teams to beat Kansas’ Bill Self at home
http://www.cbssports.com/collegebasketball/eye-on-college-basketball/25465237/a-behind-the-scenes-look-at-the-nine-teams-to-beat-bill-self-at-allen-fieldhouse (A fun read despite the topic. However don’t watch the video on this page. That guy is a dumbass of the highest order.)
“Pay Heed. The game you love began here. Respect those who came before you. Make their legacy your own. Because destiny favors the dedicated. And rings don’t replace work. In this game you don’t get what you want. You get what you earn. We are Kansas. Together we rise. Rock Chalk Jayhawk!”
Big 12/College News
West Virginia has suspended senior forward Jonathan Holton indefinitely for a violation of team rules, the Mountaineers announced Thursday.
Mike Casazza of the Charleston Gazette-Mail reports Holton will sit against Florida on Saturday and miss the next two games, against Iowa State and Baylor. He adds the team knew about the suspension yesterday, although it was not announced until the conclusion of head coach Bob Huggins’ weekly radio show on Thursday.
Holton, who starts at forward, is averaging 9.7 points and 7.5 rebounds in 23.2 minutes per game this season for the No. 9 Mountaineers.
North Carolina coach Roy Williams is unhappy with ESPN, to put it mildly. In fact, his displeasure with the network that calls itself “the worldwide leader” inspired quite the rant on Friday.
Here’s the background: For a while now ESPN has hyped the best of the best college basketball players and promoted their NBA potential. The network did it when Andrew Wiggins was at Kansas and Jahlil Okafor at Duke, and certainly it’s happening now with LSU’s Ben Simmons.
More recently, though, during college games, the network has been describing various’ players’ “green room” potential – as in the NBA draft green room. The network has even promoted games referencing the green room. In case you were unaware, the green room is where the top prospects gather on draft night to wait to hear their names called.
The mere mention of “green room” in the context of a college game was enough to set Williams over the edge, and it inspired something of a diatribe on Friday. Take it away, Roy:
“I think ESPN is (an ACC) partner, and I’ve got to watch on TV where somebody’s college basketball game and they’re talking about the freaking green room? That’s the most ridiculous thing. And that’s one of my partners? That’s half the damn broadcast: ‘Well, so-and-so’s in the green room.’
“And this is a great time for me to be saying something about it. Because they ain’t mentioning any of my guys, OK. But God almighty, you’re sitting there, you’re trying to win championships, and here it is, January, and ESPN’s talking about some green room and some Chad Ford or who it is and his (draft projections) – that’s the most ridiculous thing we’re having to put up with in college basketball."
Recruiting Calendar (updated for 2016)
Late Night in the Phog
Bill Self Camp KU Alumni games
60 Years of AFH Celebration
Legends of the Phog game
2011-12 Final Border War
KC Prep Invitational
and more, now on YouTube