Wayne Selden, welcome to the SportsCenter highlights. For the year.
And, of course, the appropriate sign in the student section: "100% Chance of Wayne."
Just nasty Wayne Selden. #BAYvsKU
Baylor gonna .... Nah. No shame losing to Kansas in the Phog. Especially when the out-of-bounds lines don't apply to the home team.
Wayne Selden just made one of the most unbelievable plays I've ever seen. Diving in the stands. Assist to Embiid. Will see that for years.
Brady Heslip, after being told Wayne Selden was out of bounds on diving save/assist: "Maybe he deserved it. Because that was great hustle."
Apologies go out to the guy that caught the foot to the face ! #RockChalk
KUAD Postgame Notes, box score
KC Star Photos
AUDIO: Davis & Gurley
Allen Fieldhouse is billed as college basketball’s best home court advantage. The legacy videos played before and after the Kansas starters are announced whip the 16,300 in a frenzy that raises the sound level to sand blasting levels.
After another Jayhawks victory over another visiting team, there will be another clip added to the highlight reel that might raise as much noise as does Mario’s Miracle, the 3-pointer by Mario Chalmers that helped KU win the 2008 national championship.
No. 24 Baylor, playing in its yellow highlighter jerseys, were zoning out on defense and zoning in from 3-point range. The Bears were giving the impression that winning here for the first time was possible. But the eighth-ranked Jayhawks pulled away for a 78-68 victory on Big Monday thanks to a hustle play that was No. 1 on SportsCenter’s top 10 plays of the day.
Big 12 Sports
“Just got to get the ball,” Selden said after No. 8 Kansas took out 24th-ranked Baylor 78-68 on Big Monday and moved to 5-0 in the Big 12. “There’s no second thoughts about it.”
In one motion, Selden went headfirst into the stands, cuffing the ball with one hand and flinging it back to center Joel Embiid under the basket.
Embiid finished the play as Selden disappeared into a deluge of fans in the third row. And Brandmeyer, who had taken a rather meaty leg to the face, popped up in his seat, trying to figure out what had just happened.
“What an impressive player he is,” Brandmeyer said.
“Just the eyes in the back of my head,” Selden said, smiling. “I didn’t see. I just went for the ball and just threw it back in there.”
…Sometimes you go to a basketball game at Allen Fieldhouse and see the Jayhawks beat another ranked team. That’s what happened Monday night. That sort of thing has happened before.
But sometimes you show up, sit in the front row and take a leg to the face. And Selden makes the type of hustle play that nobody inside Allen Fieldhouse can ever remember seeing.
…Here they are, a perfect 5-0 in the Big 12 for the third straight year, driving a freight train toward a 10th straight Big 12 title. In most respects, this was a Kansas team that didn’t play its best on Monday night. In other words, it’s exactly the type of game that Self loves winning.
Freshman Andrew Wiggins, held to a season-low three-points on Saturday against Oklahoma State, responded with 17 points and seven rebounds. Sophomore forward Perry Ellis added 18 points on six-of-eight shooting. And the Jayhawks hit 26 of 29 from the free-throw line.
“Tonight wasn’t our best performance,” Self said. “But a lot of times you can miss free throws and lose. And sometimes you can play poorly and make free throws and win.”
Suddenly, the slumping Bears were toast, the crowd was crazy and the former NBA stars, Richmond and Mullin, were just glad not to be sitting where Selden piloted his fly-over. (Well, don’t underestimate the will of Richmond considering he starred at Kansas State and was reluctant to pose at center-court earlier in the day for a KU staffer.)
For Ellis to make a defensive play that helped inspire the Jayhawks was significant. His experience in the program is not altogether vast, yet anything he can do to influence the KU freshmen is welcome.
His work of late was sketchy – 8 points at Iowa State, 6 points against Oklahoma State and 2 points in the first half against Baylor. Ellis sat for 12 minutes against the Bears before the break, then was ordered – again – by Self to become more aggressive. Ellis scored the Jayhawks’ first bucket of the second half and never released the pedal on either end.
“I don’t know if sad is the right word, but whenever you look to Perry as your experienced leader, and he was our eighth man last year and played 13 minutes a game … he’s very important,’’ Self said.
“He’s improved in a lot of ways, but obviously consistency of late has not been there. He’s been really good, or maybe hasn’t been as good. But certainly, I think he’s a terrific player, and he’s going to be very important to us down the stretch.’’
Hustle happens to be an important variable too.
Among all the Jayhawks, freshman backup Frank Mason exhibited the most against Baylor, while contributing nine points and six assists.
As for steals, the Jayhawks managed fewer than the Bears. That differential has favored Big 12 rivals in all but one game. Yet KU is 5-0 atop the conference and keeps making pivotal plays.
Against Baylor, it was a player who constitutes a veteran these days, the sophomore Ellis, who had the hustle play that ignited Selden’s hustle highlight.
“That was one of the key plays to spur (the run),’’ said Self, “and (Ellis) needed something good to happen, because he’d been laboring.’’
Naadir Tharpe is the USBWA Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week!
Kansas has led its league in home attendance each of the last 27 seasons. #wearethephog
1/19/14, 2:35 PM
KU's current SOS ranking on KenPom is 2nd-toughest in last 7 seasons ... and 12* of 14 opponents left are in KenPom's top 80.
1/19/14, 5:13 PM
Loved listening to Bill Self talk to team at practice. He has gift for relating to his players. Was unhappy about TO's but pleased w/win.
Baylor asks for review for an Embiid elbow -- calculated much? #kubball
Wow, they're really watching everything that Embiid does now. Everything. That's what happens when you're better than everyone else.
Self with a little gamesmanship -- tried to get the refs to look at the monitor for an elbow -- with a smirk #kubball
This Kansas team has evolved into a real problem for the rest of America.
Scott Drew has lost more times at Allen Fieldhouse than Bill Self has... #kubball #Jayhawks #BigMonday
Hope Wiggins' performance tonight moved him up to a late second-round spot on @GoodmanESPN's big board.
No team has improved more in the past 6 weeks than Kansas. Jayhawks look a little sharper each time they play. Finding their identity
Kansas has won 4 straight regular-season games over ranked teams. Last team to win 4 straight vs. AP Top 25 teams is North Carolina (1997).
In case you are wondering, that '97 North Carolina team that won four straight games vs. top 25 foes advanced to Final Four.
In Big 12 play Kansas is making 61% of its 2s and 41% of its 3s. If KU and Michigan played right now there would be no rebounds.
So awesome meeting @WichitaState players tonight. Such nice guys Ron Baker, Cleanthony Early, Nick Wiggins. 19-0 Keep up great work!
Lots of love out in here at KU! #Respect
Whether the notion was to provoke or merely suffocate Kansas freshman center Joel Embiid, it took only seconds Monday night at Allen Fieldhouse for Baylor to reveal its most urgent priority:
Swarm, stifle, pester and otherwise harass Embiid, the infinitely intriguing talent with the somewhat enigmatic temperament still navigating the embryonic stages of his basketball career.
“Yeah, definitely,” he said. “Every time I caught the ball in the post, they double-teamed.”
First and foremost, Baylor was going to embed itself in Embiid and go from there against KU, which stiff-armed the Bears in the second half for a 78-68 victory to culminate a remarkable stretch of five Big 12 wins in five games against currently ranked teams.
…Afterward, KU coach Bill Self dismissed the idea that Embiid had work to do in that territory, calling it “much (ado) about nothing” other than the elbow that got him kicked out against Kansas State.
“Since then, his temperament hasn’t been bad,” Self said, adding, “He has a tendency sometimes to flail his arms.”
But it sure seems more complicated than that for Embiid, who has been, uh, encouraged by Self to toughen up.
So it’s not hard to make the connection that the mind-set that has led to those excesses is entwined with the enhanced intensity that has triggered his recent surge and emergence from some soft moments earlier in the season.
That’s why he was fouled three times in the first 2 minutes 22 seconds of the game and why there was a little extra English applied to him more than a few times, including a rough thump by Royce O’Neale that sent Embiid backpedaling late in the first half.
Never mind that Embiid had staggered so far away from O’Neale that he would have had to rev himself to go back at him.
What mattered was that Embiid responded without a squawk and by simply gathering himself and making two free throws.
“I need to keep my cool: Don’t react,” said Embiid, who acknowledged it was a point of emphasis for this game. “Yeah, yeah, yeah. I feel like I did pretty good.”
…Maybe more meaningfully, though, it was imperative Embiid come to terms with his own absurd talents and maximizing them.
The game itself remains so fresh to him, so of course the demands and challenges of it do, too.
Yet he’s already displayed a breathtaking grasp and feel for so much, coupling that with uncanny agility for a 7-footer.
Now he’s reconciling how to play angry without being angry, how to be aggressive without being reckless and how to stay passionate without being easily inflamed.
And if Monday was any indication, he is sorting out the differences.
“No more technicals any more,” he said.
KC Star Gregorian
The Jayhawks are beyond all of that now, beyond the fretting of what will happen if Wiggins has an off night, beyond falling apart if, heaven forbid, a freshman has the audacity to play like a freshman for a weekend, and well beyond being a one-man team.
Wiggins could still become the greatest prospect in 20 years, but for now, he is exactly what he should be, what every freshman used to be before they were tracked as soon as they could lace up a pair of high tops.
He is part of the process.
“Because of our society, the hype, if you don’t produce you’re the most talked about person,” Self said. “If you do, it’s expected, so it’s really a no-win. There was no way he was going to live up to the hype.”
…“I like where we’re at,” Self said. “Considering after San Diego State, losing at home, to flip it and play like we did three days later against Oklahoma and get it going, we showed some toughness. We’ve definitely played better over the last five games than we have all season long.”
They are playing better because everyone is doing more.
…On Saturday night, Wiggins, Perry Ellis and Wayne Selden Jr. were a combined 6-of-22. So Naadir Tharpe picked them up with 21 points, while Jamari Traylor and Tarik Black combined for 17 off the bench.
Against Baylor, Wiggins had 17, Ellis had a team-high 18 and Selden put himself on "SportsCenter" with a dive over the press table into the stands for an assist to Embiid play that was so ridiculous, even his opponent didn’t care if replay showed he was out of bounds.
“That was a great play by him to even get it,” Baylor’s Brady Heslip said. “Maybe he deserves it because that was great hustle by him.”
And for the record, Wiggins is just fine, too. He is still Kansas’ leading scorer and in 18 games has failed to notch double figures just three times.
His biggest problem, if you can call it that, is he’s too nice. He’s a sweet-natured, easygoing kid, the kind who should make his parents proud.
It drives his coach bananas.
…“He leaves me wanting more,” Self said.
There was a time when a visitor to Kansas might have felt the same.
You come to see the kid.
You leave impressed by the team.
Wayne Selden was on the right block when Perry Ellis tapped a ball that seemed certain to land in the seats, and I have no idea why Selden thought he could save it.
"I thought the ball was going out of bounds," said Baylor guard Brady Heslip, and that makes two of us. But Selden, for some reason, thought he could save it. So he took off running and dove headfirst, like a superhero, into the crowd.
A moment later the ball was in the hands of Joel Embiid, who made a little hook, increased Kansas' lead to nine, and Baylor never again got close enough to threaten in a game that finished 78-68. By now, you've probably seen the highlight, which means you likely know that Selden's foot was out of bounds before he jumped. But the officials somehow missed that. So the play is recorded as an awesome assist instead of a costly turnover, and, either way, to focus on that detail is to miss the larger point, which is this: Bill Self has a future lottery pick willing to dive into the stands for loose balls, and this is precisely why KU is developing into the nation's most dangerous team.
The Jayhawks were always going to be talented.
Now they're talented and tenacious.
…I sat courtside for each of KU's past two wins.
What I saw both times is a team full of pros -- including, possibly, the No. 1 and No. 2 pick of the 2014 NBA Draft -- who collectively seem unstoppable when they're playing well but are still good enough when they're not. When they're clicking, they're capable of taking a 19-point first-half lead against Oklahoma State or a 14-point second-half lead against Baylor. When they're not, they're still big enough, athletic enough and talented enough to get by, and that's the stuff of which national champions are made because no coach can reasonably expect his team to play well for six straight games in the NCAA tournament. At some point, a team has to be able to win a game when it's off, and Kansas is a team that can do that.
"If we don't play our best," Selden said, "we can still pull out the win."
Saturday proved that.
Monday was a reminder.
Kansas forward Tarik Black expects to be OK after turning his right ankle during the Jayhawks' 78-68 victory over Baylor on Monday.
"When it initially happens, it hurts way worse than when you settle down and things like that," Black said. "That’s what it really was when I was down on the floor for so long because of the pain of it.
"But now, walking on it, see I’m not on crutches. I don’t have a boot and all that type of stuff, so I’ll be fine."
KU coach Bill Self was happy to see that the 6-foot-9 senior transfer hadn't injured himself worse.
"I didn’t know you could hurt him," Self said with a smile, "but he should be fine."
Though Black rolled around on the court for a few seconds while grasping his right shin, he eventually was able to walk off the court gingerly with the help of assistant coaches and trainers.
"Even in the back, I told Cheddar (KU head trainer Billy Cowgill) that I’d still play. That’s why I taped up and came back out, because I told him that if coach needed me, I’d go back out there and I’d play," Black said. "Getting hurt is getting hurt, but it’s just a mental thing. You have to push through it sometimes.
"Luckily, coach didn’t need me. We have other big men. We have other great players, so I could just sit on the sideline and watch us win."
Sometime before the game, whether it was during a family dinner or a brief conversation Monday morning, Mitchell Wiggins shared some advice with his son.
Andrew Wiggins listened.
“I just wanted him to be aggressive,” Mitchell said before Monday’s game.
“Be Andrew and just be in attack mode.”
Even though there were no crowd pleasing dunks or obvious scoring spurts, Wiggins still made an impact in Kansas’ 78-68 win against Baylor. He rebounded, and he got to the free-throw line.
Wiggins was KU’s second leading scorer with 17 points and its leading rebounder with seven. His 10-of-12 free-throw shooting performance was a career high.
So sure, Wiggins didn’t “ohh” or “ahh” the crowd Monday at Allen Fieldhouse, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t aggressive. And even though Wiggins’ heard the message from his father, that doesn’t mean it didn’t take a while for the advice to sink in. Bill Self had to echo Mitchell’s words at halftime.
“(Self) just told me to be aggressive, do what I do best which is attack the rim,” Wiggins said. “Get more rebounds.”
Kansas finished 26-of-29 from the free throw line, pushing it to its fifth straight win. The last four have come against Top 25 teams -- Kansas State, Iowa State, Oklahoma State and Baylor -- making the Jayhawks the first to accomplish that feat since North Carolina in 1997.
"Might as well get used to playing good teams all the time," Wiggins said.
Brady Heslip hit six 3-pointers and scored 19 points for the Bears (13-5, 1-4), who have lost three straight and four of five. Cory Jefferson and Isaiah Austin added 16 points apiece.
"We knew that turnovers and getting them out of transition, we knew how effective they are in transition," Baylor coach Scott Drew said. "You can't have 16 turnovers and win games on the road, in places like this. Got to get better in this area."
The teams combined for 16 turnovers in a disjointed first half that included 12 lead changes but virtually no rhythm. The Jayhawks managed to squeeze out a two-point halftime lead, but they had to shoot 60 percent from the field to do it.
That's because Baylor was scorching from beyond the arc.
Heslip hit all four of his 3-point tries and the 7-foot Austin added two -- he was 0-for-4 from inside the arc. Along with the two 3-pointers that Jefferson hit, the Bears knocked down 8 of 10 beyond the perimeter in the first half. They were 4-of-18 everywhere else.
The game remained close until Ellis scored inside with 12:48 remaining to start the Jayhawks on their game-defining run, and then came the two biggest highlights of the game.
First, the steal and breakaway basket by Ellis: "They did it a couple plays before," he said. "I just tried to hurry out there as best as I could and get the deflection."
Then the hustle play by Selden: "Just the eyes in the back of my head," he said.
Everybody else's eyes had quickly turned to Embiid -- including the officials -- as the 7-foot freshman converted the basket.
Mitch Richmond's reaction after Joel Embiid's alley-oop
Embiid is drawing the kind of raves once reserved for Anthony Davis, Greg Oden, Shaquille O’Neal and Hakeem Olajuwon – the can’t-miss-big-man kind of raves. Of course, Oden did miss (injuries), and Davis is not yet a transformative player, and the sample-size people are basing the grandiose Embiid projections on all of 18 collegiate games. But the lithe athleticism, deft footwork, great hands, soft touch, sharp timing and sheer size are intoxicating ingredients.
…The onrushing development of Embiid and the immediate readiness of Ennis have helped make 14-4 Kansas the No. 1 team in the RPI and 18-0 Syracuse the No. 2 team in the human polls. Both teams figured to be good; but because of their (slightly) underrated freshman, both teams are national championship contenders.
If Joel Embiid is the No. 1 pick in June's NBA draft, this past week might be the stretch that cemented his selection. After showing flashes of his ridiculous ceiling and dominating on occasion, Embiid really put it together against Iowa State and Oklahoma State last week. Coming on the heels of Wayne Selden winning the Wayman Tisdale National Freshman of the Week award, Embiid makes it two in a row.
CBS National Player of the Week: Joel Embiid
SI: Meet the new face of the 2014 draft
"One day I was talking to [Kansas head coach Bill Self] and I was like, 'Yeah, I don't even know how to drive yet.' Eating healthy. I don't know how to do that yet," Embiid said. "I don't know if I feel like I'm ready for all of this."
Now before Kansas fans start hyperventilating about the thought of Embiid and Cliff Alexander (ranked No. 3 on the ESPN100 list of recruits) on the same roster, Embiid didn't say he was coming back.
He just said he wasn't sure he was ready. Yet it's that bit of self-awareness that truly makes Embiid special and any prediction for his future a little more difficult. This isn't a kid raised on the dream of the NBA, who spent his childhood thinking about posterizing Kobe or trading high-fives with LeBron. He didn't travel the summer-league circuit since infancy, waiting to get noticed. Until a fateful intervention, the only pro career he could envision was "maybe Europe for volleyball."
And now that the gilded path is unfolding underneath his size 17s, he'll approach it as he does everything -- deliberately and carefully.
Embiid has been researching big men lately. Not the way he used to, back when he was trying to learn the game and used tapes of Hakeem Olajuwon as video tutorials. No, he's been looking at the game's best and surveying their college tenures:
Olajuwon, three years; Tim Duncan, four; Shaquille O'Neal, two.
"I was curious because I want to be great, I want to be the best at my position one day," he said. "I'm trying to learn everything and what other people did. All of the great big men went to college at least two or three years. I think it's a big factor. I don't know if it will always work, but I think it's the best choice."
Embiid's cerebral approach to his future doesn't surprise his college coach one bit. Self says without hesitation or hyperbole that Embiid and Wiggins are easily the best two players he's coached at Kansas, but he's never met anyone quite like Embiid.
Part of it is his upbringing and his unlikely road to America, to college basketball, to Kansas and, perhaps, to NBA stardom.
You can’t walk into Allen Fieldhouse without being a little blown away that an arena like this even exists anymore. The windows at the top of the gym make you feel like you’re in the 1970s. The wooden bleachers make you feel like it’s the 1950s. Then you look up, and the championship banners go back to the 1920s.
I was walking around Pauley Pavilion at UCLA a few weeks ago, and it was great — the food trucks lining the outdoor concourse were particularly awesome — but it wasn’t 100 years of basketball history crammed into one sturdy old basketball church of a building.
I’d wanted to go to Kansas to see a game for a while now. It’s been on my bucket list since college, and maybe even high school. Too many people have raved about the entire experience — the fans, the stadium, the town of Lawrence — for me to not make it there. Saturday it finally happened for a game between no. 15 KU and no. 9 Oklahoma State.
The gym was half-full with students 90 minutes before tipoff, and the crowd was buzzing. Or booing, technically. After quick bursts of cheers for Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid when they came out for warm-ups, there were much louder boos for Marcus Smart when he emerged from the tunnel.
College hoops is so much more fun in person. When you’re surrounded by college kids with painted chests harassing someone like Smart at the top of their lungs — while Smart bobs up and down loving every second of it — it’s impossible not to love this sport.
…After about an hour of players warming up and the stadium slowly filling to capacity, it was time for the pregame rituals. A chorus of the alma mater had the student section locking arms and swaying as they all sang. That gave way to the whole stadium chanting “Rooooooooock Chaaaaaaaalk Jayyyyyyyhaaaaaaawk, K-UUUUUUUUUUU” in a way that would make any outsider think they’d stumbled into some sort of sacred religious gathering. Which isn’t really wrong. (Click here to listen.)
Next, Paul Pierce was on the Jumbotron welcoming us to “Witness the nation’s biggest home-court advantage” and warning us to “Beware of the Phog,” kicking off a highlight video that spanned at least six decades of Kansas basketball being awesome. From Clyde Lovellette to Wilt to Danny Manning to Mario Chalmers. (“Mario’s Miracle” got the loudest cheer of any highlight, by far. Kansas is the one place on earth where Mario Chalmers is every bit as big a name as LeBron James.)
Then it was time for 16,000 people to lose their mind. The PA blared some sort of techno anthem, the Jumbotron panned the crowd displaying a decibel meter that eventually hit 115, and the whole building vibrated for a solid two minutes before tipoff. When the game got started and the stadium finally calmed down for a minute, the 12-year-old sitting next to me said, “Holy COW, that was loud.”
He turned to his mom behind him: “I think my ears are bleeding.”
Swaying student sections. Creepy religious chants. Minds being lost. Ears bleeding. That’s how you start a basketball game. This is why I’d always wanted to come to Kansas.
…Really, nobody in the country has a deeper connection to basketball’s black-and-white past than Kansas does. The first team at KU was literally organized by James Naismith in 1898, for God’s sake. He gave way to Phog Allen, who would go on to coach Dean Smith and Adolph Rupp, who started dynasties of their own at Kentucky and UNC. The college game grew so quickly it became an Olympic sport in the 1930s. Then there were professional leagues, then the NBA, and then both the NBA and NCAA spent the next 50 years slowly taking over America. You can trace it all back to Kansas.
If Allen Fieldhouse on Naismith Drive in Lawrence, Kansas, feels like it’s sacred ground, it really kind of is.
Grantland Andrew Sharp
Aaron Rodgers sat just behind the Kansas bench on Saturday. The Green Bay Packer quarterback said he long had a trip to Allen Fieldhouse on his bucket list.
“I’ve been able to go to Fenway Park in baseball, I play at probably the most famous stadium (Lambeau Field) in the (NFL), and I thought it’d be fun to go to an arena like this that has so much history, a great coach and great support,” Rodgers said.
The truth is, Phog Allen Fieldhouse should be on the bucket list of every sports fan.
I made it back to the Phog on Saturday for the first time in nine years. Hadn’t been since that great 2005 OSU-Kansas game, won by the Jayhawks, and I saw another classic this time, KU’s 80-78 survival of the Cowboys, who stormed back from a 19-point deficit.
My first trip to Allen Fieldhouse came in 1992, and after my trip there for the 1993 OSU-Kansas game, I wrote a tribute column, which you can read here. Allen Fieldhouse was 38 years old in 1993; now it’s 59 years old and better than ever.
Newsok videographer Damon Fontenot, one of my frequent travel partners, had never seen a game at Allen Fieldhouse. So I hit him up with a proposal: drive to Lawrence on Saturday morning, catch the game, do a little work in the press room and hit the road home, with one of us driving and the other working. Makes for an incredibly long day but completely worth it.
…Allen Fieldhouse is a 16,300-seat coliseum with all bleacher seats. It’s got the old fieldhouse feel, complete with windows at the top on each end, which makes for a great setting on day games. It’s got the court named after James Naismith, who invented the game in 1891 and brought it to KU in 1898. It’s got the great sign, “Pay Heed, All Who Enter: Beware of the Phog.” It’s got the jerseys of Kansas greats hanging from the rafters. Names like Chamberlain and Lovellette and (JoJo) White and Valentine and Manning and Pierce and Hinrich and Collison.
The exterior of Allen Fieldhouse looks the same as always, but the bowels have been modernized. The KU athletics museum on the east side is much more extensive, though at a cost of some color. Doesn’t seem quite as quaint. But the old midcourt circle remains, the original wood with the K in a circle. When Roy Williams became KU’s coach 25 years ago, he had an outline of the state of Kansas, with a star where Lawrence is located, placed at Allen Fieldhouse’s midcourt. When Bill Self became coach 10 years ago, he replaced the map with the big Jayhawk bird you see now. But I’d love to see Allen Fieldhouse go back to that big K.
A Kansas basketball game is where you run into all kinds of dignitaries. In the press room, I chatted with Philadelphia 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie, the pride of Marlow, who introduced me to Utah Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey. And in the press room before the game was the legendary Max Falkenstien, who retired in 2006 after 60 years as the radio voice of KU basketball.
I chatted with Bob Davis, who was Falkenstien’s radio partner for 22 years and has been calling the Jayhawks for 30 years, if he still gets a thrill every time he walks into the arena. “Every time,” Davis said.
But the real source of Allen Fieldhouse’s magic is the passion of the fans. Just driving around campus 2-3 hours before the game, you get the sense of a gameday. Like we experience with football in Norman and Stillwater and like most of America experiences. But in a few enclaves, basketball reigns supreme. Lawrence, Bloomington, Lexington, Durham, Chapel Hill. That’s about it.
I don’t know how else to describe it, but Damon felt it, too. Just the understanding that basketball matters. From the Rock Chalk Jayhawk chant to the ensemble of long trumpets that played the KU alma mater pregame and stayed to play the national anthem to the pregame video showing great moments in KU basketball history, you quickly remember that in Lawrence, basketball is more than a game. It’s in the culture. In Norman and Stillwater, basketball is a game and football is a way of life. It’s the opposite at KU, which has a living, breathing monument of a building that celebrates the sport.
The Oklahoman Berry Trammel
Fan Story: A son, a son and The Cathedral
The #Nets officially announced the trade of @tyshawntaylor to the Pelicans for the draft rights to Edin Bavcic. Good luck, Ty.
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“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!