KU AD Video/Transcripts: Coach Self & players talk Senior Night Contest with Longhorns
KU AD: Texas pregame notes
Tyshawn joins Darnell Valentine & Kirk Hinrich as the only 3 'Hawks in #kubball history with at least 1,400 points, 500 assists & 150 steals
Self is not pleased Taylor was left off the final list of Naismith Award candidates.
“Oh yeah, that’s a snub. No question. If Tyshawn Taylor is not one of the best 15 players in the country, that’s unbelievable to me,” Self said.
Taylor said: “It’s kind of wack, but it is what it is. My numbers don’t really lie, so I guess they could look at that. It’s cool, though. Thomas (Robinson) is about to get Player of the Year and coach Self will get Coach of the Year, so we’re good over here. We’re winning.”
Tyshawn Taylor has already helped No. 3 Kansas wrap up its eighth straight Big 12 title.
The senior guard has been a part of 120 victories during his time in Lawrence, moving up the school record lists in a number of statistical categories. He's experienced the highest of highs and some faith-rattling lows, all the while becoming one of the Jayhawks' favorite sons.
When he steps onto the court for senior night at Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday, he understands there will be a flood of emotions. But he also knows his focus will be squarely on Texas.
That's because the Jayhawks are still chasing a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
…"He's meant a lot to me personally," Self said Thursday. "I thought about that this morning, to be honest with you. I don't get emotional about certain things, but I see myself getting emotional about him, with some of the obstacles he's overcome."
The full extent of those obstacles may never be known. Taylor has rarely addressed them in any detail, and Self guards the personal lives of his players like Fort Knox.
"He's got a side a lot of people don't know about," Self said. "He hasn't had it easy by any stretch. He's overcome a lot ... (and) he's been a part of something bigger than himself."
…"The four years, the system, the way it's set up, has benefited Ty the way it was intended to benefit him," Self said. "You get better every year, your stock has elevated every year, you have a bigger role every year, and when you leave here you're prepared."
…Connor Teahan is the lone player who also was part of the 2008 title team — he made the rare decision to redshirt after his junior season, when it became clear minutes would be at a premium.
It wound up being a sound decision, too.
…Jordan Juenemann will also be honored after a four-year career in which he went from walk-on to fan favorite. He's only scored 41 points in his entire career, and has played in just 12 games this season, but the student section routinely chants his name late in games.
They understand how much it takes to play basketball at Kansas.
If senior guard Tyshawn Taylor had a choice, he’d skip his speech on senior night and just tweet it.
“Public speaking isn’t my best thing,” Taylor said. “I’d definitely rather do it over social media or something.”
If only life was so easy, Tyshawn.
He’ll have a couple of aunts in town from New Jersey and Florida, along with cousins and homeboys, as he calls them, from back from home. Oh, there’s also an entire nation of Kansas basketball fans that will tune in for his last hurrah. No, Tyshawn, after all you’ve been through, a tweet just won’t do.
“Now that I look back on it, it’s like ‘dang, it went fast,’” Taylor said. “But it sure was a long process.”
Taylor and fellow senior guards Conner Teahan and Jordan Juenemann will be honored Saturday night at Allen Fieldhouse after No. 3 Kansas (25-5, 15-2) takes on the Texas Longhorns.
With much of the attention on the seniors and the looming postseason, coach Bill Self knows to not forget about the Longhorns, a team that nearly upset the Jayhawks earlier this season but lost by three points.
“They could easily come in here and rock our world,” Self said.
On Jan. 21 at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas, guard J’Covan Brown shot just 26.9 percent from the field, but he still scored 24 points. Self said that Brown’s points are inevitable. The key is to limit his open shots and transition opportunities.
In Monday’s 70-58 victory at Oklahoma State, when Kansas claimed its eighth consecutive Big 12 conference title, guard Keiton Page scored 12 points by halftime, but the Cowboys had just 22 points and trailed by eight.
“I’ve never been one to say: ‘Let’s stop him,’” Self said. “I’d rather stop them.”
Taylor said he will try to fight the emotions of the night and just play his game. Still, Saturday night will be a special time for him.
In his first three years at Kansas, fans maligned Taylor for his tiff with the football team and his suspensions, controversial tweets and turnovers. Now as a senior who has elevated his game and matured into leader, Taylor knows that he has grown.
“I feel like it’s a big difference between the freshman Tyshawn and the senior Tyshawn,” Taylor said. “I’m glad to see the change I made.”
CBS POY tracker: TRob maintains at #1
“Thomas, you can make a good case for,” Self said, “but if I was being totally objective, I think you could make a good case for Anthony as well.”
What tips the debate in Robinson’s favor, to Self, is how opponents must prepare for both players.
“When you scout Kansas, you’re going to say, ‘We have to keep Robinson out of certain areas, we’re going to double him when he catches the ball, and we’re going to send two guys to block him out.’
“You can’t do that with Kentucky because they’re balanced. … This is a compliment to their whole team, it’s hard when you have (Michael) Kidd-Gilchrist, (Doron) Lamb and all those dudes who can get 20, 25 a night.”
But Kentucky coach John Calipari counters that if the Wildcats made Davis the focal point of their offense, he would produce greater numbers.
“At the end of the day, he’s going to wind up taking 200 less shots than all those guys they’re considering,” Calipari said. “Yet he probably has had as big an impact. That’s not taking anything away from anybody else.
“But he’s had a special year. What he’s done defensively for us, what he’s done offensively for us. And he’s done in a way that’s not selfish in any way.”
There is a head-to-head comparison, but Kentucky’s 75-65 victory over the Jayhawks at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 15 produced a statistical standoff.
Davis had 14 points, six rebounds and seven blocks. Robinson had 11 points, 12 rebounds and one block.
Team success? The Wildcats, 28-1 entering Thursday’s game against Georgia, are ranked first nationally and steaming toward the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Third-ranked Kansas is 25-5 and is in the running for a No. 1 seed.
...With many organizations honoring a national player of the year, it’s possible for both players to collect individual hardware. The longest continuous player of the year award is presented by the United States Basketball Writers of America and is named for Oscar Robertson.
The John Wooden Award, Naismith Award and Adolph Rupp Trophy go to top players, as do trophies presented by The Associated Press and National Association of Basketball Coaches.
Many major sports websites also choose a national player of the year, and the awards aren’t always in agreement.
Last year, Brigham Young’s Jimmer Fredette swept the major awards. In 2003, three players — Texas’ T.J. Ford, Xavier’s David West and Kansas’ Nick Collison — collected one or two each.
…The Wildcats and Jayhawks, ranked first and second in college basketball all-time victories and who have 10 NCAA championships between them, haven’t come up big in player of the year awards.
Since 1959, the only major trophies for Kansas went to Danny Manning, who shared his haul with Bradley’s Hersey Hawkins in 1988, and Drew Gooden and Nick Collison, who won the NABC awards in 2002 and 2003.
Even Wilt Chamberlain got shut out. The only major award given in 1957 and 1958 was presented by the United Press International news service. UPI chose Columbia guard Chet Forte in 1957 and Oscar Robertson won it the next year.
Kentucky’s drought is even more pronounced. When guard John Wall won the Rupp Trophy two years ago, it marked the first major individual award for a Kentucky player. Stars such as Jamal Mashburn were never honored as the game’s top player.
But this year it appears a Kentucky or Kansas player — or both — will gain that distinction.
The National Player of the Year race is looking like a dead heat between Kansas' Thomas Robinson and Kentucky's Anthony Davis. The Ken Pomeroy's formula has Robinson No. 1. Michael Rothstein's media straw poll is essentially a tie, with Davis No. 1 by a hair (or a brow?). John Hollinger's PER has Davis No. 1. Cracked Sidewalks' Value Add formula has Davis No. 1. I've been in the Robinson camp -- I voted him No. 1 in Rothstein's latest poll -- but I haven't fully made up my mind. My thinking this far is that Robinson is co-carrying an offense, while Davis is a role player; that Robinson, while not nearly the defensive star Davis is, happens to be the nation's No. 1 defensive rebounder on a team with a more efficient defense than UK's; and that Kansas, without Robinson, would be much worse off than UK would be without Davis. Like I said, though, I'm still wavering. Davis is a unique talent, is the centerpiece of the nation's No. 1 team, and voting him POY would be a rare declaration of the importance of defense. For years we've been giving these POYs to mostly offensive stars, and Davis would be a welcome change.
SI Luke Winn
Conner Teahan got in the car with his dad, Mark, for the drive home to Kansas City from Lawrence.
In Bill Self’s office moments before, they had just discussed Teahan’s future with Self and assistant Tim Jankovich. The KU coaches told Teahan, the two-time Missouri high school player of the year, if he wanted to go KU, they could make him a preferred walk-on. That is the best they could do.
With interest from Kansas State, Ole Miss and Indiana State, and with heavy interest from up-and-coming Wichita State, Teahan had a difficult decision in front of him.
“What are you thinking?” Mark asked his son in the car.
Long before, Mark Teahan faced a similar circumstance. A tall and lanky senior, Mark received mild interest from Ted Owens, KU’s coach at the time. But Owens wanted Mark to get bigger and better at Dodge City Community College, then come to KU.
Mark, too, wanted to play at Kansas, but he settled on a full scholarship at smaller Rockhurst. He didn’t regret his decision, but he also never forgot it.
“I still had that question in the back of my head,” he says now, “ ‘What if I would have taken that other path?’ ”
The message stuck with his son. Conner Teahan, now on scholarship entering his Senior Night on Saturday, is the sixth man on a top-five team. He is KU’s 3-point specialist, averaging 21 minutes and 6.4 points despite an extended shooting slump.
His moment, though, came in KU’s biggest game of the regular season against Missouri. With Elijah Johnson saddled with foul trouble, Teahan slid into the lineup and played a career-high 37 minutes. He made all four of his 3-pointers. He scored 12 points, his most in almost two months.
“Who would have ever thought that would be what we needed to do to win?” Self said.
...But dreaming of playing at Kansas and actually playing at Kansas can be two different experiences.
No player understands the plight of the fan better than Teahan, because not long ago, he was one. He watched most KU games in his friend’s basement growing up. When the Jayhawks lost, they both cried. During Kansas’ loss in the 2003 national championship, he spent the game yelling at the TV.
So when he explains what it is like to hear Kansas fans say he isn’t athletic enough to play at KU or that he shouldn’t get so many minutes, he gets it.
“I really think they mean well,” he said. “They’re just so die-hard about this, and why not? There are just some people that just want us to do well so, so bad.”
Teahan was starting QB at traditional-power Rockhurst, where he helped the Hawks to a state runner-up finish his junior year.
“I did kind of feel, ‘Maybe this basketball thing ... I might never play,’” Teahan said. “At the same time I felt comfortable with my football skills. I thought I could possibly get high up on the depth chart.”
He completed one of two passes in KU’s spring game, but failed to emerge as one of the top QBs on Turner Gill’s depth chart.
Thus he returned to basketball workouts — with a new spirit.
“It’s the best thing that ever happened to me,” he said of the KU football experience, “just because I started to work harder. I always worked hard, but every day I saw improvement on the (football) field because I hadn’t played in so long. I loved it.
“I told myself, ‘You’ve worked harder than you’ve ever worked, just keep it going with basketball.’ Over that time period I realized life was passing by. I wasn’t going to have opportunities like I had with basketball ever again, and I had to make the most of it.”
So Teahan red-shirted during the 2010-11 hoops season in advance of this breakout year.
“That was easy for him: Do you want to play or not play?” KU coach Bill Self said of the red-shirt decision. “I told him, ‘If you are going to be in our top rotation then you should play.’ When you look at some of the cats that we had I don’t think that was a hard decision at all.”
Self has been thrilled with the progress of Teahan — somebody he placed on scholarship two years ago, helping Conner shed the walk-on label once and for all.
“He has been great for us. He is a threat and you have to guard him,” Self said of the sharpshooter who is 6-for-6 from three in two games versus Missouri this season.
“I had a recruit tell me the other day when we played Missouri, he said ‘Coach, go back and look at the tape, and every time that Thomas Robinson got good touches on a certain block, Teahan was always on his side.’ It is pretty smart for a recruit to figure that out because they (defenders) can’t help off of it. So when you look at value, the value isn’t just Conner making shots, it’s the value of him being on the court. I think he carries great value.”
A Fort Hays State University scholarship offer didn’t tempt hometown hero Jordan Juenemann, nor did overtures from various other NCAA Div. II teams and junior colleges in Kansas.
The 6-foot-3 guard, who averaged 17.3 points and 6.0 rebounds a game his senior year at Hays High, was determined to play major-college basketball at Kansas University and arrived in Lawrence in August of 2008 focused on making his dream a reality.
“My parents dropped me off the day before school started. I was not prepared for college at all. I took 12 hours so I could focus and train for walk-on tryouts,” Juenemann said.
“I’d play pickup with KU players and try to get in and watch practices. I woke up early morning for Boot Camp (in late September). I wasn’t able to do it, but I watched it to learn some things about how I could get in shape. Wayne (Simien, former KU All-American) worked out with me, all leading up to the tryouts.”
Tryouts, held a few days after the mid-October Late Night in the Phog, were not a mere formality for Juenemann, a first-team all-league and third-team all-Class 5A selection.
“We didn’t know him. We didn’t guarantee him anything,” KU coach Bill Self said. “He worked so hard, he made the team. After he made it, he kept working to contribute to the team.”
Four years later, Juenemann enters KU’s Senior Day contest against Texas (8 p.m. Saturday, Allen Fieldhouse) with a batch of achievements that include a college degree in exercise science (minor in business), All-Big 12 academic mention and four Big 12 Conference championship rings.
Nothing tops the excitement he felt the day after walk-on tryouts.
“Coach Self called me in the office and said, ‘We’ll try you out to be a practice player,’” Juenemann recalled. “After the first practice, he said, ‘Good job, Jordan. We threw you right in the fire.’ Next thing I knew, I had a jersey and was able to play in the first exhibition game. From then on out, I tried to earn the respect of teammates and coaches at practice, try to be a guy who is seen, not heard, and do what they asked.”
We’re in somewhat of basketball limbo here in Lawrence. Kansas claimed its regular season Big 12 Conference title outright Monday after beating Oklahoma State 70-58.
After reviewing the jump-around celebration Bill Self and the players had after the game, the Jayhawks seemed fairly pleased with their eight consecutive titles.
Nevertheless, this means Senior Night will have a little less significance than in year’s past. I’m not being a downer, but you could feel the somber mood throughout Allen Fieldhouse this week.
Camping at the Fieldhouse hasn’t consisted of students being shoved into the hallway like sardines in a can; Twitter isn’t going into a complete frenzy like last week when Missouri and Kansas fans bantered. Like many times the past few years, it feels like Kansas fans are in a state of contentment.
It’s a rare occurrence for any team to have nothing to play for in its last regular season game.
But there is still plenty on the line for the Jayhawks.
For one, Kansas is playing Texas.
…Finally, and most importantly, you want to send the seniors out on the right note. I mean, it’s almost a given every year that Kansas will win this game. Kansas hasn’t lost a Senior Night contest since the Ronald Reagan administration.
These three seniors have seen their roles change throughout their run as Jayhawks, but through all the up and downs they havefour Big 12 Championship rings on their fingers.
Conner Teahan, Jordan Juenemann, and especially Tyshawn Taylor all deserve to be shedding tears of joy while they address the crowd at the Fieldhouse on Saturday.
I know it won’t be as loud as the Missouri game. Hell, that old barn might never be rocking like that again, but Senior Night is a special tradition for this program, and should be topped off with a victory.
An upset of the conference champion Jayhawks on Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse would be exactly that. Texas sits firmly on the NCAA tournament bubble, but that hasn’t discouraged the Longhorns.
“There’s no pressure,” said point guard Myck Kabongo. “We just have to go out there and ball and do what we do best.”
The last time Texas made a trip to KU on Jan. 22, 2011, the Longhorns beat the Jayhawks 74-63 to end Kansas’ school record 69-game win streak at home. KU hasn’t lost a game at Allen Fieldhouse since then and are 15-0 at home this season.
J’Covan Brown scored 23 points in 29 minutes of the bench in that game to lead Texas. The Longhorns are a completely different team this year, however, with Brown and senior forwards Clint Chapman and Alexis Wangmene being the only holdovers.
Still, Brown is confident the six Texas freshmen will be able to handle one of college basketball’s most raucous crowds.
“We’re going to walk in there together, we’re going to have swag and we’re going to fight and show the world that we can be right there,” said Brown, who leads the Big 12 in scoring.
Jim Cornelison, who performs a stirring rendition of the National Anthem at Chicago Blackhawks home games, will sing the anthem Saturday night at Allen Fieldhouse. KU officials have requested the students continue singing the correct words, “Home of the Brave” instead of “Home of the Chiefs” at the end of the anthem in respect for the song as well as Cornelison.
Fans headed to Allen Fieldhouse from Johnson County for Saturday night’s Kansas-Texas game may have to fight through some significant traffic delays on Interstate 435 as crews will demolish bridges over Quivira Road.
The Jayhawks’ final game of the regular season tips off at 8 p.m. Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse.
According to information from the Kansas Department of Transportation, the left lane of eastbound and westbound I-435 will be closed at Quivira starting at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.
More significant closures will begin at 7 p.m.
Then, crews will close four left lanes of eastbound I-435 before Interstate 35 and three left lanes of westbound I-435 at the ramp to U.S. Highway 69.
At the same time, the ramps from I-35 to I-435 eastbound will close, along with the ramps from U.S. 69 to I-435 westbound.
At 8 p.m. on Saturday, all lanes of eastbound I-435 will be closed starting at I-35, and westbound I-435 will be closed starting at the ramp to northbound U.S. 69.
The lane and ramp closures are expected to reopen by 2 p.m. Sunday.
Detours will be provided, but KDOT officials say they expect major delays in the area.
Haith inherits a veteran team that underachieved last season and incorporates much-needed structure while accounting for a preseason injury that sidelines a key contributor, senior forward Laurence Bowers.
Self returns an inexperienced team with one player, senior point guard Tyshawn Taylor, who has more career minutes than the remainder of the returnees combined after the Jayhawks lost three underclassmen in the NBA Draft.
Both did a fabulous job. Both will be considered for national coach of the year.
The choice? Self. Bottom line: His team found a way to capture an eighth straight Big 12 championship.
The Jayhawks repeated again after the league chase was supposedly made more difficult with a round-robin schedule.
That was going to be the great equalizer for teams previously aligned in the South Division. No longer did North teams get to feast on the likes of Colorado and Nebraska.
So what happens? The upcoming play-in round Wednesday at the Big 12 Tournament is essentially the South Invitational.
Even now, however, all the logic can be twisted and people can argue KU caught another scheduling break at just the right time.
“Leagues are so cyclical,’’ Self said. “When we won it before it was the North isn’t as good as the South, at least for the naysayers. Maybe we have benefited from having an 18-game schedule, because the North was so good.
“Four out of your top five finishers (this season) are from the North. Who knows? Over time you add them all up and this is your record and some years you get breaks, some years you don’t. I feel like we have gotten some breaks this year, no question, but we have also only had two wins under five points, the Texas win and the Missouri win,’’
That’s a pretty healthy run for a Kansas team that Self made whole.
Here’s a retrospective of Self's Kansas conference title teams, with with a rear-view mirror call on whether they were actually the best team in the Big 12 that season. (Not all were, and that speaks volumes about Self's ability to maximize talent).
2004-05 (12-4 Big 12 record, tied with Oklahoma) The senior seasons for the top players inherited from Roy Williams’ staff: Wayne Simien, Keith Langford and Aaron Miles. They also were part of 2002 and 2003 Big 12 title teams. Jayhawks were preseason No. 1, stayed there for the first week and never returned.
In retrospect, the best team in Big 12: It wasn’t KU or OU, which tied for first. The Sooners beat KU during the regular season. The best team was third-place Oklahoma State, which finished with the best overall record (26-7).
2005-06 (13-3, tied with Texas) An entirely new lineup with three freshmen _ Brandon Rush, Mario Chalmers and Julian Wright _ among the top four scorers. KU started 1-2 and 3-4, the only time a Self KU team stood under .500, but rode a 10-game league winning streak to tie Texas for the championship. The Longhorns beat KU by 25 in Austin, Kansas beat Texas by 12 in Big 12 title game at Dallas.
Best team in Big 12: Texas, led by LaMarcus Aldridge, Daniel Gibson and P.J. Tucker.
2006-07 (14-2) Darrell Arthur and Sherron Collins are added to the rotation and this becomes Self’s first 30-victory team and No. 1 seed. The Jayhawks beat top-ranked Florida, the Joakim Noah and Co. team coming off the national title and about to win another.
Best team in Big 12: Even with Kevin Durant at Texas, KU was the top team. The Jayhawks beat Durant’s Longhorns twice, through no fault of the superstar, who scored 32 against KU in Lawrence and 37 in the Big 12 title game.
2007-08 (13-3 tied with Texas) It all came together for the magical postseason run. The rotation included five NBA draft selections, plus future lottery pick Cole Aldrich and star in Collins. Although other Kansas teams had better league records, this was Bill Self’s best team. Duh.
Best team in Big 12: KU over a strong Texas team. The Jayhawks lost in Austin and beat the Longhorns in the Big 12 tile game.
2008-09 (14-2) How did they do it? Self gained national coach of the year honors for leading this bunch to title. The Jayhawks entered league play with four losses and spent two months out of the polls. But with the help of freshmen Tyshawn Taylor and Marcus Morris, KU flew past Oklahoma late in the season to claim the title.
Best team in Big 12: Oklahoma _ when Blake Griffith was healthy. He missed the KU game late in the season with a concussion.
2009-10 (15-1) The most dominant regular-season team of the Self tenure. KU entered the season No. 1, spent a total of 15 weeks there and posted the best league record since the 2002 Jayhawks went undefeated. But in the final seasons for Collins and Aldrich, it all came crashing down in a second-round loss to Northern Iowa.
Best team in Big 12: Kansas over Kansas State and Baylor.
2010-11 (14-2) Self’s most veteran team. KU started two seniors and three juniors, including the Morris twins, with reserve sophomore Thomas Robinson coming into his own. But another postseason crash, this one to VCU in the regional final, left an empty feeling after another monster year _ 35 victories and a No. 1 seed for the fourth time in five years.
Best team in Big 12: Kansas over Texas
2011-12 (15-2 currently) The 2008-09 team introduced five new starters, this one four. But this team had less overall experience returning, which is why Self is gaining national coach-of-the-year steam. It’s the most depth-shy of Self’s teams, but in Robinson, will have one of the most decorated. Taylor’s improvement has been a huge factor.
Best team in Big 12: Kansas over Missouri, by virtue of the teams' fortunes against Kansas State.
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VOTE for the Kansas Jayhawks student section (Voting ended, winner TBA Today)
Coaches vs Cancer: Help Coach Self raise $ for ACA with his 3-point Attack
Aishah Sutherland said she doesn’t even remember her first run through the Kansas tunnel. Her first vivid memory as a Jayhawk was the WNIT Championship game on April 4, 2009, she said.
Sutherland, a senior forward, ran through that same tunnel for the last regular season game of her Kansas career Wednesday night. She led Kansas with 23 points and added 10 rebounds in a 66-63 loss to Oklahoma State with her parents looking on from the stands.
After the game, she was honored as the team’s lone senior. The announcer talked about her career achievements, including her 1,000 point and 500 rebound milestones earlier in the season. She currently has 1,160 points and 877 rebounds at Kansas.
Sutherland walked in on a path of red and blue carnations and was presented with a framed jersey. She met each teammate and coach with a hug and a smile before they all trailed back to the locker room.
“Sometimes you just can’t believe it,” Sutherland said. “It is like a routine that you keep playing. You are here all the time and you don’t know anything but it, and now it’s about to be over.”
This Kansas team is no stranger to a late-game heartbreak. Six of Kansas’ 11 losses have been decided by six points or fewer and another game was added to the pile on Wednesday night.
Coach Bonnie Henrickson realizes the trend, but is not making excuses.
“We talk about being in a one-possession league all year and we make too many mistakes in things that we can control,” Henrickson said.
The Jayhawks built up a nine-point lead in the second half, but gave up a 12-0 run and lost the game 66-63 to Oklahoma State with a turnover in the final minute.
Kansas has dropped five of its last six games and fallen to 18-11 overall and 7-10 in conference play.
“We dug ourselves a hole now,” junior guard Angel Goodrich said. “We have to win this next game.”
Kansas will have one more chance to pull out a regular season victory when they face Oklahoma at 2 p.m. on Sunday.
The last game with Oklahoma was one of the two possession losses. The Jayhawks had the lead throughout most of the game, but allowed the Sooners to force overtime. Oklahoma outscored Kansas 10-4 in the final segment and won the game.
NBA.com series on Wilt's 100 point game, more (Videos, pics, stories)
Fifty years ago today, Joe Ruklick sat comfortably courtside in warmups, watching his friend Wilt Chamberlain play the greatest game in the greatest season ever produced by a basketball player.
What happened next startled Ruklick.
“I am cold as ice and I see our coach, Frank McGuire, peek out from the huddle and wave me to the scorer’s table,” Ruklick said by phone. “I’m thinking, ‘What the hell am I going to do but kick the ball out of bounds at a bad moment?’ I take the warmup off and go into the game.”
As it turned out, Ruklick, 73, cemented a spot in sports history by getting the assist on Chamberlain’s 99th and 100th points in the Philadelphia Warriors’ 169-147 victory over the New York Knickerbockers. Years later, Chamberlain solved the mystery of why McGuire called Ruklick’s number.
“Wilt told me, ‘I told Frank to put you into the game,’ ” Ruklick said.
“We had some guys on the team who weren’t eager to see Wilt score a hundred,” Ruklick said. “Wilt knew I wouldn’t take a shot, or miss him if he were open. Our friendship was a good one.”
And why weren’t all the players eager to see Chamberlain reach the milestone? Because he was black?
“Because he was black,” Ruklick echoed. “It was terrible the way black players were treated in the NBA then. It started getting better by 1963, 1964.”
The thick-skinned Chamberlain, Ruklick said, handled the slights well.
The two men first met on the Kansas University campus, when the opposing centers were brought together for a photograph the day before Wilt’s varsity debut as a sophomore against Northwestern in Allen Fieldhouse.
“I looked at him and I said, ‘Wilt, I want to apologize to you,’ ” Ruklick remembered. “The reason I said that to him was because in the summer of 1955, at the old North-South high school basketball game in Murray, Ky., I was picked as prep All-American center and Wilt wasn’t there. He wasn’t invited. No black guys. I told him, ‘I stood there with four other guys and stood in your place, Wilt.’”
Chamberlain’s response — “Don’t even think about it, man. You earned it.” — made a first impression on Ruklick that he never second-guessed.
“From that point on, I realized Wilt Chamberlain was made of great stuff,” Ruklick said. “He was strong in many ways.”
The day after that meeting, Chamberlain made his debut in a way that to this day echoes in Allen Fieldhouse.
“What he did to me in Lawrence, I still need psychiatric help with it,” Ruklick said. “I held him to 52 points.”
It remains a KU single-game scoring record.
An hour-long documentary focusing on one of the great sports accomplishments: Wilt Chamberlain scoring 100 points in a single game (which took place on March 2nd, 1962).
NBA TV 7pm, 2am (ET)
Philadelphia Daily News Wilt Week
NOT COUNTING the sportsbook at Caesars Palace, the greatest place in the world is the Daily News/Inquirer library. There are newspaper clippings and pictures dating back to the 1920s that makes you feel like you're jumping into the deep end of a time-machine swimming pool.
Complete Retrospective (Articles, photos, more)
100 Facts about Wilt's 100-point game
USA Today Remembering 100-point Miracle (Article, audio)
USA Today Wilt Chamberlain photo slideshow