kansas basketball the ancient past

Kansas basketball / The basics

I have irra­tional feel­ings about Kansas bas­ket­ball, and this entry is a sim­ple effort to con­tex­tu­al­ize and pro­vide foun­da­tion for com­ments I will make as the 2005–6 sea­son unfolds.I grew up in Kansas. My grand­fa­ther, great-grand­fa­ther, dad, uncle, and aunt all attend­ed the Uni­ver­si­ty of Kansas. My fam­i­ly had sea­son tick­ets for both foot­ball and bas­ket­ball games, and I spent a size­able chunk of my child­hood run­ning around those sta­di­ums. At foot­ball games, we sat on the 50-yard line, about 30 rows up from the field. For bas­ket­ball, we sat court­side — sec­ond row, actu­al­ly — behind the Kansas bench, Jack Nicholson-style.Any fan of col­lege sports will tell you that sea­son tick­ets to Kansas foot­ball have nev­er been in high demand, at least not in my life­time. The last glo­ry year for Kansas foot­ball was 1969, when they were edged 15–14 by Penn State in the Orange Bowl. My dad trav­eled to Mia­mi for that game, and the sto­ry of pro­found heart­break still stings, even though I wasn't there. The bas­ket­ball Jay­hawks had hay days in the fifties, again, well before my time, win­ning a nation­al cham­pi­onship in 1952 and com­ing up one point short of anoth­er in a clas­sic 1957 duel with North Car­oli­na.All of this began to change in 1984, when jour­ney­man genius Lar­ry Brown was hired as head bas­ket­ball coach. He had not yet attained the sta­tus of wiz­ard as he seems to have today, but Brown con­vert­ed a team that had been run into the ground in the ear­ly 80's into a nation­al title win­ner in the span of five years. The after­math of his tenure wasn't pret­ty: he took a job with the LA Clip­pers after the title game and left KU to deal with the grad­u­a­tion of one a Jay­hawk great (Dan­ny Man­ning), and, umm, some NCAA sanc­tions that result­ed in a year-long sus­pen­sion from the NCAA tour­na­ment. The future looked bleak in 1989, even more so when the ath­let­ic depart­ment hired a rel­a­tive­ly unknown North Car­oli­na assis­tant named Roy Williams.As it turned out, 1989 was mere­ly the begin­ning of a 15-year run of bas­ket­ball excel­lence. Sal­ad years. Coach Williams proved to be an unques­tion­able mas­ter of the col­lege game (an ency­clo­pe­dic account of his achieve­ments), patch­ing togeth­er the team that remained after Brown's exit and lead­ing them into the Final Four with­in two years and in the process cre­at­ing a new style of offense that proud­ly bears the name, The Kansas Break. Acco­lades accu­mu­lat­ed: Final Fours in 1991 and 1993. A nation­al­ly-tele­vised 150–95 drub­bing of Ken­tucky in 1989. One of the all-time great col­lege bas­ket­ball teams in 1996. More Final Fours in 2002 and 2003.When Coach Williams returned home to North Car­oli­na after the 2003 sea­son, the ques­tion on everyone's mind was: Will 2003 be looked at as anoth­er 1989, or as anoth­er 1969? The begin­ning of a new era of great­ness, or the begin­ning of a long decline?

2 replies on “Kansas basketball / The basics”

Hey, Doug.

I have to be hon­est I've been read­ing your blogs for a while, most of the time I scratch my head won­der­ing what the hell kin­da of hob­bies you got­ten your­self into. And there's few that I'm fas­ci­nat­ed by. Nev­er­the­less, I have enjoyed read­ing your blogs and achieve­ments. You've done well my friend!! I am curi­ous to hear about your per­son­al life and how things are going. Do you ever get back to KC? 

As for coach William: He is ter­rif­ic recruiter, and I know that I'm in a minor­i­ty here, but I think he is over­at­ed as a coach. He's had some incredil­ble teams at Kansas (it's very late), but I think one team had three NBA play­ers (pierce, lafrentz, ?) and did­nt even make the final four. I think they were out­ed by a hot Rhode Island team. I tru­ly think think that Kansas has bet­ter them­selves by hir­ing Self. I see Kansas doing some great things in the next few years and beyond. 

Any­ways, I've enjoyed the blogs and would like to hear from you.


I tried to email you back, but my emails kept bounc­ing. Any­way, it's good to hear from you, and I'm sor­ta glad that my com­ments at the time were not received, because I've changed my tune in some ways:

(1) I agree now that Self is a recruit­ing pow­er­house. Land­ing Dar­rell Arthur this sum­mer was HUGE. He's just the kind of phys­i­cal low-post baller who can run and bang that Self has been look­ing for. Too bad he's only going to stick around for a year.

(2) Rush didn't go pro, which, to me, was a huge sur­prise. He didn't seem to be enjoy­ing him­self, and it was unclear to me whether he was buy­ing into Self's bruis­ing, dump-it-into-the-paint sys­tem. It appears now that he is. 

(3) Roy's Tarheels total­ly tanked in the tour­na­ment; not as bad­ly as the Hawks, but at least they didn't go on to win anoth­er title after the Hawks went out in the first round. I would have just stopped watch­ing bas­ket­ball alto­geth­er if that had hap­pened. Any­way, it's clear that Roy coach­ing his own recruits is dif­fer­ent than Roy coach­ing Doherty's phys­i­cal, gut­sy guys. Can Roy recruit guys like May or McCants? Time will tell, I guess. Until then, here's to more ear­ly Tarheel exits!

(4) I've been watch­ing the World Cham­pi­onships, and I must say that this marks the first time I've ever brought myself to muster a cheer for a Coach K team. Against Italy, I was pray­ing that he'd work some Duke mag­ic to get his guys to play lock­down defense, run the fast break, and blow the oth­er team off the court. Turns out that he didn't need to because Carme­lo and Wade just decid­ed to start playing.

Any­way, good to hear from you, and hope all is well,


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