Longtime coach Ted Owens recalls life, career in new book

Posted on Nov 2, 2013 in Alumni News, News, and Sports

Former men’s basketball coach Ted Owens, who led two teams to the Final Four and won a record 206 games in Allen Field House, has chronicled his life and career in At The Hang-Up: Seeking Your Purpose, Running Your Race, Finishing Strong. Written by Owens, Jim Krause and Jesse Tuel, the book takes its title from Owen’s childhood on a cotton farm in Hollis, Okla. He explains that “the hang-up” was a scale on which he and his brothers would weigh bags of cotton at the end of each day in the fields. Often the boys competed against their father. One day, as Ted was ahead of his father pulling cotton, his father shared a life lesson: “It’s not what you have now that’s important. It’s what you have at the hang-up.”

Owens will appear at a book signing with former player Bud Stallworth, s’78, at 7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 3, in the KU Bookstore in the Kansas Union. The book can also be purchased online through the KU Bookstore. The following excerpt, including comment from Dave Robisch, d’71, concludes his chapter on his first Final Four team, which lost to UCLA in the semifinals in Houston:

 I went back to the Astroworld Hotel, trudging down the hallway with profound sadness. Our quest for a national championship had vanished, our 21-game winning streak broken. When I entered my room, daughters Nancy and Kelly, then 11 and 8, met me at the door. “Too bad about the game, Dad,” Kelly said. “Do you want to play some cards?” It was a great lesson in sports and in life: When faced with disappointment, pick yourself up and forge ahead with new goals and plans for the future. Sometimes those lessons come from unexpected sources. …

The 1970-71 season was incredible, with the first Final Four for members of the team and the coaches, an undefeated conference season, and a winning streak of 21 games. As I look back, though, the team’s most remarkable achievement was unifying a campus and city in a common cause. Our players demonstrated that people from divergent backgrounds and ethnic groups can set aside their differences and, by loving and respecting one another, can exceed expectations. Today, the team group continues their special bond and they held a touching reunion in 2011.

“I am most proud of running the table in the Big Eight my senior year. Not many teams in the league did that. We were 17-0, but I still feel like we missed our chance to be remembered as one of the greatest Jayhawk teams of all time.”

–Dave Robisch, KU forward, 1968-71

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