Open-practice shootarounds are usually mundane, forgettable affairs, with players practicing three-point shots, testing a few free throws and moving through light drills without breaking a sweat. Thursday afternoon, the top-seeded Jayhawks closed out their half-hour session in downtown Tulsa’s BOK Center with a thrilling sequence that brought raucous cheers from a blue-clad crowd of about 1,000 fans.
As the “practice” neared its conclusion, senior Frank Mason III, a leading candidate for national player of the year, planted himself in the corner of the court directly in front of the men’s basketball band and began drilling a succession of swishes from beyond the arc.
As his streak gained momentum, the festive musicians began shouting out a running count of swished three-pointers. When Mason missed on No. 16, a broad smile flashed across his usually stoic face and cheers turned to a quick roar.
The Jayhawks (28-4) closed out the practice with half-court shots, and, unusually, none were even close—until sophomore guard Lagerald Vick nailed a nothing-but-net swish that looked as effortless as a mid-ranger jumper.
That’s when coach Bill Self called for the team to huddle at midcourt. Once assembled in a tight pack, the players began chanting something unintelligible from a half-court away. The meaning of their words became clear as injured freshman center Udoka Azubuike grinned, shook his head, grinned again, and finally grabbed a ball handed to him by a teammate and thundered toward the goal.
Guarding his injured left wrist, Azubuike slammed home a thunderous right-handed dunk, which was quickly followed by Mason bouncing a ball off the backboard and grabbing it for a one-handed slam of his own.
As freshman sensation Josh Jackson began to follow suit, a look of panic shot across Self’s face and the veteran coach, a Naismith Coach of the Year finalist, shouted “Josh, don’t! Josh, don’t!” Jackson grudgingly obeyed orders and trotted toward the stands to join his teammates in an impromptu autograph session for eager fans.
The practice was so spirited that it might have served a purpose far beyond the typical bit of public relations splash: The Jayhawks seemingly generated a jump-start on rebuilding the momentum they lost after losing their first game of the Big 12 Tournament one week ago.
“I think it’s real important for all of us to get going,” junior guard Devonte’ Graham said of KU’s NCAA Tournament opener, 5:50 p.m. Friday against UC Davis. “We all gotta come out and be aggressive, especially on the defensive end, to get the jitters out and stuff like that. Everybody just needs to be aggressive.”
Fans are invited to a pregame event at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, March 17, at the Cox Business Center. The event, hosted by the KU Alumni Association, Kansas Athletics and the Williams Education Fund, will include a pep rally at 3:30 featuring the spirit squad and the basketball band. More information is available at the alumni association’s postseason site.
Check out photos from today’s open practice in the slideshow below, or click here to see the pictures on Flickr. All photos by Steve Puppe.
Follow the ‘Hawks as they fly through the postseason on our ‘Hawks and Hoops page, where alumni can find the latest updates on tournament games, pep rallies, shoot arounds and alumni watch parties around the country. And watch out for our KU Alumni Association staff on the road. They’ll be hard to miss.
Once again, thanks to Miles Schnaer’s Crown Automotive in Lawrence, your KU Alumni Association staff will be driving to Tulsa in style on the ‘Road to the Final Four.’ Be sure to wave at them in this one-of-a-kind Jayhawk Car.
Our postseaon partners at Crown tell us the Jayhawk car has been a favorite among fans and auto enthusiasts young and old, so if you spot us during March Madness, don’t forget to post a pic and tag #kualumni.
Senior night is always memorable for Jayhawks, and this one will be no different as KU bids farewell to starters and fan favorites Frank Mason and Landon Lucas, along with a third senior named Self. The only son of Head Coach Bill Self, fifth-year senior Tyler Self will thank his coach and father in what will surely be an emotional night for the Jayhawk family.
Get ready with our curated round up of senior night coverage below, and tune in tonight for the 8 p.m. CST tip off versus Oklahoma. Rock Chalk!
KU Provost Neeli Bendapudi visited southwest Kansas recently to discuss efforts made at the University of Kansas to alleviate transfer issues as well as a program to help Pell Grant and first-generation college students acclimate to a large campus. Alumnus Al Shank, a member of the KU Alumni Association’s national board of directors, is also mentioned in the article. Read full article.
The Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas has announced additional public programs for the spring 2017 semester. A group of distinguished KU alumni will headline the semester’s programming, including 2017 Dole Lecture guest Robert Kaplan. Read full article.
Sheila Bair has been mentioned as a potential candidate for one of three vacancies on the Federal Reserve Board. Bair, c’75, l’78, is currently the president of Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland. Read full article.
Dan Ryckert, an alumnus who holds two Guiness World Records and is a well-established voice in the gaming community, and his fiancee are competing to become the first couple to be married in the new Taco Bell Chapel in Las Vegas. Ryckert, c’08, has also published six books, including one about his experiences at KU. Read full article.
Stephanie A. Lovett-Bowman, c’05, j’05, l’10, has rejoined the Spencer Fane’s litigation practice after serving with the U.S. Department of Education. Previous to her time at the DoE, Stephanie served with Spencer Fane for five years. Read full article.
Catina Taylor, a co-founder of the V Form Alliance, uses virtual reality that allows elementary and middle school students to take a “field trip” exploring landmarks in Kansas and Missouri that are relevant to black history. Taylor earned a degree from the KU School of Law in 1999. Read full article.
Mary Loveland, a member of the KU Alumni Association’s national board of directors from 1977-1982, is a candidate for the open seat on the Lawrence school board. Loveland, c’70, previously served on the board from 1987-2003 and again from 2007-2011. Read full article.
Carole Haggard, a retired teacher in Olathe, could not believe her good luck in January, when she learned she had won the grand prize in the Alumni Association’s Membership Mania Sweepstakes. Haggard, g’94, who renewed her annual membership to enter the drawing, scored a $1,000 Visa gift card, a basketball autographed by the KU men’s basketball team and four tickets to a home game in Allen Field House.
Her good fortune continued Feb. 13, when Haggard, her daughter-in-law Calla Haggard and granddaughters Sara and Dorothy enjoyed prime seats for the Jayhawks’ improbable comeback 84-80 win in overtime against the West Virginia Mountaineers. The family rejoiced with the rest of the thunderous crowd, which set a new Guinness world record when the roar reached 130.4 decibels, the loudest in an indoor arena.
“This was an unforgettable night, and I’m truly grateful,” Haggard said. Sharing the experience with her family made it all the sweeter.
Calla Haggard and her daughters, Sara and Dorothy, celebrated with their grandmother, Carole Haggard, during the KU’s memorable home-court win over West Virginia Feb. 13.
Justin Law is the first to admit that his spouse is much better at compromising than he is—especially when it comes to watching college sports. But he’s no stranger to compromise either.
Justin, b’99, g’04, a diehard Jayhawk, lives in Manhattan with his wife, Kelly, a K-State graduate. They met in Kansas City in 2004, thanks to a friend who played matchmaker. An engagement soon followed, and the young couple decided to ditch the big city and move to a smaller town.
“Manhattan wasn’t necessarily on the list at the time,” Justin recalls wryly.
That changed when Kelly accepted a job at the K-State Alumni Association. The Laws have been in the Little Apple ever since.
Despite the fact that Justin bleeds crimson and blue, and Kelly’s pride is purple, the two make it work. “She’s come to KU basketball games with me but not against K-State,” says Justin. “I’ve been to K-State football games when they’re not playing KU. I’m a little more competitive and more interested in the outcome of sporting events, especially against K-State—especially living in Manhattan.”
Kelly, who now works at USI Insurance Services and counts the KU Alumni Association as one of her clients, has softened her stance against her intrastate rival. “I will willingly go to KU games when they’re not playing K-State, and I’ll cheer for KU,” she says. “But I typically wear pretty neutral colors.”
Justin gets a little support from their daughter, Kherington, who’s almost 7. The young girl, who at first favored the Wildcats over the Jayhawks, has been singing a different tune lately. The future Jayhawk, who is a big fan of Baby Jay and can easily recite KU’s alma mater, proudly sports her Jayhawk cheerleading outfit to school and willingly endures teasing from her teachers and classmates.
“She actually started out a K-State fan,” says Justin. “Around the age of 4, she switched allegiances. I’m honestly not sure how that happened. I wish I knew how, so if she started wavering I could bring her back.”
The Laws keep the family rivalry fun by placing wagers, which include dinner duty or a household chore for the losing fan, on KU vs. K-State games. “We have a lot of family bets,” says Kelly. “It’s always Kherington and Justin against me.”
Although Justin and his daughter often don’t fare well during football season, they look forward to basketball season and rely on their ’Hawks to outplay the Wildcats—if for no other reason than to dodge dinner duty. Here’s hoping they get their win.
There’s a big basketball game this Saturday, Jayhawks.
The KU men’s basketball team takes on the Kentucky Wildcats in the Sonic SEC-Big 12 Challenge. The game tips off at 5:15 p.m. CT at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky.
It’s the perfect opportunity to gather with fellow alumni, fans and friends!
Hang out with staff members from the KU Alumni Association, Kansas Athletics and the Williams Fund before the game at the Magnolia Room in the Hilton Lexington Downtown.
We’ll have light snacks, a cash bar and TVs showing other games.
2:30 p.m. ET
Saturday, January 28
Magnolia Room, Hilton Lexington Downtown
369 W. Vine St.
Lexington, KY 40507
More than 50 watch parties are scheduled around the country, from Albany to Wichita—it’s close to a record number.
Check out our online calendar to find a watch party near you. And if you haven’t connected with a local alumni network, you can find a list of all networks plus links to their websites and Facebook groups here.
Share your photos
We’d love to see your photos from the pregame party, the game or your watch parties! Share them on social media using the #KUalumni hashtag, or post them to our Facebook page. We’ll share the best ones with our followers!
If you don’t have an alumni network or watch site in your area, and would like to start one, contact Nick Kallail, assistant vice president of alumni and career programs, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Men’s basketball coach Bill Self on Wednesday was announced as a first-time nominee for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
“I certainly didn’t expect this,” Self said during preparations for Thursday’s game at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. “I’m proud, mainly because of the teams’ successes we’ve had in the various stops that put me in a position to be considered.”
Self, a Life Joint member of the KU Alumni Association, is 395-84 in his 14 seasons at KU, and his 82.5 KU winning percentage is the best in school history. Including his coaching stints at Oral Roberts, Tulsa and Illinois, Self is 602-189 in 24 years as a head coach. At KU, where he has taken his Jayhawks to 18-straight NCAA Tournament appearances, Self has recorded more conference titles (12) than home losses (9).
Finalists will be announced during NBA All-Star festivities Feb. 18 in New Orleans, and the hall of fame’s Class of 2017 will be unveiled April 3 at the NCAA Tournament’s championship game in Glendale, Arizona.
We’re recounting the most memorable moments and biggest KU stories of the past year. With help from our crack team of KU experts, a.k.a. your hard-working KU Alumni Association staff, we’ve assembled and ranked the top ten of 2016. Read on as we present the best of KU…
10. Basketball Rules
The new home of Naismith’s original rules of basketball hosted a housewarming party when the DeBruce Center held its official grand opening celebration on Saturday, July 23. Hundreds of loyal fans and alumni made the pilgrimage to Lawrence to pay tribute to the game’s inventor and tour the new building connected to Allen Fieldhouse.
9. Winning week
A big basketball win over Duke, a double-overtime Border War win for soccer, KU’s first Big 12 volleyball title and an upset football victory over Texas. It was more than just a great week to be a Jayhawk. From Sunday to Sunday, it was a week for the athletics ages.
8. Open for Business
In May, we took a sneak peek inside the School of Business’ new building, Capitol Federal Hall, where expansive, flexible design encourages collaborative learning and innovation is welcome. More details and images of the school’s new space can be found in the May issue of Kansas Alumni magazine.
7. KU Endowment announces results of Far Above: The Campaign for Kansas
The largest higher education fundraising effort to date in the state, Far Above: The Campaign for Kansas, raised $1.66 billion, far exceeding its $1.2 billion goal. The campaign, which ended June 30, boosted student support, faculty, facilities and programs at the University of Kansas and The University of Kansas Hospital.
6. Twelve straight Big 12 Conference titles
Highlights of the 2015-16 season included a gold medal at the World University Games in South Korea; the championship trophy at the 2015 Maui Invitational in November; a 12th-straight Big 12 Conference regular season; and the Big 12 Postseason Championship title. It truly was an amazing year.
5. KU student earns Rhodes Scholarship
University of Kansas senior Shegufta Huma is one of 32 American students to win a Rhodes Scholarship, one of the most prestigious recognitions of scholarly excellence. Shegufta HumaHuma, from Bel Aire, is majoring in political science with a minor in Spanish, and she is particularly interested in working toward justice for Muslim immigrants. Huma is KU’s 27th Rhodes Scholar.
4. KU School of Business dean Neeli Bendapudi named Provost
“I am thrilled for the opportunity to serve my alma mater in a new capacity and look forward to working with people across campus to make it an even better place for our students, our faculty and our staff to learn and to work,” Bendapudi said. “This is a truly wonderful place that means so much to me and my family, and this opportunity is a dream come true for me.”
3. KU Sesquicentennial
In 2016, KU celebrated a 150-year tradition of educating leaders and serving the state of Kansas. The KU Alumni Association contributed to the momentous occasion with a number of commemorative activities, including a KU150-themed birthday celebration at the 2015 Jayhawk Roundup in Wichita, a special edition of our annual alumni calendar with historic images of KU and a reprise of our popular Jayhawks on Parade with three one-of-a-kind Jayhawks to celebrate KU.
2. Chancellor Gray-Little to step down in summer 2017
Bernadette Gray-Little, the 17th chancellor of the University of Kansas, has announced she will step down from the position in summer 2017. “It has been an honor to lead the University of Kansas,” said Chancellor Gray-Little. “KU has always been a special place with terrific people and an instinctive spirit to change our world for the better. Leading this remarkable institution is a privilege I always will cherish, and I’m grateful to the entire KU community for believing in our mission.”
…and the biggest KU story of 2016 (drumroll please)…
1. KU alumnus wins Nobel Peace Prize
President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts at ending a civil war that has ravaged his country for more than 50 years. “This great honor only adds to the immense pride KU alumni around the world have felt for their fellow Jayhawk since President Santos devoted himself to the cause of peace in Colombia,” said KU Alumni Association President Heath Peterson. “This Nobel Peace Prize also brings honor to the long-established mission of University of Kansas faculty, administrators, students, staff and alumni to make our heartland campus a welcome home to students from around the world. Our international missions, as educators and alumni advocates, will continue with an energized pace thanks to President Santos, whom we are proud to call one of our own.”
How did we do? Was your favorite KU moment mentioned or did we forget another unforgettable moment? Let us know by emailing us at email@example.com, and check out more stories while you’re here. It’s been a great year worth celebrating, and we know our chant will rise in 2017!
The KU men’s basketball team will play in the CBE Hall of Fame Classic at the Sprint Center in Kansas City Nov. 21 and 22.
KU alumni, fans and friends are invited to pregame festivities hosted by the KU Alumni Association and Williams Education Fund.
Monday, Nov. 21
Monday’s pregame party starts at 5:30 p.m., and the game against UAB tips off at 8:30 p.m. The pregame event takes place at McFadden’s, 1330 Grand Boulevard in the KC Live! block, across the street from the arena.
Tuesday, Nov. 22
On Tuesday, the pregame events runs from 4-6:30 p.m. at No Other Pub, also in the KC Live! block. The time and opponent for the second game will be determined after Monday’s game.
For tickets to the games, contact Kansas Athletics at 800.34.HAWKS.