Shortly before his Jayhawks strode onto the Intrust Bank Arena court for their open practice, coach Bill Self renewed his oft-repeated hope that his players keep a light bounce in their step despite the pressures of NCAA Tournament competition: “Just go out, have fun and let’s enjoy the moment, and let’s play with joy and passion. Play with a free mind.”
When they emerged from the arena’s wings a few moments later, the Jayhawks were greeted with an instant lesson in how to enjoy the moment and embrace the fun: Wichita schools on Wednesday morning bused thousands of school children to the arena, and they lit the place with an energy unprecedented in the sedate history of NCAA Tournament open practices.
Dozens or perhaps hundreds of long yellow buses clogged the streets and parking lots around Intrust Bank Arena, and once inside, the bouncy kids happily cheered each of the teams that emerged for open-practice shootarounds. They were happy to cheer on all the athletes, but anticipation for the Jayhawks’ appearance brought on a high-energy buzz as the children—who filled more than half of an arena that seats more than 15,000—began chanting “KU! KU! KU!” When the KU team emerged to waves of screams, players’ faces lit up and coaches’ smiles beamed.
After singing along to the fight song piped in over the scoreboard speakers, kids carried on with assorted chants of “Jayhawks! Jayhawks!” and “Go KU! Go KU!”, and the kids and other Wichita fans and alumni who filled the arena nearly to capacity cheered heartily when center Udoka Azubuike, wearing a brace on his injured left knee but otherwise looking fairly mobile and healthy, made free throws.
When practice concluded, the Jayhawks huddled at midcourt, then waved to the crowd, encouraging more and more cheers. Big 12 Player of the Year Devontè Graham brought the half-hour affair to a roaring conclusion by draining a jump shot from midcourt.
Kansas, Big 12 champion and the Midwest region’s top seed, faces No. 16 seed Penn at 1 pm Thursday in a game to be broadcast by TBS.
“Our players know after watching tape that [Penn] is definitely not a 16,” Self said. “So they have our attention.”
Azubuike strained a knee ligament during practice before the Big 12 tournament. He has had limited practice with the team this week, and Self hopes the 7-footer can play at least “a few minutes” Thursday, with prospects for more significant playing time should KU advance.
“That 70 percent tomorrow,” Self said, “could be 85 percent by Friday and 90 percent by Saturday if we’re fortunate enough to win.”
Check out a few more photos from practice on our Flickr page. Photos and video by Steve Puppe.
It won’t register in either team’s standings or record books, but the Oct. 22 KU-Missouri men’s basketball exhibition game at Kansas City’s Sprint Center counted in a way that mattered much more than sports: The made-for-charity game between two schools that haven’t played each other in men’s basketball since 2012 generated $1.75 million (and rising) for hurricane relief.
“Kudos to both administrations and fan bases for doing something so special,” said KU coach Bill Self. “I admit, I had butterflies. I was excited to be out there.”
After a few pregame chants of the unpleasant, old-school variety—the sort of enmity that made many fans relieved the rivalry was halted by Missouri’s departure for the Southeastern Conference—reverberated inside Sprint Center, the great majority of Jayhawks and Tigers appeared eager to instead root hard for their team while also applauding the afternoon’s real purpose.
During timeouts, the scoreboard played video clips with KU and Mizzou athletes from hurricane-ravaged regions describing the devastation and challenges faced by their families, and thanking fans for supporting the game. Those short video clips generated loud applause by fans from both schools, evidence that the big picture remained clearly in focus, even as a hard-fought game was unfolding on the court.
“You can tell how much juice there was in the building,” said KU senior guard Devonte’ Graham, who led all scorers with 25 points, along with 10 rebounds and five assists. “It was a great atmosphere to play in.”
After KU’s 93-87 victory, both Self and first-year Mizzou coach Cuonzo Martin noted the value in the rare opportunity to play an exhibition game against a Div. 1 opponent—normally not allowed, with exceptions made this year only to support relief causes. Not only did young players get to experience a big-game atmosphere, but the contest also generated game tape that will provide countless teaching moments for the coaches as they continue their season preparations.
“The things we’ve been telling them they’re deficient at,” Self said, “now they’ll believe.”
KU’s next exhibition game is against Pittsburg State, Oct. 31 in Allen Field House.
Update: According to Kansas Athletics, the charity exhibition basketball game generated $2.011 million for victims of recent natural disasters in the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The donations are a combination of ticket sales ($1.15 million), the Pay-per-View stream ($768,000) and text-to-give contributions ($68,000). Donations from other entities totaled approximately $25,000, bringing the total donation to some $2.011 million.
Derby native Casey Combs walked across the stage at KU earlier this month, as she earned her Doctorate in Audiology. Casey is profoundly, or totally for a more practical term, deaf. Read full article and watch video
The Summer Venture in Business program is open to high-achieving 10th-, 11th- and 12th-grade minority students or those who would be the first in their families to attend college. Former KU student body president Stephonn Alcorn and his Student Senate coalition had proposed such a camp last year as one way to help increase campus diversity. Read full article.
Tom Eblen, who mentored a generation of journalists as general manager and news adviser for the University Daily Kansan, died Saturday at age 80 in Prairie Village. As general manager and adviser of the Daily Kansan, Eblen oversaw the newspaper’s business affairs and provided lasting advice to students on writing and editing. Read full article.
Perry Ellis was one of the many fan favorites participating in an exhibition game that featured more than 40 former KU players and coaches including 12 members of Kansas’ 2008 national title squad. Read full article.
Robert Cobb, a University faculty member and administrator for over 30 years, passed away last week at the age of 91. In his time at the University, Cobb was an English professor, department head, dean, executive vice chancellor, professor emeritus and more. Read full article.
The Sacramento Kings hosted a second pre-draft workout on Wednesday with last season’s National College Player of the Year – Kansas’ point guard Frank Mason III. Upon arriving in Sacramento on Tuesday, Mason caught the attention of social media for inviting a Jayhawks fan to meet him at his downtown hotel. Read full article and watch video.
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.
“What a great day to be a Jayhawk!” coach David Beaty shouted, his raspy voice barely audible amid the chaos that swarmed across Memorial Stadium’s field after KU upset Texas, 24-21, in an overtime thriller that gave Beaty his first Big 12 victory and the Jayhawks’ first in the conference since 2014.
Beaty of course was spot-on with the sentiment, but the time element was off. While football’s first victory over Texas since 1938 scored the national headlines, it was more than a great day to be a Jayhawk: From Sunday to Sunday, it was a week for the athletics ages.
Soccer sets the tone
Soccer set the tone on Sunday, Nov. 13, at Rock Chalk Park, when junior Lois Heuchan scored 40 seconds into double overtime to give the Jayhawks a 1-0 victory over Missouri in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. (The Jayhawks’ second-round loss, 2-0 Nov. 18 at North Carolina, was only their third loss since mid-September.)
Men’s basketball was up next, as the Jayhawks avoided their first 0-2 start since 1972 by beating top-ranked Duke, 77-75, Tuesday in New York City’s Madison Square Garden. Frank Mason’s game-winning field goal with 1.8 seconds remaining was one of KU’s most thrilling shots since Mario Chalmers nailed a three-pointer to send the 2008 national championship game into overtime.
“That was quite a play we called: ‘Just get out of his way,’” coach Bill Self said afterward. “He’s a stud.”
Recruit chooses Kansas
Billy Preston, a 6-foot-10, 240-pound forward from Los Angeles kept the buzz going Friday afternoon when he released a video announcing his college selection. Dressed in uniforms from his four finalists—KU, Indiana, USC and Syracuse—Preston played a magic-of-film one-on-one game against himself, at the end of which he turns to the camera and announces, “Rock Chalk, Jayhawks.”
Just a few hours later, Preston’s future team beat Siena, 86-65, running Self’s home record to 207-9 and passing Ted Owens on the list of all-time victories in Allen Field House.
“He’s a special coach and this is a special place,” sophomore forward Carlton Bragg Jr. said afterward. “You put those two things together and special things happen.”
Volleyball clinches championship
About 13 hours later, at 11 a.m. Saturday morning, volleyball began its final regular-season home match. Although they played without junior All-American Kelsie Payne, who injured an ankle in KU’s five-set victory Nov. 16 at West Virginia, the Jayhawks fought through another tough five-setter to defeat Iowa State and clinch at least a share of their first Big 12 championship.
“It could have been a disaster, or it could have been the best day ever, and they decided to make it the best day ever,” said coach Ray Bechard. “Our seniors weren’t going to let us lose.”
Swimmer hits career-best mark
Saturday’s action was not limited to Lawrence: freshman Jenny Nusbaum won the 200-yard freestyle at the Kansas Classic swim meet in Topeka’s Capitol Federal Natatorium with a career-best mark of 1 minute, 48.97 seconds, and she helped her team to a 7.34-second victory in the 800-yard freestyle relay.
Cross-country makes history
On a wintry morning in Terre Haute, Indiana, sophomore Sharon Lokedi ran fifth at the NCAA cross-country championships, the best NCAA finish in the history of KU women’s cross-country and the best by any Jayhawk since John Lawson won the men’s meet in 1965.
“When it’s cold and windy like it was today, you never know what might happen in a race like this,” Lokedi said. “So my plan was just to stay up at the front, stay with the leaders and be ready for anything.”
Football upsets Texas
On a chilly afternoon and evening in Memorial Stadium, the football ’Hawks offered the first hint of a possible upset by taking a 10-7 lead into halftime against Texas. But, KU came out flat in the third quarter, and when D’Onta Foreman scored his second touchdown of the second half with 13:34 remaining in the fourth quarter to give the Longhorns a 21-10 lead.
The game looked hopelessly out of reach to fans and commentators, but players never saw it that way.
“They are some resilient tough dudes,” Beaty said. “They kept believing. They kept working.”
With 10 minutes remaining in regulation, redshirt freshman quarterback Carter Stanley jolted the KU offense to life with a 20-yard run, which was immediately followed by a 15-yard run by freshman running back Khalil Herbert that set the Jayhawks up at the Texas 45 yard line. Herbert scored seven plays later on a 1-yard run, and sophomore receiver Steven Sims Jr. converted a two-point conversion to push KU to within three, 21-18, with 7:48 remaining.
Freshman safety Mike Lee halted a Texas scoring threat on the ensuing drive when he forced Foreman to fumble at the KU 13-yard-line. Senior defensive end Cameron Rosser pounced on the loose ball, the Longhorns’ fifth turnover of the game. KU then gave the ball back on downs, but when Texas tried to close the game out by converting on fourth and 5 from the KU 32, sophomore linebacker Keith Loneker Jr. scored the biggest of his game-high 16 tackles by stopping Foreman 2 yards short.
The Jayhawks took over on their own 29 with 58 seconds remaining. Three receptions by senior running back Ke’aun Kinner and a 15-yard penalty against Texas set KU up at the Longhorns’ 19, where, with seven seconds left in regulation, senior Matthew Wyman tied the game with a 36-yard field goal.
On the second play of overtime Lee again stepped up big, intercepting a Texas pass. Needing only a field goal to win, KU pushed forward behind five Kinner rushes, allowing Wyman to win the game with a 25-yard field goal.
The season finale awaits Saturday at Kansas State, but that rivalry’s renewal was on nobody’s mind as the Jayhawks celebrated madly.
Well, almost nobody’s.
“We have a huge, huge mountain to climb to get ready to play those guys,” Beaty said. “But it’s going to be a lot easier and a lot more fun preparing tomorrow with the result we got today.”
Women’s basketball team closes week with a win
And still more was yet to come: Women’s basketball closed out the remarkable week that was with a 68-58 victory at Memphis, the Jayhawks’ first win of the season and the first regular-season road victory for second-year coach Brandon Schneider.
Kansas City alumni and fans of KU will gather again at the KU Kickoff at Corinth Square this Friday, August 26, from 6-9 p.m.
The KU Alumni Association, in partnership with Kansas Athletics, will welcome our largest annual gathering of alumni in Kansas City. Jayhawks will hear from David Beaty, head football coach; Heath Peterson, president of the KU Alumni Association; and other KU speakers who will provide updates and pep talks to get the crowd pumped for another great year at KU. Like last year, there will be inflatable games for the kids, food, drinks, KU giveaways and entertainment from the KU Band, Spirit Squad and Big Jay and Baby Jay. Association members are encouraged to stop by the KU Alumni Association table to receive a free member appreciation gift (so don’t forget your membership card!). The KU Kickoff is sponsored by Shawnee Mission Health. Learn more here.
Speaking of pep talks
We’ve found a sure-fire way to get you fired up for fall. Coach Bill Self was a special guest at KU Football Training Camp this week where he addressed the team. Coach Self’s talk will get you ready to head to Memorial Stadium to support the Jayhawks this fall. It might even make you want to suit up and hit the field! See what we mean in the video below, shared on Twitter by our friends at Time Warner Cable Sports Channel in Kansas City, @TWCsportsKC.
Live the life of a KU basketball star for a weekend this spring at Coach Bill Self’s annual Fantasy ProCamp!
This year marks the fifth annual camp, which takes place April 29-May 1, 2016.
Participants will experience the inner workings of Kansas Basketball as they participate as a player or coach in games at Allen Fieldhouse. Coaches include Bill Self, KU staff members and guest coaches Jay Williams, Fran Fraschilla, Miles Simon, Doug Gottlieb, Dino Gaudio, and Jerry Wainwright.
Campers will also be invited to networking and social events throughout the weekend, including the annual VIP party at Coach Self’s home.
Other perks include exclusive, elite adidas branded apparel, access to “team only” areas of KU basketball facilities such as locker rooms, team lounges, meeting and film rooms, and the basketball offices. All ground transportation, meals and hotel costs are also included with camp registration.
KU Alumni Association members have access to an exclusive discount for the ProCamp. Regular registration is $4,995, but members can register at a special price of $3,995. Contact Matt Chacksfield at firstname.lastname@example.org or 513.745.5850 to register, and visit www.billselfbasketballexperience.com for more information.
Don’t forget to share your camp photos with us!
While Procamp spots are limited availability, during Rock Chalk Ball on Apr. 23, 2016 one Procamp spot will be available for auction along with an autographed 2015-2016 men’s basketball.
Saturday’s Sunflower Showdown against Kansas State just got even more momentous, with Tuesday’s announcement that the 3 p.m. game in Memorial Stadium will be the football finale for beloved broadcaster Bob Davis.
Davis, who joined the Jayhawk Radio Network in 1984, will retire after 32 years as Voice of the Jayhawks following the conclusion of the men’s basketball season.
“Bob Davis,” says Athletics Director Sheahon Zenger, PhD’96, “is an institution in the state of Kansas.”
Davis graduated from Topeka West High School and Washburn University, and in 1968 began his broadcasting career for a TV and radio station in Hays. He spent 16 years broadcasting sports for Fort Hays State University, and was inducted in the school’s Sports Hall of Fame.
After joining the legendary Max Falkenstien, c’47, on KU sports broadcasts, Davis continued to expand his reach across the regional sports spectrum: Among numerous other assignments, Davis did play-by-play calls for Kansas City Royals’ TV and radio broadcasts for 16 seasons and spent 20 years as a morning sports anchor with KMBZ radio in Kansas City.
He was named Kansas Sportscaster of the Year 13 times, and in 1991 the Kansas Association of Broadcasters presented him the Hod Humiston Award for Contributions to Sports Broadcasting.
“The people are what made it amazing,” Davis says. “All the people I’ve been able to get close to—great players, the coaching staffs, administrators. I’m going to miss it a lot. It’s been really fun. I’ve also been able to tack on a little baseball on the other side; that, too, was a dream come true. It’s been a lucky situation for me.”
Despite a long career covering high school, college and professional sports, Davis will always be best known to sports fans as the Voice of the Jayhawks. Among those lucky enough to get to know Davis away from stadiums and arenas, he is treasured for good humor and lively conversation.
“Not only is he good at his job, he’s a terrific person,” says men’s basketball coach Bill Self. “He’s fun and has become a very dear friend. I’m happy for him, from a retirement standpoint, so maybe he can enjoy those grandkids a little bit more, which I know is important for him and Linda. But certainly he will be missed.”
Says football coach David Beaty, “Bob, along with Max Falkenstien, is truly a living historian of Kansas athletics and I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to work alongside him this year. Bob has one of the most recognizable voices in all of sports, a voice that has captured some of the greatest moments in Kansas athletics history. His voice is synonymous with KU and makes you feel great about being a Jayhawk.”
A nationwide search for Davis’ successor will begin next spring. Interested candidates should direct inquiries to Chris Ferris of IMG College at Chris.Ferris@img.com.
It’s not every day you get to see Baby Jay jump out of a giant birthday gift box, start a conga line and dance with Chancellor Gray-Little and former KU basketball coach Ted Owens. But that’s exactly what awaited guests at the Jayhawk Roundup on Saturday.
The annual event, now in its 14th year, took place once again at Murfin Stables in Wichita. More than 400 Jayhawk alumni, fans and friends attended to help celebrate KU’s Sesquicentennial at the birthday-themed party.
Guests enjoyed a VIP reception where they mingled with special guests Bill Self and Ted Owens, followed by dinner and dancing to a live band. Live and silent auctions also gave Jayhawks a chance to bid on unique items, including a pair of tickets to the KU vs. Oregon State men’s basketball game at the Sprint Center, a football autographed by Steve Young and Jerry Rice, and a variety of KU-themed items.
This year’s centerpieces, custom-painted birthday boxes decked out in KU colors, were also available for purchase—just in time for holiday gift-giving!
The Jayhawk Roundup is the largest gathering of KU faithful in Wichita. Proceeds from the event help enhance alumni programs, including student recruitment, career networking and our alumni lobbying program, Jayhawks for Higher Education.
A special thank you to Jayhawk Roundup hosts Dave and Janet Murfin, event chairs Glenn and Camille Nyberg, decorations chair Chris Jeter, and our Jayhawk Benefactors: Kansas Athletics, A. Scott and Carol Ritchie, Linda and John T. Stewart III and Security 1st Title.
And to all the loyal volunteers who make this event happen every year: we couldn’t do it with you! Thank you for your dedication.
Each evening from 5-7 p.m., we’re hanging out at some of our favorite KU-supporting restaurants to get the scoop on the latest from The Hill, learn about upcoming Network events and share great giveaways.
Whether it’s a Royals game watch party in the Kansas City Power & Light District or sitting on the patio at Rock & Brews at Prairiefire, we’re getting out-and-about all over town to show our KU pride.
Check out the restaurant lineup:
August 17 – Rock & Brews
August 18 – Power & Light District with Royals Watch Party
August 19– Grand Street Café in Lenexa
August 20 – Teocali Mexican Restaurant and Cantina
August 21 – Johnny’s Tavern Corinth Square
The best part? We’ve partnered with KVC Health Systems to provide back-to-school donations to area children and families in need.
“I’m proud to be on the board of KVC Health Systems, and we need you on our team,” says KU Men’s Basketball Coach, Bill Self.