The KU men’s basketball team won the 1988 NCAA Divison I Men’s Basketball Tournament on April 4, 1988. The Jayhawks defeated Big 8 foe Oklahoma 83-79 in Kansas City’s Kemper Arena. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the 1988 National Champions, we collected everything we’ve ever written about that season: the players, the fans, the students, and the history of one of the greatest runs the NCAA tournament has ever seen.
After a season filled with ups and downs, a 14th straight conference championship and a trip to the Final Four, the Jayhawks fell to the Villanova Wildcats Saturday night in the national semifinal.
KU fans gathered in San Antonio, Allen Fieldhouse, and at watch parties from coast to coast to watch the Jayhawks in the Final Four.
At the Final Four
More than 5,000 Jayhawks started their game day right outside the Alamodome for the pregame party hosted by the KU Alumni Association and Kansas Athletics. The KU band, Spirit Squad and mascots held a pep rally, with food trucks and cash bars nearby.
Back home in Lawrence
Dozens of Lawrence-area bars and restaurants hosted watch parties, but the most popular site for a big KU game remained the same. Thousands of fans flocked to Allen Fieldhouse to watch the game on the video board. Students filled the student section, and threw shredded Kansans into the air for pregame introductions.
Wherever Jayhawks may be
Alumni networks hosted more than 75 watch parties around the country. Many network leaders claimed it was their biggest turnout in years. The Denver Network alone hosted 1,000 Jayhawks at Stoney’s Bar and Grill.
Although we hate to see the season end, the Alumni Association is proud of this team, and we are always proud to be a Jayhawk.
Allen Fieldhouse doors (north, south, and east entrances) will open Saturday at 6:30 p.m. Fans will be able to watch the Jayhawks’ NCAA Final Four game vs. Villanova on the video board.
Members of the KU pep band and spirit squad will be on hand, with the Rally House store, the Booth Family Hall of Athletics, and concession stands on the first and second levels open for fans.
The event is free and open for all ages, with parking lots available at no charge, including the parking garage adjacent to Allen Fieldhouse and the new KU Central District garage. The Fieldhouse will close immediately following the game.
The game will tip at approximately 7:45 p.m. (40 minutes after the conclusion of the first semifinal game, which tips at 5:09 p.m.)
If the Jayhawks win Saturday, Allen Fieldhouse will be open for Monday night’s NCAA Championship game. The game tips at 8:15 p.m. Doors will open at 7 p.m.
When the KU Men’s Basketball team sent out the call, Jayhawks delivered.
After hours of pandemonium on Massachusetts Street, thousands of students, fans and alumni made the trek to Allen Fieldhouse to welcome the Final Four team home.
Fans were treated to a replay of the Elite Eight game, reliving Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk’s game-tying basket that sent the game to overtime and Malik Newman’s overtime scoring barrage to clinch a trip to San Antonio.
As the seconds ticked away on the replay, the video board transitioned to a highlight package of the game, mixed with fan videos from social media and the party on Mass Street. When the video ended with the Final Four logo, the crowd roared as the Jayhawks walked in.
With Devonte’ Graham leading the team in while holding the regional trophy, Head Coach Bill Self addressed the crowd first, asking the question everyone was thinking: “Did these guys play like men today, or what?”
Graham, Newman, and Mykhailiuk all spoke as well, thanking the fans for their support, and asking fans to continue that support at the final four.
“I hope all y’all can get to San Antonio,” Graham said, “and hopefully we can win two more for y’all. Rock Chalk.”
With a trip to the Final Four on the line, Jayhawk fans came out in full force. More than 70 watch parties around the country brought Jayhawks together in bars and restaurants from Ann Arbor to Washington, D.C. The game lived up to the hype, with KU defeating Duke in an instant classic. Check out some photos of just a few of the watch parties!
The Richmond ’Hawks wave the wheat at Carolina Ale House.
The Boise Jayhawks had a record turnout, with 35+ fans gathering to see the big game.
The Charlotte Jayhawks were deep in enemy territory, but that didn’t stop them from Rock Chalking it up after a big win over the home state’s Blue Devils!
Washington, D.C. fans fill Mackey’s for big games, but an Elite Eight game calls for a full Jayhawk takeover.
The Tampa Jayhawk Alumni Network is ready for the Final Four.
Seattle Jayhawks celebrate KU being Final Four bound!
The San Antonio Jayhawks were hopeful for a KU win, and now they get to welcome Jayhawks from everywhere to their city.
Keep an eye out for information on pep rallies and other festivities in San Antonio, as well as watch parties in a network near you! Visit our ’Hawks ’n Hoops postseason hub for more details.
After two consecutive losses in the Elite Eight, KU basketball fans were thrilled to storm Massachusetts Street in celebration. KU beat Duke 85-81 in overtime and at the sound of the buzzer Jayhawks knew what to do: sprint to Mass Street. Within minutes, fans filled the street and began to commemorate the long-awaited trip to the Final Four.
The Jayhawks have advanced to the Midwest Regional, and Omaha is ready to host! Before KU fans arrive in Nebraska’s largest city, we reached out to local alumni for their recommendations on places to see, eat and drink.
Ask any Omaha native what to do in town, and you’ll get the same answer first: go to the zoo. Named one of the five best zoos in America by USA Today and Trip Advisor, the Henry Doorly Zoo is a must see for visitors of all ages. Enter the Desert Dome that towers above the grounds, and be sure to see Kingdoms of the Night, the world’s largest nocturnal exhibit, located underneath.
Half a mile south of the CenturyLink Center is the Old Market, an arts and entertainment district sprawling across cobblestone streets. With over 50 businesses in the area, you’ll find a place to shop, eat, or drink the way you like it.
Just like Kansas City, Omaha has preserved their historic Union Station with a museum honoring the history of Omaha and the region. Bring the kids, and let them explore the exhibits, including a 1950s steam engine and train cars. It’s only a half-mile walk from the Old Market.
A hip lunch spot that’s easy to miss, visitors to Block 16 will find a burger Alton Brown calls his favorite in the country, and fries served in ways you’ve never seen before. Think Lawrence’s own Burger Stand with an expanded menu.
While there won’t be any official watch parties in Omaha for KU’s games, the Good Life hosts the Omaha Jayhawk Network for watch parties throughout the season. Standard bar fare and plenty of wings make it a perfect place to watch the games on KU’s off days.
Wichita is the site of first and second round games in the 2018 NCAA Tournament’s Midwest Region. It’s also the largest city in Kansas and home to more than 10,000 Jayhawks. We reached out to some of our alumni to get the scoop on what to do while you’re in town, and they were more than happy to share their favorites.
You might be surprised at just how much there is to do in this bustling midwestern city—and you might even find yourself coming back for another visit.
As Monique Pope, one of our Wichita Network volunteers, put it, “What’s there not to do!”
The museum’s new curator, Dr. Tera Hedrick, is a proud Jayhawk who received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in art history from KU. Don’t miss the Monet to Matisse exhibit that showcases 59 masterworks from the Brooklyn Museum collection.
“We’ve taken many out-of-town family members to the art museum, and they’re always surprised at the quality of art—especially the Chihuly glass pieces,” said Elaine Level.
Learn about Wichita’s transformation from a frontier settlement to a cattle town to an agricultural and manufacturing area at this one-of-a-kind museum. Take a walk through history and see over 40 buildings that replicate the late 1800s, filled with a 10,000-piece permanent collection that includes textiles, furnishings, tools, art and more.
This “botanical paradise on the plains” includes more than 18 acres of gardens that change with the season. It features more than 4,000 plants, both native and new to the region. Sculptures, streams, fountains, and waterfalls help create a visually stunning atmosphere.
The top outdoor family tourist attraction in Kansas, the zoo is home to 3,000 animals of nearly 400 species. It has been recognized with national and international awards for its support of field conservation programs and successful breeding of rare and endangered species. Be sure to check out the new elephant exhibit!
On March 16, basketball-themed activities will be featured throughout the zoo. Get $5 off zoo admission through March 25 with your NCAA ticket stub.
Old Town, nestled in the heart of Wichita, is home to over 100 businesses including restaurants, shops, clubs, galleries, museums and more. The charming district includes brick-lined streets and historic lampposts, along with a collection of converted brick warehouses dating back to the mid-1800s.
The 44-foot tall steel sculpture stands at the juncture of the Big and Little Arkansas rivers in downtown Wichita. It is also home to the Mid-America All-Indian Center.
The Keeper of the Plains sculpture was created by Blackbear Bosin and erected in 1974 to celebrate the United States Bicentennial. It is celebrated by Wichitans as one of the main icons of the city. Time your visit for 9 p.m. to see the ring of fire!
Bringing the kids? Check out Kansas’ premier science center, located along the Arkansas River in the scenic downtown Museums on the River district.
The 100,000-square foot facility includes permanent and traveling exhibits, a planetarium, and an 18-hole mini golf putting course. Exploration Park is a free area nearby that includes a wetlands habitat, adventure play yard and picnic groves.
Another kid-friendly option for your off day: one of the largest family-owned zoos in the country, right outside of Wichita. The park has grown into the third largest animal collection in Kansas, and one of the largest attractions in the state.
Enjoy more than 40 exhibits with interactive stations and more than 400 animals. The first day of the 2018 season is March 16.
Where to eat
Wichita is a true foodie town with diverse and authentic ethnic cuisines. Dine on anything from Mexican to Mediterranean to Vietnamese—and everything in between.
Wichita is known as the “Air Capital of the World,” and kids will love watching the planes at Stearman Field, a family-owned and operated airport located just outside the city. Grab some food at Stearman Field Bar & Grill, and Stearman Sky Tours is available if you want to catch a different view of the area.
Coffee fans will love Reverie, which serves premium specialty coffee beverages as well as breakfast and lunch in the cafe. The wholesale coffee roastery opened in 2013 and quickly grew into what it is today.
One of the central tenants of Clifton Square, a collection of boutiques and restaurants in renovated houses, Ziggy’s Pizza offers indoor and outdoor seating with pies that serve two to three. Be sure to stop by College Hill Creamery next door afterwards for a cone!
Connie’s is Wichita’s oldest family-owned Mexican restaurant, celebrating 55 years in business next month. It’s located in the historic NOMAR (North Market) neighborhood in North Wichita, among a long-established enclave of Hispanic-owned businesses.
Craft beer fans will love Central Standard Brewing south of Douglas on Greenwood. With a fun atmosphere on a giant outdoor patio, it’s a popular hangout on warm days, and you can often find a food truck or live music nearby.
Right in the heart of Wichita’s Delano district, right off the Arkansas river, the Monarch offers a wide variety of specialty bourbon cocktails along with plenty of appetizers, soups, salads and sandwiches, all under $10.
Walking distance from Intrust Bank Arena, Public at the Brickyard features a gastropub menu with a local, green focus: their website lists where in the area all ingredients come from. A wide selection of beers continues the trend, with options from breweries across the U.S. with a Midwestern focus.
This speakeasy serves craft cocktails in downtown Wichita. Located beneath the Ambassador Hotel, it prides itself on exclusivity and discretion. The location also has an important historical context: it’s where the 1958 Dockum sit-in took place. The sit-in served as one of the catalysts of the civil rights movement.
Many thanks to volunteers from our Wichita Network for their recommendations! The top two photos in this post are used with permission of the Wichita Art Museum.
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.
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.