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Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Kansas to honor 1974 Final Four squad Sunday

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This will be reunion weekend in Lawrence for players and coaches from Kansas University's 1974 Final Four men's basketball team.

Coach Ted Owens, his assistants and several members of the squad will gather at a banquet Saturday night at the Hereford House, and will be honored at halftime of Sunday's KU-Oklahoma game.

The 1974 team capped the greatest single-season turnaround in KU history. The Jayhawks went 23-7 after adding two players -- Roger Morningstar and Norm Cook -- to a 1972-73 squad that finished 8-18.

Many of the members of that close-knit team have returned to KU for various reunions throughout the years, but this year's gathering -- which has been organized by Morningstar, who lives in Lawrence -- also will include Rick Suttle, who played pro ball in Argentina in the 1970s and 1980s and has lived there since.

Some other players on the team include Dale Greenlee, Tommie Smith, Tom Kivisto, Reuben Shelton and Donnie Von Moore. Assistant coaches include Sam Miranda and Duncan Reid.

"That was a remarkable team," Owens said Tuesday from Tulsa, Okla., where he works in investment banking. "To go from 8-18 to the Final Four was quite an accomplishment.

"The year before, we lost virtually every close game. A year later, we added a couple guys, had a lot of key players who were a year older, more mature, and we went 13-1 in the conference. It really was a fun year. All those guys have a great love for this university."

Kansas, which was led in scoring by the late Danny Knight at 12.7 points a game, fell to Marquette, 64-51, in the national semifinals in Greensboro, N.C., then fell to UCLA in the consolation game. N.C. State won the national title.

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