Friday, October 15, 2004

Acting the fool’ awaits Jayhawks

Late Night extravaganza features scrimmage, but skits central


Kansas University's basketball players will not turn into pumpkins at midnight tonight.

They will be transformed from singers and actors into honest-to-goodness hoopsters, holding a brief intra-squad scrimmage after two hours of frivolity at Late Night in the Phog at Allen Field-house.

"The scrimmage is great, (but) Late Night is more about getting out and acting the fool," said KU senior Wayne Simien, who has participted in the past three Late Nights and attended many more as a fan during his years at Leav-enworth High.

The Jayhawks unveil their personalities at Late Night while singing, dancing and acting in skits that precede a dunk drill and midnight scrimmage.

"Late Night is about having fun and putting on a show for the fans and our families," senior guard Michael Lee said. "I love it. I look forward to it every year.

"It's a time I guess you can just let go and be silly and goofy, and it'll all be appreciated."

Last year's Late Night -- the first of the Bill Self era -- was full of laughs, as usual, but also some dramatic moments.

One came when Self was introduced to 16,300 fans after a showing of a highlight video of the coach's introductory press conference.


Back in 2001, KU's freshmen serenaded their mothers while pretending to be the Jackson Five.

A packed house gave Self a prolonged standing ovation.

"I have been in some loud places," Self said, "but that place got pretty loud there for a bit. That was a little bit overwhelming."

The fans also rocked the building when the 1988 title team, led by coach Larry Brown, was introduced.

The fans responded with loud ovations for all of the '88 players and coaches, the biggest rounds of applause reserved for Brown and national-player-of-the-year Danny Manning.

The '88 players politely declined an offer to don jerseys and play some old timers in a scrimmage.

"I had it scripted out. They were going to come out and play another group of guys (for 10 minutes)," Self said. "The '88 guys nixed that. I got outvoted on that deal."

"Playing? Nah. We just want to go out there and wave to the fans," former Jayhawk Milt Newton said.


Bewigged former Kansas standout Kenny Gregory boogies with the Crimson Girls during a Late Night extravaganza.

Asked his most memorable moment of his first Late Night, Self said, "I'd say when they showed the video. And the 'One Shining Moment' video of the '88 team."

Here are highlights of all Late Nights in KU history:


KU seniors Nick Collison and Kirk Hinrich stole the "Mardi Gras"-themed show, Collison playing volatile Texas Tech coach Bob Knight in one skit and Hinrich portraying Missouri coach Quin Snyder in another.

"It was the most fun I had in my four years," Collison said.

Then-KU coach Roy Williams had a lot of fun, too, praising administrators for installing a new sound system, which improved acoustics.


Freshmen Simien, Lee, Aaron Miles, and Jeff Hawkins serenaded their mothers in a song and dance. Late Night had a patriotic theme coming a month after the horrific events of Sept. 11, 2001.


Drew Gooden, who is now with the Orlando Magic, sat in a canoe with John Crider as the canoe was pulley-ed across the fieldhouse floor. Jeff Carey, who showed with a wavy head of hair instead of his crewcut, had teammates shave his head under the South goal.


Big men Eric Chenowith and Jeff Carey played electric guitar as Collison sang vocals for the Limp Bizkit song, "Faith." They were joined by a drummer in the KU band.



Scott Pollard showed up in drag to Late Night -- and he proposed to his girlfriend, Mindy Camp, in 1996.

The theme was "Night at the Naismiths" -- an awards show in which guest judges rated acts and presented not an Oscar, but a "Naismith'' to the winners. Ever-athletic Kenny Gregory rammed home several windmill dunks during a warmup drill.


A transfer from LSU, Lester Earl wore a black leather jacket in a spoof of 1950s music. Earl had some vicious dunks, as did Gregory and Paul Pierce in a pre-scrimmage dunk-athon. Also, Ryan Robertson had a big role in a skit as host of the game show, "The Price Is Right."


Scot Pollard became the first basketball player in KU history to score 14 points, grab seven rebounds and block four shots while wearing bright red polish on all 10 fingernails.

"Revlon Vixen" was the eccentric player's color of choice.


John Crider, left, Jeff Boschee, middle, and Terry Nooner lipsynched a "Village People" number in a musical endeavor at Late Night.

That's the night Pollard, who is now with the Indiana Pacers, proposed to his girlfriend, Mindy Camp. She accepted.


Fans showed early for the Saturday night event which started when former KU football coach Glen Mason took the court and yelled, "Live from Allen Fieldhouse, it's Late Night With Roy Williams." Now at Minnesota, Mason has said one of his favorite moments at KU involved the reception he received at that Late Night. Earlier that day KU had won a football game during a 10-2 season.


Baseball Hall of Famer George Brett and golfing great Tom Watson joined ex-Royals' center fielder Brian McRae and ex-Chief defensive back Deron Cherry as honorary coaches.



Jeff Carey had his hair clipped by Kenny Gregory, left, Eric Chenowith, center, and Luke Axtell at the 2000 Late Night.

Fans dressed as their favorite TV sitcom characters before the scrimmage. The Lone Ranger, Silver, Tonto, Gilligan's Ginger and Granny Clampett all were on hand. This Late Night marked the debut of freshmen Vaughn, Pollard, B.J. Williams and Nick Proud, as well as Cal transfer Jerod Haase.


Zany big man Greg Ostertag showed up in a Frankenstein's monster outfit. Williams' entrance was followed by a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new fieldhouse floor. The place was packed, even though Late Night was televised, but the TV show drew poor reviews.


Williams decided Late Night would be better suited on a Friday night, not Monday, the first day KU could practice in accordance with NCAA rules. The fans responded, packing the building. The announced attendance was 15,800. Pre-scrimmage hoopla was highlighted by freshman center Ostertag, who lip-synched a Garth Brooks tune while surrounded by the Crimson Girls.


More than 13,000 fans showed to see the Jayhawks dance and scrimmage after a long Sunday of pro football, including a Chiefs' home game against Detroit. During the 1990 scrimmage, Walters scored 16 points and amazed the crowd with some violent dunks.


'James Naismith' made an appearance at the 1998 Late Night named in his honor.


In '89, a $5 admission fee was charged to pay for two bands, who performed on a massive sound stage. Mike Maddox, Rick Calloway, Freeman West and Jeff Gueldner stole the show on a massive stage performing Robert Palmer songs.


Williams' first Late Night -- it was called "Later With Roy Williams" -- drew over 10,000 fans. Alonzo Jamison shattered the backboard. After the new goal was in place, Milt Newton led the Blue team to a 36-35 victory as he scored 16 points.


Manning and Scooter Barry sang The Temptations' song: "My Girl." The normally reserved Manning was willing to grab center stage prior to his senior season.


Kansas women players Jaclyn Johnson, left, Selena Scott and Brooke Reves participated in a skit during the 2000 Late Night.


"Late Night With Larry Brown" became a major happening in 1986, thanks in large part to its namesake, Late Night With David Letterman. Letterman foil Larry Bud Melman visited Lawrence for the early morning scrimmage, first signing autographs at 7 p.m. at the Burge Union.


KU's inaugural "Late Night With Larry Brown" attracted 6,000 fans. Brown was ecstatic.

"It was fabulous. I was thrilled with the students," Brown said of the throng that showed at 12:01 on a Tuesday morning. "They made it all worthwhile and I know our kids enjoyed it."

Many of the students wore T-shirts that read, "Late Night With Larry Brown. Starring the 1985-86 Kansas basketball team ... all the way to Dallas."

The shirts proved prophetic as the team advanced to the Final Four in Dallas. Current KU coach Bill Self was a grad assistant on that team.

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