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Monday, February 28, 2005

The last word: basketball greats on Allen Fieldhouse

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Here are some comments about KU's tradition-rich Allen Fieldhouse, which celebrates its 50th birthday on March 2.

"This is the best building, definitely the best. The great thing about Kansas basketball in the fieldhouse is it's an event -- the songs are the same today as 20, 30 years ago. The Rock Chalk chant is still going strong.

"The pep band is the best. It is the best tradition. Our fans are so knowledgeable. Some places the fans boo everything. Not at the fieldhouse.

I think I had the privilege of coaching more games in Allen Fieldhouse than any other coach. On the other hand, Roy Williams won a lot more than I did."

-- Ted Owens, coach at Kansas from 1964 to '83

"It's one of the great college basketball venues in America. If you want to talk about the top five in the nation, certainly Lawrence would be in the top five, no doubt about it.

"Basketball is a vital part of what community is all about, and it's the same here in Lawrence. Kansas basketball is such a great, great tradition."

-- Dick Vitale, ESPN announcer

"It's great to just mess around and shoot baskets in there. I've seen a lot of basketball, been a lot of places ... there's nothing like this place."

-- Raef LaFrentz, former KU player from 1994 to '98 now with Boston Celtics

"I remember the first time I ever saw Allen Fieldhouse. I was awestruck. I had never seen so many fans for a basketball game in my life. The layout of the place, the bleachers on the floor and the seats above, the color combinations of the old gray walls, the windows from another generation and the banners suspended from the ceiling, all combined to make it a special place. There is no place I could imagine being better. The NBA would never play in a place like Allen Fieldhouse, and that's part of their problem. This gym exists for basketball and the game is what is important, not a light show or oldies played to get the crowd aroused. At Kansas the fans get worked up about the game."

-- Jeff Boschee, KU player from 1998 to 2002

"This is one of the great places in the country, if not the greatest, to see a game. We won every home game in my two years. I've got great memories of this place."

-- Mark Freidinger, former KU assistant, now an announcer at Wake Forest

"There's nothing like playing in Allen Fieldhouse with 16,000 fans every night. It's what makes it special, the fans."

-- Ryan Robertson, KU player from 1995 to '98

"It reminds me a lot of Carmichael Auditorium (gym at North Carolina replaced by Smith Center). It's easy to play when the fans are into it like that. The fans were so enthused it gives you motivation."

-- Michael Jordan, NBA Hall of Famer who played exhibition game in 1997 in Allen

"The fieldhouse is magical. It's our house."

-- Current KU player J.R. Giddens

"We knocked off Utah (69-56) and DePaul by 20 (84-64) here in the '78 Midwest Regional to get to St. Louis (site of Final Four). It's a special building; very special to Notre Dame."

-- Digger Phelps, ESPN analyst and former Notre Dame coach

"It is a place very special to me and all members of the Kansas basketball family. There is no better venue for basketball than Allen Fieldhouse."

-- Danny Manning, who led KU to a national title in 1988, now member of KU basketball staff

"I've never been in a better venue. This is the best I've been part of as far as a consistent home crowd. I've known it since I was a graduate assistant here. The fans here are knowledgeable. It's a very educated crowd. You can run good offense and miss and they know it's good offense. You can run bad offense and make a shot and they know it was bad offense.

It's a crowd that shows regardless of weather. We played A&M here and it had to be 15 degrees, snow, sleet, freezing rain, school closed the next day and we had 16,000 here. It's what makes it a special place to play at and coach at."

-- Bill Self, Kansas' current coach

"One of our players once asked me when we walked into Lubbock for our shootaround (at new United Spirit Center), 'Coach, when are you going to get the people to give you one there?' I said, 'I don't ever want one.'

I love the tradition and history of Allen Fieldhouse. I think Allen Fieldhouse is one of the greatest places that's ever been. I think at Kansas the student body is great. The kids sit out there waiting for weeks sometimes. I think it's good for players' morale, knowing their fellow students really do care that much about it.

People come out regardless. We played Tulsa, the wild chill was 25 to 30 below. It was a nonconference game and school was not in session and there were 16,300 there. That puts it (fieldhouse) in a unique category right there. Regardless of who you are playing, it's packed. The people are coming there to have some excitement."

-- Roy Williams, coach at Kansas from 1989 to 2003, now at North Carolina

"I'm a Jayhawk and I know now why there is so much tradition here and why so many wonderful things have come from here, and I am now very much a part of it by being there (on the fieldhouse south wall) and very proud of it."

-- Wilt Chamberlain, who played at KU from 1956 to '58

"They are all special in their own right, but nothing like this. Empty, I get a great feeling, but when the people are here, it's simply incredible.

There's no better program, no better place to play, go to school or coach. I said all along this is the finest building in basketball. No atmosphere is any better."

-- Larry Brown, coach at Kansas from 1984 to '88.

"It's really a neat building. There's a lot of history here."

-- John Stockton, future NBA Hall of Famer who played one exhibition in Allen for Utah Jazz

"The best part is running out of that tunnel on game day. Players before Nick (Collison) and I said they missed it, and I miss it, too."

-- Kirk Hinrich, KU player from 1999 to 2003, now with Chicago Bulls

"This is a beautiful place. The fans get excited, There's great tradition. It's what it should be about."

-- Jerry Sloan, Utah Jazz coach, who worked one exhibition in Allen

"For me, coaching in Allen Fieldhouse is almost a childhood dream. To go to Kansas, where basketball was born, to Allen Fieldhouse ... I think the problem with this profession is that it has become more of a business and this was my turn to be a kid."

-- Tom Izzo, Michigan State head coach

"I have so many great memories. We never lost a game here. Playing in the fieldhouse ... these were the best days of my life."

-- Paul Pierce, who played at KU from 1995 to '98, now with Boston Celtics

"This crowd is the best I've seen anywhere in terms of organization and how they go through warmups with the team. Whoever started it here has done a great job with the tradition."

-- Lute Olson, head coach, University of Arizona

"A lot of us grew up basketball fans, we all know what a great basketball program this is and what a great atmosphere they have here. It's one of the best anywhere."

-- Luke Walton, former University of Arizona player now with Los Angeles Lakers

"There's too many memories to mention. It's a great place to play. I had my butt kicked there and we had some great wins there."

-- Norm Stewart, former Missouri head coach

"When I was an assistant at Xavier, the women's coach and myself spent a day with coach Stallings (Kevin, former assistant) to talk Kansas basketball and learn some things. I took a tour of Allen Fieldhouse. It was impressive and there were not 16,000 people screaming for your neck."

-- Skip Prosser, Wake Forest coach

"Allen Fieldhouse is the Wrigley Field of college basketball. This building speaks to you. It is one of the gems of college basketball. I think if you asked anybody in all the different places, they'd say the same thing. It's in the top five, no question."

-- Jay Bilas, ESPN announcer and former Duke player

"It is always fun when I come back because this is my home. When you talk about the game, I had a good time. I told my players that I had a good time coaching them tonight. It was fun watching us compete against a very good basketball team, in a place like Allen Fieldhouse. The fans at Allen Fieldhouse are second to none. You can say what you want about the Fieldhouse, but it is the people that make it special."

-- Former Kansas assistant coach -- and current TCU head coach -- Neil Dougherty

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