Las Vegas The first game of what turned out to be a glorious 2001-02 basketball season is one former Kansas University guard Jeff Boschee would rather forget.
Back on Nov. 19, 2001, it was Ball State 93, No. 4-ranked Kansas 91, in a first-round Maui Invitational contest that both shocked and saddened the Jayhawks and their fans.
"Everyone expected so much out of us. To lose the first game was pretty demoralizing," said Boschee, the junior varsity basketball coach at Blue Valley Northwest High, whose teammates that day included Drew Gooden, Nick Collison and Kirk Hinrich, with a strong freshman class of Aaron Miles, Wayne Simien, Keith Langford and Michael Lee.
"I don't even know if a lot of us had even heard of the school at the time," Boschee added.
The Jayhawks were victimized not only by a gritty Cardinal team, but by cramps.
Point guard Miles was frozen in pain by a leg cramp just as Ball State guard Patrick Jackson blazed by for a game-winning layup with .8 of a second left. Miles also had committed a turnover with 15.8 ticks left in a tie game.
"It was really really hot in there," Boschee said. "Aside from that, I remember them making shot after shot."
Collison had to be carried off the court because of a cramp and received an IV treatment and muscle relaxants before returning.
He lasted just five minutes the final half.
"Our legs gave out before theirs did," said Collison, now a member of Seattle's SuperSonics. "You can't make excuses. They won the game, but it (cramping) definitely hurt us."
It forced Maui Invitational officials finally to install air conditioning in the always-steamy gym.
Coach Roy Williams didn't make a big deal out of the one loss. The Jayhawks, in fact, rebounded to beat Houston and Seton Hall to leave Maui 2-1 and went on to win 13 straight games and record a 33-4 overall mark.
"He wasn't mad," Boschee said. "I remember at our late-night snack he told us his two Final Four teams he had lost one of their first games of the season and it's not the end of the world and we'd get better. He said he'd rather lose now than at the end of the year. He said it was just one game. It was true. We went 16-0 in the conference which hadn't been done in 39 years and went to the Final Four. That's what I remember about that season more than that one game."
Boschee said he hoped the Jayhawks wouldn't make the same mistake tonight and lose to the Cardinals again.
"I would hope they wouldn't take anybody lightly after losing to ORU," Boschee said. "They shot the lights out, and that's what Ball State did to us.
"Hopefully this team is mature enough not to let it happen again."