Back to 2008 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament coverage

2008 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Mayer: Ghosts of ‘57 banished


It took 51 years, but a group of pained Kansas basketball associates from a 1957 heartbreak now enjoys some solace - and now we can lift a toast to the departed, thanks to these 2008 national champions.

North Carolina edged Kansas, 54-53, in triple overtime in that '57 NCAA title game. Jayhawk devotees who suffered through that ordeal have, ever since, wanted KU to meet UNC in another crucial match - and whip the Tar Heels soundly. The '08 guys did it, 84-66, last Saturday - just another of the many favors Bill Self's title crew did for those in the Jayhawk Nation.

The fact KU whipped a Roy Williams team had nothing to do with assuaging the misery from '57. Lordy, Roy was only 7 years old then. He may not even have been certain where Carolina was on the map, let alone Kansas, where he eventually had a brilliant career.

Nope, the perceived villains in that ancient conflict were UNC coach Frank McGuire, All-American Lenny Rosenbluth, quarterback Tommy Kearns, center Joe Quigg and maybe one of the referees.

Both teams had played their guts out for nearly 55 minutes, and KU led, 53-52, when Maurice King was called for a foul against Quigg with about 10 seconds left. Quigg sank two shots, and KU hustled downcourt to get the ball to superstar Wilt Chamberlain for a winning dunk. KU 55-54, right? Rather than 54-53 Carolina? Ron Loneski's pass into the paint was low enough that Quigg was able to bat it. The heady Kearns retrieved the ball and tossed it skyward as the clock ran out.

I've never been in a KU locker room more tearful and funereal. I was lucky enough to be fairly close to a lot of those people, particularly coaches Dick Harp and Jerry Waugh. To hell with media objectivity! I puckered up with the rest. Some day, maybe, there'll be a chance for atonement, we rationalized. But for then, that seemed an impossible dream, in the gloom of the moment.

"I haven't gotten over it," Waugh commented during the 50th anniversary events for '57. "It was the most devastating loss I've ever experienced in basketball." This from one of the most upbeat guys you'll find.

Six of the seven Jayhawks who played are dead - Chamberlain, King, Gene Elstun, John Parker, Lew Johnson and Bob Billings. So is coach Harp. But Waugh, squadman Monte Johnson, broadcaster Max Falkenstien and I can savor to the fullest what the current team did. We should get together to hoist a couple to where those others now reside, hopefully aware of how Self, Mario Chalmers and present champions got even.

Roy Williams was no more than a sacrificial lamb in this case, for all the other sidebars. The goal always has been for a Kansas team to whip a Carolina team en route to the national title. Did our guys ever do that!

Fouls are pivotal. Memphis the other night wanted to foul a KU guy before Chalmers lifted that gate-opening trey, but couldn't. There is some evidence that a phantom foul was called on Reece King in that '57 contest. Films were gone over frame by frame; the KU deduction was that Reece never touched Quigg. Yet Reece and coach Harp, gentlemen that they were, never aired such notions.

What's vital now is that KU finally broke UNC hearts the way the Tar Heels tortured Kansas auricles and ventricles in '57. Maybe our dear departed pals will rest a little more comfortably now.


niao 13 years, 6 months ago

I have to say I disagree. The ghost of 1957 will only be banished if we beat UNC in 3OT in a championship game. Maybe I am asking too much. For me, the Final Four win over UNC is a sweet revenge for Roy's leaving KU 5 years ago. Some may think it is for UNC's Final Four win over KU in 1993. But 1957? That's long time ago...

Lance Hobson 13 years, 6 months ago

Come on, we did beat them in '91 and Dean Smith was ejected. The irony there is that Dean Smith was crushed when we lost that '57 game.

kupopp 13 years, 6 months ago

Had a laugh this morning. Here on the East Coast we get the Carolina Basketball Show on Saturday mornings. Watched to see Roy Williams explain what happened at the Final Four. He said he was really hurt by the criticism by the Carolina fans over his rooting for KU during the championship game. He said that in 1993 after NC ousted KU, he cheered for NC in the championship game. And that was OK by the NC fans, but when it turned the other way, he was ripped. He said that anyone who questioned his loyalty was way off base and that it would take a long time for him to get over it.As I said in a previous post, I appreciate and thank Roy for the job he did for 15 years at KU. I really thank him for turning down NC the first time because Bill Self had signed with Illinois the week before, something that I lamented at the time. By waiting three years, he enabled us to get Bill Self as our coach. Kansan by birth. Jayhawk by the grace of God! Unfortunately, I gotta live where the job takes me.

milehighhawk 13 years, 6 months ago

So can you retire in peace now?Still waiting to hear your retraction on that Brandon Rush hit piece you did before the year - you know better.

actorman 13 years, 6 months ago

Well said, milehigh. I suggest you email him directly and ask the same question. I'll do so as well, and maybe if others do too we can put some pressure on him to recant his idiotic and mean-spirited rant.njjayhawk, you make a good point about Dean. However, he's up there pretty far in age by now. I wonder if health may have been a reason he didn't attend the Final Four.

doctorWho 13 years, 6 months ago

A little Googling revealed Smith had knee replacement surgery this winter and had some additional health complications as a result of surgery. He was still having difficulties in March.

actorman 13 years, 6 months ago

I couldn't find a way to email Mayer directly, so I sent this to the editor. I encourage everyone else to do likewise:"Mayer makes a good point about a lot of the pain from '57 being eased. However, he has yet to apologize for the mean-spirited article he wrote about Brandon Rush when Rush hurt his knee. Mayer wrote that Rush was only coming back to use the KU medical insurance and wouldn't be a contributing factor to the team (and even worse, that Rush had no incentive to TRY). Now that Rush played a huge part in easing the pain from '57, don't you think the LEAST that Mayer could do is to write a retraction of an article that was nasty and completely undeserved? I look forward to seeing such a retraction, however, given who we're talking about, I won't be holding my breath."

okiedave 13 years, 6 months ago

Actorman - I disagree. Mayer has nothing to apologize for. I grew up in Lawrence - was a K.U. graduate - lived and breathed K.U. sports. I probably did not miss an article in the sports section of the LJW. Mayer's Jayhawk loyalties are unquestionable. Jayhawk blood has flowed through Mayer's veins since the early 50's -- through years of bad football. The piece of the puzzle you are missing is that the athletes also read the LJW. There have been times when coaches have requested that Mayer (and other journalist) actually write a story that puts a particular player on notice that something extra is needed from a particular player or the team. Mayer has been around the block enough to not need suggestions from coaches - he can spot the challenge. Mayer's article exposed the dangers that Rush needed to deal with personnally in his recovery. Mayer's criticism of Rush may have been sufficient incentive for Rush to say - "No, not me, watch and see." Rush had a great year. Rush may not even needed the incentive directed from Mayer. However, the article certainly did not seem to have hurt his game this year, and.... I wonder if Rush may not have had as stellar of a year had Mayer's article not been printed. Of course, we will never know. However, the article printed by the LJW just before the championship game about Rush's legal difficulties is another matter. I do not know what journalist wrote the article but the inaccuracies are inexcusable and the timing is questionable. I am most certain it was written by a relative new hire, low on the totem poll journalist, who covers the court beat (and probably can't stand K.U. sports) and not by a K.U. Sports writer (they were all in San Antonio). The good thing about making mistakes like that is it is probably a safe bet that journalist will not make the same mistake again. But hell, who cares at this point, K.U. is the national champion and Rush is going to make more $$ his first year in the NBA than the suspect journalist will probably see in her/his lifetime. Let's get over it.

Marcia Parsons 13 years, 6 months ago

UNC fans did react badly, but after some of the stuff I've seen from our fans on this site about Roy Williams, I have my doubts that we would have reacted any better had the positions been reversed. If he were still our coach, they beat us, and he stayed on to cheer for the Tarheels while wearing a UNC sticker, would we have been proud of the things that were posted here? I think this is a case of "the pot calling the kettle black."

kc_wildfire 13 years, 6 months ago

actorman...Isn't the point of an editorial column to voice the opinion of the writer? So what if Mayer thought what he thought and put it in an article...doesn't mean you have to agree with it. Last time I checked we still had freedom of speech in this country, not to mention freedom of thought.

hardwick15 13 years, 6 months ago

njjayhawk, I could not agree more with your post. Where was Dean Smith? He is the worst Jayhawk that ever lived. I have maintained my entire life that the true Benedict Arnold is Dean Smith, not Roy.Bottom line for me is this, I very much hope that the Roy storyline is gone from now on. I hope that Jayhawk Nation will finally embrace Bill Self because if he keeps this ship rolling (four conference and one national championships in five years -are you kidding me?), his name will be alongside the greatest coaches that ever roamed the sideline -no matter what school they call home.

Joe Ross 13 years, 6 months ago

Hardwick15...TOTALLY agree.Dean Smith is a Kansan! Dean Smith is a JAYHAWK! His reasons for wooing Roy away from Kansas to UNC are less understandable than for Roy, who is both a native North Carolinian and a Tar Heel.Roy Williams has earned his redemption in my book with 15 years of service (which outdoes Dean Smith's) and by rooting for us in the National Championship game. Dean Smith, on the other hand, is fill in the blank.

kc_wildfire 13 years, 6 months ago

Oops!That should be...a douche bag!Insults aren't as good when you don't get them right the first time!!! :-)

Joe Ross 13 years, 6 months ago

All you Mayer bashers need to stand down.Mayer is a loyal Jayhawk. None of us here are always right. It is hypocritical to hold him to that standard! No loyal Hawk who bleeds Crimson and Blue should have to endure such nonsense. Besides, your efforts are better spent in celebration of a championship.

smitty33 13 years, 6 months ago

Just watched the game again on DVR for the 3rd time, my observations, if you care....1. We were a better team than Memphis. Both teams have great guards, but we're MUCH better down low. I disagree with Self, we'd win 7 out of 10. 2. Watching Roy again and seeing his kind comments.... I totally forgive him for leaving. Go Roy!! 3. Billy Packer is a biased idiot. To call a game like that, you're supposed to be unbiased. THREE times he stated KU should have been called for a foul or travelling. Not once for Memphis. He stated over 20 things Memphis needed to do to win. Only twice for KU. The worst was when he stated the refs did an awesome job not calling a technical on Roberts. Ya, if youre a freakin Memphis fan!! Loved how he called Rose's banked 3 "BRILLIANT"... not even questioning if he meant to. 4. Jackson tore it up in overtime, WOW. Gotta be one of my top favorite KU players of all time. 5. Arthur was the man the entire game... He proved himself to be better than Julian in his final game as a Jayhawk. Shady, if you go pro, good luck and thanks for your awesome play.6. Too bad Sasha couldn't have been on the floor more. But Jackson and Arthur were playing awesome. We had too much talent!! FYI - Sasha did NOT travel under the basket - watch it in slo mo. 7. I counted 5 crappy calls against KU and 1 for Memphis. I tried to be non-biased. However, i'm sooo glad they didn't call Rush for a charge on his 3 point play.. could have went either way. We needed those points and that was Dorsey's 3rd. 8. Collins is TOO WRECKLESS. I'm surprised he played so much in the end vs. Robinson. However, after watching the replay of Collin's drive with 20 seconds left, he got hacked on both arms. If things had played out differently, this would have been the biggest no call in history. That said, I hope he improves or he's gonna drive me nuts next year. 9. Does anyone know who the 9 KU basketball alumns were in the crowd they referred to?

Joe Ross 13 years, 6 months ago

Did anyone get a look at the AP final poll? They had Kansas FOURTH. Behind UNC (who was number 1), behind Memphis, behind UCLA. This is proof that there is a biased media. It is also proof that you should put NO FAITH in polls.

kc_wildfire 13 years, 6 months ago

jross...The final AP Poll is done after the Conference Tournaments and they only update the records of the teams after that. They don't include the NCAA Tournament in their final vote. the date...March 17th, but records through the Championship game. Have no clue why they do it that way.

Marcia Parsons 13 years, 6 months ago

smitty33: ¢ Faces in crowd: Former KU basketball players Alonzo Jamison, Greg Gurley, David Johanning, Mike Maddox, Greg Ostertag, Scot Pollard, Ryan Robertson, Bud Stallworth, Rex Walters and Walt Wesley were among those spotted in the stands.And I'm sure you knew that Julian Wright was there. There may have been more, but this was the most comprehensive list I saw.

Joe Ross 13 years, 6 months ago

kc_wildfire...then why are all the records updated in the poll? Furthermore, there is a timestamp as to when the page was updated (April 11th I believe). Also, the coach's poll reflects the NCAA tourney games (as does the AP poll) and it has Kansas number one. This doesnt make sense!How does the press have Kansas fourth???

JayViking 13 years, 6 months ago

!! You can't post youtube videos of Kansas playing. I sit for 30 minutes going through videos. :)

Jonathan Allison 13 years, 6 months ago

jrossThe espn/usa today coaches poll has a vote at the end of the NCAA tournament. The AP has not had a vote since March 17. The win/loss records are up to date, but no vote has taken place.

speedy 13 years, 6 months ago

also mentioned eric chenowith and greg drieling. ostertag? as for being 4th? how does calipari get coach of the year after all of the poor coaching in the champ. game? memphis won one more game than KU because they played one more game.

Rodney Stice 13 years, 6 months ago

JayViking,you have my sympathy. I watched all the jayhawk clips I could find on utube after I followed the link.speedy,Memphis record was 38-2; KU 37-3. Both teams played 40 games.Rock Chalk National Champions

100 13 years, 6 months ago

Mayer has the historical importance of this 2008 win against UNC 100% correct. Anyone who has read anything about this 1957 Championship game or looked at footage knows he has right. Up until the last 15 years or so, it was called by many commentators "the best game ever"...Wilt, especially, as most of us know, finally came to relative peace with the outcome of this game, just a couple years before he died. Look back at the game footage -- some of it has been on this site before. We were a simple entry pass and dunk from winning it. With Wilt that's an easy play -- backpick (or none) catch and dunk.Instead, the point guard threw it a centimeter too low and it was batted away, and NC freaks out, and we stand motionless, stunned. The loss was especially hard because all KU fans felt Phog (who was forced to retire) should have been coaching that team, and winning the NCAA that year would have been simple with Phog coaching Wilt. They were right. Further, with Phog coaching, Wilt and KU would have not only won in 1957, but most likely 3 in a row ('57, '58, '59) before Wilt would've gone to the pros. This loss affected everything in KU's hoops program for years to come. We still had incredible winning percentages, conference banners and an occasional final 4 for 30 years... but no national title games.Only when Larry Brown came did we really start to feel THE national power that Phog brought to us for 50 years. Mayer may not be in his 20's, but he has a lot more KU memories than most of us. He is exactly right on the historical importance of this 2008 final four victory over UNC. We finally fully got our mojo back, April 5 (and April 7), 2008.

actorman 13 years, 6 months ago

Since I've gotten a bunch of comments on my Mayer rant, I feel the need to respond:I've never questioned Mayer's right to free speech or thought, or the fact that an editorial involves expressing an opinion. I've also never questioned how much Mayer cares about KU sports and its history. What I HAVE questioned, and continue to question, is his knee-jerk reaction to something that EVERY PLAYER has a right to do, which is to come back if he has not hired an agent. What he wrote seemed to lack compassion or even comprehension of the way the rules work. Rather than giving Brandon credit for keeping up with his studies even though he fully expected to go to the NBA, and for having the sense to not hire an agent, he bashed Rush as being selfish and using KU for his own benefit.And I seriously doubt that either a coach asked Mayer to write the article or that it had any effect on Rush's play. Although Brandon has been criticized sometimes for not being aggressive enough, he has never been criticized for his work ethic or his commitment to the team.I think Mayer was way off base in his article and it was a hatchet job, and despite Mayer's command of history and devotion to KU sports, I maintain that he owes Brandon an apology.

Joe Ross 13 years, 6 months ago

actormana point of respectful disagreement. Speaking of knee-jerk reactions, I am sick and tired, and tired of being sick and tired, of people who come on here every time Mayer writes an article and dish negativity. Mayer is one of the best writers here and I dont care who says what about it. Hes History 101 as far as KU hoops are concerned. I HAVE LEARNED MORE ABOUT KU BASKETBALL FROM MAYER THAN ANY OTHER WRITER HERE BY FAR BAR NONE!If he makes a mistake every now and then, so be it. He's 99% true...

trmatlock 13 years, 6 months ago

I think it is time for everyone to get over the 'Roy' thing. He has made it clear that he still has feelings for KU. Let it go! He kept KU at the top nationally while he was here. He has never expressed anything but affection for Kansas. His effect on the program and tradition was always positive. Don't slam him. Thank him for a great 15 years.

jaybate 13 years, 6 months ago

(The huge, ghostly faces of Phog and Henry fade in in the darkness above the Allen Field House scoreboard.)Phog: Henry, your boy did what you said he would. He won a championship and represented KU honorably.Hank: Yes. Phog: But is he playing us with Pickens' money and the OSU job offer?Hank: What would you do, if you were him?Phog: I'd play us.Hank: There's your answer.Phog: Will he agree to a real contract and not this agreement in principle hooey?Hank: Would you?Phog: If I get a salary that is as high as any other college coach and some luxurious housing for athletes to attract the best for recruiting, and some salary bumps for my staff...Yea.Hank: There's your answer.Phog: Its a pity this had to happen.Hank: Forrest, if he hadn't been so good at KU, this WOULDN'T have happened. There's nothing wrong with a guy bargaining for the best deal he can. Heck, he bargained for the best deal he could when he came here. Why should he stop now? For that matter all his atheletes bargain for the best deal they can, and so does the Chancellor and the AD. Let's not let our emotions get away with us.Phog: I feel bad for Roy Williams. He wears a small Jayhawk to the big game and all those ungrateful Tar Hole fans treat him disrespectfully. He's a good man. So he's got some Jayhawk in him. They shouldn't hold that against him. I've heard they're lousy fans down there. I tried to tell Roy not to go down there. Dean really turned on me and turned on KU, when I wouldn't play him or hire him for an assistant. He never really got over it. I mean, think about it. What kind of a guy goes to be the assistant of Eastern trash like Frank MacGuire, except one who's trying to rebell against his old coach? Its not a nice place down there. Some people call it Chapel Hell unless a coach wins big EVERY season. They turn on their own down their. It still makes me sick what they did to that boy Dougherty.Hank: Well, I suppose if my boy goes back to Stillwater, you could always give Roy a second chance. You left Lawrence once for Central Missouri State and came back. You were going home and found you didn't like it.Phog: It is best to keep options open, isn't Henry?Hank: Always. And remember, until this year, OSU had won as many NCAA championships as KU had. Bill isn't going back to refried beans in Stillwater.Phog: You are so right, Henry...but now we've won three.(The faces fade away.)

kujayhawk 13 years, 6 months ago

Aren't OSU's titles from the 40's? And we thought 20 years was a long wait.

Chad Dexter 13 years, 6 months ago

Wow, I had not seen the article to which actorman was referring. I did a search and now see why he posted what he did. agree with actorman. Mayer's piece was a total hatchet job. It looks a lot worse now that Rush came back and was a huge piece in his team's winning of the title. I don't think it's wrong to expect an apology, at the very least.

didjabuti 13 years, 6 months ago

Maybe not an apology exactly. Maybe some kind of a tribute piece, admiting he was wrong? I don't think he should have to apologize for his opinion, but if you're willing to call someone out like that, you should be willing to admit it if you are wrong.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.