Saturday, January 16, 2010

Greatest KU games: No. 10

Nick’s night: Collison hooks ‘Horns

Kansas forward Nick Collison drives against Texas forward James Thomas on Jan. 27, 2003. Collison says he's happy Cole Aldrich is going to play with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Kansas forward Nick Collison drives against Texas forward James Thomas on Jan. 27, 2003. Collison says he's happy Cole Aldrich is going to play with the Oklahoma City Thunder.


Editor’s note: This is the first story in the Journal-World’s series of the top 10 games in Kansas University hoops history. Introducing No. 10:

Collison in command

Read Gary Bedore's original story from after the 2003 game.

Can you guess No. 9?

Check back Wednesday for the next entry in the Journal-World's countdown of the 10 greatest KU games.

Dick Vitale, the voice and spirit of college basketball, first worked a game for ESPN on Dec. 5, 1979, sitting next to play-by-play man Joe Boyle. Mark Aguirre and DePaul defeated Wisconsin, 90-77.

During his time for the network, he has showered “Awesome, baby!” on superstars such as Ralph Sampson, Michael Jordan, Danny Manning, Larry Johnson, Christian Laettner, Glenn Robinson, Tim Duncan, Elton Brand, Kenyon Martin, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Michael Beasley and Blake Griffin.

Goosebumps fly off Vitale’s tongue, so blown away is he by the feats of great college basketball players. Yet, here in his fifth decade of talking into an ESPN microphone, only two players brought Vitale out of his seat, onto his feet, his hands clapping: Navy’s David Robinson and Kansas’ Nick Collison.

Collison inspired the latter Dickie V Standing O, delivered as he walked off the floor after being whistled with his fifth foul, on Jan. 27, 2003, when he scored 24 points and took down 23 rebounds in a 90-87 victory against Texas in Allen Fieldhouse.

“It absolutely was special what Collison did,” Vitale said by phone from his home in Sarasota, Fla. “He was so tenacious. It just had me so emotionally charged watching the effort he put out against a great Texas team, phenomenal job of attacking the glass. He was like the Windex Man, just poured his heart out.”

Vitale never lacks energy. He doesn’t do sluggish. He loves his job, and it shows. Whether it’s a tiny gymnasium in Hawaii or a dome filled with tens of thousands of basketball spectators, Vitale gushes enthusiasm. Even so, it wouldn’t be accurate to say his ovation was all about what he saw and not at all about where he saw it.

“It was just a great environment,” Vitale said. “The place was unbelievable, electric, Rock Chalk Jayhawk at its best.”

What triggered the rare standing ovation?

“I was just so passionate, I got caught up in the moment and did what I thought the kid deserved, a standing ovation.”

Vitale looks back fondly on the game. Collison was a favorite of his, as was Robinson, otherwise known as “The Admiral.”

“I’ve only given two standing ovations to players in my life while doing a game,” Vitale said. “As you know, I get a little enthusiastic, a little passionate about the game. I still do. It’s 31 years I’ve been doing it on television for ESPN, and I’ve only done this twice, stood up and cheered for a player. The first time was when David Robinson fouled out against Kentucky after he scored about 45 and got I don’t know how many rebounds.”

The late Sam Miranda, an assistant coach at Kansas for 13 seasons under Ted Owens, lived in Lawrence until his death last May. He reflected in recent years on the individual performance that impressed him most, saying, “That Texas game here, the one where Dick Vitale stood up and gave him a standing ovation, I don’t know if anyone could play a better game for Kansas than that game Collison played.”


Journal-World File Photos

Nick Collison unrolls a shot over UT’s Brad Buckman.

Both Texas and Kansas reached the Final Four that season, and both teams lost to national champion Syracuse, Texas in the semifinals, KU in the title game. Collison and UT’s T.J. Ford joined Marquette’s Wade, Xavier’s David West and Josh Howard of Wake Forest as consensus first-team All-Americans.

The Seattle SuperSonics used the 12th overall selection in the 2003 NBA Draft, one of the deepest in league history, on Collison. Four of the NBA’s top 10 scorers — 2. Anthony (third pick), 3. LeBron James (first), 6. Wade (fifth), 10. Chris Bosh (fourth) — were drafted that year.

In his sixth season with the organization that became the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2008-09, Collison, 29, has not enjoyed that level of success, but has been a solid NBA player. He is averaging 5.9 points and 5 rebounds per game. His best season came in 2007-08, when he averaged 9.8 points and 9.4 rebounds. His career game came that season when he totaled 29 points and 21 rebounds.

Emotions not being quite the same in the pro ranks, there was no broadcaster rising to his feet to give Collison a standing ovation when he produced those numbers in a road game against the Phoenix Suns.


mojayhawk 12 years ago

If this is #10, I can't wait to remember the rest. What a game!

CrodieBroyle 12 years ago

Nice, I remember that game like it was yesterday. Truly was a legendary Jayhawk performance

5yardfuller 12 years ago

Is the series about top 10 games or top 10 individual performances? Collison was spectacular, but in all of KU's history this was not a top 10 game.

RockChalk1225 12 years ago

This was my senior year. Our camp group was like 4th and we were right behind the KU bench. Unbelievable. Our family has had season tickets since 1989 and this was one of, if not the loudest the Fieldhouse had been in that time.
5yardfuller-I dont know what other games you can think of, but this has to be up there. Pretty hard to argue against that (Could be 2nd or 3rd best behind the Championship game and the 1995 UCLA game in the Fieldhouse when we came back from 16 point halftime defecit). All a matter of opinion though.

Scott Lippoldt 12 years ago

Although I like the idea behind this series, if it's truly about the top ten games, why not tell more about the game itself, not just what some people thought about it. What was the score at halftime... was it up and down the court... what were the phenomenal plays that were pivotal... who else besides Collison played key roles... etc.? I watched that game, but with my memory like a sieve, I don't remember that much. I was hoping this article would help me relive the moment, but it didn't.

5yardfuller 12 years ago

Some candidates for all-time great games, I'm sure there are others,

Obviously the 3 title games 52 St Johns 88 Oklahoma 08 Memphis

52 La Salle (to go to the Olympics)

NCAA tourney games 88 Kansas State 88 Duke 91 Arkansas 91 N. Carolina 93 Indiana 03 Duke 03 Arizona 08 N. Carolina

Regular season games 84 Oklahoma in Big 8 tourney 85 Oklahoma in AFH 86 Louisville in AFH 89 Kentucky (150-95) 94 Indiana (JV’s 3 in OT) 95 UCLA in AFH 02 Texas in Austin (110-103 in OT) 03 Texas in AFH 07 Texas in AFH (Durant) 07 Texas in Big 12 tourney 08 Texas in Big 12 tourney

Those were just the wins. The losses are difficult for a KU fan to call great, but some of the more significant,

36 Utah St (Olympic trials) 53 Indiana (Born triple-double) 57 N. Carolina 66 UTEP 81 Wichita State 86 Duke (both games) 90 Missouri (both games) 91 Duke 97 Missouri 97 Arizona 98 Missouri 03 Syracuse

Ryan Richey 12 years ago

I was a student and at this game. Collison was AMAZING. But the thing I remember the most was Bryant Nash banking in a 3 and getting fouled. The place went crazy after that.

treidy 12 years ago

The New Year's day Georgia Tech game was amazing and the place was never louder while I was a student there. I also won't forget the first College Gameday show ever when we played I believe it was Oklahoma. Obviously any KU-Texas game the last 5 or 6 years has been great as well along with the 2003 Michigan State and the 2004 Georgia Teach OT Elite Eight Game.

lawrence_is_my_middle_name 12 years ago

I gotta say we've played some classic games against UT, and almost always come out on top. My personal favorite was the 2007 Big 12 Tourney game, when Durant was on fire yet again, and Chalmers hit that huge three to send it into OT (the exact same play as the Memphis three-pointer actually). We won and secured a #1 seed, although it was out West in UCLA's region, ugh.

It's nearly impossible to just choose 10 games. The only three that definitely deserve to be on there are the three national title games because of their importance. Number one has to be that 2008 title game though. In my opinion that was the best college basketball game I've ever seen (only been watching since the early-90's though).

rockchalkjayhawkku 12 years ago

Why is Keegan only choosing the 10 greatest games? This series should be the ONE HUNDRED greatest KU games. As previously mentioned, a "Top 10" list is impossible and it will leave people wondering why so many great games were left off the list.

Jeff Cuttell 12 years ago

I can't wait to the rest of them! This one was one of the ones I voted for when started the voting in October or November. Hope some of my others are there. Some of the commentors must not realize WE picked these games by a vote, not Keegan.

Kman_blue 12 years ago

A few other games that were very memorable.

58 W against #3 ranked KSU(yep, KSU was good back then) in KC 58 W against #1 ranked KSU in Manhattan, KS 67 W against #2 ranked Louisville in Lawrence, KS 83 W against #19 Billy Tubbs lead OU in Lawrence, KS mostly because it was close(55-53), it was nationally televised, the fieldhouse was the loudest I've ever heard it in my life and that includes the game mentioned in this article and a few others mentioned by others in the comments(my ears were actually bleeding as I left the fieldhouse), and anytime you beat Billy Tubbs, it's all the more sweet 89 W against #1 UNLV in the preseason NIT in NYC back when they put the "runnin" in the runnin rebels 91 tournament consecutive W's against #3 Indiana, #2 Arkansas, and #4 UNC (2 already mentioned by 5yardfuller) 94 W against #1 UMASS lead by phenom Marcus Camby and NOBODY gave KU a shot to win it, in Anaheim, CA

Paul Meyer 12 years ago

ESPN started in September of 1979. So 5o years of Dicky behind the mike is incorrect. Let's hope he hangs it up before then too.

KU 12 years ago

I think it's the "Top 10 INDIVIDUAL PLAYER games", correct?

murph 12 years ago

PaulDMeyer - Vitale worked behind a mike other places before he went to ESPN. Get a life!

Mike Kendall 12 years ago

If that is #10, I can't for the rest! That game was classic! Someone mentioned the UCLA game where J. Vaughn led the comeback--that game is one of my favorites. How 'bout the game against Oklahoma State, where Eddie Sutton goes down the sideline and shakes hands with two of our Jayhawks right before the game ends? Great sportsmanship, on Eddie's part! This might be a stupid question, but what ever happened to Chuck Woodling, who was at the Journal-World for a long time?

yates33333 12 years ago

I just love listening to Vitale when we are winning, but when we are losing I just about choke on his comments. Awesome Baby!

John Randall 12 years ago

Can't believe nobody mentioned 3 OT NCAA final in '58. Even in a loss, even to UNC, truly a top ten on any list.

One of the games establishing March Madness as premier event in college sports.

John Randall 12 years ago

jwliddel -- """ Mcnamara was shooting from half court and dropping every shot ... and we made 47% of our freethrows if I remember correctly. """

Actually, it was closer to 37% (12-30). Never before, never since, just that one time.

Foul shots (Wilt's) were the Achilles heel in '58 as well. It was nearly 40 years before he realized he wasn't hated in The House That Wilt Built.

alphathirteen 12 years ago

I've always wondered why there isn't a dvd set of classic ku games (cough ku athletics dept. cough). I'd definitely pay to watch this game again, or the '95 UCLA game, or '93 Indiana, or....

maxcrabb 12 years ago

sorry, above link is footage of the game from the ljworld channel.

Philip Garver 12 years ago

PaulDMeyer....Nobody said 50 years. He said five decades (70's 80's 90's 00's 10's). That's five decades.

Tim Orel 12 years ago

Alphathirteen - A few years ago there was a video "100 Years of KU Basketball", so if you want some memories, you might try and find that.

There have been many, many special games. I have been to a few in AFH, and I saw the game at Madison Square Garden in NY for the NIT which was won with free throws with no time left on the clock.

Great memories, folks.

mphawk27 12 years ago

I don't think it was a top ten game, but definetly a top ten memory for me was Senior Night for Nick and Kirk. I almost got a little emotional when Eddie Sutton ran all the way down to the end of our bench to shake their hands and congratulate them. Do we not have the greatest players and fans in the world? Even Eddie Sutton couldn't contain himself from getting in on it. I don't have the score on hand but although it wasn't a top ten game, I do believe that game was competitive and that Sutton had a good team that year.

dtownhawkfan 12 years ago

First off, it says he has been doing this IN 5 decades not FOR 5 decades. This was absolutely an amazing game. Is this the same game when Hinrich made a bomb and Dick went crazy, "He shot that from Kansas City!"?? I feel like it was.

Alec White 12 years ago

This was a great idea by the LJW and a very nice article written by Mr. Keegan. Can't wait for more!

lollylane 12 years ago

This game was my very first AFH experience so it has certainly been what I use to gauge games. If my memory serves me correctly we trailed until about the 6 minute mark of the game when we finally took the lead. My five year old son somehow slept through the whole game fighting a migraine headach. The place was so loud and racous I have never been able to understand how he could sleep! I even let my kids chant along with the bull**** chant! I have never been so jacked up in all my life. Collison was amazing and in my opinion...definitely one of the best KU games ever!

Jack Wilson 12 years ago

Thomas Robinson is the next Nick Collison .. he will be an animal by his junior and senior years. Just wait.

hawk_of_ages 12 years ago

This game was a classic for a lot of reasons. First of all, Kansas desperately needed a big win; we had struggled all season after losing Wayne to injury, and we were on a 2-game skid at that point.

Secondly, that was a great Texas team, with T.J. Ford and James Thomas. They made the Final 4 that year, along with KU. And they played great in this game -- they had a 12-pt. lead early and never folded even when KU made a run -- T.J. was unbelievable.

And then obviously Collison, the senior, playing the game of his life against a huge, muscular UT frontline.

actorman 12 years ago

What a fun category to discuss! Great list, 5yardfuller. I also like Kman_blue's list, especially his references to the '94 UMass game in Anaheim (which I was fortunate enough to be at) and the '89 UNLV game. I'm not sure about the year of the UNLV game, though. If you're talking about the one where KU beat number two and then number one back to back, I think that was in '90 or '91.

Some more games from my memory that could be included (a lot of these are losses, because so many of the great wins have already been listed). If anyone has details they can add about some of these games, I'd love to see them:

  • a loss to Indiana in AFH by 5 points in OT in the mid-to-late '70s when IU was number one. The one play I remember from that game is when KU was down two with under a minute left and two KU players collided for a rebound and knocked the ball out of bounds. That was a killer.

  • A loss to OU in AFH in '84 or '85. Even though KU ended up losing by 10 in OT, I'll always remember Calvin Thompson hitting about a 25-footer at the buzzer to tie the game and send it into overtime. To this day, the reaction to that shot is still the loudest sound I've ever heard in the fieldhouse.

  • The Bud Stallworth game where he scored 50 against Misuse and KU beat them 96-92.

  • The game at NU where Langford (then a freshman) hit the game-winner with 30 seconds left.

  • The game that started "The Streak" in Manhattan, in '84 (another game I was fortunate to be at). Carl Henry hit a corner jumper with two seconds left to win it.

  • Another game in Manhattan. I can't remember the year, but it was the first year of the "alternate possession" rule. KU was down virtually the entire game, but pulled close and then got a jump ball late in the game. KU got the ball back and went on to win a thriller.

  • Another KU game that Dickie V was at, this one on the road. I can't remember who it was against, but I remember Kirk going wild in the game and Dickie V yelling "Hinrich! Hinrich! Hinrich!" (although the way he said it, it sounded like he kept saying "Hindrich").

  • the second-round loss to UK in the '99 or '00 tournament, where KU was a 7 or 8 seed and had a 6-point lead with a minute to go in OT, then lost a heartbreaker.

  • The 109-51 shellacking of Texas Tech on senior night. If we're going to include the 150-95 game against UK, this one should get some consideration too (although I realize it doesn't have the historical significance of the UK game).

actorman 12 years ago

"Can't believe nobody mentioned 3 OT NCAA final in '58. Even in a loss, even to UNC, truly a top ten on any list. … Foul shots (Wilt's) were the Achilles heel in '58 as well."

Good call on the game, KU62, but it was in '57, not '58. If I recall my KU history, KU didn't even make the tournament in '58, as they lost a coin toss to Colorado. Can you imagine a playoff slot being determined that way? They certainly would have had a chance at another run towards the title if they'd gotten in that year.

"I've always wondered why there isn't a dvd set of classic ku games ..."

Good call, alphathirteen. Given how much money KU could make if they had a series available where they sent out once each month, you would think they would have come up with that by now.

"There have been many, many special games. I have been to a few in AFH, and I saw the game at Madison Square Garden in NY for the NIT which was won with free throws with no time left on the clock."

Good choice, coloradojayhawk, I'd forgotten about that game. I believe you're talking about the game against St. John's where Steve Woodberry hit two free throws at the end. Great game. (But now that I think about it, I'm not sure if that was in the pre-season NIT, so perhaps you're referring to a different game.)

"This game was my very first AFH experience so it has certainly been what I use to gauge games."

Wow, lollylane, I hope you went out and bought a lottery ticket afterwards. What a great way to start your AFH experience! It makes me think of a friend of mine who went to only one football game in his entire game at Cal, and it happened to be the one with the most famous ending in college football history (think Stanford band). I would think that the only problem with that being your first game at AFH would be that most other games would pale by comparison.

"Thomas Robinson is the next Nick Collison .. he will be an animal by his junior and senior years. Just wait."

I think a lot of us are with you on that one, HighEliteMajor. Even when he's making mistakes, Robinson is so much fun to watch on the floor with his endless intensity. I can't wait to see what he'll do with more seasoning.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to see the "Nick Collison" game at the time, because my VCR chose not to work that night (of all the rotten timing ...). But a great fellow Jayhawk sent me a tape of the game a few years ago so I was finally able to see it. Even though Collision had the game of a lifetime, Hinrich was pretty phenomenal in that game as well, and the game was truly a classic.

Steve Brown 12 years ago

I won't be able to improve on you guys/gals' list, GREAT memories. Mine would be similar.

Actorman: you have nailed it, we must have sat together for years as your post is like you are reading my mind and wonderful ( for most part) and a few heartbreak games.

We have had a few heartbreaks, Tisdale and Tubbs cutting down our nets in AFH, Sunvold and Stepanovich, Mitch Ritchman, Knight in town w. grand INDY team. Macy, May, Dantley, Bibby 'senior' in town.

The sweet wins are so many, my 1st AFH game was JoJo upsetting a highly ranked MU team to keep them from winning the Big 12 crown or going unbeaten, not sure exactly but it was big. Changed my college choice that night.

FiveyardFuller, KManBLue & Actorman: Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Steve Brown 12 years ago

I didn't mean to imply that Kyle Macy, Scott May, Adrian Dantley, Henry Bibby played for IU, just some of the wonderful foes we have hosted in the gym. Some of you already knew this.

Nick, nice game, congrats on making the top ten AFH memories according to LJW.

Steve Brown 12 years ago

you guys need to announce game #9 some time but not right after a game, so that it doesn't get covered up by a bunch of other post subjects in the drop down box.

Blake Post 12 years ago

Hate to reveal a hand early, but have to agree on one singular game cited by 5yard. The Number 1 all-time nemesis of KU is UK. I think we were 0-15 against them! That is, until Terry Brown and crew destroyed them with our top offensive game of all time, 150-95. For obvious reasons, winning national championships rate the highest in terms of fan gratification, and beating nemesis duke anytime is fabulous, as they are my most hated one ever since the loss of Archie Marshall and bad refs doomed us in 86, one of my greatest teams, if not greatest, in the final four. But beating all time victory leader and historic enemy Kentucky 150-95 was a trouncing of monumental proportions, making mildcats cry and cry. They will never forget it. I won't either. That is my numbr one in terms of the game and overall significance. It is a wonderful thing, comparing KU greatness with other KU greatness. Maybe the game where Wilt came back and he was elevated into Phog Heaven is the top one just because of that. I have never heard an ovation as long and loud as that one. Wilt said a lot of wonderful things that night, signed autographs 3 hours after the game, and on tv said tonight Lawrence is as big as New York. He said Rock Chalk Jayhawk...he said it all. That night, we received the event we wanted most for all time. All time great Wilt Chamberlain came home. For an event, that one had the most light-headed, surreal feeling of something so huge that it defied explanation. I was absolutely star-struck. From the sound of it, the whole crowd was too. Could go on and on.....................

actorman 12 years ago

Thanks for the kind words, lighthawk. It sounds like you started a little earlier than I did. I don't remember my first game but I'm pretty sure it was in '72. It wasn't even a great KU team that year, but one thing I do know: once I had set foot in AFH, I was hooked for life. I can still remember walking to school later that year and singing "Go, Fight, Win." That feeling has never left me.

hawkman, that's a great point about the Wilt game. I had thought about going, but it's a long trip from the Bay Area and I had just been in Lawrence two weeks earlier for the 100th anniversary games (the one the alumni played against each other and then the KU game where they introduced the alumni at halftime). That was a magical experience too, seeing all those names come alive. So I had to watch Wilt on TV, and to this day I have always regretted not going back again, as I feel like that was something I really should have been there for. Even watching it on TV, I got tears and chills. I can't imagine what it would have been like to be there.

Ryan Wood 12 years ago

I would throw in the New Years Day game against Georgia Tech, with Langford's overtime winner. That was an epic game, could be No. 8 or 9 on the list if not higher.

12 years ago

"Good choice, coloradojayhawk, I'd forgotten about that game. I believe you're talking about the game against St. John's where Steve Woodberry hit two free throws at the end. Great game. (But now that I think about it, I'm not sure if that was in the pre-season NIT, so perhaps you're referring to a different game.)"

Great commentary in your posts as usual, actorman. I believe the player who hit the two free throws in the Preseason NIT game you are referencing was Keith Harris. He had ice in his veins, especially for a freshman. Check out this story link:

actorman 12 years ago

Thanks for the kind words, txrockchalk, and thanks for setting me straight.

It's funny how the mind can play tricks. I noticed that that article was written in February, yet I could have sworn they played that game in December. Could I be thinking of a different game?

12 years ago

You got it, actorman! Good catch yourself as well.

That was odd, how they were part of a double-header in late February. For some reason, I was thinking that game was part of a Preseason NIT match-up, but I was mistaken. The article states the resulting records from the game, "The loss dropped St. John's to 19-6. Kansas, the Big Eight Conference leader, improved to 21-7." Ironically, it was written by one of my least favorite "ESPN Sports Reporters." Oh well, what am I gonna do...

There was another game on Senior Night in 1999 where Ryan Robertson hit a free throw with no time on the clock to beat OSU:

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