Thursday, March 3, 2011

Gary Bedore’s Kansas basketball notebook: Senior speech highlights

Kansas senior Mario Little gave his senior speech after his last game at Allen Fieldhouse on Wednesday, March 2, 2011.

KU 2011 Senior Night speeches


Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Bill Self

Kansas coach Bill Self talks to reporters after the Jayhawks' 64-51 victory over Texas A&M; on March 2, 2011.

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‘I want to thank … ’

Here are some highlights of the postgame speeches of KU’s three seniors, Mario Little, Brady Morningstar and Tyrel Reed.

Little: Little broke down, bent over to the waist, and sobbed when attempting to thank his 85-year-old grandmother, Hazel Lucille, for helping raise him.

“I want to thank my grandmother for everything she’s done for me. Everything I do is for her — (I give) my whole heart and soul for my grandmother,” Little said.

Of his three-year KU career, the Chicago native, said: “I’ve been through a lot of ups and downs, had to battle through injuries and all types of stuff this year. I want to thank everybody for supporting me and not giving up on me.”

Little’s speech, by the way, went 10 minutes.

Morningstar: The Free State High graduate, who attended prep school a year and red-shirted a year at KU, had the quip of the night thanking coach Bill Self.

“Coach Self ... people look at you like a father figure. You are more like a brother to me because we are about the same age.”

Morningstar broke down and cried when thanking his sisters.

Morningstar’s speech went eight minutes.

Reed: The Burlington native mentioned growing up just an hour or so from Lawrence as a KU fan. He cried when discussing Self.

“I thank coach Self for giving me the opportunity to fulfill my dream, play at the University of Kansas like I always wanted to,” Reed said.

“There’s moments in my career he was on me. I didn’t know how to respond: ‘He hates me. He will send me to Burlington. I’ll never play ball anymore.’ There’s no better place to play in America and no better coach to play for.

“It’s so special for me to be here at KU. I grew up an hour away. I was Paul Pierce in my backyard. I was so thankful coach Self offered me a scholarship here. At first I was scared, a small, white kid from Kansas. I didn’t know if I was going to fit in. With my teammates’ and coaches’ help, I was able to succeed thanks to them.”

Reed’s speech lasted 10 minutes.

Pre-game ceremony recap

Little, Morningstar and Reed were introduced with their families in that order to a shower of flowers tossed by KU’s cheerleaders.

O’Keefe Little, uncle of Mario, bounced up and down as he exited the northwest tunnel onto the court with Mario as well as Mario’s mom, Margie, and Hazel Lucille.

There were no tears during the pregame. Mario Little jokingly put one of stems of the red roses between his teeth. Reed also picked up a rose and pretended to bite it.

Faces in crowd

Former KU coach Larry Brown attended and sat next to former Texas A&M; and Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie. Brown was introduced at the 13:50 mark of the first half to a standing ovation. ... Mike McCarthy, head coach of the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers, attended, as did former KU wide receiver Kerry Meier of the Atlanta Falcons.

Turg on the big screen

Texas A&M; coach Mark Turgeon, a former KU point guard, was included in KU’s pregame video. Turgeon watched and smiled at his inclusion.

Everywhere a sign

Some signs in the fieldhouse for Senior Night included. ...

Kiss Me Tyrel; Luck Be a Brady Tonight; Pay Heed to Reed; We Have the Need For Reed; Reed It and Weep; My Dear Mario, No. 23.


hawkmama 10 years, 10 months ago

I seriously hope that one day Roy Williams will be welcome back at Allen Fieldhouse and will receive a standing ovation for the 15 marvelous years he spent leading the Jayhawks. I hope that one day is soon.

Funhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

A Roy Williams day would be fun. Roy definitely deserves a standing ovation from us.

KU79 10 years, 10 months ago

I think that could very well happen . . . down the road. But he won't be warmly embraced, or even recognized, while he's actively recruiting against us.

Chris Shaw 10 years, 10 months ago

I tend to agree with funhawk! I don't think any ceremonies while he is still coach at UNC is the best way to go. Once he retires then maybe, but not until then. You know, it was irritating that when he was at KU he showed all this respect towards UNC and wouldn't recruit against Dean Smith. As funhawk stated, I wish Williams would have the same respect in return, but that's not going to happen. While he continues to go head to head for recruits against KU his ceremony can wait. IMO, it can wait for a long long long time.

Chris Shaw 10 years, 10 months ago

whoops, I stated funhawk, but I meant "KU79". Read the wrong name with the post.

Funhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

That's okay, kushaw. I know what you were thinking. You were thinking "fun," as in Jayhawk basketball!

KU_FanSince75 10 years, 10 months ago

Funhawk---agree with you, too! I think it will happen after Roy retires.

Thomas Matlock 10 years, 10 months ago

He didn't get fired. He quit and left. And....yes, he did do a fairly good job while he was here. But Coach Self in less time has accomplished more. Seven Big 12/One National Championship in eight years.

coloradorcj 10 years, 10 months ago

Williams will be welcomed back at some point. Yes, likely after he is done coaching. It has alway been interesting to me the bitterness people have towards Roy Williams and not an ounce towards Larry Brown. (although, there used to be bitterness towards Brown) It was Brown who left right after the championship and KU landed on probation due to activities that occurred on his watch. Now, those activities were IMO inconsequential, but nonetheless, they were infractions that put the program in a difficult position. To this day, I believe KU is the only program that was barred from even having the chance to defend it's championship. Williams coached through that and quickly returned KU back to the top.

zsn 10 years, 10 months ago

More fans blame Dean for Roy's situation than Roy (at least in my anecdotal polling). So, Roy's welcome at AFH would likely be warmer than Dean's - as it should be. I would give Roy a standing-O if he came to Allen.

Dean should never have put Roy in that situation. When KU came calling in '83 and again in '88 Dean gave the right answer - "Home is where I am". Dean did not extend Roy that same courtesy, especially after Roy already told Dean the same thing.

Ultimately though, I am glad we have Bill - I have said this before (even when Roy was still our coach) - I feel more comfortable down by 5 with a minute to play and Bill (or some other coach) on the sideline than up by 5 with a minute and Roy on the sideline.

100 10 years, 10 months ago

Both Dean & Roy would get huge ovations from us.

Keep in mind, in Kansas City, Dean broke down & cried in front of the Carolina coaching staff the night they took down Wilt in triple OT. His love for basketball & his Alma mater has always been real. It's just that night in 1957 the Carolina coaching staff fell in love with an unknown Jayhawk, named Dean Smith who was crying about his Jayhawks & the greatest player ever losing due to the worst last second entry pass in the history of a triple overtime game.

Three years later Dean was offered the UNC job. A few years after that he coached a kid by the name of Larry Brown who accidentally (by running the play incorrectly) in practice one day set the wheels in motion for Smith's 4 corners set. A few years after that an ex UNC benchwarmer by the name of Roy Williams joined Smith's staff & helped him bring in Michael Jordan. A couple years after that, while stuck at UNC coaching Jordan (ironically because of Wilt Chamberlain playing for Kansas in '57), Smith turns down the Kansas job offer but says, "I know of a great coach who will do a great job".

Who did Smith suggest? Larry Brown. Who brought the Danny Manning train to town. And a national title. As did Dean in '52 (as a bench player) & almost in '53 as a player who got a few more minutes.

After Brown left... Smith's roots were well established. Why would he leave at this point with possibly just a couple more years to coach & an arena going up with his Jayhawk name "of Dean Smith" on it?

So considering retirement was coming, he did the nicest thing he could do for us.

He sent us his #1 assistant who was in charge of landing Michael Jordan. We got Roy Williams.

Roy relabeled the Kansas basketball tradition & made it feel like every night we had Wilt & Danny & Paul Pierce on the court. He renamed the court Naismith court. He brought back Wilt.

He left to go home to his sick mother back in his home of 40 years to coach the team he grew up playing for.

All these years we know what his favorite place to be is: Allen Fieldhouse. Even in interviews today, he can't stop talking about it.

Even during the final four, he wore the sticker.

He could've taken it off for the halftime interview.

But he didn't.

He could've taken it off for the 2nd half.

But he didn't. And UNC fans, as respectful as many of them are, hated him for that.

It dominated the radio shows all summer. And Roy would not back down.

Because he knows his basketball-cradle heart was born, raised & nourished on Naismith court, the only college court Wilt Chamberlain & Danny Manning ever called home.

Dean & Roy are both Jayhawks in Tar Heel clothing. And I for one love them both for that.

Rock Chalk

zsn 10 years, 10 months ago

100: I am not disagreeing with you, for the most part. And, I am well aware of the coaching history.......But see post below by illuminati......that's the sentiment I said is out there....although I wouldn't classify my feelings towards Dean as "bitter"....more like "I respect him less now". I have a great respect for Roy, especially for the courage and class he showed in wearing The Sticker. Dean did everything right by KU until 2003 - then, he broke his own rule. Seems like he actually dissed Roy by asking him to do something that he thought wasn't right for himself to do. Hypocritical would be too strong.......

Thad Daugherty 10 years, 10 months ago

I should also add that I am really glad that we have Self as our coach. Of course I was apprehensive changing regimes. But, we hit the coaching lotto. Hopefully HCBS see's this as his home.

100 10 years, 10 months ago

Good points all. And I guess what both of you said is why I can never really have bad feelings towards Dean. The history of it really was that he got the UNC job explicitly because he shed tears for the '57 Jayhawks in the midst of the celebrating UNC coaches. You can't change a bird. You can put an outfit on him because he's a great coach. But as he lay there someday his last night here, he will be proud of what he did for UNC. But his passion will always be reflected the night of 1957. And 1952. And 1953.

But back to what you guys said. If Dean hadn't pushed for Roy, UNC was absolutely sunk. A building had just been built with Dean's name on it. Roy was the best coach with the playing days connection to Dean. And to top it off he knew it would be good for Roy to be close to his dying mother.

And to continue with the big irony of this whole thing -- whether you agree with what Dean did or not (& I understand the appearance of a selfish reason)... We still got the only coach any of us would want.

Coach Self. Without Dean's deeds (whether they're truly seen as selfish or not), we don't end up with Self. So I thank Dean for that.

Lastly Dean never once missed a reunion at KU for the 1952 championship team. Like Roy, Dean stood up to the UNC fanbase.... And put that Jayhawk sticker on anyway!!!!!

Because like it or not... Without our first head coach being born.... Dean would have never played the beautiful game of basketball.... And neither would have UNC.... Dean & Roy know & love that fact.... UNC fans, respectful as they are.... Aren't really excited about discussing the inventor of basketball...

Because that topic only brings a smile to Dean & Roy's face....

So they are left to talk about MJ....

Rock Chalk

bclem23 10 years, 10 months ago

Will there be video of the pregame intros with the seniors walking out with their parents??? Would love to see that!

bclem23 10 years, 10 months ago

Will there be video of the pregame intros with the seniors walking out with their parents??? Would love to see that!

10 years, 10 months ago

“Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon, a former KU point guard, was included in KU’s pregame video. Turgeon watched and smiled at his inclusion.”

Very cool.

REHawk 10 years, 10 months ago

Yeah, very cool that Turgeon was included in that video. All in all, a very special night at AFH. Terrific that Larry Brown and Billy G. were at courtside. One more sign which caught the eye of the camera: MARRY ME TYREL!

Thad Daugherty 10 years, 10 months ago

Hey did I hear that the Morri gave speeches last night as well?

I am sorry to admit this. But I am really bitter towards Dean Smith. He is supposed to be the native son. Grows up in KS and plays for KU and then craps on us and recruits Roy to go back to UNC. I am Slowly losing my bitterness towards Roy. I mean he got to go home. Can't hold that against him. But he could show us some respect. Maybe he is bitter at KU fans being bitter :-).

ChenoWho 10 years, 10 months ago

"But he could show us some respect."

HUH? I have never seen Roy show KU anything but respect, what are you talking about?

100 10 years, 10 months ago

  1. Did Dean play on the 1952 national championship Kansas team?

He is a Jayhawk.

  1. Did Dean cry in front of UNC coaches in 1957 when the Jayhawks lost?

He is a Jayhawk.

  1. Did Dean bring Larry (which brought Manning & a title) to Kansas?

He is a Jayhawk.

  1. Did Dean bring Roy to Kansas?

He is a Jayhawk.

  1. Did Dean have UNC name their new arena after a Jayhawk?

He is most certainly a Jayhawk.

6. Did Dean, by allowing Mother Nature to run it's course, bring us Bill Self.... This is the question we all need to ask ourselves....

------ who hired him?

Larry Brown?


Because somehow it seems to me.... without Dean Smith talking to our athletic Department in the early 80's.... Kansas never gets Larry Brown....

And Kansas never gets Bill Self....

And UNC doesn't name an arena after a Jayhawk.

Rock Chalk boys. Some mighty fine apples growing from that peach tree Naismith planted in Lawrence.....

hawkmama 10 years, 10 months ago

+3. Thank you 100. Eloquently spoken. My sentiments exactly.

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