Tuesday, February 14, 2017


Tom Keegan: Dick Vitale calls KU’s backcourt best in nation

ESPN commentator Dick Vitale has some fun with the Kansas student section prior to tipoff against Florida on Friday, Dec. 5, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

ESPN commentator Dick Vitale has some fun with the Kansas student section prior to tipoff against Florida on Friday, Dec. 5, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.


Eighteen hours later, colorful analyst Dick Vitale still was juiced by witnessing the unlikeliest of Big Monday comebacks, one that ended with Kansas stealing a victory from West Virginia, 84-80 in overtime.

“Unreal,” Vitale said by phone late Tuesday afternoon. “One of the great comebacks I’ve ever witnessed. The magic of The Phog. The magic of The Phog.”

Vitale criticized fans who headed for the exits with Kansas down 14 with inside of three minutes remain. He issued a you-never-know warning because of the 3-point shot, but even at that was stunned by the comeback.

“If ever a game you thought was lost, where there was no way they logically could come back with the way the whole trend was going, this was it,” Vitale said. “But the way this game is with the 3-ball, it gives you such momentum. The 3-ball came alive, (Devonte’) Graham started knocking down 3’s and that made their defense come alive. Frank Mason made all his free throws and don’t forget about what Lagerald Vick gave them.”

Graham and Mason, the nation’s best backcourt?

“Name a better one,” Vitale answered. “Such veterans. They understand how to play and have such a great feel for the game. Kentucky’s two freshmen (Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox) are very talented, but they’re so young, so they’re a little inconsistent.”

Kansas won in Lexington, so that score has been settled. Creighton’s Maurice Watson and Marcus Foster were a great tandem, but Watson was lost for the season in mid-January after suffering an ACL tear. UCLA freshman do-it-all point guard Lonzo Ball and sharp-shooting senior Bryce Alford mesh well, but the Bruins don’t rely quite as heavily on them as Kansas does on Graham and Mason.

“When you think about how one was headed to Appalachian State and the other to Towson, now they’re doing what they’re doing for elite Kansas,” Vitale said. “They’ve definitely earned the argument as the premier backcourt in the nation. With (Josh) Jackson and Mason being such stars, Graham has been underrated, but he’s a star in his own right."

Vitale won't be back at Allen Fieldhouse until next season, when he again will mingle in the student section and move to the beat of the pep band with a random Rock Chalk Dancer.

"Such a special place," Vitale said. "It's so genuine, so real, hoop hysteria at its best."

Vitale saw Allen Fieldhouse at its best Monday night when KU came roaring back with the roar of crowd providing the background music on a most memorable night.


Steve Corder 2 years, 6 months ago

Vitale is spot-on. Kansas basketball & AFH is something very special. It has made legends in the sport, as everyone knows.

Watched the echo chamber game last night at OU. Maybe a 1000 or so in the stands. I'm told it was so quiet you could hear the shoe-squeaks on the radio broadcast. Excuse me, but Trea Young is considering/debating pros & cons between OU, OSU & KU? We shall see.

Harlan Hobbs 2 years, 6 months ago

I agree, Steve. The enthusiasm at KU surely must have a big impact on Trae Young.

In the article about weighing the pros and cons, Trae indicated that Bill Self is his favorite coach. Hope that translates into a commitment tomorrow or whenever he makes it.

Tom Jones 2 years, 6 months ago

Thanks for the compliment of KU's guards, Vitale. Now saddle up and ride into the sunset, please.

Sincerely, Everyone

Tim Orel 2 years, 6 months ago

Not me. Oh, I do get frustrated that he only talks about the plays about half the time, the rest of the time is spent talking about everything else. But still, he's one of college basketball's most enthusiastic, biggest boosters and I still enjoy him a few times a year. I wouldn't want him for every game, or even a third of them, but I like his participation and enthusiasm. He was spot-on when he criticized the departing fans, he is effusive in his praise for AFH and KU, so I like the fact he's still around.

Tom Jones 2 years, 6 months ago

He had a great career, but the whole fan-leaving deal is actually a great example of why he needs to go. Bringing it up once is fine...beating the horse to a grisly death is not. It's not his fault, he's just really old and his shtick is older.

Mike Greer 2 years, 6 months ago

Well, so much for diversity and inclusion.

RJ King 2 years, 6 months ago

He was just absolutley shocked that ANY Kansas fan would actually leave - even in that situation. He has always touted our fans as the best out there.

His repeated expression of shock was to elaborate on what a wild, crazy, insane night it was turning out to be. From a broadcasting point of view, that WAS the story.

Tom Jones 2 years, 6 months ago

The few crowd members leaving what what the story turned into...because of him.

He rambles on about Dook and UNC and Kentucky (to a lesser extent) every game he calls, saying the same things, over and over. He often says the same thing several times WITHIN THE SAME GAME because he's getting a little senile and can't remember that he's already said them.

I just turn the sound off.

M.E. Fisher 2 years, 6 months ago

Dick's been at this since 1979. His day has passed, he still uses the same trite cliches he used 30 years ago and his voice has become grating. He should be honored for what he has done for college basketball, but his day is gone. Better to go out on top than to fade into embarrassing irrevelance.

Michael Brady 2 years, 6 months ago

I would take Vitale over Musburger or Walton any day of the week. His enthusiasm is sometimes overboard, but he is never self-righteous.

Clara Westphal 2 years, 6 months ago

Vitale is certainly better than Francella. Why do we get stuck with Francella about every game? It's as bad as having Higgins, Olson and/or Oneal as referees.

Mr. Vitale has seen a lot of basketball so he should know an elite back court when he sees one.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.