After most basketball and football games I'm usually racing to get my images sent back to the paper and up on KUSports.com. Rarely do I get much opportunity to really talk about my images after the fact because it's usually just on to the next thing. With this in mind, I figure what better time than now, after we just released a book on 10 years' worth of our best images, to start the discussion.
Over the next few weeks or so, I'll be releasing various spreads from "Jayhawk Decade" and talking about my work, the work of my fellow staffers and giving some anecdotes about what was going on when some of the images were made.
In the interest of coming out strong, let's start it off with some spreads on the final game of the Border War at Allen Fieldhouse on Feb. 25, 2012.
In the picture farthest to the right of this spread is a KU student, whom I believe that every photographer in the building shot a picture of on this day, but none so nice as the one Mike Yoder got of him leering at Ricardo Ratliffe while the Missouri forward shot a pair of free throws. I love the image for the menacingly intense look on his face. However, I also like thinking about how many hours were spent camping at Allen Fieldhouse and the commitment that he and each and every one of the students around him had to put forth to get front-row seats behind the bucket for the biggest home game of their college careers. The stories they will tell.
On the next page, the dominant image features Thomas Robinson's "Block heard 'round the world." Staffer Richard Gwin got every bit of the overpowering presence of Robinson in this one, with the ball sailing away from Phil Pressey, all before a backdrop of students, who from what I can tell are mostly a split-second away from realizing that KU just forced overtime.
The next spread shows all eyes following the ball as senior point guard Tyshawn Taylor hoists a three-pointer 20 seconds into overtime to give the Jayhawks the lead. While shooting a game, I'll often try to find reasons to shy away from super tight action shots. Allen Fieldhouse and the fans always give me an easy excuse to put down the big heavy lens in favor of something looser that can involve some environment. Because what is KU basketball without its environment? I'd argue that the Jayhawks wouldn't have come back from 19 down against their biggest rival in any other place — and what a place it is.
If I had to describe Bill Self's demeanor immediately following the '08 championship, I might say he was overwhelmed, emotional, gracious and triumphant. Asked the same question about what he was like after the final game of the Border War, I would say he was absolutely jacked about that win. In the chaos after the final buzzer, people were everywhere — players chest-bumping, screaming, hugging, throwing their jerseys. While wading through the celebration, I stumbled onto Self, who looked to be in a state of adrenaline-induced euphoria, throwing his arms up and roaring at the crowd in celebration.
Mike Yoder's image appropriately ends the Border War portion of the book, as it shows ecstatic fans hanging over the scoreboard, no time on the clock and an 87-86 overtime win by Kansas against Missouri.
"Jayhawk Decade" can be ordered online at ljworldstore.com or by calling 800-578-8748 or 843-1000. Copies also can be purchased at the Lawrence Journal-World, 645 New Hampshire. Retail locations in Lawrence include Hy-Vee stores, KU Bookstore locations, Allen Fieldhouse Store, Kansas Sampler, Jayhawk Bookstore, Framewoods Gallery, Lawrence Memorial Hospital Gift Shop, and Weaver's.