Sunday, February 18, 2007

Oh, happy day

Reunion, rout lead to fun-filled fieldhouse


Kansas University's basketball players practiced badly in front of Hall of Fame coach Dean Smith and other members of the Jayhawks' 1952 national-title team Friday at Allen Fieldhouse.

"When I had a chance to meet with coach Smith yesterday, I said, 'Did you ever have a bad practice the day before a game?' He said, 'Yes,''' KU coach/storyteller Bill Self said Saturday.

"He said, 'A lot of people think if you practice bad, you play better. I don't believe in that.' So he had me pretty worried going into today."

No worries.

The Jayhawks weren't about to spoil reunion weekend for the '52 champs, and in fact put on one of the best shows in KU history in blistering Nebraska, 92-39, before 16,300 happy fieldhouse patrons.

"I thought our whole team played well today," Self said after a game in which 13 Jayhawks played and 13 scored.

Only Brady Morningstar didn't get in the act, and that's because he was in Denver attending the funeral of a family friend.

"Once the snowball started going downhill, it just didn't stop," Self said.

At game's end, KU had a 53-point victory - the second-largest margin of victory in a conference game in school history, trailing only a 56-point victory over the Huskers in 1958.

Overall, it tied for the 19th-biggest victory margin in KU history and marked the second-worst defeat in NU annals. It also matched the second-biggest blowout in Big 12 history, trailing only Kansas State's 55-point victory over Missouri in 1998.

NU's 39 points marked the lowest point total by a KU foe in a conference game since Oklahoma's 39 points back in 1967. The last time any team had fewer than 39 against KU was Pomona-Pitzer, with 38 in 1987.

And it marked the first time in 23 years the Huskers were held under 40 points.

"Any of y'all got a gun?" NU coach Doc Sadler said in his opening remarks to the media, jokingly implying he wanted to be put out of his misery following a second half in which his Huskers were outscored, 56-17.

"I think the last four games we've been putting teams under and keeping them there," KU freshman Darrell Arthur said after scoring 13 points off 5-of-6 shooting in 20 minutes.

In fact, KU has won four straight games by an average of 28 points per contest.

"After the A&M; game (three-point loss on Feb. 3), our focus has been on crushing teams and keep playing hard at the end," Arthur said.

Saturday's game was so lopsided that one of the biggest story lines came at the end when walk-ons Brennan Bechard and Brad Witherspoon scored the first points of their college careers.

Bechard hit a three with :37 left off a Witherspoon assist. Witherspoon hit an inside shot at :17 off an assist by Jeremy Case, who had nine points in eight minutes.

Witherspoon's bucket came with coach Self calling for the Jayhawks not to attack the basket.

"That's one of those things you have got to turn your back on coach and say, 'We've got to get him a shot up,''' said Russell Robinson, who had eight assists against one turnover in 21 minutes. "We weren't trying to disrespect Nebraska, but Brad probably waited his whole life for that shot."

Audio clips

2006-07 Feb. 17 KU-NU Hoops

Witherspoon said he saw Self indicate it was time to run out the clock.

"I thought, 'Man,' but then Jeremy Case was like, 'I'll find you,''' Witherspoon said. "After I made it, everything was a blur after that. The crowd was going crazy."

It made up for his missed layup against Kansas State.

"I was very upset. I got in the locker room and had 15 text messages saying, 'What the heck were you doing?''' Humboldt native Witherspoon said.

Self, who was a former college player at Oklahoma State, understood the players' sentiments and said he'd overlook the Jayhawks going against his wishes - this time.

"I let that one go," he said. "I'd rather not shoot the ball there, but Brad got his first college points, he and Brennan both. I guess that's OK. I never try to encourage anybody to try to score when the game is over on the last possession. On that particular case, they didn't pressure coming up, Jeremy threw it to the open man, and Brad was definitely going to shoot it."

As far as the meat of the game : KU used a 27-6 run to turn a 20-18 lead (with seven minutes left in first half) into a 47-24 advantage 5 1/2 minutes into the second half.

Mario Chalmers had eight of his 10 points and Sherron Collins six of his 12 in that surge. What's more, the Jayhawks outscored NU, 41-13, the final 13 minutes after center Aleks Maric (14 points, three rebounds) left for good after taking a shot from Sasha Kaun in the ribs.

Go figure

53 KU's victory margin over Nebraska56 KU's school record for victory margin in a conference game1-for-9 Kansas' three-point shooting to start Saturday's game10-for-16 KU's three-point shooting to end Saturday's game31.4, 15.0 NU's field-goal shooting, three-point field-goal shooting percentages25:7 Kansas' assist-to-turnover ratio51-13 KU's advantage in scoring by its bench, compared to NU's13, 13Jayhawks who played, Jayhawks who scored against NU

"We kept putting it to them," Brandon Rush said after his 13-point, eight-rebound outing. "Nothing was going right for them, then their star player got hurt at the end.

"Today was one of those days we played good defense the whole 40 minutes," he added after KU held NU to 3-of-20 three-point shooting. The Huskers also missed eight of 12 free throws and made just 31.4 percent of their shots to KU's 58.3 mark (including 11 of 25 three-point shooting).

"It was great to see people who don't get to play much come in and give us a boost off the bench. Overall, we had that killer mind-set in finishing the game."

It all took place to the delight of the '52 players, who clapped enthusiastically sitting behind KU's bench all game.

"It was really cool," Self said of having them in town.

The Jayhawks (23-4 overall, 10-2 Big 12) will face Kansas State at 8 p.m. Monday in Manhattan. KU has won 23 straight in Manhattan, with an 18-0 all-time mark in Bramlage Coliseum.

NU (15-10, 4-7) travels Wednesday to Baylor.

Memories of '57?

Were you at the 1957 national championship game to watch KU and North Carolina in Kansas City, Mo.? If so, we want to hear your stories.

Also, if you have mementos of any kind from that game, let us know, so we can make it part of our 50th-anniversary special coming next month in the Lawrence Journal-World and on

If so, call Ryan Greene at (785) 832-6357 or e-mail to


b_asinbeer 15 years, 7 months ago

I'm glad 'spoon got to score. The fieldhouse went nuts after his basket. I couldn't believe people started leaving at the 8-minute TV timeout. They missed a great finish.

Mike Blur 15 years, 7 months ago

Something doesn't add up in the "go figure" box. Follow me.

OK, the Hawks started off 1-for-9 from 3-pt range, correct?

They finished off making 10 out of 16 for the game, according to the "go figure" box.

That means, after their horrific 1-for-9 start, they made an absolutely unbelievable 9 (nine) shots in 7 (seven) attempts!

Forget any other storylines...making more shots than you attempt is absolutely unprecedented in college basketball history! Talk about your offensive efficency!

(Maybe it's one of those goofy rules like if you get fouled, you get credit for the shot made but not for an attempt, or something like that...)

Chris Shaw 15 years, 7 months ago

I did not see the halftime show, but I did see some pictures that were taken. Did Dean smith really wear his Carolina Blue sport jacket? That blows my mind in the sense that I can' actually believe he would wear that. I'm glad he got the ovation he deserved despite some boos I heard about, but Dean and Roy make a good combo in Carolina. Let them live happily ever after and I could careless about Carolina Blue and I hope we rip the "C" off their Jersey's when we play them in March. That's all Self needs come March to stop the naysayers is get a win against UNC or advance to the Elite 8. Anything less we will still here some grumbling. Congrats to Brennan and Witherspoon for their first points. That will be something cherished forever.

rosewta 15 years, 7 months ago

Nice job, Dean. You come home to Kansas under much scrutiny and to make matters worse you wear a 1960 style Carolina blue sport jacket. Either you are color blind or you need a public relations person in your corner but that was flat out stupid to wear that suit. I guess he didn't get in town early enough to hit the KU bookstore for a KU shirt. Good thing KU purposefully didn't introduce you at midcourt because you probably deserved some boos for your snafu.

GIHAWK 15 years, 7 months ago

"I couldn't believe people started leaving at the 8-minute TV timeout."

What do you expect? Who wants to watch a game when you are ahead by 50...

cafranci 15 years, 7 months ago

"The last time any team had fewer than 39 against KU was Pomona-Pitzer, with 38 in 1987."

Dartmouth only scored 32 earlier this year.

Kyle Crenshaw 15 years, 7 months ago

this story is about, who else? the tar heels and how they are speeding toward the tourney. excuse me... hasnt ku blown out its last 4 opponents and didnt we beat the team unc beat by 4 last night by around 25? we here at ku obviously recieve a lot of disrespect. if anything i hope this keeps the fire goin inside these players to where they would bring it game in and game out and eventually bring home the NC. then when they do, shove it and digger's and the rest of the east-coast loving espn!

Seth Peattie 15 years, 7 months ago

KU has won the last 4 games by an average of 31 points. Self haters can suck it.

BIG game tomorrow night.

Kuku_Kansas 15 years, 7 months ago

I kept watching Dean Smith from the other side of the court during yesterday's game.

Wasn't hard to pick him out, since he had that obnoxious Carolina blue sport coat on. (How insulting!)

I only caught him clapping once...and he didn't even pay attention to the video footage of the championship year until the last 10 seconds of video. He just kept yapping away and/or reading stuff throughout the entire game.

For a KU graduate, KU championship player and Kansas'd think he'd have been a tad more interested and delighted with KU.

Nah, I perceived nothing but Carolina in/around him.


indyhawk 15 years, 7 months ago

I was watching midnight madness on ESPN last night waiting to see what they would say about how great the hawks are playing and there was NOTHING about KU. They covered every other team in America, top 25, etc except KU. I agree with kyle that it's frustrating that the Hawks don't get enough respect from the "east coast loving ESPN".

Michael Leiker 15 years, 7 months ago

kylecisnum. I agree. Why don't we get more props for destroying the ACC leader. I don't think KS was mentioned once on Gameday yesterday.

Biggest game of the year tomorrow. Bigger than Florida, A&M, etc. Go hawks.

b1afide 15 years, 7 months ago

Yeah - I don't get the ESPN snub yesterday either. Although - Dickie V. was raving about them during the NC-BC game. Perhaps it is because the next three games are on their network and we will get our fill then, or the blowout wasn't interesting to anyone but us. I would rather that than have to rely on a buzzer beater or get upset so that we show up.

Evan Ridenour 15 years, 7 months ago

ESPN has a tendency to completely ignore games that aren't televised on their network.

hawkitup 15 years, 7 months ago

I don't know about you guys but I kind of prefer KU not to be the center of attention. Let the pressure be on some of those other programs. We know we're playing great basketball and that's all that matters right now. Hopefully, this will give us something to prove come March.

jaybate 15 years, 7 months ago

Regarding Dean's choice of coats, I wouldn't be at all surprised, if Doc Allen and Hank Iba weren't up in basketball heaven right now shaking their heads at Smith wearing his Carolina blue coat into Allen Field House. I bet Doc Allen is saying, "You know, Henry, we've had our philosophical differences about the way the game was supposed to be played over the years, but I always respected you." Henry nods. Allen continues, "I even had some concerns about your boy, Bill, being hired at KU, because of those differences. Not dictating tempo? It just didn't seem like Kansas basketball." Henry shrugs and says, "You always had just a little too much pride about that sort of thing, Forrest. It's a game. Games can have more than one strategy of winning." Doc Allen puts his hand on Henry's shoulder. "You know, Henry, come March, I'm hoping your boy, Bill, and his bunch of opportunistic Jayhawks, meets up with Dean and Roy. And I hope he kicks the snot out of that impudent little bench warmer's 'program.' It really irked me that he wore that plantation-dandy-blue coat into my field house. In fact, I wouldn't mind if he ran the score up a bit." Iba chuckled. "Oh, he will, Forrest, don't worry, he will. I've already discussed it with him. He knows full well there's a score to settle and that you and I agree, at least on this." Allen smiles. "Henry, you always were a sly one." Henry laughed his gravelly laugh. "Forrest, this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

Dan Harris 15 years, 7 months ago

suck it Dean,ESPN and tne east coast bias!

Jeremy Bolinger 15 years, 7 months ago

I too, also realized there was absolutely nothing about us on espn. How do you beat a team, especially the way we did by 53 POINTS, and not even get mentioned. I also agree that I kinda like the spotlight being off of us right now. Listen everyone.......we ARE playing our best ball right now. And we are doing it at the best time to. Im glad we didnt peak in December(Wichita St.) and then stumble in a middle of the pack conference. I can only imagine how a team like that would perform in a power conference. Bottom line, we are heading for the stretch run and I love our chances!!!!!!!!!

killjoy 15 years, 7 months ago

Someone is using multiple posting names again!

justsaying 15 years, 7 months ago

It was great to see the starters (regular rotation) supporting the 3rd string!

I'm not a Bill Self hater, nor am I a Roy Williams hater, but I sure would enjoy seeing us beat the shorts off of UNC. I wonder what ESPN would have to say then..... maybe something like:

Bill's team didn't win, UNC beat themselves....

Go hawks!

MinnesotaJay 15 years, 7 months ago

At least a couple positives regarding Dean Smith. (1) He showed up, and (2) he sang the school song.

Of course, that in no way negates the need to kick some Tarheel tail whenever we have the chance.

Robert Murphy 15 years, 7 months ago

I was a freshman at KU with Wilt Chamberlin and had a front row seat for the 1957 NCAA final. What a heartbreak loss that was. I have been a loyal jayhawk fan for 53 years and have had my heart broken quite a few times but the the loss in "57" was the worst. Maybe this year or next will make up for it. I still have faith and think this team has the most all aroung talent of any and I won't be surprised when they cut the nets down after winning it all.

BabyJay5953 15 years, 7 months ago

A great win by the Jayhawks, under our great head coach, Bill Self. The man has truly shown he deserves and wants to be here. How long has this Jayhawk nation yearned to hear a coach say that this was his true dream job? Coach Self has said that, on numerous occasions. I see a much classier, more defensive minded Dean Smith. Coach Self is not a KU alum, much like Dean Smith was not a Carolina alum, but as Smith bleeds Carolina blue, Coach Self bleeds crimson and blue. A decade or some odd years from now, no one will remember Roy Williams or Dean Smith. This will be Self's Kansas basketball program, one that will dominate, and not only dominate the Big 12, but dominate the world of college basketball.

Kit Duncan 15 years, 7 months ago

It doesn't jibe to say ESPN didn't give KU any airtime on Sportcenter because the game wasn't on ESPN. It was. ESPN+ provided the network feed.

Unfortunately for Kansas, the Big XII is perceived as a lower quality conference than the Big East, ACC, SEC and Pac 10. This doesn't however, mean that Kansas isn't being given respect by the press.'s power 16 has had KU in a 2 seed for several weeks with a 1 seed temporarily, after beating UF. #1 seeds are pretty much locked up unless there's a big falter by one of the current top 4 in the bracketology.

The 'Hawks just need to be consistent and hold on to win the conference, do well in the Big XII tournament (not necessarily win it), then make it past the 1st round. (That monkey on their shoulder is probably what will keep them out of a 1 seed this year-much as it would be exciting to the masses to see a 1 seed fall in the first round, it would be a black eye on the NCAA bracket pickers.) Not that I'm saying KU would lose as a 1 seed, I just think the voters are a little squeamish about KU's last 2 tournament early exits.

These kids are peaking at the right time, showing poise, and the newly-found ability to put a game away when they get a lead.

Go KU, beat K-State!!!

bmcmich1 15 years, 7 months ago

Wow, Dean--I have been defending you for so long, saying that you still remember your Kansas roots--but a freakin' carolina blue sportcoat when you are getting honored by your alma mater?? What a slap in the face! Screw you, go back east - we don't want you anymore.

Along those lines, I would like to take a trip down memory lane back to the Oklahoma State game earlier this season at which we honored Eddie Sutton at halftime. Let me point out that he was wearing a ROYAL blue tie that night. I don't know if that was planned (I personally think it was) but it showed a little RESPECT to the school that was honoring him. Aside from being from Kansas, Eddie had no real allegiance to KU but decided to be a class act nonetheless. Mr.Smith, a GRADUATE and former player at KU, decided to go with the class-less and tact-less move and wear carolina colors when his team was being honored. Real nice, Dean, real nice.

jaybate 15 years, 7 months ago


Its the nice jerks that are the hardest to see coming. Don't feel bad. He's taken in most of us at one time or another.

nanuq 15 years, 7 months ago

I understand the sentiment; powder blue on the Naismith court doesn't cut it. Remember, though, Smith is now and forever a Tarheel; the KU/UNC connection is well established. Let's all try to get along and respect one another's traditions, then beat the snot out of everyone else during the games; that's the only time it counts. Remember, Smith has to go home to NC.

Jeremy Bolinger 15 years, 7 months ago

somebody pointed it out earlier, but I heard a comment last week on espn. When asked about why florida was having close games, someone stated: "I think Florida is just bored. They have the best starting five but they are just waiting for march." What a crock of $hit! Kansas plays someone in a close game and its playing down to competition. Florida does it, its attributed to them being bored. Come on! If thats the knowledge that it takes for someone to be a college basketball analyst, my 4 year old nephew has a great shot! Thats why I like flying under the radar.

BABBOY, i have just one question. Did you consider Roy Williams a great coach when he was here? I know i sure did, and him winning in his second season didnt change any of my feelings. I think Bill Self is a great, young, and energetic coach. If he keeps winning at the current clip, he should surpass Roy Williams as being the youngest coach to reach 500 wins.

FlaHawk 15 years, 7 months ago

Enugh on Dean Smith. He was just a bench jockey back in 1952 anyway! Let UNC support him as he has done muchmore at UNC than at KU!

Go Hawls!

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