Friday, January 14, 2011

Memory lane: Former KU basketball coach Ted Owens reminisces about faces, places over the years

Former KU Basketball coach Ted Owens was on hand for a hall of fame induction at the Booth Family Hall of Athletics on Sept. 25, 2010.

Former KU Basketball coach Ted Owens was on hand for a hall of fame induction at the Booth Family Hall of Athletics on Sept. 25, 2010.


1971 team will be recognized at halftime

Kansas University’s 1971 Final Four team will be honored at halftime of Saturday’s game against Nebraska in Allen Fieldhouse.

Coach Ted Owens’ Jayhawks went 27-3 overall and a perfect 14-0 in the Big Eight Conference. KU beat Houston and Drake in the NCAA Midwest Regional games in Wichita, then lost to UCLA in the Final Four semifinals in Houston.

Dave Robisch was the squad’s leading scorer at 19.2 points per game. Bud Stallworth averaged 16.9 ppg, Roger Brown 11.2 ppg and Pierre Russell 10.3 ppg. Other members of the team: Randy Canfield, Greg Douglas, Jerry House, Bob Kivisto, Neal Mask, Mark Mathews, Aubrey Nash and Mark Williams. Assistant coaches were Gale Catlett and Sam Miranda. Trainer was Dean Nesmith. Manager was Kim Blocher.


Kansas University basketball great Howard Engleman addresses the crowd with jokes and stories during halftime March 1, 2003. Engleman, whose jersey was retired, played in for KU from 1939 to 1941.

On a cotton farm three miles south of Hollis, Okla., during the Great Depression, exhaustion from working the land all day was no match for a father’s love of his three sons. So when the boys came home from school, Homer Owens would unleash the mules, grab a baseball bat and hit them “skinners,” more commonly known as grounders.

Homer hung a backboard and a net-less rim, flush with a steel pole, and the boys would crash into it shooting layups. So began a boy’s love affair with a sport that to this day dominates his thoughts.

No telling where life would have taken Ted Owens, 81, former Kansas University basketball coach, if his father hadn’t hung that hoop. Ted’s just happy he did.

“It was a square, wooden backboard,” he remembered over breakfast during a recent stay in Lawrence. “Then when they came in with the moon-shaped backboard, we told our dad we had to have that, so he cut it for us. It was about that time everyone else went back to a square backboard.”

During the cotton-harvesting season, school would shut down for a couple of weeks, and Homer and Annie’s three sons, Quentin, Freddy and Ted, would pull cotton from sunup to sundown. When school was in session, basketball surrounded classwork.

“We played there every morning before we’d go to school,” Ted said. “We’d get all dusty, get dirt under our socks. Mother would be worried to death: ‘If you break a leg, at school they’re going to look at you and think I don’t take good care of my boys.’ She was a saint, the sweetest person I ever knew.”

Ted, who calls himself, “one of the last of the two-hand set-shooters,” has only his memories of the family with which he grew up. They’re all gone now. Ted and wife Michelle, who live in Tulsa, have four children of their own.

“I have such great blessings,” Owens said. “I have such a great family and my extended family, my players.”

A 1971 Final Four Reunion

Several of those players will join Owens in Allen Fieldhouse, where his 1971 Final Four team will be honored at halftime of Saturday’s 1 p.m. tipoff against Nebraska.

After four seasons as an assistant to Dick Harp, Owens coached Kansas from 1964 to 1983 and reached Final Fours in 1971 and 1974. Though none of his players were consensus first-team All-Americans, five did earn first-team All-American honors: Walt Wesley, Jo Jo White, Dave Robisch, Bud Stallworth and Darnell Valentine.

His best player?

“I never answer that question,” said Owens, forever sensitive to others’ feelings. “I’d just as soon seven of them think they were my best player.”

Owens, 81, will create one more basketball memory in a massive mental library full of them that he’ll carry with him for the rest of his years.

Competing Against Legends

Through the decades, Owens played against, coached against and befriended so many of the game’s biggest names. He’s the Forrest Gump of basketball and is always happy to share his impressions of the sport’s giants.

He played against Phog Allen-coached teams and years later golfed with him. He played against Henry Iba’s team when the school was called Oklahoma A&M; and coached against Iba when it was Oklahoma State.

“While a lot of people didn’t agree with his style of offense and so forth, all of us agreed on one thing: He did a great job of teaching what he believed in, patience, movement,” Owens said. “My first year as head coach here his team only shot the ball 13 times in the second half and hit 12. When there was no shot clock, they would drive you nuts, move and move and move, and pretty soon, they played on your lack of patience.”

Once, Owens said, Bill Bridges told him that his man cut to the hoop 17 times during one possession.

“He played rock-solid defense, support defense,” Owens said of Iba. “He just played a disciplined game, and his players bought into that. I’m not sure today, as much as players like to shoot and shoot quick, how that would work.”

Owens coached against Kentucky legend Adolph Rupp, who didn’t put as high a premium on defense as did Iba. Gale Catlett left Kansas and Owens to work for Rupp at Kentucky.

“Gale told me there were spots on the court where he knew their shots would come from, and Rupp would drill those for 30 minutes, drill offensive patterns for 30 minutes and then scrimmage for 30 minutes,” Owens said. “They never spent any time on defense.”

Once, Catlett told Owens, Rupp turned to him at the end of practice and said, “All right, talk to them about defense. You come from Kansas where they play good defense.”

Bob Knight, A Friendly Foe

At Kansas, Owens coached against Joe Lapchick of St. John’s, Nat Holman of City College of New York, North Carolina’s Dean Smith and Indiana’s Bob Knight. Owens was the coach on the opposing bench when Michael Jordan played his first college game for North Carolina.

Of Knight, Owens said, “If he’s your enemy, he’s the worst enemy you can have. If he’s your friend, he’s the best friend you can have. I like Bob. He’s a good friend.”

Owens admires Knight’s insatiable hunger for knowledge.

“The first thing coach Knight did every morning when he was at West Point was pick up the phone, call another coach and pick his brain,” Owens said.

Everything about Knight’s background and his approach greased the skids for coaching greatness, Owens believes.

“He, first of all, played for a good coach, Fred Taylor at Ohio State,” Owens said. “Then he went back to New York and became friends with Clair Bee, one of the first great Eastern coaches. The only way you can learn is to admit that you don’t know everything. A lot of us have a tough time admitting that, sometimes out of insecurity. Bob knew he didn’t know it all. And he didn’t neglect older coaches. A lot of young coaches think, ‘Hey, he isn’t in the modern world.’ So they don’t talk to you much about strategy.”

Owens recalled beating Knight just once, in a game played in Madison Square Garden.

“He called me two days later and said, ‘We like your sideline break. We want to know more about your sideline break.’ Here’s a guy who had already won a couple of national championships,” Owens marveled. “He never stopped learning.”

Basketball, to hear Owens tell it, can mirror fashion in that looks go in and out of style, and what’s considered new often actually is old.

His college coach, Bruce Drake, ran an offense known as the Drake Shuffle. Years later, Auburn coach Joel Eaves ran the same offense, according to Owens, and it became known as the Auburn shuffle.

Father Thinks He Knows Best

Ted and Michelle’s son, Teddy, is head basketball coach at Lincoln Christian High in Tulsa. When he wants his players to run the shuffle, he hollers, “Drake.”

Once a ball coach, always a ball coach, Teddy’s dad lends advice.

“One day I told him, ‘Teddy, to fit your personnel better, here’s a little variation that I’ve been piddling with that I think will be really helpful to you.’ I’m really thinking I hit a home run here,” Ted said. “So he looked at it and he said, ‘That’s good, dad. Tim Bart runs that over at Bartlesville High School.’ I thought I had come up with a great variation.”

Owens is fond of KU’s Bill Self as a person and coach. They have shared time talking basketball and golfing.

“I suppose the thing I like about him is he’s such a complete package,” Owens said. “He communicates well with everybody. He’s genuine. He likes people. He remembers his roots. Intensely loyal to his people who work for him. Great recruiter. Excellent teacher. But I guess the thing I like best about him is he can’t keep it in the fairway. He does hit it a long way, though.”

Both men are Oklahoma natives and both served as head coach at Oral Roberts University, Self early on his path to his dream job, Owens for two seasons in the wake of losing his. After Oral Roberts, Owens coached brief stints with the Fresno Flames of a short-lived professional league that did not allow players taller than 6-foot-5 and with Maccabi Tel Aviv, the most prominent professional basketball team in Israel. Oklahoma City Thunder coach Scott Brooks played for Owens with the Flames, and they remain friends.

“Coach certainly has been a great supporting piece for me,” Self said of Owens. “We talk a lot, not specific X’s and O’s, more general philosophy. He knows the game, and even more than that, he knows people. He reads people well, and it amazes me how much he appreciates practice, how much he appreciates the simple things.”

No Place Like Kansas

Most of all, Owens appreciates Kansas basketball. His first exposure came as an opponent with Oklahoma.

“We’d catch a train to Lawrence and stay at the old Eldridge Hotel,” Owens recalled. “We didn’t look at the campus or anything. We’d go from the train station to the Eldridge, to old Hoch Auditorium, back to the Eldridge, and then back to the train station and out.”

After serving in the Korean War, Owens played for Ada Oil, KU alumnus Bud Adams’ team in the old national industrial basketball league. Then, after finishing his master’s degree at OU, Owens worked at Cameron Junior College, where he taught history, was an assistant football coach and the head basketball and baseball coach. His high school teammate, Monte Moore (voice of the Kansas City/Oakland A’s from 1962 to 1980), called KU games on the radio. When Jerry Waugh left KU basketball coach Dick Harp’s staff in 1960 to go into business, Moore recommended Owens.

“Coach Harp’s wife, Mar(tha) Sue, took us on a tour of the campus and it was just gorgeous,” Owens said. “Is there any more beautiful scene than being in the stadium and looking up at the campus and the Campanile?”

Harp and athletic director Dutch Lonborg interviewed Owens, offered the job and he accepted.

Recruiting rules weren’t as restrictive when he coached at Kansas as now and it was no problem enlisting the help of big-name alumni to woo recruits.

“Gale Sayers owned Chicago at the time,” Owens said. “If you would take a prospect and his family out to dinner in Chicago with Gale with you, you would have a great chance to get him. Everybody came over to our table and would want Gale’s autograph. And then Gale would take us over to his place and show us the six touchdowns he scored against the 49ers. It was fun recruiting in Chicago.”

Recruiting took Owens to small gyms in big cities, where he watched tall players.

“I went back to New York and Power Memorial was playing in this dinky, little old gym and here’s this big guy, 7-foot Lew Alcindor, and the other team held the ball,” Owens said. “It was like an 18-10 game or something like that, but I saw enough that we gladly would have taken him.”

Getting to know Phog Allen ranked as another highlight of Owens’ Kansas years.

“We were playing at Lawrence Country Club and I hit a bad shot,” Owens said, his welcoming smile beginning to form at the memory. “I stuck my club about two inches into the ground and Doc just said, ‘At certain levels of skill, you should not expect a perfect shot every time.’ So I’ve never stuck my club in the ground since.”

Owens still finds it difficult to talk about the day his time as Kansas coach came to an end. Still, he throws no stones, claims no injustices.

“We’d had two really down years, but we had a great group of young players coming on,” Owens said. “I thought we’d turn it around and so forth, but you know, we had a couple of years there that were far below Kansas standards. They decided to make a change. After 23 years here, it was extremely painful. I absolutely loved it here, and I still do.”

The smart money says the ovation the old ball coach receives at halftime will let him know the feeling’s mutual.


jakejayhawk 11 years, 10 months ago

A young boy, perhaps 7th grade. He convinced his parents who brought him to a KU game from Wichita, to go early so he could watch the Jayhawks in the early shootaround. Mind you, this before camping out for games and thousands of students in the stands two hours before a game.

The young man asks his parents if he can go down to floor level to watch warmups. With their approval he runs down the stairs. Gradually, the kid edges closer and closer to the court. Finally, standing mere feet behind the slightly built and soft spoken head coach, the youngster is noticed by Coach Owens

Hi he says. The young mans quietly replies. The coach then engages in small talk, allowing the red haired lad to warm up to him. Thus was cemented my life long passion for all things Jayhawk. Thank you Coach Owens, your kindness is remembered today by this 51 year old man who has raised his kids to love the Jayhawks just as did he on that Fall afternoon in the early 70's.

rpboy06 11 years, 10 months ago

Damn you're old. I only know of the Roy Williams and Bill Self era ;) j/p

Steve Corder 11 years, 10 months ago

I remember actually visiting the locker room with my father after the OU game in Norman, meeting Walt Wesley & Al Lopes. How times have changed. I'm really old...59.

okiedave 11 years, 10 months ago

Jakejayhawk is a pup. I recall watching Wilt Chamberlin play at a 5 year old in a fairly new Allen field house and as a grade school kid buying KUBB badges allowing you see 10 games for $1.00 (10 cents each) and watching Bill Bridges and Walt Wesley. Great memories.

smejhawk1 11 years, 10 months ago

Old is relative rpboy06.

You are not remembering Larry Brown 1983 - 1988 National Championship!

Marcia Parsons 11 years, 10 months ago

Great story, jakejayhawk. Makes us realize how small things can affect others and make a difference

Michael Bratisax 11 years, 10 months ago

Nice story! Glad to know I am not alone in the 50+ crowd.

Alohahawk 11 years, 10 months ago

Owens was coach when I attended KU (Class of '75). Students didn't camp out over night (or longer) back then, but there were still lines forming at the North entrance early in the mornings before an evening game. Favorite topics of discussion were Bob Dylan's music, the Beatles's Abbey Road and other bands now long out of favor. As much as I've always hated the cold, I spent many long hours waiting to enter Allen Field House so I could rush to my favorite seat, four rows up right behind our home bench. I've still got a newspaper photo of myself standing up amongst the crowd, cheering on the Jayhawks. That was when student season tickets cost about $12 - $15!! Not sure what they run now-a-days.

Of all the coaches mentioned above, I'm surprised that John Wooden wasn't included as an Owen adversary. Don't know if it happened more than once, but in the final four in Houston's Astrodome (same location where, a few years before Alcindor/Kareem lost to Houston ending UCLA"s 79 game winning streak), KU lost to Wooden's Bruins. Dave Robisch and Pierre Russell were two of our best players. I remember Robisch got bloodied up pretty bad with all the rough play. We went on two days later and lost to W. Kentucky in what I believe was the last third place game played at the nationals. I believe that's the first year KU"s band started playing the Wheaties theme song when an opposing player fouled out. Wheaties sent KU thousands of empty Wheaties boxes to wave during the game. If I remember correctly, we only got to wave them once, well after we had fallen behind and time was running out. My best memory of the game against UCLA was walking around the entire first balcony during halftime with a friend displaying a sheet on which I had drawn a large Jayhawk trampling on a bear (Bruin). The message said,"Bust the Bruin's Vern". That was when a Kansas politicain named Vern (Can't remember his last name) had been arresting a lot of people (students?) for drugs. It was only the previous summer, or maybe it was two summers before, when the Student Union had caught fire. And a lot of young teens used to hang out on the corner half a block down from the union passing around joints and toking up. If you were offered some free brownies, you always smelled them first, so you'd know the amount of extra ingredients which had been added.

Would have loved to have been in the field house to watch Danny and the Miracles, and of course the '08 championship team in person. But can't complain, Hawaii has been good to me too. No more extreme cold, ice or snow (except on the Big Island.)

Hank Cross 11 years, 10 months ago

You're thinking of AG Vern Miller, who was famous for going on raids himself. Don't blame you for leaving Kansas. Hawai'i no ka 'oi.

baldwinjhawk 11 years, 10 months ago

i was just talking about the wheaties song! Do you remember the words?

Jim Roth 11 years, 10 months ago

LWJ had an article about it a few years ago. Unofficial words:

"So long, you didn't have your Wheaties. So long, we hate to see you go. Too bad, you didn't have your Wheaties. So sad, you didn't win the game."

Funhawk 11 years, 10 months ago

Kansas Attorney General, Vern Miller, personally often led the nightly drug raids, jumping out of car trunks and putting fear into Lawrence hippies. Somebody ought to make a movie out of this Kansas lawman. The two most famous Kansans in the early 70s may have been Ted Owens and Vern Miller.

hawkgirl 11 years, 10 months ago

I remember reading that the Kansas Union burned in Spring of 1971.

Also, they did play the consolation game in the NCAA Tournament at least through Spring 1974. That year, UCLA lost their semi-final game--to Marquette I think--as did Kansas. So, KU and UCLA played for third, and unfortunately KU was no match for them. Before the game, Bill Walton made comments that the game wasn't worth playing (translated: KU wasn't good enough and it was a waste of their time). That was a KU team with Tom Kivisto at the helm, Rick Suttle, Tommy Smith, Danny Knight (God rest his soul), and I think Roger Morningstar and Dale Greenlee.

These are my first memories of KU ball as a "youngun" and I have been a fan ever since. Was enrolled during the Danny era and did get to catch most of the games. Sorry you didn't get the chance, Alohahawk. They were up and they were down during that season, but win or lose the team's perseverance in spite of adversity was a "feel good" experience. RCJH

Funhawk 11 years, 10 months ago

Yes, similar memories, too. Kansas Union burned in spring of 1970. Lawrence 1970 was similar to the early 1860s, a Kansas town overrun with young provocateurs from back east.

Steve Brown 11 years, 10 months ago

Oh the memories. We were freshmen the last freshmen team, Suttle, Knight, Greenlee, SMith and a hot guard that transferred to Tulsa maybe..wasn't Ricky Ross, think he was later. Sit down Norm, sit down Norm. One game Norm said he wanted to defend the other south court first, he choice as visitor, something about the lights being adjusted, he got his way. So we watched our offense the first half, odd as it was. the halftime races of the old guys brooming the court, one with big red and one with big blue broom, yet they never hurried. Lon Kruger was toughest visitor, ice in his blood. My pal and I would use the mind meld lock box on the rim when opponents shot FT and it often worked, Clank. The Bud Stallworth song and the pep band used to sit right left of the team, back then the student section was lower level right behind team, we would come in north doors and alternate row 1 behind coach or top row right below the walkway so we could stand the whole game against the sliver tubes and not interfere with people behind us. Then the Crimson and BLue was more reverant, no "hit it" or whoops in the middle of the refrains, oh well. It seems we wore home blue with red trim every home game, never white, oh the memories. Adrian Dantely was good, Kyle Macy was good, We had two refs then, not three and they were always blind.

Alan Braun 11 years, 10 months ago

We overlapped our time at KU - I graduated in 73. Yeah it was Vern Miller. I used to like sitting behind the opponents bench. Remember once when Joe Cipriano was coaching Nebraska we were harassing him mercilessly from close enough that he could hear, and he eventually turned around and flipped us off. Of course it got worse after that! I was at the Astrodome but I bought tickets from the 2nd allotment they gave KU - that was the first time they played the final four in a big venue and they had more tickets than they knew what to do with. When we sold out our first batch the NCAA just sent us more. Anyway I don't remember the wheaties boxes. I knew that was about the time the band started using the wheaties song but I didn't remember how it got started. I think one of the lines in the song, the reason why it fits, was "you didn't eat your wheaties!"

lionhawk13 11 years, 10 months ago

Great post, I remember those days as well ! As a kid playing ball in Jo Jo Whites driveway in alvamar and having him teach us jumpshots. We would ride our bikes to potters lake and skateboard the hill. Coach Owens lived just a block or two off campus by what was then the Triangle fraternity and Delta Tau Delta. We would wait for him to come home and try and get the players wrist bands or anything Jayhawk. I remember getting Darnels wristband and being the "man' at sunset hill elementary. Eventually playing ball in high school with Dan the Man and watching Piper light it up for the state title I think he went 12 for 12 or something like that....
Does anyone remember Art Housey and the monster that he was, Kerry Boagni (sp) Ricky Ross, David Magley ? All great Jayhawks, Wichita state had a great team back then as well with Cliff Livingston, Antoine Carr, Othello (sp) I think we lost on a inbounds play in the tournament to WSU? Good years, great and kind coach. Lets honor his years and time as a Jayhawk on Saturday Alohahawk, I also went to Hawaii and studied at Manoa for a couple years with a few Lawrence boys and loved it as well. The people with their aloha spirit,is as close to the kindness that you find in Kansas as anywhere in the world ..

jhox 11 years, 10 months ago

I was at KU near the end of Ted's time there (the Darnell Valentine years.) I'd love to have a dollar for every Tums that he would chew during the course of a game. I'd be a rich man.

Dan Harris 11 years, 10 months ago

DV,Booty Neal,David Magley, Tony Guy,Johnny Crawford are some of the players I remember from my first couple of years at KU. I remember getting upset by Wichita St in the tourney(1980?) Unfortunately I also remember my last year there with some good young talent, Carl Henry, Ron Kellogg and Calvin Thompson but we had a sub 500 record for the year.

ku_foaf 11 years, 10 months ago

I was an undergrad the last four years Owens was coach. I was not much of a sports fan then, and I did not know the history. I used to wonder why everyone talked like we were basketball gods when there was one decent season, 80-81! I think that was the only time we made the NCAA, by winning the Big 8 Tournament, and losing to a very talented Wichita State team. In retrospect, recruiting had fallen on hard times, and it was the worst 4 years in at least the last 40. Owens is a great coach, but his style was definitely on the way out. The game was changing. The shot clock ended it.

Coach Owens was right- that great 85-86 team was heavily populated by his recruits. With a "minor" exception of Manning, also Cedric Hunter. Fortunately, I was a grad student and experienced some great years before leaving the state in 1988.

I look forward to KU playing every year at Baylor, A&M, and TX - three chances to see them! I was fortunate enough to see then at AFH on Dec 18 for the first time since 89!

Steve Corder 11 years, 10 months ago

A fine man and a good coach.

The most difficult job is the one where everyone else knows they can do it better and always lets the the other guy know about it.

Michael Bratisax 11 years, 10 months ago

We must have been at KU the same time jhox. Sometimes it was pretty rough for him with the "Gong Owens" signs at the Fieldhouse. I think it was 79 when our prize recruit was Ricky Ross from Wichita when he came to our fraternity house for dinner. I had the opportunity to sit at the same table and listen to him talk. It has always left the long positive feeling for him.

Michael Bratisax 11 years, 10 months ago

On a side note, I've always wondered what would have been his legacy if Jo Jo White's shot had counted.

jhox 11 years, 10 months ago

Two final fours...not too shabby. He'd be declared a Saint if he coached in Missouri or Manhatten with that record. At KU, it just wasn't quite enough.

I took a Coaching of Basketball class for fun my senior year. The regular instructor was assistant coach Lafayette Norwood. He was a great guy. I saw him probably 5 years later at a basketball tournament in Topeka and went up to reintroduce myself, and before I could say a word, he stood up and greeted me by name.

When Lafayette couldn't make it, Ted or his other assistant, Bob Hill (who later coached the Seattle Supersonics) would fill in. Both were very nice guys. Not surprising. I'm sure you have to be pretty nice to be a good recruiter. Hill was probably the brightest basketball mind I ever met. He could talk faster than I could think.

Speaking of Darnell, I had a couple of classes with him. One was a business law class. He would often miss a couple of classes each week, while traveling or practicing, but he was a very bright guy. The instructor knew it, and would intentionally ask him difficult questions to show off his intelligence.

I got to know several players on those teams pretty well. Other than Darnell, they generally were not the "rock stars" that most of the players are today. Several others played in the NBA though. Basketball was big then at KU, but not like today.

hawk82 11 years, 10 months ago

It's good to see Ted honored once again.

Fine man. I too enjoyed the Darnell V. era while a student there. Ted let him roam, and he was the finest athlete I ever saw on a ball court.

Marc Bryant 11 years, 10 months ago

I have fond memories of going to games back in the day. We farmed when I was growing up and summer vacations were not a part of the schedule. One of the highlights of the years was getting to attend the KU-KState game in Lawrence. During one of those trips to Lawrence I was allowed into the locker room after the game. I took my game program with me and had all the players and coaches sign the front of the program. It is still in my possession and tucked away for safe keeping. I get it out every so often to flip through it and look at the names on the front cover. That is a fond memory. I remember some of those classic battles between coach Owens and coach Hartman. Those Saturday afternoon games in the fieldhouse are memories that will stay with you forever. Rock Chalk.

HawkBBall 11 years, 10 months ago

Back in '64 Doug Clark and the Hot Nuts drew a bigger crowd at the Red Dog Saloon than the Jayhawks did playing a home game at AFH. Coach Owens grew the program from its lowest point to Final Four teams. He packed the house!

vamb 11 years, 10 months ago

I have had the opportunity to visit with coach Owens several times in the last few years. Many times when you meet your childhood heroes you are disappointed, but he is one on the most gracious people I have ever met. His love for KU is very evident.

aviebs51 11 years, 10 months ago

I must say it's very enjoyable to read all of the stories of other Hawk fans. I was not lucky enough to get to attend the University of Kansas. I know that I would have been camping out many of night. I was however born in Lawrence and have lived in the KC area my whole life. I can remember going to my first game with my Mom. It had to have been in the early 90's when they played a Furman team that was incredibly outmatched. I remember looking up at the old rag that hung in the rafters...Pay Heed all who Enter, Beware of the Phog. I remember not knowing what that meant but sensed that it had something to do with a special feeling that I got when I entered the gym. I also remember looking at the fieldhouse and just being amazed. This is Basketball. I knew that at even a young age. It was way different than Kemper Arena (a newer more upscale arena in KC). I remember thinking wow. The heat in the gym was no match for the snow outside as we got like a foot of snow. That drive home wasn't a lot of fun. However, my mom bought me a KU practice jersey that I still have at home. It's amazing how we as fans can almost point back to the time where we became lifelong fans. There are few things on this Earth that are as special as being A Jayhawk!

Rock Chalk!

baldwinjhawk 11 years, 10 months ago

They don't sing the wheaties song anymore when they foul out. It was big when i was a kid and Owens was a coach. Does anyone remember the words? It was something like. Too bad you didn't eat your wheaties. So sad you had to leave the game..???? As a boy growing up on a farm, I would go out and lay in the backseat of my mom's New Yorker and turn the KU game on, so i could listen to Max and my Jayhawks in privacy. Also, so I wouldn't get in trouble from my parents if I had to cuss at the game! lol

Woody Cragg 11 years, 10 months ago

The things we did when we were young. I remember being So pi$$ed when we lost to Texas Western in the NC game. That one was actually on tv. But I listened to Max alot even back further than that. I thought the team with Wesley & JoJo was the greatest ever. On tv you couldn't see his foot on the line. I remember Robish & Bridges and yes, the Dipper. If you got caught cussin you knew the soap was awful, but even then life was real good. And the hawks still have my heart. Was listening to Piper the other night thinking, "I sure miss Max." Chris was a heckuva player but whines too much calling a game. Anyone see Elton John in AFH? I stood in line a long time for those tickets too.

Michael Bratisax 11 years, 10 months ago

My girlfriend and future ex-wife went to see Elton John..I don't remember why I didn't go. I did see ZZ Top at AFH and Bob Marley and George Thorogood (sp?) at Hoch Auditorium during my 5 yrs at KU. Wish I could have stretched it out longer but the funds were cut off.

Wow, memory lane is right..

YuCoJayHawk 11 years, 10 months ago

wow! you left the B-word out. I'm so proud of you. You are growing up before our very eyes.

REHawk 11 years, 10 months ago

Keegan, a really fine article. And to leadoff poster jakejayhawk and many other posters here today, thanks for sharing nostalgia. JAYHAWK HOOPS: what a special niche in time, place, action!

JayhawkinNE 11 years, 10 months ago

Really enjoyed the article, the posters and a trip back memory lane. I attended KU in the late 60's and early 70's and remember the time well. My wife was pregnant and due to give birth to my first son shortly after the Union was fire-bombed. The governor called out the National Guard to patrol the streets and Lawrence was under a curfew...couldn't even be on your front porch after dark, or buy gas for your lawnmower in a container. I remember rushing my wife to Lawrence Memorial in the middle of the night, hoping not get stopped on the way. We made it to the hospital just fine but found the doors locked once we arrived and had to bang on the doors until a janitor came to open them for us. The Dr did get stopped on his way to the hospital, but everything turned out okay.

HawkBBall 11 years, 10 months ago

I was there, too. I was pumping gas at the service station on the turnpike and had to go through the National Guard checkpoints every night. I remember the hippies in their flowered VW buses asking for directions to KU. It was the center of the war protest for some time. Coach Owens brought class to the school during difficult times in Lawrence.

jayhawker99 11 years, 10 months ago

I had the pleasure to meet Coach Owens in the Tulsa airport on the way to the S16 in wife and I (decked out in KU clothes) were walking next to him and he asked me if we were headed to Detroit...I have to admit I didn't recognize him at first, but when he told me he used to coach at KU I instantly drop my bags in disbelief and shook his hand and didn't let him get a chance to introduce himself as I said, "Oh my God, you're Ted Owens!". My wife was laughing at the moment and told Coach Owens that I bleed crimson and blue. His reply was "That's great! I love Jayhawk fans!". So there I was, (ignoring my wife, she's a great sport) and soaking in the moment of walking and talking with a KU coaching legend. I know it sounds horribly cliche, but it was like just talking with an old friend. My last question before we boarded was how he liked the '08 team and what he thought our chances were for bringing home the NC. He replied, "I've loved every team every year and I always think we have a good chance at winning it all, but this team plays such incredible defense...I think that will be our edge in taking home the championship." How prophetic he was as I watched our Hawks defend the cinderella Davidson team in the closing seconds and go on to win it all in San Antonio....Thanks Coach for being so friendly and giving me a memory for life.

Gregor Southard 11 years, 10 months ago

Kansas was #1 in all time wins whe Owens took over. They were #4 when he finally got fired. Nice guy/ terrible coach

5yardfuller 11 years, 10 months ago

KU (899 wins) was 3rd in all-time wins when Owens took over, behind Oregon State (925) and Kentucky (906). When Owens left in 1983, KU had surpassed Oregon State and their great coach Ralph Miller. The Dean Smith led UNC program and St. John’s passed KU in Owens’ last years.

Michael Bratisax 11 years, 10 months ago

Ralph Miller was a 3 sport athlete at KU and part of the Phog Allen coaching tree..which I am sure you knew.

Funhawk 11 years, 10 months ago

"Where Are They Now" articles are fun. Ted Owens brings back a lot of memories for us old-timers. Thank you, Tom Keegan. It would also be fun to hear updates about our "villians," those other fiery coaches and their viewpoints from the other side: Norm Stewart, Johnny Orr, Billy Tubbs. On game day, it was like the devil personified had returned to Lawrence, invading like Quantrill, yelling and pacing for two hours in AFH.

rockchalk80 11 years, 10 months ago

I second the request above... this article took me back ---I attended KU during the latter part of Owens' tenure '76-'80. Coach Owens took a lot of heat during those years of Gong Owens (a la the Gong Show). Although we now live in Okla., I took my son to a recent game at AFH... He couldn't believe our tradition--I love being a Jayhawk. I can remember the rivalry years v. KState (Jack Hartman---arguably KSU's finest and certainly their classiest coach) ... there were some not so classy moments of bananas and hotdogs thrown on each other's courts...

It would be great to hear comments from the former coaches... I know coach Hartman is gone... but Tubbs, Orr and Stewart are still around...

Steve Brown 11 years, 10 months ago

Ted challenged his players to learn a new word every day and made them accountible to him for the word. If we had a time clock back then we would have dominated as he got the talent but could't break the 'stall game'.

Of course if we had a time clock Wilt would have had 3 rings, can't go back.

Steve Brown 11 years, 10 months ago

PS no three point arch then either and we had shooters oh did we have shooters.

Rick Arnoldy 11 years, 10 months ago

I have an old t-shirt (too small) at home with the word to the Wheaties song. Also think I have a specially printed Wheaties box with a Jayhawk and the words to the song. KU had to quit playing it a while back because the NCAA deemed it "taunting". Not sure if it was ever brought back.

baldwinjhawk 11 years, 10 months ago

No.. They don't sing the words anymore. I figured it was politically correct. Could you share the words please i can't remember. But i remember singing them..!

Rick Arnoldy 11 years, 10 months ago

I forgot to check the shirt but here's a link to the Wheaties box... The song was originally banned in 2004.

Tony Bandle 11 years, 10 months ago

Ted Owens recruited, Sam Miranda coached...they were a dynamic pair for a long time.

And, yes, if the ref had correctly called the fact that Jo Jo's shoe was over the out of bounds line but not on it, the shot should have counted and his legacy would have been different.

One thing no one can take away from him, however, was and still is, is his deep love of Kansas and all things Jayhawk.

JAYHAWK68 11 years, 10 months ago

Thanks for the memories Coach. I often wonder how many points Jojo White would have scored if there had been a 3 point line.

Benjamin Clay Jones 11 years, 10 months ago

Ted came to my fraternity for to speak to us at dinner in the fall of '78. It was a thrill to hear him. We had a guy in the frat who was a super fan who had invited him. I thought it was great that Ted would do that.

wrwlumpy 11 years, 10 months ago

<-------- many schools would loveto be in a final 4 twice in 3 years and develop 5 all-americans. This article make me love the tradition even more.....

FLJHK 11 years, 10 months ago

Great memories.

Attended KU '70 - '74, and grad school '79 -'81. My only claim to perfect attendance in my lifetime was at Allen Fieldhouse during those years.

During I believe my junior year, some time after attending a concert where folks threw frisbees prior to the music, a friend and I decided to introduce them to AFH. So we brought one and tossed it in the crowd one game, and the concept immediately caught on. Within a few games, dozens of frisbees were being brought, although they were always confiscated by security. One game, we followed their path to find out where they were being taken, then hatched a plan to take them back. In a daring raid, we secured the confiscated frisbees, and released them to a supporting crowd. That stunt earned us a trip to the Dean's office, and a threatened expusion from AFH.

My senior year (I think), the 'Hawks were pretty mediocre but were led by the great Bud Stallworth (to the tune of the Budweiser song "When you say Bud Stallworth, you've said it all)." KU upset a strong MU team in the season finale as Stallworth scored something like 50 and I was am those who carried him off the court afterwards.

Alohahawk 11 years, 10 months ago

I was at that game and rememebr it well. And yes, Bud did score 50 in that game. It was the only time I ever ran on to the court after a game. I remember congratulating Bud a couple days later in Jayhawker Towers (where I lived two years).

kureader 11 years, 10 months ago

Keegan, that was one of your best articles. Very nice job.

I liked Owens as a coach, but I remember him as one of the friendliest, most likeable KU coaches ever.

Patrick Brown 11 years, 10 months ago

Excellant article. I think that there is a whole generation of fans who do not realize what an amazing coach he was, and how ingrained he is in our schools deep tradition and history. Owens, like every coach in the school's history, had his high's and lows. For me, the high's and the players, were amazing. Back then, not every game was on TV, so seeing your team on the tube, and oftentimes winning, was always a treat. And the trips to the Fieldhouse as a youngster were amazing.

I came to love KU Basketball as a child of the 70's living in Lawrence. Those teams were so much fun to watch, and every Lawrence grade school and junior high kid just knew in their hearts that they were going to play for the Jayhawks and Coach Owens one day. Also, we did not wear shirts with purple kitty cats on them, you were a Jayhawk first and always!!

I was surprised to see that Jack Hartman was not mentioned. KU's battles against his 1970's K--State teams were legendary.

In the 70's, they did not have "Late Night", but they would host a nightime team scrimmage that was open to the public. The cost of admission was a can of food, and seating was first come first serve. I believe that they called it Crimson vs Blue, but I am not certain.

Keegan, thanks for a wonderful article.

REHawk 11 years, 10 months ago

FunHawk, terrific idea for subsequent articles, interviews of Billy Tubbs, Norm Stewart, Johnny Orr...their recollections of memorable moments in AFH or their own venues vs. the Jayhawks. Those guys contributed immensely to conference colorful history. Invading like Quantrill. WOW!

jayhawkinoregon 11 years, 10 months ago

Good coach. A really nice man. Happy for his continued recognition. I well remember him and his team at Robinson gym when I was there as a student and gym attendant.

jaybate 11 years, 10 months ago

"Don't Stop Hatin' about Nebraska or jaybate Takes Marcel Proust into the Paint and Posts Up Remembrance of Things Past "

~Sing along with me now, to the melody of Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop Thinkin' about Tomorrow:"

"Why not think about games to come, And not about the games that we've won If the Big Twelve was bad for NU Just think what the Big Ten will do.

Don't stop, hatin' about Nebraska Don't stop, they will soon be gone They'll be, way worse than before Nebraska is gone, yeah, Nebraska is gone."

--lyrics by jaybate and Chancellor Bernie

~The first NU game is often an interesting, rough game. The second one is typically a blow out. Doc usually does his old Okie Baller Cronie Self a favor and roughs KU up like sparring partner Larry Holmes use to rough up Muhammad Ali before big matches upcoming.

~I would very much like to see KU beat the living Cornhuskers Lotion out of NU as a going away present NU will never forget--a day which will live in infamy, if you will. Doubling the score on them would be a start. The pasty white, increasingly near cadaver-like Dr. Tom Osborne has, by joining the Big Ten, effectively ended the longest continuous rivalry in college football, if I recall correctly--KU vs. NU. For this alone, Doctor Tom should have his license to practice revoked.

~I will miss Nebraska in the way I miss a long standing skin condition when it finally clears. I'll be glad they are gone, but it will leave a lot of loathing and discomfort that I will have to redirect on something else equally deserving. And it is hard to find an athletic program of a mid major state university like NU more deserving of being loathed than the CornsCobSuckers.

~Well, when I stop to think of it, I guess all of my Nebraska loathing can be redirected to Baja Oklahoma in Austin, so what the heck: good riddance, Nebraska Little Big Red. I hope the Big Ten makes you change your colors, because they already have Ohio State, Wisconsin and Indiana wearing scarlet. Or maybe that is the Big Ten's plan--to become the Big Red conference. Michigan is not going to like becoming the Maise and Scarlet, but the Big Red Ten is nothing if not a slave to brand managing.

jaybate 11 years, 10 months ago

~Yes, I enjoy kicking them as they go out the door. Who wouldn't? They were like having Jared Lee Loughner as a next door neighbor for a century. They reputedly pioneered steroids in football.They have always played basketball like corn fed Quosimodo's in Chucks. The states only virtue was an experiment in unicameral legislature intended to deny the wealthy their usual senatorial vetoe on democracy, but their Warren Buffets have found a way to turn the single house into a single senate. Okay, I'll admit it. You can still get a good steak in Omaha, so now to hoops.

~Brady has been in a slump. The last two games suggest he is coming out of it, though his trey shooting has not restored...yet.

~But coming out of a slump and getting back significantly more PT do not follow as certainly as night the day.

A lot has to happen for Brady to get more PT, and none of it is certain. Hence, hard work and commitment to team and patience remain his best strategies, both for himself and for his team.

~The ISU game was an MU situation that fit Brady, as some have noted, and injuries created a window, and Selby was off the Mozart grid again, and, don't go down one or two strings in a single game and you don't go up one or two strings in a single game. Brady will likely have to inch his way back up the barber pole with fine play the same we he inched his way down it with bad play.

~What Brady has to hope for the next game vs Nebraska is:"

a) Selby is not having one of his frequent Amadeus games (you never know about Mr. Up and Down right now); b) Releford's ankle is tender and so doesn't bring out his best yet (a reasonable expectation); c) either EJ's shoulder tweak keeps him at 80 percent, or Tyshawn's play makes Self turn to EJ at the 3 quite a bit (not enough info to predict rationally, but not likely as a wild guess); d) NU's 3 is a good fit for Brady to guard, so Self will call on Brady for the MUA (likley not, as I will discuss below); and e) Brady plays well and makes the team run smoothly when called (until recently, never a bad bet).

jaybate 11 years, 10 months ago

~The NU 3 Probably Calls for Releford/Little: NU has a very tough MU for Selby and Brady: Toney McCrae at 6'6" and 210. He's a "long, athletic" type (L&A), as so many board rats here like to call this body morphology, said label being a simplification that makes considering what the player can actually do relatively uncessary. :-) Still, Releford, or Little, probably are the ideal matchups for Macrae defensively.

~MUAs aside, Selby is probably going to start out on McCrae, because Mr. So-Far-Mercurial has given consistent floor game, and because Self wants to see what Selby can do with an L&A 3. Self gets to see what Selby can do against a classic D1 3 man, not some combo, or some dedicated shooter, or some muscle bound wide body. Knowing Doc S, McCrae will probably put some wood on Josh early, as Doc will be doing Self his annual favor of bloodying the Jayhawks to prep them for the realities of league life. And MaCrae will take Josh inside. And Josh will try to prove he can classically microwave the L&A types. Lots will be learned about Josh that is not now known. We are soon to find out how deep the surface toughness runs in Basketball Mozart, and how much Wolfgan's short genius can overcome--can I say it just once more for those that love this phrase so? the L&A type.

~And Self is probably just itching to get Little some PT at the 3, too, so, given Little's decent play last game, Releford's tender ankle, and Brady's lesser height and slighter build, It is possible that Little will get first call, when Selby sits, especially if McCrae is walking around kicking sand in Selby's face on defense. In turn, we may get to see the long hinted at 3-4 swing with Marcus going to the wing and Little posting McCrae.. This will be done not so much because Little will have a big MU advantage (he won't), but to see what little can do in the post with a credible defender on him, and to see what Marcus can do from the wing. Of course, such experimenting in the field will likely not take place unless KU has some separation provided by...

jaybate 11 years, 10 months ago

~The Twin Towers of Power: I like that nickname. If I'm Self, this is the time I would text message Doc and say, "Could you do to Kieff, what you did to Cole Aldrich two seasons back?" Kieff seems to have come as far as you can go without confronting an XTReme Mugging. As always, I would prefer the refs call the game the way it ought to be played, but since they won't until someone winds up in traction in prime time in the National Finals, one does one's players a favor by getting them combat experience ASAP. Nothing helpede Cole Aldrich quite as much as his existential big man crisis created by Doc Sadler unleashing his dogs on Cole and the referees doing nada. Cole had to look into the dark maw of D1 and say, "Do i want to keep being the big gangly nice guy with elbows, or do I want to become a tough SOB that dispense pain to bring order in the paint?" Kieff has not made this decision yet. He has played around with cheap shotting the way players do when their coaches are using a lot of talk to get their post mant to play tougher. Kieff has even experienced some cheap shotting against Cal. But he hasn't had the unnerving experience of a coach scheming specifically to hurt him till he doesn't want to come back for more. This crucible for post men is one of the most terrible parts of the current dark age of XTReme Muscle and XTReme Cheap Shotting. Every post man has to go through it. It is particularly hard to watch, when it is nice boys like Sasha Kaun, and Cole Aldrich and Kieff Morris. Each one of these three guys were gentle giants by nature. Kieff has even kind of been looked after by Marcus. Kieff is just the sweetest young man, despite his tatoos and facial Cole and Sasha were, too. But broken noses, kicked knees and head wounds requiring stitches change a nice post man in ways all of Danny's and Bills warnings of what is coming if they don't play tougher cannot. If I were Mother Morris, and I suspect she is quite a rugged individual herself, I would consider not coming to the NU game. And I would advise Marcus to prepare to control emotions of rage like he has never felt on a court before.

~Some Releford and Little at the 3 for Cin's Sake: Brady will always get some minutes, when Self wants a well oiled machine playing through the bigs, because gluing bigs is Brady's trump suit, but this game, Self may want to see what Releford and Little can do with a 3 their own size. Cindy Self is probably getting tired of Bill waking up and fidgeting at 2am and saying, "I just had this nightmare, where we could not handle a long 3 in March." So: if nothing else, Cindy will insist Bill give Little and Releford serious looks vs. NU, so she can finally get a good night's rest.

jaybate 11 years, 10 months ago

~ Many board rats have slipped into the bad habit of wanting to write this player, or that player off in the first half of the season. I made the mistake briefly with Withey. Except where the cue is too long ahead of a player, like maybe Rolls Royce (or maybe not if the injury bug spreads), say, it is usually unwise to write off any player. In the Self System of Compulsive Seeking of Match-Up Advantages, almost every player can lend a hand sooner or later.

~The difference between the players and we fans is that while we fans are always dealing in past performances, the players are always tirelessly moving forward in the moment, especially at practice. They are constantly working to get better, while the fans are constantly trying to figure out why the performances last week and this past season were not as good as those last season. It is treacherous to look in the rear view mirror too often, or too long.

Because the players are always working in the moment they are making tiny improvements all the time that are not readily visible to most of us. In games, their levels of play can seem stuck to many fans (me included sometimes). But the players actually keep fixing this mechanic, or that one, they keep altering this emotional preparation, for that one, they keep changing when and what they eat and with another routine, and they keep adopting this superstition and letting go of that one. Like salmon swimming up a stream they just keep working and competing and getting better in the face of very stiff competition on their own team, and stiffer competition on opposing teams. Perhaps the salmon should be adopted as the symbol for basketball players struggle, even though they would all more likely to be seen as leopards.

Over a period of weeks, or months, all the little things the ever struggling players have been working on and learning to make habits of, all the little things we cannot see readily, intermittently converge into a constelllation of improvement that take them to a new level--an amount of accrued improvement large enough for we fans to notice...if they get to play in a game we see. Of course the pains takingly earned improvement has been accruing all along, and the coach has been seeing it in practice, but we fans have not. Thus when we see it in a game, it seems surprising to us. Wow! Suddenly this player's got it, or this player's out of his slump. Brady has probably been getting better in practice for quite awhile before we saw it. EJ and Travis have probably been getting better at practice quite awhile before we saw it in games.

jaybate 11 years, 10 months ago

Apparently, Brady's hard work during the last month, or two, started to come together against UM. It became much more apparent how much he had improved vs. ISU, because Releford was out, EJ injured a shoulder in the game, and Little played mostly the 4 in his return. The minutes were suddenly there and Brady suddenly had an opportunity to show how far out of his slump he had climbed.

Everything in basketball and life is work, work, work, work to get better, while waiting for a window to show the improvement.

As I said, EJ and Releford have been working just as hard all season, as Brady, maybe harder. They have been getting better all season in tiny increments that slowly converged into recognition about a month back, but they had farther to come than Brady did, despite there impressive physical abilities. Brady had slumped back to their levels. Slumps can be hard to break, but they are easier to break than to make the intial climb to mastery.

~But coaches are hard cases about performance. They don't like sizzle. Sizzle in sports is what someone will be in March. They like steak. Steak is what they now. Coaches have to endure some sizzle, because players do get better, but they don't have to like it, or indulge in it more than is absolutely necessary.

~Coaches? You ever notice how solid most of their wives are? I'm not saying they are happily married, or less prone to marital problems. I'm saying look at their wives on average. They either have really solid wives, or they don't have wives. Good looking, or ordinary, their wives understand themselves, their husbands, and the game. They also seem to understand life, and they seem to like sizzle even less than the coaches do. They don't mind keeping score. A W&L statement is as steak as it gets.

~Coaches? They don't like an accidentally good steak, they like a good steak they can count on. Ever watch one grill a steak. They have a routine for doing it, just like they have routines for practice and games and tiddly winks. It is the kind of persons they are, frankly, tempered by the line of work they have chosen. To coaches, there is a right way and a wrong way to do things. They acknowledge that there may be several right ways, but that their way is the only way for them. Sizzle to persons like this is anathema. People that work hard can be seductive to them, but even hard work is not what hits their hot buttons. High probability of good performance; that's what makes coaches pre-orgasmic. A really great performance from such a player makes them post-orgasmic. They kind of conceal this, because they instinctively avoid any tells in their work, but its how they are.

jaybate 11 years, 10 months ago

~Coaches? Coaches that rely on sizzle are usually weeded out pretty quickly. Performance, with coaches, is like the reserve currency is with central bankers. It is the closest thing to bedrock in a world with no bedrock. If your smoke and mirrors deals in South Borneo don't show a profit after conversion to reserve currency, you are just another hustler in the Third World. The house prints the reserve currency. The house counts the reserve currency. The house trades in the reserve currency. The house rewards friends and punishes noncooperatives with reserve currency. Do your deals however you want, but at the end of the day, they better pencil out in reserve currency, or you are not real. Coaches are like this about performance with their players. At the end of the day, funky free throw style, or not, blunt sticked, or finessed, jump shooter or dunker, the coach asks himself: did he give me the performance I wanted when I wanted it? If yes, then more minutes, and move on to the next player who needs some 'coaching.' If no, then more tweaking and teaching is in order, along with one or two fewer minutes, as a reminder. Size may matter to women, but its performance that matters to coaches.

~After ISU, Self is saying something to himself about Brady that he said to himself about EJ, when EJ had a good game vs. Memphis moving from PG and filling for Brady at the 3. Yea, but that was a favorable match-up situation (ISU for Brady, Memphis for EJ) and I really would have chewed his ass if he had not done well. Why, I would have gotten him a practice jersey that read "mop-up minutes." The good performance counts, but only in the sense that Self may go to Brady sooner when a similar match-up situation arises. Self needs to see Brady do it against a toughie a few minutes to really get his coaching faith back up to tent fanaticism levels. But recall that even EJ's fine performance at the 3 vs. Memphis could not change the fact that Self needed EJ to keep learning to be a back up at PG, not another 3. Self has plenty of 3s. What he needed was a backup PG that didn't cough it up. With Selby, what Self needs is a back-up 3, capable of 15 minutes of glue at the 3 and maybe 5 minutes of glue at the 2,. He needs a guy who does what Selby likely will do not while starting. He needs a guy that will settle the team down a bit, and make it run through the bigs as smoothly as a warm knife through butter. Self should give Brady a warm knife and a stick of soft butter to keep him focused and on task.

~Getting More Out of EJ Now: There are two paths for EJ to get on the floor a lot more and they may be happening in tiny increments before our eyes. We just may not be able to see it yet.

jaybate 11 years, 10 months ago

Path 1--Keep Getting Better at the PG Role Assigned: EJ is already a better ball handler, makes fewer TOs, is an equal passer technically, and a better trey shooter than Tyshawn, and EJ is two inches taller. This is a lot of PG steak. These are his advantages in his competition with Tyshawn. His disadvantages are inferior help defense, and he doesn't get the ball to the right guy in the right place for him to score as well as Tyshawn does, and he cannot maintain focus and control as long as Tyshawn, who still has some problems there, but who has improved greatly in this regard.

To beat Tyshawn out of more minutes, EJ's help defense at the PG has to approach Tyshawn's; that is hard because Tyshawn is now one of the finest help defenders I have ever seen at PG. EJ probably works furiously on it every day, or should be,because once he gets it, he becomes not just a backup with some virtues Tyshawn lacks, but a viable alternative in the team scheme. At the same time, he has to get a lot better at getting the ball into the post and to Selby when both are in scoring position, not just get it in there to let them work.

Once thing board rats are missing about Tyshawn is how good he has gotten at getting the ball into guys hands in scoring position, or wing shooters hands to shoot. Last year he could rarely do it when subbing for Sherron. This season he has become quite accomplished at it. Tyshawn's down side is that he is trying so hard to get it to them in scoring position that he is taking a lot of TOs to do it. If EJ can get better at passing to scoring position, and hold his TOs down, plus have the help defense wired, he would instantly be a 20 minute man, maybe more, given his sweet trey stroke this year. Tyshawn continues to labor at the trey.

Path 2--Self Moves Selby to Point and EJ to the 2/3: Self decides to go with Selby at the PG, Tyshawn/Reed at the 2, and Brady/EJ/Releford/Little at the 3. EJ, at 6'4", and with a good trey stroke, would make a fine 3, as his performance vs. Memphis indicated. But could he play glue as well as Brady? Could he guard the big 3s as well as Releford and Little? It would be a much tougher climb to minutes, if EJ were moved to 2/3, but he looked very comfortable there vs. Memphis, despite having been focusing mostly on the point.

Dan Harris 11 years, 10 months ago

Damn Jaybate,that might break your record for longest post, you better go ice down your fingers!

Woody Cragg 11 years, 10 months ago

Some people got something to say and some people gotta say something. I still ain't figured him out. Simply amazin'.

kufan80 11 years, 10 months ago

I have nothing but good memories from Coach Owens' boys basketball camps.

There were Coach Owens, Coach Miranda, JoJo White, Dave Robisch and the long-time the Lawrence High School coach. We had fun and learned how to play basketball. We hung out with the players.

We played on hoops set up in the parking lots outside Naismith dorm .We also marched over to Lawrence High School. Coach Owens passed me once and gave me some basketball advice.

No one asked for an autograph.

I remember seeing Darnell Valentine running along the street while dribbling his basketball years later.

TTTO 11 years, 10 months ago

Part I Former Kansas Basketball Coach Owens coached at a time when basketball coaches weren't paid much over 60K a year. I doubt that he started at not much more than 20K. Compare that to salaries now. And how many former KU coaches are in numerous Hall of Fames? Look at the time line of Owens tenure at KU the next time you are in Allen Field House. I believe you will see a man who has accomplished much more than some of you want to understand.

Coach Owens coached at a time when there were only 2 assistants allowed on the staff. Coach Owens had to share practice time with not only the track team, but the wormens basketball team as well. Coach Owens had a locker room and budget that some high schools wouldn't want to claim as their own. I believe he had one trainer, not many. You can't do very much with a budget that ONLY allows you to travel by bus, not by private plane as is the current standards.

Look down the line at the number of coaches that are on the bench now. Look at the coaching salaries of the coaches now. Imagine if Coach Owens would have had all the help from the number of assistants that the present staff has. I would imagine that Coach Owens had to have his coaches scout other teams and thus miss practices, leaving him one coach short many times during the week in preparation for another game. Hell, now you would hardly notice if an assistant was missing, there are so many of them! Look at the facilities that the coaches have. I believe Coach Owens had an office, two assistants offices that were not much bigger than a closet and ONE secretary that sat at a metal desk, answered the phone and multi-tasked for three people.

Coach Owens and Coach Self have a lot in common. They are class people who have cared for their fellow man, their staff, the young men they've brought to the campus and to the pride of Allen Field House. There have been coaches at KU in the past who haven't quite kept those achievements and accomplishments in mind.

Those of us who REALLY know the tradition of Kansas Basketball, know that it's much more than a win-loss game. It's the tedious hours and hard work of recruiting a player, of "selling your school" to a young man when perhaps there's more on the line than just reputation or tradition. It's the time spent watching and rewatching film with no "official" film person, just the coaches pushing the buttons for rewind. It's the time making calls to parents of the young men playing, it's the pain and agony when a potentially great player gets hurt and has to leave school early in his career or gets involved in the wrong activities and doesn't get to finish his education. It's the time making speeches at numerous banquets around the state, it's the time hashing and rehasing a game.


jaybate 11 years, 10 months ago

~Will NU BE Withey's First Significant Conference Action: Probably unless Doc has lost his Okie Baller religion and changed over to the Princeton. NU has some centers that likely will not be running to Omaha to ball screen and shoot. And sooner or later Self has to expose Withey to violence, so that he can come to grips with it over a period of weeks afterwards. Doc will supply the violence. Jeff will get bloodied.

~Will TRob Get Back on Track Against NU:I suspect so.It will be a physical game with only moderately talented bigs likely playing in the same time zone as the basket.

~Ted Owens? I met him once in his driveway. On the way to class. He was such a good man. Not a saint. A good man. Good is better than saintly. Saints have an astringency to them that I do not like. I could tell there was fire inside. But it was clear that he loved kids; that he was happy to be in Lawrence, even if the alumni road him too hard.. He was delighted to talk to me. Gracious. Smart. I have no idea what made him talk to me. I had long side burns, a big afro, an army surplus jacket. And Addidas. Maybe it was the Addidas. Coaches can smell players. They know which ones play and which don't play anymore. Later that day, I went and played some basketball at Robinson. I played pretty well. I could still jump then. In those days, all I could see was UCLA. They played the game the way I wanted it played. I was young. I didn't have to go out and recruit. I didn't have to make do with who could be recruited. Why walk the ball with Jo Jo White? Why couldn't Robisch anchor a 2-2-1? If UCLA could land Sidney Wicks and Curtis Rowe in their off recruiting years, why couldn't Ted and Sam? Back then I didn't quite understand you had to play with what the cat dragged in, not with what you wish you had. Oh, I knew it on some level, but I hadn't lived it yet. I hadn't had to do things I didn't want to do in ways I didn't want it done to keep the lights on and the ice box full. As I look back on Owens now, I still do not like the way he ruined players shots, I still do not like the way he hamstrung Jo Jo White. But all the rest? He made best of what he had. He ran when he had 5 who could--Greenlee, Morningstar, Kivisto--that bunch got up and down the floor. He played plod ball when he had plodders. He won a ton of games. He wasn't quite the coach that Jack Hartman was, but then most guys weren't. And at least he and Sam got out and consistently worked hard at recruiting. He didn't just finally say screw it, like Hartman did. Hartman just recruited two good players and then seemed to take the first three other guys that said they'd come. Ted worked at it. He worked hard. As I've gotten older, I respect what he did more. If Ted Owens were one of KU's lesser coaches, then The Legacy truly has been blessed.

jaybate 11 years, 10 months ago


jaybate: I left it all on the keyboard, coach. I can't go any longer than this on analysis. Take me out, coach. I took Proust into the Paint. But he beat me today.He's too long. Remembrance of Things Past is just too long and athletic for me. I can't finish the whole series of novels. I can't post in his style. I quit. I'm done in the logonasium. I'm hanging up the keyboard.

coach: Work on theme, the transitional sentences. Sharpen up those metaphors. Muscle up on the verbs. Watch some tape. Then read some John D. McDonald. He's lean. He's economical. It will be a change of pace. You'll come back fresh tomorrow. You'll see. You think Proust learned to go long in a day, kid? a week, a year? You've hit the mid winter wall; that's all. Everyone hits it in January, or February some time. Lace'em up and kick it down tomorrow. Go get a shower. Posting starts at 3 tomorrow. If you're late, I'll have you typing the phone book.

jaybate: Okay.

FLJHK 11 years, 10 months ago

Your historically nuanced tribute to Coach Owens is on-target. Many of us believed the game passed him by during his tenure. But in retrospect, he deserves his place in the pantheon.

Re (indirectly) Nebraska, this was my suggested rewriting of the Jayhawk fight song from last summer:

Got a beak so powerful it twists the Tiger's tails Husked thier corn and watched those sorry Cornhuskers bail Cuz I'm a Jay, Jay...

This rewriting preserves both tradition and history, and maintains current syncopation.

jaybate 11 years, 10 months ago

Your rewrite should have been adopted.

Blake Brown 11 years, 10 months ago

I have fond memories of going out after KU home games with Ted and my long, lost friend, Smokey Joe Ensley and all of our wives and we would critique the games in great detail and dance to songs like Wooly Bully off of the juke box in the 60s. I wish him the best. Hes a good person.

Jerry Rockhold 11 years, 10 months ago

One of my fondest KU memories involved Coach Owens. While at KU, I worked downtown at Morris Sports (now gone) & as it happened, one of my co-workers was Ted's oldest daughter, Nancy. We became friends & then dated for awhile. Ted was divorced, but had begun to date his future wife, Michelle. One summer day in 1977, we all decided to double-date & went to the Douglas County Rodeo with Ted & Michelle. Afterward, we went downtown to a bar (believe it was The Chute, also now gone) & drank & played pool. Ted couldn't have been nicer & we all had a great time. I caught up with him last season at one of the KU games in Allen & he still remembered after all these years.

jaybate 11 years, 10 months ago


Did KU play up tempo with Jo Jo?

Did Jo Jo get up and down the court at KU the way he did in the L with Boston?

I swear, I did not think Owens tapped into more than 2/3rds of what Jo Jo could do.

I remember my Dad, who despised Wooden as most Kansans of that time did, getting a red neck watching White walk it up the floor, during a game at the Big Eight Christmas tournament one year. My dad stood up and threw his program down and said, "Wooden would never play plod ball with this thoroughbred. Jo Jo White is one of the 5 best guards I've ever seen and Ted is having him walk the ball up the floor?!!! I'm going to the can!"

My dad never went to the can during a game before that moment, or ever after that I can recall. Ted was the only coach in KU history that was able to drive my dad to a pee break during a KU game.

You bet Owens ham-strung White.

jhox 11 years, 10 months ago

In fairness, I believe Ted's coaching did evolve after Jo Jo. The Valentine years we were a pretty fast paced team. I remember the problem being that other teams played slow down ball against us, especially Norm and Hartman's teams.

I always thought Ted was a good coach, with the exception of crunch time in close games. We typically sat 5 to 10 rows behind him, and he would call time outs in those situations, and start drawing up a play, then he would change his mind, erase it and start drawing up another play, then he would erase it and start again...about that time a ref would come over and tell him it was time to play ball. The players would look at each other like, "What are we supposed to do now?" If you could take away the last 2 or 3 minutes of close games, Ted would have been a Naismith Hall of Fame worthy coach.

That's one thing I love about Coach Self. Watch him in close situations. He's a calming influence, he smiles, he's telling guys to relax. You can tell he knows exactly what he wants the team to do, he draws it up, and the team executes. He can be animated and demonstrative during games, but he's never that way at crunch time. He obviously "gets it" that the kids will perform better if they don't feel panicked.

KU_FanSince75 11 years, 10 months ago

Wow! Keegan, this is by far, your best article you have written. Of course, I could be biased because my family moved to Lawrence from Wichita when I entered the eighth grade (Summer of 1973). During the 1973-74 school year (my first year in Lawrence), I had a chance to meet Coach Owens at a basketball gathering at AFH. Coach Miranda was there, along with Coach Marion Washington for the Lady Jayhawks. I went to school with Coach Owens daughter, Nancy, as well. One of my first jobs ever was to sell sodas at AFH. It had to be one of the best jobs ever. Here I was----an eighth grader, making money and when all the quota was sold, I got to stay and watch the Jayhawks finish off their opponents (most of the time). Typically, it was the beginning of the second half that I could start watching intently what was going on. I went to the opposing locker room after the games a lot. I remember Coach Jack Hartman, Digger Phelps, Bobby Knight (with his plaid pants), yes, even Storman Norman Stewart. Rockcjayhawk, you mentioned Morris Sports and the Chute----I remember those businesses. Here are a couple for you----Sandy's and Henry's Hamburgers, where I later worked there, as well. What great memories! There are so many that I can't include every one. I know my avatar says "FanSince75," but I could say I was a fan since 73, because 1973 is when we moved to Lawrence. I picked 1975 because that was my first year at Lawrence High School. Again, thanks Keegan for a great article. And Ted Owens, you deserve the recognition! Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

Lash 11 years, 10 months ago

Do you remember the Budweiser song?

KingManMan 11 years, 10 months ago

AlohaHawk: I must have sat with you behind the KU bench at every home game as I was also one of the first in the door (north entrance) and sprinted to the bleachers. What great seats those were.

lighthawk: The 1971-1972 freshman guard that you were trying to remember was Marshall Rogers. He transferred after that year to Pan-American University in Texas and later led the nation in scoring average. Also, Mike Fiddelke (Paulina, Iowa) was one of the scholarship freshman that year; he quit after his sophomore year and finished his career as the #1 player on KU's golf team.

kufan80: I also attended Coach Owens' summer basketball camp; Bob Frederick worked on my jump shot with me. Worst part of camp was the 6:00(?) a.m. airhorn blaring down the hallways at Naismith residence hall. What a shock to the system!

Other: Sang the Wheaties song, softly sang the Rock Chalk chant the first time through, then louder the second time, the let 'er rip (I miss that rendition as it was more 'ghostly'). The frisbees were great, especially when Bud Stallworth threw one into the crowd as he was introduced for the MU game where he scored 50...the only time I rushed the court. And Vern Miller...I'd forgotten all about him.

Rock Chalk to all of us Old Timers!

rcjh78 11 years, 9 months ago

Owens took us to the final four in the 70's-great memories- At that time the track team practiced on the dirt surrounding the elevated court during the indoor season. (We even had track meets there). They had big tarps hung around the court for privacy and keeping the dust out. Sometimes our practices ran at the same time as bball. I remember running the bleachers and must have been making too much noise because Owen's got upset and sent Miranda up to chase me out. Sometimes we would sneak on the court and play after practice. I also remember a bet with a bball player I knew who from the training table at Jayhawk Towers who "thought" he could high jump-but we had to do it on the sly -the naturally the coaches were concerned about injuries. That was easy money but even Wilt could only jump 6' 6"-but then again he scissor kicked.
Anyway, thanks Coach Owens

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