Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Ted Owens remembers dusty, starry Allen Fieldhouse

Former Kansas head coach Ted Owens chats it up with former player Tommie Smith on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. Owens' 1974 Final Four team was honored during the first half of Saturday's game.

Former Kansas head coach Ted Owens chats it up with former player Tommie Smith on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. Owens' 1974 Final Four team was honored during the first half of Saturday's game.


Kansas University’s Allen Fieldhouse has changed quite a bit since Ted Owens patrolled the home team’s basketball bench from 1964 to 1983.

“We are going through a big transition of that building physically,” said the 85-year-old former KU coach, whose squads went 206-47 in Allen in 19 seasons.

“When I first arrived, we had a big mat up around the court and a dirt track. The basketball team was working out. The track team was working out. Every once in a while in bad weather the football team would come in,” Owens reflected. “We’d have to water the track several times and sweep the court several times during practice to keep the dust down. On game night, it was a special place.”

Other nights, too.

“I went to Bob Hope, Andy Williams, James Taylor, Harry Belafonte,” Owens said of comedy and music shows. “Those were all big events. The acoustics back then were not the world’s greatest for those. They were still special.”

At 7:30 p.m. Monday, four hoops coaches who represent 51 of the 60 seasons in Allen Fieldhouse will reunite to pay homage to what’s been called the most storied hoops edifice in America. ESPN’s Jay Bilas will host “Celebrating 60 Years,” which current KU coach Bill Self has called a “rap session of sorts” featuring Owens, Self, Larry Brown and Roy Williams.

Williams’ KU squads went 201-17 in 15 seasons in Allen, while Brown’s teams were 71-5 in five seasons. Self has a 175-9 mark through 11 campaigns.

“Having all four of the living (KU) coaches back is pretty neat, particularly with how busy Bill, Roy and Larry are. It makes it pretty special,” said Owens, acknowledging the current, KU, North Carolina and SMU coaches are in the process of preparing their teams for the 2014-15 season.

“It’s certainly going to be wonderful to come back and share an evening of memories with the fans and players. I had a call from some players already who are planning to be there. My hope is a lot of the players come back. They play the most important role of all,” Owens added.

As far as Owens’ favorite games in the building, he tends to recall some fierce Big Eight battles.

“There are so many special times and special nights. Back then, Kansas State was really good, so the Kansas State game,” Owens said. “Later, when Norm (Stewart) came to Missouri, Missouri became much better. Nebraska was awfully good back then. Those were huge games. It was just a thrill to walk through that tunnel onto the floor and in front of what I consider the greatest fans in all of basketball.”

Though 50 tables on the floor level sold out in one day, thousands of tickets remain available for what Self calls “as classy and as historical a night that we could ever have to pay homage to a building that’s been so special to so many.”

Tier 1 seats are $60 each (limited lower level and chairback seating); Tier 2 is $40 (2nd level bench seating); and Tier 3 is $25 (3rd level bench seating). K-Club member tickets are available at $25 (located in Tier 2 seating). KU students may purchase a maximum two tickets at $15. To buy tickets, go to 1-800-34-HAWKS or

Diallo visits St. John’s: Cheick Diallo, a 6-foot-9 senior power forward from Our Savior New American High in Centereach, New York, who is ranked No. 6 nationally by, took his final official visit (to St. John’s) last weekend. He has visited KU, Kentucky, Iowa State and Pitt. says Diallo will wait until spring to choose a school.

“The St. John’s visit went well,” a source close to Diallo told and “The kid enjoyed the moment.”

Nickname: Former KU guard Andrew Wiggins and fellow Minnesota Timberwolves rookie Zach LaVine have nicknamed themselves “The Bounce Brothers.”

“They have the Splash Brothers in Golden State (Steph Curry, Klay Thompson), so we’re going by the Bounce Brothers,” former UCLA player LaVine told

Wiggins reports he has settled in Minnesota after being in limbo so long after the NBA Draft when it was rumored he’d indeed be traded from Cleveland to Minnesota.

“I’m situated in a spot perfect for me and I’m loving it,” Wiggins said.

Roundball: Space is available at a pair of Roundball events sponsored by KU athletics and the Williams Fund featuring Self at 6:30 p.m., Nov. 12 at Maceli’s and women’s coach Bonnie Henrickson at 11:30 a.m., Dec. 17 at The Eldridge. To register, contact Megan McMullen of the Williams Education Fund at or call 864-3445.


Suzi Marshall 8 years, 1 month ago

Looking forward to seeing Owens. He looks great for any age, not to mention 85. Mr. Instant Excitement Tommie Smith looks like he's also doing well.

With all the space available, why limit students to only 2 seats?

Greg Lux 8 years, 1 month ago

Dead on Suzi - Fill the house is the important thing. Sad that the greed of the W.F. folks will lead to a less then full house for an event that deserves a FULL FieldHouse.

Suzi Marshall 8 years, 1 month ago

I don't mind the premium price for premium seats, since it is a fund raiser. I'm puzzled why the number of tickets to students are limited? Why not try to fill the place with unlimited $5 student tickets for seats up high?

Joe Joseph 8 years, 1 month ago

If there were unlimited $5 student tickets, then no one would pay the $25 for the bench seating. All you would have to do is find a student (who has virtually unlimited access to cheap tickets) to find a cheaper seat.

Don't get me wrong, I would think the University would like to pack the place. The late push to sell tickets - including a number of HCBS tweets from an account he rarely uses - has come off as a bit desperate. I'm not sure this event has drawn the excitement, nor the revenue that Bill Self was hoping it would. (I'm assuming it was largely his idea, but could be wrong.)

Suzi Marshall 8 years, 1 month ago

It's $7.50 per student ticket so that close to the $5. My point is that they are students with little money. With so much extra capacity, let the students fill it up. Heck, I'd like to see the students admitted for free to fill the upper levels. Let the alums, who are working, make the charitable contribution. Even have some silent action items, which would probably be really cool.

I've been involved with fundraising for years and this seems like a golden opportunity to raise money for some great causes. Fill the place first, then let those with paying tickets onto the floor or other areas for the auction. Self is a great coach but it seems to me that KU Athletics lacks some basic business/marketing skills.

Gary Bedore 8 years, 1 month ago

Joe, this is totally Bill's idea. It is a fundraiser for his Assists Foundation and the other coaches' charities. Good point about the student tickets, though.

Suzi Marshall 8 years, 1 month ago

I hope they take all the unsold upper level tickets up to campus on Monday and give them away. Go by all the Greek houses and dorms with the tickets. We really should fill the place for this event.

Gary Bedore 8 years, 1 month ago

Greed of whom? This event is for CHARITY, folks. All net proceeds go to charities of the four coaches. What are u talking about?

Clarence Haynes 8 years, 1 month ago

Remember the days of the dirt track! The other big event at AFH was opening a "garage" like door followed which was by a big blast of wind dropping the temperature to freezing cold levels! Brrrrrr to this day.

Rodney Crain 8 years, 1 month ago

Only 20 players left in the Top 86 2015 class with Texas A&M getting another player to add to their 2nd ranked Class of 2015 - 10.21.14.

Joe Ross 8 years, 1 month ago

Ted Owens recalls that James Taylor sang in Allen Field House. I LOVE J.T. (he owned the moniker before Timberlake). But in light of the tradition at Kansas, I hope he had the good sense not to sing "In my mind Im gone to Carolina".

THAT would have been awkward...

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