Friday, October 9, 2015

A Late Night Retrospective

Dressed like number 1 pick Andrew Wiggins from the 2014 NBA Draft, Kansas head basketball coach Bill Self addresses the fieldhouse crowd during Late Night in the Phog on Friday, Oct. 10, 2014.

Dressed like number 1 pick Andrew Wiggins from the 2014 NBA Draft, Kansas head basketball coach Bill Self addresses the fieldhouse crowd during Late Night in the Phog on Friday, Oct. 10, 2014.


The costume-design team didn’t disappoint at last year’s Late Night in the Phog in Allen Fieldhouse.

Microphone in hand, Kansas University coach Bill Self strolled through the facility’s northwest tunnel wearing the same black-and-white striped, rather loud suit that Andrew Wiggins fashioned in Brooklyn, New York, the night he was tapped first in the 2014 NBA Draft.

Self also had on oversized black rimmed glasses, white shirt, bow tie, black slacks, black shoes and no socks during the 30th-annual festivities.

“Let’s look good!” Self exclaimed to his team, which entered during an “evolution of hip hop dance number” to the delight of 14,000 fans and a batch of star high school recruits.

“We went to the thrift shop, and they only had one jacket. We had to make it one-size-fits-two. Basically, we got it together. I’m going to send it back to him,” Self said jokingly of Wiggins.

KU’s coach added: “That was probably one of the dumbest things I’ve ever done. They (script writers) thought it was funny. It was a pretty identical outfit. He looked better in his, though.”

Self also was star of a video in which he addressed fans from his office.

“We don’t always wear jewelry, but when we do we prefer a ring on each finger. Rock Chalk, my friends,” Self said, wearing his 10 consecutive Big 12 title rings (11 following last season) on his fingers and thumbs. “We don’t always win championships, but when we do we prefer 10 straight,” he added.

Guard Wayne Selden Jr. scored 17 points and hit three three-pointers in the annual 20-minute scrimmage that concluded Late Night. Forward Cliff Alexander, who did not finish the season with the team because of NCAA problems, scored 12 points and grabbed four boards.

Here’s a quick history lesson — a look at Late Night through the Bill Self years.


Call it Wiggins mania: Between 3,000 and 5,000 fans were turned away after a scary incident in which a batch of fans stormed the gates once they opened, pushing aside some folks who had been in line for hours.

It was not only steamy outside the building as fans waited on an 80-degree Oct. 4 day, but hot beyond belief inside an arena that is not air conditioned.

The heat actually stole the show.

“It’s hot in here. Oh it’s hot in here,” Self exclaimed to the spectators after grabbing an usually hot microphone at a Late Night held two weeks earlier than usual in accordance with new NCAA rules. “I didn’t switch clothes because I spilled anything on my shirt. It was that I soaked it.

“Obviously you are excited,” he added to a crowd that didn’t seem at all inconvenienced.

“How many places in America are over 25,000 people waiting to get in a 16,000-seat building .... other than Lawrence, Kansas?” Self asked, to roaring applause.

Those nestled snugly in the building were treated to comedy, courtesy of host Rob Riggle as well as Jayhawk players and coaches who enacted scenes from movies Old School, Hangover and Anchorman.

Self stole the show as egotistical anchor Ron Burgundy in Anchorman: The Legend of Bill Self.

In the scrimmage, Perry Ellis had 14 points and Wiggins 12. Freshman sensation Wiggins hit six of eight shots and had various dunks.


It was a banner that stole the show on a night hundreds of fans again had to be turned away, the fieldhouse packed to capacity.

A 9:14 p.m., unveiling of KU’s 2012 Final Four flag, located in the rafters just north of the center videoboard, had the fans stomping their feet in a roar that rivaled the 2008 Late Night when the NCAA title banner was unfurled.

“I thought it was pretty cool. To do the ‘Dream On’ video that long (prior to banner unveiling) and be able to highlight that kind of stuff ... I think that’s pretty nice,” Self said.

As far as skit highlights ... Elijah Johnson, Travis Releford, Kevin Young and Jeff Withey wore power blue sports jackets, white shirts, black bow ties and sunglasses in dancing to Internet hit “Gangnam Style” by artist PSY.

KU’s freshmen players performed a dance number in which they wore all black outfits, with black KU caps worn backward. The number ended with Perry Ellis and former Jayhawk Zach Peters picking up walk-on Tyler Self and throwing him into the air in a gymnastics-like dismount.


On Oct. 14, 2011, Self who was decked out in an all-black leather jacket and chaps, drove a custom-made motorcycle onto James Naismith court for the 2011-12 season-opening proceedings. This was one mid-October removed from Self’s dressing in gold from head to toe as “Vanilla Ice.”

“What’s happening, Jayhawks?” Self bellowed to the fans, revving the motor of the cycle.

“Just so you know, I did not pick this outfit out. I am not a wannabee member of the Village People,” Self added, noting it was the first time he’d ridden a motorbike since a “Suzuki 50” in the third grade.

“A Suzuki 50 is this high,” Self added, placing his hand near his knees in explanation.


Self’s solid-gold outfit, in his words “a takeoff on cheap silk,” arguably drew the most laughs of a three-hour show that concluded with a scrimmage highlighted by Marcus Morris’ 14 points and eight rebounds and Tyshawn Taylor’s nine points and two assists.

Self’s job as Vanilla Ice was to introduce KU’s mimickers of “New Edition” — that is Thomas Robinson, Johnson, the Morris twins and Releford.

Emcee was former KU and NBA power forward Scot Pollard, who arrived in a tuxedo, white shirt and bow tie. Pollard ripped off his coat and tore open his shirt, revealing a black fake-tuxedo shirt.


The 25th-annual Late Night included KU one-and-done player Xavier Henry making his hoops and dance debut. He wore a wig during a number. An all-star cast of recruits watched the action, including Royce Woolridge, Josh Selby, Josiah Turner, Doron Lamb and Harrison Barnes. Mario Little may have been best-dressed Jayhawk in a number with slick black slacks, a bright red shirt and suspenders. Withey wore old short-shorts in a 1988 skit.


KU unveiled its national championship banner to the delight of the fans. The thunderous ovation during the banner presentation had to be one of the loudest moments in fieldhouse lore.


Players were driven to the fieldhouse in a Corvette, Infiniti, Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, BMW, Hummer, Avalanche and stretch limousine onto a Red Carpet for interviews with “Survivor” winner and KU grad Danni Boatwright. Later in the evening, Jayhawk fans enjoyed a stomp show by the KU women’s team before being serenaded with a performance of “New York, New York” by the seniors.


The junior class of Jeremy Case, Sasha Kaun, C.J. Giles, Darnell Jackson, Russell Robinson and Rodrick Stewart “waltzed” their way to an American Idol dance competition victory over the Jayhawk sophomores, who “tangoed,” and freshmen, who twirled to the “swing” in front of judges Self, former KU All-American Danny Manning and former KU guard Aaron Miles.

“I don’t know if dancing can be a highlight, but I think the guys actually did a pretty good job dancing with the young ladies,” said Self, not enthralled with the squad’s 20-minute intrasquad scrimmage won by the Blue team, 26-23.


For the first time ever, the festivities started at 6:30 p.m. instead of 10 or so according to new NCAA rules.


Tuxedo-clad seniors Keith Langford, Michael Lee, Miles and Wayne Simien bowed their heads reverently while grasping KU’s 1988 national-championship trophy at the conclusion of a dramatic skit.

“It wasn’t like it was a fun thing. It (skit) was a serious matter,” KU senior guard Miles said of the Fab Foursome answering a series of questions from 1988 title winners Manning and Mike Maddox before being allowed to touch the trophy.

The Jayhawks hoped it’d be a sign of things to come, another national title. Didn’t work out as planned.


Self’s first Late Night took on the name, “Late Night in the Phog.”

Of changing the name, Self explained: “Basketball at Kansas is bigger than any individual. It is bigger than coach (Roy) Williams. It is bigger than Dr. (Phog) Allen. It is bigger than Larry Brown. It is bigger than Dr. (James) Naismith. It is about a way of life, no matter what.”

The fans also rocked the building when the 1988 title team, led by Brown, was introduced.


KU seniors Nick Collison and Kirk Hinrich stole the “Mardi Gras”-themed show, Collison playing volatile Texas Tech coach Bob Knight in one skit and Hinrich portraying Missouri coach Quin Snyder in another.

“It was the most fun I had in my four years,” Collison said.


Freshmen Simien, Lee, Miles, and Jeff Hawkins serenaded their mothers in a song and dance that coach Roy Williams didn’t enjoy.

Williams said he couldn’t hear anything because of a faulty fieldhouse sound system. Late Night had a patriotic theme coming a month after the horrific events of Sept. 11, 2001. The sound system was improved by the next October, by the way.


Drew Gooden sat in a canoe with John Crider as the canoe was pulley-ed across the fieldhouse floor. Jeff Carey, who showed up with a wavy head of hair instead of his trademark crewcut, had teammates shave his head under the south goal. The canoe bit was funny, but it took longer than expected to shave Carey’s moptop.


Big men Eric Chenowith and Carey played electric guitar as Collison sang vocals for the Limp Bizkit song, “Faith.” They were joined by a drummer in the KU band.


The theme was “Night at the Naismiths” — an awards show in which guest judges rated acts and presented not an Oscar, but a “Naismith’’ to the winners.

Ever-athletic Kenny Gregory rammed several windmill dunks during a warmup drill. The show may have been a bit corny, but nobody told that to KU coach Williams, protective of his Late Night skits.


A transfer from LSU, Lester Earl wore a black leather jacket in a spoof of 1950s music. Earl had some vicious dunks, as did Gregory and Paul Pierce in a pre-scrimmage dunk-athon. Also, Ryan Robertson had a big role in a skit as host of the game show, “The Price Is Right.”


Pollard became the first basketball player in KU history to score 14 points, grab seven rebounds and block four shots while wearing bright red polish on all 10 fingernails.

“Revlon Vixen” was the eccentric player’s color of choice.

That’s the night Pollard, who is now with the Indiana Pacers, proposed marriage to his girlfriend, who accepted, by the way.


Fans showed early for the Saturday night event which started when former KU football coach Glen Mason took the court and yelled, “Live from Allen Fieldhouse, it’s Late Night With Roy Williams.”

Now a color analyst for the Big Ten network, Mason has said one of his favorite moments at KU involved the reception he received at that Late Night. Earlier that day KU had won a football game during a 10-2 season.


Baseball Hall of Famer George Brett and golfing great Tom Watson joined ex-Royals’ center fielder Brian McRae and ex-KC Chief defensive back Deron Cherry as honorary coaches. Brett and Watson appeared to have a blast, not minding the late hour. It’s the only year guest coaches were used.


Fans dressed as their favorite TV sitcom characters before the scrimmage. The Lone Ranger, Silver, Tonto, Gilligan’s Ginger and Granny Clampett all were on hand. This Late Night marked the debut of freshmen Jacque Vaughn, Pollard, B.J. Williams and Nick Proud, as well as Cal transfer Jerod Haase. Proud didn’t last long at KU, but the other guys were part of many victories.


Nobody has had more fun at Late Night than 7-foot-2 giant Greg Ostertag, who showed up in a Frankenstein monster outfit. Roy Williams’ entrance was followed by a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new fieldhouse floor. Even though Late Night was televised, the TV show drew poor reviews.


Williams decided Late Night would be better suited on a Friday night, not Monday, the first day KU could practice in accordance with NCAA rules. Controversial move at the time, but a smart one, made so he could bring recruits to town for the made-for-recruiting event.

The fans responded, packing the building. The announced attendance was 15,800. Pre-scrimmage hoopla was highlighted by freshman center Ostertag, who lip-synched a Garth Brooks tune.


More than 13,000 fans showed to see the Jayhawks dance and scrimmage after a long Sunday of pro football, including a Chiefs’ home game against Detroit. During the scrimmage, current San Francisco coach Rex Walters scored 16 points and amazed the crowd with some violent dunks.


A $5 admission fee was charged to pay for two bands, who performed on a massive sound stage. Admission was never charged again — lots of fans grumbled — and no bands besides the KU pep band, ever played at Late Night again.


Williams’ first Late Night — it was called “Later With Roy Williams” — drew 10,000 fans. Alonzo Jamison brought down the backboard on a pre-scrimmage dunk, thrilling the attendees, but delaying the proceedings. After the new goal was in place, Milt Newton led the Blue team to a 36-35 victory as he scored 16 points.

Amazingly, Williams, a rookie coach in ‘88, became a Hall of Fame inductee less than 20 years later.


Current Wake Forest head coach Danny Manning and teammate Scooter Barry sang The Temptations’ song: “My Girl.” KU went on to win the national title.


“Late Night With Larry Brown” became a major happening in 1986, thanks in large part to its namesake, Late Night With David Letterman. One-time Letterman foil Larry Bud Melman visited Lawrence for the early Wednesday morning scrimmage, first signing autographs at 7 p.m. at the Burge Union.


KU’s inaugural “Late Night With Larry Brown” was not a big deal.

It attracted 6,000 fans.

“It was fabulous. I was thrilled with the students,” Brown, now coach at SMU, said of the fans who showed at 12:01 on a Tuesday morning.

Many of the students wore T-shirts that read, “Late Night With Larry Brown. Starring the 1985-86 Kansas basketball team … all the way to Dallas.”

That KU team, prophetically, did reach the Final Four in Dallas. Current Jayhawk coach Self was a grad assistant on that team.


Gary McCullough 6 years, 8 months ago

I attended the inaugural Late Night with Larry Brown in 1985. It was my third year at KU. I still have the t-shirt. What a great tradition!

Doug Longstaff 6 years, 8 months ago

"and no bands besides the KU pep band, ever played at Late Night again."

--False. In the early 2000s, a local band called "Anything But Joey" played at Late Night. I remember it, because I was there.......but the LJW also reported their having been there in several articles. Including....

Marius Rowlanski 6 years, 8 months ago many commitments did we get after the show was over?

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