Kansas Jayhawks Basketball: Great Players, Memorable Games and 2000 Victories
Enjoying the journey to 2000 wins
The Kansas Jayhawks have joined the 2000 win club! Kansas didn’t get there first, as Kentucky and North Carolina both claimed their 2000th victory earlier in the 2010 campaign—but they made it. With their 30th win of the 2010 season, KU joined these great programs at the summit of basketball excellence. From their first 31-6 victory against the Topeka YMCA on February 10, 1899 to their win over the Texas Tech Red Raiders on March 11th 2010, KU lays claim to one of the most storied basketball traditions of all time. On the road to 2000 victories, KU has claimed 53 conference titles, two Helms National Championships, and three NCAA crowns.
The proud history of Jayhawk Nation is a monument to the visionary coaches and great players that represented KU so well for over a century. Along the way, there were many significant events and milestones, including Mario Chalmers’ miracle shot that catapulted the Jayhawks to the 2008 NCAA title. These are only a few of the many people and great moments that make the Kansas Jayhawks so special.
The Road to 2000 Victories
Great coaches and great players
KU has had only eight coaches in its history (excluding two interim coaches that served part of a season). Their first head man was James Naismith, the game’s inventor. In an odd twist, Naismith is the only KU coach with a losing record. He was succeeded by basketball visionary Forrest C. (Phog) Allen. Allen was instrumental in the creation of the NCAA Tournament, and was also a driving force behind the inclusion of basketball as an Olympic sport. He was one of the founders of the National Basketball Coaches Association and served as its first President. Allen Field House, the Jayhawks’ home court, is named after “the Phog.”
Dick Harp and Ted Owens added to the legacy of these two great men. Owens was replaced by Larry Brown in 1983. Brown coached KU to an NCAA Championship and ushered in the modern era of KU basketball. Roy Williams followed Brown and led the Jayhawks to a 418-101 record in 15 seasons. When Williams returned home to North Carolina, Kansas called on Bill Self to replace him. Self won six conference titles and an NCAA Championship while compiling a 199-42 record in seven seasons.
Assistant coaches at KU that moved on to head jobs in the college and professional ranks include Matt Doherty, Neil Dougherty, John Calipari, Alvin Gentry, Bob Hill, Jerry Green, Tim Jankovich, Norm Roberts, Steve Robinson, Kevin Stallings, and Mark Turgeon.
Some of the greatest players in basketball history suited up for the Crimson and Blue. KU hoops alumni list Wilt Chamberlain, Paul Pierce, Danny Manning, Raef LaFrentz, Nick Collison, Jo Jo White, Bill Bridges, Brandon Rush and Darnell Valentine among their ranks. Not good enough? Clyde Lovellette, B.H. Born, Dave Robisch, Bud Stallworth, Walt Wesley, Drew Gooden, Wayne Simien, Mario Chalmers, Thomas Robinson and Jacque Vaughn also played for KU.
In addition, KU has produced:
26 NBA first-round draft picks and 69 picks overall (with more to come).
30 McDonald’s All-Americans.
27 consensus First Team All-Americans.
Ten Academic All-Americans selected 14 times.
Thirteen participants in Olympic basketball including Sasha Kaun, who most recently played for the Russian team in the 2012 Olympics.
Five NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Players: Clyde Lovellette, B.H. Born, Wilt Chamberlain, Danny Manning and Mario Chalmers.
Danny Manning is the 8th all-time leading scorer in NCAA history and Aaron Miles is 8th all-time in assists.
Clyde Lovellette is the only player to lead the nation in scoring and win an NCAA Championship in the same year.
Cole Aldrich is one of eight players to record a triple-double in the NCAA Tournament.
Former KU players have distinguished themselves as coaches, also. Phog Allen was a KU player before succeeding Naismith as coach. Kentucky Coach Adolph Rupp played for Kansas’ National Championship teams in 1922 and 1923. Carolina legend Dean Smith was a member of KU’s 1952 NCAA Championship squad. Ralph Miller played for KU’s 1940 NCAA runner-up team before coaching at Wichita State, Iowa and Oregon State. All four coaches retired in the top ten in total wins.
We cannot fail to mention:
As much a part of Jayhawk lore as anyone was Max Falkenstien, the “Voice of the Jayhawks” for an astonishing 60 years. Max broadcast 1750 games for the Jayhawks between 1946 and 2006. His voice is recognized by thousands of fans who followed the Jayhawks on their radio network, and number 60 hangs in the rafters of Allen Field House to commemorate Max Falkenstien and his six decades of service.
A few of KU's greatest moments
KU has offered their students and fans a wealth of memories over the years. In another article, I listed my choices for KU’s ten greatest NCAA Tournament victories. Here then are some of the best regular season games of the last 30 years, in no particular order:
KU versus Kentucky on December 9, 1989. Terry Brown’s 31 points led Kansas in their 150-95 route of Kentucky. Rick Pitino’s full-court press was shredded by the Jayhawks, who scored 80 points in the first half alone.
KU versus LSU on November 17, 1989. KU wasn’t intimidated by #2 LSU’s formidable lineup starring Chris Jackson and 7-foot phenoms Stanley Roberts and Shaquille O’Neal. Despite their imposing front line, Mark Randall scored 26 points on 12-15 shooting.
KU versus Cincinnati on December 4, 1996: Cincinnati and All-American Danny Fortson led the Jayhawks by twelve at halftime, but Kansas’ front line of Scot Pollard, Raef LaFrentz and Paul Pierce rallied in the second half for a 72-65 victory.
KU versus Arizona on December 2, 1997: KU and #4 Arizona both boasted two first team All-Americans, but the Jayhawks came out on top 90-87 behind Raef LaFrentz’s 32 points and 8 rebounds.
KU versus Texas on January 27, 2003: A game made famous by Dick Vitale’s standing ovation for Nick Collison. Collison scored 24 points and grabbed 23 rebounds to beat #3 Texas, 90-87.
KU versus Memphis State on February 9, 1985: KU battled a great Tigers team led by Keith Lee and William Bedford. Ron Kellogg and Calvin Thompson scored 34 and 17 points for the Hawks who won the game 75-71.
KU versus Oklahoma on March 10, 1984: In a payback game, KU defeated Oklahoma and Wayman Tisdale in the Finals of the Big Eight Tournament behind Carl Henry’s 30 points. The Sooners won the conference title at Kansas 17 days earlier, taunting the Allen Field House crowd at the end of the game.
KU versus North Carolina on January 3, 1981. KU beat a North Carolina team featuring James Worthy and Sam Perkins that would play for the NCAA title, 56-55. Victor Mitchell scored a layup off an offensive rebound for the win.
KU versus Texas on March 11, 2007: KU defeated the Longhorns 88-84 in overtime to win the Big Twelve Conference Tournament. The Jayhawks withstood a 37 point outburst by Kevin Durant to beat Texas for the second time in eight days. Sherron Collins led KU with 20 points.
KU versus Florida on November 25, 2006: KU battled the defending champion and top-ranked Florida Gators in Las Vegas. Julian Wright supplied 21 points and 10 rebounds in this 82-80 overtime victory.
KU has fielded many great teams en route to their historic 2000 win milestone. From the first team in 1998 to Bill Self’s 2010 squad, every team, player, and coach left their mark on Jayhawk Nation. The faces change over the years, but great memories remain and the excellence continues unabated. I’m eagerly looking forward to win #3000.
Rock Chalk, Jayhawk, KU!
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