Pepperdine University President David Davenport returned Thursday to his alma mater and nearly had a prayer answered.
"I want the Waves to win big," Davenport said before leading Pepperdine players and coaches in a prayer as the team from Malibu, Calif., readied itself to take on undefeated Kansas.
Someone must have been listening, because unranked Pepperdine led most of the game and pushed No. 4-ranked KU to overtime before losing 79-73.
Although Davenport cheered Pepperdine from behind the team's bench, he's been a Jayhawk fan since childhood and is a 1977 graduate of the KU law school.
"I WAS RAISED a Jayhawk," he said in a pre-game interview. "This is just great. For me to have followed it for all these years and be on the inside of it a little bit is great."
Davenport, 41, had last visited Allen Fieldhouse for a KU game in 1976. But he didn't forget what it's like for visiting teams to play there.
"I came to practice and told them (Pepperdine players) a few stories about Allen Fieldhouse, Phog Allen, James Naismith. It was just a little lecture," he said.
"When we arrived in Lawrence, I also gave them a short bus tour of campus. We went down Jayhawk Boulevard, the whole bit."
Before Thursday's game, Davenport moved through the seats and passed out two garbage sacks full of Pepperdine caps and pompons to Waves fans.
DAVENPORT also contemplated asking KU Chancellor Gene Budig to wager on the game, but settled for a halftime chat with Budig.
"I thought about it," Davenport said. "We could have bet a bushel of wheat against a bucket of Malibu sand."
"Well," he said, "people pay $1 million for a small beach plot."
Davenport has strong family ties to Kansas. His mother, Beverly, and brother, Doug, live in the Kansas City area. His wife, Sally, is a third-generation Jayhawk.
HE TOOK advantage of the Waves' game against KU by bringing his family from Malibu a week ago for an extended visit with relatives in the Kansas City area.
Davenport also attended KU's game Saturday against Temple in the BMA Classic in Kansas City, Mo.
Davenport, who grew up in Fairway, remembers the annual trek his family would take into Kansas City to support the Jayhawks in the Big Eight pre-season tournament.
"We would go every year, and then we would come out to KU a couple times a year,'' he said. ``That started probably when I was 10 or 12."
Mrs. Davenport graduated from KU with a degree in graphic design and had a brush with KU basketball greatness during her days in Lawrence.
She lived in a house on Louisiana Street that at one time was home to Phog Allen, the winningest coach in KU basketball history.
Davenport said Mrs. Davenport took him to the basement of the house one day, ``and there were all these trophies. I guess he (Allen) had so many that he just left some behind."
There weren't many Pepperdine fans at the game, but they were conspicuous. James Lear, West Covina, Calif., cheered at all the wrong times from the perspective of a KU fan.
There's a good reason for that. His son, forward Geoff Lear, plays for Pepperdine and scored 14 points.
"When we left California I didn't feel we were playing as well as we should," he said. "Tonight we played the way we should. It was a great game."
Jeff Fuchs makes certain that anyone who has difficulty hearing can pick up the sis-boom-hip hoorah of the KU basketball band.
"We've never done it, but it would be interesting to put a meter on us and find out how loud we are," said Fuchs, director of the 45-member contingent.
The band belts out "I'm a Jayhawk" and more than 20 other songs during each game. There's only one band rule no music while the basketball's in play.