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Archive for Tuesday, September 23, 1997

KU OUT TO CELEBRATE 100 YEARS OF HOOPS

September 23, 1997

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Kansas has decided to make its 100th year of basketball a season to remember.

"We're out to celebrate 100 years of Kansas basketball," athletics director Bob Frederick said Monday as he unveiled a pair of 100-year anniversary logos and outlined plans for the upcoming season. "All the great teams, players and coaches we've had, there's no question we have the richest tradition in basketball in the country."

All players and coaches affiliated with a century of Kansas basketball will be invited back the weekend of Feb. 7-8, coincidentally the NBA's all-star weekend.

A legends game involving former players will be held, likely on Feb. 7, Frederick said. All the returning former Jayhawks will be introduced at halftime of the KU-Missouri game on Feb. 8 after attending a banquet on Feb. 7.

"We'll honor in particular the 1952 and '88 national championship teams," Frederick said. "Every former basketball player who is still alive who has played here the last 100 years will be invited to return for one big weekend."

That includes Wilt Chamberlain, who has been reluctant to return to his alma mater in the past. Frederick said local developer Bob Billings told Frederick's wife, Margey, that efforts were being made to bring Chamberlain back.

"All I can say is the 1956, '57 and '58 teams are working hard to encourage Wilt to come back," said Billings, one of Wilt's former teammates.

Also, Larry Brown, who coached the '88 Jayhawks to a national title, has told current coach Roy Williams he's enthused about attending.

"I think we'll have a huge turnout," Williams said. "I think it'll be a great, great weekend."

Williams has had two well-attended reunions in the past, his first and fifth years here.

"When I came here 10 years ago, I wanted people to realize anybody who ever played here was very important to me," Williams said. "I told people we'd try to do a reunion every five years. By coincidence the next reunion happens to be our 100th year of basketball.

"I am excited to be part of this celebration. I am starting my 10th year. To say I've been involved in 1/10th of Kansas basketball history is extremely important to me."

Of the legends game, Williams quipped: "I think the only way we could pack the fieldhouse is if we could explain to the people the legends will play exactly the way they played before," Williams said. "If they realize the kind of basketball they play now, it may be less than maximum (attendance)."

Other plans for KU's 100th year celebration:

  • Pictures of former KU players will adorn the Jayhawks' single-game ticket stubs.
  • The athletic department will release a book on KU's 100 years. It was put together by photographer Rich Clarkson.
  • A statue of Dr. Forrest C. (Phog) Allen has been casted and soon will be erected in front of the fieldhouse with an unveiling ceremony likely held sometime before KU's home opener on Nov. 14.
  • Additional jersey numbers could be retired -- certainly Chamberlain's if he decides to return.
  • Release and sale of a poster.
  • Special anniversary section in KU's game program and media guide.

"I've spoken to our team about some of the things we're going to try to do. They are excited about Kansas basketball history and tradition," Williams said. "And they are excited about their own season."

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