Missouri fan group adds its own wild antics to border rivalry with KU
Columbia, Mo. "For a good time, call ... (fill in the blank with a Kansas basketball player's name and phone number)."
For the past several seasons, members of Missouri's Antlers cheering section have displayed the phone numbers of various Jayhawks on signs, revealing them for the world to see at the annual KU-Mizzou men's basketball game at the Hearnes Center.
"When we go there, my number will probably be on a cardboard poster somewhere. Last year they didn't have mine, but they had Jeff's up," KU sophomore Nick Collison said of Jeff Boschee. "He got a bunch of calls. I know they had Ryan Robertson's his senior year. He got a million calls."
The Antlers they'll be cheering hard for MU during today's 8:05 p.m. tip have annoyed Collison in the past.
"Last year I got a phone call. Someone impersonating a police officer wanted to question me where I was or my whereabouts or something. I got a few calls after the game," Collison said referring to KU's 81-59 loss at MU's Hearnes Center.
KU center Eric Chenowith is a popular target of the Antlers.
They first started to bother the 7-footer after he signed a letter-of-intent his senior year at California's Villa Park High.
"My athletic director called me in and said, 'Eric do you know anybody from Missouri?' I said, 'No, why what's going on?'
"He said somebody from the University of Missouri called and said they were doing a story on you and needed to find out if you were in trouble for anything.' It's probably the Antlers who called doing some research on me," Chenowith said with a laugh.
Chenowith is 1-2 in Columbia, winning there his sophomore season.
"The bus ride back home couldn't have lasted long enough," Chenowith said.
Partly because KU one-upped the Antlers.
"I like 'em. "They're pretty funny. After all they give you, it's fun to run off the court with a smile on your face," he said.
Of tonight's game, Chenowith said: "It's an all-out war. Put on your camouflage and color your face. It's time for war and there is no better feeling than going to the Hearnes Center and getting a win."
Second-year Missouri coach Quin Snyder, who is 1-1 versus KU, said it didn't take long for him to learn about the rivalry.
"After I got the job, a couple hundred people were telling me about it. I knew that was important and I knew it when I took the job," Snyder said.
Snyder is a Duke graduate; KU coach Roy Williams a North Carolina grad.
"It's a coincidence, I guess. I think in that respect I'm not looking at it as a Duke guy playing a North Carolina guy. I'm pretty focused on Kansas' team playing Mizzou," Snyder said.
Is KU-MU as big as Duke-Carolina?
Perhaps not, Snyder said.
"The biggest difference is the KU-Missouri rivalry has not been as consistently on a national scope as Duke-North Carolina. They are both in the Top 10 now. Kansas is in the Top 10. We are not," Snyder noted.
"These are two states on the border. Duke and North Carolina are eight miles from each other. It probably approaches that in the Kansas City area."
KU coach Williams says the border is indeed the reason this game means so much to the fans.
"You've got that line running right down the middle of Kansas City, the state line one Kansas, one Missouri," Williams said. "People are at each other all the time. The kids hear how important it is.
"People in your office where you work, some are from Missouri and some from Kansas. Geography is the biggest reason. I don't think if it were Rhode Island versus New Mexico it'd be that big a rivalry. Other than that, they are pretty doggone good."
Williams on Norm
Missouri's court will be named after former MU coach Norm Stewart in ceremonies tonight. It's no coincidence MU is honoring Stewart the night the hated Jayhawks come to town.
"I go back to my first year we played at Duke. They retired Danny Ferry's jersey that day. We've had a lot of those kinds of things happen to us," Williams said.
"I am proud of what Missouri is doing for Norm. I have a tremendous amount of respect for what he accomplished. I'm glad they are honoring him. I wish they were honoring him at a different game. My guess is he's been playing much golf and he'd like to come back for a game and see if they can beat Kansas. It's probably his choice."
Bryant dropped by KU
Missouri freshman Travon Bryant, who is averaging 4.5 points and 4.3 boards a game in 10 games since joining the team at semester, was recruited by KU during the early signing period last year.
KU basically dropped the 6-foot-9 Californian as a recruit second semester.
"We did recruit Travon very hard, very early. In fact we thought we were going to sign him in the early signing period," Williams said. "After we did not sign him in the early period, we did not go out to see him play. I never called Travon from November on. He called our office a couple times.
"Basically after we did not sign him in the fall, I decided if he wanted to come, fine. If not that's OK, too. We liked what we had. He is a really nice young man. He'll have a very good career at Missouri. He'll be a heck of a player. To think he is only 17, he has a chance to be a big-time basketball player."
"I think they lost interest when I didn't sign in the early period," Bryant told the J-W last spring. "I wasn't going to be pressured into doing something I wasn't ready to do. I'd have loved to have played at Kansas. Some of the stuff didn't work out.
"If they kept recruiting me, I'll just say there's a good chance I'd be there now. But I can't look at Kansas now and say I wish I could have gone there. I'm happy going to Missouri."