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Archive for Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Woodling: Fight no first for KU-MU

January 13, 2004

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The guy on the other side of the room wanted to know if the rumble following Saturday's Kansas-Missouri women's basketball game would count in the Border War standings.

And if the scrap does count, he queried, would the points be divided since it didn't appear there was a clear-cut winner?

OK, fights in college basketball games aren't joking matters, but they obviously do break out every now and then, and no more so than when Kansas and Missouri collide.

Saturday's postgame outbreak was apparently the first basketball brouhaha involving the schools' women's teams, but it definitely wasn't the first involving Kansas and Missouri.

Contemporary history of KU-MU fights goes all the way back to the late 1950s when Missouri's Charlie Henke and the Jayhawks' Wayne Hightower precipitated an on-court swingfest that drew additional notoriety because it was on regional TV.

Arguably, the most famous KU-MU clash occurred in 1977 when KU's Donnie Von Moore chased Missouri's Jim Kennedy out the northeast tunnel of Allen Fieldhouse. Both were ejected.

Also involved in a brief scuffle were Kim Anderson, now head coach at Central Missouri State, and the Jayhawks' John Douglas.

Afterward, Missouri coach Norm Stewart complained that he and two players were struck by KU fans as they left the floor.

"We were attacked. We had people hit. I was pushed. The verbal abuse was ridiculous," Stewart said.

Hmmm. KU's Marian Washington uttered words to the same effect following Saturday's game in the Hearnes Center.

Still another fight in a Kansas-Missouri basketball game occurred on March 1, 1963. I saw that one. With a little more than a minute remaining and Kansas ahead by six points, I looked up and saw Missouri guard Ken Doughty and Kansas guard Nolen Ellison throwing punches at each other in the first couple of rows of the east bleachers in Allen Fieldhouse.

That incident sparked a short spat between KU's Al Correll and MU's George Flamank, but only Doughty and Ellison were ejected. Meanwhile, the Allen Fieldhouse crowd of 2,800 -- the smallest Allen Fieldhouse crowd ever for a KU men's basketball game, if you can believe that -- reacted angrily.

According to newspaper reports, fans "...tossed paper cups, an egg and various other items on the floor."

An egg? A fan brought an egg to Allen Fieldhouse? KU fans once brought hot dogs and showered Kansas State's Curtis Redding during pregame introductions, but that's the first I've heard of an egg.

Well, anyway, Ellison, the Jayhawks' senior captain, said Doughty had called him "a dirty name," but admitted he should have turned the other cheek and ignored the racial remark.

"Nothing excuses that type of thing," Kansas coach Dick Harp said. But Harp also added: "I'm also convinced there is no place in intercollegiate athletics for the player who says what was said to Nolen just because of Nolen's color."

Interestingly, Ellison, a Kansas City Wyandotte High product who went on to earn a doctorate from Michigan State, is now a professor emeritus of public administration at UMKC. In other words, he earns his paycheck from MU. Worth noting, too, is that in 1988, the Miller Co. identified Ellison as one of 12 honorees for its "Calendar of Great Black Educators in the 20th Century."

Perhaps the most memorable recent incident involving a KU-MU men's game occurred in the late '90s when Missouri's Derek Grimm body-slammed KU's Raef LaFrentz to the Allen Fieldhouse floor. No fight erupted, but the feelings were as hard as the court that night.

All in all, few would argue Kansas and Missouri are the Hatfields and McCoys of midlands intercollegiate athletics, although I'm sure they would argue which school was the Hatfields and which was the McCoys.

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