Archive for Tuesday, April 8, 2008

We’re better than everyone’

Jayhawk Nation celebrates second title in 20 years

Pumped up during the game, Peter Ruane, a Kansas University student from Wichita, was one of more than 10,000 fans in Allen Fieldhouse.

Pumped up during the game, Peter Ruane, a Kansas University student from Wichita, was one of more than 10,000 fans in Allen Fieldhouse.

April 8, 2008


2008 NCAA Tournament

2008 NCAA Tournament

Get your March Madness fix at

NCAA Championship Game

Celebration set

The Big Men on Campus - Kansas University's national champion basketball team - will be back in town today, and they won't have to go to class.

Instead, they'll be taken to Memorial Stadium for a rally expected to start about 3 p.m., rain or shine. The party looks to be reminiscent of the boisterous stadium celebration that welcomed back a different team of Jayhawks 20 years earlier from another national title and drew more than 30,000 people.

This time around, stadium gates will open at 1:30 p.m., and shuttle buses will begin running from KU's Park and Ride lot off Clinton Parkway starting at 12:30 p.m.

Campus parking lots and the garage will be open to public parking.

A U.S. Army UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter may fly over Memorial Stadium as part of the celebration.

While classes are canceled - another nod to the 1988 title's day after, the last time classes were canceled for nonweather reasons - university offices will be open and employees are expected to report to work as usual. The Kansas and Burge unions will be open for regular business operations.

Jessica Greenwood, a Kansas University senior, stood in the middle of Massachusetts Street, under the glow of hundreds of cell-phone snapshots and digital camera flashes, knowing that she needed to capture the moment forever.

These kinds of things - a national championship for her beloved Kansas University, after a 75-68 overtime victory against Memphis - simply don't come along all that often.

Try once in 20 years.

"It's the most intense feeling I've ever experienced in my whole life," she said, posing for a photo with her friend and fellow KU senior Christina Conger. "More than my first steps. More than when I got admitted to KU.

"It's my senior year, and KU won. We're the No. 1 team in the country. We're better than everyone else."

She looked around, a big smile on her face.

"Who else," she laughed, with a dumbfounded giggle, "can say that?"

Try an estimated 40,000 others packing onto Massachusetts Street and tens of thousands more who call themselves Jayhawks - in Lawrence, across the country and anywhere else basketball is followed.

Fieldhouse vibes

Allen Fieldhouse, home of the Jayhawks, was rocking for the game. More than 10,000 fans filed in to watch on the scoreboard screens, hoping to add another victory to their undefeated home schedule - albeit this time via TV from the Alamodome in San Antonio.

Chris Hinton, a sophomore from Overland Park, and his friends did their best to keep the Fieldhouse vibe alive by bringing in dozens of sheets of newspaper.

A tradition during player introductions during live games - rattling the sheets during Memphis introductions, then shredding them for confetti for the Jayhawks' - Hinton said they wanted to re-create the game experience.

"It's tradition - you've got to keep it going, even if the team is gone," Hinton said. "We've been pretty good so far."

The seesaw game saw KU go up by a few, then fall back. And when a Memphis shot banked in from the three-point line with just over four minutes to go, and the shot clock winding down, many KU fans worried that the end was near.

KU may have been down 57-49 - soon changed to 56-49, when replays showed that Derrick Rose's shot indeed was a two-pointer - but KU fan Jeff Brady wasn't the least bit fazed.

"That," he said, above the groans at Fatso's in downtown Lawrence, "was not a championship shot."

Turns out it wasn't. The point shaved from the scoreboard turned out to be as important as all the others scored on this night - and some left behind by the Tigers. Memphis made only one of five free throws in the final 1:12, giving KU an opportunity to work its way back into title contention.

'Miracle 3'

Down 63-60, the Jayhawks' fate fell upon Mario Chalmers, who managed to find just enough space to squeeze off an improbable-but-somehow-inevitable three-pointer, one that would extend the college basketball season by another five minutes.

Now safely into overtime, Scott Hoffman knew things would be OK.

He just knew his team had already won - and he'd be able to help sell some of the 260 T-shirts with "Kansas" and "National Champions" on the front, and "PARTY LIKE IT'S 1988!" on the back.

"The 'Miracle 3' wins it," he said, already coining a moniker for Chalmers' emphatic three, the most important of his 18 points on the night. "Now we're partyin', and we're national champions.

"What could be better than that?"

The victory gave KU coach Bill Self his first national championship in his first trip to the Final Four as a Jayhawk, following up on Elite Eight appearances with KU, Illinois and Tulsa.

Nate Saving came all the way to the Fieldhouse from Peoria, Ill., the state where Self coached before taking over on Mount Oread five years ago.

"There's no place I'd rather be," said Saving, who spent a year at KU. "The atmosphere is a lot better than I thought it would be. It's pretty sweet."

Priceless championship

Now, it seems, Oklahoma State and billionaire alum T. Boone Pickens may come calling for Self, an Oklahoma native, former Oklahoma State guard and certified basketball winner. Talk is a 10-year deal for $40 million, plus bonuses.

Byron Watkins, a 2004 KU graduate working as a financial adviser in Wichita, wouldn't advise Self to take the deal.

"Championships," he said, "are worth more than money."

And crimson and blue, on this night, proved more worthwhile than purple for Aaron Pohl, who said he was a Kansas State University student from Atchison and die-hard KU hoops fan.

"My dad was at the last game, in '88, at Kemper," he said, of the previous KU title, an 83-79 victory over Oklahoma. "He said that was the best game he'd ever seen.

"This is the best game I've ever seen. Unbelievable."

More unbelievable: KU officials canceled classes today, just as they did back in 1988. It seems championships are something of a learning experience.

Ringing in the win

Kim Sedberry knows that well. The Dallas senior is among about a dozen students in KU's carillon class, all of whom take lessons from the university's head carillonneur, Elizabeth Berghout.

In exchange for enrolling in the class, they're allowed to check out keys to get into the Campanile.

Sedberry said she checked hers out Monday in hopes that the Jayhawks would win.

"We thought about it Saturday walking back from Mass. Street, but I didn't have my key," Sedberry said Monday night, before the championship game ended. "If we win, I'll go up there and play the Alma Mater."

Play on, Sedberry. KU is the national champion.

Staff writer Jonathan Kealing contributed to this story.


Jayhawk_N_Denver 10 years ago

Rock Chalk Jayhawk! Man, I wish I were in Lawrence last night. But I gotta say, I've seen a lot of fans this morning here in Denver wearing their Jayhawk colors with pride!

Kevin Sontag 10 years ago

Regarding Calipari's God statement...On SportsCenter this morning, Jay Bilas said (paraphrasing) "This game had nothing to do with God's will, this was all about not calling a time-out before Mario's three-pointer to set up the defense, and completely losing your poise at the end of the game."Jay Bilas. FTW!John Calipari. Fail.

BigAl 10 years ago

Pogo... What a sad, sad little life you must lead.

armyguy 10 years ago

I watched the silliness of putting a ball into a hoop for the 100's of millions of dollars industry/machine from Baghdad, and what a good game it was.

booklover 10 years ago

As I wake up this morning, my head is pounding and I have to drive to Wichita in the rain today, I have a presentation tomorrow and no voice, I have a 10 page paper due in four days and I'm tired as heck....But you know what? It's a #@$* good day to be a JAYHAWK!!!!Rock Chalk Jayhawk! Go KU!

cellogrl 10 years ago

Pogo, don't be such a buzz kill.

Jeff Kilgore 10 years ago

We ARE the best, (at least for this year!) Bball is one thing that helps us deal with Iraq. We ARE the best, (at least for this year!) Pogo, you are changing the world with your insightful comments. Keep posting! Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

Kat Christian 10 years ago

Grant it the war in Iraq is serious, but we can't be serious all of the time. It is good to celebrate life sometimes instead of worrying about death and dying all of the time.I for one is very sad about this war, I experienced loss from the Viet Nam War, my financee' was killed over there. Something I live with daily. But something like the spirit of the Jayhawks makes lightens that burden even if for one day or for a few weeks. So Rock Chalk Jayhawk KU. Get into the spirit Bogo. I'm sure a few guys over in Iraq are going with it too.

OnlyTheOne 10 years ago

Unlike my predecessors here I'm happy. I came to share the best quote I've seen this am.from Yahoo "Imperfect Storm - NCAA Basketball" article;_ylt=AkOgZwm9cZGXsP6W9Cbd0AuLCpJ4?slug=ga-memphis040808&prov=yhoo&type=lgnsCoach Calipari speaking here, "When Derrick went to the line, I sat there and I said, 'Lord, if he makes these two, we're supposed to be national champs. And if that's your will, I'm fine with it. If he misses them, and we're not, I'm fine with that too.' I'm probably not supposed to say that, but that's where I was."Apparently, God's a Jayhawks fan." from Gerry Ahern a senior editor for Yahoo! Sports.

jayhawkerincali 10 years ago

Flying home from LA Saturday evening and then leaving at 5 this morning and going to straight from LAX to work was TOTALLY worth every last second. Rock Chalk! Roy's tears on Saturday night were enough to make it worth it, but national champions?! Icing on this sweet, sweet cake.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.