We hear plenty about triple-doubling in college basketball and the likelihood that UConn junior Hasheem Thabeet may manage that feat several more times before reaching the NBA. It only heightens my astonishment that storied Kansas, with the third-best victory total of all time, has never registered an official triple-double.
Not officially but unofficially KU’s had at least five such achievements and not all of them were by Wilt Chamberlain. Willowy B.H. Born did it before any other Jayhawk.
UConn’s 7-3, 265-pound Thabeet recently had 15 points, 11 rebounds and 10 blocks against Providence and almost got over the hump again with 25-13-9 against Seton Hall. The Tanzanian got a late start on the court and could be the next Chamberlain or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. But back to Kansas’s unsanctioned but verifiable triples.
On March 18, 1953, the 6-9, 205-pound B.H. Born was fighting a horrendous cold as he tried to anchor KU to an NCAA title over Indiana. He scored 26 points, claimed 15 rebounds and had 13 blocks as the Hoosiers kept driving, trying to foul him out, which they did. That, folks, is a triple-double.
Except it wasn’t, because blocks weren’t part of the official box scoring until 1985-86. Just as unfair is that assists weren’t put on the tab until 1983-84. Think of the Bob Cousys who got shortchanged along with the master-blockers.
In Wilt Chamberlain’s second KU varsity game on Dec. 3, 1956, against Marquette, Uncle Dippy had 39 points, 22 boards and 14 blocks, all tabulated by the incomparable KU sports publicist Don Pierce. Came March 9, 1957, and Wilt went for 40-13-12. He sandwiched those feats around a couple more triple doubles, then unofficially had at least two more in 1957-58.
For his two-year Kansas career, Chamberlain had 302 “official” swats, an average of seven per game. After blocks became official, KU’s Greg Ostertag posted a four-year “school record” of 258, still 44 shy of Wilt’s two-year mark.
KU’s Born and Chamberlain were three-ply wonders decades before Thabeet was born. Question: How long before Cole Aldrich of the current KU team registers a triple-double? Why not Saturday against Nebraska?
• There’s been a recent rush to judgment to declare Oklahoma court whiz Blake Griffin the best player in the history of the Big 12 Conference — note, Big 12, not all the area leagues. The agile, powerful Griffin may be just that good, although I’m still inclined to favor Texas’s Kevin Durant, over Michael Beasley, too.
As for “all-time” greatest, I can knee-jerk recommend two Kansas Jayhawks — Chamberlain and Danny Manning. They supersede Griffin, Durant, Beasley and anyone else. You choose an all-time KU team and probably the first three guys are Wilt, Danny and Jo Jo White.
Fred Pralle was the KU dandy of the 1930s and Charlie Black, Ray Evans, Otto Schnellbacher and Howard Engleman made the ’40s memorable. You had the 1952 and ’53 standouts and Chamberlain (1957-58) and innumerable nifty guys after that, many of whom could challenge OU’s Griffin for the crown.
Maybe he’s the greatest so far in the young Big 12, but with brilliant forerunners like Wilt and Manning, Griffin’s only “among ‘em” on an all-time basis.