A victory over Louisiana at Monroe tonight would be Kansas University’s 700th in Allen Fieldhouse.
“Seven hundred ... that doesn’t really sound like a huge number to me since the building has been here a long time,” KU coach Bill Self said of the arena dedicated on March 1, 1955, in a 77-67 victory over Kansas State.
“You’ve got to understand, going back 50 years ago, you probably only played 10 home games a year. We’ve experienced a lot of success here. All the coaches have, and all the teams have. We hope this is another one of those years we put ourselves in position to have unbelievable success in here again,” Self added.
KU enters the 7 p.m., contest with a 699-108 mark in Allen. Self’s teams have won 161 games and lost just eight.
No doubt it’s interesting that a milestone victory could come in the first game of the 2013-14 season.
“I’ll take a line out of Bill’s book: ‘Certain things just happen here,’” KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger said. “I’m going to go back to the Legends game ... what happened there at the end of the game. Only at KU does that kind of thing happen. Only at KU do you have a chance for that number to occur on opening night. It just happens that way here.”
The “Legends game” was the Legends of the Phog alumni exhibition during the NBA lockout on Sept. 24, 2011. Then-Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce hit a three-pointer to bust a 108-108 tie only to see Miami Heat guard Mario Chalmers answer with a three to knot the score at the final buzzer of what wound up to be an 111-111 deadlock.
“I truly believe there are ghosts of Allen Fieldhouse that just make it a greater experience. I say that tongue in cheek,” Zenger said, laughing. “Referring to the history and tradition, it lifts up our players, our coaches, the fans each and every night.”
As fieldhouse milestones come and go, the topic arises of how long the building will be the home of KU basketball.
“The future is it is definitely not going anywhere,” Self said. “This building has been here 50 years and I’d anticipate it being here 50-plus more. That’s one of the things that makes this place so special ... this building. We love it. The guys love playing here.”
Zenger said there’s no danger of replacing what he calls “a cathedral of sorts; the greatest basketball experience in the world.”
He said he’s yet to meet a KU fan who wants a new fieldhouse that might include big, comfy chairs.
“I’ve been in those facilities, and those nice chairs mean people sit back in their nice chairs and you lose the atmosphere,” Zenger said. “When you talk to our fans about the dance they all do ... I’ve been with them. When you stand up and have to claim your space by sitting down first. They all want to stand right back up again. That’s part of the experience of Allen Fieldhouse.”
Of the milestone, which will arrive if KU defeats a team that returns four starters off last year’s 4-23 squad, Zenger said: “Bill is more than half the reason I came here (from Illinois State). I’m proud of him, proud of all the coaches he’s had over time, all the players he’s had over time, all the players and coaches before him. This is one of the richest legacies in all of sports.”
Noted former KU coach Ted Owens, who has the most wins of any KU coach in the fieldhouse (206): “The great thing in going back to a Kansas game ... they play the same traditional songs — the Rock Chalk Chant and ‘I’m a Jayhawk’ and all that. It’s like you never missed a game even though it’s been 30 years since I was coach. You walk in and it’s a beautiful arena. They’ve made wonderful improvements from the days when we had the old steel lockers, the dirt infield and all that. It’s a beautiful place but still the same place.”
Greene checked out at hospital, deemed OK: KU freshman guard Brannen Greene, who was taken to the emergency room at Lawrence Memorial Hospital after getting hit in the lower abdomen at practice on Thursday, was released from the hospital after undergoing tests, Self said Thursday night.
Self said Greene checked out fine with no apparent injury.
“He got hit and had some pain. They ran tests and nothing came back. There’s nothing there,” Self said, referring to injury. “He was released and we anticipate he’ll play tomorrow (against ULM).”
Self said the only way Greene wouldn’t play is if he’s still feeling discomfort before the game tonight.
Tourney to continue: ESPN has announced the State Farm Champions Classic — the neutral site doubleheader series featuring KU, Duke, Kentucky and Michigan State – will be renewed for three years rotating through the cities of Indianapolis (2014), Chicago (2015) and New York (2016). KU will play Kentucky in 2014, Michigan State in 2015 and Duke in 2016.
Red shirts: Self said he’s currently not planning on red-shirting anybody. “I guess if I’m going to do something I need to do it in the next 24 hours. As of now, nothing,” Self said at 3 p.m., Thursday. “I think all the guys we have suited up can help us win games this year. If something happens in the next 24 hours you’ll know after the game probably.”
This, that: Since 2001-02, the Jayhawks have won their last 11 season openers. KU has won 40 consecutive home openers. ... ULM is located in Monroe, La., with an enrollment of 8,858. The Warhawks are coached by Keith Richard who is 14-73 entering his fourth season. ... Senior guard Amos Olatayo is ULM’s leading returning scorer at 15.8 points per game. Senior forward Jayon James is ULM’s leading rebounding returner (6.1 rpg). ... KU won the only meeting with Louisiana at Monroe, 107-78, on Nov. 9, 2007. The game was the season opener for KU as it went on to win its first 20 games and eventually the NCAA national championship with a school-record 37 victories.