KU’s Fred Quartlebaum Jr. coaches with heavy heart in Jayhawks’ road game at Baylor
photo by: Matt Tait
Waco, Texas — Kansas assistant Fred Quartlebaum Jr. coached Monday’s game against No. 17 Baylor at the Ferrell Center with a heavy heart.
His father, Fred Quartlebaum Sr., died Sunday night at the age of 79 after a battle with Stage 4 lung cancer.
Fred Sr., who had lived in Lawrence for the past several months, was a longtime supporter of the Jayhawks and always took a great amount of pride in watching his son do his thing on the Kansas bench as the Jayhawks’ director of basketball operations.
That’s why, when KU coach Bill Self asked Fred Jr., if he wanted KU to catch a flight back home after the news of his father’s passing, Fred Jr., said thanks but no thanks.
Just before Fred Jr., left for Waco, he gave his father a hug and kiss and said simply, “See you when we get home.”
After the moment, Fred Sr., held up what Fred Jr. thought was four fingers. Somewhat perplexed, Fred Jr. asked his father what the gesture meant. As it turned out, it was just three fingers and it was supposed to signal the letter W.
“Go get the win,” Fred Sr. told his son after removing his mask.
“This whole thing reminds me a lot of last year with coach’s dad,” Fred Jr., said of the passing of Bill Self Sr. “Like his dad, my dad would’ve wanted me to be here tonight — Go coach. You’ve got a job to do.”
Added the ever-positive Fred Jr. of his father’s passing: “We had eight great months with him (since his diagnosis). And being a caregiver during that time was the most gratifying thing ever.”
Jayhawks drop to No. 9
The Kansas men’s basketball team dropped seven spots to No. 9 in the latest Associated Press Top 25 poll on Monday.
The fall down the rankings came on the heels of back-to-back losses — at Kansas State and home against TCU — with the latter being a 23-point drubbing at Allen Fieldhouse.
Still, it marks the 611th week in KU history that the Jayhawks are ranked in the Top 10 of the AP poll and the 269th week in the Bill Self era.
Six Big 12 teams are ranked in this week’s AP poll for the second week in a row, with all six landing 17th or higher. Kansas State, which entered the week in sole possession of first place in the Big 12 race at 6-1 in conference play, jumped all the way to No. 5, while KU, Texas (10), TCU (11) and Iowa State (12) are ranked in order from No. 9 through 12.
Monday’s KU opponent, Baylor, brought up the back end for the Big 12 at No. 17.
It marks the highest ranking for Jerome Tang’s Kansas State team since KSU occupied the No. 3 spot during the 2010-11 season. The Wildcats made the biggest jump of any team in this week’s poll, from No. 13 to fifth.
Gonzaga, which entered the week at No. 14 had the biggest fall this week, dropping eight spots from No. 6.
Purdue and Alabama split all of this week’s first-place votes, with the Boilermakers landing at No. 1 and Bama at No. 2, followed by former-No. 1 Houston at No. 3, Tennessee in fourth and K-State at No. 5.
Arizona, Virginia, UCLA, KU and Texas rounded out this week’s AP Top 10.
Prayer and a chuckle
It’s not uncommon for the Baylor pregame festivities to include a pregame prayer, read aloud over the loudspeaker just before tipoff.
After all, Baylor University is a private Baptist Christian school. But while most of Monday’s pregame prayer sounded a lot like all of the others, this one included a subtle hint of comedic flavor.
“… shield the players from injury, the coaches from ill temper and the officials from poor vision,” the man reading the prayer said, drawing a subtle laugh from both KU and BU fans in the stands.
Suits And Sneakers Week
Although it’s not nearly as recognizable today as it was in the pre-COVID era of college basketball when coaches wore suits on the sidelines, this week marks the National Association of Basketball Coaches’ Suits And Sneakers Week.
The attire and apparel effort is part of the Coaches vs. Cancer program and is a nationwide campaign in which coaches from programs big and small unite to raise money and awareness about the fight against cancer and promote the American Cancer Society’s work for those battling the disease.
The funds raised this week will support screening initiatives that encourage people to schedule regular cancer screening tests.
“The NABC has proudly collaborated with the American Cancer Society on the Coaches vs. Cancer program for nearly three decades and the results continue to be truly life-saving,” said NABC Executive Director Craig Robinson in a news release announcing the special week. “Suits And Sneakers Week brings our game together in support of a common cause and is a testament to coaches’ passion for using their influential platforms for good.”
KU coach Bill Self has long been a supporter of the sneaker event and Coaches vs. Cancer, and he teamed up with MammothBuilt, a sports construction company, to film a video at Allen Fieldhouse promoting regular screenings and awareness in the fight against cancer.
Just before halftime ended, the entire BU crowd stood to honor cancer survivors and those who lost the fight, with many fans holding signs to honor their friends and loved ones.