Boyz II Men was at "Late Night in the Phog" last night.
So was New Edition. And Bettie White. Oh, and Lil John.
None of them could hold a candle, however, to the biggest surprise celebrity guest star last night. When Vanilla Ice – he of the legendary 1990 hip hop track "Ice Ice Baby" – strode out to mid-court, Allen Fieldhouse erupted.
Of course, that may have something to do with the popularity of the man behind the costume, which in this case consisted of shades, bling and a Hammer-esque set of gold parachute pants.
Welcome to the 2010 season, Coach Self.
"I didn't know I was doing it until this afternoon," the Head Coach of the Kansas Jayhawks said with a smile, after the season-opening festivities had come to a close. "Yesterday they asked me if I would do it, and I said 'How dumb will I look?' And they said, 'You know, it'll be a good laugh.'"
Late Night was its usual outstanding and electric self. For hours before the doors opened at 6:30 p.m., the line of fans waiting to get in wound down Naismith Drive. Half an hour after the mad rush inside began, there wasn't a seat to be found, as Jayhawk Nation waited eagerly for their first glimpse of the 2010-2011 squad.
Anyone who has attended in recent years knows the formula of the event. Various forms of entertainment are trotted out on the court while the crowd gets settled and waits for the 7:30 p.m. start. The other Kansas sports teams are acknowledged, and Head Coach Bonnie Henrickson's women's basketball team emerges from the locker rooms to perform skits and scrimmage.
After the scrimmage, the men's basketball recruits in attendance are trotted out to the cheers of 16,000 fans – though the frenzy over free t-shirts being shot from a cannon robbed this moment of a little of its usual significance – and the men's team takes the floor.
Late Night is viewed by much of the Kansas fanbase as something of a knockout blow in the recruiting process. Rare is the program that can draw 16,000 fans for a night of goofy skits and a 20 minute scrimmage, but that's the power of Jayhawk basketball.
Afterward, Self said the marketing department deserves all the credit for the preparation.
"But I will say this," he added. "I think our staff has done a good job of getting recruits in here and having it be organized to the point where they can all enjoy it quite a bit."
As to the scrimmage, the current crop of Jayhawks treated the crowd to a high-flying, fast – and turnover filled – half of basketball. Tyshawn Taylor led the Blue Team to a 40-39 victory, scoring nine points and dishing out a pair of assists. Markieff Morris added eight points and four rebounds, while twin brother Marcus led all scorers with 14 points, also yanking down eight boards for the Red Team.
"It was just what you think it would be," he explained. "It was bad ball. We'll get some things corrected. We haven't even talked about defense yet, so it didn't bother me at all that we didn't guard, or know how to guard. We'll work on that starting (today)."