Will you be able to say "I was there"?

The Kansas Jayhawks look to make it 63 in a row at home tonight, and if they succeed it will set a new benchmark for home-court success on Mount Oread. And as Phog.net's Jim Williamson writes, that's a pretty big deal.

This is an open letter to those in attendance at Tuesday night's basketball game.

 

Enjoy it. Savor it. And do your best to understand the significance of it.

 

If you're going to the game tonight, you're very likely to see Kansas Basketball go to 3-0 by rolling Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in Allen Field House.

 

But I'm going to go all "old man" on you now. ?Kansas' winning streak in Allen Field House will run to 63 games tonight with a win over the Islanders. That's nearly four years of undefeated play at home.??Only one current Jayhawk has been a part of a loss in Allen Field House, which the building's namesake dubbed, "The Monarch of the Midway." That's Brady Morningstar, who is a fifth-year senior.

 

For some of you, this is where your file of great KU sports memories will begin. For others, it will be a great addition. And you may not even realize it's happening.

 

At the age of, well, old, I find myself with a small boatload of great Jayhawk memories. For the most part, I didn't even know I was collecting them as they happened. Now that I have them, though, I wouldn't trade them for anything. And every time one comes back, it makes me smile.

 

I was there the day football linebacker Willie Pless – all 5-10, 205 pounds of him – made 25 tackles against Oklahoma State. That was 1984, and it's still tied for the Kansas the single-game record.

 

That same year, #1-ranked Oklahoma came into Memorial and left a loser. Due to injuries, a third-string freshman quarterback – some guy named Troy Aikman – started at QB for the Sooners and threw a bunch of interceptions, two of them made by a DB named Wayne Ziegler who nearly ran them both for TDs on bad knees that more closely resembled fettuccini. I wonder whatever happened to the Aikman kid.

 

I was at Arrowhead for Reesing-to-Meier in 2008. For that matter, I was there for all but two home games of Reesing's career and a few on the road. It seems like fans saw something we'd never seen before every week with Sparky.

 

Speaking of Reesing, I was there for the 76-39 win over Nebraska in that amazing 2007 football season. There was tremendous schadenfreude watching the Husker fans file out in the middle of the third quarter. I remember LB Kevin Kane's late interception return for a touchdown like it happened yesterday. I remember it so well because Kane's such a great guy, and because he may have been the only player on the KU team slower than me.

 

In 1984, I saw Larry Brown's upstart Jayhawks take the nationally-ranked, ridiculously high-scoring Evil Oklahoma Empire, starring Billy Tubbs and the late legend Wayman Tisdale, to overtime, only to see the Sooners pull away in the extra period, 92-82. No one seemed to care that we lost. All we knew was (1) Kansas Basketball was back after a long period of mediocrity and (2) Billy Tubbs and his Sooners were total, unmitigated d-bags who needed a beatdown.

 

After that game, coach Brown considered the Sooners' act and said, "The world is round." Indeed, it was. Two weeks, the ‘Hawks beat those same Sooners, 79-78, in the championship of the Big 8 Tournament at Kemper Arena. Yep, I was there. Ronnie Kellogg made a huge shot late to give Kansas that paper-thin one-point lead.

 

That game set a precedent for Kansas having good luck in championship games against Oklahoma in Kemper. Sadly, I wasn't there for the big one.

 

In 1989, I saw Kentucky coach Rick Pitino tell Roy Williams to go perform a sex act on himself that isn't possible unless you're triple jointed when Roy asked if his team needed a time out (Kentucky was out, and they only had eight scholarship players). To say thank you, I saw Roy put his starters back into a game that was already the biggest rout I'd ever seen. Kansas beat Kentucky that day, 150-95. I'm not the only one who remembers this; most of the Commonwealth of Kentucky does, too. It's still the most points ever scored by a Kansas team.

 

I saw Jacque Vaughn make The Shot against Indiana in 1994. I also remember being in awe of Bob Knight – this was when he was just nuts and not yet dangerous -- and wondering how many times Indiana star Damon Bailey could get to the line in one night.

 

I saw Paul Pierce go absolutely nuts one afternoon and score 18 straight against Oklahoma to ice an 83-70 win. I'll never forget seeing OU coach Kelvin Sampson call a timeout to stop the bleeding and then whack Pierce on the ass when he ran by to the KU bench, waving his arms to incite an already-riotous Allen Field House crowd. ?I had something else I thought I needed to do the day Wilt came home. I'm still kicking myself.

 

I was at the Sprint Center for the Big 12 Tournament in 2008 and got to see Brandon Rush and Mario Chalmers go for 30 each on successive days: Rush on Saturday against Texas A&M, Chalmers on Sunday against Texas. That Sunday was the day I learned just how capable a trash-talker Mario was.

 

I didn't recognize a lot of these great moments as they happened. Over time, however, they've stood out in my mind and taken on greater importance from both an athletic performance standpoint and also a historical standpoint in my own life. I'm also a lot quicker to anticipate great moments before they happen now than I was then.

 

I'm just an old guy offering advice, and here it is: if you have a ticket, go.

 

Don't go to the Yacht Club when KU gets up 24. Stay. Stay for the whole game. The beer at the Hawk or the Wheel will be just as cold 20 minutes later.

 

After the game, stay some more. I'd bet my house and car that there will be some sort of presentation. Remember where your seat was. It's been 25 years, and I can still walk you to the exact seat I was sitting in in the north bleachers when Calvin Thompson banked in a 35-footer to get that Oklahoma game into OT. I can also point to the spot on the court where Pony went up and let it fly.

 

KU wins a lot – like 82 percent of the time. Winning is nothing new. But a 63-game winning streak is amazing. That's 63 straight times a team could've come out and just not had their "A" game and gotten beat.

 

And there have been times during that streak they didn't have their "A" game. Or their "B" game. It was maybe a "B-minus." Didn't matter. They found ways to win.

 

Enjoy the win tonight. Streaks are made to be broken, and after tonight, KU will need an unfathomable 67 more wins before they break Kentucky's all-time record home court winning streak. That doesn't matter, though.

 

Kansas Basketball's history of excellence and success is only matched by a handful of schools. Anytime a KU record falls, it's a big deal. This night will be as big as any but three or four in the annals of the program. I encourage you to be part of tonight's big deal. When you're old like me, you'll be glad you did.

 

You'll be able to say, "I was there." And that's pretty cool.


Phog.net Top Stories