The argument is even tougher this year because the 2004 edition will be the last for one of KU Basketball’s most successful classes.
Seniors Keith Langford, Michael Lee, Aaron Miles and Wayne Simien will take the Allen Field House floor for their final Late Night appearance tonight, and it sounds like they’ve got something unique up their sleeves.
“Our skit tomorrow will be a little more formal,” says Michael Lee, “but I think the fans will really appreciate it, and I think everyone will understand.”
“When it comes to Late Night memories, a lot of things stand out,” said Keith Langford, “but I think a lot of people will be impressed with the way this group goes out.”
It’s no wonder this group of players – who have racked up an 87-21 record (.805 winning percentage) while collecting two Final Four rings and an Elite Eight in their three previous seasons – want to go out in style in front of the home folks.
“You have to take some time this year and soak it all in,” says Wayne Simien. “If I had the chance to stay, I definitely would. I love it here. The relationships I’ve built over the past four years are something I’ll take with me.”
Simien has seen Late Night from the perspective of both diehard Jayhawk fan and player. “There’s nothing anywhere that compares to Late Night at Kansas. I remember coming up on my campus visit, being a fan and waiting outside for hours and hours for Late Night to start, to participating in it, to this being my last year. I just really want to soak up the environment and the excitement (Friday) night.”
Lee fondly remembers his first Late Night in The Phog. “That was my official introduction to Kansas Basketball, as well as Wayne (Simien), Keith (Langford), Aaron (Miles) and J-Hawk (Jeff Hawkins). We sang to our mothers,” he recalled, smiling.
Although Lee says that Late Night has been something of a formality in the past for seniors, this year will be different.
“I want to go out the same way I came in: excited, having fun. We had fun doing it then, there’s no reason we can’t have fun doing it now,” Lee said.
Aaron Miles agreed. “Late Night’s real special. Last year, we brought the ’88 (national championship) team back. My sophomore year I dressed up like Britney Spears. My freshman year, we had five freshmen – the J-5 – we sang to our mothers. There are great memories for me. Dancing in front of a big crowd… We have the best fans in America. They come out and support us, no matter where we’re at.”
But will this year be a little more serious, Aaron?
Miles paused and said, “Yeah, this year will be a little more serious, but you’ll see it (Friday) night. It’s going to be really nice.”