KU - Memphis News and Notes

SAN ANTONIO — News, notes, and quotes heading into the KU-Memphis national championship game while wondering if former Jayhawk standout Jacque Vaughn's inspirational poem recital will help motivate Kansas to beat the Tigers tonight.

Jacque Vaughn, a backup point guard for the San Antonio Spurs, read the poem to the team on Thursday afternoon before the Spurs departed for their road trip to Utah.

Senior walk-on Brad Witherspoon relayed what Vaughn said.

“It was kind of like, ‘You guys are on the mountain right now, but you’re not at the top yet, so don’t be satisfied with where you’re at.’ That was pretty much the moral. It was a good poem. He had it down pretty good.”

Self was thrilled Vaughn spoke to the team.

“Jacque is as good a guy as there is,” Self said. “What a great ambassador he has been for our university.”


Memphis star freshman point guard Derrick Rose did not participate in media interviews on Sunday due to a stomach ailment. However, Rose will play tonight. Junior All-American teammate Chris Douglas-Roberts gave his analysis of Rose’s problem.

“D. Rose eats Gummy Bears for breakfast and honey buns and Sour Straws for dinner,” Douglas-Roberts said. “It was only a matter of time before he had a stomach ache. That’s all it is. He’ll be all right. You can make him eat (the four basic food groups), but he’s going to  find a way to sneak those Gummy Bears and sour candies in.”

So what does Rose consider the four basic food groups?

“Candy, candy, candy,” Douglas-Roberts replied with a smile. “He’s doesn’t eat nothing but candy. I don’t know how he plays like that (with) that body and eats nothing but candy. If you want to be like him, just eat Gummy Bears.”


After having some fun with the media, Douglas-Roberts talked about his recruitment by Kansas.

“Oh yes, it was a genuine thing,” he said about his interest. “I was really considering Kansas for a  moment. I just went with my heart. I didn’t take a visit before I chose Memphis. It worked out perfect.”

And what would Memphis be like if the Tigers won tonight?

“The city would be changed forever,” Douglas-Roberts said. “The city would never be the same. It would mean much more for us because this is a tradition at Kansas, it’s either a Sweet 16 or Elite Eight ever year. But for Memphis, it doesn’t come around a lot.”

Douglas-Roberts was quite impressed with KU’s 84-66 victory over North Carolina on Saturday.

“What I really liked is how they came out with a chip on their shoulder because everybody was picking North Carolina,” he said. “And that’s what we do.”


Former KU great Danny Manning and longtime college basketball announcer Dick Vitale are among seven people to be enshrined in the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame on Nov. 23, 2008 in Kansas City. The announcement was made Sunday by the National Association of Basketball Coaches Foundation. The other members of the induction class are Billy Packer (CBS Sports); Charles Barkley (NBA Hall of Famer and former Auburn star); Arnie Ferrin (only four-time All-American at Utah who led the Utes to the 1944 NCAA title); Nolan Richardson (only coach to win a national junior college title, a postseason NIT crown and the NCAA championship); and Jim Phelan (won 830 games at Mt. St. Mary).


Memphis coach John Calipari had former UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian and Rev. Jesse Jackson speak to the team just days before the Tigers’ Final Four matchup with UCLA. They both left an indelible impact with the players.

“Those are moments you’ll never forget, so it’s special,” said junior guard Antonio Anderson.

A reporter asked about bringing Jackson in to speak to the team, someone who “could be seen as divisive.”

“(Jackson) called because of Derrick,” Calipari said. (Rose is from Chicago, where Jackson lives.) “He was in town (Memphis) and wanted to come to our practice. I’ve never seen my players in awe of anybody like they were of Jesse Jackson. He talked about the struggle. He talked about the things they’ve overcome and what’s happened for these young men because of their struggles. He talked about Martin Luther King being educated, graduating from high school at 16, graduating from college at 19, graduating from seminary at 22, having his doctorate at 26. (He said) you’re here to get an education. And so what he did was powerful.

“Is he divisive? You know, I think we have some people in the Democratic Party that have a chance to be president because he decided to run when he ran when they said, ‘You’re gonna be killed, you can’t make it.’ He decided to run anyway. ... I thought it was important and powerful (for him to speak).”


Former KU coach Larry Brown was spotted in the KU locker room on Sunday. He proudly held a blue KU hat. Self was of course a graduate assistant under Brown in 1985-86, and Calipari was also an assistant under Brown and Ted Owens (1982-85).


Former Memphis standout and NBA star Anfernee Hardaway was cheering hard for his Tigers during their 78-63 victory over UCLA on Saturday. After the game, he said he thought North Carolina would beat Kansas.

“I think they have a little more experience,” Hardaway said.

He was then asked about a possible Memphis-KU national championship game.

“You want a team that runs like you,” Hardaway said. “Kansas likes to run. When you get to this level, every game is going to be hard. Every team is good.”

Hardaway feels immense pride in what Memphis has accomplished this season.

“Oh man, it makes you want to cry,” he said. “They work so hard. I’m at practice all the time. I work out there five times a week. I see how hard these guys work. I think all the negativity from ESPN not picking them to go as far, it’s gratifying for them to go through all this right now.”

Interestingly, KU senior Jeremy Case said he looked up to Hardaway growing up, and was hoping to meet him.


While sophomore Brady Morningstar is redshirting this season, he’ll suit up as always for the game tonight. Morningstar is one of the most active players on the bench, shouting encouragement and cheering for his teammates. He’s pretty hyped about the possibilities this evening.

“I want it just as bad as everybody else,” Morningstar said. “It’s got to be a group effort. I hope we can get it done.”

Morningstar’s dad, Roger, will certainly be rooting for Brady and the Jayhawks. Roger was a member of the 1974 KU Final Four team, which lost to Marquette and then UCLA in the consolation game.

“They came up short,” Brady said. “He always tells me, ‘I hope you get one (title). I hope I do, too, because then I can tell him I got one more ring than he does, which is good. He tells me stories about much fun he had. I’m having just as much fun, I think.”


Brandon Rush’s brother, Kareem, is a member of the Indiana Pacers. But he won’t be at practice on Monday. The Pacers, who are fighting for a playoff berth, have an off day before their home game with Atlanta on Tuesday. Brandon said Kareem left him a voice mail after KU’s victory over North Carolina on Saturday night.

“He said he’s going to end up taking a fine and make it to the game,” Brandon said. “It’s a lot of support from my family. My mom and grandma, daddy, and uncle are all here right now. All I’m missing is Kareem and JaRon, and JaRon said he’s going to try to make it, too.”

Brandon said JaRon is currently an assistant coach at Penn Valley Community College.

“They haven’t been here yet (Final Four/national championship game), so I’ve got the edge on them,” Brandon said of his two brothers. “I talked to JaRon (on Saturday night) and gave him an earful about how I got here first and stuff like that.”

Brandon’s teammate at Mt. Zion Academy in North Carolina was Shawn Taggart, a reserve forward for Memphis. Rush and Taggart played together for two years.


Most people know that Calipari was once an assistant at Kansas. But Memphis has another former KU aide on staff in John Robic, who served as a graduate assistant under Larry Brown in 1986-87 and 1987-88. Robic is in his third year at Memphis. Robic served as an assistant for 11 years at UMass under Calipari and Bruiser Flint. He then was head coach at Youngstown State from 1999-2005 before rejoining Calipari in Memphis.

Robic has had a chance to catch up with old friends with Kansas here at the Final Four.

“I saw Danny (Manning), Chris Piper, Bob Davis on the radio network,” Robic said. “We have a lot of friends who are back there (in Kansas). My wife went to school there, I’m thinking of sending my oldest daughter to KU, and my in-laws still live in Kansas City. (KU)  is a neat place, it’s a great college basketball environment, a great university.”

Former NBA star Rod Strickland is also on Calipari’s staff. Strickland, who is taking classes toward completing his bachelor’s degree, is in his second year as director of student athlete development/manager. Strickland played for the San Antonio Spurs when Brown was head coach in the late 1980s and early ‘90s.

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