Hawks Celebrate 110 Years, Stampede Buffs

Larry Brown (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

Saturday afternoon in Lawrence, Kansas Basketball celebrated 110 years of tradition with a halftime ceremony featuring hundreds of past players, coaches and managers. Wrapped around that celebration was a workman like 69-45 pasting of the Colorado Buffaloes who had the misfortune of catching the third ranked Jayhawks after a loss for the second time this season.

Looking to bounce back to Monday night’s defeat at the hands of Texas in Austin, Kansas donned their 1988 throwback uniforms and methodically worked their way to a 32-20 first half lead. Senior big man Darnell Jackson established control of the paint scoring seven points while junior Brandon Rush scored five points and junior Mario Chalmers scored five of his team high 13 points while dishing out five assists.

While the Jayhawks shot at a 50% clip in the first half, it was their stifling defense that impressed as they held the perimeter oriented Buffaloes to just 37.5% shooting from the floor. Even more impressive, was the job that sophomore forward Darrel Arthur did while finding himself matched up early and often with Colorado wing Richard Roby as the 6-9 Arthur held the Buffs 6-6 standout to a scoreless half on 0-6 shooting.

“We had a lot of great defensive possessions,” said Arthur who finished with eight points, six boards and a pair of assists. “We worked on defense a lot. They kind of wear you down because they play the whole shot clock and if they get the offensive rebound they are going to pull it back out and run the shot clock again. It makes it tough guarding that and it’s tough to get out and run but I thought that we did a good job of it.”

After Monday night’s setback, Jackson pointed out that it was easy to get motivated and make sure that he and his Kansas teammates bounced back with a win.

“It wasn’t tough to get motivated at all,” said Jackson who finished with 12 points. “I think a lot of guys have been thinking about the losses and how we can’t get them back. We’re like man we should have won those games and everybody thinks about they mistakes that they’ve made in the games. Sometimes we just get down on ourselves too hard individually and we just need to get past that and look forward as a team and try to work on that together.”

During halftime, hardly a seat was vacated as literally hundreds of Jayhawks took the floor for the 110 year celebration. Not surprisingly, perhaps the loudest cheer of all was heard when the 1988 national championship team was introduced at the conclusion of the ceremony.

Chalmers -- and the rest of the Jayhawks -- said that it didn’t feel like there was any extra pressure to perform in front of all of the former Jayhawks.

“I don’t think there was any extra pressure, I think we just wanted to go out there and keep playing our game,” said Chalmers. “We knew that they were there to support us and it was great to have all of that extra support from the older KU people who were back in town.”

The cheering continued into the second half as Kansas used an early 18-4 run to pull away and hide from Colorado before playing the Jayhawk reserves heavy minutes late while cruising to victory.

“We didn’t play great today by any means,” said head man Bill Self. “But we looked up and we’re not playing great but we’re up 60-29 so we did a lot of things good today.”

Self also thought that the win was important because his team has been going through a bit of an inconsistent stretch. He also took the opportunity to stand up for his guys.

“Around here I don’t listen to or read you guys a lot or listen to the reports or whatever but you can sense “What’s wrong with Kansas?” or “What’s wrong with this or what’s wrong with that?”, said Self of his team. “I make a mistake and say that we played soft the second half (at Texas) so we’re obviously a soft team or whatever. We’re still the second best team in the country and we’re still pretty good.

That’s one thing that’s great about this place is that so many people care that something bad that happens is sometimes blown out of proportion. I’m not saying that losing is acceptable but certainly it’s part of life and the game of college basketball. So it was good to get back and hopefully we can get our swagger back and get ready for the stretch run.”

With the victory against Colorado, Kansas moves to 24-2 overall and 9-2 in Big 12 play. Perhaps even more importantly, the Jayhawks won’t play again until next Saturday when they travel to Stillwater to face Oklahoma State. According to Self, the week layoff is coming at a perfect time.

“We need to get better and it’s also going to be an important stretch for us to get rest,” said Self. “There’s a fine line, we need to practice but we also need to rest. Every team goes through phases in my opinion where they are at an all time high energy level and then two weeks later the flu bug could hit or distractions off the court and they aren’t quite at the same energy level. I feel like that’s where we’ve been the last couple of weeks so we need to rest and practice.”

Finally, Self took a moment to reflect on the 110 year celebration and spoke passionately about what it meant to both himself and his players.

“There’s something different about this place to me,” said Self of Kansas Basketball. “You know, whoever we recruit is never going to be the best player to ever play here, never, Wilt played here. Whoever coaches here is never going to be the best coach to be honest. With all due respect to Coach Brown, we had the father of basketball coaching that was our coach here for 38 years or whatever. So to me, it’s being a part and being a caretaker for everybody else’s hard work.

The common thread about this weekend is that everybody comes back here to see this team play, that’s the common thread. But it’s not about this team and so our guys take ownership and we have to carry the torch that’s been passed on to us and then we’ll pass it on to somebody else. I think they get it for a bunch of young guys. It’s hard to get it if you are young, what this will mean 20 years from now when you come back. That’s hard to get but I think for the most part they get it. It’s an awesome responsibility to be a part of something that so many people love and care about as deeply as they do Kansas Basketball.”

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