A few days between games, nothing earth shattering to discuss, so I 'll write a little and hope someone reads and enjoys.
1000$ is what brought me to Kansas from the suburbs of Chicago. I had a professor at JUCO who played football at Missouri who actually recommended I go to either KU or Wisconsin. Both had excellent cartography programs and so I explored both.
Wisconsin sports was a joke in the 1980’s so I wasn’t swayed by sports to become a Badger, that would come later. I was engrossed in lllinois/Depaul hoops as a teenager, didn’t really know anything about KU basketball.
But KU was 1000.00$ cheaper a semester than UW so I packed up a little uhaul behind my Chevy Chevette and came out west! And was I glad I did!
I was on a field trip out to see what erosion had down to the Wakarusa (sp?) River and getting into the van, I pulled the door shut on someones hand. I heard someone say “I hope that’s not your shooting hand”. His hand was fine. I sized him up as a golfer, and asked him and he said he was on the basketball team. Now my interest was piqued! We chatted the short ride back to Kansas. His name was Scooter Berry and he filled me in about the history and aura surrounding the program.
Well 1985-86 was a good year to be introduced to KU athletics. The football team was actually competitive, Mike Norseth threw for 500 yards in my first game I’d seen against Vanderbilt and Willy Pless was on his way to the career tackles record in the league. Back then you had to buy football tickets to get basketball tickets for students so I went to the games. Things fell apart for the team after briefly being ranked, but no one seemed too concerned in the stands because of basketball being around the corner.
David Letterman provided someone to come for late night, the basketball team showed off and I was hooked.
Thankfully in those days fans weren’t crazy enough to have to sit in line for 4 days to get a good seat. It was more like get there a few hours early and while you might not end up behind the bench, behind the basket was always available. These seats were much closer to the court than they are now and so it was a great place to watch basketball.
Kansas played a better schedule then than they do these days and so there was a steady flow of great teams visiting Lawrence those seasons, and of course us going there too. I saw Louisville, Kentucky (not the famous beatdown), St. Johns, and many others. It was great fun.
That 85-86 team was an all time great at KU since I’ve been there. I can’t compare to earlier great teams. It was beat down city all year. No surviving last second shots by the opposition like we’ve done all year it seems. There were a few close calls, and a loss in ames and also a loss to Duke in a holiday tourney, but not much else tarnished that team. The Final Four was a foregone conclusion.
Clockgate happened in the regional final against Judd Heathcoate and the Spartans. We made a nice little comeback after that episode which included a technical against Larry Brown.
Getting to the Final Four was exciting of course until it wasn’t. The Duke whistle appeared…sigh, and a team that had beat eventual champ Louisville twice during the regular season wasn’t given the opportunity to beat them one more time. I knew I was into KU basketball because that 26-14 foul edge in a four point game that we led most of the time really stung, and it still does.
Adding to the magic of that season was the Royals world series win and the Bears dominating season.
1987 was a so so year by our standards and powerhouse Georgetown knocked us out in the Sweet 16.
1987-88 was magic of course. Late night the team sang a song “Kansas City Here I come” kind of like the Bears Super Bowl shuffle. But by Christmas it wasn’t looking like a FF season, it was looking like a bubble year.
I watched us lose at home for the first time since I’d been on campus to KState and Mitch Richmond, and of course Lon Kruger. The fans started leaving with about 2 minutes left. We started chanting at them “Don’t come back”! I’m sorry if you’re reading this and that was you! Two more losses to Duke and Oklahoma at home meant a 3 game losing streak at home. But of course, as you all know everything started clicking. The three home losses were all avenged and we won an amazing championship.
Campus afterwards, if you didn’t know what had happened, looked like a riot had happened. I bought my T shirts that I still have. I graduated 5 people in front of Danny a month or so later. Didn’t even know he was behind me as I walked down the hill, but everyone stood and cheered when they saw him coming in.
And then I was gone. Like most of you I kind of bleed crimson and blue. I’ve got to watch us in person twice since then. But thanks to cable I don’t miss a game.
Despite our relatively thin trophy case since I arrived it’s been an amazing stretch.
NCAA tournament every year since 1985 except for the 1 year ban.
Longest streak of tournaments qualified for ever.
Only 2 early exits in that 30+ year period.
24 conference championships.
13 conference tournament championships
22 sweet 16’s.
15 elite 8’s
5 Championship games
Kstate’s made the sweet 16 3 times in the same time span, the elite 8 twice, and of course no FF’s since I was born in 1964!
Missouri has made the sweet 16 4 times, elite 8 3 times. Of course no FF’s ever!
I’m not going to take the time to do this research but I’d guess we have more of all those categories than the rest of the Big 12 combined since 1985.
I’m glad I came to KU! If anyone took the time to read this long thing, thanks!