Monday, July 31, 2006

Spirit of '86

This year marked the twentieth anniversary of one of the all-time great Jayhawk teams, so I thought a commemoration would be appropriate during this slow news period.

The '86 Jayhawks have been overshadowed in the history books by the '88 championship team, but while '88 was a Cinderella story, '86 was a juggernaut. They were short on future NBAers compared to Roy's greatest teams, but there's no disputing that they rank among the best KU teams of all time, along with '52, '57, '97, and '02.

They went 35-4, winning more games than any other team in KU history, and they were the only KU team in the modern era to win the conference regular season and conference tourney and make the Final 4. They shot 56% for the season while holding opponents to 45%. See full stats here.

They spent most of the season ranked second behind Duke, to whom they lost, 71-67, in the national semifinal in Dallas. Duke lost in the final to Louisville, whom Kansas had already beaten twice during the season.

The star was sophomore Danny Manning, but the core of the team was made up of three seniors: Ron Kellogg (left), who shot mainly from the outside yet made 55% of his shots (LJW's Woodling speculates he would have scored a lot more points had he been born just a bit later--the 3-point line was introduced in '87); Calvin Thompson (right), a great shooter, slasher and dunker; and Greg Dreiling, a solid if unspectacular 7-foot center, ironically the only one of the three seniors to have any kind of NBA career.

The other starter was junior point guard Cedric Hunter, who was the all-time KU assist leader until Jacque Vaughn came along; he's now third all-time, but his 278 assists in '86 remains the KU single-season record.

Bench players of note included Chris Piper (left), who would be integral in '88 and who just this week was named as Max's successor on KU hoops broadcasts; Mark Turgeon (right), the backup point man who is now the extremely successful coach of Wichita State; Scooter Barry, son of NBA legend Rick and brother of current players Brent and Jon; and Archie Marshall (below right), a hugely talented sophomore forward who was badly injured in the Duke semifinal (which players afterward described as a "blood-on-the-floor type of game") and never fully recovered: two years later he would have to watch his team's championship run from the bench. Marshall was drafted that year in the 3rd round by the San Antonio Spurs, but it was only a sentimental pick--the Spurs' new coach was Larry Brown.

Which of course brings us to the coaching staff. Brown, despite the Knicks debacle, will go down as one of the five or ten greatest coaches in basketball history. The staff also included graduate assistants Bill Self (one day, all of this would be his ...); and R.C. Buford, who would follow Brown to San Antonio, where he is now general manager and is considered perhaps the best exec in the NBA. (Other notable assistants in the Brown era included John Calipari and Gregg Popovich, but they do not appear to have been present in '86).

The spirit of full disclosure requires that we mention the one black mark on the '86 season: the NCAA regional semifinal against Michigan State. In this game the underdog Spartans, led by an ill-tempered point guard named Scott Skiles, led Kansas by six with only about 2 minutes left in the game, when suddenly the clock mysteriously stopped for a full fifteen seconds of play, and the timekeepers never reset it. The extra time and MSU's resulting frustration allowed KU to claw back and win in OT. Oh, and did I mention the game took place at Kemper Arena? At the Final Four, someone, probably a Cameron Crazy, spraypainted "Don't let Kansas bring their clock!" on an overpass outside Reunion Arena, where the graffiti remained for years afterward.

Nonetheless, I have a special place in my heart for this team, because it was the first year I started following KU basketball--so it's an anniversary of sorts for myself as well. Also, we were living in Dallas then, and though we could not score Final 4 tickets, we did get in to Reunion to watch the public practices. Ahh, the lost days of youth!

PS. Documentation and photos of this team are scarce on the web, as you can tell from the rather ad hoc nature of this tribute. If anyone can point me in the direction of more photos or info. I'd love to add it to this post.

Sunday, July 23, 2006


06-07 Promises Excitement

KU announced the 2006-2007 basketball schedule yesterday, and things look pretty good.
Maybe a 1-2 match-up in Vegas? That game looks like the toughest, but I have no doubt that the Rock Chalk will resound off of the walls of whatever casino is hosting the Las Vegas Invitational.
Boston College and South Carolina should be fun, and the Big Monday games (Mizzou, Nebraska, K-State, and especially Oklahoma) sound like fun. Game Day will be at Allen for the A&M game. All told, a good schedule, I'd say, in terms of both quality and exposure.

Here it is in full:
Day/Date Opponent Location Time/TV
Thur. Nov. 2 Washburn (Exhibition) Lawrence 7 p.m. (Jayhawk TV)
Tues. Nov. 7 Emporia State (Exhibition) Lawrence 7 p.m. (Jayhawk TV)
Sat. Nov. 11 Northern Arizona Lawrence 7 p.m. (Jayhawk TV)
Wed. Nov. 15 Oral Roberts Lawrence 7 p.m. (Jayhawk TV)
Sunday Nov. 19 Towson University Lawrence 7 p.m. (Jayhawk TV)
Tues. Nov. 21 Tennessee State Lawrence 7 p.m. (Jayhawk TV)
Nov. 24-25 Las Vegas Invitational Las Vegas
Fri. Nov. 24 Ball State Las Vegas, Nev. 7 p.m. (Jayhawk TV)
Sat. Nov. 25 Florida Las Vegas 9:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Tues. Nov. 28 Dartmouth Lawrence. 7 p.m. (Jayhawk TV)
Sat. Dec. 2 DePaul Chicago, Ill. TBA (Jayhawk TV)
Mon. Dec. 4 Southern California Lawrence 8 p.m. (ESPN2)
Sat. Dec. 9 Toledo Kansas City, Mo. 12 p.m. (ESPN2)
Sat. Dec. 23 Boston College Lawrence 12:30 p.m. (CBS)
Thur. Dec. 28 Detroit Mercy Lawrence 7 p.m. (Jayhawk TV)
Sat. Dec. 30 Rhode Island Lawrence 7 p.m. (TBA)
Sun. Jan. 7 South Carolina Columbia, SC 3:30 p.m. (CBS)
Wed. Jan. 10 Oklahoma State Lawrence 8p.m. (ESPN2)
Sat. Jan. 13 Iowa State Ames, Iowa 11 a.m./1 p.m. (ESPN)
Mon. Jan. 15 Missouri Lawrence 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Sat. Jan. 20 Texas Tech Lubbock, Texas 11 a.m. (ESPN)
Wed. Jan. 24 Baylor Waco, Texas 7 p.m. (Jayhawk TV)
Sat. Jan. 27 Colorado Lawrence 12:30 p.m. (ESPN+)
Mon. Jan. 29 Nebraska Lincoln, Neb. 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Sat. Feb. 3 Texas A&M Lawrence 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Wed. Feb. 7 Kansas State Lawrence 8 p.m. (ESPN+)
Sat. Feb. 10 Missouri Columbia, Mo 2:30 p.m. (ABC)
Wed. Feb. 14 Colorado Boulder, Colo. 8 p.m. (Jayhawk TV)
Sat. Feb. 17 Nebraska Lawrence 3 p.m. (ESPN+)
Mon. Feb. 19 Kansas State Manhattan 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Sat. Feb. 24 Iowa State Lawrence 5 p.m. (ESPN)
Mon. Feb. 26 Oklahoma Norman, Okla. 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Sat. Mar. 3 Texas Lawrence 11 a.m. (CBS)
Thur.-Sun. Mar. 8-11 Big 12 Tournament Oklahoma City, Okla

This belongs with the previous post, but Haley's reprimand has compelled me to mention my favorite Tribe lyric, cause it's just so . . . cute:
Can I kick it? To my Tribe that flows in layers
Right now, Phife is a poem sayer
At times, I'm a studio conveyor
Mr. Dinkins, would you please be my mayor?
You'll be doing us a really big favor
Boy this track really has a lot of flavor

Friday, July 14, 2006

Pop Culture Event of the Week

To cleanse the palate of all this senseless soccer violence, I'm switching gears for the moment to celebrate our first taste of Radiohead in three years; the release of Thom Yorke's solo debut "The Eraser." Yes, it's not Radiohead, but we all know Yorke accounts for at least 75% of the band's creative genius, so this is at least three-fourths of a great event.

I've only given it a few cursory spins thus far; I'll say more on it next week. But it is clearly more akin to "Kid A" and "Amnesiac" than to Radiohead's rock albums, which probably means Yancy will embrace it and I will grudgingly accept it while waiting for the next album from the full band (there is one on the way, we are told).

Please feel free to comment either on this or on other great pop culture events, like "Pirates of the Caribbean" or "Scanner Darkly," or Chappelle's "lost" episodes, or the imminent death of Harry Potter, or ... the biggest summer event of them all.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Mortal Zin

I'll repeat the question here that's circulating on sports radio this morning: was Zinedine Zidane's takedown of Marco Materazzi on Sunday the stupidest thing a star player has ever done in a championship game?

The only comparable thing I can think of is Chris Webber's infamous time-out in the 1993 national championship game against UNC ... but that was just a mistake, which may have been the coaches' fault as much as Webber's. Zidane, on the other hand, acted alone and with premeditation, knowing exactly what he was doing and what the consequences would be.

You're the best player on your team in the final game of your career, the game is headed towards penalty kicks, and oh yeah--it's only the g-ddamn World Cup Final! Is this really the time for a Ron Artest moment?

I've never seen anything so stupid. Nonetheless, congrats to the paesans!

By the way, what happened to all our World Cup enthusiasts? Things have come to a sad state on this blog if I've become the soccer correspondent.

An Unfortunate End for a Great Cup

(Sorry, Deron, for the overlap, as well as for my tardiness with this post.)

Sadly, it seems likely that the 2006 World Cup will be remembered more for this sad bit of childishness than for anything else. In case you missed the game, here's the clip (from BBC1, I think):

For a pretty entertaining 'with sound' version, click here.
Without Zidane, France went into the penalty shootout short of their best penalty-kick guy, and lost to Italy. As for Zidane, I agree with DGL's analysis . . . inexcusable.

But Italy (despite some dives) did play well--Zidane's goal in the final was the only one scored against Italy by a non-Italian. And they beat Germany, so at least there's that.

Despite the dives and rough play, a good Cup overall.
Some highlights (by no means exhaustive; feel free to mention oversights):
-Italy's last-minute win over Germany (highlights here)
-Ronaldo's record-setting goal (see below)
-the Argentina-Mexico game (highlights here)
-the (sorry, Albiceleste haters) Argentine dominance of Serbia-Montenegro (see below)
-Shaka Hislop! (see below)