Throwback Thursday: Ted Owens

May 31, 2012

053112aaa_989_7815483.jpegTed Owens (Men’s Basketball Head Coach) 1964-83
Owens played his college ball at Oklahoma but quickly shifted his allegiances from Crimson and Cream to Crimson and Blue after being hired as an assistant under then head coach Dick Harp. After taking over the reins in 1964, Owens guided the Jayhawks to two Final Four appearances (1971 & ’74), six regular season Big 8 titles and nine post-season appearances. His overall coaching record of 348-182 gave him a .657 winning percentage and put him in third place with the most victories among any other Jayhawk head basketball coach, behind Phog Allen (590) and Roy Williams (418). Now retired from the game of basketball, Owens lives in Tulsa, Okla. where he works as financial consultant for First Capital Management. The now 82-year old frequently comes back to Lawrence, as he did last fall for the `Legends of the Phog’ game where he was one of the contest’s two head coaches.

What did you think of the 2011-2012 team reaching the NCAA title game?
“Coach Self has done such a great job since he has been there but I thought this was his best year. Losing four starters with the twins (Marcus Morris and Markieff Morris) and Brady Morningstar and Tyrel Reed, I had enough confidence in him to think that they were going to be competitive but I sure didn’t see them getting all the way to the national finals. Bill and his staff did an incredible job, and the players did as well.”053112aaa_989_7815484.jpeg

How was your experience coaching in the Legends of the Phog exhibition game in September of 2011?
“That was a lot of fun. I am grateful that Coach Self has been able to include me in the program and it was so nice of him to invite me and coach (Larry) Brown to coach in it. It had been almost 30 years since I was there as head coach but it didn’t take long to get into the feel of things. It reminded me all over again just how wonderful a place Allen Fieldhouse is. The University of Kansas and the fans are just terrific. We were just playing an exhibition game and the enthusiasm of the crowd was incredible.”

Do any memories stand out above the rest from your time at Kansas?
“During my 19 years as head coach, I am most proud of our players for winning 15 Big Eight titles of one variety or the other. The holiday tournament we won eight times; the regular season title we won six times; and the postseason we won once. We made the Final Four a couple of times and I had a few other teams that had the capability of making it there but we couldn’t quite do it. Overall it wasn’t the number of championships that we won, it was the great people that we had in the program that have gone on to be very successful in their professions. Truly, it is more about the wonderful people.”

What led you to coach at the University of Kansas?
“I had played basketball at the University of Oklahoma and the year after I graduated I was asked to be an assistant coach at OU. I got to know Kansas’ Head Coach Dick Harp and Dr. (F. C. “Phog”) Allen a bit more during that time. When there was an opening for an assistant at Kansas I went in for an interview with Coach Harp and I was fortunate enough that they offered me the job. I loved the four years that I spent with Coach Harp. He had been such an important part of the program, even as Dr. Allen’s assistant for a number of years, including the year they won the NCAA Title in 1952. Traveling with Coach Harp and the Kansas staff and hearing all the stories of Kansas Basketball history was a great experience. Coach Harp held incredibly organized practices and I learned a lot from him. I look back on that with great fondness.”

What do you remember about your first game in Allen Fieldhouse?
“My first game as a player was overwhelming. To run out of the tunnel and onto the court, it was an incredible experience. For the student-athletes at Kansas, they get 15 or 20 times a year to get together with all of the other fans and share that special occasion together. Today, the remodeled areas of Allen Fieldhouse are fantastic and the additions are just terrific and the practice facilities are state of the art now. It is a beautiful place not only for fans but for players themselves.”

053112aaa_989_7815503.jpegWas there anything similar about the five All-Americans you coached?
“The interesting thing about great players is that they have a lot of confidence in themselves. Nearly every All-American we had made a quick decision about going to KU; it was not a long drawn-out recruiting battle. What sticks out more than anything is that an athlete who believes in themselves and has confidence in their ability and knows what they want to do, those players in nearly every case made an early decision.”

What do you remember about Bud Stallworth’s 50 points against Missouri in 1972?
“I remember it well. I have the picture in my office of Bud getting swarmed by the student body after the game. It was a nationally televised game against a very good Missouri team. It was also the day we celebrated the 20-year anniversary of the 1952 NCAA Championship team and they were in attendance. We played a great game and Bud actually hit 13-shots that would have been three-pointers now. If we were playing with the three-point shot he would have had 63 points that day. When I took him out of the game I knew he had a lot of points but I didn’t know it was 50. Shortly after, someone passed me a note letting me know he was only two points short of tying Wilt Chamberlain’s single-game scoring record. So I put him back in the game and a player from Missouri fouled Bud putting him at the line for a one-and-one. On his first shot one of our players stepped into the lane early and deprived him a chance of tying the record due to a lane violation. But that was an extraordinary performance.”

Was Jo Jo White out of bounds in the famously controversial NCAA tournament game against Texas Western College in 1966? 053112aaa_989_7815486.jpeg
“That was a great team, one that had a real chance to win the national championship. I thought that the two best teams in the country were playing there in the regional finals. It was difficult because Jo Jo hit a last second shot that we thought won the game and we raced out on the court to celebrate. Then an official blew a late whistle and said that he had stepped out of bounds. Today you have so many camera angles to help with a call like that; back then it was very questionable whether he stepped out or not. The Kansas bench was all the way across the court and we had the worst angle to see it. From the film I have seen, it appears that his heel came over the sideline but never came down to touch the floor.”

How has coaching changed since your time at Kansas?
It has dramatically changed. When I recruited, the parents and the high school coach were very influential on what decision the prospect made. Years ago, Dr. Allen said if you sell the mother on your school than you sell the player. That has shifted so much. Today, with the enormous presence of summer basketball there are a lot of people involved in the decision of where youngsters go. I think it would be much more difficult to recruit today than it was then. And recruiting outside of the United States was nothing like it is today. With technology that we have you can know about practically every player in the world.”

How often do you get a chance to come back to Lawrence?
“I usually try and come up three or four times during the regular season and I always come back for a football game. I try to follow the team as much as I can during tournament time and I still keep in contact with all of my players. That is one of the great joys of coaching, the relationship you have with your players. I was there 23 years, 19 as the head coach, and overall it was a wonderful experience. It is a special place and I have a deep love for the place; not only for the basketball program but the university itself.”

053112aaa_989_7815513.jpegThrowback Thursday Archive:

KU All-Time Coaching Victory Leaders

Phog Allen (1907-09/1919-56)

418 Roy Williams (1988-03)
348 Ted Owens (1964-83)
269 Bill Self (2003-Present)

W. O. Hamilton (1909-1919)


Dick Harp (1956-64)