Kansas Men's Basketball Notes for Vermont

Nov. 18, 2004

Tonight’s Game

It’s opening night for Kansas as the Jayhawks are looking to win their third straight season-opener tonight against Vermont. A KU victory would give the Jayhawks 13 wins in their last 14 season-opening games and mark Kansas’ 32nd straight home-opening win. Kansas and Vermont are both the preseason favorites to win their respective leagues with KU in the Big 12 and Vermont the America East Conference. The teams are meeting for the first time in men’s basketball.

KU is coming off a 6-0 exhibition season this fall. The Jayhawks went 4-0 over Labor Day weekend in British Columbia, Canada and defeated Emporia State 115-70 and Washburn 79-70 in recent exhibition contests after practice officially started Oct. 16.

The Catamounts are two-time defending America East Conference champions. Last season Vermont was 22-9 and 15-3 in conference play. UVM fell to eventual champion Connecticut 70-53 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Last Game – Kansas 79, Washburn 70

Kansas defeated a tough Washburn team 79-70, Nov. 14 in Allen Fieldhouse in its final tune-up before its regular season opener. Senior Wayne Simien led five Jayhawks in double figures with 13 points and a game-high 15 rebounds. Fellow senior Keith Langford chipped in with 11 points, while sophomore J.R. Giddens, junior Christian Moody and senior Aaron Miles added 10 each. Freshman guard Russell Robinson had a good showing off the bench with seven points and dished out four assists. In a game that saw five ties and seven lead changes, the Icabods led 19-10 seven minutes into the contest. KU fought to tie the game at 24 then went on a 15-6 run to grab its own nine-point lead at 39-30 with 2:44 before intermission. KU led by as many as 13 in the second half. Kansas rounds out the exhibition season with a 6-0 record, after winning two at home and four on a pre-season Canada trip.

About Vermont

Vermont also opens the 2004-05 season tonight. The Catamounts are coming off a 22-9 season where they finished 15-3 in the America East Conference en route to their second straight league title. Vermont lost in the first round of the 2004 NCAA Tournament to eventual national champion Connecticut 70-53. Head coach Tom Brennan starts his 19th season at Vermont where he has a 239-269 record. He has announced he will retire from Vermont at the end of this season. Overall, Brennan is 291-345 as he starts his 24th season as a head coach. Vermont returns four starters from last season which includes two-time conference player of the year Taylor Coppenrath. The 6-9 forward has a 20.1 career scoring average including 24.1 in 2003-04. Coppernrath, along with sophomore guard T.J. Sorrentine, are the highest scoring tandem in the nation entering 2004-05. The duo averaged 38.9 points per game last season.

About Kansas

Kansas also returns four starters from last year’s 24-9 team, which tied for second in the Big 12 with a 12-4 record. The Jayhawks reached the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament for the third straight year in 2004. Head coach Bill Self enters his second season at KU where he went 24-9 last year. Overall Self is 231-114 as he enters his 12th season. Senior Wayne Simien was a first-team All-Big 12 selection last season and is the league’s leading returning scorer at 17.8 points per game in 2003-04. He is the league’s preseason player of the year and first-team Associated Press All-American. Senior Keith Langford (15.5 ppg) and Simien are both on the preseason Wooden and Naismith watch lists which lists the top 50 players in the nation. Langford was second team All-Big 12 last season and a preseason first team selection. Other returning starters include senior Aaron Miles and sophomore J.R. Giddens. Miles is on pace to crush the Kansas and Big 12 career assists record. He currently has 738 assists in his three seasons at KU. Giddens electrifies crowds with his three-pointers and dunks as he averaged 11.3 point his freshman year. KU can go 10 to 11 deep in the bench.

The Series

Vermont and Kansas are meeting for the first time in men’s basketball. The Catamounts are one of four teams KU will face for the first time this season – in addition to UL-Lafayette, South Carolina, UW-Milwaukee. Kansas is 5-0 against the America East Conference – 3-0 vs. Maryland-Baltimore County, 1-0 vs. Binghamton and 1-0 vs. Maine. KU last faced an America East foe when it defeated Binghamton last season 78-46 on Dec. 29, 2004.

Kansas Head Coach Bill Self Update

Kansas coach Bill Self (Oklahoma State, 1985) is in his second season at Kansas where he posted a 24-9 record in 2003-04 and finished tied for second in the Big 12 race at 12-4. KU advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament for the third straight year falling to Georgia Tech in overtime 79-71 last year. Self’s 24 wins tied Dick Harp for the most wins by a KU coach in his debut season with the Jayhawks. Self is in his 12th season overall where he is 231-114. He is 1-0 against Vermont having defeated the Catamounts 72-61 while at Tulsa during the 1998-99 season. Tulsa-Vermont were part of the Blue and Gold Coca-Cola Classic in Milwaukee hosted by Marquette. Prior to KU Self led Illinois to two Big Ten titles and three straight NCAA Tournament appearances. Before Illinois he guided Tulsa to two WAC championships in 1999 and 2000 and was The Sporting News National Coach of the Year in 2000. A four-time Naismith Coach of the Year Award finalist, Self began his coaching career at KU in 1985-86 and was an assistant at his alma mater – Oklahoma State – from 1986 until 1993. His first head coaching stint was at Oral Roberts where he guided the Golden Eagles to the NIT in 1996-97, their first postseason appearance since 1983-84.

A Kansas Win Would…

Mark the third straight year KU has won its season-opener… Give the Jayhawks 13 wins in their last 14 season-opening games… Mark Kansas’ 32nd straight home-opening win… Be KU’s eighth straight home win… Mark the Jayhawks’ first win over Vermont, making the team 1-0 all-time against the Catamounts… Make KU 6-0 versus the America East Conference… Give Kansas coach Bill Self his 25th win at KU, 232-114 overall and his second career win against Vermont… Make the team 1,825-762 all-time.

A Kansas Loss Would…

Be KU’s first season-opening loss since falling to Ball State, 93-91, on Nov. 19, 2001, in Maui, Hawaii… Break the Jayhawks’ 31-game win streak in home-openers, marking KU’s first loss in a home-opening game since the team fell to Vanderbilt, 72-64, on Dec. 2, 1972… Break Kansas’ seven-game home win streak, marking KU’s first loss in Allen Fieldhouse since the team fell to Richmond 69-68 on Jan. 22, 2004… Mark the Jayhawks’ first-ever loss to Vermont, making the all-time series at 1-0 in favor of the Catamounts… Be KU’s first-ever loss to a team from the America East Conference… Make Bill Self 24-10 in Lawrence and 231-114 overall… Make the team 1,824-763 all-time.

Jayhawks Enter 2004-05 No. 1 in Major Polls

Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls have tabbed Kansas at the top ranked team in the nation entering the 2004-05 season. This is the second time KU has been ranked No. 1 in the first of each poll. In the AP poll one has to go back to the Wilt Chamberlain era as KU was No. 1 in the first 1956-57 poll (note: AP preseason polls did not start until 1961-62). In the coaches’ poll, the Jayhawks were No. 1 in the 1996-97 preseason poll and did not relinquish that spot until the final poll of the season when KU finished fifth.

More Poll Talk – Top 10 Ranking Common for KU

Kansas is ranked Associated Press preseason Top 10 for the 11th time in the last 13 seasons. In that span, KU was preseason No. 2 four times — 1992-93, 1995-96, 1997-98 and 2002-03. This marks the third straight year Kansas enters the ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ Poll ranked in the top five – second in 2002-03 and fifth last season. The Jayhawks have appeared in the preseason Top 10 of the poll in nine of the last 10 years, including this season’s No. 1 rating.

Kansas Celebrating 50 Years of Allen Fieldhouse

Recognized as one of the greatest venues in the nation for college basketball, Allen Fieldhouse is celebrating its 50th year of existence this season. Allen Fieldhouse was dedicated on March 1, 1955. The Jayhawks defeated Kansas State in the inaugural game that night, 77-66, before an overflow crowd of 17,228. Ceremonies for the anniversary of Allen Fieldhouse are being planned around the Jayhawks’ March 2, 2005 game against Kansas State. Named in honor of the renowned Dr. F.C. “Phog” Allen, the Jayhawks’ head coach for 39 years, Allen Fieldhouse currently seats 16,300 fans. It is the second-largest basketball arena in the Big 12 Conference and the largest in the state of Kansas. The KU men’s team has posted a 551-101 record there (84.5 percent), which includes 14 undefeated home seasons. Between 1994 and December of 1998, the Jayhawks won 62 consecutive games in Allen Fieldhouse. Additionally, this will be the 32nd season for the KU women’s basketball team in Allen Fieldhouse.

KU to Retire Five Former Men’s Basketball Greats Jerseys

Former Kansas men’s basketball greats Bill Bridges, Walter Wesley, Dave Robisch, Bud Stallworth and Darnell Valentine will have their jerseys retired during the upcoming season. Each of the aforementioned will be honored at individual games throughout the upcoming season. Bridges starts the jersey retirements at the December 9 game against TCU. Wesley will be honored on December 18 when KU hosts South Carolina. Valentine is next on January 1 against Georgia Tech (A CHANGE FROM PREVIOUS RELEASES) followed by Stallworth January 31 versus Missouri and Robisch February 27 against Oklahoma State. The concept of retiring the jerseys of outstanding Jayhawk men’s basketball players was initiated prior to the 1992-93 season when banners honoring Clyde Lovellette, Danny Manning, B.H. Born, Charlie Black, Paul Endacott, Wilt Chamberlain and Charlie Black were unveiled in the south end of Allen Fieldhouse. The original criteria for a retired jersey included KU players named college basketball player of the year, most valuable player of the NCAA Tournament or being named a four-time All-American. The list was expanded in 1997 to include Ray Evans, who holds the distinction of being an All-American in both football and basketball. The criteria was expanded prior to the 2002-03 season to include consensus first-team All-Americans, two-time first-team All-America selections and Academic All-American of the Year. The five honorees this season will make 24 former men’s players and two women’s players with jerseys retired at KU.

Did You Know?

Kansas is the lone Big 12 team to have won more than 100 conference only games. The Jayhawks are 106-22 in league play. The next team is Texas at 89-39.

Up Next

Kansas plays host to Saint Joseph’s on Tuesday, Nov. 23 with a 9 p.m. tip. The game will air nationally on ESPN2. Last year there were five different teams ranked No. 1 by Associated Press during the season. Kansas and Saint Joseph’s were two of those five. The others were Connecticut, Duke and Stanford.