Coaching Legends Celebrate 60 Years of Allen Fieldhouse
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Four coaches have called the storied limestone basketball monument home over the last 50 years. Monday night, legendary Kansas leaders Ted Owens, Larry Brown, Roy Williams and current head coach Bill Self celebrated the 60th anniversary of Jayhawk basketball in Allen Fieldhouse during an evening unlike any other.
The renowned foursome, who combined have guided the Jayhawks since 1964, enjoyed a night of reliving their favorite Allen Fieldhouse memories. Kansas Athletics and Self’s Assists Foundation teamed up to provide the one of a kind evening, the proceeds of which are benefitting charities designated by each of the four coaches. The fans showed their support in a big way as the tables on the floor sold out and a total of 7,500 were in attendance.
Fans asked for autographs from long-time
Kansas Coach Roy Williams. Monday night,
Williams made his first trip back to
Allen Fieldhouse since 2003.”It’s a great way to pay homage to this building on this is a very unique night,” Self said. “This really came about when we were talking about how to raise money for our foundation. Cindy (Self) and I do big fundraisers every year and when we came up with the idea for this – coincidentally the 60th year tied into it. It’s been very well-received, the coaches jumped on board immediately and, of course, our fans have been unbelievable.”
ESPN analyst and college basketball aficionado, Jay Bilas, served as the evening’s master of ceremonies. Prior to his introduction, the video board played a long tribute to not only men’s basketball highlights, but iconic memories, as well. The crowd lit up when Lynette Woodard flashed across the screen, when Bob Dole and Bill Clinton made a joint appearance in 2004, when Bobby Kennedy spoke in the Fieldhouse in 1968 and when Jim Ryun set a world record on the indoor track in 1967. The coaches, sport and building of which the evening the revolved around, however, got the loudest ovation as Bilas took the stage to begin the program.
“If you love basketball; if you love and respect the history of the game, every road leads back to Lawrence, Kansas,” Bilas said. “This magnificent building cannot be captured in words. This building has a soul. It’s a cathedral of college basketball. It is the ultimate bucket list place for every player, every coach, every fan, every official – everyone.”
Bilas turned over the mic to Gary Padgett, who played in the first-ever game in Allen Fieldhouse, and addressed the crowd with a few memories of his own. He also started the line of unique introductions for each coach that began with an individual video montage before a former player from their time at Kansas came up to welcome their coach to the podium.
All-American Bud Stallworth introduced Owens, 1988 national champion Chris Piper called up Brown and Scot Pollard had the honor of bringing Williams to the Allen Fieldhouse floor for the first time since 2003. KU’s current coach was the last to speak and Academic All-American Tyrel Reed preceded Self to the stage. Each coach took their turn on stage in the order of their stints at Kansas.
Owens spent 19 seasons leading the Jayhawks, the second-longest tenure of the program’s eight head coaches. A five-time Big Eight Coach of the Year, Owens’ 348 victories rank third all-time behind Allen and Williams. In Owens’ tenancy, Kansas won six Big Eight titles and advanced to NCAA Tournament play seven times, including Final Four appearances in 1971 and 1974. In his time on the stage, he was gracious for his tenure at Kansas and thanked the fans for helping him live his dream.
“I never dreamed that I would get to coach the game that I love to some incredibly wonderful young men in the greatest building there is,” Owens said. “Back then, Floyd Temple would be hitting in one corner and we had to stop Bob Timmons from shooting the gun off on the track – so it wasn’t a particularly good practice facility – but it was something special on game night.”
A 40-year coaching veteran, Brown went 71-5 in Allen Fieldhouse and led the Jayhawks to the NCAA Tournament in each of his five years. Named the Big Eight Coach of the Year in 1986, Brown and the Jayhawks went 35-4 that season on their way to the NCAA Final Four. Brown capped his career at Kansas with the 1988 NCAA National Championship and followed that with 23 seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA). In 2004, he led the Detroit Pistons to the NBA Championship, making him the only coach in history to win a title at both the NCAA and NBA levels. When he began his speech, he joked about the many, many places he’s been in his career, but he quickly switched to sentiments about his time in Lawrence.
“I left in 1988 and had the greatest five years here with the opportunity to be around people who love this game and respect this game,” Brown said. “Cherish your time here where you can watch the game played the right way, right here. Nobody else does it better than this.”
A long-awaited return to Lawrence came next. The last time Williams stepped on the Allen Fieldhouse floor was his KU team’s last practice before the Final Four in 2003. Williams is the second-winningest coach in Kansas history, behind the building’s namesake – Dr. Forrest “Phog” Allen. During Williams’ 15 years leading the Jayhawks or at the helm of the Jayhawks, Kansas made four trips to the NCAA Final Four and totaled a 418-101 record. He guided KU to nine conference titles and his 2002 team is the only in Big 12 Conference history to go 16-0. Though the altered setup in the Fieldhouse, to accommodate the night’s festivities, kept the capacity from its normal volume, the cheers from the crowd sounded like a full house. Williams walked to the stage to one of multiple standing ovations.
“I am absolutely thrilled to be here,” said Williams, who paused several times due to continued applause. “I know that it’s not about me, it’s about this building. Bill (Self), I appreciate the way you’ve handled this and invited me back. I mean that from the bottom of my heart. On game night, there’s nothing like it. The only thing that I think would be better than coming through that tunnel as a coach is coming through it as a player. There is no better home court advantage than this.”
The current leader of the Jayhawks with 10-straight Big 12 regular-season titles to his credit, Self concluded the speeches. He thanked the staff that put the evening together, the architects and, of course, the family of Phog Allen in attendance. He honored the reason behind the building and the coaches that joined him onstage.
“This is very humbling for me, to be part of something so much bigger than myself and to be the caretaker of something so precious,” Self said. “There is no place and no fans that love their players the way they do in Lawrence, Kansas.”
The three-hour event concluded with a round-table discussion. Bilas moderated a light-hearted joint conversation between the four coaches before thanking the fans and bidding them goodnight.
Allen Fieldhouse Facts
- Kansas is 713-109 all-time inside Allen Fieldhouse and has posted 57 (of 59) winning seasons in the venue.
- Three of the six KU coaches to coach in Allen Fieldhouse have won more than 92 percent of their games in Allen Fieldhouse. They are Bill Self (175-9, 95.1 percent), Larry Brown (71-5, 93.4 percent) and Roy Williams (201-17, 92.2 percent).
- Kansas has 212 consecutive sellouts inside Allen Fieldhouse dating back to the second game of the 2001-02 season.
- Allen Fieldhouse is the second-oldest basketball arena in the Big 12 Conference (Gallagher-Iba Arena at Oklahoma State).
- Kansas has 17 undefeated seasons in Allen Fieldhouse, which is seven more than the next Big 12 school (10 by Oklahoma State).
- Dick Harp recorded the first undefeated season in Allen Fieldhouse going 10-0 in his first season at KU in 1956-57.
- Kansas is second all-time in NCAA Division I with 2,126 all-time victories. Victories No. 1,000; 1,100; 1,200; 1,300; 1,400 and 1,900 were won inside Allen Fieldhouse.
- Hanging in the rafters are KU’s retired jerseys. Of the 31 of the jerseys at the south end of Allen Fieldhouse, 18 played inside the building. These include: Bill Bridges, Mario Chalmers, Wilt Chamberlain, Nick Collison, Drew Gooden, Kirk Hinrich, Raef LaFrentz, Danny Manning, Paul Pierce, Dave Robisch, Bud Stallworth, Darnell Valentine, Jacque Vaughn, Walt Wesley and JoJo White. Also included are the women’s players: Lynette Woodard, Angela Aycock and Tameka Dixon. Then there’s Max Falkenstien who, in his 60 years of broadcasting KU basketball, was part of every radio broadcast for every game in Allen Fieldhouse from the first one on March 1, 1955 until 2006.
- Of Kansas’ NCAA-leading 28 Consensus All-America First-Team selections, 12 played in Allen Fieldhouse, beginning with Wilt Chamberlain in 1956-57.
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