Jayhawk Insider: The Power of Allen Fieldhouse
By Sophie Darting
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Saturday afternoon saw the conclusion of yet another stellar season for the Kansas Jayhawks at home. KU’s 78-70 win over the Baylor Bears closed out the program’s 20th undefeated season inside Allen Fieldhouse and the eighth under head coach Bill Self. The contest also marked the 36th-straight home finale win, a mindboggling steak that began in 1983-84.
No other Division I program has been more dominant on its home floor than the Jayhawks have over the last two decades. Since the inception of the Big 12 (1997-98), Kansas boasts a record of 345-19 (94.8 percent) on James Naismith Court. During that same span, KU has posted seven home winning streaks of 20 games or more, which includes the current unbeaten streak of 20-straight wins on James Naismith Court.
Coaches and players from the conference know what kind of an environment they are walking into when they head to Allen Fieldhouse. Baylor head coach Scott Drew knows the struggles of playing against the Jayhawks at home first-hand, having lost his 12th straight contest and remain winless at Allen Fieldhouse. However, the Bears’ head coach had nothing but praise for the fans and the atmosphere.
“In the Big 12 you get a lot of great environments. One thing I have always respected (about) here is it’s a really knowledgeable crowd,” said Drew. “I’ve always been appreciative because after we’ve played well they’re very cordial to our team and you really respect that. I think they appreciate good basketball and I think they do a good job of helping motivate their team when they need to.”
The crowd did indeed do a good job of motivating their team against the Bears. Coming out of the locker room at halftime, the Jayhawks went on an 8-0 run to start the half, and after a jumper from redshirt-junior Dedric Lawson got the crowd rocking and gave KU’s its biggest lead of the game, Drew had to call a timeout in order to try to kill the momentum from the crowd.
Lawson noted in his post-game press conference that the fans definitely play a role in this team, and other teams in the past, having such good home records.
“It means a lot (to go undefeated at home). We lost a couple games in my collegiate career at home that we should’ve won, but just being here. Allen Fieldhouse is a great place to play,” said Lawson. “The fans, they call them the ‘Sixth Man’ and they definitely are because they help us out a lot and give us the energy that we need to go out there and win at home.”
In a season where things haven’t always gone the Jayhawks’ way, particularly on the road where they have a 3-8 record, they could always rely on a booming Allen Fieldhouse atmosphere to have their backs.
The Jayhawks have been able to run the table at home many times, with 20 undefeated seasons and owning home winning streaks as long as 62, 54, and most recently 20 games.
In his weekly press conference, head coach Bill Self previewed what it would be like for this team to be able to go undefeated at home this season.
“I think that is one thing we can look at for motivation, to be able to run the table at home,” said Self. “We’ve had some pretty good runs, but for this team to run the table would be great. Baylor has been nipping at us pretty hard the last several games we’ve played them at home.”
Nothing quite speaks of KU’s dominance in Allen Fieldhouse like Self’s record in the building. The Jayhawks’ head coach now has a 250-13 record in the historical building, with more conference championships than home losses. Self attributes the dominance at home to the fans, the tradition of college basketball at a school like Kansas, but most importantly, the great players.
“We get a lot of credit for having the best home court, and we do, and there are two reasons why we have the best home court. A: We are close (to) or at capacity every game and there is a history to that. And B: Everybody talks about a home court and it takes away from the fact that we’ve got really good players,” said Self at his weekly press conference. “The best home courts are the ones that have the best home players playing on it. The hardest places to win are when we go and the other team has a better five (players) than you. Those are the hardest places to win.”
The players show a great appreciation for the fans that camp a week ahead of time for every basketball game and show up ready to support their team. Saturday’s contest was no different.
“It’s great. Just playing in front of the home crowd, the fans have been unbelievable this year, just supporting us throughout the whole year,” said freshman point guard Devon Dotson. “Just winning in front of them, in front of the home crowd, it’s a great feeling.”
During a very physically demanding game against Baylor, the fans voices could be heard. Whether they erupted in cheers after a dunk from freshman Ochai Agbaji or a 3-point basket from freshman Quentin Grimes or they were trying to distract an opposing player on the free throw line, the fans were never quiet.
In a place like Allen Fieldhouse, opponents know they are going to get the Kansas at its very best, from its fans to its players to its coach.
“I give our fans a ton of credit for being the sixth man and help pull us through, but we’ve had some pretty hard-rocking cats out there over the years as well. I don’t think it’s just the fact we are playing in Allen Fieldhouse on James Naismith Court. I think that’s part of it, but I also think we’ve has some pretty good players, too,” said Self.
No matter the outcome of the game, although history goes to show that it is usually a Jayhawk victory, the home crowd stands for their team and the iconic “Rock Chalk” chant can be heard echoing throughout the building.
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